The Cowboy’s Baby continued

Aware that the chill only enhanced his attraction, and wanting to make an example out of her, Ellison approached with lithe grace and compacted power. He had everyone’s attention riveted on him now.

“Mrs. . .” he inquired, with a mere lift of his chin warning the staff to stay out of it, standing over and staring down at the lump of womanhood puddled gracelessly amid golf ball boxes and loose golf balls on the floor.

She croaked getting her name out, gasping “Bishop!” up into his face. He immediately thought of a frog. A fat frog in a blue knit dress. And that was all it took to break the spell. He unexpectedly grinned, struggling mightily to keep a very unmasculine giggle from escaping his lips, and failed. He giggled.

It wasn’t often that one of his unwanted admirers brought a smile to his face. At the sight of her very expensive butt sitting on so many new golf balls like a chicken hatching eggs (eggs that were now used golf balls and would have to go for half-price) Ellison laughed out loud, his irritation defused. Confused, Mrs. Bishop beamed and straightened at her dress.

Like a contagious yawn, his amusement set off light tittering in the background from the staff. Someone new came in the back entrance. The woman at his feet cautioned another wide smile, and, to his surprise, slowly turned from an ogling would-be Ellison fancier into a contrite, wealthy resident who, no, wouldn’t clean up the mess herself but would call her husband in to do the job if that was all right with him. Red in the face, she couldn’t get out fast enough, though she took one last look at him as she exited.

What in the world had just happened, he wondered. Could it be so easy? Maybe he just needed to start laughing at them.

Marcia Dowson entered the front door just as Mrs. Bishop stumbled out. He caught his assistant’s brief, irritated look his way as she blew breath upwards to scatter the long bangs of a new hairstyle. Ellison started to say something admiring but stopped himself just in time.

“Why don’t you just get fat and save us all this trouble,” she muttered, careful to wait until Mrs. Bishop was safely out of earshot, he noted, but not so careful he didn’t hear.

She meant him. It wasn’t the first time she dared him to change his fate by changing his looks. He ignored her comment and kept his own to himself. There would be time later to compliment her new hairstyle. His glare this time told the staff to stop with the hilarity and get back to work.

To Be Continued…Copyright 2010 by Gretchen Lee Rix/photo by Roxanne Rix. Link to The Cowboy’s Baby at

Jessica Scott has a good blog that goes beyond writing. She’s a writer who is also a soldier. . Keep up with guest blogger Deb Sanders at Help feed people and learn new words with  and help feed pets with . Check out places to submit your short stories at AND ENTER SCARE THE DICKENS OUT OF US You’ve got one month left.

JK Beck Novel Reviewed, plus updates on Scare The Dickens Out of Us, more

Vampire lovers will eat this up–J.K. Beck has a new paranormal series called The Shadow Keepers, and the first entry is When Blood Calls. For those of you who think vampires are the perfect lovers and soul mates, this will give you your vampire fix until Season Four of True Blood comes back on HBO. She’s got six related novels coming out wham, bam, thank you ma’am, one after another starting in September, and are they sexy! Fast-paced and suspenseful, Beck begins with vampire Luke having the best sex of his immortal life with a random human beauty he meets in a bar. Turns out they have more than a bar in common.

Sara’s an attorney newly assigned to the supernatural branch of Homeland Security. Turns out Luke will be her first case–after their tryst he’s charged with brutally murdering a judge. Soon she’s rubbing shoulders with demons, werewolves, jinn and all manner of fantastic creatures of the night who’ve been hiding from human beings and policing their own crimes.

The vampires are beautiful and dangerous. The crimes are heinous. The heroine is strong, resourceful and independent–until she meets her man. I mean, her vampire.

Did I say sexy? Oh, yes. Out in September in paperback. Go to for more.


There’s a month and a week left to get your entries in for the 2010 Scare The Dickens Out of Us ghost story writing contest and fundraiser. The entry fee of $20.00 (or $5.00 for the Junior contest) goes to the Friends of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library for library projects. All the entry money.

First place winner gets $1000.00 and a trophy. Second place gets $500.00 and a ribbon. Third place gets $250.00 and a ribbon. There are more ribbon prizes, but no more money. The Junior contest winner gets $250.00 and a trophy. Second, third, and fourth place, etc, get ribbons.

