October 23, 2011

God Bless Texas! Pauline Baird Jones

I am not a native Texan so it is with some trepidation that I take on the task of writing about my adopted home, the sprawling, colorful, friendly and wildly diverse Texas. While it is not the biggest state in the USA (Alaska holds that spot), it is huge and it has a lot going on, more than I could cover in a single writing.
I won’t use blog space discussing the Johnson Space Center, the amazing San Antonio River Walk, the Alamo, Texas Hill Country or the fun and historically unique Galveston Island. I also won’t detail the TV shows set or filmed in Texas, nor will I list the movies filmed here. And as fun as it would be to tell you about the camels in Texas--there’s even a movie about those!
Instead, here’s a bit about some fun places I’ve discovered while researching writing projects.
Not far from where we live, there is a gem of a place known as Old Town Spring. Built in the 1900’s by the Great Northern Railroad, as you stroll along it is easy to feel you’ve stepped back in time passing by the Victorian styled shops, restaurants, museums and galleries. It’s particularly lovely in the spring which inspired snippets in my short story, Getting a Clue.
From Old Town Spring take a huge hop to the west and south, and land on my other Texas find, Big Bend National Park.
Big Bend National Park is sometimes called the least known park of the system, which is a pity, because it is amazing. It is not just one of the largest of the parks, it is also the most remote. Indeed it is three parks in one, since it has mountain, river and desert environments. Famous for its camping, hiking and bird watching, its climate can be as extreme as the terrain.
Its history is as diverse as the topography and includes clashes with Pancho Villa, the Comanche Trail and what brought my story, Tangled in Time to the Park—an airfield that played a small role in World War II.
My novella, Tangled in Time, intended originally to be a short story in an anthology about Texas landmarks, begins in Big Bend National Park—though this steampunk/science fiction romance concludes out of this world.
To read more about the airfield featured in Tangled in Time, visit my website  http://www.perilouspauline.com and if you are a national park buff like my hubby, be sure to add it to your list of must see parks.
Next, take time to visit Marfa, Texas. This tiny town started as a railroad water stop and is now the Presidio County seat. It is believed it was named after a character in a Jules Verne novel though the Handbook of Texas claims the name comes from The Brothers Karamzov.
A dusty, Texas town and Prada would normally be a contradiction in terms but Marfa is full of contradictions. One shouldn’t be too surprised to find, not a Prada store, but a Prada sculpture that looks like a Prada store.  Marfa also has a huge and thriving artist community started by renowned minimalist, Donald Judd.
The Hotel Paisiano and the Presidio courthouse are the heart of town square in this classic and historic Texas town.
This little town has a big history but that’s not what brought it to my attention. I visited for the ghost lights.
The first documented sighting of the ghost lights was in 1883 by a young cowhand, but there is evidence that they’d been around much longer than that. There are many theories that try to explain the lights, which “at times appear colored as they twinkle in the distance. They move about, split apart, melt together, disappear and reappear.” (Handbook of Texas Online)
Presidio County has a viewing station nine miles east of town, near the site of the old air base and host a Marfa Lights Festival. The lights have been mentioned on Unsolved Mysteries, were part of an episode of King of the Hill and were also an episode of So Weird. Not a surprise that they caught my attention when I needed a little weird for my short story, Steam Time, in the Dreamspell Steampunk Anthology Vol 1.
This is just a peek into the great state of Texas and my many stories inspired from its sights and places. There is so much more to this great state. Hope ya’ll stop by for a visit. You’ll be glad you did.

Award-winning author, Pauline Baird Jones is the creator of eleven novels involving science fiction romance, action-adventure, suspense, romantic suspense and comedy-mystery. Her latest release is a steampunk/science fiction romance called SteamrolledShe's also written two non-fiction books and co-wrote  Managing Your Book Writing Business with Jamie Engle. Her credits include Out of Time, an action-adventure romance set in World War II, an EPPIE 2007 winner. The Key won an Independent Book Award Bronze Medal (IPPY) for 2008 and is a 2007 Dream Realm Awards Winner. Girl Gone Nova an EPIC Book Award, a Single Titles Reviewer's Choice award and nominated for a Romantic Times Best Books award. She also has short stories in several anthologies. Originally from Wyoming, she and her family moved from New Orleans to Texas before Hurricane Katrina.


