New! ‘L.A. Ladies’ romantic mystery novel is now available on Kindle, Nook and Kobo!

L.A. Ladies ebook cover

The ebook cover of ‘L.A. Ladies’. It is now available for pre-order of Kindle

Today is definitely a happy day!  After working on this novel for a year–off-and-on–it went live on Kindle, Nook and Kobo at midnight. I have a ‘slight misadventure’ to report, however. Yesterday at a little after 4 p.m. I received an email from Amazon telling me ‘L.A. Ladies’ was live.  It was eight hours earlier than I thought, but I assumed that Amazon must function on Greenwich Mean Time–that’s near London–and it was just after midnight there.  So I activated two advertising campaigns. When I got around to looking at the actual page on Kindle, the order button still read ‘pre-order now’.

Did I lose some sales?  I don’t know.  This morning my pre-orders appeared as sales, so everything is running fine now.

In this novel Robin, who has lived a privileged life in Los Angeles,  begins anew after the unexpected death of her husband and finds herself in situations she never dreamed she would encounter. Love and danger seem to be turning her new life upside down. And the collie on the cover? Her name is Pretty Girl and she plays an important role at two turning points in the book.

Here is where you can find the ebook:




It is also available as a paperback on Amazon.


L.A. Ladies now available for pre-order on Kindle and Nook

Tooting my own horn here!  My new novel, ‘L.A. Ladies‘ is now ready for pre-ordering on Kindle. You can find it here and read more about Robin, a ghost-blogger who is re-starting her life after the death of her husband. (And–Yes!–a collie is a character in the novel.)

The paperback edition will published on February 18th, too.

This romance-mystery is available for pre-order at other online bookstores, including Nook and Kobo. Coming soon on iTunes and Scribd.

L.A. Ladies ebook cover

The ebook cover of ‘L.A. Ladies’. It is now available for pre-order of Kindle

‘Speak’ and ye shall find ghost words, typos and other errors

Frog Gate to River Walk Studio City

In the romance novel ‘L.A. Ladies’ Robin goes for walks along the L.A. River. This photo is of the frog gate leading to one path along the river.

I spent all day yesterday listening to the latest draft of my novel, ‘L.A. Ladies’.  That’s right, I listened to it using a nifty feature in Word that I didn’t previously know existed.  The feature is called ‘Speak’ and I decided to use it to see if I could find any ‘ghost words’ in my manuscript.  ‘Ghost words’ are those little leftover words that accidentally end up in revised copy.  When an author re-reads the revised section, her eyes slide right over the ghost words because, after all, she ‘knows’ what the passage says.  The eyes and brain play tricks.

In one writers’ group online a fellow author suggested I read my manuscript aloud, but I wasn’t at all confident that the eye-brain trick wouldn’t happen again.

Instead I decided to use ‘Speak’ and sat here at my computer following the words with my eyes while Microsoft Anna (the voice of Speak and it’s a semi-mechanical sounding voice!) read to me.  Much to my horror, I discovered a ghost word in the first chapter. Somehow the word ‘handed’ had been left in a sentence right beside ‘handing’. I quickly deleted ‘handed’ and kept on listening to Anna. Two other ‘ghost words’ showed up later in the novel and in one other instance I discovered that I’d written ‘on’ instead of ‘of’.  All were fixed instantly. What is also important to note is that these four tiny errors in my manuscript were all properly spelled so they would have gone right through the Kindle Spell-Check and not shown up as mistakes.

Another discovery I made while listening was that in an early meeting between Robin, the main character, and one of her love interests, she sounded bitchy instead of surprised. So I re-wrote that exchange, too. Then checked it again with Speak to make sure there were no ghost words in my revision!

Okay.  If you’re interested in using Speak — and I highly recommend this approach–search Google for text-to-speech in Word and follow the steps to activate it. It’s really easy and can save you from serious embarrassment.

Later: When I posted about this topic on my FB wwriter’s group I learned from other writers there is also a text-to-speech function in Adobe’s pdf reader as well as several free programs available online. I might try them to see if those other voices are more pleasant than Anna’s.

Oh, one last thing.  Anna sometimes reads ‘is.’ at the end of a sentence as ‘island’. At other times she read ‘no.’ as ‘number’.  She apparently ‘thinks’ they are abbreviations.

Results of my search for beta readers–or even more ‘likes’–on Facebook.

