Mark your calendars! Nora’s travelogues start promptly tomorrow (Monday, July 3) morning. Stay tuned for the adventure.
Since it’s prime summer reading time in the Northern Hemipshere and snuggle-up by-the-fire reading time in the Southern, I thought I’d share what I’ve read recently.
First up, as to be expected, are Nora’s next three books. To be very honest, I read Payback in Death a while ago — so long that I’ll have to do a reread in order to share teasers in late August. I remember enjoying it — as I do every visit to Eve’s world. Payback is out September 5.
Inheritance — the first book in the Lost Bride Trilogy — is the final book of 2023 and I promise to share all my feelings about it when I open the discussion thread on release day. It’s one of those books that you caution yourself to read slowly, then hurtle to the ending. In a good way. Inheritance is out on November 21.
I’m not sure it’s always fabulous to be so far out on the schedule. Random in Death is the first release for 2024 and boy, is it a good entry. I’ll do a reread when it’s time for teasers but I’ll say this: a good case, some fun character updates. Random in Death is out January 23, 2024 from St. Martin’s Press.
I freely admit to asking for books from people I know when I’ve exhausted Nora’s. Several years ago I discovered (on my own) The Secret Bridesmaid by Katy Birchall about a woman who runs a business posing as a bridesmaid while making sure a wedding runs smoothly. (The text conversations from different weddings are hilarious.) Then she runs into the greatest Bridezilla of them all. Imagine my happiness when I realized Marissa of Team Nora works on Katy’s books! The Wedding Season was a lot of fun last year so I was very happy to grab and early copy of The Last Word. Two people with a tangled past working together in the present? Yes, please and thank you.
I’ve been a huge fan of Erica Bauermeister since reading The School of Essential Ingredients in 2009. Nora’s editor knows this well and sent me a very early copy of No Two Persons in 2022, even though it came out in May of this year. It’s a fascinating book about, well, a book and how it affects a variety of people from the author to readers in their reading lives as well as real lives. I’m not going to adequately explain the premise here because it’s sprawling, yet intimate. Isn’t that what reading is for all of us? NTP is available now.
Ages ago, the universe put Sarah Morgan in my path and I’ve been grateful for 12 years. If you don’t know by now, Sarah’s Christmas books regularly hit the London Times best seller lists. Her lovely summer books now make that list as well. The Island Villa is the story of a wedding on the island of Corfu that changes the relationships between a mother, her daughters and their personal stories of the past. I loved it. But then again, I love Sarah too.
I’ve met a lot of wonderful people through the years whether it’s connected to Nora, reading, conversations about So You Think You Can Dance — I like to talk and meet new people. I met Shauna years ago, then we had that SYTYCD conversation and things settled into place. She’s edited some of my favorite books over the years, including the newest one from Elissa Sussman Once More with Feeling (yes, Nora wrote a book with that title back in the early 80s, but titles are not copywritten). Broadway? Chapters in the past and the present? Antagonistic love story (aka enemies to lovers)? Yes please. Read it in one evening when it came out. Then had a lovely conversation about the book with my daughter.
The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer was an unexpected delight (I found by myself, even though it’s a SMP release). It’s the story of a death doula who may have intimate knowledge of the process of dying, but needs to learn more about the process of living and loving. I read a sample and was immediately drawn in. It’s out now.
My new philosophical question: is it REALLY summer without a delightful book by Katherine Center? I’ll have to say no. Hello Stranger tells the story of an artist dealing with a “temporary” condition called face blindness. As Sadie deals with the condition while trying to still create her art, she learns that blindess can apply to many areas of one’s life. I read it in March (my pals Erica and Marissa have me covered on Katherine’s releases) and loved it. And look for Happiness for Beginners (another Katherine Center favorite of mine) on Netflix in late July.
Nalini’s US readers will get Resonance Surge earlier than expected on July 18. All I’ll say about Resonance Surge (other than I loved it, of course) is that your bear addiction is fully satisfied. IYKYK.
Ever since I read The Switch, I’ve been a Beth O’Leary fan. The Wake-Up Call — a September 26 release — is another entry that will stay on my shelf. I didn’t think I had a subject style, but this is another book with enemies who are coworkers falling in love. It’s also filled with a fun set of secondary characters who propel the story along (plus it’s an early Christmas gift).
A bit of a Christmas caper is The Takedown. I loved the holiday background to a story of Sydney Swift, a woman who’s kept distant from people and relationships to avoid being hurt. When her sister is about to marry into a Boston crime family, that distance dissolves. I’m not always drawn to books about spies, but this one was a lot of fun. Out October 3 from Berkley.
When my friend Erica described Raiders of the Lost Heart, how could I resist? And I learned a bit more about myself as I started another enemies-to-lovers story. (Reading is the key to the soul, and tropes, apparently.) Seriously though, from the cover to the archeology expedition in Mexico to solving the mystery, this was a lot of fun. And hey, a minor hint to where Nora will be on vacation! Raiders of the Lost Heart is out December 5 from Berkley.
