Friday, December 28, 2012

Nothing Like a Happy Reader

Danielle was given the complete set of my books by her family for Christmas. What a nice surprise as you can tell from the smile on her face.

And to put the finishing touches on her surprise, I called her Christmas day to wish her a Merry Christmas.

It's the little things that count.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

An Early Christmas Gift

A week before Christmas, Sable gave us a precious gift. Belle was born in the middle of the night on the 17th of December. What a wondrful blessing. Nothing like a baby for Christmas!

Donkey is looking a little lonely. He needs extra attention now that Belle is here. Sable keeps kicking him out of the stable. That's okay, because we give him plenty of love and attention. Luv my donkeys.
Hew Haw!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Our Baby Has Arrived

Monday morning while it was still dark outside, Tom and I went out to feed the donkeys. I panicked when I didn't see Sable, so we took our flashlight and started searching the corral. There among the trees stood Sable and her baby! I was beside myself. It was all I could do to keep from crying. Never thought I'd be so excited. Tom and I just stood there and gushed over the little one. Of course, Sable wouldn't let us get near her baby, so all we could do was stare.

By the time the sun came up, Tom and I were standing by the corral fence still staring at the little donkette. And then, Sable did the most amazing thing. She nudged her baby over to us as if to introduce the little one, and then led her away. How cool is that?

Now, every time we see Sable, she has her shadow right beside her.

We don't have a name for the baby yet, because we don't know if it's a boy or a girl, but we'll find out soon... as soon as Sable lets us. Hew Haw!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

My Poor Eye

Many years ago, I kept getting an ad in the mail about a publisher who wanted to publish my poem in a book (that I could later buy for $50). Did I have a poem to submit? I mean, if you get something publlished, you'd want to see it in print, wouldn't you?

Well, we all know what that's all about. Many of you out there have probably gotten the same type of invitation in the mail at one time or another. It's a bait and switch ploy to get you to buy the book. They don't care what kind of trash you write. They just want your money.

So... I sat down and wrote the worst poem I could—which wasn't hard. It was so bad even I didn't want to read it. For your laughing pleasure, here it is:

~My Poor Eye~

Oh, me, oh my
I hurt my eye
I'm going to cry
because I hurt my eye.
I'm going to die
because I hurt my eye
Watch me cry
because I hurt my eye.
Oh, me, oh my.

Ha... now that's a bad poem. But guess what? They said they loved it and wanted to publish it. Would I please fill out the form (signature required) and send in my poem. Oh, and the money for the book. Yeah... right. I'll jump right on it.

I hope I made you smile.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Waiting for Christmas Baby

Tom and I just put up Christmas wreaths on the stable and coop so the donkeys and chickens could have a little Christmas cheer.

As you can see, Donkey is too busy relaxing to care. Just don't get between him and his food, or you'll see how quickly he can move.

And Sable (due to give birth any minute) is too busy eating for two to pay much attention. Poor thing, she looks as if she's going to explode. I'm sure she'll be glad to have her baby soon, too. I'm still trying to figure out how her little legs can carry all that weight. *Donkeys are pregnant 12 to 14 months. See ladies, we have it easy compared to them. Aren't you glad you're not a pregnant donkey?

Big, beautiful Sable
***Big, beautiful Sable stepped on Tom's foot the other day while he was putting out feed. His small toe is still bruised and looks right rough. I keep telling him not to go into their stalls when they're in there—they don't like it. They'll step on your feet...

I bet Sable weighs 600 pounds. Don't know for sure because I don't have scales to weigh her... but I'm staying away from her feet.

Donkey is normally slim, but with his winter coat coming in, he looks much bigger than he really is. He's a mighty handsome guy, don't you think? Warning: Don't stand behind him either. Donkeys have a tendency to kick, and you haven't lived until you've been kicked by one. But that's another story.

So... the Mullen household is ready. We're just waiting for our Christmas baby. Is it going to be a donkette or a donker?

Got any suggestions for a name? We'd love to hear them. Seriously. Leave your comment or email me at 

But please hurry. Sable could have her baby any minute. Hee-Haw.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


He revels in his catch
feeling elated
 tossed over the bank to the asphalt
a beer can clinks
the drink his reward
for his hard work
the breeze cool against his face
he is a sot

The old road winding
 with hidden views
danger abounds
a beer can clinks

This day a tired driver
sleepy and hurried
rounds the final curve

The crunch of metal
as it slams against the tree
catches his attention for a moment
but not long enough
to be of interest
to him

He goes about his casting
not looking or caring that she lay
motionless on the ground
her breathing labored
tossed from the steel jaws
a beer can clinks by her head

Overcome by the darkness
It was too late for him to
notice or care
she is gone.

