Post Holiday Post

After the holidays, after the decorations come down and are stored away, after the baking and cooking and clearing up after are all done, we go to the spa for a well-earned week of relaxing.

Traditionally our pals Bill and Nicole join us, and for the last several years, Jason and Kat, and Griffin add to the fun.

This is the first post-holiday week I haven’t felt it necessary to take work along. WOO!! I’m in a solid place with the WIP to take that week all the way off. No work, no book signing, no cooking!!! It’s like Christmas all over again.

Our little guy loves hotels. He always has, and I have a feeling he always will. BW and I arrive first, unpack, settle in. And here come Griffin and his parents. He has a mile-wide grin. It’s clear he remembers being here before, and it’s a place he likes a lot. We brought one of his smaller race tracks, and his LARGE collection of cars. And beloved Monster Trucks.

And the fun begins.

Our boy has been socially shy since the pandemic, but apparently school’s taken care of that. He’s happy to see everyone. The last time Nicole saw him he wasn’t at all interested in interacting. Not so now!

We play, incessantly, The Floor Is Lava. We eat, we drink, we play and we relax. The next day means a foundation meeting, but that’s the only serious business of the week.

In the morning, there’s bacon for breakfast, and after my workout, the boy wants me to join him in his breakfast and his hilarity over videos on his iPad. Currently Combo Panda is a fave. And there is hilarity.

Then the babysitter arrives. He was fine with her during the summer meeting, but didn’t do much talking or interacting with her. Again, notso this time, and she’s so happy she can also share hilarity and cars and tracks.

The meeting’s a long one, but productive and satisfying. And I have a facial booked for after.

I have a seat in the almost empty relaxation room with a glass of wine, and open my book. I had TTP send me Sarah Addison Allen’s newest: Other Birds. I truly adore her work. It’s magical.

So’s the facial, and I think I slept through half of it!

Griffin’s happy to see me, and that’s also satisfying. But after dinner, he latches onto Nicole. She’s very petite, our Nicole, and he decides she, like him, should fall or jump off the sofa onto the pile of pillows we’re put on the floor so Danger Guy doesn’t end up with a concussion. She wisely chooses to slide off.

Griffin’s new pal Nicole.

Over and over again.His newest thing is saying: Oh gosh or Oh my goodness. A lot. Echoes of his pre-K teacher. It’s pretty damn adorable to hear a four year old say oh, my goodness, like a good pre-K teacher or a 50s housewife.

He climbs on Nicole’s back—and again this sort of physical interaction in pretty new for him post-Covid. Now she must slide off with him onboard. Many times.

Hilarity rises.

I’m giving tons of credit to his ever-patient parents and his exceptional teacher for the amazing progress the boy’s made in a few months. He is such a happy boy, and so much more verbal and sociable.

His parents always give him a countdown to bedtime. When they inform him ten minutes until. He wags a finger. No, no, no—in this sweet little voice. No bedtime!! Nana finds this amusing, though when Jason asks what I’d have done if he’d wagged a finger at me that way at four, I was forced to admit, he’d have needed a splint.

But nana’s are allowed their amusement (and revenge).

And still, when it’s time (every time) he goes off without complaint.

The next day, after workout, bacon for breakfast and more hilarious videos, I take over so Jason, then Kat can have much-deserved massages. The floor, of course, is lava. I must now substitute for Nicole and do many slides onto the pillows, get more pillows as Danger Guy is on a roll. I must slide off with my four-year-old passenger. And I think: Hey, I’ve got twenty years on Nicole! But we just keep sliding because: The Floor Is Lava.

It snows. It’s very pretty from inside our cozy space.

We’ve started a jigsaw puzzle—colorful candy. Kat and Nicole and I have made some progress. Now I make some more.

Later, Griffin doesn’t just want to sit beside me to laugh at videos. He sits on my lap. It’s been far too long since he wanted to. It’s starting to feel like that isolation with Covid, the weeks and weeks apart didn’t happen.

And it feels wonderful.

I have a massage the next day, and after workout (good thing I work out daily considering the sliding, the rolling, the running), breakfast and more Combo panda, I take my book and do the long walk around to poke in the shops a little before I settle down with my lovely book.

Hot stones, warm table, exceptional masseuse. Who could ask for more?

More progress on the puzzle. Check!

Thursday is painting day for Griffin, and I tag along. Usually he’s all about the paint, but not so much this time. Until he realizes he can paint his much adored monster trucks, then dump them in a tub of water to wash them off. Then paint them again because: Oh my goodness! They’re so dirty!

And throughout, there are cookies I didn’t bake, food I didn’t cook and hanging out with good friends, beloved family and a boy who just makes you smile.

