All posts by Laura

Laura is Nora Roberts' personal publicist. She can be found on the Nora Roberts and JD Robb Official Fan Pages on Facebook as well as on Instagram.

Weekends

I’ve had the good, the best and the ugly recently.

The ugly I spent knocked out with a really nasty bout of vertigo. As anyone who’s dealt with it knows, vertigo sucks hard.

But that’s done now.

The next, the best, I had a weekend of baking, gardening, family dinner, and Griffin! Our boy is full of fun, which probably comes from being–honestly–the happiest baby I’ve ever seen. Life’s a perpetual picnic for Griffin. He plays peek-a-boo, but likes being the one doing the peek-a-booing by holding a napkin up to his face then dramatically yanking it away.

Hello!

It’s great having time with all the grands. There’s Kayla who was prepping for races–and took First in the 3200 in Regionals–and Third in States! You go, Legs!

Way to go Kayla!

And Logan who’s now the second tallest man around here. He has to bend over to hug me! Next month I get him for five days when we take him to Montana. Really can’t wait to see how he likes his first trip west.

And Colt who can have a conversation about pretty much anything because, as he says, he read it in a book. He’s like Sam from Game of Thrones. The kid’s in third grade and can talk about the universe.

I had a girl day here between weekends, just a lovely day with girl pals. Salad, pizza and champagne. And a special guest appearance by Griffin. The boy’s happy to go to any lady who wants a baby fix. And now he’s got his first tooth, so we have to watch how much he gnaws on pizza.

Food! Glorious food!

Girl pals are the best pals. You need to take time to embrace and enjoy them.

This weekend–so far–the rain’s waited to pour until evening, giving me nice weather to weed and fluff and enjoy the garden. Things are popping, and blooming and spreading. I’ve got lots of pots, and a bunch of them waiting until the lower patio and wall project’s finished.

We had the–ugly to me–fence taken down at the end of the parking area, and are replacing it with a stone wall to match our other garden walls. It’s going to be great! But meanwhile, it’s a mess. But we’ve reached the point where I can actually see how good it’ll look when it’s finally done.

Today, after my workout I’ve got some indoor chores to deal with. Then I may do some side dressing with compost in the garden.
Tomorrow it’s back to work, and I’m hoping for a good, solid week of that before June pops out at me.

The summer, as it always seems to be, is packed. So a nice, quiet, solid work week, a good, gardening weekend is just the perfect prelude to the busy summer to come.

Enjoy your holiday weekend doing what makes you happy.

Laura and I send our gratitude to all who served, for all who fell so that we can live free.

Nora


Note from Laura: I didn’t share the Girl Time fun, as I opted to work at the beach for three weeks. I mean, I seriously love my girl pals, but I really adore my view at the beach.

Win, Place, Show

The first Saturday in May always manages to sneak up on me. I mostly avoided that this year by taking the Sunday before to figure out all the clothes, shoes, bags for three fun-filled days in Louisville.

This must become habit as I avoided all the last-minute insanity and could just plunk everything in a suitcase Wednesday night.

This year we took good pals JoAnne and Larry with us, got on the plane Thursday morning–hit some weather which is NOT fun–had to circle awhile. Then ah, terra firma, how I missed you.

Our three days of Derby are packed so it’s hit the ground running. But first time for some lunch, a nice time to catch up with the excellent Brian and Sara. We’ll miss Kathy this year, but Sara–hair magician–will look out for us.

It’s cloudy, and rain’s threatening, but hey, we’re in Louisville, and it’s Derby. We’re not going to let that dampen our spirits.

Off to the hotel, unload, unpack. Whew. Let’s definitely have a drink.

Tonight is Club Night in two parts. The first, the Frazier Museum, the second at a speakeasy type club with a Steampunk theme. Let’s get this party started!

It’s always great to start seeing members of our Derby family again. Happy faces, familiar faces, welcoming hugs. The museum’s a big, airy, wonderful space for an event. A terrific place to wander or sit with a glass of champagne, catch up with Derby pals. Plenty of food if you’re hungry, and energy already bubbling like that champagne.

It’s great to see Tonya and Tammy again–these sisters, these clever, busy women organize, spearhead and guide this complex, complicated and simply fabulous event every year. We’re so grateful to be a part of it.

From the museum, it’s off to the club. Time to don our steampunk hats! This is a brick-walled, atmospheric place, and it’s packed. How we managed to find an empty table, I don’t know. There’s a steampunky mask laying on it, I assume someone left behind. I see a mask, I put it on!

Steampunks.

More happy faces, more greetings–some impressive costumes–and just an easy good time that’s topped off with a warm cookie and ice cream at the end. Yum.

Time for bed to rest up for our very full Friday.

Jo and I are very good girls and get a little workout done in the morning. A little cardio, a little core, a little yoga. We’ve now earned all our fun and frivolity.

Sara picks us up and ten, and we wish our men good luck at the track. I give BW my pick for the Oaks before we part ways. I’ve yet to hit, in all these years, in the Fillies For The Lilies, but this may be the year. (Spoiler Alert: It’s not.)

We’re off to City Nails for mani-pedis. I love this place, another happy place, so friendly and fun. They’ve done some remodeling–new paint, new chairs, new blingy lights. It looks great. And oh boy, does it feel good to have my feet soaked and rubbed and scrubbed while we watch the races on the flat screen.

Jo asks if they do dipping, and they do. I have no idea what this is–I don’t get into a salon very often. I’m told I should try it for my mani, and okay, I’m game.

The process is freaking fascinating to me. My nails are a complete mess–keyboarding and gardening will do that. But my hands are taken in hand and transformed. Evened up, clipped, smoothed out, then covered with some sort of bonding agent that looks like clear polish. I’m getting a French, and the tips of my fingers are carefully dipped into this white powder, one at a time, then the whole nail’s dipped into a pale pink powder. A couple layers of this, and I’m amazed as I can already see the results.

