Wednesday, September 02, 2009

IMHO Welcomes Gerry Bartlett!


Welcome back to IMHO as we kick off the month of September with our new theme, “Back to School: Surprising Things I've Learned from Writing/Reading Romance.”

Every Wednesday, all month long, each of my five guest hosts—Gerry Bartlett, Annette McCleave, Ann Macela, Heather MacAllister, and Vicki Hinze—will give us her unique perspective on this theme, and then offer up an autographed novel for the “Back to School” tote bag of love for one lucky winner to keep (please see my contest rules; they've changed slightly).

Also stuffed into said tote bag will be a copy of my historical romance, THE LEGACY, a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card, and a Magnetic Poetry Kit featuring “Mixed-up Romance Novel” phrases that you can use to express your inner romance novelist. Hey, everybody has a book in them, right? And if you’re reading this blog, yours is probably a romance novel. So stick around, and I’ll favor you with randomly created selections from the Magnetic Poetry Kit all month long, heh heh heh. Here’s one now:

“He ripped open/her uncharted continent/but his bursting passion/dropped down on the floor.”

Wow.

So, anyhoo, let’s start this month off by laughing it up with Gerry Bartlett, my first guest host.

“Hot and hilarious. [Gerry Bartlett’s] Glory is everywoman with fangs.”
—Nina Bangs, New York Times bestselling author

“A sharp, sassy, sexy read.”
—Kimberly Raye, USA Today bestselling author of Dead End Dating

“Full-figured vampire Glory bursts from the page in this lively, fun and engaging spin on the vampire mythology.”
—Julie Kenner, USA Today bestselling author

Such is the praise for bestselling author Gerry Bartlett’s plus-sized heroine Glory St. Clair in her Real Vampire paranormal chick-lit series. Since the series began, every book has hit the Barnes and Nobles and Borders bestsellers trade paperback lists. The titles alone are enough to make you smile. Glory has been described as “a vampire who even Buffy could love” (Romance Review), and while Gerry is not a vampire, both she and Glory do own their own antique businesses. Gerry lives south of Houston, not far from Galveston, Texas, and has one son and two dogs. When she started writing, she was still teaching and used the pseudonym Lynn McKay, and she notes that you can probably still find her historicals for a penny on-line. Now that she’s no longer in the classroom, she has come out of the closet and uses her real name, much to her mother’s delight and sometimes embarrassment.

[Author’s note: Sorry, Mom, but, yes, I do have to write “those scenes.”]

Gerry’s next release is the mass-market edition of Book 3 in her series, REAL VAMPIRES GET LUCKY, coming this November from Berkley Publishing. Her next trade paperback release is REAL VAMPIRES HATE THEIR THIGHS, Book 6 in the Glory St. Clair vampire series, due out in February of 2010.

You can check out Gerry’s website or follow Glory St. Clair’s blog at myspace.com/gerrybartlett. Also, dedicated fans of her series have set up a cool site. Gerry will put two books in the “Back to School” tote bag of love: Real Vampires Have Curves (Book 1 of the series) and Real Vampires Live Large (Book 2).

IMHO: Welcome, Gerry! So, since you used to be a school teacher, I’m not surprised you wrote an essay about our theme.

GB: That’s right, TJ. I’m calling it “When My Year Starts.”

When My Year Starts by Gerry Bartlett

I taught school for more years than I’ll admit. So I have this feeling every August that my year is just beginning. New Year’s Eve has never done it for me. Forget the champagne and the ball dropping at Time’s Square. For me, when the school supplies come out, a new year is about to start. And, trust me, for a teacher, that means the nightmares begin. Oops, did I say that out loud? Not that I hated teaching and certainly not the children. I taught first grade for a long time and there was no greater magic than watching the light turning on in young minds when the kiddos realized they could finally read a sentence. It’s addictive for a teacher.

No, the nightmares were those out-of-control dreams you get when you can’t manage your life. For teachers, it’s imagining the line of students at your door and not enough desks. Or the bulletin board that keeps falling down.

Early on in my teaching career, I found that I could escape all that stress in a good romance novel. I read so many good ones, I decided I had to try my hand at writing. One of the best decisions I ever made. I love to create a story with a passionate couple and a happily ever after. And mine have to be funny. I enjoy lightening the world, not bringing it down.

I like some of the reality shows on now as much as the next guy. Addicted to Design Star and Project Runway. And don’t interrupt So You Think You Can Dance. But I’ve never been a fan of the really scary. After an exhausting day, I want to escape into fantasy, the kind where a hot guy will do anything for his woman. Maybe even, I don’t know, cook dinner and put the clothes in the dryer? Okay, maybe I’ve gone too far.

