The Naked in Death Design Contest!

Way back at the April TTP signing, Laura Gorton – in sports radio parlance a long-time friend of the show – wore the coolest t-shirt with the silhouette of a woman on the front and a man on the back.  Nora and I admired it — as sensible women do when presented with cool clothes. panp shirt Laura told us it was a Litographs Pride & Prejudice t-shirt and that the gray and green areas were the text of the entire book.  Go visit the Litographs website now. I’ll wait.

Immediately after the signing Nora and I pretty much pounced on her Ipad to find the website and see what else Litographs offered.  After much discussion, weighing one literary work against another (probably a good 2 hours all in all) Nora went for the Macbeth t-shirt while I knew I needed The Secret Garden tote. secret garden tote (Go on, head back to see what they look like).  And happiness reigned in the land.

Nora wore the MacBeth t-shirt when we hiked the High Line in NY during RWA week last July.  high line janeenA Litographs fan tweeted the photo to the company, and Litographs in turn reached out to see if Nora would be interested in products based on her books.

When I told her, Nora thought for a milli-nano-microsecond (the smallest time frame ever) and said yes.  It took a couple months to settle the details and now, Nora is pleased to announce the three titles that will enter the Litographs product line over the next few months:

Naked in Death – just in time for the holidays!

Dance Upon the Air – early 2016

Vision in White – a little bit further into the year

When it came time to discuss design, the Litographs team suggested a contest to give avid In Death readers/designers a chance to share their vision of the book.  Nora loved the idea, and so we’re turning this over to you.

The NAKED IN DEATH Reader Design Contest

The contest is open to readers worldwide beginning at noon (US EST) Friday, November 27.

How to Submit Your Design:

All artwork must be submitted through this typeform.  Entries are accepted from noon (EST) on 11/27 until 9 pm on 12/7.

On December 8, we’ll pin all entries on the Official Nora Roberts/JD Robb Pinterest Board.  Readers can browse the Pinterest board and like, or re-pin, their favorites. (We’ll also post them here for thoae readera who dont have Pinterest.) Based on this data, combined with Nora’s and Litographs’ input, the team will select six (6) finalists.

We’ll post the six (6) finalist designs to the Official Nora Roberts/JD Robb Pinterest and here on the blog for voting from December 10-11.

Nora will announce the winning design on December 12.

You can order the winning Naked in Death design from Litographs starting Monday December 14.*

All finalists receive a $50 Litographs gift card.

The winner receives a $500 cash prize from Litographs, and have his/her design turned into a Naked in Death Litograph in time for the holidays! *

And here’s a handy, dandy Litographs Design Contest Style Guide to answer any design questions.

So sharpen the pencils and get to work!  We can’t wait to see what you create.


  • A note from Litographs:  since Litographs is a print on demand company — allowing customers to specify colors, sizes, and designs of their choice — we will not be able to ship products in such a tight turnaround time.  The  design will be available from 12/14.  Many customers choose gift cards for gifts in place of specific products. We will be able to make a printout of this available for folks to put under their trees, or hand over in person, if they like.


BW and I are enjoying our last day of our fall week at the spa, which is, for me, a working vacation.

Before we left, I spent several afternoons through the week helping my grandson–Grade Six–with math (God help me) and a complicated English assignment. For the math, fortunately, he’s a lot better at it than I am. I SEE the words ratio and percentage, and my brain freezes.

English assignments, much better. But I swear I’m not sure I knew the definition and practical uses of things like personification, alliteration, hyperbole and so on when I was eleven. He does! I did have to tell him he was his own problem in one part of the assignment–to find unfamiliar words in the book he was reading for the assignment. He has a most excellent vocabulary, so that section took forever, and then some.

We celebrated completion on the Saturday before BW and I left by baking cookies–along with his sister, who decided she LOVED wrapping Christmas presents and due to same has now saved me hours and hours or marathon wrapping.
IMG_1218 (1)
Love, love, love these kids. Also love, love, love this week’s get away.

It’s quiet, that’s a big plus. Though the weather didn’t cooperate so I could take my long morning hike outside, I brought plenty of exercise DVDs. Rainy mornings had me deciding to skip even the jaunt over to the gym and work out in the room instead.

