I kind of wrote myself into a corner with Gingham Mountain Book #3 in the Lassoed in Texas series. Petticoat Ranch is book #1.
So I’ve got all these ELEMENTS I need to deal with from books #1 and #2, plus the new ones for this book.
ELEMENT #1 oil. Honestly before kerosene was widely used no one cared about oil. It was just this awful smelling stuff that polluted ground water and, although people knew it would burn if refined, refining was a lot of trouble and no one did it much because there was no money in it.
Oil wasn’t my biggest problem, it was a little one. What’s an oil refinery look like in 1880? Was there one in Texas? Can you build your own small one?
Before long I was wishing I’d never even thought of oil. But it was so interesting and I’ll write a whole blog about it sometime.
The next ELEMENT was the Civil War. The war is over, but it can’t be too long over because my characters were named and set in time by the earlier books. The Civil War caused me all sorts of trouble because of the next ELEMENT, trains.
I needed a train.
Well, was there a train in Texas after the Civil War? How soon did train travel resume? Did it ever end? Did it end north and south but not east and west. You’ve got to figure there were no trains coming from New York, across the Mason/Dixon Line during the war.
And I needed a train because of the next ELEMENT Orphan Trains. Orphan Trains came to Texas but the dates were really vague. Orphan Trains traveled from 1850 to 1920. So the dates are so wide…YES the Orphan Trains came, but when exactly and to where?
And … here’s an odd ELEMENT that took me a surprising amount of work to track down.
I needed a mountain.
Anyway, by now I’m juggling balls in the air. We talk a lot on this blog about loving research. You know what? I hate research.
Oh, I enjoy the reading, honestly the stuff I read about the Spindletop oil well–that’s an actual picture of it above–coming in is just the stuff dreams are made of. Thrilling. It’s the story of American ingenuity and a new era in this country. I loved reading about the Orphan Trains and even trains in general. Heck I even liked studying Texas geography on Google Earth.
But I’m typing along and suddenly I’m not sure if there was train travel … I had someone from Book #1 Petticoat Ranch and #2 Calico Canyon coming in on the train to visit the characters of Book #3 Gingham Mountain so there’d better have been trains.
So I’m having fun, my couple is snipping and dancing around each other, bad guys are closing in and and I’ve got to quit to find out if I can produce a mountain. You know, the mountain that is tucked up behind the cabin…the mountain Gingham Mountain is named for and which one of the characters falls off of and where the treacherous stand of trees that really is completely integral to his home and why did I ….oh forget it.
Trust me when I tell you, it’s way easier if you the reader just suspend disbelieve and go along for the ride. I mean if I need a mountain, a train, a historical date, Texas, oil and orphans, what am I supposed to do? Somewhere in that state I can have it all but it can be hard work and it’s way more fun to dwell on how hunky the hero is and how feisty my heroine is. I wish I could just make it all up, you know?
So have you read books that get it wrong? Does that make you crazy? If I’ve got a mountain on a low-swampy coastal plain am I gonna hear about it?
I wish no one would confuse me with the facts.