Category Archives: Laura’s posts

The Cranky Publicist answers a question

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

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

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

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

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

Can you share your recipe? 

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

hot choc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Belgian Hot Chocolate (via David Lebovitz)

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

How to melt Chocolate in a double boiler (video)

How to make Whipped Cream via The Kitch’n blog

Enjoy!

Laura

 

Litograph contest update

I appreciate everyone’s patience as we worked in the expanded time frame for the Litographs Naked in Death design contest.  Our thanks to everyone who participated. (And thanks to everyone who backed up an “I can’t design” with “but I’ll  buy one!”)
Litographs products require a specialized style and formatting. While the five submitted designs were beautiful and creative, we (and Litographs) were afraid that they would not be properly recognizable when created from text, so they will NOT join the Litographs product line.
But we were so impressed by all of the submissions (below) that when the Litographs team suggested each submission be named a finalist, Nora agreed immediately.   Litographs will send each of these designers a $50 gift card to Litographs.com.
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What’s next?  Well, the project is still very much a go and Nora will work with  Litographs on new artwork for Naked in Death products.  I hope to share them with you in early 2016.   Then we’ll move on to Dance Upon the Air and Vision in White.
Stay tuned!
Laura

Checking in

As Nora’s deep into packing for vacation,  I offered to write this Sunday’s blog.  So while you don’t have her weekend recap, we’re looking at two solid weeks of armchair travel (am I dating myself with that reference?) up ahead.  I won’t share where she’s going  — I think we’ll let the first report do that.  But I will say that she’ll be in a time zone behind the East Coast.

That last made me stop and think.  In the the time we’ve worked together, Nora’s never been in a time zone west of me.  I always play catch up to her.

This month marks a decade I’ve worked with Nora.  In 2005,  I lived in Arizona and ours was a virtual partnership of emails, a summer trip to Boonsboro and the RWA conference. When I moved to North Carolina in 2009 it remained virtual except that I drove up for all the Turn the Page signings.

I liked to tell people that contractually I had to live 5 hours by car or by plane away from Nora so that I wouldn’t be a bother.  And that was fairly true.  My trips up for signings provided time for face-to-face discussions and catch ups.  Since Nora and BW were kind enough to let me bunk in at their place (in what’s now know as Laura’s Room), we could talk as long as we needed.

As time passed, I became more and more immersed in Boonsboro which meant I drove north every 4-6 weeks. That’s a lot of time negotiating  I-85 and I-95, surrounded by trucks and cars and people anxious to thread their way through DC as fast as possible.

At one point in 2012 I had to be in Boonsboro every week in September so I asked Nora if I might stay during the work week.  She said that was fine, as long as I didn’t breathe the air above the ground level come Monday.

I’m reasonably sure she was serious.

So I  would work downstairs for a couple of hours every morning, then email Nora  (who was two floors above) that I was heading to town and worked the rest of the afternoon at Turn the Page.  It suited us both — I was able to breathe freely and chat with other people, Nora ran no risk of running into a live person in her house during the work day.

Last August, my husband and I moved to Frederick, MD.  We rented a flat in the historic downtown to give ourselves a year to decide where we wanted to settle. A half hour away from Boonsboro, a little more than that to Nora’s house, drivable distances to both kids — it made the sense.

But distance makes no difference in how Nora and I work — we’re still  a virtual partnership with a battery of emails flying between our offices daily.   I don’t call, I don’t pop in and we both get the work done.

I’m not certain when the travelogues will start — in view of the time difference it could be Thursday evening, but more likely on Friday.

Stay tuned!

Laura

 

RWA Days 3 and 4

Wednesday is the start of the work week at RWA.  Because I’m a slave driver, I set up interviews on Wednesday and Thursday with French and German media outlets in advance of the release of The Collector in Germany and the next In Death in France.  Nora sat with an interviewer from ARD and Focus as well as writers from Le Parisien and Maxi.  As soon as I know when the stories will be available, I’ll let everyone know.

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Media day shoes
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Media outfit

The Literacy signing was a huge success — so busy, I didn’t take a photo!  But as the Nora Roberts Foundation sponsored the event, we just learned the signing raised over $47,000 for literacy.  Thank you to everyone who came by!

