About Once Upon a Word: We're a large group of multi-talented authors working together, to bring you the best romances. Please, stop by our websites and check out what we've been up to: Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery and Victory Tales Press.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mother's Day--Past and Present, By Linda Swift @RebeccaJVickery

Mother's Day in the US is only ten days away as if we need to be reminded again. In the stores and online we are accosted with cards, flowers, candy, and other gifts to suit every mother's taste. When and how did it all begin? According to my research, it dates back to ancient Greece and the early spring celebrations in honor of Rhea, Mother of the Gods.
Two women are given credit for our modern day celebration but the dates when it began are inconsistent. Julia Ward Howe began the custom in Boston (1870) with a mothers' day proclamation to unite to promote world peace. The movement lasted for ten years before fading away. The current holiday can also be traced to Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia who introduced a Mothers' Friendship Day in 1878(or 1868) to reunite families divided by the Civil War.
In 1905 upon Ann Reeves Jarvis' death, her daughter Anna launched a campaign to honor her. In 1908 the first "official" Mother's Day celebration was held in St. Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. This led to President Woodrow Wilson proclaiming the second Sunday in May a national holiday in 1914. Anna Jarvis had sought out florists to donate carnations for mothers attending the first celebration which soon became a commercial project.  She was so upset by this she later filed lawsuits to prevent retailers profiting from the holiday and unsuccessfully lobbied the government to remove its holiday status. Mother's Day now honors a number of other significant females including mothers-in-law, step-mothers, aunts, friends who represent mothers, etc.
The custom of giving or wearing flowers to honor mothers has continued. In time, the red flower came to signify a living mother while the white indicated one deceased. While carnations remain the most popular choice, roses were commonly chosen in my area, probably because they were home-grown and free.
Many countries honor mothers on the same day as the United States, including Canada, Australia, and India. However, the Hindus in India celebrate the Divine Mother (goddess Durga) in a ten day festival in October. The second most popular month is March which the UK has designated at Mothering Sunday. This term was originally a commemoration of the Mother Church and people returning to the church where baptized. Young servants were given a holiday to return to church and family, taking gifts of food and clothing from their employers. Ethiopia and Serbia have a three day celebration to honor mothers. In some countries, Mother's Day is second only to Christmas in importance. Whatever it is called, or however long the celebration, the purpose is universal. We are honoring the one who gave us life in whatever way our customs dictate.
If you celebrate by giving flowers, food, or other gifts on this special day, I hope you will consider a book of poems this holiday.  (Forgive me, Anna Jarvis, for this blatant promotion on the day you tried so hard to keep free of commercials.) I think a mother of any age would enjoy A Potpourri of Poems which includes a variety of forms, subjects, and moods, some of which speak to mothers directly as the one below. The book is available in ebook or large print, both color and black & white. It contains one hundred poems and thirty-three full color pictures in one edition and the same pictures in gray scale in the other. And for those who prefer to listen rather than read, this book is now offered in audible form.
Excerpt from A Potpourri of Poems:

Goodbye, my children,
if only I …had known that you were going
I would have said goodbye.
But you were very little
And I thought that time would wait
till I saw that the sand had shifted
and the hour was very late.
All the happy times together,
all the things I had planned to do,
were lost when the hourglass tilted
and the childhood days poured through.
For the carefree hours have vanished
as the tiny grains of sand
and the shining glass upended
lies empty in my hand.
Goodbye, my children, if only I
had known that you were going I would have said goodbye.

Check this link for the choices and to read more poems: Link: http://amzn.com/B01DFJJCV0
Find my books here:  http://www.amazon.com/Linda-Swift/e/B004PGXCTQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Opening Hooks by Celia Yeary @RebeccaJVickery @celiayeary


"It was a dark and stormy night…" No, no, never begin a story with the weather. The reader will skip ahead and look for action or characters, or heaven forbid, close the book.The nineteenth-century Gothic novels opened with long brooding descriptions of the weather, or a monologue recounting the entire genealogy of the family in the story, enough to make one's eyes glaze over.

Okay, let's see. "I was falling, falling…and then I woke up." Nope, I remember, now, NEVER open a book with a dream--or an alarm clock or phone ringing. 

What about something really funny? For example, "Nearing the table with a tray of filled tea glasses, her foot slipped on spilled gravy…." Uh, oh. That's on the list of no-no's, too. 

Such a list exists, in fact. The admonitions may vary slightly, but editors are programmed to stop reading a submission after the first sentence or first paragraph if she/he sees these red flags. This means if the editor stops reading, so will a reader. 

In today's world, the reader wants and deserves action, the inciting incident, the reason for the story, and he wants it right away. In some manner, the opening sentence or first paragraph or first chapter must give the reader what he wants--"What is this novel about?" 

