About Once Upon a Word: We're a large group of multi-talented authors working together, to bring you the best romances.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

TEMPTATION'S TOUCH by Cheryl Pierson

Today, I’m celebrating my latest novel release, TEMPTATION’S TOUCH. It’s a contemporary romantic suspense novel—not what I usually write. Though this is my second novel in that particular genre, and I have written numerous short stories in that classification, I seemed to struggle with this one. That’s part of what I wanted to talk about today—the struggle.

I began this novel four years ago. To be so short, you wouldn’t think it would have taken a person so long to get it written and get it “out there”—but things don’t always turn out like we expect them to.

I had this great idea—a young divorcee, living in the country near Dallas, awakens in the night to the sound of a truck motor running. She’s had trouble with the local high school wild bunch, throwing parties on her land down by the creek. Well, she has had enough of that! She takes off in the darkness to tell the teens their partying days on her land are over. But when she gets to the creek, the scene is nothing like what she had expected. No party. No kids.

A murder is about to take place, and even though she has her gun, she is so terrified, she can’t do anything to stop it. The two murderers drive away, and Kendi hurries to the man who has been shot. But he’s not dead—only beaten within an inch of his life. Now, Kendi faces the biggest decision of her life—does she leave him exposed to the elements until an ambulance can get there? Or does she take him back home with her? No matter what she does, he’s demanded that she not call 911, telling her if she does, both of their lives could be in danger.

I wrote like crazy, but was interrupted by REAL LIFE over and over again. Finally, I put the book aside, even though I was nearly finished with it—with all the harrowing twists and turns and the wonderful roller coaster of emotions…I put it on the shelf until things calmed down.

Close to two and a half years later, I pulled it out and began to work on it, to get it finished, and then to edit the finished product. I submitted it to The Wild Rose Press, and my wonderful editor there, Lori Graham, was as excited about it as I was. Though we finished the edits on it and had it ready to go by early spring, the release date was not set until October 24, 2012.

Finally the day arrived…and none of my “buy” links were live at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or any of the other sites. I wanted to cry. But within another 48 hours most of the links had gone live, and it only meant putting off my announcement of my release date for a short time.

Now, TEMPTATION’S TOUCH is out there and though it’s not a western historical, it’s still a wonderful love story of two broken hearts that find each other under the oddest of circumstances, proving that love will find a way, even when it seems impossible.

Blurb: When Kendi Morgan stumbles upon the victim of a would-be murder, she has no choice but to help him back to the safety of her home. Wounded DEA agent Jackson Taylor
is a man with nothing to lose and nothing to fear. Can their newfound love survive as they are targeted by a powerful drug lord seeking revenge?

Kendi glanced up the remaining five stairs. So close.
She looked at Jackson again and saw the steel in his expression.
“Just give me…a minute, Kendi.”
“Don’t fall—”
“I won’t. Not gonna break my neck…since you’ve gone to all this trouble.”
He was teasing her. She heard it, but she was still worried. He looked unsteady, still—all six feet
two inches of him. Her eyes ranged over him, finally meeting his dark gaze. “I told you—don’t be so
“Aren’t you?” she breathed.
“Uh-uh.” He gave her a quick semblance of a grin through swollen lips. “I’m still here—still standin’.”
Not for long, Kendi wanted to retort.
“You’re thinkin’ it’s a close thing,” he muttered, “me…standin’ yet.”
“Well, I’m right, aren’t I?”
“Maybe. But I’m not afraid.”
“Why not, Jack? After what you’ve been through—”
“Where I’m headed looks better than where I’ve been.”
They took the last step, gaining the wide landing.
“‘Where you’ve been…where was that?” She was moments away from tucking a stranger into her bed.
She moistened her lips, suddenly nervous. “I mean— you could be anybody.”
“I’m a DEA agent.”
She let Jack’s weight shift to the side of the mattress, then bent to unbuckle his belt. She looked into his face, her fingers faltering at the button placket of the faded jeans he wore.
His swollen eyes held hers. “You’re safe with me.”

What would you do if you were in Kendi’s place? Leave the “victim” out in the freezing rain, or bring him to the house? Now remember, even though he’s been severely beaten, there’s a spark of chemistry between them she can’t ignore…

My first venture into contemporary romantic suspense, SWEET DANGER, is also available at Amazon and B&N. https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas in the Netherlands by: Stephanie Burkhart

Visiting different countries around the world during Christmas can be fun. I remember being stationed in Germany (I was in the US Army from 1986-1997) and going to Kris Kringle markets. The markets were wooden shops in the town's downtown pedestrian area or shopping markets. They sold everything – mulled cider and wine, sausages, marzipan, handcrafted wood ornaments, and knitted items. Even though I was in a different country, I knew Christmas was in the air.

