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Nora’s deep into holiday prep, but took the time to send some thoughts before getting back to work.  ~Laura 

I’ve spent most of this interesting date in the kitchen. I could do that as my most amazing daughter-in-law Kat spent three hours wrapping presents for me yesterday. Otherwise, I’d have used those hours wrapping today instead of making raisin-cinnamon bread–a holiday tradition around here.

photo 2No matter how early I start prepping, buying, baking for the holiday season, there’s never enough time. I have a baking-cookies date next weekend with grandchildren. We do painted sugar cookies–as well as snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, whatever appeals. But the painted ones are kind of an extravaganza. Now that such a big chunk of the gifts are wrapped–I put in some time of my own wrapping a couple weeks ago–I can take a weekend to do the breads, and really look forward to the mess and chaos of kid baking day.

We’ve hosted a couple of holiday parties already–always so much fun–so my house is decorated and happily festive. I collected Santas and snowmen for several years, and setting them out, getting the tree up always puts me in the mood to do all the rest.
photo 4 photo 3
The parties also left me with a surplus of raw veggies, so while the bread was rising I threw together a big pot of kitchen-sink vegetable soup, with some ham and pasta to make it even heartier. My kitchen smells just glorious.  photo 1

As a little bonus I had Pirates of the Caribbean on the kitchen TV. It’s no hardship to cook and bake with Jack Sparrow.

My plan was to get a work out in after finishing the bread, leaving the soup to simmer. I still might, but I remembered I have six–count them–six tubs of books to sign for TTP to ship out Monday. That might be enough of a work out for me this afternoon.

Nora

Pies on a snowy day

Nora unchained herself from the kitchen to send a holiday note.  ~Laura

For the next few days, writing takes a backseat to cooking, fussing, eating, drinking, family and friends. Traditions matter, and one of mine is making pies–two apple, two pumpkin, the day before Thanksgiving. The bird will leave no room for pie bakingtomorrow. Plus, whoever said easy as pie should never be allowed to eat a single slice. Pies–when you do them from scratch–are a lot of work, and a lot of time.

But the satisfaction of making them, smelling them cook, is worth it. Plus, eating them. I make damn good pie.

Apple and pumpkin pies

Apple and pumpkin pies

I baked mine today while the first snow of the season fell outside the windows. The first is always the prettiest, and somehow the sweetest. And since they’re now calling for about six inches rather than the threatened twelve, I’m enjoying it quite a bit.

Right now, the extra apples are quartered and simmering on the stove so I can make my mother’s signature applesauce. This I’ll do from memory and taste, as I can’t find my scribbled recipe. And making it will bring her back for a little while, and that’s a lovely thing.

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Fall gives way to winter.

Tomorrow it’s the big-ass turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes and all the sides–and my kitchen will be my chaotic hub. But this afternoon, with my pies cooling and scenting the house, the snow falling outside to blanket my woods, it’s nice to have the quiet, and the anticipation of friends and family.

I wish you all the happiest of Thanksgivings, lovely food, sparkling wine, the warmth of friends and family gathering. And, if you’re like me, a little quiet time to count your blessings.

Nora

Some early holiday treats

It’s a short week in the US with Thanksgiving two days away.  If you don’t subscribe to Nora’s News (and why not?) today’s newsletter included links to the official 2015 release schedule on Nora’s website.  Click here to see what’s in store.

And as a holiday gift, a link to the first chapter of Obsession in Death, out February 10, 2015.

Cheers!

Laura

 

To-do Lists

The holidays are seriously celebrated in Nora’s house and this weekend was the first of her many busy prep weekends. She sent me this post tonshare with you all.  ~Laura

We had a lot of discussion and plenty of love for libraries on the FB pages recently. And this weekend, I pined to curl up in my own, in front of the fire, with Lost Lake–I’m a big Sarah Addison Allen fan, and I’m loving this book.

 Nora's Library.

Nora’s Library.

 However, it’s the week before Thanksgiving, and my to-do list is loooooong. Before I can indulge, I had to take a good whack at that list.

Most of my shopping is done, but that means I have what looks like an exploded department store in what we call the One More Room. (I convinced my carpenter husband some years ago I needed just One More Room!) So I organized gifts. And bagged–I’m determined to do more gift bagging than gift wrapping this year–the gifts for my annual quick get-away/shopping, celebration with good pals that’s coming up right after Thanksgiving. Also my out-of-town gifts. All ready to go!

And since time will get away from me very soon, I sat down and addressed my Christmas cards. Yay!

Today was also bread-baking day. I generally bake every two or three weeks, and I definitely need bread for the Thanksgiving feast. So I baked a couple rounds of sour dough bread, and while it was rising, made my grocery list for Turkey Day. BW will hunt and gather. I’ll cook.

Once the bread was baked, I rewarded myself with a glass of champagne. I earned it. photo 1Tonight, grandkids are coming for dinner, so I’m doing a roasted pork loin (a fave) and rosemary potatoes, carrots roasted in butter and thyme (they eat them like candy!) probably some cauliflower as my older grandson loves it. Go figure. And there’s the bread, pretty much fresh out of the oven which will especially please my oldest granddaughter.

