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.

Monday, December 5, 2016

RAFF'S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE BY Teresa K. Cypher @Teresa_Cypher @rebeccajvickery @KMNbooks #christmas

Let's give Teresa K. Cypher a warm welcome!

KAREN: Why don't you tell the readers a little bit about yourself.

TERESA: I grew up in the hills and hollows of western Pennsylvania. My husband and I live within sight of the family farm I grew up on. I love it most when the kids and the grandkids come to visit. Nothing is quite so heartwarming as having the whole gang together. I work outside the home for a biotechnology company. My escape is into fictional worlds I’m creating.

KAREN: Tell us your latest news. Do you have any current projects you're working on? 

TERESA: Thanks for asking. I do have a  work-in-progress, a scifi-ish novel currently called “Dai Klavven”—the name of which is likely to change before publication. 

KAREN:What is the name of your story and what inspired you to write this tale for the Let it Snow, 2016 Holiday Romance Collection?   

TERESA: I wrote Raff’s Christmas Miracle for VTP’s 2016 anthology.  I typed the first 3000 words while vacationing at the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Our second day there, after everyone went to bed, I had the upstairs to myself. In the (rare-for-me) solitude of those dark hours, listening to the wind and the sound of waves crashing in the wake of hurricane Matthew, I felt a touch of the loneliness that growing older brings… Old friends, family members, opportunities…gone, replaced with the bitter sweetness of regret. I soaked in the atmosphere, and the switch flipped on. Raff was born in my writer’s head, and he and I mulled in the murkiness of yesteryear. We decided that beyond regret, if Raff dug hard enough, he’d find hope—and a chance to find redemption, to take a bad decision from years ago and learn from it.

KAREN: When you were a child, what holiday story intrigued you the most? 

TERESA: Oh, it sounds weird, but A Christmas Carol. I’m not sure what version I saw first—but it wasn’t until my teen years that I got around to reading it.

KAREN: What do you think makes a good holiday story?

TERESA: Love. There must be love—and it’s made even better if there is redemption.

KAREN: What is your favorite holiday movie or book? 

TERESA: I absolutely love the book, The Polar Express. I tear up every time I read it.  Just for the record, the bell isn’t broken. I can still hear it ring.

KAREN: What is your favorite holiday drink or food dish? 

TERESA: I am known as the gingerbread lady in my small part of the world. I’m going to go with gingerbread cookies. As far as drinks go, I really like cranberry juice and mint ginger ale over ice.

KAREN: What makes you interested in the genre you write? 

TERESA: I write two genres, thus far. For VTP, I write holiday romance. I love Christmas—and I love love. Everybody could use more of both in their lives. Science fiction is the second genre I write. For me, it is complete escapism. It’s a fantastical sort of genre where anything—limited to perhaps only the laws of physics, can happen. Creating worlds is incredible. If I had a superpower, that would be it. Wait…

That is my superpower.


Raff, retired and alone, befriends Mandy-a single mother of two who lives down the road from him. The young woman reminds him of Angie, his high school sweetheart and the only girl he ever loved. He and Angie had planned to spend their lives together, but many years before, on the Christmas they announced they were getting married; her father whisked her away to find a good man, the "right" man.

Three months before Christmas, when the rat-infested mobile home Mandy rents, burns to the ground, he offers to let them stay with him in his big, old farmhouse.
Their short stay turns into a longer one, and Raff discovers that he likes having children in the house, and he likes Mandy's company. She's alone in the world, and he wants to help her and her kids get back on their feet.
As the holidays approach, while Mandy searches for her birth mother and then has to choose whether to meet her or not, Raff is forced to face his memories of the Christmas long ago when Angie broke it off with one phone call, and then she moved away.
Is there still room in his heart for the one true miracle of Christmas… the miracle of love?
Amazon /Amazon UK / Smashwords / iTunes /Nook

In Print:
Amazon /Amazon UK /Createspace / Barnes and Noble


~Enjoy An Excerpt from RAFF'S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE~

The main character, Raff, retired and alone, has taken in a young mother, Mandy, and her two children after their rental home burns. The kids are at school and he and Mandy are sitting at the table in his farmhouse having coffee and sharing stories.  Raff speaks first:

"My grandmother's name was Grace. Grandpa always called her Gracie, just like George Burns used to call his wife."

