Category Archives: writing

Ghosts again

It’s recently come to my attention that several fraudulent websites offering–for a whopping fee–ghostwriting services have me listed as a client. 

This is bullshit, and it’s infuriating.

These sites–and I won’t link to them or name them as that could increase their traffic, and that’s their goal–list many books they claim their ghostwriters have written. More bullshit. They’ve simply tossed up thumbnails of published works by legitimate authors to lure in the naive.

One of the sites that includes me also lists Marvel Comics.  

Yeah, I’m sure Marvel hires ghosts. 

I do not use ghosts. I have never used ghosts. I will never use ghosts. I wrote every word of every book ever published under my name. That’s Roberts and Robb.  

It’s infuriating and insulting for some asshole cheats running a con to use my name and my work to advertise it. And a con is what this is, start to finish. 

A legitimate ghostwriter remains a ‘ghost’ unless the person paying for that service agrees to credit them. It’s my personal opinion that ghosts should be credited, but it’s not my business as I don’t use ghostwriters. 

A legitimate ghostwriter doesn’t have their photo and name proudly posted on a website. In point of fact the ones proudly posted on these sites are stock photos, fake names. They don’t exist. 

These sites charge between $25 and $45 THOUSAND dollars for a ghostwritten book–as listed on their very professional-looking websites. Part of me thinks anyone who pays that kind of money to get their name on a book they didn’t write in the first place deserves to be taken. You’re a mark, pal, and that’s the price you pay for your ego.

However, I also realize some people just don’t understand how it all works, and think: I have this terrific idea! I just need somebody to write it for me!

To them I say, sure, I get it. But ideas don’t make a writer. Writing makes you a writer. Taking an idea and doing the hard work of turning it into a story, spending the time and effort, creating characters, refining the language, researching, editing, sweating, struggling–that makes a writer.

It’s just that simple.

I am NOT dissing ghostwriters. I am raging against these fake sites that claim to offer this service and use fraudulent means to rake in the dough.

The lawyers–and I’ve had three working on this–tell me yes, it’s fraud. But . . .

These cyber grifters are off shore–and it’s almost impossible to pin them down. They ignore Cease and Desist notices, ignore legal threats. And if you do manage to find them, they just poof and set up again. 

Because it’s easy pickings.  

We’re exploring some options, but those options are limited, and these cheats know it. Meanwhile, they rake in thousands and thousands from marks, some who might see my name and think: Wow, I KNEW she used ghostwriters! Boy oh boy, I can do that, too, and have a string of best-sellers! 

The idea of that just multiplies my fury. 

So I’ll say again, as clearly and as concisely as possible. I Do Not Use Ghostwriters. If you see my name or my book listed on a site that claims otherwise, it’s a lie. It’s fraud. And those involved are cyber thieves hoping you’ll fall for it.


And I’m going to add this as it’s connected. 

To those who continue to insist I use ghosts, who claim they know I do, or I simply must because? You busy yourself on Twitter or other social media with this claim because you can’t do what I do. You figure you can’t so I can’t. 

That just makes you petty, jealous and pathetic. 

Now I’m going back to work because that’s what I do. I fucking write.


Montana – Day 4

Apothecarying’s fun!

We have our class near Spa Town with those incredible views through glass walls.

We start off making little lotion bars—custom as we choose our own scents or blend of scents.

Measure, mix, melt. Sniff, sniff to decide how we want them to smell. I’m in love with the Huckleberry so easy choice for me. Kayla goes for a lavender peach combo, and Kat huckleberry lemon.

Oh, the way everything smells!

We can add bits of rose, lavender or chamomile. Who can resist?

When we’re all done, we pour into little molds. Kayla and I both choose stars, and Kat a star and a couple seashells. So cute!!!!

From l: creations by Kat, Nora, Kayla’s . Photo by Nora

While those are in the fridge to harden we tackle lip balm. For this, it’s lavender peach for mine because it smells so yummy. A similar process of measuring and mixing, and into the little tubes.

Polish it off with bath scrub. I’m all about the huckleberry and lemon—with some dried rose crushed up in it. We get blue jars, mix it all up. It’s so creamy and fragrant.

Happy Kat and Kayla. Photo by Nora.

Back home on a warmer and happily sunny day.

BW’s been out with his drone taking aerial shots. Jason has tried and failed to get Griffin down for a nap.

The view from above. Photo by BW.

Pretty day to walk around outside—then the puzzle calls me for a session.

It’s coming along!

We have dinner—The Big Sky Bash—at the equestrian center. Kayla gets her cowgirl on with her hat—and a jacket and boots from Nana’s closet. It’s just gorgeous when we leave, but I also wear a jacket because I know how it goes here!

Kayla and her Nana. Photo by BW
Kayla and her Grandda. Photo by Nora.

We shuttle off to the bash, and it’s gorgeous there, too. There’s a pretty pond, and people out in canoes. That wide, wide spread of sky, the mountains and hills rising and rolling under it, cattle in the fields, lots of picnic table set and another live band.

Fun stuff. Along with a pony ride for kids.

Griffin makes a bee-line for the lake. That kid loves water. He has some running around time, and his Mom suggests a pony ride. But when she takes him over, sets him in the saddle, the answer is: Absolutely not!

A shame (though pretty funny) as Cookie the pony is pretty and sweet and patient. Kayla makes friends with her.

Kayla and her new friend. Photo by Nora.

Lots of food—and the roasted corn on the cob’s a big hit. Also fresh tortillas—mmmm.

