For a while now, I’ve run book discussions on the two Facebook pages. On the JD Robb page, we take each book and novella in the series in order — slowly. I started this in the fall of 2018 and we’re only up to Imitation in Death. There are pauses for new book information, Nora’s travel, my own travel, but on the whole I stick to the discussion Monday – Friday.
On the Nora page, with a far larger scope of books, I’ve bounced around through the backlist. Shelter in Place was our last discussion and that one took about 6 weeks.
How does it work? I choose quotes from the books, post them — with a comment or question — and let readers chat. It’s not really a book club, more a discussion session.
I recognize there are blog readers who choose not to use Facebook and thought maybe it was time to institute some discussions here.
Share your thoughts in the comments and we’ll see if there’s interest. Once that’s done, I’ll figure out the best way to do this — one post per book with quotes added regularly? Individual posts? The logistics are my area so I’ll consider all the angles.
In the meantime, I did a Facebook live from Inn BoonsBoro the other day and thought you all would enjoy.
At least that’s what I’ve tried to do since getting home from a really lovely, fun, relaxing and adventurous holiday.
Because our summer schedule was packed, we found the only weekend we could manage our annual summer party was the weekend right after we got home.
But we pulled it off with Jason and BW doing the manly outdoor set up and Kat, Kayla and I doing our girl thing in the kitchen. As always Kayla made a pretty–and delicious trifle–and stuck with her nana all day. What can I say about Kat? She’d left her carving tools at home–mom brain will do that–and managed to create a fabulous butterfly (Kayla’s request) fruit salad bowl out of this year’s watermelon with whatever she could find.
A good day with perfect weather, lots of food, lots of friends and family. A really nice way to ease toward the end of summer.
We followed that up–bam-bam–with our September signing at Turn The Page. Scheduling conflicts had my pal JoAnne playing Jason, our wonderful Sarah standing in (and standing is required!) for Laura.
Griffin assisted his mom at the register.
BW left after the signing for his guy week at the beach. Me, I hit my late-summer-shabby garden for some much needed work. I lost count of the number of tubs I filled with weeds and bloomed off flowers.
Then I buckled down for a week of solitude and serious work.
My reward? Finishing the 51st In Death–and no, you don’t get the title yet!
Secondary reward–gobbling up King’s new book, The Institute.
And now, it’s flow back into routine, with Laura back from her adventure in the UK–what a wonderful and fascinating trip she and her dh had.
A new book to start for me while I watch the leaves start to turn and fall outside. I’m going to harvest at least some of my herbs today. That’s a process I find rewarding and sad. Rewarding that I grew those suckers and will now have cubes of them to pop into soups, stews and sauces all winter. Sad because it signals the end–or nearly–of my garden.
For now, we still pick tomatoes and peppers off the vine and bush, and I snip a few blooms to bring indoors. But it’s nearly over, nearly time to put the gardens to bed.
And soon I get to spend a week with Griffin and Company in New York. Our boy’s on the edge of walking, and remains the world’s happiest baby.
But now, it’s time to work out, then harvest those herbs.
Note from Laura: Our adventure was my husband’s dream trip with some wish list items of my own thrown in. Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that the hash tag probably shouldn’t have been #lauraandmarksbigadventure but #canthatsmilegetbigger
I did write out a trip long recap but mainly sent back daily photos as we traveled from Edinburgh — where we stayed at the other end of a much-less-crowded-than-Festival-month Royal Mile.
Then on to a town named Reeth (a familiar name) in the Yorkshire Dales.
Down to Windsor for a delightful visit with the lovely Sarah Morgan and her husband.
The trip home was smooth and Nora sent her “We’re home Mom” text to me by late yesterday afternoon. (Seriously, that’s written into our unwritten rules of working together — tell me when you get there safely. It goes both ways.)
I thought I’d ease you into life empty of daily travelogues with some extra photos and links to places Nora and family visited while they were away.
How does this travelogue thing work, you may wonder. Well, I’m part of a shared Google album to which Nora, Bruce, Jason and Kat upload photos daily. Nora sends me her copy in the morning, then I pick and choose the photos that best fit the narrative. Captions are all mine. Maybe I need to copyright them.
