Wednesday Words – Gay N. Lewis

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Please welcome author Gay N. Lewis to The West Corner!

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Treadmills: Are You on One?

I’d planned to buy a treadmill. Yep, even went shopping for the contraption. After pricing the horrid devices, I forgot about the purchase and joined a gym.

So, now, I go daily for my thirty minutes of agony on that spinning merry-go-round. Some people are hooked on physical fitness. They spend hours each day with strenuous activities. Not me. I’m addicted to cheesecake.

In my current Sarah book, Sarah and the Angelic Magical Makeover, the Superiors send my little dyslexic angel to help a female with a makeover. Sarah and Valerie join a gym, and like me, Sarah finds the equipment brutalizing. If you’ve read any of my Sarah books, you know she’s gonna cause accidents. Unexplained, funny, chaos. Sarah can’t relate to makeup and hair-dos either.

Here’s a scene from the book. Valerie and Sarah are in a salon for a new hair style.

Taylor led Sarah to a chair and draped a cloth about her. Margie’s stylist ushered Valerie to a chair and did the same. Sarah glanced at Valerie in the mirror, smiled and then returned her attention to her stylist.

Taylor fluffed her hands through Sarah’s snarled hair. “What color and cut are you wanting today?”

Sarah cleared her throat. ‘Uh, I’m not sure. What do you suggest?”

I think a blond shade will lighted up sections and give a shimmer your hair doesn’t currently have. What do you think?”

Sarah frowned. “My body has shimmered before, just not down here in this place and time.”

Taylor puckered her brow. “Yes, well, I was speaking of only hair. Would you like it to shimmer again?”

“Yes, please, but I don’t want to get into trouble with my Superiors.”

“I’ll go easy on the color, nothing too dramatic to interfere with employment. We’ll do a temporary color and see how you like it. It will wash out after a couple of shampoos. Since your hair is naturally curly, how about a shorter cut? You’ll add a mousse every time you shampoo then finger comb your style. It’ll be easy.”

Sarah lifted wide eyes to the stylist. “You’re going to put a moose on my head?” She pointed to her scalp. “You can’t do that. Animals are too big. Please don’t put any tiny insects up there either.”

Taylor snorted and attempted to cover her laughter with a cough. “No, no. Mousse is a product, not an animal.”

Taylor and Margie shared a look of horror in the mirror. They must wonder what kind of women had wandered into their salon and if they’d survive.

Taylor cleared her throat. “I’m going to the back to mix color for you. I’ll be back in a jiffy.”

Margie left to do the same.

Sarah glanced at Valerie. “I’m nervous. You?”

Valerie nodded. “I have no words to describe my anxieties.”

Sarah heard her tummy rumble. “I wish we’d eaten before we came in here. I’m hungry.”

“I’m too tense to eat and that’s a first for me.”

Sarah rubbed her midsection. “I hope I can hold out until we’re finished here. I’m ravenous.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Sarah saw Taylor approach with a bowl. She set the container on the table and Sarah gazed at the contents. The goo appeared to be a creamy, yummy, caramel pudding.

Leaning forward, Sarah scooped up s small amount of mixture with her index finger and promptly stuck it in her mouth.

Taylor gasped. “What are you doing? You can’t eat that! It’s hair color.”

Sarah licked her lips. “I thought it was butterscotch pudding. It doesn’t taste like butterscotch and it doesn’t smell like dessert, but it doesn’t taste too bad.”

Taylor took a giant leap to stand beside Margie. “Should we call 911? I’ve never had a client eat hair paint before.”

Margie scrutinized Sarah. “I don’t know. She didn’t swallow much. It was a small dab. Let’s call poison control and ask what we should do.”

“Don’t eat anymore of it.” Taylor admonished Sarah, and then the two stylists scurried off to find a phone number.

Sarah shrugged. “Why are they so worried?”

“You swallowed chemicals. I guess they need to find out if the medic should come and pump your stomach.”

“Oh, no way. I don’t need that. My stomach is big enough already.” Sarah patted her round belly.

At the end of the book, Sarah accomplishes her mission. Valerie, the earthling, becomes confident and healthy, both physically and mentally. Right choices do that for us.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if an angel came down to help us with doubt? Or weight? Or the myriad of problems we face? Like my treadmill? Or caregiving for my daughter who has early onset dementia?

