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

Sunday, October 27, 2013



I'm giving my normal blog days to my daughter, Jessica Pierson, to talk about her part in illustrating the beautiful new children's book, SARAH'S MUSIC, published recently by Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery. The story is by one of my writing students and long-time friends, a professional storyteller for the Choctaw Nation, Stella Long. This story was based on her own life, and I know she is working on "book 2" right now. Here is Jessica's post about illustrating the book for Stella and working with her--a once in a lifetime experience! ----- Cheryl Pierson

Over the course of the last two years, I’ve been lucky enough to work with Choctaw storyteller Stella Long on the illustrations for her children’s book, Sarah’s Music.

At out last meeting, I struggled clumsily to explain to Stella why I thought Sarah’s Music was so special, and ended up saying something incredibly articulate, like “It’s just…I mean…it’s a great story.” She hadn’t asked me, but I desperately wanted to tell her why I had been so grateful for the opportunity to work on her story. “You know…” I began, “when I think of the books the girls I work with like to read, I mean, there’s nothing like this. There’s nothing…relatable. It’s all just… princesses.” (Slow clap) Well said, Jessica. Well said. Maybe you could have been less specific, but I doubt it. Not to be dissuaded, however, what follows is another more targeted stab at using my words.

Why Sarah’s Music is a “Great Story”: A Book Review by Jessica Pierson

Sarah’s story begins when she discovers that she is inspired by music, but seems to have no way to share her songs with others. With the help of her animal friends, Sarah goes on a journey all by herself and receives the gift of a musical instrument made especially for her by her. When she fails initially to make it sound, she becomes discouraged, but she doesn’t give up. Instead, she tries again, and practices, and learns at last to release the songs that have been locked in her heart.

Sarah’s Music is a moving glimpse at a worldview long forgotten by our dominant culture. In Sarah’s world, the creatures she encounters in the woods are not strange or frightening, but her closest friends. The natural world isn’t Sarah’s adversary. There is no “big bad wolf,” or “dark forest.” Rather, the natural world around her is generous, helpful, and inclusive. Sarah is a member of the forest community, not a stranger or an interloper. She isn’t superior to the plants and animals around her, but considers them her loved ones and her wise teachers. She lives comfortably among her relations in nature, learns from them humbly, and is ultimately only able to accomplish her goal because of the gifts she receives from her friends. Imagine the improved health of our planet if more children began to see themselves not as separate from the natural world, but as members of a community of living creatures.

In what is yet another departure from our established modern archetypes, Sarah is a child, a girl, and an empowered individual all at once! Her parents have shown her how to meet her needs, and allowed her the autonomy to make her own discoveries. It is no surprise, then, that she is brave enough to embark on a journey all by herself because she feels confident that she is prepared. Throughout the story, Sarah chooses for herself, and asks for help and guidance when she needs it. As a result, her learning process is unhurried and unstructured, the result of her own unique experiences. Her self-knowledge is completely uncontrived, and part of her accomplishment. Sarah isn’t a helpless object waiting for someone to save her, or take care of the hard parts. She is an active participant in making her dream a reality.

Perhaps the most subtly beautiful and surprising element is Sarah’s wish itself. Sarah’s greatest wish is not to gain anything for herself, but to share her music, which is already inside of her. She doesn’t dream of a husband, or a crown, or a treasure, or wish to be something she isn’t or to attend a ball. She wishes for an ability, not so she can gain something, but so she can use her own gifts for the enjoyment of those around her. What a delicate, wise wish for our world!

In addition to the opportunity to revisit a familiar and yet foreign traditional reality, there is one final facet of Sarah’s Music that I fell in love with as I worked to create the images. The final item that would make me want to read this book to my child every night at bedtime is that there is not one singular mention of Sarah’s physical appearance.

In our image conscious world, this might seem, at first, like a glaring omission. Our fairy tales are often about girls who are described as beautiful. “Once there lived a beautiful princess.” Stories about girls are almost always about their extraordinary beauty, as though these precious women/children had no other important or distinguishing qualities. If beauty doesn’t figure heavily into the story (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, etc.) it is almost guaranteed that as soon as the heroine is introduced, a physical description is provided. Sarah is not described as beautiful or in any other way, because it is utterly unimportant what she looks like. This is refreshing! She is a girl, acting to bring her goals about, and it doesn’t matter to anyone if she is beautiful. She has many praise-worthy qualities, and in the story, she learns new ones (patience, perseverance, etc.) It is lovely to find a story about a girl where literally everything else about her matters more than her appearance.

If you happen to be looking for a new bedtime story or a Christmas gift, consider sharing Sarah’s Music with your family. It is…healing. That’s the word I wanted to find for Stella, but somehow I suspect that she knows this already.

Sarah’s Music is currently available in print and as an ebook, thanks to Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery.

It isn’t possible to say an adequate “Thank You” Rebecca J. Vickery, Laura Shinn, and Cheryl Pierson for their hard work. Cheers, ladies.

Print copies can be purchased at the links below for under $10.00. Ebook downloads are available here as well for $3.99.




Monday, October 21, 2013

My "Lance Kelly Series" by Les Williams

I wanted to share info about my latest release, A Western Trail Blazer Dime Novel: 

“A man never knows when fate will step in with a lending hand. Like the time back in 69 when I was in Hays City Kansas. That’s when I crossed paths again with a friend from my past. This was after gun shots were exchanged and a bushwhacker lay dead in the dusty street. Seems like history has a way of repeating itself.” - Lance Kelly 

Brief Excerpt:

"Hey, you in the Marshal's office! Step on out here. I've heard you're lightning with a gun. Let's see just how good you are."
Kelly is jostled out of his reverie. He gets up, adjusts his ash gray sombrero, and goes out to the boardwalk in front of his office.
Standing with widespread legs in the middle of the mucky street is a kid of eighteen, maybe nineteen, years old wearing a blue and white striped shirt with Levis tucked into his hand-tooled brown boots. His right hand is poised over the walnut butt of a .44 holstered on his left hip.
Men gather on the boardwalk in front of the Red Dog and the adjacent false fronted buildings, waiting to see what will happen next.
Bronson strides over from the restaurant, wiping his mouth with a red and white checkered cloth napkin. He steps up next to Kelly. "What's this all about?"
Before Kelly can answer, the kid, whose eyes never leave the lawman, speaks up, "This is none of your concern, Mister."

Trail's End is the second story in my Lance Kelly Series.
Available at Amazon 

This was the first Dime Novel about Lance Kelly:

"The bad thing about being fast with a gun is there's always someone who wants to see if he's faster. My day started like that, and it doesn't look to get any better. This unwanted reputation sure draws attention. Walk with me for a day and see what I mean." – Lance Kelly 

Brief Excerpt:  
"Once I kill you, men will have to respect me. I’ll be known as Jake Saunders, the man who killed Lance Kelly."

A few dry leaves blowing around the hardpan street, the yaps of a dog, and the yowls of the tomcat it’s chasing break the silence. A crow lifts off from a gnarled oak tree, cawing to show its displeasure at being disturbed.

Sweat trickles down the side of the kid’s face, but he can’t wipe it away. Jake needs to keep his eyes on the man facing him in the street. Besides, one move toward his gun could signal the Marshal to draw. He licks his lips, his mouth suddenly feeling dry like a desert underneath a scorching noon sun. Doubt begins to form in his mind as the lawman calmly stands facing him.

Is that pity he sees in the Marshal's eyes? Why you sorry son of a…! 

Buy at: Amazon   Smashwords  Nook  and more online ebook retailers