I love to do research. I can’t help it. it Is one of my guilty pleasures. I’m a nerd. Always have been. In school when we’d get the chance to go to the library to do research, I’d get so caught up in the search I sometimes forgot what I was searching for. Finding new things along the way is part of the joy of doing the research. The problems are going off in another direction than the one you intended or getting so lost in the research you forget about the writing, and the biggie, wanting to put everything you discovered into your story. I mean, when you find out really cool things it’s difficult not to include them in your story. BUT… while it might be interesting and maybe even important to know that Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show had a second female sharpshooter or that he hired over one hundred Sioux to work in his show even while there were still Indian Wars going on, all of this information is important and helps me as a writer understand my story’s time period and politics, how much of it is really necessary for the story itself.
It has taken me years to feel confident, and I say that with a laugh because I’m not really confident that I’ve reached the point where I know what I’m doing, but I’ve taken the classes and done the research and tried to immerse myself into the time period. Developing the character, the atmosphere and the series is important. I hope that when you read The Americans are Coming that you experience life in a traveling show, (I researched the history of the circus in America, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and travel in the 1890s), that you get a feel for Winnie’s life as a performer and a member of the show family, I hope you enjoy piecing together the clues and puzzling out the mystery, but I above it all, I hope you read the story and not see the work that has gone into it only the entertainment that it offers.
For a list of the books, YouTube videos and blogs I used to research this book, here are the ones I’ve compiled so far, and they are by no means the full list. I also have references from people such as HCRW president: Cyn Hayden who gave me information on steamer ships, my granddaughter: Hailey Miesse and her mother, Brandi Lupton who aided me with my horse research, my husband David who helped with many miscellaneous questions (he’s a great research assistant), and my local librarians: Denise Toler and Robina Norman who answer weird and bizarre questions at odd times during the day (and sometimes at night).
Buffalo Bill’s America by Louis S. Warren
Wild Women by Autumn Stephens
A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Life by Elspeth
Gangway! Sea Language Comes Ashore by Joanna Carver Colcord
The Great Tours: England, Scotland, and Wales The Great Courses by Professor Patrick N. Allitt, Emory University
The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West from 1840-1900 by Candy Moulton
The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England from 1811-1901 by Kristine Hughes
Eyewitness Visual Dictionary The Visual Dictionary of Ships and Sailing
Reader’s Digest America’s Forgotten History
Battle for the Big Top by Les Standiford
Unmentionable by Therese Oneill
The Hidden History of Holidays by Hannah Harvey
The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum
Stephen Fry’s Victorian Secrets
The Life and Times of Prince Albert by Patrick Allitt
The American West: History, Myth and Legend by Patrick Allitt
Book Reviewers Needed for The Americans are Coming
The Americans are Coming is the first in a new historical cozy mystery series I’m writing, An Applegate Mystery series. I’m having too much fun with my characters Winnie Applegate and her friends and family.
Winnie is seventeen and part of a traveling wild west show. She is half Lakota Indian. She is a healer and a performer. She keeps adding more tricks to her arsenal because the show is in trouble. A series of accidents has some of the other performers looking for work elsewhere.
With her brother, twelve-year-old Riley, an avid inventor, Winnie performs a knife throwing act. She also is a trick rider and an archer. Even her father has agreed to add another act to the show but when something goes wrong and Riley is blamed, Winnie takes it upon herself to investigate.
A series of sabotages and a mysterious benefactor’s invitation to England uncover family secrets that might explain why they are being targeted. Winnie teams up with the young man she believes she is destined to marry, and a lady Pinkerton agent to prove Riley’s innocence and stop a murderer.
If you like cozy mysteries with a like bit of history and a lot of action and adventure, you’ll enjoy The Americans are Coming.
A slow burn romance with Winnie and Harry, she is forbidden not just because of her age but because of society’s expectations.
An enemies-to-lovers romance when the lady Pinkerton and Dr. John fight their attraction and lose their hearts.
Secret heirs, family drama, a cast of interesting characters from Indians to sons of Dukes there is bound to be something you like.
