Category Archives: Laura’s posts

Readers, writers and the ties that bind

Last week, my pal Marissa at St. Martin’s Press emailed to ask if I’d boost their latest stroke of genius on Facebook to promote the In Death series: a sweepstakes in which 500 readers receive a connect-the-dot booklet, and one grand prize winner will get a booklet and a signed ARC of Connections.  (Sweepstakes link: here )

I agreed, even as I mentally rolled my eyes and shielded my energy.  Why? Mainly to not wilt under the inevitable chorus of readers outside the US unhappy with the rules that exclude them.  

Recently, the chorus has upped the ante and there have been declarations of “Well I won’t buy your books!”
“Why do you hate readers who live in [fill in the blank]?”
“Do you know what you can do with your books?”
Nora replied “Yes, I can write them.”

And there, my friends is the crux of it all.  Nora’s contract with readers is to give them the best book possible, every single time out.  That’s it.  She works long hours, one book at a time to achieve her end of the bargain.  Yes, there may books readers don’t enjoy.   But that’s a whole different conversation.

The perception of a writer with a worldwide following such as Nora’s is that one publisher handles all things.  Nora has explained this is not the case several time, I’ve explained as well.  I’ve added notes to contest information that it can’t be done.  But the immediate reaction from readers is pretty much “Why don’t you love MEEEEEEEE?”   I’m here to say she does, she upholds her end of the bargain and that’s where the story ends.

Once finished, a book goes off to her US editor.  Fairly soon thereafter, it’s off to her UK editor.  Each woman works for a different publisher.  The covers are different, the distribution is different, the rules are different.  For the rest of the world, it all depends on which international publisher has contracted to bring Nora or JD to their particular readership and when.  For instance, Brazil brought out the Bride quartet with fun promotion, lots of excitement — 4 years after it came out in the US.  

The last In Death to come out to a fairly wide readership was Apprentice.  By my count it came out in Czechloslovakia, Poland, Hungary,  France, the UK (Ireland/Australia/New Zealand/South Africa) and the US.

Each publisher promoted in the way that worked for their market.  At the time, Nora’s US publisher was Putnam and their method of promotion didn’t include giveaways and contests.  When she moved to St. Martin’s Press, the team there faced the challenge of rebranding, promoting and publicizing a series 43 books long, with an established reader base.  They chose to build the audience with clever, creative sweepstakes. 

The one thing they can’t do is offer these creative promotions to readers outside the US, including Canada more often than not.  The rules, the laws, governing publishers are specific to each country, global contests are virtually impossible.  In a recent conversation with Nora’s new Little Brown editor, she told me that once she’d tried to run a worldwide contest and it fell apart under all the rules.  By the way, for a company like Little Brown, contests are geographic as well — a contest in Australia can’t run in South Africa.  

My position is different.  In a lot of ways, especially with the advent of social media, I’m the axle in the wheel of Nora.  She’s one spoke, the publishers are another couple of spokes, readers are spokes.  I field questions about books, complaints about print runs, issues with audio books, ebooks, any books.  And I turn that information over to the appropriate editor as soon as I’m able. 

Believe me, I’ve encouraged non-US publisher to consider contests because at this point in time, readers want them.  They consult with their own sales & marketing departments and make their own choices.

Here’s where I empower you to reach out to the publisher in your country. I’ve included websites and the social media pages below and encourage you to speak up.  Let them know you want to play, want an option to read a book a little early.  

In the meantime, I’m figuring out how to have a worldwide contest through the blog.  There are a lot of hoops for me as well, so be patient while I work it all out.

UK/Ireland/Australia/New Zealand/South Africa
Publisher site: https://www.littlebrown.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/norarobertsjdrobb/

Poland
Pulisher site: https://www.proszynski.pl/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Proszynski

France
Publisher site: https://www.jailu.com/Nos-auteurs/roberts-nora
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jailu.editions

Czech Republic:
Publisher/distributor site:  www.alpress.cz
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Nakladatelstv%C3%AD-Alpress-196639247048865/

Laura

Cranky Publicist beach update

(Though it’s hard to be cranky at the beach.)

