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.

Gerry’s Mini-Meltdowns

Posted in Uncategorized on March 15, 2012 by gerrybartlett

There are some things that just rub me the wrong way. I like a cold Diet Dr. Pepper in the morning. It’s what I drink to wake up. Do NOT leave the refrigerator without replenishing the supply of DDP. If I open that door and don’t see my drink first thing in the morning? Meltdown time. And don’t get me started on people who take the last of anything and forget to announce it. Give a general heads up. If you share a home with someone, you know what I mean. “Hey, we’re out of bread.” is a lot better than going for a sandwich later and finding one sad end of a loaf and a few crumbs.

Then there are the under-tippers. I have a couple of friends who I watch when we go out to eat. Yes, you know who you are. I admit, if the service is bad, I may hate to leave 15% but I tend to give the server the benefit of the doubt. My son once worked in a restaurant for tips and I know what servers go through. So I’m generous. Stingy tippers who leave a dollar for a twenty buck meal make me cringe. So I go back and add on to their tiny tip. And then bow out when asked to eat out with those people again. Wonder why?

I could go on and on but the last is my worst hot button. And the time is coming when I’ll be vulnerable to meltdown fever again. That’s when my local bookstore fails to put my new book out on time. I HATE that. It’s due out April 3. So on the day where’s REAL VAMPIRES HATE SKIINY JEANS? In the back room? Why? I know Gerry’s not that big author who has a display up by the front counter. But I want my books OUT ON TIME. Yes, I’m throwing a hissy fit, begging, handing out brochures and koozies. Just like my street team does. Because I worked hard on the book. Yes, I know every author does the same. But who cares about the other guys? This is me. It’s all about ME. Right?

So what makes you melt down? Share here and I’ll pick at random one lucky commenter to get an advanced copy of REAL VAMPIRES HATE SKINNY JEANS. Yes, you’ll get it before April 3. The contest ends on March 21 so don’t procrastinate. Get busy and post some kind of comment here. Good luck. And don’t melt down if you don’t win. Just be sure to hit a book store the week of April 3 and make sure SKINNY JEANS is on the shelves. Thanks in advance!
Gerry

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on January 3, 2012 by gerrybartlett

Gerry with Nina Bangs

I’m posting a picture here of me with my friend Nina Bangs. I went to her condo which she redid this past year. It was a case of out with the old, in with the new. It’s nice to make a clean sweep. Her third floor unit is beautiful and she bought it because it has a view of Clear Lake and a marina. It’s a very soothing setting.

This was a weird Christmas for me. I lost my mother this year so I was the hostess for the festivities for my family. I’m now the older generation. And doesn’t that give me the creeps? But I soldiered on. I always invite my single friend Nina and another couple who don’t have family in the area to join us. We had a good time and I made myself keep the food simple. I completely overcompensated at Thanksgiving and was stuck with leftovers that I ended up tossing or giving away. I tend to do that. Go overboard. I felt like I had my mom looking over my shoulder, not critically, just seeing if I was getting the holiday done right. It was an weird feeling.

I’ve known for a long time that I was blessed with my parents. I was encouraged to get an education, make something of myself, but never pressured. I had a mom who everyone loved and I counted her as my best friend. No wonder I feel off kilter this year. I’m remembering how she loved Christmas and always made sure my brother and I had lots of little presents under the tree. Maybe that’s why I feel like I got less than usual this year. Not that anyone didn’t come through. My family is generous and we all exchanged gifts like we always do. It’s just that I missed my mother’s little surprises. And her way of worrying if she “came out even”. She knew my brother and I counted each other’s stacks. Yeah, really mature of us.

But we made it through and didn’t even talk about Mom. Which was crazy and maybe a coping mechanism. I guess we were afraid we’d break down if we started remembering earlier holidays. Or if we’d brought out the picture albums. Heck, even writing this now has me tearing up.

