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

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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.

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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.

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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

An aftermath sort of post

Yesterday a thread on the JD Robb Facebook page was hijacked by the question “Isn’t it time for Eve and Roarke to have a baby?”  This particular commentor went on to write “you’re basically saying their lives will end when a baby comes.”  When the Nora answered “No, it doesn’t say their lives would pretty much end. But babies CHANGE lives–and should. And I’m saying having kids would change the tone and direction of the series. Which I simply don’t want to do. Major difference. NR”  the response was that the commentor just wanted to see them be a complete family.

Nora then asked me to post that the question about babies would no longer be addressed – we’d just post a link to a very eloquent blog post here. Honestly, if Facebook allowed you to disable comments, I would have done so.  It wasn’t a statement meant to be debated, it was announcing the new Standard Operating Procedure about the baby question.  No more answers, just the fact.

But FB doesn’t give you that option and so comments exploded.  I vetted the post and thought Nora was firm, with a side element of exasperation.   After all, the question keeps hijacking threads about other things from Goodreads voting to a photo of Nora with a Harris Hawk in Ireland.

She wasn’t rude, and the majority of commentors understood. But there was a great deal of anger from some readers who insisted Nora was mean, nasty and didn’t deserve their business any more.

Because after all, readers are why she’s successful was the solution to the angry equations.

I’m here to tell you that readers are a factor and for the most part, a friendly enthusiastic factor.  But talent, discipline and the fierce drive to tell the best story – the one Nora wants to tell – come first.

I just want to see…
I think you should…
Wouldn’t it be great if…
Why don’t you…
Will there be…

Those are the Top 5 stock phrases that start a great many FB comments, blog questions and reader email.   They  are the first few words in requests for everything from more books in a trilogy to Nadine or Baxter finding true love (preferably together) in the In Deaths.  A lot of the time, the answer is already public knowledge (part of the FAQ on the website, posted on Facebook) but to the person asking it’s brand new, shiny and of course, never been asked before.

Buried in those phrases are the true, sincere compliments of how readers respond to Nora’s books – they trust her and want her to show them everything in the worlds she creates.

The emails have started already about continuing the Cousin’s O’Dwyer Trilogy.  There are regular requests to expand the Bride Quartet so readers can see Emma’s, Laurel’s and Parker’s weddings as well as find romance for Mrs. Grady or Mal’s mom.  Depending on what’s recently reprinted, there will be an Aubrey Quinn or a MacGregor question asking for more from those stories.

On the In Death side there’s the baby for Eve and Roarke, the marriage/baby for Peabody and McNab, the more babies for Mavis and Leonardo, romances for Baxter and Nadine, a yen for Jamie Lingstrom to be a cop, a yen for Trueheart to be a detective, and yens yet to be named.

At what point do you say enough? I think yesterday we found out.

Nora had approximately 15 months (June 1995-October 1996) without an Eve and Roarke and baby question — from Naked in Death through Immortal.  Then, as soon as Rapture opened — when readers realized that it wasn’t a trilogy that closed at the wedding, we were going to get to see the marriage — the plea for a baby started.  Slowly at first since most people could see how damaged Eve was, how much work she had to do. But once Eve and Roarke visited Dallas in Reunion in Death (2002) all bets were off and the baby notion quickly became the most FAQ in the Nora-verse.

Nora adores babies.  She is completely, utterly besotted with every single baby who comes into her path.  At the signing on Saturday, she stopped what she was doing to hold and give some love to two tiny babies.

She also knows babies utterly change a parent’s world.  The focus has to expand to include a baby and all the love and worry and needs and wonder that child brings along.

When her boys were young, Nora shaped her work day around the school schedule – while still being homeroom mom, chorus mom, carpooling mom.  She worked when they were in school, negotiated time when they were home and stopped what she was doing when being the parent was the priority.