Grabbing the attention of an editor you'd like to impress or a reader you'd like to keep is an art form all its own. Books galore sit on shelves or can be found on-line that help the budding author or the experienced one who wants a refresher course learn a bit more about a good beginning.

I won an on-line contest once featuring First Lines. This is the First Line I submitted from one of my Western Romances:
If I'd known running away would be this hot and dirty, she fumed, I'd have stayed home.

Here are the beginning lines from six different novels I have long loved.

1. The truth had long been settling on Jonathan Gray, sneaking into his resisting corners, but it had finally resounded in the deepest part of him. (The Fulfillment: LaVyrle Spencer)

2.  He'd known all day something was about to go down, something life-changing and entirely new. ( Montana Creeds: Dylan: Linda Lael Miller)

3.  Sister Bernadette Ignatius and Tom Kelly sat in the back seat of a black cab, driving from Dublin's airport through the city. (What Matters Most: Luanne Rice)

4. It was well known around Russellville, Alabama, that Tommy Lee Gentry drove like a rebellious teenager, drank like a parolee fresh out, and whored like a lumberjack at the first spring thaw. (The Hellion: LaVyrle Spencer)

5. When Ella Brown woke up that morning, she didn't expect it to be a momentous day. (Rainwater: Sandra Brown)

6. A sharp clip-clop of iron-shod hoofs deadened and died away, and clouds of yellow dust drifted from under the cottonwoods and out over the sage. (Riders of the Purple Sage: Zane Grey)

These opening lines come from Best-Selling authors. Do we need to pay closer attention to the novels we read? Go to a bookstore, find a shelf of best-sellers in romance, and open several to study the first page. Just read the first line.Make a list of the kind of “hooks” that interest you in a book. Your list may be the same as mine.

1. Attention-getting
2. Exciting
3. Pulls me into the story
4. Straight forward
5. Brief and punchy
6. Rouses curiosity
7. Emotionally charged
8. A declarative sentence

Hooking your reader is not easy, but with a little self-study, you can improve your chances with editors and with a reader. With your next or current WIP, try writing five opening sentences and ask fellow authors or your critique partners help you select one. You might consult a good friend, too, one you know will give you an honest answer.
Happy Writing!

Celia Yeary-Romance…and a little bit of Texas
The Camerons of Texas:
Texas Blue: Book I
Texas Promise: Book II
Texas True: Book III
Texas Dreamer-a spinoff

Friday, April 22, 2016

For whom the bell tolls.... by Nan O'Berry @NanObe1 @RebeccaJVickery

For most of today's writers, we wear several hats. Many of us are wives, mothers, office workers on top of creative thinkers. Time then is of the essence when it comes to creating our characters. I find it very important to keep a writers schedule to help me budget my time.

We learned the craft of time management in high school with those little assignment pads. Remember, having to write down when everything is due? Yeah, remember hating it. Funny how things like that come back to bite you in the rear. Yet, the older I get and the more things that are heaped upon my plate, this simple skill is very important. This year, I began keeping a writers notebook.

I took a plain three ring binder ( of course I made sure it was  Turquoise my favorite color ) and purchased a pack of dividers, some colored printer paper, and regular college ruled paper. I divided it into months and wrote the name of the month on the tags. So far, you're with me, right? Then I began thinking what I would need to keep track of. I made one page for a list of monthly expenses and purchased some page protectors to slip my receipts inside for tax purposes. Behind that, I made a list of manuscripts I'm working on, books in edits, books that I'm submitting, and if I'm lucky, books that I've sold. I also created a calendar to remind me when to blog.

So far, it's served me well. I showed it to another writer friend and she's picked it up. Together we are refining our methods and coming up with things that work for us. She's come up with creating tags by printing her book titles on mailing labels in colors for works in progress, edits, deadlines, releases, edits etc. I haven't gotten quite that ocd yet, but I do feel its coming.

I know, written when so much is going paperless??? However, paper works for me. It allows me to set it open on my desk while I'm working to keep me focused. It also allows me to schedule some all important time for me. If I don't fill my well, I have little left for filling my other duties. So, what works for you as a writing schedule?

About the Author 

Nan O'Berry grew up listening to stories at her grandparents' feet. So it's not surprising that her love of a good story pushed her to begin writing her own tales for enjoyment. As these grew she shared her historical perspectives about the heroes of her imagination, cowboys, lumberjacks, and the country they founded.

Armed with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Degree from Old Dominion University, Mrs. O’Berry loves finding those interesting facts that might lead to a good story. So pull up a chair and grab that glass of sweet tea and enjoy.

You can find me,Nan, on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/nan.oberry.3

Or at my website:

I also have a twitter account: