A query letter by Nora

Dear Winter: How can we miss you if you don’t go away?

Yesterday I hosted my annual gathering/clothes swap for people in my local writing group. I used to do this mid-winter, but it proved so problematic with weather and travel, I’ve shifted it to early spring in the last several years.

When I sent out the invites a few weeks ago, I thought: This’ll be nice–end of March. Cool, but pleasant enough people could wander outside if they want.

Wrong.

A 28 degree high isn’t cool, it’s fricking cold. And morning snow flurries are not burgeoning daffodils.

Still, a fine time was had by all. It’s a total girl day with food and drink and talk, and the madness of a mountain of clothes–every style, shape and size–brought by dozens of women.

I’m ending the weekend making farmhouse bread, and a vast pot of chicken noodle soup as I had the chicken, and could take advantage of the leftover veggies from the party. And it had better be the last vat of soup I make this spring specifically because it’s so damn cold out.tulips on counter soup in pot

At least papansies in planternsies–who don’t mind the chill–give me some hope of spring, even if it’s cold enough to keep a fire burning instead of doing some early prep-work in the garden.fire in grate

I’ve got four tubs of books to sign, and when that’s done I believe I’m going to flop down horizontally and find some movie that won’t tax my tired brain cells.

It better be warm enough next weekend for me to at least plant my potatoes, or Mother Nature and I are going to have a serious conversation.  

Nora

Charity Hat Auction

Remember Nora’s posts about her whole house purge and the brand new closet?  Not only did it make Nora very happy, it brought to life an idea to benefit others.

Nora generously shphoto (57)ares recaps of her trips to the Kentucky Derby — one of her favorite annual events.  (Click the links to refresh your memory of the  2013 and 2014 races. )   Many years she’s worn gorgeous, custom-made hats by Penny Rieck that add even more flair and elegance to the experience.

As she cleared out and moved her closet, Nora realized that her collection of Derby Hats was just too big for the space and thought it might be fun to raise some money for charity by auctioning them off.  Over the next week or so she is partnering with Turn the Page Bookstore on eight ebay auctions of the hats to benefit the Shepherdstown (WV) Public Library.

Ever dreamed about owning a fabulous hat?  Well now here’s your chance.  The first two hats are up and bidding is open! Click here to see all 8 hats.  And if you win, we’ll want photos!

Laura

 

Social media round up – March 24

It’s been quiet here as Nora’s thrown herself into the first draft of next year’s hardcover.  I’ll share here what little I know: there’s a heroine and there’s a hero.  For some reason that’s all Nora’s willing to share at this point.  But since that’s all I knew about The Liar this time last year and now it’s one of my favorite of Nora’s books (and topping The Witness is very very hard) I’m pretty confident she’ll expand on that heroine and hero to give us a fabulous read in the spring of 2016.

What have I been doing as Nora writes in her office sanctuary?  Well I’ve been leading some discussions about trilogies on the Nora Roberts Facebook page.  Last week was The Circle Trilogy.

mc cover dotg cover vos cover

The questions were:

~ Which couple comes to mind first when you think of this series?  (Cian/Moira by a landslide.)

~ Since The Circle Trilogy’s Larkin and Blair (Dance of the Gods) got so little love in the last post, I’m going to start with them. I loved how they both knew exactly who and what they were — the fun was seeing how each realized the other complemented them in life and on the quest. What are your thoughts?

~ Let’s talk about the brothers — Hoyt and Cian. Judging from the majority of comments Cian is many readers’ favorite character in the series. Each has more than his fair share of arrogance, their faces are mirrors, but Cian keeps winning out. Is it the difference between a rule follower and a rule breaker? Studious v. sociable? I’m so very curious, so please share in the comments.

~ Day 4 of the Circle Trilogy and the question is about the women. Glenna, Blair and Moira — witch, warrior and scholar — all brought strengths that were honed and weaknesses that were shored up to the preparations. I think their bond was cemented when they helped Glenna choose a wedding dress. What other pockets of normalcy stuck with you?

