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, by Nora's side at book signings, and on the road from her home in Raleigh to Boonsboro every few weeks.

Ireland — Arrival

I’ll eventually finish the RWA recap, but I know you’ll all be thrilled with the substitution: Nora’s Ireland travelogue.  Here’s Part the First:

We had the smoothest flight over the Atlantic I’ve ever experienced. An excellent start. Zipped through the airport in no time, and walked outside to a bright and breezy day. Took a nice, deep gulp of Irish air and said ahhhhh.

We rented the biggest SUV available, and when BW pulled it up in front of our mountain of luggage (four people, two weeks. And we’re American), I wondered if it had an expansion option like my suitcase.

Our Kat claimed this was no problem, and proceeded to arrange big-ass suitcases, smaller duffles, camera cases in the back. To my eye this was never going to fit. To Kat’s there’s always a way, and indeed she made it work.

She claims it’s Tetrus skills.

It’s a straight shot from Knock airport to Westport, and with BW at the wheel, off we go. Blue skies, puffy white clouds on one side, thick gray on the other above lush green countryside. The green changes hues as the clouds shift. Bright, then deep, then dreamy. Lots of cottages, flowers blooming. Hydrangeas are plentiful, and I catch a big swath of wild purple loosestrife on a little slope.

With those shifting clouds we drive into rain, and a few minutes later, drive out of it again to arrive at our hotel in under an hour.

Our home for the next week outside of the busy little town of Westport is a spreading Tudor-style building with wonderfully lush gardens. Inside the big lobby lots of people, and many young children are out and about. I see they’ve had a wedding.

We’re far too early to check in, but they take our luggage to store. We wander around a bit, settle in The Drawing Room. We’re very quiet, all playing on various devices, but the gentleman who’d been in there alone heaves a mighty sigh and departs. Now it IS loud in the lobby. Lots and lots of excited post-wedding morning conversation, lots of kids running around, but we were quiet. LOL.

One of the suites comes ready, so we’re shown up to the second floor.

It’s a lovely space, all that wonderful light pouring in big bow windows that look out over the gardens, the bay and onto the impressive mountains. We have a little kitchen area so will buy some supplies in the village later. I especially like the two glass doors. We can walk right outside and into a garden area. It’s so beautifully quiet.

And convenient as the bar is close through the maze of corridors that will take me a day or two to conquer.

In the bar we settle into cozy sofas, order some drinks and a light lunch. The adorable bartender brings the drinks, tips the tray just a big. Over goes my glass of champagne, soaking his pants and the table. He brings another, and mopping up tells us it was his birthday yesterday, and maybe he over-celebrated.

Jason and I split a lovely salad, BW and Kat both have the soup. Revived, and with the other suite ready, we head up, directly above our suite to Jason’s and Kat’s space. It’s wonderful, too. A fabulous view, with that extra height of Clew Bay and the mountains, and a HUGE tub Kat will make good use of.

BW and I go down to unpack. I absolutely overpacked, knew it, but on packing day I had Fried Brain due to unexpected reality complications and pushing to try to finish the first draft of the wip before I left. Plus, you never know how many layers you’re going to need in Ireland.

BW and I opt for a walk down to Westport while Kat and Jason take a nap. Ten minutes from the hotel by foot, first through a lovely green tunnel of trees, down a steep slope, then a sidewalk along the busy road. It feels just marvelous, the sun, the air–warm and bright and a little gift. We’ve hit summer in Ireland which can often last about five minutes.

There’s a little river with a stone bridge, the walls decorated with hanging flowers, the water decorated with happy ducks. Pretty, pretty, and shady. We’re scouting around for restaurants, pubs, shops. See a pizza place that will likely suit us for our first dinner.

And I see her–or BW sees her first.

She’s so beautiful, so unique. A lady in a soft-looking wide hat, a lovely flowered dress, holding an open book in her two hands. She stands in a shop window, and speaks clearly to me. I think I would have bought her on the spot, had her shipped home, but she deserves a proper place. I have to think of that proper place first, make sure I have it for her at home. I’m pretty sure I’m going to MAKE that space.

 We hit a Dunne’s for sodas, wine. Don’t buy too much as we’re walking back.

And that walk back is STEEP. I actually get hot–this may be a first over here. My quads feel it, too, and I figure it may be a pretty short walk all in all, but I got in a decent workout without breaking out my DVDs and yoga mat.