After my daily workout, I settle in for a solid four hours of writing at my pretty little desk. The phone doesn’t ring, no dogs are barking to get in, go out, or because a delivery truck is heading up my lane. I don’t have to gauge my time to knock off to cook–but to gauge it for my lovely daily treatment.
Every afternoon I’m rewarded with a facial, or a massage or a mani-pedi. How about my holiday pedi! Gleaming midnight blue (which may not come across in the photo) with the accent of festive silver. Such fun!
Pre-treatment I get to snuggle into a book, post-treatment I get to indulge in an adult beverage and contemplate what I might want for dinner–that I’m not cooking!
It’s a wonderful routine for a week, but for me, it must be a routine. I’ve gotten a solid chunk of work done, have stuck to my work-out regime, and allowed myself to have my muscles and spirit addressed.

Today, our last day, is our traditional in-room massage, so I worked longer, then celebrated the accomplishment.

Tomorrow I pack, and we head home. Monday is back to home routine, and quite likely more sixth-grade math.

Maybe I should have one more drink.


Stars of Fortune discussion thread

stars largeThis is the place to discuss Stars of Fortune, Book 1 of  The Guardians Trilogy.  Please note that spoilers will abound.

I knew the basics of this book from conversations with Nora, but even knowing those basics, the way the story unfolded, the way secrets were revealed kept me reading faster and faster until it was done.

Please share your thoughts about the book or about this new group of six we meet or their particular talents.  My personal countdown until book 2 is already underway.  Laura


New York State of Mind

Every fall we spend a week in the city. I love New York. I love the wonderful mix of old buildings with the new and sleek, the energy and color, the mix of voices, the way the city shines at night, and all the possibilities it offers.

I’m a country girl at heart, and I need the quiet, the alone, the trees and the gardens. But I consider it a real gift to be able to come to the vibrancy of New York once or twice a year, and absorb the contrast.

We’ve stayed at the same hotel for years and years. They know us here, so it’s a home away from home for this bubble of time. They remember my birthday, and that’s sweet and fun, every year. We have a wonderful space here with fabulous views, and I know the turf, so that makes it easy to get where I want to go.

The hotel welcome
The hotel welcome

I like to hit the ground running when we’re here, and hit the streets as soon as I’m unpacked. Routinely I get another big chunk of my holiday shopping done while I’m here, and this year has been no exception. I’d say, Christmas shopping is a solid 90% done!

We traveled on Tuesday, BW, Jason and I. Crammed in some shopping, had a lovely Italian dinner. I had my mission mapped out for Wednesday, and Laura, who’d driven up to spend some time with her family in the area, joined us. Check, check, checking gifts off that holiday list, a fun lunch at a favorite pub, walking the city in amazing weather.

One view
One view
photo 2
A different view.

Kat arrives very, very late Wednesday night, and she and I spend Thursday shopping with my editor and agent, a light lunch, spending time together, again in wonderful weather more like spring than fall. Shoes were a big part of the hunt.

Then the whole group has an early dinner, walking to the restaurant, and from there walking to the theater. The weather adds to everything as it’s so much more special to see the city on foot than from the back of a car.

We saw Finding Neverland, which was magical. Broadway is its own magic, but there are some shows that grab the heart and the throat, and this one absolutely did. There was a young girl, maybe eight or nine, in the row in front of me. She was mesmerized. I felt exactly the same.

Specific shopping for a certain granddaughter on Friday, and both BW and I need new phones. Mission accomplished with a big assist on the tech from Jason. The fun, the practical and the necessary are dealt with. Basically, if you can’t find it in New York, it doesn’t exist.

We have an extra treat on Saturday with a visit from some of Kat’s extended family. Kids! So much fun! And Laura’s daughter comes by. We have pizza and cookies, and a really good time.

Today started rainy, so I chose cardio in the room, not sure if I’d do much walking. Added yoga because. Laura and BW are all about Sunday football. Jason is, bless him, dealing with some issue with my phone. Kat’s putting things together for a short foundation meeting.

When the weather clears, and the meeting’s done, I get that walk in after all. The sun’s come out, and the day’s gloriously balmy. Tourists are out in droves, and skaters glide on the rink at Rockefeller Center. Come back between games, and another visit from Laura’s adorable Clare. So we head up to our rooftop terrace for group pictures. Silly fun.

Nora and Clare (Laura's daughter) showing cause and effect.
Nora and Clare (Laura’s daughter) showing cause and effect.


