Wednesday Words – Kathleen Neely

Please welcome Kathleen Neely back to The West Corner! You can see her post on The Pros and Cons of Co-Writing HERE.


The Power of Reviews

There are two things I do when choosing a book to read—I read the book blurb and check the reviews. My preferred venues for reviews are (in this order) Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble. If a book has fewer than ten, the sampling is too small to be significant. Statisticians would consider that to be an inadequate sample size resulting in unreliable feedback.

One of the most powerful tools a writer can gather is positive reviews. Those are like nuggets of gold.

Consider this data. Note—this is not hard research, just my ambling through the internet to obtain information.

  • Length of time an author spends writing a novel – approximately one year.
  • Length of time a reader takes to complete a novel – approximately 14 hours.
  • Length of time it takes to write and post a review – approximately 5 minutes.

When I was an elementary teacher, I received many gifts from students and parents. While this was fun and appreciated, the absolute best thing a parent could send was a note of appreciation. That always left me with a smile.

Your positive review is a note of appreciation. I urge you to say thank you to your favored authors by posting one.

Here are a few tips about writing reviews.

  • Select your stars. Five stars means you highly recommend this book. Four stars says it’s a good book. Three stars tells me it’s just OK. If we are going to rely on reviews, they need to be accurate. I personally choose to never leave a negative review. If I can’t give a book at least three stars, I won’t review it. That’s my preference, but you may choose differently. Even a negative review can be written with kindness.
  • Amazon will denote a review as a ‘verified purchase’ if you’ve obtained a copy from them. That’s always a good thing to see. Regardless of where you obtain your copy, speak in a professional tone. Avoid use of the author’s first name only. That sounds like a friend or relative reviewed it. Use the full name or the last name only.
  • Provide a sentence or two about the plot or theme, but don’t disclose the ending or any surprise elements.
  • Mention the main character by name. Discuss the author’s use of character development.
  • Include anything notable—humor, suspense, inspiration.
  • End with your reaction to the novel.
  • Double check your grammar and spelling. If it’s poorly written, readers may disregard it.

Once again, let me remind you of the time frames noted above. An author will work for approximately one year to provide you with about 14 hours of reading pleasure. Don’t allow a wonderful book to go unread when five minutes of your time could make a difference. Your review is like that note of appreciation. It will leave them with a smile.

About the Author

photo of author Kathleen NeelyKathleen Neely is the author of three books scheduled for release in 2019. The Street Singer will be available on Feb. 22. You can learn more about it at Her novel, The Least of These, won first place for the fiction category in a Fresh Voices contest through It’s scheduled for release in May, 2019. Kathleen, a former elementary principal, is a member of ACFW and Word Weavers. She lives in Greenville, SC but loves to travel to her hometown of Pittsburgh to spend time with her two grandchildren.

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Monday Mentions – Me and Jake by Boo Riley

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Please welcome Boo Riley (pseudonym of David Arp) to The West Corner! He’s here today with his young adult novel, Me and Jake.

Book Description

Me and Jake cover artTy told his twin brother, Cameron, that he felt like something was going to happen to change their lives. Little did he know how prophetic that statement would be, or how soon it would come to pass. What seems like a series of coincidences are anything but, and what’s more amazing, Ty’s coon dog, Jake, might not be a dog at all.


The pond wasn’t big. About fifty paces across. Cameron and I had visited the little water hole many times for a drink when we could escape the hayfield without Dad catching us. Sometimes the water was clear, most times not. The smell of mud, rotten plants, and frogs and such made me wonder how I’d put my lips in it for a long drink so many times before.

The woods opened up and the pond came into view. Jake swam around in the middle, like he couldn’t make up his mind which way to go. A big coon scurried out of the water and disappeared into the bushes on the opposite bank. To Jake’s left, another critter thrashed in the water. A red and white…what? Coon? I stopped and stared, stuck in the mud like a dead tree stump. Moron.

Cameron wore a red ball cap and a white shirt, but he couldn’t swim.

My scream propelled me into the water.


Me and Jake is available from Amazon and Pelican Book Group.


About the Author

photo of author David Arp / Boo RileyDavid Arp (AKA Boo Riley) was born in Arizona, raised in Texas, and lives in Colorado. He’s 60, but has only spent half of the past 40 years at home. The other half he traveled and worked the oilfields of the world, from the deserts of the Middle East to the vast oceans offshore. When he’s not busy on a drilling rig, he spends his time writing, floating a river in his raft fly fishing, horseback, or hunting.