Then the sun disappears behind clouds, the wind kicks up. Cold!!!! I hold out hope the sun will find its way back, but no. Just no. Still we had a fun time, good eats, and sunny and pleasant for most of our adventure.

Before the sun disappeared. Photo by Nora.

Back home for us. A Daddy Bedtime Dance. Not even halfway through that ritual, Griffin’s asleep on Jason’s shoulder. And still, mouth slack, eyes closed, he sings blearily: Wobba Wobba.

The videographer dances too!

Up to bed for our sleepy boy.

Day is done. Photo by Kat.

More puzzle time! Hang and puzzle with Kat and Kayla for awhile after Griffin’s settled (and Daddy with him). By ten we’re all tired, so an early night in the west.

I get eight straight, always a happy. Work out—good morning, Griffin. This is Daddy’s shift, their routine, and it goes along well. Some warmer, so parts of that routine means Griffin goes to the door. Time to go outside!

Finish my workout shortly before the shift change and BW, Kayla and Jason head out for breakfast.

I need to rewrite the bulk of a chapter. I’ve worked out in my head the how and the why but because it’s more intense work than editing, I take myself up to the quiet of the bedroom.

It takes a couple hours—and will need at least a couple more to make it all smooth. But it’s done. I think, while I’m up there how some idiot posted on the internet just yesterday or today—forget—how I don’t write all my own books because. There’s always a because in this type’s mind. And I think bite me, asshole, as I finally shut down after a couple of sweaty hours during my damn vacation!

Because I do write all my own books.

Come down to learn Griffin’s not feeling altogether well. When a toddler wants a nap and doesn’t want a cookie, he’s feeling off. But he has The Daddy Shoulder Of Comfort—doesn’t want Mom who is—unquestionably—his most favorite person of all people.

From yesterday when the mad scientist felt better and kept busy. Photo by Kat.

Seems a little better now, and is outside with Mom while Daddy’s getting a well-earned massage at spa town.

BW’s just back from taking pictures of our neighbors just up the road. Buffalo!

BW and his new pals. Photo by BW.
A closer look. Photo by BW.

I’m going to get some outside time myself.

We have—hope it’s not too cold—The Chuck Wagon Dinner tonight. Always a good, fun time.

Note from Travelogue Central Editorial Desk:

Because one download staring at me wasn’t enough, Kat decided to get a fuller photo of the eyes, thus earning the first #RandomKatness since 2019. To top that off, she took a snap of Griffin communing with the eyes. ~Laura

My Work

Is my work. My process, my time, my effort, my skill, my creativity. It is not, as I was told by a reader on the Robb Facebook page, a collaboration with the reader. The story is mine, and is not as this reader claims, owned by the reader once they read it.

I spent this Monday in April as I spend most Mondays, and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, working on a story, often fighting for the words, trying to see the characters, feel what they feel so I can know what they’ll do, what they’ll say.

Writing’s my job, and I love my job—fortunately. But it’s still work, often hard, often tedious, often painstaking.

I own my work, in every way, on every level. Just me. Only me. Because it’s just and only me writing the story.

This reader also claims a book isn’t finished until the reader filters it through her own life experiences.


No, it’s finished when I—and my editor—deem it finished. Then the reader can read this finished, polished, edited and produced work and form opinions, have feelings, visualize it as she chooses. But the reader has no input on the actual work. The reader has her or his individual take on that work. And that opinion, those feelings, that reader interpretation is valid, it’s personal and it’s real for that individual reader.

I would never question the right of a reader to hold those opinions. (I don’t have to agree with them!) But I will stomp down hard on the opinion the reader, through the act of reading, somehow forms a creative partnership with me—or any writer, ever.

Reading, imagining how characters look, sound, falling into a story—so to speak—doesn’t make a collaboration—which is, by definition the process of working with someone to produce or create something. I created, my publisher and I produced. The reader reads the result of the work, and is entitled, of course, to see as he or she sees.


Did this reader—or any—sit with me at the keyboard hour after hour, day after day, week after work sweating out the story, creating the characters and the world they inhabit?

Of course not. A reader doesn’t share in the workload or the creativity and effort. A reader reads, enjoys—or doesn’t—inhabits the world the writer created—or doesn’t because that particular story didn’t pull her in.

The reader is absolutely, entitled to an opinion—positive, negative or mixed on a book. There are all sorts of venues for the readers to express those opinions, and the wise writers stays away from those venues.

I find it incredibly arrogant to consider yourself in collaboration with a writer because you read the book. That’s not an opinion on the work, that’s a claim of ownership gained through the act of reading.

I call bullshit. And I find this stand wildly insulting.

What I worked months on, chained to that keyboard, often struggling to find the right words, the right direction, the reader curls up and reads in a matter of hours. Often—if that reader is me reading something someone else sweated over, with a glass of wine at my elbow.

That’s not collaboration. That doesn’t entitle me to say that story belongs to me. My FEELINGS on that story belong to me, and that’s all.

I’ve been a reader all my life—a voracious one. I grew up, lucky for me, in a family of readers. I’ve certainly read countless books and stopped and thought: Man, I wish I’d written that!

Or, alternately: I wouldn’t have done it that way. I’d have done this.

That’s opinion.

Never, in all my years as a reader have I considered myself a collaborator in a story I read. Never in all my years as a writer have I considered readers—and again, valued, appreciated readers—collaborators, or indeed any part of my writing process.

