Best Song Ever for a Melancholy Sunday Night

The weekend’s winding down. I’m missing Texas and home, and trying desperately to find inexpensive flights home for at least a weekend during the holidays. I’m feeling unanchored, which is probably normal given all the changes lately (left my beloved cabin in the mountains, started a new job). It’s a melancholy evening …

So I thought I’d post this song, which has a hugely prominent place in my novel, A Good Kind of Knowing.

Listen and soak up the lyrics of Lovin’ Her Was Easier written and performed by one of my all-time favorite songwriters, Kris Kristofferson.

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First Installment of A Good Kind of Knowing Music to Read By

Since my new novel, A Good Kind of Knowing, is all about music, I plan to post, every now and then, samples of the songs and artists mentioned in the story. Eventually, when I can find about an hour of previously unbooked time, I will put together a formidable playlist for those who want to read and listen at the same time. It’s gonna be EPIC. That’s my new word, by the way, when I’m trying to sound hip. Something tells me even using the word, “hip,” however, just blew my 43-year-old cover.

Here’s the first installment of Music to Read By:

First, the one and only Willie Nelson.

Next, how about some Texas Tornadoes with Freddy Fender?

And then there’s Charlie Sexton. Remember him?

And Ms. Nanci Griffith.

Finally, a necessity. Vintage George Strait.

Happy Friday, Y’all!

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Celebrating With Willie

Tonight, I’m celebrating the fact that my new novel, A Good Kind of Knowing, broke the top 100 in sales in its category on its first day out as an ebook. Yeehaw!  I’m pretty excited.

So, I thought I’d toss out a little Willie for everyone … it’s the song mentioned in the first paragraph of the new novel. In fact, since the novel is all about music, and there are tons of songs referenced in the story, I’m putting together a playlist for anyone who would like to listen along to relevant music while reading certain chapters. Stay tuned.

But for now. Take it away, Wille honey.


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New Book Trailer Offers Instant Stress Relief (and I Won’t Even Charge You For It if You Buy the Book)

Hello all! Thought I’d give my blog readers a sneak peek of the new book trailer for A Good Kind of Knowing, which releases in ebook tomorrow.

I love, love, love it, even though it goes against all book trailer marketing best practices. (I’m such a rebel, you know.) It’s basically just a lovely slideshow put to music, featuring brief excerpts from the novel along with beautiful photographs of rural Texas. My husband told me that it’s like a little break from reality and stress.

So many of my friends provided photos for the slideshow, and I thank you! Ruth Parker, Austin Moore, Tammy Arnold, Scott Smejkal, I’m talking to you. Oh, and my sister Hope, whom I did not even ASK if I could use her stuff. Kinda like she used to do with my clothes in high school, come to think of it.

Tell me what you think! It’s about 2 minutes long, so sit back with a glass of wine tonight or a cup of coffee tomorrow and enjoy. Oh, and turn up your sound because the music feels good, too.

Click to play this trailer for A Good Kind of Knowing


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A Little Tease: Author Q/A and an Excerpt from My Next Novel

I’m cheating a little tonight. I was going to write a quick blog post before hitting the hay, but then I realized I had recently answered an Author Q/A for a blog during my two-week blog tour, but the content was never used.

So I think I’ll publish it here, just for kicks. The really cool thing? It includes a quick teaser of content from my second novel, A Good Kind of Knowing, which will be out this summer. I hope you enjoy it. But first, the Q/A.

Q: What inspired you to write this book, Blue Straggler?

I had written a short story with three of the characters that now appear in Blue Straggler (Bailey, Rudy and Idamarie), and I just loved them so much that I needed to put them into a broader story. Plus, the main character in the short story (Bailey) was going through a kind of early mid-life crisis, and I knew a lot of friends who were going through similar things, as was I. I thought the story could be universal and really explore what it means to find out who you are and where you’re meant to land in life.

Q: Do you have a favorite place you like to write?

Our deck in the summer = paradise for me.

Yes! On my deck in the spring, summer and fall. I live in a log cabin in a beautiful area in the Colorado mountains, in the middle of a national forest. It’s so peaceful; I can’t think of a better place to settle in and crank out stories. When winter rolls around, and the deck is not an option due to 20-below temperatures and snow, I write in my back bedroom or in the great room, next to a warm, crackling fire. Thank goodness for laptops (and golden retrievers to keep my feet warm)! We’re talking of moving to a lower elevation soon; it’ll be interesting to see how it affects my writing.

Q: Do you have a favorite author of your own?

So many. I love Barbara Kingsolver. She’s probably at the top of my list. Anna Quindlen would be there, too. (Her new memoir is brilliant.) Anne Lamott and Lorrie Moore. Larry McMurtry. Cormac McCarthy. Toni Morrison. I just can’t choose; it’s like asking me which of my many furry babies (dogs) I’ve had through the years I like best.