Connect with Boo Riley/David Arp online



Wednesday Words – Lauren H Salisbury (Giveaway)

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Please welcome author Lauren H Salisbury to The West Corner! Be sure to enter her swag bag giveaway. (More information below.)


Most Christians know the story of Peter walking on the water with Jesus. It’s been used in many sermons I’ve heard over the years, and the main conclusion drawn is always that we should keep our eyes, and our focus, firmly fixed on our saviour in order to navigate the rough seas of life.

That’s not all I get from it, though. My favourite part has always been a couple of verses earlier, in Matthew 14v25-29.

Peter wasn’t the only disciple on that boat. They were all there, but he was the only one to walk on the water with Jesus. More than that, he asked to step out of the safety of that boat because he wanted an experience that we can only imagine.

He didn’t let fear of the unknown or clinging to safety hold him back. He asked to join his master knowing the only thing that would keep him afloat was Jesus. It must have seemed crazy to the others stood around watching, but Peter did it anyway, and he was the only one.

The others never got that experience. They still saw the miracle, but they didn’t experience it for themselves, they didn’t trust enough to try, to risk, to get out of the boat.

Yes, Peter grew scared in the midst of the waves, and I don’t blame him. Can you imagine what it must have been like? Doing the impossible with waves towering all around, he faltered. But he turned to Jesus and Jesus was there to hold him up again. He couldn’t do that if Peter was sitting on the boat with the others.

If we want to truly, completely follow God and have experiences with him beyond our wildest dreams, we have to be willing to get out of our comfort zones— get out of our boats. God wants us to trust him, and while ever we’re trusting our steady income or our comfortable lives, our good relationships and kind deeds, the solid wood of a boat, we’re not trusting Him.

Now I’m not saying we all need to give up our jobs, or sell everything and become missionaries. To me, stepping out of our boats means trusting God first, following His lead, and putting our lives and talents in His hands instead of our own. It might mean sharing our faith in Him with colleagues, or trying something new in our spare time that uses our talents, or putting our work out there for others to see.

Whatever it is, He’ll be there with us, to catch us and hold us up if we need it, to share something spectacular and life-changing. But we have to make the decision to join him ourselves. He didn’t make any of the other disciples join him on the water. It was up to them, and it’s up to us.

I took a leap of faith when I decided to give up my steady income and follow the call to write Christian fiction. Since then, I’ve had many moments of fear, but I’ve also had many amazing experiences and my faith has strengthened with each trial.

The characters I write about each display courage and faith in their own way. They step outside their comfort zones and learn to trust God when all seems impossible. Even though they populate a realm of science fiction, they face the same struggles as we do, and they get out of their boats. I love that about them.


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Click HERE to enter Lauren’s giveaway for a Conviction Swag Bag!  Swag Bag includes a handmade bookmark, a pendant, and more. Complete details are on the Rafflecopter page.

About the Author

photo of author Lauren H SalisburyLauren H Salisbury was an English teacher for sixteen years with an MA in Education. She is now a writer who dabbles with tutoring and lives with her husband and a room full of books in Yorkshire, England. She likes to spend winters abroad, following the sunshine and becoming the seasonal envy of her friends. When she’s not writing, she can be found spending time with family, reading, walking, crafting, or cooking. The Legacy Chronicles is her debut series.

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Conviction cover artBook Description

Can two people with opposing principles overcome their differences to be together?

Than has spent his life ostensibly having fun while secretly fighting for his people’s freedom. A member of the underground resistance, he is only ever serious around his comrades and his family. When an injury forces him to step down from active duty and his reluctant nurse sparks his interest, Than finds himself in uncharted territory. The fascinating woman will have nothing to do with him.

Menali’s past has taught her to keep her head down and trust that God has a reason for allowing the human race to suffer on U’du. When Than explodes into her life, he refuses to take no for an answer and challenges all of her preconceptions. He soon has her re-evaluating her priorities and wondering what life with someone like him would be like.


Conviction is available from Amazon.

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Monday Mentions – Redeeming Honor by E.A. West

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That’s right! I’m sharing about my inspirational romance Redeeming Honor today. Read on for an excerpt and some exciting news!

Book Description

RedeemingHonor_w12418_300Meghan Carpenter loves God, her yarn business, and her twin brother Ryan — a former marine who currently lives with her. When she agrees to let his wounded buddy live with them on her small Indiana alpaca farm, she expects an American marine. What she gets is a former Afghan interpreter who’s painfully shy around women.