I’m grateful to readers for taking the time to read my books, for spending hard earned cash to buy the books, for libraries for stocking them so readers can access them.

I spend time doing this blog when I can to show some of that appreciation. Laura spends even more time on social media to give readers a way to interact and find out the latest news because we value readers.

But there are limits to my appreciation. And it comes to a hard stop when one of those readers feels entitled enough to devalue my work by laying claim to it, simply because she reads it.

Where the hell does this lofty, arrogant claim come from? I’ve got some advice for anyone who makes it—spend a few months slaving over a story, researching the minutia thereof, editing, revising, second guessing, manage to get it published, then see how you feel when someone who had nothing whatsoever to do with all that work claims to be your collaborator because she read it and has opinions.

So Gentle Reader, in closing, thanks for reading, whatever opinion you form on the story. But if you decide that reading, that opinion, give you any sort of ownership over the story, think again.


Zombie Ghosts

I’m assuming anyone reading this knows how to dispatch a zombie. It’s all about the head. I’m a big believer in confronting things head on.

Every few months, the walking dead of intimating or outright stating I use ghostwriters shambles onto social media. And like a zombie it shuffles on, spreading. I’ve confronted this before—head on—but have never successfully eradicated the infection.

So, try, try again.

Laura will link the other times I’ve written about this issue, so readers of this blog will, hopefully, understand why I continue to do so. And how often it all crops up again. [See below]

This is very personal for me.

I write my own books. All of them. Writing is my job, and I love my job. I consider it the best job in the world, and one I’m very lucky to have. I work hard at my job—I want to, and because I love it, because I want to work hard at it, because of my individual process, pace and rhythm, I’ve been able to produce a lot of books over the course of my career.

It hits me, very personally, when people who don’t know me, don’t know my process, my life, decide to imply or come right out and say I use ghosts.

Are they in my house, my office, standing over my shoulder every day? They’re certainly not in the shower, in my gym, in my kitchen or anywhere else where I do other things while thinking about the story, working out angles, playing what if that I’ll turn into words at the keyboard.

I do not use ghosts. I have never used ghosts. I never will use ghosts. I’ve said that all before, will no doubt say it again.

So those who say I do are calling me a liar, and impinging my work. That’s personal.

Years ago a journalist with some shaky math skills and faulty information wrote that I produce a book every 45 days. That’s crazy and wrong, but it’s stuck over the years. The journalist didn’t consider that I had written several books (55k word category romances) before I sold the first one, and I was able to fix and fiddle and sell those previously rejected books rather quickly in those first couple years.

But who cares? What does it matter? The only people concerned about when I turn in a ms and how long that particular book took me to write are my editor and my agent. And the editor and agent—both of whom I’ve worked with for decades—know the work I turn in is mine alone.

I write how I write, and I write alone. I don’t collaborate or brainstorm or partner. I write solo because that’s my process. I don’t have staff, researchers, assistants, because I don’t want them. I work alone, which I find one of the great beauties of my craft.

If a book has my name on it, I wrote it—every damn word. That’s the Alpha and Omega.

Some say: She’s written over 200 books! Impossible.

No, it’s not. Not when I write six to eight hours a day, five to six days a week. That’s my choice, it’s how I work, and what works for me. It’s my process and process is individual to every writer. What’s right for one isn’t for another. We’re not the Borg.

My pace is MY pace, not anyone else’s.

I don’t do a lot of social media—my choice, my particular wiring. So I have the amazing Laura—who has her own space in her own house—to take care of the bulk of that.

I don’t do a lot of socializing (even pre-COVID). My choice, my wiring. I don’t take long breaks between books because I don’t want to. The next story is tugging at me.

I do what I do, and I like it—and it’s no one’s business but mine.

I don’t diss other writers on social media. I think it’s tacky and graceless. But if another writer wants to claim my books suck, okay. That’s opinion. Certainly if a reader wants to say so, or express disappointment in any of my books, they’re entitled. I stay off reader boards because they should be free to express those opinions without a writer wading in to snap at them or argue or attempt to intimidate.

That’s my opinion.

But no one’s entitled to call me a liar or a cheat. No one’s entitled to lie about me and imply or say I use ghosts. I will stand up for myself and my work.

And when a ghostwriter takes to social media to whine, that’s also a choice. But not when they whine about me. They don’t know me, and I have nothing to do with their choices—and ghosting is a choice.

To a statement like: If Nora Roberts and I wrote the exact same book hers would sell a lot more, first I say: Duh.

I say Duh because I’ve spend four freaking decades building a career, a following, a reputation, connections with publishers and readers. So duh.

But over and above, this is a stupid, foolish and ignorant statement because NO two writers would ever write the same book. Doesn’t work like that. We aren’t in each other’s heads, we all have our own creative path, our own style, our own voice.

No one creative would make such an asinine comparison, which only smacks of jealousy and a lack of understanding of how publishing actually works.

And, sister, you made a choice to take a ghostwriting job. Your reasons are your own, and I don’t question or criticize them—because that’s your personal business. However.

 Did you take a payment for the ghosting? Did you agree to terms and cash a check for the work you did?

Now if the person who hired you didn’t pay you, or agreed to give you credit and didn’t follow through, you’ve got a legitimate complaint. But if you took the money and agreed—as the term ghost implies—to forfeit any credit—quit your bitching.

And leave me the hell out of it.

Do the work, invest the time, take the risks every writer takes, deal with the rejections and disappointments and push on. That’s how it’s done.

Write. Spend more time writing and a lot less whining on social media—and trying to take shots at another writer or the realities of the industry itself.