Q: A favorite character? One of yours or someone else’s that touched your heart?

A: Not to toot my own horn, but in my Blue Straggler, I love, love Idamarie. She’s just so down-to-earth and real and colorful and she always shoots from the hip. She’s the kind of Texan I miss most, living in Colorado like I do now. If I could have an Idamarie in my life, I think life would be even more fun than it is now. And I’d likely be more grounded with her sage advice around.

Q: Are you currently working on anything? If so, can you give us a tease?

I am putting the finishing touches on my next novel, A Good Kind of Knowing. It’s set in a small, rural town in Texas, and explores how all of these small-town lives are interconnected, and how even though we all come from different places in our lives, we have a lot in common — big things like humanity and small things like a love of good music.

So, I’ll leave you with a super tease! This is the most I think I’ve revealed of any part of the book. As you’ll see right away, A Good Kind of Knowing is a different kind of novel than Blue Straggler. It’s not comic fiction, though there is some humor.

This is the kind of jukebox mentioned in the excerpt below.

This is an excerpt from about halfway through the story. Sera is the main character in the novel; she owns a local music store. She’s married to Bill, but has a “special” relationship, which is growing in intimacy and closeness, to a handsome young musician (Mack). She’s been pretty sick for a while, and most people in town know it. Some of her friends have been trying to help out at her business while she deals with her illness.


Mack waited for her at Antonio’s bar. Antonio stood over by the pool tables, emptying ashtrays from the night before. The afternoon sun filtered in through the small windows up front, sending sleek slats of light into the otherwise dark room and catching the perpetual dust of the place in a kind of suspension around the room. Two men, both in their eighties, sat at a square table in the corner, smoking thick cigars and playing cards. Every now and then, one of them would chuckle and cough. Antonio had turned on the jukebox—an old Wurlitzer with just one remaining front bulb flickering—and pushed the numbers for his favorites, mostly Freddy Fender hits.

   Antonio mumbled the words to “Vaya Con Dios” as he picked up the previous night’s litter around the booths in the back. Empty beer bottles knocked together in his hand.

     Mack sat at the bar, his felt hat on the barstool beside him, his hands working to fold a square bar napkin into the shape of a flimsy paper airplane. He shifted his weight on the barstool, glanced back at Antonio, then shifted again. “Sure I can’t help you back there?” It was the third time he’d asked.

       Antonio hollered his response. Same as before.

       The front door squeaked a little, drowning out the low-playing music for a second, and Sera stepped into the bar, jeans hanging loose on her hips and one of Bill’s sweatshirts tied around her waist. A blast of fall slipped in behind her and the wind sucked the heavy door back hard as she came in.

       “Hey there. Been waiting long?” She greeted Mack with a quick kiss on the cheek. He wondered if she’d meant to let her lips linger, or if it was only in his mind.

      “Thanks for meeting me, hon. I needed to get out of the house for a while.” Sera waved to Antonio as she talked. “I don’t know how long I can stay, though. I never know when my body’s going to give up the ship for the day.”

       “I was glad you called,” Mack replied, nodding again at Antonio as he motioned for them to help themselves to the cold longnecks chilling in a long, aluminum tub next to the bar.

       Mack picked out a couple and used the corner of his brown work jacket to twist off the caps.

     “Can you even have beer?” Mack hadn’t thought to ask before he handed it to her.

       “Oh hell yes. Why not? Not like a little beer every now and then ever killed a person.” She laughed at her joke and nudged Mack’s shoulder.

       “Funny.” He didn’t mean it.

      Antonio walked over to them and put his hands on Sera’s neck.

      “How’s my favorite lady today?” Antonio asked, squeezing her thin shoulders. Mack straightened next to her.

       Sera smiled and swirled around on her barstool to face Antonio. “Tony. Join us? I’m taking a walk on the wild side, going to see how hops and barley affect pancreatic distress.”

         Antonio glanced at Mack, then back at Sera. “Maybe later, okay?”

         “Later,” Sera agreed.

         As Antonio left to check on his two customers, Sera turned back to Mack and asked how things were at the store.

       “Nobody’ll tell me a thing, Mack. Bill hardly even speaks to me these days. I’m lucky if I get a good morning from him, much less a report on how things are going. And I went by the shop on my way here, and Tommy Lee and Ruby D. were down there—on a Sunday, mind you—arguing over shelf space.

       “I think it’s all gonna be alright, Sera. Everybody’s tryin’ real hard.”

       “I know,” she said, letting out a long sigh. “You know, I’m really thinking you all are crazy and we ought to just close the shop for a while. It would ease my guilt of you all trying to make this work.”

      Mack cleared this throat and nodded toward the bar door. “Guess this weather’s gonna stay cool for a while longer,” he said, doing his best to change the subject.

