For a while now, I’ve run book discussions on the two Facebook pages. On the JD Robb page, we take each book and novella in the series in order — slowly. I started this in the fall of 2018 and we’re only up to Imitation in Death. There are pauses for new book information, Nora’s travel, my own travel, but on the whole I stick to the discussion Monday – Friday.
On the Nora page, with a far larger scope of books, I’ve bounced around through the backlist. Shelter in Place was our last discussion and that one took about 6 weeks.
How does it work? I choose quotes from the books, post them — with a comment or question — and let readers chat. It’s not really a book club, more a discussion session.
I recognize there are blog readers who choose not to use Facebook and thought maybe it was time to institute some discussions here.
Share your thoughts in the comments and we’ll see if there’s interest. Once that’s done, I’ll figure out the best way to do this — one post per book with quotes added regularly? Individual posts? The logistics are my area so I’ll consider all the angles.
In the meantime, I did a Facebook live from Inn BoonsBoro the other day and thought you all would enjoy.
I haven’t had a good space of time to sit down and write a blog since we got back from New York.
Griffin’s first trip to The Big Apple turned out to be nothing but fun and adventure. As soon as we drove into the city, he started making his oooh happy, excited, interested noises.
For myself, it proved an excellent time to expand on the Christmas shopping I started overseas, and having the boy along just added tons of fun.
We had a trip to the Central Park Zoo, which brought out more happy, excited and interested noises–until exhausted from it all–he fell asleep.
For an adult evening we had an amazing time with my agent and editor and their husbands for dinner and a show. We saw Tootsie, and if you ever get the chance, don’t miss it. It’s absolutely fabulous, on ever level.
Our weather proved nearly as wonderful–one day of rain, then wonderfully clear until the day we left. No complaints!
Back home for some serious catching up, and buckling down to work.
One of the very best parts of coming home was delivering to Colt–my voracious reader–a signed copy of the new Dogman book. Happily, Dav Pilkey and I have the same agent, and she made the arrangements. As you can see, the kid was beyond thrilled. I swear every inch of him lit up–and he must’ve looked at the signed page a hundred times. I seriously can’t thank Amy and Dav enough for giving our Colt the thrill of his life.
I did have a weekend–a nice fall Saturday–to make soup and focaccia bread. So, mmmmm.
I had to devote the next weekend to organizing. All those gifts and packages from New York had to be dealt with. Fortunately for me, Kayla came up to help–and I really needed it!
My One More Room is now holding big-ass boxes with each person’s gifts inside so I can keep track. I’m not going to think about the wrapping marathons yet.
While I was at it, I did a solid purge of my closet as I had a girl day planned for the following Tuesday. My closet got reasonably purged and organized–and my girl pals hauled off bags. Salad, champagne, pizza, cookies–and trying on new-to-you clothes and shoes?
That makes a most excellent girl day.
Back to the buckle down to work part until Friday, and (drum roll!) Griffin’s First Birthday! Since we had a signing on Saturday, we celebrated here, and I can testify our birthday boy had a fine time.
Like Colt, he just lit up when everyone sang happy birthday. He may not understand what that all means, but it was just delighted everyone sang to him.
Then came the smash cake. I hope Laura can get the video up. He was initially intrigued. Oh, it’s soft, and I can play with it a little. Interesting. Then Nana gave him a little taste–and he got the idea, big time.
After a few fists-full, his parents wisely removed the thoroughly smashed cake before Birthday Boy got sick.
I can also testify, he remains the sweetest, happiest baby in the history of babies.
Saturday, it’s gear it up for TTP’s Halloween signing. We had a pirate theme this year, and we sure pulled it off. I have a fondness for Jason costume. He wore a post-in note he’d made with the Pi symbol and a drawing of a rat. Get it? Made me laugh. We had Captain Griffin, The Scourge Of The Seven Seas, First Mate Kayla working under Captain Kat, Seaman Wilder and–naturally–The Dread Pirate Roberts to round out the family on board.
Our visiting authors got into the costume spirit, as did a number of readers. We had a wild, crowded, LONG and happy event. And a separate thrill for me to meet Meg Tilly ( adorably costumed as a cat). The award-winning actress has written a number of well-received books, and is writing a Romantic Suspense series. I have Solace Island–the first of the series–on my bedside table.
