Category Archives: grandkids

Marching On

It’s nearly the end of my winter hibernation. Though the weather itself wasn’t very pleasing–really cold, ice, rain, freezing rain, sleet, and not much snow to lift the gloom–I spent most of the long stretch inside looking out. And things got done. Pages written, house purged, soups and stews cooked, breads baked.

I don’t ask much more of winter.

The other day BW asked me when I’d last been out of the house (feeding dogs, filling bird feeders don’t count). I dunno. Six or eight weeks. What’s your point?

I’ll end my winter hunker in and down next Sunday for some out-of-the-house fun when I head into town for a photo exhibit at Inn Boonsboro. On March 18th from 1-3, Lush Emerald Fields And Ancient Stones will feature photographic art of Ireland by Fran Byne, Suzanne Hill Thackston–and our own brilliant photographers Bruce Wilder and Laura Reeth. 

If I’m going to venture out after a couple of months, it should be for fun, friends–and beautiful art. Stop by if you’re in the area. See some art, raise a glass.

The exhibit follows a ceili at the inn on Thursday–talk about fun! Food, drink, art and Irish music. Slainte!

For a portion of his winter, BW’s been down in his studio installing his dark room. While he’s embraced digital photography, he still loves film–and now he’s got a good, creative space to work on that part of his art.

BW’s darkroom domain. Photo by BW
For me, I kicked off the last hibernation weekend making family dinner. Well, not all, as BW made his famous flank steak–always a crowd pleaser. I did all the sides, including a last minute addition of spiced shrimp. I think Logan ate a solid pound of it.
Flank steak a la BW. Photo by NR
Logan’s portion of spicy shrimp? Photo by NR
The bread of the garlic. Photo by NR
Roasted herb potatoes. Photo by NR
Carrots a la Nora. Photo by NR

Before you ask: I really don’t post recipes. I’m a how does this look, taste, smell sort of cook, tossing in things as I go. However, the shrimp–and a few other of my dishes–are featured in the really fabulous Inn Boonsboro Cookbook, available exclusively from Turn The Page Bookstore.

This labor of love was produced and edited and created by our amazing Kat. She cooked every dish in her own kitchen–aided by Jason who served as supply chief, and photographed by her brother Adam. There are some fantastic recipes in there (including MY brother’s to-die-for peppermint patties), from friends, relatives, from the inn itself, and our other Boonsboro businesses.

In case that doesn’t tempt you, all the profits from sales of the cookbook go to local food banks. So truly a labor of love serving the community.

Now, since spring forward’s completely messed up my body clock, I’m going to go work out. And maybe make a nice red sauce for my last hibernation Sunday.


Note from Laura: As I HAVE been out and about the last six to eight weeks (Nora’s completely serious about that btw) I stopped at Gifts Inn BoonsBoro last week to drop off my photos and had to snap this gorgeous corner by the front window.  Manager Natoma Vargason and her creative crew always create displays that capture the season perfectly.
Gifts in BoonsBoro ready for St. Patrick’s Day. Photo by LMR

Home Alone Adventures

Which is exactly what I don’t want when BW goes on his winter break. What I want is a quiet house, little to no cooking, and hibernation routine.

The first disruption in this planned bliss happened when I had to go back to the dentist because they found a stupid cavity on my regular check up. Still quick and home, get to work and all’s well.

It worked that way for several days. Just me and the dogs. Get up, feed and water dogs. Go to work. Let dogs in because it’s freaking cold, but dogs behave so continue work. Put dogs out at workout time–except for a single digit day where I didn’t have the heart leave them outside for 90 minutes. But they embraced their good fortune and behaved.

Parker’s “I’ll be good!” pose. Photo by NR
Atticus with toys. Photo by NR

Sign books if it’s signing day, and have the wonderful Janeen bring me a salad from Vesta. Feed dogs. Feed self.

And since I have galleys, do galleys in the evening in the quiet.

Put dogs out, let dogs in. Rinse and repeat until bedtime.

This is great!!!

Great for me, and great for BW who’s enjoying the balmy breezes of Hawaii.

Then Tuesday happened. My lane is already an ice rink–which Logan reports on his after-school visit is pretty awful. And he’s pleased because all his teachers said there probably wouldn’t be any school Wednesday. I’m out of the loop–why not? Ice storm coming.

So I check, oh yes indeed. Snow, sleet, freezing rain, starting any minute, and through the morning. With forecasted accumulations of an inch on the ice.

That’s very bad.

I call my weekly housekeeper who comes Wednesday, tell her don’t even try it. It’s already bad, and it’ll be worse. Stay home.

I plan to call my amazing landscaper guy after the storm to have him spread salt or whatever works. No point doing that until after.

We get a little snow, but mostly it’s that freezing rain, and everything’s covered with ice in the morning. And it’s still spitting down. What do I care? I’m going to work right upstairs.

Ice! Photo by NR

Morning routine–with a little nervous in taking out recyclables, but I’m careful. Dogs in, dogs out, work, work. Stop work to call landscaper. Go work out. Cold, gloomy, icy, but I don’t care.

I’m a little amazed to hear my guy out there while I’m sweating in the gym. That was fast.

Fast enough Janeen’s able to bring up books. Sign books. Bye, bye.

Feed dogs, consider feeding self.

