For us this big, crowded, happy month held a hard punch. Last week we had to send our sweet, sweet Homer over The Rainbow Bridge. He went out of our lives as gently as he came into them. He was always our no-fuss, no-drama boy. Kind-hearted, laid back and loving. Twelve years ago this coming spring, I crouched among a litter of frisky, excited pups, wondering how I would ever pick The One.
BW and I are enjoying our last day of our fall week at the spa, which is, for me, a working vacation.
Before we left, I spent several afternoons through the week helping my grandson–Grade Six–with math (God help me) and a complicated English assignment. For the math, fortunately, he’s a lot better at it than I am. I SEE the words ratio and percentage, and my brain freezes.
English assignments, much better. But I swear I’m not sure I knew the definition and practical uses of things like personification, alliteration, hyperbole and so on when I was eleven. He does! I did have to tell him he was his own problem in one part of the assignment–to find unfamiliar words in the book he was reading for the assignment. He has a most excellent vocabulary, so that section took forever, and then some.
We celebrated completion on the Saturday before BW and I left by baking cookies–along with his sister, who decided she LOVED wrapping Christmas presents and due to same has now saved me hours and hours or marathon wrapping.
Love, love, love these kids. Also love, love, love this week’s get away.
It’s quiet, that’s a big plus. Though the weather didn’t cooperate so I could take my long morning hike outside, I brought plenty of exercise DVDs. Rainy mornings had me deciding to skip even the jaunt over to the gym and work out in the room instead.
After my daily workout, I settle in for a solid four hours of writing at my pretty little desk. The phone doesn’t ring, no dogs are barking to get in, go out, or because a delivery truck is heading up my lane. I don’t have to gauge my time to knock off to cook–but to gauge it for my lovely daily treatment.
Every afternoon I’m rewarded with a facial, or a massage or a mani-pedi. How about my holiday pedi! Gleaming midnight blue (which may not come across in the photo) with the accent of festive silver. Such fun!
Pre-treatment I get to snuggle into a book, post-treatment I get to indulge in an adult beverage and contemplate what I might want for dinner–that I’m not cooking!
It’s a wonderful routine for a week, but for me, it must be a routine. I’ve gotten a solid chunk of work done, have stuck to my work-out regime, and allowed myself to have my muscles and spirit addressed.
Today, our last day, is our traditional in-room massage, so I worked longer, then celebrated the accomplishment.
Tomorrow I pack, and we head home. Monday is back to home routine, and quite likely more sixth-grade math.
Maybe I should have one more drink.
Every fall we spend a week in the city. I love New York. I love the wonderful mix of old buildings with the new and sleek, the energy and color, the mix of voices, the way the city shines at night, and all the possibilities it offers.
I’m a country girl at heart, and I need the quiet, the alone, the trees and the gardens. But I consider it a real gift to be able to come to the vibrancy of New York once or twice a year, and absorb the contrast.
We’ve stayed at the same hotel for years and years. They know us here, so it’s a home away from home for this bubble of time. They remember my birthday, and that’s sweet and fun, every year. We have a wonderful space here with fabulous views, and I know the turf, so that makes it easy to get where I want to go.
I like to hit the ground running when we’re here, and hit the streets as soon as I’m unpacked. Routinely I get another big chunk of my holiday shopping done while I’m here, and this year has been no exception. I’d say, Christmas shopping is a solid 90% done!
We traveled on Tuesday, BW, Jason and I. Crammed in some shopping, had a lovely Italian dinner. I had my mission mapped out for Wednesday, and Laura, who’d driven up to spend some time with her family in the area, joined us. Check, check, checking gifts off that holiday list, a fun lunch at a favorite pub, walking the city in amazing weather.
Kat arrives very, very late Wednesday night, and she and I spend Thursday shopping with my editor and agent, a light lunch, spending time together, again in wonderful weather more like spring than fall. Shoes were a big part of the hunt.
Then the whole group has an early dinner, walking to the restaurant, and from there walking to the theater. The weather adds to everything as it’s so much more special to see the city on foot than from the back of a car.
We saw Finding Neverland, which was magical. Broadway is its own magic, but there are some shows that grab the heart and the throat, and this one absolutely did. There was a young girl, maybe eight or nine, in the row in front of me. She was mesmerized. I felt exactly the same.
Specific shopping for a certain granddaughter on Friday, and both BW and I need new phones. Mission accomplished with a big assist on the tech from Jason. The fun, the practical and the necessary are dealt with. Basically, if you can’t find it in New York, it doesn’t exist.
We have an extra treat on Saturday with a visit from some of Kat’s extended family. Kids! So much fun! And Laura’s daughter comes by. We have pizza and cookies, and a really good time.
Today started rainy, so I chose cardio in the room, not sure if I’d do much walking. Added yoga because. Laura and BW are all about Sunday football. Jason is, bless him, dealing with some issue with my phone. Kat’s putting things together for a short foundation meeting.
When the weather clears, and the meeting’s done, I get that walk in after all. The sun’s come out, and the day’s gloriously balmy. Tourists are out in droves, and skaters glide on the rink at Rockefeller Center. Come back between games, and another visit from Laura’s adorable Clare. So we head up to our rooftop terrace for group pictures. Silly fun.