Nails are buffed and smoothed, and suddenly they’re perfect. The kind of nails a woman might have if she didn’t spend hours hammering at a keyboard, then her weekends digging in dirt and pulling weeds.

I have lady hands!!

We say goodbye to the wonders of City Nails and celebrate our pretty digits at La Vin for lunch.

Louisville, I have to say, has great food, fun restaurants, cheerful service. Since I stopped touring I don’t get out and about in the world much, and Derby reminds me why this area was always one of my favorite stops when I did tour. People are just nice here.

I say the same about shopping at Rodes. Always a fun time with fun people. And I really luck out as the weather’s not looking good for Derby day and Beth has this fabulous (reversible!) topper that will scoff at the rain. As always, they have men’s shoes (size 14!) for me to choose from for BW’s traditional Father’s Day gift. I’ll add his shoes have been a big hit at Derby so far.

At the end, Beth temps me with several gorgeous scarves. I shouldn’t buy more scarves, but . . . I’ll do a purge through what I have. Plus one will go so well with my new topper.

Thanks, ladies, and see you next year.

Sara zips us back to the hotel. It’s gala night, and we need hair!

The guys aren’t back yet, so we extend our just girls time with hair and makeup. As Cathy at City Nails transformed my nails, Sara transforms my hair. A little fun and glamour.

Our men return with reports they did okay at the track–and more they had a great time. The rain’s held off, or mostly. We even saw some peeks of sun now and then. But now it’s time to suit up for Unbridled Eve. Gowns and tuxes and sparkles for the gala, a great time that benefits a great cause in Blessings In A Backpack.

Our pals Isabel and Steven join us for an interlude in our suite before we all head down. It’s so good to see them! More Happy Derby time. And we all look pretty terrific.

Brian’s waiting to escort us down to the Red Carpet, the big ballroom, the silent auction (I’ve already picked my goals there!)

Everyone looks gorgeous in a gorgeous space. The flowers, the lights, the sparkles! At the end of the Red Carpet, my pals have a glass of champagne waiting for me. That’s why they’re my pals! I have to do a walk-through the silent auction area, and note there are a couple other things that might deserve a few bids from me. Good cause, after all.

Red Carpet ready

Sara and her Mike join us at our table, as do the fabulous Mike Mills (R.E.M.) and his fiancee Jasmine. We’re a very happy group, and I’m pretty excited that Mike’s going to perform later. In all the years we’ve come, I’ve never heard him perform. An extra treat for this R.E.M. fan.

Tonya and Tammy–those amazing York sisters–put on a hell of an event. The entertainment is awesome. I love hearing John Elefante singing some of my Kansas favorites just as I love reconnecting with him and his lovely wife Michelle.

Meanwhile, I’m bidding on my phone–eyes on the prize.

Then Mike takes the stage, straps on a guitar, and wow. Just wow. I love he does Don’t Go Back To Rockville–that’s where my pal JoAnne grew up, and I grew up basically next-door in Silver Spring. It’s amazing to hear him do I Am Superman, a song I’ve sung along to countless times.

It makes me think just how blessed I am to be here.

I even win three of my bids. Woo!

Before we leave we boogie to Skip Martin from Kool And The Gang. Yeah, Celebrate!

Tumble into bed. Sleep like a rock.

Another workout for the good girls in the morning before we start duding up for the Big Day. It’s going to rain, we’ll just have to deal with that. Plus, I have my new topper and scarf!

We look damn good.

Derby ensemble

Brian’s waiting, and it’s off to the track. We like to get there early because BET! HORSES! THE DOWNS!

It’s a little drizzly, but not bad, and nothing, really nothing, can spoil my first look at that gorgeous track, that rich brown oval, the white spires, the green, green grass of the infield.

Champagne on ice, hugs to our servers Amy and Kim–and let’s get those bets in. I bet on the third race. It will be the first of only two times through the days I don’t cash a ticket.

The gang’s all here

I am hot! I have a streak going as more people come in, as we meet and greet and exchange tactics, take pictures, eat, drink, bet.

So many pretty outfits, so many pretty hats!

Yes, it rains off and on, but it’s Derby Day and the energy is high and happy.

BW and Nora

I stick with my strategy (don’t mess with a streak) of just betting across the board. No fancy stuff. I always bet the gray if one’s in the field, otherwise I go by names that strike me. Or an Irish horse if one’s running. For whatever reason, it’s working for me. My pal Jo is a complicated better. Trifectas, exactas, supers, boxes. I have a hard time figuring out how to do any of that anyway.

More champagne, and now there are cookies! And lots of what’s your pick, who did you bet? Some table hopping. We have Mike and Jasmine and Skip at our–it makes for a lot of happy.

It’s building to that time, and the rain doesn’t want to quit. It’s not the deluge we had last year, so that’s something. I’ve picked horses for my kids–and some of the grandkids sent me names they liked. To avoid the mad rush of the Derby race, I’ve placed those bets through the day, tucked the tickets away in my purse.

Nora, JoAnne and Larry

You can feel the pulse of the room quicken as post time approaches. Everyone crowds out on the terrace when they play My Old Kentucky home. It’s a moment, always a moment, as is the roar of thousands at the end.

The favorite was scratched Wednesday night, so the field’s pretty wide open. Another horse scratched Friday, I think it was. Watching the horses and riders circle the field is magic. The excitement builds, builds, builds as they’re loaded into the gate.

And in a fingersnap, they’re off.

Stunning, always stunning. A sensory overload of sight and sound. The ocean roar of the crowd, the thunder of hooves, the slop of the track flying, and those colorful silks in the gloomy light. I can never keep track of the horses I bet on, not in that blur of strength and beauty. I honestly never care by that point.