       Sera didn’t answer. They sat together, listening to Freddy Fender sing about being there before the next teardrop falls. One of the men sang out to the chorus in Spanish.

      “I’ve been thinking about heaven, Mack. I mean, there’s a side of me that wants to believe there is this garden of sunshine up there waiting for me with all the people I’ve ever lost in the world sitting around sipping lemonade in the shade. The weather would never get hot, and there’d be cats everywhere and my mother and Otis Redding and Patsy Cline would all be singing every night at a little dive. But something tells me it isn’t that simple.”

        “It could be.”

      “Yeah, but what if we’re living in heaven right now? I mean, what if we’ve got it all wrong, and we’re already there.”

      “I guess there’d be some people going around missing out on the lemonade.”

     Sera smiled. “Maybe we ought to switch the lemonade to Shiner Bock.” She clicked her bottle against Mack’s.

      In the back, Antonio turned the key on the jukebox and punched in new codes to start the music up again.

      An old Johnny Rodriguez song dropped into play, a melody about being down on the Rio Grande, lovers walking hand in hand. Sera hummed, and Mack watched the beer swirl against the glass as he moved his bottle in circles with his wrist.

    “Do you realize we’ve never danced together?” Sera turned to face him.

    Mack smiled slightly, concentrating on his beer. “Guess there was never a time, what with me on stage and all.”

      Sera waited for a moment. “What about now?”

      Mack surveyed the room. “Now?”

       He looked at her—this woman with eyes that danced no matter what the music, with a face that could weaken any man, with a spirit that spread around her like a magician’s stardust.

       He blushed, then stood up and offered his hand. She grinned and he grinned and the old men in the corner grinned. Even Antonio looked up from his calculator—and slowly grinned.

       Together, Mack and Sera swayed and moved in a slow two-step around the center of the hardwood floor. Daylight streamed in around them like nature’s spotlight. Mack held her loosely at first, but Sera moved as close to him as she could, her left hand at the nape of his neck, her right in his leading hand.

       He heard her breathe in, but was not aware that she was actually trying to hold on to his scent—an earthy combinationpart leather, part cotton. Part hay, part rope. Part beer, part coffee. Part horse mane and part crushed wild weeds.

       As she rested her head on his shoulder, Mack let his own breath out slowly, for fear she’d know, finally, full well, the effect she had on him. Her hair, blown in many directions from the wind when she came in, tickled his nose. But he couldn’t brush it away, didn’t ever want to brush it away. He closed his eyes and memorized how her body moved, how somehow he was no longer leading and his body was only reacting to the sway of Sera’s hips, his boots following the sliding of Sera’s across the floor.


So … like it? Hate it? Let me know by commenting below! Thanks for reading, always.


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A Land-locked Girl’s Memories of the Coast

This is the resort we stayed at in Cancun. Swanky!

My husband and I just got back from a few days in Cancun. (Note to Mom: We were not attacked by, nor did we see, one armed bandito, which was a little disappointing after all the hype.) We did manage, though, to successfully escape two snowstorms and windchills below zero here on the mountain.

Overall, it was a good time that included a large quantity of unlimited, top-shelf alcohol, some fun-loving friends and hours spent catching up on some great novels on my Kindle. (By the way, ever heard of a Tequila Boom-Boom shot? I have now. If I could go back and rewrite Blue Straggler, the main character Bailey would definitely be drinking those.)

Now, let me be clear: I am not a beach girl. I do not long to surf or own a long board. My skin’s typically so pale all I have to do is look at the ocean and I’m burned. I never, not once, wanted to be a mermaid. (I wanted legs, dammit!) I couldn’t sail a boat to save my life. I am not one of those women who look good in a bikini, tankini or ini of any kind. Sea water stings my eyes. I don’t particularly care for mold. I don’t like being shark bait. The constant sound of those waves gets to me after a while. And I will never, ever look good with that whole wind-blown hair thing. If given the choice, I would much rather be standing at the top of a 12,000 ft. peak than floating in any ocean, no matter how turquoise the water.

However, every now and then, I need the sea and a break from All Things Mountain. Plus, I do enjoy sea kayaking, snorkeling, building sand castles, shell hunting and a Jimmy Buffet song or two.

Colorado, of course, offers none of that. (Jimmy B., does come to town every five years to play huge stadium concerts, though. Land-locked parrot heads, rejoice!)

This is a lovely shot of Port Aransas, courtesy of Creative Commons/Flickr.

During my childhood in South Texas, we often headed to what we simply called “the coast.” Port Aransas, located on the Texas Gulf of Mexico, was only a few hours away from my  hometown, so my parents could drive us all down in our 1970s-era custom party van with the swivel seats and curtains in the back, spend the day on the beach, and drive back that evening.

