The Cowboy’s Baby continued

Damn her for more than her looks, he brooded. If Marcia had only been pretty she wouldn’t affect him so. And he so needed to concentrate on Mrs. Cassandra Lennon. 

Back at his desk and with the damaging paperwork stacked and shuffled repeatedly beneath his hands, Ellison Stewart tried to get a perspective on their problem. Marcia, seated across from his desk, watched with rapt expression as he struggled. He wished she’d go away, wondering if she thought he could conjure up a solution right here and now. She was supposed to be brainstorming with him and hadn’t contributed anything but her distracting presence up till now. 

The only things really going through his head were the high-jinks of that damned cat and the tingle he had felt when Marcia took his arm. And whatever the hell had bit him. But way in the back of his head where he kept all manner of unpleasant thoughts, he was also thinking about losing his job. 

He absolutely had to talk to Cassandra Lennon. 

There was the telephone right in front of his face. 

Well, honest truth and straightforwardness worked with some people. Sometimes. Some people. 

When Ellison reached for the phone Marcia’s scrutiny increased. Was she staring at his hands? Ellison looked at them as Marcia continued to stare. His hands were large and familiar and served him well, but they were just hands. 

“You don’t have a hand fetish, do you?” he asked, startling the girl, happy to postpone the phone call. 


At least that had gotten her eyes refocused and that silly look off her face. He flexed one hand at her, looking grim. 

“A hand fetish,” he repeated. “Like a foot fetish?” It took another moment. “Stop staring at me, will you?” 

To Be Continued…. The Cowboy’s Baby by Gretchen Lee Rix available at for Kindle readers and Kindle apps. Copyright 2010. Blog photos by Roxanne Rix 

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK—Shaken by J.A. Konrath. 

Shaken by J.A. Konrath reviewed

Shaken (not Stirred, that’s the name of the next Jack Daniels mystery from J.A. Konrath, forgive me but I just had to say it) has the whole bagful of what makes contemporary thrillers of this type so enjoyable, even if you’ve pretty much read it all before. 

There are impossibly inventive, extremely nasty serial killers to catch. There is a great gal inching her way up the police career ladder who is dead set on catching them. There are familiar and entertaining sidekicks. There is fast-paced writing without a lot of extraneous description. And it’s even funny sometimes. 

Presented to readers (in its original state) in three timelines, Shaken is almost impossible to put down. Not great (like Red Dragon), but a good, quick read. Worth your time if you “like” serial killer stories. 

Although Shaken is the first of this series I have read (and this is near the end of this series), there was nothing confusing about coming in so late in the game. I want to read the rest of them now. What better comment could I make. 


The Cowboy’s Baby continued

Ellison couldn’t help it; he grinned at the image that popped into his head, this despite the hint of tragedy in her recitation—the small white cat guarding the recluse and her mysterious property.

“She’d turn that cat loose on you,” he commented.

The women looked kindly at his ignorance. They shrugged at each other before one patted him tentatively on the arm and said he was holding them up. They were here to play golf. He stood puzzled as they drove their golf carts closer to the tee. Marcia joined him.

“What was that all about?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he answered, still watching the ladies, none of whom had turned around.

“Well,” Marcia concluded. “You’ve lost the cat. I saw him run off and that’s that.”

“Damn. I pictured myself carrying the little beast to that woman on a silver tray. How the hell can I get in now?” He caught her staring at his pants.

Ellison brushed more grass off his spoiled trousers and looked way back over his office building and toward the Lennon estate. He felt a sudden sting. He slapped at his arm. He slapped his arm a second time, this time the sting of hard hand on firm flesh jolted him out of his trance.

“Is this a flea bite!” he cried, amazed at the rapidly burgeoning red bump, holding out his sinewy, tanned arm for Marcia to inspect. But his gaze kept returning to the horizon that was the beginning of Cassandra Lennon’s wall. With an effort he forced his attention back to his irritated flesh and Marcia’s ministrations.

“Well?” She had held his arm long enough and it was making him uneasy.

“Probably mosquitoes,” Marcia said, tossing his arm away. Ellison knew she had touched his arm just that bit of too much, and that he had let her. “You really ought to get out more,” she was saying. “This time of year mosquito repellent is the perfume du jour, and you should have known that by now.”

He just scowled at her, still thinking of the slight electricity of her touch.

“Or it might have been a fire ant,” she said.

Ellison pulled the sleeve slowly back down over the strong arm she had just set afire and let the silence build between them. He had Marcia’s puzzled attention shortly. But this was not the time to say what was really bothering him. He pushed lovely Marcia thoughts back with the rest of his dreams and brought business problems to the fore.