Seven crosses first as the crowd cheers and cheers. I realize I have some money on seven, so that’s nice.

But there’s been a foul called–two riders called foul on seven. Hold your tickets. It had to be an endless, stressful wait for the jockeys, the trainers, the owners. Eventually seven was disqualified for swerving out of his lane, nearly causing a pile up. Not intentional, it just happened.

Country House–a 65-1 long shot (and one I nearly tossed a little bet at) wins the Derby. That bumps Tacitus–number 8–into third. I had some money on him, and picked him for Jason. So we both won a bit. Next time I think: Well, I live in a country house, I should put ten across the board there, I damn well will!

We say goodbye to some of our Derby pals until next year. We always stay for the last races–bet, yes, but also traffic.

I hit on the 13th race, and nicely, thank you.

On the last race there are three grays. Well, it’s the last race, bet them all. Jo and BW decide to follow me on that one. And Jo does another bet adding #5 for I think it’s a super.

We go out to watch while the place empties out. Watch the horses–and those three pretty grays head to the gate. Hear that clang for the last time today, watch them run. And holy crap, look at those grays!

This is unexpected! All three run like the wind, and all three come in. Win, Place, Show. I end the day with a surprising and substantial win. And Jo? She hit the super as #5 came in fourth. A crescendo to our operatic day at the track.

Amazing and wonderful, start to finish.

Back to the hotel for some food, some unwinding. Bed.

Up to pack–always more going home than coming in. The sun, at last is fighting through the clouds. Mom checks–two or three times–on the suite.

Sara and Brian wait to haul us all back to the airport.

And it’s goodbye to Louisville after a whirlwind three days that put so many good memories in the bank. I hope all my Derby pals have a fantastic year.

See you all next May!

Nora

Breaking news 2

This is a translated story from the Brazilian newspaper
O Estado de S. Paulo não
. ~Laura

Justice prohibits sale of Brazilian books accused of plagiarizing Nora Roberts

American bestselling author Nora Roberts won the first battle against Brazil’s Cristiane Ribeiro Allevato Serruya in a plagiarism case last week in Rio de Janeiro.

In her decision, Maria Cristina de Brito Lima, of the 6th Business Court of Rio de Janeiro, ordered the suspension of the sale of the physical books, e-books and audiobooks of Royal Love, Royal Affair, Unbroken Love, Hot Winter, Forevermore and From the Baroness’s Diary, and the inclusion on the cover and links made available on Amazon, Saraiva, Cultura, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and E-Bay websites of the words “suspended by court order”.

The judge also determined the blocking of royalties from the sale of these books in the bookstores mentioned. The amounts must be deposited in a judicial account. Failure to comply with Cristiane’s judicial decision of bookstores or publishers may result in a fine of R $ 5,000 per copy of work unduly sold.

“This represents a new level of judicial demand in the literary field,” says Gustavo Martins de Almeida, Nora Roberts’ lawyer. Mainly because it involves immaterial media – e-books and audiobooks – and because Nora Roberts, a foreigner without assets in Brazil, is giving as guarantee the copyright of his books published by three publishers. “It’s interesting to see the judiciary adjusting to new technologies,” says the lawyer.

Cristiane Ribeiro Allevato Serruya has 15 days to appeal the decision.

The newspaper O Estado de S. Paulonão got in touch with the Brazilian until the closing of the story.

To read the story as printed click here.

Ups and Downs

My life right now seems to be a series of them without much of that steady middle ground.

I really like steady middle ground.

Updated total: 41 authors and 93 of their books infringed by Serruya. She’s a blood leech sucking on the body of the writing profession.

Arranging for a truckload of salt to dispense with her has been taking up a lot of my time, energies, sanity. Hopefully, once that’s in place the frustrating and infuriating distraction of her will fade, at least a bit.

Meanwhile I had a very happy week at our annual Drunken Girls Spa–with Special Guest Star Griffin. Nora had a week with girl pals, massages, games, champagne, and food she didn’t cook. Nana had a week of baby laughs and snuggles–though she did share those with girl pals.

And Laura’s not allowed to whine about the games as she dominated in the new addition of Cards Against Humanity.

Note from Laura: this is because I’m the Queen of Empathy and Persipacity. Not the queen of building stupid words.

Laura will continue to complain when the universe sends her messages: Buy a clue? Wear a clue as a feathered scarf? You decide.

Though Kat ultimately thwarted Elaine in Scrabble, she couldn’t –nor could any–topple Elaine who we crowned Queen of the DGS on our last night.

Our previous Queen JoAnne had a hard fall and shared the loser earrings with Pat.

A great week for all, with beautiful days, rainy days, stormy nights–including one that blew open the (unlatched) balcony doors. Flying curtains, toppling lamps, rain blowing in, women scrambling, Auntie Em summoning.

The annual paint & sip evening. Bright colors abound.

Shortly before I left for the week my tooth implant felt weird, and my bite shifted. Now I’m chewing the hell out of my cheek. But it’s an implant, I think, what’s the deal? No time to find out as I’m leaving.

Call the dentist the morning of my first day back. The day, I’ll add, I’m supposed to haul BW to the nursery in his truck, get all my pretty plants and start digging in the dirt. And have my NEW CAR delivered.

A happy day after a happy week.

Things didn’t go as planned.

Dentist says come right in, so I get dressed and do that. Figures he can fix, takes a look. Needs an X-Ray. Uh-oh.

Don’t you hate that?

Bad news, maybe worst case scenario news. It looks like the bone graft failed, implant shifted (I wasn’t wrong there, but being right never felt so bad). I need to go to implant guy. The Hammer Of Doom: It will be like starting over.

I like to think I’m pretty tough, but I just looked up and said: Oh, Jesus.

