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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

POLLY'S POST by Linda Swift #rebeccajvickery

   Polly (Lauren Frances Jones)
From the movie: Clarissa's War

My name is Polly, jes Polly. When I was old enough to leave my mammy, Masta Robert give me to Miss Clarissa, only I couldn't say such a mouthful so I called her Missa and do till this day. I never had to work in the cotton fields or the kitchen like my sistahs. I learned how to read and write along with Missa when her mama died and Miss Matilda come to Mimosa Manor to take care of Masta Robert's three chil'ren.

When Missa come to Whitehaven to marry Masta Malcolm, I was sent right along with her. And then come the war and Masta Malcolm and all the othah young men went off to fight. Then Missa had a chile and I took care of little Masta Robert while her and the othah ladies round about spent their days working for the Ladies' Aid Society. When the fightin' got closer, Masta Josiah let the soldiers use Whitehaven for a hospital and Captain Burke was put in charge. The captain was a Yankee doctah but when the womenfolk left, Missa stayed on to nurse the wounded and I stayed, too.

That was when I got to know Napoleon. He drove Masta Josiah's carriage but now the masta ordered him to stay and hep Missa and make sure she was safe with all the soldiers about. He was some fine man--tall and wide-shouldered and strong as a ox--but gentle, too. Before long, he  took notice of me and we started talkin' when nobody was watching. Then we got bolder and met in secret and began hugging and kissing. When Missa caught us one day, she scolded me and said I was not to be with Napoleon again or she would tell Masta Josiah and Napoleon would be punished.

I doan know what would have happened but Masta Malcolm come home a few days and Missa and me went to be with him at Fleur-de-Lis where the women was staying. That man was a drunk and a brute and he told Missa she couldn't go back to Whitehaven to nurse the soldiers. She stood up to him and he hurt her. Well, Missa didn't take kindly to that so she had Napoleon bring us back to Whitehaven in the middle of the night. I knew he would get whipped for that, and he had been talking of running away before now. So I ast the captain if he could hep him and he did. Captain Burke had a brother in New York whose wife took in runaway slaves and that was where Napoleon went.

He has been gone some time now, and the captain tole me he is driving a carriage for his brother's wife and I am glad he be safe and free. When Missa heard about it, she said she guessed I would run away to be with him, and I want to real bad.  But I knows my duty and Missa needs me, specially now with another chile on the way. Besides, Napoleon is a big city man now and he may not want the likes of me. I think about the life we might have had when the war is over. And sometimes I ast the Lord to bring him back to me but I guess He be too busy with all the fightin' and dyin' to pay attention to a slave like me. 

Excerpt from This Time Forever
"Now, Polly, I want to know just what is going on here," Clarissa said sternly as she faced her servant in the sitting room upstairs.
"What you mean, Missa?" Polly looked uneasy.
"I mean, how did you come to know that Napoleon is working for Major Burke's brother? And how long have you known?"
"He send me a lettah?"
"Napoleon can't write."
"Well, he have somebody else write it." Polly shifted uneasily from one foot to the other.
"And sent it to Major Burke? He helped Napoleon run away, didn't he?"
"No, Missa, he didn't do nothin' but write a lettah."
"Why did he do that, Polly?" Clarissa demanded.
"Cause I ast him to, Missa," Polly said in a contrite voice.
"I should tell his master what you did, Polly. Napoleon was a valuable slave."
"Ain't no use in takin' on so, doan do no good. Napoleon be free now anyways."
Clarissa nodded slowly. "So are you, Polly. And since you know where Napoleon is, are you planning to leave too?"
"No, Missa." Polly shook her head. "You gonna need me here."
Clarissa looked thoughtful. "Perhaps Napoleon will come back when the war is over."
"I doan think so, Missa. That man done gone for good. He got a fine job for pay, driving a carriage for a newspaper lady."
"Polly," Clarissa hesitated as her servant looked at her expectantly, "do you love Napoleon?"
"More'n anything in the world, Missa," Polly said softly, "but I knows my duty. I belong here with you."
"Then, I thank you, Polly." Clarissa crossed the distance between them and the two women embraced. "Good night."

