Category Archives: Conversation

The Register — 11/11/16

Only a few things to report this Veteran’s Day.

First, thank you to our veterans.  As I posted on Facebook this morning, some of the most wonderful, poignant and gratifying emails are from members of the military and their families thanking Nora for the difference her books make in getting through the strains of

Second, despite the fact we’re all so weary of the voting process in the US, here’s something you can endorse:


The Obsession and Brotherhood In Death made it into the semi-final round of the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016.  The Obsession is in the Romance category while Brotherhood in Death is in Mystery/Thriller.  Click the category name for your chance to vote. Voting is open until Sunday.

Nora’s at the spa right now, but will be back in time for Girls Night Out at Turn the Page Bookstore on Thursday, November 17 from 6-9 pm.  I’ve copied/pasted the info from the Facebook page since it’s not on the TTP website:

It’s a fun evening of champagne, refreshments, treats, door prizes, and lots of mingling with authors, artists, and girls galore. Special guests Lorrie Schoettler of Stony Ridge Ridge Farm and Jeanne Brumbaugh will provide farm goodies and healing energy work. Also meet Joyce Taber, creator of the Nora Roberts’ jewelry collection.

Rub elbows with some of our favorite authors who will meet fans and sign books: Anna Bennett, Mary Burton, Lisa Dyson, HelenKay Dimon, Kimberly Kincaid,  and Erika Robuck.

TTP received permission to sell 50 copies of ISLAND OF GLASS at this event (limit one per attendee)! This is pretty exciting for us since the actual release date isn’t until Dec. 6.

Then be sure to wander around town and stop in the many participating businesses, including our lovely neighboring shop Gifts Inn BoonsBoro. Visit all of the participating businesses with your punch sheet and you’ll have a chance to win a free night’s stay at Inn BoonsBoro and other prizes.

There is no charge for this event, but books signed at Turn the Page must be purchased here.  Call TTP at 301-432-4588 for more details.

Finally, I posted some quotes on Facebook this week.  Enjoy!

lean-and-mean you no-matter


The Register – 11/4/16

For the rest of the year, I plan to compile a weekly round up of social media goings on, photos that appeal to me and tidbits of  info that just don’t fit into other posts.  So, not a Cranky Publicist post (like the one I’ve drafted in my head about how can you be an In Death fan if you misspell Roarke???)  but a neater way to keep you all filled in on what’s new and what’s not.

First up:  the Inn BoonsBoro package featuring an Evening with Nora sold out within hours.  I’m pretty sure if it goes smoothly, there will be another one in the future.  Stay tuned.

Next, St. Martin’s continues to be super excited about their first book with Nora/JD — Echoes in Death.  They will release small bits — one liners really — over the weeks to come to whet appetites even more.  Here’s the first one. echoes-whim-1

(BTW, Heroes & Heartbreakers has some excellent features about and by authors, reviews, reveals and other fun reader-y things. This morning starts with a discussion about Nora Roberts or Nora Ephron — have to love a good Nora, right?)

Continuing on the St. Martin’s Press theme (they are more excited than anyone about working with Nora!):  they have an ongoing sweepstakes tied into Echoes in Death.  The last two prizes are up for grabs soon — the last one is an Eve style leather coat!  Details and rules* are here.

They also created an amazing pop-art poster for Echoes in Death and will giveaway to readers in the US and Canada (ex. Quebec)** who upload their pre-order receipts before midnight, Feb. 6, 2017. All details are listed here.

And, because excitement this big can’t be contained, they’ve revealed the cover for September 2017’s Secrets in Death.9781250123152_fc

I’ll have more information about it next week. Pre-order links are coming on line, but it’s still a little too early for some.  Will list all the pre-order links next week.  Promise!

Third:  Love Between the Covers is now available on Netflix and will be out on dvd on December 6 — same date as Island of Glass.  I posted about the documentary here.

Finally, at Saturday’s signing two readers (names escape me right now) told me all about one of their phones that took photos by saying  “Cheese!” “Shoot” or “Capture!”  It was a Samsung 7 and I have a 6.  Nora will attest that I pouted about not having that amazing capability — which just made us laugh.