The day Nora and family headed home from Montana, I moved my office to the beach for three weeks.  While Nora settled back into her at-home routine, I’d pick up where I left off last year.  And start with the sunrise: 

Our little place is right on the ocean with steps down to the beach. My favorite part of the outdoor space is the spot at the top of the dune with chairs and a view.

My seat, my mug, a reflection.

The days at the beach have a basic framework: sunrise watch, work, workout, work, end the afternoon with a book* and a cold drink, watch night fall after dinner.  Since I’m not my pal Nora, I head to the nearby Y to workout with other members of humanity.  Just before we got here I was released from the post-eye-surgery workout restrictions and I needed to bench press something heavy and sweat through spin.

Just happened to arrive before I left Maryland.

Two days in, I had the happiest email from Nora.  The grandkids came up for dinner the night after they returned for a joyous reunion.  Nora swore Logan grew another inch as he swooped toward 9th grade, Kayla had three weeks of cross country practices under her belt and Colt was ready to discuss all the books he’d read in the last three weeks.  She spent time in the gardens, baked some bread, shook off the travel fatigue and couldn’t wait until Monday to get in some solid work on In Death #49.

Labor Day meant our kids arrived for the holiday weekend while Nora and BW packed up again for a week in NY.  I think I mentioned it’s early this year to clear the decks for Master Yet-to-be-Named Wilder Pong Aufdem-Brinke’s arrival.

The NYC reports included days of hiking in search of remaining Christmas gifts. On a trip to find a new puzzle for Kat, Nora stopped by the Fifth Ave Barnes & Noble on Leverage in Death release day.  She surprised (and thrilled) the staff there by signing stock.  They shared on all their social media here.  I shared it on the various Nora/JD social media as well.

I missed the annual shop and theater trip with Nora’s agent and editor, but Leslie kept me in the loop with photos of footwear Nora found.  They saw Waitress, but I’ve yet to hear a review.

I’ve got to admit that I crave these.
Because winter is coming.

In the meantime, I kept to routine.

Morning surfer
A short walk to the water.

Nora heads home tomorrow and, other than baby showers, baby arrivals and signings will happily stay put until after Halloween.   I have a few more days here, then head home Thursday so I’ll be at Nora’s side at the TTP signing next Saturday.

All signs point to mid-week as the best time to leave because after 18 days with no rain, Florence lurks in the Atlantic:

Unexpected guest

In the meantime, I’ll watch a couple more sunrises and breathe in the salt air.

Fiery sky
Eve Dallas hoodie available at TTP.

Laura

* I also read Nalini Singh’s Rebel Hard, Illona Andrew’s Magic Rises and Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians.

Leverage in Death teasers

Leverage in Death cover

One week to go until Leverage in Death is in your hands!  As is tradition, I’m going to share some gentle teasers — little things to look for as you race through the book.  No plot points, no major spoilers, just a little extra eye on details.  I’ll add a new one each day from now until Friday (8/31) to whet the appetite a little bit more.

But first, the book description.

What would you do to protect your family?

Leverage in Death opens with a bizarre suicide bombing in a Wall St. office building. As airline executives finalized a merger that would make news in the business world, marketing VP Paul Rogan walked into the plush conference room, strapped with explosives, and destroyed the room. Headlines spoke of death and destruction, but Eve Dallas confirmed that Rogan was cruelly coerced by two masked men holding his family hostage. His motive: save his wife and daughter. But what motivated the masked men?

Now Eve must untangle the reason for an inexplicable act of terror, look at suspects inside and outside both corporations, and determine whether the root of this crime lies in simple sabotage, or something far more complex and twisted.

Teaser 1 — Tuesday 8/28
  • You will never look at soup the same way again. 
  • Feeney has an eye for relationships.
  • Baxter has some deep pockets.
Teaser 2 — Wednesday 8/29
  • Eve considers the various levels of scary Roarke.
  • A dinner conversation ranges from firsts to fathers to friendship.
  • Waffles or oatmeal? An eternal question.
Teaser 3 — Thursday 8/30
  • Peabody is bilingual.
  • Roarke continues to understand all manner of e-speak no matter the age of the e-geek.  (Got the cranks, ha!)
  • Eve comes into some original art.
Teaser 4 — Friday 8/31
  • Eve and Feeney head a host of pals who make a dream come true.
  • A new phrase: “Pull a Roarke.”
  • Eve and Roarke still know how dance around lines in the sand.  And be pissed about it.