After Polly had gone, Clarissa stood for a moment deep in thought. Maybe she and Polly shared more than she could have imagined. She knew what it was like to love someone without hope too. She should confront Philip Burke with what Polly had told her, but she knew it was useless. He didn't believe in slavery and, of course, he'd taken the opportunity to help a slave escape when he had the chance. Maybe he was right in his belief that one man shouldn't be allowed to own another.

Note: Lauren Jones was Polly in the film, Clarissa's War, adapted by Greg J. Welsch from the novel, The Time Forever, and filmed by Reel Cool Films, directed by Wes Pryor.
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Friday, June 24, 2016

Do You Really Want to Throw That Away? By Celia Yeary #celiayeary #rebeccajvickery

I don’t like to throw things away, unless I find absolutely no use for them and they’re cluttering up my space in some manner. My environment must be neat, with no extra trash or litter lying around my desk or my workspace (or my kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, or garage.) So, last week, I tackled the dreaded “Folders Filled With Important Articles About Writing I Might Use One Day.”
Even though they were out of sight stuffed into drawers and cabinets, I knew they were there.

The astounding number of printed/copied articles stared me in the face. I lugged numerous stacks of folders—those plastic kind with pockets—to my kitchen island so I could go through each one. My first thought was: “I’ll just empty these, remove paper clips and staples, stack it all up, and carry it to the garage to the recycle container for paper.”

Instead, one caught my eye. “Mmm,” I thought, “I don’t remember this one.” And I sat at the island and read it. Another looked interesting, so I read that. After an hour, I had a new stack of articles to save—once again.

I’d love to tell you about every one of these great re-saved articles. Instead, I chose the top five. Drum roll, please.

#5- The Element’s of Style, by Stanley Bing, FORTUNE, August 20, 2007. Stanley writes: “So anyways, I’m having this discussion with a bunch of folks about how’s it matter whether a person knows the difference between you and me vs. you or I in a sentence and the whole subject of correct use of the English language comes up, and boy, do people get hot.” (Do you see why I love this article?)

4-How to Lure Readers to Chapter 2, by Les Edgerton, Writer’s Digest. Les writes: “It’s a well-known fact that a tremendous number of manuscripts never get read by agents and editors. Wait. Amend that to: A tremendous number of possible good and even brilliant novels and short stories and other literary forms never get read beyond the first few paragraphs or pages by agents or editors. Why?” (Les Edgerton’s tiny blue book Hooked is one of my favorites)

#3-Blinded by the Light, by Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant, Writer’s Digest. Leigh Anne writes: “Don’t let your creativity get in the way of your productivity. Here are nine tips for overcoming Too Many Ideas Syndrome.” (An excellent article written with humor. Celia.)

#2-Getting Your Act Together, by Ridley Pearson, Writer’s Digest. Ridley writes: “Do as the Greeks did: Use this time-honored method to give form to your fiction.” (This idea is so simple, it’s brilliant. I’ve re-read it more than once. Celia)

And…#1-Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing: Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle, from the New York Times, Writers on Writing Series, October 1, 2008 when he turned 83. Elmore writes: “Being a good author is a disappearing act.” (I’ve worn out this one printed page with the ten rules of writing. I received it from an author who judged one of my RWA contest entries. She gave me a high score and highlighted four of the ten for me to study in detail. I have been forever grateful. Celia)

Notice all these articles are rather old. So far, I've not found many articles lately that I'd choose to keep. However, all these are on paper. I do have a file in my computer titled: "Articles Worth Keeping." Maybe I'll clean out that file another day.
On the other hand, they're not clutter such as paper.
In addition, several partially written manuscripts clutter my electronic files. These are stories/plots/ideas for new publications, but somehow they never made the grade. Either I was unable to finish the story--because it had nowhere to go--, or I became bored with it--or I feared others might not like it.
Case in point:A selected sentence from each:
1. A Make-Over for Millie
Some days the effort suffocated her, and during the worst times, coldness seeped into her skin and into her very marrow, causing her to seek out a place where she could cocoon herself in a tight warm blanket, wrapped up like a baby in swaddling clothes.
2. The Nanny
She, Julie Newcastle, erstwhile lawn-mower repairman, sometimes pizza delivery person, and laid-off wedding planner assistant to the assistant could barely believe she’d snagged a seat in First-Class after taking up the offer to give up her seat on the earlier flight.
3. Whisper on the Wind
Adalita waded in the shallow water of the Rio Grande until she reached an opening where she watched a young bronze-skinned man stand naked from his sitting position to stare at her with his black glittering eyes.