Finally, we have Finlay Donovan is Killing it. It was actually released in 2021, but Leslie, Nora’s editor, thought I’d enjoy getting to know Finlay, a very stressed single mom trying to meet her writing deadline. Then, of course, things happen. I raced through it, laughed a lot and really enjoyed how Elle Cosimano built her world. And a ready made backlist? Yes, please and thank you. (This is the first book in the series — #4 will be out early 2024.)
And there you have it. What are you reading these days?
As much as I hoped to return to what we’d have called “regular” posting prior to 2020, there’s an issue that’s now an official part of the rotation: protecting what we read and how we obtain books.
This is an add-on to a post from last fall regarding libraries. This post features books in general.
Late last week, Nora learned from PEN America that a number of her books were banned from school libraries in Martin County, Florida. This includes The Bride Quartet! (?!?!)
She spoke to Greg Sargent of the Washington Post on Thursday and this is the story about the issue: Florida’s book-ban frenzy targets Nora Roberts, and she’s not happy
This morning, Nora was part of a report on banned books on Good Morning America. You can watch the report here: https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/news/video/latest-florida-book-ban-98957581
Earlier in the week, EveryLibrary announced that Nora and The Nora Roberts Family Foundation made a generous donation to the organization to support the launch of Fight For the First, its new advocacy and organizing site with a mission of protecting the First Amendment in libraries across the country.
To quote the press release:
Ms. Roberts, the best-selling author of nearly 250 novels, has long been a champion of intellectual freedom and the importance of libraries as community resources. The Nora Roberts Family Foundation is committed to supporting initiatives that promote literacy, education, and the arts. Ms. Roberts’ donations to the EveryLibrary Institute will help the organization continue its work ensuring that all people have free and open access to information and ideas, and that libraries are able to provide a safe and welcoming space for all. The Foundation’s donation to EveryLibrary reflects its commitment to defending the right to free speech and access to libraries.
EveryLibrary’s mission is to defend and advance library values, including access to information and intellectual freedom.
Today, EveryLibrary launched a new campaign called the #NoraRobertsChallenge which asks readers and authors to join the fight with Nora by making a tax-deductible donation to fight against book bans and challenging friends to do the same.
Again, as the daughter of a librarian and a person who basically spent all my free time in libraries as I grew up, I ask you all to consider the libraries – school and public — in your area. When they are threatened, speak up. It’s the only way to combat the bullies who want to decide what’s best for all.
What’s best for all is the ability to roam the shelves in a library and perhaps luck into a new author who offers thought-provoking ideas. That’s freedom.
(or should I write HELLLLLLLOOOOOOOO – like a shout into a canyon???)
I know it’s been quiet here on Fall into The Story. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes reasons for that – from changing to a new platform to waging a battle against bot registrants to playing with/discarding all manner of new looks to the blog.
I figured since we’re all friends here, I’d invite you into the chaos while I attend to the final details.
A quick update: after Nora’s January post about visiting Nemacolin with family, she’s been deep in work. As usual, she finished the first In Death for 2024 in January. Now she’s deep in the weeds of the 2024 standalone (this year’s standalone, Identity, is out in a month. And the excerpt is here.)
Outside of work ,family events have taken up all her non-writing attention, meaning weekends have not lent themselves to updates. She did complete this year’s whole house purge AND Bruce went on his winter trip for the first time since 2020. (Nora reveled in a Home Alone that featured no mechanical breakdowns in the house.)
Nora, JoAnne and I returned to Nemacolin for a mini-girls spa week in early March. Kayla was able to join us for part of the time – it was her Junior year (!?!!) spring break. We had treatments, a paint night and did a puzzle – though nothing like the 2023 puzzle of cupcakes from hell. Thank goodness. And NO GAMES!!
Nora mentioned to me late last week that she was going to get her hands in the dirt and start The Garden. She’ll share more about that in an upcoming post.
In the meantime, we’re gearing up to attend The Kentucky Derby next week. Two weeks later I’ll be certain to share The Spa-Girls-Face-The-Stupid-Scoreboard™ posts. Then before you know it, it will be time for the 2023 Travelogue! Where’s Nora going this year? Well, I’m not sharing that right now, but I can say that she hasn’t been to this part of the world for over 30 years.
Basically, I have a publishing schedule in mind to carry us through the rest of the year.
We’re also transitioning Nora’s News to a different platform with the help of The Newsletter Ninja. If you are a subscriber already, you will receive an update email about the changeover. Since there are so many names on the list, it’s a slow roll out so be patient! If you haven’t received anything by mid May, let me know at LMReeth@gmail.com so I can forward to Tammy and Stacey. And if you’d like to subscribe go to the Nora Roberts or JD Robb websites, scroll to the bottom and subscribe in the box there.
