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

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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

What I’ve Got on the Shelves

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 18, 2013 by gerrybartlett

I’ve been remodeling my office and it’s been a pain. First, I had to clear the clutter. I had files going back to the eighties. And I hate to throw away anything. There are still decisions to be made about a lot of it so they’re in a closet for now. Then I realized I was a book hoarder. I am doing a massive book giveaway. Don’t ask. That’s being taken care of. I’m donating or selling a lot and some special people are getting some of them. Yes, I will be mailing soon. If I can get to the envelopes.

One of the first things I did after the paint dried was put up my rows of published novels. I think we get so caught up in the daily grind that we don’t always take time to realize what we’ve accomplished. I started writing back in the early eighties. Remember those files I mentioned? Some of them are from the first workshops I attended. They are full of advice that just won’t fly now. I also have my first novel written on a Smith Corona typewriter. What a pain to use white-out and carbon paper. Yes, youngsters, that’s what we did. God forbid you had to make major changes in a manuscript. 

I found my first rejection letter there too. It was from a line called Second Chance at Love. Very complimentary for a first book and the editor asked to see more. I didn’t see the good things, just saw no and quit writing for a while, like years. Bad, Gerry. Then I joined Romance Writers of America and found a support group. I struggled along, writing more manuscripts, learning craft from published authors who volunteered their time to teach workshops. I went to my first national conference and was blown away when I saw Nora Roberts speak. Her advice? Put your butt in the chair and write every day. I came home jazzed, determined to succeed. 

Finally in 1998 I got the call. I sold my first two books, romantic suspense. In 2000 I sold a Regency historical. But I found my real success when I stumbled on a vampire named Gloriana St. Clair. I had a hook–she was bloating when she was turned in 1604. That one thing made my book stand out enough for me to finally snag an agent. I’d been trying since the eighties with no luck. This was 2003. Yes, it was a long, long journey.

Since then I’ve had ten contracts for Real Vampires books with the tenth, Real Vampires Know Size Matters, coming out this December. Writing has become a job, not always a thrill ride. So I put those books on the shelf to remind myself that I have to be proud of what I’ve accomplished. It was a miracle that I got published at all. Some of the writers I started out with never did manage it. I have two books that were translated into German and I get fan mail daily. I am blessed and I know it. I need to keep the joy in the writing and stop worrying about my clutter and the hassles of the publishing world. Yes, I’m behind on everything. That mailing will get done. Just not today. And who knows when this office will finally be as perfect as I’ve dreamed it would be? 

But here’s my bottom line. No one is harder on us than we are. What have you done that you refuse to give yourself credit for? Did you finish a project? Complete a course? Get a degree or win an award? What are you proud of? I’m really proud of the fine son I raised. He is a great father and husband. And he can fix my computer!

Post here, I’d love to know what you have been doing. And I’ll pick a random poster to win a gift card, Amazon or Barnes & Nobles, your choice, by September 30 just for sharing. So come on, brag a little. Where else are you going to do it? Oh, yeah, those frogs? I collect frog princes. I was lucky and found my prince a long time ago. Now that he’s gone, I’m afraid it’s all frogs out there but you never know…

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Gerry’s Sword Dance

Posted in Uncategorized on April 8, 2013 by gerrybartlett
I'm 5th from the right, back row. Short hair. Best friend Pattie is the last one on the left, little blond on the back row.

I’m 5th from the right, back row. Short hair. Best friend Pattie is the last one on the left, little blond on the back row.

I just posted a picture of me in the Scottish Brigade back in high school. That was Austin High School in Houston, Texas. We dressed in kilts, had a bagpipe corps, along with drums and bugles. It was awesome. As part of the drill team, I learned Scottish dances, just like the sword dance Blade did in Real Vampires Know Hips Happen. Yes, I used my own experience when I wrote that scene in the latest Glory book. We only did the sword dance once and it was for a special occasion.