This year, my story in the 2012 Christmas Collection (from Victory Tales Press) takes you to Amsterdam. My first trip to Amsterdam was in the early 1990's. It has such a unique look with the narrow facades made of bricks, and gables attached high on the houses to lift furniture. Amsterdam, to me, had an "earthy" look – canals ran through the city. The main train station was a formable building, reminding me of an old European fortress. I found the hard rock cafĂ©, the red light district, and the docks.

My story is called "Gifts" in the anthology. Chris Janssen is an Olympic pairs figure skater who needs to find a new partner. Enter Famke deVries. Her brother is Chris' best friend. Chris is attracted to Famke, but will his attraction derail their goal to make the Olympic team?

One of their early "dates" involves a visit to the Kris Kringle market. Famke wants to buy clogs for her family in preparation for Sinterklaas' visit.

In the Netherlands, Dutch children learn Sinterklaas sails from Spain on his feast day (5 DEC). He lands on the coast in a different harbor every year with his partner "Zwarte Piet" (Black Peter). All the bells ring out in the town when he lands and if Sinterklaas makes it to Amsterdam, he pays a special visit to the Queen.

The children leave out their clogs and Sinterklaas fills them with presents. Zwarte Piet is in charge of the naughty/nice list. Zwarte tells Sinterklaas if the little one has earned their presents for the year.

Many people in the Netherlands decorate a Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus comes from Finland and delivers more presents. Christmas is more low key. Many go to religious services and visit family. The main meal usually consists of shrimp from the North Sea, smoked fish, (salmon & eels) roast chicken or meat (boar/beef/venison) seasonal veggies and deep fried ice cream. Yum. I'm a fish person so the menu appeals to me.

Question: What do you like to cook/eat for your Christmas meal? I'd love to hear your menu.

Have you been to the Netherlands or Amsterdam? I'd love to hear your adventure.

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She's visited several town and cities in the Netherlands; her favorite is the Keukenhof in Lisse, where she fell in love with the tulips.


BLURB:  Will Christian and Famke's attraction interfere with them earning a spot on the Netherlands Olympic pairs skating team?

Short Excerpt:

Stephen turned onto a street in the Noord district of Amsterdam where he lived. The apartment buildings were about five stories tall, but weren't very wide. Stephen drove his compact car into a parking structure near his building. "We're here."

"I need a nice long bath and a bite to eat." Famke stepped out and shut her door.

"Chris, can you take her to the apartment? I'll run to the store for some food."

"Sure." Chris opened the trunk and grabbed her bag.

"I can take it." She gestured for the bag, but Chris waved her off.

"I've got it." He paused. "I always insist on carrying a lady's bags."

"But, Chris—"

"And you are a lady," he said.

Smiling, Famke nodded, discovering a small dimple in his cheek when
he smiled so warmly.








Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, 
Feliz Navidad, and Glad Tidings to All

Whether you are looking for a great story to read in a stolen, quiet moment or searching for a special gift, we have a variety of holiday themed choices for everyone.

Please check out these novels and stories available at special prices
for a limited time.  


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Writing a series for fun and profit!

The story that started it all.
Writing a series for fun and profit
By Gerald Costlow

