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 I can’t tell you how many practically full bottles went out of date, another waste of money.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!

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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.

A rose by any other name…

Posted in Uncategorized on September 24, 2012 by gerrybartlett

I wrote three books under another name when I first got published. I started out writing romantic suspense. I’ve always loved to read mysteries so this seemed like the perfect genre for me. I was still teaching at the time and since my books had some steamy scenes, I thought I should use a pen name. I picked Lynn McKay. That’s my middle name and my maiden name. When I was a kid, I used to fantasize that I was a famous comedienne, like Lucille Ball. I would practice signing autographs and Lynn McKay was the name I used. I hated Gerry. Boy or girl? The confusion has followed me all my life.
Anyway, I sold those two books then decided to write a historical romance. I’d had this idea for years and won a contest with it. Originally called A Matter of Duty, it even finalled in the Golden Heart, a Romance Writers of America contest for unpublished authors. By the time I sold it, in 2000, I’d changed the name to Sweet Deceit. It didn’t get a very big print run but I loved the cover and was thrilled to see it in Barnes & Noble.
This week it’s a giveaway at my friend Vicky Dreiling’s website. She writes Regency historicals too. Sweet Deceit came out in 2002. If I rewrote it today, I’d make some changes, tighten up the story, make the pacing faster. But the basic story would stay the same. It’s a pretty dark plot: An aging duke needs a worthy heir and contrives to have his young bride sleep with his handsome nephew to get one. The two fall in love of course and it’s a difficult journey for their happily ever after. The villain in the piece is the nasty heir the duke is denying. I made him disgusting, over the top in a lot of ways. It was a fun book to write. I love the time period and have read probably hundreds of Regencies. I swear I may have lived then in a previous life.
Now I write under my real name. When new writers as me if they should use a pen name, I discourage it. I found it confusing back then. I’d go to a meeting or conference and have to answer to Lynn. I’m not used to that. I’m Gerry and, like it or not, that’s what I answer to. I’m a woman, it’s pronounced as if it starts with a “J” and that’s that. It’s nice to have a “B” last name. I’m shelved next to my buddy Nina Bangs. Michele Bardsley writes similar books and our books snuggle up to each other. I like that. If my career tanked and a publisher or my agent asked me to take a new name I’d balk. Maybe Gerry has written some stinkers, maybe Lynn did. But I own up to them. I’ll leave it up to my audience to decide whether to buy me or pass on the next book. Hiding behind a new name doesn’t seem fair. What do you think?

Oh, isn’t for Organization

Posted in Uncategorized on July 31, 2012 by gerrybartlett

A friend asked me to go with her to pick out baskets so she could reorganize her office. This is like asking Atilla the Hun to start peace talks. I’m hopeless when it comes to organizing anything. I bought baskets once. I have three nice baskets, overflowing of course. No matter what I buy, nothing will magically get me organized.
I’ve bought books on getting myself squared away. Meditated on it. Purged extra papers. Hauled stuff to the garage. But more things keep adding to my piles. Where does it all come from? I have hundreds of books, of course. Then there’s the decorative items. I collect frog princes. You know. You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince. I also have a PG-13 sign that actually fell on top of my car one day while my son and I were driving out of a mall parking lot. It was meant to be mine. Don’t you think?
It’s crazy how all this paper grows. I have to keep receipts for tax purposes. So I have a plastic bin I toss them in. At tax time I sit on the floor and organize them into piles. It isn’t easy. Wait. It’s only July 31 and the bin is full. What now? I’ve started a bag next to it. You see how things get out of hand?
I guess I could straighten my piles of stuff but why bother? I’ll just print out another interesting article or sweet note from a fan and things will explode all over again. What’s your challenge or solution to getting organized? I’d love to know if there’s a secret nobody told me to getting this mess under control. Share your pain or triumph here.

Gerry at the Taj Majal

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2012 by gerrybartlett

Gerry at the Taj Majal

Agra, India

Hot Times and Cool Memories

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2012 by gerrybartlett

It’s definitely summer here in Texas. My AC is pumping away and I’m already dreading the next electric bill. I spend a lot of time at the computer but I have to get out sometime. Lately it’s been to the movies. The last one I saw was “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” My friend and I went to lunch then hit an early afternoon showing. The theater was half full which was a surprise for a week day. But the age range was well above forty and averaged Medicare card holding status. I won’t tell you where I fit in. Use your imagination. Anyway, it’s a great story, British, and I loved the way the characters were set up. In my own books, I’m all about the characters. If I can’t feel what they are feeling, figure out how they will act, the story can’t move forward for me.