Griffin latches onto Bill at dinner. As they’re sitting next to each other, Griffin must share his joy in whatever’s on his little screen, often taking Bill’s hand and pulling him closer.

Intense conversation with Bill.

Friday is nails for me, and my big decision of the week. What colors on the toes. I have my book, a glorious pedicure. I pick a deep brown tone for winter with a lighter bronze shade for my signature accent toe. And finish my wonderful book and get a French manicure.

I loved every page and my very pretty nails.

On the way to the salon I stopped at the toy store. I thought maybe I could find a stuffed panda as my boy is now so into Combo. No luck. The clerk and I hunt for a bit, but no panda. No big deal, I tell her.

But when I get back from the salon, there’s a bag, and a note for Griffin telling him to enjoy. And inside a stuffed panda in a Nemacolin shirt. It’s adorable! And it’s beyond sweet and considerate.

A boy and his Panda.

Griffin immediately dubs it—you guessed it—Combo Panda. For the rest of our stay he’s got it with him.

Now I have my second spa book, and when I’m not playing The Floor Is Lava (a lot), I start King’s Fairy Tale. More magic! A much different kind than Sarah’s, but just as riveting to me.

If you’re into magical realism and relationships, don’t miss SAA’s Other Birds—and if you’ve never read her, you’re missing a lot. Start with Garden Spells.

If you’re into magic, adventure, coming of age, dogs, monsters, good kicking evil’s ass, don’t miss SK’s fairy Tale. I gobbled it.

Saturday, it’s COLD. Kat and Jason are going to take Griffin to the carnival thing they have here. Indoors. Ball pits, giant Jenga, slides. BW opts in. I opt out because just getting there will be seriously cold. Take pictures, I plead as they leave and I settle down by the fire with my book.

Fun with blocks.
Indoor playground.
Slo-mo fun.

And they did. The boy had the best time ever.

The post-holiday week was pretty damned perfect for me. Friends, family, a little boy who laughed and laughed and laughed. Two most excellent books to take me away. Treatments to relax me. Morning workouts and bacon.

…and a finished puzzle.

An excellent way to start the new year.

Now it’s back to work, and I’m more than ready for it. It felt so good to sit at my desk again and dive back into the story. And if I have four tubs of books to sign tonight—and I do—I’ve had a week off to recharge the batteries.

It’s a good deal.

Nora

Enjoy the Moments

I love the holidays. Seriously love all of it.

Every minute, all the shopping, wrapping, baking, cooking, prepping, figuring out.

Time and again, I think back to when my boys were little guys, so excited, so wrapped in those moments. Then, bang, it’s my grandkids. Holy crap! And they’re so excited, so wrapped in the moments. I’m right there with them.

Now I have grandkids ranging from 20 to 4.

How did that happen?

It’s still about the moments, about treasuring each step and stage and change and wonder.

My darling baby girl is now twenty, but she still bakes cookies with Nana. This year, in addition to her little brother, Colt (already 12!!!!) we include her adorable boyfriend J.R., in this long family tradition.

Kayla and JR with clean hands, ready to dive in.

They’re just great at it. Mixing, measuring, baking. I am now assistant baker instead of chief, and delighted to pass the torch.

On baking day we have Kayla and J.R., Colt, Grandda and Jason. Logan’s working—I have a grandson who has to work! And Kat’s herding Griffin.

Waiting for the mixer to finish.

We bake, and mix, and bake. Snickerdoodles (which turn out to be Griffin’s favorite), chocolate chip, peanut butter blossoms, peppermint blossoms, and painted sugar cookies.

BW and Cold prove decoratoring is serious business.

It’s a lot. It’s a marathon, but very precious. Plus delicious.

This is the weekend before Christmas, where Griffin gets a race track from his cousins. And played with it, and them, for HOURS.

Race tracks are everything.

Then there’s the countdown, and before we know it, it’s Christmas!

I do some snacks—deviled eggs, a crudite, we have some cocktail shrimp, I baked an Irish soda bread. Ripping wrapping paper and opening boxes requires energy.

Fun, chaos. Surprises, delights.

 Logan has a girlfriend who’s now part of that. But we still have a little guy, a four-year-old, and nothing makes Christmas like a little guy.

When we need food, we have a salad bar, home-made lasagna, garlic bread from the Italian bread I baked the week before. Then an ice cream bar.

Yum.

It’s a long, happy day, where the adults exchange a lot of delights. Kayla, and she’s an adult now, opens lots of clothes, Logan’s very pleased with his gamer steering wheel, Colt his computer. And Griffin’s clear favorite is the Mario Rainbow Road race track.

Heading down Rainbow Road.

Actually, I think everyone’s favorite is the Rainbow Road race track.

While the gifts are great—they really are—the true happy is the being. Being together, being in the moment, appreciating that being in the moment.