I plan to put one step in front of the other on the treadmill of life. Is it fun to do the difficult? Nope. Not at all, but with God’s help, and maybe a little assistance from an angel like Sarah, it’s possible.

About the Author

photo of author Gay N. LewisA native Texan, Gay N. Lewis has written and produced videos and for over ten years, and she’s used her imaginative insight in the interior design field. As a pastor’s wife, she writes Faith Features for various church periodicals. She also writes articles for Texas Hill Country. Gay is a published author in romance and fantasy fiction. Her current series is about a dyslexic angel who comes to earth to help humans, but Sarah, the angel, is more like Lucy Ricardo with humorous antics and bumbles. Mattie’s Choice, and Clue into Kindness are not fantasy and romance. These books are women’s fiction. The stories are about abusive men and women who are addicted to an unhealthy relationship. She writes an award-winning blog that features faith and humor.

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Sarah and the Angelic Magical Makeover cover artBook Description

How can a dyslexic, low-esteemed, inexperienced angel help Valerie, an insecure, overweight woman with a poor image of herself? To complicate matters, two men present themselves as possible mates for Valerie, but only one is the real deal. Can Sarah achieve a makeover while discovering the true love for Valerie?

Sarah and the Angelic Magical Makeover is available from Amazon.

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Monday Mentions – A Love Restored by Kelly Goshorn

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Please welcome Kelly Goshorn to The West Corner! She’s here today with her historical romance novel A Love Restored.

Book Description

A Love Restored cover artWith pert opinions and a less-than-perfect figure, Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to Society’s vision of a perfect lady. When she accepts a position teaching in a Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer Ruth Ann is likely to receive. She’s forced to choose between life as a lonely spinster or reinventing herself to secure a respectable proposal.

Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earns him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect he craves. After a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, Benjamin is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality. When others ridicule his choice, will Benjamin listen to his heart or put ambition first?

Excerpt

Loudoun County, Virginia
August 1873

Benjamin Coulter cringed as the shrill tune hung in the air. That woman sure knew how to ruin a Sunday afternoon. Sounded like something was dying and needed to be put out of its misery.

He shook his head. All he wanted to do was rest a while longer. His decision to go around his headstrong superior and talk to Mr. Farrell directly about his boss’s inaccurate measurements had made for a nerve wracking week. That decision could have cost him his job. Thankfully, his discovery had been received well, saving the struggling railroad both time and money.

Benjamin leaned against the sycamore tree and tossed his line into the creek. A slight hint of remorse nicked his conscience. He now sat poised to guide the construction of the Washington & Ohio Railroad through the town of Catoctin Creek and over the Blue Ridge Mountains to Winchester, but he hadn’t intended to get his boss fired. If only the man hadn’t refused to admit he’d made a mistake.

Yep, it was all coming together. Just the way he’d hoped it would when he agreed to leave Texas and take this apprenticeship in Virginia. All he had to do was pass that examination next spring and…

He shuddered. The woman’s screeching escalated to a bone-grating pitch. She’d frighten the fish away for sure. Like most folks, Sunday was his day off, and he didn’t intend to spend it listening to her sing off-key.

Wedging his pole in the mud of the creek bank, he set off to investigate. Her ear-piercing slaughter of The Merry, Merry Month of May led the way. He spied his first glimpse of the lyrical assassin through the thin limbs of a dogwood tree. Perched on a large, flat rock at the edge of the creek, she swirled her bare feet in the water. Behind the rock sat a pair of woman’s boots—fancy ones. Too bad she hadn’t spent some of her shoe allowance on singing lessons. Her voice cracked. “The skies were bright, our hearts were light, in the merry, merry month of May…”

Benjamin winced. That was the fourth time in a row she’d sung that part. For the love of Pete, didn’t Miss Fancy Boots even know the words? He needed to put a stop to this so he could continue fishing—and napping. He stepped forward then stopped. The woman reached up and removed a pin from her hair, then another. Mounds of long chestnut brown ringlets spilled over her shoulders into the middle of her back.

Curls. He groaned. Why’d she have to have curls?

The skies were bright. Our eyes were light…”

Never mind. Curls or not, the woman’s voice could haunt the dead.

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A Love Restored is available from Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble.