 We’ve heard there’s another wedding today, and see the bride and groom drive by in their decorated antique car, with some of the wedding party blasting horns behind. I suspect they married in the pretty church I spotted in the village.

 We make it back, plop down, me with my Ipad, finally figure out the TV remote. After a bit I have to wander outside, take some pictures with my phone of the flowers. They have some hydrangeas here in a deep, deep rose pink. They’re glorious, and some are ten-inches across (BW measured).

 I want some for my own at home, hope to find them next spring.

 I text Kat we’re up and about, and down they come. They’d been watching a Brit show called Tumbled. Sort of Dancing With The Stars, gymnist version.

 It’s fascinating. The celebs are paired with a professional, train, then do a routine. This week was floor work and the big ring. It’s pretty impressive what these actors pull off. And we feel the judges–Olympians–are far too hard on most.

 Time for dinner. The wedding reception is in full swing as we leave to drive down. The village is much quieter now, and we find a parking spot a block from our pizza target.

It’s a fairly big place, smells great. The walls are all hand painted with sketches of Italian figures, little sayings, bigger words like PIZZA. It’s clever, creative, attractive.

 We all get individuals–me with my purist cheese pizza, Jason with the addition of pineapple as he’ll save half for his breakfast LOL, and Kat and BW each with combos with all manner of toppings.

 We dive in. It’s really nice pizza, just the thing. A happy restaurant, happy food, happy us.

 The moon’s up and full, sailing in a sky where the clouds are few as we head back. I try for a picture. Jason gets one infinitely better. We hang out for a short time, but BW’s nodding off. So it’s off to bed.

 I slept like a rock until nine. I never sleep until nine–even with the change of time. Feel great! BW headed down to breakfast, and just got back.

Today we’ve going to take a nearby adventure once we all get up and about.

It’s another bright and breezy day. It may stay that way.



Recap 3: A signing and a move

A moment to back track:

When Nora and Ruth got up on Tuesday morning, a ceiling tile in their little kitchen/bar had fallen to the floor and water from the AC pipe was dripping everywhere.  The hotel had engineering up to fix the tile and leak, but no one cleaned up the dirty floor. Housekeeping came back and cleaned the floor, then the leak started in the powder room off the kitchen and engineering had to come up again while we had dinner on the Riverwalk.

On Wednesday morning, all was fine initially, but just before we left for lunch the powder room leak returned.  I called engineering and our contact in Group Housing, then we took off for the Riverwalk.  There were far more RWA members along the way and it was amusing to see a couple of double takes along with “was that her?” on faces as Nora passed by.  Jill and Sarah had time to join us again — one last bit of quiet before the huge literacy signing that evening.

Once back from lunch, I had an email from housing with the bad news: the leak couldn’t be fixed and the hotel was going to move Nora and Ruth to the same suite one floor above. There were several avenues of consternation: Nora and Ruth had settled in for two days, we had only a couple of hours until the literacy signing and then there was the issue of the cocktail party on Saturday evening.  I’d told all the guests the first suite number would have to reach out again.

Sarah, Ruth, Nora, Jill and Laura after lunch on the Riverwalk.

Moving was not high on Nora and Ruth’s list for a fun afternoon activity — especially when I explained they had to get ready for the signing in the first suite, finish packing and then return to the new suite after a late dinner (to new UNpacking).  Everyone leapt into action to get things in the common areas while Ruth and Nora gathered what had spread around and tossed everything into bags.  They were ready to go by 3:45.

Then the waiting game began.  Since I told the hotel we would leave what was hanging in the closets so the clothes could just be hung on the bellmen’s carts, then immediately put in the new closets, someone had to stay and oversee the bellman.  I opted to stay and let Kat and Janeen walk with Nora to the event and make sure things were set there.

They left at 4:30 and my mental countdown clock started.  At 4:45, the hotel sent ONE bellman with one set of keys.  He did his job well, but he was only one person and even with me slinging bags on the cart too it took time.  Time I didn’t have at all.  Lots of pacing, some not so lady-like words as I texted updates but finally things were squared away and I ran downstairs, arriving five minutes before the door opened.

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Nora just before the doors opened for the Literacy signing. Note the wrist wrap and bangle.

