Wednesday, September 02, 2009
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.”
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.