OK, that takes us through about three-quarters of the book.  The rest needs to flow through the end of the case.

But stay tuned through the end. Every once in a while there’s an epilogue.

I’ll open the discussion thread bright and early Tuesday morning.

Transition Day

I expect one last Montana wrap up post in my inbox today or tomorrow.  (There were 20 new photos in the shared album when I got up this morning — the usual indication of a great day.)  But since our intrepid travelers gather their gear and head east today while I move Control Central from Maryland to the beach this is a quick break.

Nora could stick to her habit and write up the post before they leave, but I’ll be on the road for six hours starting at 10 am my time so the likelihood of a Montana Day 17 post is tomorrow.

While it’s hard to get over post vacation blues, the fall swings into action with Leverage in Death (and Nora’s fall trip to NY) and doesn’t stop until Of Blood & Bone is in your hands.  And, of course, in between the two we’ll meet Young Master Pong Aufdem-Brinke.  

I’ll pop in with some beach photos over the next few weeks along with regular updates on books and such.  If you’re curious about what I do when Nora’s not around you can follow me on Instagram here.  BTW, don’t forget we now have official IG accounts:  Nora Roberts and JD Robb.  I’m having great fun regramming readers photos of books and where they read them on both pages.

Plus, coming really, really soon: the Of Blood & Bone excerpt.

See you on the beach side! (I’ll be working in the chair to the right.)

Laura

The quiet is nearly over

Hello from The Greenbrier!  This is your friendly Cranky Publicist checking in to assure you all that Nora is alive and well — just finishing a book.

Here she is! Photo by LMR

Last summer I noticed moving the “big” book (i.e., Come Sundown, Shelter in Place) from spring to summer meant instead of finishing before summer travel, Nora’s fitting in the finish while traveling. (Remember, she likes to be a year ahead of a release date.)

So what’s new?  Well it was my birthday last week.  And I’m having cataract surgery next month…

What’s that? You want to know about Nora?

Fine.

The theme of Nora’s summer is Stop then Go.

After the Kayla’s trip to NYC,  Nora had about a week of work before heading off on the annual family trip to the spa.  One highlight was group painting night.  Fascinating to see how everyone interpreted the picture, isn’t it?

Post-spa, Nora had four days of work before her and BW’s annual summer barbeque.  I drove up the day before to serve as line cook and pot washer.    I shelled 3 dozen hard-boiled eggs for deviled eggs, while Kayla made the trifle.

Nora?  Oh she was there too.

A girl and her trifle. Photo by LMR
Trifle closeup. Photo by LMR

Last week, Nora put in another solid four days on the book before she had to break to pack for our week at Greenbrier.  Normally it’s an easy pack but she spent one day of the week shooting video for St. Martin’s Press, so she had to come up with wardrobe for Nora and for JD.  She sacrificed a work day because the weekend was devoted to the Turn the Page Anniversary signing.

In another nod to classic writing at the TTP anniversary signing,  Barbara Delinskey and Linda Howard visited the store and many happy readers.

Classic and classy: Linda Howard, Nora, Barbara Delinskey

You’ll see my reaction to Linda here: 

We met sisters and cousins and moms thrilled to be together.  Groups of sisters of the heart traveled to Maryland, including this Drink Therapy group from Chicago.

Someone forgot her shirt, but remembered the wine!

Despite rain setting in halfway through, the energy remained upbeat and excited for the entire 4 hours.

The next day was the Fall Into the Story brunch at Vesta.  Nora picked five readers to sit at her table from the bag of raffle tickets then everyone else filled in spaces. I stopped at all the tables to chat, then came back with Nora for more chat and photos.

Nora and Nora.

The brunch culminates in a raffle of baskets from Nora, Turn the Page, Gifts Inn BoonsBoro and Inn BoonsBoro. This year, the raffle raised over $1300 for Set The Stage – a non profit chosen by the Nora Roberts Foundation.

And then we came to The Greenbrier.

Evening sky over The Greenbrier. Photo by LMR

Yesterday’s shoot went very smoothly.  I can’t show much but these are  snaps I put on Instagram.

