It’s time

I remember the first time I played Dungeons and Dragons. It was with my friend Daniel Wade. We were both pre-teens messing with the AD&D red box set. Daniel’s mother had bought it for him, and he and I were determined that we were going to play. We opened the box and went through the materials and, to be frank, got very little done. The truth is our lack of progress didn’t matter. Both of us were hooked.


Fast-forward to 2020, and you see where we are. Dungeons and Dragons is still around, and it’s more significant than ever. Popular culture has erupted in the toys, cartoons, and fantasy offerings of my childhood. Somehow, we’ve managed to embrace the geeks despite the forgotten history of when geekdom wasn’t quite so cool.


For me, seeing popular culture embrace fantasy, Sci-fi, and other elements of my past has been incredibly rewarding. I’ve loved how the things of my youth have been tackled in a bigger, better, and more creative way. Most of all, I’ve loved the sense of community that now exists around these things. I love sharing them with my friends and family. Also, I never thought, when I was younger, I would enjoy sharing them with my sons.


Earlier this year, I was working on a Pathfinder adventure to run for my regular group. I’ve played with these guys for around ten years, and all of them are accomplished role players. Even more daunting is that they consume films, movies, and books just like I do. We all love to try to find those moments of fascinating escape in our games, and sometimes we’ve really threaded that needle in meaningful ways.


The game was centered in modern-day Texas and explored Texas folklore moving in on current events. The players were going to be everyday guys with powers because of the shared Texas memes and stories we embrace in the Lone Star State. I was really looking forward to running the game, and I had everything planned out. I was just waiting for one of the other guy’s campaign to end.

It’s at this point that I should remind you that if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans. So as his campaign ended, COVID began. To say that it has been “disruptive” would be an understatement.
So, we’re all stuck in the lockdown, and I have all of these creative ideas that I’m dying to explore, and I have no one to run this game for. Aaaarrrggggghhhhhh!


As I was in the depths of my creative despair, I remembered what people always told me: You should write a book. Yeah, the dyslexic guy with a wife, five boys, two dogs, and a petroleum job, during an international oil price war, should write a book?


All I can say to that idea was: Hold my beer.

So, now I’ve done it. I tried to get an agent or a publisher, and I got rejected like the other guy in the poster that Michael Jordan is dunking on. However, undaunted, I have completed the book, the editing, and the self-publishing process. As I type this, my book is hopefully less than 72 hours away from being available on Amazon in either the eBook Kindle format or in paperback.


This means that all of you, my friends, family, kids, gaming partners, and friends I have yet to meet, have to chance to dive into the Urban Fantasy Pathfinder game that COVID couldn’t kill. It’s like I’m playing the most massive D&D game ever, and the fact that I can invite you all is pretty cool. Hopefully, you like it. And if you do, I have good news. The Stars At Knight is the first of five books, and I’m already 3/4ths of the way done with Book number two.

I’ll share more as I get more details from Amazon. In the interim, Via Con Dios and God bless Texas!

When you’re a hammer, every problem looks like a nail

I just finished working on my ninth chapter in my second book. Between chapter 8 and Chapter 9, I think I wrote myself into a corner about 5 times. It’s an odd feeling to have complete control of a conversation and to look up and say “Well, I don’t care for how that went.” It reminds me of the old saying that “the problem isn’t when you talk to yourself. The problem is when you can’t get a word in edgewise. “

With that in mind, I received a very pleasant and constructive rejection just a moment ago. I can’t lie and say that it doesn’t take any wind out of my sails but I do appreciate the honesty of these agents. I’d hate to have someone not feel any passion for representing my work because I know I feel passionate about it. That being said, I’ll just keep hammering away.

I went to far away places

I spent the last week experiencing some of the flavor of the USA. We loaded up my wife’s car with 4 of the boys, and hit the highways.

Our first stop was a bathroom break a mere 10 minutes from the house. It was an foretelling event because one does not travel with 4 children, and expect to “make time.” From there, we made our way through East Texas, and the tall pines that stand sentinel along I-20, to the woods, and waterways, of Northern Louisiana. We crossed the Kudzu covered fields of Mississippi, and drove the twisting back roads of Alabama. We experienced the storms of the coast, and we drove past the broken tree lined roads of Florida on our way to Panama City.

As of today, I am back home. I hope to spend some of my remaining time writing on the second book. It was a gift to be able to travel there and back again, but there’s no place quite like Texas.

The joys of writing

I’m working on the 6th chapter of book two. I think I’ve come up with a title for it. The story is taking shape. I’ve got so many irons in the fire that I’m constantly having to check my notes. In short, I’m loving it.

Silver linings

Yesterday, I began to earn my spurs. I recieved my first rejection message. I know there was some part of me that would love to score on my first shot, but I also know that’s exceedingly rare.

The agent that sent it has a stable of names that they had represented. All of them are fabulous authors, and a few of them are my favorites. I honestly wasn’t expecting to stick the landing, but I was very impressed with the prompt and polite response.

So, I move forward, respectfully undaunted and earnestly hopeful. Not every chance lands, but I consider it a great experience. It’s more tolerable to try, and fail, than it is to live with an itchy “what if?”

Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim…Fire!

Today I sent out query emails. The agents I targeted are some of the people that brought us some of my favorite authors. Did I bite off more than I can chew? Probably. Am I worried about that? Not even a little. I’m a firm believer in the logic of aligning yourself with people smarter than you and I’ll tell you a secret: All of them are.

Most people don’t realize that knowledge is situational. In some cases it’s even geographic. The smartest heart surgeon is the dumbest bushman if you drop him off in the middle of the outback. So my solution is find the person that has wins already on the board. I’m a noob at this but I’m old enough that I don’t gain any particular joy from making rookie mistakes. For that reason, I’ve sent the emails and now I’m putting this thing in ‘brisket mode.’ You put in the smoker, and you let it cook slow and low. No reason to rush it.

Besides, in the meantime, that means I can get back to writing on book two. That makes me happy. I have a few cool ideas.

Welcome

Hi there. Since I have your attention at the moment, I’d like to share my favorite quote. It’s by Will Rodgers. He has a lot of heaters but this one is my favorite. It goes like this:

“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”

Depending on the day, I’ve been all three. Still, if you found my site because I’ve been advertising my new book, “The Stars At Knight”, it’s nice to be able to give you an idea of what to expect.

I’m what people in Texas tend to call “a character.” In this State, that’s not a hard thing to become. There’s something about living here that gives you a little more room to run the direction you want than everywhere else seems to give you. Here you’re encouraged to be bigger than life. For good or ill, we’ll hold your beer for you while you go try your hardest and say “Bless your Heart” if it doesn’t work out.

Aside from information about my upcoming book, my intention is to use this space to write about Texas, to share it’s history, to focus on it’s people, teach about it’s food, and share it’s culture. So “Welcome, neighbor.” Drop by anytime. Mi casa es su casa.

~ Rob Bartley