She, and all the visiting authors, did a wonderful job connecting with the readers, with each other, and graciously handling a four and a half hour signing.
Kudos as well the the readers for their enthusiasm and their patience.
And huge ones to the ever-efficient, patient and hard-working staff of TTP–as well as our stalwart signing day additions who pitch in above and beyond.
Today, with workout done, this blog up (and plenty of leftovers for dinner!) I think I’m going to shovel out around here, get my house in order. Then fall asleep in front of the TV.
At least that’s what I’ve tried to do since getting home from a really lovely, fun, relaxing and adventurous holiday.
Because our summer schedule was packed, we found the only weekend we could manage our annual summer party was the weekend right after we got home.
But we pulled it off with Jason and BW doing the manly outdoor set up and Kat, Kayla and I doing our girl thing in the kitchen. As always Kayla made a pretty–and delicious trifle–and stuck with her nana all day. What can I say about Kat? She’d left her carving tools at home–mom brain will do that–and managed to create a fabulous butterfly (Kayla’s request) fruit salad bowl out of this year’s watermelon with whatever she could find.
A good day with perfect weather, lots of food, lots of friends and family. A really nice way to ease toward the end of summer.
We followed that up–bam-bam–with our September signing at Turn The Page. Scheduling conflicts had my pal JoAnne playing Jason, our wonderful Sarah standing in (and standing is required!) for Laura.
Griffin assisted his mom at the register.
BW left after the signing for his guy week at the beach. Me, I hit my late-summer-shabby garden for some much needed work. I lost count of the number of tubs I filled with weeds and bloomed off flowers.
Then I buckled down for a week of solitude and serious work.
My reward? Finishing the 51st In Death–and no, you don’t get the title yet!
Secondary reward–gobbling up King’s new book, The Institute.
And now, it’s flow back into routine, with Laura back from her adventure in the UK–what a wonderful and fascinating trip she and her dh had.
A new book to start for me while I watch the leaves start to turn and fall outside. I’m going to harvest at least some of my herbs today. That’s a process I find rewarding and sad. Rewarding that I grew those suckers and will now have cubes of them to pop into soups, stews and sauces all winter. Sad because it signals the end–or nearly–of my garden.
For now, we still pick tomatoes and peppers off the vine and bush, and I snip a few blooms to bring indoors. But it’s nearly over, nearly time to put the gardens to bed.
And soon I get to spend a week with Griffin and Company in New York. Our boy’s on the edge of walking, and remains the world’s happiest baby.
But now, it’s time to work out, then harvest those herbs.
Note from Laura: Our adventure was my husband’s dream trip with some wish list items of my own thrown in. Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that the hash tag probably shouldn’t have been #lauraandmarksbigadventure but #canthatsmilegetbigger
I did write out a trip long recap but mainly sent back daily photos as we traveled from Edinburgh — where we stayed at the other end of a much-less-crowded-than-Festival-month Royal Mile.
Then on to a town named Reeth (a familiar name) in the Yorkshire Dales.
Down to Windsor for a delightful visit with the lovely Sarah Morgan and her husband.
We’re a week away from the Vendetta in Death release (see? it wasn’t that long). In a FITS tradition, I’ll share some teasers about the book over the next few days.
As always, these will not spoil the plot, they are just some Easter Eggs (as they say in the film business) to look out for when you read.
A quick reminder of the plot:
Eve’s up against a self-proclaimed Lady Justice. Once she chooses a man as her target, she turns herself into a tall blonde or a curvaceous redhead to tempt him into her grasp. Once there, he’s powerless.
The first victim is wealthy businessman Nigel McEnroy. His company’s HR department has paid out settlements to a couple of his young victims—but they don’t know his crimes go far beyond workplace harassment. Lady Justice does. And in one shocking night of brutality, she makes him pay a much steeper price.
Eve and Roarke comb through the evidence of McEnroy’s secret life. His compulsive need to record his misdeeds provides them with a wide range of suspects, but the secret to Lady Justice remains elusive. Her criminal crusade escalates rapidly, and if Eve can’t stop this vigilante, there’s no telling how much blood may be spilled.
Tuesday, August 27:
That damn Icove movie gets in the way of everything. Peabody shares some DLE experience. Capt. Feeney, hero.
