Late last fall, Nora wrote a blog post about New Directions in which she shared the challenges and excitement of starting down a new path. I watched from the peanut gallery as Nora sweated through writing Year One.She’d share tiny bits and pieces of what was happening in the book so I first met the characters and situations through her verbal storytelling.
When I had an opportunity to read it in the spring, I nearly swallowed Year One in one gulp. I remembered the verbal cues and would get to one, then press on for the next. It’s an amazing start to the ride.
Now, it’s time for you to get a first taste of the journey that starts December 5. I’ve read comments from long time readers unhappy with the direction, wanting more traditional romance. For those readers, I ask you to consider this: relationships are the framework of this book and Nora’s approach to relationships is why you’ve read her for more than 30 years. There’s enough familiar to balance the different so I encourage you to give it a try. Borrow from the library if you’re not keen to invest in something unknown. But try.
Edited 12/7/17 — Updated to include chapter two here.
It rained a lot last week, and though the gray gets tiresome, I had a full week without leaving the house. Full work days without: Crap, I have to do this or go there.
That, for me, was pretty much heaven.
We did have a visitor one morning. BW found this stunned mourning dove–and afraid the dogs might go to town on it, brought it in to show me. Before he started back down, the dove pulled itself together, started to flap. So out it went, safe and sound.
And I broke a stupid crown, somehow or other.
Now, I’ll call the dentist office first thing in the morning, right before I leave for Kat’s birthday shopping trip and slumber party. We’ll see if the dentist can squeeze me in after that, and before we leave on Friday for Logan’s Excellent New York adventure.
Can’t believe my guy is thirteen.
So a crazy week coming after heaven, but much fun in there. Likely two more stints in the dentist chair, but what can you do?
After the week of work, workouts and rain, we had the sun shine for us on Saturday for the signing at Turn The Page. To my recollection, it’s the first time we’ve done a June signing, but Come Sundown’s hit the shelves, so we worked one in. We’ll still have our traditional anniversary signing in July, with the Fall Into The Story Brunch on the Sunday following the signing.
But for this past one, we had sunshine and nice temperatures–and an unexpected power outage in Boonsboro. That was interesting, and fortunately only lasted about an hour. The readers, authors and staff handled it all with patience and good humor.
Laura and I did a little Facebook Live chat–just a couple minutes, before everything got going. Maybe we’ll do another one when we’re in New York. Logan’s main wish is a trip to the Nike Store–the boy does love basketball shoes–but we also have tickets for a ballgame, plans to take him down to The Flatiron, maybe take a stroll on the Highline, eat pizza–and just give him a fun, Logan-centric time in the big city.
I need to pack for our Kat-centric overnight (Girl Fun!), but I treated myself to a walk around the gardens–without the work this weekend as I have too much else to see to–and clearly the flowers enjoyed all that rain.
I expect I’ll be in the dentist chair one day this week, then it’s pack for Logan’s trip–with, I hope, at least a little writing time in there.
It’s lowering to admit that my spirits fell in the approach to spa week. The company is wonderful, the setting lovely, the services superb — and yet.
The specter of the Stupid Scoreboard loomed with all the inherent horrors of last year’s Biggest Loser status.
I bravely persevered in the face of such agonizing memories, packed up the soft clothes, the books, the magazines, said goodbye to the dh and headed to the Fortress of Silence (aka Nora’s house). The drippy Saturday weather narrowed the day’s goals to cozying in nest to a roaring fire in a lovely suite.
First though, I had to run the gamut of happy dogs. I haven’t been up to the Fortress since February so my arrival was my first interaction with Atticus. His human woman proudly reports he’s house broken but they’re still working on not jumping. Apparently I was that perfect storm of new human AND wearing a white sweater. He jumped. Lesson learned.
Nora and BW had already loaded the car with her clothes, champagne, workout gear, the Wii (blech :0) and Fabulous Prizes. JoAnne, Mary Kay and I arrived at the same time so we completed the loading in and got on the road.
I felt a prickling on the back of my neck and when I looked over my shoulder there was the Scrabble box, staring down at me. The memory of the Stupid Scoreboard mocked me, but I resolutely ignored it for the drive.
Nora navigated through increasingly bad rain over the mountains and gaps from Maryland to Pennsylvania and got us to our home for a week before 12:30 (her personal goal). We piled out of the car, happy to let the hotel staff deal with unloading the intricate puzzle of bags and stuff.
While we waited for the keys to the suite, Nora began the dread discussion: “what games should we play tonight?” Then my “friend” looked directly at me and said “Laura, you should play Scrabble tonight so you can get it over with.” JoAnne and Mary Kay laughed.
I sulked, Dear Diary, I sulked.