My plan is to increase the newsletters to monthly. Nora will write the pre-publication ones, while I’ll fill in with other things of interest like audio excerpts or contest. Things that keep you in the loop.
In other housekeeping news, if you’d subscribed to receive emails any time there’s a new FITS post, unfortunately that list disappeared when I brought the blog over from InMotion to WordPress. Please re-subscribe so you get all the posts as they appear.
I’ve been waging war on bots in the user list here for a while. I know I’ve inadvertently erased real accounts in my effort to be rid of invaders. If you have a profile here, could you add your name to the profile? That way I know to keep you on the list.
What else? I’ve been taking photos on walks again. And I’ve been reading a lot this winter.
Which brings me to the final point in this restart post:
Besides Nora’s personal updates, discussion threads, cover reveals and excerpts, what else would you like to see here?
Photos of Nora’s garden just because?
What are you reading or quarterly book recommendation posts?
Share what you want to see post-wise in the comments.
Nora outlined her pre-holiday preparations last week, so I’m certain she’s deep in cookie dough this weekend. Since we have pretty diametically opposed approaches to the holidays, I thought it would be fun to share a diary of my run up to Christmas.
(BTW, You definitely know this is a Laura post since I have the World Cup final on in front of me — like in the featured photo. For those of you who have followed from the first opening tap, hasn’t the beautiful game made this month even more magical?)
November 29 – December 1
Nora and I headed to Tyson’s Corner to meet Kat and Sarah for a couple days of girl time before getting back into the holiday marathon. And back to work.
We arrived at the hotel before noon. Checked in, grabbed some lunch, then meandered through some stores. Nora grabbed new holiday pillows and some other decor (since we all know she finished gift shopping before the 4th of July). Kat was further behind in her holiday prep — an ally! — and she was happy to score some gifts in Crate & Barrel and Sur La Table.
Now, Nora and I have tons in common, but we take divergent paths on sports. She’s a lifelong baseball fan, otherwise sports are white noise in the background. I watch just about everything. As a side note, Sarah is a Washington Commanders fan by birth and a Buffalo Bills fan by marriage (she’s having a fun season) while Kat doesn’t hear white noise when it comes to sports, she hears Mozart on a different frequency altogether.
I’d tracked the US/England World Cup game on my phone while we shopped, so when we got back to the suite, I put it on the TV and sat in a chair so I could face the game. Nora, Sarah, Kat positioned themselves facing each other. I kept the game on mute, though I did emote when necessary. And when the game ended in a tie, not a loss, I did a little happy dance to their complete amusement.
We spend the next day at Saks in Chevy Chase with Azita — Nora’s long time shopper — and the rest of the amazing, enthusiastic team at the store. We shopped a bit, I had a fun session with a Guerlain makeup artist, then we ate lunch serenaded by the lovely Stephanie of Singers & Strings/Next Entertainment on her electric violin. She played for nearly 3 hours — popular music, holiday music — and never missed a note.
After lunch we made Christmas decorations with the very sweet ladies of Coffee & Calligraphy out of Annapolis. We’d fill empty glass containers with bits and pieces of holiday decor, then the the C & C team would write our names on the front, and a tree, star or wreath on the back. They had enough supplies for us to make ornaments for spouses and kids. Kat, as you see in the photo below, sat down and created her own designs for the back of hers.
Then it was back to the hotel for dinner and gifts. Now, for all the snark, I was curious about all the Christmas gift purchases in Italy. Nora found a beautiful red saddle bag for Sarah in Florence (sorry, didn’t snap a photo) and these beautiful earrings she and Kayla deemed “Laura.”
Onto crafts. You’ve all heard the story about Nora being an Earth Mother/Queen of Crafts before she discovered her true creative outlet in writing (for which we are thankful). Prior to winter 1979, she sewed Jason and Dan’s clothes, she did needlecrafts, macrame, pottery, to name a few. Once she wrote that first – never published – book she gave all her craft supplies away.
Me? I’m always game to try a new craft. And fortunately have many like minds in my neighborhood. This year a group of us learned needle felting (I call it stab and gab) and stained glass. Candlemaking and blacksmithing are two we want to try next year. On my own, I have any number of yarn crafts on the needle or hook. Finishing them is a different ball of wool.
My main craft partner in crime is my friend Tara — who I’ll call The Craftinator. Or maybe The Maven of Making. Or maybe just Tara.
Months ago she sent me a link for some Christmas hoop crafts and asked me to file under future Mayhem (our preferred terminology for making things).
Now, I think it’s important to mention that, like Nora, The Craftinator is a woman who starts a project and doesn’t stop until it’s done. (See Nora and writing books one at a time.)
Me? I’m Doug the Dog in UP — show me something shiny, I’ll yelp, “Squirrel!”, drop what I’m doing and focus on the new. Tara will finish a project and I’ll store mine for a later date. (That later date is probably never-ish from the state of my craft closet.)