Wednesday, August 28:
Eve outlines a career goal for Peabody. Eve presents her clear outline of justice. Eve shares just a hint of Roarke’s fate if he ever cheated with Peabody.
Thursday, August 29
Peabody connects with a legend (who’s a fan – damn Icove Agenda!). Peabody + Eve’s driving = mixed bag of reaction AAC – Asses All Covered
Friday, August 30
Last one is three-in-one: Every individual has specific definitions For Eve — what is whimsy For Bella — what is a toy For Roarke — what is trauma Find the answers to all of these things on Tuesday!
In yet another way to ease us all back to reality, how about the excerpt from The Rise of Magicks? By my count, as I write this, we’re 92 days from release on November 26 so it makes sense to have a little taste of what’s to come.
Here’s what the cover copy says:
An epic of hope and horror, chaos and magic, and a journey that will unite a desperate group of people to fight the battle of their lives.
After the sickness known as the Doom destroyed civilization, magick has become commonplace and Fallon Swift has spent her young years learning its ways. Fallon cannot live in peace until she frees those who have been preyed upon by the government or the fanatical Purity Warriors, endlessly hunted or locked up in laboratories, brutalized for years on end. She is determined to save even those who have been complicit with this evil out of fear or weakness if, indeed, they can be saved.
Strengthened by the bond she shares with her fellow warrior, Duncan, Fallon has already succeeded in rescuing countless shifters and elves and ordinary humans. Now she must help them heal and rediscover the light and faith within themselves. For although from the time of her birth, she has been The One, she is still only one. And as she faces down an old nemesis, sets her sights on the enemy’s stronghold, and pursues her destiny to finally restore the mystical shield that once protected them all she will need an army behind her.
The trip home was smooth and Nora sent her “We’re home Mom” text to me by late yesterday afternoon. (Seriously, that’s written into our unwritten rules of working together — tell me when you get there safely. It goes both ways.)
I thought I’d ease you into life empty of daily travelogues with some extra photos and links to places Nora and family visited while they were away.
How does this travelogue thing work, you may wonder. Well, I’m part of a shared Google album to which Nora, Bruce, Jason and Kat upload photos daily. Nora sends me her copy in the morning, then I pick and choose the photos that best fit the narrative. Captions are all mine. Maybe I need to copyright them.
Edinburgh was basically a three-day layover. The comments that followed the posts on Facebook offered a ton of recommendations for places outside of the city, but there was only so much time and Jason was on chaperone duty until the second day. We’ll have to see what calls to Nora when next she feels drawn back to this particular part of the world. I’ll bet it won’t be Fringe Festival time, though. For a person who works in a Fortress of Solitude, the LZW horde used up a lot of her precious I’m around other people energy protection.
The second stop was Sheen Falls in Co. Kerry, Ireland. I find themes emerge during the course of the travelogues. Some years it’s food shots, some years it’s vista shots. This year, obviously, was the pint-sized traveler. Nora and Kat sent some really great flower photos that just didn’t work for most recaps, so I’ll share a few here.
The last time Nora and the Gang stayed at Ashford Castle (in 2015), the estate was in the middle of renovation. I think they got a peek at some of the new rooms while they were there. When I came home last spring with photos and delight in everything Ashford, Nora declared it was past time they went back. And as she wrote in the travelogue about their transition from Kerry to Mayo, something settled deep inside when they arrived at Ashford Castle.
Because even when I’m not there, I’m always there, I chatted with Kate Kerrigan a few days before the Tea. She lunches on the regular with my cousin Annie May Reape, a Mayo Co Councillor. I know Kate’s books because Annie May opened a book signing for her and I saw the footage on FB. When the LB UK team asked me about the right sort of gift for Nora, I told them find something special and local. They approached Kate for Co. Mayo suggestions and one of them was a shawl by Lou Brennan (seen in warm action below). But she only found out the scarf was a go when Kate ran into Lou in town and she mentioned she was making a bespoke scarf for an American writer. It’s the smallest of worlds sometimes.
Part of the editing is fact-checking if a photo doesn’t match a description. Nora wrote that the bakery in Ballinrobe was Divine but I couldn’t find a bakery with that name. Since the gang was already out and about on the next day’s adventure and it went with the copy, I let it ride. It’s actually called Devour. Also appropriate. Link below.