Nora prep. Photo by LMR
Post JD Robb prep. Photo by LMR

After Nora finished, we did a quick Facebook Live, then meandered out to watch the Houston Texans arrive for training camp.  Nora could not care less about football, but she came along for the walk.  Then we paused for a selfie in front of the cameras set up for a press conference with the Texans GM, and the NFL Networks James Palmer joined the snap.

James Palmer, JoAnn, Nora, Laura and Sarah

The rest of the week, Nora will go through the final draft of the July 2019 book in the mornings, I’ll catch up with my own work and then we’re off to hang out with our friends.

Once back and after Kayla’s Sweet 16 party, Nora has a solid week of work before she, Bruce, Jason and Kat set off for Montana.  Travelogues will again be the order of the day for a couple of weeks next month.  Though as I mentioned above and on Facebook Live, I’m having cataract surgery on both eyes, a week apart in August.  There may be a delay or two because of recovery, but I plan to keep things moving smoothly while Nora’s in Montana.

And that’s all the Nora updates fit to print.

One last order of business:  Five lucky readers will win an advance reader copy of Leverage in Death at the end of St. Martin’s Press new sweepstakes. All the details here:  Leverage in Death ARC sweepstakes.

The abbreviated rules of the contest: No purchase necessary. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C. who are age 18 or older and of the legal age of majority. Entry period begins at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on July 16, 2018 and ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on July 29, 2018. Void where prohibited. For full Official Rules, visit https://read.macmillan.com/promo/leverageindeatharcsweeps18. Sponsored by St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

Laura

Notes from the Cranky Publicist desk

Time to share some social media updates!  We’ve had two cover reveal videos on Facebook  recently. (The first is also on the  St. Martin’s Press You Tube channel.)

The first for Of Blood & Bone, book 2 in the Chronicles of The One, out December 4.

 

 

You can pre-order Of Blood & Bone at your favorite retailer now:

Turn the Page: http://bit.ly/2FmYnoZ

 

Then, in early 2019, there’s Connections in Death — #48 in the series —  out February 5.

 

Again, you can pre-order everywhere now.

Turn the Page: http://bit.ly/2xcrzjq
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IICyCB
Kindle: https://amzn.to/2xb4Owf
BN: http://bit.ly/2IMTzvA
Nook: http://bit.ly/2×93078
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/2IMbaUg
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2xjlu55
iBooks: https://apple.co/2x9S6Ov
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2xa3rOl

Nora and JD are on Instagram! OK, we’ll be completely transparent here:  I’m posting on the Instagram pages.  Some people prefer to bypass Facebook but like IG for the photos.  Not all the content will repeat on all social media but I think it could be fun to follow. Search for Nora Roberts  (@norarobertsauthor) and JD Robb (@jdrobbauthor).

Finally, some #randomkatness (and a repeat photo).  Nora mentioned Kat’s design for the baby blanket in the Girls in the City post, right?  Well not only is she designing it to honor the family that came before the baby, but it’s REVERSIBLE like this one she made for her niece.    My mind is completely blown.

Hope you all have a good weekend.
Laura

Dark in Death teasers

The end of the wait is in sight!  Dark in Death is in stores on Tuesday, January 30.  The perfect way to end the first month of the year, don’t you think?  As has become tradition, I’ll share some teasers about the book here.

No spoilers, no plot points for the series as a whole.  No big secrets because, well, that’s just not right.  Instead just some nuggets you may enjoy as the case unfolds.

I’ll update each day this week (I think – honestly it depends on how fast I go through them).

And for kicks and giggles (plus the mental gymnastics for me) I’m going to write them as haikus.  Or post videos (I get bored easily). So check back.

Monday, January 22
Summerset gone? Yay!
Hide? Seek! Find the perfect spot.
Big house, takes a while.

Tuesday, January 23
Cop books that don’t blow?
Some agree it can be done.
But not Jenkinson.

Wednesday, January 24
Mohair! Pink Shantung!
She who rides a hobbyhorse
gets some alpaca.

Came back to lend my opinion to the early comments on the Wednesday haiku:

Um, no.