Our annual holiday photo demonstrates just that. Oh, look how they’ve grown! Look who they are right now. It’s marvelous. It was a minute ago when my oldest grandkids were shorter than me!

Family.

There’s some recovery time, then it’s New Year’s.

Griffin would play on the Rainbow Road forever, so ends and starts the change of years doing just that.

I’ve made a chicken en cocotte, and some pasta and red sauce as Kayla, as our vegetarian, is joining BW and me, Jason, Kat and Griffin for the Eve.

Chicken en cocotte a la Nora.
Nora’s famous pound cake.

We eat like royalty, then just hang out. Many races on the Rainbow. And Griffin’s favorite cousin (Kayla) plays endlessly with him. Our floor is lava! The safe places are the rugs. We can turn the lava to ice by magic, but then you slip and slide instead of burn.

Cousin time

I have no idea how many year-end steps I logged dealing with lava and ice.

Then the year ends, and somehow the four-year-old stays awake to ring it in. He insists: No bedtime! But goes off with Mom and Dad to bed without complaint at the dawn of 2023.

I’m so grateful for all of it. For the shopping, the wrapping, the decorating, the baking, the cooking, the cleaning up after. For the sharing the moments with the people my grandchildren brought into our lives.

All things change; nothing perishes.

And here we are, once again standing together, an expanding group, happy together in the chaos and joy of the holidays.

Here’s to 2023. May it bring us happy, healthy, and all the moments to treasure.

Nora

A Cranky Publicist Holiday Diary

Nora outlined her pre-holiday preparations last week, so I’m certain she’s deep in cookie dough this weekend. Since we have pretty diametically opposed approaches to the holidays, I thought it would be fun to share a diary of my run up to Christmas.

(BTW, You definitely know this is a Laura post since I have the World Cup final on in front of me — like in the featured photo. For those of you who have followed from the first opening tap, hasn’t the beautiful game made this month even more magical?)

November 29 – December 1
Nora and I headed to Tyson’s Corner to meet Kat and Sarah for a couple days of girl time before getting back into the holiday marathon. And back to work.

We arrived at the hotel before noon. Checked in, grabbed some lunch, then meandered through some stores. Nora grabbed new holiday pillows and some other decor (since we all know she finished gift shopping before the 4th of July). Kat was further behind in her holiday prep — an ally! — and she was happy to score some gifts in Crate & Barrel and Sur La Table.

Now, Nora and I have tons in common, but we take divergent paths on sports. She’s a lifelong baseball fan, otherwise sports are white noise in the background. I watch just about everything. As a side note, Sarah is a Washington Commanders fan by birth and a Buffalo Bills fan by marriage (she’s having a fun season) while Kat doesn’t hear white noise when it comes to sports, she hears Mozart on a different frequency altogether.

I’d tracked the US/England World Cup game on my phone while we shopped, so when we got back to the suite, I put it on the TV and sat in a chair so I could face the game. Nora, Sarah, Kat positioned themselves facing each other. I kept the game on mute, though I did emote when necessary. And when the game ended in a tie, not a loss, I did a little happy dance to their complete amusement.

We spend the next day at Saks in Chevy Chase with Azita — Nora’s long time shopper — and the rest of the amazing, enthusiastic team at the store. We shopped a bit, I had a fun session with a Guerlain makeup artist, then we ate lunch serenaded by the lovely Stephanie of Singers & Strings/Next Entertainment on her electric violin. She played for nearly 3 hours — popular music, holiday music — and never missed a note.

The amazing Stephanie

After lunch we made Christmas decorations with the very sweet ladies of Coffee & Calligraphy out of Annapolis. We’d fill empty glass containers with bits and pieces of holiday decor, then the the C & C team would write our names on the front, and a tree, star or wreath on the back. They had enough supplies for us to make ornaments for spouses and kids. Kat, as you see in the photo below, sat down and created her own designs for the back of hers.

Nora and Kat in deep concentration.
Some of the finished products

Then it was back to the hotel for dinner and gifts. Now, for all the snark, I was curious about all the Christmas gift purchases in Italy. Nora found a beautiful red saddle bag for Sarah in Florence (sorry, didn’t snap a photo) and these beautiful earrings she and Kayla deemed “Laura.”

A lovely and thoughtful gift. And so appreciated — in spite of all my comments about early purchases.

It was a wonderful start to December.

December 3 – 4
To clarify, I think about gifts throughout the year — I just don’t ACT on them. This first weekend in December is all about crafts with my neighbors. Before we started I finally ordered the calendars I make from my photos through the year. Takes care of a number of people on my list. Score one for me!

Calendars.

