I’m thrilled to offer you my first guest post by my friend, author Sarah Monzon.  I enjoyed Sarah’s new release Finders Keepers (A Carrington Family Novel) (Volume 1)so much, I asked her to stop by today and share how she did the research for this dual timeline story. (Click here to see Kelly’s review of Finders Keepers)

Yay! I’m so excited to be here with you all at Romancing History. Kelly asked me to share with you all a bit about the research I did for Finders Keepers. If you aren’t familiar with my new release, here is the blurb.

Three lives. Three hundred years. One ship that ties them together.


young romantic couple kissing in front of sunset in santa monicaSpain, 1689
The same evil that stole her mother’s life stalks Isabella Castellano. Afraid for her safety, Isabella disguises herself as a cabin boy and hires on to one of His Majesty’s treasure fleet vessels. But has her flight from a known threat only led her to be ensnared in a sea of dangers?

Florida, Present Day
Summer Arnet will go anywhere to capture the perfect shot that will get her marine photography noticed by the prestigious nature magazine, Our World—even diving in waters haunted by great white sharks. When a treasure hunter with a ladies’-man reputation approaches her about a sunken ship at one of her dive locations, it may be the chance she’s been looking for to launch her career…if his charming smile doesn’t derail her first. A past tragedy has left a hole in Trent Carrington’s life—a hole he’s tried to fill with women, money, and adventure. Could the feisty marine photographer be the missing piece, or will Trent finally accept that the treasure he seeks can’t be found where rust and moths destroy?

1689 Spain. Yeah, don’t ask me how I came up with that one. Maybe it had something to do with learning about Ponce de Leon in elementary school. Besides that rudimentary knowledge and a hazy memory, I didn’t have a lot of upfront knowledge about the setting and time period I was about to plunk my historical heroine in. How could I write vivid descriptions and transport readers without knowing how a 17th century galleon operated or what the people in that era wore?

I’m sure you’re all thinking the same thing—Google. Yep. I used Google. A. Lot. But you know what came even more in handy? Pinterest. I’m serious! I love Pinterest. Yes, I’ve had some epic crafting failure from there, but it really is a great research tool. Take for instance this schematic I found of a galleon. I referenced this picture to death! It was simply perfect because it showed me each level of the ship and its name. Then I could search deeper about what the uses were for each level.

Pinterest is also where I found the inspiration for my characters. Meet Isabella Constellano and Captain Montoya.

isabella (002) capt montoya (002)

Now that I had my characters and setting, I needed to add authentic layers. What exactly did sailors in the 17th century wear? Apparently their clothes were called slops and made from sturdy loose-fitting linen. Grease often coated the fronts from hauling the thick ropes across the deck.

But what about my heroic captain? Surely he wore something a bit more appealing than slops. Ah, yes. The leather jerkin and cavalier hat. Add to that a sword hanging from his waist and a commanding presence, and he soon has his female stowaway (and us readers!) swooning.

For the less visual details I needed, Google did come in handy. I learned a lot about the history of the treasure fleet, including the routes the ships sailed, the types of cargo they shipped to and from, and how the exports affected both Hispanolia and Spain.


biophoto (002)If you want to learn more about my research, be sure to check out the Finders Keepers board on my Pinterest page.

To order a copy of Finders Keepers for yourself, click on the cover!

Sarah Monzon is a pastor’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow creating her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in a small desert town in central Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.