Thursday, January 25
I know you all feel like this:

Waiting, waiting.

But here’s today’s teaser to perk you up:

Feeney a fanboy?
It’s never whack timing when
rock gods add their voice.

Friday, January 26
Murder cop, reader:
each one looks for a hero
Who’s yours in the end?

And that’s it for teasers!  Back to open the discussion thread on Tuesday!

Laura

Bits/Pieces, Sunday 9/10

I don’t want to lose touch this fall so on those weekends Nora doesn’t share a blog post, I’l share updates.

The adventurers arrived home safely on August 27.  Word is that Nora got home, minimally unpacked, napped for a bit, then watched the Game of Thrones season finale.  She had to do this because I’d have whined at her to catch up. since we share our GoT thoughts every Monday.  (We loved the finale, btw.)

Then I left town for a long-planned working vacation at the beach with my husband.  We’ve had the usual mix of Outer Banks weather and since I get up to watch the sunrise, I work early so I can have cocktails on the beach in the afternoon.

Just before dawn. Photo by Laura Reeth

Nora adjusted to the time, dove back into the current WIP (an In Death, as we all know) for three days before it was time to prepare for the annual summer barbeque.  I’m afraid she was short one sous chef (me) but I hear the party was a success.  And Kat sent me a photo of her amazing watermelon carving for the fruit salad.

Kat + watermelon = greatness. Photo by kat

Once the Labor Day weekend was over, I hit my beach stride.  Nora hit the manuscript.  What can I say?  We each have our priorities.

Sunrise on the water. Photo by Laura Reeth

And, of course, September 6 brought Secrets In Death release day. The conversation continues on this thread.

On Wednesday, September 7, we shared the brand new author photo for Year One on all social media.  Isn’t it amazing?

Photo by Bruce Wilder.

I shared a couple of quotes on Facebook.

As well as a great review of Secrets in Death on Criminal Element (don’t forget to click on the fun GIFnotes tour of Secrets).

Then suddenly, it was Friday and the end of the week and we knew readers were facing adversity in so many places — recovering from Harvey, preparing for Irma, breathing in ash from western fires — and we wished everyone a safe weekend.

Hope you had exactly that.

Laura

PS.  Kat agreed to continuing with the #randomkatness, but only if I curated the photos and wrote the captions.  I agreed.

Cat in the driver’s seat. Photo by kat

Postcards from the summer

Good morning all!

The blog laid dormant  for a few weeks as summer (and deadline) caught up with Nora and I took the time to start considering how else to use this space.  The quiet is about to change as  we’re less than a week from Nora’s 2017 travelogue, this time from Cote d’Azur and Provence.

Here’s a quick catch up:

After New York with Logan, Nora planned to finish writing the 2018 hardcover romantic suspense before leaving for the family trip to the spa.   She ended up working 12-14 hours a day for nearly two weeks in order to meet the goal, and she did.  Shelter in Place went off to her editor on a Sunday morning and she left for the spa less than 24 hours later.

(Did you catch the title?)

The entire group did a paint session and BW sent me the results:

Then it was home for a few days and a dip in the In Death waters for the second 2018 book before the TTP 22nd anniversary signing, the Fall into the Story brunch and our trip to The Greenbrier.

( NO TITLE on that In Death yet — it’s barely started.)

The signing was a lot of fun and the authors had a wonderful time.

Brunch, as always, was a delight.  It’s so much fun to have a little more time to chat and share stories than we do at the signings.

I took the annual panorama of the entire group at the end of the brunch.

The next day, we were off to The Greenbrier for a week of work and relaxation.  Oh, and games.*  Nora, Ruth and I arrived first and took a quick, silly selfie to send BW.

We settled in, welcomed Kat and our Sarah, unpacked, got to know our engaging ghosts (the suite was full of excited energy that wasn’t just ours), and then planted ourselves on the private patio. We only left for walks or workouts or food.

Laura, Ruth, Sarah, Nora and Kat
Our staircase
The mirror along the staircase

Ruth and me.

Thursday, Nora and I did a Facebook Live — 40 minutes of conversation, some laughter and a lot of great information.

The week was wonderful. We’ve already booked next year.

