Winter Weekend

Nora sends a weekend post card from her favorite place — Home.  ~Laura

This was a busy one around here. We’re repurposing two areas–shifting them, and since one is my sub-office where we’ve stored all my books, and the other is my closet, this entails much tubbing, boxing, purging, hauling. Both areas are up a set of stairs, so it involves a lot of climbing.

We’d earmarked this weekend for the major work here, but we took a pause on that Saturday as my oldest grandson had a basketball game.

Watching a bunch of 10 and 11-year old boys race around a court, dribbling, passing, shooting is enormous fun–and when one is yours, exhausting. And really exhilarating when your boy scores a basket and makes a key steal. Our guys won, which is great, but the very best was the big, beaming grin on Logan’s face when we saw him after the game.

At least we came home cheerful to face a solid three hours of work. I believe my Fitbit registered 50 sets of stairs by the end of it. Though my new closet space still needs some tweaking–ordered more shoe and boot boxes–it’s in pretty good shape. And the new storage area won’t be my problem!

Purging the closet will net my pals plenty. I’ve already sent out an SOS for us to get together soon and tear through the small mountain of bags we hauled out.

I did a little of that tweaking on Sunday, and will do more yet, but had set that cold winter day aside mostly for the kitchen. I finally got the Thanksgiving turkey carcass out of the freezer to make turkey noodle soup. BW’s particularly fond of pretzel bread, so I added that to the menu. When he came in from manly outdoor chores, I got another big, beaming grin when he saw the rolls cooling on the rack. Good deal all around.

turkey noodle soup pretzel rolls

Somewhere between chopping vegetables for the soup and punching down dough, my granddaughter popped in. She’s still afraid to change her own earrings (we’ll work on this) and has decided I’m the only one who can do it. So we did that–and I bought a load of Girl Scout cookies from her. That netted me one more happy face for my weekend.

The closet shift has delayed my full-house purge, but I hit the utility closet while I was chained to the kitchen, so can now check my kitchen off the purge and organize list.

With BW mired in football, I had myself a nice bowl of soup, some quiet and a book to end the weekend.

Today, after all that hauling and climbing, I’m looking forward to sitting on my butt and writing. I hope you all had a weekend with some happy faces, and can do what makes you smile through the week.

Nora

Social media round up

Things are pretty much up to date here on the blog in terms of Nora’s thoughts (social media is still abuzz after the Bite Me post) and the big news (Cousins O’Dwyer series).  But there are a couple of things that have only appeared on Facebook.

First, I’ve been posting the original covers of the In Deaths since January 1 — as that was 40 days until the Obsession in Death (book 40) release date of February 10.  Today’s post was Imitation.

Nora’s publisher teamed with several blogs for rereads of three In Death books.  All the details are on the USA Today Happy Ever After blog.  There are prizes involved so make sure you visit Happy Ever After and the other blogs in the next few weeks.

Speaking of Obsession, I plan to have a teaser post starting February 3 here on the blog so stay tuned.

On the Nora Facebook page, I mentioned how excited Nora and I are that Sarah Addison Allen is among the writers scheduled to appear at the Turn the Page Bookstore event on February 7. Just before Nora left on vacation in 2010, I handed her Sarah’s Garden Spells and told her it was the perfect book for a vacation. Nora loved it and promptly read the rest of Sarah’s backlist.  If you’re looking for magical reads this winter, you can’t go wrong with Sarah’s books.   The authors rounding out the line up on February 7 are Nora’s dear pal Ruth Langan who has a new series out under her RC Ryan pen name, Sarah MacLean, Kristen Proby, Teri Wilson and children’s author Tara Bell.

Finally, I’m having a bit of knee surgery at the end of January and asked for advice on what to read during recovery (I’ll be leaning/sitting on a stool at the February 7 event). If you have any thoughts, please share in the comments.

Laura

 

 

Cousins O’Dwyer news

Please remember this is the announcement of the project and early, early days yet.  We’ll keep everyone in the loop as the process moves along.

