Thank You, Lizard Brain

The other day I had the “privilege” of sitting at the DPS office (DMV to most folks) and got to do one of my favorite things, people watch. The DPS office is one of the best places to see folks from all walks of society- men, women, immigrants, teens, and the elite. (Although, I don’t think I saw any high society types that day.)


And as I surreptitiously watched from the corners of my eyes (Do you think they thought I was creepy?) I came to a conclusion. You can’t really judge a person by what they wear, what hairstyle they have, or even their body language.


Why? I saw two guys who were dressed similar, looked about the same age, both even leaned against the wall in the same manner, but they gave off very different vibes. I couldn’t put my finger on it for a while. What made them different? And then I realized, it was the eyes. The guy who gave off a “danger” vibe wasn’t frowning, grimacing or pressing his lips together. He wasn’t wringing his hands like a villain in a penny dreadful. There was no sign of animosity on his face, but his made me want to stay away from him. The other young man had several tattoos, but his eyes were kind. It was fascinating.


At that moment I thanked my “lizard brain” for the eons of evolution that gave me the ability to pick up on potential danger.


I believe it’s a part of our makeup that we tend to ignore in our modern “polite” society. How many times on the news have your heard people say, “I was picking up a weird vibe. I don’t know why, but I knew something just wasn’t right about that person. I wish I had listened.” I think this is particularly true when it comes to women. We’re taught to be nice to everyone. Please follow your instincts!


Don’t worry, no major drama happened. No one knew I was watching. But in the future I think I’ll be paying more attention to the eyes. Maybe the proverb is right, maybe they really are windows to our souls.

Have you ever had a moment when your gut was telling you of danger? I’d love to hear your story.

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Writer Unboxed Anthology 

I’m so pleased about this that I had to include this news in a post!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a part of the Writer Unboxed family. I’m not a contributor but I work behind the scenes on the website and the Facebook page. So needless to say I’ve made some close friends in the past few years.

WU just celebrated its tenth year as a top-rated blog for writers. Those years have been filled with good advice and personal connections with other writers in a way that’s hard to describe. It’s such a wonderful and uplifting group, perhaps “soulful” best describes it.

So a book filled with the advice from the contributors has to be good. I can’t wait! You can read more about it at Writer Unboxed.   WU Anthology

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For The Sake Of Story

Or also known as-

Yes, I Know There Are A Lot Of Snakes In My Novel, But That’s How Many There Really Were

(I think I’ll stick to the first title, it’s shorter.)

(Warning: if reading about snakes or killing snakes bothers you, don’t read further.)

So the critiques from my betas for Gilt Ridden are trickling in. (Actually, they’re all in. I’m just being pokey about getting through them.) And the comments are pretty much what I thought they’d be. Which makes me happy. It means that what I was feeling about the writing is what readers felt too.

And as with any novel that has some moments based on real events, there is a balancing act between showing the true facts and writing what is best for the story. While writing the scenes in which my main character is either killing rattlesnakes or searching for them, I knew the reader would be getting tired of it. But that’s what life on our ranch was really like.

Looking for snakes and killing them was my hobby. It was an ever-present task. Even doing a visual sweep inside of the house was a part of the ritual. When we moved to the ranch, our son was only 3, so the danger of a rattlesnake was very real. And the nearest hospital was a 30 minute drive away. By the time we moved away six years later, I had killed over 200 rattlers. They had become such a part of our lives, if a day went by and I hadn’t found one, it seemed like a boring day.

Some people have asked me, “Why did you stay out there? I would have moved!”

Well, have you seen those ghost stories where the family can’t move because every cent they had went into the house? That was us when we first got there. We had no other option. At least we didn’t have to do an exorcism. Shovels and shotguns worked just fine.

Stuart Ranch House

Ranch House

One of the reasons I felt compelled to include so many snake “interactions” in the story is because I was trying to show the world what living in West Texas was really like. Whenever I tell people some of the things that happened, they say, “You have to put that in a book!” Well, I tried and while I was writing I knew people wouldn’t believe it. It’s just too much for some folks, I guess.

So I’ll be revising the book.

I also want to tell you a comment someone said to me. (paraphrased) “I’m having trouble with a couple of scenes because Kay’s background isn’t the same as yours. She’s not exactly like you.”

My response, “I’m boring. I had to make Kay more interesting. That’s why it’s called ‘fiction’.”