My dentist calls implant dentist himself. Again, I’m told to come right in. These are very good guys, really good doctors. But now I have to text BW, can’t be back by noon, off to second dentist.

Arrive, am seated immediately. Implant guy is so kind, apologizing for the failure, looks at X-Ray. He doesn’t think it’s a graft failure, but a fracture of same. Somehow–and this baffles him–I’ve managed to crack the bone.

He had to numb me up, always a good time!, take off the crown, take out the implant. Yes, indeed, I cracked it.

While he’s cleaning it out (even more fun than needles plunged into the soft tissue of your mouth!) I think: Fucking Serruya. I’ve caught myself stress clenching over the past weeks. Make myself stop, but still.

I blame her for my current situation. It actually helps, a little.

So he does what he does, sews me back up. DA gives me pain med, I get Rxs and make next appointment. The process takes several months of appointments. Oh well.

Off to CVS to fill Rxs. Drop off, go outside to call BW. Notice I failed to charge phone after spa and it’s down to like 16%. BW doesn’t answer. Not the house phone, not his cell–though I try both twice.

I am not feeling tough.

He finally calls me back. I cut off his explanation as phone will die. Just meet me at the nursery at 1:30. I’m getting my plants, damn it!

Get Rxs, drive to nursery.

Ahhhh. A happy, happy hour. A true up in a down day. The scents, the colors, the textures. Mine, all mine! The hell with everything else, this is my little paradise. I fill four huge carts. We fill the bed of the truck.

Sadly, I don’t have it in me to dig in the dirt. Just don’t have that next gear. But I can lay all those flats and pots out on my garden walls.

And take more meds.

Car guy’s running late, which is just as well. We put the delivery off until the next day.

My plan for Friday: Work in the morning, plant in the afternoon. I knew it was supposed to rain, but still.

Pours. So work the day.

However, many, many Serruya interruptions. No wonder I cracked a bone graft. Still, a decent chunk of work, and it’s good to be back into the story.

And here comes my fabulous new G-Wagon. I’m so glad to have this model again (and loaded this time!!) They reconfigured the interior so it’s comfortable for my Tall Guy. The old model just didn’t have the leg room.

It looks like a big, deep, dark green tank. But an elegant one. I am a General behind the wheel of this baby. And it’ll do what I tell it. I just have to say: Put on left seat warmer, and it will warm my butt. I don’t have to push a button for that now. I can tell it who to call, what temperature I want, what music I want.

It takes Barry The Car Guy an hour to go over all its beautiful tricks with me. So many wonderful tricks! I am in love with my new car. A very happy up.

Of course by the time all that’s done, my swollen jaw is throbbing. A sad down. Hit those meds, get the ice bag.

We’re celebrating Easter and Logan’s 15th (!!) birthday today. He requested pulled pork. So after ice bag, I make the rub, rub the pork.

Definitely time to lie down.

Today, I put the pork on, boil a couple dozen eggs for kids to Cool Whip dye, make the sides, make the bbq sauce and pull that pork. BW will pick up Logan’s fave chocolate chip cookie cake.

I hope to dig just a bit. Even one bed, one pot would be enough until tomorrow.

Because a big up will be having four grandkids–including Griffin for his first–here for Easter.

I’ve got an achy swollen jaw, more frustrations and interruptions ahead with our serial plagiarist, but….

I have a beautiful family I’ll enjoy the hell out of today. I have plants waiting for me to find just the right spot for them to fill.

And a new car!

Nora

Readers are Amazing

Current plagiarism update: 86 books/36 writers

This is a very long slog on many fronts. There are days since all this started it feels as if we’re battling Hydra. Slash at one head, more pop up.

But we’re slashing away, and we’re moving forward.

Writers wouldn’t be able to move forward on any of this without readers.

A reader first discovered the copied passages in Serruya’s book and notified Courtney Milan of the infringement. We wouldn’t know the stunning extent of this one woman’s thievery without that first reader. And all the other readers who’ve since dug in, looked for other copying. Generated lists, kept track, gave support, shared outrage.

You can’t fight if you don’t know. And it’s damn hard to keep fighting without support.

It was a reader who first discovered copied passages in Janet Dailey’s Notorious and notified me. I might never have known my work had been stolen.

It’s almost always a reader.

Readers have beat the drum against the scammers on the Kindle platform, helping to alert writers. Now both readers and writers–traditionally published, indie, hybrid–who are honest and hard-working are digging deep into this morass to uncover the muck.

For writers this slog is a matter of protecting their work, their livelihoods, and the honorable profession of storytelling. For readers? It’s a labor of love, and it’s about the books they love. It’s about a moral center.

There are writers much more tech savvy than I am (that’s not a hard one!) who are spending precious time helping to expose these cheats and liars and con artists who think of books only as assets, only as a way to make money. They scam their way to every dollar.

There’s no way any of this could be done without the readers who took the time, made the effort–continue to take the time, make the effort–to help. The readers who made noise because this is just wrong. Because they care about books and the people who work to write them.

I’m so grateful to the readers who sounded the alarm, to the writers who are diving deep, to all helping to expose this ugly, ugly underbelly that contaminates what we–writers and readers–love and respect.

Readers and writers are connected–strongly, even personally–through the art of storytelling. Those who corrupt that art won’t win.

When we win this, every writer who takes pen to paper, sits at a keyboard facing a blank screen, struggles to create worlds with words will have readers to thank for the victory.

I’m so grateful. I know there are scores like me who are grateful.

We won’t forget.

Nora

Here’s How I work

Before I start, the latest count from the plagiarism mess is 85 books and 36 authors.

So, some of the fallout from this clusterfuck seems to have generated a lot of questions, speculations, idiotic statements (as if fact) and–to me–strange arguments about my writing process, my output, and my honesty.

In all cases by people who don’t know me, at all.

In a, probably doomed, hope to set the record straight, I hereby take the time before I get back to that process, to outline it.