Signing shoes
Signing shoes
The signing outfit.
The signing outfit.

Thursday, Nora took Q & As for an hour during her Chat With.  As always, she was entertaining and had the room convulsed with laughter several times.

Noras chat with shoes.
Noras chat with shoes.

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The last two interviews finished up by 4, then we all put on comfy clothes and hung out in the suite.

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Laura

TTP 20 weekend photo album

The TTP 20th Anniversary signing was tremendous fun.  Long, lines of patient readers, happy smiles as they met favorite authors, tired wrists and hands for all the authors.  My brain is still tired so I thought I’d just share some fun photos from the weekend.  ~Laura

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Noras shoes matched her sweater. And they were comfortable — I swear!
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Nalini Singh and Nora hard at work. Jason’s waiting for the next load of books to disperse.
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Nora’s wore wrist wrap for extra support. Piles of books — everywhere!
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Jill Shalvis brought her Alpha Man.
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There she is!
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Break time — Grace Burrowes, Jill Shalvis, Karen Rose and Beatriz Williams catch a quick breather.
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And when the authors take a break, I sit down. I took a moment to relax the smile muscles.
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All the authors!
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The entire group at Sunday’s FITS brunch.

The NR Effect

Nearly three years after The Perfect Hope hit stores, a week still doesn’t go by in which a reader realizes that Inn BoonsBoro is a real place (Turn the Page and Vesta too).  A good many readers followed Nora and BW’s rehab of love that restored a broken down, tree-growing, pigeon-hosting old building to its current glory.  But there are plenty of others who read the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy and thought they were fabulous works of fiction, only to be stunned when they saw the Inn on CBS Sunday Morning or read about it in a newspaper.

One of the best emails that ever came to my inbox was from a reader congratulating Nora on the fabulous marketing campaign for the trilogy that went the extra mile by creating a realistic website for the fictional Inn BoonsBoro.  I had a great laugh, then corrected the assumption.

Boonsboro is not the first place to feel what I call the NR Effect.  The Born In and the Gallaghers of Ardmore trilogies still draw readers to both County Clare and Ardmore.  In fact, I just heard from my Ardmore contact John Supple who wrote “we still have a number of people calling on a regular basis to Ardmore all because of Nora and some often find they would like to stay over in this beautiful village but would move on due to lack of accommodation.

“We now have a number of people within Ardmore who have accommodation — from houses to lovely cottages to Bed and Breakfasts and Hotels — to rent for people who want to spend an extra few days.” He said if any readers are planning a trip to Ardmore, to contact John at cottageardmore@gmail.com to arrange quality accommodation to suit any budget.

Ashford Castle and the town of Cong still see many Cousins O’Dwyer readers and we hear often from people who have gone on the falcon walks there.

There is a very clever In Death reader who has created her own personal tours of NYC that visit landmarks still standing in 2058.  And we get requests all the time for suggestions for places to travel.

A couple of weeks ago, Buddy MacLean, the owner of The Lodge at Buckberry Creek in Gaitlinburg TN called Inn BoonsBoro.   A guest that week visited because she’d read about the resort in The Liar.  Buddy was astonished when the guest showed him her copy of the book and went off to purchase one.  That same week a bus tour group stayed on the property and when Buddy mentioned The Liar, the women on the tour said they’d all purchase a copy before they headed home.

After looking it up on the internet, I asked Nora about choosing The Lodge (POTENTIAL SPOILER AHEAD:  this is the hotel where the woman who confronts Shelby about Richard stays when she comes to Rendezvous Ridge).  Nora said she was looking for a pretty, sort of out-of-the-way place. She used The Google, looked at a few and liked the look of The Lodge, and the name. It just worked.

Well, the team at The Lodge at Buckberry Creek is so pleased by their ties to The Liar, they wrote back and said they created a discount code for Nora’s readers.  Readers who wish to stay at The Lodge at Buckberry Creek can mention the promo code NORA2015 when booking and they will receive a 10% discount on their room rate and will receive a $50 voucher towards dinner.  The promo applies to guests who book prior to 10/2/15 and only valid on stays prior to 7/2/16.  Cannot be combined with other discounts.

