We had our annual Progressive Shopping night with any employees who want to participate. That’s Turn The Page, Fit, Gifts, the inn, Vesta. It’s fun to go as a group from business to business, enjoy the company, do a little shopping. It’s also a great chance to socialize and get to know each other as your own work, your own business can create a kind of bubble.
We all end at Vesta for dinner. So much food! But before the feast we announce our winners in the year’s fitness competition.
And the Inn BoonsBoro staff defend their title, and keep the (wonderfully tacky) trophy for another year. The team’s led by Head Innkeeper Karen, this year’s individual winner, who I’m told seriously cracks the whip.
And those girls at IBB prove to be clever pranksters. Part of the inn’s holiday decor is a full-size Nutcracker. He’s huge! And heavy. It didn’t stop them from hauling him across the parking lot, putting him in the doorway of a side room. And scaring the pants off Heidi, Fit’s manager, when she opened for the day.
Nice one, ladies!
Boonsboro’s decked out, and that makes a festive canvas for Turn The Page’s holiday booksigning. A busy day, and lots of fun–along with Griffin’s first booksigning. (He slept through most of it.) When he was awake, he enjoyed being snuggled by various TTP staff. I think the staff enjoyed the snuggles even more.
I get my boy through the weekend as we have another holiday event on Sunday, which includes our very special guest. Santa! (Griffin also slept through most of it, despite all the noise.)
Then there’s a work week, with some bits and pieces of holiday prep worked in. The week ends with a holiday party here for the managers. Some fun food, a lot of champagne and all the good cheer you can hold.
Oh and those inn girls left me a little nutcracker on my workstation. I see what you did there, ladies! Gave me a laugh–and Mr. Nutcracker will enjoy being part of my holiday gang.
For the weekend. Cookies! Lots and lots and LOTS of cookies. Logan skips this year, and Kayla serves as head baker with some assistance from me and from Colt. The girl’s on a roll. We dive in with cheesy Christmas movies on the kitchen TV–which Kayla and I agree are just silly fun. (I don’t believe Colt paid any attention either way.)
We end up with a double batch of chocolate chip (a crowd favorite) snickerdoodles, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Candy Cane Kisses, with the grand finale of painted sugar cookies. We include a lunch break so real food goes in tummies as well.
With Colt serving as taste tester, we deem all cookies delicious.
It’s always fun to hold a marathon cookie bake, but seeing Kayla take over so willingly, and so skillfully is the best part. One day she’ll bake in her own kitchen, and I hope look back on the years she baked in mine.
Logan has no problem eating the cookies when we have the gang for dinner. And a big bag of them go with the kids after dinner.
Today, after my morning workout I have a few little gifts to bag or wrap. I need to check the bread situation to see if I need to bake. And, at some point, sign four tubs of books. But compared to a solid eight hours in the kitchen yesterday, this is a day off!
All the traditions that weave their way into the fabric of our friends and family make a warm and colorful cloth. I love watching the cloth unfold every year.
I hope you all have your own warm and colorful cloth to cuddle with.
Note from Laura: the 2018 finale to #random Katness:
So many questions get answers starting today. Here’s the place to discuss all things Of Blood and Bone, the second book in Nora’s Chronicles of The One.
The book description:
They look like an everyday family living an ordinary life. But beyond the edges of this peaceful farm, unimaginable forces of light and dark have been unleashed.
Fallon Swift, approaching her thirteenth birthday, barely knows the world that existed before―the city where her parents lived, now in ruins and reclaimed by nature since the Doom sickened and killed billions. Traveling anywhere is a danger, as vicious gangs of Raiders and fanatics called Purity Warriors search for their next victim. Those like Fallon, in possession of gifts, are hunted―and the time is coming when her true nature, her identity as The One, can no longer be hidden.
In a mysterious shelter in the forest, her training is about to begin under the guidance of Mallick, whose skills have been honed over centuries. She will learn the old ways of healing; study and spar; encounter faeries and elves and shifters; and find powers within herself she never imagined. And when the time is right, she will take up the sword, and fight. For until she grows into the woman she was born to be, the world outside will never be whole again.
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Remember, spoilers very much ahead.
I’m not on Twitter. I’ve said before and will say again, I’d rather be poked in the eye with a burning stick than tweet. I’m only on Instagram and Facebook because the amazing Laura runs the show.
