Category Archives: Cranky Publicist

Dear Diary: a Cranky Publicist’s private record of spa week 2017

Dear Diary,

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:

Drug + Inns + paw + grills + turnip + mint = Drunken spa girls tournament

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:

JoAnne didn’t like the shot.
Sarah, strike. Of course.
Me, dancing during bowling.
Mary Kay, the winner of this 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.

Laura

Objects Hidden behind the Echoes In Death cover

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


Badge

Fingerprint

Devil mask


Macmillan logo

Wine bottle

Galahad


Chalk outline

Scarf

Snowflake hat

Computer screen

Gun

Handcuffs

Clock set to 10:10 for Nora’s birthday

Some Cranky Publicist notes:

  1. 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.
  2.  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.

Enjoy,

Laura

Snow Day This and That

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.

Laura

The Register, 11/18/16

A quiet-ish week in Nora world.  She’s revisiting a certain couple of someones in 2061 NYC, I hear.  But whispers of a new book are all we get, considering there’s months to go until she shares with the rest of us.  Let’s leave the writer alone and focus focus on finishing 2016 well, ok?

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The Obsession and Brotherhood In Death are finalists in 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.

Last night was Girls’ Night Out at Turn the Page and the turnout was nearly that of a signing.  Gone are the days that Nora and I could wander through stores, check in at TTP so she could sign books, and then head out again.  So many happy faces, so many celebrations, so much good energy showed up at Nora’s table.   We had a very nice evening.

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Post signing selfie.

I decided to camp out at Nora’s for the evening and when I left this morning, I had to stop my car and take this photo of the drive.  A color combination of fall and Christmas, no?

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And I posted a couple of quotes on social media — what do you think?  (Belated congratulations to all the Cubs fans out there — and sympathies to the Cleveland faithful).

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Much more news next week (though I may play with the timing since I’ve got some travel for the holiday).

Laura

October 31

I’ve always had a fondness for the last day of October. I remember the pumpkins my mother carved every year and set out on the porch. The big bowl of candy for Trick or Treaters, getting to dress up and go around our neighborhood begging for candy (and wondering what was up with the house that always gave apples!)
 
When I had kids, as neighbors are few and far between in the country, I held a Halloween party–decorated our lower level with cobwebs, fake blood, fashioned a haunted house maze. As my parents were in the theatrical rental business, we even had a smoke machine.
 
Scare the kids–good times! Good enough I’ve had those grown kids share their spooked memories of those parties.
 
October 31 has other connections for me. It’s the birthday of my late, adored mother-in-law, a woman with the best laugh ever. Big, bawdy, infectious. You couldn’t spend ten minutes in her company and not laugh with her. She loved her family, old movies and coffee, could talk about anything. But when I think of her, I think of that wonderful laugh first.
 
It’s also my parents’ anniversary. They were married 63 years when my father died. Together they built a home–some of that literally as I still remember the day my father took a sledge hammer to a wall when they’d decided to build a sprawling addition to the house–raised five kids, welcomed over twenty grandkids and a scatter of great-grandkids. They built a business together, lived, loved and worked together for more than six decades.
 
So today, on Samhain, the day the veil thins, the day we celebrate the end of harvest, I light candles and think of three people I’m  blessed to have had in my life.
 
Happy Birthday, Sally.
 
Happy Anniversary, Bernie and Sis.
 
The last week of October equaled work week for me–including today–but a week also includes a weekend. Saturday Turn The Page held a signing, and as it was close enough to Halloween, some of us dressed for the occasion. I decided to go as Black Widow–mostly because, hey, easy. All I had to do was buy a Black Widow wig, then pick the appropriate clothes and footware from my own closet. Laura’s costume? A Cranky Publicist pin Kat made her last year. Talk about easy. [I go with my strengths, Laura]20160209_143924-2
 
BW dressed as a mechanic he called Vern. Also easy as he had the coveralls, the gimme cap, the shop rag, and fireplace ash to smear up his face.
 
The winner here, and it should be no surprise: Our Kat as Wonder Woman. No wig needed–she already had the super hero hair–and the costume? Awesome. When she left here early Saturday morning for TTP–wearing just that awesome and scanty costume, the temperature was still nippy. I might have been dressed as Black Widow, but under it, still a mom.
 
You need a jacket, I say.
 
But . . . I’m Wonder Woman. And out she went, hopefully into her heated invisible jet.20161029_105340
 
A fun, happy signing.
 