Our last day in Ireland is a full and fun one. Glowering skies, bits of blue coming and going as Kat drives us to Killursa Church.
We go our windy way as the boy sings his traveling song. Happily, it stays dry, and we find the pretty church and cemetery.
They’re actually digging a grave when we arrive, using pick and shovel in the rocky ground.
I love visiting Irish cemeteries as they often make gardens in the plots to remember their loved ones. Spreading purple lobelia, bold red begonias, even hydrangeas covering graves where people leave momentos—poems, photos, and in one case a little thatched roof cottage.
There’s a sweetness to that.
I see a couple of Sweeneys, and wonder if they were distant cousins.
The ruin of the church is beautiful, and it feels like the right kind of day to pay this sort of visit. Not quite gloomy here, not quite bright. And the dead have views of the green hills, the grazing cows and sheep across the road.
Griffin laughs heartily at something (one) no one else sees, and seems to make a friend.
BW is unable to resist and asks the gravediggers if he can take a photo. They’re more than happy to pose.
We head on to Ross Errilly Friary, a massive, fabulous place we’ve visited before. We have this marvelously spooky place to ourselves.
Just inside the entrance is a newish grave with markers, flowers over the mound. We wander through with everything echoing with the spirits of those long-dead monks.
I always love the little road down to it, with the pretty houses and glorious gardens.
You could walk for hours here, inside and out.
Griffin wants the gravel, of course, and Kat and I take a break, sit on a low wall while he tosses stones or pushes them over a little stone threshold. At one point, he decides we’re not paying attention and tries to sample one.
We both give that ‘eeh!’
At the same time, and apparently loud enough to give him a serious jolt. His whole body jerks in reaction, and he wings the stone in his hand. If there’d been a runner rounding third and heading for home, Griffin’s pitch would have gotten him out.
Then he bursts into tears. Real ones, big, fat drops rolling. He’s: You scared the CRAP out of me!
We have to laugh even as Mama picks him up to comfort him.
Wandering more, up stone steps, into openings, down again.
BW, Jason and I are together when we hear Griffin wail.
Off we go. It seems he was determined to get another taste of gravel. We’re not sure if the wail was reaction—doesn’t taste so good after all—or insult that his mom reached in and took it out of his mouth.
But he gets over it.
We go out for the view, watch a big brown cow circle the castle to a feeder. And Griffin can play in the grass on the green rise.
One more stop on our day, and we’re off to Kinlough Castle.
It’s signposted, so we follow down a tiny lane that gets only tinier. Jason’s nav says to turn on what looks like a cowpath, but intrepid Kat makes the turn, and goes over a steep hump of a bridge to a gate.
She maneuvers her way off the road that isn’t a road, and stays with napping Griffin while we hike across the field of rough grass and sheep droppings.
This place, an old keep, looks as forbidding as they come. Glowering gray in the glowering sky. It’s fenced off, obviously unsafe, so we stay back and just study it.
I wonder if it was more welcoming once, or if it always had this dour look to it. It’s fascinating, must surely be haunted. I’m surprised if the sheep wander very close.
Back we go for Kat to prove her masterful skills. The only way to get out is for her to back up over that hump of a bridge.
Jason goes out to help guide her. The you’re too close to something signal shrieks the whole time as there’s about room enough for another coat of paint on either side of the stone walls of the bridge.
The warning red lights surround the view on the screen—Griffin sleeps on—and Kat just slides between the walls and over the bridge.
Back we head for a snack, for packing. Griffin wakes to visit and play.
We have dinner at Cullen’s where Griffin decides our waitress is the best ever. Every time he sees her he laughs, squeals, grins. She play the game back at him.
I walk him out once to take the air, and he’s thrilled to see her again.
Then he conks on the bench for a bit.
After a fine meal, I give the boy a mash-up session while Kat packs and Daddy takes turns entertaining the boy before bedtime.
A quiet night’s sleep, a short workout on a rainy morning.
We’re packed and about ready to head to the airport.
The rain’s steady but gauzy thin when we set out. Our boy laughs, delighted with the way the wind blows the wet into his face.
It’s all cool and fresh as daisies.
