I designed the fictional town of Simpson Creek with a main street running east and west, with the eastern edge of the town and the church right on the eastern edge of the creek. As I wrote the first few books in the series, this creek would be the site of a Commanche attack, a place for the couples in the books to fish, walk and get to know one another. A lumber mill would be situated along the mill, and nearby, the school.
San Saba Texas, which is just west of my fictional town, is situated on the Edwards Plateau in central Texas. The San Saba River runs through it. Before the town was organized, the area was frequented by Comanche, Apache, Tonkawa, Wacos, Kickapoo and Caddo Indians, and was the site of a Spanish mission, Santa Cruz de San Saba. In 1847, a treaty between the German Texans and the Comanches was signed. In 1856, the county was organized from Bexar County and named for the river and the town of the same name selected as the county seat. There were about 1425 people in the county in 1870. San Saba bills itself as the "Pecan Capital of the World" due to the work of Edmund Riesen in improving local nuts, especially the pecan, but the trees were native to the area and were a cash crop as early as 1857.
My favorite place in the area is the Wedding Tree, an ancient live oak situated on China Creek road just north of San Saba, which was the site of Indian marriages and later the wedding site of frontier settlers before the building of churches in the area. The tree is massive and shady--pictures don't properly do it justice! I made it the site of the wedding between my hero and heroine in THE SHERIFF'S SWEETHEART, which was published by Love Inspired Historicals in 2011. I wanted to call the book THE WEDDING TREE, and in fact, this was the only title I've ever really tried to insist on with my publisher, but they like to put occupation-related "hooks" in LIH titles, so this is one battle I did not win. :( But I'll always think of that book with *my* title, so there! :) )
Of course, the best time to visit central Texas is in the spring, particularly mid-March to mid-April, when the bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas, are at their peak. They were actually a little past their prime when we visited for this research trip, but I think you can get the idea of how glorious a whole field of them could be.
Now, as we live the subject of San Saba and Simpson Creek, Texas,
I'd like to mention the book I'm giving away as a prize to one lucky commenter to this blog entry, my May Love Inspired Historical, HILL COUNTRY CATTLEMAN. This is the story of Raleigh Masterson, a cowboy and former cattle drive trailboss, and his unlikely romance with Violet Brookfield, sister of an earl. Violet comes to Texas to write a western while waiting for scandal to die down in England, never guessing that she'll remain in Texas with Raleigh. Remember, the more comments you make on Christian Fiction Historical Society this month, the more chances you have to win a KINDLE at the end of the month!
Blessings, Laurie Kingery