I sense a theme in my friendships, btw: people who follow through.
This particular December 3, a group gathers in Tara’s craft room — because, of course she has an organized craft space. Five neighbors with glue guns, decorations, battery operated LED lights, Cava and snacks. We started at noon with no real plan other than finishing. While my friends created woodland or bright party scenes, I really just wanted the Zen of wrapping the hoop with jute.
Once done with that, I decided to add a web of lights, then some pearls and felt balls. Mainly, I wanted a wreath for a Reeth (get it?). But I ran out of felt balls to fill it out. Please note, because we are adult women the discussion of needing green balls went downhill. Fast.
The afternoon was a fun one. And here’s what I brought home:
My husband took a long look when I brought it home. “Is that a hexagram?” he asked.
“I think you mean Pentagram,” I replied. “Maybe.”
“Hmmmmm,” was the reply. “What did everyone else make?”
“Well, here’s Tara’s.” I showed him my phone.
He stared at the photo. “And how long did Tara have to do this?”
“The same as me.”
And for the record, here’s what the entire group made:
Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan to re work mine. For Christmas 2023.
On Sunday, most of the same group attended a session on building succulent Christmas. Despite my frustration at getting some of the stems to fit into the mossy base, THIS is a project on display. Batting .500 (so Nora gets the reference).
December 8 – 12
We had an early Christmas with our kids because that worked for everyone’s schedule this year. Having an early celebration made for a very relaxing weekend (and easy travel from Connecticut and LA). Part of the fun was our neighborhood holiday gathering, held outdoors under cafe lights with fire pits and heat lamps.
I returned to my church’s choir in November, just in time to rehearse Christmas music . On this Friday night, we sang at the Sicilian Tenor’s concert at our church, kind of a dress rehearsal for Christmas Eve and Frederick’s Candlelight Tour of Historic Houses of Worship on December 26. (If you live in the area, it’s a wonderful evening of song and food.)
The World Cup final is in the books (what an absolutely beautiful, brutal and amazing match) and I’ve moved over to NFL games for this Sunday afternoon. Nora’s probably still working on cookies.
For those of you lighting the first candles on the menorah tonight, Happy Hanukkah! May your candles burn bright this season.
For those those of you still working toward the Christmas marathon finish line, I’m with you (I need to send cards, calendars and wrap gifts – no biggie).
This is my last personal post of the year, but keep an eye out for a kind of questionnaire post as Nora and I work toward some changes here on Fall Into The Story.
Dear reading pals,
Remember the agonizing days that ensued when you finished the Born in trilogy? Or the Key Trilogy? Or The Inn BoonsBoro trilogy?
Heck, pick any trilogy that you hold dear.
Remember the book hangover? The absolute certainty you’d never meet characters as amazing as the Concannons, or the women of Indulgence or the Montgomery Brothers? That life was bereft of light and laughter now that you didn’t know what would happen in their lives anymore and you were certain Nora NEEDED to provide more?
Even though you could always revisit the books any time you’d like, that first time was finished. And oh, how it hurts to know you can’t read a book for the first time ever again.
But then…you met the Templetons of the Dream trilogy, the valiant Six of The Circle Trilogy, the amazing cousins of The O’Dwyer Trilogy. Or you visited Three Sisters Island…the charming village of Ardmore…watched the world rebuild through The One.
Get the pattern? We all experience deep sadness when we close the final book in a series, sure we’ll never feel that way again.
And then less than a year later, Nora hands us the first book in a new series. I know some wait until all three are out, some will read them on publication day, then reread before the next book. But in the end, all of us will meet a new set of people, even knowing that book hangover awaits at the end of the series.
Isn’t that the reason we all read Nora? How reliably she gives us new, entertaining adventures that only she knows we need to read? (She wrote about trusting her in a post this fall.)
For nearly a week, I’ve seen a ton of comments wanting –no NEEDING — more of the Dragon Heart Legacy. Dig down, it’s wishing for a little more time with characters before saying goodbye.
If you look at the arc of the three books, Nora finished all she set out to do: take a woman who has no knowledge of her tremendous potential and lead us to the point when she knows who she is and what she will do with her life.
There has been loss, there has been sadness, but on the whole Breen made her choices and there is happiness ahead.
Nora took us on that journey and left Breen in a very good place. And we can all use our imagination to think of what happens next.
In my head, I see the comments now:
But Nora wrote a fourth book for The Quinn Brothers!!! Why yes she did. She was very upfront that Seth would get a story — after he’d had time to grow up. So that’s why there’s three years between Inner Harbor (1998) and Chesapeake Blue (2001). Twenty-one years ago.
But Nora wrote four books for The Bride Quartet!!!!
She had a cast of four characters and took them through a year in the life — New Year’s Day to New Year’s Day. Quite honestly, my friends, I could hear the wedding fatigue in her voice when she was in the middle of writing Happy Ever After. Honest to goodness, I experienced ONE real life wedding this year. I’m not sure how she created the details for multiple fictional weddings throughout that series. So when she wrote The End, she meant it.