A couple weeks ago I had another bout of vertigo—which sucks beyond the telling of it. The first day, after a few hours flat out, I could sit up. I thought: Hmmm, and asked BW to bring down my Surface and flash drive because maybe I could work in bed.

Found out quickly that was a big no.

Day Two, better, try again. And I found I could write a couple hours. Couldn’t stand up without everything spinning, but sitting was okay.

Day Three, a little better yet, so a full day of work—in bed because walking felt like walking on the deck of a ship in high seas.

I worked because I wanted to work, because I have a deadline, because it’s my job. And then somebody who know nothing about me but my name implies I don’t do my own work.

So it’s very personal for me.

Every time a zombie like this pops up, I will aim for the head.

I’d like to ask you to join the army. If you see anyone on social media claiming I use ghosts, insisting I must, please let us know.

I’m not going to be shy about swinging my metaphorical axe at their head.

I’ll try to write a more cheerful and chatty blog next time out, but to catch you up with my world….

Logan is now a licensed driver (!!!!)

Kayla continues to do very well in college.

On-line school has in no way defeated Colt—Mr. Straight As.

And Griffin, as always, is adorable and full of fun.

BW and I get our second vaccine shot in about a week—what a big relief.

Lots of snow here, and we’re going nowhere. Which means plenty of writing time for me.



On Readers, Writers and Ghosts (August 2014)

How it all Works (for Nora) (November 2014)

The Cranky Publicist answers another question (Feb. 2016)

Price Points, Discounts, Sales! (Feb 2016)

Writers are People Too (December 2017)

Mob Rule by Social Media (December 2018)

The process after the writing (October 2018)

Here’s how I Work (March 2019)


I intended to write a blog this weekend about our little Thanksgiving. Well, not little when it came to food—LOTS—but people. Just our little bubble, taking care to be safe, taking care of each other.

And it was lovely.

But some of the comments and responses on The Awakening discussion thread changed things.

I understand, even appreciate the enthusiasm and the impatience for the subsequent books in a series or trilogy. I’ve often felt it myself. There are certainly books I wait anxiously and impatiently for. But as a writer and someone who’s worked with publishers for many years, I understand the process, and the time it takes.

I don’t expect readers to understand that process. Though I’ve felt obliged to explain it as best I can, a number of times because some become angry and accusatory when they don’t get what they want when they want it.

I also don’t expect readers to tell me how to write, how quickly to write (not talking about the ‘Can’t you write faster’ comments which I understand are just enthusiasm) or to pontificate on how publishers need to publish so they, again, get what they want when they want it.

That’s arrogance, that’s misplaced entitlement.

I’m not going to go into all the steps and stages of what goes into turning a manuscript into a published novel again. I’ll simply say this is a process that takes months, even up to a year. In the case of a trilogy, the publisher must, contractually, pay the writer for the manuscript when it’s turned in—the writer needs to be paid for the work completed. And the publisher can hardly pay the writer, the editor, the production staff, etc then sit on the book for a couple of years.

It’s a business, with expenses. It’s a business with a number of authors and manuscripts, and editors and so on.

Over and above the simple practicalities, it’s astonishing to me when a reader dictates my business or my publisher’s—or any writer’s, any publisher’s.

In this particular case, it may have triggered me harder because I’m working so hard to finish the second book in this trilogy right now, stressed that I’ll do so in order for my editor, my publisher to have the time they need to produce it so it meets its current schedule. I’m stressed—as always—that I’ll write a good book that satisfies readers when it does come out.

We do the best we can, we writers. Publishers are filled with people doing the best they can. I am not the only writer my publisher works with, not the only writer whose books needs to be edited, produced, printed, scheduled, marketed, distributed. The covers for my books are not the only ones the art department has to create.

I’m currently writing four books a year, but for some, that’s not enough. Or they blame the time between books on my publisher when they have absolutely no idea how publishing works.

These comments tied a knot in my stomach—I know better, but they did. They piled on more stress and aggravation.

And no—the customer is not always right. Sometimes the customer is rude and wrong.

At a time we’re hoping to remember things to be thankful for, as we head into the holiday season, maybe we could choose to be thankful for books instead of complaining we can’t have more fast enough.

Things are difficult and stressful enough, so a story that takes us away from that hard reality should be a plus.


Really nothing much

Winter queen Nora as fashioned by the fabulous Turn the Page Staff. The real Nora is staying home.

I haven’t blogged in awhile mostly because I’ve had my nose to the grindstone both professionally and domestically. So it’s pretty much boring, as in:

Get up, go to work. Check the news on the world maybe. Realize the news in the world sucks a lot. Go back to work. Finish work, go work out. Sweat is good!

Talk to BW. Perhaps have a drink with BW because I’ve had a righteous day. Eat. Sign books or do galleys if necessary. Watch something on TV as brain is very tired. So is body. Go to bed.

Get up, repeat.

On weekends, continue the full house purge–no excuses!–until it’s finally, finally, FINALLY complete. Bake bread, make soup or whatever. Shovel out the rest of the house.

Oh, a couple of dentist appointments in there. My teeth are my bane.
A couple of family dinners–with at least some on the menu geared toward our vegetarian.

Oh, a nice visit from same over a weekend when she stayed with us. Movies, on-line shopping for (gulp!) a graduation dress. And it’s so pretty on her, too! Help with purging is always welcome. Much happy conversation about college. When Kayla leaves the end of August, I’ll miss that girl like a limb.