Edinburgh was basically a three-day layover. The comments that followed the posts on Facebook offered a ton of recommendations for places outside of the city, but there was only so much time and Jason was on chaperone duty until the second day. We’ll have to see what calls to Nora when next she feels drawn back to this particular part of the world. I’ll bet it won’t be Fringe Festival time, though. For a person who works in a Fortress of Solitude, the LZW horde used up a lot of her precious I’m around other people energy protection.
The second stop was Sheen Falls in Co. Kerry, Ireland. I find themes emerge during the course of the travelogues. Some years it’s food shots, some years it’s vista shots. This year, obviously, was the pint-sized traveler. Nora and Kat sent some really great flower photos that just didn’t work for most recaps, so I’ll share a few here.
The last time Nora and the Gang stayed at Ashford Castle (in 2015), the estate was in the middle of renovation. I think they got a peek at some of the new rooms while they were there. When I came home last spring with photos and delight in everything Ashford, Nora declared it was past time they went back. And as she wrote in the travelogue about their transition from Kerry to Mayo, something settled deep inside when they arrived at Ashford Castle.
Because even when I’m not there, I’m always there, I chatted with Kate Kerrigan a few days before the Tea. She lunches on the regular with my cousin Annie May Reape, a Mayo Co Councillor. I know Kate’s books because Annie May opened a book signing for her and I saw the footage on FB. When the LB UK team asked me about the right sort of gift for Nora, I told them find something special and local. They approached Kate for Co. Mayo suggestions and one of them was a shawl by Lou Brennan (seen in warm action below). But she only found out the scarf was a go when Kate ran into Lou in town and she mentioned she was making a bespoke scarf for an American writer. It’s the smallest of worlds sometimes.
Part of the editing is fact-checking if a photo doesn’t match a description. Nora wrote that the bakery in Ballinrobe was Divine but I couldn’t find a bakery with that name. Since the gang was already out and about on the next day’s adventure and it went with the copy, I let it ride. It’s actually called Devour. Also appropriate. Link below.
Short workout, pack it all up—and we have a LOT of bags with the five of us. We drive out of Edinburgh in a steady rain. The forecast says we’ll land in the same.
A short flight, but a long process at the airport. Apparently this airport’s particularly finicky so we’re an hour delayed in take off.
Griffin’s thrilled to see his plane girlfriend. He loads on the charm and flirty smiles. I expect, with the weather, the flight will be pretty rough. I’m prepared to use the full power of my mind to keep us up.
And am more than pleasantly surprised when the hour’s flight proves pretty damn smooth.
I risk a glance out the window on our descent—I don’t like to remind myself I’m way up in the air—and there it is! Those stunning shades of green spread in patchwork fields, rich browns tossed in.
Editor note: Kat doesn’t mind looking out the windows.
Another surprise is the sun. It’s breezy, warm and bright in our part of Kerry, so we’ll take that gift.
The air smells gorgeous.
We rent a car, eventually pile in. And off we go for about an hour’s drive to our home for a week.
It’s a lovely drive, shining green under stacked clouds where the sun burns through here, then there. Hills rolling and rising, brown cows, white sheep.
Neat, pretty houses of creams and rose and pale yellows with flowers in the dooryards.
I’ve missed this.
We’re met on arrival, so welcoming, and our mountain of luggage taken care of while we all go out to the hotel’s patio, overlooking the river, for a light lunch.
It’s perfectly beautiful day, and the tea colored fall of water makes its music. Griffin’s fascinated with the little falls, and absolutely cheerful.
He travels better than his nana!
We have a spacious, thatched-roofed cottage here with a river view—and if we get more fine weather, our own patio where we can sit and enjoy.
It feels good to fully unpack, though I need to do a little organizing—but that can wait.
Let’s have some fun exploring the cottage—there’s a bedroom on the ground level where I can set up to work when the mood strikes. A pretty little kitchen should Kat and I have an urge to cook. Lots of room for Griffin to crawl around safely.
And outside the wide river, the green, green trees, the splashes of flowers.