But I’m moving on. I have the comfort of knowing that my mother was my biggest fan. She loved my Glory books and read every one. She bragged about me, but not to her Sunday School class–those steamy scenes embarrassed her a little. It surprised her that her school teacher daughter turned out to be an author and writing about vampires at that. My father, who was a wickedly intelligent man, died decades ago. But he gave me my first computer and he somehow knew writing was my destiny. He’d have loved the Glory books too, especially those hot scenes. I did say he was wicked, didn’t I? Yep, I was blessed. And have some great memories to fall back on. Now it’s up to me to create new ones. It’s not always easy with our ghosts hovering around us.

I hope you have your own good times past and present. I’d love to hear about them. And that your new year is filled with everything you wish for.

With a little help from my friends…

Posted in Uncategorized on August 14, 2011 by gerrybartlett

I’m a lucky gal. I’ve known it for a long time now. One of my biggest blessings is that I have great friends. Now I’m the first to admit that I have categories of friends. I have long-time childhood friends who I’ve known since I started school. Those are fun to get together with to reminisce about old times and talk about our families as they grow and change. There is nothing like a friend you’ve had for decades to understand when you have a child in trouble or an ailing parent.

I also have friends I made when I was still teaching. These friends are few and have stayed with me because we found other shared interests outside of the classroom. You may have found that to be true too. When you work with someone you might spend eight hours a day with them, eat lunch with them every day, yet have nothing in common except that place of employment. When I moved to a new school, I often never heard from a pal again. But there were a few that I did stick with. Those are the gals that I shop with, travel with and gossip on the phone with. Do we talk about school days? Hardly ever. Ancient history.

Finally, there are my writing friends. These days they seem to stick closest to me. Writing is a tough business, especially in this economic climate. With so many bookstores closing, it’s hard to get a decent contract and print runs are shrinking. It’s also hard to stay motivated to write with or without a deadline. My writing buddies understand the grind I go through to write funny, write passionately and stay on task when my life has its down moments. Through the loss of my husband then more recently the loss of my mother, it was the writing community that understood how I struggled to be creative during that period.

Yes, we are professionals but we’re human too. I have critiqued with the same two women for many years. We joke that we’re more like a support group. Amen. Not only do we read each other’s stuff but we share each other’s struggles and brainstorm when the creative well runs dry. I think I would have quit writing when it took me so long to sell my first book if I hadn’t had that tight support system in place. My writing pals are the cheerleaders behind the scenes when I’m waiting to hear what my editor thinks after I turn a book in. They pat me on the back when a reviewer doesn’t give my books love and celebrate with me when readers put me on a bestseller list.

Where would I be without my friends? I can’t imagine it. I’m one of those people who needs that human contact to thrive. Every message I get from a fan about my books seems to fill me up. I can’t get enough of those kinds of positive vibes. Writing is a solitary exercise,  just me and my computer.  Yes, my characters come alive for me. You don’t want to know how real some of those hot guys seem after a while. I have a BIG crush on Israel Caine. But fact is, at the end of the day it’s me and words on paper. So I need my friends to let me know I’m not alone.

What about you? How do you get together with your friends? We always seem to share a meal. Are your buds from work, family or school? I’d love to hear about your life. Post here.

Technology–Friend or Foe?

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5, 2011 by gerrybartlett

A friend spent the morning on the phone with tech support after her computer crashed today. She backs up her work obsessively but hadn’t done it with her latest chapter. This one had been a killer and she’d rewritten it several times. So she was in a panic. No telling where this helper was when he took over her computer in cyber-space and somehow fixed it. He kept trying to tell her what he was doing. She finally screamed at him to just do it, she didn’t want to understand it, she just wanted her work back. I can relate.

I started writing way back in the last century. Before computers. Yes, I used a, gasp, typewriter. Hey, at least it was electric. I struggled with white-out and eraseable bond. Imagine a 400 page manuscript churned out that way. And revisions? You did them very reluctantly. So much retyping. And I’m not the most accurate typist in the world. Backspace is my friend.