Back at the Fortress of Solitude that night, I googled voice triggered photos and found out that I could make my Samsung 6 do it.  And it did!  Here’s the evidence.

Nora, Sarah and Kat enjoying my thrill of snapping a photo by saying “Cheese!”

Then we set BW’s Samsung up as well.  So happy faces all around, except for Nora’s pout that her iPhone didn’t take photos by talking to it.

Still she smiled for the photo.

OK, that’s week one of The Register.

Comments, questions, things you’ve found on your own?  Share in the comments.


* While we love our worldwide readers and hate they have to miss out on the fun, there are varying rules and regulations regarding contests and sweepstakes in countries outside the US and Canada making it problematic and extremely difficult to create global contests.

**  Canadians in Quebec can’t enter due to their own tight rules on sweepstakes.  All other Canadians must answer a math question to make it a test of skill rather than chance.

Apprentice in Death teasers

We’re a week out from the September 6 release date, so I thought I’d share some teasers.  As always, these are not spoilers that reveal major plot points, but some nuggets to look out for as you race through the book.

Apprentice in Death cover

If you need a refresher, you can read the prologue here and the first chapter here.

I’ll update for at least four days this week, maybe five, maybe not.

Monday, August 29:
In a busy Chapter 2 we have:
– A little joke that goes wide of the mark
– Office designs that may or may not suck
– Some major e-geekiness from Roarke, plus he gets to act out a fantasy

Tuesday, August 30
– Some decorating decisions are made.
– Much geek joy results from Roarke’s chapter 2 work, Peabody describes it best.
– Someone gets a ride in the DLE and wants one when they are available.

Wednesday, August 31
– There’s a quiet Eve & Roarke moment amid the chaos of the case in Chapter 8 that offers a little glimpse of a younger Eve.
– Marriage proposals can happen anywhere/anytime.  And don’t involve characters we know.

Thursday, September 1
– It seems Nadine may like rock ‘n roll.
– Roarke feels torn by connections
– Mira misinterprets Eve’s term for an energy boost shake.  To Eve’s embarrassment.

Friday, September 2
– Roarke’s Christmas gift pays off
– Birthday party, Mavis style.

Thanks for playing along.  Curious to see what you all think when you see the teasers in context.  Because honestly?  Most of the guesses are way off.  But that only makes it more fun.  Back on Tuesday to open the discussion thread.





The way to Nora’s heart

It’s always a pleasure (for Nora and me) when a baby comes to a signing.  We’re veteran child herders so we know that waiting in line with a tired or hungry baby is not always fun for the parent (or grandparent or aunt or uncle or friend) in charge of the baby.  But it’s a welcome respite for us.

Many times I’ll see the baby back in line and get a chance for a cuddle.  Then, of course, I simply HAVE to show off for Nora who gives me the stink-eye for getting there first.

But I’ll admit Nora’s a baby whisperer and even the crankiest little one calms down when Nana Nora holds him or her.  (Though some of them are actually eyeing her jewelry to get something shiny in their fist — or mouth.  They are fast and strong and rarely give up without a complaint.)

We ran into two little beauties a couple weeks back.  Taylor came with her mom, her aunt, her grandma and great grandma to the Fall into the Story brunch.  It was a busy day, but I did snap a couple photos of the four generations with their cameras, and one — a little blurry — with mine.

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Fortunately, our good pal Maureen McGowan — a TTP regular and a wonderful photographer — took a few of Nora with the baby for me.

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Then there was the adorable Isabelle who brought her mom Katie to the Literacy signing on July 13.  Mom waited on the huge line for book and a photo but Miss Isabelle had an agenda of her own.  She acquiesced when Nora took her in her arms — for all of 10 seconds. Then she let us all know she was not best pleased and she wanted to be with her mom — NOW!

Happy baby, happy Nora.
Mightily annoyed baby, very amused Nora. (And mom Katie)

Fortunately Mom knew what Isabelle really wanted and the next time we looked over she was having a bottle.

We also get to meet some very smart and patient older kids who hang at the signings with their family, let me take their photos and usually walk out with a book (or two) of their own.

