Category Archives: grandkids

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.

Laura

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.

Reward!

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!

Nora

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.

Nora

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 https://factschronicle.com/ 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.

Smoketree!
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.

Bedtime.

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.

Nora

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.
Nora

It Must Be Spring

Finally, after the cold, the wet, the gloom, gloom, gloom of the last few months, things are popping and budding and greening. And the air feels different. Not just warmer, but it holds that hopeful lightness that signals spring’s coming.

It must be because I found myself compelled to spend most of my Saturday cleaning–some serious deep cleaning. And it reminded me of my mother diving into her traditional spring cleaning every April.

Like many of her generation she had spring/summer curtains and fall/winter curtains. I have almost no curtains–just window treatments on blinds on bedrooms and the main level bath. But I live in the woods, not suburbia.

I also have no love affair toward Venetian blinds as my mother did. I have a clear picture of her washing those sharp slats in the bathtub. Many, many of them as she had the blinds, the sheers, then the drapes or curtains. Three layers on most of the windows through our pretty big house. While they were down, we’d–whoever she could draft into the task–wash windows. Newspaper and ammonia–maybe Windex. And winter was washed and polished away, the spring/summer curtains–freshly washed and aired–hung.

While I’ve spared myself the chore of kneeling at the side of the tub washing, rinsing, washing, long slats of metal blinds that leave knicks on the knuckles, I did my share of washing, scrubbing, polishing yesterday. And understand completely her great satisfaction of seeing winter dealt with, with rags and buckets and lemon-scented cleaners.

With April, like my mother–and my father–my head and heart turn happily to gardening. Plans for it, imagining it, scouting out what’s popped out bravely as the air and ground warm.

The dogs and I took happy walks around after the scrubbing and polishing, and that provided an even deeper satisfaction for me.

My baby’s breath is a lovely white cloud. The Solomon Seal’s up and spreading. I have lungwort showing happy pink buds, found a little Johnny-Jump-Up volunteering. I hope more join him.  

Atticus and I–along with his pals above–checked out the progress of the peonies. Looking good!!

I can’t remember what this bush is, but I love it’s coming out in that candy pink Easter hue.

And for Easter–early as the kids won’t be around–we dyed and decorated eggs. We had some wacky ones.

I like seeing the young willow we planted last year greening, and my old cherry trees getting ready to explode with blossoms. Since today’s even lovelier than yesterday, I’m going to take advantage, head out into the sunshine with some Milk Bones for the boys.

We’ll see what we can see.  

Nora

A Lot of Bits And Some Pieces

Just not much going on around here because it’s hibernation time.

Delighted to report that Logan–who’s grown another inch according to the Nana Hug-O-Meter and verified by measuring tape–scored a three-pointer to help his team win his basketball game. And Kayla–running the 3200 and the 4×800 relay–helped the Boonsboro Girls Indoor Track Team win the State Championship.

Kayla (left) in relay. Photo from HeraldMailMedia.com

Pretty sweet all around.

Meanwhile after work and workouts, I played (a little obsessively) with a Christmas gift from Jason and Kat. When we vacation together, we do fun panorama photos, with staging and considerable choreography. So for Christmas, they got me a jigsaw puzzle comprised of four of those panos. Fun, challenging and unique. And accomplished! Even if a piece appears to have gone missing from Sorento.

The perfect gift

I’m also thrilled my newly reupholstered living room furniture is now in place. And relieved it received potentially future interior designer Kayla’s approval. I like the cheerful, bright and warm look of it, and that I successfully played off the bird pillows I’m so fond of, and the gorgeous throw my agent brought me back from a trip to India.

Otherwise I’m deep into the book, socked in and happy to be so.

Since I’m here, I’m going to (once again) address a few points, as apparently there’s been a revival of chatter, misinformation and odd assertions on the internet.

Roarke is Roarke. Period. No, no, a thousand times no, he was not named Patrick after his despicable father. He is not, has never been a junior. He is very simply, now and forever–before and after and always–Roarke.

Readers dissatisfied with that are just going to have to accept it.

