Happy new year

2020 was somewhat challenging, but it allowed me to start writing, and for that, I am grateful. I wanted to let you know that with the first two books of my “Son’s of Texas” series released in paperback, ebook, and even audiobook, I’ve been relatively happy with my progress.

Today, I spent time working on Chapter 11 of the third, and yet to be named, novel in the series. The ideas have been flowing, and I’m enjoying where the story has been taking me. I believe that targeting my birthday, May 25th, for a release seems reasonable. Of course, if I hit a very productive streak, I hope to beat that date.

In the meantime, please continue to review the books and talk about them among your peers. In the end, you readers who have read the books know best the people you know that would enjoy them. For my part, I will do my best to help grow that audience, but I am very aware that I owe so much more than I can repay to those of you who have read the stories and helped along the way.

So, let me bid you all a very fruitful and remarkable 2021. Hopefully, it will include meaningful moments for you and yours.

An Extra Christmas present for my friends and fans

Merry Christmas! I hope each of you has started that gentle slide towards the holidays as the gravity of expectations meets the realities of the day. I know that this year, more than most, has beaten us unmercifully with uncertainty and chaos, seemingly at every turn. While we are faced with enduring a little longer for the return of “normal,” as if that was a thing, I would like to take a moment to say “Thank you.”

I have enjoyed this part of my year very much. The chance to be creative and problem solve, and grow as a writer has been an unexpected buoy that has carried me across some of this years’ choppy waters. The fact that those of you that were courageous enough to risk the tides with me has been so supportive has been an unexpected blessing in my life.

While I think the New York Times Best Seller’s List doesn’t have to worry about adding “Bartley” to their spell-check dictionary just yet, I am thankful for each of you that have read, shared, promoted, and especially reviewed my book. Knowing that Mason and Ricardo are drinking coffee in someone else’s subconscious besides just mine makes me happy.

So, for those of you who are in the know, I made you this for Christmas:

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through Wilson House
Only one thing was stirring, and it wasn’t a mouse;
Five stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
And Ricardo waited patiently for Santa to be there;
The Knights were nestled all snug in their beds;
Unaware of the secret that came for their heads;
Ricardo in the kitchen had planted his trap,
And listened intently for it’s steel claws to snap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
Ricardo sprung out the door to attend to the matter.
He flew past the window in his devilish dash,
he coursed through the shadows and flew like a flash,
The moon on Carol’s lawn, which was perfectly mowed,
Luminated the interloper now trapped in the cold.
The Krampus had come, as he did every year,
With chains and with fangs and a blood-thirsty sneer.
And with him a bundle of pointed birch sticks,
to skewer the Knights like giant toothpicks.
As he saw Ricardo, his curses they came.
Each one of them vile as he called him by name
“Trapped devil, deceiver, you failer of mission,
I have come again to hasten your dire expedition.
Let me kill all these Knights! In their sleep, they will fall.
Then you shall be free of this cursed hall.”
With a clawed hand on the trap, the Krampus did pry,
And it’s steel, it did snap, as it rose to the sky,
So up on the housetop, it perched on the roof,
dislodging the tiles where it dug in it’s hoof,
Ricardo wasn’t impressed; up the walls, he did bound,
It was his charge and quest to destroy these fair grounds.
The Krampus dark fur was all matte with soot;
He clawed at Ricardo, and he kicked for his foot!
But Ricardo had dodged him and taken his back,
he unsheathed his claws and began to attack.
The speed and ferociousness of it was quite scary
but the Krampus was no regular Christmas fairy.
As the violent attacks took a damaging toll
The Krampus’ defensive efforts did slow.
The blood from the Krampus now pooled down beneath,
and ran down through the yard and out into the street.
The body was burned despite being quite smelly,
and Ricardo still schemed like the prince, Machiavelli.
Then back to the Wilson House to clean up himself,
The hands on the clock had not quite reached the twelfth.
and there in the library and still dressed in red
Santa saw Ricardo and just shook his head.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But Ricardo heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas, Ricardo, and that was a great fight!”

MERRY TIDINGS I BRING TO YOU AND YOUR KIN

Each of us has that person who is challenging to shop for in each of our lives. Well, I’m doing my part to make your life easier. I finally have the first two books out in all of the formats that I have worked on this year. “The Stars at Knight” is out at AmazonAudible, and Barnes and Noble. The “Dark Jury” is available on Amazon

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Rob, is this present going to be any good? To that, I ask, “Is Die Hard a Christmas Movie?” Of course, it is. This gave me the newest idea for my Christmas Advertising Campaign. I think it’s perfect. So, if you have a person that might like the books, grab them and wish them a Merry Christmas.