We toasted the week of friendship (Diary, I had reservations about who my true friends were at that point), unpacked, snacked and then those who had treatments went on their way. I’ll admit, Diary, that I stewed about the Scoreboard, games and the perfidy of “friends” during my treatment, but then a revelation struck: what if I embraced the Stupid Scoreboard and became One with it? (What can I say, when you’re floating on the clouds of a treatment, the brain opens up to all possibilities.)
Kat arrived with her 2017 edition of The (Non) Stupid Scoreboard, drawn free-hand. And this time she created a rebus for the title:
I contemplated this new idea of accepting the scoreboard through dinner, then accepted the inevitable when I was part of the first Scrabble group which included the fearsome and mighty Elaine (past Grand Winner and killer Scrabble player — the last time I played with her, Elaine scored 47 on the first word. I suggested we stop playing right then, but my “friend” said we had to play. Elaine won by 47 points. Who was right Diary?) But I digress.
With my newfound Zen attitude: One with The Scoreboard, I concentrated on words, ignored the score. At one point, Nora — who was organizing the Just Dance portion of the tournament — wandered over, checked the score and was amazed I was competitive. I didn’t actually know the score so I just kept going. The highlight of my round was Peaky, which I tied into dog to make Doge. And came up with a boatload of points
My “friend” Nora, took a photo to commemorate. I had to contort myself to fit in the frame but it was done:
Diary, I completed the round first! As Elaine tallied up the score, she commented, “Laura, you’re just three points behind ME.” She swears she didn’t mean it the way it came out. But I wonder if I have another person to put in the “friend” category.
So I came in second, three points behind the mighty and fearsome Elaine. Not a win, not a loss. Very Zen.
Nora, Kat and JoAnne worked out the Just Dance song for the week. They practiced with Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It), then chose Don’t Wanna Know as the song we all have to perform. JoAnne stunned us with a win in her round.
[From JoAnne’s Spa Notes: Dear Diary — who was that holding my Wii remote tonight??]
Sarah and I danced — me against yet another Grand Winner — and I handled it respectably. Meaning I came within 1,000 points of Sarah.
The final act of the night was bowling. Nora decided to capture all the moments in the round:
[Excerpt from Mary Kay’s Girls Spa Week 2017 diary: I won my round in bowling!!!]
And that was the end of Day 1, Dear Diary. Much more to come.
Did you know the US hardcover edition of Echoes in Death has a surprise on the inside of the jacket? It’s an amazing poster of the night around the Flatiron Building. Did you also know that St. Martin’s Press thought it would fun to give readers a little extra with a hidden object game in that poster?
Here’s the key and some visual clues.
J.D. Robb in the window
Clock set to 10:10 for Nora’s birthday
Some Cranky Publicist notes:
Except for JD Robb, all the objects are symbols, not exact representation of the items. For instance — the snowflake hat is blue in the books, but blue wouldn’t show up in such a dark picture. Please go with the flow on this.
Somewhere down the road, St. Martin’s Press may provide a digital image for all readers, but for now, the only physical place for the hidden object poster is on the inside of the hardcover jacket — US edition.
When you only get one big storm in a season, the snowsteria can overwhelm. Monday is my regular grocery day so I was a bit impatient with the crowd at the store frantically stocking up everything from cookies to milk to Easter candy (just in case). And I mentally rolled my eyes at the person in front of me in line who had two huge bunches of green bananas in her order. Spring will be here before they are ripe.
But the hysteria did give me an opportunity to post this on social media:
Yes, they are all books scheduled for release later this year. Yes, it’s a tease. Yes, I know, I’m a meanypants.
And yes, I loved them all.
This year’s Home Alone time was a two-parter for Nora and BW is off to parts unknown for a few more days. Since I’m a sensible meanypants and never poke hibernating bears, I’ve left Nora in her Fortress of Solitude. Pretty sure she’s deep in the current WIP (work in progress) but taking regular trips to Poop City with Atticus.
Finally, St. Martin’s Press never stops! The team created this short video to continue the excitement about Echoes in Death. Enjoy!
The snow is pretty much done in Maryland and it’s just after noon on Tuesday so I suppose I need to get my workout in by shoveling. I hope everyone north of us is getting through the storm in good shape and that storm provisions hold up well.
Nora discussed her upcoming trilogy in this post last fall. Today, I’m so excited to share the cover reveal video St. Martin’s Press created for this amazing cover along with our first look at details of the book.
The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed—and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.
Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river—or in the ones you know and love the most.
As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive, they really take their job very serious, I’ve met some doctors that don’t care at all about their patient’s life, I’ve seen many of them have trouble with The Medical Negligence Experts due to their irresponsibility.
In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.
Which is what’s going on around here. I’m in hibernation mode–mostly–so it’s just work, work out, dinner, sleep. Repeat.