And the lights flicker, everything beeps, then goes out.

I’m not initially worried. I have a full-house generator. I wait for few seconds to hear that muffled roar. Instead, I hear a roolf–roolf sort of grinding, and no power.

This is not good.

As this has never happened before, I’m baffled. Am forced to call BW to ask who to call. It’s single digits, and we have no heat, no light, no water, no nothing.

Somehow he finds the number for the people who installed the generator years ago. They’ll send someone within the hour.

Meanwhile Logan and I are texting as their power’s out, too. Normally, I’d have them all come up here in the light and warm, but I have no light and warm.

I stick a mini flashlight in my pocket, get out full-sized ones, light candles, light the gas fireplace. 

Talk to generator guys. Service guy is finishing up another emergency call and will head out.

That grinding worries me a lot. I’m no mechanic but it sounds like something going to burn up or just can’t get going. What to do if we can’t get it fixed and the power doesn’t come back?

Possibly call the inn, see if there are rooms. But that would mean I leave my dogs out in single digits all night. And I’m not entirely sure now that it’s dark, temps dropping, I can get down the lane.

Pace, mull, worry. I can only use my cell, which I’m busy charging with a portable charger, and cell service is iffy here. But the service guy gets though, is on his way.

Maybe we’ll get lucky. I keep Logan and the gang updated. I could send them to the inn if necessary. Just not sure about leaving the dogs out all night so I may need to tough it out.

Meanwhile the smoke alarm and house alarm are beeping constantly as there’s no AC. I have a raging headache by the time the very nice Robert arrives.

The dogs are thrilled! Another human.

He goes down, gets to work. He works quite some time.

And nothing.

Comes back up after this some time, tells me they’re going to try to get me a portable generator as mine’s going to need more work. Apparently it hasn’t been serviced in a decade, was low on oil, etc, etc.

I feel my head explode. This is BW’s job. He has his jobs, I have mine. Why do we have no maintenance contract on an essential tool? I say to Robert, when my husband gets home from Maui, I’m going to beat him with a hammer.

Robert laughs. He doesn’t know I have a hammer and I know how to use it.

He goes out because it’s easier to get cell service outside. I hear him go down, work some again. Then he comes up. They haven’t been able to find a portable for me. He’d tried another fix, but no luck.

They’ll come back in the morning, he’s so sorry.

Not his fault, and he’s been out there in the cold and dark for over two hours.

As we’re talking, the lights come on, everything stops the stupid beeping. I’m afraid the universe is messing with me. I ask Robert. Is the power really back on?

He grins. Oh yeah, you got power.

Such is my state that I say out loud and with extreme joy: Oh, fucking A.

He laughs again.

Text Logan, and yes, they’re back in business. We exchange virtual high fives.

Somewhere around eight-thirty, I finally feed myself.

And when BW calls we have a very unhappy conversation. He’s genuinely and sincerely sorry — but sorry don’t cut it, pal. LOL.

I probably won’t beat him with a hammer–but I’ve already arranged for semi-annual maintenance. This will never happen again.

I have to say through those four stressful hours I thought about the people in Puerto Rico who’ve been without power for months. It makes me sick and sad. I could’ve camped out in here for a night–did it for longer than that before the generator (which is why we have one). I had places I could go if the outage lasted more than a few hours.

For me, this was an inconvenience–fairly serious as it’s cold and there are grandkids and animals to think of. But basically an inconvenience.

And an adventure I could’ve done without.

But things are back to normal. My lane got a second hit of salt–because it’s bad out there. I scrubbed a couple of floors because my housekeeper couldn’t make it here. I found a bucket of ash to throw over the worst of the ice on the way to the trash and the bird feeder–though it’s still pretty dicey.

I’m getting my work done, my workouts in, and my house is nice and quiet.

It’s another gray and gloomy day, but due to that second hit of salt, the flower delivery guy made it up the lane. And I have such pretty, cheerful flowers sent by my editor. Dark In Death hit number one! Yay! 

#1 on the NYT flowers. Photo by NR.
More flowers.

I also have my monthly flowers–when it’s gloomy, flowers bring the light.

I have the fireplace going, candles lit, happy dogs, and I believe I’ll pour myself a glass of wine when I finish this, maybe settle into the quiet with a book. 

Antidote for gloom. Photo by NR

And hope my only adventures are inside those pages.


Weekend Hustle

Mine started Friday, away from the keyboard. Due to what the weekend held, I hit the gym hard Friday morning. With that mission accomplished, I pull it together to make a vat of tortilla soup. The most helpful Laura and Sarah plan to come over in the late afternoon to help me organize my mountains of purged clothes/shoes/boots/bags.

They deserve to be fed. And as Logan’s requested his grandda and I come to his Sunday basketball game, I wouldn’t have much time to make the family dinner already on the books for Sunday evening. A vat of soup covers both. 

Soup, dressed with tortilla chips and cheese.

I decide I want one more chicken breast as I’m making a vat rather than a pot. Start to defrost same in the microwave. And discover, to my shock and delight, my mike is now speaking French. It’s bi-lingual! I have no clue how or when this happened, but it’s fun–and I don’t try to fix it. I just defrost the poulet. And, curious, discover how to say popcorn (a microwave staple in my world) in French. 

Popcorn in French.

