What’s in a name?

One hundred twenty-five thousand, two hundred fifty-eight words.

That’s where my first draft of the final book has ended.

At times, the words flowed across the page faster than I could type them. At other moments, they didn’t flow at all.

What started as an effort to keep a great D&D idea alive has led me to discover a passion for storytelling that I didn’t know that I had. Along the way, it’s been interesting to create these characters that are like real people to me.

I’m excited that I was able to hit my goal of a first draft before the end of the year. Likewise, I’m excited about the idea I have for my next book. For right now, however, I’m just thankful.

I’m thankful for everyone that took the time to read my story, gave me encouragement and took part of this journey with me.

Thank you. I hope you enjoy this final installment because I’m writing it for you.

Remember the Alamo,



The fourth book of the “Sons of Texas” series has been underway for quite some time. There was a substantial break in development as my family moved across town to our new home. We’re settled in, and life is progressing at a unique pace as we find our equilibrium. Overall, I believe that each member of the family is pleased to be done with the process of moving and feels blessed for the new home we now occupy.

Thankfully, part of my settling process has been getting back in the saddle and covering ground in the final book of this series. Writing has been slower because I have spent a little more time researching and have made a few substantial rewrites. I have a personal compulsion to do my best to tell this story right. For that reason, I’m less sure that I’ll get the book done before the end of the year.

I have beta-readers that I greatly rely on that deserve my patience due to the excellent advice they give. I have cover art that I’ll need to contract. Most of all, I need time to create, edit and cajole the story into its proper form.

That being said, I reserve the right to become hyper-productive but bear with me. I’m doing my best to make your patience worth it.

The spoken word

Kingman Brewster, Jr., former President of Yale and Ambassador to St. James, is quoted as saying, “While the spoken word can travel faster, you can’t take it home in your hand. Only the written word can be absorbed wholly at the convenience of the reader.”

Well, I can say that technology has made that statement untrue. With the phones we carry, you can download books from Audible and absorb the spoken word with the convenience of the reader.

For this reason, I’m proud to say that I have enlisted the talent of Toby Tomplay to read “One More Silver Dollar” for my third audiobook.

Toby is a pleasure to work with, and I secured a block of his time for recording in September. I can’t wait to hear Toby’s performance. It should be grand.

Finally, I know some readers are interested in when the fourth and final book of the series will be ready. I don’t have an expected date for that yet, but I can tell you that I recently finished the 6th Chapter of my first draft. The end is coming, and I’m working on making it dynamic!

Thanks for your interest, support and patronage. Keep reading, rating and asking for updates, and I’ll keep with the storytelling.

It’s almost been a year

It’s almost been a year since I released my first book. I noticed that yesterday when I was looking at all of my Amazon metrics. So, what have we accomplished in a year together?

For “The Stars at Knight,” Amazon provides genre metrics for each format. On Kindle, which is the most expansive and most arduous format to compete in because it bears no actual cost to publishing, we’re # 8,363 in “Occult Horror” books and # 13,292 in “Occult Fiction.” Paperback format, from what I’ve read, is considered the most traditional standard. For paperback, we’re rated #15,594 in Occult Fiction. Considering that this group includes my book of less than one year’s age competing with “IT” by Stephen King, I’m stoked. In audiobooks, which is its own animal, we have a smaller field of books to compete with because it costs the author money to produce them. As a result, we’re rated #1,491 in Occult Fiction and, impressively, #3,124 in Urban Fiction.

The best part, however, is the reviews. On Amazon, the book holds a 4.9 out of 5 stars with 11 reviews. That makes such a big difference because the 11 reviews move you up in Amazon’s placement algorithm for “products like this.” On Audible, the book has eight reviews with a 4.4 out of 5-star rating. On Goodreads, I have 12 reviews and a 4.08 rating. Finally, we had an unexpected article where we were selected for their “Best Occult Urban Fantasy Books To Work Your Imagination Out.”

You are, of course, welcome to view any of the metrics for “Dark Jury” or “One More Silver Dollar” on their respective Amazon or Goodreads pages. I didn’t want to drag out the post by giving them here, but I can proudly say that we’re doing well on both of them. However, I do want to say how impressed I am because, as an Author, “The Stars at Knight” is my first and weakest work.

