All posts by Laura

Laura is Nora Roberts' personal publicist. She can be found on the Nora Roberts and JD Robb Official Fan Pages on Facebook as well as on Instagram.

Nothing Much Going On

Which is the reason I haven’t done many blogs over the last few months.

I write, workout, cook. On the weekends, I clean and do more involved cooking, and often some baking.

Foccaccia

That’s pretty much how it goes.

I was able to see Kayla over her spring break as she came home. And as she lives in a dorm and NC includes dorm living in their eligibility, she’s had her first vaccine shot, and will get her second this month.

We get to see Griffin every couple weeks. One of his favorite things is to prance his way all the way down (1/4 mile!) the lane, check out the creek.

A boy and his bubbles

Happily BW and I both have our shots. It’s a major relief, and I’m grateful to everyone who made them possible, and the scores of people giving countless hours getting those shots into arms.

So we we were able, at last, to have Logan and Colt up for dinner with their Mom.

Still, the numbers are going the wrong way here in MD, so we continue to be very cautious.

However, in a couple weeks, I’ll be hitting my favorite nursery for plants—and there I can’t wait! Meanwhile, we battle the deer. I don’t see herds of a dozen the way I did before we tried a new repellent—and bought an air horn! But some still come around and have to be chased off.

Pop of color.
Early blooms.

Parker tore an ankle tendon last November, so had surgery early December, and after many checkups, pampering and PT which he enjoyed entirely too much, is fully recovered.

My tulip magnolia got in a hurry and decided to bud up right before we had a serious cold snap. I’m waiting to see if we’ll get a show from it this year. But we do have other, hopeful signs off spring cropping up.

Today I’m making chicken en cocotte—took a pic before I put it in the oven. The house smells glorious—like a farmhouse in Provence!

A taste of Provence

And with that doing its thing, I’m going to curl up with a book for awhile.

Nora

And now, for something different

Every year the Nora Roberts Foundation awards a scholarship to a Boonsboro High School graduating senior whose higher education focus includes study of Journalism, Creative Writing, Communication, English, Education or related fields.

Applicants write a short story or essay–any topic, any genre, anything at all. We all read the entries, discuss them, consider them, debate them. It’s a big scholarship, and these college-bound young people deserve our serious attention.

Over the years, entries have ranged from the heart-rending to the delightful humorous, from the mysterious to the charming and everything you can imagine.  

It’s hard–really, really hard–to know you can only award one. Every senior who applies does their best, tries hard, takes the time, has that hope. It’s my hope that though only one can win, the others take their best, their efforts, time, hope forward.

I’m pleased to say we’ve had those awarded the scholarship go on to careers in Journalism, those who’ve become teachers, free-lance writers. I have a signed copy of a travel/hiking book on my office shelf from a previous winner. Others have gone into other fields as college is, and should be, an exploration.

In this long, long year of COVID, we can all use some strong, bright light. I got some of that from this year’s scholarship winner and her gorgeous love-letter to Boonsboro. I’d like to share Rebekah’s light and talent with you.

Congratulations, Rebekah, and wishes for all good things on your journey. You’re the future.

Nora


Click Kairosclerosis to read Rebekah’s winning essay.

Zombie Ghosts

I’m assuming anyone reading this knows how to dispatch a zombie. It’s all about the head. I’m a big believer in confronting things head on.

Every few months, the walking dead of intimating or outright stating I use ghostwriters shambles onto social media. And like a zombie it shuffles on, spreading. I’ve confronted this before—head on—but have never successfully eradicated the infection.

So, try, try again.

Laura will link the other times I’ve written about this issue, so readers of this blog will, hopefully, understand why I continue to do so. And how often it all crops up again. [See below]

This is very personal for me.

I write my own books. All of them. Writing is my job, and I love my job. I consider it the best job in the world, and one I’m very lucky to have. I work hard at my job—I want to, and because I love it, because I want to work hard at it, because of my individual process, pace and rhythm, I’ve been able to produce a lot of books over the course of my career.

It hits me, very personally, when people who don’t know me, don’t know my process, my life, decide to imply or come right out and say I use ghosts.

Are they in my house, my office, standing over my shoulder every day? They’re certainly not in the shower, in my gym, in my kitchen or anywhere else where I do other things while thinking about the story, working out angles, playing what if that I’ll turn into words at the keyboard.

I do not use ghosts. I have never used ghosts. I never will use ghosts. I’ve said that all before, will no doubt say it again.

So those who say I do are calling me a liar, and impinging my work. That’s personal.

Years ago a journalist with some shaky math skills and faulty information wrote that I produce a book every 45 days. That’s crazy and wrong, but it’s stuck over the years. The journalist didn’t consider that I had written several books (55k word category romances) before I sold the first one, and I was able to fix and fiddle and sell those previously rejected books rather quickly in those first couple years.

But who cares? What does it matter? The only people concerned about when I turn in a ms and how long that particular book took me to write are my editor and my agent. And the editor and agent—both of whom I’ve worked with for decades—know the work I turn in is mine alone.

I write how I write, and I write alone. I don’t collaborate or brainstorm or partner. I write solo because that’s my process. I don’t have staff, researchers, assistants, because I don’t want them. I work alone, which I find one of the great beauties of my craft.

If a book has my name on it, I wrote it—every damn word. That’s the Alpha and Omega.

Some say: She’s written over 200 books! Impossible.

No, it’s not. Not when I write six to eight hours a day, five to six days a week. That’s my choice, it’s how I work, and what works for me. It’s my process and process is individual to every writer. What’s right for one isn’t for another. We’re not the Borg.

My pace is MY pace, not anyone else’s.

I don’t do a lot of social media—my choice, my particular wiring. So I have the amazing Laura—who has her own space in her own house—to take care of the bulk of that.

I don’t do a lot of socializing (even pre-COVID). My choice, my wiring. I don’t take long breaks between books because I don’t want to. The next story is tugging at me.

I do what I do, and I like it—and it’s no one’s business but mine.

I don’t diss other writers on social media. I think it’s tacky and graceless. But if another writer wants to claim my books suck, okay. That’s opinion. Certainly if a reader wants to say so, or express disappointment in any of my books, they’re entitled. I stay off reader boards because they should be free to express those opinions without a writer wading in to snap at them or argue or attempt to intimidate.

That’s my opinion.

But no one’s entitled to call me a liar or a cheat. No one’s entitled to lie about me and imply or say I use ghosts. I will stand up for myself and my work.

And when a ghostwriter takes to social media to whine, that’s also a choice. But not when they whine about me. They don’t know me, and I have nothing to do with their choices—and ghosting is a choice.

To a statement like: If Nora Roberts and I wrote the exact same book hers would sell a lot more, first I say: Duh.

I say Duh because I’ve spend four freaking decades building a career, a following, a reputation, connections with publishers and readers. So duh.

But over and above, this is a stupid, foolish and ignorant statement because NO two writers would ever write the same book. Doesn’t work like that. We aren’t in each other’s heads, we all have our own creative path, our own style, our own voice.

No one creative would make such an asinine comparison, which only smacks of jealousy and a lack of understanding of how publishing actually works.

And, sister, you made a choice to take a ghostwriting job. Your reasons are your own, and I don’t question or criticize them—because that’s your personal business. However.

 Did you take a payment for the ghosting? Did you agree to terms and cash a check for the work you did?

Now if the person who hired you didn’t pay you, or agreed to give you credit and didn’t follow through, you’ve got a legitimate complaint. But if you took the money and agreed—as the term ghost implies—to forfeit any credit—quit your bitching.

And leave me the hell out of it.

Do the work, invest the time, take the risks every writer takes, deal with the rejections and disappointments and push on. That’s how it’s done.

Write. Spend more time writing and a lot less whining on social media—and trying to take shots at another writer or the realities of the industry itself.

A couple weeks ago I had another bout of vertigo—which sucks beyond the telling of it. The first day, after a few hours flat out, I could sit up. I thought: Hmmm, and asked BW to bring down my Surface and flash drive because maybe I could work in bed.

Found out quickly that was a big no.

Day Two, better, try again. And I found I could write a couple hours. Couldn’t stand up without everything spinning, but sitting was okay.

Day Three, a little better yet, so a full day of work—in bed because walking felt like walking on the deck of a ship in high seas.

I worked because I wanted to work, because I have a deadline, because it’s my job. And then somebody who know nothing about me but my name implies I don’t do my own work.

So it’s very personal for me.

Every time a zombie like this pops up, I will aim for the head.

I’d like to ask you to join the army. If you see anyone on social media claiming I use ghosts, insisting I must, please let us know.

I’m not going to be shy about swinging my metaphorical axe at their head.

I’ll try to write a more cheerful and chatty blog next time out, but to catch you up with my world….

Logan is now a licensed driver (!!!!)

Kayla continues to do very well in college.

On-line school has in no way defeated Colt—Mr. Straight As.

And Griffin, as always, is adorable and full of fun.

BW and I get our second vaccine shot in about a week—what a big relief.

Lots of snow here, and we’re going nowhere. Which means plenty of writing time for me.

Alone.

Nora


On Readers, Writers and Ghosts (August 2014)

How it all Works (for Nora) (November 2014)

The Cranky Publicist answers another question (Feb. 2016)

Price Points, Discounts, Sales! (Feb 2016)

Writers are People Too (December 2017)

Mob Rule by Social Media (December 2018)

The process after the writing (October 2018)

Here’s how I Work (March 2019)

Faithless in Death teasers

For the first time in about a decade, the US and UK/IR/AU/NZ/SA release dates don’t line up for an In Death. St. Martin’s Press had to push the release to Feb. 9, while readers in other countries were able to start on Feb. 2.

I will post teasers for the next four days — as usual these are little things to look for as you race through Faithless in Death. This is NOT the discussion thread. Any/all spoilers will be deleted immediately. I will open the discussion thread early on February 9.

Book description:

Faithless opens on a lover’s quarrel turned fatal, but Eve quickly realizes there are larger and more terrifying motives behind it. 

The scene in the West Village studio appears to be classic crime-of-passion: two wineglasses by the bed, music playing, and a young sculptor named Ariel Byrd with the back of her head bashed in. But when Eve tracks down the Upper East Side woman who called 911, the details don’t add up. Gwen Huffman is wealthy, elegant, and sheds tears over the trauma of finding the body.  But why did it take an hour to report it? And why is she lying about little things?

As Eve and her team look into Gwen, her past, and the people around her, they find the lies are about more than murder. As with sculpture, they need to chip away at the layers of deception to find the shape within.  In this case, that shape involves a sinister, fanatical group and a stunning criminal conspiracy.

Here’s the first of the teasers, I will post one a day until Saturday.

Wednesday, Feb. 3
We learn there may be physical limitations to wiggle/toss actions.
We learn Trina may be generous but that doesn’t quite offset her pushy/bossy/scary side.
We learn Det. Carmichael’s theory as to why vending machines hate Eve.

Thursday, Feb 4
Sorry gang, there was an issue posting yesterday. Here are the 3 teasers.
We learn Eve can see a surprise coming from a mile away.
But we also learn Summerset knows all the surprises.
We learn what Eve really eats for breakfast.

Friday, Feb 5
We learn Mira weighed choices on her dissertation.
We learn that while kids are not her thing, Eve aces playground duty.
We learn that all Marriage Rules are different.

Monday, February 8
We’ll end with a question and two comments:
Is Eve ever out of cop mode?
Yancy is a credit to his rank.
Dochas is a place of beauty both in plan and in action.

Legacy excerpt

I’m writing this post on Groundhog’s Day (though we’ve pretty much experienced THAT for 11 months, right?) and it looks like six more weeks of winter. But that doesn’t mean we can’t dream about reading under warm, sunny skies while sipping a cool beverage, right?

Unless, of course, you’re in the southern hemisphere and dream of cold days and warm cocoa.

Personally, I think Legacy (out May 23) fits the bill for any kind of reading experience and I’m pleased to share the first chapter.

The official cover copy reads:

Adrian Rizzo met her father for the first time when she was seven.  It was the same day he nearly killed her mother, Lina.

A decade later, Adrian is as cool-headed and ambitious as her mother. They aren’t close, but they’re cordial as long as neither crosses the other. And then the vicious letters begin to arrive.  While Lina dismisses the death threats as a routine part of her daughter’s growing celebrity, Adrian can’t help but find the vicious rhymes unsettling.

Year after year, they arrive with different postmarks, but the same menacing tone.

Sometimes it even seems like the terrifying messages are indeed routine, like nothing will come of them. Until the murders start, and the escalation begins.

You can find the excerpt here: Legacy.

Enjoy!

Laura

A Statement from Nora

To set the scene for this post: Early this evening, I shared the news on Facebook that Nora’s Brazen Virtue will be adapted for a Netflix movie and provided a link to The Hollywood Reporter which broke the story.

Within seconds the reaction came — and completely shocked me. So much outright hatred for the actress. Nearly 1,000 comments in an hour with a large majority making rude, inflammatory comments about Alyssa Milano and how they would never watch the film. Ever.

I gave Nora a heads up about the comments and what she saw and read stunned her. So much so, she wrote a statement for Facebook and asked me to post it here as well. ~Laura

I’ve read many of the comments on Laura’s announcement of the Brazen Virtue adaption for Netflix, starring Alyssa Milano. And I’m simply and sincerely appalled.

The vitriol, the hatred, the anger, the bitterness and the demands are astounding to me.

By and large I keep politics off my pages. That’s my choice. Now many readers have dragged their own onto this page, so I’m going to state, for the record: I’m a liberal Democrat. Always have been, always will be. And as one, I’ve always believed everyone has a right to their political beliefs, and has a right to express their opinions. But I don’t have to tolerate insults and ugliness on my page.

For those who want to claim Freedom of Speech—look it up. This FB page isn’t the government. Some have comments on here using ‘liberal’ as a slur, an insult, equating it with communism. Others have used outright slurs against an actress, while claiming she should keep her opinions to herself. (No doubt those same people would be quick to assert their own First Amendment rights.)

Some will never read me again because Milano will headline this adaption. One reader stated she intended to BURN all my books in her collection for this choice of actress.

Think about that. Burning books. Get a visual? I sure do.

Another claims she can only support ‘like-minded’ artists. Really? I only imagine the books, songs, movies I’d have missed if I felt this way and refused to read, watch, listen to those who contributed to or performed them who hold different political viewpoints from my own.

Over this past long, hard year, we’ve lost over 400,000 friends, loved ones, neighbors to COVID. We’ve been isolated from each other, and I for one yearn for the company of my pals again. I wonder, truly, why this grief, this hardship hasn’t taught so many of us we need each other. Instead, as illustrated by that comment section, it’s hardened far too many into an us and them mentality.


The viciousness I read in too many comments below hurts my heart. And realizing because I’m a liberal Democrat, many of those comments are directed at me for that reason alone is a real eye-opener.

Watch the movie when it comes out, or don’t. But lobbing nastiness at an actress or threatening me doesn’t do anything but illustrate your own limitations.

Nora

I’m Ready!

The last little package arrived. I’ll gift bag that sucker and be done with the wrapping, ribboning, bowing and tagging.

Gifts to pals I won’t see this year, shipped weeks ago, and most landed where they’re meant to be.

Tree up, mantels dressed, candles lit.

Thanks to Kayla and a marathon baking day, we have tons of cookies. I stood as baker’s assistant while she did the real work–and a lot of work it was. Also delicious.

Getting Grandda into the act
Cookie Boss

 I’ll sneak in a Nana brag as our college girl got her grades. Straight As. 

We had a really fun, laborious day together. I miss seeing my grandboys, and having the gang baking in the kitchen. Next year–I hold onto next year.

I miss holiday celebrations and time with my friends. Next year.

Obviously, we won’t have our big bash of a New Year’s Day Open House this year. But next year.

And I admit, sometimes it gets me down. It’s hard not to hang out with friends and family, hard to cut out long-held traditions, hard to give up all those personal contacts, the hugs, the laughs, the simple, basic pleasure of being together. 

But next year.

I’ve got plenty of work to keep me busy. Writing, for me, has always been a blessing, but maybe never as much as in 2020. It gets me going in the morning, helps keep me from dwelling–too much–on everything else.

Then there’s the weekend cleaning/cooking/baking routine. It helps, too.

But boy, will I happily pass my toilet brush to someone else next year.I’ll buy them new ones! Gold-plated toilet brushes if they want. And shiny silver buckets, jewel-encrusted scrub brushes! Whatever it takes.

Meanwhile, it all keeps me busy, and somewhat sane.

Last week’s snowday view.

Also keeping us busy around here is Parker who had surgery last week for a torn ankle tendon. He’s recovering well, but JESUS! he now requires pretty much constant care. No opening the door so the dogs can stroll out and do what they do. Bag that cast, use a leash, walk him out, try to avoid having the Cone Of Shame bash you in the calves and shins. 

Parker and his new accessory.

He and Atticus both have the sads over the situation. But this, too, will pass. Next year.

Meanwhile meanwhile, the house is festive, and that perks me up.

Best, Jason, Kat and Griffin will come for Christmas as we’ve continued our careful bubble. I’m incredibly lucky there. We’ll have a late brunch once they get here, then tear into the presents. And won’t it be fun to watch a two-year old discover new toys under the tree?

Since Kat can’t eat mammals (reaction to a tick bite) we’ll have lasagna for dinner–with a salad bar to start, garlic bread from the Italian bread I baked last weekend, and an ice cream bar for dessert.

Then we’ll watch the new Wonder Woman. Yay!!

Not our usual Christmas, but we’ll make it happy. Then there’s next year. Next year, Kayla won’t have to haul all the gifts from here to her family because we’ll all be together. We’ll be together–family and friends–because we’re apart now keeping each other safe. And that’s the most loving thing we can do.

I’m wishing all our health care workers, our first responders, teachers, front line workers, delivery workers, USPS workers, grocery workers, and all those who’ve done so much, worked so hard to keep us all safe, to care for us, to keep it all going the best holiday possible. And a better, brighter new year.

I wish the same for all of you.

When I light my candles tonight, I’ll light them with that wish for all.

Next year will be better, and it will be brighter. But for now, we’ll make the now as solid and safe and shiny as we can.

Nora

Back To Our Regularly Scheduled

So that* happened.

And before it did, I’d planned to blog a bit about our holiday feast.

Your monthly dose of Griffin

In the time of Covid, we’re focused on staying safe. We have a bubble going with Jason, Kat and Griffin with all the adults working at home, not going out other than when necessary. Masks, sanitizer, hand washing, and all of it.

2021 has to be better, and we all want to get there.

Kayla’s also part of our bubble when she’s here. Before she drove home from college, she and her dorm mates got tested, then switched to all on-line classes to self-quarantine. They didn’t want to bring anything home but themselves.

Smart girls!

So we could have our little group for our big feast.

And I had a lot of help in the kitchen.

Pie baking—apple and pumpkin on Wednesday, and a pasta meal.

The most efficient diner in the house.

Griffin turned two the end of October, and he’s spent about ten months now at home, just his parents. We didn’t see them for the first three or four months of the pandemic, so the boy and I had to inch our way back. It’s a long time in a toddler’s life.

He’d play on the floor with me, walk outside, babble. But I was not allowed to pick him up or hold him. Uh-uh, Mom or Dad only! So no snuggles through spring, summer, into the fall.

We had a breakthrough—more to be grateful for. Last October I bought him this crazy little robot toy on the way to New York. It plays an incredibly repetitive nonsense song while it dances around and shoots out light.

At one, it terrified him. So away it went.

Now, he’s two, so let’s see what he thinks of it.

Interesting….let me stand way over here and observe it. Okay, now I must touch. And laugh. And dance. Nana dances, too. And for the first time since February, he wants me to pick him up. And we dance with the robot.

I lift weights three times a week, but the boy weighs 35 dense pounds. As my arms give out, I think we’ll sit on this kitchen stool and watch the robot.

No, we won’t! Dance, Nana, dance. And I get a hug for it.

Worth spaghetti arms.

A bonus for the feast.

We’ve got turkey, stuffing—and a meatless dressing for our veggie. Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, roasted Brussel sprouts, roasted cauliflower—much peeled and chopped by Jason, veggies roasted by Kat as I handled making the gravy and other dishes. Homemade cranberry sauce, succotash, deviled eggs, a pretty round of sour dough bread.

A thankful meal

Pie for days.

Nobody went hungry.

Before and after I’ve been at the keyboard through the week, working out after the writing day, then, with zombie book brain, signing tubs of books from TTP, and crashing.

On weekends, since we’re still stuck in COVID, it’s clean. No more weekly housekeeper—not since March. So I scrub toilets and floors and all the rest with my faithful sidekick BW. And I cook, and I bake.

Trying some new breads—and as Jason has become a pandemic bread baker, or as Kat calls him The Bread Wizard—we’ve exchanged recipes.

I made his Irish Soda bread—yum! Then tried my hand at Stottie bread. Also yum.

Irish soda bread.

 

Stottie bread
Italian bread

And since Christmas is coming, I shop on line.

Which is finished!!!!

Since it’s finished, there’s wrapping (Kayla’s helping!) gift bagging, and shortly shipping gifts to pals I can’t gather with this holiday. I miss them!

And there’s decorating. We all need some cheer, especially in 2020. I’ve got a start on that, and will likely finish this weekend.

Just the start of the display

It’ll be a quieter Christmas than usual, with no New Year’s Day Open House to follow. But we’ll stay safe, look out for each other, take the blessings we have and treasure them.

Wishing the same for all of you through the holiday season and beyond.

2021 can’t possible suck this much.

Nora


*What happened? Basically, comments in The Awakening discussion thread were picked up on Twitter and six days after Nora dealt with the issue, we had a blog breakdown from all the people rushing in to read the comments. No need to add anything, just filling you in. ~Laura