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

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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.

Why I Don’t Do Resolutions

Posted in Uncategorized on December 30, 2012 by gerrybartlett

I haven’t made New Year’s Resolutions since the turn of this century. Why? Because they never did anything for me but make me feel like a failure. They were always the same. You know the ones: Lose weight, eat healthy, start exercising, get more work done, take my vitamins, manage my money better. I could go on. It’s like airing all my dirty laundry.

Did I ever keep any of those resolutions? Of course not. Oh, I’d start off January with a bang, full of fervor and resolve. I’d join Weight Watchers, maybe Curves too. I’d even buy new workout clothes. Hit the grocery store after cleaning out my pantry of all those bad foods. Of course that did a number on that resolve to manage my money better. The vitamins? Well, some of them gave me indigestion. I can’t tell you how many practically full bottles went out of date, another waste of money. The working thing was another matter. I’m a writer. And a procrastinator. As usual I’d wait till a deadline loomed before I kept my butt in the chair. Some habits never change.

You see? By February I was usually down a couple of pounds and inches, but my bank account was hurting. And I was getting bored with my routine. My friends were tired of my tales of dieting drama too. And I was sick of myself. By March you’d find chips back in the pantry and candy on the counter. The monthly fee kept coming out of my checking account but I wasn’t hitting the Curves circuit. It took until June for me to admit I wasn’t going back. So much money wasted.

So after years of this cycle, I finally called it quits. No more resolutions. I’m all about goals now. And they have to be goals I can actually meet. Forget goals like “Sell a book.” I know you can’t make a publisher buy your book. But I can finish a proposal and submit it. I might set a goal to aim for thirty minutes of exercise of some kind, three times a week. Doable? I hope so. Knowing me, it would be more realistic to make it ten minutes, twice a week. I still have the wrapper on the Jane Fonda workout DVD I special ordered for last year. Sigh.

Okay, you see the truth here. I’m a slug, disorganized, and lost in my creative world. Somehow I do finish writing books and turning them in. It’s a miracle. I have found a new goal this year. Organize at least one part of my house a month. My sister-in-law attacked my silverware drawer at Christmas. I loved the result. Maybe I’ll go for my underwear drawer next.

Do you have some goals for the new year? Share here. Remember, they have to be something you can control. Nothing pie in the sky like win the lottery. Not unless you’ve figured out a way to rig it. If so, I’m your new best friend. Post here and I’ll pick one lucky commenter to win a gift bag of books, some from me, some signed copies from writer pals of mine. It’ll be a surprise but I have at least five here I can toss in plus a gift card to your favorite retail outlet. And it’ll help clear my clutter, another goal I should write down. Are you in? Let me hear from you by January 15 which means procrastinators beware. 
Happy New Year!

The Blinking Cursor

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 8, 2012 by gerrybartlett

I’m starting a new Real Vampires book and it’s not easy. Did you think it would be? This is number ten in the series. With the same feisty vampire, Glory, in the starring role. I know her really well. I have her voice in my head. I should be able to jump right into the next story without a hitch. Right? Wrong.

You see the opening of a book has to be special. It has to hook readers. Make them want to buy the book, keep reading, become intrigued if they’ve never met these characters before. Hey, it’s a big deal. I angst over it endlessly. I like to start off with a bang. Something exciting happening. But I also have to keep in mind what the ending of the previous book was like. Did I leave the reader with a cliff hanger? That’s cruel but can lead to the kind of addiction to the series authors love. So I have to go back and reread. What did I do to Glory at the end of REAL VAMPIRES KNOW HIPS HAPPEN? My readers won’t get that book until next March yet I’m writing the sequel in October. The publishing world is crazy that way.

Going back over that completed manuscript yesterday was good for me. I relived some of the adventures I put Glory through. I saw how she fought to get her lover’s memory back. I won’t give you spoilers but she had some tough times and tender moments. I reminded myself that I did write that book and it wasn’t bad. It had a beginning, middle and end. Love scenes. Action scenes. And a few chuckles. Okay, so maybe I’ll be able to do it again.

Then I reread my first chapter for REAL VAMPIRES KNOW SIZE MATTERS. Too wordy. It didn’t pop. Just laid there. Sigh. I know I’m my own worst critic. But I have to get this done soon. The publisher likes to put the first chapter of the next book as a teaser in the back of the last one. And they’re working on that March book now. So even though SIZE MATTERS won’t come out until December of 2013 I’ve got to have my dynamic opening done in the next few weeks. No pressure. Hah. So I hit delete and stare at the blinking cursor.

Come on, Gerry, you can do it again. Be funny, be exciting, hook ‘em all over again.