All posts by Nora Roberts

Holiday Glitch

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

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

– Kat

Let’s All Take A Deep Breath

Yesterday we announced on the JD Robb Facebook page that Amber Entertainment has optioned the In Death books. And the comment section exploded. Reactions ranged from excitement and delight to abject despair and even anger–with every possible emotion that falls between. Casting suggestions (and demands) flew like grapeshot.

I’m going to take this opportunity to address some of those concerns, suggestions, demands.

 First the option is for a feature film, and is in the very early stages of development. I’ve met face-to-face with the producer, twice. She has not only read the books, she gets them–and the characters. I’ve turned down option offers before, for this series and for my other work because I didn’t feel it was a good fit. This feels like one.

Will it be? No absolute guarantee, but I have to trust my instincts.

No, no and again no, I will not write the screenplay. I have no idea how to write a screenplay, and have no desire to learn. I like writing books. I will, however, have input. I’ve already seen a very rough outline of the script, and when I saw something that felt off-character, I pointed it out–and my input was respected.

Will the movie be an exact reproduction of the book? Again, no. It can’t possibly be. It’s based on the novel, translated from the novel to the screen, interpreted by a director, a cinematographer, a screenwriter, and far from least of all, by actors. Both the producer and I agree the film must, absolutely must, remain true to the core of the book and the characters. But yes, some things will be left out, some things will change in order to make the shift from page to screen. Those who demand any movie be a pure copy of the book are going to be disappointed.

Movies are a different form of storytelling, but adaptations can and do work, and often beautifully. Yesterday, I answered a comment, one (of several) that claimed all adaptations fail, with two examples of excellent ones–and did this straight off the top of my head and after a glass of wine. I could name more, dozens more, but then this post would go on forever.

I could also name dozens that failed–at least for me.

Did those failed adaptations ruin the book for me? Absolutely not. The book remained exactly the same, and I only had to pick it up, read it again to be pulled back into a story I loved.

I value so much the investment readers have in this series. The depth of that investment often staggers me. And I understand some concern. Believe me, I have a pretty big investment in the series myself, and want it done right, want it done well. I’m realistic enough to know not every scene will make it to the screen. It can’t.

The investment, the concerns, I understand. The anger from some is a little astonishing. Let me reassure all. No one will drag you from your homes or places of business and force you to watch the movie, if indeed it happens. Watching a movie, like reading a book is a choice. It may very well be, as a reader, you prefer your own image of the books and characters, and don’t want another vision to mix with that. No problem at all.

To those who demand: Why, oh why, is she doing this! She doesn’t need the money! I ask: Why, oh why, do I write the books? They matter to me, and I’m thrilled the characters and stories I created have this chance to appear on screen, in theaters, to reach an audience who already loves them, or has never read a single book in the series. I write for money–it’s my job. But if money was the driving force for me, I’d never have put the first word on a page.

On to casting–which is far down the road as I haven’t yet seen a finished script. The contrast in readers’ wishes and hopes and visions (and the brisk dismissal from other readers of those visions) illustrate just how diverse those readers’ images of the characters are. Some of the suggestions leap to actors a decade–often more–too old. A wonderful actor can certainly shave some years off, but a decade or more? I don’t think so.

However, the popular insistence that any actors cast be, basically, physical clones of Eve, Roarke and the gang isn’t going to make top of my priority list. Do I want, and hope for, a cast that reflects and embodies those characters? I really, really do. But you know, I’m not going to turn thumbs down on an incredible actor for Eve because the actor doesn’t have a dent in her chin, or one for Roarke if he isn’t quite as tall as I’ve written. My priority will be, again, that good fit–and talent. I want the characters interpreted well, I want them respected, and my fondest hope is that they just rock it out.

I’m not in charge of casting–I wouldn’t know where to begin. But again, I’ll have input. Actors act, and a really good actor becomes the role. Gregory Peck became Atticus Finch, Anthony Hopkins Hannibal Lector. For me Tom Cruise became Lestat, Michelle Williams Marilyn Monroe, Jennifer Lawrence became Katniss (and Mystique!) That’s what I’m looking for when the time comes–actors who can make me believe–as their creator–they’re the characters.

And even with what I consider gorgeous performances, when I pick up the book the movie was based on, I’m back into it, and into my own vision of the characters. The movie is a movie. The book is a book. Two ways of telling a story.

Whatever happens–if indeed it happens–I can promise you everyone involved wants this to work and work well, everyone involved understands the readers’ investment and emotional attachment and will do everything possible to respect the work itself, and that investment.

I love books. I love movies. It will be an incredible thrill for me, as a writer, to see characters I love, pulled from books I’ve written given a chance to kick some butt on the big screen.