But Nora wrote novellas!
No, she wrote two very short stories for the now defunct Waldenbooks newsletter which you can find here. The novellas she did write were planned into the writing schedule as a project with friends. And she stopped writing novellas 7 years ago.
Nora of 2022 writes a very different sort of book than the Nora of 2009 who Wedding’d Herself Out writing The Bride Quartet. She’s creating more complex worlds in her trilogies as well as her stand alones. Let’s be real here: she writes two In Deaths a year to vacation with Eve and Roarke in a world she already knows.
It’s a huge compliment for readers to want more of characters and the world you create. Readers have to understand that Nora’s currently deep in the first draft of the first book of the NEXT trilogy and Talamh is firmly in her rearview mirror. It’s been in the rearview mirror since December 2021.
I know a smidgeon of what the next trilogy is about and I think you’ll enjoy it tremendously. Even as we all know I’ll have to re-post this letter in November 2025 when The Lost Bride Trilogy concludes.
We’ve got a lot more fun ahead of us. Let’s keep our eyes on that. And enjoy.
PS. Three posts in a week??? Can the blog be springing back to life? Stay tuned.
A fall trip to New York City is one of Nora’s fondest traditions that dates back to the years of fall book tours. New York would be the last stop on the tour, then BW and the family would meet her at the Palace to relax after weeks on the road. It was the breather before the holidays.
Well, a breather and a chance for Nora to finish her holiday shopping. She still does. [humbug]
Her favorite place to stay is the Champagne Suite at the Palace which is large enough for the entire family to stay comfortably.
Covid interrupted the trip in 2020 and in 2021, the suite was taken for Nora’s dates. This year? She was back, baby. Broadway and dining out remain off the table for now, so BW opted to stay home. Kayla planned to come on her fall break, then had an opportunity to travel with friends. So Nora, Jason, Kat and Griffin rode up in a new-to-them small bus. Everyone was comfortable and Griffin loved it.
I love October in New York for the weather and the sports. My husband and I drove up a day early so we could see the Mets on Saturday night (the only win in the series against the Padres) and then the Jets on Sunday afternoon. We were 2 for 2 for in-person sports so happy, despite the Mets losing the series on Sunday night. We’re native New Yorkers and just keep hold of our teams.
Nora and family arrived Saturday afternoon after creeping so slowly through tunnel traffic I had to leave for Citifield before they reached the hotel. I popped up for a quick hello before football, but didn’t spend time with them until Monday.
It was an absolutely gorgeous October 10 (aka someone’s birthday), even with the Columbus Day Parade screwing up our walk to the new flagship UGG store on Fifth. Nora, Kat and I spent a nice hour wandering, then an enforced 25 minutes watching the parade since we were held at a crosswalk until a break in the marchers.
Once allowed to cross, we headed back to the hotel for a break. Then I had a late lunch with my sister downtown and Nora decided to walk up Madison Avenue on a gift mission.
A side note: Sunday evening, Kat’s nephews and nibling came over from New Jersey with their moms. When they got to the suite, they reported meeting Dennis Quaid in the lobby. Nora replied, “You should have called me – I love Dennis Quaid!!” Please note, I only run into athletes and saw many San Diego Padres and the Cleveland Guardians — also at the Palace.
Back to Monday. We get on at the 53rd floor, then the elevator opened at the 51st and Mr. Quaid walks in, finishing up a conversation with someone who remained on his floor. He was in front of me, looking ahead at the doors — as one does on an elevator. I looked over at Nora who gave me bug-eyes. (Later, Kat said he probably caught us in the reflection of the doors ruining all my fantasies of being cool.)
Dennis Quaid half turns and asks what we’re all doing today. I told him we were riding the elevator until we ran into him. And then we all chatted a bit on the minute long ride. He’s doing a project for HBO Max with Stephen Soderbergh. (Ok, he mentioned Soderbergh and I googled the rest.)
Guess who else is in the project? Timothy Olyphant! We hoped to run into DQ again to find out where Timothy Olyphant is staying. No such luck. But a fun birthday story.
On Tuesday, Nora and Jason took Griffin to the Central Park Zoo. I walked uptown with them to enjoy the lovely morning. Griffin was taking in all the sights and sounds. Every time he heard a horn or a siren he’d yell “Watch out!” as safety always comes first.
When they returned in the afternoon, Nora and Jason reported that Griffin took a couple moments to look over the Spider Web Scramble Net, but once he watched some kids playing, he climbed up and had the best time — never once letting go of his truck.
After nearly an hour, Jason retrieved Griffin so they could take in some more sights at the zoo. That turned into a ramble in the park to find the carousel — which dad and boy enjoyed a lot.
On the walk back, they found a subway stop with Nora’s intials.