The three scorpions smiled, but Jack wasn’t fooled. Scorpions always smile before they strike. They want you to watch the smile instead of the stinger. He felt up to the challenge. Jack would be Snake tonight and strike first.
And thus we are introduced to the character Crazy Jack in the novel by the same name.  The adventure is off and running and by the end of the story--if I have done my job--Crazy Jack is a dear friend.  You’ve laughed and cried and struggled along with him.  But alas, the story has ended, the book is closed, and that’s the last you will ever hear of Crazy Jack and the cast of characters and interesting world he lives in.
But wait, this is one book in the Appalachia series by the same author!  If other stories have already been written, you run to the computer and download those off the internet.  If the writer has promised future installments, you wait impatiently for what is sure to be an enjoyable read and wonder if your old friend Crazy Jack is going to crop up again.
When I talk about a story that spans multiple books, I’m not talking about a trilogy.  I love a good series with the same passion I loathe a bad trilogy.  Don’t get me started on the dreaded trilogy.  I don’t know how many times I’ve scoped out the new book section of the local library and found “Volume Two of the new, exciting trilogy The Something of Something by a previously unpublished writer sure to be famous!”  Volume One is nowhere to be found in the library and Volume Three hasn’t been published yet.  Each volume is a hefty nine hundred or so bloated pages of world building complete with its own tongue-twisting foreign language and a cast of hundreds to keep track of between battles.  The plot is, invariably, somebody going on a quest with a band of misfit friends to save the land from something.
Does the inexperienced writer have the skills to pull this massive project off?  Probably not.  Am I going to hunt down Volume One and invest in reading this book?  Of course not.  This obsession on the sprawling, three-volume storytelling format is, unfortunately, a bad habit of the large publishing houses anymore.  I’m not saying that’s the only reason the traditional publishing houses are fighting for survival, but I’m just saying…
There, didn’t I warn you not to get me started on the dreaded trilogy?  Now where were we?  Oh, we’re talking about a series.  Entirely different.  The advantages of a writer investing the time and energy into creating a series are obvious, as are the advantages for a reader.   As the writer, you get to revisit beloved characters and explore the world and people you created in new and unexpected directions.  You can put all your creative effort into crafting compelling plots and characters instead of reinventing the wheel with each new book.  And you can have fun.  Some little dropped remark or event or detail or minor character in one story can turn out to be pivotal in the next plot and this keeps the reader engaged and provides continuity. 
As a writer you do have to keep in mind that you have two different types of reader.  Assume the reader is not familiar with the earlier books, but don’t bore the ones who have followed the series by repeating everything that has gone before.  It’s a fine line. 
If you manage to pull it off, the reader likes this book and buys the other ones in the series.  You might even acquire the illusive fanbase before you’re done.  For instance, I’m a big fan of Terry Pratchett.  I’ve bought every one of the books that make up his Discworld series and he has a sure sell on every new book for as long as he hangs in there.
My Appalachia series with the adventures of the Sherritt witch clan, past and present, is just getting started.  The second book is being written now with ideas for many more.   Oh, and if you have not checked it out yet, learn about my new series by clicking on my name on the left hand side of the page here.
 So what’s your favorite series?                     

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

REMEMBERING OUR HEROES--DEC. 7, 1941 by Cheryl Pierson

<b>I wrote this blog a couple of years back to commemmorate what President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared "a day that will live in infamy"--December 7, 1941. I won't be blogging here again until December 28, and I know this is early, but I wanted to share it with everyone so that we will never forget. As time passes, the men and women who lived through it are dying off. In my lifetime, they will all be gone, those warriors who went to battle for our freedom in World War II. During all the holiday preparations, please take time to remember with me what took place in our country on that day, a little over 70 years past.

Driving down one of the busiest streets of Oklahoma City today, I noticed a flag at a local business flying at half-staff. It was the only one on that block. I’m sure many people wondered about it.

But I remembered.

December 7, 1941…the day the U.S. was brought into World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.

Through the years, my mother recounted tales brought home from “over there” by her relatives who enlisted. She talked also about the rationing here at home—how difficult it was to get needed items, and how impossible it was to get luxuries. She was 19 when the U.S. entered the war—just the very age of so many of the young men who were killed in the surprise attack on December 7, 1941. Was there a man of that age who didn’t rush down to sign up for duty after that fateful day? Many of her fellow students and co-workers did just that, and during the course of the next four years of war, many of them were lost.

My father tried to sign up, but his lungs were bad. He was turned away. I think he was always ashamed of that, even though it was through no fault of his own. Until the day he died, he had one of the most patriotic hearts I’ve ever known. Secretly, when I was old enough to realize what that might have meant, I was glad that he had not had to go to war. I knew that would have changed everything in my world.

Being as close as it was to Christmas made the deaths of the men at Pearl Harbor even more poignant. Just done with Thanksgiving, looking forward to the Christmas holidays to come, so many young lives snuffed out in the space of minutes. Watching the documentaries, hearing the old soldiers that are left from that time talk about the horror of that day, and of war in general, brings tears to my eyes.

I’m always amazed by the generations that have gone before us, and how they stood up and faced adversity when it was required of them. Being human, as we all are, the unknown was just as frightening to them as it is to us. We tend to forget it, somehow, because of the luxury and comforts of our modern lives that we have become used to. We have let ourselves become numb, in a way, and what’s worse—we have forgotten.

We have forgotten what the generations before us sacrificed for us, their future. We have forgotten how to honor the memory of those men and women, and what they did, individually and collectively.

I counted flagpoles the rest of the way home from that one, lonely half-staff flag—about a mile and a half to my house. There was only one other pole along that route that flew their flag half-staff in memory of that day seventy years ago. A day that ended in smoke, and fire, drowning and death…and war.

Something peculiar occurs to me. I have been alive during the time when the last surviving widow of a veteran of The War Between The States died. I have been alive during the time that the last survivor of World War I died. There are not that many survivors left of World War II. Yet, our schools pass over these huge, world-altering events as if they are nothing, devoting a page or less to them in the history texts. Think of it. A page or less, to tell of the suffering, the economic impact, the technological discoveries, and the loss of humanity of each of these wars.