The darkness
Oh, the darkness takes her away.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review of The Dead Love Longer

The Dead Love Longer
by Scott Nicholson
5 Stars

This was my first Scott Nicholson book, recommended to me by a friend, and I wasn't disappointed. It was well-written and kept me glued to each page waiting to see what was going to happen in the end. I could almost visualize the smile on Steele's face as he lay... oops, don't want to be a spoiler. Never a dull moment in this one.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hamming It Up

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I know I sure did. I ate so much food I felt as big as Spot. See: Ask Aunt Alice. Aunt Alice can tell you all about Spot and his size. He's a wide load coming through... just like I felt after dinner. But it's a new day, and I'm off to spend my husband's money on some great Black Friday sales. Where's my coat and purse? Warm up the car, I'm heading to the crazy land of shoppers. See you there!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Black Friday Freebies on Kindle

With Black Friday just a couple of days away, dodging shoppers looking for that great buy is something we'll all face. In our quest for the perfect gifts for those on our Christmas list, we'll be pushed, shoved, and we'll be waiting in lines for a good little while. But that's okay. That's part of the fun, isn't it? (Not the pushing and shoving, but the great deals you can find.)
So, once you get home and relax, why not shop for yourself? Kindle is offering a long list of FREE ebooks for that day, including the first book in my Jesse Watson Mystery series, What You See. If you like a little romance and humor with your murder mystery, please check it out. Read the free sample chapters to see if my book is one you might like to read. It's free, so what have you got to lose?

And when you're finished reading book #1, there are six more books in the series for your reading pleasure: South River Incident, A Crying Shame, Middle River Murders, Greene County Killer, Death on the Bella Constance, and All About the Money. All of my books are priced at $2.99 each. What a great deal!

My books are also available on NOOK. Check out NOOK for the list of my books.
Note: Book #1 is not available on NOOK.

Isn't it nice to get something for free? Everyone loves a good deal. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride as Jesse Watson and Billy Blackhawk solve cases in ways you won't see coming. #suspense #romance #humor *Please consider leaving a review of the book(s) you've read.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ask Aunt Alice

For those of you who haven't had a good laugh lately, here's your chance. Check out Ask Aunt Alice. The Trouble With Spot. This one is for you, Danny Kemp. Hope you folks out there enjoy this blog as much as I did. Danny you're so funny!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

My Take on R-Day by P.T. Mayes

R-Day by P.T. Mayes
5 stars *****

England declares one day a year as a killing day for its citizens. Get a license and it’s legal to kill the person you hate/dislike/mad at… whatever. You really don’t need a good reason (you can always lie). But beware—you too, can be a target.

Even thought the author dropped the F-bomb in the first sentence (foul language is something I can do without, along with explicit sex, and this book had both), I hung in there and was sucked in after a few pages. It didn’t take long for me to develop a love/hate feeling for the main character, which I’m sure was the intention of the writer. I became so involved in the storyline I just couldn’t put the book down. I read it in one day. The author told a tale that was so believable, it was scary. Thankfully, R-Day is fiction. I’d hate to imagine something like this happening in real life. 

Dark, gritty, and graphic, this book is a winner—the kind of which movies are made. A must read for those who like their books on the raw and edgy side. Congratulations P.T. Mayes. You hit this one out of the ballpark.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Reading and Surviving Sandy

We managed to survive Hurricane Sandy without much damage, but going through it was a nightmare. The extreme high winds and steady rain was scary. We lost power for three days (and I don't need to tell you how awful that was), so I couldn't wash clothes, clean house, or use my computer. Cooking (which I very much dislike) was not a problem. We have a gas stove, so at least we could eat. We stayed warm thanks to our wood stove. We were lucky. It could have been much worse.

But... what do you do for three days without power? I'll tell you what I did. I read. Reading was something I could do to take my mind off the storm, even if it was only for a little while. I read and read, until my eyes got so tired, I couldn't read anymore, and when I could, I was out of books. That taught me a lesson: keep my Kindle full of books I want to read. So... I loaded up my Kindle in preparation for the next storm—which I hear is coming soon. The weather forecasters say we have a Nor'easter coming in around Wednesday of next week. What? Another storm? Well... I'm prepared. I have lots of free books I just downloaded on my Kindle, and I can't wait to dig in. Don't like the idea of another storm coming through, but at least I'll have something to read. My Kindle is charged and ready to go. 

