Reviews Redux

Some books rate a second or even a third reading, they are so good. Here are the reviews of what I’m sure I’ll be reading again.


DODGING BULLETS put me right into the character of heroin dealer Peto Hurst and wouldn’t let me out, even as he totally screwed up what was left of his marginal life by stealing from San Antonio’s Mexican Mafia. He ended up in a cornfield with a pistol to his head, and I will never again think of cornfields without thinking of gang murders (thank you Joe McKinney).

I felt like I was a heroin dealer running from worse to worst with my girlfriend at stake (first person viewpoint), my life at stake, everyone’s life at stake, making mistake after mistake and ending up with a slam-bam bloody shootout that either saved the day (or didn’t/no spoilers here). How many times did I say “stake”?

Loved it. And I’m a nice girl too.

Available on Kindle from and from Gutter Books

SHAKEN by J.A. Konrath

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 comtemporary thrilers 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.

WHAT I’VE READ THIS WEEK—A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin. And Daisy Chain by Mary E. DeMuth.

Photos by Roxanne Rix

The Cowboy’s Baby excerpt, Chapter Sixteen

“Calm down,” Ellison said, restraining his impulse to jump up and down like Marcia. He took her hand. 
“I’m not exactly afraid, you know,” she said, looking at her fingers in his, experimenting by holding onto his hand a little. “It’s more like excited.”  

Ellison laughed and did not release her but drew her into him for a tight hug. Before he knew what he was doing he kissed the top of her head and sighed. Marcia blinked furiously, and then she forced herself to relax. He hugged her again and looked over her at the commotion by the stock pen.  

The goats were running a crazy loop around the inside of their enclosure, seemingly intent on winning some sort of race. The small horses stood aside, moving as need be to get out of their way, not much interested, he thought.  

Cassie, Frank, Alan and Jeremy all stood in the middle of the ruckus looking at the little bull who was now stealing hay from the goats. He would grab a portion and amble to the tree with it where he let it go. Ellison could see a small cache under the tree even from where he stood.  

Why the little bull didn’t stop and eat what he already had, he had no idea. Baby could steal hay from the goats all night long as far as he was concerned; he liked being exactly where he was, holding Marcia in his arms and doing nothing more than breathing. Ellison thought he had never felt so at peace.  

Marcia turned in his arms and snuggled into him. She heard another sigh. Emboldened, she raised her lips to his and automatically Ellison kissed her back. This is sweet, he thought.  

This is magic, Marcia thought.  

“Damn it, guys, get a room,” Leon commented, walking past the pair with his mother, who gave him a swift jab in the ribs. “What? What did I say?” he asked.  

“Keep walking,” she said, looking sidewise at her brother and struggling to keep the grin off her face. “Just keep walking.”  

Marcia barely noticed them as she leaned upwards to deepen the kiss. Ellison kissed back. A few minutes later when he was seriously considering the picnic table in front of them for carnal purposes, he opened his eyes and was shocked to see they had an audience. Blood roaring in his ears had prevented him from hearing the frantic shouts aimed at them from the animal pen. Seeing Baby standing yards away looking at them and tossing those long horns in seeming frustration got all his blood back where it was supposed to be and in double quick time.  

He very carefully moved Marcia out of his arms and stood her behind him. Were you supposed to stare an animal down or was it one of those ‘don’t look them in the eye’ situations, he wondered.  

Time was moving slowly. They had the picnic table between them and the bull. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Cassie and her men walking up. He felt Marcia stand on her toes to look over his shoulder. She froze. The bull was suddenly right in front of them and time abruptly went into overdrive.  

Baby jumped his front legs up onto the bench, lowered his head into the box suppers that were spread over the table and picked up one in his mouth. With that box he then proceeded to sweep the rest of their food off onto the ground before he tottered and fell off the bench and back to earth, getting his legs stuck between bench and table in the doing.  

All Ellison could think about were the horns. Baby was a miniature bull to be sure, but the horns were sharp and the horns were close. He started backing himself and Marcia away from the table, knowing not to run. In what seemed no time they were out of the clearing and where the automobiles were parked, along with all of the other guests.  

Cassie, Frank, Alan and Jeremy were busy disentangling the little monster from the picnic table. Baby immediately shook them off and began transferring cardboard deli boxes to his spot under the tree where he had amassed a lot of the goats’ hay.  

“What’s he doing?” Marcia asked, peering into the setting sun at their hosts and the bull that had just completed his third trip.  

“I think he’s gathering food for himself,” Leona said, trying not to laugh. “Seems like he wasn’t content with the hay he took from the goats or the grain he knocked down near the horses, he had to have our food as well.”  

“This is a bull we’re talking about?” asked Ralph, inexplicably using his flashlight to try to see it better.  

“This is one of Cassandra’s babies,” Marian corrected. “They’re all a little weird. She told me this one was hand- raised on milk and Mrs. Baird’s Bread.”  

“But we were eating sandwiches,” Marcia interposed. “Mine was a turkey sandwich.”  

 “At least they weren’t hamburgers,” Leona said.  

“Or barbeque,” Leon said.  

“Or roast beef,” Ralph added. “You didn’t have a roast beef sandwich in one of those boxes did you, Ellison?” he asked. 

“Ooooough,” little Leon said, making a gagging motion with his hands.  

 “What did I tell you about making that noise again?” snapped his grandmother.  