No wonder our society has forgotten the price paid by those who laid down their lives. When we don’t teach our children, and learn from the past, history is bound to repeat itself.

President Franklin Roosevelt declared December 7, 1941 as “a day that will live in infamy.” That statement, spoken so boldly, believed so strongly, held so close to the hearts of that generation, is only true as long as the next generation, and the one beyond that, remembers.

<b>Well, many years have passed since those brave men are gone
And those cold ocean waters now are still and they’re calm.
Well, many years have passed, but still I wonder why,
The worst of men must fight and the best of men must die.

From “Reuben James” by Woody Guthrie

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Have you ever written a WWII story? I've often wanted to, but have never done it. Maybe one of these days...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!


Please remember the blessings of food, family, and freedom... 

And keep your eye on that sneaky turkey every minute...



Friday, November 2, 2012

Meet Bret Lee Hart and his "Cracker Westerns"

    Bret Lee Hart

I have worked in the field of Marine construction in Tampa Bay, Florida, for twenty three years working on barges setting the piling for docks, boat lifts and Marinas. Working on the intercostal water ways and beaches in the Florida sun is a wonderful thing for a young man, but at the age of forty six the physical labor of building begins to take its toll. Without 401 K’s or retirement packages in the industry and the thought of skin Cancer looming, sometimes you have to think into the future instead of living in the moment.

The housing bubble burst and business slowed to a crawl cutting back on my hours of work by giving me an extra day off during the week, so I set down the fishing pole and beer and opened the laptop. Being a Florida boy and a longtime reader of Louis L’Amour, Cracker Westerns made sense. 

The hero, Hunter James Dolin was born, named after my fourteen year old son, Hunter. The Half-Breed Gunslinger and Hunter James Dolin, the first two books in the series, have been published by Western Trail Blazer and are available in both ebook and print.

The Fangslinger and the Preacher came about from my love for the paranormal and my love of faith, along with Clint Eastwood's spaghetti Westerns and Steven King's, The Dark Tower, Gunslinger series. It will be available soon.

I have been with my wife Carrie for twenty years (which is an accomplishment in itself) and have two children. Hunter has recently moved to Utah for a year, a drafted Goalie by the Regulators AAA Hockey team in Salt Lake City. Karlee Dawn is my lovely and talented twenty year old daughter, the artist of the Half-Breed Gunslinger series book covers.      

 ~ Novella, YA, Cracker Western ~ In 1860 there was more open range cattle in Florida than in Texas. It took a special breed of man to live there, and an even harder man to survive. Hunter James Dolin, half white and half Indian, was such a man. A gambler by trade and a gunslinger of necessity, Hunter attracted trouble wherever he traveled. But with his two Colt Walkers and Bowie knife, he could handle almost anything. 


~ Novella, YA, Cracker Western ~ Spurred by revenge... Gunfights and gold... One man against the odds... Hunter James Dolin survived the revenge war of Myakka, FL, by killing those harming him and his loved ones – all but one. Hunted by the Army, the gunslinger seeks refuge in the swamps. Then word arrives of the location of the one that got away. A new battle of revenge begins as the hunted again becomes the hunter. 


My official author bio:
Bret Lee Hart, a second generation Floridian has spent the last twenty five years in Marine construction; he is married and the father of two. His mother’s maiden name is Emerson, as in Ralph Waldo, and on his father’s side Edgar Allen Poe can be found hanging from the family tree. With this blood line of writers and named after Bret Harte, from his western short stories, it was inevitable his imagination would find its way into print. The Half-Breed Gunslinger is the first book of a series, with many other adventures to be unleashed from the storyteller's mind in different genres, including Fantasy and Paranormal.   

Please contact and follow me on my FaceBook page at:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Speculative Fiction—What is it?

I am Linda Swift, an author of published contemporary and historical romance, women’s fiction, short stories and poetry. As if that isn’t enough to keep my readers in a state of confusion, I have recently added speculative fiction to my publishing credits. Only I didn’t know this was what my short stories were until Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery called them by that name. In fact, I wasn’t aware this genre existed and I was more than a little skeptical to become a part of it.

Since I now have five speculative fiction stories available online, and a just-released anthology of these five stories in print, I thought I really ought to find out a little more about what this means. My first step was to check my faithful Webster’s New World Dictionary. (Yes, I still love to look up words in my hard copy reference which tells you more than I probably want you to know about my age.) None of the definitions of the word “speculative” seemed to fit the situation at all. I finally settled on “uncertain or risky” as a possible meaning. At least, I know it is always uncertain and risky to publish anything one writes.

