Guest Laurie Kingery: World Building in the Texas Hill Country

It’s good to be back visiting the fillies again. Thanks to Filly Vicki Bylin for graciously letting me use her spot to tell you about my new series, and how it came to be.

I’ve always wanted to write a series, even before I started writing inspirational fiction, but now with Love Inspired Historicals I finally had the chance. But I wanted the concept to be something out of the ordinary. There are so many staples in western fiction—roguish outlaws, stagecoach robberies, handsome cowboys, saloon girls with hearts of gold, Indian attacks, mail-order brides. Mail-order brides. I loved mail-order bride stories. But how to make mine different?

Eureka! I would have mail-order grooms. The South lost hundreds of thousands of young men in the Civil War—it wasn’t hard for me to imagine a small Texas town where fate would have it that all its bachelors had perished in the war, and only the married men returned. Which, of course, left all the town’s young single ladies facing spinsterdom, or the necessity to move elsewhere to look for husbands. The first book of my proposed series would feature Milly Matthews, the enterprising young miss who first concocted the concept of the Society for the Promotion of Marriage, or the Spinster’s Club, as it came to be called.

But first I must select a location. I would use the Texas Hill Country, my favorite place on earth. Though I would make the town fictional, I had to have at least an approximate location, so I studied the histories of various Texas Hill Country counties  and decided to use San Saba County, as much for the romantic western sound of it as any other reason. Using a topographical map, I picked a tributary of the San Saba River, Simpson Creek, and named my town for the creek.

But I couldn’t find any pictures of the creek. Aha—the perfect excuse to go on a RESEARCH TRIP! As a Texan-in-exile living in Ohio, I grabbed any reason I could find to visit the beloved soil of Texas, and what better than a trip I could write off on my taxes? (Of course, I also had an aunt and cousins to visit there, but we won’t tell the IRS. 🙂 I informed my own hero we were going to Texas to visit my locale—and to see what bluebonnets might be left in early May.

We arrived in San Saba, the county seat and the nearest town to my fictional one one early afternoon, in time to get settled at the Hill Country Inn, and then went out to find Simpson Creek. I was a little nervous, because back in the day when I was writing medieval historicals as Laurie Grant, I had picked out a town in southern England—Winslade—yet when I finally was able to make a research trip, I found it was a postoffice location and a sign—and apparently nothing more in the present day.

But Simpson Creek did not disappoint. It was it a lovely little creek lined with greening trees, and I could perfectly picture the little church I would set on its western edge—and the Comanches splashing across it before launching a murderous raid. We took pictures right and left. But the best part of it was finding the roadside plaque that indicated there had once been a community right here at Simpson Creek. Chills ran up my spine when I read this. I wonder if it resembled my imagined community in any way…

Did it have a girl called “Marrying Milly” by the rest of the town, because she was determined not to end up an old maid? Did a handsome but secretly disgraced British Cavalry officer, one Nick Brookfield, bronzed by the sun in India, come to see the plucky miss who had advertised for bachelors and fall in love with her, as in MAIL ORDER COWBOY? Did she have a sister, Sarah, who would fall in love with a doctor from Maine in the next book, THE DOCTOR TAKES A WIFE (out in January 2011), even though she hates Yankees? Perhaps the town’s mayor was rich, and had a pretty daughter, Prissy, who would fall in love with a down-on-his luck gambler-turned-sheriff and marry him under the spreading boughs of the Wedding Oak, as in THE SHERIFF’S SWEETHEART (out in April 2011), too. Or a broken-hearted schoolmarm, determined never to love again, the story I’m working on now.

I don’t know if the real Simpson Creek was like that, but all these stories could have happened…

I hope you will enjoy MAIL ORDER COWBOY, which was released on November 10 by Love Inspired Historicals, and all the Brides of Simpson Creek stories to come.

For more information, or to contact me, please visit my website at www.lauriekingery.com.

                    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

 

Would you like a chance to win a copy of MAIL ORDER COWBOY? Just leave a comment and you’ll be entered in Laurie’s drawing.  The winner will be posted later today or tomorrow… Good luck!

 

Mail Order Cowboy is available now from Amazon. 

 

Guest Blogger

26 Comments

  1. Mail Order Brides is a favorite theme of mine. I’m going to enjoy your twist to Mail Order Grooms. I like the variety of heroes you’ve chosen to write about for the series.

    I’ve never been to Texas. I do like to visit via books. I can definitely visualize a nice community on the shores of Simpson Creek.

    I’m looking forward to meeting all of the residents!

    Best wishes!

  2. Welcome Laurie,thanks for coming by an sharing a great post with us,I love to read about Mail Order Brides an your books look like a great read!