Scarred from the war, both physically and emotionally, Basir Hamidi is grateful for a place to live. But his attraction to Meghan is a problem. With his honor destroyed by events in his homeland, and nothing to offer her but his broken, scarred self, he vows to avoid her and protect her reputation. Yet he is drawn to her with a strength that can only be God’s leading. For a man who has lost everything, letting go of the past is a difficult process. When he must also redeem his honor, his only chance of success is to rely on God.


The oven timer dinged, and Meghan grabbed a hot pad. Golden-brown cookies filled the air with the delicious scents of vanilla and chocolate. She set the tray on the granite counter, shut off the oven, and then turned to the task of transferring chocolate chip cookies to the cooling rack.

As she set the baking sheet in the sink, the front door opened. Meghan’s heart jumped, and she hurried from the kitchen, eager to see which of Ryan’s friends would be living in her house. She stepped into the hall and spotted her brother and a swarthy-skinned, black-haired man wearing huge dark sunglasses. Each of them carried a black suitcase.

Ryan grinned as his friend closed the door. “Hey, Meghan, this is my buddy Basir Hamidi. Basir, meet my sister, Meghan.”

The black-haired man removed his sunglasses to reveal a pair of wire-rimmed glasses and scar tissue around his tawny-brown eyes. “Thank you for letting me stay in your home.”

Meghan swallowed her surprise at his heavy accent and pushed aside her sorrow that he had endured something terrible to cause the scars. Regardless of what he had been through, the only thing that should matter to her was helping him to feel comfortable in her home. She offered a warm smile and clasped her hands at her waist. “I’m glad I had an empty guestroom for you. I’ll let Ryan give you the grand tour of the place while I put the finishing touches on lunch, but remember that this is your home, too, for however long you need it.”

“Thank you.” He inclined his head, his right hand over his heart. Then, he lowered his hand and glanced at Ryan.

Her brother slung an arm around Basir’s shoulders and guided him to the stairs. “Your room’s up here.”

Meghan returned to the kitchen and struggled to wrap her mind around her new houseguest. She’d expected an American marine, but her brother had brought home an Afghan man. Had Basir somehow become a marine? Had he been part of the Afghan army? Questions flowed in a steady stream as she chopped hardboiled eggs for the chef’s salads she’d planned.


Redeeming Honor is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Pelican Book Group.

Exciting News: Redeeming Honor is available for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers!


About the Author

Photo of author E.A. WestAward-winning author E.A. West is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she picked up her pen in a creative writing class and hasn’t laid it down yet. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, knitting, and crocheting. She lives in Indiana with her family and a small zoo of pets.

Connect with E.A. West online

Amazon Author Page

Wednesday Words – MB Mooney

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Please welcome author MB Mooney to The West Corner!


When a Character Surprises You

– MB Mooney

There is a secret that some authors won’t tell you because they think it sounds crazy.

But I’ll tell you.

There is a moment when a fictional character becomes a real person.

These characters begin as a name or an idea, and we shape and mold them to be what we want them to be. To do the things we want them to do.

Then they do something different.

There is a moment, in the middle of writing a scene, I’m in the flow, and then the character makes a choice I didn’t want them to. They act on their own.

And it surprises me, as a writer. And to be honest, it’s a little unsettling.

I mean, I created this character, right? I gave them a backstory, a name, a personality. How do they surprise me?

The unsettling part is that the surprise had to happen, and I don’t know why. It might seem out of character, and I have to take a few minutes to figure out why they did that. Ultimately, it reveals a deeper part of that character than I even knew existed.

An example – in my first novel in The Eres Chronicles, The Living Stone, I had a character that filled a role. Macarus. The captain of the guard in a city about to be besieged. He existed, in my mind, to help Caleb, the main character, make a choice and get the resources he needed. But as the latter part of the book progressed, Macarus became more and more important through conversations and other choices. I was discovering him as the story went. He kept showing up and doing things that made the story better but outside my plans.

Readers continually commented on how much they loved Macarus, as well. I did, too! There were too many main characters in the second book, The Blades of War, so I had to wait until book three – The Fire Reborn – to bring him back and make him a part of the story again. I had so much fun learning more about him.

There have been other characters I wrote that didn’t die when I wanted them to. How did they survive? Or died when I wanted them to live. Or fell in love with characters I didn’t mean for them to. I write the scene and say, “What just happened?”

I guess when I spend hours and hours with these characters in scenes and story arcs, my subconscious starts to see them as real people and fills in the gaps. It’s strange, but it happens.

And this is what I should want, as a writer. I should want my characters to be as real as possible, to “leap off the page” like some people say. Three dimensional. Developed.

It’s like when I used to play basketball, and for the first few years of shooting a jump shot, I had to think about placement and form and bending the knees and all that. But then I could shoot without thinking about it anymore. It just happened. Then there were those games when I hit every shot and made the perfect moves. People called it being “in the zone.”