Laura

*Yes, you read that right, games.  BUT no scoreboard.  Ruth Langan taught us Euchre and then Nora taught Ruth and me Hearts.  I have no ability to strategize, but I did ok. So, cards are acceptable.  They won’t be part of the Girls Spa trip so there will still be a Stupid Scoreboard.

 

Dear Diary: a conclusion to the Cranky Publicist adventures

Dearest Diary,

I regret to inform you that I ended the week in possession of the gaudy Biggest Loser earrings.  All my “friends” turned on me in my hour of need.  The Mighty and Fearsome Elaine is the Grand Poobah Champion of Spa World with wins in Dance (poor, poor Sarah), Bowling and by getting the most answers in Reverse Charades.

When Nora added up the lowest scores, it  came down to the slimmest margin between Mary and me.  Nicole, sweet Nicole, turned to me and asked, “Wait, when did you start winning games?  You didn’t win when I was here.”  I told her I DIDN’T win, that was the point.  She nodded and said, “Ohhhhh.”

An ear infection and URI can make anyone a little loopy.

Nora said it was too close to call.  Mary said, “Oh just give it to Laura — it will fit her narrative.”  And the rest of them agreed with applause.  I guess accurate and unbiased reporting on the goings on during spa week begets frenemies willing to bring you low.

Sigh.  I need to accept applications for new friends.  The flurry of photos for Elaine’s THIRD coronation in six years ended up looking like this.  I think it accurately shows my feelings on the subject.

But let’s backtrack a bit, shall we Diary Dear?

Thursday evening was a flurry of activity.  The Mighty and Fearsome Elaine took on the Beautiful and Brilliant Sarah in a serious final round of Trivia.  I captured this moment near the end of the round:

That begat the final result:

Elaine took the finals in Just Dance by a hair’s breadth, but my video won’t upload so I can’t prove it.  Does that mean it REALLY happened?

And then she bowled.  A game like no other with seven consecutive strikes.

See what I deal with Diary?

A busy evening for the future champion who moved to the dining table for second round Scrabble  Nicole, Pat and Kat.  Nicole, still obviously somewhat alert despite her symptoms came in second and would play Kat in the finals.

Nora, the soul of tact and discretion, said at least 473 times, “Nicole is in the final!  Let me repeat, Nicole and Kat are in the final!!!!” Perhaps her shock makes her Nicole’s “friend” as well.

Elaine chose her various prizes and then said, “I’m tired of winning. I have to go now.”  Diary, I believe I hissed a little.

[From the Fearsome one’s private journal:  “Yes!  All is in place for my re-coronation!  I shall sleep well  tonight.”]

In the meantime, side bowling games abounded.  Mary Kay had set the multipin scoring record of 560 the night before, so she sat and watched us try in vain to catch her.

[Excerpted from Mary Kay’s annals of fabulousness: “I’m still the bowling queen — I have a golden ball!”]

At one point JoAnne said Mary Kay should take a turn.  Mary Kay replied, “I don’t want to keep demoralizing you.”

Diary, our egos are very healthy during spa week.

We saved Paint and Sip for the final night (though sadly, Pat had to miss it).  For some misguided reason, Diary, I decided to let all the participants have a choice in what we painted so we could send the final pick to the teacher beforehand.  Oh the opinions on color and flower and scene!  But finally I herded my squirrels to one picture with the promise everyone could personalize the colors.

We had as much fun in the 2017 session as we did last year.

And we all remembered our listening skills.

Amanda, the instructor, took this photo of everyone at the end.

And here’s a closer look at what we painted:

We ended the night with Scrabble (Kat won, Nicole placed admirably), Reverse Scrabble Charades (I’m actually not sharing THOSE photos) and the coronation.

And then, Diary, our week was over.  Another wonderful seven days with girls, wine, games (ugh) and laughter.

In all seriousness Diary, it’s a wonderful gift Nora shares with us every spring.  We all started out in different parts of Nora’s life and now all those parts blend like the paint above — we enhance, we embrace and we encourage. Some of us get together regularly, some we don’t see until spa week arrives, but the time doesn’t matter, the relationships do.

And so, I bid you farewell Diary.  Word is my “friend” Nora may try to give her own version of the week.  I would take it all with a grain of salt.

Laura