Now I don’t tell my age. I heard once that a lady never tells. But this was back when John F. Kennedy was President. He was coming to Houston to give a speech at Rice University. The Brigade was invited to perform for him. The speech was given at Rice’s football stadium which held thousands of people and it was expected to be packed. Of course our sponsor was eager to have us do this. It was summer, we were out of school, but we headed to campus near downtown and began practice. We’d never done a sword dance before but somehow we got some swords, not sharp of course, and that’s what we began to learn.

Now Houston in the summer is just a little cooler than hell itself. We practiced in shorts but when the big day came we wore our dress uniforms. That meant wool jackets, wool kilts, knee socks, plaids over our shoulders, hats, the whole nine yards. We were so excited. We marched in to the beat of the drums and the sound of the bugles. Company C, my group, was always last. We were the shorties. My best friend and I were always close together. I still see Pattie frequently. Lucky for me. Anyway, we formed groups of four, the crowd got silent and the bagpipes started. Talk about goosebumps!

Then we began to dance. We twirled and leaped over the swords we laid on the ground. I think I still remember a few of those moves. We’d practiced so much it was automatic. No way could we mess up in front of the President of the United States. Our kilts flared out as we danced. We had to keep solemn faces, that was part of the show, but after we marched off the football field, we were excited. We’d done it!

Do I remember the President’s speech? Not a word. I saw Kennedy again that November, the day before he was shot when he drove down Airport boulevard. He waved to us and said hello through a microphone in his limo. He wasn’t in a convertible in Houston. This all happened in 1963. Yep, I was just a kid.

Anyway, when I was writing Real Vampires Know Hips Happen and had just visited Scotland, that day in Texas came to mind. I knew I wanted Jerry to dance for Glory. Because the sword dance was something that warriors did. It was a man’s dance but graceful. I loved doing it for the President, but how great if our strong hunky Scot could show Glory his elegant side in this ancient ritual. Of course his sword would be lethal. I was glad mine was little more than a toy.

Funny how that high school experience became useful so many years later. But that’s how writing goes. You never know what you will draw on when you sit down to tell a story. The people you meet, the things you go through, they are all potential story lines.

I had a great time with my gal pals in the Brigade. We enjoyed slumber parties and exchanging gifts before every football game. Any fond memories of your high school days? Share and you can win a gift card from your favorite book retailer, Amazon or Barnes & Nobles. Twenty-five bucks this time. Comment by April 15, tax day. I can’t wait to hear what you have to share.

Gerry in The Scottish Brigade

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 8, 2013 by gerrybartlett

Gerry in The Scottish Brigade

I’m on the back row, fifth from the right with the short hair. Company C was the short girls in the Drill Team. Read my new blog to find out about when we did the sword dance.

What is Love?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 21, 2013 by gerrybartlett

I’ve always thought of February as the month for love. Valentine’s Day is in the middle of the month and I was married on the 26th, many years ago. I’ve talked before about my own marriage and you can read my love story in another part of this website. Recently Dear Abby answered a letter from a heartbroken reader who was trying to get over a failed romance. Abby had a good definition of what real love is and I’ll paraphrase it here. She said someone who loves you makes you feel strong instead of dependent. He or she appreciates you for the person you are and isn’t threatened by your successes. He or she supports you when you do well, celebrates your triumphs and hugs you after your tragedies. Sound familiar? I hope so. I know when I was struck by Cupid’s arrow, I was more interested in chemistry than those important things. Luckily, I was supported in every way. No one was more thrilled than my husband when I sold my first book. I was a young, immature girl when I met and married him. He helped me grow and change, encouraged me in every way. And the chemistry was good too.

It’s funny. I write romance because I love to read about that first meeting, the way two people connect and find the one person who makes them stronger, feel loved and cherished. I read those books long before I met a man who could do that for me. I was looking for a fantasy man. The reality was much different. There were money issues, the details of daily life that dragged at us. Men raised in the era John was didn’t understand shared chores in the home. I had to battle for every emptied dishwasher or trash run. Argh. Chemistry can only take you so far. Know what I mean? But if there’s more, the respect, the encouragement that Dear Abby was talking about, then you work through the daily grind and come out the other side. Raising children and living through lay-offs may make bedtime lose its magic for a while. But a hug at the right time, an empty dishwasher just when you needed it, can go a long way to helping you remember why you fell in love in the first place.