I recognize that there are problems with my first book because I wasn’t writing for the reader. I was writing for myself, and too much of what I wrote was to show off so that anyone who read it would say, “Oh, that’s a neat phrase” or “Wow, he really knows that topic” or “what a fun idea.” It wasn’t until later in the book that I focused on the story and characters in the way that I now feel I should. Despite this, many of you fought past a first chapter full of oil and gas terminology because you wanted to hear more about the old cowboy that shot chupacabras.* I appreciate that because the undeserved encouragement has given me the time and space to get focused and write better. Thank you for you patience and I look forward to rewarding it.

So, as we close in on year one from the release of my first book, I wanted to say thank you for your support. We’ve got some great metrics for a first-time author on the board. We have two more books in the wild that carry the banner well. Finally, I’m four chapters in the writing process to the final book of this series. Of course, if any of you want to write a review, post about my books or recommend them, please do. Finally, I need to speak to my local brewer and see if I can arrange another book signing at Railport. I enjoyed the last one immensely.

Remember the Alamo,


  • – Interestingly, I have a few friends that want an entire book of “chapter one style” oil and gas stories. Who knows?”

“One more Silver Dollar”

It brings me great happiness to announce that the third book of my “Sons of Texas” series is complete.

Both the eBook and the paperback are available on Amazon.

“One More Silver Dollar” picks up a few days after the events of “Dark Jury” and follows the consequences of the Knight’s actions in the last book. In addition to facing the immediate effect of his actions, Mason and his allies find themselves encircled with adversity on all sides. Otherworldly and ageless Evils mix with Texas history in a conflict that threatens more than the Knights may be able to protect. Can Mason and the Knights rally to save the people as he struggles to save himself? The answers lie ahead.

I want to take a moment to thank my beta-readers for their time and their notes as I worked on the book. The additional perspectives and questions helped me sharpen the story and gave me creative springboards that helped immensely. Their editing and corrections helped keep the story tighter and focused. Their encouragement fueled me past the storms and the windless days on the creative sea. Thank you.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone that took a chance on my books and read one. You took a chance on me and gave me the most valuable commodity a person could ask for your time. In return, I hope that you enjoy this newest installment in the series.

The “Dark Jury” audiobook is live

Publishing an audiobook is an interesting task to undertake. After loading some of your text, you get various producers submitting auditions of their reading of your work. To be honest, I wasn’t prepared for the strange protectiveness I felt in trying to find a voice for my stories. For that reason, finding Toby Tomplay was divine intervention. Toby has such range in vocal talent and is a pleasure to work with. To cap it all off, he’s a good guy.

For this reason, I’m pleased to announce that the “Dark Jury” has been released on audible and on Amazon.

You can get it at audible. Likewise, you can get it at Amazon.

My first public event and a few bits of news

A week ago, I was able to have my first book signing. Rolling into Railport Brewing an hour before they opened, the wife and I were excited about the chance to meet up with friends and new people. Part of that excitement is all of the things I have in the works.

For example, the Audiobook for “Dark Jury” has now been completed. The files are in the final checks by the onboarding company I use, and as soon as they get the green light, the audiobook will go live. Toby did an incredible job again, and the performative qualities he brings to the story are making me fall in love with the audio format. I’m very excited about the project, and I hope we can get it rolling soon.

Additionally, the artwork for my 3rd book has come in. What do you think?

Finally, the editing and test reading for “One more Silver Dollar” is progressing nicely. The reports I’m received back so far have been positive. Fans can expect more excitement to surface in Mason’s life as troubles begin to find him. No one ever said that being a Knight was easy.

Ideally, I’ll be able to release the book later this month, but we have a lot going on right now, to be honest. It’s good things, but good things still take up bandwidth. Good things still take up time. So, as I bring this update to an end, let me wish good things for each of you and the bandwidth to enjoy them.

The Journey of miles

I’ve always liked the line by Lao Tzu that said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It reminds me that often it’s the little things that add up to the sum of their being. It’s reassuring in that it makes the impossible reducible to the things we can do. With this in mind, I have passed two more mileposts in my journey.

The first is that yesterday I finished the rough draft of my third book. Some rough patches will need some sanding before I trust my poor test readers with it, but I feel that it’s a good tale. It shows promise, and I look forward to seeing how polished I can make it. It also has a name that I will share in public for the first time. My third book in “The Sons of Texas” series will be called “One more Silver Dollar.”

For those who have read “Dark Jury,” the double meaning is evident. I have some exciting news for those that haven’t because my second milepost is that I have successfully negotiated with the talented Toby Tomplay to do the audiobook recording for “Dark Jury.” I learned during the first audiobook that the process is mercurial, but the good news that it has begun.

