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

Monday, May 27, 2013


Do you have a “collection” of special people in your life? People that helped you in ways maybe you hadn’t really given much thought to, but that turned out to be extremely important? One of the first milestones in my writing career—becoming a finalist in the EPIC Awards with my first novel, FIRE EYES—brought this realization home to me. I got curious. I know there are incidents in people’s lives that are pivotal to their entire careers, dreams, and goals, that, perhaps at the time, don’t seem that important. Later, looking back on it, it becomes an “aha” moment—you understand that THIS was the moment when you made the decision to do something you might not have done otherwise, or because of a word of encouragement you continued on when you’d been ready to stop.

Most people that I’ve met in the last half of my adulthood would never describe me as “shy,” but as a youngster, I was—horribly. That’s one reason I turned to writing. It was a great way for me to get my feelings out without actually having to say them. I could have someone else say it all for me.
In this picture, I was about 3 years old. Hadn't reached the self-conscious stage yet.

I imagine that’s how many of my fellow writers started, too. I sometimes wonder what might have happened had we all known each other when we were younger. Would we have developed into the writers we are today, or would we have found our “niche” with one another and NOT turned so much to writing?

One of my senior pictures, so I was 16, almost 17 (made the summer before sr. year, 1975). In the heart of my shy stage.

If you can relate to the “shy” part, then maybe you felt this way, too: I was never competitive. Not like so many sports contenders might be. The things I enjoyed, writing and music, were open to everyone, I felt. I am not a “joiner” and I am not one to enter a lot of contests. I entered FIRE EYES in the 2010 EPIC Awards competition, and something odd happened when I did.

From the moment I entered, my attitude about myself changed. BEFORE I entered, I thought, “I probably don’t have a chance.” But my mom always used to say, “If you don’t enter, you certainly are NOT going to win!” I remembered those words, and sent in my entry that very day. Once it was sent, I began to feel some confidence growing. As I analyzed WHY, here’s what I came up with.

FIRE EYES was a joint project. I wrote it, but I couldn’t have if I hadn’t had the cooperation and support of my family—my kids and my husband. While I was writing it, my oldest sister, Annette, was constantly asking about “how it’s coming”, and she was the one I could bounce ideas off of. My parents had been so supportive, and one of my great regrets is that they both passed away before they could know that FIRE EYES had been published. Once written, my business partner read it for glaring mistakes, and my best friend of 45 years read it for moral support. The Wild Rose Press accepted it, and my editor, Helen Andrew, was so phenomenal in helping me mold it and shape it into the story that was released in May, 2009. My cover artist, Nicola Martinez, did a superb job on the beautiful cover. My family and friends were all pulling for me, and constantly offering encouragement. With all these people behind me and my story, my confidence rose. Whatever would be, would be—and entering the competition was a win/win situation. Even if I didn’t make it to the finals, I would still have taken the chance and had the experience.

When I received the news that my book was, indeed, a finalist, I thought immediately of all the people who had helped me get to this point; people in my life who had faith in me, and in my ability, and in the story itself. I thought of that saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It’s true, even in the broader sense of our lives as writers. The experiences we had growing up, people who encouraged us even then, our spouses, our children, mentors and teachers we’ve had along the way, and peers that have helped and encouraged us. Editors, artists, publishers and organizations such as EPIC that give us a chance to compete and strive to be better and better, along with our readers, are all part of the completed circle of a successful writer’s endeavors.

Though FIRE EYES didn’t win that year, the experience of entering the competition and finalling in it was more important that I could have realized when I sent my entry in. It was the thing that made me understand just how many people had been involved in the entire process of writing that book. And it gave me the impetus and encouragement to move forward with the rest of my writing projects since that time. That realization was far more important than winning the contest, and has been with me every day, like a component of myself that I didn’t have before; another part of my make-up.

Since then, FIRE EYES has gone to a different publisher, WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER. With yet another great cover, this time by Karen Nutt, and a fantastic publisher, Rebecca Vickery, it’s once again seeing renewed success. But moreover, that’s yet another example of the help I’ve gotten on my writing journey.

Does anyone have a “special person” that helped them along the way? Not just in writing, but in your life’s goals and dreams? What about a “collection” of special people? My “collection” of special people in my life is the thing that I am most thankful for above all else. Without them, my dreams could have never happened. I could never have done it alone.