The two hours in the ballroom went smoothly. Once I arrived Janeen took off to meet authors she wanted to invite to TTP.  Kat had line duty with RWA’s Judy Scott while I did my regular chatting, snapping and some bullying — really? you stand in line for that long and then DON’T want a photo with Nora? — to moderate success. The only downside was Nora’s wrist hurt within 30 minutes.

Afterwards, the gang (minus Jill and Sarah — what was with them and dinner?) went to Morton’s Steakhouse for restorative protein and family-style sides so it was after 10 pm when we got back to the new suite.  Everyone held their breath as Nora tried the new key then sighed with relief when the door opened immediately.   Then it was time to find some order in the belongings tossed into the bags (there may have been a few salacious words uttered during this process).  I’d ordered champagne and water glasses as well as a couple of coffee mugs for the first suite when we arrived on Monday and asked that they all be transferred to the new one. There was nothing on the new bar, so I called and was assured that all would be sent up.

Once we’d established where a couple of things were Nora headed off to change into PJs while I answered a knock at the suite door.  There stood a uniformed gentleman saying “here are your coffee cups” and handed me a stack of three paper cups (no lids).  I looked down the hall then back at him and said we had ordered glassware.  He looked down the hallway too — did he thing the glass fairies were close behind? — looked back with a blank face and then said he’d go ask.  I closed the door, turned around and Kat said she wished she could take my photo because my face was a study in astonished weariness as I held up the cups.

Fortunately, real glassware plus a complimentary bottle of champagne came up within minutes.  And I considered the day done.

Thursday dawned without drips or leaks and with plenty of coffee mugs.  Nora had her Chat With at 11, so there was no rush around until we had to head downstairs.

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Chat with Nora, standing room only.

Dressed in lady clothes, I met Nora and Ruth (the moderator as always for Nora’s Chat With) to find the room for the session.  We stopped by the Books A Million setup and Nora signed the stock there.  The smart, personable young manager realized the gold mine he had and brought in new books every day and it became a regular stop.  After all, as Nora says, a signed book is a sold book.

Nora’s Chat Withs are always amusing.  I could answer the questions, so could Janeen or Kat, but the crowd is there for Nora.  And she consistently delivers.  She patiently answers most questions as if they were never asked before (ok, except the how did you start writing? What’s behind the name JD Robb? they are a little faster) and always, always offers one bon mot to delight the crowd.  This year’s sound bite came relatively early in the hour.  I think the question was what advice Nora would give to writers.  She was blunt and succinct, as ever: Stop whining and write. Stop fucking around and write. Stop making excuses and write.”  

In other words, kids, write.

Lunch was next on the list and we opted to stay in the hotel, have some celebratory margaritas.

After lunch, we all got into comfortable clothes to go to the attached mall and check out The Body Shop for some skin care and makeup.  It’s a little known fact: when Nora and I are not working our day jobs — Best-Selling Author and KickAss Publicist — we are a fabulous makeup and skin care team.  Honestly, we rock.

But I digress.  A member of the group who shall remain nameless had revealed at dinner on Wednesday that she had with her a small palette of eye shadow that included dark gray and light gray.  I was horrified at the lack a third color for highlighting — and didn’t keep that horror from showing to the laughter of everyone else.  This reveal was a mere 40 minutes before the paper coffee cup delivery so my stress levels were already high.

We dealt with the skin care issues to everyone’s satisfaction (the makeup was a little disappointing so I’m still on the hunt) then headed back to the hotel.  Gave thought to some “hang out in the lobby” time, but the layout made it a little hard.  Big wing chairs around an inner circle for the lobby with the dark bar tucked under the second floor balcony. No seats anywhere, so back up to the suite we went.  And stayed for the evening.


Recap 2: RWA, the start of the week

RWA week is all about work and friends and readers.  Nora and I flew down to San Antonio on the Monday following TTP 19 with Kat and TTP store manager, Janeen Solberg.  It was an easy trip south that put us in the Marriott Rivercenter just after 1 pm.  All of us were prepared for a week of women filling up every available space in the hotel so it was a mild shock to see all those spaces taken up by men in casual business wear.  Mike the Bellman told us there was a fertilizer salesmen conference in town  and from all evidence, they didn’t go to workshops but stood or sat in small groups in the lobby and the bar.

This was disconcerting because WE like to sit or stand in small groups in the lobby or the bar so the mingling of the two groups would bear some watching.

