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.”


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, 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

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.