Cheryl's Amazon Author Page:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

~ Honor our Soldiers and Veterans on Memorial Day ~

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." 
John F. Kennedy

"And they who for their country die
 shall fill an honored grave, 
for glory lights the soldier's tomb, 
and beauty weeps the brave."
Joseph Drake

"And each man stand with his face in the light of his own drawn sword. 
Ready to do what a hero can."
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

"It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. 
It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle."
Norman Schwarzkopf

"We must be prepared to make heroic sacrifices for the cause of peace
 that we make ungrudgingly for the cause of war."
Albert Einstein

"The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, 
glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it."


Thank you to all who have served and to those who sacrificed for the sake of our freedom.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dave P. Fisher ~ A Western Story Teller

I write western novels and short stories, along with non-fiction outdoor articles. As a life-time westerner, from a pioneering ancestry, I’ve got a pretty good idea what the West is all about. I’ve been a working cowboy, horsepacker, rodeo rider, and hunting guide. My adventures have led me to several years in the Alaska bush where life today remains much the same as in the 1800’s West. I’ve worked outfits in Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado. At varying times I have called Oregon, Colorado, California, and Nevada home. We finally decided to put down roots in Washington because the outdoor activities are endless.

As a western story teller I draw on my personal experience to relate to the reader the realism of how a horse moves and behaves, or how a bronc feels when he bucks. I know what the wind sounds like in the aspens or how the high desert smells and feels. What a .44 feels like when it’s fired, or the weight of it on my hip. I know what western men and women are really like, how they think and what makes them tick. For instance, western women were and are strong and capable, you won’t find weak female characters in my stories.

Tombstone, Arizona

I have walked the boardwalks of Virginia City and Tombstone. Stood on the tracks running through Dodge City where the original town stood. 

St. James Hotel, Cimarron, NM

I’ve sat in the lobby of the St. James Hotel, in Cimarron, and examined the bullet holes put in the bar ceiling by Clay Allison. 

I’ve rounded up horses at Fort Laramie where Cavalry patrols once rode, and listened to the wind on Massacre Hill at the Little Big Horn. These are just a few of the places, there have been many more. On top of this I never stop researching and studying the era. Is all this important? Absolutely, if one intends to be a believable western story teller.

I have had over 400 works published, (I kind of lost track after that). I presently have eight western novels out, plus three other western related books. 50 short stories published in a variety of publications, eight have garnered Reader’s Choice Awards. A short story collection Bronc Buster – Short Stories of the American West won the Will Rogers Medallion Award for Western Fiction. My short stories have been included in 15 anthologies including the first two issues of La Frontera’s “The American West” series. 

My four novels of The Poudre Canyon Saga series (there will be five) beginning with Where Free Men Gather has proven to be very popular. I recently signed on with 5 Star with the first novel Jury of Six due out the first of 2014. My second novel with them is in my editor’s queue.

Now available at Amazon for $3.99 in digital edition and $14.99 in print.

Claude LeSueur hurled his final insult in the face of Jean Pelletier igniting the young trapper's white hot temper. A flash of fury and a naked blade left the son of wealthy fur merchant Maurice LeSueur gasping out his last breath on the banks of the St. Lawrence. Jean, together with his brother Andre, flee Canada and the hangman's gallows, while behind them follow two murderous river pirates, Joseph Quesnel and his silent partner known only as 'the wolverine.' 


Over on the funny side of the coin are the Jack and Cleve stories set on their Winnemucca Plenty o’ Rocks ranch. This a collection of stories about the misadventures of two contemporary ranchers, and their assortment of neighbors and pals, all based on people I have worked with, known, and tried not to know in my own adventures. All this is featured in The Auction Horse published by Western Trail Blazer.

Available in ebook for 99 cents each and both volumes in one print paperback for $8.95 at Amazon and other online book retailers.


I also spent several years as a cowboy poet and humorist performing on stages throughout the west. As a result there is a collection of cowboy poetry They Still Do That along with an accompanying CD. A second CD, Snake Bit is a collection of humorous ballad poems set to sound and music.