I write every day

I write every day. It’s just my job, and I’m very fortunate to love my job. Not everyone is half as lucky to be able to make their living doing something they love.

Every day is, at this point in my life and career, mostly a regular work week. I will, if necessary or I just feel the need, put in a few hours on the weekend.

I am disciplined–that’s my wiring. I have a fast writing pace–also just wiring. I was educated (nine year of Catholic school) by the nuns. Nobody lays a foundation of discipline like the Sisters. Trust me on this.

I was raised by parents who instilled, and demonstrated by example, the responsibility of doing your work, doing it well, meeting your responsibilities.

I don’t miss deadlines.

In the normal course of events, I work six to eight hours a day. Some of that is staring into space–writing requires this, or mine does. Some of it’s spent looking stuff up because how do I know until I know? I don’t use researchers because they’d annoy me, want to talk to me, expect me to be able to tell them what I was looking for. And again, how do I know until I know?

I don’t have ‘staff’, which just sound so pretentious to me. I don’t knock anyone for having staff, but I don’t want staff. They would annoy me, want to talk to me at some point. They’d be in my space which includes my entire house. And the land around it. The air.

What the hell would I do with staff? They could open the door for the dogs, I guess, or bring me another glass of water or Diet Pepsi. The trade off would be too great. In My Space. That’s a deal-breaker.

I have a weekly housekeeper who’s worked for me for decades. So in the normal course of events, I’m not doing the vacuuming and so on. And this is great. (She’s only in my space one day a week, and I’ve trained myself to block that out.)

I do not, never have, never will use ghostwriters. I’ve stated my opinion, many times, on the use of ghosts in fiction. My work is my work, start to finish. If my name is on the book, I wrote it. A reader, another writer, a stranger on the internet is entitled not to like my books, or any particular book. They’re not entitled to call me a liar.

I love and treasure alone

I don’t use ghosts, co-authors, I don’t have collaborators. Why is that so hard for some to accept? I don’t brainstorm with other writers, with my editor or my agent on storylines. It’s not my wiring. I love my agent, my editor, and respect them just as much as I love them.

If either or both of them insisted we brainstorm, I will be forced to kill them until they were dead.

I’m a solitary woman. I love and treasure alone. I also love my family, and am thrilled to be part of my grandkids’ lives, to see them, watch them grow. I adore my daughter-in-law beyond the telling of it. Ditto my sons, my husband.

But every day, when BW finally calls upstairs that he’s leaving for work, I have a little internal celebration.

My space.

I’m an early riser (wish I wasn’t, but wiring). I fiddle around with email and whatever for awhile in the morning–mostly hoping BW might leave a little sooner. (Sorry, BW.) But I’m usually in work mode by 8. Sometimes before, sometimes later, that’s just usual.

I work. Stare into space, wonder WTF should happen next, look stuff up, and somehow by around 3 (sometimes earlier, sometimes later) I’ve actually written a decent chunk.

Yay.

Then it’s time to go workout. 90 minutes, daily. That’s my routine, and I’m a solitary woman who thrives on routine.

Then it’s actually speak to BW, maybe have an alcoholic beverage. In good weather, get outside, walk the gardens with the dogs. Whatever.

Three nights a week I sign tubs of book orders from our bookstore. Some nights–like tonight–I’ll proof galleys for an upcoming book.

I work on a three-draft method. This works for me. It’s not the right way/wrong way. There is no right or wrong for a process that works for any individual writer. Anyone who claims there is only one way, or that’s the wrong way, is a stupid, arrogant bullshitter. That’s my considered opinion.

The first draft, the discovery draft, the POS (guess what that stands for) draft is the hardest for me. Figuring it all out, creating people I’m going to care about enough to sit here with hours every day in order to tell their story. Finding out information about the setting, the careers involved, and so much more.

I don’t outline. I have a kind of loose mental outline, then I sit down, get started and hope it all works one more time.

I don’t use visual aids, don’t have color-coded note cards. I scribble notes, then irritate the crap out of myself because half the time I can’t find the one thing I scribbled down I want now, right this minute.

Outlining, visual aids, note cards–not wrong. In fact excellent if any and all work for that writer.

I don’t know how long it takes me for that first draft. I don’t care. Am I getting the story out, are these people interesting, layered, human, am I putting myself, and therefore the reader, into the setting?

Setting, pacing, character development and evolution, connections, relationships, transitions, conflicts, beats, hills and valleys, dialogue, description.

I can’t analyse how they come out of my head and onto the page. I’m not an analytical person. I just know it’s work, often frustrating often fun. But work.

I don’t go back in the writing of that first draft, fiddle and fix, I just plow on, get the story, the people, onto the page, taking it on faith (and through a lot of experience) that I can fix what’s wrong, shine up what’s right later.

Get it out, get it down, put the words on the page. Every day. Hours a day.

And when the first crappy draft is done, I go back to page one. Now, second draft, fix it, expand it, get rid of it, work more thoughtfully on the language. Is it all holding up? Does it make sense? Is it a good, solid story? I can do a chunk of a second draft every day. This is for me, the easier part of the process. It’s fun to fix things up, to play with the words, to add more layers.

It still takes time, but it’s the happy middle of the work. Look what I did there, that’s not bad. I’d forgotten about that. Aren’t I so damn clever? Or–oops, that sucks. Must fix.

Again, I don’t know how long it takes me. I don’t care.

When I finish the second draft, it’s time for the third, the last, the polish. Not as big those daily chunks now. This is what I’ll send to that agent and editor I love and respect. I need to make it the best I can. I might find spots that sag, so I try to shore them up. I might find I’ve taken a quick angle that works–maybe add to that–or doesn’t, change it until it works.

I don’t know how long this takes. I still don’t care.