I write. I spend my days working, my evenings either working or with my family. Or zoned in front of the TV, basically brain dead.
I don’t spend much time on social media. I recognize its power, I appreciate its ability to connect writers with readers. And I also understand how easily it can be weaponized to incite flame wars. So I’m very careful with my use of it–and Laura is even more so.
I write. It’s what I do. What I love and what I’ve spent three decades learning how to do well. Or as well as I possibly can.
But there are a lot of authors who spend a great deal of time on social media. Some are absolute geniuses with the tools, and use them beautifully.
Others. Not so much.
I don’t believe, and have never believed in taking personal issues onto public forums. I don’t believe, and have never believed–will never believe–in a writer attacking another writing on a public forum. It’s unprofessional, it’s tacky and the results are, always, just always, ugly.
Recently another writer used her social media forums to baselessly, recklessly accuse me of stealing the title of her book–which is bullshit right off–to attempt to profit from this theft. She had no facts, just her emotions, and threw this out there for her followers.
First, let’s address the particular title which happens to be similar. I titled this particular book, wrote this book, turned this book into my publisher nearly a year before her book–a first novel–was published. So unless I conquered the time/space continuum, my book was actually titled before hers. Regardless, you can’t copyright a title. And titles, like broad ideas, just float around in the creative clouds. It’s what’s inside that counts.
It’s just a title.
By accusing me, in public, of attempting to ‘shamelessly profit’ off of her creativity, she incited her readers into attacking me–on her feed, then on my pages, then on the internet in general. She did nothing to stop this. I have been accused of theft, of trying to use this first time writer–whose book has been well received–for my own profit. To ride her coattails as I have no originality. This after more than thirty years in the business, more than two hundred books.
I was accused of plagiarism–for a title–of stealing her ideas–though I had never heard of her book before this firestorm, have never read her book.
And trust me, I never will now.
This is what happens when a reckless statement is made on social media. It becomes a monstrous lie that spreads and grows and escalates.
I don’t know this woman; she doesn’t know me. She lit the match, foolishly. Perhaps being young and new and so recently successful she doesn’t fully understand the relationship between a writer and her readers, or the power of an ugly insinuation posted on Twitter. But, God, you should know how tools work before you use them.
We should all take a lesson here. Think, then think again, before you post. Be sure of your facts before you take a shot at someone. Be prepared for the vicious fallout once you do.
Could you have dug a little deeper to check facts? Could you have contacted the person in question and had a conversation? In this case–writer to writer–could you have spoken to your publisher, your agent, about the fact that a title can’t be stolen in the first place?
Could you have, perhaps, checked the timeline? If your book came out a few months before the other book (and if you know SQUAT about publishing) you’d certainly realize it was written, titled and in production when yours hit the stands. So how could a damn title be ‘stolen’?
To be accused of plagiarism by some faceless reader on the internet, one who felt entitled to spread that lie gutted me. I’ve been plagiarized, and will always have an open wound from the blow. To me, plagiarism is the most terrible sin a writer can commit.
I have worked my entire career to build a foundation of professionalism, of teamwork with my publisher, to create a community with other writers, and to show readers I value them–not just with communication, but by doing my best to give them good books.
No one who knows me would believe any of these accusations. But that’s the problem. Those making them don’t know me, they simply lash out because they can.
This foolish and false statement has damaged my reputation. Vicious and ugly accusations and names have been tossed at me when I did nothing but write and title a book.
While this writer issued a kind of retraction after I reached out to her, it didn’t stop some of her readers from calling me a liar, and worse. We reached out again, asking her to put out the fire.
We’ve had no response, not from her, not from her agent.
Shame on them.
I had every intention of letting this go, until the flames kept burning, until the attacks kept coming. And nothing was done by the person who lit the match to stop it.
I don’t like taking my issues public. But I will stand up for myself. I will defend my integrity and my reputation and my work.
I’m appalled by this, sickened by it. I’m disgusted that people who don’t know me would feel free to say vicious things about me. I know very well the anonymity of the internet can foster such nastiness, but it still disgusts me.
Words have great power–to harm, to heal, to teach, to entertain. A writer, one who wants to forge a career with words, should understand that. And use them, as well as the tools at her disposal, wisely.
