Please join me in welcoming Kathleen Denly to the blog today to share some of the fun – and dangers (yikes!) – of location research for her new historical romance, Murmur in the Mud Caves!
MURMUR IN THE MUD CAVES by Kathleen Denly
SERIES: Chaparral Hearts #4
GENRE: Inspirational Historical/Western Romance
PUBLISHER: Wild Heart Books
RELEASE DATE: May 16, 2023
He came to cook for ranch hands, not three single women.
Gideon Swift, a visually impaired Civil War Veteran, responds to an ad for a ranch cook in the Southern California desert mountains. He wants nothing more than to forget his past and stay in the kitchen where he can do no harm. But when he arrives to find his employer murdered, the ranch turned to ashes, and three young women struggling to survive in the unforgiving Borrego Desert, he must decide whether his presence protects them or places them in greater danger.
Bridget “Biddie” Davidson finally receives word from her older sister who disappeared with their brother and pa eighteen years prior, but the news is not good. Determined to help her family, Biddie sets out for a remote desert ranch with her adopted father and best friend. Nothing she finds there is as she expected, including the man who came to cook for the shambles of a ranch.
When tragedy strikes, the danger threatens not only her plans to help her sister, but her own dreams for the future—with the man who’s stolen her heart.
More Books in this Series
The Dangers (And Fun) of Location Research
by Kathleen Denly, author of Murmur in the Mud Caves
Too often, writers have to settle for remote research into the settings of their novels. In February of 2022, I was blessed to be able to devote an entire week to exploring the Eastern desert region of San Diego County. While I was there, I explored several historically significant and geographically unique locations, many of which I have incorporated into the final three novels of my Chaparral Hearts series.
One of the best adventures was had when I explored an area within the Carrizo Badlands known as Arroyo Tapiado (Spanish for “walled wash”). This area is filled with canyons, hills, arches and even caves all formed by mud. As many as twenty-two caves and nine slot canyons have been identified in this area, making it one of the most extensive cave systems in the world. However, these caves are far less stable than others you’ve likely heard about. They were formed when heavy rainfall caused water to flow through a thick deposit of silt and the mud structures change with each storm—sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.
There has been at least one known death and several injuries caused by overestimating the stability of these fascinating and unique structures. If you choose to visit, don’t go alone, avoid the wet season, bring more water than you think you need (the canyons are deceptively long & winding), and use caution if traveling above or below any structures. (Walking on top of caves or along ridges is a very bad idea. The danger is akin to walking on a frozen lake, except you can’t see through to judge its thickness.) If you’re looking specifically for caves, you should also be prepared to search for a while since finding one can be trickier than you might think. Some cave openings appear to be nothing more than cracks, but they can run as long as 1,000 feet and have ceilings as high as 80 feet.
Today, I’d like to share with you some of the highlights from my explorations of the many slot canyons and caves branching off of Arroyo Tapiado in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. You’ll notice I brought two of my children along on the excursion and we each carried everything we might need in case of emergency. We also made sure people knew where we were (updating every one to two hours) and when we planned to leave the area (if they didn’t hear confirmation that we were safely back on the road by then, it was time to worry). We were also very cognizant of the risks and made careful decisions as we went (something you’ll hear us discussing frequently in the videos).
Of particular note in these videos, you’ll see slot canyons, mud arches, low mud ledges, and a mud cave. Each of these structures plays a significant role in Murmur in the Mud Caves, book 4 of my Chaparral Hearts series which released May 16, 2023.
Had you heard of Mud Caves before? Would you want to visit them?
PSST! Are you new to my Chaparral Hearts series? If so, you may be happy to know that members of my Kathleen’s Readers’ Club can download a free copy of the prequel novella, Ribbons and Beaus. Click here to join!
Kathleen Denly writes historical romance to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. Award winning author of the Chaparral Hearts series, she also shares history tidbits, thoughts on writing, books reviews and more at KathleenDenly.com.
Kathleen Denly is offering the following prize bundle to one of my readers: 1 faux leather bookmark, 1 hand altered pocket journal, 1 Scripture keychain, 1 faux leather cord wrangler, 1 faux leather key wristlet, and 1 ebook copy of Waltz in the Wilderness! (US shipping addresses only for prize as described. International winner must accept a $5 Amazon gift card in lieu of the bookmark, journal, keychain, cord wrangler and wristlet. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read Murmur in the Mud Caves by Kathleen Denly? Had you heard of Mud Caves before? Would you want to visit them?