Count Some Blessings

It’s been a hard few weeks, and the next few are going to be hard. We all have to do what we can to keep each other safe.

Stay home as much as possible. Wear a mask when you must go out (our Kat is making them to send to hospitals, friends, family because she’s The Amazing Kat.) Wash you hands–then wash them again. Don’t horde. Listen to experts–to the scientists, to the medicals–to the governors who have been smart enough to put those stay-at-home orders in place.

Do NOT listen to those who say it’s over-hyped–it’s not–to those who say it’s just a big city problem–it’s not–to those who say it’s just going to vanish like a miracle. It hasn’t, and it won’t.

These past two weekends I’ve spent madly and thoroughly cleaning my house–because the experts say a clean space is important. I can’t have my weekly housekeeper here, obviously, so I scrub and santitize, open the windows to get the fresh air in.

And I wash my hands a zillion times a day.

Stay strong, stay smart, stay safe.

And while we are, let’s remember the blessings.

Yesterday Kayla came up. She lives right down the lane–private lane–hasn’t been off the property since schools closed in March. I made her one of her favorite veggie dishes–my dear friend Ruth Langan’s Party Potatoes. She sat at the counter while I stood at the stove making chicken noodle soup for me and BW.

And this 17-year-old girl who isn’t able to see her friends, isn’t going to dance in her pretty dress at prom, isn’t going to be able to walk across the stage in cap and gown for graduation, isn’t going to Italy this summer, sat and unprompted, talked about what she was grateful for.

She has a home and family who’s safe and well. She can go outside and walk. She has food–even though apparently people are hording frozen veggie meals–she has the internet so she can talk to friends. She has school work on-line to keep her busy (yes, she was grateful for that!)

It struck home with me.

Then this morning, Kat posted a picture of Griffin and said she was grateful they could put up fencing so her little boy can play outside, and invited others to say what they were grateful for.

Busy, busy, busy!

I took this as a sign.

My list is long and will undoubtedly leave things out, but it’s heartfelt.

I’m grateful for my family, and I’m grateful they’re safe. I’m grateful for my gorgeous grandchildren, and the parents keeping them safe. I’m grateful for my home in the woods and the land around it. I’m grateful I can go outside, start working in the garden. And for dogs that keep me entertained. I’m grateful I can get food, know how to cook and bake. I’m grateful for our employees–at Vesta preparing food, delivering food. TTP sending out books–and Janeen for the grocery shopping when she drops off books for me to sign. I’m grateful for Gifts for their FB posts and on-line orders. FIT doing streaming workouts. The Inn, with more posts and pictures.

It’s spring, think pink!

I’m grateful I was able to connect with the spa girls by Zoom. We spent a couple hours Friday evening talking and seeing each other. And drinking a lot of wine–which I’m also grateful for.

The view from Laura’s laptop.

I’m grateful I have work I love, even though it’s hard to focus. I’m grateful for my little gym so I can workout every day to help keep me strong and healthy. And to help me get out of my own head for awhile.

I’m grateful to have a husband who’s smart and safe, one who loves yard work and gardening and dogs.

I’m grateful for books and music and TV.

I’m beyond grateful for the doctors, nurses, paramedics and all the medicals who risk so much to help us get through this. To the first responders, to the grocery clerks, the farmers, the people stocking shelves, the delivery people, the people working at gas stations, and all those on the front lines every day.

I’m grateful (and I’ve been a liberal Democrat all my life) for our Republican governor in MD who thinks first of public health and safety and not the economy. People are more valuable than the stock market.

I’m grateful all my friends are well, and being smart, staying home.

I’m grateful for the blooms outside that help me remember hope and beauty.

I’m grateful I have tons of aloe plants if I need to make my own sanitizer, and for the woodpeckers who come to the suet feeder so I can watch them out my kitchen window.

I’m grateful for all of you, and hope you’re staying safe.

Now, it’s your turn.

Count your blessings and feel free to share them.

Nora


Note from Laura: I’m grateful to still be able to walk around my small city and find beauty in every corner.

Birthright Week 2

Time for a second week of Birthright discussion! Do you like this book chat idea? Do you feel you need a new post per discussion prompt or are you ok with five prompts during the week? Any and all feedback is welcome as we figure this out!