I’ve very deliberately not mentioned the name of the writer who started this, or the title of her book or mine. I don’t want this to escalate any more than it has. I don’t want my readers to go on the attack. It’s not cool. I simply want to set the record straight.
I’m Nora Roberts. I’m a hard-working writer, and an honest one.
I’m a list maker. I like to see my tasks and goals in writing–and even more I like the satisfaction of checking those tasks and goals off when complete. In fact, if another tasks pops up and gets done that wasn’t listed, I’ll just add it to the list with its check.
My lists are plentiful this time of years. Gifts to buy, gifts bought, seasonal clothes to switch out, the standard weekend domestic chores. Holiday baking, present wrapping, organizing wrapping station again post-wrapping session, holiday decorating, Christmas card writing and so on.
Without lists, I’d be lost–and miss that satisfying checkmark.
This past week my list included one full day of writing–thank God!–then a trip to the dentist, who may start charging me rent, for a filling replacement. And then, preparation for the Thanksgiving feast.
Pies first. Wednesday BW sits at the kitchen counter peeling pounds of apples while I make pie crust. I bake two apple, two pumpkin, so that’s a lot of pie crusts. Apples peeled, he helps me add the leaves to the table. Then he’s off to the gym and the bookstore while I stir and fill and bake. I add buying those silicone crust shields to my list because I am DONE fiddling with making them out of aluminum foil.
While the apple pies bake, I make the pumpkin, then make the dough for sour dough pretzel rolls and set it aside to rise. Still have apples left, so quarter some up to simmer for apple sauce–my mother’s crowd favorite, so when I cook then down, mill them, add the sugar and cinnamon, that scent brings here right there into the kitchen with me.
I make cranberry sauce, letting the berries simmer while I roll those pretzel balls, set them aside to rise. Make the deviled eggs Logan specifically requested.
Then it’s the fun part of the pretzel rolls, boiling them in baking soda water, watching them plump up. Score, bake, add some sea salt and poppy seeds. Done!
I clean off the work counter countless times, watch the woodpeckers at my suet feeder, accept this is all taking more time than I’d budgeted so I’ll have to skip my workout. Still I get a decent amount of steps in as a lot of my few-times-a-year kitchen tools are stored on shelves in the laundry room, and some of the serving dishes I want are stored on shelves upstairs in The One More Room.
Why not go ahead and set the table–cross that off the list?
A long day in the kitchen–some seven hours–deserves the reward of a glass of wine. Or two.
Thursday is Turkey Day, so it’s me and the bird in the morning. My family enjoys the sausage stuffing I’ve been making for years, so it’s cook, stir, season, stuff. Slather that bird with butter, give him a nice massage, drizzle on spices, cover and into the oven he goes. Plenty of time for me to tidy up, the house and myself, before it’s back to the kitchen.
BW is once more on peeling duty–carrots for roasting, potatoes for mashing. Our rhythm is, as always, me cleaning up the potatoes for spots he’s missed.
Things are well underway before–oh boy, oh boy, here come Jason, Kat and Griffin! At last I get that baby back. He’s so ridiculously handsome, so warm and snuggly. And that enchanting baby scent. He’s one month old on Thanksgiving.
And now Nana’s got the boy. I do share him with Grandda briefly, but he wants a change, and he’s hungry. The dogs are fascinated, delighted–new human! They sniff, wag, and love shines from their eyes.
As Kat’s pumped, I get to sit with him, give him a bottle. He’s wonderfully alert and aware, just looking at everything. Like: Huh, new place, new colors. Interesting.
While the rocking chair where I rocked my own babies is no more, I get to rock him to sleep in the same chair where I rocked Kayla to sleep sixteen years before. There is nothing more relaxing than rocking a baby.
He naps in his bouncer while it’s back to the matter of cooking. Potatoes to rice, turkey to baste, more sides to make. Jason–our roving IT guy–and BW deal with some WiFi issue, and when Griffin wakes, Kat handles the vegetables and I get the baby. Very good deal for me.
Turkey out, time to make the gravy, put it all together.
Clean up and baby time–as Griffin wakes from his mama’s milk coma–are group efforts. Which means it’s time to make some fresh whipped cream for pie.