Kayla visited her college a couple of weeks ago. She’ll be able to visit Nana in the library!

A delightful family Sunday including the constantly happy Griffin. He definitely likes Nana’s spaghetti. I don’t know if Laura can grab the shot of him off FB–I have no clue how to–but it’s classic.

Guess what? Laura knew how. Classic.

Work, more work–my favorite routine is sticking well over this period. I love getting solid, uninterrupted writing days, then sweating it off, getting my house in order and spending time in the kitchen on weekends. It’s my perfect balance.

Tomorrow I plan to go out into the world (or at least Boonsboro) for the first time–excluding the dentist–since . . . jeez, I think the February signing. I believe that’s correct.

The inn’s having an art show with one of my very favorite artists, Claire Hardy. Since I’ve just redone our bedroom I believe I have a spot for a new painting.

Flowers by Claire Hardy.

Then, my hope is to continue to basic and boring right up to the girl spa in April.

Then spring happens. I’ll be ready for it!



Laura’s note: To frame what Nora discusses here, please refer to this post on All About Romance. The author does an excellent job of laying out the timeline to the current situation.

To clarify: I’m not on Twitter. I haven’t been a member of Romance Writers Of America for several years. Those are both personal and professional decisions.

Even so, it’s been impossible not to be aware of the horrendous situation involving RWA, its leadership and Courtney Milan which, as it escalated, brought to light a long-standing and systemic marginalization of authors of color, of LGBTQ authors, by the organization.

I’m not going to comment on the Milan/RWA situation, but on what–through that–has come to light.

What I write here is my opinion. Some will agree, some won’t, some will be angry, some won’t. That’s how opinions work.

Writer, the middle word in Romance Writers of America, is a word without gender, a word without color or race, a word without sexual orientation, without creed. We’re writers, and as such must expect to be treated, must demand to be treated, fairly and equitably by our professional organization.


What follows is the viewpoint of a long-time member.

I joined RWA in 1980 (wow!). I attended the first conference in 1981 just a couple months after my first book came out. It was wonderful. I met my dearest pal Ruth Langan at that conference, and many others who’ve remained friends all these years.

RWA gave me a community, and though I have never been active in its leadership (nor did I want to be!) I attended every conference save two for decades. The organization was formed to provide support, education, networking opportunities, to stand as advocates for writers, published and unpublished.

I’m grateful for the community, the friendships, the opportunities.

Was the organization perfect? Of course not, but I felt, certainly in those early years, it tried very hard to support, educate, advocate and offer networking opportunities. I didn’t see marginalization–and fully admit I may have been blind to it–until many years in when the leadership crafted a statement defining romance as one man/one woman.

For me anyway, this came out of the blue. Who decided this was our statement? It sure as hell wasn’t mine, and surely we’d all evolved by–what was it–abut 2005.

A great many members were outraged by it–as they should have been. I certainly was, and took the rare for me step of writing a letter expressing same to the editor of the Romance Writers’ Report. We do NOT discriminate. I would not be a part of this kind of discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Jesus, it’s fine to have a character fall in love with a freaking vampire, but not someone of the same sex? Bullshit. Just bullshit.

Offensive, bigoted, homophobic bullshit.

I received an email from the then president urging me to be quiet, basically, explaining to me–and I am not kidding–I didn’t understand that the lesbians would take over RWA. Jeez, those terrifying lesbians!

After my brain stopped exploding, I emailed back telling her they could publish my letter–as written–or I would take out a full page ad to publish it.

If memory serves, it appeared as a letter to the editor in the next issue of the RWR.

That was a real crack in the wall for me, and left me disappointed and angry with the organization.

It was during this leadership era I began to see some pretty deep problems within RWA. This same president was in office during the Reno nightmare. I’m not going to go into all that here, just Google it, but I withdrew as MC of the awards banquet and again wrote a long, detailed letter. I think–not sure–this time I did take it as an ad.

I’ll say all of that put longer, wider cracks in the foundation for me. I nearly resigned my membership then, but decided to keep it. I went to conference, but now almost exclusively to be with friends, to see people I only saw once a year, to attend the kick-ass Harlequin party and attend the brilliant Literacy Signing.

But I thought, I believed, with leadership change, the organization was doing better, trying harder. I didn’t see the marginalization, and I regret that. I could have been a voice, and I wasn’t.

For several years our family foundation sponsored the Literacy Signing. Literacy is one of our foundation’s primary goals. My daughter-in-law, the amazing Kat, worked with the committee in charge to help enhance efficiency, and put a lot of her time and effort into it.

The Literacy Signing was the annual conference’s big kick-off, drawing many, many authors who signed their books, publishers who donated those books, many, many readers who bought books–and the proceeds went to Literacy.

This night was a source of pride–RWA was making a difference.

Bookending this week of workshops, hang out at the bar time, meetings, parties, networking was Awards Night. The last night, always a big celebration–published and unpublished. The Golden Heart Awards for the unpublished, the Rita for the published. And the Lifetime Achievement Award to a member who’d earned it.

I received a letter, through Laura, from the Board between the last conference I attended, in San Diego, and the next–can’t remember where it was slated to be held. Wait–Orlando, I think.

They’d voted to change the set up for conference week, and claimed to want my input–though they’d already voted and intended to announce the changes in about 24 hours. The Literacy signing would now be at the end of the conference–on a Saturday afternoon. The RITAs would be in the middle of the week, and the Golden Hearts presented at a lunch.

