“Does it have any sex in it?”

“Does it have any sex in it?” the man sitting next to me on the plane asked, looking a little stiffer as he peered at the Sunsets of Tulum bookmark I’d just handed him.

I was on the way to a book event in New Mexico and we’d been stranded in Dallas Fort Worth for almost 5 hours. Twice before, they’d loaded us onto the plane for Albuquerque and twice we’d waited at the gate for hours as they’d diagnosed different mechanical failures. I’d noticed the guy next to me had a Dean Koontz book and thought, “heck, it can’t hurt to give him a bookmark.” So as we boarded the third plane and waited (again) for what would be our final time, I took the plunge and handed him one, saying, “I’m a writer, here’s a bookmark, maybe this can be your next read.”

Now I was pretty sure I’d handed it to a religious nut. This was Texas after all.

“Well,” I said, thinking of the 3 or 4 pages of pretty explicit sex and the allusions that were sprinkled throughout. “Yes, it has sex scenes. But they’re not gratuitous–”

“What about the F word?” he said, almost cutting me off. “Does it have that too?”

Ummm…here and there.

“Yes,” I answered, steeling myself for some lecture about obscenity and profanity and so on from some jerk who doesn’t understand the freedom of speech or the difference between literature and porn. Just the perfect ending of a long, exhausting delay-filled travel. It was my fault, of course, for giving him the bookmark. But it upset me to think of someone dismissing it because they were a prude. “But not too much. Just here and there.”

“I know what you’re thinking,” he said, smiling. “But my grandmother’s 99th birthday is coming up next week and she doesn’t have much mobility, and she loves reading. She’d get a total kick out of the fact that I met you on the plane but if it’s got tons of sex and profanity she won’t read it…”

And so I explained that it was a love story, a literary romance about an unexpected, life-changing affair and that the sex wasn’t gratuitous, but was there because it was part of the story. It was graphic but warranted. And I told him the anecdote of one of my friend’s friend’s relatives, in her 80s, who’d read it and said, “My…graphic…but you’re never too old to learn!” And we agreed that she could just skip over the sections if they were too spicy.

To make a long story short, shortly after I was pulling my suitcase out of the overhead and he bought a signed copy before the plane took off. Perhaps this was like that movie Groundhog Day: I had to sell a book before the plane could leave…

Thanks, Don, if you’re out there…I hope “Gram” loves the book and has a great birthday next week, and thanks for the lesson in not jumping to conclusions when someone asks if the book has sexy scenes.

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Grab a signed copy now!

Get your signed copy of Sunsets of Tulum here or an unsigned copy wherever books are sold.

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Added an event calendar!

By popular demand, I’ve added an calendar to this site, so you can plan ahead and join me on upcoming future events. Hope to see you all March 29th at Trident Booksellers for a great reading with poets Meg Tyler and Duy Doan! Grab a bite to eat, a beverage, and enjoy some great literature and poetry. See you there!

Exciting note from the Midwest Book Review!

I was thrilled the other day to wake up and find the following review of Sunsets of Tulum in my Inbox:

“All the more impressive considering that Sunsets of Tulum is travel writer Ray Bartlett’s debut as a novelist. Sunsets of Tulum is an impressively written and exceptionally absorbing novel from first page to last. Very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that Sunsets of Tulum is also available in a paperback edition (9780988939035, $14.99, 328pp) and in a Kindle format ($4.99).”

It’s not the New York Times book review (yet!) but it’s both thrilling and humbling to see a review praise it unprompted and (unlike Kirkus!) with not payment exchange.

And a librarian friend recently told me that their two copies have been in permanent circulation since they got them last fall!

If you know anyone in Hollywood who wants to option the movie rights, send them my way! :-)

What a trip!

Been having such an amazing time here in Yucatan.  The readings of _Sunsets of Tulum_ went well, and there’s been plenty of great wildlife to see along the way.  Some of the road signs we passed are below:

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On www.facebook.com/RayBartlettAuthor I titled this “Four Reasons to Visit Yucatan.”