The rooms weren’t ready when we arrived making lunch the next order of the day.  And since we were in San Antonio, margaritas seemed to be a sensible choice (so were delicious salads, fresh chips and guacamole).   A fine start to some excellent eating for the week.

Once the rooms were ready, we headed up to Nora and Ruth Langan’s suite which would serve as Base (next year I’m going to call it that) for the week.  Ruth arrived just after Nora’s bags were delivered so Kat, Janeen and I headed out to get some water, Diet Pepsi and champagne for the week.  Fortunately all were procured fairly near the hotel and off the Riverwalk so we had our first foray along the water.  I’d visited San Antonio in 2005, but Kat and Janeen were fascinated bu the lush greenery, somewhat exotic flowers and the sinuous flow of the pavement and river.

Back in the suite, Nora and Ruth had unpacked and settled into the living area so we joined them with refreshments.   A little while later, Jill Shalvis joined us to say hi and catch up before her dinner.  Finally Sarah Morgan came up to say hello after her 18-hour trip from Heathrow – she’d started out before any of us and was last to get to the hotel.    Since it was travel day, we all decided that room service was the way to go dinner wise (though the fertilizer guys taking up all the seating was a deciding factor).   Ruth and I gently bullied Sarah into eating something before unpacking and collapsing.  She protested but when Ruth has a mind to something it’s just easier to give in.  Sarah ate.

We like to get into town early for RWA in order to take a day to see the city, get used to the time change, keep to a loose schedule before the conference starts.  And, ok, to get out of the hotel for a bit.

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New sandals for the undisputed shopping champion.

I’d been to La Cantera Mall on my last trip to San Antonio so we scooped up Jill and Sarah and took two cabs over.  It’s a nice mall with outdoor spaces shielded by billowing canvas tenting so it was an excellent way to get out of the AC for a time.  Nora — champion shopper she is — found a 65% off rack at the first store we hit then we all looked at makeup before Nora found a pair of sandals that she promptly wore the rest of the day.

Lunch was at the reliably delightful Brio in their outdoor seating under fans and more shade.  Salads and some fresh pasta were the orders of the day, along with Nora’s requisite French fries (Brio’s are pretty fabulous).  I went with a Peach Bellini instead of a margarita and we all had a toast with some Veuve Cliquot. A portion of the group had never been to Anthropologie, our post lunch destination.  I do believe everyone left with a sweater (at least).  Fun store, fun day.

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Sarah Morgan and Jill Shalivs

Back to the hotel where the fertilizer salesmen were beginning to depart and RWA was making its presence known.  Everyone went to register for the conference before heading back to rooms to regroup.   Jill and Sarah had dinner plans (with other people!) so Nora, Ruth, Janeen, Kat and I decided we’d wander the Riverwalk and find dinner at one of the restaurants lining the water.

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and the margarita.

Since no one else stated a preference, I said we should go to the restaurant with the white tablecloths I’d spied the day before.  We set back out and after a few turns, then just past a bridge we found La Paloma Riverwalk and in short order were seated on the river side of the pavement.  Margaritas all around with chips and salsa fast behind them.  It was then we found out that it was Ruth’s First Margarita.  It was also her Last Margarita.  She changed her order to white wine.

We were serenaded by a Mariachi band, though Kat was more fascinated by the hardware on their costumes.  Then we fell upon our food as if we’d not eaten in a thousand days.galaxy 384

One of the best parts for me about spending RWA with Ruth and Nora are the stories.  They met at the very first RWA and have roomed together since the 1983.  They’ve seen writers and trends come, go, and sometimes come back again.  But their friendship.  They love each other dearly and it’s an infectious thing.

It was full dark by the time we finished dinner, then wandered back to the hotel.  Conference would start full-swing in the morning, but a day to kick back and spend time with friends had given us back the balance travel rips away.  We were ready.galaxy 387

But not for everything.

More to come.

Recap 1: TTP 19 weekend

I’m not sure anyone — Nora, the staff at Turn the Page, the readers who came out, me — was prepared for TTP’s 19th Anniversary signing.  There were some positive signs it would be a success: A stellar line up of authors including Stephanie Evanovich, Christine Trent, Maya Banks, Linda Lael Miller, Shiloh Walker and Jennifer Armentrout.  The weather was cooler than normal.   The summer event is perfect is part of vacation planning.

So we all thought it would a long afternoon, but the reality was astounding.