Dogs, Disasters and Determination

I thought about this when I took my little after-work stroll around the gardens on Friday. Everything’s looking so pretty, color and texture already changing. Then I got to one of my favorite spots, what I think of as a little faerie garden.

I literally stopped dead, stunned speechless.

Pancho
Pancho

During my earlier workout, I’d heard Pancho 

barking incessantly–and yelled out a few times for him to knock it off. I didn’t think much of it–until I saw my dragon wing begonias, my pretty mini fuchsias, some of the yellow bells and foxglove had been trampled on, and many broken.

It didn’t take much for me to get the picture. Some critter had wandered in, and the dogs had gone wild. Now if a deer passes by, they generally just lie there, maybe give it a glance. I hear them thinking: Okay, it’s bigger than us, we’ll just stay where we are. But a raccoon or possum, that’s fair game.

Homer
Homer

And the games must’ve been vigorous. 

A moment–okay longer than a moment–of heartbreak, and a stern talking to given to the dogs.

While I’d planned a quick trip to the nursery for Saturday, it was for a couple of specific things to fill particular gaps–and didn’t include fixing up that section. Now it would. After I gathered up some of the broken plants–sticking them in water on the faint hope they might shoot some roots–I scribbled down a short list of what I’d need.

Saturday’s trip took longer, and well, there I am in the middle of all those gorgeous plants, so four and a half flats later, I come home. I’ll also confess, I had to make myself stop. So tempting to get more–and somehow I’ll always find room. But enough already.

BW isn’t home today, but will be pleased I only have a single plant I want him to do–pretty big hole needed, and in a tricky spot.

I’ll do the rest.

As I’m setting them out, getting a visual, switching them around, next visual, I realize I never have any real plan when I garden. I have a basic concept I may or may not follow.

That’s just the way I write. Huh.

Both are jobs and joys for me, and I approach both in a way I’ll call organic. Let’s start here and see what happens. After the first draft in a book, I’m going to need to start from the beginning again, start weeding what doesn’t belong, prune out what needs to go. Maybe I have to move what I thought should go here to there. 

I’ll need that third pass in a book, doing all the fussy work, making sure this is the best I can do, making sure it all holds together.

Gardening’s the same with my process.

There are going to be gaps that need filling. More color, more texture, maybe a different angle. My nasturtium seeds have only sprouted two little plants. I think about this, move one carefully and plant it with the other.

new home for two lonely nasturtium, lavender in bloom behind
The new home for two lonely nasturtium, lavender in bloom behind them.

In its place I fill in with mini fuchsias (I bought far too many for the faerie garden anyway), and some wishbone flowers (not on my list, but too sweet to resist) that should spill nicely over the wall.

Wild indigo in bloom along with dragonwing begonia and azuratum; mini fuschia and wishbone flowers in front.
Wild indigo in bloom along with dragonwing begonia and azuratum; mini fuschia and wishbone flowers in front.

Not what I’d intended, but it works. It works really well, and I think, that’s just how it should look. Readjusting with a story is the same. You go where it works.

Water, compost, conversation. You want a strong story, you want strong plants–and I want to be intimately connected to both.

It’s marvelous to watch things bloom, in a story, in a garden–whether it all blooms the way you anticipated at the start, and even more so when it blooms its own unexpected way.

You’re going to get sweaty and tired–and there can be some disasters–having both my hard drive and backup crash simultaneously years back, costing me an entire chapter isn’t so different than seeing a pretty, thriving section of my gardens trampled by a couple of enthusiastic dogs. There I had to go back,reconstruct–and tell myself, as I am with my faerie garden, it’ll only be better for it eventually.

Faerie garden, redone.
Faerie garden, redone.

With a book, it’s going to end. You’ll have done the best you could with the story, and you’ll move on. A garden is a constant work in progress. But for me, getting there is pretty much the same.

Single Iris, the others seem to be waiting
Single Iris, waiting for the others to bloom.
shady spot with bench on the correct side this time
Shady spot with bench on the correct side.
Rhododendron with bird feeder
Bird feeder amid the rhododendron.
Peony tree blooming!
Blooming peony tree.
patio pots already filling in
Patio pots filling in.
mountain laurel likes the dappled shade
Nora’s mountain laurel likes dappled shade.
Herbs thriving, especially oregano
The herbs, especially the oregano, are thriving.
delphiniums about to bloom with green edge petunias in front (new)
The delphiniums are about to bloom with green-edged petunias added in front.
coral bell for bw to plant behind the boots.
Coral bell (the plant for BW to put in the ground) behind the boots.
verbena with star flowers, heliotrope, purple cone flowers
Verbena with star flowers, heliotrope and purple cone flowers.