Jason, Nora, Bruce, Laura, Clare and Kat
Jason, Nora, Bruce, Laura, Clare and Kat

You can also see, especially those who’ve asked or are confused: Laura is Laura, Nora is Nora. Nora writes the books. Laura handles the social media, the schedule, the outside details. Basically, Laura handles me.

Jason and Kat have to head home tonight. Miss them already.

Tomorrow we plan to head downtown for our last day in the city. Maybe hit the High Line, grab some lunch, enjoy the bustle.

And who knows. There are all those possibilities out there.


The process after the writing

A note from Laura:  this post springboards from a little tidbit I shared about the title of the fall 2016 In Death title (Apprentice in Death) and the resulting “why can’t we have it now?” comments.  It’s also a preventative measure for the upcoming Stars of Fortune, book 1 of The Guardians Trilogy, and the predictable “why do we have to wait for the second and third books??”  (In the latter case,  it’s because book 3 is not yet written.)  We’re so lucky that Nora has the discipline and fast pace to give us more than one book per year but that can be lost in the fun and excitement of a new book.  So let’s get a peek into what goes into a book beyond the writing.

I think I’ve tried to explain the publishing process before, but I’m going to try again, with–I hope– more detail.

Laura will often announce when I’ve finished a book or the title of an upcoming. Many readers are impatient–and I appreciate that–and wonder why they can’t just have the book NOW. It’s written, after all.

Here’s why.

To begin, my process is generally a three draft deal. When I’ve completed the final draft, I send it to my editor and my agent. I let out a big WOO!

My editor and my agent will read the ms (manuscript). My editor–any editor–will read it through. He or she is the first reader. She–as mine’s a she–will read it to see if it engages, if it holds together, if it’s a good story, and makes sense, does the job. This read isn’t done at the office–too many meetings, too much other work for that–but most often on the editor’s own time. Mine read this last ms. over the weekend after I turned it in. The editor may make notes–have questions. Maybe something doesn’t hold together, maybe the ms needs some more work. If it does, those notes become an editorial letter or discussion, and the writer may have to do revisions. Minor or major, depending.

This triad–writer, editor, agent–all want the same thing. The best book possible. That’s work, and that’s time.

If the ms holds together, or the revisions are done, the editor then reads the ms again for a line edit. That’s line by line, editing. It takes time. It may be a very clean ms, so little has to be done, or it may need more work. Either way, this next step has to happen. Then it must be copy edited, and gets its first proofing after that.

Meanwhile, the editor is working with the art department on a cover. With Sales and Marketing on how the book will be sold in, how it will be marketed. It has to be scheduled, and this book is one among many. Accounts–bookstores, chains and independents, other venders like WalMart, Target, Costco and so on, have to be addressed–so there are book reps who deal with that. Catalogue copy must be written, Publicity has their meetings on the book–what to do there? Back cover copy, flap copy must be written. That cover has to be produced, maybe revised, produced.

None of this happens in five minutes. Or five days. Or five weeks. Or five months.

The book must be printed, produced–audio and e must be produced. If it’s a major book Advance Reader Copies are produced and seeded. And the book must be proofed again, by a proofer and by the author. Any changes resulting from the proofing must be fixed in the final product.

And yes, yes, yes, there are still going to be mistakes that slip through. You have humans, you have mistakes. A lot of people think/say: If I proofed that book, I wouldn’t have missed that mistake. Maybe not, but you’d have missed something else. If you think you’d miss nothing every time, let me just say: bollocks.

In any case. It’s a very labor intensive and creative process, on many fronts. It takes between nine months to a year to reasonably take a ms from completion to publication.

It takes a reader a matter of hours or days to read it.

Nothing, absolutely nothing is ever going to change that gap. Writers can’t write as fast as a reader reads. Editors can’t edit that fast. Publishers can’t publish that fast. That’s reality.

But! There are scads of wonderful books published every month for readers to choose from and enjoy. There are scads because there are writers and editors and publishers working their asses off to make that so.

Enjoy them. And some impatience is fine. Just don’t blame the author, the editor, the publisher when the book isn’t in your hands five minutes after that final draft is done, and the writer lets out a big WOO!


MS at the start of the process
MS at the start of the process
Edited ms
Edited ms

PS. I did these two galleys back-to-back in the evenings–as like my editor I have too much work to do this task during the work day. That’s two solid weeks of proofing in the evening, after a full work day–and juggling that in between signing tubs of books three days a week.