COPYRIGHT 2010 BY GRETCHEN RIX. Photos by Roxanne Rix  


Buffalo Clover, Rix Cafe Texican and Scare The Dickens Out of Us

My romance novel The Cowboy’s Baby is finally doing pretty good as a Kindle e-book at   I’m one hundred percent sure it’s the result of lowering the price to 99 cents.  But, hey.   It’s never been my goal to make oodles of money out of my writing.  The goal has been to write something good that people will enjoy reading, and then to have them buy and read it.   (I can only assume they are reading it.  I eventually read all the novels I buy.)

At the local level, the eclectic gift shop and flower company Buffalo Clover (104 E. Market St., Lockhart, Tx) has been selling paperback copies of  The Cowboy’s Baby since January.  My sister (the publisher of this paperback) and I have been real pleased at the sales.  Plus we love to look around in their shop. They’ve usually got a great display of yard art for sale, much of which has ended up at our house.  Walking into their shop is like going on a treasure hunt, there is always something marvelous to find there.


So, while the old book was having a modicum of success, the new book, Arroyo, got shoved aside last week as I recovered from a nasty cold.  I could have worked on it.  But I didn’t.  That is a really bad habit for any writer to get into (not writing). What I did was to continue to promote the Scare The Dickens Out of Us ghost story writing contest.  Starting in July the submissions will start rolling in (although an awful lot of writers seem to wait UNTIL THE VERY LAST MINUTE TO SEND THEIR STORIES IN.)  It’s okay. We can handle it.  If you’ve never heard of this writing contest, see full rules, etc. at  It’s a fun thing and does a lot of good for our local library.

My sister Roxanne and I have now set up an LLC company called Rix Cafe Texican to serve as paperback publisher and distributor for my book The Cowboy’s Baby (and probably also for Arroyo when I get it done).  When we get our website up ( no, it’s not ready yet), we will be promoting the work of Central Texas writers and musicians and other artsy people, and publishing my work, and then hopefully branching out to publish some other Central Texas writers in the future. We will also be selling a few used books, both at local fairs and off the website.  So far Blurb (which prints The Cowboy’s Baby and has an online book store for distribution) hasn’t sold a single copy; we may take the paperback distribution back from them and try selling from the Rix Cafe Texican website in a little while.   In the meantime you can find it at  in their bookstore section.

WHAT I’VE READ THIS WEEK—A Game Of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.  I think this is the third time I’ve read it.  It’s still great, although now I’m stuck seeing Sean Bean as Eddard instead of however I used to picture the character.



Riveting, powerful, ruthless and frightening describe what is best about the novel RUN by Blake Crouch, a thriller (or science fiction novel, depending on your interpretation). What is worst about it is more than counterbalanced by the best, thank goodness, but there are lapses here. No matter.

RUN is a throwback to the 1950’s sci fi classics we used to find in the public library (John Christopher’s No Blade of Grass being one), and I still love them. I loved RUN.

Due to a phenomenon in the sky (Don’t we know by now not to look!), half the population of the United States wakes up the next morning fully prepared to torture and murder the ones who didn’t “see the lights”; this for no reason, and even if they are  family. Right then most of the “normals” are hunted down and exterminated. The lucky ones who escape, run. This is the story.

Hard to set aside once it gets going, RUN will leave you wanting to read more Blake Crouch.

Available as an e-book for Kindle readers and apps.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK—RUN by Blake Crouch and The People of the Mist by H. Rider Haggard.

Second Draft

I’m in the beginning of the second draft of my new novel Arroyo. While keeping the characters, much of the setting and some of the plot intact, I am completely changing the way the novel will be presented. Hopefully that will fix what I hated when I read through this section about a month ago. If not, then I guess I’ll scrap the first section and begin with section two.

SHOW, DON’T TELL is pretty much the cardinal rule of writing fiction. Sometimes you find a novel you enjoy the hell out of, and most of it is the author telling you what happened. But most of the time you want to see the action unfold in front of your eyes. I tried to explain the difference to someone at a writer’s workshop a couple of years ago. It can be hard to understand.

This is an example of Show:  He very carefully moved Marcia out of his arms and stood her behind him. They had the picnic table between them and the bull. He felt Marcia stand on her toes to look over his shoulder. She froze.

This is an example of Tell:  Tanned skin the color of dirt, a weather-worn face crisscrossed by tiny lines at the mouth and eyes, untidy, nondescript hair crammed underneath a floppy, unbecoming and stained hat, and a wiry, long body—that was Cassie Lennon at age thirty-five.

Both examples from The Cowboy’s Baby by Gretchen Lee Rix copyrighted 2010.

There is a place for both showing the story and telling the story in each novel; you just want to be careful about leaning too much towards just “telling”.

With Arroyo there is no real deadline for me to meet. Except!!!!!!!! I have been named one of the featured authors for the 2011 Evening With the Authors event in Lockhart, Texas. This is for The Cowboy’s Baby. I’m deluding myself into thinking there’s a possibility I could have Arroyo polished, finished and published by that time. Then I’d have two books to sell. Not going to happen. It’s more important to have Arroyo perfect than to have it out at a certain time. By the way, I’ve been invited to participate because I’m a local writer and I’m active in the community—a lot of people know who I am; but they like my book, too.

WHAT I’VE READ THIS WEEK–That Certain Spark by Cathy Hake.

Photos by Roxanne Rix