February 17, 2010
Sorry I missed my regular day to post on this blog, the 13th. Because of a record-setting snowstorm in our part of Texas, James and I lost power early Friday. The electricity didn’t come back on until mid-afternoon Sunday. Here are some pictures of the snowfall.
The final total at my house was over 9 inches which I measured on the top of the gas grill.
That’s a birdbath. You can hardly see it.
I loved the look of the snow in the treetops. They made artistic pictures.
And here’s James’s pickup. He had to get rid of the snow so we could drive it, since we couldn’t open the garage door to get the car out.
Our neighbor lost several limbs on his trees.
What does this have to do with Bustles and Spurs?
Let’s talk about getting to know your setting. I’ve read books by several authors which were set in Texas, but written by authors in other states, that have the weather do things that aren’t possible in Texas.
Yes, our area had between 9 and 15 inches of snow in a one-day period this last week. Unheard of in the 111 years of keeping weather records. So we know that if you set your historical in that 111 year period, you wouldn’t be able to have this much snow in north central Texas.
Most years, we have just a smattering of snow, if at all. An inch of measurable snow happens every few years, but not consistently. If you have people in Texas snowed in for extended periods, all your Texas readers will be drawn out of the story. They'll also stop to question why the author would do that.
Why would they care?
We were able to get out of our house and travel around in only 1 day. Our snow is almost all melted in 4 days. That’s the way the weather in Texas is.
So if you have a long snowstorm with characters unable to get out of their home, or off their ranch, Texas readers, and there are a lot of them, will know you didn’t research the weather in Texas. Most of them might never read another of your books. And one thing an author doesn’t needto do–alienate a large group of readers.
That being said, there was a terribly cold storm in 1899 in Texas. The cold went so far south that Galveston Bay froze over. So if you’re setting your story in 1899, you could have a bad storm, but remember that it didn’t last really long.
Next time you hear from me, I hope it won't be after a bad snowstorm that knocks out the power to my house. I really missed having the information on the hard drive of my desktop.
Lena Nelson Dooley, author of Love Finds You in Golden New Mexico, coming May 1.
Hoping to escape a perilous situation back East, young Madeleine Mercer answers the ad and arrives in town under a cloud of suspicion. But just as she begins to win over Philip—and Jeremiah himself—the secrets she left behind threaten to follow her to Golden...and tarnish her reputation beyond redemption.