Wednesday Words – Kathleen Bailey

Wednesday Words graphic

Please welcome author Kathleen Bailey to The West Corner! She’s here today to talk about her writing journey.

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The Good, the Bad and the “What were you thinking?”

When I was six years old I fell in love. No, it wasn’t a freckle-faced first grader who carried my books. It was a series of books, the “Betsy, Tacy and Tib” stories by Maud Hart Lovelace. The series detailed life in a small Minnesota town just after the turn of the century (Not Y2K, the one before). Three little girls got into scrapes and adventures, from mixing up a concoction of everything in the pantry to spying on their older sisters to snagging a ride in the town’s first automobile (the intrepid Tib). I loved their escapades and even tried a couple. But the thing that stayed with me, from the first page to the rest of my life, was Betsy’s determination to be a writer. She had a collection of stubby pencils and five-penny tablets, and she scribbled stories from her perch in a tree house. I wanted to do that. Still do.

My dream came to fruition this past winter when I sold my first novel, an Oregon Trail historical romance, to Pelican/White Rose Publishers. The fulfillment of a 61-year-old dream came true on a cold Friday night in New Hampshire. I’ll be 68 years old by the time the e-book is published, but I’d be 68 anyway. Part of the delay was my own fault, part God’s perfect timing.

There were missteps along the way. What did I do wrong? How much time do you have?

What I got wrong

One of my biggest mistakes was not studying craft enough, which led to not accepting constructive criticism. I knew what was best for my story, didn’t I? Except that agents, editors and publishers were lukewarm, at best, about what I produced. I probably delayed publication at least five years through my own stubbornness. Sometimes I broke a major rule, sometimes just a small slant of words or a punctuation tip would have made all the difference in the world.

I learned to learn, reading craft blogs on Seekerville and other Web sites, taking that fateful step back and looking at my stuff with a fresh set of eyes. I worked with criticism, first in a multi-author critique group and later with two successive individual critique partners. I sifted through their responses and looked for the wheat among the chaff. Usually there was more wheat than chaff.

I also began to look differently at contest feedback, discerning when a judge was snarky, when a judge was trying to make me over in his/her mold, and when a judge had valid and sometimes crucial input. I learned to follow the two-out-of-three rule, and if two out of three judges brought up the same point, it got dealt with.

There are specific craft rules such as punctuation, head-hopping (just don’t) and structure. There are acronyms such as SDT and Deep POV. But the rule overarching all of this: what’s in your head doesn’t necessarily transmit to the page. The reader has to see what you see, or it doesn’t work. This is the single biggest lesson I learned on craft: get it out of your head and on to the page.

I also had to learn the “soft” skills, such as not nagging editors and agents at conferences and not bugging my friends to introduce me. There is a place in all of this for connections, and using them, but trust me: when you’re good enough, they will come to you.

And never go over an acquisitions editor’s head to scream at their boss because you think they’re taking too long on your story. Trust me, it will end badly. And it will definitely end.

What I could have done better

I should have trusted the Lord more. In the early years I was guilty of trying to use connections, to take shortcuts, to bring this about by sheer will if nothing else (see above). I blame part of it on my secular job, which is in print journalism. If I don’t hustle, it doesn’t happen. And if I do hustle, it does. Well, Christian fiction isn’t like that, especially in today’s market. Things will happen in His timing.

I wish I’d developed a better business plan, which doesn’t really contradict the above. We do need to plan, and then leave the results up to Him. I didn’t spend enough time learning about contracts and rights, so I had to play catch-up.

But I didn’t learn about contracts etc. because I was busy writing, so there’s that.

I also wish I had, early on, done a better job of supporting other writers. I used to operate from a position of scarcity, and whenever someone I knew got published, it seemed to shorten the list of opportunities for me. But with publishing houses merging, lines closing, and the market turning back flips, I’ve learned that when one of us makes it, it opens the door for more to succeed. Because if someone publishes in THIS market, it means books are still being published. The metaphorical rising tide lifts all Christian fiction boats.

What I got right

I believed in my story and didn’t give up on it. But I was flexible enough so that when the acquisitions editor suggested I cut 20,000 words, including all but two points of view, I did it. Maybe one day I’ll write a huge, sprawling multiple POV saga, but it wasn’t a deal-breaker here. When the editor suggested I not kill off two secondary characters because she’d fallen in love with them, I again did what she wanted. One of them didn’t drown in the river crossing after all, but got swept away and rejoined the wagon train later. The other one didn’t die of the cholera, but went blind. The bones of the story, the rigors of the Oregon Trail, stayed the same, and the central love story, Michael’s and Caroline’s, remained intact. I was flexible on the peripheral issues, and I got a contract.

I also set up strategies to work, discipline, schedules and deadlines before I saw a contract. My sister writers warned us that life doesn’t slow down after publication, and that you now have someone else’s deadlines to deal with. I run a complicated household, my husband works nights and sleeps days, so I have to do most of our business dealings. And our main computer is in the living room, I don’t have a dedicated space, so I have to work around that. I knew early on that if I sold, I’d have to make this fit. I wouldn’t say I’m the most disciplined person in the world, but this winter when our washing machine died, I printed stuff out and line-edited at the Laundromat. You do what you can to make it work.

