Hurricane Season, Revisited

Posted in Uncategorized on August 3, 2021 by gerrybartlett

I’ve talked about hurricanes before. Since I’ve lived in the Houston area, the Gulf Coast, all my life, I am used to them. So far this year we’ve been lucky. But I know September is coming and that’s always been the most dangerous month for storms in the Gulf. My old house flooded four times. So I moved last September. I’ve been assured that this house won’t be in danger. We’ll see.

It’s different in this suburb of Houston. I’m in what’s called a patio home and the landscaping is taken care of by my HOA dues. There’s a community center and a pool with activities. It’s all just opened up since the pandemic. The only thing I’ve really joined so far is the book club. Not surprising, is it? Actually, it was a leap of faith for me. I read what I like, not what someone else picks out for me. So I was vocal after the first choice I dove into was a depressing read, though a bestseller. Want to know what it was? Check out my reviews on Goodreads.

Anyway, I’m in a gated community in a smaller house that has an open feel. It’s very different from the three bedroom ranch where I raised my family for decades. There are no looming oak trees that I always was afraid would fall on me during hurricane winds. Clear Creek is still nearby but my house is on a rise, too high for those flood waters to reach. But, as I said, we’ll see.

That open floor plan has made me change my ways. When you walk in the door, you can see the kitchen and it’s not a far walk to my office and primary bedroom. I am actually making my bed each day and keeping my makeup area tidy. My kitchen stays clean because I’m not cooking very much. I do love to meet friends for lunch. The closest grocery store is huge but I prefer the smaller one a few blocks away. In and out, that’s better.

Anyway, I’m into comfort these days. I want to be safe and secure. As long as the hurricanes leave us alone, I’m feeling just that. The only thing I have to worry about is motivation. Am I too comfortable? It’s harder to get to the computer and work on the next book. I’ve retired from teaching and no longer work in the antique business, though I keep a booth well stocked in nearby Alvin. It’s very tempting to just ease out of the competitive writing and publishing game. But then I get sweet emails from readers who want more stories. How can I let them down? And I do have plenty of stories in my head. Writing them down is still fun. As long as my roof stays on and the creek doesn’t rise.

Changing Times…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on July 17, 2021 by gerrybartlett

Except for a few months when my son was a baby, I’ve lived in Texas all my life. I even went to college here, met my husband here and am growing old just a few miles from Houston where I was born. I won’t tell my age–my grandma said that a woman who will tell her age will tell anything. Anyway, the pandemic gave me plenty of time to reflect upon how the world is changing. Some of it for the good, some of it for the bad.

First the good ways. I’m old enough to remember when I was my daddy’s remote control, changing channels for him on our tv set. And adjusting the foil covered rabbit ears. We all watched the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show and I screamed for them. My dream was to marry Paul McCartney. Oh, well. Love my new voice activated remote and all those streaming services! So many choices. There’s no excuse for boredom these days. And Amazon! Yes, it’s a dangerous monopoly that could crush small businesses but there’s no denying the convenience when things just land on your doorstep. And the Prime streaming service… Can you tell I’m a tv addict? Shopping on-line doesn’t really do it for me so I’m still supporting the local businesses too, trust me on that.

More good things? My car with the blind spot monitor. It’s saved me on Houston’s hellacious freeways. The backup camera is wonderful in parking lots and the car even tells me exactly how many miles I can go before I run out of gas. Yes, I do test it. Cell phones? Good and bad. I swear it’s a long leash. I’m never out of touch from friends and family. But if I find I’ve left home without it? I’m vulnerable and usually go back and get it. The thing makes me feel safe as a woman driving alone, especially at night.

I could go on and on about modern inventions but I won’t. You know what they are. The microwave, etc. But Houston has changed so much since the early days of riding my bike in a neighborhood and Trick or Treating for popcorn balls. Yes, that happened back in the day. Now I dare not honk at a car if it cuts me off. Because people carry guns here and will shoot you if you make them mad. And it seems even an idle hand gesture can set off some idiots. Don’t even give them a dirty look. The roadways are crowded here and everyone seems to be driving on their last nerve.

Maybe this is controversial but I got vaccinated as soon as I could. I am afraid of Covid 19 and all its variants. I wore a mask and may do it again. When people tell me they don’t have proof Covid is real or that the vaccine might not protect them, I just keep my mouth shut and walk away. I’m glad my own family and my friends are fully vaccinated. I want them safe. Not one of them had any problems with the shots except for a sore arm and maybe a headache for a day or two. Yes, there’s a risk in anything. Especially if you get on a Houston freeway. My mother wouldn’t drive on one of them the last years of her life. Now I understand.

