Weekend Hustle

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

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

Soup, dressed with tortilla chips and cheese.

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

Popcorn in French.

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

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

Our motto.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TTPs Beth photobombs the post-signing author photo..

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

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

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

Food, drink, girls!

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

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

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

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

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

Dog tired. Atticus and Parker.

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

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

Nora

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

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

Shelter in Place excerpt

Shelter in Place is Nora’s “big” book for 2018. (Isn’t the cover gorgeous?)  We waited until the Year One release was a bit further back before bringing Shelter front and center.

Here’s a  quick description:

Sudden violence turned a typical evening at a mall into a nightmare. Those who survived the chaos and carnage would find their lives forever changed. One would dedicate himself to law enforcement, determined to find answers and justice. Another would struggle to block off all memories of that horrible night, pouring her emotions into her art.

I’ll add to the description and we’ll discuss Shelter in Place much more over the coming months leading up to the May 29 release.  For now, here’s an excerpt.

Laura

Winter Routine

I’m finally into it!

I’m no Scrooge, so I love the holidays. I even–mostly–love all the work and prep that goes with them. The other night, I watched Bad Mom’s Christmas (laughing like a loon)–and it’s true, Christmas is the Super Bowl for moms–and nanas. But with that very merrily done, our annual New Year’s Open House happily done, we took our traditional January break at the spa.

This one turned into a work/spa deal for me, but that was all good. A morning workout, a few hours of work, a lovely massage, then family and friends to spend the evening with. A good kick off to a year for me.

But now, ahhh, winter routine.

After a solid writing week–another ahhh–I spent my Saturday as I like to spend January Saturdays. Even better, Bruce and Jason (after a considerable effort and tech know-how) set me up with a mirroring tablet in the gym. Now I can mirror, stream, whatever it is a boatload of workouts onto the big screen. So my day starts with some new to me routines–a good way to fool the mind and body that they’re having fun.

I’m a fan of the Beach Body gang, even though some of the trainers are sadists. Sometimes it takes a good sadist to whip you through a workout.

Prepped and ready to simmer. Photo by Nora

With that done–whew–it’s kitchen time. I promised BW a pot roast–makes him happy. Mine simmers for hours in a full bottle of red wine. Who wouldn’t be happy? With the potatoes and carrots pealed, onions and celery sliced, that big hunk ‘o meat simmers drunkenly while I shove up my sleeves and head up to the third floor.

It’s purge and organize time, another winter routine.

I hit the One More Room first because eek! This is where a lot of the holiday magic happens–the storing, the wrapping, the bagging and tagging. It’s also where we store bowls and platters and so on used primarily when entertaining.

OMG! Photo by Nora.

It needs help.

A couple hours later, voila! Magic. It looks like an actual adult lives here. 

Ta-Da! Photo by Nora

Move onto my closet. More purging. Be tough, Nora! You can do this. Maybe once or twice I pulled something out, waffled and put it back, but for the most part, I AM tough. And since post-signing next Saturday pals are coming over to go through all I purged here, they’ll be glad I was tough.

My closet now looks like a fairly sensible woman lives here. A woman who really, really, REALLY loves shoes and boots, but is reasonable.

Shooooes. Photo by Nora.

My office next, and there I’m very pleased that due to several years of very strict purges, it doesn’t take very long.

Adult work station. Sort of. Photo by Nora.

A top floor sweep in one day. Happy dance!

It gives my time to cull through my scarves–another big love–while the pot roast finishes off. Boy it smells good in here.

Yum. Photo by Nora.

Some well earned bubbly, which should, imo, be part of any routine, then pot roast.

Day’s done–but oops, four tubs of books waiting to be signed. Okay, this calls for more bubbly. And now, the day’s done. A very satisfying winter Saturday.

Today, more of the same, that’s routine, after all. It’s about time for that workout, then I’ll pick the next room, maybe rooms, to tackle. Plenty of leftovers, so no dinner to cook.

And tomorrow, it’s back to the book and the hope for another solid week of writing.

For somebody who doesn’t like the cold, can do without the bitter winds and snowy drives anywhere, indoor routines keep winter happy.