I took the advice of Mary Connealy, a Seekerville friend, and learned to be ready. When I finished the Oregon Trail story, I immediately began working on the first sequel. When I finished my 1920s New York settlement house story, I drafted the sequel to that. And when I finished a contemporary Christmas romance earlier this year, I drafted the sequel to that. Some writers advised me not to, in case the first books didn’t sell, but I had confidence in my work and knew they’d sell in some form, some day, even if I had to cut some of the POVs or keep people from dying. The bones were there and the bones were good. So when the first piece in a series sells, I’ve got at least a draft of the second. Which will buy me time to work on the third.

And I let God set me in the place He wanted me to be. Sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes just numbly acquiescent. I had to get the right perspective, and it wasn’t the secular one (work, work, work and you’ll succeed, succeed, succeed). God brought me face to face with needs, sometimes in my own family, far greater than me getting a byline and an ISBN number. He specifically told me He didn’t want me praying for my writing in church, Bible study or other public prayer times. So I didn’t. And He brought me to the brink several times, asking me if my writing was more important than my nuclear, extended and church family. (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.) He positioned me in a place where I don’t need money, which is good ‘cause there isn’t any, and I’m doing this for craft and for Christ. He also positioned me in a place where I’m semi-retired, so I have the time to do this right.

The dream that began with a six-year-old and a classic book will finally bear fruit, on the down side of that girl’s 60s.

To God be the glory.

What did YOU get right, what did you get wrong and what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your writing journey?

About the Author

photo of author Kathleen BaileyI’m a freelance writer with 35 years’ experience in the nonfiction, newspaper and inspirational field. Born in 1951, I was a child in the 50s, a teen in the 60s, a young adult in the 70s, and a young mom in the 80s. It’s been a turbulent, colorful time to grow up, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and written about most of it. I live in southern New Hampshire with my husband David, an ordained elder in our denomination, and am active in our local church. I recently contracted with Pelican/White Rose Publishers for an as-yet-unnamed Oregon Trail romance, and am hard at work on the sequel.

 

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Monday Mentions – Queen Mary’s Daughter by Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Monday Mentions graphic

Please welcome Emily-Jane Hills Orford to The West Corner! She’s here today with her book Queen Mary’s Daughter.

Queen Mary's Daughter cover artBook Description

There are so many possibilities that affect the course of history. One change, one small item overlooked, can make a world of difference, not only in a person’s life, but in the history and well-being of an entire nation. And then there are those multiple scenarios of what if? What if King James VI of Scotland didn’t succeed in amalgamating Scotland with England? What if there had been another heir to the throne of Scotland? One who would secure its independence? Would Scotland have remained free and independent and a nation of its own well into the twenty-first century? And would Scotland, this independent version, make its own decision to join the European Union when its southern neighbor was choosing to pull away? “Queen Mary’s Daughter” presents another plausible timeline, one that incorporates both historical fact and fiction with the endless possibilities of time travel.

Excerpt

“What?” the regent bellowed. “Not another Mary, and a Stuart at that. We cannot be related. Are we?” He winced in the dim light and bent forward to take a closer look. “You have her look about you. It is uncanny. You could almost pass for her. And that brooch. Where did you get that brooch?”
“I do not know, sir.” Mary Elizabeth took her time to choose her words carefully. She wasn’t sure how to answer about the brooch, so she steered clear of that comment, saying instead, “Are not all Stuarts somehow related?”
It was not the right thing to say. James Stuart, Regent of Scotland, was not amused. “Grab her. She must be a spy. Or a traitor. Either is punishable by death.” He pointed accusing fingers at the others. “The rest of you stay here. I will deal with this troublemaker.”

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Queen Mary’s Daughter is available from Amazon.

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About the Author

photo of author Emily-Jane Hills OrfordEmily-Jane Hills Orford is an award-winning author of several books, including Gerlinda (CFA 2016) which received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, To Be a Duke (CFA 2014) which was named Finalist and Silver Medalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. Her most recent novel, “Queen Mary’s Daughter”, is receiving rave reviews as it explores the what if possibility that there was another heir to the Scottish throne. The author enjoys writing about the extra-ordinary in life, often presenting a realm of possible scenarios.

Connect with Emily-Jane Hills Orford online

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Friday Fiction – Out of Her Element, Chapter Fifteen

Fiction Friday graphic

Missed part of the story? Find the full list of chapters HERE.

REMINDER: Starting next week (July 20), new chapters of Out of Her Element will be posted on my website https://eawestauthor.com/blog. Update your bookmarks so you don’t miss an installment!

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Out of Her Element cover artThey could see Dayton ahead when Ryan turned to Mira. “Are you okay?”

“It’s nothing I haven’t dealt with before.” She glanced at him. Josh’s friends seems okay, but she wished the evening was already over so she wouldn’t have to deal with Tabby’s so-called friends.

“It’s nothing you should have to deal with.”

“Maybe not, but when you speak a different language and have an Arab last name in this country, you learn real fast that what should be and what is are two completely different things.” An idea struck, one that might turn the discomfort and embarrassment back on Janet and Shannon. “What do you say we make this evening a learning experience?”