BW’s done some research, and there’s a ruin nearby we’ve never been to. Kat handles the ribbon of road as if she’d been born to it.
The world’s misty and wind’s kicking up. And that’s as lovely in its way as sunshine. We change from our ribbon of a road to a thread of one, passing cattle and sheep, then a gaggle of geese we pause to let cross the road.
We come to a gate with a sign reminding us to close it behind us, and now the thread becomes a cow path, winding and climbing with the hedgerows close enough to brush.
Inishmaine Abbey sits on a rise above Lough Mask, a beautiful situation in the green fields where black-faced sheep watch us warily as we walk.
The lake’s gorgeous and wide, steely-colored under the layered sky. With the tide low, you see rich brown silt at the edge.
In we go to wander about, to wonder at the stone niches, the carvings. The boy prefers to sit and play in the gravel.
And the flock of sheep all turn to face us as if posing.
Kat says this is the Ireland she remembers, all misty rain, spreading wet green, gray stone ruins.
I see the geese gliding over the water, a little boat doing the same, and hills rising into the troubled sky. It’s all a painting come to life.
Across the field to the next building, and—carefully—up the curving stone steps. The view is breathless, and even with the gloom, you can see for what seems miles and miles.
We enjoy every minute before we walk back to the car.
On the way out, there’s a herd of cows right by that cow path, reclining. Kat wants a picture, and as BW obliges her, the big cow close to the car gets to her feet.
Kat says: Close enough! And drives on.
Into Ballinrobe for lunch at Flannery’s. It’s just right, warm and dry and welcoming. I’m going to share the barbecued beef bap with the boy as I know I can’t eat it all, and want a taste. We couldn’t finish it between us, but both enjoyed what we could manage. [Ed. Note: in the first edition of the post I had nap from Nora’s copy and it was too early to figure out what that meant. Mystery solved! Spell check struck again. A bap is a lbread roll sandwich. Thanks all! ~Laura]
We take a wander around town, end up at Divine Bakery. And it is, no question, divine. The scents alone are swoon-worthy. We get a couple of pastries to divide up later.
And we note Divine is right next door to the town dentist.
It seems apt.
It’s a friendly town with locals smiling and saying hello as we pass.
We’re heading next to Glebe Stone Circle, and the boy drifts off to sleep.
It’s sign posted, but you can’t drive to it. Kat finds a safe spot to pull off the road, and opts to sit in the car with Griffin as he naps while the rest of us walk—carefully again—up the surprisingly busy little road to where you cross into the field.
More carefully as a lot of sheep and cattle have been here. Watch your step!
The little dance is on the highest point of the field—and fenced off, I think to keep the livestock out. A huge limb has come down from a big tree, and has fallen right between two stones, then against the fence and out. It still has leaves and prickly little fruit on its upper branches.
As with the abbey it seems this is the kind of day to see these sites, the the air damp and misty, the gray and the green soft and velvety.
I admire the stone fences dividing the fields—my people who came from Ireland and Scotland were farmers, and stone masons. As a boy my own father worked with his building stone walls in D.C. that still stand. So it’s sentiment along with admiration for me.
Back to the car where the boy still sleeps, and home again.
He wakes a short time later, and Kat, hoping to finish her painting, asks if I can watch him for a bit.
As it happens I’d been about to go for a walk, and now I’ll have Griffin for company.
The rain’s stopped, though the air’s still rich and damp.
I walk with him through one of the stone arches and into the magical woods. It’s deep and green and quiet. But after a bit, all the boy wants is to sit on the damp dirt path, play with the dirt and the leaves on the ground—and admire his filthy hands.
Since he makes no move to eat any this time, we can play this game awhile.
I take him back to the grass, and this is another happy time for him. Back we walk to cap our adventure with a round of mash-ups.
We had a fine little time. And Kat finished her painting.
Time to clean up. The castle’s offered to drop us off at Lydon’s in Cong where we’ll have dinner. Our driver tells us to order the chocolate brownie promising we won’t be disappointed.
The place is busy and bustling for a reason. Good food, good wine, happy service. Kat walks Griffin around outside, down to the river, out in the quiet sunlight that’s broken through the day while we wait for our meal.
The boy’s sharing my sea bass, and likes the mushroom and artichoke risotto. A lot.
