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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

HaPpY New Year!

Welcome to the party... 


2014 was a year of ups and downs, success and failure, and changes for all. 
Yet, we struggled, slid, or waltzed through and it's time to look forward.

Help us bid GOODBYE to 2014 and HELLO-o-o! to 2015.


Enjoy a virtual glass of champagne or sparkling grape juice without fear of a hangover.

Have as many savory snacks as you want from our virtual buffet - guaranteed to be calorie-free.

Please leave a comment (or 2, or as many as you like) and tell us your resolutions for the New Year, ask the authors questions, or share a greeting. 

If you leave a comment you will be entered in our drawing for ebooks which include:

This Time Forever by Linda Swift
Kathleen by Celia Yeary
Stopped Cold by Gail Pallotta
 The King's Daughter by Miriam Newman
Familiar Shadows by Bert Goolsby
Fishing for Love by Hilda Lassalette
Texas Dreamer by Celia Yeary
His Leading Lady by Paula Martin
Soul Taker by Karen Michelle Nutt
Soul Taker (Audible Version) 
Loving Luc by Vicki Crum
Amy, Jen, and the Demon by Hilda Lassalette 

The more comments you leave, 
the more chances to win!

(If you win ebooks which you already have, we will allow substitutions) 

Free Gifts for You in appreciation of your support

Thank you for your wonderful support in 2014 and we are looking forward to bringing you many new titles and some new authors in 2015!

Now, let's PARTY!

Entries for prizes ends at 11:59 pm EST on Jan 1. 
Prize winners will be announced here on Jan 2 
and contacted by email where possible.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

JD McCall Shares Tranquility

Meet the Folks of Tranquility Wild West Town, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

by J.D. McCall
It's no secret among writers of Westerns that the genre has enjoyed some popularity overseas in places like Great Britain, Germany, and a few other European countries.  Recently, I came across a group of Western devotees in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, who really take their Western interest seriously.   

Tranquility Wild West Town is a diverse group of individuals dedicated to preserving the life and times of the Old West, even to the point of building their own Western town, hence the name of the group.

Group founder, Alistair (Ally) Baranowski came up with the idea of building his own Wild West town back in 2005 on property he owned near the Glendronach Distillery in Aberdeenshire.  Quite fittingly, the first building to be constructed was the Saloon, which was to be the heart of the town and gathering place for their future community, much like the saloons of the Old West functioned as a social hub in the 1800s. 
Ally, his brother, Stan, and Billy Beaton started construction in June of that year, aided by a few others as schedules would permit, and by November had completed the first building in Tranquility.  Once the story hit the media, Ally had no trouble finding others who wanted to share in his Wild West dream.  Currently, the group has about thirty members.

I recently contacted Ally and a few of his fellow enthusiasts, who graciously agreed to answer some of my questions about Tranquility and this Western obsession they have immersed themselves in.