It’s what I call the best.
I do break hibernation a bit here and there. The kids are allowed into the cave. With Kayla off to run in States–go, team!– to end her track season, and Logan’s basketball season winding up, I may see a little more of them. That’s always a bright spot in this relentlessly gloomy winter.
As a sign they’re pretty grown up, what was once a toy room/guest room is now, after my purge, just a guest room. Nobody plays with the toys any more, so it’s time to pass them on. A little sad, but then I remember a couple weeks ago after a sleep-over, Kayla and I putting our makeup on together in the bathroom mirror. Every stage has its little pleasures.
Plus, I picked out new paint and bedding for the room. I’ll enjoy seeing it freshened up. And our Sarah who often bunks there after a book signing will, too.
And thanks to Sarah’s gift of an amaryllis kit, I have a gorgeous February bloom.
While I ‘appeared’ in New York to celebrate my first release with St. Martin’s Press, I didn’t have to leave home to do it. My amazing publisher projected the cover of Echoes In Death, front and back on the Flatiron Building. This is just too cool. It’s also pretty sweet having a publishing team who thinks of the just too cool–so I can stay home and write while they do innovating marketing, create fun contests and design fabulous covers.
I can’t count the ways I love my home with them, and the people in it.
Last weekend I serious broke hibernation when BW and I went into Fit In Boonsboro to take their first Cize Alive class. I’m a big fan of Cize and of Shaun T, and use his DVDs regularly in my workouts at home. Knowing this, our manager Heidi gave me a little nudge to attend. And since my pal JoAnne planned to go, and added a second nudge, in I went. And BW decided to give it a go with me.
Fun stuff–fun, sweaty stuff–with a happy class and seriously energetic instructors in Heidi and Teri.
And we have video! Oddly, muscle memory goes to crap when you turn from the front of the room to the side to get the video, but I think the class pulled it off. I’m absolutely sure Fit’s members are going to love this addition.
The last break–and it will very likely be the very, very last until spring–hits today. If you’re a fan of NPR, you’ll have listened to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. If you haven’t, you’re missing something. I’m delighted they invited me to be their guest on the Not My Job segment. I recorded it live Thursday night–by phone–and it airs today and tomorrow on NPR. You’ll want to check your local listings if you’re interested. (And the segment is now online.)
Now with the annual house purging done and nothing on my schedule for WEEKS that takes me out of the house, I’m hunkering down. I’m working on the second book of the new trilogy, and can say without hesitation, it’s sucking my brain dry by the end of every day. It’s hard, complicated writing, and I couldn’t be happier doing it.
The day is finally here! I write this post at 7:15 am on Tuesday, February 7 and I have a feeling some of you are just rounding third and heading for home in your first frantic read. Just as I know there are many others who cleared this as a holiday from work to read in peace. And then there are the strong and patient readers who have many different reasons to wait a little while longer.
However you approach reading an In Death book, I hope you enjoyed it. IMO, Echoes is a lot of case and a really interesting one. What did you think? Did you find any of the things I mentioned in the teasers?
This is the safe space to discuss any and all of Echoes in Death. And to forestall the inevitable question that follows — usually with a wink or smiley face but I know you sincerely mean it — Secrets in Death will be out on September 5.
We must be less than a week out from release if I’m putting together teasers for Echoes in Death! As always these do not spoil the case in any way, just consider them some nuggets you’ll unearth along the way.
As a refresher, the Echoes in Death excerpt is here.
And I recently shared the Echoes in Death commercialfrom St. Martin’s Press on social media. I think the universal response has been “Cool!!!”
I’ll add a teaser to this post the next three days. Come back and check tomorrow.
Three small things:
1) When Peabody sees how Eve dressed for the charity ball, she immediately coins a new word.
2) Sticky buns get to everyone, even Eve.
3) New closets can get to her too.
St. Martin’s Press created this fun infographic for In Death basics. Some readers commented on Facebook that there are 54 published pieces in the series, but SMP took the facts from the Did You Know feature on the website where I deal with full-length books only. There’s so much more to add, but for a piece on the basics, I think it’s fun.
Now for today’s teasers.
Feb. 2 Two things that come and go quickly, one that is dear to my heart:
1. What do an inventor, a tragic Greek hero and an egg-laying mammal have in common? Peabody will help you out on that one.
2. Dr. Mira is braver than Eve.
3. Who is Nora’s border collie? (That may take some time.)
Feb. 3 Three more passing things:
1. A snowy night brings out Eve’s protectiveness to a certain butler, for pragmatic reasons.
2. A snowy night is a good time to fill in pop culture gaps.
3. Some gifts are sheer perfection.
That’s it for the teasers — a lot of this book is the case and you want to encounter that at your own pace. Come Feb. 7 you can discover the rest for yourself.