As I wrote in the previous post, I decided to search outside my current Friends and Family for beta readers for my new novel.  As we all know, F&Fs will tell an author that they really like the book because that’s what Friends and Family do.  And they might even buy a copy of the book once it is published, because that’s what they do.  But an honest opinion–F&F aren’t good for that.

First I went to Goodreads for beta readers.  They have two groups of Beta readers and following their instructions I listed my novel about women of a certain age finding love and danger and eating very well in Los Angeles. I mentioned the collie, too. The result: Nada. Nothing.  No one in the beta group volunteered to read my novel. I found out, however, that there are people in a separate section of the GR beta group who will beta read and report back–for a fee.  One of them sounds good, so I may send my MS off to her. Soon. I will report about how this goes.

After Goodreads I moved on and sent a copy of the novel, which I’m now calling ‘L.A. Ladies’ to a friend who is a playwright.  Her first response: “Not noir?”  I swear the brilliant Raymond Chandler cast a noir spell over Los Angeles. Well, that was then and this is now. My novel has not an ounce of noir in it. It is a romance with a mystery, a big friendly collie dog and a kayak trip down the L.A. River.  Well, it will be interesting to read further reactions from my playwright friend who lives in Tucson and wants noir.  I’ve asked her to get back to me by mid-December.

Now about Facebook.  I decided that I should drum up some Likes for my FB Annie Carroll Author page before I solicited beta readers from the group.  I agreed to a budget of $4 a day and put a limit of $1 for each Like. Well those folks at FB apparently can’t do math.  My Likes started off at .90 per Like and steadily rose to $1.35 per Like.  In the end I spent about $28 over 7 days and now have 32 Likes–not all of which came from the FB promotion.  And about an hour ago I launched a second promotion for ‘Likes’. This time my budget is $3 a day and FB promises 2-4 Likes a day.

Working AFter Retirement cover

This best-selling guide provides realistic solutions to retirees who need more income.

Meanwhile my non-fiction guide to Working After Retirement continues to sell a year after it was published. It is concise, practical and only $3.99 now.

‘New Vampire Online’ is free on Kindle on June 6 and June 7th. It’s a humorous tale of Los Angeles vampires.

New Vampire Online cover

Cate the Vampire has a new website and problems keep springing up everywhere!


Okay.  You know the routine.

‘New Vampire Online’ is now on Kindle:

And you can get the first in the series, ‘New Vampire in Town’:

Enjoy!  (And please leave a review!)

Conversations with Veronica Roth, author of Divergent, and Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs and Steel

More about the L.A. Times Festival of Books, the largest book festival in America.  It was held last weekend on the campus of the University of Southern California.  I have posted photos from the event on my other blog,  LACityPix.

Line of people to hear VEronica Roth

The line for people who wanted to see Veronica Roth speak but did not have tickets. Ticket holders were in another line that stretched almost completely around the building.

Along with literally hundreds and hundreds of other people, mostly women, I attended the interview–which the Festival called a ‘conversation’–with Veronica Roth, author of ‘Divergent’.  She turned out to be taller and younger than I had imagined.   She wrote Divergent while she was still in college and stated, among many other things, that the book is NOT an anti-evolution tract.  This anti-evolution idea apparently has been making the rounds in academia.  (I guess academics have to come up with this stuff to keep their jobs!)  After she spoke, she signed books–but the number of books she would sign was limited: one per person and a green ticket was required.  Given the huge fan base she had at the Festival, she probably could have spent all afternoon  and into the evening signing.

I also joined hundreds of people, mostly men, to hear what Jared Diamond, the author of ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel’ talk about his new book, ‘The World Until Yesterday.’  He seemed to be more concerned about falling in his shower than anything else.  He’s 76 years old and this is important to him.

And finally…

I had conversations with two very knowledgeable ‘book people’ both of whom were trying to make new lives for themselves as the independent bookstore world is collapsing.  One formerly owned a bookstore on the East Coast; the other had worked in a now-closed bookstore here in L.A.   Both seemed unsure about what lies ahead of them and both were volunteering to work in booths at the Festival.  It was clear that it was difficult to let go of something they love.

One told me that Book ‘Em, a mystery book store not far from my home, is going out of business.  That means there are only two remaining bookstores in Pasadena: Vroman’s, which was founded in 1894, and Distant Lands, a travel bookstore.  Borders closed a couple of years ago.  Cliff’s Used Books shut its doors last year.  And a few weeks ago Barnes and Noble abandoned Pasadena, leaving a gaping hole on Colorado Blvd., the main shopping street in the city.  Even though I am an independent author who publishes e-books, I am sorry to see this happen.