And all we want are original, unpublished ghost stories up to 5000 words. You retain all rights. We won’t be publishing anyone (though the top winners will be read at the Dickens luncheon this December at the Dr. Eugene Clark Library).

At worst, you’ve written a good ghost story and helped out the oldest continuously-in-use library in Texas. At best, you’ve done all the above and you’ve got $1000.00 in your pocket. It’s fun. And there are markets for ghost stories out there after the contest is through with you. 

Go to for the full rules.


If you live within thirty miles of Lockhart, Texas, then you might be interested in the annual Evening With the Authors dinner the first Saturday in October. This year, among others, horror and thriller writer Joe McKinney and Newbery Honor winner Jacqueline Kelly will be featured. Come meet the San Antonio homicide detective who’s written zombie thrillers and been nominated for the Stoker award. Others in attendance are Jeff Abbott, Steven L. Davis, Nadine Eckhardt, Miriam King, Jake Silverstein, Rebecca Rather, and Rose Styron.

For your money (this is a Friends of the Library fundraiser) you get wine, food, and the temporary companionship of the above writers while sitting outside in the garden of a Victorian house. Take a look at Lockhart’s beautiful courthouse and library when you drive up. See you there. Full information at (Same as the story contest)

This week I’ve been reading Topper by Thorne Smith and When Blood Calls by J.K. Beck. I’ve been watching Dexter, Season Four.

The Cowboy’s Baby continued

From across the room he turned his back, a coldness settling into him, his mind racing, desperate to repair the damage he had just done with one gray-eyed glance. He didn’t want any more smitten admirers. Why had he interfered? She might have cleaned up the mess herself if he hadn’t stepped from his office. Now she only stared greedily from the dirty floor where she had tumbled, golf balls rolling everywhere, and waited for him to come forward to help her up.

The tiny pro shop was being remodeled; no one but staff and construction workers should have been inside. The pale green paint on the walls was damp, not all of the tiles were even set, and someone had made a mistake trying to restock the shelves while all this was going on. But at the Creighton Resort in Central Texas, money most certainly talked, as its manager Ellison had finally learned, and the well-groomed woman on the floor in the blue knit dress was obviously money.

Yes, the staff was decidedly cowed, he saw; and they were standing way too near the newly painted walls for his comfort. Irritated at the lot of them, Ellison turned on the woman, irrationally considering just how far to push this wealthy Texas housewife to appease his mood. His gray eyes turned dangerously dark.

Copyright 2010. To be continued…  

Except for the first three chapters, The Cowboy’s Baby was written entirely during the one-hundred-word-a day- challenge of my local RWA® group. One hundred words is about a paragraph, guys. I made it into an hour-a-day challenge for myself, but there were times I only managed the hundred words. I finished the rough draft in the spring of 2009 and wrote eight short stories just to stay in this writing challenge while I let my novel sit and age. But I dropped out of it when I got to the revising stage and then the  copyediting and proofreading.

You don’t need a formal writing group in order to set goals for yourself. See what I did with just an hour a day. And even a hundred or so words a day adds up to 36,500 words a year. If you double the amount you do a day you’ve got the rough draft of a novel in less than a year. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either.

Note–the photo of the Luling, Texas chicken is by Roxanne Rix.  What I’ve read this week–Ice Station Zebra by Alistair MacLean, still available through and others, and Life With No Breaks by Nick Spalding .

Now listening to Old Gray Mule Sound Like Somethin’ Fell Off The House. Go to 

Guest Blog by Deb Sanders

The Life and Times of an Unpublished Writer 

I’m a writer. 

People have snickered and rolled their eyes when I’ve said that because I’m not published. Therefore, I must not be a “real” writer. 

I’ve always lived by the words of Dr. Wayne Dyer. “When you believe it, you’ll see it.” To help solidify my dream of becoming a published writer, I visualize myself attending book signings, imagine my name on the New York Times Bestseller list, role play with an invisible agent as we discuss my next project. I’ve even designed covers for my unsold manuscripts and pinned them to my bulletin board. 

And then reality hits. There are bills to pay, issues that need resolving, grandchildren that need a hug, a husband who needs a hug. It can be difficult to maintain a dream when life adds a sobering dash of reality. 

I’m a writer. I will persevere. 

After everyone is asleep and the chores are done, I sit in front of my computer and summon my muse. Some nights are easier than others, but eventually the words come. A few at first, then a deluge until the pages tick by one at a time. 