I must add that when I let myself be free of, “What would I have have done? What really happened?”, the story was much easier to write. I had to remind myself that it isn’t a memoir, it’s fiction. I hope this doesn’t come across like I’m mad. Far from it, I’m grateful to my beta readers! I just thought I’d use this platform to share with you what life was like out there and how reality isn’t necessarily what’s best for the story.

Too many snakes for you? You should have tried living there.


    The most active day, 18 snakes. 

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Interview With Gale Albright

Today I interviewed Gale Albright on Austin Mystery Writers. Click on the link and see what she has to say. 🙂

AMW Author Highlight- Gale Albright

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Author and Artist Reception At Hutto Library


Are we looking dignified at our table?

Today I joined Austin Mystery Writers members Kathy Waller and Gale Albright at the Hutto Library for the first annual Local Author and Artist Reception.


Waiting for the crowd!

It was a lot of fun and they rolled out the red carpet for us. Paula, one of the librarians, is so nice and enthusiastic. She made us all feel special.


Paula had crazy boots too!

This was the first book selling “event” I’ve ever been to.12373225_1199276340086481_5016640574933715197_n






I made some keychains. 


We sold a few copies of Murder on Wheels and it was fun meeting the other participants. 12316212_1104955716181400_5048315804949619215_n

We’re bandying about the notion of doing another anthology. So stay tuned!

For now we’re having fun promoting and hawking  MOW.


What do you mean you haven’t bought a copy? Buy one! Or else…


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Interview With Patric Sanders

Today it was my turn to post on Austin Mystery Writers. I interviewed fellow member, Patric Sanders. I tell you, he’s had one interesting life!

Click here to connect to Austin Mystery Writers for the details!


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We’re In Mystery Scene Magazine!

(Click on the book title below for link to review on website)

by Ramona DeFelice Long, ed.
Wildside, April 2015, $12.99

Being a Texan, I feel it’s only right for me to recommend Murder on Wheels, presented by the Austin Mystery Writers. Kaye George explains in her introduction that the genesis of the anthology was a discussion of a Megabus trip, and “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round,” one of her two stories in the book, is an ingenious investigation of that setting. The remaining ten stories all involve transportation, mostly wheeled, although V. P. Chandler’s “Rota Fortunae” is set on a sailing ship in the 18th century. The name of the ship that provides the story’s title means “wheel of fate,” however, so it certainly fits. “Red’s White F-150 Blues” by Scott Montgomery is a wild story of the things that can go wrong when you do a favor for a friend. Reavis Wortham spins a compact yarn about a “Family Business” that spans decades. “Mome Rath, My Sweet” by Gale Albright is a mash-up of Alice in Wonderland and a hardboiled PI novel, which gives Hollywood PI Jake Grimm a tough case, but then he’s just the guy to solve it. Earl Staggs is a man who knows school buses, and “Dead Man on a School Bus” makes use of that knowledge with his story’s unusual setting. The other stories here will all keep you entertained as they roll along.

Bill Crider


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I’m going to a party. I’m going to a party!

Mystery People is celebrating their 5th anniversary at Book People!

MysteryPeople 5th Birthday


Saturday, November 7th at 3PM

Join us on our third floor as we celebrate five years of MysteryPeople with cake, champagne, mystery trivia, give aways and a panel discussion about the future of crime fiction. We’ll also unveil the MysteryPeople 100, a list of the top 100 must-read mystery and crime fiction picks, compiled from the recommendations of some of our favorite authors writing today. Happy birthday, MysteryPeople!

Our Life in Crime:
Authors, Booksellers and a Critic on the Novels That Define the Genre and the Future of Mystery/Crime Fiction Reading

Join Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery, MysteryPeople maven Molly Odintz, and some of Austin’s crime fiction writers for a discussion of where crime fiction’s been and where it’s going.

Cake & Champagne!

Stick around after the conversation to help us pop a few corks and cut the MysteryPeople birthday cake!

Mystery Trivia & Book Give Aways!

While you’re enjoying a bit of cake and champagne, we’ll toss out trivia questions drawn from books, authors and the mystery/crime fiction genre at large. Winners will receive free books!

Behold, The MysteryPeople 100!

It’s time for the big reveal! We’ve canvased some of the top mystery/crime fiction authors writing today for their must-read, top genre picks of all time. We’ve compiled their submissions to create the MysteryPeople 100, a definitive list of the top 100 mystery/crime fiction novels of all time (in no particular order). Check out our display in-store and snag a copy of the list.

Thank you, Austin, for five wonderful years of great crime fiction reading. Here’s to the next five years of MysteryPeople! Cheers!

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