Saturday, September 26, 2015


What inspires you? Tell me in a comment to be in a drawing for a free e-book. 

Research is a large part of a writer’s world, especially when he or she writes historical novels, and often provides ideas for other novels. I love research and have trouble keeping on task. One of the fun parts of research is the day trip.

Years ago, my husband and I took a trip to Palo Pinto County, Texas for a driving tour and that’s when I fell in love with the area. To be truthful, I already loved driving through the hills and valleys. This tour, however, convinced me this was an area in which I would set many books. So far, I have two series set here—The Men of Stone Mountain and Bride Brigade—and a time travel, OUT OF THE BLUE.

Palo Pinto Mountains in distance from the valley
To most people, these would be considered hills, but geologically, they are mountains. Don’t ask me why, I’m just a writer. There are many picturesque areas and I enjoy driving through at any time of year. Now, however, is a prime time for the leaves are changing and it’s easy to see why the Native Americans dubbed them “painted posts”.

Although many live oaks dot the forests, most are smaller scrub oaks which turn colors and lose their leaves. Live oaks lose leaves, but they’re replaced and always have dark green leaves year around, hence the name. Also in the area are cedars and they provided fence posts material as well as small logs for cabins. Add in the cottonwoods, pin oak, red oak, hackberry, bois d'arc, elm, and don't forget the late-comer mesquite that plagues ranchers. 

In Palo Pinto County are many hot water springs, the most famous of which is the crazy water well in Mineral Wells. According to accounts, a family with a mentally disturbed wife moved to the area and the husband dug a well. While drinking that water, the woman was cured. It should be called sane water, but that doesn’t have the ring to it that crazy water does.

To this day, Crazy Water Crystals are available for sale. Frankly, I believe these are useful as little more than laxatives now due to the water's mineral content. The county's largest town was named Mineral Wells for a reason. The original well went through a lithium deposit and that provided relief to the woman’s condition. I doubt the FDA would allow over the counter lithium sales.

One of my favorite ranches is the Belding-Gibson Ranch, which has a spring that never dries up and was a favorite Native American campground. This is a beautiful ranch that has been continuously run by the Belding family and descendants since 1859. The original cedar log cabin dating to 1854 has been incorporated into the ranch home, as has the smokehouse and the dog trot and second cabin. This place is so dear to my heart.

Belding-Gibson Ranch Home includes preserved parts of
original cabins and smokehouse.
I enjoy this entire county, although I’m glad I live in a Fort Worth suburb with all the shopping and medical conveniences I prefer. While visiting Palo Pinto, I can visualize life as it was in the last half of the nineteenth century. A drive there sets my imagination’s cog wheels turning and generating new ideas faster than I can write them. The drive also makes me smile and dwell in my happy place.

Do you have special areas that inspire you? I’ll give away a copy of my first Bride Brigade romance, JOSEPHINE, to one person who comments today.


Mary Preston said...

Wonderful pictures thank you. I could quite happily live by the ocean. Walking along a sandy beach collecting shells is my happy place.

chele said...

Caroline, I'm fortunate to live in a special place. I live on the main island of Hawaii, The Big Island. It truly is a place of Aloha. We enjoy the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean and the wondrous snowcap peaks of Mauna Kea mountain. I'm thankful each day for such blessings.

chele said...

I meant to add that I've already purchased Josephine and Jamie (The Surprise Brides) so you need not consider my post as an entry. Both books are on my tbr mountain, I just need to figure which one to read next :)

Bookie said...

Like you, the day trip can set me on inspirations path. I favor the Midwest and driving across the plains and prairies of Kansas, Oklahoma,and north to Nebraska are pleasant for me. The Flint Hills are spiritual; one of my favorite stories I wrote after visiting a South Dakota town of the Old West. I also find studying my family tree as writing inspiration. Sometimes I know the stories, but often I only know bits and pieces and love to makeup the missing parts for a story!

Earl Staggs said...

I envy your Palo Pinto trip. It was a reminder of how much of Texas I haven't seen. I really need to go exploring while I'm still able. Meanwhile, with regard to research, I've come to love it this past year. I'm doing a series called "History's Rich With Mysteries" on Kevin Tipple's blog site and loving it. So far, I've dug into the lives of Etta Place, Billy the Kid, Albert DeSalvo, and Frank James, and in exploring their lives, I feel I got to know them personally. Be well, my friend, and keep on writing great stuff.