This is also where I spell check. My spelling is miserable, so I’m grateful for the technology. Except when it doesn’t work. What do you mean Word Not Found? It’s a damn word!

When I feel this is the best I can do, I send it off, make a wish, then definitely have an alcoholic beverage.

I’ll add I do all this work with my very, very old Word Perfect program–that’s DOS. Many of you will have to look that up as you’ll never have heard of such a thing. It’s like a strange tool from an ancient era. I like the blue screen–easy on the eyes. I like it doesn’t have bells and whistle that would get in my way (like staff).

I do all of the above myself, alone, solitary, ass in the chair, mind in the book, fingers on the keyboard. Someone asked me once, in a Q&A what three pieces of advice I had for other writers. Here they are:

Stop making excuses and write.
Stop whining and write.
Stop fucking around and write.

I take my own advice.

I don’t, as claimed in some article long ago and has become the stuff of myth and legend, write a book every 45 days. When I started selling I had several mss, rejected, in the drawer I could then take out, fix, polish, submit. So those first couple of years, I sold a lot of 55k word Romances to Silhouette. I had that jump start.

At this time it’s being winged around I write five books a year. It’s actually four. Two Robbs, one stand-alone Roberts, one portion of a trilogy. That’s a lot, but the pace and process suit my current life.

If I did write five books a year, they would still be all written by me. Just me.

Back to process. My editor–that’s Leslie Gelbman, St. Martin’s Press–works fast, too. I’ll hear back from her on the new ms in a very timely fashion, which I’m very grateful for because even with that quick turnaround, I’ll have started the next book.


Routine is my god.

It’s what I do. A day or two off to recharge, to maybe start fiddling with research, to play with that mental outline, then it’s close the cage door and go again.

I may have to stop the current work if Leslie wants any changes. Since she’s going to be right about those changes ninety-nine times out of a hundred, I don’t argue. The one time I KNOW she’s not right, she doesn’t argue.

Respect.

I’m able to produce a lot of books because I work every day. Because I don’t go out to lunch or dinner, or to events, go shopping, have hobbies or socialize all that much. I don’t want to.

I like home. I like my space. I have plenty of people living in my head for company.

I don’t spend a lot of time, sometimes none at all, on social media. It’s a time suck. My time’s valuable to me.

And routine is my god.

Get up, fiddle, write, write, write, workout, engage with my husband, make dinner, maybe have the kids over for dinner a couple times a month and enjoy grandkids.

I garden in the spring and summer, bake bread, but that’s weekends.

I make soups and breads in the fall and winter, again, that’s weekends.

When on vacation I’ll write here and there. Because I miss it if I don’t. I don’t slave while on a break, but I’ll write now and then.

And I think about the book all the time. In the shower, in the workout, in the garden, in the kitchen. I can work out plot points while kneading bread dough, so good for me.

There’s no secret, no formula, no magic spell.

It’s called writing, regularly, consistently, daily. It’s discipline and drive and desire. The three Ds I also tout when asked. Talent’s great, but without the three Ds, it’s hard to produce.

Fortunately for me I have them, and I use them.

I love my work, even on a bad day, I love my work. Being a writer is a gift I’m grateful for, even when it’s a bad day.

I value and respect the reader. Lying, to me, equals devaluing and disrespect.

So to the readers–whether or not you enjoy my books, have read any of my books, read my books occasionally or all the time–I write every one, myself, alone, in my space.

Whatever you think of the finished product, it came from me.

Nora

Update

The current count for books and authors copied by Cristiane Serruyo is 67/35. That’s thirty-five authors who’ve been impacted by her thievery, and sixty-seven of our books she treated like an all-you-can steal buffet.

There will be more. There are many people doing the laborious, tedious work of searching for infringing material, doing comparisons, documenting. I can’t express how grateful I am to every one of them.

As I outlined before in my blog, I’ve been plagiarized before. Janet Dailey was the most egregious, but not the only time. It’s horrible, always horrible. It’s gut-punching, time consuming–and all too often financially draining to deal with. It interferes with creativity, with the simple ability to sit down and put–and keep–your mind in the story you’re trying to write.

And it just hurts. Your head, your heart, your spirit. Every single time.

To The Pain, a la The Princess Bride’s Westley.

One woman stole from (so-far) thirty-five authors, picking and choosing, I suppose, what sounded good to her, then–apparently–tossed that to ghostwriters she hired from Fiverr. So she could put her name on books, pose for photos, do interviews, engage with readers and brag.

And lie as she talked about having to ice her hand down from the pain of hours at the keyboard.

I doubt her copy and pasting gave her any freaking wrist pain.

Quotes like that? I sincerely believe she did it as much for ego as money. Look how dedicated I am! I work through the pain! Admire me.

At this point I wouldn’t mind challenging her To The Pain, a la The Princess Bride’s Westley.

As far as I can tell, she’s still claiming it’s all some terrible mistake, and not altogether her fault. But that’s almost always what plagiarists say.

The scope of her theft is so huge, so stunningly wide, she really has nowhere to go, no excuses or reasons that can possibly hold even a drop of water.

But then, she never did.

We’re not done with her, and what’s coming will not be pleasant for her. We’re not done with the others–because there are undoubtedly others–who’ve followed this pattern of theft.

Nora

Edited May 23, 2019

To Sum Up–Sort Of

There are things I can’t talk about at this point that are going on behind the scenes. Legal stuff is legal stuff.

But there’s a lot of chatter out there about my blogs, my information, my opinions. Those I can talk about.

PLAGIARISM/COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

It’s theft of intellectual property. Full stop. It cannot be excused or justified. Another writer recently (and has done so before) claimed that I dragged Dailey through the muck, that copying happens ALL THE TIME, especially to best-sellers, and most writers affected by it handle it privately and professionally. Mean Girl Nora only went public (despite the fact Daily went public first) to destroy poor Janet.