JD: Even if they knew of the fair sized following that westerns have overseas, a lot of folks here in the U.S. would be surprised to learn there are organizations such as yours which embrace the period with such gusto. I would like to hear from some of your members how their interest in the Old West developed.  What initially drew your attention to this period in U.S. history?
Ally:  As a child I loved listening to western stories on the radio & being invited round to a neighbours to watch the Lone Ranger on TV and also had a diet of westerns at the cinema on Saturday mornings. Hollywood has a lot to answer for!
John Haram (a.k.a. Missourah Jack, a.k.a. Dr. Bob):  Growing up in England in the 50s you couldn’t switch on the TV without an almost endless supply of Westerns being shown every day – everything from children’s shows such as Cisco Kid, Range Rider, Hopalong Cassidy, etcetera, to more adult Westerns such as Wagon Train, Cheyenne, Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke - (renamed Gun Law for some reason here in the UK!!), Rawhide, etcetera, etcetera. (My father would actually disconnect the phone so the family would not be disturbed on Wagon Train night on the TV).  In addition to the TV there was always a constant supply of really great Western movies to satisfy our quest for a good Western as well as a huge supply of Western comics.  I’m 68 years old now and I remember my mother often saying over the years: “Most boys go through the Cowboy stage – my son is stuck in it!!”
Dave Alexander (aka LoneStranger): My uncle used to buy me books and guns, etcetera, when I was about 5 years old.
JD:  It sounds like your childhoods were a lot like mine.  So, what aspect of the Wild West and its history do you find the most fascinating?
Ally:  I think the period from around 1865-1895 roughly is the most exciting period in Wild West history for me. The building of the railways, the migration west & hardships endured, conquering the wilderness, the outlawry. The weapons, the clothing, the backgrounds of those early settlers etc. It's all so very fascinating & colourful.
Dave: All.
John:  Although I have always loved Hollywood’s version of Western history, I also love all of actual Western history with, perhaps, a special interest in American Indian history – although I have much more to learn.
JD:  Have any of your members visited the U. S. and been to any of the western states?
Dave:  I toured all 48 States (continental) in 2010, doing 26,000 miles. When I came back I joined Tranquility. I wrote a book about it titled 48 @67 which refers to my age and the number of States visited.
Ally:  Quite a number of the members (perhaps almost half) have visited the US. I have friends in Dodge City, Cheyenne, Arizona, & New Mexico. Indeed, since 2012 I've been returning annually to visit friends in Arizona and New Mexico every March and each year I take more members with me. In 2015 I'm hopeful that at least 5 of us will be going.  I particularly enjoy traveling through Arizona and New Mexico with their ghost towns & historical links; eg Tombstone, Willcox,  etcetera.
John:  Yes, my wife and I have visited the U.S. several times – twice to Arizona & New Mexico.
JD:  Wow, some of you are well traveled.  I feel a wee bit embarrassed to say I have never visited Scotland, home to a lot of my ancestry.  So when it comes to books, which do you prefer when reading about the Wild West: fiction or non-fiction?
John:  I love good Western fiction such as Louis L’Amour. I also love Western non-fiction, for example when I was about 12 years old I found Paul I. Wellman’s two great works, Death in the Desert and Death on the Prairie far more interesting history than King Henry VIII, Oliver Cromwell or the reign of Elizabeth l. (Incidentally I still have those Wellman books amongst a fair supply of other great Western history books).
Dave:  Factual, there are plenty of novels on other subjects to read.
Ally:  I like a good reference book to check out facts for accuracy but I do enjoy a well written fictional action western.
JD:  So, Ally, how did you fund the building of Tranquility?
Ally:  I personally funded about 90% of the cost of construction, the remainder has been financed through raffles, donations for doing western shows and other fundraising activities carried out by members of re-enactment team. The town is built on land owned by me.
JD:  Any plans to expand the town?
Ally:  Probably won't add any further buildings as land is limited and I don't want it to get too overcrowded, plus I'd need to get more planning permission! But I think we will continue slowly to upgrade existing buildings; e.g. currently we're adding a canopy to the Marshall's Office, and perhaps next year we may construct a gallows.

JD:  I see you hold some events where the public is invited to visit Tranquility. The re-enactments must be lots of fun. How big of a crowd do you usually draw?
Ally:  Spectator size often depends on the weather forecast as we're primarily an outdoor event. Average is around 150 folks (we only have three Open Days a year).
JD:  Since you started the group, you've branched out from re-enactments to short films.  How did that come about?
Dave:  It just seemed to happen. Maybe we secretly aspire to be movie stars, after all given the right direction and an endless number of re-takes we can all be made to look good.
Ally:  I'm a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to technology! However, about the same time I started the town I bought a basic camcorder and would video some of our re-enactment rehearsals. Of course everyone wanted a copy of the video and got a thrill from watching their performances on the small screen! One thing leads to another... one weekend we decide to make a short movie out of one of our reenactments. The result was pretty amateurish but everyone was happy with it! Each year we'd try to be a little more ambitious with some of our films running to over 30 minutes and we also started attracting pretty decent volunteers both as camera crew and as actors. In 2014 we made two films & will have a double premiere of them in a local cinema. We've entered one into the 2015 Glasgow Short Film Festival.
JD:  It looks like you've stepped up your game with your new feature.  Did you find it to be more of an effort than you thought to produce your current film, Return of a Son? 
Ally:  No, had a very good team to work with. 
Dave:  I didn’t find it much of an effort. All I did was turn up and do as I was told, but there were a lot of people who put in far more work than I did and I reckon they found it quite an effort.  
JD:  And any plans for making another?
Ally:  Yes! We hope to film at least one in 2015.
Dave:  I hope so, but it’s difficult to get a group of people together for a prolonged period sometimes due to work, commitments, etcetera. 
JD:  Well, gentlemen, it's been a pleasure talking with you and learning about Tranquility.  You've got a great group and a fantastic venue for it.  I must admit, I'm a bit envious that you have such a great way to live out your dreams of being in the Old West. And nobody gets killed!  
Thanks once again for taking the time to answer my questions.  I'll continue to follow you on Facebook and look forward to your posts.

