Needing romantic comedy more and more in my life right now with everything going on in the world, I turned to Avery Flynn’s Awk-weird. This delightful story of misfits who find their place and create a family is more than a romance, it’s about friendship and teammates, and yes, it’s about finding that one person who completes you. When Tess Gardner ends up a wallflower at her best friend’s wedding rehearsal, she inadvertently draws the attention of one the groom’s Ice Knight teammates. She’s not his usual type, cute, not sexy gorgeous but when they team up against some of the other players in a trivia game, they wipe the floor with the guys until Tess gets concerned about taking the rookies’ money.
After a night of riotous sex, Tess is nearly late for the wedding. She gives Cole an out by telling him they’d been wedding-ed and what happened wasn’t their fault. But when they realize the expiration date on the condoms they’d used turned their one-night stand into something more, they’re forced to take a second look at each other. Could they find their forever person with one another? Busted pipes and a leaking ceiling has Tess in Cole’s guestroom messing up his well-ordered life. Cole likes things to always be one way but with Tess around things never go the way he expects and maybe, just maybe, that’s a good thing.
I loved this story, laughing and crying and swooning right alongside the pair as they navigate romance in reverse.
There was a time I thought Harlequin Romances were passe`. I believed billionaire romances were not my style. Reese Ryan has defied all my beliefs. Y’all know I’m a fan. Even tropes and genres I thought I didn’t like Reese has showed me my error. The truth is a good story is a good story and that’s what Reese Ryan gives us again and again.
Secret Heir Seduction starts right off with the action. Darius Taylor-Pratt is a self-made man, he started his activewear company Thr3d from a dream and hard work. Learning he is the secret heir to a billionaire turns his world sideways. Learning who his father is only half the surprises he’ll face in the first few pages. It’s what I really love about this story, within a few pages we’ve learned who Darius is, some of his backstory and we’re thrown into his drama, and by chapter two we’ve met Audra, his former lover and boy oh boy do sparks fly. If that doesn’t make you want to read this book, then let me tell you they are one sexy couple in a town of sexy couples. Reese Ryan has peopled her story with secondary characters who add spice and diversity to the setting and story. We get a little taste of several other romances and family dramas going at the same time giving us a rounder view of the town of Royal.
This is a second chance love story. If you like hot, sexy, characters with deep emotional scars and strong ethics, then you’ll love Reese Ryan’s stories. Each book becomes my new favorite, but I think this one will be hard to beat.
The Forbidden Duke by Darcy Burke Narrated by Marian Hussey
Second chances at a happy ever after don’t come around every day. For spinster Miss Eleanor Lockhart, suddenly homeless and in need of a situation, it is like a fairy tale come true when her new employer decides to re-launch her into society. Eleanor lost her chance for happiness as a young girl when a rogue ruined her and left her to take the brunt of society’s punishment. Ten years later, the leader of the gang of rakes and rogues, now reformed, has been commissioned by his stepmother to assist Eleanor in becoming the angel of the ton.
Titus St. John, Duke of Kendal, is the Forbidden Duke. After years of debauchery, he changed to become the man his father would be proud of, unfortunately, it was too late for Miss Eleanor’s reputation. What started out as a favor for his beloved stepmother quickly turns to something more. Who is saving whom in this lovely Cinderella story of second chances?
Darcy Burke does an excellent job of showing weakness without making her characters weak. We all have our flaws, but we do not have to be defined by them. This was definitely a story I would listen to over and over again, and a series I want to read in its entirety.
The end of a decade. As we prepare to ring in the new year and the new decade, I find myself looking back over the past ten years. So much has happened in such a short time.
After winning the Ann Peach Award in 2009 and joining Romance Writers of America, I started truly thinking about being a published writer ending the last decade on a creative high.
In January 2010 we lost our home to fire. While this was mind-numbingly devastating it wasn’t the worst that could have happened. It may seem that this decade started with tragedy but with every bad blow we were also given a blessing.
The night after the fire I went with my daughter-in-law to the hospital, it was the last chance she’d have to tour the hospital before our grandson Harley was born. My son, and her husband (at the time) was stationed overseas and trying his best to get home before the birth of his son. We lost nearly everything in that fire, but we walked away with our lives and a few short weeks after, we gained a grandchild.