One of my more recent releases is titled Beyond the Blue Mountains. I came close to throwing this book out into the Deleted files. But...I hung on to it, knowing it was a good story.

BLURB-Beyond the Blue Mountains.
Guymon Reynolds arrives home to Grove's Point, Texas in February 1919, the end of WWI.  Knowing he's lost his parents and two young brothers to the Spanish flu, he's anxious to see his grandpa at the family farm. But nothing is right upon his arrival. He faces more death and destruction that resembles the battlefields where he fought in France.
Young widow Teresa Logan lives near the depot. She, too, grieves for her husband who died from the flu. Alone on a farm with two baby girls, she struggles with loneliness, back-breaking work, and sometimes, fear. But Teresa is strong and determines to care for her family and her farm alone.
Guy and Teresa meet and they easily bond, sharing grief and sorrow.
Both dream of a better life in Grove's Point, or perhaps a new beginning beyond the Blue Mountains.
Guy laughed. We’re both completely out of control.
After several minutes, he flopped on his back again, and Tracer stretched out beside him. The dog laid his big head on Guy’s chest, and he whined, cried, and moaned, and then, licked some more. After some time, Guy couldn’t say, they both sighed, closed their eyes, and dozed.
When Guy woke up, Tracer sat on his haunches looking at him, cocking his head this way and that, whining, panting with his big tongue hanging out. The dog’s fur was filthy, matted with a few healing cuts and old blood, and full of cockleburs and beggar’s ticks. It would take a month of Sundays to get the animal clean.
“Look at you, boy. Skinny as a rail. No one feeding you, huh? Have you been here all this time, waiting for me to come home?”
Tracer whined and blinked his eyes. Guy threw his arms around the dog’s neck, buried his face in the dirty fur, held on tightly, and bawled like a baby. The dog whined pitiably and then licked all Guy’s tears away.
“It’s just you and me, boy, just the two of us now. I won’t leave you again, I promise."
Amazon Link to Beyond the Blue Mountains

I learned something valuable during the cleaning process--trust your own heart and feelings and write the book that makes you happy.
Now..I'm so glad I did not delete this manuscript, and one day pulled it from Archives and got it published.

Celia Yeary

Romance, and a little bit of Texas

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Writing from Rebel's Crossroads

It’s always a delight to bring to the readers a new chapter in the life of people in Rebel’s Crossroads. As many well know, Rebel’s Crossroads is a small sleepy little southern town. At its beginning, it was known as the town of Fairpoint, named of course for the large plantation founded by Archibald Saunders. At the time of the civil war, Archibald was made a major in the Confederate Army. His job was simple to construct fort works around the road that led to Richmond and keep the Yankees from stopping Lee in his long retreat. 

For three years, the town held, but when the main unit was called to Appomattox, Saunders was left to hold the fort. Expecting the final assault, Saunders hauls two massive cannons up to the cliff line above the town. However, Sherman didn’t play by the Confederate rules. He splits his forces and under the cover of a cloudy night splits his forces and by passes the town making his famous “bowties” out of the rails. Saunder’s last chance at fighting goes down in flames. Later, he will claim Sherman is afraid to fight. His humiliation leads to the downfall of his marriage. The town becomes known as Rebel’s Crossroads because of the many armies that traipse through.
I’ve introduced the readers to a Volunteer Fire Fighter named Patrick Sullivan or Sully to his friends. He meets and falls in love with Mitzi Stancil in a world-wind courtship in the novel, Playing With Fire. 