At the end of the day, Mama and Griffin go up to bed, Jason and BW go down for the football game, and I unwind, and conk.
I’m up early, as is habit, fiddle around. Before long I hear the baby. When Kat brings him down, I get my morning Griffin fix–and so do the dogs. Sniff, sniff, wag, wag–a quick lick if they can manage it. And they take to guarding him whenever someone sits down with him.
While my youngest is getting many diaper changes–as soon as he’s wet, he kicks his feet like get this thing off me–my oldest is preparing to travel to New York for her first cross-country Nationals. A great opportunity for her. She and her mom come here first to meet Griffin, then they’re off with Kayla driving (!) the first leg of the trip. Some pumpkin pie (Kayla’s favorite) to take with them.
Logan’s coming here for Thanksgiving Redux, so I have my oldest and youngest grandsons together for the first time.
Deviled eggs for Logan to ward off starvation, more baby-rocking time for me–and I get baby smiles to bank in the memory book.
Heat it all up, dish it all out, and we have our second feast. (And a text from Kayla to let us know they arrived safe.)
Clean up–pie!–tub up leftovers for the young family to take with them. Baby snuggles and smiles, a hug from Logan who has to bend over to hug me now. More hugs all around, and then my house is quiet.
I’m so grateful for the noise and movement that was.
Saturday, finally a workout. Then a wrapping marathon with cheesy Christmas movies for company. Organize that mess again, finish up other chores while keeping an ear out for a text from my running girl.
She’s finished her race–had a great experience–and will text again when they get home. It’s raining now, and Nana worries. Hopefully, if she’s not worn out, she’ll be up today to wrap. Saves me hours, gives her some spending money. Logan comes up twice a month to do chores. It’s great having teenage grandkids close by who want spending money!
Also great is having a brand new light in my life, who’ll shine for me in just a couple weeks over signing weekend.
Meanwhile I have my annual holiday trip with great girl pals coming up at the end of the week. I’ll come home, hit my list and do the tree trimming, the holiday decorating. Cookie baking’s on that list, hopefully with grandkids if their schedule allows.
Today it’s workout and making potato and ham soup as we’re tired of turkey.
There’s a lot on the list for December. It’s work, but it’s happy. Here’s hoping whatever’s on your list is just as happy–and gives you satisfaction as you check things off.
Time to plan your new year reading! The 2019 schedule is posted here.
Connections in Death leads off the new year reading on February 5. In this 48th entry of the series Roarke is about to open a brand-new school and youth shelter. He and Eve know the hard life can lead kids toward dangerous crossroads―and with this new project, they hope to nudge a few more of them onto the right path. For expert help, they hire child psychologist Dr. Rochelle Pickering―whose own brother pulled himself out of a spiral of addiction and crime with Rochelle’s support.
Lyle is living with Rochelle while he gets his life together, and he’s thrilled to hear about his sister’s new job offer. But within hours, triumph is followed by tragedy. Returning from a celebratory dinner with her boyfriend, she finds Lyle dead with a syringe in his lap. But Eve’s investigation confirms that this wasn’t just another OD. After all his work to get clean, Lyle’s been pumped full of poison―and a neighbor with a peephole reports seeing a scruffy, pink-haired girl fleeing the scene.
Now Eve and Roarke must venture into the gang territory where Lyle used to run, and the ugly underground world of tattoo parlors and strip joints where everyone has taken a wrong turn somewhere. They both believe in giving people a second chance. Maybe even a third or fourth. But as far as they’re concerned, whoever gave the order on Lyle Pickering’s murder has run out of chances…
You can read Chapter One of Connections in Death here.
On the day he was due for his grand debut–October 17– our excellent baby stirred around enough to poke a leak in his bag and get everyone excited. When we got the call, BW and I got ourselves together, headed down to Jason’s and Kat’s for what we all assumed would be the big event.
However, by mid-afternoon, he changed his mind, resealed his bag and settled down. BW headed home the next morning, and I stayed–as co-coach for labor and delivery–all assuming again things would get going any minute.
I can work anywhere, so that wasn’t a problem. It gave me time to help the any-minute-now parents finish getting everything ready, time to cook some meals for them. Even when minutes turned into hours, and hours into days, no problem. Our Kat had on-and-off contractions and a lot of fatigue–and a couple more trips to see the midwife as the baby kept teasing his entrance.