It’s always a huge pleasure to know that reading families seed the next generation as early as they can.  I think it would be great fun to share those new readers with seasoned vets here on the blog.  If you have any photos of your kids or grandkids with Nora, send them to me at  Any if you have any anecdotes about their reading habits, please let me know.  I hope to share some more photos in the coming weeks.




For the past several weeks, I’ve been house hunting–publishing houses, that is. While publishing’s a business, a house is still a home, and moving is stressful, complicated–and for a creature of routine like myself–just fraught.
Exciting, too, because once you work through the fraught, there are new possibilities, a fresh page, a new start.
There were changes in the house I worked with, lived in, was part of for more than twenty years, and with those changes I no longer felt at home there. Home, for me, is the center, the core, personally and professionally, so I need to feel comfortable and in place. I need to fit and feel connected.
So it was time to pack up, move on, and take memories of those twenty-plus years of good work with good people with me to somewhere new.
But where?
I’m fortunate to have had choices, to be able look at the landscape, the architecture, the personality and foundations of what was available to me. Each had its own distinct appeal and advantages, and since I don’t move lightly, all had to be carefully considered–with the invaluable and level-headed guidance of my agent. Amy Berkower of Writers’ House has been my agent since 1980. Not only don’t I make changes lightly, but I know when I have the best and I hold onto it. She knows and understands me, values for me what keeps me content, keeps me happy and creative, is not only my agent but my very good friend.
In the end, though we both determined I could do good work and be satisfied settling into other houses, one could be a real home, a place of contentment and creativity, one that suited my wants and needs at this time in my life and career.
For those reasons and many others, I’m unpacking my bags in MacMillan–St. Martin’s Press. Their landscape, architecture and personality all fit so well I already feel at home. I already know some of the family, and that’s a path to contentment. I’m looking forward to meeting and making connections to the rest. Best of all, I can now concentrate on the work I’ll do for them, and for you. I like to think, within this new house I’ll create some rooms readers will enjoy visiting, spending some time in.
They’ll begin publishing me next year (it takes time to write those books, create those rooms), and I’m looking forward to what my new family and I will do together.  (Note from Laura: there is still work to be done arranging the 2017 schedule.  While I know readers would love to continue with a schedule that’s familiar, there are bound to be tweaks up ahead.  We’ll share as we know what’s what.)
Penguin Random House will publish The Obsession this April, Bay Of Sighs in June, Apprentice In Death in September and Island Of Glass in December, as scheduled.  I’m grateful to everyone I worked with there–and to those who continue to work on my books for 2016, and my backlist.
Happily, with the move made, I could spend my Saturday with Kayla in the kitchen without the distractions of what should I do, where should I go eking into the day.
She wanted to learn how to make my red sauce–and she and Logan voted for fudge. My girl learns well, and learns fast. She’s learning the names of herbs and spices–and that no sauce is complete without a good dose of wine.
Once the red sauce is simmering, it’s fudge time. I don’t have my mother’s recipe, sadly, but I found one on-line that uses Marshmallow Cream–we called it fluff. And when I pulled that out of the cabinet, her eyes lit. Fluff! And the two of us had a little taste from the jar. I was ten years old again. She mixed, she stirred, stirred, stirred until the fluff, the sugar, the evaporated milk–a little salt, if I remember right–were all combined and smooth and boiling. And that’s a LOT of stirring. Add the chocolate, a dash of vanilla. Stir, stir. Pour into a foil-lined dish, and into the fridge it goes. Which leaves the spoon and pot to be licked and scraped–just like I did as a girl in my mother’s kitchen.
It’s not quite my mother’s fudge–a little sweeter, I think–but it’s awesome.
The kid also ate a bowl of soup, one of my baker brother’s sourdough English muffins (christened by Laura as J’muffins for my brother Jim). She helped me pick out Easter presents for her younger sibs, helped me sign four tubs of books. Then learned how to make another of her favorite things. Garlic bread.
At the end of the day she took home a container of red sauce–just add pasta!–a plate of pretty amazing fudge and a bag of garlic bread. I suspect her family ate as well and happily as BW and I.
I think of my professional (and personal, because my work and my house are) change. It happened relatively quickly. I look at my granddaughter, stirring, chopping, creating meals, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with me instead of boosted up in my arms. That’s a gradual change that seemed to take five minutes.
And find myself, a creature of routine, not only okay with the changes, but delighted by them.