When I think of all we lost, it’s not the Christmas presents we haven’t replaced that fill me with regret but those items that can never be replaced: the horse whip that belonged to my husband’s grandfather from his time in the wild west show, or the quilt his maternal grandmother made, my baby sister’s baby shoes, my children’s baby books, photo albums and high school annuals.
But both sons who were living with us at the time, are still alive. The youngest whose room was in flames had to leap from his bed to the stairwell, became a firefighter. Our other son has always been someone we could call if we needed anything. The fire was devastating but many blessings came out of it.
We stayed a few months with my parents. It was stressful at the time. I wasn’t sleeping good. I was having nightmares and the added stress of trying to conform to someone else’s schedule made it more difficult. Adding to the stress was the fact that my daughter-in-law wasn’t happy living in such a rural environ with two small children. She was ready to get back to Savannah and her life and friends. I was thankful for the time with my family but there were days I was barely functioning.
Our community were a great asset to us. People brought us clothes, household goods, and money to help us during this time. Moving into our present home that spring was thanks in large part to the physical help of my sister-in-law and her family and to the financial help of our friends, family and community. With each blow there has been a blessing, most times the blessings have outweighed the trauma.
On New Year’s Day 2011, my dad was found dead in his bathroom. The EMTs believed he suffered an aneurism and died suddenly. His death was followed by the birth of our granddaughter Ava. My son calls the day of the funeral, he’s not going to be able to be a pallbearer, he’s on his way to the hospital with his wife. He tried to convince us that as soon as she had the baby, he’d come to the funeral, but I knew my daddy would prefer he stay with his wife and child.
In the spring of 2011, Mom, my youngest son, oldest grandson and myself went to Savannah to visit. We spent a week with my Army son and his family. We explored downtown, Tybee Island and went on a ghost walk. I want to go back again.
Late in the season, we had our first hurricane. It was the first since my daddy died and I insisted my mom come stay with us. It didn’t seem all that bad, it was down to a category one. Hurricane Irene destroyed my parent’s home with flood waters and devastated our community. We had several rescues the night of the hurricane, our niece and her family and a couple of friends. When mom and I went to check on her place I was shocked to see the damage. The tide waters had been pushed ashore through two high tides, flooding even the church which was on the highest piece of land in the community.
My sons came with a generator and began helping us sort through the salvage in Mom’s house. The fire was easier, there was nothing left to sift through. This loss was probably harder than any other because everyone was going through something at this time and there was no one to offer comfort. Everyone was overwhelmed and exhausted.
Just when we’re returning to some sort of normal, later that year, my mother, who was living with us at the time, fell and broke her hip. 2011 was not a very good year for us but we did get a new granddaughter.
2012 Vietnam Homecoming with my father-in-law and started writing articles for the Pamlico News. My first stories were interviews of Vietnam Veterans and their families. I was also able to follow my youngest son around the track for track and field and use my role as reporter to promote my community and special interest. Many of the stories I covered while writing for the paper inspired my fiction.
The next few years were a blur of babies, weddings, separations, divorces and graduations. Blake graduated from Pamlico High School. Dustin got his master’s degree from East Carolina University. Aries graduated from Pamlico Community College. My in-laws, Wayne and Verna’s celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary 2014
In the past ten years we’ve been blessed with Trinity whose big sister Alijah came along when her mom married into the family. Sophia, followed in close succession by two sisters, Sabrina and Carol to parents Chris and Shannon also married in this decade. Conner whose brother Cody and sister Hailey joined the family just ahead of him, along with their mom Brandi who married my soldier son, Jason, who is now a civilian. We have another Brandy, making three Brandies for one family (my niece Brandy informs me she was the first and our first baby girl), and a Sherry (spelled with an I) but then I do work at the ABC store. What does ten years look like? Well, coming into this decade we had five grandchildren, only one a granddaughter, and at the close of this decade we have 20 grandchildren, standing about half and half. The third Brandy in the family just gave birth to a handsome little boy, Jessie David and he was greeted by big sister Sylvia who is two and half years older but rules the roost. Our youngest son, Blake married Katelynn Scott and they have two boys Elijah and Kaysen.
I met Louise Penny at a book signing in Fearington Village when I went on a girls’ trip with Marni Graff and friends.