Just after midnight on the 24th things start moving. Contractions coming close and pretty hard, so it’s a trip to the birthing center. Only to find out poor Kat’s having serious back labor (been there, done that. NOT fun.) No real progression, just pain as her boy’s decided to go spine-to-spine (like his daddy before him). After a couple hours, a homeopathic shot to try to help her sleep, and home we go.
I got about three hours, and Jason reported he managed a couple. Poor Kat didn’t get much at all. I hear my girl in the morning and go downstairs–I’m in the third-floor guest room. She’s on the phone with the midwife, pain is horrible, and she’s opting for hospital and epidural.
This is the right choice.
So we get dressed, feed the cats, move out. I let BW know. I sit in the back seat, rubbing her arm or shoulder, see that Jason keeps taking her hand while we try to help her breathe through the pains–nearly all in her back.
When we park, she has another big one right in the lot. A nurse heading home after shift stops, gets her a wheelchair, and escorts us straight up to labor and delivery. So grateful to her.
Now she has her midwife and an OB nurse, the exam, and finally after another hour or so, relief. You just don’t dilate well with back labor, and they’re going to try to encourage the baby to turn from back to front, but first Mama needs to sleep.
And finally she’s able to for a few hours.
The room has a little sofa that expands so Jason gets some sack time, too. And the long day continues.
They have what they call a peanut ball–because of its shape–and as we go through various OB nurses–shift changes–and a shift change in her midwife–they have her try various positions with the ball.
She can eat broth and jello, but would like her own broth. BW and I make a trip to their house for that, some more supplies, and go back on watch. BW takes Jason off for something to eat; I catch some Zs on the sofa.
Day becomes evening–but she’s making progress now, and the pains are tolerable. We order pizza–and BW and I sit and have a slice in the waiting room so poor Kat doesn’t have to smell the pizza goodness. Then BW finds a place to sleep a bit, I go back to doze in the chair in the room with Kat sleeping and Jason conked on the sofa.
The night passes. I’ve actually coached before, helped out–and of course had my own labor experience. I’ve never witnessed such a long one. She’s passed 24 hours since that first midnight trip to the midwife. Come on, Baby, what’s the deal???
But as dawn breaks things are moving. Baby’s turned nearly fully around, she’s nearly fully dilated. Time for more broth, more jello, more shift changes.
Honestly, by now that room is pretty much the world. I’ll add here, that my boy was a rock throughout. So proud of him. Of them, as they showed such strength, such endurance, such teamwork.
Then Kat spiked a fever–likely from being on the epidural for 24 hours. And the baby’s heart rate’s a little elevated. I admit that was the only thing that scared me.
By then we have our original midwife Joanne, and a completely wonderful OB nurse Allison on duty. Kat has to get antibiotics, and they have to tell her this means at least 24 hours in the NICU for the baby after birth–hospital policy.
My poor sweet girl just broke. She rallied because she is The Amazing Kat, but news like that during the last legs of a long, long labor took its toll. I know both Jason and I had to struggle to maintain so we could reassure her. Joanne and Allison were just wonderful with us all.
Now, fever down, baby facing up (almost), it’s time to push. Joanne’s predicted at least a nine pound baby–holy shit! I mean seriously! Kat, as you might expect, is pretty damn tired by this time, but she is so strong, so brave. I would never take an actual picture of a laboring woman, but I still have one of her in my mind, so clear. She looked like an Asian goddess–powerful, beautiful, fierce–as she began pushing her son into the world.
Jason and I help–deep breath, hold it, hold it while you push. Suck in, hold, push. Jason was just magnificent.
I could see him crown–all that dark hair–and telling her that helps. There’s his head, and oh my God, he’s gorgeous. Joanne explains that–big baby means big shoulders, so she’s going to have to do a little turn to help him get them out. But no–he’s ready, and with another fierce push, he just slides out into the world–and with a lot to say.
Under two hours from first push to last, at 10:39 a.m. on October 25, and we have a new light, new life, new family with a now blissful Kat holding her son, a beaming Jason holding them both.
