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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Today, in keeping with my intent to give males equal time, my guest is Jeff Ward. Welcome to Once Upon A Word, Jeff. To begin our chat, will you tell us a little about yourself?
Thank you for having me Linda. I am a mid-50’s Software Engineer working in the Banking industry. I live in Murfreesboro which is geographically the center of Tennessee. I remain in love with the wife of my youth, Carol. Together we have three wonderful children. I’m father of three, grandfather of 5 with another due any day now. I’m very conservative politically, pseudo-Jewish religiously.
You've condensed a lot of information in a few words. I need a man like you to write my book blurbs. And speaking of that, what kinds of books do you read?
Oh wow, books that would bore you to death, or make your eyes glaze over. My reading is about 98% non-fiction. One recent book is “Programming Erlang” by Armstrong. It was written by the architect of a computer language used by Erickson since the mid-80s and is regaining popularity. Not stuff to discuss at a party however. Outside the realm of my profession you might find a few interesting. “The Dark Side of Christian History” by Helen Ellerbe chronicles the history of Christianity in an unflattering but tragically realistic way. “Paul and Jesus” by James D. Tabor was the best illustration of the tension that exists between the philosophy of Jesus and the philosophy and world view of Paul of Tarsus. I absolutely love Bart Ehrman though he reaches agnostic conclusions that I do not. I love the Judy Woods book “9/11 – Where Did The Towers Go?” It puts a scientific eye to 9/11 that makes the 9/11 commission look completely lame. As you might notice, most of these books are topics that you could talk about at a party...and get kicked out of the party. I want people to like me, but I’m attracted to literature that tends to make people angry...why is that? Oh wait, round them all off with a book that changed my life, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. My mother says that book was like a “charm school” for me. God bless her, she knows I sure needed one. Now there’s how I avoid getting kicked out of the party!
I’m sure notably missing here is any kind of fiction. In my youth, I read the Hardy Boys Series, probably 30 of them. I then moved to the J.R.R. Tolkein “Lord of the Rings” series. After “growing up”, I sort of disconnected with reading fiction. You might be pleased to know that I recently reconnected with reading for pleasure with “This Time Forever” by none other than Linda Swift. I lost almost an entire night’s sleep because I couldn’t put it down.
Thank you, Jeff. You learned well from Dale Carnegie! Most of the books you mentioned, including mine, appear to be long. Are lengthy books your preference?
For non-fiction, I prefer lengthy and complete if it’s organized well. I don’t always read professional books cover-to-cover. I sometimes spot-read, put a summary of the book in my head, then shelve it until I need the specifics.
I think I love a short effective book. “War Is A Racket” by Major General Smedley Butler immediately comes to mind. It’s a tiny little book, but it leaves me crying every time I read it.
My brother frequently alludes to concepts in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand which intrigue me. However, I picked up a copy and opened it. The thickness and tiny print left me thinking, “Am I going to live long enough to read this? How many books am I in the middle of right now? How important is this...really?”
Short  books are awesome!!
I get your drift. You can almost be assured of surviving long enough to finish the short ones. I wonder what criteria, other than length, contributes to selecting books you buy?
The term “out-of-the-box” comes to mind. The thinking that has been prescribed for us is a race to the middle of the herd. In that very middle is where almost everything is a lie or a distortion. I have a world view that there is a such thing as absolute truth. I’m attracted to those who see truths and express them effectively.
In fiction, I like themes that make me feel. This Time Forever for example made me grieve for the abused slave-girl and put me in touch with her heartbreak. It made me feel anger for those who create and perpetuate war. And oh yes, the love. Love always works.

Shades of Dale Carnegie again. And I'd love to spend the rest of our chat discussing my story with you but I'll resist the temptation. That book, and most of my others, are available as print or e-books.  Which do you prefer to read?

Print. I just can’t learn to like the e-books. After facing a computer screen for 8 hours a day, that’s not a way to relax and read a book. Give me a real book, perhaps a highlighter, and a cup of coffee.