Bullshit. Every word of that is bullshit. Plus shameful.

I apologize to no one for standing up for my work, or for standing up for any writer whose work is stolen. Any writer who thinks plagiarism is no big deal earns my disgust.

GHOST WRITING

Since this has generated a whole bunch of chatter, let me try to be really clear.

My opinion–which I’m entitled to hold, entitled to state:

The profession of ghostwriting is absolutely legitimate. Talented and professional ghosts are paid good money to write memoirs, auto-bios and so forth. They work with the client, interview the client and others. They put in the time, do the job, and are very often credited.

Other avenues are work-for-hire, where GW assume a single pen name (I use Caroline Keene’s Nancy Drew simply because it’s so well known) to write books in a series.

There are GW who act, basically to my mind, as editors or book doctors, helping smooth out or bring together a book–someone else has written–where the client needs some help. I personally think they should be credited, but that’s up to the client/GW and their particular partnership.

OTOH, there are ghosts–and this appears to be more common in the self-pubbed area, but may, in fact, be more common in traditional pub than I know–who take a fee–often just a couple hundred bucks–to write a book for someone who just wants to put their name on it. The client’s not actually a writer. The client wants to be published, or much worse, just wants to create a business where money is generated.

In far too many cases these clients hire many ghosts cheaply to create a lot of content so they can publish them quickly on-line, generate that income.

I think this is deplorable. So I’m told, but these GW are just trying to make a living. So is pretty much everyone in the world. This practice is a cheat for everyone but the client who punches up his/her numbers and makes a killing.

It’s absolutely true the GW may, in fact, be unaware. My take is if the GW wants to be a professional, do you due diligence.

But what, I hear, about the person who has this great idea, but doesn’t know how to write it and wants to get published? What’s wrong with that?

What’s wrong with that? Learning to articulate an idea into a story IS writing. It takes time and effort to learn how, to learn to write well. The name on that book is a lie because the client isn’t a writer, but pretends to be. And this practice dilutes the craft, the art, the science, the WORK of writing a story.

I’m routinely contacted by someone with–they say–a great idea who hopes I’ll write it for them. Many offer to split the bonanza of royalties it’ll earn. I believe the vast majority who ask me this ask with a pure heart because they honestly don’t know how it works.

There are those who want to publish, and fast, so send what they’ve cobbled together to a ghost who in many cases has to rewrite the mess. The person in a hurry here learns nothing by not taking the time, making the effort to hone her craft.

A lot of people seem to think I was birthed a best-seller right out of the writing womb. Contrary to that, I had a drawer full of rejections. I kept at it because I wanted it. I learned, I improved. And when I finally sold, I also had a drawer full (my agent called it my Magic Drawer) of rejected manuscripts I could take out, fix, edit, improve. So I sold a lot of books very quickly in the first couple years.

Someone accused me of having ‘several’ pen names, which they said was the same as all this. No, I write as Roberts, and as Robb for the In Death series. But when I sold Born In Fire (I think) to England for the first time, the publisher insisted my readership would be confused, insisted I take a pen name. I argued, but had no clout. For this single book, in GB, I took the name Sarah Hardesty. And when I was proved right, the Brit publisher killed the pen name, and published all future editions of the book under mine.

In, I think it was, 1981 (maybe ’82) my agent got an offer from a kind of tabloid (in structure, not content) publication for my first (and justifiably unsold ms.). I had a great fondness for that story because it was the first I’d ever written. I took the name Jill March for that sale. Once, then killed.

And in both cases, my name was on the copyright, not the a/k/a.

CHEAP AND FREE

I absolutely understand the idea of using a book, often the first in a series, or as a special, as a loss leader. Something to get exposure, to generate future sales. My publisher routinely puts one of my books on special for a day on-line.

My problems here are with, first, the scammers that buy books or book stuff, or whatever they do to put out a 99 cent book every week, or more under different names. They flood the marketplace so the legitimate indie reader can’t really compete.

I have a problem with the claims by some they they can absolutely write a book a week. Boy, do I call bullshit. First, I’d have to ask for a word count. Back in my Silhouette days when I wrote 55k Romance, I could write them fairly quickly, but a book a week? Nope.

A book a week, week after week? Did you write it, polish it, send it to a professional editor, and is it over 100 pages?

With this proliferation, many indie writers have to devalue their work, work they did take the time to write, polish, have edited to have any chance of visibility.

I object to that, for them, and for the reader.

On the reader–I thought I made it clear, but I’ll try again. Everybody likes a bargain. Everybody should be able to snag a free or cheap book. But. When that’s all you buy, and particularly when you demand it, it’s gets to be a problem. When you contact a writer pushing for more, cheap, cheaper, free. It’s a problem.

I read a comment from one indie writer who said she’d just published her new book, and a reader contacted her–like that day!–wanting to know when she was going to make it free.

This is a problem.

The reader’s on a budget, she’s voracious, this is all she can afford. Not her fault, don’t attack the reader from your big-ass imaginary mansion while you sit on your mountains of money.

Again, one-time single mother of two on a budget here. Voracious reader. And she–and I–say first: Library. I’m a big lover of the library. And I used it a lot back in the day, even though it was a thirty minute drive away. The writer gets paid for the book you check out. Libraries offer all kinds of services, and you can borrow an e-book on line without leaving your home. They have inter-library loans, or will often buy a book (paper or e) you request.

I’d take my boys with me, and all of us would go home with a stack of books.

I did learn that in many other countries, this isn’t nearly as easy. I think that’s a serious shame–I mean it. I don’t know what can be done to fix or improve that. But knowing that now, I hereby remove the reader–anywhere–who has no access to these services from this group.

I have a charitable foundation that supports literacy (and libraries). We might be able to look into it. Access to books, in any form, is a human right. Or damn well should be.