I started working on my next book, The Prey Bites Back, in February, but lost interest. I don't know why; it's not because I didn't have plenty of  ideas and a plot. I just didn't want to write. And until I get the desire back, I'll just read. While Sandy was pounding us, I read Take the Monkeys and Run, Janet Evanovich's Metro Girl, and Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton.

I now have lots of books on my Kindle and will be searching for more. You should too, just in case. And to give you one more to add to your selection, the first book in my Jesse Watson Mystery series will be FREE Saturday, Nov. 3. So please download it, read it, and enjoy. And last, but not least, please consider posting a review on Kindle. A reader review can be the best gift you can give an author. Thanks, and stay safe! Ann

Click here for the link to my book on Kindle:

Ah... is that a snowflake I see out the window? Better get moving. Gotta go stoke the fire and grab my Kindle.


P.S. My prayers are with the folks who have suffered so much devastation from Hurricane Sandy. My heart goes out to them and their families.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fall in the Mountains

I love the colors of fall, and there's no better place to see it all than right here in Central Virginia. I tried to snap pictures of the scenery while driving across the mountain by Skyline Drive, but that didn't work out so well. So... after I got over the mountain, I pulled off the road into the parking lot of Elkton School, and got this great shot of the fantastic trees sitting out front. And this is just a wee bit of the color you'll see when you visit our area. The Shenandoah National Park is magnificent. There's so much color everywhere. For those of you who visit Massanutten Resort to see the changing of the leaves, this coming week is the week to be here. Colors will be at their peak. Also, because it's fall, there will be so many events going on you won't be able to take them all in. Plenty to do!

So, come visit Virginia and see why we love living here!

Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you about the wildflowers that pop up everywhere. This stretch is on Rt. 33 just before you get to Elkton, Virginia. Beautiful!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Making Friends

One great thing about being an author is that you meet some pretty nice people. I met Sheryl at Massanutten, she bought the first two books in my series, and then wanted more. When she called me to find out where she could buy the others, I invited her to my house (I don't live far from the resort). So she came by, and we had a fun time. Sheryl, I hope you enjoy the rest of my books, and will stop by again when you're out this way.

Another day in the life of an author. Making new friends is always a good thing!

Friday, October 05, 2012

Makes Me Smile

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Words and Wine

Please join us for an evening of Words and Wine to benefit SAFE (Services to Abused Families). SAFE provides assistance to victims of sexual abuse and domestice violence in five Central Virginia counties.

The event will take place Saturday, October 6, 2012, 6-10 PM at Prince Michel Winery, Leon, VA. Tickets are $50 per person (sounds like a lot, but it's for a good cause and your contribution is tax deductible). There will be lots of authors on hand who have donated copies of their books for the silent auction, and who will also have copies of their books for sale. New York Times bestselling author of A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons, Elizabeth Dowling Taylor, will be the featured speaker.

Wine, hors d'oeuvres, carving stations with roast beef and ham, coffee and desserts will be served. Dressy casual.

So please join me this Saturday at Prince Michel Winery! Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 01, 2012

FREE on Kindle, October 3, 2012, Wednesday. WHAT YOU SEE, book #1 in the Jesse Watson Mystery series. Check out Jesse and her crew. mystery/suspense/romance/humor 

At thirty-one, Jesse Watson had reached an impasse in her life. It was time for a change. Her job was unfulfilling and her love life was non-existent. Something had to give. Heeding her parents’ advice, she quit her job, gave up her apartment and moved with them to the mountains of Virginia. Her intentions were to find a job and eventually get a place of her own. All that changed the day she went to work for Billy Blackhawk, private eye and Cherokee Indian. Her secretarial skills could not prepare her for what she was about to encounter and her safe and secure life would never be the same.

While in search for a missing girl, a quiet, rural country life with its beautiful mountain scenery quickly becomes a place of danger, murder and mayhem. Jesse faces the wrath of a disturbed, dysfunctional family determined to save themselves at all cost, even to the point of turning on each other. Soon it becomes a race for time as Jesse realizes the life she saves might well be her own.

What you see just may kill you.