Dare I say here online that my favorite is print also?  I imagine you have definite opinions about what pleases or annoys you in books.  Would you care to share that with us?
I don’t like it when people do things in books and particularly drama that people would not normally do. It’s like the writers are trying to influence human behavior, not illustrate it. They want to debase human behavior instead of glorify the good. Sitcom writers seem to love having elderly characters that are foul-mouthed and crude. The dialog all seems phony and unrealistic with an agenda of debauchery. Didn’t literature used to be something that helped build civilization? Am I crazy to think it should build what’s good and decent instead of tear it down?
Very well said, Jeff. I think you may have pointed out the reason I watch so little TV. Everything on screen seems so exaggerated. Do you ever give a print book a second read just because you like it?
Oh yeah, I’ve got my “Paul and Jesus” book out now. Well, I’m not really re-reading cover-to-cover. I’m skimming through my highlights from my first read. Looking at my notes in the margins. Try that in a e-book, right?
I've had a Kindle for several years and I'm still trying to turn its pages! Old habits die hard. Since your reading preference is print, do you spend any time online visiting websites or Facebook pages?
Yes, I do. Surprising how many you can send a “friend” request and they will friend you back. For me, Robert Eisenman was one such find. His research has had a huge impact on the Dead Sea Scrolls findings and its relevance to ancient Christianity. Do I want to know what crosses this guy’s mind on a daily basis? Oh heck yeah! Dr. James Tabor is another.
Some web sites are a tremendous wealth of information. For example, Douglas Del Tondo, author of “Jesus Words Only” has a web site that is chocked-full of wonderful information that you can’t get anywhere else I know of. Eric Jon Phelps, author of Vatican Assassins has a wealth of information, though his writing style is erratic and not very well documented.
Do you often read blogs such as this? If so, do you leave comments?
Well Linda, you’re talking now about the stuff that gets me in trouble. You know, a soapbox can be an expensive thing, and seldom a profitable one. It depends a lot on my mood which tends to run cycles. I try to be a gracious guest of someone else’s blog or Facebook page. I might temper my statements to what you would actually say standing in their living room. I’m more outspoken in my living room...my own Facebook page.
A well-advised word of caution. How do you find the books you choose?
Almost always Amazon search relating to a topic. On fiction, it’s almost always going to be a personal recommendation.
 Have you ever written an Amazon review of a book you have read?
Yes, I have. Several. As a matter of fact, you just might stumble across a review of This Time Forever out there. It wasn’t just a favor either Linda. It’s from the heart.
Thank you, Jeff. (Thank you, Dale Carnegie) I'll be on the lookout for it. But maybe you write your reviews under an assumed name as I do. It is often said that men should read romance novels if they want to know how to have a successful relationship with women. How do you feel about this advice?
Oh wow, very good advice. Common sense, right? If you’re going fishing, you need to fish with something the fish likes. What do women love? Storybook romance. But it’s got to be more than an act. It’s got to be sincere. And you know what? You don’t even have to do it well. You can flounder as long as you’re putting your heart out there. I can think of one romantic failure that would have been different I think. It was sort of a “love at first sight” for me. She made my heart pound so hard I could barely speak. What happened? Nothing. I “kept my cool”. She never knew how she made me feel. Hey, all you sixteen year-old boys out there...keeping your cool is stupid. Be real. Risk telling her how you are feeling and you just might be amazed. I used to say it had to be 100 percent real. I now think 75 percent real plus 25 percent inspired theatrics is a better formula. She’s smart enough to know what you’re doing, but she won’t mind. Be dramatic, she likes it.
I can tell you don't need to read a romance book. You've got this romance thing figured out. One last question for you.  If there is a love story in the book you are reading, do you expect a "happy ever after" ending?
No, I can’t say I expect it. I grew up listening to the soundtrack of “West Side Story” which has a romantically tragic ending. Maybe I’m affected emotionally by tragedy even more sometimes. Les Miserables always makes me cry. (sorry gentlemen, just look the other way cause this is ugly) It climaxes in so many themes that feel personal to me that I’m just overwhelmed. Among them are both the resolved love between Marius and Cosette, right beside the unrequited love of Eponine. The way the play wraps a half dozen very powerful themes into the finale is just amazing to me as a student of drama. As I speak of it, it makes me wonder how Victor Hugo accomplished that same simultaneous climax in the book. Hmmm…..
Have I just discovered another book I should read Linda?
I have one I could recommend, but it's currently out of print. It's been fun chatting with you today. And I'm sure our readers have appreciated your wit as much as I have. Readers, please share your own thoughts with Jeff. Just be sure to hit the "publish" box to have your comments appear on the page.
I regret to announce this will be my last chat with a reader for awhile. Since our publisher will be closing soon due to health issues, I will not be doing monthly posts on this blog.  I will, however, continue to post intermittently and will promote those posts online.
Thank you for visiting today. You can always find me at the links below:   

