For a science fiction novel, Guns of Seneca 6 sure makes a damned good western. Strong writing, vivid action and characters both familiar and memorable are what  you get here;  plus it’s set on a planet other than Earth.

If you like westerns, you’re going to love it. If you like a good story, you’re going to love it. But if you read science fiction for the unexpectedness of the strange settings and people, then you won’t. Me, I’d go for the good story every time. The hell with the rest.

The story is set around the trials and tribulations of a trio of lawmen policing a hardscrabble little town that’s surrounded by a protective fence. One night the natives get in. People die and retribution begins. There are really, really bad guys, brave and remarkable good guys, aliens (to us) much like the American Indians we are used to seeing in the movies, and one exceptionally nasty bug-eyed monster (BEM) in this story.

Highly recommended. Bernard Schaffer can tell a tale.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK—Guns of Seneca 6 by Bernard Schaffer.

Link to Guns of Seneca 6


Here’s a new romantic suspense novel to while away your weekend without regret: STONE COLD JUSTICE by Deb Sanders. It’s paced to be a very quick read, which is another way of saying you can’t put it down.

Maggie McGregor returns to her childhood ranch when her parents die only to find herself getting shot at the minute she gets there. Handsome, sexy cowboy Nick Stone saves her, but then she kicks him in the balls for his efforts. Sexual sparks fly, of course, but there are enough different suspense threads running through STONE COLD JUSTICE to keep you riveted to the story.

Available at and Smashwords.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK—Stone Cold Justice by Deb Sanders,  Stirredby J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch.   and

Stirred can be found at

And my latest novel Arroyo is at and  and at

STIRRED, a review

I was going to start this review with a clever segue using the title STIRRED, but what the hell. Let’s cut right to the chase. Did I enjoy STIRRED by J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch?


Would I ever read it again?

You bet.

By the time I got near the end of these two thriller writers’ collaborative police procedural-cum-serial -killer event, I almost loved this book. It’s a very fast-paced, waay over-the-top twisted (and often laugh-out-loud-funny) addition to your reading list. Outrageous, ugly, and at times hilarious, what other book has an eight-and-a-half-month pregnant heroine climbing to the top of a water tower on one of those rickety outside ladders? Not one, I’m sure.

Ex-ubercop Jack Daniels is very pregnant, and having a hard time of it, when she’s targeted by evil incarnate (aka Luther Kite) and forced to fight for her very survival. Luther wants Jack as he’s never wanted another victim. He’s sure that if he can break her, he’ll have the partner in vicious killing he’s only now realizing he can’t live without. He’ll use her friends and even her unborn daughter as his weapons, and if you can’t stomach outrageously ugly and inventive murder scenes, this isn’t the book for you.

The nine levels of hell await Jack and her team in STIRRED, a collaboration between two bestselling thriller writers who one-up each other right into the shocking twisted ending. Both series (The Jack Daniels series from Konrath and the Andrew Z. Thomas series from Crouch) come to an end with STIRRED, at least for a while.

Again. Did I enjoy this sometimes gut-wrenchingly-detailed torture and murder tale? Yes. So say goodbye to Jack Daniels, probably the only pregnant character you’ll ever know who charged into the depths of Dante’s Inferno to make the world a safer place for the rest of us.

Konrath and Crouch in a short Q&A promoting STIRRED

VERY SHORT Q&A From STIRRED authors Blake Crouch and J.A. Konrath

J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch are participating in a spate of promotional Q&A sessions of five-questions-only for their new thriller STIRRED, and here are mine. I tried to think of something they aren’t asked each and every time and also something I’d be interested in knowing.

QUESTION:  As collaborators, what happens when you stubbornly disagree over your story or characters? (They wrote STIRRED together as the final book to two on-going mystery/thriller series–the Jack Daniels series for Konrath and the Andrew Z. Thomas/Luther Kite series for Crouch.)