For anyone wanting to know more about Tranquility Wild West Town, check out these links:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


“Fruitcake Gets Bum Rap”-a quirky individual who gets shuttled off to jail on an imaginary charge.
No, not that kind of fruitcake. I would never use such a politically incorrect term to define someone who might resemble my Great-aunt Minerva who made pies out of leftover jams and jellies.

I’m referring to the type of cake made from candied fruits and nuts that some insist on baking or buying to give as Christmas gifts. You’ve heard Jay Leno make fun of a family tradition of giving this cake, where one recipient says, “Why, thank yew sooo much! I just love fruitcake.” Then that person proceeds to wrap it anew and gives it to someone else. The same cake is passed around for years—and never deteriorates!

I, for one, really, really do love fruitcake. Admittedly, some are better than others, but even the cheap ones that come in a decorative tin and sold in your local discount store have something to offer. At Christmas parties, someone always contributes a plate of dark sliced fruitcake, perhaps a little dry, forlorn, skipped over by guests as they select a tidbit here, a morsel there. Me? I’ll take a piece of the cake every time.

My mother made an excellent fruit cake back in the fifties and sixties. She did use the common candied cherries and pineapple, sometimes dyed green, raisins, and lots of good old Texas pecans. She would buy a big sack of pecans as early as she could in the fall, and Daddy cracked every one and picked out the nutmeats. Fresh pecans make a big difference. Since we were teetotalers at home, Mother would tell Daddy to buy a bottle of whiskey—she said whiskey, but probably meant bourbon—when he next had to work over the state line in New Mexico. Most of the South Plains counties were “dry.” After soaking the 10-inch-tube-pan cake two weeks in the alcoholic beverage, let me tell you, that was a good fruitcake. I especially enjoyed it for breakfast with a hot cup of black coffee.

Years later, I found my own recipe for fruitcake. I’d like to share it with you.

3 cups chopped Texas pecans

1 ½ cups halved maraschino cherries

1 cup dark raisins- ½ cup light raisins

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup white sugar

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

3 eggs

2 Tbs. apricot brandy

 ½ cup apricot brandy and cheesecloth

 Combine nuts and fruits. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add to nut mixture, tossing to coat well. Beat eggs till frothy; add the 2 Tbs. brandy. Pour egg mixture over fruit mixture; mix well. Pour batter into greased and floured 9 x 5 x 3 loaf dish or pan. Bake in 300 degree oven 1 hour and 45 minutes. (If you use a dark pan, perhaps lower the temperature a few degrees or test for doneness a few minutes early.)

When the cake cools, wrap in clean cheese-cloth. Dribble apricot Brandy over all sides until soaked. Wrap in aluminum foil. You may add more brandy later, if you wish. Store the cake at least week.

Here is the link to a page of Free Reads on Publishing By Rebecca J. Vickery.
 Please click on the link below the cover for MERRY CHRISTMAS, VICTORIA.
This is a 1500 word Free short story.

If you are looking for a Western Romance Short, this is my newest release from PBRJV--KATHLEEN--TRINITY HILL BRIDES-Book I. I am so pleased with the book and how well it is selling. I love the cover Karen Michelle Nutt made for this short novel.

KATHLEEN-Trinity Hill Brides-Book I


 Barnes and Noble


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



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Meet Author Vicki Crum

My name is Vicki Crum, and I live near the ocean in Southern California with my husband of 39 years. We have two grown daughters and two beautiful grandchildren who are the absolute center of our lives. When not spending quality time with my family, you can most often find me indulging my love for reading and writing. 

I write contemporary romance, and over the years have tried my hand at several sub-genres, from romantic suspense to women’s fiction, eventually dipping my toe into paranormal romance. My first published novel, Loving Luc, is a contemporary romance with futuristic elements, and I’m very excited to be sharing it with the world!