My Facebook Page

My Amazon Books Page

My Website

Monday, June 19, 2017

Books at the Beach Giveaway! #IARTG @KMNbooks

A Romance Reader’s Dream Summer Giveaway

How many books do you read over the average summer? Could you read 80? Because that’s how many ebooks one lucky winner will walk away with in the Books at the Beach Giveaway, including the latest titles from Nora Roberts, Catherine Bybee, Debbie Macomber, and Gena Showalter, plus dozens more. You could also win one of two runner-up $25 Amazon gift cards.

**Retweets Welcomed!** http://twitter.com/KMNbooks/status/876817079231332353

Books at the Beach Giveaway & Book Fair June 19-30

(Sponsored by the 54 authors listed below) Alina K. Field • Allyson Lindt • Amy L Gale • Anna Durand • Astrid Arditi • Barbara Lohe • Beverley Oakley • Bianca D'Arc • C. A. King • C.E. Wilson • Carmen Fox • Casi McLean • Catherine Kean • Chloe Flowers • Christa Paige • Constance Phillips • Cynthia Clement • Danica Favorite • Debbie White • Denise Jaden • Dianne Venetta • Elizabeth Rose • Gayle Parness • Helen Scott • Jacqueline Diamond • Jina Bacarr • Josie Riviera • Judith Keim • Karen • Michelle Nutt • Katherine Lowry Logan • Kris Michaels • Kristina Knight • Kristy Tate • Margaret Locke • Mari Carr • Naomi Bellina • PG Forte • Quinn • Raine English • Regan Walker • Sheila Seabrook • Shelique Lize • Soraya Naomi Stacy Gold • Stella Marie Alden • Stephanie Julian • Stephanie Queen • Sydney Aaliyah Michelle • Sylvia Hubbard • Tamara Ferguson • Tena Stetler • Traci Douglass • Vicki Crum

Enter the Giveaway Here a Rafflecopter giveaway

And while you’re at it, shop our awesome summer book fair with over 50 fantastic romance titles for you to choose from. http://booksatthebeachfair.blogspot.com/p/find-your-favorite-summer-read-at-our.html


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Friday, June 9, 2017

My Last Blog For ONCE UPON A WORD by Sarah J. McNeal

Rebecca Vickery is closing her publishing business. In the sad wake of Publishing by Rebecca Vickery and Victory Tales Press closing its doors, my books there will be moving to another publisher, Prairie Rose and its imprints. Happily, most of the authors with both publishers already know one another, some through mutual acquaintances.

Because the blog site, Once Upon A Word was established for the purpose of keeping in touch with readers and for book promotion within the company. But with my books in transition, I think it’s time for me to go and see what the future has in store for me. This will be my last blog here. I continue to have monthly blogs with Prairie Rose Blog and Sweethearts of the West . I also have my own bog along with my website that I have neglected for far too long. http://www.SarahMcNeal.com/

It has been such a pleasure working with Rebecca Vickery, Karen Michelle Nutt, and Laura Shinn over the years. I loved that they always provided a kind and well run publishing business. Authors don’t get that very often from their publishers. I have nothing but gratitude for my experience here with all of the delightful and talented people associated with this outfit.