And just because Roarke rhymes with stork doesn’t equal baby. There will be no baby, biological, adopted, fostered, in dreams or conceived by Eve and Roarke in an alternate universe. (Also no to pregnancy scares which is just silly.) This is simply not going to happen for reasons I’ve explained many times. And no, Eve and Roarke will not babysit for Bella. Why in God’s name–seriously–would they? I really think Mavis and Leonardo can handle finding their own child care when necessary.

Eve will not find long-lost relations. This will not happen. Period. Done. Please??? And her father is DEAD. Really most sincerely dead. Doornail dead. Dead as Moses.

Supporting characters will not take the spotlight as Eve and/or Roarke are sidelined by injury, kidnapping, amnesia or alien abduction. They are, and will remain supporting characters.

I’m never, ever going to ask for reader input into storylines. I do not, as some believe, take reader suggestions and work them into a story, or adjust future stories, character traits, dialog or actions due to reader chatter (be it positive or negative). I write in my own little bubble, and that’s never going to change. If a reader feels ‘it’s time’ I shake things up, freshen things up, it may be that reader needs a break from my work. Nothing at all wrong with that.

In very practical terms, in logistical terms, by the time the chatter starts on a new book, the next is already written and with my publisher–and often the next two as the books are published every six months, and my personal process is to work about a year ahead of publication.

So the chatter doesn’t apply for me from a practical or a creative standpoint. Especially from the creative side.

As a writer, as a creator of a long-running series with recurring characters, I have to think both of the long view and each individual book. It all has to make sense within the world created, for the characters drawn, for the interpersonal relationships of those characters.

Trust me, I know the world and the characters.

Now, I’m going to drop myself into a different work with different characters. I like it in my bubble.

Nora

Nothing Much

 Which is what’s going on around here. I’m in hibernation mode–mostly–so it’s just work, work out, dinner, sleep. Repeat.
 
It’s what I call the best.
 
I do break hibernation a bit here and there. The kids are allowed into the cave. With Kayla off to run in States–go, team!– to end her track season, and Logan’s basketball season winding up, I may see a little more of them. That’s always a bright spot in this relentlessly gloomy winter.
 
As a sign they’re pretty grown up, what was once a toy room/guest room is now, after my purge, just a guest room. Nobody plays with the toys any more, so it’s time to pass them on. A little sad, but then I remember a couple weeks ago after a sleep-over, Kayla and I putting our makeup on together in the bathroom mirror. Every stage has its little pleasures.
 
Plus, I picked out new paint and bedding for the room. I’ll enjoy seeing it freshened up. And our Sarah who often bunks there after a book signing will, too.
 
And thanks to Sarah’s gift of an amaryllis kit, I have a gorgeous February bloom.
 
While I ‘appeared’ in New York to celebrate my first release with St. Martin’s Press, I didn’t have to leave home to do it. My amazing publisher projected the cover of Echoes In Death, front and back on the Flatiron Building. This is just too cool. It’s also pretty sweet having a publishing team who thinks of the just too cool–so I can stay home and write while they do innovating marketing, create fun contests and design fabulous covers.
 
I can’t count the ways I love my home with them, and the people in it.
[Note from Laura:  Because I DO leave my house in the winter, I drove to NYC to see this in person and “reported” on the display. https://www.facebook.com/jdrobbauthor/videos/10154891568726132/]
Last weekend I serious broke hibernation when BW and I went into Fit In Boonsboro to take their first Cize Alive class. I’m a big fan of Cize and of Shaun T, and use his DVDs regularly in my workouts at home. Knowing this, our manager Heidi gave me a little nudge to attend. And since my pal JoAnne planned to go, and added a second nudge, in I went. And BW decided to give it a go with me.
 
Fun stuff–fun, sweaty stuff–with a happy class and seriously energetic instructors in Heidi and Teri.
 

And we have video! Oddly, muscle memory goes to crap when you turn from the front of the room to the side to get the video, but I think the class pulled it off. I’m absolutely sure Fit’s members are going to love this addition.

The last break–and it will very likely be the very, very last until spring–hits today. If you’re a fan of NPR, you’ll have listened to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. If you haven’t, you’re missing something. I’m delighted they invited me to be their guest on the Not My Job segment. I recorded it live Thursday night–by phone–and it airs today and tomorrow on NPR. You’ll want to check your local listings if you’re interested.  (And the segment is now online.) 
 