I grew up watching westerns on television and when we moved to Texas, and New Mexico I really immersed myself into the western history and culture. Like Buffalo Bill Cody, Colonel Bill Dexter’s Wild West Extravaganza is a traveling show (much like a circus) that combines the history of the west with feats of daring and exploits of western talents from rope twirling to knife throwing to riding while shooting, the Extravaganza is a show to rival any other.
If you are interested in getting a free copy of The Americans are Coming in exchange for an honest review. The book will go live November 3rd and the book tour will happen November 3-5. Copies of the book are available though Bed and Books or you can contact me. We have eBook and auto narrated. If you wish to be a part of the Book Tour, Cover Reveal or Teaser Reveal, you can sign up with the form below. You don’t have to be a part of the tour to be a reviewer. All reviews and promos are appreciated.
Humans resist change… why? Are we preprogramed to want the familiar? As cavepeople, we took comfort and refuge in the familiar. If everything stayed the same, we stayed alive. But in modern times why are we still resisting change? Whether it’s changing our hairstyle or leaving a dead-end job, most of us put up with the out-of-date style and the hated job because we fear change. Or maybe we’re too lazy to make that change. I mean, really, change means we have to make an effort to do something different.
I don’t like change. Familiar is easy and requires less effort. Pull the hair up in a ponytail or wrap it in a headband, it’s easier than trying to decide what style I want. But recently I made a change…I changed genres. This wasn’t a quick change. I’ve been taking classes for several years and planning this story and series for just about as long. Switching from romantic suspense to cozy mystery doesn’t seem like that big a difference, but when you go from contemporary to Victorian era, and make your main character a teenager, well, that is a rather BIG change.
Something different means research, a lot of research, preparation, planning, and extra effort—at least that’s what I discovered when I decided to switch genres. For the past year I’ve been studying the cozy mystery genre. I discovered some great YouTube videos, one of my favorite authors to follow is Jane Kalmes, the Fiction Technician https://youtu.be/GNR0g60m0EI. I also researched the Victorian Era, everything from how to build a forge to a lady’s dress, to inventions and killers of the era. YouTube is a great place to start but when I needed information on steamer ships, I had to pull out the big guns and go to my friend, HCRW President, Cyn Haden who is a naval historian. I only needed one tiny piece of information to make my story believable, but I needed to check my facts before I could go any further.
How resistant to change are you? Are you adventurous or do you like the status quo? What do you do to combat boredom and shake things up?
Hello Suzanne, welcome to my Creekside Café. I am so excited to have you here.
Suzanne: Hi Sherri! Thanks for having me at your virtual café. What’s your drink? Mine is a vanilla latte, if you please.
Sherri: In this heat, I think I’ll have an iced cinnamon cappuccino, extra cinnamon, light sugar. They freeze the coffee and cream into tiny ice cubes so it doesn’t water down the drink.
been to North Carolina before?
Suzanne: I went to school in North Carolina (Go Blue Devils) and my family and I like to explore New England. We were in Vermont last year and I fell in love with Lake Champlain. This past summer we were in Maine for a month and it was instalove. We lived in a quaint village for a month with an ice cream stand, a beach, a family owned grocery store, and a bakery that sold out by 8:30. We learned to rise early to catch the pastries!
Sherri: One of my dear friends is originally from Maine. Pastries, now that might be worth getting up early for. I am not a morning person. I am a night owl who is forced to get up and function. So we? Does that mean you are married with children?
Suzanne: Married + 3 kids and my dog, who I feature a lot on Instagram because, to be honest, I think I love my dog above all. He’s a Goldendoodle and he’s just so cuddly. Plus, when I come home from a trip, he’s the only one who doesn’t tattle on who’s been naughty and he doesn’t ask where his soccer uniform is and he doesn’t want me to go to the grocery store to buy the right crackers because Daddy doesn’t know how to buy crackers.
Sherri: Yes, I remember those days. Dad could be sitting right beside them and I be in the shower and who do they have to ask about changing the channel? I think that’s why I started writing suspense, I get my payback in black-and-white. I’ve told my sons, if they don’t behave, I’ll put them in my next novel and kill them off on page fifty. Most don’t think they’ll make it past page thirty.