Kat starts some laundry.
The baby takes a late nap—he earned it—but his mama has to get him up for dinner (and so he doesn’t wake at ten and decide it’s party time!)
We have a relaxed, casual meal with Jason and Kat taking turns walking Griffin around and about before the meal comes. He wants to sit with Nana again, and she’s fine with that. He eats like a champ, veggies, chicken, mashed potatoes.
I swear he ate more than I did.
Back home to put Griffin to bed, and the rest of us aren’t far behind him.
Woke to rain. Looks like a damp, breezy day. I’ll likely gear up and go out to walk a bit at some point. We’re thinking of going into Kenmare for shopping and lunch, so we’ll see.
Workout’s done. Kat, BW and Griffin are at breakfast.
Time to clean myself up, do some of that organizing.
It’s good, more than good, to be back in Ireland.
Meanwhile, back in the states an Unsupervised Cranky Publicist kidnapped Flat Nora from Turn the Page Bookstore and took her out on the town.
Last week, my pal Marissa at St. Martin’s Press emailed to ask if I’d boost their latest stroke of genius on Facebook to promote the In Death series: a sweepstakes in which 500 readers receive a connect-the-dot booklet, and one grand prize winner will get a booklet and a signed ARC of Connections. (Sweepstakes link: here )
I agreed, even as I mentally rolled my eyes and shielded my energy. Why? Mainly to not wilt under the inevitable chorus of readers outside the US unhappy with the rules that exclude them.
Recently, the chorus has upped the ante and there have been declarations of “Well I won’t buy your books!” “Why do you hate readers who live in [fill in the blank]?” “Do you know what you can do with your books?” Nora replied “Yes, I can write them.”
And there, my friends is the crux of it all. Nora’s contract with readers is to give them the best book possible, every single time out. That’s it. She works long hours, one book at a time to achieve her end of the bargain. Yes, there may books readers don’t enjoy. But that’s a whole different conversation.
The perception of a writer with a worldwide following such as Nora’s is that one publisher handles all things. Nora has explained this is not the case several time, I’ve explained as well. I’ve added notes to contest information that it can’t be done. But the immediate reaction from readers is pretty much “Why don’t you love MEEEEEEEE?” I’m here to say she does, she upholds her end of the bargain and that’s where the story ends.
Once finished, a book goes off to her US editor. Fairly soon thereafter, it’s off to her UK editor. Each woman works for a different publisher. The covers are different, the distribution is different, the rules are different. For the rest of the world, it all depends on which international publisher has contracted to bring Nora or JD to their particular readership and when. For instance, Brazil brought out the Bride quartet with fun promotion, lots of excitement — 4 years after it came out in the US.
The last In Death to come out to a fairly wide readership was Apprentice. By my count it came out in Czechloslovakia, Poland, Hungary, France, the UK (Ireland/Australia/New Zealand/South Africa) and the US.
Each publisher promoted in the way that worked for their market. At the time, Nora’s US publisher was Putnam and their method of promotion didn’t include giveaways and contests. When she moved to St. Martin’s Press, the team there faced the challenge of rebranding, promoting and publicizing a series 43 books long, with an established reader base. They chose to build the audience with clever, creative sweepstakes.
The one thing they can’t do is offer these creative promotions to readers outside the US, including Canada more often than not. The rules, the laws, governing publishers are specific to each country, global contests are virtually impossible. In a recent conversation with Nora’s new Little Brown editor, she told me that once she’d tried to run a worldwide contest and it fell apart under all the rules. By the way, for a company like Little Brown, contests are geographic as well — a contest in Australia can’t run in South Africa.
My position is different. In a lot of ways, especially with the advent of social media, I’m the axle in the wheel of Nora. She’s one spoke, the publishers are another couple of spokes, readers are spokes. I field questions about books, complaints about print runs, issues with audio books, ebooks, any books. And I turn that information over to the appropriate editor as soon as I’m able.
Believe me, I’ve encouraged non-US publisher to consider contests because at this point in time, readers want them. They consult with their own sales & marketing departments and make their own choices.