Saturday soup
Saturday soup

But today I made soup!

No-Internet Hell

Our cable is out this morning, which means no internet, no phone, no nothing. I’m okay about the phone, and the TV–never much use either most days. But OMG, where’s my internet????
My plans for today are now in flux. This Monday was to be catch-up on everything I’ve ignored the last couple weeks. Which is a lot of email, a lot of internet surfing for specific items and information. Sending in my corrections, via email natch, for the galleys I just proofed. Dealing with the growing chaos of my One More Room–at which time I WOULD turn on the TV to distract me from dealing with said chaos.
Can’t do any of that. I had arrowed toward this Monday since Friday, when I finished a book.  A few chapters of which were written in Montana on my new Surface– with my ancient DOS WP.
Yes, I said DOS.
My genius geek son found a way to make the new tech talk to the old. However, no one realized that the version on the Surface had a Canadian dictionary for spell check. Which isn’t recognized by my USA dictionary on my PC. But the genius geek fixed that just yesterday. So I need to spell check those chapters–and save my editor’s sanity–and send in the book. Electronically. Which I can’t do because–No Internet–and get THAT off my list.
Today was to be almost a mental health sort of day. Tie off those loose ends, deal with the piles of duties. How did so many duties become attached to the internet? Well, they did, and there is sadness in the House Of Nora today.
I can’t call to report the cable issue because, haha, no phone. So BW will report it from Boonsboro, where hopefully the 21st century is humming along.
He also started the Roomba before he left. When you have three dogs, a Roomba is essential. I don’t like walking over layers of shedded dog hair. However, I noted the quiet, went downstairs and spent a good ten minutes hunting for the Roomba. I figured it had gotten hung up on something, though this is rare. Looked and looked, down on all fours, peering under beds, chairs, tables, playing hide-and-seek with the busy little tool we call Raoul.
And began to wonder . . . could it have left the house? Just said: I’m sick of all this dog hair, and I’m out of here.
I finally found it hiding in the bedroom, claiming it needed to be charged. Since it sits on the charger when not in use, this puzzled me. But I dutifully cleaned it out of an amazing amount of dog hair, and put it back on its home base. Now I ask myself . . . this can’t be tied to the internet. This is simple electricity. But why? A coincidence, you say. But I don’t trust coincidence. And I think dark thoughts.
Is it a revolt? Should I go check the other appliances? Is this just the beginning, the first step into Maximum Overdrive?
I think I’ll go work out instead. Spend an hour or so in the gym and hope everything’s back to normal after. Of course, I need my DVDs for that, and the DVDs require the television–no cable, but still.
We’ll see how that goes.
One way or the other, I’ll answer emails and put the responses in the Mail To Be Sent folder, as I’ll put this.
If and when this posts, you’ll all know No-Internet Hell is over. For now.

Wonderment in Death description/discussion

ddtrh coverI usually let everyone else chime in about books but last weekend I had a chance to read “Wonderment in Death” — the In Death novella in Down the Rabbit Hole — and in my opinion it’s a particular standout among the 11 novellas under JD’s belt.

The official description for the anthology?

You’re late for a very important date…
Enter a wonderland of mesmerizing tales. It’s a place that’s neither here nor there, where things are never quite as they seem. Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s whimsical masterpiece, ranging from the impossible to the mad to the curiouser, these stories will have you absolutely off your head. 

Don’t be afraid to follow them…

Since it’s short and efficient (and marvelous) storytelling there actually isn’t a real teaser to give that won’t potentially spoil the “Wonderment in Death” story.  So I’ll set this page up for the discussion now.

It’s in stores on September 29.






In Death World

It’s always gratifying to know how excited readers are when a new In Death book comes out. I’m so grateful for the loyalty of the readership, and hope–every time–those readers will enjoy the book. 