Nora and I drove into town around 10:45 (the usual arrival time).  Early enough so Nora could sign pre-sold books and meet the other authors.  Sometimes it’s early enough that we can pop into Gifts Inn BoonsBoro to see what’s new.

Not this signing.

At 10:45, the line of people was still around the corner from the store.

TTP line up
The line to get into Turn the Page.

When we came into the back of the store, Maya was already hard at work signing books. Nora put down her bag and we dove in: I handed her books, she signed then I re-bundled them. We worked fast to make some room on the counter for the other authors. Peeking out from the shipping room you could see the line wound around the annex as customers waited to pay.

The system worked out over the last 19 years for line management is pretty simple: each ticket has a letter and a number.  Each letter of the alphabet represents a group and there are 25 tickets in each group.  For example, the first group in for the signing is A1-25. Doing it this way means people don’t have to stand on line all day (though there was substantially more standing time this signing) and the staff can give customers a fairly good idea of when their group will be called.  The staff gives out tickets from the time the store opens until 2 pm.  Customers usually shop then pay then go off to see other stores or get lunch while they wait.

Word was tickets to the letter K were given out before noon, so we knew we’d see 300 people.

The big concern of the day was Nora’s right wrist.  Typing daily for 35 years will bring on some repetitive motion weaknesses, but then you add in the sheer number of books Nora’s signed for Turn The Page subscribers, customers and signings since last fall (a number that’s pretty much tripled in a year) and her wrist gave out a week before the signing.   Kat, Nora’s amazing daughter-in-law, showed her how to wrap it securely so she did that Saturday morning.  Then Nora added a gorgeous wrist cuff to downplay the wrap but she was worried about it holding up. Just before the signing started,

Jason and I consulted and he fashioned an ice pack that lay on the table, giving Nora a place to rest her wrist during breaks.

A view of the line.
A view of the line inside the store.

The signing started at just about noon.  The first group always includes Inn BoonsBoro guests who receive A tickets as part of their stay. Some stayed on Friday night, some would stay on Saturday night, but all were very happy.  Excellent reports of wonderful breakfasts and leisurely wine and cheese the night before.  Excited explanations of where guests stayed. Not too many reports of ghosts.

The afternoon featured a fun mix of the familiar faces of our regular signing pals and enthusiastic newbies.  We fell into our regular routine:  Jason takes the books, hands them to Nora who signs them while I take photos with cameras or phones and make conversation.

Word filtered up that the letters had gone through M, then through P (a previous record) then through R (unknown territory).  They had to make new tickets!  Finally we learned the letters went to 2 in the T group.

That’s over 490 people. Passing through a tiny bookstore.  All. Afterngalaxy 271oon. Long.

We had two breaks so the authors could stand up and get some feeling in their legs. I couldn’t sit down because I’d never get back up.   Jason had to make a second ice bag for Nora’s wrist.

We had some small dollops of champagne after 4 pm to help everyone get through.

And get through we did.  Six and a half hours of meeting, greeting, writing, snapping.  Nora’s been at this for three decades and it was the longest signing she could ever remember.

What helped more than anything was the constant flow of smiling, patient readers who waited alone or in groups.  (Believe me, the solo readers had new pals by the time they were done.)  Their energy was unflagging and brought us all along for the ride. galaxy 278

I didn’t get a chance for a group photo of all the authors when we were done because by 6:30 pm everyone — staff included — needed to get to a place to relax.  But Nora did pose for this great shot with the fabulous Maya Banks.


Oh, did I mentiongalaxy 284 that the day of the signing was also my birthday?  I’m not exactly sure I’d ever envisioned spending a birthday with 492 Nora Roberts readers, but it was a splendid day in many ways. After the signing was finished, Nora and Bruce had arranged for some birthday cake for me — shaped like a bottle of Patron tequila. The limes were marshmallows.  The cork was rice krispies and the cake inside was yellow with butter cream frosting.  And the cake was from Kristi’s Bakery, next door to the Inn.

Sunday morning was the second Fall into a Story Brunch with Nora, this year held at Vesta. After the long haul on Saturday, it was so nice to have a chance to sit down and chat.   Nearly 60 people attended and about two thirds of the attendees had not come to the signing because they knew they’d get the chance to speak to Nora at the brunch.  Jeannie King ran two raffles — one to sit with Nora, the other for the chance to win one of five gift baskets.