Suzanne: I’m so excited to learn about your career. Romantic-suspense makes me bite my nails. Half the time I’m wincing and begging the words to move faster on the page so that my heart can slow down. And whoa, you are productive! Three books already? And six kids? And NINETEEN grandkids. Your life is FULL!
Sherri: Number twenty is due in November. I think I’m going to have to rethink Christmas. It’s always been one of my favorite holidays, even though we don’t get snow. Do you get snow for Christmas? Where are you from?
Suzanne: I’m from Oregon—that’s where I grew up (Go Sunset Apollos!) but I’ve also moved around and explored a lot of places. I adulted in the San Francisco Bay Area and then one day my husband came home and said he was done with the rat race and he was going to semi-retire.
To Oregon? I
He shook his
girl can dream)
set his heart on (drum roll please)…Jacksonville FL. I am going to tell you
now, you cannot get any farther from my reality than FL. But we packed up the
kids and off we went and here we are adventuring in the humidity (only six
months out of the year), hurricanes (only three months out of the year), sunny
(actually not as sunny as you would think), super rainy (soooo much rain),
South. There’s swamp, forest, alligators, snakes, and our local beach has tons
of shark teeth.
probably write horror instead of historical romance. Hmmm.
Sherri: Eastern North Carolina is a lot like Florida. We have a fossil museum full of sharks’ teeth.
Do you write
full time now, or hold down another job as well as write?
Suzanne: I work. I write. I take long walks. I mother. I wife. I friend. I don’t think my life is much different from any other woman’s. We are all so busy. We’re master jugglers.
Sherri: Being master jugglers is what it takes to get things done. I don’t know about you, but I can’t not write. I could continue to write for my own pleasure but taking this step to become a published author has unleashed something I’ve kept chained inside me for years. It’s a lot of work but it’s what I am compelled to do. I’m hoping to make it a career but if not, then I’ll still write because I love writing. I’ve been writing since I was a child. How about you, Suzanne, how long have you been writing?
Suzanne: Oof! I’m a little embarrassed to say. I’ve been writing probably for seven years – my first novel took years to write because I was learning to write. Then I took time off (e.g. moved to FL and met Humidity, my mortal enemy). And then the passion suddenly came back and away I went.
Sherri: The first novel in my Leeward Files Series took several years to rewrite. I’d written other things but writing for myself and writing to publish are two very different things. With each rewrite I learned more about how I wanted to tell the story.
are the books you write?
Suzanne: I write historical romance. I’m a history nerd. I love details. I love researching really weird stuff like train tables in 1869 and smallpox vaccines.
Sherri: My first love is historical romances. I started writing the suspense series after losing our house to fire. I think it was my way of getting that fear out of my system. Now, I’m enjoying it but I do want to get back to historicals.
Are you traditionally
or indie published?
Suzanne: I debut August 28 as an INDIE. I had some doubts about going INDIE because it’s a lot more work, but through the process, I have discovered how much I appreciate and enjoy the responsibility and the challenge. I love the books I’ve written and I’m so excited that I get to control the works – I have the editor of my dreams, I have the cover of my dreams, and I’m learning so much (ugh, FB ads? WHY?????).
Sherri: Don’t get me started on Facebook ads, we have a love/hate relationship, but for an Indie author, Facebook is one of the tools to get the word out about our books. Contests are another way to get your books noticed. Have you entered any competitions? Which ones? Have you won any awards?
Suzanne: Especially in my early writing career, I was a contest junkie. Romance writers have the opportunity to join RWA, which provides a huge resource for learning and also for contests. Contests give you a lot of feedback, good and bad. They also teach you to grow a thick skin.
historical romance, The Lost Chord did really well in contests,
but the two that I’ll mention are: The Catherine (historical
romance category) from Toronto RWA and it was a finalist in the Golden
Heart, which is a national award for unpublished authors. It’s
sponsored by the RWA and from the beginning of my career, it was a dream of
mine to final. And then I did in 2017.