“Enough,” he said. “Let’s go back inside. Back to work. We’ll figure something out about Mrs. Lennon.” He shepherded her all the way back to the office in silence, his expression moody, hers contemplative.

To Be Continued…..Copyright 2010. Blog photos by Roxanne Rix

WHAT I’VE READ THIS WEEK:  Have Gun, Will Play by Camille La Guire, a really charming western/mystery e-book at for Kindle.

Scare The Dickens Update and More on Writing

The Scare The Dickens Out of  Us ghost story contest is over. All entries got in before the October 1st postmark deadline and Junior Scare The Dickens Out of Us entries are ready to go to final judging, which may take up to three weeks. We have main contest entries from South Africa, England, Australia and Canada, and from all over the United States (but none from Hawaii or Alaska). The stories were very good. Great job, y’all. I just got back from ordering the trophies and ribbons that go with the $1000.00, $500.00 and $250.00 cash prizes. There should be a 2011 Scare The Dickens Out of Us if all goes as planned. It will probably have the same prize money and rules. In January look it up at


Technically, revision does not include proofreading and copy editing, it only concerns itself with the story and how it is laid out in words and paragraphs, fixing logic problems, adding or subtracting description, etc. But to me proofreading and copy editing are just the last part of the revision process.

When I finished The Cowboy’s Baby and thought it was as good as I could make it and had no spelling errors or punctuation or grammar mistakes, I had three separate people read it.  The first found a major logic problem. She also thought she found a spelling error, but she was wrong. The second corrected a lot of awkward sentences for me, and also found spelling errors. She was right. The third found even more spelling errors. She, too, was right. (But strangely enough, since they all worked from the same manuscript, neither of the last two readers ever saw any logic errors that bothered them. I tell myself the story was carrying them along so fast that they never noticed).

I took ninety percent of my beta readers’ suggestions to heart and changed what they had found fault with. The other ten percent I kept as I’d originally written it, whether it was wrong or not. Then I proofread the corrected manuscript word by word two separate times. And then off it went. I did my best. And I’m pretty sure there are still a couple of misspelled words and even grammar errors embedded in the now- published book. Next time I’m going to let someone else proofread it after I think it is perfect. Two sets of eyes and all that. That is one thing I learned in this publishing experience.

Another piece of advice I forgot to take was to read the story outloud to myself. I have done that in the past (with my very first completed novel), but it never crossed my mind this time. When I finish my new novel ArroyoI will read it outloud to myself. You can catch a lot of problems that way.

Photos on this blog are by Roxanne Rix. The Cowboy’s Baby is available for Kindle readers and Kindle apps at Right now I am getting ready to watch the new Hawaii 50. Strange how much I am enjoying this tv program. Must be the scenery.

The Cowboy’s Baby continued

“He might get run over!” Ellison cried.

“Oh, she’d really love us then.”

Ellison knew he didn’t present a very reassuring image as he approached the female golfers where the white cat had hidden himself. They stared at him in blank surprise—Ellison Stewart, who never had a hair out of place and whose idea of casual daywear for work was a three-piece suit, had dropped to his knees twice on his aproach, trying to entice the cat, and was now crawling. Mrs. Bishop wouldn’t be the only woman telling tales out of hand about this morning, he realized.

He shook his head, discouraged, then got up from his knees and brushed off the stray grasses. His pants were ruined with stains, his hair was in his eyes, he was out of breath and he couldn’t think of anything to charm them with.

“I’m trying to get that white cat,” he explained flatly.

“You mean the cowboy’s baby?” one of the women inquired, turning her head to look to the right. Ellison saw a quick flash of white before it was gone; it had to be the feline pest. He did some more brushing of his pants.

“You know that cat?” he asked, careful to hide his intensity, deciding against his better judgment that good-looking charm would not be amiss here; she seemed to know something that might help. Ellison smiled into her face and looked right into her eyes, giving it his all.

Of course she blinked and stood dumbstruck. Ellison cursed himself for overkill and tried to dampen his charisma.

“You know the cat?” he repeated, this time in the voice of a kindly uncle talking to a skittish child.

All four of the women in the group looked askance at each other before belatedly guffawing in his face. Nonplussed, he took a step back, for the first time in ages looking genuinely innocent through those gray eyes.

“What?” he asked, stammering. “What . . .”

“Oh, you’re a good-looking man all right,” the original woman said, smiling slyly, repressing a grin as her friends continued to smirk. “But the hormones aren’t working anymore,” she explained. “You can treat me like a person.” She quirked her mouth before continuing.