Josh turned to meet her gaze over the back of the seat. “Sounds good to me.”

“What do you have in mind?” Adam asked.

“Well, they’re suspicious of Arabs, so I’ll speak Arabic to the people at the restaurant.” She gave the guys a questioning look. “I assume they’ll speak Arabic where we’re going?”

“Absolutely,” Josh said. “Tabby’s friends couldn’t have their fun if everyone at the restaurant only spoke English.”

“I wonder if her friends will let me order.” Based on Tabby’s reaction to her description of mujaddara, just about anything she ordered would be met with suspicion.

“You can offer.” Ryan gave her a pleading look. “My only request is that you order something edible for us.”

“Don’t worry, it will all taste good.” It occurred to her that they might not enjoy Middle Eastern seasonings. Not everyone she’d met in the US had. “At least, I’ll think it tastes good. I don’t know what you like.”

“I try to avoid brains, tongues, and feet. But I’ll eat just about anything else.”

Adam grinned into the rearview mirror. “What about squid and octopus?”

Ryan shuddered. “I don’t like things that squeak when I chew, either.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” she said with a laugh.

They tossed around ideas about what they could do to get Tabby’s friends to stop their insulting idea of fun. The discussion lifted Mira’s mood and enabled her to anticipate the possibility of eating some of the foods she’d enjoyed throughout her childhood—the same foods she hadn’t eaten in seven years. By the time they arrived at the restaurant, she had a plan for what she would do if the employees were willing to play along. She also had the full support of Josh, Ryan, and Adam. Depending on how the evening worked out, she might need all the support she could get.

They parked beside Paul’s car and the group headed for the entrance. A hand-lettered sign in the window made Mira smile. She glanced at Josh, who was walking beside her.

“They serve Palestinian food here,” she said, pointing to the Arabic words. “That means I know the same version of Arabic as the owners.”

He grinned and spoke in an undertone. “That could help.”

“Especially if they have a good sense of humor.”

As soon as they stepped into the small restaurant, a cheerful Middle Eastern man in his fifties greeted them with a smile. “Welcome! How many?”

“Eight,” Paul said, an obnoxious amount of authority in his voice.

“Very good.” He called something over his shoulder, and a teenager with similar features pushed two tables together to accommodate the group. “My son will have the table ready in a minute.”

Soon, they were seated and looking at plastic covered menus printed in both English and Arabic. Mira smiled as she scanned the list of familiar dishes. This made her plan so much easier.

“What do you think this stuff is?” Janet asked, running her finger down the menu.

Mira peered over the top of her menu, taking full advantage of the opening Janet provided. “I know what it is. When I lived in Israel, I ate these same things.”

“Why don’t you order for us?” Ryan said, playing his part well. “I’m sure you know what’s good.”

Tabby fell for the bait. “That’s a great idea!”

“Okay, I’ll be right back.” Mira carried her menu to the counter at the back where the cheerful man and his son were working.

The son saw her first. “Are you ready to order?”

“Yes, I’m ordering for everyone,” Mira said in Arabic.

“Ah, you speak Arabic,” the cheerful man said in the same language as he stepped closer.

“My father was Palestinian, and I was born in the West Bank.”

Behind her, Shannon spoke in a stage whisper. “Ooh, she’s talking in their language! I wonder what they’re saying.”

The son rolled his eyes and continued folding napkins. His father glanced at Shannon, his mouth tightening. Then he returned his gaze to Mira and continued to speak his native language. “What can I get for you and your…friends?”

She glanced at the menu in her hand and laid it on the counter. “I’m hoping you can help me teach the obnoxious ones in the group a lesson.”

“What do you mean?”

She quickly outlined her idea and the man grinned. The son grinned as well, showing he understood Arabic as well as his father, even though he continued folding napkins as though he wasn’t paying attention.

“I like your idea,” the father said with a chuckle. “My name is Omar and this is my son Abdul.”

She smiled at both of them. “I’m Mira, and I appreciate your help. Now, I better order and get back to my friends.”

She placed the order, and Abdul carried it back to the kitchen. As Mira turned to go back to the table, Omar stopped her.

“I have some friends who would love to help. They have seen your companions in other restaurants and were not impressed.”

“I just met most of them a little while ago, but I’m not impressed with some of them, either. Just remember which of my friends are in on the joke.”

“Of course. We’ll bring your meal out soon.”

“Thank you,” Mira said and returned to her seat.

Suspicion marred Paul’s face as he studied her. “What was that all about?”

“Yeah,” Shannon said, “it doesn’t take that long to place an order.”

Mira shrugged and reached for her water glass. “We were just talking.”

“About what?” Paul demanded.

“Oh, all sorts of things.”

“It must be nice to have a conversation in Arabic after so long,” Josh said, giving her a convenient excuse for the conversation with Omar.

“It is.” She had enjoyed speaking Arabic and having someone understand her. It was beside the point that she likely would have spoken English, if not for her plan.

A loud burst of laughter came from the kitchen. She grinned when everyone turned toward the swinging doors. Ryan caught her gaze, and she winked. As they settled back in their seats, Mira wiped all traces of mischief from her face.