I’m not a fan myself, so didn’t taste it first. He’s eating mushrooms like candy.
And all at once, without a sound or complaint he begins to expel streams of risotto. I’m quick enough to catch most in my hand—which occurs to me later is such a mom reflex. Here, let me catch your puke, baby, so it doesn’t get all over you.
He’s not the least bit upset, but Mom and Dad take him off to wash up and change. My hand didn’t catch it all.
BW samples the risotto, which he deems delish—but very rich. Too rich for our boy, apparently.
He comes back, cheerful as ever, and has a little chicken and some chips which work far better.
And we order the chocolate brownie, which is, seriously, an orgasm on a spoon. No chocolate for the boy tonight, but a taste of vanilla ice cream.
We walk home, walk off the meal, and take the path along the river, into the woods in all that gorgeous softening light. We pass a fisherman with his evening catch, and see more still casting their line in the River Cong.
It’s more beautiful than ever now, hints of gold flickering on the water, the sky moving to twilight, the woods deepening toward night—full of secrets, no doubt—and the path soft from the day’s rain.
And ahead, the castle’s lit, amber glows in windows, its silhouette regal against the night sky, the lake glimmering, just a bit.
A lovely day in Ireland, just as it should be.
The wind’s fiercely vocal when I workout, and I see the sky’s layered again. But where it thins, blue peeks out, and bits of sun push through. Before I’m done, the light’s brightening at the horizon, and begins to bleed its way up.
I see three people standing and talking, and wonder did they travel together, or have they just met and share conversation on a pretty morning.
The boy comes to visit before his morning nap and gets a thrill as I’m actually doing a mash-up. Kat warns he might now expect me to get up and dance whenever I play them for him.
We’re going to head out again—sun’s out some—when he wakes so we can pack more into our last day in Ireland.
The world’s full of drama outside the windows. Wild wicked wind that howls as it whips the trees and sends the fountain water spewing sideways.
It whistles, sings, with thunder occasionally rumbling to add some fierce. BW spots a woman walking one of the paths who holds her umbrella horizontally toward the water.
I think, however she aims it, it’ll not do much good out there.
From inside, cozy, dry and warm, it’s a terrific show.
Our plan for the day is to burrow inside.
I pay a visit to JK&G’s room to see the progress on Kat’s painting. She’s adding falcons!
I don’t know if my snap of the progress shows the beginnings of them—in white on the sky—but her greenery’s taking shape.
This is going to be fabulous when finished, as it already is.
Kat, Griffin and I go up to the boutique. Stairs! Joy for the boy.
Inside the lovely little shop, he makes friends with some ladies. And I spot a scarf boasting one of those gorgeous falcons. How can I walk away from that?
Why not have a nice, leisurely lunch while the rain lashes at the windows?
We have a table right by those windows, so have our show while we eat.
Griffin and I share an enormous toasted ham and cheese sandwich on a baguette. He is a serious fan, sits on my lap and chows down on the bites I break off for him. Even with his help—and he gave me plenty—I couldn’t finish it.
Nap time for the boy after a bit of a walk around. BW has his book, and I decide to take a couple of these stormy hours to write. I hit the point I wanted to hit, start to pack it up, and here comes Griffin, fresh from his nap. And with him, the sun.
We won’t waste it.
We gear up, and all head out to the walled garden. Griffin meets young Rory and Shane on the way, makes more pals. The air’s daisy fresh now, the wind quiet. The storm blew in some warm, so it’s a lovely walk to a lovely spot.
Kat and Jason scout around—the boy wants some gravel and dirt—and they set up our traditional pano.
It works, first take! Great fun for us.
We take the long way home in the warm and fresh, the quiet light. See Cullen as we go by the falconry school. They’re about to fly one of their ladies so she can hunt for her supper.
Fortunately we don’t have to hunt for our own. When our walk’s done, we head down for dinner. The fish I choose is as fresh as the evening.
BW and cap off the evening streaming The Quiet Man.
Soft and quiet to start the morning. Misty and calm, all grays and greens. With my workout done, the boy having his post-breakfast nap—after a quick visit to climb our stairs—the wind kicks up again.
We plan to go out, see more of the area, but we’ll wait for Griffin to rouse, and hopefully, the day to settle down a bit.