A little comic relief when they ask if Jason wants to cut the cord. A big, instant, resounding NO. Nana? A quick, delighted, grateful yes. So I make that snip–as I did with my oldest grandchild–to give my youngest his first independence.
They have to clean him up, and Daddy crosses the room with him, takes pictures while they do all the post-birth stuff with Kat. I hold her hand through this–she has pain with this part, wants it over, wants her baby. My girl hasn’t had an easy time of it, and this part isn’t any easier.
Finally done, and Allison wheels the baby and scale over so Kat can watch him be weighed. Joanne had it right. He’s nine and a half pounds, 21 inches of serious handsome.
Kat gets her baby back, he even nurses a little. BW can come in now, meet his newest grandson. (He brought something up during the early pushing. I met the poor guy at the door, grabbed whatever it was, and said: I don’t have time to talk to you! The baby’s coming! Closed the door in his face. ) The baby has to go to NICU, but can stay with his parents for at least an hour first.
I get to hold him. Oh, here he is–and he looks right at me. There you are, I think. Yes, there you are. And where have you been, what have you seen? They haven’t picked a first name–they have a short list, but decided they wanted to meet him first. His middle name is Wilder, a gift that BW treasures. I’ve been thinking of him by a name for the last couple weeks–had to keep reminding myself not to–but this one name on their list kept sticking in my head.
They still don’t decide when Allison asks. Don’t know yet. It’s while Jason’s filling out a form, and I’m holding the baby. Jason laughs, looks at Kat: I can’t finish filling this out because it calls for his name. Kat says: He’s Griffin.
And holding the beautiful Griffin Wilder, Nana does a happy dance. Because that was his name in my head.
I give Griffin back to his mother, hug my kids. BW and I leave the new family alone. Jason will stay at the hospital with Kat and Griffin. BW and I will go back in the morning–then I have to go home for Saturday’s signing.
Kat and Jason look so much more rested the next day–and Jason takes us down to see the baby, who is doing really well, but has one test that’s inconclusive–so maybe a little longer in NICU. Kat’s doing some nursing and pumping so he has plenty of milk, and he has wonderful nurses looking out for him.
Still hard to go home. Despite that, I slept like a log Friday night! Saturday’s signing is busy and happy–even with a soaking rain. Girlfriends at home after help everything smooth out.
I get a text they’re maybe letting Griffin come home Monday. So that’s when I’ll head back down to help the new parents for a few days–and get lots of Griffin/Nana time.
But it turns out that test–and what they were waiting for–means our boy spikes a fever of his own. Nothing dangerous, but he needs to stay in for a couple more days.
I keep the cat company, help get the house ready. I know how hard it is for them to leave the baby–though there’s a hotel attached to the hospital. They finally decide to come home, just make the trip back and forth–so I go with them on a visit, get to cuddle that sweet boy again. He’s doing really well, but needs to finish the course of antibiotics before release.
I fix a pot roast with all the trimmings. They both need some red meat, some home-cooking.
At long last, a full week after he came to us, Griffin comes home. He’s healthy, beautiful–and his parents can finally take that full breath out. Their baby’s home. He’s so beautiful–all babies are–but maybe cooking that extra week added more magick. His eyes are already brown–no newborn blue for Griffin–and he’s so alert–and so chill.
And apparently a night owl like his mother. <g> I slept just fine his first night home–not so much for the new parents. But that’s why Nana’s here. Give me the baby, get some sleep.
Fed, changed, swaddled he reclines in his little bouncer wide awake for a full hour while I sat at their table writing. Then he slept for another before he made any fuss that first morning.
Nana believe in the three S’s when a baby’s fed, changed. Swaddle, sway and a quiet Ssssh in the ear. Griffin responds well to this.
He also likes going outside. Put on one of his little hats, and–as the weather was gorgeous–step outside in their pretty yard, show him his domain. I tell him this is his kingdom, and he seems to agree, and be pleased.
Mama nurses and pumps, cuddles–looks so happy. Daddy changes, cuddles–and looks the same. They started reading him bedtime stories in NICU and have made that a sweet, sweet habit already.
Nana cooks, does laundry and all the things new parents shouldn’t have to worry about when they’ve had this long, incredible journey, and have their baby home.
He likes to look up to the sky through their kitchen skylights. It’s obvious to me he’s spent some time flying up there before this trip to Earth. He recognizes their voices–and looks you right in the eye.