Sunday I finished up some on-line shopping, and now have just bits and pieces, stocking stuffers and the like to deal with. And since Kayla’s already on board to help with wrapping, I’m feeling pretty smug about the holidays.
 
img_1750Got a solid workout in as the only thing I exercised on Saturday was my signing hand–wandered outside in the spectacular gift of the summer in October day to cut flowers still happily blooming. BW harvested our little crop of potatoes. Sweet! We planted them late this year, so yes, little crop, but for me, adorable and satisfying.img_1746
 
So I made potato and ham soup–not using our crop, as I’ll save them for Friday dinner with the kids. With all the weekend chores complete, I sat down with a set of galleys.
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I whined a little about having yet another set of galleys to proof over post-signing champagne and pizza. Cranky Publicist pointed out I had no business whining. I wrote the damn books, didn’t I? 
 
Cranky Publicist is annoying when she has a point.  [Note to self: mark the day in ther record book and hunt up smug emoji. ~L]
 
Tonight Boonsboro has it’s Trick Or Treat night. Businesses stay open late, hand out candy to the swarms of spooks and faeries and all the rest. This year Kayla won’t be part of the swarm but part of the handing out at the bookstore.
 
Time flies.
 
It might be fun to become Black Widow again, go into town, see that swarm, but I’ve got a full workday ahead–and galleys to proof, books to sign in the evening. I have a feeling I’ll be home in my pjs.
 
Maybe somebody’ll bring me some candy.
Nora

Catching up on everything

It’s been a busy few weeks with birthdays, painting sessions and time in New York.  Nora will get back to her regular weekend blog posts next weekend but I thought I’d share some visuals and some cool info for everyone.  I think I’ll take it in chronological order.

Sunday, October 9
A group of us met at Inn BoonsBoro for their fourth Brushes & Bubbly session.  Nora, Kayla, her mom Stacie, Mary Kay McComas and her sister, our friend Sarah and I joined nine other people in the dining room of the Inn to paint a mermaid, in honor of The Guardians Trilogy.  Local artist Ronald Layman patiently led us through the layers needed to create depth and shadow and texture.  We all had a great time.

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The finished masterpieces.
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Kelsi, Kristen, Nora, Marcella, Bayley and Karen (the IBB team).

Monday, October 10 (Birthday!)
In honor of the birthday girl, St.  Martin’s Press revealed the cover of the 2017 hardcover, Come Sundown:

Pre-order links are up now.  Turn the Page Bookstore will have their link up soon so you can order a signed copy.
BAM
Amazon HC
Kindle
BN HC
Nook
Indiebound
iBooks

Tuesday, October 11/Wednesday, October 12
The beginning of the annual fall trip. Nora, BW and Jason rode up to NYC and I met them at the hotel.    I took this photo because I love those spires.20161012_144239

Thursday, October 13
After some very satisfying shopping and lunch — Kat (who joined us on Wednesday after flying in from a hiking trip with her cousins) scooped up these beauties —

Shoe as art. Photo by LMR.
Shoe as art. Photo by LMR.

we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the party St. Martin’s Press hosted to welcome Nora to the fold.  Rain sprinkled in the afternoon, but the sun came out just as the party started.  We all toasted Nora under the light of the setting sun on the rooftop patio.

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Friday, October 15
Litographs went live with a Naked in Death infinity scarf in addition to t-shirts, totes, and posters! These super soft infinity scarves are available in your choice of 12 colors and 4 fonts. Shop today and Save $5 on your scarf with code NAKSCARF (valid through tomorrow, 10/18) https://litographs.typeform.com/to/Tm5XPa

And to celebrate, we’re giving away one autographed scarf. Enter here to win 1 scarf signed by JD herself→ https://litographs.typeform.com/to/Tm5XPanaked_scarf_inf_sans_forestgreen_zoom_title

The weekend was all about holiday shopping for Nora and spending time with my daughter for me.  I headed back to Maryland early because I’m heading back to NJ next weekend.  I’m sure Nora will fill us all in with what happened next when she gets back to her desk.

Any questions?

Laura

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!

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Happy baby, happy Nora.
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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 LMReeth@gmail.com.  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.

Laura

 

Field Report 2: RWA in San Diego

Before you read any further, please know that when I set up the blog all photos are right side up. I’m doing my best to figure out why they translate sideways on mobile devices.  Laura

We started off Wednesday with movement. While Nora and Kat did a dvd workout in the suite, I walked up to the Midway.  Loved this huge statue just by the water.