Derby weekend 2014

We arrived in Louisville Thursday afternoon to cool temps and a seriously brisk wind. Delighted to see our BFF in Louisville, Kathy, and our fabulous cop Brian at the airport. Load up and head to the hotel. Time for a little catch-up, and our traditional lunch at the Dizzy Whiz–on to the hotel for unpacking, then it’s already time to change for the evening events.

We have a big bonus round this trip as we’ve been invited to have drinks with Sue Grafton and her husband Steve at their home in Louisville. I’ve been a fan of Sue’s and her brilliant Kinsey Milhone since A Is For Alibi, so it’s a real treat. As if that wasn’t enough, their home and grounds are absolutely amazing. They’ve rehabbed an gorgeous old mansion, and Steve particularly is an avid and creative gardener. Jason, Kat and I had a delightful time wandering the hedge maze they’ve built–I’ve ALWAYS wanted to try my hand at a maze, and this one was just great. We eventually found our way out where BW waited for the adventurers with Sue and Steve.

This visit was a perfect kickoff to our Derby time. 

Then we’re off to Poker Night. We don’t play–Texas Hold ‘Em confuses me–but it’s a great time catching up with friends we’ve made from previous trips. VERY cool evening, and cool inside, too, so I’m grateful for my topper. Never took it off. 

Friday is Oaks Day for BW and Jason, and Girl Day for Kat, Kathy and me. As is tradition we start off at City Nails for manis and pedis. I love this place, everyone’s so happy and friendly. I get bright orange toenails to go with my Derby Day outfit. Fun! 

Time for lunch, and a glass of champagne for me. It’s Derby! Then onto Rodes for shopping. I spy a bag within ten seconds that had to be mine, and it just got better from there. Another tradition is finding BW (size 14!) cool shoes in the men’s department as a Father’s Day gift, and they don’t let me down. Bags, scarves, a jacket, BW’s shoes, some baubles. Where has the day gone?

It’s back to the hotel where the Louisville goddess of hair, Sarah, is waiting to make us beautiful for the gala. I have to find the pictures we took of the back of Kat’s updo. Just stunning. We all look pretty glam even by the time the guys get back from the track. My filly didn’t come in, but I figure okay, I’m saving my luck for Derby. 

The guys change into their tuxes, and we’re a pretty awesome group. Head to the gala, do the Red Carpet, and dive into the crowd. They do wonderful decorations for the ballroom. Fountains of lights, flowers, so festive and elegant–and not stuffy. I need more champagne! And must check out the silent auction offerings. They benefit Blessings In A Backpack, an organization I support, so I’m happy to bid on what catches my eye. A few things did. 

We mingle, we eat, we check on my bids (still holding!), then it’s time for the first round of live auction. I got BW the Indy 500 package a couple years ago, and it’s up again. He really loved going, so I bid on it. A spirited if confusing short time later, and BW will be heading to the Indy again in 2015 or 2016 (his choice). Happy! 

Kat discovers they’ve got the photo booth up again this year. It’s a do-it-yourself, with props. We have a fun and silly time there. Can’t wait until the pictures are on line. I have some great ones from our last trip. 

Check on silent auction bids, and I’m all good. I’m kind of surprised, but pleased, no one seems overly interesting in what I’m bidding on.  

By eleven-ish, I’m beat. They’ve got some glitch with the silent auction check-out, but will handle my wins the next day. Great, because I’m ready for bed. 

Out of finery, into pjs, crash. 

Derby Day dawns, and it’s perfect weather. The kind of day tailored made for Derby. I’ve already decided California Chrome is getting my main bet. I loved his story, I loved his owner, his trainer. Everything about him works for me–and I happened to catch an interview with his owner before I dressed that morning that just cemented it. It’s not just about the race, the money with this guy. It’s first and last about the horse. I’m betting on this guy and his beautiful horse. 

I have to say, again, the four of us look pretty damn good! Traffic’s just awful, but Brian handles it. Then we’re there, that spectacular place. The spires, the crowds, the color, the excitement that’s like light in the air. Blue skies, warm breezes. Perfection.

Do the Red Carpet, funnel into the waiting area. We’re assigned a guide, and she zips us right through–knows a short cut–and wham, we’re into our area, at our table. Couldn’t have been smoother. I have to go out on the terrace first thing, because there’s nothing, just nothing, like that view. The rich brown oval of the track, the green of the infield already filled with color from the crowds, the circling stands, those spires spearing up into blue skies. But I see we have like three minutes to post on this race, grab the program. I see a horse named Faerie Dancer. Well, obviously. Ask BW to bet $10 across the board. He adds $10 for himself. I get to watch this race before I’ve gotten my bearings. And watch Faerie Dancer streak across the finish line in first. Woo! 