Became chairperson for the Pamlico Writers’ Group in 2015.
2016 I had my first stories published in a book, the Pamlico Writers’ Anthology, “A Carolina Christmas,” and had my first book signing.
Published my first book in 2017, “Chrome Pink” and had my first solo book signing.
Went to my first Comicon in 2017. I even dressed up. We had a lot of fun.
In 2018 I published my second book, White Gold and in 2019, I’ve published two books, Titanium Blue and Evergreen Crystals. I’ve also had two novellas published with The New Romance Café anthologies, Love in Bloom and a historical in Kisses and Other Scandalous Pastimes.
Gave my first writer’s talks in 2019 and published my fourth book.
So much more has happened in the past ten years. We’ve lost good friends. Buried friends and husbands of friends, my great aunts and a few cousins. We’ve gained weight, lost weight, turned gray and turned loose. Some of us aren’t as mobile as we were before but those that are left keep marching on. As difficult as the first of this decade was, I still believe it’s been a good one. I miss my dad and friends who have passed on. I mourn them but life goes on and I don’t think they would want us to stop living.
As 2020 peers around the edge of 2019, I’m working on my next novel, Red Steel which is part of the Leeward Files series and a bridge for my new series, The Harrell Family Chronicles. I’ve also had a historical series on the back burner for years I want to start working on. It’s going to be a busy year but I’m looking forward to it. I plan to spend as much time as possible with grandchildren and family, writing and reading good books, and just enjoying each day. Remember we are not guaranteed tomorrow, the past is done, today is a gift that is why it is called the present. Have a happy new year.
Tirza Schaefer, it is great to have you at my Creekside Café, this is my virtual café where I meet the most interesting people from all over the world. If I ever win the lottery it would be my dream job, a place to write, drink coffee and talk to other writers and readers.
Tirza: That sounds absolutely beautiful! I’ll be a regular guest there!
Sherri: Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from?
Tirza: I am from Germany and live outside of Cologne in a small city with a
name no one who isn’t German can pronounce. It’s like a suburb here, lots of
green, gardens and cats and dogs and children. I like to post my coffee quite
often on my Instagram or on Facebook. I love to sit on my patio, overlooking
the garden with my laptop, coffee and often the cat beside me and work there. I
call that my summer office.
I am a mother of 3 wonderful children, a boy, 20, and two girls, 17 and
12. My son left for university already and will study history and archaeology.
We also have a cat, an Arabian Mau that was flown in from Dubai. Taani is very
talkative, spoilt and loved to abandon, but she is also so loving and devoted
herself. We are so blessed to have her as part of our family, and I am so
blessed with my children whom I’ve raised all by myself from birth.
Sherri: Have you ever been to the United States, especially
the east coast? My imaginary café is on the Inner Banks of the Pamlico Sound
which is in eastern North Carolina. We just dodged a hurricane though our
neighbours on the Outer Banks weren’t as lucky. There is something beautiful
about a storm though after being through several very bad hurricanes, it is
difficult to separate the destruction from the beauty. How is the weather where
you are? I always think of England as raining but that’s not true, is it?
Tirza: Last things first, England does have a lot of rain and clouds but when
the days are sunny and bright, it’s beautiful! I love the UK, anyway. I used to
live there in the 90s and studied at university. Tourism related. I never
actually worked in that field as I had my children straight after and moved
back to Germany, mainly being a full-time mum with a few stints at various
offices before I started my own business.
Sherri: Oops, I misspoke, I thought you were from England. I’m sorry. But you
studied in England, I cannot even imagine. I dropped out of college after my
first year to have my oldest son.
Tirza: I’ve travelled to the US twice in my life and if I had the money, I’d
go a few times more. It was beautiful each time and the country is so vast, you
really have to travel around to see it all. I also have friends in Canada I’d
like to visit one day as well. When I was 16, I was on a student exchange to
Snowqualmie, near Seattle, WA, and when 2 of my 3 children were born already,
my middle one still being a baby, we went to visit a friend in LA, Long Beach.
I didn’t see that much as I had young children with me, so we spent most of the
day at the playground, which was lovely, as everyone was so nice, but we did
see some things and it was a perfect visit of relaxation which I needed after
giving birth and the first few months of sleepless nights.