20160713_071607The day was free until the fabulous Literacy signing.  Nora and I went down to see exactly where she’d sit and we ran into Mary Rhoades — the first person in line.  The Marriott staff got her a chair so she’d be comfortable, then I offered to snap her photo with Nora, along with the second person in line, Amy who flew in from North Carolina (and if that’s the wrong name, please let me know!).

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We met so many wonderful readers who patiently waited for a chance to meet Nora.  The event brought in over $39,000 which put RWA over the $1 million mark for donations to Literacy over the past two decades.

Thursday was another free day.  Nora and I took a turn around the conference area, then we met Ruth and took advantage of the glorious San Diego weather.  As you can see below, it was cool in the shade so we had the fire pit turned on until Ruth could bask in the sun.  And Nora wore boots.

I did not.20160714_11154820160714_104957

Friday was the busy day — Nora had her chat, then we lunched with the St. Martin’s team, then parties all around.  I’m sure she’ll share more about it, so I’ll share some photos.

 

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Just before Nora’s chat.

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The start of the evening.

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The yin and the yang.
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Kat and Janeen Solberg — roomies.
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We danced.
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And then we went home.

Saturday was all about the prep for Nora’s champagne reception.  This year we had the fabulous view along with food and wine.  20160713_130824 20160712_151811

We cleaned up pretty well too.

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We spent the final day over on Coronado, lunching at the Hotel Del, browsing through shops and breathing in the sea air.  I’ll share photos when we’re back in Maryland, but for now we have another plane to catch.

Laura

Field Report 1: RWA in San Diego

Monday’s trip to San Diego was smooth as could be — the only real adventure was watching our driver figure out the way to pack all of the bags and five women in.  Fortunately we had Kat on stand by to work her car magic just in case.

All the rooms, except Nora’s suite, were ready when we arrived. So did the only sensible thing: head down to eat by the pool. Margaritas, nachos and chips for all!

The continuing thread of the narrative this week will be the epic battle of heat v. cold.  I’m traveling with a group of thin skinned shiverers!  When we walk through any hall, go into any room, all I hear is a chorus complaining about how coooooold it is!   My advice to suck it up is met with great disdain.  But on Monday I was actually chilly in the shade with the stiff breeze.

 

We disbursed to unpack and settle. Then time to settle in on our balcony nest for the rest of the day.

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20160712_151811Bed before 9 for everyone because we’re still on east coast time.

All of us were up early on Tuesday.  I took a walk with Jill Shalvis, while Nora and Kat tackled dvd workouts.  Then it was on to the serious part of the day: shopping.  We found interesting clothing stores, the Nordstrom Café for lunch, then some more shopping before heading back to check in for the conference.

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Ruth and Nora

Once we checked in, it was back up to our balcony nest to listen to a concert and watch the water.  A lovely early dinner ended the first full day at conference.

Laura

Cranky Publicist updates

Honestly, I’m not that cranky but I thought this was the best way to let you know it’s a Laura update, not a Nora one.

(Nora’s well, but I don’t expect her to collect her thoughts and share a blog post until later this month.)

We’re into Nora’s the busiest week  (non-writing category) of the year.   The Turn the Page Bookstore Anniversary event on Saturday went off well, despite heat and humidity.  Yesterday’s Fall into the Story Brunch was wonderful as always — so much fun to visit with happy readers (who all came to see me, of course!)

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The annual FITS brunch panorama

My husband and I joined Nora and family for a few days at the spa and an oasis of down time in late June.  Our little crew of dedicated walkers clocked steps and miles every morning before 10 am while the rest of the group moved at their own pace.  Every day offered activities for the kids, spa treatments for adults, plenty of reading, chatting and eating time.  I took photos that made me happy.

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Extra bonus (for me?):  no scoreboard!  Woo-hoo!  There was a modified competition after we left, but if I’m not in the room when a game is played,  did it really happen?

Now we’re off to RWA for the week.  If you’re in the San Diego area, don’t forget the Literacy Autographing on Wednesday, July 13 from 5:30-7:00. I’ll let Nora tell you a little bit more about it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7gfxfnVDW0

I’ve played with designs this spring and have posted quotes from various books on Facebook.  Here are two examples.  If you’d like me to make the quotes and discussion a regular feature here on the blog, please let me know.

“There was nothing like a Saturday blue sweater

Need to shut down the computer and get to the airport.  I promise to share recaps and photos this week, so stay tuned.

Laura