  1. Wow, Texas has so much to offer. We were at For Hood for a bit but I was too young to remember. I need to visit again. thanks for the great post.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  2. Pauline, I've only been to Texas one time and that was a flight into Dallas/Fort Worth and a shuttle to San Antonio, but I'd love to visit again.

    I congratulate you on your ability to write awarding-winning novels we all love to read. I'm especially taken with your steampunk. While reading, I find myself trying to figure out how the steampunk works in your brain. Continued success to you! And Annette, as I've said before, this blog is a terrific idea. I'll be back.
    Susan Whitfield

  3. Interesting insights into an interesting state to visit. Want an idea how big Texas is? Drive across the state--north to south, east to west. Either way, it is big.

  4. Congrats on all your awards. I know you must work hard. The story of the lights sounds interesting, especially at this time of year. You live in a cool place.

  5. @ Debby - You really need to come back! It's a great state! A whole lot of fun! :-)

    @ Susan - (blush!) Thank you so much for kind comments! :-) Not sure there is a way to figure my brain on steampunk. LOLOL!

    Many thanks to Annette for the great idea! :-)

  6. Hi Pauline,

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures from Texas! I have heard the birding in Big Bend is legendary and hope to visit sometime. (Though I'll admit, I never expected the park to possess such dramatic elevation changes!)
    Good luck with your new book :)

  7. PAULINE--as a non-native Texas, you did very well. This is from a native Texan. Since I'm not so young anymore, I've hd time to cover the state in all directions, living and visiting and just traveling through.
    All the places you mentioned are well worth the time to visit--but we should put each with a waning: Visit Big Bend in the early spring--please..do not visit in August!
    Remember that Gen. Sherman, who had to make a foray into Texas during the Civil War, said of Texas, "If I owned Hell and Texas, I'd rent out Texas and live in Hell." Well, that was a little harsh...but he did know about the summer heat.
    Congratulations on all you books and your venture into the Steampunk genre--if I understood it, I might try it. But no...I just write Texas--all ten of my books, and article, etc. are set in Texas and are about Texas.

    I enjoyed you post--Celia

  8. Good job linking Texas to your books. I wonder if the lights in Marfa are UFOs? My experiences with TX are driving across the panhandle in 1979, nothing but an occasional blue Hogan, then Amarillo, then more tumbleweed. The second was driving on 10, then 20 just after Katrina. It took almost three days looking at nothing but oil rigs in the distance to go from the NM border to the LA border. Big state.

  9. @ JR - No question Texas is huge! Houston is pretty huge, too. Driving across it takes a long time. LOL!

    @ Nora - I totally agree that Texas is a cool place. I would like to see the lights for real some time.

    @ Debbie - I did not know Big Bend had so much elevation either until we visited it. My geologist husband was determined to show me TX mtns! LOL!

    @ Celia - Yeah, a "do not visit in August" warning needs to be on most of TX--and a lot of the South! =8-0
    Thanks for the boost. I was pretty worried taking on the job of explaining this amazing state!

    @ Fran - I too wonder if the lights are UFO's. In my short story, I of course, produce my own theory. It was a lot of fun. All my reading about them, no one really knows! It is indeed a BIG state. LOL!

  10. I've visited San Antonio several times and loved it! I admire Texans for their individualism and self-reliance (a little like my native state of Montana!)

    Your books sound great--congrats on all the awards!

  11. @ Heidi - I grew up in Wyoming, so know all about the rugged individualism in Montana! That is also one thing I love about Texas. :-)


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