In Random Acts of Kindness, the readers meet Muriel Lowe, Rebel’s Crossroads answer to Lou Ella Parsons, Hollywood gossip columnist in the 1940’s. Believe me, nothing gets my Miss Muriel.  She plays matchmaker for Dan Rodgers and Jocelyn Lankford, the local librarian.

This summer, it is my pleasure to bring to you the romance between Stevie Darden and Michael Jennings. Not your typical romance, my characters are bit older. Stevie has lost her husband in a tragic accident. And in one final tribute, she drives his 1956 TBird to Daytona Beach to the Great American Race.  
Being an older couple, Stevie and Michael have their own set of problems. Will their children approve? Are they being foolish to think that love will strike twice? To find out, you’ll have to purchase your copy of Those Summer Nights.

Here’s a little sample. I hope you’ll enjoy. 

Winning her Heart…..
"Ticket, please."
Wallet in one hand, arm extended, Stevie held out the glossy, heavy paper and waited for the young man to rip off the end and hand the stub back to her.
"Thank you," she spoke softly, placing her wallet back into the large shoulder bag before moving through the gate.
Florida was everything they said it would be, if you understood "they" to mean her husband's old friends, who gathered around the TV set out in the den on Sunday afternoons beginning the first of January to watch the cars race around tracks all over the country. She pushed her white-framed sunglasses onto her face and stepped out of the line of human traffic flowing into the main gates of the superspeedway.
 Stevie turned over her palm to glance at the stub. Section X, seat thirty-three in the Lockhart Tower. This shouldn't be too hard to find. Raising her glance to look at the signs, she was surprised to see how many people filled the mezzanine. With a sigh, she merged back into the throng, intent on making her way toward the elevator which would take her up to the first floor of the grandstands that lined the raceway.
      A sudden shove to the side caught her off guard. Stevie tried to take a short step in order to catch her equilibrium. However, her sandals tangled in the hem of her white cotton trousers. With a frightened cry, she held out her hands and braced for a very painful fall.
* * * * *
      Michael Jennings was amazed at the speed in which he had gotten through the line. Perhaps it was a good thing his company had purchased those suite seats in the tower next to the main grandstand. He hurried toward the elevator, slowing his gait so as not to step upon the person in front of him. Up a head, a group of teenagers went rushing past. He opened his mouth to speak, but suddenly one youth knocked into a woman a few feet off to his right.
She tottered on her feet, only to tilt to the left. Michael stepped around the person in front of him, rushed forward, and caught the willowy auburn before her knees banged onto the rough pavement.
"Are you all right, Miss?" he asked.
 Large green eyes flashed uncertainly at him. He offered her his winning salesman smile and allowed her to catch her breath. "Come on. Let's step over here to the bench."
She nodded, and he felt her body tremble. He led her to the park bench out of the line of traffic. Then, knelt before her and placed his hands on either side of her and spoke. "Ok, take a big deep breath and hold it for ten seconds, then blow it out."
Her trembling fingers raked the russet curls from her face as she looked back at him. Whatever she was thinking, the woman could at least follow through with directions.
"M-my sunglasses," she stated, looking back in the direction of the accident.
"Sit tight," Michael told her and moved back to the spot. Making a circle and focusing on the ground, he combed the sidewalk until he found the glasses. Bending down, he picked up the now twisted frames and brought them back to her. "I'm afraid they're a bit worse for wear."
He held them out to her, the frames bent, one glass missing, the other cracked.
"Oh," she breathed.
"Check your pocketbook to make sure nothing is missing," he suggested, knowing that security was good and incidents were rare at race events.
She pulled her large bag toward her and, opening it, then began to put the contents on her lap. The bag contained the usual—brush, comb, a compact—but Michael did admit he was intrigued when she picked up a key ring with a business card instead of a photograph. 
"Nope, it's all there." She looked up at him. This time, a genuine smile lightened her face.
Warmth spiraled up and spread through his body, shocking him. He felt…shoot, he felt like a teenager asking some girl out for the first time. "I'm glad." He rose to his feet held out his hand. "I'm Michael Jennings."