Now with the annual house purging done and nothing on my schedule for WEEKS that takes me out of the house, I’m hunkering down. I’m working on the second book of the new trilogy, and can say without hesitation, it’s sucking my brain dry by the end of every day. It’s hard, complicated writing, and I couldn’t be happier doing it.
 
So nobody better poke the bear until April!
Nora

 

Bright Spots

We’ve had a gray and gloomy couple of weeks. The sun took a winter holiday and left us in dim and dank for far too long. Cranky rain, a little ice storm, and late night a dusting of snow.
 
I’d rather have the snow. At least it’s white and bright.
 
I may not notice the gloom so much when I’m into the workday, but before and after–gloom, gloom, gloom.
 
Gotta find those bright spots elsewhere.
 
A friend gave me some narcissus she’d started forcing–so sweet. And now they’re tall and lovely and give me one of those little bright spots. Another gave me an amaryllis I’ve just started. Can’t wait to see it grow and bloom.
 
I’ve been purging every weekend–and leaving myself brighter spots as I go. I really have to stop buying scarves–I won’t, but I really should. And jackets. I try not to leave the house, so why do I need so many scarves and jackets?
 
And yet.
 
A big bright spot was dinner with the kids. Not much brighter than happy, chatty kids–and all with excellent report cards. As Nana pays for As, they’re currently rich, happy, chatty kids.
 
Kayla came to hang with me on Saturday–more bright–and I had bread dough rising, a pot roast with the trimmings on the simmer. Since I had the girl, why not purge the bathroom–and my makeup drawers? Much more fun with a girl pal, and one who loves samples (I had a ton) and makeup as much as I do. She left with a bag that made her happy, and I’m left with more organized drawers and baskets, making me happy.
Sourdough with sesame and poppy seeds.
Pot roast for BW.
And BW’s happy with a pot roast for dinner. Good deal all around.
 
More purging Sunday–one more weekend should do it–then . . . is that the sun? I believe it might be. For a minute or two anyway.
 
Logan asked me to come to his basketball game–and how could a Nana say no to that? BW had a photo commitment. He’d entered some photos in the annual contest the Washington County Museum holds. He’d meet us if he could.
 
Lots of games scheduled in the Boonsboro High School gym. I get there as one’s nearly over. Nice for Logan his mom’s parents came, too. And his sister and little brother. We can hang out on the bleachers until it’s his game time and form a solid rooting section. And just before, here come’s Grandda–feeling pretty bright himself as one of his photos took best in Washington County.
 
Logan’s not a big guy, but with his recent growth spurt–he’s just past the five foot mark now–I note Number Two is no longer the shortest on the court. He’s little, but he’s fast and feisty!

 

Nana’s action shot from the bleachers.
Ready for the rebound.
The kids are good, and I like that the bleachers clap or respond to good plays by both teams. Good sportsmanship starts with coaches and parents. These are good sports.
 
Logan’s team won, both teams played hard and well. More bright spots in him getting many rebounds–and scoring two baskets. Biggest bright spot of the day, his flushed and happy face when we hug goodbye.
 
Now the weekend’s behind me, and the workweek begins. In the gray, apparently. No sun out there today. So my bright spot will be the book that’s going pretty well, no need to put on a scarf or a jacket and–at least on this Monday morning–a reasonably well ordered house.
 
That’ll do. I hope if you’re caught under these gray skies you find the bright here and there.
Nora

Some Days Just Suck

When a day planned for the keyboard and the book ends up being spent in the car and in two dentist’s chairs–with the bonus of a root canal–it definitely sucks.
 
But I now know I can get from my pajamas into street clothes, slap on enough makeup as to not frighten small children in approximately five minutes. When the goal is to make an emergency dentist appointment at an office forty minutes away (if no slow pokes hog the road in front of me), with fifty minutes to make it with a banging tooth, it can be done.
 
I’m grateful my guy squeezed me in so fast, and when the issue required the specialist, they booked me an appointment the same day. Enough time to get to the pharmacy in Boonsboro to fill the Rx for antibiotics–and pop the first of those suckers in the parking lot. Enough time to consider running back home to get the phone I left, in my rush, on the kitchen counter, then scrap that and live dangerously.
 
