Come With Me To Santa Anna!

Settings are very important to me in my stories and when I can, I go to visit the land. I stand, close my eyes and listen to what the wind tells me. Often I hear voices long past whispering in the breeze and I know this is what I’m supposed to write.

In the back of The Cowboy Who Came Calling, I explain that everything I put in the story is historical fact. I think readers want to know that.

This story is set in the small town of Santa Anna, Texas in the central part of the state. Both the town and the nearby mountain were named for the Comanche war chief, Santanna. He was an important chief and the first of his tribe to visit Washington, D.C. There, he saw what his people were up against and began advocating for peace. He was struck down and died in a cholera epidemic in 1849.

Here are the Santa Anna Mountains in the distance. Not very high at all. Most probably wouldn’t even call them a mountain range.

This monument was erected by the state to mark the site of Camp Colorado. It was part of a line of forts built in the 1800s to protect settlers against the Indians. There wasn’t anything left when I last visited here. It’s on private land now. Luke McClain joins a gang who use the old fort as a hideout in my story.

The town (only 8 miles from Coleman, TX) was never very large and today the population is a little over a thousand people. Here is a very old building and an old crumbling wall.


The picture below shows the thick vegetation and in the distance, the ridge of Santa Anna Mountains above the treeline.

Below is Bead Mountain that I mention in the story is actually a sacred Indian burial ground. When it rains, colorful beads wash down the sides. It’s actually reputed to be haunted.

Okay, that’s a quick look at my setting. I apologize for the poor quality pictures.

Here’s your question: How often do you look on the map for the place a story is set when you’re reading? Do you feel cheated just a bit when you find it’s a made-up place? I’m giving away four copies (winner’s choice of print or ebook) of The Cowboy Who Came Calling. Comment to enter the drawing.

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Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!

67 thoughts on “Come With Me To Santa Anna!”

  1. Yes I look at the map. It sets my minds eye for the story. Made up is okay. But, having a physical connection is much stronger as a reader. Places that have disappeared are still real in history. The history and geography add depth to the story.
    Thank you for the pictures. They help bring the story into a vivid picture for me. Loved the story and the underlying stories as well.

    • Good morning, Jerri….That’s great to know. Before I wrote this book, I went and took lots of pictures. I wanted the scenery and the town vivid in my mind and those pictures brought everything into focus. I knew what trees grew, how the land dipped and rolled, where the gullies were. It helped me tremendously.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the story and I feel immensely blessed to know you. Much love!

  2. Yes, I go to google earth and zoom in and try to get the lay of the land. I truly love when it’s a real town, make believe towns just take away from the story. If the authors uses real towns, real landmarks, and if I’ve been to that area before, well the book just takes the story to a whole other level. It truly become a part of my soul. Hope your having a great week. Love you Dearly!!!

    • Good morning, Tonya……This is interesting. I never knew you did Google Earth. Wow! I’ll make a note of this for the future. Often a setting becomes like a character to me. That certainly happened when I wrote the Bachelors of Battle Creek. I loved that little town and I badly wanted it restored and give the story people something to be proud of.

      I love you dearly also, sister friend!

    • Good morning, Debra……That is very good to know. I had wondered what readers thought of made-up towns. I’m glad you don’t feel cheated.

      Good Luck in the drawing! And have a great day.

  3. I always look up the places in stories but no I don’t feel cheated because I’m usually expecting whether its real or fake ahead of time. I like to get in my head the general area anyway and especially books that are based in Texas. I also like to look if I’ve been to or lived in the area. Its always more like going on the adventure and is even better when I can visualize it all.

    • Good morning, Stephanie……I try to make sure readers know what part of Texas a story is set in. In the series I’m writing, the town is Hope’s Crossing. At the time of the stories set here in the Texas Panhandle, there weren’t many towns. Amarillo didn’t exist yet. So I mentioned that it’s close and to the south of Mobeetie. In Book #2 I mention Saint’s Roost, which was Clarendon’s name before they changed it. Yes, it’s an adventure and I’m happy to take you on it.

      Much love and hugs!