AND AGAIN in
2018, with my second historical romance, The Art of the Scandal.
The Art of the Scandal also won the Pacific Northwest Writers Contest (Romance
Category) and the Catherine (historical romance).
wins, I decided to focus on publishing and to keep my contest addiction at bay.
It’s easy to get caught up in contests when you’re having success, but contests
generally judge only 25-50 pages of your work. It’s really important to polish
not just the beginning, but the entire darn book.
written three, so you know all about the editing, polishing, sweating over a
phrase, love-hate of the process!
Sherri: Ugh! Yes, and making lots of mistakes especially when you’re trying to do stuff in the middle of the night and getting frustrated. When that happens, walk away. Believe me. It will save you some embarrassment. I hit publish instead of proof and sent my last book out before it was ready. YUCK! I’m still trying to get it like I want. The fun times of being an indie author.
not to stretch myself as thin as I have in the past. I’m the chairperson for
the Pamlico Writers’ Group and I host a monthly writing challenge online for my
local RWA chapter. It’s difficult not to be involved with the writing
community. Even though I’m in a better place now, I still need advice and I
hope, I’m able to help others the way I have been helped.
about your latest project?
Suzanne: I’m preparing to debut with The Art of the Scandal. It releases August 28. So, I’m learning a lot about the business side, but The Art of the Scandal is a book of my heart. It brings together a lot of my nerd passions – renaissance art and their forgeries; political history; and pretty ballgowns.
particularly passionate about The Art of the Scandal because the story
is also about social challenges and societal shifts. My heroine is the daughter
of a Marques and engaged to the future prime minister. She’s at the top of the
social food chain (before she suffers a rather spectacular fall). My hero is a
foreigner and he’s Jewish. In 1849 Victorian England, he is a complete
outsider. I wove in a lot of history including the election of Lionel
Rothschild, a prominent and wealthy Jew, to the House of Commons. In The Art
of the Scandal, a character inspired by him is the hero’s cousin. Anyway,
in real life, Rothschild was elected, but barred entrance because he would not
take his oath on “the true Christian faith.” And the thing is, he was elected
more than once, and each time barred from taking his seat!
So, one of
the struggles my hero and heroine go through is learning how to throw off the
shackles of “society expectations” to create their place in the world through
trust, faith, optimism, hope, and, of course, true love.
Jilted by her fiancé, abandoned by her
father, and scorned by her friends, Lady Lydia Pierpont and her pregnant, 15
year-old sister will be homeless by midnight unless she can charm the deed of
her family’s home out of the mysterious South African who won the estate in a
Grieving over the death of his Jewish father and
English mother, Simon Cohen has no time for gallantry. He’s out to reclaim his
mother’s name from the aristocracy who humiliated her. With an art collection
worth millions and the National Gallery begging for a donation, revenge is
But when Lydia points out that Simon’s treasure
trove includes at least one forgery, they strike a deal. She’ll ferret out the
fakes and if the debut of his collection goes smoothly, she’ll win back her
home. If she fails, she will take the blame and go to jail.
Together, Lydia and Simon will feign an
engagement, delve into the world of art forgery, and navigate the narrow-minded
prejudices of London society to discover that love is forged, never faked.
Sherri: I want a copy. This sounds like all of the things I love about historical romances.
Do you plan
to write any different genres in the future?
Suzanne: I’m moving from mid-Victorians to 20th Century. I’m currently working on a love story set in WWI. And eventually I may go so bold as to hit 1947 or so. We’ll see!
Sherri: I’m working on finishing a novella set in World War II for a winter anthology. It has inspired me to return to writing historicals. I wish I could write all of the time. I have way too many ideas, but unfortunately, I need the other job to pay the bills.
Tell me what
you love about writing.
Suzanne: I love the characters who demand I write their stories. Much to my chagrin, I’m not a plotter, which means half the time, I have no idea where I’m going. But then suddenly, BOOM, a scene will come or my character will do something totally unexpected and my fingers will fly. I love those magic moments.
