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.

Friday, December 28, 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?

EXCERPT:
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
scared.”
“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 café, 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.

GIFTS:

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.


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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

HOLIDAY READING and SPECIALS




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?