My novels, books, and CD’s, plus a lot of other interesting things, can be found on my website www.davepfisher.com

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free ebook of The Auction Horse and be introduced to Jack and Cleve ~ as well as Dave's western sense of humor ~

Saturday, May 18, 2013

In Defense of the Romance Novel

On a recent trip to the library, an acquaintance walked up to me and said, “I heard you write romance novels. Do you really read that stuff?”
Mmm, I mused, how often have I heard that question?

Taking my usual bold stance—on quivering legs—I replied, “Sure, I do. Why not?”

I’ve learned one important thing in my mature years. If I don’t particularly like the question, I’ll ask one of my own. It’ll throw the person off track every time. Well, usually.

Why not?” my casual friend asked. “Well, for one thing,” she stammered, “they’re…trite, with the same plot in every single book. A learned person wouldn’t waste time on them.”

Of course, by the time I arrived home, my busy brain had made a list of “why I read that stuff, and particularly why I write it.”

Answer Number One: Defending romance novels falls in the same category as defending myself. If I probe the question, "do you read that stuff?", the person might really be saying, “A reader of romance usually doesn’t have a life of her own, or a poor love life at best, or she reads to live vicariously through a character.”
My reply might be, “Statistics show that 75 million people read at least one romance novel last year. So, you’re saying you know how all these readers feel?”

Answer Number Two: Some romance novels are better than others. True, the first romance novels were written differently from those today, but one might say that about all fiction in general. Advice to my friend-of-the-moment:
“Try a romance novel. Begin with a few of the tried and true authors: LaVyrle Spencer (my all-time favorite), Susan Wiggs, Penelope Williamson, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Judith McNaught, Kathleen Eagle, and Karen Robards. Neither you nor anyone else needs to waste time on any bad book. That applies to romance novels, as well.”

Answer Number Three: Perhaps readers and writers of romance are actually readers….period. To my detractor, I might reply:
“Oh, by the way, if you’re looking for a good book, you might want to try the 450 page Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Societies, or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, or Plainsong, or The Dust Bowl Years: Voices From the Past. I highly recommend them.”
Would that be tacky of me?

Answer Number Four: A simple statement.
"Reading and writing romance novels are my inalienable rights under the constitution."
After all, this is a free country.

Answer Number Five: I’m easily entertained. When I choose a movie, I do not need to select one that has garnered critically acclaimed praise over the entire globe. The same is true with my reading material.

Answer Number Six: In response to the statement “Romance novels are just fairy tales, stories that never happen in real life.” Maybe, maybe not, but I might reply:
“Sometimes, I like to escape reality.”

Or: "I happen to believe in fairy tale endings. My Mother and Daddy had a special fairy tale romance. In 1932, she was 16 and he was 18. They attended a dance for young people in Mineral Wells, Texas. She wore her prettiest blue dress, and her black hair that was so long she could sit on it, was pulled back with pearl combs. Her black eyes were shining.
He wore his one good suit, the same one he wore to church on Sunday, and his thick, curly blond hair and bright blue eyes sparkled.
Many years later, Daddy liked to tell people, "Another fella brung her to the dance, but I took her home." 
Sigh. I almost cry everytime I think of that. God rest their precious souls. 

I realize the question, “You don’t read that stuff, do you?” has been asked many times.

Everyone has a right to his or her own chosen reading material. I won't quarrel with a soul about that. What I would take issue with is that such a person who would ask this question, seems to think that's all I read--or any other reader who enjoys romance.

(I just finished Defending Jacob, a very long book that will hold you riveted to the page. This is in case anyone reading this needs a good book recommendation and you like crime and courtroom drama.)

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

Sunday, May 12, 2013


A mother’s love is like an island in life’s ocean vast and wide- 
A peaceful, quiet shelter from the restless, rising tide. 

A mother’s love is like a fortress, and we seek protection there 
When the waves of tribulation seem to drown us in despair. 

A mother’s love is a sanctuary where our souls can find sweet rest 
From the struggle and the tension of life’s fast and futile quest. 

A mother’s love is like a tower rising far above the crowd, 
Her smile is like the sunshine breaking through a threatening cloud. 

A mother’s love is like a beacon burning bright with faith and prayer, 
And through the changing scenes of life we can find a haven there. 

For a mother’s life is fashioned after God’s enduring love- 
It is endless and unfailing like the love of Him above. 

For God knew he couldn’t be everywhere, 
So He put His little Children in a loving mother’s care.

~ Helen Steiner Rice ~