By the time the vat’s simmering and I’m reasonably cleaned up, my girls arrive. I have BW’s rolling rack from his studio in the living room for the hanging items. We dive in. Hanging, folding, arranging into sensible piles, clearing off tables to make more sensible piles.

It’s a job–less arduous with champagne, but a job–and when done I have to wonder how all that fit into my closet in the first place. 

Our motto.

Now my closet breathes easier, and the pals who’ll come over post-signing on Saturday can have at it.

Time to feed the dogs, and when BW arrives, to feed everyone else.

Some hang out time, more wine! And since Laura needs to be here for the signing, she takes the guest room.

A bright if breezy Saturday morning, and time to gear up for the signing at Turn The Page. The temps decide they’ll hang in the 50s, which is a gift in January.

We have lots of newbies, sweet stories about guys surprising their ladies with the trip to the signing, mom surprising daughters and visa versa. Then there are The Nine. Nine women who traveled to Boonsboro to celebrate one of their tribe’s birthday. They all have hoodies with a Roarke Industries emblem, and a book quote on the back. As if that’s not cool enough, the connection, the affection, the happiness of The Nine tops even that. 

The Nine — and Nora.
On the back of each sweatshirt was a different — favorite — quote.

Lots of positive energy from the readers who come in, from the authors who sign, to the staff who handles it all. A very good day.

TTPs Beth photobombs the post-signing author photo..

And a surprise guest appearance in the backroom during a break when the kids show up. Grandkid hugs! Kayla kicked some running butt at her Friday meet, Logan’s fresh from victory in his Saturday game. Congrats! I ask Colt what he’s done this week, and the answer: He read a lot of books–and is hoping for another. He has a specific title, knows the author. I send him off with Bookstore Janeen.

It’s pretty gratifying to have a kid–at seven–so in love with reading.

Time to head home, and that timing works really well. A couple of pals are already there, and more come in as I ditch the signing clothes for comfort. We have pizza–delivered by Vesta–two buckets of chicken (thanks, Pat) cheese and crackers courtesy of JoAnne, an amazing salad presented by Nicole, and Elaine’s homemade brownies.

Food, drink, girls!

Dogs so insanely happy to have girl company, I finally have to put them outside.

We all fuel up, then hit the rack, the piles.

It’s fun for me to see pieces I loved and wore and wore–or pieces I bought then realized, for me, equaled mistake–appeal to pals. Girls stripping down to their underwear (no men in the house this evening!), discussing what works, what doesn’t. Or the: This would look better on you. That looks great!

It’s also sort of amazing that with a group of varying sizes and shapes, all the stuff ends up working on someone. Tops, sweaters, hoodies, vests, dresses, jackets, shoes, bags, workout gear. By the time we’re done, I’m left with a tiny handful, which I’ll pass to someone else or donate.

A little hang-out time, then it’s goodbye until April and the Drunken Girls Spa Week. (Best week ever!) *

Dog tired. Atticus and Parker.

Today, I’m going to try to drag myself out to the gym before the basketball game–we’ll see about that. I need to tidy up a little before family dinner. But all I have to do there is heat up the soup, the bread. Good deal.

Monday, early routine dentist appointment, then I’m digging in, and going into my winter hibernation. Staying home, staying in, and writing. Possibly in my pajamas for the entire month of February.


* Laura begs to differ — courteously! — on this opinion.

Writers Are People Too

[Note: the italics and bold words are my doing. ~Laura]

In my normal routine, weekends are for domestic stuff, family, taking a breath. There were many times back in the day that I put in time writing on weekends. There are still occasions I work weekends, or go back to work in the evening–but mostly I try not to.

I need to enjoy my home, my family–and tend to both, just like most people.

This weekend, after a fun gathering here on Friday evening, I got in an early workout before hitting the domestic and family. Fun for me that when I started wrapping the last of the Christmas presents, a pretty snow began to fall. Light, fluffy, and the perfect backdrop for my tradition of watching (as Kayla calls them) cornball Christmas movies while I wrap.

Snow through the kitchen window.


Done with that, I headed down, put on more cornball as the snow fell and I kneaded bread. And while the bread rose, started making soup. It’s another routine in the life during the fall and winter. Making soup and bread on the weekends.  



My house smelled glorious. As a reward, during the second rising, and while the soup simmered, I got the book I haven’t had time to pick up for two weeks, poured myself some bubbly and sat in the library. A fire, a snowfall, an adult beverage and a most excellent book. Nice. 

A little space to read

Today, we had a window before Logan’s basketball game to do some cookie baking. Another tradition–one that now had Kayla mostly in the lead. The girl’s a good cook. A double batch of chocolate chip, some peanut butter blossoms, and after they had to head out, I finished up with candy cane kiss cookies.

Worker bees
The finished product, part 1
The finished product, part 2

Yum to all. My kids took a break in there, took advantage of Nana’s soup. Next weekend we’ll add Colt in and do our famous painted sugar cookies. Fun, chaotic, messy, adorable and delish.

If I didn’t take this time for family, for homey chores I very much enjoy, my life would have no balance. All work will, no question, eventually lead to burn out. That’s not beneficial to anyone.

I get readers fall in love with a book or author and want more. And more, and faster, quicker–and often NOW. The book I finished in my library was John Sandford’s latest Virgil Flowers novel. I am a HUGE fan. And now I wait a year to see where Virgil goes next. I’d love to have the next instantly, but that’s simply impossible, and so very unfair to Sandford. I assume he also enjoys having an actual life.

