Category Archives: Cranky Publicist

Easing into reality

Greetings from the Travelogue Editorial Desk.

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.)

Where’s my sock? Who cares? Nana, we’ve got pizza! Photo by Kat

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

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.

OK, so maybe the photos will all be of Griffin. Photo by Kat
From J and B’s Excellent adventure. Photo by j a-b
Jason’s take on the Scott Monument. photo by j a-b
I think we all need crests on our homes, don’t you? Photo by BW
Looking up. Photo by Kat
Edinburgh blooms. Photo by Kat

Balmoral Hotel
Edinburgh Castle
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Thistle Do Nicely

Co. Kerry, Ireland

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.

More green patchwork from the descent to Ireland. Photo by Kat
Mother, I want to go there. Please convey me. Photo by Kat
Outdoors inside. Photo by Kat
Color on a rainy day. Photo by Kat
From one of Nora’s walkabouts at Sheen Falls. Photo by Nora
Pub night. Photo by Kat.
I can sleep anywhere agree Father and Son. Photo by Nora
Flowers at Carriganass Castle. Photo by Nora
Excuse me, Grandda, but if you don’t look at me, I’ll have to hold your shirt. Photo by Kat

Sheen Falls
Kenmare
Carriganass Castle
Killarney
Rob’s Ranch House, Killarney
Killarney National Park
Torc Waterfall
Flappers in Tulla (No website, but you can see reviews on Trip Advisor)

Co. Mayo, Ireland

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.

Kat’s men changing the tone of the photo. Photo by Nora with Kat’s phone.
Alive alive oh! Alive alive oh! C’mon — Molly Malone popped into your head immediately, right? Photo by Nora/Earworm for the rest of the day from Laura
I used this on the JD Robb instagram account. Moody birds. Photo by Kat
Wilde and Mia — the stars of the show. Photo by j a-b
This? Just my newest accessory. Oh you meant the bird, not the scarf. Photo by j a-b
From Kat’s Galway adventure.
Flowers along the Cong River. Photo by Kat
Tiny friary heading into Cong. Photo by j a-b

Ashford Castle (Click through the site to find information about dining at the Dungeon or Cullens — or the fabulous George V – as well as the Hawk Walk and other estate activities.)
The Lodge at Ashford Castle
Lou Brennan – scarf
Paint Nite:
Inishmaine Abbey
Flannery’s
Devour Bakery
Glebe Stone Circle
Lydon’s Lodge
Killursa Church
Ross Friary
Kinlough Castle

To end this little recap, here are a variety of Griffin photos to tide you over until the next time.

Mom! You’re ruining my contemplative pose. Photo by Kat
Rain. Gravel. Some greenery. Best vacation EVER! Photo by Kat
Exhausted by the fun. Photo by Kat

And finally, here’s Griffin proving he knows who’s in charge of these travelogues.

Laura

Edinburgh to Kerry, Day four

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.

Vibrant green patchwork. Photo by Kat
Cows in the center of the patchwork

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.

Flowing river. Photo by j a-b

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!

He still wants to fly. Photo by Kat

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.

Nora


Meanwhile, back in the states an Unsupervised Cranky Publicist kidnapped Flat Nora from Turn the Page Bookstore and took her out on the town.

To shop at Gifts Inn BoonsBoro…
to shop some more at Josie’s on Main…
eat some Vesta pizza…
and to meet the delighted guests at Inn BoonsBoro.

I obviously have time on my hands. ~L

Connections in Death teasers

By this time next week, the louder clamor will be “What’s next?” * Right now, it’s all about anticipation. Which means it’s time for a few teasers from Connections in Death.

As always, these are not spoilers about the book or important things about characters, just little nuggets to notice on the way to solving the case.

Thursday, January 31
– Eve’s off duty Sundays sound exhausting (to me)
– Every band starts with a name
– Roarke nips nuclear war, Eve Style, in the bud

Friday, February 1
– March’s sheep has nothing over the lion in Eve’s opinion
– Eve practices social niceties, stunning all who know her
– Roarke is briefed on the consequences of fucking Eve over.

Saturday, February 2
– Some evening walks feature pearls and a hole.
– What’s worse: a being a dick or being a crook?
– Peabody obviously practices bad cop so she’s ready when called.