I get change, I understand change, but I felt–still do–this was stupid. And worse, imo, the Golden Hearts, the unpublished, were being tossed aside. Not right, not fair, not equitable. Why do this? And WHY make the unpublished feel they didn’t really count? The Rita/Golden Heart Banquet was our send off, our night to celebrate each other and the books we write. The Literacy Signing, always held on the evening before the conference officially started, drew huge crowds, and brought in impressive amounts for Literacy.
The unpublished members deserved their night to shine.

As the sponsor of the Literacy Signing, we should have had a little more warning of the decision, but we didn’t.

And in response to my response, it was basically: Done deal. We’ve decided the conference should be more reader-centric rather that author-centric.

And that did it. Romance WRITERS of America, not readers. We love our readers, we value our readers, but this was the professional organization for writers. Published and unpublished.

I resigned my membership. We pulled out as sponsor.

In the time since then and now, I haven’t paid too much attention to what’s going on with RWA or its membership. I’m not especially active on social media, so a lot would go over my head anyway.

This latest issue hasn’t.

Again, I regret all the years I didn’t hear, didn’t see, didn’t listen, remained unaware of all the sad and unfair things that are now coming to light.

I hope that light continues to shine, and by doing so may change RWA for the good, may remind those in leadership positions what the purpose was all those years ago. To support and advocate for romance writers. Not specific kinds of romance writers.

Let me add, as a personal note, that over the course of my life, the course of my career, the couple hundred books I’ve written, I may have–most likely have–said or done or written something that was offensive, racist, homophobic. Without intent–but intent doesn’t mean a damn to those hurt. So I’ll apologize without qualification.

I hope I’ve learned along the way. I intend to continue to learn and do better.


Kerry, Day Eight

With the weather undecided, I take an at-home day. Some play time for Griffin where he shows his brainy skills stacking cups. His mom and I are duly impressed—with applause—when he discovers he can also insert them into each other.

Smart boy!

Of course earlier he manages to find a tiny piece of gravel just inside the door and gets a good taste of it before he’s caught.

He goes into town with Mom and Dad to get some supplies, check on my goddess (all good!) and have a car nap.

Though some tempting blue sky peeks through, I set up my little office and write. Housekeeping’s here, BW’s settles down with a book. I get in a good three hours, just as I hoped, hit the point I want to hit.

As I reward myself with a glass of champagne, housekeeping finishes up, BW emerges and the little family returns.

Perfect timing.

We plan a spaghetti dinner.

Griffin spies my tablet and insists on a mash-up session. 

Then he plays with Daddy while Kat does some laundry, and I get the red sauce on.

The red sauce. Photo by Nora.

The stove requires a group effort to fully figure. I show BW a bush of rosemary out the kitchen window, send him out to get some.

Red sauce simmering. Kat goes off to finish a painting she’s working on.

Griffin must walk, walk up and down, in and out, check on the laundry. Busy, busy boy.

I plan to make some garlic/butter paste for the lovely round of bread Kat and Jason brought back. Jason takes on that duty, and we toss a salad together.

Prep. Photo by j a-b

Smells good in here!

A break from walking for some under-table time (and spaghetti). Photo by j a-b

Kat’s back, painting finished. It’s wonderful—of course!

Baby’s hungry, and lets us know it.

So we eat—and yum. The perfect cozy, comforting meal for an at-home day. There’s dessert for those who want it—I just can’t—but the pastries K&J picked up in Kenmare are well appreciated.

My toy matches my food! Photo by Griffin’s Nana

Kat handles the dishes, Griffin works off the meal with his running walks and Daddy swings. He seems tired so we try a bottle. But no, he clearly lets us know we’re very mistaken, he’s not a bit tired. He catches his second (or it might be twelfth) wind, has a laugh fest, lots of running.

It’s suddenly the best game to run down the second floor hallway gripping Daddy’s fingers, into Nana’s room so she can jump out and tickle his belly. Squeals echo as he drags Jason back and forth, in and out.

Daddy definitely runs out of steam first.

I’m hoping the evening activity tires him out so his parents get some sleep.

During my morning workout I watch the sky and water change again and again. Everything flat and gray so the water’s as still and flat as a plate under a thin mist.

The mist rises, spreads up like smoke, and the sun sneaks in adding glinting light. The water goes blue as bits of sky clear, and it ripples in the wind.

Back to gray again, quiet and pale as the wind dies.

It’s a show that keeps me entertained as I work out.

I top that off with some yoga. And ahhhh.

Haven’t yet heard a peep from JK&G, so I think all that running, laughing, squealing knocked them out.

We’ll venture out later if everyone’s up for that. If not, I’ll take myself a long walk. Left-overs for lunch or dinner depending. 

I have the bedroom door—the outside one—open as I write this. It’s currently dry, with a light, fresh breeze. BW’s must be making some breakfast because I smell bacon!


In today’s Not-so #randomkatness, the finished painting.

Production notes: All videos in the post courtesy of Kat. I didn’t like the way the captions looked. ~L

The Good Life

For me, that’s a solid, uninterrupted writing week followed by a pretty weekend in the garden. All my stars aligned, and it feels like it’s been awhile since they have. That makes it all the sweeter.

Since it somehow decided to be June, and June’s pretty busy, I’ll take the pretty perfect last week of May for that solid work week.

It’s a pleasure–mine anyway–to work steadily along, then shut down for a workout. Through this week, I work out with the sound of stone saws outside my little gym. Progress there, too! Every day I saw more of our wall going up–so pretty! It’s satisfying to take a walk around, see that progress, see new blooms–after a full day.