A most excellent start! 

Derby is first, for me, about the horses. They’re more magnificent than I can say. Watching them walk out on the track, riders up in their colorful silks, is awesome. Some of them will trot around with their companion horse like they’re saying, oh yeah, I’m ready for this. Others will have their heads together with their companion like their telling secrets. Those moments when they’re loading in the gate, the seconds before those gates open, so exciting. Then watching them run is pure thrill. Those long legs flying, the thunder of sound, the jockeys glued to their backs, it’s such a stunning experience. 

It’s also about the hats, and there are many. Big ones, tiny ones, sparkling little fascinators, whooshing wide brims that need their own zip code. Color and shape and most of all fun. 

And as we realize this is our tenth Derby, it’s also about the people we’ve met, sharing the day with them, consulting on bets, sharing wins and losses. And lots and lots of laughing.

Despite the hats, the fashion, the people, it always comes back to the horses. Anticipation builds all afternoon toward that single, spectacular two minutes. 

At the last minute, I decide to up my bet on California Chrome. I’m a pretty conservative gambler–it’s about fun for me. But I have such a good feeling about this horse. Even if he loses, I’m enchanted by his story, so I bet more on him (surely considerably less still than many of our companions) than I’ve ever bet on a horse before. 

Then I forget about the bet because it’s nearly here. 

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat, it’s glorious and heart-tugging when they play My Old Kentucky Home. Maybe it’s the tune itself, how it’s played here at the Downs before this race that spawns all the chatter and excitement, all the work of the horses, the grooms, the trainers, the hot walkers, the jockeys, but it’s a truly special moment out of time. 

And oh my, here they come for their walk around the oval to the gate. All of them gorgeous, and the crowd already cheering them. I see my horse and he’s so relaxed, like he’s thinking, I was born for this one, I’m ready. I’ve got this.

It builds and builds, that all but visible anticipation and excitement, the noise coming in waves as they approach the gate, as they’re loaded in. 

And they’re off. 

It’s simply like nothing else. Even over the oceanic roar of millions, you can hear that thunder. As I always do, I forget everything else for those two minutes–too awed to think. Somewhere in the din, the announcer’s voice is piping to tell us which horse is in the lead or coming around the outside. There’s a HUGE screen at the Downs now, so you can watch the horses when they’re on the far side of the track. 

Somewhere in the gigantic thrill of it, I pick out California Chrome, and he’s everything and more. I actually think: Yeah, you’ve got this. 

Around the final turn, streaking for the finish line, and he does that change of gears some horses can do. And oh boy, yeah, he’s got this. 

It’s wonderful to win. Fun to win. But nothing comes close to that two minute experience. 

I have to watch the replay as then I can really watch him, just him, run. That’s some horse. 

We hang out for the last two races, saying goodbye to Derby friends, back to the hotel through miserable traffic–but it can’t dim the day. 

Fall into bed early, wiped out. Up to pack. Off to the airport, and home again. 

A whole lot of fun packed into one long weekend. That’s Derby.

Nora

 14-derby-001

 

 

Comas and Kidnappings and Orphans. Oh My.

In the recent discussion we could call Procreation In Death, readers tossed out a lot of ideas about plot direction, story additions, plot devices. It’s gratifying to know books and characters I created resonate with readers and have them thinking of what ifs and what’s next.

Characters, like Eve and Roarke and the gang, or like Lila and Ash in my most recent book, The Collector, become a major part of my life. It’s incredibly satisfying when they become a part of a reader’s life.

Now here’s the thing. It’s sort of a big, sweeping thing. There are many, many readers with many, many opinions, feelings, hopes, ideas. As we can see, just as one example from the previous discussion, some readers are as opposed to a Baby Roarke as I am at this time. Others long for one.

So who do I listen to? I listen to the characters–and myself. If I listened to the readers I’d go slowly mad as it’s impossible to please all as one readers says this, another says that. Often with equal passion.

A writer can’t write, not well, not truly, with a reader standing over her shoulder. If only because there’s a second reader over her other shoulder saying the exact opposite. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Neither, because books are subjective and personal, and readers are entitled to take exactly what they want out of a book.

But the writer’s the only one who puts the words, the characters, the feelings, the actions, reactions on the page for those readers to take away.

Here’s the even bigger, more sweeping thing.

I’m never–let me repeat–never, ever, ever going to take a reader’s idea and run with it. Not no way, not no how. If it doesn’t come from me, I’m not going to write it, I’m not going to be compelled to follow that path and see where it leads. It’s not mine.