 At some point Nora will share her thoughts.  As for me?  I think this is going to be a lot of fun.  ~Laura

Edited 1/13/15 at  9:30 pm:  My contact at Omnifilm saw the questions about where the show would air. Again, this is early in the process, but they definitely plan for the series to be broadcast in the US — they are in the beginning stages of determining which networks to partner with, so no news on that front yet.  They are also working diligently to bring the series to Canadian and UK (including Ireland) audiences… and perhaps other countries as well.  

Since the news was only announced this evening, I think we need to give them just a little more time to work out details.  ~Laura 

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      OMNIFILM ENTERTAINMENT AND EMILY ANDRAS ADAPTING
NORA ROBERTS’ LATEST BOOK TRILOGY 

Vancouver, BC, January 13, 2015 – Omnifilm Entertainment has secured the rights to bestselling author Nora Roberts’ latest trilogy from Berkley Books, The Cousins O’Dwyer. Lost Girl Executive Producer Emily Andras will write the television series adaptation, entitled “Blood Magick”, the title of the final book in the trilogy.

Blood Magick is a contemporary genre continuing series set in Ireland, featuring sorcerer cousins Iona, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer as they face off against the ancient evil of the dark sorcerer Cabhan.

The series begins as American-born Iona Sheehan arrives in Ireland, where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations – and where her destiny awaits. She tracks down her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer, and since family is family, they invite her into their home and soon she joins their mission to defeat Cabhan.

“We at Omnifilm Entertainment are delighted to be in business with Emily Andras, the very talented Executive Producer of Lost Girl, as she adapts Nora Roberts’ thrilling Blood Magick trilogy for television,” said Paulo de Oliveira, Omnifilm SVP Scripted Programming and Executive Producer.  “Nora Roberts is an author of unparalleled popularity, and we look forward to seeing her wonderful work realized for the screen.”

All three books in the Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy – Dark Witch, Shadow Spell, and Blood Magick, – debuted at #1 in both paperback and e-book categories on the New York Times bestseller list. 

Nora Roberts is the bestselling author of more than 200 novels with more than 500 million copies of her books in print worldwide.  Every Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb title released in 2014 hit the New York Times bestseller list, keeping up a streak started in 1999.

“I’m very excited to bring Blood Magick to series television,” said Andras. “These characters are so passionate in their fight to protect their home and each other, it’s easy to be drawn into their dangerous quest. Set in Ireland’s enchanting County Mayo, the books detail a haunting and sensual world. With Nora’s stories guiding us, we look forward to bringing Branna, Connor and Iona to life for the millions of Nora Roberts fans throughout the world.”

The project is being structured as a Canada/Irish co-production and will be pitched in the coming weeks.

Nora Roberts is repped by UTA. Emily Andras is repped by the Alpern Group. Paulo de Oliveira (Outlander) and Brian Hamilton, Gabriela Schonbach and Michael Chechik of Omnifilm Entertainment will Executive Produce.  

About Omnifilm Entertainment Ltd.  www.omnifilm.com

Omnifilm Entertainment Ltd. is one of Canada’s leading independent television producers.  Since 1979 Omnifilm has produced hundreds of hours of award-winning programming including drama, comedy, factual and lifestyle series, documentaries and children’s programming.  Omnifilm’s recent scripted series include: Arctic Air on CBC, which garnered the highest premiere for a CBC 1-hour drama series in over a decade; and Primeval: New World on CTV/Space, SyFy Channel, Prosieben and UKTV; Defying Gravity (ABC, CTV-Space, Prosieben and BBC), the Gemini award-winning gang drama Dragon Boys (CBC) and long-running dramedy Robson Arms (CTV). One of Omnifilm’s earliest dramas The Odyssey was nominated for an Emmy and featured a young Ryan Reynolds. Omnifilm’s teen drama Edgemont discovered both Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and the Beast) and Grace Park (Hawaii 5-0).

Currently Omnifilm has three non-scripted series in production: Ice Pilots on History in Canada, National Geographic in the U.S. and 62 countries including France, Germany and UK; Jade City soon premiering on Discovery Canada, and Namaste, on Youtube, Amazon and iTunes worldwide.