~ We all trust Nora implicitly but let’s be honest: could you see your way to happy ever after for all of the six as Valley of Silence — The Circle trilogy book 3 (this is the Portuguese edition) — drew to a close?

The posts on the JD Robb Facebook page are coming at a slower pace now that Obsession in Death is in stores.  (The 40 days leading to the 40th book are a bit of a blur now.)

But on St. Patrick’s Day I did ask everyone to share their favorite Roarke scenes or quotes.

Leading directly from that discussion I asked:  1) do you find more In Death readers to chat with online or in your real life? And 2) have you ever had an online friendship start because of books?

And on Friday last I shared this: 23 Struggles Only Book Nerds will Understand.

Share any and all thoughts in the comments!

Laura

 

What are you reading/anticipating?

It’s a rainy Saturday in Maryland.  Word is Nora is making soup.  I am not.    But I am thinking about books and spring.  The Equinox approaches!  As the Northern hemisphere nears the end of a long winter and the Southern starts to shed the dog days of summer, I thought it was good time to shake off the dust on our reading lists and swap ideas of what to read.

9780399170867_large_The_Liar

The LiarNora’s 2015 hardcover romantic suspense, will hit stores in the US/Canada on April 14, in the UK/Ireland/AUS/NZ and SA on April 16.   To me, The Liar is book that simply sings spring from the setting to the blooming of one Shelby Foxworth.  And I’ve got to admit that Griff Lott hit #1 (with a bullet as Billboard Magazine used to say) on my Nora heroes list.  We’ll have to talk about that in April won’t we?

BTW, if you are anywhere near western Maryland on April 11, Nora will sign copies of The Liar at Turn the Page’s spring signing.  Kat Martin, Christine Trent, Shayla Black, Jennifer ProbstRobin Kaye and Adam Pelzmen will be there as well.

One small perk of my job is that sometimes I can beguile an advance copy of another author’s books from Team Nora.  Right now I’m waiting (impatiently) for Nalini Singh‘s Shards of Hope to show up on my door a little before the June release.  (BTW, did I mention Nalini is coming to Turn the Page’s 20th anniversary event on July 18?  No?  Did I say Jill shalvis will be there as well?  NO?  Well we’ll keep that between us for now ok? )

Everyone has favorite authors, right?  Nora’s shared some of hers here like Stephen King, John Sandford and Sarah Addison Allen.   Nalini and Jill are two of mine so July will be a fan girl moment for me.

What have I read besides The Liar?  Well I can’t say enough good things about Sarah Addison Allen’s First Frost.  It was one of those books that I finished completely convinced I’d never read another good book again.  But don’t worry, I know I will.

Sarah Morgan is a wonderful writer and the first book in her new Puffin Island series, First Time in Forever, is on my desk.  And I’m also anticipating Thea Harrison‘s Midnight’s Kiss — the latest in her Elder Race series.

What are you reading these days?  And what are you anticipating in the coming season?

Laura

 

Spring forward

This morning when I went outside to feed the dogs, I didn’t see my breath, and I heard birdsong. Maybe I had to pick my way over some snow and ice, but I didn’t have to haul on a coat and shiver while doing this basic ritual. I consider this a triumph. Maybe I can’t yet see the ground, and the view out my office window still looks like a black and white painting, but I’m going to believe winter’s finally heading out the door.

icicles deck snow

When spring finally gets here, I’m going to get my hands in the dirt. On those days when I’m busy, and those garden chores are just one more thing to do, I’m going to remember what I looked at for three long months–and be grateful for the work.

Every fall we haul in some of the deck and patio pots to winter over in the pool house. Like me, this little begonia wants to sit outside in the sun. It won’t be long. begonias

I’m not one to wish the time away–that’s something you can’t get back–but I’m ready for the change of seasons. Happily I live in a spot that offers four of them, distinctly. Each has their appeal–winter just loses that appeal for me quicker than the other three.

Today, I’m springing forward–though the time change will screw up my body clock for days–and assuring myself this is the shift, this is the day we start to drift out of the white and into the green.

Nora

Farewell February

We won’t miss you.