None of us who write can write as fast as readers (myself included) read. We can’t. And we shouldn’t try–because the work will suffer. Readers can and do gobble up a book in hours. Writing that book takes months, and in some cases years.

I’m thrilled many readers enjoyed Year One, are supportive of this new direction I followed. I’m flattered readers are looking forward to the second book.

Where this breaks off is where some readers feel entitled to demand, or are outraged by a wait for a book, or jump to conclusions about the publisher or marketing or whatever. I don’t include in this those who say: Oh, I can’t wait!! Or how will I wait!! Or I wish I had it now. I wish I had the next Sandford in my hot little hands. I’m a reader, too. (And the last line in that book had me going: Hot Damn! But now I wait.)

I’m talking about those who complain the books should be published one after another, or closer together. I can’t write them to suit those readers because these books are longer than my previous trilogies and so very much more complicated to write. And I just insist on having a life in there, too.

I haven’t written the three books in a trilogy one after another for years. I used to be able to do so. I haven’t so longer than I can remember. Same with the Robbs, which I could, at one time, do nearly always, three in a row. Life, creativity and scheduling have made that impossible.

I have not, as some have claimed, written all three already (so my publisher can hold them back). These books are brutal and fascinating and scary to write, and it takes a lot of time, a lot of effort. And so much figuring out, my brain hurts at the end of the day when I’m into one. I want to produce the best books I can, and I can’t do it like a machine that pumps them out on demand.

I think part of the problem is that I write fairly quickly, and readers have gotten used to more and more. I still write four major books a year. Four. It’s all I can do well. Frankly, I think the other part of the problem is that some readers are used to how quickly the self-pubbed produce–and don’t look at the fact those stories are generally a LOT shorter, don’t go through a serious editing process, a cover art process, the scheduling process, the marking issues, and so on.

All those processes take time.

When my editor and agent came here for dinner (and the holiday signing) a bit ago, we sat in my kitchen going over the schedule for 2019. St. Martin’s, like all publishers, have other authors, and consider placement carefully because YES, publishing is a business. If the publisher doesn’t make some sort of profit, the publisher can’t stay in the business of publishing. They can’t pay writers, editors, sales reps, marketing and publicity staff and on and on.

SMP would, absolutely, be thrilled if I could write a book every month. They’d find a way to publish all of them. I can’t. Physically, creatively, realistically, I can’t just pump them out like gum drops. If I did, the quality would suffer, and every single reader would, rightfully, complain.

Year One is a departure, and won’t appeal to all readers. The In Death series doesn’t appeal to all readers. The stand-alone I write every year doesn’t appeal to all readers. I like the diversity, and I need it to stay creatively fresh. But I can’t write faster, I can’t give more than I do. If I tried, I’d burn out within a year–and spend my time gardening, making soup and bread.

I prefer the balance. I hope readers who enjoyed Year One will anticipate Of Blood And Bone next year the way I anticipate the follow-up to Sandford’s Deep Freeze. And in the meantime, read and enjoy the multitude of wonderful books out there.

Me, I’m going to dive into King’s Sleep Beauty first chance I get.


Did Ya Miss Me?

It’s been weeks! I’ve been crazy busy with no time to do a blog. Squeezing some out now as the rest of the time until Christmas is even crazy busier. But that’s the holidays. While I thank God it’s just once a year, I wouldn’t change a thing.

BW and I took our November week at the spa–a working week for me–and I’m ready for another. It’s a nice break, and a different routine. Workout early, write for about four hours, then get a lovely spa treatment. Somebody else cooks dinner and cleans it up. A pretty good deal.

Straight to Boonsboro on our way back for Logan’s middle school production of Charlotte’s Web. Altogether adorable.

We had our November Girls Night Out in Boonsboro with lots of happy faces–along with champagne and yummy snacks. A fun evening for all, and a lovely way to celebrate being a girl!

Then boom! It’s Thanksgiving here with the gang. That means making pies–yes, from scratch–on Wednesday, and a full day of kitchen duty on Thursday. With round two with leftovers on Friday. I love the smells of Thanksgiving cooking, and the fussing–and the fact that our Kat can always be counted on to deal with the piles of dishes.

I got smacked with some mild vertigo last weekend, just enough to screw up my schedule. But that’s over, for which I was extremely grateful on Thanksgiving. Still, it meant the wrapping I had planned for last Saturday didn’t get done until this weekend. Done now, and whew.

Presents wrapped–except for the few stragglers coming in this week. I can’t count the number of schmaltzy Christmas movies I’ve watched while I wrapped boxes and bagged gifts. I’m not ashamed of loving them.

Since I leave in the morning for my most cherished annual holiday with girls, decorating came a little early around here. I’m having my agent and editor for dinner next Friday–along with grandkids–and our holiday signing Saturday, another holiday deal on Sunday, so this was it. BW hauled up the tubs of holiday decorations, and we hit it, and hit it hard. A couple more wrapping sessions carved in there, and we are so ready for Christmas.

The tree

There are several more marks on the calendar through December, but we can now take them as they come, and enjoy every minute of being with family and friends.