The people in this movie were all forced by one circumstance or another to move to India for their retirement. Now I got the chance to live in India one summer when I was eighteen, right after my freshman year in college. This was a long time ago. My dad taught teachers there about electronics and computers. I still say he is responsible for all the outsourcing there today. Anyway, my brother and I got to go with my parents and it was the trip of a lifetime. India is a fascinating place. Back then we experienced culture shock, just like the people in this movie. I’d never seen such poverty. People literally slept in the streets. We’d go to a movie there and ride a taxi home at night. It would have to steer around the bodies.Desperate children hounded us whenever we went shopping in the markets, asking for pennies. I was uncomfortable with it, a lot like one of the women in the movie I just saw. It made me realize I didn’t get as much out of my Indian experience as I could have back then.

My brother was like another character in the Marigold Hotel. He was fourteen and fearless. He rented a bike and rode all over the city of Bangalore. He even got arrested once for running a stop sign. He never told my parents he’d been taken to the police station and paid a fine. Not until years later. My brother grew up to be a hippie and one of my best friends. He’s the one who should be writing novels.

Anyway, I am the writer here so I saw the movie and came home thinking. It’s what I do with almost every experience in my life. How did the movie makers suck me into the story? Why did the events move me to tears at one point? I loved the colors and excitement of India and it made me want to go back and try it again. But the sad fact is that it would cost a fortune now just for air fare. I could do a lot of trips to closer places for what one trip to India would cost. And once I got there? Would I freeze with fear again? Like I did when I was a teenager? I don’t know. One thing I did get out of my Indian adventure while I was holed up in our British run hotel was that I discovered Harlequin Romances and Georgette Heyer novels. It changed my life. So all was not lost. But then we are shaped by every experience. We just don’t always realize it at the time.

Have you ever taken a trip that made you change your way of thinking? I’d love to hear about it. Or do you have a dream trip on your mind? I’ve never been to Australia or New Zealand. Those are on my wish list. Share here. I’m waiting to hear from you.

Killing Again

Posted in Uncategorized on May 7, 2012 by gerrybartlett

No, I’m not into a freaky mood, ready to take out a real person instead of a bad guy in my latest book. It’s just my annual ritual of heading to Home Depot and picking out sacrificial plants. You see, I love the look of a flowering garden. I have a small pond in my back yard with a flower bed around it. I can look out my back window or sit on the deck in the evening and enjoy my own little patch of paradise. Well, it would be paradise if I had any luck with plants. As it is, they are beautiful at first. I even get excited and water them on schedule for the first few weeks. But I’m an indoor person. I thrive sitting on my couch with a remote control in my hand. Or at the computer writing a story or trolling the ‘Net. Outside there are mosquitos and unregulated temperatures. Humidity does bad things to my hair. It’s not paradise.

It’s sad that I’m this way. The plants want to be loved. They practically beg to be taken care of. If they’re lucky, we get rain often enough to extend their lives for a decent period of time. But last summer we had a drought in Texas. And months of days with over a hundred degree temperatures. What plant can survive that? Only the hardiest. Luckily my giant oak trees are ancient and carried on. My knock-out roses refused to be knocked out. But the bedding plants went lights out. Even the ground cover that had thrived for over twenty years turned brown and bit the dust. Pitiful. I can’t let this stand.

So I called my handy man who is the one who lugs in the mulch and the plants and digs the holes. He gave me his usual pep talk about when to water and set about sticking things into the ground. Such pretty colors. I like pink and orange, a blue hydrangea like my grandmother had in her garden. There are periwinkles too because I’m assured they are practically indestructible. The picture here shows things before he got them into the ground. At least you can see it before things start to go downhill. Because they will. I know myself. Even with resolutions to change, I will probably fail these poor specimens. It’s inevitable. But tonight I’ll pour a glass of wine and sit in a lawn chair with my dog Jet nearby. We’ll enjoy the pond and the flowers, swat at mosquitos and toast to a new sacrifice to Mother Nature. Maybe it will rain.Image

How about you? Indoor or outdoor? Garden? Or not? Share.  I love to hear what you are doing.