“I wonder what’s so funny,” Tabby said.

“Someone probably told a good joke,” Adam said.

Abdul and Omar came out of the kitchen carrying trays. Abdul placed the dishes he carried in front of Tabby, Paul, Janet, and Shannon. Omar placed the contents of his tray in front of the others and spoke to Mira in Arabic. “My brother loves your joke. Be prepared for him to come out and switch plates around during the next course.”

“Okay, and thanks again for your help,” she said with a smile. She turned to her friends and switched to English. “This is mutabbal and hummus with taboun.”

The group studied the food they were about to eat. Adam asked the question obviously on everyone’s mind.

“Can you give us the English translation?”

Mira swallowed a laugh. Josh’s friends were playing right into the plan, and they did it so naturally. “Mutabbal is an eggplant dip, and hummus is a dip made with pureed chickpeas. You dip the taboun—the bread—in it.”

She began to eat, and the others followed her example. It tasted like home. Josh and his friends seemed to enjoy it as much as she did. Tabby and her friends appeared surprised at the food’s high quality.

After a while, Abdul arrived to collect the dirty dishes and carry them back to the kitchen. A moment later, he and Omar returned carrying trays once again. They placed the fragrant food in front of their customers and were headed back to kitchen when a man near Omar’s age suddenly rushed out. He spoke to Omar for a moment, and then hurried to Mira’s table.

Apologizing profusely in Arabic, he switched the plate in front of Mira with the one in front of Shannon. After studying the rest of the plates, he nodded in satisfaction. He spoke to Mira in an apologetic tone, his words anything but an apology. “Omar’s friends will arrive soon carrying black cases. They will provide entertainment later.”

He went back to the kitchen with his brother and nephew, and Mira waited for the inevitable questions. She didn’t have to wait long.

“Who was that guy?” Janet asked in a suspicious tone.

Tabby leaned forward, her expression curious. “What did he say?”

“That was the cook.” Mira hoped they couldn’t see how pleased she was that they were falling for her plan like leaves from a tree in autumn. “Apparently, there was some kind of mix up in the kitchen. He made a plate with extra mujaddara especially for me, but it accidentally went to Shannon.”

“Are you sure?” Shannon studied her plate as if it would attack her.

“Positive. He explained it as he switched the plates.”

Paul stared at her, clearly unwilling to believe the exchange had been so innocent. “What did he say right before he went back to the kitchen?”

“He told me there would be a surprise later.” She pointed to the dishes as she explained what they were. “This is mujaddara. It’s lentils, bulgur, and onions. The salad with it is tabbouleh. That’s made with tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, onions, and mint. And this platter has musakhan, a chicken dish.”

Josh studied the musakhan. “Is it on bread?”

“Yes, that’s taboun.” She took a bite of the mujaddara the cook had switched and savored the familiar flavors. “This is almost as good as my mother’s.”

Shannon still looked at her plate as though the contents would bite her. “I bet this is poisoned.”

“I don’t think so.” Ryan reached over and traded plates with her. “Now you don’t have to worry. If anyone gets poisoned it’ll be me.”

Adam and Josh laughed as he took a bite of the mujaddara while Tabby and her friends watched with anxious expressions. After he swallowed, he looked at Mira and smiled.

“You’re right. This is good. Although I have no idea how your mother’s tastes.”

When Ryan suffered no ill effects, the others began to eat. More customers trickled in, including several men carrying black cases. Their arrivals were spaced a few minutes apart, but they all went straight to a table in the back corner. Mira had a hard time not laughing as the men appeared to have a serious discussion while glancing toward her table. Whoever these guys were, they played their part beautifully. She would have to thank them and Omar later.

Shannon leaned toward the center of the table and spoke in her annoying stage whisper. “Do you think those guys are terrorists?”

“Maybe.” Janet glanced toward the crowded table in the back. “They could have explosives in those cases.”

They continued to speculate as they ate. Mira did her best to ignore them as she listened to Josh and his friends hold a normal, non-prejudiced conversation about Thanksgiving plans, but it was difficult.

After a while, Paul focused on her. “You lived in Israel, right?”

“Yes.” Why the sudden interest? Especially since he hadn’t seemed to care when she’d mentioned it to Shannon earlier.

“Did you ever see a suicide bomber?”

The simple question brought forth a flood of memories. She refused to give into her emotions as she met his gaze with an unwavering one of her own. “I did once, in Jerusalem.”

“What was it like?” Janet leaned forward with an excited expression.

“Terrifying and very painful.” Disgusted by their uncompassionate stupidity, Mira stood. “Excuse me.”

She walked toward a short hall in the back of the restaurant. A sign printed in Arabic above the doorway announced there were restrooms. She stepped into the ladies room and closed the door behind her, fighting against the threatening tears. She had hoped to teach Tabby’s friends a lesson about judging others based on a stereotype, but she doubted it would ever work. They seemed incapable of understanding terrorism was a real thing. Judging by Janet’s reaction to Mira’s admission of seeing a suicide bomber, they viewed it as a game and had no regard for others as long as they had their fun.