  4. I find that I do not look where the story is based. The story and character in your books are what I love and read about. I think I visualize the character more and picture them in my head.

    • I find that I do not look where the story is based. The story and character in your books are what I love and read about. I think I visualize the character more and picture them in my head. I do not feel cheated if it is a made up place. The imagination has some pretty great location to go to.

      • Good morning, Charlene……Thank you for coming and bless you for the compliment. I do try to write the places and characters that I love and make them come alive in my readers’ heads. I agree about the imagination. I’ve always had an extremely vivid one, even as a child. I would sit for hours and make up stories. No one ever had to entertain me. Ha!

        Much love and hugs!

    • Good morning, Estella……That’s good. Before I published and I was an avid reader, I would look on the map to see if I could find the location of a story. That was before Internet. I was always just a bit disappointed when it was made up.

      Good luck in the drawing and enjoy your day!

  5. I do enjoy a setting that is real. I don’t always google where the location is, but I have been known to do it on occasion. When a location is made up, I will still enjoy the story, but feel a bit disconnected.

    • Good morning, Janine…….Thanks for your comment. I do think a real setting grounds a reader more firmly in the story. But it’s very scary for an author because we don’t want to get emails telling us we got something wrong. Never good.

      Much luck in the drawing and have a wonderful day!

    • Good morning, Sally……I enjoyed sharing the pictures. Santa Anna is on the edge of the Texas Hill Country and it’s really quite pretty. Lots and lots of vegetation and streams, unlike here in the panhandle where there isn’t much of anything except a magnificent sky that goes on forever and ever.

      Good luck in the drawing! Sending hugs!

      • Thanks! We took a trip out West summer before last. I love the pictures we took along the way. I fell in love with Sedona AZ, Albuquerque NM, and Indianapolis. And pretty much every place in between lol.

  6. I will have to say I don’t go and look up places I read about so if it is made up that is ok with me. I just enjoy a good book and it doesn’t matter to me if thing are made up or not. I did enjoy looking at you pictures though it would make the place seem more real.

    • Good morning, Quilt Lady……You’re one of those who open and book and immediately get lost in the story, not caring much about where it’s set. That’s great but I can’t do that. I have to know where this story is taking place, even if it is made up.

      Good luck in the drawing, my dear! Much love and hugs!

  7. When I read a book and I love the story then I’ll check. If it’s a real place, I get very excited because maybe one day I’ll visit it!

    • Good morning, Hannah…..Thank you for coming to join the discussion. I think it’s exciting too for me as a reader when a story is set in a real place.

      Good luck in the drawing on Sunday! Have a wonderful day!

  8. I’ve driven through Santa Anna many times, Linda, but never stopped to absorb the history. Thanks for sharing your research with us! I must say I was relieved to learn that the town was named for a Comanche Chief and not the General who led Mexican troops against the Alamo. That always seemed very un-Texan to me. I figured it must be a different Santa Anna, but I never took the time to research it.

    • Good morning, Karen…..You know, a lot of people assume the name came from the Mexican general. I’m glad they took it from a proud Comanche chief. He really got his eyes open when he went to Washington, D.C. and saw everything. But although he knew his people’s fight was over, he couldn’t convince them. They still kept waging war on the settlers. Santa Anna is a sleepy little town now. Not much to commend it so I’m not surprised you didn’t stop.

  9. I don’t care either way if it is made up or real – but I do like looking it up if it is a real spot. I just use my imagination and can picture a place. But I truly do appreciate the time and effort into researching a real spot – there seems to be little tidbits and gems when an author does that. Love this post and the pictures of the history there. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Susan P……I’m glad you enjoyed my post. It was fun digging out those pictures. I took a lot that day because I knew I might not be able to go back. It was a fun trip with my husband who’s now gone. Lots of good memories. I do think there are missed gems that are overlooked if you don’t use real locations.

      Good luck in the drawing! Hugs.

  10. I love your post, Linda! I don’t usually look up the towns or cities in stories but I often think what a great place to live.

    • Hi Melanie……You know, I do too when the towns really grab me. I want to go find a house and move in with these glorious characters.

      Good luck in the drawing. Big Hugs!

