I may have outsmarted myself

I’m just now finished with a fun but kinda strange writing experience.

I wrote three geniuses. Brilliant sisters. They’re not only naturally intelligence but they are highly educated by a mother and father who know these girls are all the

The Element of Love –-Buy on Amazon –Buy on Baker Book House

children they’ll ever have. And the father has a lumber dynasty. He owns a mountain, but he is also invested in a whole lot of fast-growing companies in boom-town San Francisco in 1870.


Women could go to college then, but it wasn’t common and it wasn’t easy. And beside these parents want more for their daughters then a genteel lady’s education. They want to raise up women to lead, to manage men, to hold their own in a hard world that can be cut-throat on occasion.


So they’ve hired vacationing college professors, paid for the best tutors, and their father has taken them along with him to spend time with his lumberjacks and truly learn the business.

This was all, as I said, a lot of fun. Here’s the strange part.

I realized very early on, these women were all a whole lot smarter than I am.

So how to you write geniuses? I think I’m pretty book smart. But these women know math, science, surveying, chemicals, engines, force. They’ve learned to build, they understand the strength of steel and the strength needed to brake a train car, loaded with logs, hurling down a steep mountain train track. And also the power needed by the engine to pull that train back up loaded with passengers and supplies.

Inventions of the Heart–Buy on Amazon, 

Me? I got a C in Algebra 1, and like a freakin’ coward, never took a math class again.

But I got great grades in English, especially the semester we did literature.

So I had to write really smart women. Heaven knows if I succeeded but I had fun making my characters just a little out of step with the rest of the world. I had them know how to blow up a mountain—and I mean make the calculations so the mountain ends up with a tunnel through it going just the right direction, not just blasting rocks to bits. But the women don’t know how to wash clothes or turn a haunch of venison into a meal for ten people.

And they need to do it because I start the book with them running for their lives. And then they have to hide from their cruel stepfather. They disguise themselves as servants. And realize they might not be as smart as they thought they were because they don’t know how to be servants and pretty soon no one is buying their act.

The series starts with a bang as they make their escape. Book #1 is The Element of Love, coming March 2022. Soon!

We’ll see if I outsmarted myself.

Books #1 and #2 are available to pre-order now.

Book #3 A Model of Devotion should be up soon.

The Element of Love

After learning their stepfather plans to marry them off, Laura Stiles and her sisters escape to find better matches and claim their father’s lumber dynasty.

Laura sees potential in the local minister of the poor town they settle in, but when secrets buried in his past surface, it will take all they have to keep trouble at bay.


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Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

52 thoughts on “I may have outsmarted myself”

  1. I’m friends with a group of women engineers. STEM gals. That’s their strength. But those of us with degrees in the arts and humanities are smart, too. While your characters may be geniuses, that doesn’t make you not intelligent–your strength lies in other places–you’re a writer. That’s your superpower!

    The books sound fantastic!


  2. Congrats on a new series. We women are a very hardy and strong group. Thank you for showcasing our strengths.

    • It was fascinating to research this book. Women of that era honestly had so many patents. Sometimes it’s just the way history is told leaving out great accomplishments by those who didn’t write the history books.

  3. Mary, the more I write the more I realize I don’t know, which may actually be good. It’s better than NOT writing and not knowing things. If that makes any sense. My WIP deals with the battles of Lexington and Concord, and I was fine as long as I was getting the daily trivia, how they made soap, how they paid their apprentices etc. Then I came up against the battles themselves. Sheesh. I have no idea what it’s like to be in a Revolutionary battle, especially those two, the shot heard round the world and all that, so that’s my research project for this winter. We learn by learning.
    Science and math weren’t my thing either.
    Looking forward to your new series. BTW, I knew this was your post before I opened the blog. The P&P e-mail appeared with the subject line, “I may have outsmarted myself,” and I thought, “That sounds like something Mary would say.” Have I been around too long or what?
    Your friend,
    Kathy Bailey

    • You’ve been around exactly long enough, Kathy. You know research to me is such a hook. I can just be gone for hours researching. Then maybe I get a paragraph out of four hours research. BUT I often get ideas for my next series from that research so I let myself dig in.

  4. Mary, this may be your most fun series yet! But you have my sympathies – it would be really HARD to write a genius, let alone three. The research must have been intense. 🙂

    Good luck, my friend,. No doubt the series will do well!!

    • Researching all of it was cool. Dynamite, Alfred Noble, that was all really new. Did you know there are over 100,000 patents for the development of the car? That many when Henry Ford’s first car rolled off the assembly line. How many since?

  5. I love this story concept, Mary! I faced some of the same issues with Full Steam Ahead. My hero was a engineering whiz who was researching boilers and steam boat engine to find a way to keep the boilers from exploding and killing people. I did a ton of research and basically borrowed the lingo from old scientific journals to sound more intelligent than I actually am. I’m glad fiction readers are used to using their imaginations. 🙂 I bet your series will be fabulous!

    • Karen I seriously try not to steal your ideas. but some of them are so great! Book three, the cover is done but not finalized so I can’t show it, has a pivot bridge on the cover, in the background. I spent SO MUCH TIME trying to describe that bridge in the book. Then Bethany House put a perfect pivot bridge on the cover. It so great because I knew then that when I described it combined with the picture, it would immediately make sense.

  6. Welcome today. Thanks for sharing your post. I am sure you did a fabulous job of making these girls extremely intelligent. Congrats. I look forward to reading this series.

  7. This sounds like a wonderful series and I’m already laughing as I imagine them trying to be servants. Oh, the fun we readers are going to have!

  8. Sounds like a great combination, ladies with keen intelligence in math and science, being guided by a lady with a keen sense of literature and adventure!

    • Thanks, Paula. I’m hoping most of my readers are math and science geniuses either, who write to me and say, “That’s not what Euclidean Geometry is. (fingers crossed!!!)

  9. I’m not sure I’m qualified to read about genius women, but I’ve Pre-ordered books 1 & 2. When will book #3 be ready?

  10. It sounds like you gave yourself a bit of a challenge with this series. I am sure the research you did plus your imagination will show through with believable characters. It is the essence of who they are that is important and that you write well. It is fun to picture 3 very intelligent women facing the mysteries of doing dishes, cooking, and doing the laundry plus all the other little tasks necessary to keep up a house. Not much different from many of the younger generation today who would starve if it weren’t for take-out and the microwave.

    • At one point the hero of book #1 is totally on to them and trying to teach them how to turn a haunch of venison into supper for ten people. And how to wash clothes and how to mend. Then he sends one of them off to pick up sticks for the fire and when she doesn’t believe he actually wants her to do that job, but instead is trying to get rid of her, he sighs and says, “I just don’t have time right now to teach you to darn socks.”

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