Category Archives: Cranky Publicist

The Cranky Publicist answers Another Question

Cranky PublicistI didn’t think I’d pull out the Cranky Publicist so soon, but there’s an uptick in two questions (mainly on Facebook) recently:
“Who is Laura?”
“Why doesn’t Nora write her own posts?” * Most recently, the questioner implied Nora owed readers original posts.

I get that first question, after all readers come to this blog or Facebook and someone who is not Nora signs the posts.

Laura, Nora
Laura, Nora

There are helpful, long time readers who answer that I’m Nora’s assistant.  That appears to be a simple explanation but it’s not the case at all – I’m Nora’s personal publicist (as opposed to the publisher publicity team).  My background is in PR and after years of promoting consumer goods, then health insurance where I tried to prove the benefits of the eu health card system, I moved to talking about my favorite thing in the world: books.  I put in time as publicity chair for New Jersey Romance Writers, I worked as the Community Relations Manager for a local Barnes & Noble, I organized visiting author events at my kids’ schools.

I started reading Nora in 1982-83.  Can’t quite remember the when, but I remember the book.  The Law is A Lady was condensed for Good Housekeeping Magazine, and once i read it, I searched for the whole book.  When I figured out the Silhouette category publishing schedule and that this fabulous author gave me five books a year, my allegiance was hers.

Nora, Laura
Nora, Laura

One of the things I do with Nora is help out at signings.  I stand near her, chatting with readers, taking photos, moving the line along. I love recognizing the first timer — the person so beyond thrilled to meet Nora that she/he is speechless. Sometimes teary.  Always shaking.

I met Nora at the 1989 NJRW conference.  I didn’t really know what she looked like because her photo still wasn’t in her books (that changed within the year).  I was nervous, but determined to say hello.  So I did.

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Laura, Nora

Afterward, I was completely positive what came out of my mouth was along the lines of “Your perfume smells like dead fish” or something else equally socially horrifying.  It was a blur and I’d ruined my chance!   Nora doesn’t remember anything like that (she doesn’t remember the moment at all)– but she’s met a lot of people, so I forgive her for not recognizing how momentous the occasion was.

But I remember every single emotion the first timer feels and I do my best to make sure that even if they converse mainly with me, with Nora chiming in, they walk away thinking they had a great conversation with Nora.  That’s the job.

Let’s move onto the “Why doesn’t Nora write posts?” question. Nora and I started working together in 2005 on the very cusp of the social media revolution. Since then it’s taken over our lives and changed the way we interact.  Nora understands the role social media plays in publishing or for public figures, but as we saw in the recent Price Points, Discounts, Sales! post, she just wants to write books. Everything else distracts from that goal.

But me?  I can make small talk for days on end.  I can ask questions.  I can see the value in strengthening a community of readers who gather for one reason:  they love Nora’s books.   Since I started the Facebook page in 2010, I’ve signed  every single post because I believe in transparency.  No, it’s not Nora asking a question, but in certain ways you’re getting fairly close to it.

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The Laura-Nora Borg

So we’ll leave it at the standard answer:  I’m Nora’s personal publicist.  She handles writing the books while I handle the social media.  So far it works out for both of us.

Laura

*Nora writes all her blog posts, I just format and publish them.

The Cranky Publicist answers a question

Cranky PublicistCostumes are always part of the TTP signing near Halloween.  Last year, Nora dressed as a cowgirl but I’m not really into costumes.   I said I’d dress as what I am, a cranky publicist.  Kat kindly made me a button that said just that.  I was very happy.

So I thought I might use The Cranky Publicist moniker from time to time to answer questions or address comments, starting with this:

For nearly 11 years, I’ve watched trends in reader questions come and go.   Usually the top three are:

  1. Can you add another book to the [fill in the blank] series?
  2. Why do we have to wait so long for the next book [In Death or trilogy]?
  3. The dread In Death baby question (applied to nearly every character except Anna Whitney and Sheila Feeney).

But the question currently trending with a bullet (as Billboard magazine used to say) is:

Can you share your recipe? 

For soup (after a Nora-at-home blog) or pancakes, bread, stew (after reading a book).   Most recently it’s for Mr. Mira’s Hot Chocolate.

hot choc

Nora and I have explained quite a bit that she doesn’t actually have the recipes she creates in books.  She imagines food as the characters would create them and charts the ingredients, some of the prep, usually amid conversation that’s propelling the story.

But still there are the requests —  pleading, straightforward, sarcastic — to share a recipe so a reader can really feel like she/he is living in the book.

In the seven days since Brotherhood in Death hit the shelves, the Mr. Mira Hot Chocolate requests have escalated to the point where I decided to refresh my memory of the scene.  I grabbed the book, a notebook and started reading chapter 6 when Dennis first puts a pot on top of a pot, then adds chocolate.

Ok, I thought, melt the chocolate in a double boiler.   Wrote that down.

He puts a bowl into the freezer, to Eve’s confusion.  Ahh, I thought, the cold bowl for homemade whipped cream.  (Side note for those interested:  Nora and I have long discussed how homemade whipped cream is both delicious and easy to make.)

Eve questions, Dennis answers and as he does, he adds milk to the melted chocolate.  Then puts a bean in a bowl and crushes with a wooden dowel.  I’m going to go with vanilla on that one, which he adds with sugar to the milk.

Then he gets the frozen bowl, pours cream in it, adds some sugar and then beats it until — to Eve’s utter amazement — he has whipped cream.

I finished the scene and thought — OK we have the process, not the amounts.  What would I do if I were curious about that?

I googled “double boiler hot chocolate recipe” and there were five immediate results — the first was pretty much the same steps I’d read.

(Which set this Cranky Publicist to wondering if I somehow am magic with the Google searches or if people really just want things handed to them.  That’s an entirely different post.)

If you’re itching to try your hand at creating something akin to Dennis Mira’s Hot Chocolate here are a couple fun ways to do it.  But really, the best part is that you can take the basic recipe and add dark chocolate or a little chili or some mint or coffee — to make it suit your tastes to a T.

Fancy-Ass Hot Chocolate via A Cozy Kitchen (this recipe has the chocolate going into the milk instead of Dennis’ method).

This one just has chocolate added to hot milk: Ina Garten Hot Chocolate Recipe 

Belgian Hot Chocolate (via David Lebovitz)

Since there may be questions on other techniques, you might enjoy these two links:

How to melt Chocolate in a double boiler (video)

How to make Whipped Cream via The Kitch’n blog

Enjoy!

Laura