You can also see, especially those who’ve asked or are confused: Laura is Laura, Nora is Nora. Nora writes the books. Laura handles the social media, the schedule, the outside details. Basically, Laura handles me.
Jason and Kat have to head home tonight. Miss them already.
Tomorrow we plan to head downtown for our last day in the city. Maybe hit the High Line, grab some lunch, enjoy the bustle.
And who knows. There are all those possibilities out there.
It’s a rainy Saturday in Maryland. Word is Nora is making soup. I am not. But I am thinking about books and spring. The Equinox approaches! As the Northern hemisphere nears the end of a long winter and the Southern starts to shed the dog days of summer, I thought it was good time to shake off the dust on our reading lists and swap ideas of what to read.
The Liar, Nora’s 2015 hardcover romantic suspense, will hit stores in the US/Canada on April 14, in the UK/Ireland/AUS/NZ and SA on April 16. To me, The Liar is book that simply sings spring from the setting to the blooming of one Shelby Foxworth. And I’ve got to admit that Griff Lott hit #1 (with a bullet as Billboard Magazine used to say) on my Nora heroes list. We’ll have to talk about that in April won’t we?
BTW, if you are anywhere near western Maryland on April 11, Nora will sign copies of The Liar at Turn the Page’s spring signing. Kat Martin, Christine Trent, Shayla Black, Jennifer Probst, Robin Kaye and Adam Pelzmen will be there as well.
One small perk of my job is that sometimes I can beguile an advance copy of another author’s books from Team Nora. Right now I’m waiting (impatiently) for Nalini Singh‘s Shards of Hope to show up on my door a little before the June release. (BTW, did I mention Nalini is coming to Turn the Page’s 20th anniversary event on July 18? No? Did I say Jill shalvis will be there as well? NO? Well we’ll keep that between us for now ok? )
Everyone has favorite authors, right? Nora’s shared some of hers here like Stephen King, John Sandford and Sarah Addison Allen. Nalini and Jill are two of mine so July will be a fan girl moment for me.
What have I read besides The Liar? Well I can’t say enough good things about Sarah Addison Allen’s First Frost. It was one of those books that I finished completely convinced I’d never read another good book again. But don’t worry, I know I will.
Sarah Morgan is a wonderful writer and the first book in her new Puffin Island series, First Time in Forever, is on my desk. And I’m also anticipating Thea Harrison‘s Midnight’s Kiss — the latest in her Elder Race series.
What are you reading these days? And what are you anticipating in the coming season?
We won’t miss you.
For the shortest month, February really wanted to leave its mark. We had lows of -5, highs of 11, far too routinely. And I’m thoroughly sick of this view out my office window.
I’m prepared for March to come in like a lion, have no real hope it will go out like a lamb, but it has to be better than February.
I long to see grass, and bulbs popping, buds burgeoning. I’m half mad to open my windows and feel air that doesn’t numb my fingers.
It’s coming. I had a sign on Friday morning when, as happens now and then, a bird bumped into my office window. Then only seconds later–which doesn’t happen now and then–a second bird followed suit. I glanced out, saw several birds on my various rooflines, had a instinctive Hitchcockian shudder.
Then a flock buzzed by. What the hell’s going on?
I looked closer at the couple just below my window.
And since they weren’t trying to break through the windows and Tippi Hedren me, I’m taking this as a sign spring will come.
Later in the day, my granddaughter came over, and through the back kitchen window we spotted a deer–a young one–grazing along on the ridge. Not long after my grandson joined us–and pointed out the side window. The young deer had been joined by a sibling, and they were working their way down, casually grazing on whatever popped up through the snow.
I decided that’s yet another sign–and it won’t be long until I’m chasing them away from my flowers instead of snapping their picture.
I look forward to the chase more than I can say.
Note from Laura: When I had a chance to read The Liar in January all I could think was the book gave me spring. I still think that. And since spring is less than three weeks away and The Liar will be in stores in 45 days, it’s time to share an excerpt. Enjoy!
As we clear out the old and make way for the new year, Nora shares the plan for all her spaces going forward: a focus on the positive. ~Laura
The internet is a marvelous tool, an endless source of information, entertainment and communication. A virtual tool — and as a solitary type, my favorite kind.
We can, at the stroke of a few keys, find answers, find friends, communicate with others who share our interests. Life’s busy, so creating the blog, updating the Facebook pages is a way of connecting with readers, making a place for readers to connect with each other in a quick and easy manner.
The upside’s pretty broad. That connection, a place to ask a question — and Laura’s quick with answers. When I can, I answer myself. It can be fun for everyone. Information’s generated so readers know what’s coming up as far as books or events. Entertaining discussions evolve from Laura’s regular question posts on Facebook.
We want these spaces to be fun for everyone, to be a cheerful link between readers who enjoy my books, between those readers and me. But . . . there’s always a downside.