"I've seen a few George Burns reruns."

"Lord. Sometimes I forget how old I am." He laughed in spite of himself. "They lived here all of their married lives. Here with grandpa's parents. And his parents...let me see... Sometimes I lose track of the generations. His parents lost it during the depression. Yep, that was it, my great-grandad's family lost it during the depression, and he vowed to get it back. After he married my great-grandma, he did. As the story goes, though, she came from money. She was head over heels in love with him, but he only had eyes for the farm and for farming. She proposed to him, and told him how much money she'd bring to the marriage. Grandma said she actually drew it all out on paper, that she'd have enough to get the farm out of hock. The rest is history."

Mandy looked puzzled. "Not great history, though."

"Huh? What do you mean not great?" He took a slug of his coffee and plunked down the mug.

"I meant that it wasn't a great story for her, for your great-grandma. She had to buy love."

Raff laughed. "I see what you mean. I should have added that grandpa may have allowed a woman to purchase his name, but she stole his heart and there wasn't a thing he could do about it."

Teresa Cypher was raised on a farm in the hills and hollows of very rural, western Pennsylvania. She grew up during the era when Walt Disney was the Sunday evening show, and once a year, the TV networks aired The Sound of Music, and Cinderella. She was a teenager when Star Wars was first released, but she'd already daydreamed about romance in space after watching every episode of Star Trek that was ever made. So it's no surprise to those who know her best that she writes Romance and SFR. 
She treasures all things family, her husband, her adult children, and her grandchildren. Her Cocker Spaniel, Leo, is her writing buddy. She thinks she has the best friends a human could have. Though she loves what she does for a living, working for a global Biotechnology company takes up far too much of her time, and she's looking forward to the day when she can begin her full time writing career.

You can find the author online at:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

COMFORT AND JOY by Gerald Costlow @rebeccajvickery @KMNbooks #shortstories #holidays #christmas

Karen: Let's welcome Gerald Costlow. He's one of the authors from the Let it Snow, 2016 Holiday Collection. Gerald, please tell the readers a little bit about yourself: 

Gerald: I'm what they used to call a "widower" who lives in Michigan with my three dogs. I'm an engineer in the daytime and at night escape from the world of logic and machines by writing stories of fantasy and the supernatural.
Karen: Tell us your latest news. Do you have any current projects you're working on? 

Gerald: I'm always working on several stories at the same time, either novels or novellas.

Karen: What is the name of your story and what inspired you to write this tale for the Let it Snow, 2016 Holiday Romance Collection? 

Gerald: The name of my story is "Comfort and Joy." While searching for inspiration on a Christmas story for VTP this year, I decided to write a sequel to another favorite Christmas story I'd written for them a few years ago, a Western called "A Wicked Past." 

Karen: When you were a child, what holiday story intrigued you the most? 

Gerald: Oh, I loved the old animated classics. A Charlie Brown Christmas (I always identified with Charlie Brown) for instance.

Karen: What do you think makes a good holiday story? 

Gerald: Playing around with the holiday themes, both religious and secular. In the case of "Comfort and Joy" we have a mother and baby on a journey at Christmastime. It's not just an inn that rejects the weary travelers, but the entire town. And of course, you need a Christmas miracle somewhere in the mix. For the rest, you'll have to read the story.   

Karen: What is your favorite holiday movie or book? 

Gerald: How the Grinch stole Christmas. Both book and movie. I never get tired of the poetry.

Karen: What is your favorite holiday drink or food dish? 