"Michael," She murmured. "You checked in at the hotel last night."
He grinned. "Yeah, I did."
"I was behind you," she replied and dumped her things back into the oversized bag. With that done, she grasped his hand with a firm grip and shook back. "Hi, Stephanie Darden, but my friends call me Stevie." 
An electric current seemed to pass from his hand to hers then back again. Her lips dipped for a second, but she quickly regained her composure as she withdrew her hand. Michael didn't look away. His intense gaze made her blush.
"I want to thank you for your kindness," she continued.
"Not a problem." Michael said with a nod. "I'm glad I could do it." An awkward silence followed. He looked around but no one seemed to be coming to her rescue. "So, is this your first event?"
Stevie turned toward the crowd, paused and looked back at him. Pink crept to her cheeks. "How could you tell?"
Michael looked down and pointed. "Few women wear three-inch heel sandals."
 She laughed. His skin tingled with the melodious sound.
"Next time wear tennis shoes," he remarked. "It's much more practical."
"Yes, I can see that now."
A gust of wind blew by, and Stevie turned away, keeping the fine gravel from flying into her eyes. The mass of curls shifted, and Michael had to hook his thumbs in the pocket of his jeans to resist the urge to help draw it back from her face. He wondered if those luscious locks were as soft and silky as they appeared.
"Let's see if we can't get you a pair of shades," he murmured his voice thick.
Taking her by the elbow, he led her across the way to one of the vendors selling sunglasses, caps, and visors, all with the different driver's logos on them. 
"Let's see, I think," he narrowed his gaze to peruse the frames, "maybe Bobby Labonte?"
"I don't think so." She shook her head. "I don't like the color yellow."
"Ah." He nodded. "Hamlin? Waltrip? Edwards?"
With each name she shook her head. 
"Why not give up, Mac," the vendor chuckled. "Let your little lady decide?"
Michael shrugged. "Very well, Stevie, which suits your fancy?"
Stevie bit her lip and searched the hundreds of items before pointing to the red with the number 9 emblazoned on the side.
"Kasey Khane," he sighed with a shake of his head. "Now, I would have put you down for a Dale Earnhardt woman." She chuckled again and Michael felt his chest swell with pride. He reached back, pulled out his wallet, and gestured toward the glasses and the cap. "One of each, please. We can't have you burn that pretty nose."
 Beside him, Stevie gasped in surprise. "You can't pay for these," she hissed. Her hand went to his arm. Her palm warming the flesh beneath his sleeve.
"I can't see why not," he countered.
"You don't even know me," she huffed.
"Of course I do," he assured her. "You're Stevie and I'm Michael. I saved you from falling and you've lost your sunglasses. It's very simple." 
"Simple," she chuckled. "I think not." Turning to the vendor, she asked. "What's the total?"
"Thirty-five, seventy-nine," he replied.
Stevie couldn't help it, she gasped. Michael ignored her surprise and pulled out his wallet. Opening the warm leather, he handed over the several big bills.
"Your change," the vender called pressing a few dollars and some coins back into his hand. Turning to face her, Michael took the cap and placed it on her head. "There now, no sunburn."
 His hands brushed her hair and it was as soft as he'd imagined. The silken curls rippled through his fingers, and he gazed down into her doe-like eyes looking back at him. "See," his voice lowered to a whisper, "that didn't hurt at all."
"Not at all," she repeated, breathless.
They stood and stared at one another. Finally, Stevie broke the spell. "I guess I should find my seat."
"Oh, yes, your seat." Michael nodded. "What section?"
"Um, some tower or something, section V, seat 33."
"Well, let's see that ticket stub." With a firm grasp on her elbow, Michael led her toward the elevators as she searched for her stub in the contents of her bag.
"Here," she replied, handing it over.
Michael glanced at the inscription. "Lockhart Tower, and good seats."
"Oh, I had hoped they would be." Stevie nodded.
Michael pushed the button of the elevator that would take them up to the second level and they stepped inside. When the doors closed, he studied her as she crossed her arms over her chest. The elevator rose and he detected a few fine lines about her eyes. She wasn't as young as he'd previously thought. Still, she was quite good looking.
If he ventured a guess, he'd say she stood about five foot five, her shape the classical hour glass. She didn't have an ounce of unneeded weight, yet she wasn't rail thin. She was a woman. A woman, he discovered, that made his libido hum.

