Archive for the Uncategorized Category

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

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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
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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.

The Thanksgiving Table

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 27, 2014 by gerrybartlett

Who would you like at your table for Thanksgiving? I made up a little quiz to help you decide. That’s if you’re not stuck with family members who would fail this test. You know who they are–the aunt with the white glove who finds the dust on top of the TV. The cousin who always manages to hit the bathroom when you’ve run out of toilet paper. Or the screamer who is lucky enough to see a cockroach and you haven’t seen one in, um, months. Best yet? The newly diagnosed relative who is on an exotic diet. Why doesn’t she just bring her own tofu in a Tupperware dish? Well, anyway, have fun and have a happy Thanksgiving.

1. This person:
a. Vacuums her house every day
b. Vacuums once a week
c. Doesn’t own a vacuum cleaner
d. What’s a vacuum?

2. She is ruthless about:
a. Dusting. There’d better not be a speck anywhere, especially on those ceiling fan blades.
b. Cleaning under the bed. No tissues under her king sized.
c. Organizing her closet. It’s color coded and out of season clothes are in storage. She’ll take a peek in your closet, you can count on it.
d. She has a dust bunny named Ralph.

3. He likes to talk about:
a. His last colonoscopy.
b. The time he sat in traffic for two hours on the same freeway you travel every day.
c. People you have never met and hope you never have to. You’re surprised he has friends.
d. The exciting places he’s been and that he wants to take you to next time he goes.

4. She comes dressed:
a. In an expensive designer outfit that immediately gets covered in your dog’s hair.
b. As a turkey. Isn’t it a cute idea for Thanksgiving?
c. As a Pilgrim. Look at the hat my clever child made in Kindergarten ten years ago.
d. In jeans and a tee shirt ready to help put the meal together.

5. This person eats:
a. Only food that begins with the letter “P”.
b. Nothing with salt in it, but didn’t warn you about that beforehand.
c. Everything and lots of it. She brings her own to go boxes and expects to take home leftovers.
d. Whatever you serve and compliments it all.

6. Your cousin comes with:
a. Five friends who had nowhere else to go. Of course she didn’t call first.
b. A hacking cough and fever that is bound to be contagious.
c. Her homemade pie that is obviously either underdone or burned, take your pick. Her feelings are hurt if everyone doesn’t “Take just one bite.”
d. The side dish she had called to ask if she could bring. It’s perfect and enough for the crowd.

Okay, I hope you know that “d” is the right answer for all of these. If you have ever been stuck with any of the others, you have my sympathy. I’ve had the boring dinner guest, the picky eater and the clearly contagious a few times. I know my relatives don’t read this blog so I’m sure I’m safe in saying they won’t see themselves here. Hope you have a great day and that your Christmas feast is even better. It’s my turn to cook this year so we’ll see how that turns out. I’ll let you know.
Gerry

Gerry Faces Some Hard Truths

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 21, 2014 by gerrybartlett

I don’t believe in resolutions, they just set me up for failure, usually by January 20th, so I decided to face some hard truths this year. Will they help me handle 2014 any better than I have any other year? Probably not. But you never know.

1)      Hard truth number one: Some things are inevitable. Like death, taxes and the fact that as soon as I put on mascara, I’m going to sneeze. Yep, raccoon eyes. A few other inevitabilities? I’ve found my perfect lipstick color, so it’s been discontinued. Ditto on the blush. And I’ll run out of my Estee Lauder foundation when they’re not having a free gift. Happens every time.

2)      Hard truth number two: I weigh naked every morning in front of my full length mirror. It’s something my mother did and she stayed a size twelve petite until she died at age 89. What I discovered? Gravity and glass cleaner are not my friends. Yep, those are hard truths.

3)      Hard truth number three: Lipitor may not be the wonder drug it’s cracked up to be. Okay, so I test it with a steady diet of steak and baked potato with butter and sour cream. Because I have faith in that drug. And my supplements. Anything in the health aisle for the heart is in my pill container: magnesium, CoQ10, fish oil, I could go on. And still my cholesterol hovers over 200. I’m blaming it on heredity, Dad.

4)      Hard truth number four: the route from my computer to the refrigerator does not add up to ten thousand steps a day. You know you’re supposed to walk that much daily, right? Hmm. So I also do a lot of browsing the bookstores and trodding the aisles at Macy’s. My new Fitbit puts it all at about 2000 steps, maybe less. So here’s that hard truth: I’m a slug.

5)      Hard truth number five: Those books in my head will never magically travel to my computer. I don’t get writer’s block. I have dozens of story ideas in my mind all the time. I can tell you all about them. Where are they? Buzzing around in my brain. How many hours do I spend putting them on the page? Not very many. So this hard truth is the hardest. If I want my writing career to go higher, be more than it is, I’ve got to put more energy into it. Starting here. With these hard truths.

How about you? Any hard truths staring at you, daring you to face them? I’ve started an exercise program and am doing pretty well with it this year. Not for weight loss, I gave up on that long ago. I’m into it for my health. I’m writing more now and getting ready to self-publish my first novella. Yay! So just writing down these hard truths has pushed me to make some changes. Still going to eat steak, but saving it for once a week or less. The sneezes? I already take an over-the-counter medication daily, so not sure what else there is to do besides allergy shots or getting rid of the dog and you know I’m not doing that.

Share here what you consider a hard truth in your life. And good luck in the New Year. I say every year is a chance for a fresh start and attitude.Image