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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Did you even doubt I’d miss the FUN (!?!) of spa week? I ended up trading my view of this:
and choice of activities like 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.
(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.
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?
I’m sure you all wonder about the truest harbinger of Spring in these parts: Girls Spa Week. When does it take place? When will all that girl energy flood the posts?
When will Laura have to play games??? (It’s ok to admit that’s what you really want to know.)
The timing is a bit different this year and the fun (is It? Really?) starts this Wednesday. From all reports Nora spent the weekend in the garden and packing. But what of our lovable 2-time Biggest Loser?
Well, I’ve run away. I put an ocean between us and have been in Ireland since just after Easter. I’m scheduled to get home Thursday, do a ton of laundry and then join in the fun (definition – noun: enjoyment, amusement, or light-hearted pleasure.Really????) on Friday. Do you realize how far behind I’ll be?
I went to Donegal for a photo workshop. I visited family in Sligo and Galway. I lifted pints of Smithwicks – more than one. And did the same with Jameson. Now why would I ever want to leave?
Since I trust you all to keep a secret, I’ll just say that Ashford Castle will be the testing ground . It’s our last stop and considering the FUN (definition – adj: amusing, entertaining, or enjoyable) activities that await, I may never leave.
The weather reports called for 60s–and heading toward 70 last week.
It stayed stubbornly in the 50s (if it got there at all) except for one brief, fleeting afternoon, dipping down into the 30s at night. And it rained. It rained again. It rained some more.
But this morning, there’s actual sun instead of gloom. A chilly weekend–again–as we roll toward April, but the sun helps.
Meanwhile my tulip magnolia’s starting to get frisky, showing some pink. Wait! I tell it just wait or you’ll get fried again this year. I hope it listens.
Despite the rain, chill, gloom, we had a fine time last weekend dying eggs with the kids. We tried the shaving cream trick this year–next year Cool Whip because yum. This was a big hit with all–so easy, and messy in a totally fun way. If you haven’t seen this trick, there’s nothing to it. Using a glass baking dish, squirt about an inch of shaving cream (not shaving gel) or spoon Cool Whip into it. Smooth it out, drip food coloring–a couple shades–then using a toothpick and draw horizontal then vertical lines through it. You’re going to want plastic gloves, trust me!
Roll your hard boiled eggs through the cream, set them aside on some cardboard or whatever. Let them dry about ten minutes, and gently wipe with a paper towel.
We used a couple of dishes for more variety of color. Much pleasure in the results.
After egg fun–and kids playing (even teenagers) in the left-over goop–we had family dinner. Jason and Kat came up so a nice gang for our early Easter. My lasagna and garlic bread–I baked Italian bread the day before. A big salad.
Who needs dessert when you have marshmallow Peeps and chocolate?
The weekend before, I braved the outside world to attend the photo exhibit at the inn. A terrific afternoon, so many gorgeous photos of Ireland, and beautifully displayed. Add a little champagne, friendly faces, and it’s a pretty good way to break hibernation.
Congratulations to all the artists! (Especially, of course, BW and Laura.)
This weekend, as March slides into April–and happy Ostara, Easter, Passover–I’m going to burrow in yet again, make some soup since the 60s are still a lovely dream.
But first I’m going to work out, and tell my magnolia to hit the snooze button.