Look for Those Summer Nights at:  Amazon and Smashwords. It will be coming soon to Barnes and Noble Nook and in print via Create Space. 

Happy Reading,


Those Summer Nights

By the way, here's the cover.

 Don't you think the young lady resembles a famous singer? Let me know who you think it might be. Perhaps someone will win an ARC of this great anthology.

Monday, June 20, 2016

New Release for Victory Tales Press @RebeccaJVickery @KMNbooks

Amazon / Amazon UK / Smashwords /Nook (coming soon)
Coming soon to Print: Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes and Noble /Createspace

ABOUT THE BOOK: Passion sparks and love burns ever brighter in these five complete stories from five multi-talented authors.
Let us ignite your imagination on those hot summer nights with sweet embraces and tantalizing kisses to melt your heart.

Winning her Heart by Nan O'Berry
Stevie Darden mourned for her husband long enough. When her daughter, Becca, pressures her to sell the beloved T-Bird he rebuilt, Stevie decides to take one last joy ride to Daytona, Florida to view the Great American Race. The last thing she expects to find is love.

Michael Jennings follows his son to Daytona to watch him race. When Stevie falls into his arms, Michael can't believe his luck. Sweet kisses, leave both Michael and Stevie wanting more. However, Eli, Michael's son is skeptical of Stevie's motives.

Not willing to come between Michael and his son, Stevie returns to Rebel's Crossroads. It's a race to win her heart, and Michael is up for the challenge, but can he convince her she's already won his heart?

Spooky and the Gumshoe by Gerald Costlow
It's a hot July night. Charlene is on her way home from the local Goth club when she's attacked for the second time that week. Once might be random, but twice means someone is trying to kidnap her. Considering the company she kept while living on the streets as a young runaway, she figures someone from her past might be after her.

Buck Johnson is a Private Detective just trying to earn a living. When the sexy Goth woman walks through his office door, he agrees to tag along and provide protection while she checks in on some old enemies. He's used to dealing with thugs and lowlifes.
But Charlene happens to be a Sherritt witch, and her old enemies aren't your normal lowlifes. Fortunately, Buck Johnson isn't your normal Private Detective.

Back to the Beach by Denise Stout
Darby McKinnon, preschool teacher, escapes to a beach rental to refresh her life. Running into a former boyfriend creates the distraction she needs. Alex Markham, workaholic owner of a cyber security firm, takes his job too seriously until an unexpected stay at the beach makes him pause. Their chance encounter begins with nostalgia, but kisses ignite into possibilities of the heart.

Summer fling or a second chance at forever? Almost losing each other when the past and present collide, both realize love requires determination to stay together when obstacles seemingly get in the way.

Sissy and the Anniversary Secret by Teresa K. Cypher
Nearly forty-five years earlier, Sissy, married her high school sweetheart, Philip. They were young and everything was possible, even going to Paris, someday. The years rolled by with their ups and downs, raising children, building a business, but the dream vacation never came. For their wedding anniversary, Sissy let Philip decide where they'd go. He chose New York City. Then, weeks before they are to leave, Phil abruptly cancels their celebration trip because, he claims, business is bad and money is tight. Over the following two weeks, a series of events happen that convince Sissy her marriage is crumbling. She's beginning to accept that some dreams will never come true. However, sometimes things aren't what they seem, and Sissy is in for a big surprise.

My Stick Family by Barbara Miller
Tess Byerly hates sirens and ringing phones since they often signal her younger sister has crashed her car with or without her children in it. Amber is headed for jail after she is caught selling drugs, but a handsome public defender tries to rescue her.

Ray Tanner can't imagine why Tess Byerly would not want to speak on behalf of her sister, would not want to keep her out of jail. Amber has made her share of mistakes but she has children. Families should stick together, shouldn't they?