Price Points, Discounts, Sales!

Laura generated a Facebook post asking readers to pick either Three Fates or The Collector for a discussion. As often happens in the comment section some readers complained about the cost of books–why can’t I make them cheaper, or asked me to have a sale, do some discounting.
Is this aggravating to me? Yes, it is.
First, the post clearly asked for readers to vote for one of two books for a discussion. Second, while I appreciate a bargain as much as anybody, I find requests or demands or complaints re book pricing addressed to me, the writer, frustrating. Third, and perhaps most frustrating (over and above the fact I’ve addressed this countless times already) because I write the books. I do not publish them. I do not sell them. I do not set the price point. I do not decide when or if to discount or have a sale.
I sit here, in my office, at my keyboard, and I write. Period.
But then it occurred to me there may be readers who are simply confused, and some confusion may spring from the fact that many authors self-publish. When someone self-publishes, they are, basically, in charge of all. They set the price of the work, discount as they deem appropriate. They often give the work away for free, at least for a limited time, to generate interest.
If a reader’s surfing the web, they might often encounter an author announcing a sale, a discount, a give-away–and just assume it works that way for all.
I don’t self publish. I have no desire to be in charge of all. This is my choice. I want to sit here, in my office, at my keyboard, and write. Period.
Therefore I have no say–absolutely no say whatsoever, in the cover price the publisher puts on my work. I don’t want any say. I have no say when or if Amazon runs a sale, or when and if my publisher discounts my books in e-form. I have no say what B&N sells my books for, or Sam’s Club, or your local indie bookseller. I can’t tell them what to do, what to charge.
I can write the book.
I have no more control over this than I do when my books come out in another country. I can’t tell my Spanish publisher, for instance, when to release one of my books, or what price point to set.
While it’s weirdly flattering to have some people imagine I run all this from my office chair–or maybe zip around having meetings with all kinds of publishing, bookselling, distributing, marketing people, I just don’t.
To my knowledge no one who doesn’t self-pub has any control over price points or sales.
Let me add another pitch for libraries. They are the treasure house of books. Support your local library. They’re free! You can walk into that treasure house and choose a book, take it home, read it, enjoy it, then take it back so someone else can do the same. You can watch for your local library’s book sales, and buy books at incredible prices.
If you want to own a particular book before that library sale, try used bookstores, try flea markets, yard sales. If you prefer e-books, watch for sales at the venues that offer them. There are many, many ways to own a book.

Asking me to make them cheaper, to offer discounts, isn’t one of them.

(added 2/13/16)
A little math for those readers who believe e-books should be cheap or even free.
The industry standard royalty on e-books is 25%.
So if an e-book’s cost was slashed to, let’s say $5. (Because math’s easier with 5s). The author would make $1.25 on that sale. The industry standard for an agent’s fee is 15%, so 8.3 cents goes to the agent, leaving the author with $1.16.6.
This doesn’t factor in any expenses said author might have laid out for promotion or the other business that revolves around the writing. The publisher would have $3.75 of that sale to pay for formatting, proofing, marketing, promotion (if any), distribution and all the other factors that go into it. They’d probably break even, maybe even eke out a small profit.
Publishing paper, audio and e forms start on the same road–with the content from the author, from the editing of that content, the scheduling, the generating of cover. Then the road splits off. One avenue for paper, one for audio, one for e. All those forms require work, a sales and marketing department, managing editors, proofers, distributors, book reps and on and on. All of them require that.

Publishing is a business. Writing is work. Reading should be a joy. But the joy isn’t free, and can’t be valued so cheaply that the creators of the joy can’t make profit or a decent living.