My dad bought me my first computer and made me audit his class. He taught computer technology at the University of Houston. He hadn’t done an introductory class in years but did a special summer session just so I could take it. He regretted it. The yahoos in that class had the attention span of gnats and his baby girl, me, struggled to grasp the intricacies of this new language. What can I say? I’d been an English major. But I did finally figure out that this was a fabulous new way to write my stories. Did I mention how much I loved my daddy? Still miss him.

Anyway, technology has come a long way since that first bulky computer with the long sheets of paper that had holes in the edges and had to be torn apart. Now I have three computers in my house–a desktop that is my home base, a laptop and a netbook. I know, overkill. But I did inherit Daddy’s love of gadgets. With wireless I can write anywhere except the bathtub. I’m not brave enough for that. Of course sometimes evil demons occupy my equipment and create problems. Luckily I have a son who’s computer savvy– obviously this stuff skips a generation–and I can call on him when things go wrong.

Another bit of technology that has changed my life is my cell phone. I have one of those iphones so I can check my email wherever I go. I’ve found that it’s also a long leash. I cannot get totally away from my responsibilities. Do you find that true?Sometimes love it, sometimes hate it .

But the most awesome technological breakthrough in my lifetime is the Internet. I wish my father were alive to enjoy it. It has certainly made research for writers a snap. I can look up names for demons, find out what a street in Austin looks like, even check out a menu at a restaurant before I head out for dinner. Oops, that last one wasn’t writing related, was it?

Anyway, what do you love or hate about technology? Share here. I love to hear from you. I’m just glad I made it through this blog without accidentally deleting it. Peace out.

Gerry

Some People Don’t Get It

Posted in Uncategorized on January 18, 2011 by gerrybartlett

I was out and about Sunday and saw a lady struggling to get a fruit tree loaded into the back of her car. This was a twelve foot tree, root ball and all. It stuck out of her car window in the rain and cold. Now think about it. It’s January. Sure, I live in Texas but who’s the sap at home who is going to have to go out in the yard and dig a hole to plant this sucker? And what was the pressing need that had her out in terrible weather when we’ve had beautiful days before and after for plant shopping? This was no young woman either. No way was she going to be able to help get the tree out of her car. I had visions of her driving around with this thing sticking out of there for days on end, looking for help. No, don’t smile. It was sad. Really. This lady didn’t get it.

Lesson two. A few feet further on, the wind whipped a woman who was decades younger but many pounds heavier as she struggled across the parking lot. She was obviously into fashion, but hadn’t looked in a full length mirror. I don’t know about you, but I always check the front and back view before I head out the door. Here’s the thing. Tights with high boots are in now and a cute look. With a tunic over it. The tunic must cover your butt and tummy. I repeat, MUST cover those areas. Even skinny minnies know this. Those of us with problem areas sure don’t want to show the word our butt crack. So we should wear a heavy sweater over those tights. A LONG heavy sweater. Not a clingy short one. Enough said. And where was this gal’s coat? Okay, so maybe she was from up North and forty degrees felt like a Spring day. Whatever. Please get a clue and look in a mirror.

Now we come to Gerry. There are a lot of things I don’t get. See, I’m not just the harsh critic of others. I seem to make the same mistakes over and over again. Like, instead of attacking the mess in my closet, I’m thinking of running to Ross or Marshall’s and buying yet another pair of black pants. Oh, yeah, and what about those too tight jeans? I hate myself for wanting a larger size again. I gave away my fat jeans last year. Since I don’t dare ask for them back at the Goodwill, I’m sorely tempted to rush out and buy elastic waisted Granny pants. I wore some that were too tight the other day and I SUFFERED. Seriously. By the time I drove home, I’d unsnapped and unzipped just to breathe. Thank goodness I didn’t have a wreck.