For the shortest month, February really wanted to leave its mark. We had lows of -5, highs of 11, far too routinely. And I’m thoroughly sick of this view out my office window.

hillside 1 hillside 2

I’m prepared for March to come in like a lion, have no real hope it will go out like a lamb, but it has to be better than February.

I long to see grass, and bulbs popping, buds burgeoning. I’m half mad to open my windows and feel air that doesn’t numb my fingers.

It’s coming. I had a sign on Friday morning when, as happens now and then, a bird bumped into my office window. Then only seconds later–which doesn’t happen now and then–a second bird followed suit. I glanced out, saw several birds on my various rooflines, had a instinctive Hitchcockian shudder.

Then a flock buzzed by. What the hell’s going on?

I looked closer at the couple just below my window.

Robins.

And since they weren’t trying to break through the windows and Tippi Hedren me, I’m taking this as a sign spring will come.

Later in the day, my granddaughter came over, and through the back kitchen window we spotted a deer–a young one–grazing along on the ridge. Not long after my grandson joined us–and pointed out the side window. The young deer had been joined by a sibling, and they were working their way down, casually grazing on whatever popped up through the snow.

I decided that’s yet another sign–and it won’t be long until I’m chasing them away from my flowers instead of snapping their picture.

I look forward to the chase more than I can say.

Nora

Note from Laura:  When I had a chance to read The Liar in January all I could think was the book gave me spring.  I still think that.  And since spring is less than three weeks away and The Liar will be in stores in 45 days, it’s time to share an excerpt.  Enjoy!

 

Friday roundup

Time for some Friday updates to posts on this blog and around social media.

— Nora finished the One More Room last Sunday, but sadly decided to forgo reading since she was more tired than she expected.  She DID have the glass of wine to celebrate.

photo 3 omr nearly done omr done

 

 

— The By The Book column in the New York Times Sunday Book Review last weekend featured an author we all know and love.

— We discussed book covers on Facebook, specifically the covers of Sacred Sins that spanned nearly three decades.  I asked which cover would draw a reader in if they looked at all three on a shelf.  Many commenters said they buy based on Nora’s name, but I think that was a given.  It was more about which cover attracted your eye.  I like the original.  Which do you prefer?

sacred sins cover

1987

ssacred sins cover 2

2000

sacred sins cover 3

2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

— Last, but definitely not least, a reader asked for suggestions for series of books that follow a couple (married or long term) a la Eve and Roarke.  I answered Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter Series (Nalini answered Eve and Roarke).   Share your own suggestions in the comments.

Stay as warm as you can if you are in the eastern half of the US!

Laura

Hibernation

As you read this, keep in mind I’m posting this for Nora while staying in a hotel in Long Island where the winds are up and the temps are down. I like her anyway. ~Laura
One of the biggest perks of being a writer is working at home. Even bigger is working at home when the thermometer reads one frigid, bitter, ridiculous degree. While I always do a February signing, I try not to venture out otherwise during this short, nasty little month.
 
I love hibernating. I’m an unsocial, solitary creature by nature, and winter gives me the perfect excuse to say: No thanks, not going anywhere. Mostly, I can always come up with an excuse, but winter builds one in for me.
 
There was a time I worked every day–a little less on weekends, but every day. Now it’s mostly a five-day week, but depending on where I am in a book there may still be some writing on weekends.
 
So that’s not an excuse, but a reason not to venture out. Hey, working here! I pull that reason out of my hat regularly. People who know me don’t ask me to meet them for lunch or go out to dinner or attend an event. People who don’t know me get the reason or the excuse.
 
A lot of them are sincerely baffled. My husband gets it, but there was a time. Several winters ago he said: You haven’t been out of the house is like six weeks. My response was: And your point is?
 
I understand perfectly that many people enjoy socializing regularly. My husband’s one of them. He went out in this deep-freeze yesterday to visit some pals. I stayed home, did some basic domestic stuff, baked bread and made an excellent pot roast–and got a solid workout in.photo 2
We were both happy.
 