Here’s where I empower you to reach out to the publisher in your country. I’ve included websites and the social media pages below and encourage you to speak up. Let them know you want to play, want an option to read a book a little early.
In the meantime, I’m figuring out how to have a worldwide contest through the blog. There are a lot of hoops for me as well, so be patient while I work it all out.
UK/Ireland/Australia/New Zealand/South Africa Publisher site: https://www.littlebrown.co.uk/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/norarobertsjdrobb/
The day Nora and family headed home from Montana, I moved my office to the beach for three weeks. While Nora settled back into her at-home routine, I’d pick up where I left off last year. And start with the sunrise:
Our little place is right on the ocean with steps down to the beach. My favorite part of the outdoor space is the spot at the top of the dune with chairs and a view.
The days at the beach have a basic framework: sunrise watch, work, workout, work, end the afternoon with a book* and a cold drink, watch night fall after dinner. Since I’m not my pal Nora, I head to the nearby Y to workout with other members of humanity. Just before we got here I was released from the post-eye-surgery workout restrictions and I needed to bench press something heavy and sweat through spin.
Two days in, I had the happiest email from Nora. The grandkids came up for dinner the night after they returned for a joyous reunion. Nora swore Logan grew another inch as he swooped toward 9th grade, Kayla had three weeks of cross country practices under her belt and Colt was ready to discuss all the books he’d read in the last three weeks. She spent time in the gardens, baked some bread, shook off the travel fatigue and couldn’t wait until Monday to get in some solid work on In Death #49.
Labor Day meant our kids arrived for the holiday weekend while Nora and BW packed up again for a week in NY. I think I mentioned it’s early this year to clear the decks for Master Yet-to-be-Named Wilder Pong Aufdem-Brinke’s arrival.
The NYC reports included days of hiking in search of remaining Christmas gifts. On a trip to find a new puzzle for Kat, Nora stopped by the Fifth Ave Barnes & Noble on Leverage in Death release day. She surprised (and thrilled) the staff there by signing stock. They shared on all their social media here. I shared it on the various Nora/JD social media as well.
I missed the annual shop and theater trip with Nora’s agent and editor, but Leslie kept me in the loop with photos of footwear Nora found. They saw Waitress, but I’ve yet to hear a review.
In the meantime, I kept to routine.
Nora heads home tomorrow and, other than baby showers, baby arrivals and signings will happily stay put until after Halloween. I have a few more days here, then head home Thursday so I’ll be at Nora’s side at the TTP signing next Saturday.
All signs point to mid-week as the best time to leave because after 18 days with no rain, Florence lurks in the Atlantic:
In the meantime, I’ll watch a couple more sunrises and breathe in the salt air.
* I also read Nalini Singh’s Rebel Hard, Illona Andrew’s Magic Rises and Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians.
I expect one last Montana wrap up post in my inbox today or tomorrow. (There were 20 new photos in the shared album when I got up this morning — the usual indication of a great day.) But since our intrepid travelers gather their gear and head east today while I move Control Central from Maryland to the beach this is a quick break.
Nora could stick to her habit and write up the post before they leave, but I’ll be on the road for six hours starting at 10 am my time so the likelihood of a Montana Day 17 post is tomorrow.
While it’s hard to get over post vacation blues, the fall swings into action with Leverage in Death (and Nora’s fall trip to NY) and doesn’t stop until Of Blood & Bone is in your hands. And, of course, in between the two we’ll meet Young Master Pong Aufdem-Brinke.
I’ll pop in with some beach photos over the next few weeks along with regular updates on books and such. If you’re curious about what I do when Nora’s not around you can follow me on Instagram here. BTW, don’t forget we now have official IG accounts: Nora Roberts and JD Robb. I’m having great fun regramming readers photos of books and where they read them on both pages.
Plus, coming really, really soon: the Of Blood & Bone excerpt.
See you on the beach side! (I’ll be working in the chair to the right.)
Hello from The Greenbrier! This is your friendly Cranky Publicist checking in to assure you all that Nora is alive and well — just finishing a book.