I write about vampires. Weird paranormal creatures. But the emotions are all human. Glory has been looking for true love ever since she found herself a widow in 1604. Yes, she has Jerry. But she doesn’t trust that bond. He’s too controlling, too protective. And she’s too insecure to believe that he won’t eventually tire of her. Yes, that’s crazy on her part. But insecurity isn’t always rational. So what if he’s stuck around for four hundred years. He could finally walk away. So she keeps looking around. Thinking maybe she should have other options. Wrong? Probably. I don’t know if you’re Team Jerry, Team Rafe or Team Ray. But I’ve always been Team Glory. She has to realize that she needs to relax and just see what happens if she believes in herself. There’s a lot to be said for loyalty. And chemistry. Glory needs to decide where she finds both.

So how did you meet your love? Or are you still looking? Comment here for a chance to win an autographed copy of my March 5 release, Real Vampires Know Hips Happen, and a $25 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes & Nobles. I’ll pick a lucky winner on that release day, March 5. Good luck! And I can’t wait to read your stories.

Why I Love Animals

Posted in Uncategorized on January 22, 2013 by gerrybartlett

Imagel

I post pictures of my dog Jet just about every Saturday. But let me tell you how Jet came into my life. My late husband was captain of a flyball team. Our aging Bedlington Terrier was going blind and John knew her days as a champion flyball dog were numbered. So he went in search of a replacement. Now flyball is nothing more than relay races for dogs. A four dog team takes turns running down a course with hurdles, hitting a box to get a ball and bringing the ball back to its owner. Belle loved it. But when she couldn’t see the ball anymore, her time was up. Jet’s a whippet. He can run like the wind. But he had one problem. He had absolutely no interest in a ball. Didn’t want to taste it, carry it or fetch it. No flyball for him, though he liked going to the tournements with Daddy.

John did discover Jet was crazy about lure coursing. That’s where dogs chase a fake bunny(it’s a plastic bag on a zip line) and are timed. Since it was a competition, they went to several tournaments and Jet did well. My husband was all about winning. But when John died a few years ago, that was it for Jet’s lure coursing career. Sorry, but I call that little league for dogs. I served my time in the stands raising my son.

So why am I such a dog nut? Well, I have to admit that it can get pretty lonely around here. It’s just me now–the kid is grown and on his own. So Jet is good company. He tells me when it’s time to get up(too early for a writer without a day job) and when it’s time for him to eat(about 3 in the afternoon). He makes sure I exercise by going to the back door several times a day wanting to go out. He snuggles up next to me in bed where someone else used to be. It’s a comfort.

He isn’t a barker unless a stranger comes to the door. I like that. I have my peace and quiet that I want for thinking abd writing, but I have a guard dog when I need it. He keeps the back yard free of stray cats and makes sure the squirrels know to stay in the trees. If I’m careless with tissue or food, he will take care of it for me. So I guess you could say he helps me avoid some of my clutter.

I like cats too, but Jet doesn’t seem to want the competition. A friend stayed with me for a while, but we didn’t give her kitty the run of the house. Too much stress for both of them.

One thing I can’t stand is to see helpless animals abused. I’m a sucker for an animal charity and have all the junk mail to prove it. Need a free calendar? I hate to go into Petsmart on adoption day. It breaks my heart to see animals who don’t have a loving home.

What about you? Do you have a fur baby? Is one ruling your roost? Do you have a story to share about your pet or one you used to have? I grew up with a dog and a cat. I’m glad I never had allergies but so many people do. I understand if that’s keeping you from enjoying the experience. Post here and one lucky commenter will win a grab bag of three autographed paranormal romances from bestselling authors Jeaniene Frost, Kerrelyn Sparks and Kim Harrison. Wow! Plus a gift card for the book retailer of your choice.

Excited? I am. Get busy and share your story here. Deadline for the contest is February 1, my brother’s birthday.