  11. I don’t feel cheated, that’s the beauty of books some things are based on past events and some are just totally made up.

    • Hi Colleen……You’re not particular at all. 🙂 Great that you can just dive into a story and let your imagination whisk you away.

      Much love and hugs! Good luck in the drawing, dear friend!

  12. Thank you for the pictures. It helps in visualizing when reading. I don’t look up the places. It’s the story and characyters

    • Thank you for the pictures. It helps in visualizing when reading. I don’t look up the places. It’s the story and characters that pull me in. If a town is made up that’s fine because the Author makes it all tie in together.
      Carol Luciano

      • Hi Carol…….I’m glad you enjoyed my post and the pictures. We do our best to tie in the characters with the town or ranch. In my Men of Legend series the ranch was the town complete with a telegraph, mercantile, doctor and school. It was fun letting my imagination go wild!

        Love and hugs, my dear! And good luck in the drawing!

  13. Linda, these pictures are so neat. I love seeing the actual place. I loved The Cowboy Who Came Calling when I read it so long ago, and it’s on my keeper shelf. I can’t even imagine Glory’s fear when she realized she was losing her sight.

    I don’t feel cheated if I learn the place is made up. I really don’t. Because I can envision it by the author’s description. I love it if a place is real, though, because I can think, “Oh, that’s by such and such.” or “I’ve been there.” LOL But I sure do love all these pictures!

    • Hi Cheryl…..I’m so glad you liked my pictures. It truly is a pretty place. You can go there now in your mind. I think pictures are worth a thousand words.

      Love you, lady!

    • Hi April……I certainly agree but often writers opt for fictional places for fear they’ll get something wrong and get called on it.

      Good luck in the drawing on Sunday!

    • Hi Anne…..It’s special for me too. I love knowing that if I take a notion I can get in my car or on a plane and go there. And I feel things are just a tad more authentic.

      Good luck in the drawing!

  14. I’m not living in the USA, so I don’t recognize towns or areas often. Sometimes I look on the map, but I don’t feel cheated if the place is made up.

    • Hi Annette…….I’m glad to know you’re very satisfied with whatever the author chooses to do. Maybe you can come visit our West one day. Have a great rest of your day!

  15. I loved all the pictures!! I would love to visit places like that but through books will probably be the only way I can. I’m not complaining because I love to read. I really like it when an author lets us know what is facts or shows a map.
    As for your question I have never looked at a map to look up these places. But I have looked up more information about the historical facts authors share. I don’t feel cheated the places aren’t real.
    When you visit these places can you imagine what it looked like or have you already seen pictures of what use to be there?

    • Hi Pam……I certainly do. I often stand and picture what towns used to look like, complete with sounds. I think of the people who settled there and what they looked like also. A favorite thing of mine is that I love visiting old cemeteries and reading the names on the tombstones. I wonder what their dreams were and if they reached them. Good luck in the drawing and have a great evening.

  16. A setting based on a real place can enrich the story for me. Being able to look at a map or Google some pictures help my mind’s eye visualize the story details. That said, an author can so vividly describe a made-up location that it becomes a real place as I read.

    • Hi Cheryl C……Very interesting. I guess it really doesn’t make a lot of difference to many readers. They’re fine either way.

      Much love and good luck in the drawing!

    • Hi Denise……You are certainly right. It does take a lot of creativity to form a town. Right now, I’m in the midst of helping the characters of a new series create their town from scratch. I had to think long and hard about what they’d need first and on down the line. It’s certainly been interesting I can you that. Especially for people who have no money. Then things move very slowly. Good luck in the drawing, sweet lady!

  17. My Atlas is in a handy spot for looking up places I read about in books, magazines, newspapers, or see on tv. Made up town names don’t bother me as long as the description fits the real location it is supposed to be set near. I feel authors protect themselves by using fictitious names and can let their imagination shine.

    • Hi Alice…….That’s really true. There is something freeing in using fictional towns where you make them be whatever you want. That’s a big reason why authors do. It takes a lot more work to set a story in a real place. You have to do a whole lot of research.

      Good luck in the drawing and have a great evening!