Next, I Googled “Speculative Fiction” online. And wow! Was I impressed. The term was defined by Wikipedia as “ancient works to cutting-edge, paradigm-changing, and nontraditional intentions of the 21st Century. And the names associated with this genre? They read like a who’s who in literature. There were Greek dramatists to William Shakespeare to J.R.R.Tolkien and many more.
I won’t bore you with the long  explanation that I doggedly plowed my way through in order to become more enlightened on the subject. But I will offer one further quote which I think shows the big picture. “In its broadest sense it (speculative fiction) captures both a conscious and unconscious aspect of human psychology in making sense of the world, reacting to it, and creating imaginary, inventive and artistic expression.”

Armed with this new information I turned my attention to my stories in an effort to see if they would fit the definition. I looked first at Winner Take All, my first-written story of this genre. It is a tale of man against nature and a life-and death struggle between the two. Billy Ray Warren is a good ole southern boy who went up North to make money and comes home to fight the Kudzu that is taking the family farm. Yes, he is trying to make sense of his world and reacting to it in a positive way.   

Nathan, the Buttercups are Blooming is a story about growing old and sick; about the helplessness of losing control of our lives. But Nathan is a fighter, especially when it comes to his beloved wife and his insensitive children. And boy, does he react to the situation he is in. He does not “go gentle into that goodnight” to quote a famous poet.

The disease of epilepsy is at the center of Give It All You’ve Got. This is a tender love story set in a rural mountain school with three main characters who are as mismatched as people can be but their lives become entwined by circumstances beyond their control.  They each react to their narrow world in the only way that makes sense to them. And in so doing, a villain becomes a hero.

Three to Make Ready is a story that deals with the busing issue as it was in the early days of the mandate for US public schools. It takes a look at the situation from both black and white perspectives and further examines it from two social classes of white families. This story looks at the big picture from the author’s point of view based on personal experience and believe me, the story contains reaction in spades.

Last, I examined The Good News. Defining it is difficult even for me as author.  I think it addresses the possibility of a random occurrence that no one can foresee and the way the people involved react to it. There is a large group of characters for a short story, including young and old, male and female, weak and strong, happy and sad. But the focus is on a mother’s worst nightmare and her valiant efforts to prevent it.

Have you noticed that my brief blurbs of each of these stories contain the word “react” in them? I think we can assume that my speculative fiction involves reaction of some sort in all the plots.  But rather than dissect them in this manner, I like to think of them as stories that reflect ordinary people living their lives in the best way they can, given their circumstances. Even though you most likely have not experienced what the characters have, I think you can relate to their hopes and fears, their joys and sorrows. And it is this connection that makes a story real to you.  All of them contain a measure of suspense and uncertainty and some unexpected outcomes.  In the past, I have heard this type story referred to as “slice of life” fiction.

Frankly, I don’t care what they are called.  I only care that they are read and that my characters touch the hearts of those who read them. They are available at Amazon and Smashwords for 99cents each.

And if you’d like a complete collection in print, Take Five: Stories of Speculative Fiction was released the last week in September through Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery and is now available in ebook and print at the above links. The price is $9.95 for print and $2.99 for ebook at this link: http://www.amazon.com/Take-Five-ebook/dp/B0096R15T8/

This guest post first appeared at BETWEEN THE PAGES, Lynda Coker’s blogspot, .and she graciously agreed for it to be reprinted here. http://betweenthelinesandmore.blogspot.com/

 Rebecca J.Vickery commented on my post there and she has also agreed to have her comments included. She has added so much to the definition of Speculative Fiction that I don’t feel this post would be complete without her words. And here they are:

‘Hi Linda and Lynda,
I really enjoyed this post and it is a very good description of Speculative Fiction. Many famous and infamous writers focused on Speculative Fiction throughout their lives. Without it we would never have had TV series such as Twilight Zone, Inferno, Outer Limits, and even Alfred Hitchcock who was a master of SF. Many of the great plays, operas, and movies are Speculative Fiction, though a large majority often label them dramas or tragedies. MacBeth, Romeo and Juliet, View From the Rear Window, and The Birds are some of my favorites.
Authors take a possible real life situation, and as Linda has pointed out, explore the reactions and ironic results. These stories aren't for everyone as they often do not include a happy ever after ending, but when written well (as Linda Swift does) they are emotional, moving, and riveting.”

Thank you for reading my post today--
Linda Swift

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS by Cheryl Pierson

Well, who wouldn’t want a hero for Christmas…or FOUR of them? And they’ll all fit snugly in a stocking or on your e-reader!

Yep, I’m talking about my latest release, A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS, which is a collection
of four of my Christmas themed historical romantic short stories! These are all available separately, as “single sell” short stories for only .99 through Western Trail Blazer, as well. But I was thrilled when my publisher, Rebecca Vickery, suggested putting them all under one gorgeous cover and offering them as a collection.