Onto crafts. You’ve all heard the story about Nora being an Earth Mother/Queen of Crafts before she discovered her true creative outlet in writing (for which we are thankful). Prior to winter 1979, she sewed Jason and Dan’s clothes, she did needlecrafts, macrame, pottery, to name a few. Once she wrote that first – never published – book she gave all her craft supplies away.

Me? I’m always game to try a new craft. And fortunately have many like minds in my neighborhood. This year a group of us learned needle felting (I call it stab and gab) and stained glass. Candlemaking and blacksmithing are two we want to try next year. On my own, I have any number of yarn crafts on the needle or hook. Finishing them is a different ball of wool.

My main craft partner in crime is my friend Tara — who I’ll call The Craftinator. Or maybe The Maven of Making. Or maybe just Tara.

Months ago she sent me a link for some Christmas hoop crafts and asked me to file under future Mayhem (our preferred terminology for making things).

Now, I think it’s important to mention that, like Nora, The Craftinator is a woman who starts a project and doesn’t stop until it’s done. (See Nora and writing books one at a time.)

Me? I’m Doug the Dog in UP — show me something shiny, I’ll yelp, “Squirrel!”, drop what I’m doing and focus on the new. Tara will finish a project and I’ll store mine for a later date. (That later date is probably never-ish from the state of my craft closet.)

I sense a theme in my friendships, btw: people who follow through.

Anyway.

This particular December 3, a group gathers in Tara’s craft room — because, of course she has an organized craft space. Five neighbors with glue guns, decorations, battery operated LED lights, Cava and snacks. We started at noon with no real plan other than finishing. While my friends created woodland or bright party scenes, I really just wanted the Zen of wrapping the hoop with jute.

Once done with that, I decided to add a web of lights, then some pearls and felt balls. Mainly, I wanted a wreath for a Reeth (get it?). But I ran out of felt balls to fill it out. Please note, because we are adult women the discussion of needing green balls went downhill. Fast.

The afternoon was a fun one. And here’s what I brought home:

My husband took a long look when I brought it home. “Is that a hexagram?” he asked.

“I think you mean Pentagram,” I replied. “Maybe.”

“Hmmmmm,” was the reply. “What did everyone else make?”

“Well, here’s Tara’s.” I showed him my phone.

He stared at the photo. “And how long did Tara have to do this?”

“The same as me.”

“Huh.”

And for the record, here’s what the entire group made:

Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan to re work mine. For Christmas 2023.

On Sunday, most of the same group attended a session on building succulent Christmas. Despite my frustration at getting some of the stems to fit into the mossy base, THIS is a project on display. Batting .500 (so Nora gets the reference).

December 8 – 12
We had an early Christmas with our kids because that worked for everyone’s schedule this year. Having an early celebration made for a very relaxing weekend (and easy travel from Connecticut and LA). Part of the fun was our neighborhood holiday gathering, held outdoors under cafe lights with fire pits and heat lamps.

My family.

December 16
I returned to my church’s choir in November, just in time to rehearse Christmas music . On this Friday night, we sang at the Sicilian Tenor’s concert at our church, kind of a dress rehearsal for Christmas Eve and Frederick’s Candlelight Tour of Historic Houses of Worship on December 26. (If you live in the area, it’s a wonderful evening of song and food.)

Setting up for concert

December 18
The World Cup final is in the books (what an absolutely beautiful, brutal and amazing match) and I’ve moved over to NFL games for this Sunday afternoon. Nora’s probably still working on cookies.

For those of you lighting the first candles on the menorah tonight, Happy Hanukkah! May your candles burn bright this season.

For those those of you still working toward the Christmas marathon finish line, I’m with you (I need to send cards, calendars and wrap gifts – no biggie).

This is my last personal post of the year, but keep an eye out for a kind of questionnaire post as Nora and I work toward some changes here on Fall Into The Story.

Laura

From a chilly Friday morning walk in Frederick.

MERRY, HAPPY EVERYTHING!    

‘Tis the season.

My season actually starts in the summer (usually on vacation) when I start buying holiday gifts. I keep a list, check it twice–at least–then tuck everything away until after Thanksgiving.

This doesn’t get me off the shopping hook, but I actually love shopping for gifts. 

I actually don’t mind wrapping them–much. My routine is to take a weekend or two, put on Christmas movies in my One More Room, and have at it. By this method? I’m done! Done shopping–some time ago–and now, done wrapping. Woo! Bring it on!

When gifts take over the office.

I go overboard on gifts, and I don’t care! It’s fun, satisfying, and gets me all festive. On Christmas Day, the house will be full of happy faces, ripped paper, empty boxes, scads of ribbons and bows. More fun!

The decorating’s nearly done. I still have the library because BW and Jason are in the middle of changing out the bookshelves lights, and it’s a mess. But when they’re done, I’ll be done.