Now that I can write full time, I still have that old nightmare occasionally, with a different spin: I can’t think of anything new or clever. My vampire’s toothless and so am I. Or, I’ve got a deadline and my computer won’t work. Surprisingly, not having a day job has made it harder for me to be productive. At least when I taught, I had the structure of knowing that every August I’d have a calendar that I had to stick to. Certain days and times to work, certain days to play. I got a lot more writing done. Now I have this mental attitude that every day is a play day. Then suddenly I’m racing toward a deadline and having nightmares where I’m running frantically, not able to get where I need to be or catch that train or whatever.

What’s really sad is that any full-time author will tell you that it becomes impossible to just sink into a good book anymore to relieve my stress. Now I read with a critical eye: Did that author get out of point of view? What was with that description? It went on way too long.

You see? I can’t just enjoy a book, not even my own. I have to dissect every word. Bummer.

I have other holdovers from my teaching years. I eat like my plate will be snatched away any second. I spent too many years with a ten-minute lunchtime. When I’m with “normal” people, I inhale my burger and fries while the rest of the gang has barely squirted the first dollop of catsup. Also, first graders eat at eleven in the morning. My friends cannot get me to agree to meet later than noon. Ever.

Oh, well. So, my year has just started. I’m fired up to be more productive, especially with an October deadline looming. I drive by my old elementary school and think about the dedicated people still having to set an alarm clock and do the bus duty and paper work that made me more than ready to quit. I’ve arranged to have lunch the first day of school with other former teachers. I’ll show off my latest book, of course, though my friends are still not sure why I’m writing about vampires. They’re reassured that we’re out in daylight, though. It’s eleven, of course.

What can I say? Old habits die hard.

TJ: Thanks, Gerry. You know, as a former teacher myself, I still have flashbacks like that, usually involving losing my lesson plan on the first day of class. LOL!

IMHO fans, tell Gerry one thing you’ve learned about yourself from reading romance. Remember to leave your comments for Gerry for a chance to win the “Back to School” tote bag, and then come back next Wednesday to visit with debut author Annette McCleave, who writes dark paranormal romance.

Begin commenting!

TJB

34 comments:

Colleen Thompson said...

Hi, Gerry! As a long-time teacher, too, your post gave me flash-backs! So nice to see you here. Best of luck with your newest release!

jcp said...

19 minute lunch? Did you get a bathroom ever?

Vicky said...

Gerry,

Your post reminded me of when my kids were in grade school and all the excitement of the new school year. New shoes, jeans, lunch boxes, and notebooks. Now I just wave as my daughter Amber drives off for college.

Looking forward to the next Glory book!

Bridget said...

What a great interview! (And a great contest, too) -- just posted on Win A Book for you, TJ. My kids are still young enough to wave to when they get on the bus! Looking forward to the day they can go out on their own.

Pam said...

After the past couple of days, I'm looking forward to the days my kids are old enough to get on the bus!

I could be a plus-sized vampire...though I'm not too fond of blood...

melacan at hotmail dot com

Gayle said...

What I learned about reading romance - it is that you don't have to be just a human to find romance and you don't have to me a skinny-minnie to find romance either.

As a former student and not a teacher, I can remember the first day of school. All excited about meeting my teachers and getting text books - but that only lasted for a day and then it was tiresome (for lack of a different word). But I always tried and made the teachers' first day of school a lot easier.

As for the Real Vampires series, I love the series! It is the only vampire series that I know of that has a main character that I can relate to - which makes for a great read. So thanks Gerry for writing a great series and I can't wait for the next book.

Jean P said...

Enjoyed your interview.

What I learned from romance is that we all can find it, sometimes it just takes awhile

alicia0605 said...

What I have learned is that all realationships have ups and downs. Its remembering how much you love each other that matters in the end

Estella said...

What have I learned about reading romance books------So many problems could be worked out by just keeping the lines of communication open. Talk the problems out!

etirv said...

About time someone wrote about a full-figured vampire! Thanks, Gerry!

MJ said...

This is my 33rd year of teaching! I still get butterflies the night before the kids come!

mj.coward[at]gmail.com

chey said...

Great interview! I learned that your attitude has a lot to do with your happiness.

joder said...

What I've learned about myself is that I'm a sucker for a happy ending. Even though I'm very cynical in real life, I just get giddy when two characters rise above adversity to live HEA.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Virginia said...

Hi Gerry, I have read your book Real Vampires Have Curves and I love it. What I have learned about myself when reading romance I better get ready to set up half the night because I am hooked on romance and the happy endings.

TJ Bennett said...