*Excerpt from the book: I lay there for what seemed like an eternity. The air had become hot and humid from the late afternoon rain. My knee was throbbing and the cut on my forehead was still bleeding. I held my breath as I crouched down, hiding in the damp leaves and the tangled mass of underbrush. Coming here alone was a stupid mistake... possibly the last one I’d ever make. There was a killer on the loose and he was searching for me. Then I heard a twig snap...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Gal Pals from Delaware

Sallie, Bernice, me, and Pat
Out with the girls on a nice day in Virginia. Sallie, Bernice, and Pat from Delaware were staying at Massanutten Resort, so we got together for a day of fun. We had lunch at the Wood Grill in Charlottesville, visited the Downtown Mall (great place), and ended our day with a stop at Noon Whistle Pottery in Stanardsville.

The Mole Hole
One of the shops I really wanted them to see was The Mole Hole. Its not a big place, but it has some very interesting stuff. In particular is their collection of wall clocks. The photo doesn't do them justice. You'd have to see them for yourself to appreciate their uniqueness. The girls were impressed. I knew they'd love it.

Harry, Sallie, the scary redhead
named Gambino, and Bernice
And finally, a pic of our driver, Sallie's hubby, Harry. Harry & Sallie. Hmm... Thanks Harry for driving us all over town. It was a good day. Love you Harry, but next time we're taking my car... and I'm driving.

Gotta do this again with my Gal Pals from Delaware. Wahoo!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Twitter Etiquette and Me

The definition of etiquette is proper social behavior, and according to Derek Blass (thank you Derek for all your helpful tips) in his blog post a while back, one should always thank another when they retweet your tweet—but I had to give up on that. I was spending most of my time thanking folks, and didn't have time to do much of anything else while on Twitter. So, what I decided to do was retweet, retweet, retweet. That's my way of saying thanks. I hope y'all don't think it's rude of me. And if I miss retweeting for you, I will catch you later. Also, I read the tweets, and then I click over to blogs, websites, and whatever is of interest to me. Isn't that the point? I don't just retweet for the sake of retweeting. I do it because I think you have something worth reading that others might also like. So, that's my excuse for not saying thanks anymore to all the folks who retweet for me. I do appreciate it, so please don't think I don't. My thanks will be in the form of a retweet for you.

Now to the subject of who I follow. I follow people who interest me, so if I don't follow you, feel free to unfollow me. If you speak a foreign language, I don't follow you. I can count to ten and I know one sentence in Spanish, and a few words in Latin. That's the extent of my understanding any language other than English. And... I don't follow people who use really foul language. It's not necessary, and it's not fun to read. I did not follow the funeral home that was following me. Sorry, but I don't want to read your tweets about coffins and planning my last goodbyes. Life is hard enough as it is without reading that stuff first thing in the morning.

To be honest, most of the people I follow are writers (*but not all). They post great tips on everything from improving your writing skills to telling you about a great book they've read. I take what I've read, bounce it around in my head, and then decide for myself if its for me. Like the time a guy posted on his blog that you should never sell your books on your website. What? For several years I've been selling my books through my website, because that's where the traffic goes. Remember the purpose of the internet highway? Now, I wouldn't sell my books on my blog (don't even know if I could). That's why I have a website. My website is my livelihood. My blog is for fun.

Just like Twitter. Twitter should be fun, entertaining, and a way to meet people. When it becomes a chore, I'm done. And, when I'm on Twitter, I'm live. I don't do pay-for-tweets. Where's the social connection in that? It might work for others, but its not for me. I guess if I had a gazillion followers I might do it, but since I don't, when I tweet, I'm there in person.

Think I'm a Twitter snob? I'm not. I'm just honest. I want to have fun, talk with people, and then move on to something else. Fighting or arguing on Twitter? No thanks. I have better things to do.

To all those who are following me, tks for the #follow, and I hope you enjoy what I have to say. I want to learn something from you and hope you'll learn something from me. My Twitter etiquette might not be the best, but my social behavior will always be proper. So... let's tweet and enjoy the moment.

P.S. The photo above was a photo shot. I don't really do my writing outside on my laptop... and my dogs don't usually sit still like that. Thanks, Alex Carrier, Photographer/Journalist for being able to get my dogs to do what I couldn't.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

In Case You Missed It

Just in case you missed Emily Lewis' interview of me, here it is:

Q.  What inspires your writing?
A.  Living in the mountains. I know you’ve probably heard this before, but it’s the truth. If I had stayed in the city, I’m sure I never would have written a book, let alone more than one.  Life is refreshing here. The air smells so good when the wind blows down the mountain and stirs up all the scents around me. There’s always something in the air—the smell of wild roses, pine trees, mountain laurel, jasmine, and my favorite—honeysuckle in spring.  So, when I’m bored or need inspiration, I get in my car, put the top down, and cruise. That’s for the warm months. In the winter, all I have to do is look out my window at the snow. That always works for me. Another inspiration: people who smile.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an author?
A.  The satisfaction I get from knowing I can actually write something someone might want to read.  So many people aspire to this, but very few ever realize their dream. Creating a story isn’t just putting words together. It’s hard work and takes up all of your time. Most people don’t have the time even if they have the imagination to do it. When I retired and moved to the mountains, my imagination found me. Was that luck? I think so.