Maybe that’s what it is with characters. I practice the skill of shaping these three-dimensional characters into people that make our novels and stories believable, characters our readers can relate to and love. Then sometimes it goes beyond skill into second nature and the characters become real people that act outside of my will. They develop wills of their own.

Or maybe I’m just crazy.

About the Author

photo of author MB MooneyMB Mooney writes Fantasy and Science Fiction novels. He has a great podcast Brew & Ink with his writers group (now syndicated on where they share stories, writing tips, and interview industry professionals. He has traveled all over the world and lives now in Suwanee, GA with his amazing wife, three creative kids, and a precocious dog.

The Fire Reborn cover artBook Description

Caleb and the Revolution sweep forward to gain freedom from the oppressive Kryan Empire. Dwarves and elves have joined the fight, but even if Caleb can keep the army of different races from fracturing, it will not be enough.

To break the Empire and defeat the powerful Emperor in the battle to come, someone must sacrifice it all to bring the long forgotten dragons back to fight for the Revolution.

The Fire Reborn.


The Fire Reborn is available from Amazon.

Monday Mentions – Royally Entitled by Melody Delgado

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Please welcome Melody Delgado to The West Corner! She’s here today with her historical romance novel Royally Entitled.

Royally Entitled cover artBook Description

When her family’s cider business is ruined and other local businesses are vandalized, Anika Penning wonders if the recent bout of unrest is merely a result of rivalry between local merchants and noblemen, or if something more sinister is at the root of the recent crimes. Along her journey Anika befriends Prince Valdemar, future king of Brevalia, but their relationship hits many twists and turns along the way. Lady Winifred Paxel Flemming pursues the prince relentlessly. His grandmother, Queen Marguerite, expects him to wed whoever she thinks is suitable, even if it means marrying a foreign princess he’s never met. Anika’s mother, Lady Sarah, wants Anika to help ease the family’s financial burdens by marrying Erland Riccats, National Chairman of the Merchants’ Guild. Lady Sarah also harbors secrets regarding Prince Valdemar’s mother, Princess Karin, who met an untimely death years before. In the end, will both Anika and Prince Valdemar be forced into loveless marriages, or will they be able to outwit their enemies?


Miss Anika Penning glanced down from the top of the mulberry tree she’d climbed and stole a glimpse of Prince Valdemar riding past her on his white stallion. She held her breath, hoping he wouldn’t look up and catch her spying on him.

“Anika, we’re leaving,” her father hollered from the back porch.

Botheration! She’d told her parents she wasn’t going to the fair with them.

As Prince Valdemar spurred his horse and dashed back and forth along the palace grounds bordering Anika’s property, she realized she wouldn’t be ablet to emerge from the tree without being seen by him. But maybe, if she hurried, she could climb halfway down and then scurry off while he rode away in the opposite direction.

She began making her descent from branch to branch while Finn, their ten-year-old stable boy, gazed up at her from the ground below.

“Oh there you are, Miss Penning,” he called out to her. His clothing was stained with jam, and his hair was a mass of blond curls that hadn’t seen a brush in days. “Your father’s been searching for you.”

“Tell him to leave without me,” she whispered, putting a finger to her lips. “I’m not going.”

“What’s that?” Finn shouted, just as Prince Valdemar rode by again. “You’ll have to speak up. I can’t hear what you’re saying if you whisper.”

Was the boy thickheaded, or was he purposely trying to thwart her?

“Tell my father not to wait for me,” she said.

“He is waiting for you,” Finn hollered. “But don’t worry. Your mother said she needed another minute or two.” He strode towards the house.

Drat! He’d misunderstood her. “Finn! Wait!”

“We are waiting,” he said, glancing back at her over his shoulder. “But since you’re going, I’ll stay behind to help with the chores.”

Anika opened her mouth to correct him, but he ran off before she could utter another word. Now she’d have to hurry. Her father would just keep sending people to search for her if she tarried.

Waiting until the prince’s horse galloped off towards the palace, she climbed down to the lower branches. When she jumped from the bottom branch to the ground she landed in a large pile of sticky, wet, mulberries. She slipped, tried to keep her footing, but fell face forward right into another huge mound of moist purple fruit.

“Botheration,” she muttered, leaning up on her elbows. Her hands were stained with purple juice, so was her dress. She raked a hand across her face and ripped a gooey purple mulberry from her cheek, as a pair of gleaming black leather boots strode towards her, and a horse whinnied from a few feet away.

No no no!