I understand some will enjoy any given book more than another. Some will be delighted with it, others a little disappointed. Or completely dissatisfied.
That’s the individuality of reading.
However. Every time a new book in this series comes out, I get numerous–NUMEROUS–comments of this variety:
I loved the book. Just gobbled it up. It was so good. But, there wasn’t enough (name that recurring character). I really felt something was missing. I really wish you’d have made more time for (name that recurring character or those recurring characters).
Okay, while in real time there’s about a six-month wait between books–I have to write them–in book time days have passed, maybe a week or two. Do you see all your pals on a daily basis? I suspect most of us aren’t like the cast of How I Met Your Mother, having drinks and adventures together pretty much every day.
If I made room in the story, every story, for everyone’s favorite recurring character, the story would revolve around them, not around the life and times of a murder cop (hello, murder cop) investigating, and interacting with Roarke, her partner, and whoever among those recurring characters has something to do/say/add to that specific storyline.
It’s one thing to be dissatisfied with the story itself, the writing, but to complain–again and again–because there wasn’t enough Feeney, or there was no Mavis, or why can’t this new character come back and join the NYPSD–when Deputy Banner has a life and career of his own in Arkansas (which I thought was illustrated pretty well in the storyline).
Another refrain, oft-sung: Nadine should find the love of her life.
No, says the creator, she shouldn’t. If and when she does, it’s because she’s ready, I’m ready, and the story calls for it.
Morris should find a new love.
No, he shouldn’t. He’s still grieving, and he’s not looking for a new love. When and if he does, (and for me that’s clearly if, not when) it will NOT be DeWinter. Which again, I think has been illustrated pretty clearly.
There should be more babies, more weddings, more people should hook up–either casually or for true love.
This is not what I’m writing or want to write in this series. Murder cop, investigating. Murder cop and her former criminal husband learning how to deal with marriage. Murder cop learning how to evolve and deal with friendships. But murder cop is the key. Outside romances are not.
I felt maybe I needed to address the simple fact that for the reader who is looking, primarily, for storylines that include everyone who walks through the books–occasionally or more regularly–and/or having those characters fall in love, get married, have babies, and so on, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
Is it possible another recurring character will enter a relationship? Of course. But we already have several who have. And for now, that’s more than enough for this series, its direction and its core.
It’s certainly flattering to create a character like Will Banner and have readers relate so strongly to him. But that doesn’t mean this character will suddenly relocate to NY, and Eve will snap her fingers and place him in her squad. I have to think of the big picture, and the big picture reads, to me–that would be out of character for Banner, and unrealistic for Eve.
I appreciate the readers’ investment in the series. It’s a lot of books, over a lot of time. I assure you, I give each book–and where it might take the next–a lot of thought. I give the plot, the story arc, the characters a lot of thought. If some of those characters don’t weave through a particular book, it’s because they were busy doing something else off page. Because they weren’t needed.
While I really want you to enjoy each book, and the series as a whole, I can only write them as makes sense to me, and in a way I feel stays true to the characters.
A respectful PS from Laura:  Though Nora Roberts does not write as long running a series as JD Robb, a lot of the above should be applied.  Trilogies end because the story/quest is finished as Nora envisioned it and another set of characters await.  As for characters who stand out — Forrest in The Liar, Aubrey in the Quinn books, Mrs. G in the Bride Quartet come to mind — they are supporting players in the cast and there are no plans for separate books.  I like to say we’ve trusted Nora/JD this far so let’s see where she takes us next.

Montana! Photos

Nora, Bruce, Jason and Kat sent photos from Montana daily, giving me the difficult task of choosing what to use to illustrate Nora’s travelogues. Some fun, gorgeous photos didn’t make the cut, so I thought I’d share in a post for your enjoyment.

As many guessed, but I refused to make public because it was vacation, they stayed at The Resort at Paw’s Up.

I’ve got an inkling as to where the 2016 vacation will be, but we’ll have to wait awhile for those.  Good thing we have releases and Nora’s take on the fall, the holidays and her favorite season (HA!) winter before then to keep us going.  ~Laura

photo (21) photo 1 DSC_0438_39_40_41_42 DSC_0570


Firing her up - photo by BW
Firing her up – photo by BW
At work in the basket - photo by BW
At work in the basket – photo by BW
Mist over the land - photo by BW
Mist over the land – photo by BW
From BW and Kat's trip to Ovando.
From BW and Kat’s trip to Ovando.
Set up for prank call - photo by ja-b
Set up for prank call – photo by ja-b
Kat and Jason and a view
Kat and Jason and a view
Just around the riverbend - photo by ja-b
Just around the riverbend – photo by ja-b
Every evening's activity: capturing sunset - photo by Ja-b
Every evening’s activity: capturing sunset – photo by Ja-b
I always knew you were ewoks (Laura's comment to Jason)
I always knew you were ewoks (Laura’s comment to Jason)

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