I guess you've figured out I'm researching trains. Well, steam trains during the 1870s, to be precise. After an internet search, I discovered a train museum in Chandler, Arizona, and I couldn't wait to check it out. I wasn't disappointed! The volunteers at the museum were super friendly and informative. They had a steam engine from around the era I was researching, which you can see in the above photos. Something I didn't know is that the engineer and the fireman were seated across from each other, and the burner was between them (third photo). Imagine the heat as the fireman loaded the burner right there. Also, there was no opening to see out the front of the train. In the last picture above you can see the engineer's seat and his window to the outside. Something else I discovered is that when the engineer was coming into a station, a worker would place torpedoes (basically small explosives) on the tracks. The loud popping noises as the train ran over the torpedoes would alert the engineer to slow down. Another misnomer is that the engineer was the person in charge. Nope, it was the conductor who oversaw everything and everyone.
Below, other than the trunk, the pictures are from eras later than what I'm writing about, but just as fascinating. The second picture displays different seats from different train companies in an early 1900s coach. The third picture is sleeping quarters with a hide-a-potty. The last is from a personalized car. Wealthy people bought their own cars and made them magnificent; kind of like we do nowadays with RVs.
Hopefully, I've gained enough information to keep from writing a serious error in my story with regard to travel via train in 1878.
I'm excited about interviewing Lorrie Struiff, author of A Heap of Trouble. Before we begin, I must say that I love the cover of Lorrie's book! I'm kind of a book cover fanatic. The heart formed by the position of the H/h bodies is fantastic. The colors are outstanding, and the horse and cowboy in the background add balance and interest. I even noticed the cowboy is wearing a duster--love cowboys in dusters! I could go on about the heroine's hair, the fade through, and more, but let's go on to the interview.
Welcome Lorrie. Thank you for joining me. Please tell readers about yourself.
Where do you live? Have you always lived there? Have you traveled much?
Well, I live in West Mifflin, very near Pittsburgh, PA. I’ve lived in the area all of my life. I’ve traveled a bit. I’ve been to almost every state in the U.S., and I’ve been to Mexico and Canada.
Tell us your latest news?
My # 3 Call on the Dead Club series was released this month. My main character Winnie is a hoot and a half.
When and why did you begin writing?
When I retired. Writing had always been my dream. Now that I have the time, here I am.
When did you first consider yourself a writer? With my first published short story. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the acceptance email. I must have stared at it for ten minutes. My mind kept saying, “Really? Really? Really?
Do you have specific writing habits? What genre(s) do you write, and why?
I wish I had habits. I hit the computer as time allows. I write in different genres. I don’t like the confinement of only writing in one. I want to spread my wings. Besides, I don’t want to bore myself or my readers. Lol. Many of the genres fascinate me, and I love to entertain readers. Why limit oneself?
How do you decide the titles for your book(s)?
Sometimes the title comes to me before I start writing which helps with the story. Other times I have a heck of a time thinking up a title. I turn to my critique buddies for help.
Are there messages in your novel(s) that you want readers to grasp?
Nope. Unless it’s accidental. *smiles* I just want to write a rollicking good story for readers to sink into.
How much of your current book is realistic?
Well, it’s paranormal, so I’d have to say none. Honest, I don’t go around talking to corpses.
Are experiences in your current book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
All of my stories are strictly from my imagination. I like to take odd characters, throw them together, sit back and watch what happens. Well, it’s a bit more complicated, but that’s the bottom line.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Nelson De Mille. I love the way he can take an extremely tense scene and still make you laugh in the middle of it.
What book(s) are you reading now?
None at the moment. Since I started writing, I find my time to read has flown out the window. I miss reading. After a full 7 or 8 hours on the computer, my eyes are kissing my cheeks and I can’t read anything. So I sit back and stare dumbly at the TV.
What are your current projects?
I am currently working on my next COD story to add to the series. I’d also like to start a sequel to my “Gypsy Blood.”
What s the hardest part of writing your book(s)?
Finding the time. And writing the original draft. Since I’m a panster I have to form the story in my head first.
What have you learned from your writing?
That it’s not as easy as it looks. When I started, the authors I read made it look like a snap. Whoa, did I have a lot to learn.
Do you have advice for other writers?
Join a critique group. Develop very thick skin fast, and learn the basics.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just that I love them all, and thank them so much for choosing my books to read.
Other than the present time era, which era would you choose to live in, and why?