Mira took several calming breaths as she tried to decide whether to be angry at their lack of caring or feel pity for their ignorance. She settled on pity, because it seemed easier to deal with. After splashing cold water on her face and patting it dry with paper towels, she stepped back into the hall. One of Omar’s friends stood nearby. He appeared to be only a little older than Josh.

“I heard what your friends asked and your answers,” he said gently in Arabic. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, but those aren’t my friends,” Mira said in the same language, anger lurking just below the surface as she thought of the things they’d said and done in the short time she’d known them. “They are friends of a friend.”

“I see.” His kind face took on a thoughtful expression. “Would you like to teach them a lesson?”

“You don’t mean to hurt them?” She knew how hot-tempered some Arab men could be when a woman was threatened. She still had vivid memories of her father defending her mother against his brother the only time Mira had met her uncle.

To her relief, the man chuckled. “No, of course not. I only mean to set them up. I have a friend with a wicked sense of humor when it comes to stereotypes and educating the willfully ignorant. If I call him, he’ll be here in ten minutes. It’s hard to say exactly what he’ll do, but I can guarantee it will make a lasting impression.”

Since nothing else had gotten through to Tabby and her friends, maybe his friend could. “Sure, go ahead and call him. By the way, I’m Mira.”

“I’m Akram,” he said with a friendly smile. “I’ll talk to you again later.”

“Okay. Thanks for your help.” She headed back to her table, feeling a little better about the evening.


Out of Her Element, Copyright © 2018 by Elizabeth West

Wednesday Words – Pamela S. Thibodeaux (Giveaway)

Wednesday Words graphic

Please welcome author Pamela S. Thibodeaux to The West Corner! She’s here today to share a couple of poems with us. Giveaway details are below.

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When first offered the opportunity to appear on EA West’s blog for her new feature, Wednesday Words, I wondered what on earth to talk about. After all, I’ve been writing, published and interviewed for years, so what could I say that’s new?

Penned from the Heart Vol. XIV cover artNot many people know my dad is a poet. Not seeking fame or fortune, for years he has written poems as an expression of his love and given them as gifts. Although I’ve written poems and prose on occasion, I’ve never really considered myself a poet. Yet, while looking through a compilation of those I have produced, I found a small tug of satisfaction that several of my devotional poems have appeared in various editions of Penned from the Heart, a yearly book of daily devotions from Son-Rise Publications. I’m not sure if this devotional is still on-going and since I can’t find any up-to-date info so I thought I’d share a couple of poems with you here.

More of You, Lord
© 2008
Penned from the Heart, Vol XV

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; Psalm 42: 1-2

As I sit here and gaze out to where the dolphins or porpoises play
I can’t help but Thank You, God, for this glorious day
I look at blue water, as far as the eye can see
And I am reminded of your never-ending love for me
I listen to the ebb and flow of the tide and hear the ocean roar
My heart swells with gratitude, and yet I long for more
More of Your grace and blessings, more favor, abundance galore
More of your Spirit, Lord I pray, please give me more – of You.

Penned from the Heart Vol. XVI cover artDangling by a Fingertip
© 2009
Penned from the Heart, Volume XVI

A friend and I were chatting one night via instant messenger and she made a comment that we are all in the palm of God’s hand. My response was, “yeah, but sometimes we jump right out or dangle by a finger tip, LOL! (laugh out loud)” This poem is a result of that conversation.
Sometimes I lag behind You, sometimes I run ahead
Sometimes I’m led by Your Spirit, at other times, by my head

You promise to uphold me; angels catch me when I slip
You carry me in Your hand and keep me in your grip

You promise to never leave nor forsake
But to keep me close – like a hen with her chick

Nothing can compare to Your friendship
Even if I fall away – or dangle by a fingertip
Psalm 63: 8 My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.

I also had 1 poem in Volume XI and XIII, 2 in Volume XIV & 1 in Volume XVII.

Giveaway

Today I’m giving 2 lucky winners a print copy Penned from the Heart! 1 Volume XIV and 1 Volume XVI. Leave a comment to be entered into the drawing.

Giveaway ends July 12, 2018 at 11:59pm Eastern.

About the Author

photo of author Pamela S. ThibodeauxAward-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Website | Blog | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter

The Inheritance cover artBook Description

Widowed at age thirty-nine and suffering from empty nest syndrome, Rebecca Sinclair is overshadowed by grief and loneliness. Her husband has been deceased for a year, her oldest child has moved to New York in pursuit of an acting career and her youngest child is attending college in France. Having spent over half of her life as a wife and mother, she has no idea what God has in store for her now. Will an unexpected inheritance in the wine country of New York bring meaning and purpose to her life and give her the courage to love again?

US Postal worker Raymond Jacobey has been in love with the little widow since he first set eyes on her. A wanderer searching for the ever-illusive soul mate, Ray has never stayed in one place too long. Raised by self-centered, high-power executives, he’s longed for the idyllic life of residing in a cozy house in a small town with the love of his life. Will he gain the heart of the lovely widow or will he lose her to the wine country of New York?

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The Inheritance is available from Amazon.

Monday Mentions – COVER REVEAL Out of Her Element by E.A. West (and big news)

Monday Mentions graphic

Hey, everyone! I don’t have a guest today, so I’ll be “mentioning” some of my own news (I’m so excited!!!).