The wall project near completion

Then to start June off in the garden? It doesn’t get better.

In my continuing war against deer, I bought a couple of big garden spinners. Fun, colorful. I was perhaps overly proud to put one together solo. Mechanics isn’t my strength. I did need BW assistance with the second–one with a solar light–mostly because it had more parts and needed three hands to manage it easily.

Whether these will spin and chase off deer is debatable. But I like them anyway. So far spraying repellent’s doing the job (knock on every available piece of wood). And I do plant a lot of deer resistance varieties.

I have a whole flow of astilbes in a shady spot at a distance convenient for deer to sneak up. I saw one nibbled on yesterday, and imagine some deer taking a bite, then going PTUI! Serves her right.

BW spent most of his first day of June on his little Cat cleaning up the area behind his shop. This is an area I mostly avoid in order to keep BW alive. I will say he made some serious inroads.

We found a better spot for our tomatoes and peppers–already have tomatoes on the vine!–and he had the idea of using an old wagon as a stand. Cute.

I weeded, dead-headed, swept, pruned, rearranged and had a very fine time.

Mermaid lounging spot.

Today, post-workout, I’ll see what else I can play with before we have a family dinner. No Jason, Kat, Griffin this time as they’re out of town for a wedding. Griffin had his first plane ride–and seemed to enjoy it.

Right now, I’m looking forward to a summer filled with work, fun, flowers. It’s time to hit the gym so I can get started on that.


Here’s How I work

There are a lot of questions, speculations, idiotic statements (as if fact) and–to me–strange arguments about my writing process, my output, and my honesty.

In all cases by people who don’t know me, at all.

In a, probably doomed, hope to set the record straight, I hereby take the time before I get back to that process, to outline it.

I write every day

I write every day. It’s just my job, and I’m very fortunate to love my job. Not everyone is half as lucky to be able to make their living doing something they love.

Every day is, at this point in my life and career, mostly a regular work week. I will, if necessary or I just feel the need, put in a few hours on the weekend.

I am disciplined–that’s my wiring. I have a fast writing pace–also just wiring. I was educated (nine year of Catholic school) by the nuns. Nobody lays a foundation of discipline like the Sisters. Trust me on this.

I was raised by parents who instilled, and demonstrated by example, the responsibility of doing your work, doing it well, meeting your responsibilities.

I don’t miss deadlines.

In the normal course of events, I work six to eight hours a day. Some of that is staring into space–writing requires this, or mine does. Some of it’s spent looking stuff up because how do I know until I know? I don’t use researchers because they’d annoy me, want to talk to me, expect me to be able to tell them what I was looking for. And again, how do I know until I know?

I don’t have ‘staff’, which just sound so pretentious to me. I don’t knock anyone for having staff, but I don’t want staff. They would annoy me, want to talk to me at some point. They’d be in my space which includes my entire house. And the land around it. The air.

What the hell would I do with staff? They could open the door for the dogs, I guess, or bring me another glass of water or Diet Pepsi. The trade off would be too great. In My Space. That’s a deal-breaker.

I have a weekly housekeeper who’s worked for me for decades. So in the normal course of events, I’m not doing the vacuuming and so on. And this is great. (She’s only in my space one day a week, and I’ve trained myself to block that out.)

I do not, never have, never will use ghostwriters. I’ve stated my opinion, many times, on the use of ghosts in fiction. My work is my work, start to finish. If my name is on the book, I wrote it. A reader, another writer, a stranger on the internet is entitled not to like my books, or any particular book. They’re not entitled to call me a liar.

I love and treasure alone

I don’t use ghosts, co-authors, I don’t have collaborators. Why is that so hard for some to accept? I don’t brainstorm with other writers, with my editor or my agent on storylines. It’s not my wiring. I love my agent, my editor, and respect them just as much as I love them.

If either or both of them insisted we brainstorm, I will be forced to kill them until they were dead.

I’m a solitary woman. I love and treasure alone. I also love my family, and am thrilled to be part of my grandkids’ lives, to see them, watch them grow. I adore my daughter-in-law beyond the telling of it. Ditto my sons, my husband.

But every day, when BW finally calls upstairs that he’s leaving for work, I have a little internal celebration.

My space.

I’m an early riser (wish I wasn’t, but wiring). I fiddle around with email and whatever for awhile in the morning–mostly hoping BW might leave a little sooner. (Sorry, BW.) But I’m usually in work mode by 8. Sometimes before, sometimes later, that’s just usual.

I work. Stare into space, wonder WTF should happen next, look stuff up, and somehow by around 3 (sometimes earlier, sometimes later) I’ve actually written a decent chunk.


Then it’s time to go workout. 90 minutes, daily. That’s my routine, and I’m a solitary woman who thrives on routine.

Then it’s actually speak to BW, maybe have an alcoholic beverage. In good weather, get outside, walk the gardens with the dogs. Whatever.

Three nights a week I sign tubs of book orders from our bookstore. Some nights–like tonight–I’ll proof galleys for an upcoming book.

I work on a three-draft method. This works for me. It’s not the right way/wrong way. There is no right or wrong for a process that works for any individual writer. Anyone who claims there is only one way, or that’s the wrong way, is a stupid, arrogant bullshitter. That’s my considered opinion.

The first draft, the discovery draft, the POS (guess what that stands for) draft is the hardest for me. Figuring it all out, creating people I’m going to care about enough to sit here with hours every day in order to tell their story. Finding out information about the setting, the careers involved, and so much more.