Sherri: I can relate, I’m a pantzer too. I love discovering the story and new characters. As a pantzer, that also makes things more challenging. What do you dread the most with your writing?
Suzanne: Plotting. Cutting my darlings—those pretty lines that don’t move the plot. Editing out my repeat words (have, face, hand, turn).
Sherri: Nods, bobs, shakes and rolls…my characters often resemble bobblehead dolls.
your writing strengths and weaknesses? What comes easy and what do you have to
work harder to get?
Suzanne: UGH, it feels like everything is hard!
part of writing is making my characters miserable. I want them to be happy. I
want sunshine and rainbows. But I have to put them through the wringer to get
Sherri: I went through that, try keeping everyone nice and happy and have a murder, it doesn’t work, AT ALL! I had to learn to let the characters be honest about who they are and how they would react. It was definitely a learning experience.
get too crazy, I’ll go in the kitchen and play with recipes. Well, that’s not
true. I watch the Food Network, then I go into the kitchen and play.
cooking and often post recipes, do you have a favorite food or restaurant?
Suzanne: I have the taste buds of a 7-year old. So, does Chick-Fill A count?
Sherri: Yes, and if you can learn their chicken recipe, I want it. I love Chick-Fill-A!
Do you have
time for any hobbies or interests besides writing? Do these show up in your
Suzanne: I walk, walk, walk. I try to hit at least 5 miles a day. Sometimes I get up to 10. I’m near the beach and I’m near a forest trail, so I get the best of both worlds.
has become a hobby. It’s where I got to meet you, so clearly Instagram is an
excellent place to be. Taking pictures to tell a story has challenged me,
because it’s only one photo and very few words. Photography (if you can call
snapping a pic with your iPhone, photography) is about the details. I think my
all-time favorite pic has been of sea foam that caught the sunlight and looked
multi-colored. Or my dog in hats. He’s very photogenic.
definitely a hobby, and that shows up in my books.
can’t stand blood, and I cry if I get a paper cut, but I admire medical
professionals and am fascinated by the history of medicine and how inventions
and techniques developed. They also make their way into my books. The book I’m
currently working on is set in an ambulance hospital in WWI and I am learning a
disturbing amount about blood transfusions.
Sherri: For my novella, I researched a mobile hospital and followed them through the war. It’s fascinating to learn what people survived. What they learned, often because they had no choice.
Who are your
some of your favorite authors or genres?
Suzanne: I actually love to read poetry the most. The word-smithing is stunning, so precise.
always going to go back to Jane Austen. Because she was so detailed, nuanced
and hilarious. Also, her heroines are both flawed and generous. A lovely combo.
If a book is
set in London between 1920-1960, I’m totally a sucker. Barbara Pym’s “Excellent
Women” is a book I love to read again and again. Also, anything buy Murial
Sherri: Who or what inspires your writing?
Suzanne: Great writing inspires me. My fellow writers inspire me. Some mornings, a bowl of Apple Jacks inspires me (mostly because if I’m having breakfast, it means I’ve had ten minutes to myself, a luxury!).
Sherri: Setting is an important part of my stories, but I believe my stories are character-driven. How would you describe your stories, the mechanics?
Suzanne: I love settings. They provide so much atmosphere and texture to a book. Historical details also add a layer. And definitely the characters. My characters are flawed in ways we all are, and I write stories not where the characters necessarily defeat their flaws, but rather where they learn how to be better people through them. Does that make sense? I don’t want to write about people who become perfect, because none of us are. Rather, I want my characters to accept who they are, warts and all, and then learn and grow and cry to become connected.
throw in some hot kissing.
Sherri: You can never go wrong with a little hot kissing, no matter where the stories are set.
Give us a
little insight into you as a person and as a writer.
Suzanne: Errr, I sort of feel like I spilled my heart out to you already, Sherri! In real life, people mistake me for an extrovert because I’m chatty, but I’m actually an introvert. I like being alone (which is hard in my household!). But I am also a compulsive hugger. So if I ever get to meet you in a real café, expect an insane bear hug.
Thank you so
much for inviting me to your café! I have had a great time!!