I never used to be afraid to go anywhere. I shop at some thrift shops in really sketchy areas. No problem. Now? I’m more worried in my local Kroger when people stand too close and I won’t eat at a crowded restaurant. I hate to be afraid. I’m a restless person and I like to get out and about. But I’m starting to rethink my lifestyle. I love my new house and I’m safe here. I have friends who are happy being hermits. I’m beginning to see the appeal. Avoid the freeway, order groceries for curbside pickup, food delivered. No, I can’t become one of them, can I? Maybe. There is so much on tv.

Comment. What has changed for you since the pandemic?

The Perils of Publishing

Posted in Uncategorized on March 4, 2020 by gerrybartlett

Have you noticed all the articles I have on my website for authors? Some of them deal with craft, some tell how I struggle with the writer’s life. Then there are the whines. Yes, I’ve been cranking out books since the nineties and it takes a toll. If you are an aspiring author or even if you have some books out there, you might want to take a look at some of the topics I’ve hit on through the years.
I wrote the articles for my local chapter of Romance Writers of America. I admit freely that I learned most of what I know about writing either at that chapter and its meetings or at national conferences. Other authors have been very generous sharing their time and talents with newbies. I try to do the same. So the Perils articles were born.
I have more in my computer that haven’t been uploaded yet. I’d say there are a hundred of them in all. Maybe someday I’ll get them organized into book form. For now, you can read for free. I’m also going to share some insights locally at the Helen Hall library in League City on Thursday, March 12, at 10:15 for anyone who wants to come. If you live in the area, I’d love to see some friendly faces. I’ll be signing my latest release, Texas Reckless, too. Maybe some of my Real Vampires: A Highland Christmas books.
One of my Perils was titled The Book Signing Fantasy. If you are dreaming of one for yourself, I hope your first is an amazing success. Most authors end up directing people to the nearest restroom and trying not to look desperate as they rearrange their bookmarks and stacks of books. Not fun. Sigh.
Oh, don’t let me discourage you. The best thing to ever happen to me was to submit my first novel. It took courage. I suffered through rejection and wrote several more before finally selling You’re the One, a romantic suspense, in 1998. It’s been a long journey since then but I’m lucky that there have been more ups than downs. I hope you can say the same. Let me know if you are writing. What do you write. And… how is it going?

Hurricane Season and Me

Posted in Uncategorized on September 6, 2019 by gerrybartlett

The middle of September is prime time for a hurricane to hit the Texas Gulf coast. Yes, that’s where I live. My house has flooded four times because of various hurricanes. Fortunately, I’ve never lost a roof, though a neighbor’s tree did take out part of my fence and, horrors!, my Internet connection. I have come out better than most. At least at home.
Hurricane Ike was the worst as far as my antique business was concerned. Because I’d been doing so well, I had inventory in three shops in Galveston. The storm surge hit all three of them. Ten feet of water killed all of what I had there. What a mess! And, no, there was not insurance to cover my rented booths. So I had to toss it all out and take a loss on my income tax. After that I scaled down. Because of Hurricane Harvey flooding us again and other issues, last year I decided to get out of Galveston after seventeen years there. I’m now high and dry in Alvin. Not as much income, but I no longer have to work there. More time to write!
What I wanted to share here were the thoughts that go through my mind when I see those hurricanes churning in the Gulf of Mexico. If I have to evacuate, what will I take with me? My beloved dog passed away two years ago, so that is one worry I won’t have. Still miss that pup. I must take some form of computer and my work in progress of course. And maybe some pictures that aren’t in “the cloud.” Wedding album, son’s baby pictures, you know what I mean.
When you see the devastation in the Bahamas this year and Puerto Rico last, you realize that it’s all just stuff. If a Category 5 is headed here, I will get out and go where the wind and storm surge can’t get me. I have a brother in Austin. The highways out of Houston will be a nightmare, but I’ll be on them. I’ll make sure my son and his family are right there with me. Because I have figured out my priorities–they are the people I love. Not the things.
What do you think? Any idea what you would grab if you had to leave quickly? Share.

Slipping Into Summer

Posted in Uncategorized on May 25, 2019 by gerrybartlett

I recently spent a weekend on the Texas coast with a group of gal pals who are all writers. Everyone had “beach hair” and we shopped, ate and talked writing. Lots of fun. Did we actually put words on the page? Well, one of us did. Not me. I’d just finished a book and felt drained. Not that I don’t owe my readers another vampire book. I’m well into it. But sometimes you need a brain break.