If my husband and I weren’t building a home this summer I think we would be heading to the Smokies.

Laura

Social media round up – March 24

It’s been quiet here as Nora’s thrown herself into the first draft of next year’s hardcover.  I’ll share here what little I know: there’s a heroine and there’s a hero.  For some reason that’s all Nora’s willing to share at this point.  But since that’s all I knew about The Liar this time last year and now it’s one of my favorite of Nora’s books (and topping The Witness is very very hard) I’m pretty confident she’ll expand on that heroine and hero to give us a fabulous read in the spring of 2016.

What have I been doing as Nora writes in her office sanctuary?  Well I’ve been leading some discussions about trilogies on the Nora Roberts Facebook page.  Last week was The Circle Trilogy.

mc cover dotg cover vos cover

The questions were:

~ Which couple comes to mind first when you think of this series?  (Cian/Moira by a landslide.)

~ Since The Circle Trilogy’s Larkin and Blair (Dance of the Gods) got so little love in the last post, I’m going to start with them. I loved how they both knew exactly who and what they were — the fun was seeing how each realized the other complemented them in life and on the quest. What are your thoughts?

~ Let’s talk about the brothers — Hoyt and Cian. Judging from the majority of comments Cian is many readers’ favorite character in the series. Each has more than his fair share of arrogance, their faces are mirrors, but Cian keeps winning out. Is it the difference between a rule follower and a rule breaker? Studious v. sociable? I’m so very curious, so please share in the comments.

~ Day 4 of the Circle Trilogy and the question is about the women. Glenna, Blair and Moira — witch, warrior and scholar — all brought strengths that were honed and weaknesses that were shored up to the preparations. I think their bond was cemented when they helped Glenna choose a wedding dress. What other pockets of normalcy stuck with you?

~ We all trust Nora implicitly but let’s be honest: could you see your way to happy ever after for all of the six as Valley of Silence — The Circle trilogy book 3 (this is the Portuguese edition) — drew to a close?

The posts on the JD Robb Facebook page are coming at a slower pace now that Obsession in Death is in stores.  (The 40 days leading to the 40th book are a bit of a blur now.)

But on St. Patrick’s Day I did ask everyone to share their favorite Roarke scenes or quotes.

Leading directly from that discussion I asked:  1) do you find more In Death readers to chat with online or in your real life? And 2) have you ever had an online friendship start because of books?

And on Friday last I shared this: 23 Struggles Only Book Nerds will Understand.

Share any and all thoughts in the comments!

Laura

 

Social media round up

Things are pretty much up to date here on the blog in terms of Nora’s thoughts (social media is still abuzz after the Bite Me post) and the big news (Cousins O’Dwyer series).  But there are a couple of things that have only appeared on Facebook. Maybe it was too much for Instagram, or too complicated, that’s why some people better go off and buy Instagram likes.

First, I’ve been posting the original covers of the In Deaths since January 1 — as that was 40 days until the Obsession in Death (book 40) release date of February 10.  Today’s post was Imitation.

Nora’s publisher teamed with several blogs for rereads of three In Death books.  All the details are on the USA Today Happy Ever After blog.  There are prizes involved so make sure you visit Happy Ever After and the other blogs in the next few weeks.

Speaking of Obsession, I plan to have a teaser post starting February 3 here on the blog so stay tuned.

On the Nora Facebook page, I mentioned how excited Nora and I are that Sarah Addison Allen is among the writers scheduled to appear at the Turn the Page Bookstore event on February 7. Just before Nora left on vacation in 2010, I handed her Sarah’s Garden Spells and told her it was the perfect book for a vacation. Nora loved it and promptly read the rest of Sarah’s backlist.  If you’re looking for magical reads this winter, you can’t go wrong with Sarah’s books.   The authors rounding out the line up on February 7 are Nora’s dear pal Ruth Langan who has a new series out under her RC Ryan pen name, Sarah MacLean, Kristen Proby, Teri Wilson and children’s author Tara Bell.

Finally, I’m having a bit of knee surgery at the end of January and asked for advice on what to read during recovery (I’ll be leaning/sitting on a stool at the February 7 event). If you have any thoughts, please share in the comments.

Laura