Last summer I noticed moving the “big” book (i.e., Come Sundown, Shelter in Place) from spring to summer meant instead of finishing before summer travel, Nora’s fitting in the finish while traveling. (Remember, she likes to be a year ahead of a release date.)
So what’s new? Well it was my birthday last week. And I’m having cataract surgery next month…
What’s that? You want to know about Nora?
The theme of Nora’s summer is Stop then Go.
After the Kayla’s trip to NYC, Nora had about a week of work before heading off on the annual family trip to the spa. One highlight was group painting night. Fascinating to see how everyone interpreted the picture, isn’t it?
Post-spa, Nora had four days of work before her and BW’s annual summer barbeque. I drove up the day before to serve as line cook and pot washer. I shelled 3 dozen hard-boiled eggs for deviled eggs, while Kayla made the trifle.
Nora? Oh she was there too.
Last week, Nora put in another solid four days on the book before she had to break to pack for our week at Greenbrier. Normally it’s an easy pack but she spent one day of the week shooting video for St. Martin’s Press, so she had to come up with wardrobe for Nora and for JD. She sacrificed a work day because the weekend was devoted to the Turn the Page Anniversary signing.
In another nod to classic writing at the TTP anniversary signing, Barbara Delinskey and Linda Howard visited the store and many happy readers.
You’ll see my reaction to Linda here:
We met sisters and cousins and moms thrilled to be together. Groups of sisters of the heart traveled to Maryland, including this Drink Therapy group from Chicago.
Despite rain setting in halfway through, the energy remained upbeat and excited for the entire 4 hours.
The next day was the Fall Into the Story brunch at Vesta. Nora picked five readers to sit at her table from the bag of raffle tickets then everyone else filled in spaces. I stopped at all the tables to chat, then came back with Nora for more chat and photos.
The brunch culminates in a raffle of baskets from Nora, Turn the Page, Gifts Inn BoonsBoro and Inn BoonsBoro. This year, the raffle raised over $1300 for Set The Stage – a non profit chosen by the Nora Roberts Foundation.
And then we came to The Greenbrier.
Yesterday’s shoot went very smoothly. I can’t show much but these are snaps I put on Instagram.
After Nora finished, we did a quick Facebook Live, then meandered out to watch the Houston Texans arrive for training camp. Nora could not care less about football, but she came along for the walk. Then we paused for a selfie in front of the cameras set up for a press conference with the Texans GM, and the NFL Networks James Palmer joined the snap.
The rest of the week, Nora will go through the final draft of the July 2019 book in the mornings, I’ll catch up with my own work and then we’re off to hang out with our friends.
Once back and after Kayla’s Sweet 16 party, Nora has a solid week of work before she, Bruce, Jason and Kat set off for Montana. Travelogues will again be the order of the day for a couple of weeks next month. Though as I mentioned above and on Facebook Live, I’m having cataract surgery on both eyes, a week apart in August. There may be a delay or two because of recovery, but I plan to keep things moving smoothly while Nora’s in Montana.
And that’s all the Nora updates fit to print.
One last order of business: Five lucky readers will win an advance reader copy of Leverage in Death at the end of St. Martin’s Press new sweepstakes. All the details here: Leverage in Death ARC sweepstakes.
The abbreviated rules of the contest: No purchase necessary. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C. who are age 18 or older and of the legal age of majority. Entry period begins at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on July 16, 2018 and ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on July 29, 2018. Void where prohibited. For full Official Rules, visit https://read.macmillan.com/promo/leverageindeatharcsweeps18. Sponsored by St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
Nora and JD are on Instagram! OK, we’ll be completely transparent here: I’m posting on the Instagram pages. Some people prefer to bypass Facebook but like IG for the photos. Not all the content will repeat on all social media but I think it could be fun to follow. Search for Nora Roberts (@norarobertsauthor) and JD Robb (@jdrobbauthor).
Finally, some #randomkatness (and a repeat photo). Nora mentioned Kat’s design for the baby blanket in the Girls in the Citypost, right? Well not only is she designing it to honor the family that came before the baby, but it’s REVERSIBLE like this one she made for her niece. My mind is completely blown.