I do wonder at anyone who seeks out a writer’s Facebook page to post a negative comment on her work. There are scads of reader review sites for just this purpose if a book didn’t satisfy. Moreover, some will insert this negativity in what strikes me as a completely inappropriate place. We might be talking about the holidays or friendships or hobbies, and someone will post something like: I thought (insert title of book) was boring. Or I didn’t like (insert title of book) and wish I hadn’t wasted my time and money.
Then there’s the very odd: I haven’t read your books in years because they suck. (Then what are you doing here?)
Those are fairly mild examples as many comments dip way down into the stunningly personal.
If the comment starts a disagreement, the original poster inevitably falls back on the easy out: I was just expressing my opinion.
Who asked for it? I didn’t. My page, after all, and nowhere is there a post asking: So, Gentle Readers, what did you think of (insert title of book)? What does this person get out of telling me and the internet they didn’t like a particular book? Do they believe their opinion so important it MUST be expressed on my Facebook pages or blog? I think some people just have to spread negativity. They choose to do so, and that’s too bad for them as negativity can and will breed negativity.
After decades in the business, I have pretty thick skin. I know full well not every book I write will make the grade for every reader. What one reader loves about a certain book, another will avidly dislike. That’s what makes reading so personal, and it’s why no matter how much I value and appreciate readers, I’m not going to take your opinion into account when I write. But those who create the stories have feelings, just like everyone else. And being told you wrote a lousy book stings. Even if it is one person’s opinion. It also tends to make readers who enjoyed that particular book defensive. And the circular firing squad begins.
There are reader review and discussion sites all over the internet. A writer can go there, choose to read the good, the bad, the praise, the criticism. That’s a choice, just as a reader makes a choice when coming to a writer’s Facebook page to complain–to express negativity. It makes more sense to me for writers to leave reader review sites to the reader. And for readers to use those spaces to express opinions on why a book didn’t work for them.
The internet is anonymous for posters. It’s easy to say something rude or hurtful or negative behind that shield. To say something that person would never say face-to-face. That’s the big downside.
As I’m purging for the new year, I’m going to do what I can to purge the negativity that’s cropped up in my spaces — including the virtual ones. I’m going to ask those who enjoy those spaces, who visit there, who come to connect, to take a few seconds to think before posting a comment. Ask: Would I walk up to this person, in real life, and say this? If the answer’s no, maybe you should rethink before hitting Send.
These virtual spaces don’t have to be full of rainbows and fuzzy little bunnies. But neither should they be places where someone can accuse me of trucking with Satan. (Yes, that happened.)
If you choose to post negative comments, you will. It won’t change a thing, but I guess you’ll have your say. If, however, that negativity crosses the line into the personal — as it too often does — we’ll delete and ban. I want my readers to have a good, positive space to visit. And, frankly, I want the same for myself.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, hopeful New Year full of love and fun and wonderful books.
For anyone trying to look at the www.noraroberts.com website today, we’re very sorry. The server it’s on stopped working this morning. We’ll call that a holiday reminder to get off the internet and spend more time with books, friends, books, and family, and books.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!
I’m just about to trek north of Maryland to visit family for Christmas, while Nora is finishing up work to concentrate on tradition with family and friends honed through the years. I’m sure she’ll share some of the excitement next week, but for a few days we’re dimming the lights and stepping back from the computers.
Before we do, I wanted to wish everyone the happiest of holidays, no matter what you celebrate and how. Thank you for sharing yourselves on the blog this year. I know you come for the Nora, but stay for the camaraderie and I truly appreciate you taking the time to read, comment, share your own stories and enjoy the company of readers.
Here’s to a happy, healthy and laughter-filled near year for us all.
Nora’s deep into holiday prep, but took the time to send some thoughts before getting back to work. ~Laura
I’ve spent most of this interesting date in the kitchen. I could do that as my most amazing daughter-in-law Kat spent three hours wrapping presents for me yesterday. Otherwise, I’d have used those hours wrapping today instead of making raisin-cinnamon bread–a holiday tradition around here.
No matter how early I start prepping, buying, baking for the holiday season, there’s never enough time. I have a baking-cookies date next weekend with grandchildren. We do painted sugar cookies–as well as snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, whatever appeals. But the painted ones are kind of an extravaganza. Now that such a big chunk of the gifts are wrapped–I put in some time of my own wrapping a couple weeks ago–I can take a weekend to do the breads, and really look forward to the mess and chaos of kid baking day.
We’ve hosted a couple of holiday parties already–always so much fun–so my house is decorated and happily festive. I collected Santas and snowmen for several years, and setting them out, getting the tree up always puts me in the mood to do all the rest.
The parties also left me with a surplus of raw veggies, so while the bread was rising I threw together a big pot of kitchen-sink vegetable soup, with some ham and pasta to make it even heartier. My kitchen smells just glorious.
As a little bonus I had Pirates of the Caribbean on the kitchen TV. It’s no hardship to cook and bake with Jack Sparrow.
My plan was to get a work out in after finishing the bread, leaving the soup to simmer. I still might, but I remembered I have six–count them–six tubs of books to sign for TTP to ship out Monday. That might be enough of a work out for me this afternoon.