I haven’t hung the stockings yet as that means no fire until Christmas. Don’t want to risk burning the house down if stockings go flaming. Presents won’t go under the tree yet as Griffin’s coming this weekend. What self-respecting four-year-old could resist going after all those pretty, colorful boxes?

When Kayla’s home for her winter break, we’ll have a marathon cooking baking day. Joining us this year, her boyfriend, J. R. We’ll see how he handles painting sugar cookies.

And still more fun.

I confess, I love Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies. I love their predictability and schmaltz. Why are they popular, year after year? Because I’m not alone in the love.

However, I’m going to highly recommend two non-Hallmark or Lifetime Christmas movies.

Spirited.
Ryan Reynolds is one of my movie boyfriends. I doubt he knows this. As I didn’t know he can sing, he can dance! And does both along with Will Ferrell in this totally delightful movie. 

If you catch it, be sure to say: Good Afternoon.

Love Hard.
There is nothing about this movie I didn’t love. It’s so wonderfully charming and funny and sweet. The chemistry between the two leads is just perfect, the acting’s solid, as is the writing.

Both of these movies made me ridiculously happy. I hope they do the same for you.

Now, as I finished a book on Wednesday, and finished my wrapping today, I’m going to do as little as possible for the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, I’m wishing you the happiest of holidays, with lots of cookies, pretty lights and the warmth of friends and family.

Nora

A Trilogy

A note from Laura, if you haven’t read The Choice do NOT read this post. Come back when you’re done.

Is THREE books. Three, then done. Over, finished, complete.

The Dragonheart Trilogy. Three books.

I know some readers sincerely feel that asking for more is flattering. It is, it really is. To a point. But there’s been a lot of demanding and haranguing over this one with readers who want, and demand and—sorry, not sorry— whine for more.

(And some do it after EVERY trilogy.)

Why can’t you write all the weddings?????

You know, I gave the reader a big, beautiful wedding, in detail within The Choice. The dress, the vows, the prep, the color, the music. All of it. Not enough, apparently.

Where is Marco’s wedding, where is Breen’s?

Down the road, dear readers. The trilogy ended. Worlds saved, evil defeated, lovers met.

We should’ve seen Sally and Derrick come over.

Down the road again. This is not a story line.

More grieving and a funeral for Sedrick. We did have grieving, but lives are lost in wars. That’s why wars suck out loud. There was no place for more.

We are not going to see Fin bond with his dragon. That was not the story. And the kid’s hardly more than a toddler when the story ends.

We want to see more babies.

 Down. The. Road. This was not the story.

Breen awakened. Breen became. Breen chose.

THAT was the story. Mission accomplished.

I cannot give each individual reader all they want. And I won’t.

I will tell you the story that comes to me, and work hard to make it the best I can. That’s my job. I can’t tie every aspect that every single reader wants up in a bow, and keep going and going. When it’s done, it’s done.

Can’t we just have a fourth book, or a novella, or a short story?

Oh, my Jesus, do you not think, seriously not think, of the time, effort, the work, the creatively involved it that? Like, snap your fingers and give us all what we want? No one can actually believe it works that way.

This will seem harsh to some, and some of you will be pissed at me. I PAY for the books, why can’t she do what I want? Because, dear readers, I write how I write. The story is what it is.

And no, there were no loose ends, I did not leave anyone hanging. Except those who want, want, want, want weddings, babies, intricate word pictures of everything that might happen next.

I worked very hard on this trilogy, I sweated over making it all flow to a natural conclusion. But for some, it’s just never, never, never enough.

I finished The Choice a year ago. I’ve written two In Deaths, a Roberts’s suspense and am working on the first book of a new trilogy. I’m never, never, never going to go back and write weddings and babies for this trilogy.

This is not a book. There is no conflict, internal or external. There are no hills and valleys. There would be just happy, happy, joy, joy. And that’s not how I work.

I loved writing this trilogy, I was totally invested in the characters. But it’s done.

What comes next is up to you.

I’ve been a reader all my life, and never thought of demanding a writer give me more. I want this, this, this. Come on, gimme.

It’s actually astonishing to me that some readers do just that.

I have no obligation to do that, and never will. I HATE some readers are disappointed. But there’s nothing I can or will do about it.

And the next trilogy. THREE books. When it’s done, it’s done. Absolutely no point in demanding more. The Lost Bride Trilogy will be three books. Some will ask for more. I’ll have moved on.

Let me add, please, if you’re going to bring up specifics, spoilers, plot points, you want to comment on, argue about, do it here, and not on Facebook. There are many readers who follow on FB who haven’t read the book or books. Laura is so clear about that, but some ignore it because they’re just unhappy.