  18. Thank you so much for this blog–the wonderful pictures, the story of Santanna, and the terrific topic of story placement and map-hunting. I admit I am a map fiend. It’s rare that I read about a place or general location that doesn’t cause me to go on a map quest! Two examples:

    Cheryl’s post on her new book mentioned Briartown, Oklahoma, and that sent me off on map quest since my family lived near there for several generations; and even though we’ve explored those areas in person, Cheryl’s post still sent me off on a map search.

    Long ago, I did my thesis on Thomas Hardy whose novels are set in the south of England in an area he called Wessex. On various trips I managed to tramp in the shoes of the characters in his stories, from Winchester further east to Shaftesbury further west and of course Oxford further north. Hardy’s description of and my visit to Shaftesbury are still strongly etched in my mind even all these years later.

    One of the things about Hardy I love is that place/location is a character too in all his stories. Probably one the reasons I liked them so much and all authors who make location(s) characters in their stories too.

    So, to answer your question–finally!–I do prefer real settings but I also appreciate authors who make their settings feel real and bring them to life, which is a real talent. And once again, I’m a real map fanatic, even if the location is fictional but in a real geographical area! I also really love learning about real places as you just did in this blog! Thank you!

    • Dearest Eliza……How nice to see your name. I’m glad you enjoyed my post and pictures of Santa Anna. I loved sharing the information with readers. And yes, the location does often become a character. I think that’s one thing that has helped to sell my books. My settings do become like a person. My new series that will come out in 2019 is set in a fictional location here in the Texas Panhandle. It is first an outlaw hideout named Devil’s Crossing which they later change to Hope’s Crossing. At the date this takes place, there are very few towns here. But I do mention real towns nearby — Mobeetie, Tascosa, Saint’s Roost.

      Keep your map handy! You’re gonna need it.

      Love and hugs!

  19. Oh I love for the story to be set in an actual place especially my western historical for it gives you an idea a lot of times how and who started the towns if you have a great author such as you Linda I love how you incorporate actual historical facts in your books. It’s like getting a history lesson along with a great story. Love you bunches

    • Hi Miss Glenda……I love putting historical facts into my stories. Part of reason for writing wesstern historicals is to keep history alive. It’s fast disappearing from our culture. I don’t think young people are interested in how things used to be. Our historical monuments are disappearing as well. We can’t just wipe out the parts of history that are painful. What a shame.

      Love you, lady!

  20. I cannot tell you how many times I have looked on the map for a place used as the setting for a book. And yes, I am somewhat disappointed when I find out it is fictional. I love to read about real places and put many on my list of want to visit . However, when an author takes the time to research her settings and let’s me know it, then the book becomes even more special. One of the things I like to do, especially on the computer, is to look things up and research them. I have learned so very much that way since I have not had the luxury of getting to travel there. Linda Broday, thanks for bringing history home to us readers.

    • Hi Cricket…….I’m smiling big time to see your name. Before I became a selling writer and read all the time, I used to be very disappointed when I found out a place was fictional. I always tried to look them up to see because I loved that deeper connection to what I was reading. So I certainly understand. I try to set my stories in real places whenever I can. In my new series coming out in 2019 – Outlaw’s Mail Order Brides – I had no choice in the matter. It’s originally an outlaw hideout that they turn into a town. But I mention the real towns close by. Maybe that helps. We’ll see.

      Love and hugs!

  21. Linda loved seeing the photos of your Santa Anna research trip! I would love to visit the little town and I’m sure the old timers there have lots of stories to tell about people who have passed through the area over the decades1

    • Hi Marin…..I’m glad you enjoyed those pictures. It was going there and walking in the footsteps of Santa Anna settlers. They’ve seen a lot of historical people come through there.


  22. I do check maps because I love to learn as I read and it is a bonus when the place really exists!
    Happy Valentine’s Day!

    • Hi Connie……Thanks for liking my post. I think most readers do enjoy stories set in real places when they get a chance. Belated Happy Valentine’s Day!

      Good luck in the drawing!

  23. I’ve never looked up the setting of a book. I just enjoy the setting and the story.

    Happy Valentines’s Day!

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