In big Griffin news, next week he turns 4 AND starts school!
In Griffin and Nana news, Nora got in an extra 5K steps every day with Griffin — either chasing, racing or playing hide and seek.
Does a Cranky Publicist do any of that? Why no, but we got into a great rhythm of him doing a run and when he’d get near me, I’d ask “Stop or Go?” He’d reply “GO!” and keep on the move. Satisfactory exchange on both sides.
Wednesday was a walk around day. I’ve taken on an intern this year — specifically The Inquisitive Intern, to contrast with a Cranky Publicist. Paige is helping me with some social media graphics as well as behind the scenes research for future updates to the websites and this blog.
We shopped for sneakers for Griffin and more Christmas gifts (bah, humbug) then had an al fresco lunch near Rockefeller Center. Nora and Paige bonded by the time the french fries were served. And you’ll see more of Paige as the year goes by.
Thursday was the only rainy day. Nora, Jason and Kat had a Nora Roberts Family Foundation meeting so I rambled around — down to the Flatiron Building and back up to St. Patrick’s. Then I met my husband for a couple beers at an Irish pub. A perfect NYC day.
Friday was a matter of tying up any loose ends for shopping — which meant a stop at Uniqlo and later Sephora. I also had to show Nora the seasonal decorations on Papillon, a restaurant on 54th street.
That last afternoon, we sat down for a Facebook Live on the JD Robb page — we shared stories about the trip, revealed the title of the September 2023 In Death and answered a few questions. I know it will fill in some of the blanks: https://fb.watch/giBC6xltbK/
A few more favorite photos from the week.
A lovely week indeed.
A Monday afternoon blog post is rare, but I thought this was important.
Last week, The Washington Post ran this story.
Nora was appalled and asked me to find a way for her to help them bridge the gap — personally, not through the Nora Roberts Foundation. I contacted the WaPo reporter who provided me with the GoFundMe information.
Yesterday, Nora made a donation that will make all the difference to the Fund Patmos Library campaign.
Ron French at Bridge Michigan reached out to me after Nora’s donation. Bridge Michigan ran the original story about the Patmos Library being defunded along with several follow-ups on the fundraising campaign.
Ron’s most recent piece went live today: https://www.bridgemi.com/talent-education/romance-author-nora-roberts-helps-save-mi-library-defunded-over-lgbtq-books
I have many emotions about the vote to defund and Nora’s determination to help. When I was 9 years old, the first place I was allowed to talk to on my own was the Brooklyn Public Library. Eight blocks down Fort Hamilton Parkway to the magical place where I could choose my own adventure. Where I could fill up summer days with stories. I went pretty much every day.
My first paying job was working as a page at the South Orange (NJ) Public Library Children’s Room — spent all my college years earning $2.25 (might have been $1.75) an hour so I could be around books. My mom decided after raising seven kids that being a librarian would be a good second career. She was a Children’s Librarian, then the director of the Florham Park (NJ) Public library for over 25 years.
So libraries are in my blood. And the thought that access to the services a library offers and the shelves full of interesting stories could be voted away because people don’t agree with all the information in those books is a nightmare.
I’m grateful Nora stepped up. Thank you emails from librarians have been streaming in.
And lesson learned, I will pay better attention to the salvos fired at the libraries around me so I’m prepared to fight for their right to remain open with access to all.
For those who would like to donate, the link is https://www.gofundme.com/f/fund-patmos-library-for-2023
How have you fared during the dog days of summer? Or the depths of winter, depending on your hemisphere? Nora’s currently with family at the spa while I thought it was time to get a regular summer cold. (Forgot how little fun they are.)
But before either of those things happened, we had some time together at The Greenbrier.
Previously, the resort was such an oasis of cooler weather I’d taken to calling it Brigadoon. Unfortunately the magical properties of Greenbrier weather were no match for the current US summer reality. While we didn’t scorch, we had three solid days of rain along with late afternoons showers on two other days, so patio time was limited severely to a couple hours on arrival day and the last two days. That was a bit sad since we’ve mainly stayed outside/eaten dinner on the patio every visit.
However, the space is big enough that we made our own fun. And there was no thunder and lightning with the rain so Kat and Griffin spent hours at the pool each morning.
A couple days before we headed to the resort, JoAnne sent out a report of filming a Christmas movie at The Greenbrier (rumor is it will be titled Christmas at The Greenbrier).
As we turned on the main drive, there were all the trappings of a traditional Christmas — set among the mid-summer begonias, coleus and hosta.
The main building was decked out for a traditional Christmas, including the ice rink that Greenbrier has November through January (we’re summer visitors, who knew???). We think they are going to CGI the ice.
Pause for a second and consider any bride who dreamed of getting married at The Greenbrier — in the summer — arriving to find it decked for Christmas. Guests were not given a pre-arrival heads up. But plenty of creative families got their holiday card photos taken against the gorgeous Christmas in July set ups.
