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

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Darrien’s feeling a little foolish…The Gryphon and His Thief #8sunday #snippetsunday #SPeekSunday @KMNbooks

Looking for Snippet Sunday? Just follow the link to Karen's Shenanigans...

Set up for this week: Calli has left Darrien handcuffed to the bed and has made her escape. Darrien is feeling sorry for himself for being duped, but that is about to change. http://www.kmnbooks.com/chapter-6-2/

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Letting Your Characters Evolve

Writing a series of stories set in the same fictional universe and using the same cast of characters can pose problems, but it also has its rewards. One of the fun things about using an extended timeline is that you have more space to watch your creations grow and evolve. Let me give you an example from my series loosely set around the world of 1920s Appalachia at a place called Sherritt Holler, up the road a bit from the fictional town of Smithville, Tennessee. Let me introduce you to Seth Morgan.

“Seth Morgan, deputy by day and outhouse digger by night.” That’s how a friend describes our young Seth, the male lead character of my story, “Ring for a Lady”. This story appears in the anthology “Fated to be Yours” just published by Victory Tales Press. The story is about his struggle to marry his long-time sweetheart Jolene Smith while dealing with the crazy characters and problems that infest Sherritt Holler in 1920s Appalachia.

But this is not the first time Seth has appeared in my stories, not by a long shot. “Ring for a Lady” is the fourth in a series of supernatural romance adventures set in Sherritt Holler and our young man has played an increasingly important role in each one. He first appeared in “A Distant Call”, the story that introduced the series way back in 2010. Here’s the scene where he enters our story:

The sheriff banged on the side of the Model T. “Seth, get on out here.” A young man stepped out, wearing bib overalls two sizes too big, no shirt, pants rolled up, and barefooted. The freckled face, sandy hair, and ears that stuck straight out were definitely familiar. He couldn’t be older than sixteen. The boy stood with hands in his pockets, looking down.

Seth is a boy on the verge of becoming a young man, and in trouble. His father is an alcoholic and a moonshiner, he’s shunned by the people in town because he’s one of those no good hillbillies that live back on the mountain, and he’s already ran afoul of the law.

I have to admit that his role in the first story was only to hang out around the church and give our main character, Preacher Corman, someone to talk to besides himself or the mule. It’s the same reason the Lone Ranger has a sidekick. The mechanics of writing a story forces these sorts of decisions on an author. But even in this story, Seth came to life and became more than an abused boy that needed a good role model. He showed promise of becoming something more. When it came time for the next tale in the series, there was no doubt that I had a “coming of age” story that had to be told.

Seth became the focus of the second story in the series, “Deal with the Devil”. His sweetheart Jolene is introduced and a crisis involving both their families must be handled. Here Seth begins to show the courage under fire and stubborn insistence on doing what’s right that will define his character. That doesn’t mean he’s perfect. He’s a small man and a history of being bullied by his father and other kids growing up left their scars on his self-image. He’s also painfully aware that people judge him as poor white trash and he doesn’t have much of an education. It’s important to let your characters have faults and sometimes struggle with them, if you want them to come alive.

While young Seth does play a role in the third story of the Appalachia series, “Crazy Jack”, it’s mostly in the background. He continues to mature, is thrust into about the last job he would ever consider, that of deputy, and struggles to live up to people’s expectations of him.

 This brings him to the current anthology where his and Jolene’s romance is again center stage, in “Ring for a Lady”. It’s five or six years since we watched him step out of the old Model T. He’s living up to the potential that was hinted about in the very first story. The boy we first saw is somewhere inside the man, but he’s learned a lot since then and grown up some. So has Jolene. What does the future hold in store for Seth and Jolene? Will they appear in future stories? Well, as the deputy charged with riding herd over the wild bunch of Sherritt Holler, we can be assured of seeing him again.   


Sunday, April 5, 2015


During holidays I think of my grandfather and grandmother the most. When I was a child, I always went to their house whenever school was out. Easter weekend was no exception and I would help my grandmother (or more likely get in her way) on Saturday as she prepared a huge meal to be served on Sunday afternoon to their nine children, the eight spouses, nineteen grands (including me), and a few friends. 

My grampa would always coax me from underfoot with the need to drive to the store (where they sold cherry snow-cones) to pick up some mysterious forgotten item. I realized later he would see gramma getting frazzled at my unlimited questions and small clumsy hands causing extra work and he would rescue his "Maggie".

I don't know how many times he told me this legend (one of his favorites) as we puttered down the road in his old pickup, and I never tired of it. I hope you will enjoy it also and think of someone who once shared their love, time, and a special legend with you.

The Legend of the Dogwood Tree 
by Unknown Author

Many years ago, a dogwood tree grew on a hill outside Jerusalem. In those days, the dogwood tree was as tall and mighty as an oak, and this tree was the tallest of all the dogwoods, and extremely proud of its strength. 

"Something wonderful is going to happen to me," it said to anyone who would listen. "I'll probably become the mast that holds the big sail on a grand ship, or the main timber supporting a great house."

Unfortunately, the huge old dogwood was cut down to become the cross to which Jesus was nailed. The tree was horrified. All its dreams of glory were smashed, and it groaned in agony as two boards from its trunk were nailed together.

Jesus took pity on the tree, even as he carried it to Calvary. "You will never be put to such use again," He told it. "From this day on, your shape will change, even as will the world. You will become slender and sway easily with the breeze. And instead of acorns, you will bear flowers in the shape of a cross... with two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal, there will be nail prints... brown with rust and red with bloodstains to show the world how you have suffered.

"Last of all, the center of your flowers will be marked as though with a crown of thorns to remind people forevermore, that you and I spent our last moments together." 

And so it was. And so it is.