Kate Lyon Loves Texas History

kateHey, there, from north Texas!  I’m thrilled to be blogging with you today and hope you enjoy it as much as I plan to! 


Although I’m a recent transplant to Texas from Alabama, I’m no stranger to this great state.  We’ve lived in Texas several times over the years, three times in El Paso, once in San Angelo, Austin, Frisco and now the northeast.  My husband’s family settled in southeastern Texas shortly before the Civil War and one of his great-uncles, among a company of volunteers from Georgia, was shot down after surrendering at Goliad. 


Too much detail?  My husband often tells me, “Quit researching and get to writing!”  Not that it stops me.  That’s what I love most about writing historical romance—the research.  And in Texas, where “Everything is Bigger!”, there’s plenty of history to be discovered.  I love to visit the sites of the actual events I write about.  Big events, especially the tragic ones, leave unmistakable energy at the site.  While writing Time’s Captive, I visited the Palo Duro Canyon.  I’d read that on the day General Mackenzie fired on the Comanche’s camp, he ordered his troops to round up the Comanche’s horses, then shoot and burn them.  Fourteen-hundred horses burned that afternoon while the Comanche women keened and wailed.  The men were too busy fighting at the time, but they mourned the loss soon enough.  Without their horses, the Comanche—often called the Lords of the Plains—were lost, destroyed. 


tbt_palo_duro3The day I visited, I stumbled around, looking for the place where the horses were burned, wandering through a thick copse of scraggly trees.  The ground beneath my feet had an odd feel, like sand, only coarser.  Finally, I came to an historical marker, where I learned that I’d been wandering around on the actual site of the burning.  Such a rush of emotion swept over me as I read that I almost fell to my knees, residual emotion from the site’s energy.  It was as if the Comanche’s sorrow hit me all at once, and the view of the sparse vegetation so paralleled the Comanche’s’ lives that I understood more than a book could ever have told me.  At day’s end, I found it hard to leave.


watermeloncontestNot all my discoveries are tragic.  For instance, Lockhart, the actual town near which I set the fictitious town of Cedar Springs in Destiny’s Captive, holds a watermelon festival each year, complete with seed-spitting contests, eat-offs, cook-offs, you name it.  As a result, watermelons had to figure among the activities in the book.  (I’d wanted to include a “festival,” but the hero and heroine had other plans for this plot.)  Lockhart originally boasted a large complement of German immigrants and the town is famous for its long-lived barbeque establishment:  Kreuz’ (pronounced Kr?tzes).  (Absolutely incredible barbecue in a simple setting, true to its German roots.)  I considered having the hero and heroine meet over barbecue, but Kreitz’s hadn’t been established yet. 


txgovmansionI visited Lockhart years ago, before I ever dreamed of setting Jeremiah’s story there.  And, though I’ve lived in Austin (which so far ranks as our Top Pick), and been to the Texas Capital and most of the tourist sites around, I still needed to do more detailed research for the book.  For that I turned, as I generally do, to the Internet, where I discovered a real-life heroine:  Mrs. Angelina Eberly.  (Another discovery was that Angelina’s a pretty common name in Texas, past and present.)  This gutsy lady, an innkeeper, hated Sam Houston.  Who can blame her?  In the chaos that ensued after the fall of the Alamo, Houston ordered the town of San Felipe burned to keep it out of General Santa Anna’s hands, including the hotel Angelina and her deceased husband had founded, and upon which she relied for her living.  That didn’t deter Angelina.  She remarried, bought another hotel in Austin, which had been newly proclaimed the capital by Texas’ second governor, Mirabeau B. Lamar, and she started over. 


angelinaeberlystatueUnfortunately, Houston hated Lamar and called Austin “the most unfortunate site on earth for a government.”  He tried to subvert Lamar’s intentions by sending a company of Texas Rangers to steal the state’s archives and return them to Washington-on-the-Brazos.  Angelina stumbled on the men leaving in loaded wagons, realized what they were about and fired the town cannon, which was kept loaded in case of Indian attack.  It’s believed she lit it with her cigar!  Luckily, she missed the men and their load of archives, but blew a hole in the General Land Office building three blocks away and succeeded in alerting the town.  In the ensuing “Archives War,” the archives were safely returned to the capital intact, and Mrs. Angelina Eberly was recognized as a true Texas heroine.  Ironically, during his entire second term as governor, Sam Houston rented a room in Angelina’s inn.  In 2004 a statue commemorating Angelina’s bravery was placed at the same corner where the town cannon sat. 


destinyscaptivecoverDid I mention residual energy?  Maybe I’m overly sensitive, but when I visited the stacks at the Center For American History at the University of Texas in Austin, I got to handle that energy in the form of original documents from the participants in the Red River War (the major conflict in Time’s Captive.)  (You can tell a lot about a man by his penmanship, or total lack thereof.)  What a thrill!  Just take a roll of coins for the copy machine, loose paper (a ream should be enough), five pencils (which they’ll provide if you forget), and be prepared to be amazed.  It’s a thrill to hold the hand-written reports of the people who were there and enjoy a first-hand look at events.