Sherri: I’ve never been to the west coast of the US but have a grandson in California
and a niece in Seattle, Washington area. I’ve not travelled very much myself
and especially not after having children.
I remember those sleepless nights after babies. I raised six sons, gave birth to three. I tell my daughters-in-law to sleep when the babies do, the house will wait.
Tirza: My current partner is a US Army veteran who lives in Germany. He is
originally from Pittsburgh and by far the most mature, most responsible, caring
and attentive, gentlemanly man I have ever met in my life! They don’t make them
over here! I am so lucky, he decided to stay after he left the Army and our
life paths crossed eventually. I smile every time I think of him.
Sherri: I have been to Pittsburgh, for a writer’s conference. Its beautiful but
the traffic is scary. I’m from the country where a traffic jam consists of
three cars and a tractor.
Tirza: The weather in Germany where I live is pretty muddy in general, rainy and cloudy, but lately, we had a dry spell and it’s been sunny, so the summer was quite lovely most of the time.
I love thunderstorms but ours are not as destructive, so we can
concentrate more on the beauty of it all. I hope you didn’t suffer any damages.
Sherri: We were blessed this year and suffered only some wind damage and power
outage. My deep freezer died, and I lost a lot of food but all in all, we were
so lucky. Our neighbours to the east had a lot of flooding as well as wind
Germany weather sounds a lot like North Carolina, a lot of rain and
mud, a dry sunny spell then more rain and mud. This week has been fantastic,
sunny with a bit of a breeze, not much humidity.
Tell me about
your books. According to your bio, you cannot be contained in a box. You write
in more than one genre, what is your favourite style of writing? Do you
consider yourself a romance author?
Tirza: I would definitely consider myself a romance author – amongst other
things. Fact is that out of my 24 books, 20 are romance novels and one is a
collection of romantic poetry. So yes, can’t deny that part of me. However, I
can’t really say I prefer one over the other. If I had to always write in the
same genre, I’d be bored and uninspired, I am sure. I love that I can write a
romance novel and hop over to do some research online to write an article on a
Goddess or a Power Animal. So I’d say, books are romantic fiction mainly and
articles and blogs are mostly spiritual.
However, one definitely touches the other. When I write a romance
novel, I work in a Goddess archetypal scenario so the spirituality is mostly
hidden beneath the layers of storyline. You can only really see it when you
know what to look for but at the same time, it teaches you without being a
teaching manual, through the story alone. Other times, my spirituality is more
blatantly exposed, as in Snake Goddess Rising, or in Balcony Above the Sea, where the female MC tells a gay man how exactly being gay is
absolutely natural and divine. It’s quite logical.
Sherri: It sounds very loving and reaffirming.
Your website is very interesting, but it isn’t just about your books, tell us about your meditation. How does your meditation and beliefs factor into your writing?
Tirza: Meditation in itself is a practice that helps you ground, focus, heal
and calm yourself. To write on archetypes like Goddesses, Gods and Power
Animals or even Tarot cards, is something that helps me personally a lot to
explore, understand and heal my own psyche and through writing about these
archetypes, I explain how it can work to others. Archetypes are personifications
of certain aspects of your psyche. For example, Ganesha, the Hindu elephant God
is the symbol for your inner strength, Aphrodite teaches you femininity and
self-love, and so on. Tapping into their specific energies can connect you to
them within yourself and show you where you still need to work on yourself.
I am also an Usui Reiki Master and founder of Goddess Reiki. Reiki is
an energy healing modality that works with laying on hands but can also be
projected across time and space. Furthermore, I am an intuitive reader, I work
with oracle cards, tarot, pendulum, my own Goddess Oracle I made myself and I
also channel messages straight without any “tools.” It all depends on the mood
of the day and circumstances. I allow my intuition to guide me and follow it
without question. I’ve learned in a painful manner that not listening to your
inner voice can have terrible consequences. It is important to cultivate a good
relationship with and to trust your inner voice, your intuition
Sherri: While our religious beliefs may be a bit different, there are
similarities in our core. I agree, it is important to listen to your inner self,
we often know what is best for us but sometimes we want what we know isn’t good
for us. As my grandmother would say, hindsight is 20/20, too bad you didn’t
know it first.
