Once in a Great City

Click below for a lovely little interview with David Maraniss about his book, Once in a Great City. It touches on several of the themes (and even a couple events) found in my novel, The Bone Garden, which will be going out on submission later this month. Though it’s not my hometown, I love Detroit. It’s my parents’ hometown, my extended family’s hometown, a city that looms large in my imagination and to which I feel an intrinsic connection. I can’t wait to read Maraniss’s book.

NPR

http://www.npr.org/player/embed/463010089/463010090

The Gut Check Guide to Publishing: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why to Do It Your Way

I always enjoy sharing publishing news, whether it’s mine or someone else’s, and especially when it’s my husband’s. You may have read in this space about Zachary‘s traditionally published books, Playing Saint and The Last Con. You may have read here about his Indie projects through his micro press, Gut Check Press. You might even be a regular listener to the always amusing Gut Check Podcast. (If you’re not, you probably should be.)

Over the years, Zach and his collaborator Ted Kluck have published between them, oh, I’d say thirty books or so. Which is why if you have any publishing aspirations, you’re going to want to get a hold of their latest Gut Check project:

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The Gut Check Guide to Publishing answers most of the questions young or aspiring writers have about which way of publishing is best for them, what to be wary of, how to talk with (and how not to talk to) publishing types, and more. Here’s the marketing copy (written by yours truly) to tell you more…

 

It’s easy to publish a book these days.
It’s also easy to do it really, really badly.

Sure you can go for broke and just learn from your mistakes. But wouldn’t you rather learn from someone else’s? Ted Kluck and Zach Bartels have seen it all. They’ve published with Traditional publishers large and small, started their own Indie micro press, had great success, and watched projects crash and burn. With the wisdom of grizzled old sages and the snark of jaded Gen Xers, they cut through the BS and show you how to

• navigate the world of publishing gatekeepers

• choose when to go Traditional or Indie

• work well with editors, cover designers, and PR wonks

• position your books for success

• learn from failure and rejection

• and much more

Witty, honest, and practical, The Gut Check Guide to Publishing isn’t your ticket to instant fame and fortune. It’s the reality check you have to have before you decide to take the trip at all. It’s what’s going to keep you from looking like an amateur out there. It’s your white knight.

Because if you think writing is hard work, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

 

So basically you get real, practical, been-there-done-that information that can help you make smart decisions about your publishing future, and at the same time it’s actually fun to read. Even the (very helpful) glossary is funny. But personally, my favorite part is the back cover itself:

PubGuideBack

Yep, that’s what writing and trying to make a living out of it is really like. It’s not a vintage typewriter on a pristine desk overlooking an inspiring view. It’s a laptop on its last legs, it’s pizza crust, it’s messy — and sometimes, it’s a cinder block wall.

But it’s still worth it.

Celebrating Five Years of Gut Check Press

Recently my husband, author Zachary Bartels, and our good friend (and Zach’s indie publishing business partner) Ted Kluck realized that their micro press, Gut Check Press, was turning five years old. This seemed to call for some intensive reminiscing and, in true Zach fashion, a cheeky video retrospective created in PowerPoint.

The past five years of developing books and white papers (and the new podcast!), eating deep dish pizza and Chinese food, and smoking untold numbers of cigars have been some of the most fun and rewarding years of our lives as Ted, Kristin, Zach, and I grow closer as friends and share nights of the kind of laughter that makes your face hurt and your eyes tear up. And sometimes there’s even wheezing.

Here’s to the next five years of publishing milestones.😉

It’s a Banner Day in the Bartels House

My husband‘s first traditionally published novel releases today! You probably already read some of the great reviews that have been coming in. We couldn’t be happier. If you like suspense/thrillers, like edge-of-your seat action, like getting blindsided by plot twists, and like your humor on the sarcastic side, this is your read!

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Yesterday, Parker Saint’s only concern was his swiftly rising star power.

Today, he’s just trying to stay alive.

Parker Saint is living the dream. A cushy job at a thriving megachurch has him on the verge of becoming a bestselling author and broadcast celebrity—until life takes an abrupt turn that lands him on the wrong side of the law. To avoid a public scandal, he agrees to consult with the police on a series of brutal murders linked by strange religious symbols scrawled on each victim.

Parker tries to play the expert, but he is clearly in over his head. Drawn ever deeper into a web of intrigue involving a demanding detective, a trio of secretive Vatican operatives, and a centuries-old conspiracy to conceal a mysterious relic, he realizes for the first time that the battle between good and evil is all too real—and that the killer is coming back . . . this time for him.

Sometimes your husband is on the cover of a magazine…

And that’s freaking AWESOME.