  3. Mail-Order Grooms is a great idea! I’ve read some of the Mail-Order Brides and loved them. Can’t wait to read these books of Mail-Order Grooms. I know they will be great! Thanks for the giveaway.
    plhouston(at)bellsouth(dot)net

  4. Laurie, I am reading your book right now and loving it. Can’t wait for the rest of the series.

    Thanks so much for the background!

    No need to enter my name since I have the book and want someone else to experience the pleasure.

    Peace, Julie

  5. What a lovely article you wrote, and what a lovely town Simpson creek must be in your books. Sounds a great series and I’d love to read the first one.

    pageturner345@gmail.com

  6. This sounds like a wonderful idea. I will look for your book.

  7. Hi Laurie. I like that you have mail order grooms in your books. What a great concept. I love the cover to Mail Order Cowboy.

  8. Avatar

    When I saw the post the other day about your up coming visit and the title of your book, I had to smile. Mail order brides are a favorite theme of mine and I have always wondered why there haven’t been very many, if any, mail order groom stories. I am so glad your are solving that problem for me. I can see where the male ego would make it a bit more difficult to answer such an add, but there are circumstances that would make it likely. I am glad you found them.
    I look forward to reading this series and sharing them with my daughter. I just checked my TBR shelf and found two of your books – one western and one medieval. I am always getting books that sound good and never have enough time to read them all. Soon.
    Good luck with the release of all your “Groom” books.

  9. I like the mail order bride theme too.

  10. Laurie, a big welcome to P&P! We’re so excited to have you here. Since I’ve lived in Texas for the last forty-odd years I have my favorite places. And like you the Hill Country is at the top of the list. Few places are more beautiful. I’m familiar with San Saba County. I once set a story there myself. But I’ve never heard of Simpson Creek. I’m going to be sure and look up that historical marker the next time I’m down that way.

    Your new book looks wonderful. Love the title!

  11. Hi Laurie!
    Thanks so much for filling in for me . . . for writing about Mail Order Grooms. Love the whole idea!

  12. Sounds like a great story. I never thought of the factor that women wouldn’t have men to marry because of a war. That is a very interesting twist to put in a story. Sounds like it will be a great series.

  13. Hi, Laurie. So great to see you here today! Your book was so fun. I loved reading it. Don’t you love finding the perfect research nugget? It always adds a new layer of excitement to the writing process. Thanks for sharing your Simpson Creek adventure!

  14. Wonderful idea to flip the mail order concept, Laurie. I LUV the pics of the creek! How exciting that you were able to take a trip and get first hand atmosphere for your story.

    Mail Order Cowboy is on my TBR list!
    Smooches!

  15. P & P fillies, thanks for the chance to visit here. And thanks, all of you, for your enthusiastic comments and good luck in the drawing.

    Oh, one thing I forgot to mention is that P& P’s very own Cheryl St. John is responsible for the wonderful title of the book. I had originally titled it MARRYING MILLY, but my editor wanted it changed, so Cheryl, title queen that she is, suggested that one. Thanks, Cheryl–and thanks, Vicki Bylin, for letting me use your blog day here. Good luck with your deadline.
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

  16. Very interesting article. Texas seems full of historical events.
    Your book sounds really good and I have added it to my TBR list.

  17. Oh I love that idea… a mail order groom! 😀 This sounds like a wonderful read… have to add this series to my list! Thanks for sharing with us!!!

  18. HI LAURA!!!!!!!!!!!

    It’s fun to have you on. Thanks for coming.

    Love, love, love the idea of mail order cowboys. It’s just such a perfect…what’s the word… juxtaposition? Maybe? Playing against type with the woman sending for a husband.

    Standing things on their head.

    It’s always a great premise for a book.

    I can’t wait to read it.

  19. Texan born & bred! Thanks for sharing the Hill Country with everyone! Great idea, the mail order
    grooms!

    Pat Cochran

  20. Thank you, Laurie, for a very enjoyable post! “Mail Order Marriage” was the forefather of online dating : ) Life is a circle, and sooner or later, we come back to where we started. What’s fun is how it’s all presented–great characters, vivid details, and an interesting, involving story line. Sounds like you have the winning combination ; )

  21. Hi Laurie,
    Welcome to P&P! I love this idea of yours. It looks like this series is going to go on my tbr list PRONTO! Loved the story of discovering your setting, too.
    Cheryl

  22. lol, i love the idea!!
    can i order a cowboy??
    is it that easy?

  23. Love the idea of mail order grooms!

  24. Oh my gosh! I love the idea of a Mail Order Groom instead of always the Mail Order Bride. Course I have loved every Mail Order Bride book I’ve read & I am sure I will love Mail Order Cowboy. Would love to be entered into your giveaway.

    Smiles,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

  25. Laurie,

    I love the cover of your book. I would love the chance to win a copy. I love the stories including cowboys

    Walk in harmony,
    Melinda

  26. I love to read mail order bride stories, so I think I would really enjoy one about a cowboy! That would be a big change of pace. Please enter me, I am intrigued!

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