Out of Her Element has a brand new cover! Check it out:

Out of Her Element cover art

Isn’t it pretty? *swoons*

Now for my other news. This one has me bouncing in my seat.

I have a new website!!!

I’ve spent the last week working on it, making it as pretty as the cover above for you guys. My new website’s address is https://eawestauthor.com. Stop by, check it out, and let me know what you think!

Along with the new website, I’m going to be changing the schedule here on The West Corner a little. This will be the last week I post a chapter of Out of Her Element on this blog for Fiction Friday. All future (and past) chapters will be available on my new website at https://eawestauthor.com/blog so be sure to bookmark it.

What does this mean for Fridays on The West Corner? I haven’t decided yet. LOL I may keep it open as a day for me to post about books I’m reading, random thoughts on life and writing, and anything else that strikes my fancy. You know, the usual blog posts an author writes. Or I could do new release announcements for other authors (and myself).

What would you prefer?

Thank you for coming along with me as I change things up! Your support means a lot to me.

Friday Fiction – Out of Her Element, Chapter Fourteen

Fiction Friday graphic

Missed part of the story? Find the full list of chapters HERE.

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Out of Her Element cover artMaggie acted up a few times when Mira started walking her around the arena, but she settled down after a few turns. After about twenty minutes of working on lead training, Mira ended the session on a good note and led the horse through the gate Josh held open.

“It looks like she remembers what she learned yesterday,” he said as the docile mare walked past him.

“She does,” Mira said as they headed toward Maggie’s stall. “And now that she learned it again today, hopefully she’ll remember it tomorrow.”

“I’m sure she will.”

They put the mare in crossties to groom her. While they brushed the happy horse, they talked about the coming evening and the events during the rest of the busy week. Josh made everything sound so simple and non-threatening, but Mira couldn’t deny the flutter of nerves as she considered meeting the Montaignes’ relatives and being included in their dinner party.

A little after four, Mira and Josh hung their coats in the mudroom and stepped into the main part of the house. Tabby rushed down the hall, appearing almost frantic.

“There you are!” She latched onto Mira’s arm. “I’ve been looking all over for you. Where were you?”

“Out in the stable, working with Maggie. Why were you looking for me?”

“So we can figure out what you’re going to wear tonight,” Tabby said as though it should have been obvious. “We’re going to have to hurry. You only have an hour to get ready.”

“I think I can be ready in an hour.” Mira cast an amused glance at Josh, who grinned.

She followed Tabby to her room and took off her boots while Tabby closed the door and went to the closet.

“I’ll help you find the right thing to wear.”

At least it would save Mira the trouble of figuring out the best clothing for the evening. “Why don’t you just pick out what you think would be appropriate while I take a quick shower?”

“Okay, I’ll put together the perfect outfit,” Tabby said, already studying the clothes they had bought the previous day.

Mira tried not to roll her eyes as she closed the bathroom door. Less than twenty minutes later, she stepped back into her room, wrapped in a voluminous terrycloth robe and toweling her hair dry. Tabby turned toward her, surprise raising her eyebrows.

“That was fast.”

“It usually doesn’t take long.” Mira fought to hide her amusement. She had a feeling a quick shower in Tabby’s world lasted at least half an hour.

“Well, I found the perfect clothes for you.” Tabby held up a pair of blue jeans and a gray hoodie with a college logo on the front. “What do you think?”

“Where did the sweatshirt come from?” She’d never seen it before.

Tabby laughed and set the clothes on the bed. “I stole it from Josh.”

“Does he know?”

“He handed it to me. After you get dressed, come to my room and bring your makeup.”

“Okay,” Mira said as her friend left, closing the door behind her. Makeup? For a casual evening out with friends? Not where she came from, but Tabby knew more about this stuff than she did.

She quickly dressed, adding a T-shirt to Tabby’s “perfect” outfit. Sweatshirts with nothing under them felt weird, and she wanted to be as comfortable as possible tonight. After pulling on her running shoes, she combed and braided her hair. Then she grabbed her makeup kit and left her room. Tabby was touching up her own makeup when Mira walked in.

After capping her lipstick, Tabby motioned her over. “Come here and I’ll help you with your makeup.”

Mira joined her at the cluttered dressing table. “I know how to put on makeup, but I don’t really like the stuff.”

Judging by Tabby’s shocked expression, it had never occurred to the girl that anyone could not like makeup. “Well, you should wear at least a little.”

If that’s the way she felt… Mira unzipped her cosmetics bag and pulled out a tube of tinted lip gloss and mascara. “How about this?”

“That’s it? That’s all you’re going to wear?”

“Just watch.” She faced the mirror and hoped Tabby would approve of her minimalist look. After applying the bare minimum of the cosmetics, she turned back to Tabby. “Will this work?”

She nodded, looking impressed. “I like it. With your complexion, you don’t need much makeup.”

“Thanks.” One challenge down, innumerable more to go. Mira smiled as she zipped the cosmetics bag closed. “Now what?”

“Now we relax and wait for people to get here.” Tabby turned on her stereo, keeping the volume low. “I should warn you about my friends’ latest obsession.”