So a couple hours poking around at Turn The Page before driving back to Hagerstown, and into another dentist chair. But got the four tubs of books signed while I was there.
 
I don’t like needles–who does?–but I’m thinking: Jab that thing in there and numb this bitch. And ahhh, numbness=relief of pain. And the endless drilling will mean fix. This is not my first root canal, and I try to find my Zen. Not an easy task, but you gotta try.
 
Six and a half hours after my mad dash out of the house, I’m home again. Yay.
 
I find it almost inevitable that a crazy tooth thing will explode on me over a weekend. Is this a test of character? I’d like to skip it next time.
 
However, on Saturday it was just sore and annoying, with my plan to call for help on Monday morning. It wasn’t bad enough I skipped my workout. In fact the workout was a nice distraction. Domestic stuff also distracted. Time to shovel out the rest of the holiday stuff, start putting the house back together.
 
I’m having my living room furniture reupholstered–Kayla is pleased with me here–so my empty living room echoes.
 
With my house back in shape, and my man preparing to have an evening with football, I get myself ready for A Night With Nora at the inn.
 

We’re going to do a little meet and greet over wine and cheese, then a Q&A, then some photos. An easy, fun evening–despite the crap weather. It’s warm and cozy at the inn, so who cares about the ugly, chilly rain spitting outside?

A rapt audience.
Nancy and Nora.
Group shot — though Nancy had gone upstairs.
I think we all had fun. Enough I’ll definitely consider doing this again. We had husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, girl pals–such a nice, happy mix of people. And the ice held off, so driving home wasn’t bad at all.
 
However, waking up before dawn with a tooth banging like a hammer? Not fun. Working out distracted, a little, and I started my annual purge. Gotta keep the mind off the banging! I hit my One More Room, which is always satisfying. Then my shoe closet. I think my friends who wear size seven will be pleased.
 
I decide to make soup because I know I’m going to need it.
 
Kayla has her State champion cross-country team here for a little celebration–and the surprise of State Champ jackets Nana and Grandda bought. In rural area schools, especially, football gets all the bucks. These girls ran hard, and deserve their rewards.
 
I can hear them chattering and laughing down in the family room–this is after a scavenger hunt outside, and a trip from here down to the mailbox at the start of our lane. A quarter mile. The coaches come up to thank me while I’m cooking–and happily say they expect Kayla to use that quarter mile for training over the summer.
 
The team gets to swim, eat pizza and snacks, enjoy each other. These are, seriously, delightful girls.
 
I pop Motrin–and actually consider taking one of BW’s pain meds. Sanity comes back when I calculate he’s got fourteen inches and about ninety pounds on me. I’ll stick with Motrin and add some wine to that.
 
Can’t pop the Motrin for another four hours, but you can always pour another glass of wine. I do.
 
Colt comes up to hang with me. He’s had enough of girls. Nana doesn’t count! So he eats his pizza at the counter while I cook, and distracts me from the banging.
 
The girls come up to give me a framed picture of the champs. I’d just told BW I wanted to get a picture, and boom–wish granted. And they’ve all signed the mat inside the frame. I love this, a lot.
 
I’ll say again, absolutely delightful girls with caring, devoted coaches. Kayla chose well–and we’re told qualified to run in the County meet (she’s doing indoor track over the winter) this Friday.
 
Run, Kayla, run!
 
When the soup’s simmering and the house is quiet again, I decide to get into my pjs and watch bedroom tv. Actually fall asleep for about twenty minutes. Pain is lessened. I know–from experience–this means the abscess is leaking, relieving the pressure. I don’t really care as the pain’s gone from ringing the bell at ten to about a five. I’ll take it. And the soup BW brings me on a tray.
 
So a crappy, annoying weekend can still have it’s high points and bright spots. And now it’s in my rearview mirror. Bye-bye!
 
My jaw is sore and tender this morning, but that’ll pass. And there’s always wine at the end of the day! It’s gloomy out–the world outside my office window is gray and brown. I don’t have to go out into it. Instead, I’m going inside a story–the best distraction ever. And may just write in my pjs all day.
 
Best job in the world!
Nora