It’s not, and never has been an issue of what sort of parents Eve and Roarke would be.  Never.  The issue is that JD Robb (aka baby-besotted Nora Roberts) has no interest in writing a series that has to take the time to consider child care, sick kids or school schedules.

And JD Robb knows that when a child comes, Summerset will not be the surrogate parent.

But readers, more and more, can be lazy or — worse — entitled.  They want the next story now.  They want a happy ending now.  They want the author to write the way they want or they whisper ugly questions like “is she still writing the series?”  The demands dressed up like requests eddy all over the internet, gaining some potency as people repeat what they’ve read or condensed other’s opinions when they recognize a like complainer, until eventually those demands become social media fact.

Back to those angry comments on FB.  I saw some hurt that Nora could shut down an avenue those readers had already walked in their heads.   Basically, those comments read between the lines “I thought I knew you because I read all your books, I’m disappointed that you shared your very human exasperation to a question you’ve heard a million-billion times.”

A writer who tells stories that sing to you is a wonderful storyteller, not a best friend.

As I mentioned here, I was a reader first and foremost.  I’ve worked with Nora going on a decade now and had to make a transition from basically speechless superfan (sorry gang I’M the biggest fan) to a trusted partner in certain areas.  Nora recently said to me that respect for and trust in the people you work with are the two most important pieces of a working relationship.  Friendship is not a must.

To me, the writer/reader relationship embodies those things:  the writer shows respect to readers by writing the best story possible while the reader trusts the writer to do just that.  When a writer doesn’t uphold her end of the bargain, the reader is free to walk away.

But if a writer consistently gives a reader that respect, most times it’s best to sit back and enjoy the ride she wants to take.

Laura

Signing weekend

Turn the Page’s signing this past weekend was nearly as epic as the July signing.  So many people and such happy faces.  Here are some photos from Saturday and Nora shares how she spent her Sunday.  Laura

Sig20141101_180449ning Saturday at Turn The Page with a terrific group of authors brought in four hundred people. Many thanks to those authors, to TTP’s amazing staff–and our signing volunteers–and to all the readers who hung in there for nearly six hours. That’s a loooooong day for all.

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Nora’s view at the signing — from right, Krstan Higgins, Marie Force, Donna Kaufmann and Brenda Novak.

 

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Laura’s view at the signing.

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Lori Diehl won the coveted galley of Obsession in Death.

Wrapping my wrist prior to the signing meant no pain and all gain! It really made a difference. I’m going to keep my wrap handy for next month’s Holiday In Boonsboro, and the signing at TTP. Can’t wait to see the town all decked out for the holidays.

Still, wow, six hours. I decided to unwind on Sunday and make my beef stew–sort of my version of a poor man’s beef bourguignon–with dumplings. I’d planned to bake a couple rounds of sour dough bread, but discovered I was out of yeast. Don’t know how that happened, but expect my oldest granddaughter to be around in the coming week, and she loves bread. So I did a quick beer bread instead.

photo 2 photo 1Stew and bread baking turned out to be just the thing for a chilly November Sunday. And today, it’s back to work–and leftovers. That’s a pretty perfect Monday for me.

Nora

Laura again:  I posted a photo of a shawl I knitted up late in the summer and wrote how I loved the colorway.  Then I received my copy of Blood Magick and all was explained.  A lot of knitters asked after imagethe yarn, color and pattern.  It’s Malabrigio Rios in colorway 855 Aguas.  The pattern is the Groovy Shawl  (the link is to the Ravelry pattern — I went up a weight and only knit 10 repeats).

Cousins O’Dwyer Discussion thread

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The battle is over!  This is the place to discuss The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy from Dark Witch to Shadow Spell to Blood Magick.  

Some starter questions:

Did one of the books stand out for you more that the others?
What did you think of the careful crafting of the battles?
How often did you refer to Nora’s travelogues from Ireland while reading the books?

Please add any thoughts or questions of your own.  And remember that spoilers may occur.

Laura