Stockings for all

I hope to squeeze out time for another blog before the first of the year, but just in case: Here’s wishing you and yours all the joys, chaos, bright lights and merriment of the season.

Santa collection

However crazy the next few weeks are for you, don’t forget to light a candle, eat a cookie, give a hug and celebrate the moments.


And in the holiday spirit, some Random Katness:

Not one caption that comes to mind is polite. so I’ll just say Yellow!~Laura

Bits/Pieces October 30

When last we met, Nora was home from work, ready to dive into a brand new book after a wonderful week in NYC.  I stayed for a couple more days — mainly to take photos like this one:

Reflections on the High Line. Photo by Laura

but in the end, we each settled into routine back home.   And routine is important, but not necessarily glamorous, so I’ll share some highlights:

Kayla finished 6th in the Washington County Cross Country meet last week.  The week before, she placed in the to 20 of a large cross county meet that featured small and large schools.  States are up next!

On October 17, we debuted the cover of the 2018 hardcover, Shelter in Place on Facebook:

I’ll create a separate thread for that book early in 2018.

This weekend was the Turn the Page Halloween signing and one of us went all out.  One of us wore her Cranky Publicist pin. <g> When I walked into the house to drive to the signing, I called out “Hello!” but didn’t receive an answer.  I turned into the kitchen, and there Nora was, in all her glory.  I just laughed and took the photo.

Downtown and Uptown Girls. Photo by Laura

The TTP staff gets into the spirit and in a moment of rare synchronicity, one of the Kims wore a costume in direct contrast to Nora’s.  I said they channeled the late 1970s since Nora was CBGB and Kim was Studio 54.

Then there was BW:

The rocker and her sheriff. Photo by Laura

And Kayla stopped by after practice with some of her teammates: 

Which brings us to today.  Nora’s back at the keyboard, I’m working on adding the recent FB posts here on the blog.

Much more to come as the weeks speed by until Year One is in your hands.


No, wait!  Here’s some extra special #randomkatness.  She just became an aunt and created this reversible baby blanket for her niece as a nod to their Hawaiian roots.  Isn’t it stunning?

Work and Reward

I’ve been working pretty hard since our return from France. I like working hard, so that’s all good. But I like play time with pals, too. I had a great day/evening/night with good girl pals this week on our Try To Make It Annual Girls In Boonsboro trip.

I get into town early enough to take a new class at Fit In Boonsboro with my pal, JoAnne. Grabbed 45 on the elliptical first, then did 45 of boogying cardio after. Got my 90 in, and had fun doing it. That’s some work.

Reward came with lunch and champagne at Vesta with Jo, Laura, Pat, Mary Kay, Mary and Elaine. Good food, good pals, good wine.

Then it’s shopping–lots of opportunities for that in B’Boro. Josie’s On Main first stop geographically.

This mug caught Laura’s eye at Josie’s. Photo by Laura

I found myself a fun Witch Please tank that amused me–and has already been worn for a later workout. Among other things I picked up a few Christmas gifts, then we wandered down Main to Gifts In Boonsboro. Earrings! A gorgeous vase I’ve had my eye on–and a gift for my pal Ruth in Michigan. A just because as the black/white/gray soft as a cloud hand-made afghan said I Am Ruth’s. 

Among the amazing art on display at Gifts– a wedding cake of Savor the Moment pages. Photo by Laura

Onto TTP for more, and whee, they’ve put Stephen King’s new book written with his son Owen aside for me. Can’t wait to dig in.


Then on this perfectly gorgeous October afternoon, it’s time to check into the inn, hang out in The Courtyard. More bubbly, yummy snacks, those good pals–and a couple of fun guests. 

The ingredients for a leisurely spell in The Courtyard. Photo by Laura
The very surprised Jane and Michelle. Photo by Laura

And presents for me as my birthday’s coming. Cake, too. That’s a good deal.

I nearly forgot the photo! Photo by Laura

Before the evening ends, the webmaster for our businesses stops by on his way home from a Boy Scout meeting. He has his amazingly adorable son–also Owen. Owen is one of the top popcorn salesmen for the Scouts–and it’s easy to see why when he starts his pitch. My fave is when his dad said he could get the key for the storage place, break in and get the forms. Dad, says Owen, how do you break in with a key?

I bought the 22 pack of microwave Movie Theater (extra butter!). It’s delicious.

A fun day, a quiet night, another morning workout, then mmmm breakfast. I’m not a breakfast eater but it’s hard to resist the offerings at the inn.

All in all a lovely reward.

Then back to work.

Thursday my perfection of a hairdresser comes to do my cut and color, give BW a trim, get Logan’s hair cut before he catches the bus for school. This time Logan has a picture of the cut he wants. Harold makes it so. The result is a seriously happy teenage boy. Handsome, too. 

Logan. Hair by Harold. Photo by Nana.

And back to work. Sticking hard with it to get it off to my agent and editor before I pack for a week in NYC. Another reward.

Flowers come–calla lilies. Every year I give myself the gift of flowers every month. It makes me happy, especially in the winter. 

The calla lilies in bloom. Photo by Nora.

Friday I make red sauce for pasta for Kayla our running girl. She has a meet on Saturday. Logan, however, is done with pasta every Friday and gets to pick the main meal. He wants Grandda’s flank steak, my roasted rosemary potatoes. 