VICTORY TALES PRESS is always looking for well-written, engaging tales from all genres.
We release four anthologies per year. Be My Everything, Valentine Collection was our first anthology published for 2016.

Those Summer Nights is our Summer Romance release!

Tales wanted for our next anthologies…
Halloween/Fall stories (Title to be announced): The deadline for submissions is Aug. 20th.
Christmas/New Years stories (Title to be announced): The deadline for submissions is Oct. 20th.

The short stories may be any genre as long as there is a romance. The romance doesn't have to be the main focus. The stories may have a western, fantasy, history, time travel or even adventure theme to them. They can be eerie tales and capers, too.
What are we looking for?
  1. A themed romance that fits one of the anthologies listed above.
  2. The romance must be male/female, sweet to sensual romance. Please, no erotica or anything explicit in nature.
  3. Word count between 5000-20,000 words.
When do we need the stories? Now until the deadline listed above for the anthology you wish to participate in. The sooner you can email your submission the better.

***Please note that we will do some light editing only.

Please send submissions to kmnbooks @ yahoo . com (no spaces).
In the subject line place: 2016 (and the theme name of the anthology you wish for your story to be featured in.)

I can't wait to read your tales! Any questions, please don't hesitate to email me.
Happy writing!
VTP Anthology Coordinator

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Building A World With Monsters by Sarah J. McNeal

 (Courtesy of Pinterest)

Those of us who write fantasy have probably already come to realize either through our own struggles or through efforts to learn about fantasy writing, that it is a complex stage in which to place our stories. From the first conjured idea of a fantasy story to the final page care must be taken to make the story believable.

What are the things that keep our real world from falling into chaos and confusion? Consequences. If there were no consequences we would have no need for rules of orderly conduct—or maybe we’d all be dead because no one would go to jail for murder, right? To make a world real, a writer has to establish a society with rules of conduct in order to exist in that society. To give the story purpose, there have to be opposing societies made up of those who believe the rules are too harsh or interfere with their happiness. Naturally, there are those who wish to change society to suit their own diabolical desires.
Heroes and heroines may have powers that don’t exist in our real world, but they must have some limitations to their power or a consequence in using that power that makes them selective in how they use their gift.

And what about villains who may not care about consequences in using power? Well, they too must have limitations, a certain weakness or flaw that will make them vulnerable. It’s up to the champions of the tale to find those vulnerabilities and have the courage to use them—usually for the good of all beings.

Going on a quest to rid the world of something evil cannot be made easy. Like villains, the more difficult a quest is, the more magnificent its accomplishment. No matter how invincible an evil being might be, all magic has limitations of some kind. The hero’s heart understands this and will persevere until he (or she) finds the flaw, the chink in the villain’s armor, the thing that will end the villain’s existence or keep them from accomplishing their evil intent. The writer will then have to give the character the means to locate the villain and neutralize their power.

And that, in a microchip is how to write a fantasy. Makes me want to break out in song.  Oh what fun it is to write a fantasy story.

My Fantasy Trilogy Legends of Winatuke is a 3 novel set (for only 99cents in digital) about the modern day family of McKnight who travel to the world of Winatuke, a place in another dimension where time has stopped in a somewhat Medieval era to fight against the evils of the Dark Isle. Winatuke is populated by humans, some of whom are Gypsies who travel from one realm to another, and the winged Nimway of Valmora who lead the fight against the abominations that inhabit the Dark Isle and Lake of Sorrows that surrounds the Isle. The Nimway have special abilities (limited, of course) and magic is real, both white and black. Winatuke is a dangerous place to be.
 a trilogy of paranormal/fantasy novels
The legend begins when love and evil collide.
The legend continues with a curse, a quest and undying love.
A quest for an enchanted light...a Gypsy’s love...and a warrior’s sacrifice to save Valmora

Pennytook, the Gypsy who assists the champions in their quests against evil gets his own story titled PENNYTOOK in the fall anthology, MYTHS, LEGENDS, AND MIDNIGHT KISSES.
Myths are supposed to be false…but some are terrifying and true.