Today the wind’s howling and I’m not going to even look at the temperature. I won’t be writing, because after all the shifting of books and files and clothes and shoes, our One More Room is a pure disaster. It’s the last on my purge list, and it’s getting the Big Treatment today.photo 3
 
After that’s done, I’ll get my workout in, then it’s time to pick a book off my TBR pile, pour a glass of wine, cozy up in front of the fire and go into someone else’s world for a couple hours. I hope it’s warm there.
 
Wherever you are–in the frozen tundra or some sunny spot, try to do one thing this weekend that makes you happy.
Nora

Some questions/some frank answers

Some non-story reader questions popped up during days leading to Obsession in Death.  Now that it’s in stores, I thought I’d address some of them here.  Nora adds her own thoughts at the end.

The wait between books

Nora addressed this perfectly in this post about trilogies (http://fallintothestory.com/quick-note-from-nora/) but since the first question about the fall In Death release (Devoted in Death out in September) appeared a mere 24 hours after Obsession hit stores in the US and Canada, it bears a re-read.

Waiting is part of the game of being a reader, isn’t it?  And Nora’s one of the most gracious writers out there in that she doesn’t make her readers wait all that long between books.  (Please see George Martin.  Or Harper Lee.)  I’m always honestly stumped by people who say they spend the six months between In Death entries re-reading the entire series for the X amount of time.  Or readers who favor Nora Roberts books saying they only read her over and over.  We have a limited time here on this earth and, for me, not exploring other reading options seems to be setting limits on your fun.

So I will post the “what are you reading?” threads a little more often as we wait for the next Roberts or Robb so we can all share in the fun.

Releases outside the US/Canada

Much as I’d love to say that a book is a worldwide release on a particular day, that’s not going to happen.  Nora has over 20 different publishers worldwide and they dictate what will be released and when based on reader trends in their country.  For example, I know that Brazil only released The Bride Quartet in the last year – to great enthusiasm from readers there.

Little Brown UK has worked hard to have releases in the UK, Ireland, AUS, NZ and SA nearly simultaneous with the US.  Germany lags just a bit behind.

I only hear about those publishers’ plans when they have a need to interview Nora.  If I have a decent amount of head’s up time, I’ll post it here.  But let me be frank:  Nora is a writer based in the US and most of the information I provide will be US-centric.

Pricing/availability/formats

There are readers who feel that the author – or an author of Nora’s stature – can influence any and everything that has to do with her books beyond the writing of them.  That’s just not the case.

I know of authors who need to approve everything from covers to publicity campaigns.  I also know that those authors don’t produce books for their readers nearly as often and as well as Nora does.

Nora writes the books, it’s just that simple and complicated.  And I know from experience that she will hand in a book to her publisher then get to work on the next one within 2-3 days.

And since the result of her focus on the work means we have books to anticipate up to 5 times a year, I think it’s a win for everyone.

From Nora:

On the questions/complaints about formats/ scheduling here in The States, in Canada, in Europe and pretty much everywhere:  I understand the cost of books can be an issue, and God knows I love a sale as much as anyone.

Some readers believe I can influence when a book comes out–wherever–and in whatever format. I can’t and don’t. I write the book–it’s just that simple and straight-forward. It’s what I do, it’s my job. It’s the publisher’s job to publish it, to schedule it, to design the cover. I work hard at my job and leave everything else to the people who work hard at theirs. I don’t know how to do their jobs (and really, really, REALLY don’t want to know). They don’t know how to do mine. So it all works out for everyone. 

On pricing: The publisher publishes, and the venue–bookstore, Amazon, iTunes, WalMart, etc, can discount the publisher’s list price, or not. They can run specials, or not. I’m in no way involved in that process. Writers write. Bookstores sell.

I have absolutely no control over what Amazon or B&N or Target or your local indie bookstore sell my books for.

Bottom line: In a way, it’s flattering that some readers think I have that much power, and such varied skills, and that much time and energy. But the simple fact is, my power, skills, time and energy go into writing the book.

It’s not only all I do, and all I want to do, it’s all I can do.