In between courses, Nora and I stopped at every table to chat, take photos and for Nora to sign a few books.  Then after the meal was done and the baskets won, I browbeat everyone into sitting down while I took a panoramic photo from the kitchen area. And that, my friends, was TTP weekend.  Up next, RWA.  In several parts.

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The brunch goers.

On Readers, Writers and Ghosts

From Laura:  I’ve been working on a recap of RWA with photos, but a post on Facebook caught our attention and we thought it important to address on the blog.  Photos/recap by tomorrow afternoon.  Promise!

A note from Nora:

Respect isn’t always a two-way street. In a perfect world, it would be. In a perfect world, every book written would satisfy every reader. Also no one would be allergic to chocolate or puppies, and shoes would always be buy a pair, get a pair free.

Since it isn’t a perfect world, we have to pay for that second pair of shoes, not everyone can embrace the joys of chocolate and puppies, and not every reader will be satisfied with every book.

Respect, however, is a different matter because respect is, at the base, a choice. We can all choose to show respect.

I choose to respect my readers, and those who may become my readers by first, writing the best book I can. That’s also a matter of respecting myself, the work and my publisher. Happily, I find most readers also choose respect. I’ve met countless readers over the years of touring, signings and events. Routinely when I toured booksellers would tell me I had the best readers they’d ever dealt with. Happy, enthusiastic, polite, patient. I always loved hearing it, and loved experiencing the truth of it.

 I choose to respect my readers when I meet them, by trying to give them a little time, a little conversation even over a six-hour signing as we just experienced last month at Turn The Page. They’ve come to see me, and I’m incredibly flattered by that, seriously delighted (even after six hours) to have a moment with someone who’s read my books and enjoyed them enough to take their time, make the effort (even after six hours) to meet me.

 I choose to respect my readers on-line. I don’t comment often on Facebook, because I’m writing, but I often skim through the comments, and occasionally respond. The amazing Laura speaks for me there, most often.

 But here, on-line, is where that two-way street often turns into a sudden and surprising one-way path.

 We all know it, we’ve all experienced or read stunningly rude and personal comments posted on-line. Something about the lack of face-to-face can eliminate basic manners and courtesy. I often say nothing or little about this because life’s just too short to have on-line conversations with the rude.

 But sometimes a comment will push my buttons, and I’m compelled to respond. Again, it’s a matter of respect–for myself and my work.

 I honestly don’t give a rat’s tail about Amazon reviews. I don’t read Amazon reviews. Anybody can go on there, anonymously, and praise or defame a book. I’d rather be writing than reading Amazon reviews. However, when readers come on my Facebook page, intimating I use a ghost writer because, hey, they read this rumor on Amazon reviews, I’m not going to let it stand.

 The latest case of this is a reader who hasn’t read the book itself, only the reviews. And based on them feels the book must be bad, I don’t respect my readers because of this lousy book, and thinks I should come out and be honest about using a ghost.

 That’s crap. Every bit of it, rude and pretty stupid crap.

 Respectfully here, and wherever this post may end up, I write my own books. I always have, always will. I do not, and never will use a ghost writer. I may write a book that doesn’t hit a chord with all my readers–and that’s a shame for me and for the reader who isn’t happy with the story. But I will have written it.

 While it’s difficult to hear a book I’ve worked on and sweated over didn’t hit the mark with some readers, that’s part of living in an imperfect world. It’s part of the job of being a writer, and I accept it.

 Having someone state, allude, question or accuse me of using a ghost writer, particularly after I’ve categorically stated I don’t and won’t repeatedly, is offensive. I don’t accept it, and I will go head-to-head with anyone who insults me and my work by spreading rumors–or in some cases stating they know I use ghost writers.

 I spent all last week in San Antonio at The Romance Writers of America conference. Fun, yes, and work, too. I got home this past Monday afternoon. Tuesday morning I was back at my keyboard, writing. My choice. I chose to write, I chose to write hard. The result of that work, good or bad in any reader’s opinion, is on me and me alone.

 I’ll end by saying I not only respect my readers, but value and appreciate them, tremendously. If I write a book that doesn’t sing for you, I hope the next one does. That’s really the best I can do.


