When people say I write with a true Texas voice I always thank them and wonder how I could write any other way. I’ve got Texas in my blood and I’ve been telling stories set in Texas for twenty years. From Beneath the Texas Sky in 1988 to The Lone Texan released October 6, 2009, my heros belong here.
My stories are born in the soil of my memories. I remember hearing my grandmother tell about how she was born in a covered wagon. Her mother died that night so her aunt took the newborn to Oklahoma where they homesteaded and returned her four years later to her father. My grandmother traveled back and forth between the two farms until she married at 16. She met my grandfather at a barn raising when they were both fifteen. They spent one day together. He returned a year later to marry her. He’d spent the year clearing land and building a house. She’d spent the year filling a hope chest. They were married almost 70 years and I can see the chest they had from my desk as I wriite.
My other grandmother was born in a dugout not much bigger than a hotel room. I have her biscuit bowl in my kitchen. She never measured when she made bread. She just knew how much of each ingrediant to put in that bowl.
When I began the Whispering Mountain series, I knew I wanted to write a story about a family. Being a Texan isn’t just the hat and the boots, it’s the heart as well. Folks say Texan’s brag. I think I’ve figured out why. After the Civil War, most people in Texas, and those who came around then like my relatives, had nothing. Life was hard and when they finally had a good crop or their wife made a great pie or their horse won a race, they bragged. Not to show anyone up, but to show what they’d done and they knew their friends and neighbors would celebrate with them.
Someone asked me where I find my heroes and I have to say, ‘I’m surrounded by them.’ Six years ago when I moved into Women’s Fiction and began writing stories taking place in today’s Texas I still felt very much at home. With TWISTED CREEK (2008) I blended character traits of people I’d known and loved. In REWRITING MONDAY, I stepped into a small town modeled after the one where I spent my summers growing up.
When I began THE LONE TEXAN, I faced the challenge of writing about a younger hero than usual. I don’t know when I’ve had so much fun. Drum grew up in an outlaw camp with no parenting. He’s as wild as Texas was in 1850, but when he sees what a real family is like, he knows what he has to do. In the first Whispering Mountain story, TEXAS RAIN(2006,) he’s 15 and thinks himself in love with Sage McMurray. In THE LONE TEXAN he’s 20 and knows she’s the woman he wants. Only problem, besides keeping her alive, is convincing her to marry him.
Hope you read Drum and Sage’s story that is out this month and step into my Texas with me for the adventure. If you have a minute take a look at my video. By the way, Matt at Readerhood, who did all the videos of my books, is a sixth generation Texan and my son. He works out of a home office where he also corrals the first seventh generation who just turned one.
So, how do you know if Texas is in your blood?
1. If you can look out at miles and miles of open plains and marvel at how beautiful it is.
2. If you don’t notice the wind until it slams your car door closed for you.
3. If you can still smell the gunpower at the Alamo and cry when you walk in even though the men died over 170 years ago.
4. If, when you’re overseas and someone asks where you’re from, you say Texas.
5. If you know what a yankee dime is.
6. If you know what a cow patty is.
Are there any Texans out there who want to add a few to the list? I’d love to hear from them and everyone who loves western romance. I’m giving away a copy of THE LONE TEXAN to one lucky commentor.
And for those of you who are not from Texas, you’re welcome to ride the range with me through the books anytime. I’d love to have you join me. Also, I’m on Twitter. You can follow me there.