I have more bagging and/or wrapping on the slate tomorrow, and a couple tubs of books to sign, but I’m going to make time, no matter what, to settle down in my pretty little library with Lost Lake. If you don’t make time to read, what’s the point in all the rest?

Monday it’s back to work. And Wednesday, it’s all about pies. Yes, I make them from scratch. So I’ll be in the kitchen A LOT starting mid-week. I’ll deserve that hour or two tomorrow in the library with a lovely book, a fire, some tea in one of my mother’s adorable old Fuller Brush cups.  Just thinking about it has me letting out a long, happy sigh.

But first, I have to go make dinner.

In case you missed it – 11/18/15

I tend to post the most current information on Facebook but I realize not everyone is a fan. When there’s a lot of breaking news, I’ll do my best to post digests like this to keep everyone in the loop.  ~Laura

9780399170867_large_The_Liar

On Friday, we revealed the cover of Nora’s 2015 romantic suspense on the brand new Official Nora Roberts Pinterest page.  If you’re a pinner, we’ll be building the boards on that page with information old and new.  The Liar will be released on April 14, 2015.  Details to come.

festive-id

Festive in Death is in the final rounds of the Goodread’s Choice Awards 2014/Mystery & Thriller category.  If you’re a member, you can vote here.

collector 2 Untitled-1

The Collector and Shadow Spell are part of Pop Sugar’s huge list of best books in 2014.  You can compare your reading list to theirs here.

 

 

 

Routines within Routines

Nora and I both worked remotely this week.  She reached out late in the week with this post.  I know that routine is key to her work, but this goes a little deeper.  ~Laura

 

I’m a creature of habit, and routines are as precious to me as diamonds. Maybe more, because while diamonds are great, they’re sparkly and pretty, I don’t need them to get by. I definitely need routine. 

I have one at home, and am happiest there when I can stick to it, without interruptions or something breaking that routine. Like a dentist appointment or a sick dog or ringing phone. 

But a few times a year, I have another routine–away from home. 

BW and I go to a lovely resort/spa in The Laurel Highlands–just a couple hours from home. We go, just the two of us in November, with friends in January, with friends and family in the summer. And I go with only girl pals for a week every spring. (That is the BEST week of the year!) 

In the spring and summer, it’s play and relax only–though I’ve been known to sneak in a little work if I need to, early mornings, on the summer trips. 

Fall and winter, these are working vacations for me. And my routine is set. 

In the morning, I work out–either in the gym here or with DVDs I bring for the room. I do a good, long sweaty workout before breakfast–then woo–that’s over for the day! I might join BW for some breakfast, or might not. After–and he goes off on an adventure–I settle down to work. I can work really well here, I’ve discovered. No interruptions, no nagging thoughts about when I need to stop to start dinner. No dogs wanting to go out or come in, no UPS trucphoto 2 (2)k trundling up the hill. No phones ringing. 

Absolute quiet and focus for at least four solid hours. It’s wonderful. I remember last year at this time finishing up Blood Magick at this little desk in the parlor of our suite. I’ve done some pretty good work here. 

This morning I’ve finished up the first draft, just minutes ago, of the first book in a new trilogy. No info on that yet, gang. First draft is, for me, crappy draft. Lots of work to do yet.

 After I work, I pull myself together, walk over and have some fabulous spa treatment. It’s glorious. A facial, a hot stone massage, a wrap–whatever. Then I come back, and as BW generally has his treatment just a bit later than mine, usually have about a half hour alone. To play on my tablet or read. Lovely. 

Then it’s wine time! And ordering dinner someone else has to cook. Ahhhh. 

Maybe some TV, some hanging out, then bedtime so I can get up and do it all again the next day. 

I love routines. But I’ve also learned you can adjust them and give yourself small breaks. It doesn’t have to be a week away on a working vacation.(I admit, I treasure mine.)  It could be taking an hour out of your busy day to do something just for yourself. A conversation with a pal, a little alone time, a walk, buying yourself some flowers. Anything that reminds you that good hard work–and I believe in good, hard work–should merit the occasional reward. 

Be good to yourselves!

 Now I’ve got about an hour–and may dip into that second draft before I walk over and have myself a favorite treatment–hot stone Shirodara. It’s amazing. 

And I’ve just looked out the window. It’s snowing. Holy cow!

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Nora

What are your favorite Nora Roberts quotes?

Are there bits of wisdom or humor (or both) that you remember from one of Nora’s books?  I thought it might be fun to collect them here.  (Please note there is a separate JD Robb/In Death thread this is NR only.)  It can be from an interview or a talk Nora has given as well as books.  If you use one from a book, please post which title so other readers can check too.

Me first!

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” – Nora Roberts

Favorite In Death quotes

Readers mention how much they love the dialogue in the In Deaths, so I thought it might be fun to have a thread in which readers can post their favorite lines — maybe we’ll figure out a Reader Top 10.