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About the Author

photo of author Kelly GoshornKelly Goshorn weaves her affinity for history and her passion for God into uplifting stories of love, faith and family set in nineteenth century America. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Kelly has been enjoying her own happily-ever-after with her husband and best friend, Mike, for 28 years. Together they have raised three children, four cats, two dogs, a turtle, a guinea pig, a gecko, and countless hamsters. Thankfully, not all at the same time. When she is not writing, Kelly enjoys spending time with her young adult children, scrapbooking with friends, board gaming with her husband, and spoiling her Welsh corgi, Levi.

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Wednesday Words – Danielle Thorne

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Please welcome author Danielle Thorne to The West Corner!

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Paranormal Trouble

Happy October!

Fall is my favorite season. I love the changing trees, bonfires, and most of all, Halloween. It’s fun to dress up in costumes, drink apple cider, and make a few graveyard visits, but sometimes the ghostly can hit too close to home. As a writer, dealing with the paranormal is best done by telling stories, so I’ve written some of my thoughts and experiences into my paranormal series, Death Cheater.

For me, my paranormal “trouble” started after I visited some prehistoric Indian burial mounds in the southern United States. I wondered how many ancient souls had wandered through the nearby forest. What would it be like if I could see those spirits, and what would I do if there was contact?

Now, when it comes to all things ghostly, I am the biggest chicken. I believe in spirits, and yes, I’ve had my own paranormal experiences, but writing about them didn’t become a journey until my vacation to the mounds. I decided it’d be nice to have a paranormal super power if I had to contend with ghosts, and that determination became the driving force behind the story of Athena Gray and her life as a Death Cheater.

In Death Cheater, Athena accepts that she is different. She can bring butterflies back to life with just a wish, and sometimes stop people from crossing over to the other side. Her spooky ability keeps others at arm’s-length, but not Dan. He’s the most popular boy on Omega High School’s baseball team and wants to be her friend, but even Dan can’t understand the reason she acts haunted—until a spirit roaming the local historic burial mounds takes an interest in people Athena cares about, including Dan!

There was a growl, and the terror I’d been holding at bay zipped up my spine into my skull. I was sure my long hair stood on end, like when kids touched the electrostatic generator at the science museum. Something was coming for me, and it wasn’t something from the woods. It’d been following me all day. Maybe even my entire life.”

Athena is a strong, independent character who understands she doesn’t have to fit in to be content with herself. High school doesn’t come easy though, because dealing with teen drama and her own anxiety issues are as difficult as accepting her grandfather’s death. With no parents to turn to and few friends, Athena has to dig deep when a dark angel enters her life at the worst time. He doesn’t just have information about who she is, he has demands.

Are there really such things as ghosts? Are there dark angels intent on making us miserable? How many of us have abilities we haven’t embraced? Death Cheater is an exploration into forces from the other side and our power to choose what is right over what they would otherwise influence us to do. It’s the perfect fall read that empowers and prepares you for the Halloween spirit.

Whatever you do this month, make sure to enjoy the changing of the seasons and all that nature has to offer. If you enjoy books, happy reading! And if you’re like me…

Happy Haunting,

Danielle Thorne

About the Author

photo of author Danielle ThorneDanielle Thorne is the author of classic romance and adventure in several genres. She loves Jane Austen, pirates, beaches, cookies, antiques, cats, dogs, and long naps. She does not like phone calls or sushi. A graduate of BYU-Idaho, Danielle saw early work published by Every Day Fiction, Arts and Prose Magazine, Mississippi Crow, The Nantahala Review, StorySouth, and… you get the idea. Besides writing, she’s edited for both Solstice and Desert Breeze Publishing. Her growing blog, The Balanced Writer, focuses on writing, life, and the pursuit of peace and happiness. Currently, Danielle freelances as a non-fiction author while waiting to hear from readers like you through her website. During free time, which means when Netflix is down, she combs through feedback and offers virtual hugs for reviews. Her next book is coming soon.

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Death Cheater cover artBook Description

Athena Gray is strange. Dead butterflies flutter to life with just a wish, and she saved her dying grandfather by willing him to live. The only person who doesn’t think she’s weird is Dan, the most popular boy on Omega High School’s baseball team. But who can have friends—or more—when a dark spirit shows up and stalks your every move? Dan can’t understand the reason Athena acts haunted, until the paranormal visitor turns to blackmail, forcing her to come clean about her gift. Manipulated into using her power for terrible things, Athena must stand up to the darkest force she’s ever encountered, before the people she cares about most get hurt.

