Thursday, July 28, 2011

Research at its Best!

Most people think research is boring, but that really isn't so. It all boils down to what you're researching. Our family research/rest trip to Central Texas was definitely one of those enjoyable research moments. For instance, I learned that from far away you can tell the difference between a mesquite tree and a live oak by the shade of green they're sporting. (Mesquite is lighter by the way - just in case you're wondering.) I took the snapshot of that massive tree to the right within Colorado Bend State Park. A live oak whose base would require at least 4 people with arms outstretched to encircle it. Huge!

Pictures are priceless, fun memorable, and laughter contagious. Most of the time the best memories are the ones you never planned and never expected to happen - a gift from God to say the least. We had one such experience, but alas I must keep you wondering and coming back for more so you won't be seeing that story until next week. :) Grrr, right?

I promised pics that would stir your imagination for book number 2, The Husband Escape. Since I'm a seat-of-the-pants kind of writer, I tentatively say you'll see me use this idea somewhere near the beginning, middle, or end of the book. ;)

Picture courtesy of Williamson Photos
This picture is of a dried up river bed (unfortunately most of Texas is in an exceptional drought). I'm sure at times this would have water, but that's beside the point. Can't you see a rush of muddy water hurrying in a torrent your direction fed by rains further up stream? Could you imagine the sheer terror and amazement you'd feel to see that wall of water heading your way? What would you do? How would you react?
Another tidbit from research: Central Texas is known for flash floods. Are you getting the idea yet? :) I hope so. I'm not sure I could spell it out much better than I already have.

We also hiked to a waterfall during the trip (which was little more than a trickle in this heat wave). A refreshing bit of green in an other wise sun dried landscape. The water flowing out over the rocks at the bottom was blessedly, ice cold. Did I tell you we hiked up there during the heat of the day? Smart, huh?

I have to admit I've played with the idea of using a waterfall in book 2, but as of yet haven't decided. If I do, these falls probably won't reflect the idea floating around in my brain. I've seen others in that area in the past and find them more suitable to my reflections should I go that direction.

Anyway, I hope all this has wet your taste buds for The Husband Escape. I know it has mine.

Crystal L Barnes

Monday, July 25, 2011

Biscuits, Snake, Shovel, & Squeals!

ShastaI know I promised pics from my research trip (I still need to sort - check for them later this week), but I had such an eventful morning I couldn't wait to share what happened. I slid in a batch of homemade biscuits in the oven and was interrupted on my way to cook bacon when I heard my dog, Shasta, begin to bark. (That's her on the right - Blue/Red Heeler mix.)

This wasn't the there's-someone-here bark. No, this was the I-found-something bark. She's done this recently, and I knew it was most likely a snake. I figured "No big deal!". Right? I've had to kill baby copperheads in the past when she's done this. So I fetched the shovel and headed down the fence line to the barking tree.

oak tree
In case you haven't seen a copperhead, I'll tell you their camouflage is great! They look just like a limb from an oak tree. Needless to say, I was looking for a head on one of the many sticks at the base of the tree. :) I was a little skittish to say the least. When I finally moved some leaves and something that didn't look like a stick moved, I squealed - loudly! I'm sure my neighbors were wondering what was goin' on in my neck of the woods.

I found a snake! Colors - red, yellow, & black! I immediately began quoting the old adage "Red and yellow - kill a fellow. Red and black - friend of Jack." Actually, I didn't get any farther than "red and yellow"! Those two colors were touching! And I was moving! There was a corral snake hiding in the brown leaves! A poisonous, red, black, and yellow corral snake that was about 2 to 3 feet long!

By now my adrenaline has sky-rocketed and my heart is pounding a mile-a-minute. Not to mention the squealing and barking (from the dog, that is. Not me. I growl more than I bark :) ).

After multiple stabs at the slithering menace, I connected and sent it scurrying toward my dog. Shasta steps in with something more than a bark and before I can react the snake is three feet up in the air flopping back toward the grass. I'm shouting at my dog, hoping to save her from an unnecessary, painful bite. The snake slithers back my direction as my poor confused puppy tries to figure out why I'm yelling at her for doing her job. I quickly became singularly concerned about the predator moving my way.

A couple more unsuccessful attempts and another successful jab later, the colorful serpent begins slithering across my rocky driveway as I back pedal further toward my house. I was glad to see the last half of the snake wasn't moving in harmony with the rest of his body. For you snake lovers out there, I hope I don't offend, but I could only pray the little bugger was scootin' away to go and die in the woods. All I can say is "Good riddance!"

Now you may ask: Did the biscuits burn? Actually no! I still had to brown them a little more while I cooked the bacon. :) Just another day in the country!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

ACFW 2011 Conference - Here we come!

I'm going to the conference!!!! I'm so excited! I can't wait to sit in on all the workshops and classes, all the new people I'll meet, and connections I'll make. (Not to mention the chance to travel to St. Louis!) September seems like a long way away, but I'm sure the time will fly!

For all you fellow ACFW'ers, I'll see you there!

P.S. Next on the agenda is a research/restful trip to Central Texas. :) Book 2 in the works! I promise to post pictures that will stir your imagination for what's to come. ;)

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Husband Exchange - What's it about?

Hi Ya'll! Thought I'd wet your taste buds a little for The Husband Exchange. Here's a little blurb to catch your interest...

Sarah Asher had accepted her life. After ten years of marriage and no children, she opted to work alongside her husband than stay alone indoors. Sarah even went so far as to “man” the chuck wagon for their yearly trip up the Chisholm Trail. Unfortunately during this run, she must face unexpected tragedy as well as the long, dusty miles. Two weeks out from the rail-heads in Kansas, Sarah finds herself kneeling across from Joe Matthews as they listen to her husband’s dying request. Marriage between the two of them – now!

Best friend and partner to Allen Asher, Joe Matthews enjoyed his life as a single man. Helping run the LW Ranch and providing for his widowed mother, he never planned to take a wife. But with a dying wish, the plans changed. Married to Allen's widow, he never knew his life would be so different. Nor did he ever realize one woman could bring so much havoc into his well structured world.

Amid various trials and perilous encounters, will Sarah and Joe find what they need in God and each other to endure the changes brought on by The Husband Exchange?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Howdy Ya'll! Let's begin...

TX hill country pic
I have to say blogging is a first for me, but I hope it is a blessing in disguise. I'm a new author. I've just started a series called the Cater Springs Chronicles. All four books are based in the Texas Hill Country in a little town called... you get two guesses and the first one doesn't count ;) ... wrong! it's Cater Springs. I'm loving the characters of this town and the exciting, life changing encounters they experience in the late 1870s.

Book #1 is The Husband Exchange and Lord willing is in the works for publication soon. :) I'm hoping to hear a favorable word from the editor.

I will begin work on book 2 very soon - brain storms have been surging for weeks. The title has already been chosen and it is ... drum roll please... The Husband Escape. I'm looking forward to this story. I'm currently coming off the high of finishing book 1 and am soaking in the pleasure of accomplishment. God is good to me.

Anyways, I hope to this blog will add laughter, love, and faith to your life as we travel this sod together.

Crystal L Barnes