Based in Vancouver, Canada, Omnifilm Entertainment is a vertically-integrated content company handling development, production and post-production, delivery, and distribution of their brands on both traditional television and digital/VOD platforms.

And here’s how the announcement looked on The Hollywood Reporter.

Post Holidays

For over a decade now, BW and I and another couple spend a week at the spa after all the holiday madness. It’s a lovely little break. The guys ski/snowboard, and the ladies enjoy the spa. I usually work a bit, too. I don’t ski. It’s cold, it’s wet–especially if you tend to fall down a lot. I prefer a nice hot stone massage to the slopes.

We all do what we do.

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But this year, we had something different. BW was invited to do a photography showing here. This place has an amazing art collection. So in addition to the usual four, Jason and Kat came up–much valuable help with the loading in of BW’s art–Laura and her husband came mid week, and another friend and her dh came a day later.

 

It turned into a wonderful, happy little party that went a long way to keeping everybody cheerful even as the temps fell below zero. Talk about cold and wet.

What fun it’s been to 20150109_174917float back from some fabulous afternoon treatment and see BW’s photographs lining the walls. And how lovely it is to spend a few days with friends who are friends with each other as well.

I’ve got a lot of work and a long winter waiting for me starting tomorrow, but this has been a warm little island of friendship and happy in the world of snow and ice.

Those of you dealing with the cold (it was minus 3 when I got up this morning), I hope you can gather with friends, or curl up with a book–I’ve done both this week, and it’s going to help me get through the chilly weeks ahead.

Nora

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Bite Me

I have to start off letting you know I happened to be with Laura* when I told her the title for this blog post. I wish I could accurately describe the expression of resigned despair on her face. It was somewhere between being told the test results are iffy and learning the wait time for customer service is an hour and a half.

Poor Laura, she not only has to deal with me, but with those who prompted this blog post–in addition to everything else.

In any case at the end of the year I did a blog post about positive virtual space, and resolving to maintain this blog and my Facebook pages as such.

It didn’t last a week. I don’t often make resolutions for just that reason, but in this case I’m determined enough to see it through to do this follow-up.

The title of this post is what I often wish to say to posters who come on those Facebook pages, into a thread where everyone’s pretty happy, and feel entitled or compelled to drop some negativity bomb. Moreover, if I–or other posters, or Laura–address the explosion, said bomb-dropper gets defensive or increases the charge. The most-used defense is:

It’s just my opinion.

Recently Laura announced there would be a new trilogy, The Guardian Trilogy, starting at the end of this year. Most who come on my Facebook pages enjoy getting updates like this, finding out what’s coming up, engaging in the discussions Laura springboards. Nowhere in any of that is the phrase: So, let’s have your opinion on Nora’s work.

That’s what, as I’ve said before and will undoubtedly say again,  reader review sites are for.

In the middle of the excitement over a new trilogy, someone comments all my trilogies are the same. (One of the given reasons is they’re always about three men/three women, and I can’t argue about that. But . . . duh.)

Some posters object, Laura smooths the waters, and the expected rationale is: It’s just my opinion.

Readers are absolutely entitled to opinions, and there are a zillion places on the internet to express any dissatisfaction. I’m not going to go onto those sites and debate with a reader over her opinion on my work. But these are my pages.

Another poster followed up, a few days later by adding not only predictable (soooooo predictable) but it didn’t take much brain power to read them.

That crossed a line for me. It’s not only insulting my work on my page, but insulting every reader who enjoys the work. That’s a frigging bitch-slap to everyone. 

This one went on with ‘facts’, the most baffling and oddly amusing thereof was that every one of my couples admits their love 78% of the way through the book. 78%. Not only is the math inaccurate, but it’s just silly. However when I objected, she dug in, and hard. These were FACTS, and I should grow up and learn to take constructive criticism.

Here are two things, and I’m not going to apologize for either.

Every reader has opinions. Using the opinion to take a swipe at my work, in my space, doesn’t make it any less rude. You’re invited to a party. Do you go up to your host and say: Nice party, but the guest list is predictable and the food could be better. And hey, are you ever going to change those drapes? Just my opinion!