There’s something about the coming summer season that cries out for time spent reading and wasting time. After decades as an elementary school teacher, my body is programmed to want to shut down from June to late August. Not that I ever took a full summer off. We had to go to classes or even work summer school. I did a few stints with summer jobs as well. You know teachers are notoriously underpaid, don’t you? I can’t recommend any young person with ambitions go into public education. Anyway, whatever I did in the summer was much lower stress than the school year. I still feel that relief when it gets close to June 1.

Down here in Southeast Texas the thermometer thinks it’s summer early. We’re flirting with ninety degrees already. If I would allow myself to be seen in a bathing suit, I’d be at the beach or in a friend’s pool already. I’ve been on a reading binge which you can see if you check out my reviews on Goodreads. I love hard core thrillers and fun Regency historicals. I have even dipped my toes into bestsellers recently. What I found is that they cling to the top of the New York Times list for a reason. Thought provocative books that are well written have surprised me. Who knew?

I hope you have some summer plans. I will be taking a short trip soon. But I hope to finish that vampire book first. My loyal readers have been very patient with me. So they’ll read a Christmas book in June. Why not? It may be hot outside, but the book will take them to snow in Scotland. I’m shivering just thinking about it.

Hooked by Suspense

Posted in Uncategorized on August 3, 2018 by gerrybartlett

lightning2My next book is available for preorder now. Texas Lightning is the first romantic suspense I’ve written in a long time. It’s funny because I sold my first book decades ago and it was a romantic suspense based in Houston, Texas. It was the story of an undercover cop and a banker. The cop was called Wild Man and ran with a motorcycle gang as he tried to bring down a drug dealer. My banker was an uptight woman who got caught up in his world and I had fun showing her that she enjoyed a wild side of her own.
I’ve always read and enjoyed suspense. Some of the books I read are really gritty. Mine can get edgy but they have to have romance and a happy ending. I’ve found over the years that books without a central romance just don’t do it for me.
When Kensington asked me if I wanted to ramp up the suspense for a new line they were starting, I was all over it. So Texas Lightning is the first in three books set in Austin. I went to college in the state capitol at the University of Texas and visit my brother there every year. I love the city and the rolling hills. I live in Houston which is completely flat except for freeway overpasses.
So Texas Lighting is the first in the trilogy for Lone Star Suspense. I brought in a character from my Texas Heat series. In Texas Fire, Megan dumped billionaire rancher King Sanders. I liked that guy and thought he needed his own happy ending. So here he is in Austin, working on an Agriculture bill when he meets a woman from Boston. She’s sightseeing at the capitol building but a January hot spell has her feeling faint. Yes, it can get ninety degrees in January in Austin. I’ve felt it myself. Then the next day you can have a blizzard. That’s Texas weather. Anyway, Anna Delaney is in Austin working for a tech company. She’s invented a very valuable computer program that can save lives. It’s so valuable there are bad guys who want it for themselves. King and Anna hook up just in time for him to help her dodge attempts to steal that program.
I hope you try my new series, starting with Texas Lighting. Texas Trouble is next, then Texas Tough. I don’t think I’ve ever written a book without some kind of suspense, but loyal readers will have to be the judge of that. Let me know what you think. Watch for Texas Lightning October 30 or go ahead and preorder now.

Writing the Prequel to the Real Vampires Series

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 8, 2018 by gerrybartlett

Continue reading

Why I Love Texas and Write About It

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2017 by gerrybartlett

I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. I still live just a few miles down the freeway from that big city. It’s nothing for me to drive in for a meal, the beauty shop or to hunt for treasures for my antique business. Did you think all Texans wore boots and cowboy hats? No, many of us, millions in fact, are city dwellers. I had a grandpa who owned a little ranch and once rode on the back of a horse with my uncle, but it wasn’t an experience I wanted to repeat. I know, many of you are horrified. I should have loved it.

Houston does have an annual rodeo. That’s a very Texas thing. I’ve gone quite a few times. Not for the roping and bull riding competitions but to see the stars who performed. I saw Elvis sing there and swooned when I was young. And recently enjoyed Lady Antebellum. It used to be in our famous Astrodome. Now it’s in our covered NRG football stadium. Very hi-tech. An old-time cowboy wouldn’t be comfortable with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo these days.

But being a native Texan gives me bragging rights and I don’t hesitate to use them. When I decided to write contemporary romantic suspense again after sticking to my vampire series for ten years, I knew I had to use my knowledge of the Lone Star State. It’s as if a lifetime of living here was going to be what brought the Texas series to life. There were characters I could use. Oh, boy, were there characters. And settings. The first three books all started in Houston. I used the oil business as a hook. Not because I knew any oil billionaires personally, but I certainly had read enough about them in the local paper. And my late husband’s job had been dependent on the oil industry thriving in our area. When there was a bust? Well, we felt it in our pocketbook.

