Category Archives: Conversation

Nightwork discussion thread

I know it’s a month off, but I think of release day for Nora’s summer book as the first day of summer (or winter in the southern hemisphere). Nightwork is on shelves now!

Harry Booth started stealing at nine to keep a roof over his ailing mother’s head. He slips into luxurious, empty homes at night to find items he can trade for precious cash for medical bills, the mortgage, for food. When his mother finally succumbed to cancer, he left Chicago—but kept up his nightwork. He developed into a master thief with a code of honor and an expertise in not attracting attention or getting attached.

When he meets Miranda Emerson, the powerful bond between them upends all his rules. But along the way, Booth has made some dangerous associations, including the ruthless Carter LaPorte, who sees Booth as a tool he controls for his own profit. Knowing LaPorte will leverage any personal connection, Booth abandons Miranda for her own safety—cruelly, with no explanation—and disappears.

But the connection between Miranda and Booth is too strong, pulling them inexorably back together. Now Booth must face LaPorte, to truly free himself and Miranda once and for all.

Here’s the place to discuss everything related to Nightwork — so spoilers very much ahead.

Personally, I loved this book so very much. Can’t wait to reread.

Laura

Abandoned in Death Discussion thread

https://www.ttpbooks.com/product/abandoned-in-death-hc-by-j-d-robb-released-02-08-2022-/1699?cs=true&cst=custom

Today’s the day — Abandoned in Death is on shelves and e-readers so you can dig into Eve’s next case.

Here’s the official book description:

This case opens when a woman’s body is found in the early morning, on a bench in a New York City playground. She’s clean, her hair neatly arranged, her makeup carefully applied. But other things are very wrong—like the tattoo and piercings, clearly new. The clothes, decades out of date. The fatal wound hidden beneath a ribbon around her neck. And the note: Bad Mommy, written in crayon as if by a child.

Dr. Mira, the NYPSD’s top profiler, confirms what seems obvious to Eve: They’re dealing with a killer whose childhood involved some sort of trauma—a situation with which Eve is all too familiar. Yet the clues suggest a perpetrator who’d be roughly sixty years old, and there are no records of old crimes with a similar MO. What was the trigger that apparently reopened such an old wound and sent someone over the edge?

When Eve discovers that other young women—who physically resemble the first victim—have vanished, the clock starts ticking louder. But to solve this case she will need to find her way into a hidden place of dim light and concrete, into the distant past, and into the cold depths of a shattered mind.

And now the comments are open for discussion. Did you find any of the teasers – let us know down below.

Laura

New Year, New Page

A quiet, family New Year’s around here, and again no big open house with friends and family. Hopefully next year things will be safe enough for a gathering.

We did go away for a week—rented a house again to be safe—and stayed in. It’s lovely to spend that kind of time with family, and just hang.

The view from the house.

Lots of play with the boy time, jigsaw puzzles, a little work, room service—and a Nana makes spaghetti night. Griffin’s a fan of my pasta!

Busy boy.

BW gave me a weird, fascinating, unstructured jigsaw of a moose for Christmas. This would never, ever, never have been done without Kat, the Queen of Chaos. I helped, but she did the heavy work.

The moose

Griffin really enjoys the vacation space. One morning, BW got up and went downstairs before I set up to work out. I went down to get my caffeine and water, and the lower level is quiet but for Griffin, sitting at the dining room table watching Sesame Street on his iPad. Normally Jason gets up with him in the morning as Kat is on any night duty. (The boy occasionally likes to party at 3 am!)

I had heard what I thought was the boy and his dad tromp up the stairs at about six, and thought nothing of it.

I say hi, get my stuff, wonder where Jason is. Hunt BW up who tells me the boy was playing with his trucks on the couch when he came down. Huh.

I realize he got up, didn’t wake his parents, just came up from the lower level where they all sleep, and entertained himself until someone joined him.

So I made him breakfast, then left him under BW’s watch and went up to work out.

Once home, it’s back to work, and the start of my annual full-house purge.

Making progress! All the Christmas stuff is put away, and that’s an accomplishment. Weekdays are for writing, and progress made there, too. Yay.

I found a jar of applesauce of the counter Fri. BW hunts and gathers, and I cook. If I’m around I help him put groceries away, but he got home with them Fri while I was working out. He left out the applesauce which I decoded as a hint. Applesauce Cake?

So Saturday, after workout, after the purge of the One More Room (and organizing Christmas stuff), my office, I made the cake. The purging’s moving right along since I did a serious job of it the last couple years. And the cake’s a nice reward for both of us.

Applesauce cake!

Today, after workout, it’s bake Italian bread to replenish the supply, and get a tortilla soup simmering. Purge dining room and library while soup is simmering and dough’s rising.

Italian bread stocked up.

Snow—expected—starting falling about the time I took the bread out of the oven. Since we’re going nowhere, it’s very pretty. Falling faster and harder now, but still going nowhere, Sunday chores are done, and the house smells of simmering soup and fresh baked bread.

Tortilla soup!

Please stay safe. If you’re not vaxxed and boosted, get vaxxed and boosted. Our Laura’s had her hip surgery postponed twice since hospitals in our area are overrun with Covid patients—over 90% of them unvaxxed.

Take care of yourselves and everyone else, and let’s make 2022 a lot better than 2021.

Oh, and if you want to watch something to pass the time, check out Brazen on Netflix, based on my Brazen Virtue from way back in 1988! They did some serious updating!

Nora’s view of opening credits.

Good deal!

Nora


I’ll share some Brazen content tomorrow. For now, here’s an off camera pic of the stars.~Laura

The Becoming Discussion Thread

Today’s finally the day we learn more about Breen and Marco’s adventure. The Becoming, book 2 in The Dragon Heart Legacy, has landed in stores, on ereaders, on audio.

Here’s the place to discuss all things about The Becoming. Did you race through? Did you savor? Share all the thoughts in the comments.

And please be aware, spoilers are allowed in the space.

Laura

Top of the In Death charts

While I’m not usually a list person, I know there are readers who love to create/debate/talk about them. So we’re adding another new, occasional feature here: Random Sunday Lists.

In the teasers for Forgotten in Death — which hit #1 on a few best seller lists, thank you all very much — I mentioned it was now in my top five In Death titles.

In the comments to that post, Lori K asked what’s in my top five.

My reply:

These four are set in stone. Number 5 rotates between Conspiracy, Survivor and now Forgotten — depending on the day/mood.

What are your top five In Deaths? Remember there are no rights and no wrongs. It’s just a little fun.

And no whining that I’ve set a limit. <g>

Laura

The Back Story: 9/12/21

Welcome to a new FITS feature: The Back Story. 

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.

Laura

*the others are a Celtic knot on an ankle, Ohm on a shoulder and the five-fold symbol on a forearm.

So September

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.

Nora

A Cranky Publicist Summer Recap

Dear FITS family,

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.

Ahhhh.

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.

A tradition.

[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.)

That arch and my name in silver.

The Dining Room


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.

From left: JoAnne, Kayla, Laura, Griffin, Kat, Sarah, Nora

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.

Sigh,

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.

A kiss from Griffin.

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.

Nora blowing hard while Max keeps a close eye on the glass.
Kat rolling through all the colors.

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.

From left: Laura’s pitcher, Sarah’s b&w vase, Kayla’s paperweight, Nora’s vase, Kat’s rainbow vase.

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.

Balloons down.

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.

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.