Aforementioned potatoes. Photo by Nora

We make this so. And I get more cake!!

Saturday I pack, or mostly. Workout first, then figuring out what I need for a fall week in the city. And then–reward–I take the DVD of Wonder Woman BW gave me and gorge on it and Owen’s popcorn.

Today, Jason and Kat will be here for a foundation meeting and dinner. BW made extra flank steak with this in mind. I have to make more potatoes, and they went over pretty big on Friday night.

Tomorrow, finish packing–not much there–and start refreshing myself on the Chronicles Of The One trilogy before I start writing the final book.

Work and reward. It’s a nice balance. Reward yourself!


Being Home

Summer–my favorite season–is winding down. We’re approaching Mabon, the Autumn Equinox. With that fleeting balance of day and night, most harvesting’s done. My tomatoes sure are. My garden’s got the late summer shabbies though there are some pretty fabulous spots and corners of color and bloom still. Before much longer, I’ll be thinking about making soups, pulling on sweaters and boots.

A little fall color.
Brilliant pots.
Happy flowers.
Thriving nasturtium

So, I for one, am holding tight to these last wonderfully warm days.

We had a busy summer around here. Lots of work, lots of travel. And we capped it off with our annual summer party.

That meant the weekend after we returned from France, we had party prep to deal with (and that’s after unpacking, putting awaying, nose to the grindstoning on the book).

While Jason and BW spent hours on a rainy Saturday setting up outside–awnings, tables, chairs, food stations–Kat and I spent hours inside (with some assist from our Sarah) cooking, baking, chopping, stirring. I think, in one day, we made up for our couple of weeks on holiday with no cooking involved.

Kat brought France back by making the amazing dessert we call pie-cream-pie. Labor intensive, creative and absolutely delicious.

Pie-cream-pie a la Kat.
Fruit salad in Kat’s carved watermelon.

Fortunately, the rainy Saturday turned into a pretty Sunday for the party. Lots of people, lots of food and drink. And that’s a wrap for another summer.

With that wrap, the kids head back to school. Kayla’s back in cross-country training. Run, Kayla! And Logan grew TWO inches while we were in France. We’re now eye-to-eye.

And at last, one completely at-home weekend follows. Nowhere we need to go. BW and I both spent it doing chores around here. It felt wonderful to put the house and yard back in order. But that short spurt of–for me–domestic bliss–led up to this past weekend’s signing at Turn The Page.

I knew going in this would be a long one. We were lucky to host three writers (and personal friends) who rarely come to our area. Our stellar line-up included–in alpha order: Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Susan Wiggs. A nice bonus for me to be able to catch up with all of them. And since some 360 readers–give or take–came through the doors, I wasn’t wrong about the long one. Five and a half hours rates as long–for the writers and the readers.

Pre-signing pano
Nora has readers of every age.
Bottom row: Alisha Rai, Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora.
Middle row: Laura Treacey Bentley, Susan Wiggs, Kimberly Kincaid
Top: John Bede

Thanks to all who came to sign, to buy books, to be there, for their patience and fortitude.

Today, it’s warm and sunny–but I see one of the poplar trees out my window going yellow with September. I’ve tidied my house, done my workout (not easy to drag my butt out to my gym today!), and after I write this, I’m going to do exactly nothing for the rest of the day.

I want to add to anyone who’s had their lives and homes disrupted by Harvey or Irma, you’re all in my thoughts. I’ve been lighting candles for you, and will light one today before my nothing begins.


Note from Laura:  I came back from the beach to get to the signing. One last sunrise to hold me over until next year:

And in this week’s #randomkatness:

“May I help you?”

The Boy and the City

Last week we took Logan on a New York City adventure. In a newish tradition I take Kayla or Logan, on alternate years, on a short trip, giving them some fun and focused time. Kayla invariably picks NY, and happily (no plane ride!) Logan wanted NYC this year.

When I take Kayla, it’s a girl trip, but Logan wanted everybody. So we had me and BW, Jason and Kat and Laura as his adventure team. Before we left, Logan had seen a review on so he said he was ready to shave.

His priority? Niketown and basketball shoes. Easy to fulfill that particular dream right after arrival and unpacking. It’s a good walk from our hotel, and really good to stretch the legs after the long drive. Logan has very specific taste in bb shoes, knew just the brands he wanted to look for. And since he wouldn’t, like his sister, dive into makeup and clothes, I granted two pair.

Happy boy! I can’t remember the players whose shoes he settled on–Laura probably will–but the guy helping him out was impressed. Apparently he covered his bases and got a pair from a player on each team in the playoffs.  [Note from Laura:  Logan went with a white pair of Kyrie Irving shoes and a blue pair of Kevin Durants.  He alternated them as day and night shoes.]

The guys headed back to the hotel with shoes, and the girls peeled off for . . . makeup and clothes shopping. Kayla has learned at our feet, after all.

Back at the hotel, Laura’s daughter joins us for a big, happy room service dinner. And Logan has people who actually follow basketball (Laura and Jason) to watch the game with. Break that up with some hot tubbing on the roof at halftime, and it’s a good arrival day in the city.

Like Kayla, Logan has a cot in the second-floor parlor. He’s told me it won’t bother him for me to workout there in the morning. So I do, quietly–and it doesn’t.