Most of the time we’ve stayed in relatively cheap motels, with a few notable exceptions. The Hacienda Blancaflor was lovely and cost $79/night. It’s out of the way, so we ate dinner and breakfast there, and it was great food. Our total bill came to 2000 pesos, which is about $160 or so with the exchange rate. Not bad!

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Lovely time at the Hacienda Blancaflor, north of Campeche

More pics and comments at www.facebook.com/RayBartlettAuthor — hope to see you there!

Back in Yucatan!

It’s amazing to be back in Yucatan! Not just because it’s 80 degrees here and was 29 when I left. I’ve already had 2 lovely book signings in Cancun and Puerto Morelos. Needful Things Used Bookstore hosted me the evening I flew in, Saturday the 16th, and it was a bit dicey because the flight from EWR to CUN had a medical emergency. A woman passed out right in the next aisle and that probably helped us arrive early. We breezed through immigration and customs (for once!) and our car rental company Avant is worth mentioning: they’re kind of under the radar because they meet you outside the airport in the parking lot, but they charged EXACTLY what we were quoted, they drop off and pick up anywhere, and they even include a big plastic ice cooler.

The reading at Needful Things was less attended than we’d hoped, but the people who came were so interested and enthusiastic it was impossible not to have a great time. We drank Tulum Sunsets, we talked about writing, I signed books (see here!) and it reminded me again how much fun the publicity side of writing is. Books matter.

Tulum Sunsets at Needful Things
Enjoying great conversation and excellent author-made Tulum Sunsets at Needful Things bookstore!

Then to Puerto Morelos, where Alma Libre Bookstore and Layla Guesthouse co-hosted me for a wonderfully attended evening. 30+ people and some old friends, including the hammock-maker, Mauricio, who in a vague way inspired the hammock scene in Sunsets of Tulum. Had great questions from the audience and sold a number of books at the signing.

Sunsets of Tulum at the Layla Guesthouse
Me at the Layla Guesthouse. Such a great time.
Croc infested lagoon
Nothing says you’re not in Boston anymore like “Warning: Crocodile Infested Lagoon!” signs.

Today we head to Tulum, where we’ll be floating down Mayan canals, hopefully seeing parrots and toucans in the jungle, and visiting the youth hostel in Tulum that inspired some of the book! Can’t wait!

Banned from Facebook Ads and Amazon Ads…what’s a poor novelist to do?

Okay World, I’m not sure whether to be honored or appalled: Sunsets of Tulum, despite what everyone has said is a tasteful, beautiful, and very perfect-for-the-book cover…has been banned for both Facebook and Amazon ads. Yes, you guessed it: for violating the nudity/obscenity clauses.

“Just change the cover,” said a helpful email-center person in (probably) Bangalore.

Well, the problem is I really LIKE the cover. And I think if someone gets an ad that doesn’t have it, it’s a bit deceptive, right? Here’s the cover:

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Is this worthy of being a banned book?

So my question to the world is what’s the best course of action at this point? Do I try to get the word out elsewhere? Tell the publisher that I want to change the cover? Or just dig my heels in and say “This is a great book, the world will find it, and the prudes don’t have to read it if they don’t want to.” Thoughts?

If you like it…why not order a signed copy? You never know, it might be worth something somday! :-)

Amazon Reviews, Anyone?

Would absolutely LOVE to have your (ideally positive!) Amazon review for Sunsets of Tulum.

Never done one before?

No worries. Just log into your Amazon account, click here, and then click on the stars. You should be able to write a review!

These factor hugely into Amazon ranking and for example, with just 2 5-star reviews my novel jumped to 4th on my Amazon author page. If a few more of you write them, it might be in first place. Every little bit helps!

Thank you all for your enthusiasm and support!

Excitement and gratitude…

Just have to send a shout out to all the great people who’ve helped me during this process. You’ve caught errors, seen things I wouldn’t have seen, and helped make this a better book.

And for those who are waiting with bated breath: here’s a glimpse of the hardcover!

Sunsets of Tulum galley
The first galley of Sunsets of Tulum. So cool to see it as a real live book, finally!