A Night for Miracles is the first story in the collection. It will always be near and dear to my heart because it was the first holiday story I ever wrote, as well as being the first short story (which really turned into a novelette.) I still just love the story of Angela Bentley and Nick Dalton. Angela’s a widow, alone on Christmas Eve. Gunman Nick Dalton stops at her cabin in gathering wintry twilight. Wounded, and with three children in tow, there’s no chance of Angela telling him he has to ride on. Will this be A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES for them?

Legend says that miracles happen on Christmas Eve. Can a chance encounter between a gunfighter and a lonely widow herald a new beginning for them both? On this special night, they take a gamble that anything is possible–if they only believe!

The second story is a very different kind of Christmas story, HOMECOMING. I wrote this

story long before I ever even thought of selling it. In fact, I wasn’t sure I COULD sell it. But it turned out better than I ever imagined, with so much power and emotion, I’ve had many, many compliments on it. It still humbles me, to think of this story that came from nowhere, one I wasn’t sure would ever see the light of day—has now become one that so many people have enjoyed.

A holiday skirmish sends Union officer, Jack Durham, on an unlikely mission to fulfill his promise of honor to a dying Confederate soldier—his enemy. In an odd twist of fate, a simple assurance to carry young Billy Anderson's meager belongings home to his family a few miles away becomes more than what it seems.

As he nears his destination, the memories of the soldier's final moments mingle with his own thoughts of the losses he's suffered because of the War, including his fiancee, Sarah. Despite his suffering, can Jack remember what it means to be fully human before he arrives at the end of his journey? Will the miracle of Christmas be able to heal his heart in the face of what awaits him?

MEANT TO BE is the third story in the collection. It’s a time travel story of love that crosses centuries. The heroine, Robin Mallory, is stranded on Christmas Eve and begins to walk for help, only to find that she’s walked down a road to the past and into the arms of handsome a Confederate soldier, Jake Devlin. Will she stay in 1864, or will she return to the lonely life she left behind? (If he looked like Jimmy Thomas, that would be a very easy decision!)

Robin Mallory is facing another Christmas all alone when she decides to surprise her aunt and uncle several hours away. A flat tire leaves her stranded near a desolate section of interstate. With a snowstorm on the way, Robin has no choice but to walk, hoping to find shelter before the storm hits full force. But the road she chooses leads her back in time, to a battleground she's only read about in history books.
Confederate Jake Devlin, an officer in Stand Watie's Cherokee forces, is shocked when the spy he jumps turns out to be a girl. She's dressed oddly, but her speech and the ideas she has are even stranger than her clothing. Where did she come from, and what is he going to do with her? Will he be able to hold on to his heart? Is it possible for a love this strong to span centuries? It is, if it was MEANT TO BE…

And last but not least is a story I have wanted to write since I was a little girl. If you’ve ever heard the old folk song, SCARLET RIBBONS, perhaps you’ll understand why. In the song, the singer (I love the Harry Belafonte version more than any other) tells of hearing his little girl praying for some scarlet ribbons for her hair. Everything is closed for the night, and there’s no hope of him being able to buy them for her; such a simple request and no way to grant it. All night long he’s thinking about it and finally goes to peek in on her only to find her asleep, the scarlet ribbons on her bed. “If I live to be a hundred, I will never know from where…came those lovely scarlet ribbons, scarlet ribbons for her hair…” Well, I can never get through that song without getting misty eyed, but I always wondered about the story behind the scarlet ribbons…so I wrote one.

Miguel Rivera is known as El Diablo, The Devil. Men avoid meeting his eyes for fear of his gun. Upon returning to a town where he once knew a brief happiness, Miguel is persuaded by a street vendor to make a foolish holiday purchase; two scarlet ribbons.

When Catalina, his former lover, allows him to take a room at her boarding house, Miguel soon discovers a secret. Realizing that he needs the scarlet ribbons after all, he is stunned to find them missing. Can a meeting with a mysterious priest and the miracle of the Scarlet Ribbons set Miguel on a new path?

Now you can get all these stories under one cover! The print version and digital versions are available NOW!

For all my books, short stories and anthologies, visit my Amazon author page here:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Magic is in the air come October by: Stephanie Burkhart

Autumn is in the air. The pumpkin patches are full. It's time to mull the apple cider and dust off the pie tins. Vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon scents fill our houses. The leaves are changing vibrant colors – rust, purple and gold. In 2 weeks Halloween will be with us. The little ghouls and goblins will be out looking for treats.

Halloween has its roots in the ancient Celtic ceremony Samhain so I thought I'd share some fast facts with you.

Samhain is pronounced "sow-en)

Translated, Samhain means "end of summer."

The Celts lived in what is now Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales.