A Garden update

A garden update for all who wonder…

Very happy pots
Very happy pots.
Thriving corner
A thriving corner.
Purple coneflowers
Purple coneflowers.
Pretty trough
A pretty trough.
Nora's mom's snakeplant, repotted countless times
Nora’s mom’s snake plant, repotted countless times.
Longer view of garden wall
Longer view of garden wall.
Kayla's impatiens with pig
Kayla’s impatiens with pig.
Herbs -- the dill has run amok
Herbs — the dill has run amok.
Happy faerie garden
Happy faerie garden.
False sunflowers and purple coneflowers
False sunflowers and purple coneflowers.
Boomerang Lilies, boomeranging
Boomerang Lilies, boomeranging.

The Moth on the Terrace Wall — the sequel

It was like waiting for the end of a trilogy!  What happened with the moth?

Did the silence from Nora’s email account signal that the moth did dastardly deeds in the dark of night???

After a nearly sleepless Friday night, I demanded an answer this morning.  How could we rest easy otherwise???  And the suspense was driving me to using way too many “?” in my writing.  Here’s the reply:

Much to my sorrow, and somewhat to my ick, I’d been observing a dead moth.

We saw it flutter around the evening before my observations, then land on the terrace wall. Wow, big moth, pretty, pretty.

Apparently it came here to die.

My initial response when BW told me of its demise, was like Monty Python’s dead parrot: No, no, it’s only sleeping! And being a guy he plucked it off the wall and brought it inside to show me. Being not a guy I ordered him to get it out. As he’s still a guy he laid it out on this flower-shaped hammock in the parlor (sort of appropriate) where the other guys could admire the dead moth awhile.

I decided it had lived a short but happy life of adventure and romance, produced many pretty moths, then returned here where it met its first and truest love to die peacefully in its sleep.


Though not a guy, I am the sort of nana who suggested to the young boys in our party it might have been a zombie moth who’d come to eat our brains while we slept.

You have to make your own fun.


Wired for stories

I was getting ready to post some more garden photos when an email from Nora arrived in my inbox.  She’s away from her desk on a short family trip — the sort of getaway in which everyone does what they want during the day then gets back together for the evening.

This afternoon’s subject line was “Moth” and starts out:

I’m generally not an insect person, but this moth is sort of spectacular. And it’s been on the wall of the terrace like this time since last evening. What’s it doing? What’s on its mind? Is it just taking a really, really long nap?

All I could think was photo (60)this must be how a writer’s brain is wired — always seeing the potential story behind interesting things.  Aren’t we all lucky Nora’s brain is wired that way?

Three hours later she sent me another one:

Sitting on the terrace. Moth’s still there.

An hour after that:

Back on the terrace. Moth hasn’t budged. How does it just cling to the wall for like 16 hours straight. What’s it waiting for?

It’s starting to creep me out.

While I may never think — Hmmm a trilogy about moths would be great! — I’m pretty certain Nora would make it entertaining (and probably a little scary).  And I’d be first in line to read it.




Nora, Ireland, Ashford and you?

Nora’s going back to Ireland for vacation this year so we’ll all have a chance to live vicariously through her travelogues.

This year, though, there’s a twist!

Nora’s UK publisher, Little Brown Group, will host a once-in-a-lifetime event on Sunday, August 17: An Audience and Afternoon Tea with Nora Roberts at Ashford Castle.  For all the details, please visit:

When I posted that news on Facebook this morning, the comments included a chorus of “will you come to (fill in the blank)?”   Let’s face it, if Nora visited every city —  or even just various central hubs — of readers, she’d never get home again.  It’s just not possible.

She asked me to post this on her behalf and I’m copying it here:

I wish I could go everywhere and meet readers, but mostly I stay home and write.

Several times a year I participate at events at Turn The Page Bookstore in Boonsboro, Maryland — and that offers opportunities for readers east of the Mississippi.  The next event is Saturday July 19 from noon – 2 pm.   For more details please

This year I’ll be in San Antonio for the Romance Writers of American conference–and am delighted to participate again in the Readers For Literacy signing– on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter Hotel in the 3rd floor ballroom. For more details, please visit

That might make it easier for those of you west of the Mississippi to attend an event.

Then, in August my husband and I, along with our younger son and his wife, will travel to Ireland. The August 17 event at the gorgeous Ashford Castle should be just wonderful — and may make it easier for those of you in Ireland, the UK, and western Europe to attend an event.

Only one of me, and thankfully, lots and lots of you. It’s just not possible to visit all the fabulous places where you live, and continue to write the books you enjoy. NR