We also brought the heat. Laura, born on the Ice Planet Hoth, is not pleased. Jason wonders if she’ll melt or just burst into flames. Me? I like the heat. We get plenty of it as we head down to the High Line in the morning. And there, I see an American Smoke Tree (ID’d by Laura, the High Line interactive map and Google) in full bloom. It’s just magical, and I hope to have one for my own.

Logan and his Nana.

Lunch, then back to the hotel. Logan gets his own Metro Card for the subway.

The boy likes cards, and Kat’s come prepared. Some of the games have very odd rules that can, apparently, change during play. This is no problem for Logan. We cap that off with a round of Reverse Charades–a new game for the boy, and one he’s enthusiastic about.

[Note from Laura: the hotel sent up an extra special chocolate chip cookie cake as a belated birthday surprise on Saturday evening.]

The next day is for Wonder Woman. I can’t say enough about Wonder Woman, and will say little as some reading this may not have seen it. I’ll say this: Go See It! It’s wonderful, hit every note for me. And from the conversation after the movie, hit every note for our entire group.

We walked to the movies–long walk uptown. We wanted to avoid the crush of the Puerto Rican Day parade, and managed that well, then cut through Central Park, got to the theater in plenty of time.

Shorter walk back as the parade’s done, and Logan and I discuss the movie. I want to see it again, and will own it when the DVD’s released. Though more of a Marvel than DC fan (as is the boy) we’re both looking forward to the Justice League, for Wonder Woman particularly.

Laura can talk basketball. I can talk superheros.

Back at the hotel, Laura and I do a Facebook Live chat. Easy, breezy, with cameos from some of the group.

Time for more cards, another round of Reverse Charades. I see these being popular activities during family spa week next month.

The next day is downtown again, and The Flatiron. BW and Logan subway; the rest of us walk. It’s a hot, sunny, gorgeous day. It’s fun to take Logan to my favorite building in NY, and my publisher. It’s great to see my editor and lots of the St. Martin’s Press team–and my agent comes by, too, before she has to head off to a lunch appointment. What I really like to do in NY, is going through the city on those new scooter kopen. It´s a new french model that runs on electricity and goes really fast, so it gets even more exciting on an open road with no cars.

Best for Logan–and always a highlight for me–a trip up to the roof. It’s amazing up there, the views, the feel, the gorgeous architecture. I skip the trip down and down to the boiler room (it’s wonderfully spooky) to hang with my editor awhile.

On top of the Flatiron Building.
The boiler room
A look up the stairwell from ground floor up to the 20th.

Then it’s off to lunch and the fabulous Lombardi’s pizza.

Logan capturing the beauty of his pizza before diving in.

Logan and I ride back, drop my editor back off at work. This 13-year-old boy considers the trip to the roof of The Flatiron his favorite moment so far. Thanks SMP!

I teach him to play Hearts–Jason, Kat, Logan and me. He latches on quick. Pretty sure the bb finals ran that night. Or maybe it was the night before. Whenever they did, he watched them.

Our last full day, at his request, was The Empire State Building. I haven’t been there since my boys were younger than Logan. Getting the group moving took some time, so Laura, Kat and I headed out for a little more shopping. Then it’s the walk down. I point out the NY Public Library. He doesn’t seem all that impressed. LOL.

He says at one point: I can’t even see it (The Empire State).

I say: Look up.

We’re standing on the corner directly across the street.

Our clever Kat’s arranged for fast pass tickets, or whatever they’re called. So, so worth it. We’re whisked along, and into the elevator where I try not to obsess about the numbers going up and up and up. I’m not big on heights.

I’m okay with The Observation Deck as long as I look out and not down, and God knows there’s plenty of air. We circle so we get all the views, and point out buildings. And there’s the roof of The Flatiron where we stood the day before. It’s pretty far down, and that seemed way high enough. But here we are.

On the Observation Deck.

Then up we go again–over 100 floors up. Why does anyone need to be over 100 floors up? I can feel the building sway. Why does anyone want to be 100 floors up and swaying? I’m thrilled when he’s had enough and wants to hit the gift shop. But my system swayed for much longer.

I like that he’s taking his time, being thoughtful over the little gifts he wants to bring back to his family. I approve his choices–well done–and thank God when we ride down to street level.

The sidewalk sways for a while, but eventually steadies.

We have time for a breather after the walk back to the hotel, time to cool off then head out again for the long subway ride to Queen’s and the Mets vs Cubs at Citifield.

I’ve ridden subways countless times, and have never been so packed in. Logan’s nearly as tall as I am now, but I’m pretty much literally around him, with him in front of me, and me holding onto the pole.

If I had to commute this way to work, I’d be unemployed.

It’s a beautiful ball field. There’s nothing quite like a baseball field–that green and brown and white. We’re right behind the first base dugout.

For me, it’s a beautiful, balmy night for baseball, but I wasn’t born on the Ice Planet Hoth. It isn’t such a good night for the Mets. The pitcher gets dinged with a home run in the first inning. He loads the bases (at least one with a base on balls) then walks a run in. Still, I want to see the game, and there’s this guy in the row in front of us who keeps standing up, obviously looking for someone.