Monday, February 4
I took the post-signing/Super Bowl Sunday off but here are two more:
– Roarke gets an adorbs nickname
– Hey! Eve can think of stuff!

And now, we wait a matter of hours for the release. So that means a new gif, or two:

Is it time???
Waiting…

I’ll add new ones for the next few days, so you’re over-the-top ready for Connections. Oh no, wait! You already are.

Laura

*[Vendetta in Death, September 2019]

Readers, writers and the ties that bind

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/

Poland
Pulisher site: https://www.proszynski.pl/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Proszynski

France
Publisher site: https://www.jailu.com/Nos-auteurs/roberts-nora
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jailu.editions

Czech Republic:
Publisher/distributor site:  www.alpress.cz
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Nakladatelstv%C3%AD-Alpress-196639247048865/

Laura

Cranky Publicist beach update

(Though it’s hard to be cranky at the beach.)

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.

My seat, my mug, a reflection.

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.

Just happened to arrive before I left Maryland.

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.

I’ve got to admit that I crave these.
Because winter is coming.

In the meantime, I kept to routine.

Morning surfer
A short walk to the water.

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:

Unexpected guest

In the meantime, I’ll watch a couple more sunrises and breathe in the salt air.

Fiery sky
Eve Dallas hoodie available at TTP.

Laura

* I also read Nalini Singh’s Rebel Hard, Illona Andrew’s Magic Rises and Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians.

Transition Day

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.)

Laura

The quiet is nearly over

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.

Here she is! Photo by LMR

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?

Fine.

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.

A girl and her trifle. Photo by LMR

Trifle closeup. Photo by LMR

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.

Classic and classy: Linda Howard, Nora, Barbara Delinskey

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.

Someone forgot her shirt, but remembered the wine!

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.

Nora and Nora.

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.

Evening sky over The Greenbrier. Photo by LMR

Yesterday’s shoot went very smoothly.  I can’t show much but these are  snaps I put on Instagram.

Nora prep. Photo by LMR

Post JD Robb prep. Photo by LMR

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.

James Palmer, JoAnn, Nora, Laura and Sarah

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.

Laura

Notes from the Cranky Publicist desk

Time to share some social media updates!  We’ve had two cover reveal videos on Facebook  recently. (The first is also on the  St. Martin’s Press You Tube channel.)

The first for Of Blood & Bone, book 2 in the Chronicles of The One, out December 4.

 

 

You can pre-order Of Blood & Bone at your favorite retailer now:

Turn the Page: http://bit.ly/2FmYnoZ

 

Then, in early 2019, there’s Connections in Death — #48 in the series —  out February 5.

 

Again, you can pre-order everywhere now.

Turn the Page: http://bit.ly/2xcrzjq
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IICyCB
Kindle: https://amzn.to/2xb4Owf
BN: http://bit.ly/2IMTzvA
Nook: http://bit.ly/2×93078
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/2IMbaUg
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2xjlu55
iBooks: https://apple.co/2x9S6Ov
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2xa3rOl

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 City post, 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.

Hope you all have a good weekend.
Laura

Spaaa-tica: A new Queen ascends

and her name is not Laura (though I appreciate everyone’s belief in me).

When last we met, I’d won a round of Just Dance.  I added my sticker to the board (an homage to the nascent dark side) and otherwise turned my back on the Stupid(ish) Scoreboard.

Ignoring the grid turned out to be pretty easy since we had so many wonderful, non-competition distractions.  As mentioned in the past, we all pretty much go our separate ways during the days. Saturday morning, JoAnne, Jeannette and Mary planned to lunch at the casino on the property.   Just before 2 pm, JoAnne texted that Jeannette won big on the $5 slots. Much happy dancing from Nora — along with the strict instructions to come back NOW!

They stayed and won a bit more but the news and excitement spread among us quickly.

Then Kat arrived with her magic fascinator and her thrilling news. (We knew she was pregnant, but waited until the first trimester was cleared to share.)  If all goes according to schedule, Nana will share a birth month with the baby.   As for names, everyone in the room had opinions. For some reason my suggestions of Cornelius or Aloysius were not welcomed with open arms.