I liked that the company kept all its publications wholesome and that everyone on staff as well as the owner kept in touch and communicated with me whenever I had questions or ran into some problem or other. People who are not familiar with the publishing business may not understand how extraordinary and wonderful that is.

Just for fun. I found this chart on Pinterest: How to say goodbye in different languages.

So, I bid you all farewell and wish each of you great success and happiness for whatever comes next. I have had a delightful and wonderful journey with you. God bless you and keep you. I wish all good things to your corner of the universe until we meet again on down the road… 

A parting song from Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli - Time to Say Goodbye 

(graphics from Pinterest)

Sarah J. McNeal
Author of paranormal, time travel and western romance

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 5, 2017

Beach Read Bundle is here! #giftcards #books @RebeccaJVickery @KMNBooks


Summer is here! To kick off the season, these authors have teamed up to giveaway 54 different books as well as $150 worth of Amazon gift cards.

For more details and to enter click HERE

Giveaway ends midnight on June 24th


Denise Stout is giving away 1 autographed print book of Those Summer Nights!

Beach read bundle #9 – print copies of THEN COMES LOVE by Lindsay Detwiler, THE OLD CAPE HOLLYWOOD SECRET by Barbara Eppich, BACK TO THE BEACH by Denise Stout, and SEE YOU SOON BROADWAY by Melissa Baldwin (US only)

THEN COMES LOVE– Lindsay Detwiler – 1 autographed print

Three generations of women,
Three second loves,
All with a dose of chaos mixed in.
Sometimes in life, changes can be good…
After losing her husband, her five cats, and her home, Charlotte Noel hates feeling dependent. As Charlotte tries to find her identity in this
new stage of life, she comes to realize that drama never ends, dance aerobics can be a war zone, and love is always a possibility.
You never know when a midlife crisis is going to strike…
Charlotte’s daughter, Annie, is going through struggles of her own. Recently divorced, she is feeling frumpy and worn-out. Run ragged, Annie mourns her youth and wonders where her life is headed, all while hoping she can help her daughter Amelia get it together.
Settling down can be overrated, especially when you’re falling for a rock star look-alike…

THE OLD CAPE HOLLYWOOD SECRET– Barbara Eppich – 1 autographed print
In 1947, Maggie Foster and her cousin, Gertie, leave Cape Cod for Hollywoodland in search of glamour and fame. One girl returns home and the other disappears. Present-day Nancy Caldwell travels to Hollywood, where she discovers the paths of Maggie and Gertie.
In “The Old Cape Hollywood Secret,” a novel of historical suspense, Nancy’s curiosity gets her into trouble again. Along the way, a missing ring and a pearl-studded pouch are mixed in with the search. Using alternating chapters, across seventy years, the tragic stories of two young girls unfold and a murderous secret is uncovered.

BACK TO THE BEACH (From Anthology THOSE SUMMER NIGHTS)– Denise Stout – 1 autographed print
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.

SEE YOU SOON BROADWAY– Melissa Baldwin – 1 autographed print
Maris Forrester has a wonderful life with an amazing boyfriend and a fulfilling job. She’s happy and content . . . or so she thinks. Maris has always had huge dreams of being on Broadway. Ever since her very first performance as a child, she has envisioned herself on the stage under the shining lights. Now she has to decide whether she should to give up her wonderful life to chase those dreams.
When her parents announce they are moving, she comes across a long-lost family treasure. She doesn’t realize that this treasure may hold the key to her future and to all her dreams coming true.
And if that wasn’t sign enough, a mysterious stranger throws another wrench in the mix at a dazzling rooftop party benefiting the Arts. These could be signs of things to come.
But will she remain content in her perfect world, or will she step into the unknown world she has always dreamed of?
Amelia is the wild child of the family. Working three jobs, because she just hasn’t figured out what she wants in life, she realizes happiness isn’t always settling down with a steady, dependable man; sometimes it’s about following your true passion and living on the edge.
No matter what age you are, life and love can be crazy…