You don’t care to
cook, or you only like to cook when you have something else to entertain you? I
love to cook but it is more fun with an audiobook or YouTube interview going,
or someone else to cook with. I enjoy cooking with my sons and
daughters-in-law. I have six sons, four enjoy cooking. Do you cook with your
children? Do you have a favourite recipe?
Tirza: I definitely like cooking together a lot more than doing it alone.
However, our kitchen is unfortunately so small that only one at a time can
comfortably prepare anything there, so it is very anti-social. In the old
apartment, we had a bigger kitchen, which I loved, but there was a bedroom less
and no garden, so we sacrificed on the kitchen for the many benefits we gained.
But I do miss having a large kitchen.
Favourite recipe? Probably pasta or rice with vegetables, seitan and
spicy tomato sauce. You can vary it according to which vegetables you have and
as long as you season and spice it nicely, it’s always a delicious treat. We’re
a vegetarian household and we love seitan a lot more than tofu. It is made from
wheat protein and harder, as well as stronger in taste, as it is usually
marinated in vegetable brine. Very tasty.
Sherri: I’m not familiar with seitan but my oldest daughter-in-law is
Cambodian, and she has introduced me to many different types of food, including
tofu, which I am not a fan of.
I cooked a lot of pasta meals when the boys were all home and still do
when they are in for visits.
Do you have other hobbies? Do these show up in your writing?
Tirza: I used to dance quite intensely for years when I was younger. Ballet,
jazz and modern dance mainly. Once in a while that shows, and sometimes a
female MC will do a special sensual dance for the man she loves in one of my
books. I find many things interesting, I’m a bit of a nerd and so like to read
up on things I come across that I want to know more about. I cycle and walk a
lot more than driving in a car, too. Once in a while I feel like painting,
colouring in or crafting, but that happens maybe once or twice a year and I am
not good at it. However, it’s about the feel-good-factor and it certainly serves
that purpose then.
Sherri: I used to do a lot of crafting, painting and sewing
but it seems writing has become a second job and there is little time for
Who or what has
been the greatest influence on your writing?
Tirza: Jane Austen and William Shakespeare. When I lived in London back in
the 90s, I read Pride and Prejudice and just when I’d finished the book,
having mental orgasms over the language, the way she writes, the BBC showed the
4-part version of it with Colin Firth. What a man! Swoon! I was done for. I
bought the video and watched it several times a week for years. I had to buy a
couple of new ones before I got it finally on DVD and the tape could no longer
wear out. It became less with motherhood, but I can still talk along most of
From Jane Austen, as well as William Shakespeare, I learned that the
most important thing in writing isn’t even the most eloquent language, even
though both authors’ works possess it, but that you have to touch people’s
hearts with your writing to make it immortal. I don’t want to be remembered for
the most eloquent language expert. I want people to remember how I made them
feel when they read my books. I want to touch their hearts and find a place
there for good. To me, that is what a truly successful writer does.
Sherri: That is a great way to measure success. I like
If you could help
someone else on the journey to be a published author, what would you tell them?
Take pride in your work and make sure you deliver great quality.
Don’t let anyone tell you it won’t work. Follow your dreams always.
Seek to touch people’s hearts.
Dare to put yourself out there.
Never ever give up.
Sherri: That is fabulous insight Tirza. I need to print it
out and post it on my mirror in my bathroom so I will see it every day.
Like me, your
family is an important part of who you are.
Tirza: Yes, family is very important to me, so I decided to
have a family alliteration, all starting with T to ensure my children grew up
with a sense of belonging and family loyalty. My son’s name is Tajun, my
daughters are called Tarjani and Tarini. It worked, too.
I’ve always been
a bit of a rebel in my quest to find and voice the truth, not agreeing to keep
quiet about dysfunctional patterns or avoiding taboo subjects. It wasn’t always
an easy path, but it has, ultimately, been a rewarding one. I have not only
gathered knowledge but gained wisdom. Ultimately, I am forging my path ever
more along the lines I want it to travel.
One thing I would
never change is my love for writing. My youngest daughter has inherited this
passion and talent from me and writes stories already. This year, in January, I
have suffered a burnout and subsequently had a long journey of healing that is
by no means at an end. I found it quite challenging, not to be able to write,
focus and retain information in my mind, forgetting and confusing more, the
more I struggle against my condition.