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Death Cheater is available from Amazon. Free with Kindle Unlimited!

Monday Mentions – Alone by SM Ford

Please welcome SM Ford to The West Corner! She’s here today with her inspirational romantic suspense novel, Alone.

Book Description

Alone cover artReady for adventure in the snowy Colorado mountains, Cecelia Gage is thrilled to be employed as the live-in housekeeper for her favorite bestselling author. The twenty-five-year-old doesn’t count on Mark Andrews being so prickly, nor becoming part of the small town gossip centering on the celebrity. Neither does she expect to become involved in Andrews family drama and a relationship with Simon Lindley, Mark’s oh-so-good-looking best friend. And certainly, Cecelia has no idea she’ll be mixed up in a murder investigation because of this job. Will Cecelia’s faith get her through all the trouble that lies ahead?

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Alone is available from Amazon and Audible.

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About the Author

photo of author SM FordSM Ford writes inspirational fiction for adults, although teens may find the stories of interest, too.

When she was thirteen, she got hooked on Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense books, although she has been a reader as long as she can remember, and is an eclectic reader. Inspirational authors she enjoys include: Francine Rivers, Bodie Thoene, Dee Henderson, Jan Karon, and many more.

SM Ford is a Pacific Northwest gal, but has also lived in the midwest (Colorado and Kansas) and on the east coast (New Jersey). She and her husband have two daughters and two sons-in-law and three grandsons. She can’t figure out how she got to be old enough for all that, however.

She also loves assisting other writers on their journeys.

Connect with SM Ford online

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Wednesday Words – Are you devaluing your own accomplishments?

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I’ve noticed a common theme on social media that carries over into real life — the devaluation of one’s own accomplishments. It sounds strange, doesn’t it? Let me give you a few fictitious examples based on real comments I’ve seen or heard.

“I just finished reading this awesome book in a week, which is kind of sad when I know most of you read a book or more in a day, but I’m happy it didn’t take me two weeks to finish it like it usually does.”

“It sounds kind of pathetic, but I can pay half my rent with this check and still buy groceries for the week.”

“I know there are a lot of people who are better than me, but I did a good thing today, so that counts for something. Right?”

Do you see the trend here? Even in the midst of celebrating a personal accomplishment, people are still putting themselves down. Someone pointed out to me last week that I do it too in certain contexts. I didn’t even realize it until they said something, but now I’m wondering how quickly I can break the habit.

You see, this devaluing our accomplishments (and by extension ourselves) comes from comparing ourselves to others. Many people have said that comparison is one of the fastest ways to kill joy. So why do we do it to ourselves?

You may be thinking that comparison is a good thing because it makes us strive to do better. That’s a good theory, but the reality is that comparing yourself to others leads to discouragement. It can also keep you from reaching your full potential because fear of not measuring up discourages you from trying.

Here’s the thing about comparing what you accomplish to what others do: you are not that other person and they are not you. We all have strengths and weaknesses, challenges and opportunities, that are unique to us and our lives. No two people are the same, which means when you’re comparing yourself to another person, it’s kind of like comparing pumice to granite. Both are igneous rocks, but one can float and the other sinks.

If you look past the geologic nerdiness of that analogy, I think you can see what I’m trying to say. We all have things we’re good at and things we’re bad at. Take the example of the reader statement above. They may read slowly, but they might be an excellent baker. Another reader might speed through two novels a day, but they might not be able to bake to save their life. That doesn’t mean one is better than the other. They’re just different people with different strengths.

Life is a journey, and we’re all on different paths. Sometimes those paths may run parallel to each other, or even share the same route. But ultimately we each have to travel our own path. Comparing our journey to that of another doesn’t do anything other than lead to discouragement, which steals the joy you might otherwise find along the way.

Don’t let comparison steal your joy. Celebrate your accomplishments without the disclaimers. Be proud of doing the thing, having a small success, or just making it through another day. Your small achievements are just as valid and worthy of celebration as the big accomplishment of that other person over there.

The world has enough joy to go around. Let yourself feel it. You are worth it.

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.

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RedeemingHonor_w12418_300Book Description

Meghan 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.

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Redeeming Honor is available from Amazon. Read it for free with Kindle Unlimited!