What it all boils down to is this:  on-line research is great.  The Internet is a wonderful resource and we’re all lucky to have it.  After all, I came across Angelina Eberly’s story while researching the Governor’s Mansion in Austin.  However, writing’s such a solitary existence that I highly recommend hands-on research if you can manage it.  History’s waiting for you.  Get out there and see it, feel it, touch it—SENSE IT!


Just be prepared for a few zingers!

+ posts

37 thoughts on “Kate Lyon Loves Texas History”

  1. Good Morning Kate

    I am going to be honest, I haven’t read any of your books. They sound great and I have added them to my to get list. That is the great thing about P&P I discover alot of great new authors.

    I totally agree with you on the research it is so fun you are so lucky to get to experience it first hand. Texas is definitely on my to visit list, I have always wanted to go there.

    Before I forget I looooooove your new cover, it is awesome.

    I checked out your website and read your bio. I can’t believe your teacher did not encourage you to be anything you wanted to be. A child should not ever be told he or she can’t do something.

    Sorry I am babbling! Have a great day!!!!

  2. Hi, Sherry!

    Thanks for your honesty. I’m sorry you haven’t read my books, but there’s still time.

    Thanks for the kudos on my new cover! He is pretty, isn’t he??

    While it’s true ole Mr. Bishop didn’t encourage me to pursue my dream, I didn’t let it stop me. Heavens, last weekend my dad shook his head and said, “I just don’t understand where you got the idea to write these lurid novels.” One of my aunts won’t even touch my books. I realize you can’t please everybody, and I LOVE romance, so I keep on writing.

    Research is my reward for writing, no matter where I’m doing it, and I’m reminded daily how lucky–blessed–I am to be doing this. It sure beats the daily admin job with its heels and hose and exec’s to babysit!

    I’ve only recently discovered P&P, but I’m enjoying it, too.

    Please drop me a note and let me know what you think of my books!

  3. Terrific! I’m glad you enjoy my books.

    I blogged on another site two days ago and gave away autographed copies of Hope’s Captive and Destiny’s Captive, plus a box of Godiva chocolates. I’d like to do that today, too.

  4. I wasn’t really referring to the guy (although he is “Fine”, the background is beautiful. I’ll drop you a line just as soon as I finish the first one.

  5. LOL! I never know what people like most about the cover. Recently, I commented on the colors and the background, and the person liked the rider. Overall, they did a great job on this cover; it’s getting lots of compliments.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Time’s Captive. Lots of research in all my books, but more hands-on in that book.

  6. I recently blogged about the lively interest in paranormal, and I can’t help wondering how readers who love westerns feel about paranormal elements in western novels. My new novel, Destiny’s Captive, contains strong paranormal elements and I’m interested so see how they’ll be received.

    I love the mysticism in Native American religion and ceremonies, but do you feel paranormal fits in a western romance?

  7. Hi Kate,

    Welcome to P&P. It’s great to have visit us. Love that you blogged on the beauty of Texas. I live a little over an hour away from Palo Duro Canyon. I never get tired of seeing that place. It’s truly awesome as are many other places in the state. But Palo Duro just draws me. It’s hard to imagine that Charles Goodnight had a ranch in the canyon for years. He’s such a fascinating man. Wish I could’ve known him.

    Great cover on your new book! Wow! Very nice. You’ve hooked me.

  8. Hi Kate, what a great post! Congrats on your new release! I love the cover of this book and I can’t wait to get it. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Thanks, anon1001. That’s an interesting handle you’ve got there. My books are easy to find, but there are links on my website that will make it easier for you. It’s kate lyon dot net. Enjoy!

  10. Thanks, Linda. Oh, I’m so jealous! The canyon’s incredible. I wish I’d been able to stay and explore for days. BTW, I have an old friend from college, an artist, who married a woman from the area. His name’s Marlin Adams and he does portraits and landscapes–only of Palo Duro. Check him out!

    Thanks for your compliments on the cover; it’s garnering lots of favorable comments.

  11. Speaking of interesting handles, Quilt Lady, I think I recognize yours. Are you truly a quilter? I’ve done some patchwork and applique, and I’ve helped stitch a few, but the actual piecing process….whew! Takes the patience of a saint. I’m glad you’re a reader, too!

  12. Destiny’s Captive has an awesome cover.

    very interesting about the Watermelon festival; I love Watermelon myself. We eat it with salt on; I wonder if they did that, lol.

  13. Thank you, Robyn, I’m glad you like it!

    I have to admit, I got caught up in the research again while searching for photos to go with my article and dug a little deeper. Lockhart’s one of several small towns in the area, but it’s their neighbor, Luling, that throws the big watermelon festival. It’s a stone’s throw from Lockhart and I’m sure the whole county comes out for the Thump!