ANSWER:  This will sound strange (Crouch), but I don’t think we’ve had any major disagreements over story or character (probably why our collaborations have been so much fun and why we continue to do them). This isn’t to say we agree on everything, but there’s a level of trust where if either of us wants to do something the other one isn’t keen on, we talk it out and trust that they know where they’re going.

QUESTION:  Do you allow family or friends to influence your work (make suggestions you take seriously, change something because they don’t like it, etc?)

ANSWER:  Yes, we have family and friends who are successful writers whose feedback we value greatly (Crouch).

QUESTION:  Describe a normal day for yourselves. How much time do you put into your writing.

ANSWER:  There is no normal day. Some of STIRRED we wrote separately. Most of it we wrote together in long, intense bursts in a Google doc. On the day we finished the book, we put up 9,000 words (Crouch). 

QUESTION:  Do you have a special story you would like to write that is out of the thriller genre or in other ways much different from what we are used to from you? And will you write it?

ANSWER:  I think most of the projects I want to write happen to fall in the thriller genre (Crouch). There is no romance or sci-fi or big literary project I’m dying to do. I pretty much write exactly what I want to write. That’s one of the great things about ebooks. The freedom they give you.

ANSWER:  No (Konrath).

QUESTION:  What is your favorite book, movie, television series?

ANSWER: Blood Meridian (book), Unforgiven (movie), Twin Peaks (television series) —Blake Crouch.

Note: I didn’t recognize the title of the book so I looked it up. Author Cormac McCarthy.

ANSWERThe Judas Goat (book), Black Dynamite (movie), Good Eats (television)–J.A. Konrath.

Note: This time I didn’t recognize the title of the book or the movie. Book author Robert B. Parker. Black Dynamite is an action movie from 2009 starring Michael Jai White.

STIRRED ends the series for both authors and is exclusive as an ebook to and the Kindle. It goes live November 22.    ought to get you to J.A. Konrath’s pages. His blog (a must for all writers) is at   Look for Blake Crouch’s books at . Blake Crouch’s website is

Arroyo, a paranormal western

From Arroyo, a paranormal western by the author of  The Cowboy’s Baby—-

As Daniel watched, Ramona crept closer to her former burden, telling herself she only wanted to see if the chains were broken and unusable. She didn’t want to admit that it was talking to her again. “Nieta,” it hissed. The snake head moved its dead jaws with the greeting. “Me muero de hambre. Hungry,” it said. She stood hypnotized.

“There is is!” Narendra galloped right up beside her, breathing heavily from his run. He broke the spell. Ramona quickly reared back in horror. It had nearly taken her again, she realized. The Rajput used his sword and ran it gingerly through the reptile’s mouth to get it off the wooden Indian statue, all the while gently nudging Ramona aside. Immediately the snake head clamped its fangs onto the steel; just as abruptly the Rajput screamed, swung the sword high through the air, and tossed the head far ahead of them on the arroyo floor.

–A buxom Mexican witch doomed to a disastrous ending drags two strange companions across Texas with her in Arroyo, a paranormal western and pulp action adventure story for a modern audience. As her traveling companion Sinjin McIntosh Narendra (the Rajput) alternately plunges and bumbles his way towards his ultimate fate, and Daniel either thwarts or abets their every plan—

See Ramona resist the kiss of the vampire. Will she fall under the sway of an even more challenging love?

Watch as Ramona subverts the hand of God to her will. Can the Rajput discover his shocking true identity? Will Daniel find his redemption in fire?

Follow Ramona, the Rajput and Daniel as they leave Texas history in shambles pursuing their own destinies. Watch amazed at what they leave behind.

 A  pulp adventure western novel with touches of the horror genre, Arroyo is a roller coaser ride through 1893 Texas that will keep your eyes glued to the page until The End.

Copyright 2011 by Gretchen Rix. 

Available at Smashwords for all e-book apps

Available at Barnes & Noble Nook

Available at Kindle

What I read this week:  Double Negative by David Carkeet.