Daddy took him for a walk in his stroller around the neighborhood, and–as that post-birth business was tough, and Kat’s not supposed to do a lot of walking as yet–Nana walks him now and then, too.
He’s had a couple of visits with friends and family, and seems happy to be admired and passed around. He’s also very content to sit with his Nana in the mornings while she writes–though I did my final spell-check on the last chapter of the book I finished during all this with him in one arm. Sweet.
Now the new family is settled in–and Griffin has his first check up with the pediatrician. It’s time for Nana to go home. I made sure to cuddle and rub before I did so I could take that incredible new baby smell with me.
My kids are an incredible team, warm, easy, loving parents–I’ve been privileged to witness that first hand. My girl is a warrior. My son is a rock. They have a perfect baby–so relaxed, so laid-back and so beautiful. It’s been my joy to have all this time with him.
The only hitch? They refused to let me take him home with me. So selfish! But they did send more pictures–of Griffin in the Chewbacca outfit Jason and I picked out on our NY trip. Cutest wookie ever. And the report that he’s healthy, has already gained a half pound–now an even ten.
So I guess they get to keep him. As long as they bring him to Nana’s soon.
Thought I’d pop in for a minute to share that Kat’s a tad past her due date (10/17). Nora waits on call with her packed bag and premade lasagna to help in any way when the Young Master arrives. I promise to let you know all the news when I have some.
In the meantime, we’ll talk about other things worth waiting for. On Tuesday, I shared the cover reveal video for Under Currents — Nora’s July 2019 release. It’s gorgeous and spooky all at once. What do you think?
Within the walls of a tasteful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, young Zane Bigelow feels like a prisoner of war. Strangers—and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake—see the public side of his parents, a successful surgeon and his stylish wife. Zane and his sister know the truth: There is something terribly wrong.
As his father’s violent, controlling rages—and his mother’s complicity—become more and more oppressive, Zane counts the years, months, days until he can escape. He looks out for little Britt, warning her be smart. Be careful. In fear for his very life, he plays along with the insidious lie that everything is fine, while scribbling his real thoughts in a secret journal he must carefully hide away.
When one brutal, shattering night finally reveals cracks in the façade, Zane begins to understand that some people are willing to face the truth, even when it hurts. As he grows into manhood and builds a new kind of family, he will find that while the darkness of his past may always shadow him, it will also show him what is necessary for good to triumph—and give him strength to draw on when he once again must stand up and defend himself and the ones he loves…
You can pre-order Under Currents now: Turn the Page: http://bit.ly/2yETAxO Amazon: https://amzn.to/2yETRAQ Kindle: https://amzn.to/2yFyDmi BN: http://bit.ly/2yGcmVj NOOK: http://bit.ly/2yCXMxW IndieBound: http://bit.ly/2yGevjV Kobo: http://bit.ly/2yF3Nu6 iBooks: https://apple.co/2yIPG6Q
As you know, Nora and family moved their annual NYC fall trip to September to accommodate Kat’s due date. I decided to keep the original dates and had my own adventure last week. I’m afraid I didn’t finish my holiday shopping (code for I haven’t started) unlike some other people I could mention, but my husband and I got up to The Met, out to a NY Jets game and finished the trip with an evening at Springsteen on Broadway. And I took photos along the way.
On Tuesday, I spent some time in the Flatiron Building with Marissa Sangiacomo and Erica Martirano, members of Team Nora as well as the hosts of One True Pairing, a podcast about their favorite couples from all parts of pop culture. We had a wide-ranging conversation about our favorite Nora Roberts couples, what writers owe their readers, white chocolate and how much Erica and I detest it. I think the segment airs the week of Thanksgiving, and I’ll share a link when it’s up.
Macmillan (St. Martin’s Press is an imprint) leaves the Flatiron Building next spring to a building further downtown, so I take advantage of any visit to take a snap.
And I think that’s just about all the news from this desk. Back to waiting on the Young Master. Stay tuned!
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/
We’re starting the Baby Clock around here with three weeks to go until due date. And we started it off with a happy weekend.
