Category Archives: Cranky Publicist

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

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