She maneuvered herself into a sitting position and dared to look up.

A tall, young man with long, straight, copper-colored hair stood over her. Prince Valdemar, trying to stifle a laugh, extended a hand to help her up. “I’ve always found it difficult to climb trees while wearing a gown and silk slippers,” he said with a smirk.


Royally Entitled is available from Amazon.


About the Author

photo of author Melody DelgadoMelody earned her bachelor’s degree in music from Florida State University and has taken writing courses from Charter Oak College. Her first novel, an inspirational, historical romance, ROYALLY ENTITLED, was released in 2017 by Clean Reads. Continuing stories about the fictional nation of Brevalia will be forthcoming in the Brides of Brevalia series. She is currently working on the follow-up to ROYALLY ENTITLED, ROYALLY SCHEMING. It will feature many characters from book one, but will focus on telling Elkie’s story. OOPS-A-DAISY, a humorous, inspirational novel for young readers 8-12, was also released by Clean Reads in 2017. She lives in Florida with her husband and children and is represented by Cyle Young of the Hartline Literary Agency.

Connect with Melody Delgado online



Wednesday Words – DiAne N. Gates

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Please welcome author DiAne Gates to The West Corner!


Those of us not born-and-breed Texans love to say I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here soon as I could! And those wise words applied to our family too. There’s something about Texas hospitality, food, and folks that slips under your skin and transforms a person into a new Texan from the inside out.

Twisted cover artI’ve photographed miles of Florida sand and waves, but when we arrived in Texas my heart’s desire was to become a rodeo photographer. But somewhere along the way the urge to write about Texas Rodeo families won the coin toss—and The Roped Series was born.

Kids today need to be challenged to crawl from in front of their computers and X-boxes, and there’s no better way than learning to rope and ride. Rodeo kids are good kids… at the end of the day they’re too tired to do anything else. Besides, rodeo is like Florida sand, once it gets in your sandals, boots, or tennis shoes—you’re hooked.

Book One in the series, ROPED drops the reader into an ongoing generational feud between two Texas families. The Crosby’s own a small ranch outside of Terrell, Texas. Crissy Crosby is a teen who loves her family, loves the Lord, and loves her horses. But the Fairgate’s spread makes the Crosby’s place look like a dump. Ed Fairgate’s always gotta be the best at everything, regardless of the cost, and he expects the same of his daughter. Jodie Lea, is a spoiled, mean brat, who let’s everyone, including Crissy, know they are beneath her.

ROPED speaks to problems teens face or come in contact with in their friends’ lives—racial prejudice, feelings of inferiority, bullying, death of grandparents, competition—problems many parents are uncomfortable discussing, because they often don’t have the answers.

The reader is introduced to rodeo life…the process, the mentality, the rewards. And the dangers. Problems escalate when a new Chinese student enrolls in school in this East Texas town. But underneath all the bravado lurks a terrible secret. A secret so ugly and evil Crissy—who’s never scared of anything—meets her match in the dark shadows of an unfamiliar barn after the rodeo championship. Will she survive?

Book Two TWISTED, draws the reader into the lives of these two girls and reveals why Jodie Lea is such a brat, and the answer will toss both families into turmoil from which their lives will be turned upside-down and backwards. And all Crissy yearns for is to rope and ride again.

Book Three UNTIED, is still a work in progress, but I can tell you, both girls return to the rodeo arena—a place of comfort for Crissy, but a ring of hateful memories for Jodie Lea.

About the Author

photo of author DiAne GatesWife, mother, and Mimi, freelance artist and photographer, DiAne Gates writes for children, young adults, and non-fiction for adults through her blogs, and She also facilitates a GriefShare support group.

DiAne’s award winning, ROPED, first in her western adventure series released July of 2015, and the second book, TWISTED, released by Pelican Book Group July 14, 2017. Third book in this series, UNTIED, is her WIP.

Connect with DiAne on Facebook.

Roped coverBook Description

Thirteen-year-old Crissy Crosby chases a dream to live up to her parents’ rodeo legacy. But the rodeo championship is two months away and problems beyond her ability to solve stack and teeter like a game of Tumbling-Towers. Meanwhile rival Jodie Lea and her father, Ed Fairgate, contrive to swipe the silver buckles from Crissy’s grasp any way they can. Prejudice, anger, and dark secrets simmer in a pot of family feuds destined to boil over in a tragic nightmare at the rodeo. Will Crissy develop courage and faith to overcome the consequences of her temper? Will her dreams of buckles and titles become reality? Or will the character-building adversities of her life quash her dreams forever?


Roped (The Roped Series, Book One) is available from Amazon.