I’m also going to add, if it’s not obvious, I’m really tired of some demanding what I can’t give. And begging for what I can’t and won’t give. It’s exhausting.

Nora

The Trilogy note

Dear reading pals,

Remember the agonizing days that ensued when you finished the Born in trilogy?  Or the Key Trilogy?  Or The Inn BoonsBoro trilogy?  

Heck, pick any trilogy that you hold dear.  

Remember the book hangover?  The absolute certainty you’d never meet characters as amazing as the Concannons, or the women of Indulgence or the Montgomery Brothers?  That life was bereft of light and laughter now that you didn’t know what would happen in their lives anymore and you were certain Nora NEEDED to provide more?

Even though you could always revisit the books any time you’d like, that first time was finished.  And oh, how it hurts to know you can’t read a book for the first time ever again.

But then…you met the Templetons of the Dream trilogy, the valiant Six of The Circle Trilogy, the amazing cousins of The O’Dwyer Trilogy.  Or you visited Three Sisters Island…the charming village of Ardmore…watched the world rebuild through The One.

Get the pattern?  We all experience deep sadness when we close the final book in a series, sure we’ll never feel that way again.  

And then less than a year later, Nora hands us the first book in a new series.  I know some wait until all three are out, some will read them on publication day, then reread before the next book.  But in the end, all of us will meet a new set of people, even knowing that book hangover awaits at the end of the series.

Isn’t that the reason we all read Nora?  How reliably she gives us new, entertaining adventures that only she knows we need to read? (She wrote about trusting her in a post this fall.)

For nearly a week, I’ve seen a ton of comments wanting –no NEEDING — more of the Dragon Heart Legacy. Dig down, it’s wishing for a little more time with characters before saying goodbye.

If you look at the arc of the three books, Nora finished all she set out to do:  take a woman who has no knowledge of her tremendous potential and lead us to the point when she knows who she is and what she will do with her life.
There has been loss, there has been sadness, but on the whole Breen made her choices and there is happiness ahead. 

Nora took us on that journey and left Breen in a very good place. And we can all use our imagination to think of what happens next.

In my head, I see the comments now:

But Nora wrote a fourth book for The Quinn Brothers!!!  Why yes she did.  She was very upfront that Seth would get a story — after he’d had time to grow up.  So that’s why there’s three years between Inner Harbor (1998) and Chesapeake Blue (2001). Twenty-one years ago.

But Nora wrote four books for The Bride Quartet!!!!  
She had a cast of four characters and took them through a year in the life — New Year’s Day to New Year’s Day.  Quite honestly, my friends, I could hear the wedding fatigue in her voice when she was in the middle of writing Happy Ever After.  Honest to goodness, I experienced ONE real life wedding this year. I’m not sure how she created the details for multiple fictional weddings throughout that series.  So when she wrote The End, she meant it.

But Nora wrote novellas! 
No, she wrote two very short stories for the now defunct Waldenbooks newsletter which you can find here.  The novellas she did write were planned into the writing schedule as a project with friends. And she stopped writing novellas 7 years ago.

Nora of 2022 writes a very different sort of book than the Nora of 2009 who Wedding’d Herself Out writing The Bride Quartet.  She’s creating more complex worlds in her trilogies as well as her stand alones.  Let’s be real here: she writes two In Deaths a year to vacation with Eve and Roarke in a world she already knows.

It’s a huge compliment for readers to want more of characters and the world you create.  Readers have to understand that Nora’s currently deep in the first draft of the first book of the NEXT trilogy and Talamh is firmly in her rearview mirror. It’s been in the rearview mirror since December 2021.

I know a smidgeon of what the next trilogy is about and I think you’ll enjoy it tremendously.  Even as we all know I’ll have to re-post this letter in November 2025 when The Lost Bride Trilogy concludes.

We’ve got a lot more fun ahead of us.  Let’s keep our eyes on that. And enjoy.

Laura

PS. Three posts in a week??? Can the blog be springing back to life? Stay tuned.

Encore in Death excerpt

It’s the end of Thanksgiving weekend in the US — what better time to set our sights for 2023 and the Encore in Death release on February 7?

If you subscribe to Nora’s News, you’ve already read Chapter One when I sent the newsletter out over a week ago. Now it’s time to share with everyone.

Here’s the cover copy for Encore:

It was a glittering event full of A-listers, hosted by Eliza Lane and Brant Fitzhugh, a celebrity couple who’d conquered both Hollywood and Broadway. And now Eve Dallas has made her entrance—but not as a guest. After raising a toast, Fitzhugh fell to the floor and died, with physical symptoms pointing to cyanide, and the police have crashed the party.