Sherri: Ahh, that explains it, we’re a lot alike. I love people and I enjoy talking but sometimes I just want to go into my corner and be left alone. I’m also a hugger, so, we will definitely get along just fine. Come on to North Carolina and we’ll do this in person. I’ll even take you down to the creek that inspired my virtual café.
this chat and do hope to meet in person. Best of luck with your debut novel,
and I’m going on Amazon to order mine. I can’t wait to read it.
If you have
enjoyed this interview with Suzanne Tierney as much as I have, then follow her
on social media and don’t forget her book is available for pre-order.
Elle, a French Potions Expert, a working girl, much like a barmaid
Henry, a British spy with an aristocratic heritage
These two very different characters are thrown together in this epic tale of espionage and romance. Traveling from France to Egypt then to America and back to Europe, in search of a reason for the serum shortage.
The serum has magical properties that allows medicines to work, powers vehicles and even lights up a city, and the world is in peril without it. Together, Elle and Henry must work together to search for a new source and discover the cause for the shortage. Others do not wish their mission to succeed.
As their friendship and attraction to each other grow, so does the danger surrounding their mission. The enemy has many disguises, can they root out the true villains before it is too late?
Catherine does an excellent job of world building. If you like steampunk romances or gaslight fantasy, you are sure to love “How to Seduce a Spy.” Also, check out Catherine’s short story, “Love in the Airship” in the spring anthology, “Love In Bloom,” brought to you by The New Romance Cafe Facebook Group.
The Hollow of Fear
by Sherry Thomas read by Kate Reading
The series of stories about a lady Sherlock Holmes/Miss Charlotte
Holmes and her friend, Lord Ingram have become a new addiction. I love the time
period when new things are happening in the world of forensics. I also think a
lady Sherlock is intriguing, especially in an era when women were allowed to do
little more than stay home and make babies.
Charlotte is a modern woman ahead of her time. She is sharp
witted but often hampered by her lack of understanding the finer emotions. The
sexual tension between her and Lord Ingram make the story compelling for the
romantics but her deductive skills are a treasure for any who love a good
The Hollow of Fear
pits Charlotte’s skills against those of a true mastermind. Can she uncover the
truth about Lady Ingram’s murder in time to save her friend from the hangman?
The recurring characters of Treadles the police detective
and Mrs. Watson add a richness and a familiarity to the story that makes a
series like this even better.
The Hollow of Fear is
Ms Thomas’ best so far, it puts Charlotte’s friend in true peril with a ticking
clock winding down. Real danger hovers just over their heads and one wrong move
could end in their deaths. Charlotte has to explore her own feelings and
emotions, something she isn’t comfortable doing, during her investigations. We
see more of who Charlotte is deep inside, the person she hides behind the fluff
and flounces of sweet pastries and fancy gowns.
If you’re looking for a true mystery that pays homage to the
original Sherlock Holmes, or if you like a little romantic suspense set amid a
Victorian English backdrop, you need to check out this series.
The audio version with Kate Reading is like being dropped in
the middle of the story and experiencing it all first-hand without leaving the
comforts of home.
I am unfamiliar with this author, I bought this book because of the title. Anyone who doesn’t think a title matters has no concept of marketing. Because I loved the movie How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, I decided to give a try. I was not disappointed!
The prologue is almost poetic. In the chant of the natives to the memories of England, Guhrke weaves throught, emotion and memory into a sweet song.
Edie is the kind of heroine we love to cheer for. Her determination to be in charge of her own life, to not allow herself to be a victim, gives us a role model to emulate.
Stuart, Edie’s husband lives up to his epitaph…hero. He is the kind of man all young girls dream of. The one who will see their beauty and worth, who will do anything to make them happy and safe.
The romance seems impossible at first. Watching the story unfold is at times heart breaking. Seeing all they have to overcome had me turning pages wanting to see them finally get together.
This is a must read for anyone who loves a good story and especially a beautiful romance.
I’ll be looking for more books by this author!
sherrilhollister.com/Suspense She Writes Bookstore Dismiss