ZachFamilyFiction

 

Zach‘s debut novel, Playing Saint, releases in just six days. Here’s what people are saying about it…

“★★★★½! Bartels’ debut novel is a page-turner from the very beginning. His excellent use of foreshadowing and his glimpses into the past create a story that readers can’t put down. In the vein of Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti, Bartels weaves the supernatural into the natural in ways that are gripping and realistic, adding a shocking surprise that will leave readers stunned.”—RT Book Reviews

“Michigan minister Bartels (42 Months Dry) holds readers’ interest in this intrigue-filled thriller, despite its far-fetched premise. Saint’s character is particularly well developed. This book will be enjoyed by those who love a mystery combined with supernatural elements.”—Library Journal

Playing Saint is everything I love in a novel: great characters, edge-of-the-seat plot, and great twists and turns. I’m ready for his next book already. Highly recommended!”—Colleen Coble, USA Today bestselling author

“A thought-provoking exploration into the power of faith and the reality of evil. Filled with memorable characters and tight writing, Playing Saint is an impressive debut from an author to watch.”—Steven James, bestselling author

“Zachary Bartels is not afraid of head-on collisions with complicated issues. I loved Playing Saint for the recognizable reality, and the humor, and the way I felt when I finished the book—entertained, satisfied, and looking for more.”—Tracy Groot, award-winning author

Playing Saint is a reflection of its author—risky, fast-paced, sarcastic, clever, and ultimately hopeful. We need more novels, and more authors, like this!”—Ted Kluck, award-winning author

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I am so proud of him and happy for him! And you should go pre-order it right now. No, seriously. Do it.

Now Available in Paperback! The Intentional Writer

If you’ve been waiting for the paperback edition of The Intentional Writer, this is your lucky day. If you don’t even know what I’m talking about (and you’re an aspiring author) this is still your lucky day. If you’re neither of these, indulge me a moment while I explain.

Intentional Writer CVR FINAL

The Intentional Writer is some of my best advice for beginning writers who wish they had more time, space, and inspiration for their writing. It offers lots of tips and tricks for carving out time to write, courting the muse to keep your ideas flowing, and prioritizing writing so that you can stop making excuses and start finishing things.

Every piece of insight I have to offer comes from my own experience as a writer looking for a sustainable writing rhythm that would keep me creating regularly, but wouldn’t saddle me with a load of guilt if I didn’t meet a certain word count every day.

As I formatted the paperback edition, I’ve added new content and updated existing content to reflect further developments in my own writing journey. I plan to update the Kindle edition soon to reflect those changes.

It is my hope that the things I’ve learned can help many other aspiring authors. Click here to purchase!

I’ll also take this chance to let you know that I will be speaking again at the Breathe Christian Writers Conference this year. Last year I spoke on the topic of finding your writing rhythm. This year I’ll be giving out great revision tips and advice to bring your writing to the next level. I would love to see you there! Check out the schedule of speakers and register for the conference on October 10-11.

New Release! This Elegant Ruin…and other stories

I’m so thrilled to tell you that This Elegant Ruin…and other stories is now available at Amazon! Click here to order.

For the uninitiated, in 2013 I challenged myself to write one short story each month. The twelve stories that make up this collection are the result of that challenge. I’m so thrilled to see them in book form with the incredibly beautiful cover my friend and colleague Heather created.

CoverFlat

 

Now that the kids are back in school, do something for you! Short stories make great reading material for when you just want a little down time (or when you are waiting in the pick-up lanes after school). I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!

Here’s the back cover copy to give you a bit of the flavor of the writing:

 

Love and hate. Dreams and nightmares. Luck and misfortune.

In twelve engaging stories, the joys and sorrows of life glow against such varied backdrops as a snowy wood, a quaint country inn, a crumbling metropolis, the shore of Lake Superior, and a lonely country highway. A man in the twilight of his career falls in love with a young woman at the dawn of hers. A girl at the end of her rope finds an unexpected friend in an eccentric stranger. A young man haunted by memories finally gets a chance to forget his troubles. An artist takes stock of his life’s work and discovers an unwelcome truth.

With prose that evokes wonder and fear, regret and relief, Erin Bartels draws meaning from the small moments of life, challenging us to be still, to notice, to dream—and to hope.

First Short Story Collection: Cover Art Reveal!

Over a year ago, I secured the services of Heather Brewer, a talented graphic designer I’m lucky to call a colleague and friend, to design a book cover for me. At the time, I thought it would be a novel. At some point I realized that what I really wanted her to design was the cover for my collected short stories.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a year or more, you probably know that in 2013 I challenged myself to write one short story each month. During that year, I made each story available for Kindle users. Now I’m gathering those stories together, adding more material, and preparing to publish the collection as both a printed book and an ebook.

And this, I’m ecstatic to say, is the cover…

CoverFlat

When I saw it, I literally said in a loud and astonished voice (to no one in particular), “Oh my GOSH!” 

It’s breathtaking. And it’s more than just a pretty picture. Not only is it eye-catching, it evokes the kind of emotion that I hope the stories evoke in the reader–a little mystery, a little ache in the soul, an appreciation of beauty alongside an acknowledgement of the broken things. And, importantly, it’s non-gendered. In this collection, there are just as many male protagonists as female, and the themes are more universal than gender-specific, so having a cover that would appeal to both men and women was important to me. What do you think? Have we succeeded?

I’m currently editing the collection and getting the interior ready to go. I don’t have a firm release date just yet, but my hope is that it will hit the “shelves” by late summer or early fall. I’ll keep you posted!

I am so, SO very proud…

So ecstatic to announce that my husband’s thriller is available for pre-order!

PlayingSaint

It’s a fast-paced, suspenseful read that had me guessing the whole time and utterly flummoxed when all was finally revealed. If you love suspense, especially with supernatural elements, this is your book. It will be in stores in October.