There was filming in the lobby on our first full day. A couple of us went down to watch for a bit. We didn’t recognize the actors so I’ve taken to checking IMBD for a cast list
The sound guys must be brilliant because they had to deal with a kid screeching in a stroller as his parents — not extras — walked through the lobby off set. Then there was a family coming down the hall, with someone giving instructions that echoed around the tiled lobbby, followed by a yelped “Oh S#*T!” when he saw the crew.
We stayed for three takes. And now we have something to watch in December. The staff didn’t know if it would be Hallmark or Lifetime, so once I know, I’ll share.
On the whole, the Greenbrier stay isn’t one to lend itself to daily travelogues. Nora and JoAnne worked out every morning. I went for walks or the gym. Everyone had books to read. Nora got a little work done. Kayla instructed me and Sarah on Instagram looks. The usual.
Mainly it lends itself to photos.
We had three wonderful sessions with Max at the glassblowing studio. He plans to move on from rural West Virginia this winter so we made the most of our glass time.
Sarah organized trips to the two escape rooms on the property. I declined because it felt too much like a dreaded game.
Though I get credit for playing hearts.
JoAnne was Chief Griffin Companion while the gang escaped from rooms. She was prepared to chase and hide and play, but both times, he opted to deal with his mother’s absence by napping in place.
There was a puzzle. Not as bad as the cupcakes from March, but a hard one. Nora and JoAnne completed it the last day.
Kayla turned 20 while we were there.
There was ghostly activity to entertain everyone. The keys stopped working daily. Nora, Kayla, JoAnne and Kat saw presences in the card room. I did my morning work in there for most of the trip. One morning I heard someone go down the hall to the kitchen. As she came back, Nora said, “Oh, good. A real person.”
Sarah had it the worst as a ghostly presence kept invading her room at night. She finished the trip sleeping in my room after our sensible Kat went into the room and reported whatever was in there wasn’t nice. Housekeeping confirmed there was something in that room that didn’t play well with others.
I slept extremely well. I think the fact I sleep in Wallis Simpson’s old room scares them all away.
Nora and I filmed our regular July Facebook live on Saturday afternoon. It was our first one since October 2021 and we were due for a catchup. Really hope this link works: https://fb.watch/eLKJQfU5mf/
We all dressed up for a fabulous dinner at Prime 44 (the steakhouse down the hall).
And in our final tradition, we’ve already booked our trip for 2023.
Nora may or may not have a spa trip update. Once she’s home, she stays put until NYC in October. In the meantime, I’ll head to the OBX to work by the ocean for a bit.
Hope the rest of your August is a good one. Here’s to cooler/warmer days in the weeks ahead!
Once Nora readjusted to East Coast time after Italy, she recorded an interview for the LifeExcellence with Brian Bartes podcast.
Greetings from the Cranky Publicist desk.
And Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who’s a mother of the heart in any way, shape or form.
I know you’d all prefer a Kentucky Derby post, especially after that amazing race yesterday evening, but Nora and Bruce opted not to attend this year due to the crowds and continuing Covid risks. Griffin is still too young to be vaccinated and there’s a family vacation in June, so they want to keep him safe. Let’s hope for next year.
It’s 3+ months out from the hip replacement and I’m increasing my distance in walks, can do most yoga poses, am back to building strength in the upper body. So, I’m well on the path full movement – including dancing at my son’s wedding next weekend.
I’ve planned this post for a while. Right before surgery I pre-ordered a ton of books, then reached out to my pals in publicity at St. Martin’s Press and Berkley to beg for reading material. I just KNEW I’d spend days reading when I wasn’t doing PT.
Turns out that was not correct.
You know what I did during recovery? Work. Kept up with the social media, answered emails. The stuff that makes up a day. Fortunately, I did have evening time and dove into my little treasure trove of books already out, or coming soon. (Yes, ARCs are a reward for answering FAQs with kindness.)
I know a lot of you claim to only read Nora and JD Robb. Much as I love both of them, I do like to explore outside this universe and if you’re interested in some new material/authors, take a look.
Of course, I have to start with Nightwork. It’s Nora’s perfect summer read about a gentleman thief with some really high standards. It’s out May 24. I seriously know you’ll love it. Can’t wait to open the discussion thread!
Oh, and I may have read this:
but we’ll discuss that later. (Loved it.)
The Christie Affair came out February 1. It’s an intriguing look at the time Agatha Christie went missing. It’s based on a true – strange – story: In December 1926 Agatha Christie disappeared from her home in southern England. When her abandoned car was found, it began the biggest manhunt in British history for a missing person. Eleven days later she was found in a northern spa town claiming to be the victim of amnesia.
Nina de Gramont writes from the point of view of the other woman – Agatha’s husband’s mistress. If you are a fan of mystery, star-crossed lovers, revenge, pick this one up.