Oh, if I can’t live in the future—I’m nosy—I’ll stay in this one. I’m kind of used to the present.
Strangest thing you've ever seen.
You know, I’m sure I’ve seen some strange things in life, but at the moment I can’t think of a one. I must have a bad memory.
Your most embarrassing moment.
When I walked into the men’s room by mistake at a theater. Talk about red face. Eww.
Best day of your life.
How about best days, plural. When I worked at the ballroom dance studio. I had the best time of my life. Think “Dirty Dancing.” To me that’s a walk down memory lane.
Stupidest thing you've ever done.
What? You want me to write another book?
Smartest thing you've ever done.
*Laughing* Now that would be a flash fiction story.
Favorite coffee or tea frou-frou drink.
Ooooh, gimme my cup of hot tea.
Liver and onions. Mmmm. I can OD on the good stuff.
Food that gags you.
Have you ever seen a UFO? Explain.
No, darn it. I have friends that have, but I always miss out somehow.
Thank you Lorrie for visiting my blog! In closing, please tell us more about A Heap of Trouble.
I absolutely fell in love with all my characters. I’d say the genre is old west romance/action/mystery/humor.
Here is a promo from MuseItUp Publishing:
Sheriff Cole Walker is fearless, except when it comes to critters. When a runaway ringtail monkey decides to adopt Cole and won’t leave, he has more woes than he can handle. Cole has a powerful yen for the newly arrived Mattie Wells, the pretty woman who can jingle his spurs with just a smile. Mattie takes a shine to men who have pets, and she adores the monkey. So do all the town’s folk – until their valuables start coming up missing. But Cole has no choice but to put up with the thieving furball if he’s going to win Mattie’s heart.
But Mattie is holding a dark secret and refuses to get married. Cole tries every which way to make her see that she’s the only woman he wants, but with cattle rustlers and a miniature thief on the loose, it’s all Cole can do to find time to take her to a picnic.
Cole and his deputies, Wade and Sully, are given a month to find the thieves before Mayor Farley calls for outside gunslingers. Cole knows that’ll spell disaster for the town and likely unemployment for him. Can he overcome Mattie’s fears, bring the rustlers in, and teach his new unwanted furball sidekick a lesson about property rights before the town implodes?
With the help of his deputies and his unwanted sidekick Beggar, Cole must find a way to win Mattie’s heart, bring the rustlers to justice, and bring peace once again to Cold Creek, Kansas.
Yep. Cole has a heap of trouble on his hands.
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After some much needed R and R, I'm ready to roll my sleeves up and begin writing the second book in the Finding Home Series; the story of Hallie's sister, Lilah. Hallie is the heroine from Cry of the West who made the several months journey from St. Louis, MO to Oregon City, OR along the Oregon Trail.
Lilah's story takes place twelve years after Hallie's arrival in Oregon, and it's been twenty years since the sisters parted ways. Cooper Jerome, Hallie's husband, hires his friend, Rush Garrett, to find Lilah and deliver a letter from Hallie, in the hope that it will persuade her to allow him to accompany her to Oregon
I'm sure you can see where this is going. Rush and Lilah are the H/h and I have entitled this book Rescue on the Rio. Because the first book, Cry of the West, was full of western history, I've got my work cut out for me in researching the Rio Grande River and surrounding lands. Hopefully, there will be plenty of action, especially when Lilah gets abducted by bandits bound for Mexico. Luckily, Rush will be tracking them, determined to save her. Not so lucky for the bandits, Lilah is a woman with a strong will and cunning mind. Because the story unfolds as I write, there are many unknowns I can't wait to discover.
I'm having fun just contemplating all the trouble I can get Lilah into. However, there is a vulnerable side to our heroine that few are allowed to see. I have a feeling that Rush, strong and cunning in his own right, may just see beyond Lilah's facade and recognize the longing in her heart for a family and home of her own. Hence, the name of the series, Finding Home.
On another note, the above picture was taken during my vacation in Hawaii. It was my first visit and I marvel at the beauty of the islands. My husband and I rented scooters for a few days and had a blast discovering the Big Island. We went snorkeling and below is a picture of me in my gear. I think I scared the fish. Actually, the colorful array of aquatic friends, and even a sea turtle, made for a wonderful day. Oh, and I also had to upload a picture of Mr. and Mrs. Chicken strutting their stuff. As for the flower, I took more photos of flowers than anything. Every few paces I made my husband stop so I could snap a shot. Such a patient man.