Gerald: Christmas cookies and milk. Hand's down.

Karen: What makes you interested in the genre you write?

Gerald: I love a bit of magic and mystery in a story and love stories are the most enduring tales ever told.

Comfort Smith hasn't had an easy life. Raised in an orphanage, shunned by the upright citizens of the town, her only way to survive is being a prostitute in a saloon. Now she has a baby in her life. A baby she's expected to turn over to the same orphanage she came from. A saloon is no place to raise a baby.

Pete Lamont is a bouncer in the saloon, tormented by something terrible that he did in his past. Now it's his job to escort Comfort and her baby on a train ride to the orphanage back east. It's a sad choice, but one many prostitutes have made in the 1890s frontier. It should be an uneventful trip.

But Comfort is determined to hang onto the baby and has made other plans. The trip together will be anything but uneventful for Comfort and Pete.  



Pete looked at the determined mother sitting across from him. He tried to decide if she'd completely lost her mind, and if so what he should do about it. Lord knows he couldn't blame her for clinging to desperate hope.

"Honey…Comfort…there's no way you can be sure it was him, not with…you know…"

"I know it's him. She has the same red hair and green eyes. I remember thinking at the time how unusual it was and how pretty they went together. It's more than that, though. Something happened that night. It scared me so bad I ran away to find other work. I got hired as a scrub maid but when there was no doubt I was pregnant, I made the mistake of telling my employers. They kicked me out. I had to go back to Charlie. I did the counting when she was born. It has to be his. Wilcox is only an eight-hour train ride from here. I have to try. I grew up in an orphanage. You don't know what it's like."

But you'll never make him admit the baby is his, he thought and gave a deep sigh.

You can purchase your copy of LET IT SNOW, 2016 
Holiday Collection at:

Ebook: Amazon /Amazon UK / Smashwords / iTunes /Nook 

In Print: Amazon /Amazon UK /Createspace / Barnes and Noble

For more information about Gerald Costlow and his works, please visit his website at:  http://theweaving.blogspot.com/
and http://victorytalespress.com/

Monday, November 28, 2016


What do you remember about a book you've read? Is it a character, a plot, or a  specific scene?  I suppose that you, like me, remember different things from different books and from some books, nothing at all.  I want to talk about images that, once implanted in your mind, never leave it.
For example, Louisa May Alcott's Little Women , was the first book that left me with lasting images. Of them all, one scene of the March girls and Laurie frolicking in the snow has remained with me since I was ten. I can still see it plainly--the picket fence, the deep snow. I can feel the chilling temperature and hear their shouts and laughter. I was there.
Another unforgettable image is a scene by Daphne du Maurier from one of her Gothic novels, perhaps Rebecca, but I no longer remember the book's title. In the scene, the heroine was attempting to eat a piece of meat and it moved on her plate. She lifted it up and the underside was covered with maggots. I can feel the horror of that discovery as if it happened to me.
A later scene from A Few Hours of Sunlight by Francoise Sagan remains in my mind years after reading it. In fact, it inspired my poem titled "So Quickly Comes the Dark" whose first line is the title of Sagan's book.  It is a sweltering summer day and the hero and heroine are making love in an attic room. They are  bathed in perspiration which leaves wet imprints of their bodies on the rough sheets they lie on. There are no explicit descriptions or dialogue, only the stifling heat and silence accompany this illicit encounter but the image was so powerful that I recall it vividly even now.
What makes a lasting image? I don't know the answer. I only know what has lasted for many years from numerous books I've read.  I hope you will think of a special scene that has meaning for you and share it here.  And if you have an answer to the question, please share that with us, too.
This will be my last post here before Christmas so I'd like to blatantly suggest that you consider the holiday books below for those readers on your Santa list. All are available in ebook or print at prices that won't damage your shopping budget. Find LINDA SWIFT in Books on Amazon.

From Thanksgiving through New Years, enjoy the holiday season.
Linda Swift