Celts believed that transitions had magical properties. Samhain was a transition, creating an opening to dead which included ghosts, fairies, and demons.

All the crops were harvested for Samhain. The Celtic priests would light fires and offer sacrifices to thank the gods for harvest.

Celts lit bonfires to honor the dead, help them on their journey to the otherworld and keep them away from the living.

My short story, "Night of Magic" takes place during Samhain. Dare Finn brave the bonfires and a journey to the otherworld for a woman he's never met?

Enjoy this excerpt from "Night of Magic:"

Just as Finn blew out the candle, loud rhythmic drumming filled the air and the bright light of a high fire cascaded through the window. A shiver shot down Finn's spine, and an uneasy feeling twisted around his nerves. The smoke from the candle drifted past his nose. An odd, sweet scent overtook him and Finn swooned. Reaching out, he grabbed the table, securing his balance.

The vision of a woman appeared before him – sweet curves, long, luscious red-gold hair and moss green eyes. Around her neck was a Celtic cross on a gold chain. She peered at him intently, studying him, and then slowly, she smiled, revealing a small dimple in her cheek. His blood stirred. Every male instinct within him cried out to stake his claim and conquer.

"Finn, ye all right?"
He straightened his back and drew in a breath, instinctively placing his hands on his weapons. He had no idea who the woman was or how he'd come to see her, but she'd ignited a hunger in his loins to find her and possess her.

You can find "Night of Magic" in the 2012 VTP Fall/Paranormal Anthology along with four more sweet to sensual stories.

Question: Do you have any questions about Samhain? Ask away. I'd love to hear your comments, thoughts and feedback and find our what you're dressing up as for Halloween. smiles

BUY LINKS (ebooks)




Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ghost Girl by Karen Michelle Nutt

I have quite a few ghost stories I could conjure up for Halloween. It must be why I love the paranormal so much—it feels like home.

Today, I’d like to tell you about my family’s ghost girl. Everyone in my family has seen her one time or another and she isn’t shy about revealing herself to friends, too.

This sighting took place when I was a teen. It was late at night and my mother and I were the only ones still up. At this time my father worked graveyard and wasn’t home. My siblings were sleeping.

I was working on a report for school in the kitchen and my mother was in the bathroom taking a bath. She kept the door slightly ajar so we could chat.

As the minutes ticked by, I began to get this prickly feeling at the base of my neck and I swear the fine hairs on my arm stood at attention. This happened every time the little girl would make her ghostly appearance and I knew it was about to happen again. I was standing near the table and my gaze was locked on the dark archway where our den is located.

Any second, I’m sure she’ll materialize. Usually, she is a fleeing figure in a light colored dress. Her hair is a pale blonde and long and whips behind her as she darts away.
While I’m concentrating on the endless black void that leads to our den, in the bathroom, my mother is running the water in the bathtub. “Who’s up with you?” she calls to me.

Of course no one is with me or so I believe. “No one’s up, Mom,” I gladly inform her.
“I said who’s up with you?” My mother repeats the question, but now her voice has an edge to it. She couldn’t hear that I answered her over the running water.

If I wasn’t already freaked, I’m heading toward the panic mode now. My mother obviously sees that someone is with me, but I can’t. I backed up a few paces, before I sprint to the bathroom as if this ghostly presence is chasing me. “No one is up with me!” And I do believe I did a little dance of fright and my voice became a high-pitched shrill.

My mother’s brows furrow in confusion. “What do you mean? I saw a hand reaching for you.”
She had been sure that one of the little ones had slipped out of bed, but they were all fast asleep.

Even though I didn’t see her, I believe it was our resident ghost girl, who had appeared off and on throughout the years. She still shows up now and again. She’s the only consistent resident ghost at my parents’ home, but we’ve had others over the years, too. I sometimes wonder if she invites them over, telling them,  “Hey they’re a cool family. Come hang out with them for a while.”
I’m giving away a PDF copy of 2012 Fall/Paranormal Collection to one lucky commenter. My ghostly tale, Shattered Illusions is featured in the collection.
All you need to do is Answer: Have you ever had a ghostly experience? If so, tell us about it.
Blurb for Shattered Illusions:

Blood stained floors appear and disappear, low whispering voices greet her as a storm causes the lights to flicker. Brona must put her fears behind her and unravel the mystery that haunts the house.

Excerpt for Shattered

She entered the house with sure steps. She reached for the light switch and flipped it on, flooding the living room with light. “Tara, I’m back and cold to the bone.” Silence greeted her. It was odd how silence could clamor louder in the mind than an orchestra playing a symphony. Her chuckle died in her throat. A confusing rush of anticipation and dread whirled inside of her. Why wasn’t her sister answering? No sounds came from within as if she entered a tomb. Goose flesh moved up her spine, making her shiver.