If you find any of that okay, you sure won’t be invited back, not in my world.

If you find this person’s parties boring or sub-standard, here is a suggestion. Don’t go.

Second thing. Constructive criticism. The reader is not my employer, my teacher, my mother. This is not my hobby, this is my profession, and in this profession I have an editor. I welcome her constructive criticism. I have an agent. I welcome hers. Readers, having those opinions that will vary dramatically from one to another? Not welcome. Not asked for. Not accepted.

Because you use a sink do you get in the plumber’s face and advise him how to fix it? Do you walk into a shop and tell the owner she needs to shake up her stock?If the plumber isn’t doing the job to your standards, find another plumber. If the shop doesn’t have what you’re looking for, try another shop. That’s your power as a consumer.

A book doesn’t come with a suggestion box, and the writer is not obliged to sculpt a story to your specific needs.

Readers read. Writers write. Readers can voice their opinions in appropriate areas, to their friends, to their bookclub and so on. But those who insist on coming into my spaces with their negativity are going to be called out for it.

Those who get huffy because they were just expressing an opinion or offering me constructive criticism? Bite me.

Nora

* Laura’s note:  I was extremely grateful to have had two glasses of champagne BEFORE Nora told me the title.  Joking aside, it’s a hard balance — to acknowledge an opinion while asking myself “why would you share that opinion in this place?”  (Honestly:  why would anyone decide the best place to complain about trilogies is a thread on a new one???) I know we can’t erase all negativity, but we can request that conversations stay relatively on point and are cordial.    

In With The New

I moved from North Carolina to Maryland in 2014 and for the first time in a decade was able to make the New Year’s festivities at Nora’s house.  And since I’m close enough, I pitched in a little too.

A quick note about the food. Nora and I cook exactly the same way:  you check a basic recipe for a guideline, then tuck it away and play with the ingredients.  So there won’t be any sharing of recipes but if something strikes your fancy we encourage you to use The Google and find something that you can make yours for years to come.  Happy New Year!  ~Laura

In our house we actually welcome the new with the old. Traditions, friends, family. We’ve been hosting an open house on New Year’s Day for at least 20 years. When you pack your house with people, you’d better pack it with plenty of food and drink.

So New Year’s Eve is a day spent in the kitchen. But luckily for me, I spend that with friends and family, too.

bread pudding

Bred Pudding

brownie trifle

Chocolate Trifle

 

This year my oldest granddaughter, Kayla, expanded her role. I’ve passed on the family bread pudding recipe and duties to her for years now, and added the wonder of chocolate trifle this time around.

 

 

One of my favorite moments was the wonder and delight of a 12-year-old girl that whipped cream could be made from a little container that looks like milk! And this almost teenager wasn’t too old or dignified to turn down licking the whisk afterward.

Deviled eggs

Deviled eggs

One of my staples is deviled eggs, and their popularity means I make three dozen. It’s not so bad making three dozen when someone else peels them! Thanks Laura and Sarah.

new year ham

 

I bake two big-ass whole hams with pineapple glaze BW slices for sandwiches. I make huge amounts of sides like red beans and rice, pasta salad, a winter fruit salad, spiced shrimp, meatballs. I double the recipe for what I think of as the icky green bean casserole, and there’s never any left.

When the wondrous Kat arrived I put her in charge of chopping and slicing veggies for the crudite. And being Kat, she fashioned a few decorative veggies for accents. So clever, my best girl.

crudite platter

Lots and lots of food cooked, stirred, baked, whipped. But the best part is that lovely little female circle, and the genuine delight of my Kayla in being part of it. She got ginger ale as a beverage for all the hard work. The adults got champagne, well earned.

The next morning there’s more to do–with my boy Jason and BW doing a lot of manly hauling and cooler filling and bringing up dishes already prepped from the downstairs fridge. And Kayla, Kat and I (then Laura who came early to help) making what needs to be made on the day of, reheating what’s done, setting things up and out.