I would like nothing better than to be a full time writer, published or not. Writing makes me feel alive. The need to tell my stories calls to me like the song of an unseen siren. I must write. I have no choice. 

The most difficult part of my journey to publication has been the incredible amount of patience that’s required and expected. I’ve even factored that knowledge into my submission process as I search for agents and editors who accept electronic sumitttals over snail mail. It’s actually quicker to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree than it is to get published. 

Think about it. You spend six months to a year writing and revising your manuscript, and that’s a conservative estimate. If you query an agent, it can be three months to more than a year before you receive a response, but at least you can query multiple agencies. If you query a publishing house, you must wait for a response before sending it to another. Again, you are probably looking at six months to a year. Let’s say an agent requests a partial. Several months later, they request a full. If you’re lucky, they will start sending it out immediately, but there are no guarantees. And if you’re very lucky, an editor might decide to pick it up. This process might take another six months to a year, especially if the editor wants revisions before they offer a contract. 

Finally you can smile. You’ve sold your first manuscript. But it will be another year to eighteen months before it ever arrives on a book shelf. Advances and royalties are balanced against net sales and returns. Don’t toss out those Ramen Noodles yet. 

I think this archaic system is why so many writers are exploring the option of self- publishing through venues like Kindle and Smashwords. It’s also why a growing number of published authors are self-publishing their backlist once they’ve regained their rights. It’s quick. You have control of the process. 

On the flip side, you’re also responsible for all marketing efforts. It’s certainly not for everyone, but I like the fact that the opportunity is there. While you’re waiting for “the call”, you can be building a backlist of titles and a following. In this economy, that’s an attractive option to a print publisher. 

If you’ve reached this point in the blog, you’re probably wondering why I even bother to pursue a writing career. The investment of time and energy is huge. The payout–at least in the beginning–is meager. It’s not easy and it’s often dehumanizning. Why do I do it? 

I’m a writer. 

Deb Sanders 

The Cowboy’s Baby

Through no fault of his own, Ellison Stewart had the looks and charisma of a 1940’s movie star. There was a lot of discussion about which one exactly; older women mentioned Errol Flynn or Tyrone Power, younger women said “Who?” and sighed when he passed. Tall, dark and handsome said it all. And he hated it.

Ellison had no sooner leveled a look at the matron in the pro shop who was fumbling all the golf balls off the shelves than he regretted it. How much more of his life was he going to have to put up with women going all slack-jawed when they first got a good look at his face? This lady had actually fallen over.

Maybe it was time for him to seriously consider plastic surgery, he thought. Or get fat, which was another option he had recently considered.

She smiled up at him, still with that stunned look on her plump face. Everyone in the pro shop was waiting to see what he would do.

To be continued…Excerpt from The Cowboy’s Baby, a romance by Gretchen Lee Rix, copyright July 2010.

Originally this novel had a prologue that started with “The dingoes have taken my baby” line from the Meryl Streep movie and continued through a detailed kidnapping scene and the breakdown and eventual recovery of my main character Cassandra Lennon. But I decided to throw it all out and start here, and with the other main character instead. (I still have the prologue on file if I want to look at it).

The tone of the prologue was so at odds with the tone of the rest of the novel I knew it would not work. Plus, they say don’t start with a prologue anyhow. I’ve got another novel I’ve been working on that I have the sneaking suspicion I’ll have to toss the first four chapters before I come to the true beginning of the story. Talk about painful!

My point? This is going to happen to you, too. Don’t be so attached to your prose or a subplot that you can’t recognize the dead weight.

Of note to Central Texans–Something fun to do in late August: And somewhere great to eat anytime except Mondays:


This is how my romance novel The Cowboy’s Baby got its start–with membership in Romance Writers of America®.

I’ve belonged to RWA® twice, once more than ten years ago, and currently beginning in August of 2008. This professional writers organization is the only one I know that accepts unpublished writers as full members. But the rule is that you have to be serious about making romance writing your career (though they don’t really check).

So, more than ten years ago I used the RWA® to give me a goal–a completed novel. They also gave me the title of my book, The Cowboy’s Baby. An article in their trade magazine at the time said using the words cowboy or baby in the title got you more readers. So The Cowboy’s Baby should have been a double whammy. (FYI, I’m not the only one who saw that article and ran with it. There are several The Cowboy’s Baby romances out there right now.)

