The setting for my new series, Trouble in Texas, is the Palo Duro Canyon, near Amarillo, Texas. My book, Swept Away, is set in 1868, before Amarillo was founded.
This is also when the Palo Duro area was still Indian Territory, so I”ve got a little town set smack in the middle of the canyon, but it”s a scrubby little town full of outcasts. All the people living there were what we might today call “off the grid.”
No train, no telegraph, no stagecoach, the roads were trails
and the co-existence with the Kiowa and Comanche tribes was touchy at best.
About ten years after my book the Indians were forced to relocate and Charles Goodnight came in and founded his fabled JA Ranch which was estimated, at its largest, to encompass over 1.3 million acres and support a herd of 100,000 cows.
So, to me, that proves it”s good ranch country, right? So I set Luke Stone”s ranch there, much smaller but still a nice sized spread.
As I searched for an area to set my books, I knew I wanted rugged country and this canyon was perfect. Both beautiful and harsh. It”s known for its multicolored layers of rock, many of the layers a dramatic red, with steep mesa walls that remind you of the Grand Canyon. I heard it called Terra Cotta badlands. They also talked about the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River, who could not love a river named Prairie Dog Town Fork? I”m always trying to name my fictionalized towns something that means something. The town in Swept Away is called Broken Wheel, and it is called that for exactly why you”d think. Someone passing through had a broken wheel and decided to stay. There are towns all over the country with strange and charming names like that.
Palo Duro has strange and beautiful rock formations, too. I think of this as a tower but read that it”s really called a hoodoo-a tall, thin spire of rock (sounds like a tower to me). The best known of these in Palo Duro is The Lighthouse.
I found during my research that there were white settlers even though it was in Indian Territory and they referred to the Red River Wars. In my book Doctor in Petticoats, the hero, a traumatized doctor, had served during the Red River Wars. I wonder if, about six years in the future, Luke Stone (from Swept Away) will meet Alex Buchanan (from Doctor in Petticoats), years before he marries Beth McClellen. I love imagining history weaving itself together in my books. The American West was huge but there weren”t that many people. It”s entirely possible some of heroes and heroines could have known each other.
Swept Away is in bookstores now. I finally got to see it on an actual shelf! That”s when it starts to seem real to me that I”ve got another book out.
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We has SIX CALVES born Sunday, March 10 in a Nebraska blizzard.
All six lived but My Cowboy husband was out in the snow almost all day fighting for their lives.
We brought the vet out for a prolapsed uterus.
Another, which was hours later and the vet long gone, we hauled twenty miles on treacherous roads to the vet for a cesarean.
Another My Cowboy”s brother pulled while My Cowboy was at the vet.
Three were born without intervention.
It”s ALWAYS SOMETHING!!!!
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