I had fun bringing Texas to life in Texas Heat, Texas Fire and now in Texas Pride. I invented the Calhoun family, a brother and three sisters who realize their dead father left them with a hell of a mess. I combined suspense with romance and realized that stories without fangs could be just as much of a joy to write as my Real Vampires series had been. I’m still planning to continue that, but slowly, between Texas books.

Luckily, readers have embraced my move to this genre and I’ve signed to write three more in this series. This time I’m in Austin where I attended college a few( ahem) years ago. Rancher Texas Pride FINALKing Sanders will find his fate in the first of these new books. Ethan Calhoun will be mated in book two. And we’ll learn what happens to Sierra MacKenzie, Mason MacKenzie’s sister, in book 3. I just couldn’t let go of these interesting people. Because it’s always been my goal to give every worthy character I create his or her own happily ever after.

I hope you’ll stick with me as I continue to explore my Texas roots. As we say down here, “Yeehaw! Let’s ride!”


What’s Romantic?

Posted in Uncategorized on February 12, 2017 by gerrybartlett

I write romance novels. There’s nothing like that spark when woman meets man and the chase is on. Sometimes the couple has to dodge bullets or interfering exes. But I always believe in giving my people a happily ever after.

Now I did have a great romance in my life. Met my late husband on a blind date and that was it. Love at first sight? Sort of. At the very least it was immediate chemistry . The love bug bit us soon after. We had over thirty years together. Luckily, besides chemistry we enjoyed a lot of the same things–music, dancing, playing bridge, gourmet meals, and making a home together. I still remember the first time I got close enough to smell him. Ahh. Don’t know why but I knew. This is the one. No wonder I like writing about romance.

But when your mate is an alpha male who likes boats, sports cars, and watching endless games on TV (didn’t matter which sport), then sometimes you have to show him how to be romantic. Sending me flowers at work? Didn’t do it for me. I always thought that was him trying to score points as husband of the year with my fellow teachers. Candy when I was going to Weight Watchers? Get a clue. And when he spent more than we could afford on expensive jewelry? I really didn’t feel the love, especially when the credit card bill came in. Oh, I wore it anyway. I’m not stupid.

No, grand gestures didn’t spell romance to me. What I remember as the most romantic things he ever did were small things. He made flaming cherries jubilee and steak Diane for one of our first dates and turned down the lights. Romantic. When my father died, he came up behind me before the funeral and whispered that I looked beautiful. Oh, but I loved him then.

Do you have a romantic story? I’d love to hear it. Please share. Because we can never have too much romance in our lives. That’s why I still write my stories.


Posted in Uncategorized on March 11, 2016 by gerrybartlett

     I can’t believe we’ve started another year. I’m just finishing book 3 in the Texas Heat series when book 2 isn’t even out yet. That’s the way the publishing business works, you know. So look for TEXAS FIRE, available for preorder now, to come out May 2. TEXAS PRIDE is an October release. If you haven’t read TEXAS HEAT yet, why not?

     I’m having fun writing about my native Texas. This series about big oil in the Lone Star State gave me a chance to use a lifetime of knowledge about everything from ranches to rodeos and to show you that we have big cities here. No, I don’t ride a horse or have an oil derrick in my back yard. But I know people who do. So say howdy to the series and buckle up for a steamy ride.

     Okay, so maybe I’m laying it on a little thick. But I love Texas, where everything’s larger than life and we enjoy barbeque but not the gridlock on our freeways. Creating characters who live and love here has proven to me that I can enjoy making up stories even if they aren’t my usual vampire tales. Do I miss the paranormals? You bet. And I’m getting back to them as fast as I can. Look for more in the near future. I plan to continue to do both-contemporary love stories that are emotional and sexy as well as the kind of romps that made you love Glory and Jerry for so many years. Yes, it’s been years with those two.

     The first Real Vampires book hit shelves in 2007. What a wonderful ride it has been. REAL VAMPIRES AND THE VIKING has been a great success and convinced me that this series cannot die. Of course my loyal fans make everything possible and I can’t thank you enough. You’ve kept Jet in kibble and me in air conditioned comfort for so long now, I can’t believe it. Yes, it is hot here in southeast Texas. Why do you think I named a series Texas Heat? Keep reading and I’ll keep writing.

     May all your New Year’s wishes come true. I don’t make resolutions, I make goals. My number one goal this year? To give you another Glory and Jerry book. Hold my feet to the fire if I don’t deliver, okay?