So, now I had a title and two characters–the cowboy and the baby, and I had the genre–romance, and I had the stick to make me work–the  RWA® requirements for membership.

Next came the setting. To make it easier, I used something from my own history. My parents lived for decades in a gated golf-community with three lakes, a swimming pool, a club house, restaurants, marina, the whole shebang. At one time there were even stables and horses. I visited regularly. So this is what I used, and when I started The Cowboy’s Baby, the first image that came to me was that of a white cat trotting across the golf greens with a pink collar around his neck. That was what was in my mind when I started.

So, now I had the setting (golf community), the time period (contemporary), and another character (the cat). Eventually I put all that together and it led to the emergence of our hero–Ellison Stewart, handsome manager of the golf community. But what about the cowboy and the baby?

Well, the next thing that popped into my mind was the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, and I decided to use it as a frame for TCB. I don’t remember why. I’ve always enjoyed books that touch on the old tales, so maybe that was it. And using Sleeping Beauty gave me a layer of plot and it gave me our heroine–Cassandra Lennon, the wealthy recluse whose property abutting the residential resort is surrounded by rose-covered walls.

Stick to make me work ( RWA®),  genre (romance), time (contemporary), setting (residential gated community with all the amenities including a golf course), plot device (Sleeping Beauty fairy tale), and lead characters (manager of the golf community, and then the wealthy recluse living nearby). And I still didn’t have a cowboy or a baby. But I started writing it at that time anyhow.

I won’t tell you about the cowboy because that would be a spoiler. But what happened with the baby was this–I got three chapters into writing and had some character say “Help! The cowboy’s baby is going to get me!” (or something like that), and I  blanked out. I couldn’t think of anything interesting enough to elicit that response. I was stopped dead in my tracks and I set TCB aside and didn’t start writing on it again until 2008 when, again, membership in the  RWA® required that I be writing on a romance. It sat for ten years or more while I did other stuff, including starting several more novels that petered out after four or five chapters. But when I sat down in December 2008 and took up The Cowboy’s Baby again and wrote on it every day, I was able to complete it. And I’m proud of what I accomplished.

 Here it is. Have a look.

Scare The Dickens Out Of Us

The Scare The Dickens Out of Us ghost story writing contest is a competition my sister and I originated and administer as part of the “A Dickens Christmas In Lockhart” festival that takes place here  the first weekend in December. It’s a fun little festival that is the library’s way to thank the people of Lockhart. This is the second year of our ghost story writing contest. Non-spoooky photo at left is by Roxanne Rix.

We are offering a $1000.00 first prize, $500.00 second prize and $250.00 third prize (plus a trophy to the winner and ribbons for runners up). There is also a Junior contest for ages 12-18 that offers $250.00 and a trophy for first place.

Besides the money (which is pretty good), winners also get their names in our local newspaper. We’ll display your name on our website page for the next year. If you are local, we might even take you out for lunch. The winning entry will be read at the library’s annual Dickens luncheon in December and all winners will be formally announced at the Dickens festival ceremony.

This contest is primarily a fundraiser for the Friends of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library in Lockhart, Texas, the library being the oldest continuously in use library in the state, so there are entry fees. This contest is privately funded.  All entry fees go to the Friends for library projects. Entry fees are $20.00 and $5.00. Contest deadline is October 1, 2010.

Full rules are available at

You’ve got plenty of time to write a great ghost story and get it in. We have received entries all through July and expect the number to double in August. Anyone can enter. We’ve gotten queries from South Africa, Australia and Canada. Already we have gotten entries from New York, Indiana, Maryland, Texas, Connecticut and California.

No publication is involved in this contest and no critiques are offered. All rights remain with the authors. When the contest is over you are welcome to submit your stories anywhere you want. Check out There are markets for ghost stories out there.

Last year I think I went to the post office every day to check for entries. This year I swore I wouldn’t go over there every day, only twice a week, but there’s nothing like seeing that big brown envelope (or the long white envelopes some writers are using) in the PO Box. And I’m really looking forward to getting that first entry from a foreign country. I’ve still  been going almost every day to check.

In the meantime I’ve also had time to read Rebel Island by Rick Riordan. It’s set in the Aransas Pass coastal area of Texas during a hurricane. I loved it.