I called dibs on giving Kat’s shower pretty much thirty seconds after she announced baby on board. I love giving showers because what could be happier than sharing the anticipation of a life together (wedding) or a new life (baby) with female friends and family? For me, it’s one of the sweetest of rituals.
And for me, the weekend starts off with a short work day on Friday to make room for a workout before the kids come up for dinner. Since Kayla has a meet on Saturday, that means pasta for the runner. I happen to have red sauce I made from Jo’s garden tomatoes bagged in the freezer–so that’s easy.
It’s nice to have the kids around at the end of the week, to catch up on what they’re doing, and how they’re doing. I can report Logan’s gained another inch. It’s so cute how he kind of leans over to hug me now.
As the shower’s on Sunday, I have all day Saturday to prep. And I have two young men to help out in Logan and Colt. I admit I wasn’t sure if Colt would really pitch in, but boy, did he. And Logan’s a solid workhorse when motivated.
Pavers and walkways swept, deck chairs cleaned, trash out, this hauled up, that hauled down, kitchen floor scrubbed, and chairs, chairs and more chairs carted into the living room for an expected party of about 40.
I have (personally stuffed) a boatload of party favor bags waiting in the backroom, along with some of the gifts sent here, the game supplies and prizes organized, and many, many bottles of champagne chilling.
And the cake arrives. Oh just wow!!! Kat wanted a dinosaur theme, and Lacy the amazing baker has created a truly delightful masterpiece. I have to do a driveway happy dance when I see it.
Then hold the dogs who are just as delighted with her and the scent of her dogs on her shoes while Logan runs up to open the door so she can carry the cake inside. She takes it down to the laundry room where I’ll close the door to keep the dogs from sampling it.
Wake to rain on Sunday, the all-day kind. But that’s not going to dampen the party. Natoma (Gifts Inn Boonsboro manager and excellent caterer) arrives with her daughter Hannah to set up. At Kat’s request the dino theme continues with some cute touches like dino-shaped chicken bites, dessert ‘Dirt’, dino gummies, blue punch (it’s a boy, after all) and a terrific array of food.
No one’s going to leave this party hungry!
Laura arrives with the flowers I asked her to pick up–and pick out. So, so pretty, all those rich fall colors. Just perfect. Sarah comes early, too, to lend a hand.
Dogs, sad for them, now locked on the front deck so they won’t enthusiastically jump on arrivals.
The house starts to fill, time to pour champagne, wine, sparkling blue punch. Time for girl energy and hugs and greetings. When the guest of honor arrives, she’s glowing. A sweet ritual, yes, but also an important one, one that celebrates women, their power, their bonds, their strengths.
And more special here, Kat has such a lovely and diverse circle of women in her life. From our Kayla at sixteen, to women in their 70s, from college friends, work friends, aunts, cousins, a woman she met Panera and bonded with over knitting.
And so my house is filled with joy and love, with laughter and female voices.
Game time!* A little baby word scramble to start–and we actually have one contestant who got every one. Some brain in there. For the next game–listing songs with Baby in the title, we have a tie between spa girls (obviously veteran game players!) Nicole and Kat. I have to run up to the One More Room for another prize. The final game has all those women holding a card to their foreheads and trying to draw a baby without looking. Mama-To-Be will judge the winner.
Most turn out like you’d expect. But two somehow managed to draw actual babies. This is quite the skill and requires another trip to the One More Room for yet another prize as it’s another tie.
Time for more food!
I let the dog off the deck, and–as I should’ve known–they sneak into the house. The ladies are just as pleased to see dogs as dogs are pleased to be seen so I let them stay for a bit.
Then banish them outside.
It’s time to open all those wonderful gifts.
Such fun, and all those adorable baby things. Jo had suggested we request a favorite book in lieu of a card to start the baby’s library. While there were a few duplicates, it’s amazing to me how much variety. So many beloved children’s books piling up. My choice, Where The Wild Things Are, as I read that one over and over to both my boys. Now my boy can read it to his.
Cake! Countless pictures have been taken of that cake, and more than one bemoans cutting into that work of art. However, what’s inside is just as fabulous. Kat’s favorite strawberry shortcake. Mmmm.
As guests leave, more hugs. Pals load all those baby gifts into cars–and Kat’s still glowing. I get one more rub of that beautiful baby bump as the next time I see Kat will be at the birthing center.