Finally, there has been a bit of personal chaos going on in my life. I know that for a lot of you, things are going on, as well. As a result, I want to take a moment and tell you “thank you.” For those who have given me support, taken a chance on writing, or shared a kind word, please know that it’s appreciated. I’m excited that Covid is beginning to wane, and I wanted to announce my final milepost for this update.

I will be doing a book signing on April 24th in Waxahachie, Texas, at my favorite brewery: Rail Port Brewing. I’ll be there between 2 pm to 8ish. It’s a favorite of mine; they have a great food truck on-site, the live music that day is a banger, and I’m personally welcoming you to come down and try some epic brews. I’ll have had my first shot by then, so between my Covid anti-bodies and modern medicine, we can finally share some high-fives, bro-fists, and handshakes. 

Snow days

Living in Texas, snow days are relatively rare. The Panhandle sees ice and snow a little more regularly than the DFW area. Austin and Central Texas hardly ever get to experience anything more inspiring than a light flurry. Houston falls in that category, as well. That is why when we get winter weather in the Lone Star State, it’s like the scene of Bambi on Ice. We are not people that prepare for water in a solid-state.

Winter tires are not sold here. A major city might just maybe have a single snowplow. We don’t store up salt for roads, and I know no one who wraps their pipes. We are not prepared for the cold because it seldom visits in a meaningful way.

The end result of this is that people watching go from “amusing” to “frightening/insane/awesome” pretty quickly. A trip to get gas, get groceries or get the mails can become a “classic fail video” in a heartbeat as long as you have your phone out.

I try to avoid the stupid because I’m older, have a few surgeries in my medical history, and don’t like drama. Instead, I’ve been at home watching over the kids, taking care of family, and finishing chapters 18 and 19 of the newest book. I still have no title, but I’m feeling good about my self-imposed May deadline for a release date.

Additionally, I want to thank everyone that has read my books. If you went that extra mile and left a review on Amazon or Goodreads, please know that helps me more than I can express. Ratings help promote my viability in the eyes of the all-mighty algorithms that populate search engines. Eventually, I hope to get relevant enough to get canceled for being me. It’s a small aspiration, but then that’s when you know you’ve made it.

Finally, in light of Texas’ winter weather being in the news, I leave you with this. It’s a collection of people documenting this moment for us.

Stay warm, stay safe, and I’ll keep writing.

Cool story, Bro!

My sister travels a lot for work, and this weekend she was in the Atlanta airport waiting for a flight to Kansas City. There were other people there wearing Chiefs and Bills jersey’s giving each other some good-natured razzing when a man wearing a Dallas Cowboys jacket sat down near her.

“Look as these idgits.”, he said to her.
“Yeah, they’re fired up,” my sister replied, “by the way, I’m a Cowboys fan, too.”
“I could tell you are someone with some common sense,” he said. “I guess it’s true that Texans can spot Texans.”

At this point, I have to mention that my sister said it was evident that the man she was talking to was military. He was the right age, had the haircut, had the build, and had all of the military habits that service members pick up. She knows how to spot that being the wife of a Navy man. But I digress…

Then the man says to my sister, ” It’s a lot like this book I read recently where it talks about ‘the Spirit of Texas’ and how it bonds the people together… I can’t remember the name of it, though.”
“Could it be ‘The Stars at Knight’ by Rob Bartley?” she asked.
“That’s it!” he replied, ” Have you read it?”
“Yes, I know the author,” she replied, “Have you read the second one?”
“I finished it a week ago. We’ve been passing it around the barracks.”, he replied.
“Well, he’s working on the third one right now.”, She informed him, “He’s trying to be done by May. You should hit him up on Instagram or Facebook.”

At that point, they announced that the soldier’s flight had a gate change, and he said good bye and left. My sister, marveling at how small a world it is, sent me a text about it and later told me the story. All I can say about it is that I love it. I’m so proud that they’re passing my books around at the barracks, and I hope they enjoy it.

The best part of having fans is that I get to share my story with people and, hopefully, entertain them for a while. It’s an extraordinary thing!

In light of that, I wanted to give a quick update and let you know that I’m working on Chapter 15 now. The story is gliding along like it’s on skids, and I’m excited about the turns it’s taking. In the meantime, I leave you with a meme.

Folks, if we can come together over mittens and memes, we’re going to be ok. Take a deep breath and relax. We have one life, and we never get this moment back. Spend as much of it as you can in joy.

Rob Bartley