Southwest Museum of Clocks and Watches

I’m taking advantage of my self-imposed vacation from writing and doing other fun stuff  instead. One week left. Caldwell County offers some interesting entertainments and there were a lot of people downtown this Saturday afternoon taking advantage of them. Many were at Smitty’s Market eating barbecue. Many were at Kreuz Market and Blacks eating barbecue. (Lockhart is the barbecue capital of Texas.) But some were with us at Henry’s having their all-day breakfast special or the chicken fried steak. 

Down in Fentress I bet  Frank’s Place was extra busy. It’s a delicious little restaurant that looks like a big shed. Don’t let the outside looks fool you (or the full parking lot, either–there’s room for you). And further down the road in Martindale there’s the Cottonseed Cafe & Deli with its equally delicious food. Hope they were busy too. We were doing our driving around in the beautiful countryside up Lyntton Springs way and didn’t go much further than our own town Saturday.

Hope some of those people in Lockhart were checking out the Buffalo Clover gift shop (I bought Valentines/had to fight my impulse to get some of their impossibly cute balloons). I know some tourists were at the historic old jailhouse behind Walgreens because I saw them when I drove by. Hope they also went to  the Southwest Museum of Clocks and Watches

 The clock museum attracts horologists, to be sure (learned a new word today–horologist). But it’s equally interesting as an art museum. And for movie fans, the building on 101  San Antonio Street that now houses the clock museum was the setting for the hotel scenes in Natalie Portman’s movie “Where The Heart Is”. In fact, there is a lot of Lockhart in that movie. And our beautiful courthouse right across the street figured in Johnny Depp’s movie “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”. (I keep looking around here for that water tower Leonardo DiCaprio  climbed in that movie, but it either was never here or is long gone.)

They’ve made a lot of movies in Lockhart. While Jack Black was in town late last year I believe he went over and ate at Black’s Barbecue.

On another note, the good people at Just A Contest are promoting Scare The Dickens Out of Us ghost story contest.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK–In Country by Bobbie Ann Mason.

Smitty’s Market Kreuz Market /Cottonseed Cafe & Deli  Black’s Barbecue

                Southwest Museum of Clocks and Watches


Scare The Dickens Out of Us 2011

I am officially notifying everyone that the Scare The Dickens Out of Us ghost story writing contest is up and running for its third year. Full contest information and rules are available at

Entries are accepted starting July 1, 2011 (we don’t disqualify anyone for entering earlier). The deadline is October 1, 2011 (postmarked). First place prize is $1000.00 and a trophy. Second place is $500.00 and a prize ribbon. Third place is $250.00 and a prize ribbon.

We also have a Junior Scare The Dickens Out of Us ghost story writing contest that is exactly like its sister contest except for the age restriction. Writers aged 12-18 are elibible for the $250.00 and a trophy first prize. All other finalists receive prize ribbons. If any of you have children or grandchildren in this age range who have fiction writing talent, encourage them to enter.

All we want are original, never before published ghost stories no longer than 5000 words. The stories can be scary, or they can be romantic. They can be ugly, or they can be funny. They can even be children’s stories (however, don’t enter the Junior contest if you are an adult, even if you have written a children’s story. ) There are no restrictions beyond the word count.  BUT.  The stories have to be ghost stories. That means a ghost. Not a vampire or a zombie or a monster under the bed. A ghost.

The contest is open to anyone from any country. The only thing we ask from writers out of the U.S. is that they send the entry fee money via international money order, if possible. Oh yes. There is an entry fee of $20.00 for the Scare The Dickens Out of Us contest and $5.00 for the Junior contest. This writing contest is a fundraiser for the Friends of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library in Lockhart, Texas (see photo), which is the oldest, continuously-in-use library in Texas. The contest is privately funded. All money received goes directly to the Friends of the Library, who then give it to the library to use for whatever projects they want.

Last year we received entries from Canada, the U.K., South Africa, and Australia, as well as throughout the United States and Texas. The stories were great.  The contest is open to published and unpublished authors alike. So far, the top prize was won both years by unpublished writers.

If you have any questions you can direct them to and I will receive them.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK—The White Pipes by Nancy Kress, The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. And, The Death-Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean. 

The link for The Death-Defying Pepper Roux, one of the best and most surprising books I’ve ever read, is

Photos by Roxanne Rix

While The Savage Sleeps review

One of the most horrific murders ever written opens Andrew E. Kaufman’s debut mystery novel While The Savage Sleeps. In quiet little Faith, New Mexico, someone channeling rage-incarnate goes-to-town with farm implements while on a lonely and abandoned road the police use for naps while on duty. With one of their own fatally violated by this monster, the police are frantic to find quick answers. But before they even get the investigation off the ground, their nice little mountain town is hit by a new series of even more brutal and unexplainable murders, with no sign it’s ever going to stop.
At the same time a companion storyline is developing across state. A doctor, who also happens to be a psychic, is clobbered with disabling visions of mysterious, very ugly goings-on at a hospital circa WWII, and determines to come to the solution of this mystery or die trying. If you haven’t seen the movie trailer at Mr. Kaufman’s website, take a look. Disturbing doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Strong storytelling and vivid description combine, and as the two stories merge, While the Savage Sleeps gives up its secrets.
While The Savage Sleeps is available as an e-book at   It is also available in paperback.