We open from one to whenever. By two the house is full of people, and it’s amazing how often trays and bowls need refreshing. Something in the air this year, a happy something, as there’s such good, strong energy (and good, strong appetites) through every room in the house–and packs of people in every room. Kids in the pool, or playing Wii with great noise in the family room, people snuggled into the library or crowded in the kitchen, sprawled around the living room.

I’ll add not a spoonful of Kayla’s trifle or bread pudding remained.

My oldest brother and his lovely wife are serious bakers. He’s brought my mother’s pound cake, tubs of biscotti and his truly amazing peppermint patties. (I’m seriously tempted to stuff the peppermint patties away for myself, but I resist. Happy New Year all who benefited.

Cute moment to share. My boy Logan comes up with one of his pals. Pal has water in his ear from swimming. Logan often has this issue, so I have drops that deal with it. Fix pal’s ear, and off they go. About two hours later, Logan’s back with all four of the pals who came with him. Water in ears. So I have a line of ten-year-old boys in the bathroom waiting for their turn for drops. Boy steps up, tips head, drops go in, wait for it, hand boy a paper guest towel. Next?

A fun, busy, noisy first day of the year–and considering how much food was involved an astonishing lack of left-overs. Lots of laughter, lots of hugs, lots of memories. (And today despite Jason and Kat pitching in after the party, lots of clean up.)

Good friends, family and good food. It’s a fine way to welcome a new year. I hope all of you were able to ring out and ring in with as much pleasure.

Nora

 

Resolved for 2015: Positive Virtual Space

As we clear out the old and make way for the new year, Nora shares the plan for all her  spaces going forward:  a focus on the positive.  ~Laura 

The internet is a marvelous tool, an endless source of information, entertainment and communication. A virtual tool —  and as a solitary type, my favorite kind.

We can, at the stroke of a few keys, find answers, find friends, communicate with others who share our interests. Life’s busy, so creating the blog, updating the Facebook pages is a way of connecting with readers, making a place for readers to connect with each other in a quick and easy manner.

The upside’s pretty broad. That connection, a place to ask a question — and Laura’s quick with answers. When I can, I answer myself. It can be fun for everyone. Information’s generated so readers know what’s coming up as far as books or events. Entertaining discussions evolve from Laura’s regular question posts on Facebook.

We want these spaces to be fun for everyone, to be a cheerful link between readers who enjoy my books, between those readers and me. But . . . there’s always a downside.

I do wonder at anyone who seeks out a writer’s Facebook page to post a negative comment on her work. There are scads of reader review sites for just this purpose if a book didn’t satisfy. Moreover, some will insert this negativity in what strikes me as a completely inappropriate place. We might be talking about the holidays or friendships or hobbies, and someone will post something like: I thought (insert title of book) was boring. Or I didn’t like (insert title of book) and wish I hadn’t wasted my time and money.

Then there’s the very odd: I haven’t read your books in years because they suck. (Then what are you doing here?)

Those are fairly mild examples as many comments dip way down into the stunningly personal.

If the comment starts a disagreement, the original poster inevitably falls back on the easy out: I was just expressing my opinion.

Who asked for it? I didn’t. My page, after all, and nowhere is there a post asking: So, Gentle Readers, what did you think of (insert title of book)? What does this person get out of telling me and the internet they didn’t like a particular book? Do they believe their opinion so important it MUST be expressed on my Facebook pages or blog?  I think some people just have to spread negativity. They choose to do so, and that’s too bad for them as negativity can and will breed negativity.

After decades in the business, I have pretty thick skin. I know full well not every book I write will make the grade for every reader. What one reader loves about a certain book, another will avidly dislike. That’s what makes reading so personal, and it’s why no matter how much I value and appreciate readers, I’m not going to take your opinion into account when I write. But those who create the stories have feelings, just like everyone else. And being told you wrote a lousy book stings. Even if it is one person’s opinion. It also tends to make readers who enjoyed that particular book defensive. And the circular firing squad begins.

There are reader review and discussion sites all over the internet. A writer can go there, choose to read the good, the bad, the praise, the criticism. That’s a choice, just as a reader makes a choice when coming to a writer’s Facebook page to complain–to express negativity. It makes more sense to me for writers to leave reader review sites to the reader. And for readers to use those spaces to express opinions on why a book didn’t work for them.

