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!”

Gerry

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.

Clearing the Clutter, One Book at a Time

Posted in Uncategorized on January 11, 2016 by gerrybartlett

IMG_2396

After the Purge

Oh, no, I didn’t just call books clutter, did I? But if you could see my office and bedroom you’d agree. I have way too many books. Some I’ve read, some have bookmarks or tiny slips of paper in them about a fourth of the way through and some are in the dreaded “to be read” pile. There are stacks, bookcases overflowing and even baskets full. And I’m not counting extra copies of my own books that I need to give away. I’m an addict. I console myself that at least it’s not heroin. Or chocolate. But we won’t talk about my food cravings, okay?
January is my month for making promises to myself. So I decided it was time to attack the book situation. I was ruthless. Well, as ruthless as I can be when there are stories involved. It took a while. Because I’d stop and read the back cover copy before I could toss a book in a bag to go to Half Price Books. I’d decided to try to make a little cash from my discards. Reading the back cover sometimes led to hitting the first chapter. If I was still interested, the book made it to the book shelf in my bedroom. This will become my library where I can go when I decide I deserve some reading time. Sounds good, right?
Not that this will keep me out of the bookstore. I just love browsing for the latest releases. I’m one of those dinosaurs who still reads real books. I own a Kindle but won’t even plug it in to charge. It doesn’t satisfy me the way holding a book does. So I have all this clutter. Those books with the markers in them? Obviously I lost interest partway through. I didn’t bother reading the back of them. They went straight into the bags after I rescued my bookmarks.
Many of these books came to me free from the summer Romance Writers conference in New York City. Something happens to me when I attend one of those conferences. I vow not to bring so many freebies home but then there they are, mine for the taking. They’re so pretty and new. I shove them into my suitcase. Hey, maybe I’ll learn to love books set in Outer Mongolia during an apocalypse. And who’s to say that sweet Amish vampire won’t grow on me? Anyway, I come home weighted down. Many of them went into the bags too. I will never read them. Why not give strangers a chance to discover what are probably great books?
Now if you think I have empty shelves after a ruthless purge, think again. I’ve included a picture to prove there’s still a problem here. One neat shelf in the bedroom, yes. But then there’s the stuffed and overflowing one in the office. And two baskets plus cabinets a few other places. No apologies. I started writing romance because I loved to read it. That love never went away. And keeping up with what’s popular is necessary if I want to stay current in the marketplace. At least that’s what I tell the IRS when I deduct the thousand dollars I spend on books each year. Yeah, expensive habit. But addicts have to pay the price. Is there rehab for this? No, don’t tell me. I don’t want to be cured of this habit.
Have you got any bad habits you want to get rid of this year? Bite your nails? Watch too much TV? Confess here. I won’t judge. One lucky poster will win a gift card from Amazon just for sharing by January 25th. So be sure your email addy is there after your post. Good luck and share on.

Body Issues

Posted in Uncategorized on January 3, 2016 by gerrybartlett

If there’s one thing I’d like to do in 2016, it’s get over this whole thing about being uncomfortable in my own skin. At my age, and I’m not telling, it’s obvious my shape and size aren’t about to change significantly. I have areas that I hate–stomach, thighs. I could go on but depression is setting in. I’m sure you have your own list even if you weigh 98 pounds dripping wet. It’s a female thing mostly. Why do we do this to ourselves?
Good question. The result of this personal hate thing is that we diet, exercise and make resolutions that set us up for failure. It’s really bad during teen years. But we don’t outgrow it. Especially if life throws us curve balls that just reinforce that self-hate. A boyfriend dumps us. A mean girl makes a remark that sets up a tape in our heads every time we go bathing suit shopping. You know what I mean.
I just got back from a trip to a beach resort. We had to spend a lot of time by the pool. In a swimsuit. I didn’t love it. Coverups were my friend. Which was silly. How tan can you get in a coverup? But then again, who is going to see that tan when I swath myself in fabric most of the time anyway? It’s a vicious cycle. I’m attaching here a book review I put on Goodreads. “Dumplin'” is a well-written book that hits this problem like a hammer on a nail. The girls in the novel all have the same issues I’m still working on decades later. It’s a shame. Have a comment? I’d love to hear from you.
Dumplin' (Dumplin', #1)Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The title and cover copy hooked me. An admittedly fat girl from a small town in Texas enters a beauty pageant. Okay, so I’m from Texas and have my own body issues. If you’re a woman and don’t, go back to your home planet. The voice is funny, sad and intriguing. Willowdean doesn’t have a boyfriend and starts the book never even been kissed. She’s on the verge of her sixteenth birthday. When a good-looking boy shows interest, she doesn’t believe it. I loved the small town vibe, the easy reading and the whole Dolly Parton theme. But the real hook is the way we get the emotional truth about girls this age coming to terms with how to love themselves. Do they in the end? Read it and see. It’s not laugh out loud, how could it be? This is serious stuff, girls. But it is heartwarming. Teens should read it and think about the message. There are a great variety of issues touched on here, something for everyone.

View all my reviews

New Year’s Eve

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 30, 2014 by gerrybartlett

I used to feel like I had to do something important on New Year’s Eve. It was my late husband John’s birthday. His family didn’t make a big deal out of birthdays and, when I married him, I was shocked to discover he’d never had a birthday party. So when he turned forty, I had a big deal party. Combined with New Year’s Eve, it was a fun night. Guests brought gag gifts to rub in his over the hill status and we danced and had a great time. It was at home so we didn’t even have to worry about driving after all the champagne at midnight. We served coffee to the guests who had to.new year

As we got older, we tried to keep celebrating but the traffic, the cost of a big evening out, kept us from really enjoying those kinds of nights as much as we used to. By the time John was gone, I was used to struggling to stay awake until midnight so we could share a kiss. I know, lame. But if you’re over fifty, you’ll understand. Singles probably still worry about that important date and who they will get to kiss at midnight. Now I’m usually asleep by the time the new year rolls around.

This year I heard friends talk about babysitting grandchildren for New Year’s Eve. My own child doesn’t go out on the holiday and would never dream of asking me to babysit. Wise choice. He knows that’s not me. I have several pals who never had kids and one who is a rebel like I am. So we’re getting together with a good movie or two and a bottle of bubbly. I have a guest bedroom if the drive home is a problem. Yes, we’re showing our age, but so what? I think as you get older, you have the right to do what you want and ignore what others might think of you.

Are you eager to party hearty and wear a silly hat to bring in 2015? Or will you be like me, watching the people in Times Square on TV and thinking it looks too cold and too crowded for comfort. It’s cool to watch the ball drop, but not the same without Dick Clark. Yes, I’m showing my age, which I won’t admit to, but I’ve earned my comforts.

I’d like to hear what you’ll be doing on the last day of 2014. Was it a good year for you or a disaster that you’ll be glad to see the end of? My year was okay. I’m healthy and so is my family. As time goes by, I realize that’s pretty much all I need to hope for. Comment here. I’ve got an autographed copy of Real Vampires Say Read My Hips for one commentor who posts by January 5.