Doing On-Site Research for THE SHERIFF'S SWEETHEART

 Laurie Kingery writes


My husband and I travel to Texas as often as possible, as I am a Texan-in-exile and return when I can to visit extended family. A secondary purpose of this particular trip was to visit the area of San Saba homework service County, in which I had set my new series for Love Inspired Historicals, “Brides of Simpson Creek.” The creek is located just east of the town of San Saba. It was just as I had pictured it, shaded by trees, deep enough to swim and fish in, and shallow enough for marauding Comanches to splash across.


Not far down the road from that, we found a roadside plaque indicating there really had been a community here called Simpson Creek, just as in my stories! That sent chills up my spine, as you can imagine. Unfortunately, the historical museum at San Saba was closed during the time we were there, so I wasn’t able to find out more about it—which taught me the value of prior planning…


I had done some advance scouting of the area on the San Saba Chamber of Commerce’s website, and it mentioned a famous old tree called “The Marriage Oak” or “Wedding Tree” nearby, where Indians and early settlers had come to get married. We went to see it, and it’s a magnificent tree, huge and gnarly with lots of overhanging boughs. I knew then a pair of my characters would marry under this tree—I just had to figure out why, when I’d written in a perfectly nice church in Simpson Creek. J On the cover of THE SHERIFF’S SWEETHEART, you can see a few branches of the tree, but the focus of the cover is on the hero and heroine, as it should be, and a small dog that is an important secondary character in the story. The real tree has many more overhanging, low boughs, and the trunk is much more twisted, so I’ve included a picture of it so you can imagine it when you read the book.


When I was writing the manuscript, the book I envisioned was titled THE WEDDING TREE. I thought the title was a good one because it provoked curiosity and was a tribute to the place, but alas, the title was changed. My publisher likes to give an indication of the hero’s profession, as they had with the previous books in the series, MAIL ORDER COWBOY and THE DOCTOR TAKES A WIFE, and my coming November book, THE RANCHER’S COURTSHIP. Perhaps they’re right in what titles hook readers—you be the judge.



I hope you enjoy Prissy Gilmore’s story. She was the next logical heroine of the series, since I had written the stories of Milly, the Spinsters’ Club’s foundress, and that of her sister Sarah. I just had to find Prissy a worthy hero, and I think I did that with Sam Bishop, a down-on-his-luck gambler who’s just out to find himself a rich, pretty wife and live a comfortable, happy life forever after. But love has a way of changing our plans, doesn’t it?


I hope you enjoy THE SHERIFF’S SWEETHEART, and will leave lots of comments so you can be entered in a drawing to win the book. You can also reach me at my website:



Thanks, Petticoats and Pistols fillies, for letting me visit again!

                    Blessings to my readers–Laurie



The Sheriff’s Sweetheart 



+ posts

27 thoughts on “Doing On-Site Research for THE SHERIFF'S SWEETHEART”

  1. Great post Laurie, so interesting. I bet that was creppy when you discovered that there was a community called Simpson Creek when you thought it to be a fictional place. Thanks for sharing your research and book with us today.

  2. Great cover. It’s nice that you can get out and do site research. I think it’s a sign that there was a place called Simpson Creek, you were meant to write these books.

  3. Hi Laurie, I’m a fan of all the Love Inspired books and I’m looking forward to reading The Sheriff’s Sweetheart. I can understand your disappointment with the title. The Wedding Tree would have been a wonderful title, and naming a book based on the hero’s occupation seems a little unimaginative. I do love the cover though, and it would call out to me from the shelf. Best wishes for continuing sucess with your series. I agree with Linda that it seems you were meant to write these books!

  4. The story (actually series) sounds great, Laurie. I’ll definitely look for them.
    As far as titles, I do not always agree with Harlequin. I think the word “wedding” is very catchy and to put it together with “tree”, makes for an intriguing title. They’re formula for putting in the hero’s occupation sounds just that, formulaic. Your idea was better but no matter the title, the cover is lovely.
    Best Wishes!

  5. Those pictures are so pretty. Would love to read the Sheriff’s Sweetheart. I love all Love Inspired books. They’re great! I know this one will be as well.