Penguin's mobile book shop

Penguin Publishing’s mobile book shop at the L.A Festival of Books.

Given the way we Americans love to reinvent things, not all indie bookstores are gone, however.  A new trend is the mobile book store that goes from Book Festival to Book Festival around the country. I love this!  When I was a child, libraries across the nation sponsored Book Mobiles to bring books to far flung areas of rural America.  Now, instead of being sponsored by public libraries, the new mobile book sources are privately operated.  And instead of lending books, they are selling them.

At the L.A Times Festival of Books, one example was Mrs. Nelson’s Book Festival, a blue truck loaded with books, that goes from place to place.  Sorry, but the photo I took of it wasn’t good, but this traveling book shop looked very similar to the Penguin mobile book shop.  Only blue instead of orange.  And Mrs. Nelson’s mobile book shop had book signings, which Penguin did not.  I hope that these ‘book trucks’ become as popular as the gourmet food trucks that are now found all over the place in L.A. and other big cities.

L.A. Times Festival of Books: Author Solutions, Indie Bound, David Gaughran and thousands of happy book lovers

Recently author David Gaughran and Publishers Weekly offered criticisms of the L.A. Times Festival of Books, the largest book festival in the United States.  I am reporting here on what I actually saw and learned at the Festival which was held at the University of Southern California.  I attended both days this last weekend.  (To see photos of the event, please go to my other blog, LACityPix.)

Re the Amazon vs. Indie Bound connection to the Festival:  When the L.A. Times announced the nominees for this year’s Book Award, it included hot links for the various authors’ works in the online news report.  The links went to a page on the Indie Bound website.  The visitor/prospective book buyer was asked to enter his/her zip code to find a list of nearby independent bookstores.  The link did not go to Amazon or Kindle.  And Amazon’s presence was not conspicuous at the Festival.  I don’t remember even seeing a booth for them.

Author Solutions booth at the L.A. Festival of Books.

Book lovers lined up in front of one of the Author Solutions booths at the 2014 Festival of Books.

On the other hand, Author Solutions was very, very conspicuous.  They had six booths lined up right at the entrance where the free shuttle busses let off passengers coming to the Festival and another four booths near the Main Stage.  Out in front of the booths were attractive young women–probably USC students earning some extra money–telling passers-by that there was a “free book signing”.  The books were free. Meeting the author in person and the signing, of course, were free. There were lines of four to ten people at almost every booth and lots of people were walking away happy with their first signed book from the event.  Moreover, every author I saw looked as happy as a pig in mud!

Based on the signs posted near the first six booths, 30 authors signed their free books as fast as they could on Saturday.  Another 14 authors signed free books on Sunday afternoon.  If each of these authors paid $3,999 for the right to sign books for an hour, Author Solutions grossed $175,956.  (If my math is correct.)  The cost for these six  booths, based on the application posted online,  was $9,000.   That leaves $166,956 for Author Solutions to pay the young women who were shilling and for other expenses, but the L.A. Times Festival of Books was apparently quite profitable for them.   (These figures do not include the other four booths toward the center of the Festival.)

As we all know some writers who have worked with Author Solutions, a subsidiary of the Penguin Random empire, have become so angry with the company that they have sued.  But every author I saw was clearly thrilled with the turnout and the number of people asking for free copies of their book.  Maybe this was their 15 minutes of fame–well, one hour of fame!

While I do not endorse Author Solutions business practices at all, I find it hard to criticize these writers.  Many authors these days spend $1,000, $3,000 or more on ads, PR people and reviewers to promote their newly published books–or their backlist.  Many writers give away hundreds or thousands of their ebooks free on KDP Select.  These writers simply made a different choice.  And who knows what kind of fan base may develop from these giveaways!

I think Author Solutions should come clean and admit they are a book promotion and marketing company.  And–oh yes–they’ll get the book printed, too.

Penguin's mobile book shop

Penguin Publishing, the parent of Author Solutions had a bright orange truck at the L.A. Festival of Books.

Penguin Publishing, the parent of Author Solutions, was also at the event in the form of a bright orange truck–like a food truck for books–parked not far from the Main Stage, but no where near the Author Solutions booths.  People could buy books at the truck.  No authors.  No signings.

In my next post I’ll write about conversations with Veronica Roth and Jared Diamond.