The Suite Spot came out in March from St. Martin’s Press. I hadn’t read the first book in the series – Float Plan — but I didn’t need to. In this contemporary romance, a young single mom moves to a very tiny island in the Great Lakes to take a job at a hotel. The hotel owner is a grump but naturally they fall in love! (Ok that last sentence is from Marissa of Team Nora who loves both books, but it absolutely applies.) BTW, if I’m a sucker for anything, it’s a strong heroine who picks herself up and finds her path.
Ever Summer After (May 10, Berkley) is a second chance story about a couple who fell in love as teenagers over the course of six lakeside summers, but then it fell apart in one moment. Twelve years later, the two are reunited and they have to confront what separated them and decide whether their love is stronger than their biggest mistakes. My pal Erin at Berkley said this book’s happy ending was so hard won and beautiful she couldn’t recommend it highly enough! And I have to agree.
I’ve adored Katherine Center’s books since I read How to Walk Away and proceeded to purchase her back list in quick order. This was BEFORE I met her at a TTP signing in fall 2019 when I ended up loving her even more. The Bodyguard is out on July 19, from St. Martin’s Press. For me, it’s another joyful Katherine read with humor, family (blood and non) shenanigans, and a woman who can kick anyone’s ass learning about her other strengths. (BTW, Katherine’s newsletter is always a happy email that brightens a day.)
Last summer I devoured Beach Read by Emily Henry so I was looking forward to Book Lovers – just out from Berkley. A book about book people? Oldest sister responsibility (I’m the oldest of seven if you couldn’t tell)? Families breaking in order to heal? And really, two people good at what they do changing careers to do what they love? I devoured it.
BTW, if you haven’t read Beach Read — honestly one of the best head-to-head confrontations of genre and literary fiction — do yourself a favor and pick it up. You’ll find humor and fear and love all in one place.
You all know how much I love Nalini, right? Storm Echo – out in June — takes us back to San Francisco. We catch up with some familiar faces plus there are sightings of many favorite characters, including bears. I love Nalini’s bears. Even if they are far away. But there are also cats and a few wolves. And I’ll bet you love Ivan and Lei.
The only person I know with an output close to Nora’s is Nalini. And thank goodness for that — it fills in my Nora gaps. Nalini makes time to step away from the Psy-Changelings and Guild Hunter series to share her New Zealand Noir (see A Madness of Sunshine and Quiet in Her Bones) or to revisit the gang in the Rock Kiss and crossover Hard Play series. She surprised me with a get well ARC of Kiss Hard — Catie and Daniel’s story. It’s just released and a really wonderful outing with the Esera clan. Friends to lovers romance – done well — can be such a satisfying story.
Some of you may know of my love/competition with Lucy Score. We met at a TTP signing in February 2019 and have been pals ever since. She deserves a special place in my recovery reading for consistently making me laugh when I least expect it.
Maggie Moves On is Lucy’s first release for Grand Central, out June 21. What happens when a You Tube star who never stays put, starts a project in a town next door to a man fully rooted in that place? In Lucy’s hands, the project hits bumps, Maggie collects people who care and gets an eyeful of that nieghbor without his pants — among other adventures. Plus there’s a dog. Books about finding one’s place are also personal catnip and Lucy never fails to hit that kind of story out of the park. To fireworks. You can order a signed copy of Maggie Moves On From TTP.
I couldn’t wait for Sarah Addison Allen’s first book in a long while and Other Birds (out September 13) completely delighted in every way. It’s pure SAA – love and magic and stories about the people who live in The Dellawisp on Mallow Island. When Zoey comes to claim her deceased mother’s apartment there she meets her quirky and secretive neighbors, including a girl on the run, two estranged middle-aged sisters, a lonely chef, a legendary writer, and three ghosts. As one does. It’s a book I’m sad to have finished. If you haven’t read Sarah Addison Allen, start with Garden Spells. And thank me later.
What’s Nora reading? Well, when she’s deep in writing (in this case, next year’s single title) she relaxes with TV shows and movies. Then, at the end of March she was slammed by vertigo — took six days to feel back to herself.
During those interminable days she watched all the Oscar nominated Best Pictures she had interest in, and was thrilled with CODA’s win. Lovely, lovely movie according to Nora. She also loved Belfast and thought Kenneth Branaugh deserved the award for best original screenplay.
Streaming-wise, she counseled me to watch Julia (her wisdom never ceases to amaze, it’s lovely). In turn I told her to watch Moon Knight (she is) and in return she told me to watch Outer Range. “Modern-day Western meets X-Files with a visit from Fringe,” she wrote. “Josh Brolin. I’m completely hooked.”
I know there’s more, but these are the most recent.
And there you have it, entertainment in all forms.
Coming next? Girls Spa for Nora, wedding for me. We’ll catch you up as we can.
PS. Wait, there’s one more: Lessons in Chemistry showed up everywhere I turned in April, so I finally heeded the Universe and purchased. And I love it.