It’s a lot worse when his friends arrive. One, a woman, never, never, never stopped talking. Not in a muted conversational voice, but in a loud, thick Queen’s accent. I know all about her recent vacation–ALL about it, including meals. Every day. I know her name’s Pam because the guy who kept standing up keeps talking to her, asking questions. I think one of the guys she came with is her husband, but this other guy has stars in his eyes.

I know about her work week. I know where she parked the car and why.

I wonder why this group didn’t go to a bar to catch up instead of talking through a ball game they obviously have no interest in.

By the fourth inning it’s clear the Mets aren’t likely to come back from this. It’s a rout. By the sixth, Pam has given me a headache. Doesn’t it start to hurt the throat to talk nonstop for a freaking hour? I see Logan’s not so happy–we’ve exchanged glances and rolled eyes over Pam. He tells me he has a headache. I get it.

I give him a Motrin, take a couple myself, and we decide we’ve had enough. I think the score was 11-1 Cubs at that point anyway. We head out, sit in the relative quiet, wait for Laura. It’s tough for her–a Mets fan–to sit through the sad, sad game. The others are going to tough it out, but at Logan’s request, the three of us Uber back to the hotel.

Before the first pitch, when Laura’s hopes were still high.

Logan settles down with the season final of The Flash on his phone. I have a very large drink.

When the others get back, they report a final of 14-3.


Say goodbye to Laura in the morning, who’s heading off to visit a pal on the way home. Pack up, organize. Check the space a half a dozen times. And we’re on our way home.

I asked Logan for his favorite thing on the trip. The roof of The Flatiron remains his number one, closely followed by Wonder Woman.

When we get home, Kayla comes up, and before I’m unpacked, he’s got her playing one of Kat’s card games. I’d say cards ranked high as well.

My best? Experiencing the city through a 13-year-old boy’s point of view. We had some serious fun–despite the chatty Pam–from start to finish.

The Logan Adventure Squad.


Fun, Family and Females

It turned into a busy week at and away from the keyboard. Away started Thursday when BW and I joined the crowd at Boonsboro High School for the Track and Field Regionals. Our Kayla ran in the 4×800 relay and the 3200.
We almost missed her first race as they started a little early AND had the meet going right before school let out. Boonsboro campus includes elementary, middle and high schools. Parking was a challenge with parents and busses waiting for kids, lots loaded with cars for the meet and so on.
But we got to the fence and saw our girl running her leg–for a personal best. And the win goes to Boonsboro! It was very exciting becasue the first place won a motorized scooters for children.
Post race
 A little break in the action during a downpour that interrupted my kind of day–hot and sunny. But the sun came back.
I love watching these kids, the focus and dedication, the teamwork, the fun along with the work and training. And it’s rewarding to hear the stands cheer and call out encouragement, no matter the team.
The 3200–two miles, and that’s eight times around the track–requires endurance, speed and strategy. Our girl has all three, places fourth and qualifies for States. You go, Kayla! The girl’s only a Freshman, finishing her first season as a runner, and she’ll represent her school and her team in States this week. Obviously, Nana is stupid proud.
I want to say a little something about the girl who placed first. She is a bullet. I’d seen her run another race and marveled. I don’t remember her name or the school she runs for, but kudos to her. She crossed the finish way, way ahead of the rest. Just sailed.
And Boonsboro, both the boys and the girls, win Regionals.
Another shortened work day for me on Thursday as it’s Girls Night Out in Boonsboro. It’s always a fun time, and the pretty weather makes it even better. At TTP there’s champagne and snacks, and cupcakes from the soon-to-open new bakery across the street. Mmmm.
It’s easy fun, hanging out with girls, doing a little shopping, showing off and signing copies of the Inn BoonsBoro Cookbook–and Kat’s there, too, so even better. This twice-a-year event has become a highlight. I love seeing the groups of women who come together, those who plan well in advance and book rooms at the inn to make it an overnight party. We even had a woman from Australia who’d come to stay at the inn with her husband on their American tour. She’d found out about the event from another guest, and extended her stay so she could come. What fun!
Friday’s back to work.
And Saturday’s for mostly indoor chores–they sure do accumulate during the work week. But I did carve out some outdoor time for a walk around the garden, to gather some flowers. The weather’s gone cool and cloudy. I have to turn on the heat in the gym to knock the chill off. Jeez.
Sunday’s a big treat. We drive to Jason’s and Kat’s for dinner. We haven’t been there since they finished their kitchen/great room addition. It’s just fabulous. I have some serious pantry envy. Jason’s made red sauce, and Kat’s made meatballs. Yum. While that’s simmering we walk around their big yard–and watch the deer come to play in the far back of it. We hang out in their gorgeous new kitchen, talk about ideas for how to turn what had been their dining room into a library.
And then we make pasta! Or Kat makes the pasta dough, and we take turns running it through the pasta machine. This is ridiculously entertaining.
Plus delicious. We have a wonderful meal in their happy, welcoming new space–and take home leftovers. Woo!
We can’t stay late as I have a dentist appointment first thing Monday morning, but have a really lovely day. It’s pretty rewarding for a mom to see her kids (they’re both MINE!) so happy as they make such a warm, welcoming home.
Monday? I get an A plus on oral hygiene. And still have two tiny cavities. Back in the chair on Wednesday, damn it. I’m not nearly as annoyed by the actual dental work as I am being pulled away from the keyboard in the middle of my work week.
Oh well. Better get to work and make up for it.