Kat and Jason have plenty of time to decide, and in all probability we’ll only share the name when the Young Master arrives.

After painting on Sunday night, we had to get a couple more rounds of games on the record to help Kat and me catch up and to accommodate Pat’s early departure.  Later, we realized that departure was not because of another trip but to flee the scoreboard results (they don’t lie).

Scrabble is either the apex or the nadir of the competition — depending on where you sit by Kat or Elaine or your particular talent in pulling all consonants or all vowels.  I placed a respectable third in my first round and happily retired from the field.

In the end, it came down to Elaine and Kat  (did anyone doubt this?).  They played a Monday night death match semifinal  with Nicole and JoAnne that lasted forever (ok maybe 2 hours).  Since Kat left Tuesday they decided to rest their brains overnight and play the final match on Tuesday morning.

To summarize: Kat played well ahead until — and we can blame pregnancy brain — she left herself wide open for Elaine to put EQUIP on a triple word with triple letter for Q.  While she played valiantly, Kat couldn’t overcome that and Elaine took the Scrabble prize.

The final board. Photo by Mary B.

Tuesday night, Elaine — defending champion btw — faced Sarah in Just Dance and JoAnne in bowling.

Their faces say everything about the dancing — plus Nora just danced for the heck of it.

In the best of three, Elaine barely squeaked by.

Nicole and JoAnne follow the dance. Photo by LMR

After dinner, Elaine and Jo started the final round of bowling.  Remember, friends, that Jo and I have shared Biggest Loser through the years.  This year, she won the wild card round (through bowling) and made the finals in bowling.

Sorry gang, this was my only action shot. Phot by LMR

Elaine was ahead through nine frames and it looked like we’d have an early coronation, but JoAnne bowled four strikes in a row to take that prize!

What to do?  Elaine and JoAnne each had two wins, but there’s only one crown (and necklace that was the ultimate prize).  I reminded Nora that tiebreakers in the past were the mega bowling on Wii — there are more pins to strike every frame.  All agreed that was the way to name the winner.

Long story very short, JoAnne was on fire and won.  And all was right with the world turned upside down.

Pat, btw, was biggest loser in absentia, but I fixed that with some tape and a tablet.

The Queen and the Biggest Loser. Photo by LMR

After that, we celebrated with Reverse Charades — because how else would one end a week of spa and games?

Thus ends another Spa Girl week.  What did we learn this year?  That the scoreboard is stupid if I let it be.  Ignoring is a smart move on my part (ok, and so is a lot of sarcasm).

Everyone is a winner.  Except Pat this year.

And from Ireland to Pennsylvania, sheep are the theme of my spring.

Sheep! PA version. Photo by LMR

Sheep! Connemara version. Photo by LMR

Laura

Spaaa-tica

Dear FITS family,

Did you even doubt I’d miss the FUN (!?!) of spa week?  I ended up trading my view of this:

View on Wednesday’s walk. Photo by LMR

and choice of activities like this:

Meet my new friend Sonora. Photo by LMR

For this:

About 24 hours after getting home, I walked into tea time at the spa and stories of the first 48 hours without me.

Nora bestowed a welcome-to-the-spa boon: a competition free first night.  I know the real reason: Kat (the most beloved person in her world) wouldn’t arrive until Saturday so we would do the first round together.   But I’ll take the stay of competition.

Spa flowers. Photo by LMR

(Random flowers to celebrate.)

Saturday dawned busy with a workout, conversation, whiskey in my oatmeal (a thing I saw at Ashford), conversation and treatments.  Kat arrived, bearing with her the hat she made to wear for the Derby in two weeks.

Yes, she made it.  We knew she’s clever, but this hat outdid every expectation.  So much so, I made everyone try it on.

Formal yoga wear. Photo by LMR

Elaine, in a hat. Photo by LMR

Top: Kat, Nicole, Jeannette
Middle: Pat, Mary, Kat in a hat
Bottom: Sarah, Laura, JoAnne

And then. And then.

I WON a round of Just Dance.  And a prize.  The magic of Ireland may carry me through.

Then a round of Scrabble brought me right back to Earth.

Once I conquer the jet lag, I’ll fill you in a bit more. But a good start, don’t you think?

Laura