WHAT ELSE I’VE READ THIS WEEK–Tarzan and the Golden Lion by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Photos courtesy of  Andrew E. Kaufman.

When Life Happens, Writing Doesn’t, a guest blog from Deb Sanders

I’ve read about the difficulties of published authors balancing full time careers and families with their writing efforts. After the last six months, I think I’m ready for prime time.

I dedicated the first half of 2010 to perfecting my craft. I attended a workshop every month, sometimes two. I revised one of my manuscripts in preparation of publishing via Smashwords. Progress on my paranormal WIP was moving along and I was motivated to complete it.

Then came the summer and life happened. We moved to Oklahoma from Texas after my husband was forced to take early retirement. It wasn’t a move we relished but family was there, cost of living was less, so we decided to give it a try. We rented a house sight unseen from Craigslist. Not a good idea.

The place was horrible. I wanted to cry when we first arrived. It was a nightmare of toxic mold, leaky roof and black water seeping out of the ground from a damaged septic system. Our landlady assured us she would make things right if we stayed. We did. We had no option.

I found a full time job right away and worked a part time job on the side. I was not writing, and it bothered me. A lot. How could life snatch all that away at the exact time momentum had began to take over?

Refusing to fall prey to a lengthy pity party, I began taking my Netbook to work and writing through my lunch hour. After dinner, I would sometimes write until two in the morning. I consumed enough 5 Hour Energy drinks to have earned stock in the company. But I was writing. I could see progress.

That is until social security discontinued hubby’s retirement benefits because he earned too much money the first month. We were barely squeaking by on finances. This was devastating news. So devastating that my muse hid her head under the cover and refused to come out. I stopped writing…again.

Our landlady had not followed through on her promise to make the house livable. We were sick from mold. The roof still leaked. Even our pets were suffering form skin allergies which I’m sure came from the toxins flowing through our back yard.

We broke our lease and she agreed not to take us to court. Smart lady. Our daughter graciously offered us lodging at her home in North Carolina until we could get back on our feet. We accepted. I’m from an era where parents don’t live with their children. This was very humbling but what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger. I should have Herculean strength at this point.

For the second time in six months, we relocated. This time the move has been positive. Hubby applied for a part time job and was hired the same day. His retirement benefits are being restored. The pension we requested five months ago was finally processed. I applied for two jobs, had second interviews with both and will be starting work next week. The pay is good, the benefits great.

I’ve been writing up a storm. Instead of pursuing Smashwords, I’m focusing on my WIP. My head is swimming with new scenes and plot twists. I’ve stumbled onto some research that will add authenticity to my story and give it a unique spin.

Last year was one of the most challenging I’ve experienced in quite some time. I’m glad it’s over. When I look at how much writing I managed to accomplish through the ups and downs, I’m still amazed. I think diversification was the key. I began reviewing for The Season For Romance. I blog at New Kids On The Writers Block, as well as post to my own blog. I managed to keep my website fairly current.

Those small projects were instrumental in keeping my mind on writing. They kept me motivated on days when I couldn’t even look at my WIP. But I never gave up on my dream of being published. I never will.

Deb Sanders

It was a very good year, mostly

As far as writing went, 2010 proved a very good year for me. Late in December my horror short story “When Gymkhana Smiles” was accepted for future publication by Fantastic Horror, an online short story site. I couldn’t have received better news. Also in December, The Cowboy’s Baby came out at as a paperback book. It looks just great. It was published as a Kindle book on in July and looks good there too. And I just finished the 80,000-word first draft of my next novel, Arroyo, a pulp adventure Western with horror aspects. That’s a lot of writing for me.

Either with this blog or the next I will showcase the paperback The Cowboy’s Baby in a separate section with a link for purchase.  But it’s pretty easy to look up. bookstore/then literature and fiction/then The Cowboy’s Baby. Check it out on for Kindle too, also easy to find under Kindle/then ebooks/then The Cowboy’s Babyby Gretchen Lee Rix.

I’ll let you know when my short story is out.

I’m going to take a month off from writing fiction (probably a mistake but I’m doing it anyhow). Then I’ll begin the process of revising Arroyo. And I think I’ll write a new short story.

Best wishes for all of you.

WHAT I’VE READ THIS WEEK—The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr.

Photos by Roxanne Rix.  Follow me on Twitter and join me on Facebook. Read chapter one of The Cowboy’s Babyby scrolling back to the beginnings of this blog site. Read a later chapter by going to the notes section of my Facebook page. Buy The Cowboy’s Baby in either format (ebook or paperback)and have an enjoyable read.