They sat facing each other on the window seat, and Mira raised her eyebrows. “You mean terrorist watching?”

“Yeah.” A blush crept into Tabby’s cheeks. “I see Josh told you about that already.”

“Yes, he did.” Mira studied her, wondering if she understood just how degrading the activity was. “You do realize I find that insulting, right?”

“I was afraid you might. That’s why I wanted to warn you about it. I tried to convince them to lay off for tonight, but they found a new restaurant they want to check out. Do you like Middle Eastern food?”

Had Tabby forgotten where she was from? “Sure. I grew up eating it. My mother liked to fix the foods my father had grown up eating.”

“That’s cool. Do you have a favorite food?” Tabby’s wide-eyed curiosity made her look younger than nineteen, despite the coating of makeup.

“Lots of them, but I guess the one I like most is mujaddara.”

“What is it?”

“Lentils, onions, and burghul. I mean, bulgur.” Just the memory of the comfort food made her mouth water. “My mother always served it with tabbouleh.”

“It sounds…interesting.” Clearly, Tabby had never had it. She glanced at her clock and stood. “We better head downstairs.”

She turned off the stereo and led the way to the living room. They found Josh sitting on a sofa with Frank on the cushion beside him. The cat meowed when he saw Mira but didn’t even attempt to move.

“Too much work to come say hi?” She walked over and smoothed the cat’s large head. “You poor baby.”

“Frank is the laziest cat I’ve ever seen.” Josh’s laughter faded as he studied her. “So that’s why Tabby wanted my shirt.”

“Do you mind?” She plucked at the warm material as uncertainty filled her. “I still have time to change.”

“It’s fine. That shirt makes you look like thousands of college students.”

“But only the cool ones,” Tabby said with a teasing twinkle in her eyes.

They sat down, and Mira listened while Josh and Tabby discussed their classes and various events on their respective campuses. As Tabby talked about her English professor, who lectured barefoot and sitting cross-legged in the middle of his desk, the doorbell chimed.

“I’ll get it!” she said and sprang to her feet.

Mira listened to her bound across the foyer. When she heard voices and the sound of the front door closing, she shot a nervous glance at Josh.

He offered a reassuring smile. “You’ll be fine.”

She had her doubts about that, but she shifted her attention to the doorway as two men around Josh’s age appeared. He stood to greet them as Tabby plopped onto a chair.

“Hey, man, you should come home more often,” the tall blond joked. “We don’t see you enough.”

“Like you can talk,” Josh said with a grin. “You just got back from a six-month vacation in South America.”

“Ha! Vacation my foot. Have you ever tried to go anywhere in the jungle? Between the vines and the bugs, I’m lucky I didn’t get lost or go crazy.”

“That’s why I’m the smart one,” the other man said. He ran a hand through his dark hair and gave them a superior look. “The only bugs I have to deal with are annoying pre-law students.”

“Like you.” Josh laughed.

“Very funny,” he said with a roll of his eyes, and then he smiled at Mira. “You going to introduce your friend?”

Tabby hopped up, pulled Mira to her feet, and led her over to the three men.

“This is Mira Hassan,” Josh said. “She’s staying here for a while.”

At least he hadn’t said why she was staying there. She smiled but didn’t speak, so Josh continued.

“Mira, this is Adam Turner.” He indicated the blond with a wave of his hand. “He may drive you nuts talking about plants, but that’s one of the hazards of hanging out with a future botanist.”

Adam chuckled. “Josh has obviously forgotten that I can talk about other things.”

Josh dropped a hand on his other friend’s shoulder. “Ryan Farnsworth is the future lawyer. In the meantime, if you need legal advice, call his father.”

“Yeah, and unless you’re a major corporation, he’ll refer you to one of the underlings in the firm.” Ryan turned to Mira with a friendly smile. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mira.”

The doorbell sounded again, and Tabby went to answer it. Adam focused on Josh and Mira.

“So, do we know what we’re doing tonight?”

“Tabby said her friends found a new restaurant they want to try.” Just the thought made her accent thicken. Not what she needed to help her relax.

“That sounds ominous,” Ryan said.

Before Mira could assure him it was, Tabby returned with a young man and two young women around her age. The man wore chinos and a button-down white shirt. The two girls were dressed in form-fitting jeans and sweaters. All three ran appraising gazes over Mira.

“You must be Mira Hassan,” the young man stated with an air of self-confidence that bordered on arrogant. “I’m Paul Washburn the third.”

Mira smiled, hoping it hid her discomfort, as Tabby hurried to introduce her other friends.

“Mira, this is Janet Foster and Shannon Crosse.”

“How do you do?” Janet asked, primping her curly auburn hair.

“It’s nice to meet you,” Mira said.

“Oh, I love your accent!” Shannon gushed with an enthusiasm that rivaled a flight attendant’s. “It makes you sound so mysterious. Where are you from?”

“Most recently, West Virginia. Before that, Israel.” She had a feeling admitting to growing up in Palestine would work against her with these people. It had happened more than once in West Virginia.

“I toured Israel with a friend of mine once,” Janet said.

Maybe they weren’t as clueless about the world as she’d thought. “What did you think?”