Notes: This is the final reminder of the Echoes in Death sweepstakes from St. Martin’s Press (open to readers in the US and Canada — except Quebec). The grand prize is a leather coat and all the details are here.
There’s also time to submit your pre-order receipt for a limited edition pop-art In Death poster. Again, as this is Nora’s US publisher the offer is open only to readers in the US and Canada (ex. Quebec). Unfortunately rules on sweepstakes are imposed country by country and it’s just not possible to open this to international readers — as much as we’d like to. For information and how to submit your receipt, please click here.
After the rush and fun of the holidays, BW and I spend a week away with friends and family at a resort/spa a convenient couple hours drive from home. We’ve been doing this, we figure, for about fourteen years.
It’s a lovely, lovely break. It’s familiar for this creature of habit, it’s comfortable, and it’s pretty.
This year it’s also COLD! Seriously cold, and we’ve had a pretty (since I’m not out in it) snowfall. I had my first emotionally focused therapy at the spa a few hours after our arrival, and just let everything go. That’s the best. It’s relax and recharge time for me. Read lotsa books time, work a little here and there time, and cook not at all time. And it’s an extra gift to spend that time with people you love and enjoy.
I’ve finished two books, and will start another this afternoon while I wait for my mmmmm deep tissue massage. Which I earned as I went full out for a two full hour cross-training workout this morning.
I’ll come back, pour myself a glass of champagne then think about what to order for dinner, the one I’m not cooking.
I had a good, solid stretch of writing one day between workout and a facial. Good deal. I worked on a non-book-related project and did a little shopping. When I go home, I have a routine doc’s appointment, and then an event on the weekend, followed by hosting at our house our Kayla’s State champion girls cross-country team.
Squeezing writing in there as I go. But that’s days away.
I love what I do for a living, love the time and the effort I’m required to put into crafting a story I hope readers will enjoy. I love being able to take some time off with friends and family, love spending the weekend making soup and bread or whatever appeals in my own kitchen. Because I love all of that I’m bound to do a better job of it than if I disliked or resented it.
Here’s what I don’t much like, and more have no real skill for. Handling social media. Coming up with topics for Facebook that will engage readers and make them happy. Laura is queen of all that. If I had to handle it? I wouldn’t have FB pages. Simply wouldn’t. I’d resent every minute I had to scratch my head over what to write, and detest every minute it took away from the work I love. So I’d simply eliminate the annoyance and distraction, and focus on what I love, what I’m good at, and what I owe the reader. My best work.
That’s the bottom line. A writer of fiction owes readers this: The best book he or she can write at that particular time. She also owes them gratitude, of course, for reading, owes them basic courtesy if and when she engages with readers IRL or on line.
And, that’s it.
Though some may disagree I don’t owe readers FB pages or blogs or contests and give-aways to repay them for reading my books, whether they buy them, listen to them, borrow them. I owe them a good book. FB is a marketing tool and a great way to communicate. Laura does an amazing job of crafting posts, selecting photos or quotes that springboard reader conversations. I would not, though I do scan the posts, sometimes the comments, and if it applies, add a comment of my own.
I enjoy writing this blog when I have something to say, or can document through words and pictures something I think readers will have fun with. Otherwise I wouldn’t do it. Actually my Jason gave me the basic thrust of how to handle blogging here when years back I whined about it. Days in the life, little bits and pieces with photos, fun stuff, personal stuff.
Okay, I think I can do that, and so far, so good.
In the normal course of events, I write 40-50 hours a week. Parts of that schedule maybe eaten into now and then by the business that surrounds writing. Generally I proof galleys in the evening, not during work hours. I sign, routinely, four tubs of books three times a week, not during work hours.
In there I live a life I really enjoy. It’s a really good balance for me.
If I added in what the amazing Laura does, that balance would tip, and tip hard. I’d be unhappy, and believe me, so would you, the reader.
So for those who might wonder why I don’t write all the FB posts, there’s the answer. It’s certainly not because I don’t value the reader, new ones, or ones who’ve read me from day one.
It’s actually because I very much do.
Anyway, I think I have time for a glass of champagne before that massage. After all, this is time away.
Note from Laura (did you expect anything else?): Since the very first FB post in 2008, I’ve signed what I post though many speed readers do miss it. For everyone who pays attention, they know it’s me. And that NR chimes in when time allows.
While neither of us would ever want to live the other’s life, Nora and I have developed a rhythm and understanding and synchronicity over the past 12 years works. I know what it’s like to be a faithful reader. I also see clearly how routine and hard work built a career that spans three decades of quality storytelling.
I see the (imo) whiny “why doesn’t Nora love us?” comments and think “she does — she gives you multiple books every single years.” And so we’ll continue to not fix what ain’t broke.