Q.  What is the toughest part of being an author?
A. Trying to live up to the expectations of my readers.

Q.  If you could not be author, what would you do/be?
A. I’d be me.  That’s who I’ve been for sixty-two years, and I’ve been happy with my life the majority of the time (there’s always those times when drama stops by for a visit). I’m retired. I’ve had a career, spent my time in the work force, and have no desire to go back. If I decided to stop writing, I’d just be retired, living in the best place in the world.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?
A.  The Unplanned Benefit of Murder

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?
A.  That’s so hard to say. I’ve read many good books, but I really became an avid reader after I read All That Remains by Patricia Cornwell. I was enthralled with the storyline about a young couple who went missing at the New Kent rest area on I-64. This (fiction) book was based on a true story, and the area where it took place was close to my home town.  Familiarity grabbed me, and curiosity held onto me. Now, I have too many favorite books to only choose one, but I will give Cornwell the credit for pulling me into the world of books.

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?
A.  I think authors create characters from bits and pieces of others, and I have yet to find one who is like me.

Q.  What character from all of your book are you most like?
A. My main character, Jesse Watson, of course. Don’t we all put a piece of ourselves in our protagonist? I know I did. However, Jesse does things I would never do. I’m smiling.

Q. What is your favorite season?
A. Winter—without a doubt. I used to be a sun worshiper, but that all changed with age and hot flashes.

Q.  What inspired your book cover(s)?  Or what is your favorite book cover and why?
A. I don’t know what sparks my ideas for my book jackets, but sometime during the writing process, up pops the image in my head. I can see it plain as day, and that’s what I go with. My favorite jacket cover is the one on book #5, Greene County Killer. It was the first time I had the courage to put a full-length photo of myself on the back.

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.
A. During an interview—I was at a restaurant talking with my reporter/journalist friend and I told her I had killed off someone, but was now having my doubts about what I had done. I can get a little loud when I get excited, so it didn’t take long for others close by to take notice. They started staring at me as if I were indeed a killer. Alex and I laughed all the way to the car.

Q.  Are you working on something new?
A.  Yes. The Prey Bites Back, book eight in the series. It’s a little slow going because life seems to get in the way.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A.  You can only be a success in your heart when you’re doing something you love. Keep on writing, reading, or singing in the shower—whatever makes you happy!

*Be sure to stop by Emily's blog to read interviews of different authors and reviews of the books she has read. It'll be a fun visit!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

We're Having a Baby!

It's official! Our donkey, Sable, is having a little donkette! We felt it kick the other day. What an amazing thing it is to feel a little life moving around inside her belly. We bought Sable and Donkey (the jack) about a month or so ago, and boy did we get a bargain. We got both donkeys for the price of one, and now we're getting an extra bonus. Donkeys are pregnant for a year (ugh... glad humans aren't pregnant that long) and since she's about ready to explode, I'm sure she was with donkette when we got her. Needless to say, the coral has to be enlarged. So much work to do/so little time. My guess is she'll probably give birth when we're knee deep in snow.

We know about as much about raising donkeys as we do about raising chickens, but we're learning. We now have twelve hens and a rooster to keep the donkeys company. Or is it the other way around?

Wish us luck. We're going to need it! Ain't life grand!

Friday, September 07, 2012

First Two Books Free on Kindle

I'm celebrating my birthday early (Monday, Sept. 10... and yes, I'm 29... again) by offering the first two books in my Jesse Watson Mystery series FREE on Kindle.

#1 WHAT YOU SEE Sat. & Sun. Sept. 8 & 9

Mon. & Tues. Sept. 10 & 11

Log onto and check them out. Read the sample chapters. See if this is the kind of mystery you'd like to read. It's free, so what have you got to lose? Just click on the book title to begin a journey with Jesse and Billy as they travel down the road to murder and intrigue, but watch out for the bodies alongside the road. You never know what you're going to encounter when you hang with private eyes. I hope you enjoy!