  6. Laurie,

    The Sheriff’s Sweetheart sounds like a wonderful story. And I love the marriage tree.

    That is so fascinating that there actually was a settlement just like in your story. Those are the fun finds while researching for a book. I always get goosebumps when I stumble across something like that.

  7. I love local traditions and legends like the Wedding Tree. It adds something special to the locale and to a story when used. I have a personal fondness for a tradition like the wedding tree. My DH and I got married outdoors almost 39 years ago, long before it became the fashion and the first such wedding in our area. All three weddings for our children have been outside and if our son ever gets married, you can be sure it will be outside.

    I would have thought The Wedding Tree a fine title for a book. I can see their reasoning. That title would mean the focus of the story would have been more on the tree and how it effected couples or the community. Since the focus of the story is the couple, I can see the reasoning for a title change. It leaves the door open to pursue a book, anthology maybe, with stories about couples whose lives were impacted by this tree. THE WEDDING TREE would be a perfect title for it. Now that I really think of it, anthology lover that I am, please do see if you could work out such a book with a couple of other authors. I would buy it.

    Best of luck with the release of THE SHERIFF’S SWEETHEART.

  8. Hi Laurie! It’s great to have you back at Petticoats & Pistols. The pictures are beautiful and so is your book cover. That real-life tree sure inspires romance, doesn’t it? Enjoy!

  9. Beautiful pictures. That tree would instill great stories, even if you weren’t a writer. It has so much character.
    Great cover, too.

  10. I’m with the others who think The Wedding Tree would have been a great title, I love the romance of it. But really, its the story itself that would sell me anyway, and this seems like a good one, I’m especially charmed by the dog as a secondary character.

  11. Thanks for all the wonderful comments so far! Patricia B., I love your idea of the wedding tree anthology and maybe I will get to do that sometime–unless you’d like to do it, of course. I enjoyed sharing this story of finding the tree and researching the locale with all of you! I can’t wait to see who wins the book. Special hi’s to fillies Tracy, Vicki, and Cheryl! Oh, and I love the dog too–I sent several pics of terrier mixes to the artist and he chose one of them.
    Blessings, Laurie

  12. Hi Laurie – What a great cover! While the Wedding Tree would have been a good title, I must say I also like how The Sheriff’s Sweetheart is specific to your book. A dog on the cover hooks me every time!

    Had to laugh at the research discovery that your imagination was actually reality. Funny how that happens so many times when researching. Serendipidous – but all part of the thrill of writing. Hey- next time you head to Texas, pack me in your truck. Lots of good people there I’d like to visit!

  13. Good Morning Laurie,

    I love the cover first of all. I love the way you do research. It is how I do it too. To visit the places and let it inspire you as to the title is the best way.

    I cannot wait to read it…Have a great day

    Walk in harmony,

  14. Thank you for some of the background story for your new book… loving the pics and what a terrific cover… love the dog! Enjoying this series!

  15. Enjoyed the post and loved the pictures. I love the cover of The Sheriff’s Sweetheart…the dog is so cute too! 😀

    Would love to win a copy of your book.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  16. The photos are very nice. Enjoyed them.
    Your book sounds really good and I have added it to my TBR list.

  17. Hello! I haven’t read any of the books in this series yet, but how you’ve got me hooked! Looking forward to reading them!

  18. Enjoyed your blog today and the photos I especially like the one with the tree hanging over the road…I like how trees do that. Book sounds interesting.. I’ll have to add it to my TBR list.

  19. Hey there!
    When checking out the book (as Laurie is a new-to-me author), I read, “Kingery does an excellent job of drawing the reader in and keeper [sic] the reader engaged.” I am definitely looking forward to checking out this book and others. Thanks for the introduction!

  20. Love that cover. It alone would get me to buy this book but reading about your research has turned that desire up a notch! I can hardly wait!

  21. Love your cover! There are several impressive
    trees similar to the “Wedding Tree” of your
    story that we came across over the years.
    One of these was in the front yard of the
    original home of Honey’s family in East Texas.
    Don’t know if it was trained to do this, but
    one of the big gnarly branches made an excel-
    lent seat in which to sit and visit. Our kids
    loved it because it was within their reach!

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