Pennytook is a war weary Gypsy who longs for peace from the past and wants something meaningful in his life.
Esmeralda, a Gypsy trick rider, has harbored a deep affection for the chieftain, Pennytook, for many years. But her dark secret will never allow him into her life.
A mythological creature is about to unleash its horror and change the destinies of Esmeralda and Pennytook.
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Sarah J. McNeal is a multi-published author of several genres including time travel, paranormal, western and historical fiction. She is a retired ER and Critical Care nurse who lives in North Carolina with her four-legged children, Lily, the Golden Retriever and Liberty, the cat. Besides her devotion to writing, she also has a great love of music and plays several instruments including violin, bagpipes, guitar and harmonica. Her books and short stories may be found at Prairie Rose Publications and its imprints Painted Pony Books, and Fire Star Press. Some of her fantasy and paranormal books may also be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery and Victory Tales Press. She welcomes you to her website and social media:


Monday, June 6, 2016

Irish Merfolk Tribe @KMNbooks @RebeccaJVickery #mermaids

In my tale, HEART OF THE SEA, which is featured in the Be My Everything, 2016 Valentine Collection, my research consisted of reading about some of the legends regarding the merfolk. Who knew there were so many different legends? Some of the merfolk were vicious creatures and yet some were gentle and even wanted to live among the humans. However, one thing seemed to be a factor: The merman or mermaid always wanted to return to the sea, as if the call was too strong to ignore. 

The Merrow tribe is the merfolk of my story...

Merrow Legends

Irish Folklore describes Merrows as being a gentle race of merfolk. The word is from the Gaelic muiroighe. Muir means sea and oigh means young woman. The male of the species would be referred to as murúch. Merrow lore is similar to the typical mermaid legends, where when the Merrow is in the water, he or she possesses a beautiful human torso and a fishtail for the lower half of the body. 

The stories also claim these merefolk will assume legs and live on land for long periods of time.
Sometimes, they even marry human beings and raise a family. They are known to have unusual and beautiful singing voices and webbed fingers, but other than that, most would not suspect their true identity. However, even though they can live on land, in the end Merrows cannot resist the call to the sea and eventually return to their watery world.

The Merrows also possess an unusual trait. They have a cohuleen druith, a magical red hat that gives them the ability to live beneath the sea. If they lose the red hat, they cannot return to their underwater world. Though most of the stories never paint the Merrows as malicious creatures, they have been known to take humans and bring them to their underwater world to become like them. The legends state these humans turned Merrow live happily ever after in their new existence.

The inspiration for the Smuggler's Den in Grimm Nitch

Like all stories the characters must live somewhere. Though Grimm Nitch is not a real seaside village
my inspiration for the place came from a day trip my husband and I took.
We visited La Jolla, California where we came across the historic Cave Store, where tourists can make their way down 145 steps to the fascinating Sunny Jim Sea Cave. Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz, is said
to have named the cave for the cartoon character Sunny Jim who was the 1920s mascot for the British Force Wheat cereal products. It's one of seven ocean-carved caves one can visit, but Sunny Jim Sea Cave is the only one that can be accessed without renting a kayak.

I hope you enjoyed the behind the scenes look at Heart of the Sea. If you like mermaids and mermen, look for Tears of the Sea (Summer 2016), a full length mer-tale of murder and mystery in the quaint seaside village of Echo Cove.

What legends do you know about the mer-folk? Were you a fan of The Little Mermaid? If so, which tale did you like most, the Disney version or The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen (1836)? Or maybe you preferred the mermaids in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

About the Author
Karen Michelle Nutt resides in California with her husband, three fascinating children, and houseful of demanding pets. Jack, her Chorkie, is her writing buddy and sits long hours with her at the computer.

When she's not time traveling, fighting outlaws, or otherworldly creatures, she creates pre-made book covers to order at Gillian's Book Covers, "Judge Your Book By Its Cover". You can also check out her published cover art designs at Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery and Highland Press.

Whether your reading fancy is paranormal, historical or time travel, all her stories capture the rich array of emotions that accompany the most fabulous human phenomena—falling in love.