Method to My Madness

I might have caused some of you to wonder if I've lost my mind with some of my recent reviews of the books I've read, why I haven't given a book less than four stars. I've had a few emails questioning my sanity—kinda like the time I told a woman at a party that I killed people for a living. Needless to say, that didn't go over real big. I'm not saying any of the books I've reviewed were in question, just the lack of any bad reviews. Haven't I read any books that were horrible? Here's the truth: I have. I've preview many books, and knew right away it'd be a waste of my time. Either there were so many typos and bad grammar, or the storyline just didn't work. And some of the ones I've downloaded and tried to read, I just couldn't finish (for one reason or another). Those are the books I don't post reviews on. Writers have a hard enough time, and I'm not going to be the one to make it any harder. Let someone else do it.

Also, I'm not a professional reviewer. I've had writers ask me to review their books, but I can't give an honest review of a book that isn't the kind of book I like to read. I love a good mystery, with or without romance (preferably with romance, and definitely not erotica), and with some humor. If Janet Evanovich would clean up her mouth a little, she'd be my favorite author. So... I'm a mystery lover. I just can't get into Sci-Fi, vampires, erotica, paranormal, or YA (but I will support those who write it). I did read a book I thought was YA (after I had read a few chapters) and decided to finish it and judge it accordingly—by what I thought young audiences would like.

I bought Janet Evanovich's Metro Girl at the thrift store yesterday for $2, but I haven't been able to really get into it. I keep finding myself drawn back to the mystery I downloaded the other day. I've read the first chapter, and if the rest of the book is as good as the beginning, I'm in for a real treat... and you'll hear about it.

Pretty soon I'm going back to work on my next book, and I won't be reading as much... probably not at all, but until then, I'm going to finish the book I'm reading, and hopefully, find a couple more before I go off the radar.

Also—my first book in the Jesse Watson Mystery series, What You See, has found a permanent home in the Prime Kindle program, so it will no longer be available on NOOK. Sorry, NOOK, but you're just not doing it for me. Kindle rules!

So, if you haven't read any of my books, the first one will be free on Kindle very soon. I hope you'll give it a try. Happy writing and happy reading!

To all authors out there, I send you many wishes for your writing success. Keep up the good work. Ann Mullen

Thursday, September 06, 2012

The Puzzle by Peggy A. Edelheit

The Puzzle by Peggy A. Edelheit Aug. 2012 ***** 5 Stars

Title: I loved, loved this book!
What a terrific read! Peggy Edelheit kept me glued to the page with her description of events and her likeable (and not so likeable) characters. I can still see Samantha running around her house, storm brewing outside, while her laptop stared back at her, demanding her to get back to work. And… the characters, Betty and Hazel were a hoot. I can’t wait to start her next book in the series. Five stars, Ms. Edelheit! You did good!   

Monday, September 03, 2012

Let's Talk About Book Reviews

Book reviews can be so misleading. Everyone has an opinion, and not everyone is going to like the same book. Try as you might, there's going to be something in your book that just doesn't jive with a reader. Sorry, but it's true. I say this because I surf Amazon looking for free Kindle books (I don't buy a book until I've read one by the author before, and liked it), and sometimes the reviews just blow me away. Usually, I don't read too many of the five star reviews because they tell too much about the storyline. I want to be surprised. I don't want to know the ending until I've read it for myself.

It's the bad reviews that catch my eye and intrigue me. Some of them are so brutal, I find myself wanting to read the book just to see if its as bad as they say it is. Most of the time it isn't. For example, I just read a short story that was clobbered by readers who said it was weak, had typos and poor grammar, and ended too abruptly. *They didn't realize it was a short story. Yet, I thought the story was very good, and I didn't find any problems with the grammar or any typos. I even wanted to read more by the author, so what does that tell you? My opinion verses others. Who's right?

And then there are books with rave reviews that I just can't get through. I start reading and find myself shaking my head. What was this author thinking, and who in their right mind would love a book such as this? See what I mean? It wasn't my kind of book, but I'm not going to write a bad review just because I didn't care for it. Others loved it. Why make an author's job harder than it already is?

No writer wants to get a bad review, but let's face it, it's going to happen. You're going to get slammed, beat up, and dragged through the mud, taunted as the worst writer in the world. But don't let it get you down. *Remember what I said in my first paragraph. When I got a review that said "Ick" I thought I was going to die. I was in a blue funk for days, but I got over it when I noticed a jump in my sales. See, sometimes a bad review might not be so bad. But, if everyone complains that your book wasn't edited and was laden with typos and poor grammar, do something about it. That's the one thing you can do to improve your reviews. Fix the problem.