Over the years I’ve had countless suggestions from readers on storylines, character types, and in the case of the In Death books, countless suggestions for direction and plotlines. Comas, kidnappings and babies seem to be the most popular. (Though puppies were off and running this time out.) You’re not going to see Eve or Roarke in an extended coma so Peabody and McNab can run the show. It’s not the Peabody and McNab show. If Roarke got himself kidnapped, he’d lose considerable of his edge. I can spend the next twenty minutes writing out other reasons why these devices won’t work, but above all you’re never going to see these devices because they’re not mine. It’s not how I see the books or characters.

And over the years I sincerely can’t count the times someone has come up to me, or written me hoping I’ll take this wonderful idea for a book, write it, then split the royalties with them. Or maybe I could just edit this book they’re writing and they’ll cut me in on what’s bound to be a major best seller. Or–a personal fave–they want me to write their life story because it’s so fricking fascinating.

To all of these I say, PLEASE, write your own book. I think it’s pretty clear I can come up with my own ideas, so thanks but no thanks for the offer of yours and half the royalties.

And to those who pine for me to write their autobiography, I say here, as kindly as possible, everyone’s life is, or should be, fascinating to them. It’s probably not going to be fascinating to most everybody else. And it’s not my story. I’m never–repeat–never, ever going to write it.

Ideas, honestly, are the easy part of this job. It’s the execution of the idea that frustrates, fascinates and drains the blood from your body. Ideas? I’ve got a million of them. Some of them will never make it to the page because they’re not especially good ideas. Nearly all of them seem like the wrong idea at various points during the writing process when it feels like nothing’s going the way you’d hoped it would or thought it would. But that’s the process.

So don’t look for comas and kidnappings In Death, don’t look for your life story on the New York Times Bestseller list with my name after it, don’t look for your phantom vampire and the international assassin who loves him or your struggling single mother finding love and adventure with the incognito prince as they thwart a terrorist attack on Cleveland.

Hmmm….maybe make her a blogger, and he’s undercover CIA, and….No.

So the big (and simple) and sweeping thing is this: If I didn’t think of it, I’m not going to write it.

I hope you’ll continue to enjoy what I do think of, and where I take you.

Eve And Roarke With No Body

Recently Laura posed a question on Facebook asking what people thought Eve and Roarke might do if they had a free weekend without a murder to deal with. The most popular answers from readers were: Make a baby and/or find some young child and adopt, and Eve finds blood kin–a kindly grandmother, a sweet long-long sister.

Here’s why I’m going to disappoint those hopeful readers.

As I’ve said before, babies change everything. They must, they should. I’m simply not ready to change the scope and dynamics of the series.

But oh, you say, people have babies all the time! They adjust their lives, they make it work. Why can’t Eve?

Because she’s not ready either.

But! It would be so funny to see her trying to cope with a baby!

Yes, it would. For a scene or two. I have to think of the big picture here. I would hope if and when Eve and Roarke become parents (and an older child, adoption, fostering mean EXACTLY the same thing as a parent is a parent) they’re really, really good ones. A really good parent doesn’t toss the baby/kid to Summerset while they rush off at all hours to fight crime or work in-house on a case.

Yes, cops have babies/kids in real life. This isn’t real life. Consider the soap opera a moment. A character gets pregnant (drama, humor, pathos ensues) then the baby’s born. We have baby time for a few episodes. Then we don’t see the kid again until he’s ready for school. And THEN we rarely see the kid until he’s grown up enough to have his own story. Because the day-to-day parenting doesn’t make for good drama in a story that’s structured around action, investigation, sex. Think about it, how could they show all the latest fashion if the star has a maya wrap ring sling around here with a drooling baby… Not going to happen.

Also consider the structure of the series, the timelines. Each book normally takes a handful of days in book time, and the next book closely follows. How many of you are really interested in reading about a pregnant Eve for the next few years? I’m not, and if I’m not interested I can’t write it. Yes, I could zip through those months of gestation. Not interested in doing that either.

So, no babies, not now. No charming orphans of any age. No pregnancy scares, no miscarriages, no foundlings, no street-wise kid who needs a good home. Did I leave anything out? If so, fill it in, then answer no.

Now onto the kindly grandmother.

One of the main elements, for me, of the series is how Eve made herself. She came from monsters, yet she made herself courageous, strong, decent. She made herself a cop who’ll stand for the dead, for the victim, for justice. She overcame horrors and had dedicated herself to protecting and serving, is willing to risk everything to do so.

She could’ve made another choice, she could’ve used those horrors as an excuse, but instead she used them as a springboard and became a damn good cop.

There is no kindly grandparent or sweet, long-lost sister in her life. She’s not only made herself, she’s made her family. Roarke is her everything, as she is his. It matters, I think, that these two people who came from abuse and viciousness found each other, helped make each other into better people. Love opened them to more.