From all accounts, he wasn’t the kind of star who made enemies. Everyone loved him—even his ex-wife. And since the champagne cocktail that killed him was originally intended for Eliza, it’s possible she was the real target, with a recently fired assistant, a bitter rival, and an obsessed fan in the picture. With so many attendees, staff, and servers, Eve has her work cut out determining who committed murder in the middle of the crowd—and what was their motivation. As one who’s not fond of the spotlight herself, she dreads the media circus surrounding a case like this. All she wants is to figure out who’s truly innocent, and who’s only acting that way…

Here’s your first look at Encore in Death, Chapter One.

Enjoy!

Laura

The Choice discussion thread

It’s finally here: the conclusion of The Dragon Heart Legacy. And this is the space in which you can discuss all things The Choice freely.

The official description reads:

Breen Siobhan Kelly grew up in the world of Man and was once unaware of her true nature. Now she is in Talamh, trying to heal after a terrible battle and heartbreaking losses. Her grandfather, the dark god Odran, has been defeated in his attempt to rule over Talamh, and over Breen―for now.

With the enemy cast out and the portal sealed, this is a time to rest and to prepare. Breen spreads her wings and realizes a power she’s never experienced before. It’s also a time for celebrations―of her first Christmas in both Talamh and Ireland, of solstice and weddings and births―and daring to find joy again in the wake of sorrow. She rededicates herself to writing her stories, and when his duties as taoiseach permit, she is together with Keegan, who has trained her as a warrior and whom she has grown to love.

It’s Keegan who’s at her side when the enemy’s witches, traitorous and power-mad, appear to her in her sleep, practicing black magick, sacrificing the innocent, and plotting a brutal destruction for Breen. And soon, united with him and with all of Talamh, she will seek out those in desperate need of rescue, and confront the darkness with every weapon she has: her sword, her magicks―and her courage…

Share your thoughts on The Choice in the comments. As always, spoilers will happen, so read the comments at your own risk.

Laura

The Choice excerpt

https://fallintothestory.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/TheChoice.pdf

I would have sworn on all that I hold holy that I posted the excerpt from The Choice in September. I included it in the newsletter for Desperation in Death and the next step on my to-do list is to post here 48 hours later.

But when I saw a question about it on FB, I realized — to my horror — I hadn’t.

Anyway, the official copy reads:

Breen Siobhan Kelly grew up in the world of Man and was once unaware of her true nature. Now she is in Talamh, trying to heal after a terrible battle and heartbreaking losses. Her grandfather, the dark god Odran, has been defeated in his attempt to rule over Talamh, and over Breen―for now.

With the enemy cast out and the portal sealed, this is a time to rest and to prepare. Breen spreads her wings and realizes a power she’s never experienced before. It’s also a time for celebrations―of her first Christmas in both Talamh and Ireland, of solstice and weddings and births―and daring to find joy again in the wake of sorrow. She rededicates herself to writing her stories, and when his duties as taoiseach permit, she is together with Keegan, who has trained her as a warrior and whom she has grown to love.

It’s Keegan who’s at her side when the enemy’s witches, traitorous and power-mad, appear to her in her sleep, practicing black magick, sacrificing the innocent, and plotting a brutal destruction for Breen. And soon, united with him and with all of Talamh, she will seek out those in desperate need of rescue, and confront the darkness with every weapon she has: her sword, her magicks―and her courage…

Here is Chapter One.

The Choice is in stores November 22. So truly, not that long now.

I apologize for the delay and will pay more attention to my newsletter to-do list going forward.

And if you want to catch all the excerpts as they happen (i.e., not depend on my to-do lists), please sign up for Nora’s News — the sign up is at the bottom of the home page on both the Nora Roberts and JD Robb websites

Laura

Nora in NY (Sung to I Love NY)

A fall trip to New York City is one of Nora’s fondest traditions that dates back to the years of fall book tours. New York would be the last stop on the tour, then BW and the family would meet her at the Palace to relax after weeks on the road. It was the breather before the holidays.

Well, a breather and a chance for Nora to finish her holiday shopping. She still does. [humbug]

Her favorite place to stay is the Champagne Suite at the Palace which is large enough for the entire family to stay comfortably.

The view from the suite’s living room. Photo by Laura

Covid interrupted the trip in 2020 and in 2021, the suite was taken for Nora’s dates. This year? She was back, baby. Broadway and dining out remain off the table for now, so BW opted to stay home. Kayla planned to come on her fall break, then had an opportunity to travel with friends. So Nora, Jason, Kat and Griffin rode up in a new-to-them small bus. Everyone was comfortable and Griffin loved it.

Champagne for the champagne suite in the large box. Photo by BW.

I love October in New York for the weather and the sports. My husband and I drove up a day early so we could see the Mets on Saturday night (the only win in the series against the Padres) and then the Jets on Sunday afternoon. We were 2 for 2 for in-person sports so happy, despite the Mets losing the series on Sunday night. We’re native New Yorkers and just keep hold of our teams.