Happy December news

Not to be overly dramatic but I just received the email that my audiobook for “The Stars At Knight” is live!

The narration and voice acting is done by Toby Tomplay. He and I had an excellent time working on the book and I think the work he has done adds an interesting twist to the book. We both hope the result is something that will be enjoyed for years to come.

The link to the Audible listing is here.

The link to the Amazon listing is here.

The link to the iTunes listing is coming soon.

By the way, if you’re looking to join audible, you can get my book for free. Ironically, if you join their Audible Premium Plus, to get my book Toby and I get more money than is you buy the book outright. Who knew?

Either way, I’m super excited that the audiobook has finally dropped. I hope you all get a chance to hear it!

It’s a little like Christmas eve

I have to be honest. I’m pretty excited right now.

When I wrote my first book, there was a lot of ‘hope’ baked into the mix, to be honest. I hope I can finish the book. I hope that it’s a good story. Once I released it into the wild, I was pleasantly surprised to find that most people that read it liked it. Additionally, I learned a lot in the process, and it gave me a nice sense of accomplishment.

This new book, however, is an entirely different experience. Right now, I have some very familiar feelings. It’s a mix of emotions that I am enjoying very much.

On the one hand, I feel that familiar feeling of being a long time Dungeon Master with a highly tuned game waiting for my adventurers. I’m excited to pull you into the world that I’ve created and to give you a chance to work your way through the elements my imagination has cobbled together. This time, the hope of making something ‘good’ is replaced with the confidence of having been here before and the drive to reward the reader’s interests.

On the other hand, I feel that feeling that parents have on the night before Christmas. All the work, editing, re-writing, or cost of making a book doesn’t matter one teeny, tiny bit. All I want is for people to read it. This story is SO MUCH BETTER than I could have hoped for, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

In conclusion, the opportunity to share these stories with you is an astounding thing. Your time and patronage are deeply appreciated. Each review I’ve received, comment I’ve read, and link you have shared on my behalf has been incredibly edifying. So, from the bottom of my twisted, fantastical literary heart, I present to you my next offering: the “Dark Jury”, book two of “The Sons of Texas” series.

Now available in Paperback or on Amazon Kindle.*

* – (Kindle goes live at midnight)

The “Dark Jury” is now available for pre-order

Not every Evil defeated in Texas’ dark history has stayed Dead.

Evil forces have amassed and are making their moves against the Knights of Texas. Mason Richardson, the newest protector, appointed by the Spirit of Texas, is once again pulled into a maze of intrigue and deceptions as his enemy’s motivations to use or destroy the new Knight clash. Still learning his powers, partners, and the path he must tread, Mason will be plunged into harm’s way to save an innocent girl. Opposing an evil plot that has been building for nearly 200 years, Mason will be forced to discover if he can navigate the webs of deception, protect those closest to him, and save Texas from its dark past.

Is the enemy of my enemy, my friend, or my enemy? Mason is about to find out.”

The newest instalment of the “Sons of Texas” series is now available for Pre-Order for Amazon Kindle and will be released on Black Friday. Paper back fans won’t be able to pre-order due to some weirdness with how Amazon handles their authors but it should be available to order later the same day.

Sometimes progress is measured in microns

One of the things I enjoy about the human condition is the fact that we are driven to pursue progress. Even something comfortable and entertaining becomes dull and predictable after enough time. If you disagree, I suggest that you let a 3-year-old pick the number of times you’ll listen to “Baby Shark” in a row. After all, it’s for science.

So, returning to my point, the purpose of this message is to update my progress. Let’s begin with the audiobook. The audiobook has been completed, and the files are in the final stages of approval. I’m marketing this through a company called ACX. They’ll set the price on the book, and they’ll place it at Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.

I’m looking forward to this because the work that Toby Tomplay did brings a new wrinkle and richness to the story. He was an absolute pleasure to work with, and I’m hoping to collaborate with him again in the future. You can check out what other mirth and merriment he’s involved in here. 

Second, let me share that my second book’s work has been progressing as I have turned copies of my book over to a few test readers. The input so far is that everyone considered it a page-turner. I feel that my writing ability has progressed from the first book, but I’m more excited about the story and the characters. Based on input, I’ll have some things to tighten up, but “Dark Jury” is closing in on completion.

Finally, I wanted to give a little preview of what to expect from “Dark Jury.” As I told you, I hate spoilers, so I won’t be providing any of those, but I will give you something to consider. Theories and rumors are allowed, but I’m leaving the cover art here for your inspection. I used the same artist that did the first cover for me, and once again, she knocked it out of the park. So, hang in there. Please read, review, and promote my book. In return, I’m working on giving you a story worth reading. God bless, you all

And so October arrives…

As I sat at the firepit in the back yard, nursed a Long Island Iced Tea and looked at my phone, I received the notification that from the site I’m doing my audiobook through that the last of the production files had been completed. It seems that the mighty Toby Tomplay has completed his bardic performance of my book and soon it will be added to the Halls of Audible, Amazon and iTunes.