I distinctly remember that every day trip to the coast involved a great deal of pre-weather anxiety for us kids: My parents would nix the trip if the forecast called for more than a 10 percent chance of rain. We’d all hover around the kitchen radio the evening before, listening to the local radio station, KCTI, for the latest.

More memory snapshots: Getting to buy a new beach towel at Kmart in Seguin every summer. Feeding large flocks of aggressive seagulls that would swoop down to take bread out of my hands. Floating on large black inner tubes (the kind we’d use to float in the Guadalupe River, too) out in the waves. Keeping constant watch for jellyfish, which were not only in the water but all along the beach. My mom looking so glamorous in her swimsuit and sunglasses. My dad drinking Pearl beerunder the blue tarp we’d put up for shade. Eating summer sausage and blocks of cheddar cheese and greasy bargain potato chips and drinking ice-cold Dr Pepper out of glass bottles from the well-stocked cooler. Being completely unaware of my body and how it might look to others, concentrating only on jumping into the big waves as they tumbled to shore. Feeling the strong undertow grab me and buckets of sand, drawing us quickly out into the surf. A sense of pseudo-panic when I’d take a momentary break from swimming and playing in the water to realize I had drifted so much that the blue tarp and the custom party van were becoming far too small in the distance. Resting on those plastic-tube folding lounge chairs with hinges that got more and more rusted each year. And of course, after we got back home, those large gobs of Noxzema cream we’d all have to apply to our beet-red, sunburned skin.

Remember these?

We may not have had perfect, white-sand beaches or round-the-clock waiters bringing us drinks called Purple Rain and Superman under the shade of coconut trees, or Elvis impersonators as the evening resort entertainment , but we did have fun back then. Too bad there won’t be time for a run to Port A when I’m in Texas in March for my book signing tour.

What are your favorite beach memories? Please share below! I’d love to hear about them.

Random Texas music note: The Court Yard Hounds, wrote and recorded a tribute song to the Texas coast. Listen to it here.

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Love/Hate Relationship with Texas Tornados … and Exciting Book News

Yesterday was a crazy, roller-coaster kind of day, full of ups and downs.

First, I got word that my sister’s home in Central Texas was side-swiped by a tornado as they were all getting up and ready for school and work. Everyone is okay, thank goodness. The house, not so much. But insurance is a good thing. And my nieces will have a great story to tell for the rest of their lives about the January morning the sky turned green-black and they spent some scary moments praying while crouched in a hallway closet.

Personally, I’ve always wanted to be a storm chaser (seriously) because tornadoes intrigue me like no other weather event. I’m addicted to Texas Storm Chasers on Facebook and I love The Weather Channel and Storm Stories. In fact, I have very few regrets in my life at this point, but if I had to name one, it would be that I did not pursue storm-chasing back when I didn’t have a kiddo relying on me for, oh I don’t know, daily needs and such. Now, we live so high in the mountains and so close to the Continental Divide that a tornado up here would be a hugely rare event. As in I think there’s only been one reported in a million years (don’t quote me on that). We do have our own bizarre weather events, but let’s face it, chasing blizzards isn’t nearly as exciting as chasing a massive, cat 4 funnel cloud.

Back to reality: I spent the remainder of the day out shopping. Lots of ups and downs here, too.

Up: Upgraded to a Kindle Fire and am in love. Tip: Target has a better warranty, but Best Buy has better Kindle cases.

Down: Again saw that indie authors are so not well-represented on the shelves of Barnes and Noble. (I had a gift card to use.) Very disappointing. I had a list of about five indie books that I wanted to get my hands on, but they had none of them in stock.

Up: Treated myself to Starbucks coffee with … wait for it … real whipped cream in large amounts.

Down: Tried on swimsuits for an upcoming trip to Mexico. Sometime I would really like to sit down and have a discussion with a swimsuit designer or two just to figure out what in the hell they were thinking. Potential question: Did you really think that a very large polka dot design would look good on anyone, especially grown women with, errr, curves? (I refuse, however, to regret the whipped cream noted above.)

Then, a Big, Huge Up: Got home and found that the galley proof of Blue Straggler had arrived in the mail from my publisher! It looks fantastic, as you can clearly see from this photo of a cute mystery kid displaying it for the camera. Galley Proof of Blue Straggler, a novel by Kathy Lynn Harris

I then proceeded to stay up til 2 am proofing the book because I couldn’t wait.

Exciting times. The official release date is now March 1, and I have so much to do to prepare. It’s a good thing that I have so many wonderful friends and family to keep me sane.

Stay tuned for more information on a book release party or two in Texas and book signings/readings in Colorado.

Random Texas music note: If you’ve never listened to the San Antonio-based band, the Texas Tornados, give them a try. Good stuff.

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