MARCH 30: I do like a man with a plan. And Jake is full of them, isn’t he?  I enjoyed their rhythm in work and conversation. You?

MARCH 31: I’m not sure how to describe my reaction to these lines. Sympathy for everyone involved is at the forefront, especially for Callie who is so pulled in many emotional directions.

APRIL 1 — Doug was so impatient and brusque when we met him, but these few lines gave him all my sympathy. So torn between past and present.

APRIL 2 — Courtship banter, Doug and Lana style. 

APRIL 6 — for some reason I missed Friday! Sorry about that.
Lana’s observation is on the nose, but it’s fun to watch Callie and Jake wind around to the same conclusion together (we know they did separately).

APRIL 7: When her mothers meet, we see how nature AND nurture made Callie the woman she is.

APRIL 8: Dialogue always draws me in (can’t you tell with the quotes?). I loved how Lana flirted with Doug, from the start.

APRIL 10 Last graphic from Birthright. We’ll close with a declaration of love, Jake-style.

Laura

Book Chat: Birthright

Time to start a new adventure: Book Chats here on the blog.

You’ll have to bear with me as I figure out the best ways to do this. For now, I’ll add a different graphic to this post Monday through Friday (and if we need more, I’ll make it so).

The first book is Birthright. If you haven’t read it in a while here’s the quick summary:

When five-thousand-year-old human bones are found at a construction site in the small town of Woodsboro, the news draws archaeologist Callie Dunbrook out of her sabbatical and into a whirlwind of adventure, danger, and romance.

While overseeing the dig, she must try to make sense of a cloud of death and misfortune that hangs over the project-fueling rumors that the site is cursed. And she must cope with the presence of her irritating-but irresistible-ex-husband, Jake. Furthermore, when a stranger claims to know a secret about her privileged Boston childhood, she is forced to question her own past as well.

MARCH 23: First conversation point:  Is there anything you love — even with any discomforts — as much as Callie loves archaeology? 

MARCH 24: Lana and Tyler Campbell are the first locals Callie meets in Woodsboro. Not sure I like Callie’s philosophy about kids or her immediate nickname for Tyler more. You?

MARCH 25: Doug Cullen considering how and why his family unraveled so completely. The hard part of these sentences is you can feel for everyone involved. 

MARCH 26: I love a book in which I can’t wait to see what everyone is doing. For Birthright, watching Lana court Doug was so much fun.  Are there secondary characters you’ve rooted on as much as you did the main couple?

MARCH 27: And then Jake Graystone swaggers on the page with his smug walk (Callie’s words). Here we have an example of Love Talk, Callie and Jake style. What appealed to you about Jake?

Laura

Be Strong, Stay Safe

This is a terrible and scary time. Most of us have to stay in our homes, losing the freedom of movement and society we’ve all taken for granted, well, forever. But we give up that basic freedom for the good of all. For our families and friends and neighbors. For strangers we’ll never meet.

Not all of us can stay home and safe, and we need to thank all those on the front lines. The doctors, nurses, interns, the lab techs, cleaning services, maintenance people, support staff in hospitals and clinics everywhere.

They’re heroes.

The cops, the firefighters, the truck drivers and delivery people, the mail carriers and all who leave the safety of home to help and protect us are heroes.

We have staff at Vesta and Turn The Page and Gifts going to work on limited hours to provide food for take-out, on line ordering for books and other things that make life for those of us at home easier and more bearable. At FIT, our Renee is streaming yoga videos from her home to keep that connection, to offer ways to relax. Our inn staff is doing videos of room tours, and posting on FB to, again, keep that connection, offer something to help people get out of their own heads for just a little while.

Heroes.

The teachers doing their best to send out lesson plans, to keep our children from losing progress, to keep their minds occupied, more heroes.

The child care providers tending children so those medical and essential people can do their jobs, just more heroes.

For myself, staying home is natural to me—but . . . I miss my grandchildren, I miss spending a fun week with my girl pals. And, like all of us, I worry.

Kayla’s missing the best part of her senior year—her last chance to run competitively, her prom, her moment of walking across the stage for her diploma. And the trip we planned for this summer, taking her to Italy.