Hi, folks. I understand some of you are having problems posting. Sorry! I'm hoping Blogger gets their act together soon. Come back tomorrow if you can't get through today!

TJB

throuthehaze said...

What I learned from reading romance is that relationships take A LOT of work.
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

classy1125 said...

As a woman with curves, and who likes funny books and vampire books, I'm looking forward to checking out yours! :)

RedVU9395 said...

Never thought about how writing professional can affect your enjoyment of reading other. Should have though, I experienced this after going to Div School. I would listen to sermons with an academic ear. Looking forward to reading your book, thanks for sharing with us.

Gerry Bartlett said...

Trying to post again. Guess blogspot doesn't like me. Anyway, I do miss some of the school things. Like the hugs I got. But can you imagine what the kids and parents would think of their teacher writing vamp comedy? The kids always thought I slept under my desk. Thanks for all the great comments!
Gerry

Margay said...

What I've learned from reading romance is that I am a true romantic at heart, I believe in the happily ever after, and I'm okay with that!
Margay

staceylevine said...

Hi Gerry! I'm a Facebook follower and I think your books are clever and funny!

Dragonlily said...

Hi Gerry,

Just want you to know that I love love love your vampire series - I can soooo relate to Glory in every way, well except being a vampire. I absolutely can't wait for Real Vampires Hate their thighs - I am sure it will be as entertaining as the last 4.

I don't really think I have learned alot about myself through reading romance - I do know that I was never really into romance until I stumbled upon on the paranormal ones - much more interesting and creative. So maybe that is what I have learned is that I enjoy reading them!

Great books - keep on writing!! :)

Dawn said...

Where has this blog been all my life!!!! Yay! I love you and all these authors! Yay!

be well...

KELLY FITZPATRICK said...

Cute cover! What's not to love about a curvy vamp? There is someone for everyone out there...that's what I've learned.

librarypat said...

What i've learned - I should have started reading them sooner. My DH and I would both have benefited.

Glory is described as full-figured, but the covers don't depict her that way. No one who can wear a pink top like that and have that small a waist can be considered full-figured. I realize you don't have much to say about the covers, but your publisher needs a talking to.

Glory sounds like a fun character. We all need more humor in our lives. I'll be looking her up.

Carol L. said...

I enjoyed the post and will definitely be reading these. Love Vamps lately. :) I also learned that I am really a big Romantic at heart. I have such faith that if you hang in there somewhere, it works out.
Carol L
Lucky4750@

Cori Tallent said...

Hi Gerry!

To answer the question posted, one thing I've learned from reading Glory romance is that you don't have to be a size 2 to be sexy. Glory is confident, beautiful and an inspiration. Thank you!

Team Blade! :)
Cori

VampieGirrl said...

I learned to escape from reality in a romance novel. For the time that you are reading the book you are in that world. You feel the raw emotions on every page. It is the only place in the world that one minute you will be laughing and the next second crying your eyes out and begging them to stay together.

I also learned to quit bullying my husband to be Casanova because I read it on the page. Reality becomes a harsh mistress when you realize that your husband doesn't sparkle, he cannot save you from a pack of daimons, he will not/can not give up his non existent immortality for you, he doesn't ooze cushy one liners meant to make you melt into the floor, and most importantly the biggest let down in my opinion, he doesn't have sharp glistening white fangs to sink into my neck to join us together forever... sigh...

On a more positive note. I adore Gerry and her books. I recommend them to everyone, every where. Believe me, in today's society standards, you don't find very many plus sized heroines. Who rock your socks off and look gorgeous doing it! Thank you Gerry for bring Glory into our lives.

~ "Anxiously awaiting *Real Vampires Hate Their Thighs*"

heatherzilla said...

Reading romance novels teaches you to never give up on love.

Please include me in the giveaway.
heatherzilla(at)care2(dot)com

Mint said...

I have been a romance reader since my teens and I am now 57. I am divorced so I may not have had my happily ever after, but I still love to read about them.

Kerri Nelson said...

Dang,

I hate that I missed this day with Gerry but I was sans a computer after a major crash situation that week! Ugh!

Just have to say that the cover and title cracked me up. Seriously, who doesn't hate their thighs? LOL

Love it!

Lori T said...

Hi Gerry~

Great interview. I have learned that you should be yourself even when it seems to be the opposite of what is expected. Plus, I am really a happily ever after kind of girl.

CherylS22 said...

What I learned about myself from reading romance is how lucky I am to have the husband that I do.
Thanks ~ megalon22{at}yahoo{dot}com

Doreen said...

Communication is the key and every relationship has their moments of happiness and down times.