Can't afford an editor, you say? That's bunk. There's more than one way to skin a cat as they say. With my first book, I hired a proofreader and thought everything was okay. It wasn't. Why? Because the proofreader wasn't as good as I thought she was... and I paid her $200. That taught me a very valuable lesson—but once it goes to physical print, it's too late—so... I came up with an idea and it's worked pretty well for me. I have five FREE proofreaders, and between them all, they find almost all of my mistakes. Of course, nobody's perfect, so a few might slip by. Ask someone to read your manuscript and tell them you'll give them credit for their help in your acknowledgements (but don't rely on just one person, ask a couple of people to help you out). You'd be surprised at how many people would love to do this for you. We all like to see our name in print, don't we? Sift through your proofreaders to see who can find the errors and who can't, and then weed them out.

Also, keep in mind that people will read your book, but won't post a review. That happens a lot. People just don't take the time to do it. They think it isn't important, or they don't know how to do it. Crazy, you say? You'd be surprised at how many times people have told me they didn't know how to post a review. I try to explain it to them, but they still don't do it. But that's okay, because word-of-mouth is worth its weight in gold. As long as they're talking about your book, others are listening.

Also, take note. Kindle readers are fickle. Since they have the opportunity to grab as many books for free as they want, they don't give you but two seconds to amaze them with your writing (and let's face it, it's hard to knock it out of the ballpark in the first paragraph), whereas, readers who purchase the physical book (after giving it a thorough examination) will savor the feel, examine the cover, and languish the thought of a good read. I'm not knocking Kindle readers—I'm just saying they're impatient. They might read half a book, get to where something happens they don't like, and then it's over. They hit delete and you're done. Any chance of a good review just went south. I say, if they can do better, let them write the book, but that's just me being me.

But I digress. What I'm trying to say is, take reviews for what they are—they're just the opinion of others... but not the opinion of all your readers. The best way to get an honest review of your book is to have a book reviewer read it (make sure the reviewer is one who reads your type of book), and then learn from it. Good luck and here's wishing you good reviews. It'll make your day, and you deserve it. Be tough and let the bad reviews roll off your back. Don't let them drag you down. Keep on writing!

P.S. I added the image of yellow daylilies to cheer you up. Did it work?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Reviews

Here's my take on the books I've read on Kindle so far:

Perfect Crime by Jack Erickson *****5 Stars
Aug. 2012
Title: Great short story!
First, let me say I don’t know Jack Erickson, I’m not related to him, nor have I been asked to give him a good review. He earned the five stars I gave him. His short story was tight and well written. Typos, grammatical errors—where? Normally, I don’t miss bad grammar and typos, so if there were any, I was too busy enjoying the story to notice. It takes a good writer to capture your imagination, and Jack Erickson did it for me. His style is unique and kept me glued to the storyline. Not only that, but at the end I was treated to a preview of two other short stories I can’t wait to read. There’s so much trash out there, it was really refreshing to read something worthy of five stars. Way to go, Jack! I’ll be back for more.

She’s Gotta Be Mine by Jennifer Skully

Title: Delightful Aug. 2012 ****4 Stars
I gave this book 4 stars because some of it was too unbelievable even for fiction. A woman who lusts after a serial killer, tries to help her husband find his high school sweetheart, and talks about how good she looks but doesn't feel it? That's poo. But it was so well written and kept me so interested, I had to give the author credit for that. The sex scenes were more than I care to read about, but even those were well written. I can't put my finger on it, but there was something about this book that makes me want to read more of Jennifer Skully's works. I would've given it 5 stars if the main character had been chasing after a mechanic or a doctor, anyone other than a serial killer, and if she had been helping her husband find a long lost friend, not an old girlfriend... but then we would've missed the animosity between said girlfriend and Roberta (Bobbie). Ah, Roberta (Bobbie), that was a little confusing. Still, the book is a good read. I won't be a spoiler, so I'll just say the ending was a (good) surprise. Kudos, Jennifer Skully!

Mile Marker 148 By Jess Butcher *****5 stars
Title: Loved it! 
I didn't read the previous review (spoiler alert) before I downloaded the book, and was glad I hadn't. When I realized the book was told through the eyes of a dog, I was impressed. I can tell you that now, since I see it's already been revealed that a dog was telling the tale. At the beginning when I read the part about "noisily licking my testicles" I went, Whoa...what? I had to continue. I'd never read anything like this. What a terrific concept. A dog telling about his experiences at Mile Marker 148. It was well-written, fun, and entertaining! Five stars for this short story. Thanks Jess Butcher!