Nora

Cranky Publicist addition:  Nora wrote a post called The Road to Discovery in Feb 2016 in which she said, I cook pretty much as I write, which is why I not only don’t but can’t answer the calls for recipes after I post a blog on cooking. Please, please, don’t ask me!”

May I suggest the joys of Google for recipes?  BTW, I just found one for crock pot beef stew cooked in coffee .  Must go make!

Two weeks in

Happy 2018 to our Fall into The Story family!   While I’m here daily to review the comments — mainly about Year One — and keep some general order,  it’s been a while since the last original post.

While she’ll fill you in when she has a moment, I can report that Nora and family had a busy Christmas and another crowded-to-the-rafters New Year’s open house. (I had to give that a pass as I never quite got over a germs that stayed in place since Thanksgiving.) Once she restored the house to order, Nora went directly back to work on her plan to finish the first draft of a new book before the January spa trip.

Did you have any doubt she met that goal?   Don’t you know our Nora by now?

My husband and I met up with Nora and BW last Monday at a game-free, scoreboard-less spa.  I resolutely ignored the mantel over the fireplace — the resting spot for the scoreboard — the entire time.   I know the FITS family waits with bated breath to see if I can be the Biggest Loser three years running, but April is still a season away. I can wait.

Early morning winter sky at the spa. Photo by lmr
Late afternoon winter sky, same day. Photo by lmr

I’m home now, Nora is back at her desk tomorrow.  For the first time, ever, she wrote after her morning workout and before the afternoon spa treatment during the January trip.  (This is the usual November schedule, but she’s determined to finish the current WIP  in order to take the annual winter trip to see Eve and Roarke.  I think we can all agree with that motivation.)

Next weekend the 2018 room by room, drawer by drawer purge starts.  And Nora will get back to her winter pattern of work, bread, soup, clearing.

In other news: 
The Year One conversation continues on Facebook. Since that’s a spoiler-free zone you may notice an influx of new readers to this space looking to chat about Year One.  Welcome!

In important news: 
The Of Blood & Bone release– book 2 in The Chronicles of The One — is  now a week later: December 4, 2018.  The final book will be out the first week in December 2019.

In Death news:
Here’s the TV ad for Dark in Death — out on January 30:

And here’s some St. Martin’s Press artwork about DiD:

Inside the Dark in Death  US/Canada hardcover is a 3-D image.  This is a sample with a little message — I can’t read these, I’m way too nearsighted — but I do know what it says.  *

In future news:
If you subscribe to Nora’s News (you’ll find the sign up box at the bottom of any page on either website) — the next issue includes an excerpt of June’s Shelter in Place.

If you are so inclined to read them, the Dark in Death teaser thread opens on Monday, January 22.

Talk to you soon!
Laura

*I will tell you what it says if you ask in the comments.

Writers Are People Too

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

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

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

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

Snow through the kitchen window.

 

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

Bread
Soup

 

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

A little space to read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All those processes take time.

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

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

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

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

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

Nora

Year One discussion thread

Today’s the day!  Year One is finally here — in stores or on your ereader.   A little over a year ago, Nora shared the new direction in which this trilogy — The Chronicles of The One — would go.  Now you get to start the journey.

I simply devoured Year One when I had the chance to read the ARC in the spring.  I truly believe that the direction may be different, but this is a Nora book filled with relationships, evocative imagery, great dialogue and people you will love.

This is the place to discuss Year One, so be ware: spoilers ahead.

Laura

Did Ya Miss Me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The tree

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

Stockings for all

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

Santa collection

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

Nora

And in the holiday spirit, some Random Katness:

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

More bits/more pieces 11/4/2017

Here are a few things that popped up on social media this week. Hope you enjoy!

Here are the solutions to the crossword and cryptic puzzles on the inside of the US/Canada Secrets in Death hardcover jackets:

As we speed toward release date, St. Martin’s asked me to shoot a short video of my reaction to seeing the finished edition of Year One.  I posted it on You Tube for easier access: Laura’s Reaction.

And finally, here’s the video St. Martin’s created for Year One that will show in Target later this month.

Laura

The official blog for Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb readers