Used book stores, flea markets, yard sales, on-line trading, library sales. I’m sure I’ve left some avenues out. Someone bought this book, at some point, so the writer got paid. I also haunted used book stores back in the day, though yeah, a half hour away. I also before the internet, haunted those used book stores and the library for research books. They were a godsend. (And I always paid the library fine because I always brought them back late.)

I want to stress–again–I’m talking about the reader who demands, feels entitled to free or dirt cheap. Who hounds the writer for his/her wants. I’m not talking about the reader who sees a bargain, likes the cover, the blurb, has read that author before happily, or thinks hey, I’m going to give this new-to-me writer a try, and clicks Buy.

SELLING PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED BOOKS TO A BIDDER,
PUBLISHING UNDER A NEW NAME AS NEW WORK.

This is such a horrendous practice. Closed sites where books that have dried up their income stream sold–sometimes books in bundles, like 5 Historical Romances, 75k words, $1,000. Most usually I’d guess, these books were written by a ghost (who may be totally blameless), generated income through other nefarious practices like clickfarms, then sold to the next person. That person tosses them up, new cover, new name, as new work. It can and is done over and over again.

Since I wrote about that in detail on another blog, I won’t repeat myself. Except to say, it’s in every way wrong. Like plagiarism, I believe there is no excuse, no justification. It cheats everyone.

CLICK FARMS, BOOK STUFFING, BUYING REVIEWS

All of it wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

So is posting a nasty review on a competitor’s site to try to tank their sales. So is treating books like products, which is what the scammers do. It’s just business.

Writing is, most definitely a business–and every writer should treat it professionally. It’s a job–and I’ve treated it like a job throughout my career. The best job in the universe of jobs, imo. But it’s not just a job, just a business.

The practices I’ve come out, strongly against, have no respect for the craft, the art, the creator or the reader. It’s all just a way to make a bunch of money fast.

To any who claim I can’t and don’t understand what the new or newish writer goes through in today’s market? You’re wrong. If I didn’t understand, didn’t care, I wouldn’t take this on.

I can and will, and am, handling the plagiarism that targeted me and some 30 other writers. This is more, and I’m spending this time, making this effort because it matters.

To the absolute jerks who claim if the indie market goes down I’d benefit. Kiss My Ass.

All of the above is my opinion. YMMV. But I’ve a right to hold and speak that opinion.

I value and respect every writer who labors over their stories. I feel for every writer who finds themselves crushed and demoralized by the scams in the marketplace. I value and respect every reader who buys, who borrows, trades, lends books. I am, and always will be, grateful for the work libraries and librarians do, for all of us.

And I hold in contempt those who use and abuse what I value and respect.

I’m Nora Roberts, and I write my own books.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

I’m going to put all this aside after this blog, and step back in my cage and write. But I feel, really strongly, this single issue deserves attention before I do.

When I checked the latest comments on yesterday’s blog, Blowback, I found this.


Frost
In reply to Nora Roberts.
The link you posted above is suggesting that authors cannot sell their intellectual property (their books) to other authors and publishers. It’s literally calling someone a “scammer” for selling the rights to some books they wrote.
How on Earth is that a scam?
By that measure, every single traditional publisher that has ever bought rights to a book (and subsequently published that title with their own cover and marketing spin) would be a “scammer”.
That’s silly.
Do you genuinely think it’s a scam for someone to sell the publishing rights/copyright for their original work to another person? If that person then packages and sells that book to the masses, is that a scam?
I’m genuinely open to talk if you want to have a quick dialogue about this stuff. That link you posted is just an honest author trying to sell the books THEY wrote, and some random silliness besides.


This is, first, just stunning to me. After the stun, the anger and the outrage for every real writer, every single reader in the whole freaking world–in the whole damn multi-verse–rose up like the red, fiery tongues of ten thousand suns.

This commenter feels it’s just perfectly peachy for someone (because I’m not going to dignify that someone by calling him/her a writer) to publish a book, rack up, one assumes, some sales, some income. Then when that person decides that income stream has run its course, to offer that book for sale to another person (new income stream!). That person can do a search and replace on names, maybe a few tweaks (or maybe not) then slap a new cover and name on it, publish it all over again.

I suppose that could be done multiple times. I suppose it is. Income stream dries up, sell, someone else opens a new stream.

This commenter equates this with a traditionally published author who gets the rights back to their book, then republishes it. Under THEIR OWN NAME.

That is such utter bullshit.

First, I know many, many writers who have done just this. When rights revert, those writers take their book, do the work–or hire a pro to do the work–of formatting for e-form. They find a fresh cover–but in every case I know use the original title, or explain the title change. And they market it as classic or vintage or whatever term suits. They’re not deceiving the reader. It remains their book, their name, their work.

They put the publication on their website, their social media, letting readers know their book, previously published in paper, is now available in e-format. Full freaking disclosure.

They’re not selling it to somebody who’ll now pretend he/she wrote it to recharge that income stream.

That’s a cheat. A lie. And it infuriates every pulsing cell in my writer’s being.

It undermines and disrespects the very art, the essential craft of writing. Hey, why spend time actually writing (which I will bet a whole buncha money they can’t do anyway) if I can just buy a manuscript and put my name on it?

I will also bet a whole buncha money that many of the original somebodys paid to have a ghost write the book in the first place.

It smirks at the reader while it does so, showing him/her no respect. The reader isn’t valued, they’re just dupes to this scammer–and yes, by all the gods, they are scammers.

These people aren’t writers. They have no pride in their work. If it was ever their work. They couldn’t possibly have put any real heart in the work as they obviously have no emotional attachment to the story, the characters, the words.

It’s just an income stream.

Anyone who does this deserves to be outed, deserves to be banned from the site on which they ‘publish’.

Nora

Edited May 23, 2019