    I’ve heard of people eating watermelon with salt, but never tried it myself. And I’m sure they’ve salted a few melons down in Luling. They’ve done everything else with them! The seed spitting contest has been broadcast in Japan.

  14. Great, Melinda! I’m very happy to hear that.

    I’m loving living here again, especially now that I know so much more about the state. We’ve covered a lot of it, from El Paso to Houston, Austin, the Panhandle and now the northeast. It’s so big we could limit our travel to Texas and still have something left to see when we’re done. Next time we travel, I want to see the rest of the Big Thicket over in southeast Texas. It was the country’s first conservation project and is amazing.

    Sorry! I enjoy traveling and learning more about the places we go. My hubby’s a typical male, though. Once we get there, he’s ready to turn around and go back home!

  15. Oh yea salt on watermelon it makes it great.

    paranormal in westerns is great with me if paranormal exist now it surely existed then.

    I love the paranormal in fact I spent last night watching a marathon of “A Hunting” it was truly scary at times.

  16. Okay, I’m going to call hubby to bring home a watermelon. I’ve got to try the salt! Is it good on all melons or just watermelons?

    Good! I’m glad you don’t object to paranormal elements in westerns, Sherry. It seems to creep into everything I write.

    You’re a braver soul than I! I watched a little of that paranormal research show, but even though it was midday, I still got the shivers. Very interesting, though.

  17. I think I too would enjoy the research. Wouldn’t that be horrible to be an author and not enjoy researching. Of course some genres lean towards more research than others and those are the kinds of books that I enjoy the most. And I agree, that is a gorgeous cover!!!

  18. Thanks, Jeanne. I liked it so much I had fridge magnets made of it, and bookmarks, of course.

    Lots of authors don’t enjoy research, but those of us who do usually write historical. I’d probably do just as much research if I wrote contemporaries. A friend who writes contemporary category novels goes all out to research her books. Once she’s selected a city for her setting, she writes to the Chamber of Commerce, gets a map of the city, checks out special events, tourist info, you name it. All the extra work really adds to the book.

  19. If anyone would like to receive some bookmarks and magnets, send me an e-mail from my website. Don’t forget to send your address!

  20. Linda mentioned Charles Goodnight, who ran a ranch in the Palo Duro canyon for many years. While researching Destiny’s Captive, I did some reading on the King and Kenedy ranches in southern Texas.

    Anyone ever been to southern Texas or visited the King ranch?

  21. Hi Kate, Nothing brings a book alive like first-hand experience. It’s the details that matter, i.e., the way the air smells, which plants grow, how the weather changes. Readers can feel the authenticity! Glad to have you at P&P today!

  22. I appreciate your frankness, Estella, and hope the cover will entice you to give Destiny’s Captive a try. Also, Hope’s Captive, my second book, has been reprinted and is still available at Dorchester and Amazon.

  23. These books sound so great, just finished a set of books by Marcia G. set in South Texas, Maybe I can win one of yours.


  24. Estella’s comment makes me think that perhaps I should give you a brief overview of my books. Time’s Captive won the 2003 New Voice In Romance contest for Paranormal. It’s a time-travel that plunges a modern heroine into the Red River War in 1874, which forced the Comanche to surrender and move onto the reservation. In addition to winning New Voice, this book won several contests and was a Golden Heart finalist in 1996.

    Hope’s Captive, my second novel, isn’t a time-travel, but it has paranormal elements and deals with the perilous flight of the Northern Cheyenne from the Oklahoma reservation to their homeland in the Powder River Valley of Montana. The heroine was introduced in Time’s Captive.

    Destiny’s Captive is also a spin-off of Time’s Captive. It’s the story of a white captive turned warrior who must return to white society when the Comanche surrender. In order to reclaim his white identity, he must prove that the man who now owns his father’s land stole it and murdered his family.

    Destiny’s Captive is more sensual than my first two books, and contains stronger paranormal elements than Hope’s Captive. Though the books are all connected, they do stand alone and don’t have to be read as a series.

  25. Mmmm…I did quite a bit of research into south Texas while writing Destiny’s Captive and found it fascinating, especially the King and Kenedy ranches.

    Good luck winning the books, MamaT! I wish I could include Time’s Captive in the giveaway, but it’s out of print. If you’ve read it, though, you might want to check my website next week as I’m uploading a scene that was deleted from the mss before the book was printed.

  26. You’re welcome, Cheryl. I enjoyed it a lot! I got a little help from a friend named Emma, who picked the winner of the books and chocolates:

    And the winner is…..

    Quilt Lady!!!

    I’ll need your address to mail these to you. CONGRATULATIONS!

  27. Thanks for the enjoyable post. We just visited Texas in October and there was so much we didn’t get to see. Now I have more to add to my list. Research really is fun, even if you don’t have to use it on a project. The internet has been great for that.
    Hope to see all that research in some books soon.

  28. Oh, thank you Kate for picking my name, I’m doing the happy dance here! I just went to your website and sent in my info!

    Yes I do piece quilts and it my favorite part to watch it all come together!

Comments are closed.