The internet is anonymous for posters. It’s easy to say something rude or hurtful or negative behind that shield. To say something that person would never say face-to-face. That’s the big downside.

As I’m purging for the new year, I’m going to do what I can to purge the negativity that’s cropped up in my spaces — including the virtual ones. I’m going to ask those who enjoy those spaces, who visit there, who come to connect, to take a few seconds to think before posting a comment. Ask: Would I walk up to this person, in real life, and say this? If the answer’s no, maybe you should rethink before hitting Send.

These virtual spaces don’t have to be full of rainbows and fuzzy little bunnies. But neither should they be places where someone can accuse me of trucking with Satan. (Yes, that happened.)

If you choose to post negative comments, you will. It won’t change a thing, but I guess you’ll have your say. If, however, that negativity crosses the line into the personal — as it too often does — we’ll delete and ban. I want my readers to have a good, positive space to visit. And, frankly, I want the same for myself.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, hopeful New Year full of love and fun and wonderful books.

Nora

Out With The Old

There still some celebrating left to do, but Nora’s getting a jump on 2015.  Is this something you do as well?  ~Laura 

Holidays bring the bright and shiny, whether it’s tangible things or spirit. Hopefully, some of both. We had plenty around here this past week. Happy faces, friends and family, excited kids–and shiny gifts. We all have our traditions, and in our house this involves food, pajamas, a couple hours of chaos, a family picture in front of the tree, and a massive cleanup — eventually.

one more room

Top to Bottom, drawer by drawer.

I have my own tradition following the big day, and that’s the start of my full-house purge. I think of it as Reclaiming My House. Starting Christmas week — with a break for the preparations for our annual New Year’s Day open house — I start a room-by-room purge. Every closet, every drawer, every space where we’ve stuffed things through the year gets the treatment. I mean top to bottom — no space is safe from me once I get going. Which tends to make my husband a little nervous. He’s a Keeper. I’m a Get It Out Of Here-er.

There’s a lot of “how did that end up there?”, or “why am I keeping that??” I try to shovel out my office after finishing a book to clear the way for the next–mentally and physically. This is shoveling on a bigger scale to clear the way for a new year.

I’m always amazed by the amount of absolute trash that ends up pushed into a drawer. Out it goes. Some things no longer belong here, but will suit someone else — out go those things, too, to be offered to someone.

first cut

First round

Before long I’ll have bags and bags, boxes and boxes. How did it all FIT in here in the first place? A question I ask myself every year.

I’ve already started on my closet, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. (And I have many friends who’ll be happy my closet got The Treatment as what was in there will now be in THEIR closets!) The Big Purge is a weekend task for me, so it’ll run through January. But when it’s done, ahhhh–my house can breathe again, and the pretty shiny things that came into it over the holidays will have their time in the sun.

As the new year approaches, I try to do the same thing with myself. Clean out the trash, Nora, in your head, in your heart. Make room for the new and shiny. It’s not as easy as tossing expired Banana Republic coupons in a Hefty bag, or letting girlfriends go through a bag of clothes, but it’s worth the effort to clear a clean path for the new year.

Nora

 

Holiday Glitch

For anyone trying to look at the www.noraroberts.com website today, we’re very sorry. The server it’s on stopped working this morning. We’ll call that a holiday reminder to get off the internet and spend more time with books, friends, books, and family, and books.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

– Kat

Happy, Merry and Thank you!

I’m just about to trek north of Maryland to visit family for Christmas, while Nora is finishing up work to concentrate on tradition with family and friends honed through the years.  I’m sure she’ll share some of the excitement next week, but for a few days we’re dimming the lights and stepping back from the computers.20141128_202514 (2)

Before we do, I wanted to wish everyone the happiest of holidays, no matter what you celebrate and how.  Thank you for sharing yourselves on the blog this year.  I know you come for the Nora, but stay for the camaraderie and I truly appreciate you taking the time to read, comment, share your own stories and enjoy the company of readers.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and laughter-filled near year for us all.

xo, Laura