And this sweet, smart, strong young woman is handling these deep disappointments without complaint. She’s sad, but knows how lucky she is—she told me so—to have a home, to have internet, to have books and movies, a family right there.

She’s one of my heroes, too.

I mourn for Italy, one of my favorites places in the world. I have dear, dear friends in New York, and am sick what this virus is doing to a city I love. I have friends with underlying conditions, with elderly parents, with young children.

I light candles—that’s my way of sending out light and hope and strength.

I have my home, my work—plenty of food and alcoholic beverages. I work out daily—it helps gets me out of my head. I have books, I stream movies—and when watching the news gets too much, I switch on HGTV, or turn to a book or movie.

A kitchen view

When the weather warms, BW and I can do yard work, something we both enjoy. I hope we can get annuals to fill out the beds, but if not (after my sad) I can divide and plug perennials into empty spaces.

I walked around outside—it’s brisk but sunny out there today—and took pictures of blooming things. It helps remind me that seasons change, hope springs, and we have to look for beauty to find it even in horrible times.

The Tulip Magnolia

Last fall I sliced a tomato, stuck it in a pot. And today, I picked the first perfect little ripe tomato. I’m going to send it down the lane with Kayla—she’s bringing me a few back-up groceries after her mom gets to the store.

Tomato.

Yesterday I made chocolate chip cookies, so my treasures down the hill can have that little bit of love from me.

Later today we’re FaceTiming with Jason, Kat and Griffin. They send pictures and videos, and I gobble them up every day.

This virus is a bastard, and we all have to take it very seriously. We have to protect each other. I hope you, too, can find little things to do to help push away the worry for awhile. Spring cleaning, crafting, books, movies, keeping in touch with friends and family, playing games, baking, whatever works. Do something to ease your mind while you stay safe and strong.

I read a story about a young man who heard an elderly couple in the grocery store say there was no more bread. He told them to take the loaf he had in his cart. Heroism can be just that simple.

Social distancing doesn’t mean we stop caring. It shows we care enough to give up those freedoms, that movement, those activities to protect others.

This is long and rambling, but heartfelt. Stay safe, wash your hands (We’re going through soap and lotion like crazy here!), be loving enough to keep your distance so we can all hug again one day.

I’m lighting candles for all of you.

Nora


Note from Laura: With so many people away from their regular routines, I think this is the right week to start the FITS book discussions. I will start a post with the first graphic and add to it as the week passes (like I do with the teasers for the In Deaths). I’ll be using graphics some of you may have seen on Facebook because I have a backlog of them.

The first book we’ll discuss is Birthright. Look for a Monday morning post.

I’m saving my particular sanity with walks and photos every day. If you like to look at calming scenery, you’ll see them at https://www.instagram.com/lmreeth/

Frederick MD skyline.

The Awakening

Life as we know it is a bit upended right now. I thought it would be fun to bring a little excitement of the book kind into this St. Patrick’s Day 2020 so I’m pleased to share the cover reveal video for The Awakening, the first book in the Dragon Heart Legacy.

My favorite cover – ever. ~Laura

Right now, all I can tell you is the Awakening is the first book in Nora’s latest trilogy where parallel worlds clash over the struggle between good and evil.

You can pre-order The Awakening at your favorite retailer now:

TTP: http://bit.ly/2M5qaAi
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/36k70ON
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2TjXnuE
BAM: http://bit.ly/3ckyqru
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Yy7oXb
Apple Books: https://apple.co/2S4kkCY
Kobo: http://bit.ly/38PbwXB
Google: http://bit.ly/2S382ej

Laura

Really nothing much

Winter queen Nora as fashioned by the fabulous Turn the Page Staff. The real Nora is staying home.

I haven’t blogged in awhile mostly because I’ve had my nose to the grindstone both professionally and domestically. So it’s pretty much boring, as in:

Get up, go to work. Check the news on the world maybe. Realize the news in the world sucks a lot. Go back to work. Finish work, go work out. Sweat is good!

Talk to BW. Perhaps have a drink with BW because I’ve had a righteous day. Eat. Sign books or do galleys if necessary. Watch something on TV as brain is very tired. So is body. Go to bed.