When I first started writing, in the late 1990’s, I joined Romance Writers of America, Orange County Chapter, and my association with that wonderful organization opened up a whole new world for me. I’ve attended conferences around the country, met tons of fabulous writers, many who were on my personal “must read” author list long before I embarked on my own writing odyssey. Some of these authors have become close friends and even mentors over the years. I like to think I’ve grown as a person as well as a writer, and it’s been a wonderful journey. As for my own personal preferences, I read across many genres and I don’t like to pigeonhole myself as a writer because I think it keeps my writing fresh to write in more than one romance genre. Though I’m concentrating on paranormal now, I tend to let my characters dictate to me where they want to go—and how they want to get there!

When I’m not writing, my husband and I like to spend as much time with our five-year-old granddaughter and our eighteen-month-old grandson as possible. My daughters and I are very good friends, and we can kill an entire day just shopping and getting our toes done! 
The very best times are when the whole family is together, especially at our favorite condo in Maui. I also like to dabble in a little home decorating from time to time, and I enjoy traveling to different places around the world. This month my husband and I are going on a seven-day cruise on the Danube River, from Budapest to Passau, Germany. 
Christmas Markets here I come!

Jimmy Thomas-Model for RNC as Luc
Of all my fictional works, I think Loving Luc is my favorite. Luc, to me, is the epitome of the ideal mate, kind, passionate, intelligent, vulnerable yet strong and brave, and he certainly isn’t hard on the eyes! I especially love the air of mystery that surrounds him, and
how it continues to confound Maggie until he finally reveals the stunning truth about his identity. Luc is the embodiment of what I think of as the ultimate romantic hero, and I think Maggie is the perfect match for him.

The most important thing I’ve learned on my journey to publication is that if you want to succeed, you must never, ever give up. Writing, like everything else, has its extreme highs and lows. When everything is going well, when you’re in the “zone”, so to speak, and typing along like crazy, it’s euphoric. When the story isn’t working for you, and you just can’t figure out where to go to get back on track, it can be a miserable undertaking. There have been so many times, especially since my grandkids have come along, when I considered giving up on my writing and my dream of being published. I have to thank my critique group, which includes Mandy Baker and Hilda Lassalette, for keeping me going when the enthusiasm just wasn’t there.

One of my favorite inspirational quotes, though sadly I can’t remember who said it, goes something like this, “I can’t imagine how many truly great writers the world will never know because they simply gave up and went away.” I think every writer has their own instinctive reasons for doing what they do. For me, I try to remember to “write for the sheer joy of it”, because in the end, it’s the only thing that really matters.

My current project is my first foray into the werewolf world. Once in a Blue Moon: Casey Montgomery’s dangerous addiction to bad boys has brought her nothing but heartache. Just as she swears them off forever in favor of the nerdy type, she meets a Harley-driving hunk that blows her socks off. Jake Benedict is a were who knows another when he sees one, even if Casey has no idea of her real heritage. Sparks fly first in the bedroom, and then again as Jake reveals to Casey her true nature.

When I finish with Casey and Jake’s story, I’d like to work on a possible sequel to Loving Luc because I’ve had several friends and readers ask me if there’s going to be one. And what writer doesn’t like to spend more time with characters they love?

I wish I had the patience to carefully outline my story ideas before beginning to write, but I’m afraid I’m much too eager to jump right in. All I usually know when I start a book is the beginning, the end, and a few of the major plot points. And of course, my characters. My stories are much more character driven than plot driven. In fact, half of the time I really have to dig deep to construct a plot I feel is worthy of my characters. They always come alive first in my mind, and the full scope of their journey develops as I go. And I’ve always written in a quiet room with no distractions. I wish I could listen to music while I write, and I’m determined to experiment with it, see what I can learn to do if I try. I’m often inspired by certain songs and music, but then I turn them off and go into my office to write. And I can’t function in a lot of clutter, or write when I feel like I’ve left something important undone. 
I’ll admit, I’m a little OCD! 

You may find Ms. Crum at these locations:

When Maggie’s husband dies a few months after their wedding, guilt quickly overshadows her grief. She wanted out of her disastrous marriage, but not like this. Then an intriguing stranger shows up, forcing Maggie to question what she believes. Her powerful attraction to Luc pulls her deep into a web of lies and deceit, but the truth will change her life in ways she never could have imagined.

Ebook Christmas Special: 99 cents thru Dec 31
Ebook reg price: $3.99
Print: $10.95