As soon as I have word of it’s emergence, I will let you know. In the meantime, here is to hoping that he will bring me fame and fortune much like the bard, Jaskier, did for Geralt of Rivia, in “The Witcher.”

HOW DO YOU EAT AN ELEPHANT?

Since the release of the book, more time to do things hasn’t magically appeared. I still have a 9-to-5 to maintain, kids are starting school, and the air conditioner died in mid-august. I don’t say that to elicit any sympathy. Because one thing I’ve learned is that no matter how stitched together a person might seem, they are invariably dealing with something.

I know that those of you who were polite enough to read my book and follow me here are in that same boat. However, I do feel a sense of responsibility to give you an update on events regarding “The Stars At Knight” since you are, in a genuine sense, my audience and investors.

First, how has the current book performed? It’s been out for a little over a month. It’s sold around 50 copies of the paperback, 10 ebooks, and approximately 2,000 pages read in the kindle unlimited readers. That may not sound like a lot, but if you read the stories about the reception, most first time authors get their first month; you can believe me when I say that we’ve done well. Sadly, a lot of first time authors sale nothing for a long time. Ouch. Has it made me rich? Uh, no. Nor did I expect it too.

Second, let me update you on the response. From many of you, I could talk about what you thought about it. For a lot of you, the general impression was that you were impressed that I wrote it in the first place. For the ladies, this was typically followed by some comment regarding Mason and a particular female character and whether they should become an item. For the guys, it was usually a character they might have liked, and the near-universal desire to see Mason get some revenge. I tend to look to the reviews for those that got their books from an online source or that I hadn’t spoken with. At goodreads.com, I have two 4-star ratings. As of this moment, on Amazon, I have two 5-star ratings and a favorable comment. In paperback sales, my book is ranked in the top 3000 in “occult fiction.” Considering guys like Stephen King dominate that dojo, I’ll take it.

Third, the audiobook. I spent the last week or two learning the process and auditioning people to do an audiobook. I have selected an incredible voice talent named Toby Tomplay. In D&D parlance, he’s multi-classed in Bard about 10 different ways. Aside from music, he’s doing the Real Life Real Crime podcast with Woody Overton. Oh, and on occasion, he will record and produce the random book by a first-time author from Dallas. The work is in production, and theoretically, we’ll have an audiobook on Audible and iTunes by October. I can honestly say that I’m pretty stoked about it. I like my story, but in the clips that I’ve heard, Toby really adds a new dimension.

Finally, the next book in the series. If you missed it, I have chosen the title “Dark Jury.” I’m going to warn you I’m the type of person that hates movie spoilers, so I don’t intend to tip my hand. What I can tell you is that yesterday I finished Chapter 21. I’m currently at about 80,000 words, and I’m a little over 4/5th of the through. So this book will be longer, but you won’t mind because it is so much better. By their nature, origin stories carry the weight of world-building and character introduction. Establishing all of that slows events down, in my opinion. In this story, I don’t have to introduce you to the protagonists and teach you how to swim. Instead, I just get to toss you into the deep end and start throwing you pool toys to play with. My hope, and don’t hold me to this, is to have this book out before the end of November.

Once again, I want to thank everyone that has joined me on this journey. Each time you tell someone about the book or promote it on social media, mean more to me than I can express. For example, I found out that a book club that spans 2 continents has my book next up in their queue because of you guys. How cool is that? I’ve always wanted to say that “I’m big in Europe.” Still, the promotion and the labor involved in this book mean nothing without readers and fans. Finding those fans and getting them my story feels like an impossible, “elephant-sized” task. That brings us back to the title of the post. Do you know how you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

“The Star At Knight” is now available

The Book has been launched at Amazon in both paperback and Kindle format. For KindleUnlimited readers, it currently free to read. Now, more than ever is a great time to spread that to any Kindle buddies you have.

As of today, the book has been added to Barnes and Noble.

For many of you, this is old news as you have already bought a copy and are reading it. So, I want to give you something new to take from the post. The newest news is that I’m writing the 2nd book of the series. I’ve just finished the 17th chapter and I’m excited about where the story is going. Also, for the first time, I’m going to reveal the title of the next book. The title will be “Dark Jury.” The story is coming together extremely well.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who had bought the book, posted about it on social media, and given me reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s been an extremely uplifting response and I appreciate it. Hopefully, I continue to find an audience and I’m able to entertain you.

Thanks again and “Remember the Alamo,”

Rob Bartley