Lightning crackled in the sky and thunder shook the windows, causing Brona to jump. She whirled around to shut and locked the door behind her. She headed for the stairs with a thought: What if she had locked the intruder in with her? She stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked up at the inky blackness waiting for her.
She had to go up there. She had to make sure Tara was okay.
She’d only taken a step when a guttural cry of terror rose above the storm’s violence.

The Oiche Sith, the blood drinkers, forged an alliance with the Lathe Sith, a neighboring daywalker clan. The Oiche Sith would protect them from invaders in exchange that one female a year wed one of their warriors for the blooding ritual. Unfortunately, the female Lathe Sith never survives for very long.

Adryanna, a Lathe Sith, mourns the death of her recently mated sister, but she finds solace in the most unlikely place—in the arms of Bram, an Oiche Sith. She should fear him, loathe his existence, but instead she longs for their twilight embraces. Bram admires Adryanna’s strength and wishes only to protect her, even if it’s from him.

If Bram cannot find a way for Adryanna to survive the blooding ritual the romance is doomed. They seek help from Sheerin, Bram’s cousin, who believes he’s found a way for the Lathe Sith to survive, but others in the Oiche Sith clan do not wish for them to succeed. I’m running a Contest at Goodreads for Print copy of Twilight’s Eternal Embrace. Contest ends Oct. 31st.
Don't forget to stop by my blog for Wicked Haunt-o-ween for author posts and giveaways everyday this month! http://kmnbooks.blogspot.com

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I CAN'T COMPLAIN! by Cheryl Pierson

When everything happens at once, sometimes you have to wonder if you will survive the madness—but when it’s all good, who can complain? Here’s what’s going on with me!

The release of a collaborative effort through the Western Fictioneers group came about on September 1. Our first of the series book, “WOLF CREEK: BOOK 1 BLOODY TRAIL” came out and has already had some wonderful reviews! This book was written by Jim Griffin, James Reasoner, Larry Martin, Troy Smith, Clay More, and me. The plot was outlined for us by Troy, who came up with this brilliant idea, and our characters’ parts took wing from our own plans for them within the guidelines of the story. There will be many more books to follow in this series, and there will be a slew of different authors working on each edition.

Sometime in the next few days, I have two new .99 short stories that will be released through WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER. MEANT TO BE is a time travel Christmas story. The heroine, Robin Mallory, is stranded on Christmas Eve and begins to walk for help, only to find that she’s walked down a road to the past and into the arms of handsome a Confederate soldier, Jake Devlin. Will she stay in 1864, or will she return to the lonely life she left behind?

The other short story, A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES, is also a holiday tale about a wounded
gunslinger that winds up on the doorstep of widow Angela Bentley. She would patch him up and send him on his way, but for the three children he has with him. In the midst of a blinding snowstorm, what precious gifts can she contrive to make their Christmas special? Can she help them recover from the loss they’ve suffered? And what will become of her and Nick Dalton, the man with the dangerous reputation, on this…A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES?

In October, my contemporary novel, TEMPTATION’S TOUCH, will be released through The Wild Rose Press. TEMPTATION'S TOUCH gives Jack and Kendi a second chance at heaven...if they can manage to live long enough to enjoy it.

Two broken hearts find a second chance at love, but only if they manage to survive-- When Kendi Morgan witnesses an attempted murder near her home one night, she makes the only choice possible: help the victim. But bringing the handsome stranger into her home traps her in the middle of a deadly drug war. Wounded DEA agent Jackson Taylor is a man with nothing to lose and nothing to fear--until he falls for a beautiful woman who risked everything to save his life. With his sting operation gone awry, Jackson realizes he is all that stands between Kendi and a powerful drug lord seeking revenge. Can their newfound love survive? Or will Jackson sacrifice his partner's life and his own in exchange for Kendi's safety and their future together?

Also in October, my story THE KEEPERS OF CAMELOT will appear in the Western Fictioneers Christmas anthology, SIX GUNS AND SLAY BELLS: A CREEPY COWBOY CHRISTMAS. I am so honored to have my story in this collection.

This Western Fictioneers Christmas anthology is a new take on the old west, filled with Christmas stories that entertain you with a paranormal twist. This multi-authored collection includes short stories by some of the finest writers in the genre, and gives the reader something different in the way of holiday stories, while keeping to the 'old west' theme. Look for it on October 31.

Somewhere in all this, I’m trying to finish up a short story for another Christmas anthology, the last novella of the “Kane” series, and edit a novel manuscript. “Can she do it? Will she survive? How will she manage?”

That’s what’s happening with me—and I barely have time to turn around! I’ll keep you posted as release dates become available. For all of my current books and short stories, go to: