A surprise for this Sunday — I’m pleased to present the cover of Nora’s next summer book, Nightwork — out May 24, 2022.
Here’s the official cover copy:
Harry Booth started stealing at nine to keep a roof over his ailing mother’s head, slipping into luxurious, empty homes at night to find items he could trade for precious cash. When his mother finally succumbed to cancer, he left Chicago—but kept up his nightwork.
Wandering from the Outer Banks to Savannah to New Orleans, he dons new identities and stays careful, observant, distant. He can’t afford to attract attention—or get attached. Still, he can’t help letting his guard down when he meets Miranda Emerson. But the powerful bond between them cannot last—because not all thieves follow Harry’s code of honor. Some pay others to take risks so they can hoard more treasures. Some are driven by a desire to own people the way they own paintings and jewels. And after Harry takes a lucrative job commissioned by Carter LaPorte, LaPorte sees a tool he can use, and decides he wants to own Harry.
The man is a predator more frightening than the alligators that haunt the bayou—and when he strongarms Harry into robbing a Baltimore museum, Harry abandons Miranda—cruelly, with no explanation—and disappears. But no matter what name he uses or where he goes, LaPorte casts a shadow over Harry’s life. To truly free himself, he must face down his enemy once and for all. Only then can he hope to possess something more valuable than anything he has ever stolen…
US and Canadian readers can pre-order from the following links:
After the relatively silent summer, Nora and I batted around ideas to fill in the gaps between book excerpts and discussions.
All the outside sources that inspired posts of the past have dried up. Nora’s taken fewer trips in the last year. Signings remain on hold until at least 2022.
And honestly, while you all admire her adherence to routine, there’s only so many times Nora wants to write about work, workouts, cooking or the glamour of scooping poop (which is happening now as BW is away for a week).
So this feature could fill the gap. Just small peeks into the past and the present. Some days it will be Nora centric. Others it may be Laura centric. We’ll just see how it goes.
In today’s back story, did you know Nora got a 4th tattoo just after spa week? * I’m not sure we shared that or a photo, so here you go.
Word is this was the most painful yet.
Do you have any tattoos? Or one you dream of? Share in the comments.
*the others are a Celtic knot on an ankle, Ohm on a shoulder and the five-fold symbol on a forearm.
I know I’m in the minority being sorry to say goodbye to summer heat. But I like September fine. My garden’s still blooming, and the sun’s finally shining again after a deluge of rain. We’re still seeing hummingbirds visiting their feeders or having a taste of my flowers.
I’ll miss all of that when winter blows in, so I’ll enjoy every minute of it I can while it lasts.
As all of us but the two youngest, not-yet-eligble grandkids are vaxxed, we were able to do some carefully selected traveling this summer. Not yet the long-promised trip to Italy for Kayla (hopefully next summer!) but fun family and/or friends time.
But mostly it’s been at-home, and the bright side—-because you have to find it—was more time for the gardens, for the work, more books to read and shows to watch.
My routine is just basically my always routine. Work, work-out, walk the gardens, cook, veg out. So it’s hard to complain when I have a house and grounds I love, work I love, and family and friends who are safe and well.
But, I can bitch a little!
More at-home time occasionally leads to a quick skim of social media where I find someone posting they’re looking forward to me and my 274 pseudonyms retiring. First, I have ONE pseudonym. One. About 40–count them, 40–years ago I used the name Jill March to sell one story to a long-defunct outlet. Used it once and never again. About 30-odd years ago I used the name Sarah Hardesty to publish ONE book in Great Britain because my publisher there insisted my readers would be confused as it was a historical. I pushed back, but I didn’t have the clout to push hard enough. And they soon realized I was right, then were wrong, and that was the end of Sarah Hardesty.
So one pseudonym with J.D. Robb, and that’s it. Other than you’re wrong to this idiot poster, I’d like to add: Bite me regarding retirement. You’re not in competition with me, nor me with you. The only person a writer should compete with is herself—trying to write a better book every time.
Or there’s the inevitable sad (or angry) demand that I stop using swear words in my books. It can be a religious thing: You have to stop taking the Lord’s name in vain! Or a prissy thing: It does your work no credit to use the F word. And usually followed by mini lecture, and often the claim that people don’t talk that way. To which I call bullshit. Yes, bullshit. And to these people I say, please don’t push your personal morals on me or my characters. Find someone else to read if it upsets you. There are lots and lots and lots of books to choose from.
Of course, there’s always the: I KNOW she uses a ghost writer routine. I know this because—no way she’s written that many, because her last book didn’t sound like her to me, because somebody on-line said so, because, because. To those who make this aggravating and false claim, I suggest you spend more time writing your own book.
It bounces around regularly that I chose the name J.D. Robb to hide the fact I’m a woman. Wrong. Absolutely wrong. I chose it because I wanted to use my sons’ initials—and I thought it sounded cool. That’s it. It’s always amazing to me that people who don’t know me, at all, claim to know the workings of my mind.
There’s more, of course, but more would turn this blog into a rant. I’ve concluded that lots and lots of people simply have too much time on their hands—sometimes that includes me!
I’m using some of that time on this September Sunday to work out—already done—walk the garden and cut some flowers for inside—check!—write this blog—almost there—then settle down to some on-line Christmas shopping. Should be fun. Then this evening I’m roasting a pork loin currently marinating, some roasted potatoes, and we’ll have some of the fresh local corn on the cob with that.
That sounds like a happier use of my time than rolling my eyes over someone’s weird-ass social media post.
And Monday morning, I’ll be back at my keyboard—not retired—writing my own book—by myself—which will surely include swear words. Since it’s a Robb I’m working on, let me be clear. I’m a woman.
I know you’ve been waiting for a peek at The Becoming, book 2 of The Dragon Heart Legacy, and that time has come!
First, the official description:
The world of magick and the world of man have long been estranged. But some – like Breen Siobhan Kelly – can walk between the two. She has just returned to Talamh, with her friend, Marco, who’s dazzled and disoriented by this realm–a place filled with dragons and faeries and mermaids (but no WiFi, to his chagrin). In Talamh, Breen is not the ordinary young schoolteacher he knew her as. Here she is learning to embrace the powers of her true identity. Marco is welcomed kindly by her people–and by Keegan, leader of the Fey. Keegan has trained Breen as a warrior, and his yearning for her has grown along with his admiration of her strength and skills.
But one member of Breen’s bloodline is not there to embrace her. Her grandfather, the outcast god Odran, plots to destroy Talamh–and now all must unite to defeat his dark forces. There will be losses and sorrows, betrayal and bloodshed. But through it, Breen Siobhan Kelly will take the next step on the journey to becoming all that she was born to be.
Less than a week until Forgotten in Death is on shelves, e-readers, audio players, you name it. That means it’s time for a few teasers — little things to look for throughout the book. None of these spoil the plot, they are just nuggets of fun.
First, though, here’s the description:
The body was left in a dumpster like so much trash, the victim a woman of no fixed address, known for offering paper flowers in return for spare change–and for keeping the cops informed of any infractions she witnessed on the street. But the notebook where she scribbled her intel is nowhere to be found.
Then Eve is summoned away to a nearby building site to view more remains–in this case decades old, adorned with gold jewelry and fine clothing–unearthed by recent construction work. She isn’t happy when she realizes that the scene of the crime belongs to her husband, Roarke–not that it should surprise her, since the Irish billionaire owns a good chunk of New York. Now Eve must enter a complex world of real estate development, family history, shady deals, and shocking secrets to find justice for two women whose lives were thrown away…
I’ll post several teasers over the next few days. So stay tuned.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 1
1. So…maybe the vid is not so bad if it gets you the proper coffee order. 2. Roarke is a popular man in several departments. 3. We get an IHP update (and I’m not going to spell out the acronym)
THURSDAY, SEPT 2 1. He may now be legit, but Roarke can still admire talent on the other side. 2. Mamas do, indeed, have their GD ways. 3. Reinforcement that at least the Icove vid will bring out the good coffee. Plus it’s never going to end since the Red Horse Legacy is making the rounds.
FRIDAY, SEPT 3 1. The visitor chair creates some interesting office moments. 2. Peabody channels Roarke. 3. The fairies have widened their scope at the house.
I’m going to be honest here, Forgotten is now in my top five In Deaths. It was hard to pull teasers because it’s fast-paced from the opening scene so choosing the wrong thing would break my line in the sand of spoiling. I’ll simply say there are some new and interesting connections, some very intriguing contrasts of homes and some smart girl maneuvers. Hope you all like it.
Well, it’s been a long while since Nora or I posted here — as a worried Sue King mentioned in an email yesterday. While life has handed out a few surprises in August, we’re both fine. I think the slow, hot and humid days have made time blur even more than it did in the winter. Or at least that’s how it feels to me.
We were able to take our annual trip to The Greenbrier in the middle of July. Our little group drove down on a Sunday with two cars packed high — though admittedly with far less stuff than our May trip to the spa.
The Windsor Club concierge team greeted us at the lobby door, then walked us over to The Presidential Suite. One step in and I swear everyone (including the ghosts) took a deep breath and just let go of any tension. I’d emailed in our dinner order so first night was a matter of unpacking, then sitting on the patio sipping champagne.
[It’s important to mention here that the first half of this post is very Laura-centric because on our first full day at The Greenbrier, I turned 60.]
Bright and early Monday morning, I headed to the concierge to go over a quick list of things before I stopped work for 24 hours (I gave everyone three hours, then would be off until Tuesday). I finished my list and then she said, “Are you the person I spoke to about the special order…”
I held up my hand and said, “I’m the birthday girl, you want to talk to someone else.” I felt a little guilty about it later, but in the moment I was very clear.
I was the only one with a treatment that day (because: birthday) so I headed to the spa area around 11:15. As I limped over (first milestone of 60 looks to be a hip replacement in early 2022) I decided to add a soak in a sulphur bath to help relieve the pain. Texted Sarah (who was playing Laura that day) to say I’d be back for sandals between treatments.
After the 90 minute session, I was relaxed and ready to soak. As I headed up the lawn to the suite’s patio entrance, I idly wondered what everyone was up to.
Opened the door and there were Nora, Kat, Sarah, Kayla and Joanne waiting for me in a wonderland of balloons and Happy Birthday signs, a glass of champagne at the ready. (There are no photos of the moment, but these will do.)
Once I recovered from the surprise, I heard about all the strategies to make this happen. Apparently they were on tenterhooks until I left, but didn’t let down their guard until they knew I was truly gone. Nora and Sarah watched me from the dining room until I disappeared into the main doors.
On Sunday, they’d smuggled the supplies into the spare bedroom and monitored my every movement closely so I wouldn’t inadvertently walk in that room. Which meant when I kept heading down that hall to make sure the hotel tech fixed the lock on JoAnne’s bedroom door, I ratcheted up their tension a thousand-fold.
On Monday, once I was gone, they sprang into action: Kat built the balloon arch, JoAnne created paper flowers, then herded Griffin away from the balloons. Nora, Kayla and Sarah blew up more balloons, hung up more signs. A frenzied 90 minutes for them. A calm one for me. <g>
I sipped champagne in the equally festive dining room and opened my gifts — my gorgeous crown came first. Accepted the love, thanked them all, congratulated them on the fabulous strategies and results. Sarah and Kat said the decorations weren’t what the concierge meant earlier. That was coming.
I decreed we had to dress up that evening, then went back for a soak followed by a nap, before the birthday dinner. The big surprise was a cake made with a recipe from my favorite childhood bakery in Brooklyn, NY (the now defunct Ebinger’s) — yellow cake with a mocha frosting. And it was perfect. Our superstar concierge, Lane, made that one happen when the kitchen initially balked.
After dinner, we drank – a lot. Finally I turned on a Spotify playlist and we danced for over an hour (which helped with Hangover Tuesday). And so I turned 60.
Hangover Tuesday was quiet, but we did start the card games. When my daughter Clare called on Monday, I put her on speaker so everyone could catch up. Just as the called closed, she said “You know, my mom keeps it a secret, but she LOVES games.”
I’ve disowned her. Stupid games.
We traditionally have one day of work at Greenbrier, usually the Wednesday. On the line up this year was an interview with the German podcast Eat, Read, Sleep, filming a video Q&A for Little Brown UK, a photo shoot for new social media pictures and our traditional Facebook Live. I was director and cameraman, the rest of the Smart Girls helped with hair and makeup, and we completed the tasks before our one dinner out in a restaurant. (The rest were on our patio.)
The remainder of the week fell into the tried and true pattern: workouts for Nora and JoAnne, some pool time for Kat and Griffin, reading and puzzles, champagne and conversation for all.
The non-birthday highlight came at the end of the week: glassblowing with the amazing Max Clair at the Virtu studio. We divided into two session with Kayla and Nora going on Saturday; Kat, Sara and I went on Sunday. Kayla wanted to make a paperweight this year. Since she made a paperweight last year, Nora wanted to try blowing a small vase. Kat and Sarah wanted to do some more complex vases this year and I opted for a small pitcher.
You know how things flow when you have a good teacher? I’d say each of us found that flow as Max gave us confidence to build on what we’d done last year. Glassblowing remains a group favorite and stays at the top of our must-do Greenbrier activities going forward.
We finished the week on a different birthday note: ice cream cake for Kayla who would turn 19 after we returned home. Next year, she turns 20 when we’re at Greenbrier. We’ll see what strategies and planning bring for her surprise.
Then it was time for the party to end and head north.
We tend to keep things positive here, but in recapping the summer I have to talk about the good and the bad.
Reality resumed on the way home from Greenbrier. JoAnne is Nora’s lifelong friend and business manager. While driving back they came to the decision for Nora and BW to announce a vaccine mandate for all their Boonsboro businesses. While some employees quickly got their shots this spring, others were hesitant. Watching the numbers increase over the summer, Nora and JoAnne felt a mandate was the best course of action.*
When the announcement came, some employees felt differently. Several abruptly resigned and left in the middle of a shift. Which meant the first week of August was a scramble to find replacements and new hires with JoAnne in the lead on the interview and schedule front.
That Greenbrier Ahhhhh? A thing of the past.
Things seemed to be steady when Nora and BW left for the family week at Nemacolin at the start of the second full week of August. Within 24 hours they received word of a two-alarm fire at Vesta. While the restaurant was closed on a Monday, a crew was in for cleaning in the morning. The fire broke out around 3:30 pm. Two of the residents in the apartments upstairs were home, but got out safely.
The fire has been deemed suspicious and remains under investigation at this point in time. Nora and Bruce have offered a $5,000 reward for anyone giving information that leads to the identity and apprehension of the person or persons responsible for the fire.
While the scene is cleared for repairs, there is no reopen date.
And there you have it FITS family: a rather fun and celebratory July. A nose-to-the-grindstone August.
What’s up going forward here on the blog? We shake off the late summer doldrums next week with teasers for Forgotten in Death followed by the excerpt from The Becoming over Labor Day weekend.
So stay tuned.
We’ll talk soon, Laura
*Please note: Comments are not open to debate about vaccine. Nora and I have clearly shown support for them all along. Any arguments against will be deleted.
I love summer. I like the heat, the sun, the sudden wild storms, the bursting gardens. I love looking out my window and spotting a hummingbird at the feeder, or hovering over my flowers.
Just yesterday while I was deadheading roses, one of these little flying jewels hovered a foot away from me, watching—like: What’re you doing there? Then zipped over to the roses, fed on two or three before zipping up to a tree branch to rest a minute. Before doing it all again.
That’s a summer bright spot in so many ways to me.
I love being able to work all day, get my workout in, then pour myself a glass of wine and wander all around the gardens.
Too often on these happy journeys I rescue a plant Parker has inexplicably pulled out of a pot. And yes, I’ve tried everything. Hot sauce, cayenne, chili powder, dog repellent, etc, etc. He will not be deterred from this strange habit.
BW is building me benches so we can put the pots up higher on the back patio. I’ve already either done this, or tried to block off pots on the lower.
The deer got through all our efforts and munched on a good chunk of Black-Eyed Susans, but I can take it as I have multitudes—so many I plan to dig up twice as many next year as the massive amount I dug up and passed on or transferred this spring.
We’re also going to dig up a whole hell of a bunch of my yellow flags which have gone insane in the last couple of years. They’re crowding out one of my spirea, and blocking the water feature. I’ve got another place in mind for some, and am passing the rest to Jason and Kat who also have a place.
These babies like their feet wet, and since when I planted (a few!) of them a zillion years ago where we have an underground spring, they’ve grown to like it too much.
I’m also enjoying my new patio fountain. Several years ago we were given this great big white stone urn. It’s lovely, but we had no clue what to do with it. We’re just not great big white stone urn people. Then I discovered these solar powered disk things you can put in bird baths or other vessels.
So we did just that. Jason and BW hauled the big-ass (heavy!) urn out of the pool house and onto the lower patio. Filled it with water—and after we’d charged the solar thing, put it in.
We had our little gang up Friday night for pizza, and swimming after. It’s so great to be able to get together like this again, just spend an evening with family, watch the kids have fun.
Griffin also likes the gardens, and wandering (usually at warp speed) around. This weekend he discovered the bench under the huge Black Walnut tree, and spend a lot of time rolling the walnuts Kat would hand him off the bench. Then bouncing them off the end of the bench.
He makes his own fun.
I love spending time on Saturdays weeding my beds, talking to the flowers, deadheading faded blooms to encourage more. It’s not a chore for me, but a total Zen activity.
And I’m rewarded on those walks with wine most every evening.
I hope on this holiday weekend you’re able to—safely—gather with family and friends. And have something that offers you the easy joy my garden offers me.
I’m going to close with the ultimate in Random Katness. Those who followed the travelogue know BW found some buffalo fur in our yard (then Kat found more). Kat, in her Kat way devised a make-shift spinning wheel. (She actually has a real one at home.) She washed and dried the fur, spun it into yarn.
And she made this.
It now resides in our library, and will make me smile every time I see it.
Business day. We have a foundation meeting every quarter, and this one actually makes our spring session. Kat and Jason do the vast—I’m mean vast—bulk of the work. BW, Kayla and I vote on asks and discuss. Kayla also works on projects or finding them.
Griffin gives it up for a nap, and we get started. He’s up by the time we finish—these things take time—but we get it done. Now Jason and Kat will do the rest of the work.
Some packing and organizing. Two weeks is a long time for five adults and a toddler to spread out. There will be multiple Mom Checks of the entire house before we close the door.
But now it’s time to clean up for our last dinner.
We snag our usual pod, and Alaska John takes care of us. Horses graze in the field under sunny skies, and—for the moment—a warm breeze blows. Griffin takes off on an adventure with his parents switching off. He’s not much interested in dinner. Me either after some foundation meeting pizza. But it’s just lovely to sit out in the air, watch the boy, the horses, be with family.
It starts to cool, and we’ve still got gathering up and packing to do.
Back home, several of us are in or around the kitchen doing just that, and I happen to glance over as Griffin pulls open what was the cookie drawer. And pulls out—triumphantly, like Arthur pulling the sword from the stone—the 10-inch kitchen knife Kat sharpened. Housekeeping must have put it there during clean up.
I dive, grab the handle, surely shouted. Kat sees, dives, grabs. This boy is strong, and does his best to yank the knife back. I have an instant of terrible visions of blood and tragedy before we pry his fingers off—he’s even grabbed the blade.
Griffin keeps his fingers—no damage, no blood—and we put the knife way out of reach. It takes awhile for my heart to reach a level beat.
The last Montana Daddy Dance helps.
Cool this morning, and rain coming in. I expect we’ll take off in it—not my favorite thing. All packed up, and about time for those Mom Checks.
It’s been a great two weeks in a beautiful part of a beautiful state. A fun and happy time with family—and that’s so precious. We’ve packed up memories as well as our things, and can pull them out again any time at all.
And a kiss from Griffin to close the travelogue. ~Laura