Eve has a sister. In fact, she has two. Mavis and Peabody. She has a father in Feeney (and a little bit in Dennis Mira, too). She has a mother in Mira. A kid brother in McNab. She has, like it or not, a father-in-law in Summerset. Family is what you make of it, and Eve and Roarke have made a fine one, and linked it with a solid circle of friends.

The Eve we met in Naked In Death wouldn’t have been capable of opening herself up to that family, to that circle. The Roarke we met in Naked In Death would only have accepted that family and circle on a very surface level.

Love changed them, and that’s more than enough.

Nora

It’s now 2 pm — less than 6 hours after the initial post.  In view of some to the comments, Nora asked me to add the following: 

Adoptions, any age child, would change the dynamics and tone of the series just as surely as conception and a biological child. There is no difference in the needs of or the love given to an adopted child than there is of or to a biological child. Eve and Roarke are NOT having a child, adopted, biological, off the streets, out of an orphanage, out of fairy dust, for the foreseeable future. I’m truly sorry to disappoint some readers, but MUST follow my own vision and be true to my characters.

Laura 

November 3, 2014

The issue about babies arose again and Nora posted the following on Facebook:

The Eve and Roarke must be/need to be/should be parents topic comes up too often for me to keep repeating why this isn’t happening. I’ve been clear, from the writer’s point of view, countless times. I feel it’s wasting everyone’s time for me to keep explaining my reasons–and it’s senseless for me to find myself upset when adoption is brought up as if there’s a difference between parenting an adopted child rather than a biological one.

So I’ve asked Laura to simply link my blog post on this subject whenever it’s brought up in comments. I have to stop repeating myself on this topic.http://fallintothestory.com/eve-and-roarke-with-no-body/

I’m sorry some readers are disappointed I’m not taking the series and the characters in this direction, but I’m not. Repeat: I. Am. Not. The readers who insist on telling me why this could/should work are wasting their time. I don’t agree, and I write the books. NR

A day in the Life

It occurred to me that most readers probably have no real idea what goes on in a writer’s day. Days can vary, of course, but I had a good one yesterday, so it sort of illustrates the sort of day I like best.
 
Here’s how it went:
 
I’m up at about 5:20. This is no longer annoying, it just is. When I had babies and then little boys I had to get off to school I actively dreamed of the day I could start sleeping in. By the time I got there, my body clock was set, and I’ve learned to accept it. I am, sorrowfully, an early riser.
 
I get myself a giant glass of water–hydrate after a night’s sleep. I let one of the dogs out. The other isn’t interested. Fine with me. I go up to my office. I read some emails, poke around see what’s what in the world. I play some games.
 
It’s nice, it’s quiet. The phone doesn’t ring, and my brain is starting to wake up. At some point I hear my husband get up. He lets the other dog out. I hear his coffee machine.
 
I go down get my version of caffeine. Diet Pepsi. Ah, NOW that’s better! Morning fog lifts. We can work now.
 
Speak with husband first–it’s only right. Kiss him goodbye as it’s unlikely I’ll be back down before he leaves. And I get to work. It happens I’m working on the last part of the second draft of an In Death. I’m not sure I have the pathology of the villain quite right, so fiddle as I go. I enjoy these people, and the second draft gives me the chance to fix any mistakes I find, expand where it needs to, contract if it needs that, add some color and texture where I might have skimped just trying to get the story down.
 
I eat Cheeze-Its, drink DP, play with Eve and Roarke and the gang.
 
At some point–I don’t pay much attention to time in my office–I go down, refill glass with water. Realize I haven’t brushed my teeth. Good God. Do so immediately.
 
Go back up to my office. Allow myself to play for a few minutes. Check email, answer maybe. Maybe not. Back to work.
 
Annoyed that the phone rings, don’t answer TeleFund one time, Out Of Area another, Private Caller yet another. Stop ringing! Go away.
 
I’d really like to get a good chunk of this draft done, be sure the story’s moving as I want–or more accurately, as it wants and it should. Pretty happy with it. Work. Let dogs in. Work. Let dogs out. More water.
 
Brain getting tired. It’s time to stop. About four–good time to stop. Time to work out. Down into my little gym, pick a DVD. decide to mix it up. Some cardio, some resistance with weights, some mat work. An hour of that, and it’s good for the day. Let dogs in. They have me trained. Whatever time I finish a workout–a morning one, an afternoon one, doesn’t matter, they wait, watch for me. I let them in, and they rush like maniacs to the kitchen closet where we keep the dog biscuits. Their eyes are mad with joy and anticipation. But their butts hit the floor, as that’s the rule. Good dogs! And as is habit for unknown reasons to the human involved, they go to separate corners, devour said biscuit then must immediately be let out so they can run like mad things. What’s in Milk Bones that causes this? No one really knows.
 