What is your favorite bit of In Death dialogue?  Those one or two lines between characters you can’t forget? (And nothing that’s a spoiler.) Post the speaker(s) and the book in the comments. If someone mentions yours just reply that you agree.

Me first:

Eve: Man. God. Roarke.
Roarke: An interesting and flattering lineup.
– Purity in Death

 

How it all works (for Nora)

photoI’ve noticed when I scan comments, either on the blog or on Facebook, many posters assume I have assistants or staff. 

Nope. 

I have the amazing Laura, who stands as my personal publicist and Person Of All Details. You will note, when she posts or comments, she puts her name after the post or comment, so the readers know it’s Laura, not Nora. If I post or comment, I put my name on it. 

I realize in the strange world of the interwebs the person signing off with NR could be a four-hundred pound bald man, sporting full-body ink under his wife-beater shirt. You only have my word that it’s not. 

While Laura does much to keep me in line–ah, that is, to keep the business around the writing running as smooth as it can–she doesn’t assist in the actual writing. No one does. 

An assistant would, without question, drive me insane, and I would likely murder this poor, unfortunate individual in a bloody and brutal manner without a single twinge of remorse or regret. 

Keep away from me during work hours, and nobody gets hurt. 

I don’t use researchers, proofers, consultants. I don’t collaborate. I would also murder a collaborator, probably five minutes into said collaboration. There are plenty of blunt objects in my office. 

I don’t take ideas or suggestions on characters, storylines, story angles, settings from anyone. I do mean anyone. At all. Ever. What’s written in the book is mine. Mine, mine, mine. You might sense I’m a little bit territorial here. You would be correct. 

I don’t have a staff. I have a long-time housekeeper who comes in once a week to shovel out the house. If someone was in here fussing around with stuff every day? I would make good use of those blunt objects. 

I don’t play or work well with others. That’s why writing is such a good career choice for me. It’s solitary. I don’t have to see or speak to anyone for hours and hours and blissful hours every day. 

While I write the books, all by myself, that’s about all I do. I send the manuscript to my editor and agent. My agent handles ALL the business stuff. All of it. She’ll meet with my editor (who is also, in this case, my publisher), and they’ll hammer out business details. My editor will edit. If she feels changes need to be made, we discuss. I’m probably going to make them because 99 times out of 100 she’s going to be right. Every writer needs an editor. Every writer. 

The manuscript is copyedited by a copy editor who works for the publisher, not for me. It’s put into production. My editor has an amazing, truly amazing talent for visualizing covers. She’ll work with the in-house (the publisher’s) art department. I do not design the covers. I’m not an artist. I do have cover approval. 99 times out of 100, when I’m shown the cover proof I say: Thank you! It’s perfect. Because it almost always is. 

It’s proof-read in-house, and by me, in page form. The galleys–for reviewers–are uncorrected proofs that won’t have any corrections or changes made. And still, something gets missed in the final copy. I wish it was otherwise, but it happens. 

I don’t have anything to do with pricing, with scheduling, with distribution, with who reads the books on audio. (I am hugely grateful to Susan Erickson and her incredible interpretation of the In Death series.) 

Again, my job is to write the books. I let everyone else involved do their job so I can do mine. 

Most readers don’t understand how publishing works–why should they? The fact is, I don’t understand some of it myself. So I just write the books and let the rest happen. But this is a really, really basic outline of how it works for me. Other authors may choose to be more involved with publishing details. I’d rather just write–my choice.

Nora

A note from Laura:  All I said was “don’t you think every heroine should be a Laura?”  Then I noticed the blunt objects. ;)

 

A definitive list

Well, it’s been an interesting week.  To cap it off, here’s the complete, definitive list of what you won’t see in the In Death series from JD Robb herself.  ~Laura

The Top Nine In Death Things I’ll Never Write
And One That’s A Loooooooong Way Off

1. Eve and Roarke babysitting Bella for any length of time.  
The middle of murder is not the time for her slooches and delightful antics.

2. Nadine and Baxter in love (or sex).
A conflict of interest.  One of them–the Crime Beat reporter or the Cop–would have to change careers. I think we all enjoy them too much for that.

3. Nadine and Trueheart in love (or sex).
She’d eat that sweet boy alive.

4. Eve having a pregnant scare/not knowing she’s pregnant.

Its 2061 and birth control has been handled (off page) and reliable pregnancy tests would be as easily–if not more–available than a candy bar.

5. Eve dreaming about being pregnant.
Why?

6. Roarke kidnapped.
He’d kick a potential kidnapper’s ass.

7. Eve kidnapped.
Ditto.

8. Eve in a coma/seriously injured so the rest of the gang can take point on an investigation.
Eve is THE central character and is always going to take point.

9. Roarke in a coma/seriously injured, etc.
Roarke is a central character.  I don’t want to write a story where he’s not front and center.

10.  Peabody and McNab may very well get married, even have a kid–sometime way, way, down the road. WAY DOWN.
At this point, and peering into my crystal ball for the foreseeable future, they’re really happy as co-habs.

Nora/JD Robb