I don’t outline. I have a kind of loose mental outline, then I sit down, get started and hope it all works one more time.

I don’t use visual aids, don’t have color-coded note cards. I scribble notes, then irritate the crap out of myself because half the time I can’t find the one thing I scribbled down I want now, right this minute.

Outlining, visual aids, note cards–not wrong. In fact excellent if any and all work for that writer.

I don’t know how long it takes me for that first draft. I don’t care. Am I getting the story out, are these people interesting, layered, human, am I putting myself, and therefore the reader, into the setting?

Setting, pacing, character development and evolution, connections, relationships, transitions, conflicts, beats, hills and valleys, dialogue, description.

I can’t analyse how they come out of my head and onto the page. I’m not an analytical person. I just know it’s work, often frustrating often fun. But work.

I don’t go back in the writing of that first draft, fiddle and fix, I just plow on, get the story, the people, onto the page, taking it on faith (and through a lot of experience) that I can fix what’s wrong, shine up what’s right later.

Get it out, get it down, put the words on the page. Every day. Hours a day.

And when the first crappy draft is done, I go back to page one. Now, second draft, fix it, expand it, get rid of it, work more thoughtfully on the language. Is it all holding up? Does it make sense? Is it a good, solid story? I can do a chunk of a second draft every day. This is for me, the easier part of the process. It’s fun to fix things up, to play with the words, to add more layers.

It still takes time, but it’s the happy middle of the work. Look what I did there, that’s not bad. I’d forgotten about that. Aren’t I so damn clever? Or–oops, that sucks. Must fix.

Again, I don’t know how long it takes me. I don’t care.

When I finish the second draft, it’s time for the third, the last, the polish. Not as big those daily chunks now. This is what I’ll send to that agent and editor I love and respect. I need to make it the best I can. I might find spots that sag, so I try to shore them up. I might find I’ve taken a quick angle that works–maybe add to that–or doesn’t, change it until it works.

I don’t know how long this takes. I still don’t care.

This is also where I spell check. My spelling is miserable, so I’m grateful for the technology. Except when it doesn’t work. What do you mean Word Not Found? It’s a damn word!

When I feel this is the best I can do, I send it off, make a wish, then definitely have an alcoholic beverage.

I’ll add I do all this work with my very, very old Word Perfect program–that’s DOS. Many of you will have to look that up as you’ll never have heard of such a thing. It’s like a strange tool from an ancient era. I like the blue screen–easy on the eyes. I like it doesn’t have bells and whistle that would get in my way (like staff).

I do all of the above myself, alone, solitary, ass in the chair, mind in the book, fingers on the keyboard. Someone asked me once, in a Q&A what three pieces of advice I had for other writers. Here they are:

Stop making excuses and write.
Stop whining and write.
Stop fucking around and write.

I take my own advice.

I don’t, as claimed in some article long ago and has become the stuff of myth and legend, write a book every 45 days. When I started selling I had several mss, rejected, in the drawer I could then take out, fix, polish, submit. So those first couple of years, I sold a lot of 55k word Romances to Silhouette. I had that jump start.

At this time it’s being winged around I write five books a year. It’s actually four. Two Robbs, one stand-alone Roberts, one portion of a trilogy. That’s a lot, but the pace and process suit my current life.

If I did write five books a year, they would still be all written by me. Just me.

Back to process. My editor–that’s Leslie Gelbman, St. Martin’s Press–works fast, too. I’ll hear back from her on the new ms in a very timely fashion, which I’m very grateful for because even with that quick turnaround, I’ll have started the next book.

Routine is my god.

It’s what I do. A day or two off to recharge, to maybe start fiddling with research, to play with that mental outline, then it’s close the cage door and go again.

I may have to stop the current work if Leslie wants any changes. Since she’s going to be right about those changes ninety-nine times out of a hundred, I don’t argue. The one time I KNOW she’s not right, she doesn’t argue.


I’m able to produce a lot of books because I work every day. Because I don’t go out to lunch or dinner, or to events, go shopping, have hobbies or socialize all that much. I don’t want to.

I like home. I like my space. I have plenty of people living in my head for company.

I don’t spend a lot of time, sometimes none at all, on social media. It’s a time suck. My time’s valuable to me.

And routine is my god.

Get up, fiddle, write, write, write, workout, engage with my husband, make dinner, maybe have the kids over for dinner a couple times a month and enjoy grandkids.

I garden in the spring and summer, bake bread, but that’s weekends.

I make soups and breads in the fall and winter, again, that’s weekends.

When on vacation I’ll write here and there. Because I miss it if I don’t. I don’t slave while on a break, but I’ll write now and then.

And I think about the book all the time. In the shower, in the workout, in the garden, in the kitchen. I can work out plot points while kneading bread dough, so good for me.

There’s no secret, no formula, no magic spell.

It’s called writing, regularly, consistently, daily. It’s discipline and drive and desire. The three Ds I also tout when asked. Talent’s great, but without the three Ds, it’s hard to produce.

Fortunately for me I have them, and I use them.

I love my work, even on a bad day, I love my work. Being a writer is a gift I’m grateful for, even when it’s a bad day.

I value and respect the reader. Lying, to me, equals devaluing and disrespect.

So to the readers–whether or not you enjoy my books, have read any of my books, read my books occasionally or all the time–I write every one, myself, alone, in my space.

Whatever you think of the finished product, it came from me.