“Yes,” she said. “We know the cat. He’s got a route,” she continued, “and my flower gardens are one of his last stops. Cassandra won’t listen to reason about any of her babies although I’ve warned her again and again about the danger.”

“You know Mrs. Lennon?” he asked, coughing in excitement.

“Only over the phone.”

“And over the wall,” one of the younger women said, interrupting.

“Just last week she told me to stuff my golf balls up my, well, you know. And I’d only gone up to the garden. I’d never dream of going over the wall.”

Ellison noticed the blush creeping up her face about the same time she did.

“No one ever really sees her,” she continued. “She doesn’t leave the ranch.”

“Why not?” he asked, fascinated in spite of himself.

“I asked her once,” the woman who’d told the golf balls story admitted. “I blurted that she’d mourned enough, surely it was time to start living again.” She paused. “You know she was hospitalized over it,” she added.

“And?” someone asked.

“She said she was living. Didn’t need anything. Didn’t want anything. And that I’d better not climb over the damned wall to retrieve any more golf balls or she’d sic her baby on me.”

To Be Continued… Copyright 2010. Photos by Roxanne Rix



Violent, gory, campy, and most of all, fun! It’s Draculas, the new e-book horror novel for Kindle coming to life October 19. A gang of four writers made this up between them, unleashing a type of vampire not much seen recently—more like a shark with legs than the brooding Lord Byron wannabe that most bloodsuckers have been since the birth of Bram Stoker’s monster.

A small hospital in a small town has the ill fortune to have Mr. Moorcook die in the ER and morph into the patient-zero draculas. (They call the vampires draculas here.) Immediately it is a fight to the death between the quick and the dead and all bets are off as to who (if anyone) will survive the night. Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn, Jeff Strand and F. Paul Wilson are responsible for what one of their characters calls this ‘homicidal monster infestation’ of a thriller. My favorite line—“Once you become a pickle, you can’t go back to being a cucumber.”

If you enjoy the SyFy channel’s made for TV monster and disaster movies, then Draculas is definitely the book for you. Fun, campy, gory and violent. Good job, guys.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK—Draculas by Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn, Jeff Strand and F. Paul Wilson.

The Cowboy’s Baby continued

“Aren’t those the Creighton Ladies Garden Club experimental flowers he’s dining on?” Marcia commented. She had moved up beside him virtually unheard and seemingly recovered from her outburst. Ellison smelled Marcia’s light perfume but didn’t let it distract him this time. What was that cat doing there?

“Whose cat is that!” he demanded. He knew that none of the properties abutting the golf course even had pets.

“I don’t know,” she said as Ellison frowned. He turned back to the window. The cat had disappeared. Ellison again ran his fingers through his hair, muttering.

Something pink in the cool green of the grass caught the corner of his eye and he had a sudden urge to get that cat and, then what? Turning on his heel, he brushed past Marcia and rushed to the exit. Once outside in the early morning humidity, Ellison retrieved the collar and found the little monster. The cat was slyly hidden in the shade of the small garden and was still eating the flowers. Ellison marched resolutely towards him, twirling the collar in his hands.

Marcia stopped him. She had quietly followed him out. She touched his hand. “Don’t scare him away,” she said. “What does it say on the collar?”

He looked. Then he looked at her. “It says ‘Baby Lennon’.”

Marcia was the first to laugh; her infectious noise making Ellison laugh as well as he dangled the collar in his hand. He watched the little white monster eating flowers and wondered about the name.

“What a damned name,” Marcia said at last. “But…” She stopped. “You don’t suppose this is Mrs. Lennon’s cat, do you?”

“I sure do,” he said. Simultaneously they had the same thought and tumbled vocally over each other in their eagerness to voice it.

“We can pretend he is, anyhow!” Marcia exclaimed.

“It will give me a lead, a reason to call. Something she’ll be grateful about when it leaks out about the golf course on her property.” Ellison babbled, delighted by this stroke of luck until Marcia’s slowly emerging dour expression registered on him.

“Don’t you have to catch the cat first?” she asked, pointing to a white tail disappearing quickly into the more active area of the golf course.

To be continued…The Cowboy’s Baby by Gretchen Lee Rix, copyright 2010.

WHAT I’VE READ THIS WEEK—The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, and Demon Ex Machina by Julie Kenner.   

USELESS INFORMATION—I wrote portions of The Cowboy’s Baby in the library featured in this blog’s photo (photo by Roxanne Rix) and will be writing some of my new novel there as well.