Get up, repeat.

On weekends, continue the full house purge–no excuses!–until it’s finally, finally, FINALLY complete. Bake bread, make soup or whatever. Shovel out the rest of the house.

Oh, a couple of dentist appointments in there. My teeth are my bane.
A couple of family dinners–with at least some on the menu geared toward our vegetarian.

Oh, a nice visit from same over a weekend when she stayed with us. Movies, on-line shopping for (gulp!) a graduation dress. And it’s so pretty on her, too! Help with purging is always welcome. Much happy conversation about college. When Kayla leaves the end of August, I’ll miss that girl like a limb.

Kayla visited her college a couple of weeks ago. She’ll be able to visit Nana in the library!

A delightful family Sunday including the constantly happy Griffin. He definitely likes Nana’s spaghetti. I don’t know if Laura can grab the shot of him off FB–I have no clue how to–but it’s classic.

Guess what? Laura knew how. Classic.

Work, more work–my favorite routine is sticking well over this period. I love getting solid, uninterrupted writing days, then sweating it off, getting my house in order and spending time in the kitchen on weekends. It’s my perfect balance.

Tomorrow I plan to go out into the world (or at least Boonsboro) for the first time–excluding the dentist–since . . . jeez, I think the February signing. I believe that’s correct.

The inn’s having an art show with one of my very favorite artists, Claire Hardy. Since I’ve just redone our bedroom I believe I have a spot for a new painting.

Flowers by Claire Hardy.

Then, my hope is to continue to basic and boring right up to the girl spa in April.

Then spring happens. I’ll be ready for it!

Nora

Shadows in Death cover reveal

There still so much of 2020 to enjoy before September. But I have to admit this video makes me want Shadows in Death in my hands a little sooner.

Pre-order your copy now:
TTP: http://bit.ly/38RlqrB
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/38jc73v
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2Pss26Z
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ryvGo3
Apple Books: https://apple.co/36FgVi2
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2S3g32U
Google: http://bit.ly/2M6n4Mu

Laura

Hideaway

Out May 26

In a first for me, we have the excerpt before the cover copy. Hideaway is Nora’s big book for the year and is out on May 26.

All I know is what Nora told me while she was writing it, but that’s about seven conversations spanning months. For now, here’s the one-sentence description:

A family ranch in Big Sur country and a legacy of Hollywood royalty set the stage for Nora Roberts’ emotional new suspense novel.

You’ll get more information from the first chapter, which you can find here: Chapter One

Laura

Golden In Death Teasers

As of this writing, we’re 8 days away from Golden in Death (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:

Pediatrician Kent Abner received the package on a beautiful April morning. Inside was a cheap trinket, a golden egg that opened into two halves. When he pried it apart, highly toxic airborne fumes entered his body—and killed him.

After Eve calls the hazmat team—and undergoes testing to reassure herself and Roarke that she wasn’t exposed—it’s time to look into Dr. Abner’s past and relationships. Not every victim Eve encounters is an angel, but it seems that Abner came pretty close—though he did ruffle some feathers over the years by taking stands for the weak and defenseless. While the lab tries to identify the deadly toxin, Eve hunts for the sender. When someone else dies in the same grisly manner, it becomes clear that she’s dealing with either a madman—or someone who has a hidden and elusive connection to both victims.

MONDAY, JANUARY 27

  • Black, brown, gray, indigo – which is more dignified?
  • Teaching, training – what’s the dif?
  • Peabody has a life exit plan.
  • Roarke now has Nowhere to go.

Tuesday, January 28

  • Whose brain has more fun when asleep?
  • There’s a chance Jenkinson’s ties are alive (in Eve’s head).
  • Did you know how old Peabody is?

Wednesday, January 29

  • Marriage Rules apparently have notations (and Eve is apparently corporate secretary)
  • Fog + sheen = power
  • Peabody translates the power of clothes

Thursday, January 30

  • Dectective Peabody: Forensic fabric specialist
  • Elevators: the best place for impromptu support meetings
  • Gardening for newbies is a lovely way to end a day

OK, gang, that’s it. Golden will be in your hands in four days!

Laura

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