Monday Mentions – Fall in Love: Five Sweet Tales of Autumn Romance

Today’s spotlight is on an anthology of sweet, Autumn-themed romances — Fall in Love by Dora Hiers, Delia Latham, Mary Manners, LoRee Peery, and Tanya Stowe.

Book Description

Fall in Love cover artBE SWEPT AWAY IN FIVE HEARTWARMING ROMANCES WITH AN AUTUMN FLAIR…

CAPTIVE AT SEA by Mary Manners

Claire Mulvaney’s benevolent spirit has her biting off more than she can chew when she spearheads a charity fishing event to raise funds for Winding Ridge’s overcrowded animal shelter and is forced to call on fishing expert Sean Maguire.

Sean blames himself for his brother’s death. He spends his days in mourning and when Claire turns to him for help, he chases her off with gruff words meant to fortify his distance from the pain that has taken hold of his soul. But the enchanting woman with emerald eyes captivates, and Sean soon finds himself drawn to her warm-hearted enthusiasm.

NEVER THE TWAIN by Delia Latham

Hollywood agent Cass Townsend makes a more-than-satisfactory living helping talented “wannabe” actors become stars.

Thanks to a twin brother who made it big in Hollywood and then estranged himself from his family, rugged Texas horse rancher Ryder Hayes sports oversized chips on both very broad shoulders toward celebrities. He’s not convinced any good at all can come out of Hollywood.

She’s prim and proper to a fault. He’s fun-loving, with a streak of pure mischief. Ryder’s a good man, but not a Christian—not by a Texas mile. Cass can’t remember missing a single Sunday service since childhood. They’re the epitome of polar opposites and never the twain shall meet…or so the saying goes.

FULLY COMMITTED by Dora Hiers

Receiving a Dear Rand email while serving his country didn’t douse the fire in Rand Tenneson’s heart for his high school sweetheart. Fully committed, nothing quenched that love, not even news that Bryanna married. Back home now, Rand enjoys a busy life, firefighting and clowning around with patients at the children’s hospital. But a chance run-in with his ex-girlfriend, now a widow, rekindles that spark. God put her back in his life for a reason, and he vows to be there for her.

Ten years ago, Bryanna Fenwick shattered two hearts, hers and Rand’s. But the Navy SEAL, deployed across the world, couldn’t rescue her from the real fear she faced at home. She made a choice and lived the lie for a decade. When Rand discovers the truth, she fears she’s hurt the handsome firefighter yet again and destroyed her relationship with her daughter. Can God’s grace overcome such a ginormous lie? Has He brought them back together for a second chance at love or only to reveal the truth?

WITHOUT A SONG by LoRee Peery

Still reeling from the loss of her husband, young widow Roni Marsden resolves to be strong for her precocious daughter. Invited to stay on the cleansing hills of her friend’s Nebraska ranch, she tries to figure out the next step. Should she leave Norfolk? Could she find work?

Songwriter Dawson Bennett returns home to his brother’s ranch when the production company for his first album goes bust. He searches his heart for new songs he’s unable to write. Even as he seeks direction for his career, he attempts to mend the past with his elderly father. Back in high school, Dawson had crushed on the lovely Roni when she dated his brother. Those emotions are reawakened when he discovers Roni and her daughter at the ranch. Protective feelings for the child, as well as for a stray pup that arrives on the scene, work together to soften his bitterness. Will these connections enable him to write lyrics that honor God?

AUTUMN LOVES by Tanya Stowe

Two years after her husband’s tragic death, middle-aged widow Rylie Thornton struggles to raise her three sons while keeping the family business in the black. As the lush colors of her favorite season display, she finds herself struggling. 

Brain surgeon Micah Haden, on a rare break from his demanding profession, finds his sister’s friend a lovely mystery. He’s happy to help Rylie and her boys prepare for an upcoming autumn event. Why can’t she accept his offer with a little more grace? Is there a chance he could become one of Rylie’s treasured Autumn Loves?

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Fall in Love is available from Amazon (free with Kindle Unlimited).

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Learn more about the authors on their websites

Dora Hiers

Delia Latham

Mary Manners

LoRee Peery

Tanya Stowe

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.

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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 www.KathleenNeely.com. Her novel, The Least of These, won first place for the fiction category in a Fresh Voices contest through www.AlmostAnAuthor.com. 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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