Then there’s the issue of  what I’m doing right now. On the Internet, blogging, avoiding attacking the book I need to write. I KNOW what the story is, what I need to write, but I can’t seem to get to it. Somehow I have convinced myself I’m on vacation. That I need to publicize MORE TO LOVE  and that all this other stuff is necessary. But it’s not getting the book written. And this is an old pattern. I tend to put things off till the last minute. Tell myself I work well under pressure, with a deadline looming. When will I get it? I could do a better job, craft a finer story and not be so stressed if I just got down to business right now. What am I afraid of? That I won’t know what to write? I’ve done it before, I can do it again. Right? Um, yeah, sure. I guess. Well, now you know my secret. Authors tend to have the same problem when starting a new book. It’s called terror. Like jumping off a cliff without a safety net. Because, while lots of you love our work and take the time to tell us so, there are always a few who deride it, hate it even, and let it be known. Do we dwell on the good stuff? No way. We let the negatives and doubts eat at us. We worry that we really do suck. That any success we had was a fluke, never to be repeated. So we stall, poised on the edge, afraid to start again.

Don’t worry. I know this is temporary and I’ll get over it. An email from my editor usually is the slap up the side of my head that helps me come back to reality. I get it. I have a contract, responsibilities. And if I keep thinking I need my own fruit tree? Well, let’s just say I have my own weaknesses. I’m not a heroine in a romance novel. I’m more like the woman with the tree, convinced her hero at home will plant it for her. Or the girl in the tights who thought she looked darned good when she left the house. And maybe she did. I’m in the pissy mood I get when I know I’m avoiding what I need to be doing, you know? Can you relate? Experts say this is the most depressed time of year. I believe it. But I’m getting over it. Because what are my options? I choose to count my blessings, finish reading that good book I couldn’t put down till late last night, then actually open the document for the next Glory book and get going. Right after I buy a new pair of elastic-waisted black pants. What can I say? I’m not totally cured.

Cliff Hangers

Posted in Uncategorized on November 8, 2010 by gerrybartlett

I’ve been reading a lot of young adult novels recently and really enjoying them. Except for one thing–many of them end with cliff hangers. You know what I mean. Not everything is resolved and you’re left hanging. Not only that, but you know good and well that the next book in the series won’t be out for months, maybe not for a year. By that time I could have forgotten what in the heck I was hanging around for. Of course there will be a big display in my local bookstore to remind me. I got hooked that way in the first place. Stumbled over a whole table full of young adult best sellers with book one(in paperback) lying next to book 2(hardback). The message is clear. Buy the first and we’ll leave you panting for the second. And, yes, we’ll stick you with an upgrade in the cost. Thanks a heap.

The problem is, these books are well-written. And the suspense is taut. So I do want to know what happens next. Take Paranormalcy. I liked that book a lot. No teaser chapter at the end. No sign of a book 2. But there has to be one in the offing. Because there were just too many loose ends. And the main character is strong, cool and more than sufficient to carry a series. These authors are good at that. Seems like they’re doing better at it than the adult market lately.

How did I get sucked into this anyway? Sure I have a niece who’s 15, but she didn’t steer me here. I have a friend who writes young adult fare and hasn’t sold one yet. Heard the buzz about the tough competition. Oh, how hard could it be? So I picked up a few. Well, now I know. Pretty darn hard. And so many writers for adults have slipped across the aisle to savor that tasty market, where foreign sales can go to six figures and movie deals are made with unseemly haste. This isn’t happening in the adult section lately.

And when you’ve written as many love scenes as I have, the idea of writing a whole book without one sounds like nirvana. I mean, how many ways can you do it and not sound stale? Or pornographic. Or clinical. I try, seriously, to keep it fresh. But my problem is that I have the same heroine going at it for seven books now. And ninety percent of the time with the same hero. It’s like a long marriage. And I know personally what that’s like. The black negligee is way in the back of the drawer and we watch those ads for the special cream that heats things up, but seems like a lot of trouble and messy. You know? Okay, so I’m writing fantasy. I keep that in mind and soldier on.

But a YA might be a welcome break. I probably waited too late though. The market is getting saturated, by some outstanding talent. And, personally? I hate cliff hangers. I want each book, even if it is in a series, to stand alone. To have a satisfying ending. With all the important questions answered. Any other way is, to me, a manipulation of the audience. And I don’t like it. Might even refuse to buy an author again if I feel jerked around. What do you think? How do you feel about cliff hangers? Share your thoughts here.