“Oh, it was okay, I suppose,” she said with a noncommittal wave of her hand. “But I was glad to get home again. I mean, how can you know what those people are really thinking?”

Those people? Did Janet fail to notice that Mira was one of those people? She caught the sympathetic looks Josh and his friends gave her before staring at the floor. This was going to be a long night.

“You know,” Adam said, “it can be just as hard to know what people are really thinking in this country.”

“Whatever.” Janet dismissed him with a wave as she turned to Tabby. “So, are we going to that new place?”

Ryan looked a little too innocent. “What does it serve?”

“Middle Eastern food with names no one can pronounce.”

“Why do you want to eat food you can’t pronounce?” Ryan asked, his innocence growing.

Anyone with the slightest bit of sense could see he hoped to make a fool of her. Mira seriously doubted Janet noticed.

“You never know who you might see in one of those places,” Shannon said with a hushed tone.

Mira’s curiosity about the restaurant got the better of her. “What country is the food from?”

“Beats me.” Janet gave a careless shrug. “One of those Arab countries I assume.”

“Why don’t we get going?” Tabby shot a guilty glance at Mira. At least she had the good sense to realize how wrong her friends’ idea of entertainment was.

Everyone donned coats and gloves and headed outside. They would travel in two groups—one in Adam’s dark green SUV, the other in Paul’s silver SUV. Mira opted to ride with Josh and his friends. The less time she had to spend with Janet, the better. Otherwise, she might start giving the girl her true opinion. It was tempting to do it anyway, but she didn’t want to cause trouble for Tabby.

She ended up in the backseat beside Ryan. As they followed the other car through the falling snow, Mira stared out the window. How would the rest of the evening go after its less than ideal beginning? Could she keep her temper in check if Janet and Shannon started their prejudiced nonsense at the restaurant?


Out of Her Element, Copyright © 2018 by Elizabeth West

Wednesday Words – Wendy May Andrews

Wednesday Words graphic

Please welcome Wendy May Andrews to The West Corner! She’s here today talking about adoption and its history.

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Adoption became something I was very much interested in when friends of mine adopted their little boy from Europe. It was such an inspiring and yet heart-breaking adventure for them. They have a wonderful, healthy son and I am truly happy for the three of them. But I was left to wonder about the children left behind. My heart broke for the children that don’t get chosen. And so I researched adoption as well as its history. Unfortunately, this didn’t ease my heartbreak.

My perusing around the internet did, happily, bring me many uplifting stories of families made whole by the addition of children in need of a home. But unfortunately, for every happy story there were several terrible, tragic ones. I even discovered a horrible practice called “rehoming”. If you adopt a child from outside the country, there are far fewer regulations surrounding it and, as a result, far fewer protections for the poor child. I would like to think that the fact that there are more sad stories is just because the happy families are too busy having a good life to write articles about it.

The good news is, in researching the history of adoption, I came across information about Mr. Charles Brace, one of the founders of the Children’s Aid Society of New York, and his philosophy that a farmer’s table always has room for at least one more. Beginning in the 1850s, he, among others, organized train loads of orphans from New York and sent them out to the Midwest to start new lives with new families. This was long before the days of welfare and formal adoptions. While I’m sure there was all sorts of potential for negative stories, there is also so much potential for happy endings in this scenario. In fact, if you research orphan train children, you’ll find that several went on to even become president of the United States. Thousands of children found new lives in this way.

From this my Orphan Train series was born. I tried to imagine how these children would reach their new lives and I came up with the idea that volunteers would accompany them. My first book – Sophie, the Prequel, tells of one young woman who didn’t end up accompanying the orphans, but the next three will tell the stories of three young women and the children who head to Missouri. I hope you will find these circumstances as fascinating as I did.

About the Author

photo of author Wendy May AndrewsI’ve been writing pretty much since I learned to read when I was five years old. Of course, those early efforts were basically only something a mother could love. I put writing aside after I left school and stuck with reading. I am an avid reader. I love words. I will read anything, even the cereal box, signs, posters, etc. But my true love is novels.

Eight or nine years ago my husband dared me to write a book instead of always reading them. I didn’t think I’d be able to do it, but to my surprise I love writing. Those early efforts eventually became my first published book – Tempting the Earl (published by Avalon books in 2010). There were some ups and downs in my publishing efforts. My first publisher was sold and I became an “orphan” author, back to the drawing board of trying to find a publishing house. It has been a thrilling adventure as I learned to navigate the world of publishing.

I believe firmly that everyone deserves a happily ever after. I want my readers to be able to escape from the everyday for a little while and feel upbeat and refreshed when they get to the end of my books.

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Sophie - The Prequel cover artBook Description

His pursuit of her threatens everything – except her heart:

Sophie Brooks has lived at the orphanage since she was ten years old. Now nineteen, she’s not only a resident, she works there as well. It’s the only true home she can remember and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep it safe.

When her budding relationship with the son of one of the orphanage’s benefactors threatens the charity’s funding, Sophie must choose between her loyalties and her heart.

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Sophie – the Prequel (Orphan Train Series, Book 1) is available for $0.99 from Amazon. Get it free with Kindle Unlimited.