My husband has requested pasta for dinner–this pretty quick pasta dish I make, and that works as it’s already after five–and he’s home early because he’s working on a project in our great room.
 
Pour some wine–yay! Talk to husband, start dinner. Let dogs in who now collapse, exhausted from Milk Bone mania.
 
Cook dinner, approve the on-going project. Eat dinner. Good pasta. Have another glass of wine. Yay.
 
He’s brought home books from the bookstore for me to sign–it’s Monday, and three days a week, I sign books after dinner. Sign books while I watch TV. Have another Diet Pepsi. Let dogs out. Watch TV, play with IPad. Let dogs in. Why aren’t I in my pjs? Remedy that. See that I forgot to call in the galley corrections on Festive In Death as they’re still sitting beside the bed where I worked on them the last several evenings. Damn it.
 
Must do that tomorrow, because I don’t want to go back up to my office now. Happy The Blacklist is back. Love me some James Spader.
 
Watch a little Jon Stewart, go to bed.
 
So this is a pretty good day for me. Few interruptions. Probably about ten hours ass in the chair, and about seven of that actively working. A couple hours of play in there, and some time going up and down for fluids and dogs. A good workout, an easy dinner prep, and good TV.
 
Some days don’t go so well, but when they do, this is a pretty typical one for me.

A note from Nora on reprints

A reader posted a comment on Facebook that started out:
Why is it that you not writing very many new books but publishing older books under a different title.  This should be called fraud.  When your fans think they are buying a new book and start to read it and find they just bought a book they had already read…
Nora saw the comment and took the time to answer a little more fully:
Though I’ve addressed this issue before, it’s been  some time. I realize there are many, many readers who don’t know how copyrights  work, and when there are so many reprints, repackaged, with title changes, the  confusion and annoyance leads those who don’t know to assume I’m doing  it.
 
I get that, but . . .
 
As long as a publisher keeps a book in  print–somewhere–they retain the rights. A book must be out of print for a  certain number of years, contractually, before the writer can ask for the rights  back. I don’t have the rights to the books Silhouette repackages, reprints,  re-titles. I have no control, at all, over the reprints. Changes in copyright  laws mean that–I think it’s 33 years after initial publication, whether or not  the book is in print– the author can request, during a certain window and in  writing, for the rights back.
 
At this point, I’m simply not in control of the rights  or the publication of the Silhouette titles. We do everything we can to let the  readers know what’s new. The new titles are listed on my website. The new titles  have the NR logo in the corner of every book. I also encourage readers to check  the copyright page, see when the book was published.
 
I understand, absolutely, the upset of thinking you’re  buying a brand new story, then realizing you brought a reprint, repackaged with  a new umbrella title. I hope you’ll understand I can’t do anything about  it.
 
It’s great for a brand new reader to discover an  author through a reprint. Not so great to feel you got stung, as a long-time  reader, because the cover and title changed on you. Please, look for the NR  logo, check noraroberts.com for the list and schedule of new releases, and flip  to the copyright page if you’re just not sure.
 
Believe me, I value readers, and don’t want any to  feel I’m taking advantage of them.
 
Nora

Quick note from Nora

Hi to all!
 
I wanted to address the wantings and wishings that the trilogy  books come out all at once, or one right after the next. I’ve twice done  trilogies that came out in sequential months. It was fun, and a challenge.  However, in general, my trilogies span six month per book. The first reason for  this is — pretty simply — I have to write the books. I’m a fairly speedy  writer in the big scheme, but not so speedy I can write as fast as you guys can  read. There’s the research, the head-scratching, the blank-staring, the  what-comes-nexting and everything else that goes into getting a story down. And  even after all that, the book must be edited, put in production, a cover must be  created and so on. This all takes considerable time.
 
Add in, I don’t just write the trilogies, but two-full length In  Death books and a stand-alone Roberts hardcover every year–with a novella  tossed in now and again. They all take time, for me to write, for the publisher  to produce and schedule.
 
Even if I rushed it all, or was somehow able to write 24/7,  ignoring actual life, I just couldn’t write as fast as you can  read!
 
It’s incredibly flattering, exceptionally satisfying for me, as a  writer, to know readers are eager and anxious for my next book. It’s such a  tremendous compliment. I wish I could give you more, but I can only thank you  for the compliment, and continue to write the best books I can write, at the  pace I can write them.
 