Stephen King and Neiman Marcus

STEPHEN KING. Dallas, Texas, this past Thursday evening. A bucket list event. A four-hour drive from here. Lady sitting by me drove from Wichita, Kansas. A Conversation With Stephen King. Majestic Theater . Signed copies of 11/22/63. Neiman-Marcus a couple of blocks away. Standing in line outside. Cool weather, not quite cold. Excited fans. Young faces (meaning twentyish). Many middle-aged faces. Signed copies of a Stephen King book! Two signed copies of a Stephen King book!

Steve relaxed and comfortable. Looking healthy, happy. Steve pleased to be with us. Jokes about leaving our cars unlocked and getting an unwanted knife-wielding-type passenger inside. Talked about his accident. Made the world’s smallest violin finger gestures to indicate lack of sympathy he expects now. Long Michael Jackson anecdote. Laughter. Talks about JFK. Says President Lyndon Johnson has still not been credited with the great programs he shepherded through for this country. Compares Obama to Kennedy—young, beautiful wife, beautiful kids, no experience in congress, senate, no knowledge of how to work the system.

11/22/63 is about the Kennedy assassination. 1963. Ugly political climate in Dallas. Spitting. Made small errors writing his book. Spelled Killeen with only one “l”. Thought KLIF radio station was called K-Life instead of cliff. Began this evening with “testing, one, two, three”—Stephen King behind the curtains interrupting his introduction. Recognized his voice. From commercials. Books on tape. His movies. Had choice of watching him “for real” or watching Stephen King projected on screen behind himself. Did both. Talks about his being in movies. He was offered part in Sons of Anarchy. Says he’s giving up the walk-ons and his rock band.

Best part— my favorite writer looks happy and comfortable with himself. Second best part–we got to see him. Third best part—a signed Stephen King book!!!!!!!!!

THE NEIMAN-MARCUS PART. Haven’t been to flagship store since I was seventeen. Roxanne was even younger. They used to have fortnights where they showcased foreign countries. Remember France and China. Narrow escalators (yeah!). During the China fortnight a dragon was overhead. Present time: departments you can see from the bottom floor but can’t reach by main elevator (bizarre). Nicest sales clerks I have every met in my life. Really nice bathroom in shabby hallway. Furs. Haven’t seen furs in ages. Blundering into the wedding dress showroom. White, white, off-white, light blue. All off-shoulder except about two. Party dress showroom. Very well displayed. Little girl’s dresses.  So very beautiful. Makes you want to be a little girl again (or dress your granddaughter). Toys. Christmas ornaments. Food (most of it is via catalog now).

Epilogue—we got lost going home. Not the first time I have got lost driving out of Dallas, Texas. All part of the fun.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK–Smokescreen by Dick Francis. If I Were You by L. Ron Hubbard. Real Murdersby Charlaine Harris.

Photos by Roxanne Rix. She did the driving. I was the navigator (along with Garmin).Visit

Almost done

This blog post was going to be about spam, but turns out I haven’t accumulated any outrageously good spam lately. For that, go to Avoidance of Doubt/The Passive Voice blog . Ever so often he shows up a piece of spam masterwork you’d hate to miss. I’ll get back to my own spam problems later on.

I am close to the end of the publication process on my second e-book novel Arroyo. The cover is back from the cover artist and I love it! Can’t hardly wait to show it off. The manuscript is in the que for formatting to’s Kindle self-publishing program (now called independently published), Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and for everything else that is available through Smashwords. May be a week, may be a little longer. But the book is done. What I wanted to talk about is the product description, formerly known as the blurb.

First, of course, you have to have the great novel. And then you have to have a great cover. But if you don’t then have a really great product description or blurb you’ve screwed yourself. I’ve been working on the blurb off and on all week, and have even had some help with it from my sister and first beta reader Roxanne. I’ll save you some time. The Kindle production description is limited to 4,000 characters. My first draft of this is about 1,500 characters, but it’s going to be longer when I get done with it. I wish I could hire it out.

BOOKS I’VE READ THIS WEEK—Desert Places by Blake Crouch. Wickedly Charming by Kristine Grayson. When You Reach Meby Rebecca Stead. Snuff by Terry Pratchett.