It took me months
to surrender to the healing process and first I was able to read again, not
only watch TV and listen to audiobooks, then I started to write another article
and managed to finish it. With all challenges, giving up has never been an
option. I love what I do and how I make people feel. I’ll never give up on
shining my light and encouraging and empowering others to shine theirs.
This is my only published
children’s book and it was inspired by a conversation I had with my youngest
daughter Tarini when she was 8 years old. Knowing that children learn best when
having fun and enjoying themselves, I brought the humour I teach her with into
this book. So don’t be surprised when you are being catapulted from the
racetrack to a cave and into the kitchen with a stopover in Rome.
Working with opposites was
so much fun! Not only in opposing characters, but individual characters being
at war within themselves, because human nature is so complex, nothing is really
Portia doesn’t wish to risk the freedom she has by marrying a man who treats her like a belonging. Although her aunt and uncle have an amazing relationship, the men her mother entertained where brutes. Portia has no desire to give up the work she enjoys as bookkeeper and manager for one of the largest hotels in the Arizona Territory. She is content with her life, that is, until Kent Randolph comes to visit.
A friend of the family, Kent Randolph is not the same man
who worked for her uncle years ago. Life and bad choices have honed him into a
man of strength and honor. Not expecting Portia to be all grown up and
beautiful, Kent is as surprised as she is over the power of their attraction.
Ready to put down roots after living the life of a vagabond cowboy, Kent starts
to imagine that life with Portia. Can he convince Portia he is the man for her,
that she can continue to do what she loves with his blessing and support?
Portia can’t resist the lure of her attraction for the
cowboy, but it is the little things he does that makes her realize he is
nothing like the men who frequented their house when she was a child. Though
she no longer leaves the room or puts furniture between herself and men, she is
still apprehensive about trusting them. Kent proves to be someone she can
trust, he also gives her the courage to go forward with her dream.
True romance isn’t needing someone to make you whole but
wanting something to make your life more complete. Finding that person who
knows what we need and is happy to give it to us or help us get it on our own.
The person that puts your needs and desires above their own.
If you love strong characters, historical settings and interesting
plots, Beverly Jenkins’ Breathless is
a great choice.
Dead of Winter by Wendy
Corsi Staub, read by Melanie Ewbank
Bella Jordan never planned to be
an amateur sleuth. She was just a widow trying to survive being a single
parent. Raising her seven-year old son, Max and trying to do whatever she can
to see he gets a happy Christmas, Bella doesn’t have time for the dead body
that has washed up from the lake.
The Valley View Inn and Lily Dale
have become their home, and despite or maybe because of the weird things that
happen there, Bella’s sharp wit and logic are often at war with the mystical
and magical side of her community. A sceptic, Bella really doesn’t believe in
visions or talks with the dead, even though a magical cat brought she and her
son to Lily Dale, and they have offered the mother and son their protection,
Bella refuses to allow herself to trust her other sight.
A scream in the night and a body
on the shore have Bella rethinking her ability to be logical.
When Max’s friend, Jiffy goes
missing, Bella believes it is linked to the murderer.
Magic and logic team up to help
locate the missing boy, catch a murderer and retrieve priceless artifacts.
This is a delightful story of
love, hope and possibilities mingled with mystery. If you like a good cozy
mystery with a little twist, check out Wendy Corsi Staub’s Lily Dale Mystery
Cast from society with nothing but his title, the Marquess
of Bourne has become partner in the most exclusive gaming hell in London. Cold
and ruthless, he’ll stop at nothing to reclaim his inheritance, even compromise
his childhood friend, Penelope Marbury, forcing her to marry him.
A wager lost him everything, another might win him more than
he ever imagined possible, if he is willing to take a chance on love.
A second chance romance, redeeming a rake, Sarah MacLean
loves her bad boys. She makes them bad enough to be interesting but with those
honorable qualities that make a reader swoon. Bourne is definitely swoon
worthy, but he is not to be out done, Penelope Marbury is more than a match for
MacLean tosses us into the gaming hells of London, bringing
to life a world on the edge of society and the daring, often desperate people
who patronize the clubs. This is a book for all of your senses. If you want to
be truly immersed in a story, you won’t want to pass this one up.
sherrilhollister.com/Suspense She Writes Bookstore Dismiss