When the wait’s over, I hope you’ll enjoy Shadow Spell as much as  you have Dark Witch. And when THAT wait’s over, I hope you’ll enjoy Blood  Magick–which I’m working on right now. In fact, I’d better get back to  it.
Nora

Nora’s Kentucky Derby recap

We love Derby! We’re so grateful to be asked to come, and to support a wonderful cause like Blessings In A Backpack. For one wonderful weekend in May I can support that cause, enjoy an amazing tradition, and have nothing but fun doing both.

Bruce, our daughter-in-law Kat and I arrived in Louisville on Thursday afternoon to glorious weather–and our traditional stop for lunch at the Dizzy Whiz with our pal and escort–the delightful Kathy Conway, and our cop for the weekend, the fabulous Brian.

Then it’s off to the hotel, to unpack, to unwind before suiting up for Club Night. This is our ninth Derby, so it’s a lot like a family reunion, catching up with friends we only see once a year. A poker tournament is a big part of Club Night, but since we’re lousy at Texas Hold ‘Em, we opt to just hang out, reconnect with those friends, enjoy the spread.

Friday is Oaks Day–for the guys in our group. Our son Jason arrives bright and early (he had work on Thursday). He and Bruce dress up for a day at the track–and looked pretty spiffy! Kat and I head out with our Kathy for a girl day. Manis and pedis–and I opt for bright green toes to match my Derby dress. More fun! And fun, too, as we’ve been going to this salon for several years, and can catch up with everyone there.

Off to a pretty ladies lunch–champagne for me!–relaxing, talking, then to the big part of the afternoon. Shopping. I know when I spot a bag I HAVE to have the minute I walk into my favorite store in Louisville, it’s going to be a good day. Following tradition, I find a cool pair of shoes for Bruce, and Father’s Day is now taken care of.

Back to the hotel where the talented Sarah will give us gala hair. The men come back–my filly didn’t come in–but they had as good a time as we did.

Now it’s get glam time for Unbridled Eve’s fabulous gala. The men look so handsome–but I have to say my Kat is just awesome. Kathy and her equally handsome son–in his ROTC uniform–are joining us for the evening.

BW and I walk the Red Carpet–also fun but always just a little odd for me considering I spend most of my time in pjs or sweats in front of a keyboard. But tonight’s special, and again for a wonderful cause. It’s fun to see what everyone’s wearing, too see the beautifully decorated venue. It’s such a happy weekend, and it pumps you up to be around such good, positive energy.

The silent auction benefits Blessings In A Backpack, and I’m happy to bid on items that catch my eye. Even happier when my bids hold up on several. We don’t stay too late–tomorrow’s the big day!

And it dawns chilly, rainy, windy. But we’re not going to let that dampen our spirits. It’s time for hats! Mine is made–as it is most years–by Hats By Penny–and this year is the best yet. I’m in love with it. I’m also glad I have a reasonably warm jacket to go over my spring green dress. I needed it.

There’s really nothing like seeing the Downs, each and every year. Nothing like the look and feel of it, the sounds of it, and all those happy people braving the rain to be a part of this first Saturday in May.

More familiar faces, more hugs–a challenge with big hats–and the incredible sight of the track, the sound of the horses, the pageantry.

The betting!

My luck is down. Race after race I can’t pick a horse to save me. I’ve had some tips on the Derby race, and consider all of them. I put a little on Goldencents–a local favorite, and some on Rosie, the female jockey. But Orb catches my eye, so I decide to put a chunk on him across the board.

You can actually feel the sizzle as the big race approaches. And the rain stops; the sky lightens a little. Everyone’s buzzing now, and piling out onto the terrace to wait and watch. The minute the gates open I forget–as I always do–the bet. It’s all about the horses, the incredible beauty of them, the speed–even on the sloppy track–the thunderous sound. Everyone cheers, shouts, whistles–it’s a wall of noise, and in that moment I don’t care who wins. I just want to watch the majesty of the moment.

But I do see a horse coming in from behind. Who is that? Just look at him, he’s glorious. I don’t realize until right before the finish it’s Orb. I pull for him then as much, probably more, due to his magnificent run than the bet.

Even when it’s done, the buzz continues. Cheers and more cheers–from winning bets and losing ones. I go inside to watch the race again on the TV, hear the announcers as that wall of sound during the race blocks everything else.

Then I cash in. Thank you, Orb!

We stay for the last two races–for the fun and to give traffic a chance to calm. The Surrounding games have loads to offer the gambler, it seems I’m solicitated just as much as online, things like “ CompareTheBets’ List of Promo Codes” can be heard from well dressed young men and such… But I remain focused on my current luck, and I hit the next two races as well. It’s fun to win, but the real thrill is Derby, and everything surrounding it.