Not so deep thoughts

I’m pleased to say my Facebook pages are pretty much a happy place for me and for readers. The idea behind them has always been to offer information to readers, to provide some fun and a platform for interaction.
Laura works hard to make that so.
I’ll always be baffled by those who come on to take swipes–and now since the infamous BITE ME blog, our policy is to delete a post and/or ban a poster who crosses the line. It helps maintain that happy, informative place for all of us. So now my bafflement is more about the passive-aggressive type posters who bounce into a thread, make some half-assed complaint or snarky comment that generally has nothing to do with the actual thread.
Here are my rambling and circular thoughts on that–which I hope I’ll round up by the end of this blog.
I had a really solid writing week–always grateful when that happens, when nothing much interrupts. (Dogs in/dogs out is routine around here.) It’s a simple fact that when I’m working, I’m not giving this type of poster a single thought. Their opinions, or bids for attention, or sad need to take shots–not just at me, but other posters–aren’t in my universe when I’m writing. The story and characters are all. My story, my characters, my job, my responsibility. There are times when I see this kind of comment I’d like to say: Babe, do you honestly think you have one iota of influence on me when I’m into the work?
But anyway.
Excellent streak of writing time, which is almost the only thing I like about winter. And the weekend focused on more of the annual purge. This year, I emptied out the DVDs and VHS tapes from their cabinets. And asked myself WHY am I keeping these VHS tapes? Is this not 2016?  I made a list of those movies I really want, and ordered them on DVD for the collection. In organizing the DVDs I optimistically shelved them by category (this will never last). But it doing that it illustrated clearly, I love a variety. I have the wonderful classics (To Have And To Have Not remains one of my all-time faves) right up to our latest addition, The Martian. Dramas, comedies, musicals, thrillers, film noir, mysteries, action movies, science-fiction (klaatu barada nickto). I have the entire 7 seasons of Buffy on DVD. I have horror and Disney movies. If they make a movie from a Marvel comic, I have it (and have probably watched it multiple times). And okay DC comics, too.
Not everyone would like every movie I own. Some, in fact, may seriously dislike many of them. We are not the borg. We are not all the same with precisely the same tastes and interests. Movies, like books, are written and produced to entertain, to make us feel or think, laugh or cry, excite us or soothe us. What a story, in any form, evokes in an individual is personal. There are scores of popular or renown books/movies I dislike–some intensely. I may very well say so, giving the reasons for my reaction, in a group of pals. I would not go to the FB or fan page or whatever for same and post comments saying I hated that movie–or take the passive-aggressive approach with: It could have been better if…
One, I have better things to do. Two, it doesn’t make any difference whatsoever what I think. It doesn’t change ANYTHING. The book, the movie remains the book, the movie. The writers, publishers, producers, directors aren’t going to suddenly say: OMG, Jane Smith doesn’t like it–pull that sucker, or reform the current project to suit Jane!!
If they reformed a project to suit (some of) my tastes, it would probably read: Buffy and The Avengers Travel To A Galaxy Far, Far Away Where They Go Singing’ In The Rain On The Way To Silverado To Inherit The Wind.
Hmm. I should make one of those refrigerator magnet scrambles out of all my DVD titles.
Point is, most of us wants different types of entertainment at different times. We want something that suits our mood as well as our tastes. And there’s so much to choose from, we can have just what we want.
I also purged and organized my exercise DVDs in the gym. It just reinforced my particular needs and desire for variety. Some days I just need yoga, others I want some sweaty cardio–maybe Latin dance style, maybe hip-hop. Or I want to pump some iron (okay, it’s only 5-10 pounds, but I PUMP it) or I feel like I need some strong Pilates. I can choose. I can mix it up (always better to cross-train anyway). If I buy an exercise DVD, decide it’s not for me, I can give it to a friend who it might suit better.
I won’t even get into the fact we–finally–bought a wireless music thingie and boxed up hundreds of CDs. Or the big cabinet full of beloved vinyl. It’s the same thing–variety and taste and mood.
We all have favorites–we have likes and dislikes in our entertainment tastes. Okay, workouts aren’t entertainment, but you get me. The world’s just chock-full of choices to suit everyone’s needs, tastes, moods. Sometimes we choose something that just doesn’t work for us. Or doesn’t work at that particular time (because moods change). So the smart thing is to move on to something that does work, at that particular time.
Life’s too short to spend time reading, watching, sweating or listening to something that doesn’t engage us, make us happy.
And it should be too full to spend time poking into FB threads where people are engaged and happy to try to change that mood to your own unhappy one.