Nora and family arrived Saturday afternoon after creeping so slowly through tunnel traffic I had to leave for Citifield before they reached the hotel. I popped up for a quick hello before football, but didn’t spend time with them  until Monday.

It was an absolutely gorgeous October 10 (aka someone’s birthday), even with the Columbus Day Parade screwing up our walk to the new flagship UGG store on Fifth. Nora, Kat and I spent a nice hour wandering, then an enforced 25 minutes watching the parade since we were held at a crosswalk until a break in the marchers.

Stepping off. Photo by Laura

Once allowed to cross, we headed back to the hotel for a break. Then I had a late lunch with my sister downtown and Nora decided to walk up Madison Avenue on a gift mission.

A side note: Sunday evening, Kat’s nephews and nibling came over from New Jersey with their moms.  When they got to the suite, they reported meeting Dennis Quaid in the lobby. Nora replied, “You should have called me – I love Dennis Quaid!!”  Please note, I only run into athletes and saw many San Diego Padres and the Cleveland Guardians — also at the Palace.

Back to Monday. We get on at the 53rd floor, then the elevator opened at the 51st and Mr. Quaid walks in, finishing up a conversation with someone who remained on his floor.  He was in front of me, looking ahead at the doors — as one does on an elevator.  I looked over at Nora who gave me bug-eyes.  (Later, Kat said he probably caught us in the reflection of the doors ruining all my fantasies of being cool.) 

Dennis Quaid half turns and asks what we’re all doing today.  I told him we were riding the elevator until we ran into him.  And then we all chatted a bit on the minute long ride.  He’s doing a project for HBO Max with Stephen Soderbergh.  (Ok, he mentioned Soderbergh and I googled the rest.) 

Guess who else is in the project? Timothy Olyphant!  We hoped to run into DQ again to find out where Timothy Olyphant is staying.  No such luck.  But a fun birthday story.

On Tuesday, Nora and Jason took Griffin to the Central Park Zoo.  I walked uptown with them to enjoy the lovely morning. Griffin was taking in all the sights and sounds. Every time he heard a horn or a siren he’d yell “Watch out!” as safety always comes first.

When they returned in the afternoon, Nora and Jason reported that Griffin took a couple moments to look over the Spider Web Scramble Net, but once he watched some kids playing, he climbed up and had the best time — never once letting go of his truck.

Griffin getting the lay of the web. Photo by j a-b.

After nearly an hour, Jason retrieved Griffin so they could take in some more sights at the zoo. That turned into a ramble in the park to find the carousel — which dad and boy enjoyed a lot.

Carousel smiles. Photo by j a-b.

On the walk back, they found a subway stop with Nora’s intials.

Nora’s station. Photo by j a-b.

In big Griffin news, next week he turns 4 AND starts school!

In Griffin and Nana news, Nora got in an extra 5K steps every day with Griffin — either chasing, racing or playing hide and seek.

Does a Cranky Publicist do any of that? Why no, but we got into a great rhythm of him doing a run and when he’d get near me, I’d ask “Stop or Go?” He’d reply “GO!” and keep on the move. Satisfactory exchange on both sides.

Wednesday was a walk around day. I’ve taken on an intern this year — specifically The Inquisitive Intern, to contrast with a Cranky Publicist. Paige is helping me with some social media graphics as well as behind the scenes research for future updates to the websites and this blog.

We shopped for sneakers for Griffin and more Christmas gifts (bah, humbug) then had an al fresco lunch near Rockefeller Center.  Nora and Paige bonded by the time the french fries were served.  And you’ll see more of Paige as the year goes by.

No ice skating until November — rollerskaters out in force. Photo by Laura
Paige, the Inquisitive Intern, and Nora.

Thursday was the only rainy day. Nora, Jason and Kat had a Nora Roberts Family Foundation meeting so I rambled around — down to the Flatiron Building and back up to St. Patrick’s. Then I met my husband for a couple beers at an Irish pub. A perfect NYC day.

NYPL on a rainy day. Photo by Laura.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Photo by Laura.

Friday was a matter of tying up any loose ends for shopping — which meant a stop at Uniqlo and later Sephora. I also had to show Nora the seasonal decorations on Papillon, a restaurant on 54th street.

That last afternoon, we sat down for a Facebook Live on the JD Robb page — we shared stories about the trip, revealed the title of the September 2023 In Death and answered a few questions. I know it will fill in some of the blanks: https://fb.watch/giBC6xltbK/

A few more favorite photos from the week.

Love this view. Photo by Laura.
Light at night. Photo by Laura.

A lovely week indeed.

Laura

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