Already Home by Vicky Lewis Thompson (Sons of Chance) ****4 Stars
Title: A good, short story. 
After reading the reviews on this short story, I had to read it because of all the complaints about it being rushed, etc. Of course it was rushed, it's a short story! People, start checking the page count! Then you'll know what you're getting. Already Home was a good read. Short and sweet---A tale about two people (Hutch and Trina) who have been hot for each other for some time, and when they get a chance to reunite, the sparks fly. The characters are likable and I couldn't wait to see how it was going to end. I wasn't disappointed. One star? No way. I've read full-length books that weren't as good as this short story. It was well-written with proper grammar, and I didn't find one typo. Give the author a break. It was a short story, for Pete's sake! Entertaining! Four stars!

Midnight Sun by M.J. Fredrick May 2012 **** 4 stars
Title: My first MJ Fredrick book.   
I spent Mother's day reading this book because I just couldn't put it down. I could've done without the intense sex scenes, but otherwise, I loved the book. Her writing reminds me of Sandra Brown. Will be looking forward to reading another one of MJ Fredrick's books.

Land of the Noonday Sun by Carmen DeSousa Aug. 2012
Title: Land of the Noonday Sun *****5 Stars
Land of the Noonday Sun is not the type of book I normally read, but I decided to give it a try after meeting the author on Twitter. And, I’m glad I did. It was a well-written, lovely Christian based/romance/suspense novel with interesting characters and a storyline that comes to a feel-good, dramatic conclusion. Good for you, Carmen DeSousa! Five stars!
NOTE: I failed to mention in my review on Kindle this is a YA book. If you don't like young adult novels this book isn't for you. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Visit Noon Whistle Pottery

If you're planning a visit to my neck of the woods in Virginia, be sure to stop at Noon Whistle Pottery on Main Street in Stanardsville. You'll be so glad you did. The shop is owned and operated by John and Holly, and has some of the most amazing stuff for sale, items you won't find anywhere else. I love this place. I'm always telling folks to stop by and check it out. A travelers paradise for those who love quaint little shops offering homemade crafts, pottery, paintings by local artists, and of course, my books.  
John makes gargoyles out of clay like you've never seen, and Holly crafts some of the prettiest dinnerware I've come across. Homemade handbags, jewelry, and so much more are offered there, too. Visit their website and see for yourself. Enjoy your visit, and tell them Ann sent you!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Donkeys—Are You Hungry?

Tom and I knew very little about donkeys when we bought them. We just thought they were cool and would be fun to have as pets. We didn't know what they ate or how to take care of them, but we figured we could learn just like we did with our chickens. And learn we did. We now know they eat and poop all day long. That's what they do. ALL DAY LONG! And they don't eat normal stuff like meat and potatoes. They eat grass, branches, twigs, hay, and tree bark. I'm sure there's probably more to add to the list, but for now, that's all we know about. Both Donkey and Sable have tried to nibble on my jeans, but I guess they don't have much interest in material things (pardon the pun), because they didn't strip the clothes off my back like they did the bark on the trees. Notice the tree in the picture (which used to be a healthy plum tree full of leaves and branches) has been stripped clean of bark all the way up as far as the donkey's teeth could reach. Note: The rest of the trees in the corral look the same way.

Because of their fondness for wood, they must have decided that the chicken coop looked like dessert, so they helped themselves to the trim. Fortunately, we nipped that in the bud before they could do real damage. We put up a separate fence just to keep them out of the coop. Sable is not happy about that. Donkey doesn't care—he's got me to nibble on.

Will they eat the fence? We'll just have to wait and see.

*Chairs in the chicken coop? The chickens needed a place where they could sit back and laugh at the donkeys.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Pedicures for Donkeys

Donkey and Sable were treated to a pedicure this past Saturday. I don't know what else to call it. They had their hooves cleaned, clipped, and filed, so to me, they had a pedicure. I'm not saying they enjoyed the procedure, but they sure felt better afterward. Sable was prancing around, and Donkey had a big smile on his face. Perhaps they were just glad it was over. Andy & Cody (farriers/Value Shod 540-718-1503 Madison, VA) handled them beautifully. Even though the guys were gentle and friendly, the donkeys knew who they were. They saw `em coming and took off. Once Andy & Cody finally captured them, it was a breeze. The only thing missing was the nail polish. What? No nail polish for donkeys? Oh well... I guess that means no bows either.

The man in the camo pants is my husband, Tom, and you can tell by the smile on his face that he thought pedicures for donkeys was pretty cool. I do, too. What about you?