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.


127 thoughts on “Here’s How I work”

  1. Amazing! Thanks so much for sharing this glimpse into how your genius comes about. And, so glad to see someone put into print how important hard work really is to anything done well.

    1. I respect you and your process so much. Thank you for this glimpse into your world.

    2. I agree! I love Miss Nora Roberts! She is an amazing woman inside and out.

    3. I love how you work through your process. Now I wonder do you take suggestion on returning to a book and writing about a character in the book who was not the heroine or the protagonist? I just finished reading The Obsession and I loved the book. It ended to fast. I think Agent Mason needs his own story about finding love. I can just see him rescuing a small girl of 3 going on 4 who won’t let him out of her site and he has to take her to an Aunt whom she has never met and Boom chemistry between Mason and the Aunt! Feel free to use my suggestion and I promise not to sue you. Just let the Aunts name be Carol Ann or Anna Marie .

  2. Thank you for sharing and giving your fans insight into your daily routine. I think your amazing and when someone reads your books (plural) they can hear you in every word. I’ve never doubted that you write every single word. You have your own style and phrasing, so it’s obvious you do not use ghost writers. Please keep up your hard work, your writing brings so much joy to so many.

  3. Thank you – great post – and I needed to read this today. You are a great example to many of us. Don’t let the idiots get you down. And you should try Pepsi Max – it’s amazing. 🙂 Terri

  4. I thought I was the only one who does a happy dance aka silent celebration when my husband walks out the door to play golf, cards, etc., whatever since he is retired. I, too, like my alone time with the TV OFF! I totally understand the need to have your space to concentrate and create and not worry about interruption. I wish I were creative, and I so envy you that talent. I can put words to paper, spell, and vary vocabulary and sentence structure, but I sure don’t have a creative bone in my body. Give me something that needs proofing and polishing, and I can provide my editing and dictionary/thesaurus skills, but I would never be able to spin a story like you, with or without an outline.

    1. You are definitely NOT alone Kathleen! I love the quiet that my husband leaving brings.

      The TV is my nemesis! He watches it all the time & even when he’s not watching, he has it on as “background noise”. I just consider it noise. If I (rarely) watch something, I turn it off when I’m done.

    2. Thank you for explaining your work. Ashamedly, I have to admit, I was one of those people who thought you’d have to have ghost writers because you turn out so many books in such a short time. I now understand how you accomplish so much!
      My favs are your In Death series, and I totally LOVED Come Sundown, which I just finished. When I read I place myself right there in the story, and your stories are exciting. I also enjoy your Irish stories as I have some Irish in my DNA and have always felt a “calling” to anything Irish!

  5. Thank you for explaining your process! I appreciate your gift, your discipline & desire! God gives each of us something we’re good at & it’s up to each of us to use it, perfect it & do it! Mine is music ( singing, guitar, drums) & it gives me great joy & comfort! Even more now that I can share with & entertain my grandkids! Looking forward to more great reads from you!

  6. I just want to say that I love you as awriter! My favorite actually!!! And I appreciate all the hard work that you do to give me the and countless others a little piece of happiness! Reading is my therapy. .Lol!!!! Thank you!

    1. Thank you Nora for sharing this with us. I never thought, for even a second, that you used a ghostwriter. No body can write like you.

  7. This was so interesting. The detail of how your day progresses makes me feel as if I was there with you! (hiding!)

    I also love reading you are a solitary person. Me too. I’m just not a socializing type. I have to have time on Monday to recover from being around people on the weekend. This is another reason I love Eve. She isn’t an amiable sort.

    As for wondering whether you alone write your books, I don’t. I believe.

    Hugs from a kindred soul.

  8. Well, finally, I see something that’s a problem with you.

    You’re a pepsi drinker. Shudder.

    Oh. And the routine thing. I wish I could figure how to get more on routine.

    Personally, anybody who think yous use a co-writer or ghostwriter doesn’t know much about storytelling.

    Writers all have their own unique voices and some have *very* distinctive voices. You’re one of them. Nobody writes like you do. That’s just all there is to it.

  9. Nora, your work ethic, tenacity and incredible talent are so inspiring. Thanks for sharing all of that with your fans. And thank you, also, for not just turning a blind eye and letting those wankers that don’t have those qualities get away unscathed in their cheating!

  10. Everyone has commented well so I will just say that I am thankful that you love to write and have that routine that provides me with 4 new books of yours every year.

  11. Nora, my sister tried to suggest once that since you do so many books a year, you must be using a ghostwriter. My response back; you don’t read her. If you did, you’d easily recognize the “voice”! I did reading the first In Death book; I kept saying this sounds like Nora! Lo & behold! I know the Robbs are different from the other books, but still; it comes thru! & reading this, I know why! I kept hearing Eve! Yeah, there’s some of that go away & leave me alone in her as well! And I’m so glad for it. Thank you, and don’t let the idiots get you down!

    1. You’re so right! I kept hearing Eve too, when I was reading this :).

  12. I have such a girl crush on you Nora. Aside from your amazing writing–Eve Dallas is the bomb!–I love your straightforwardness. You are a huge inspiration to me. Thank you for the many wonderful hours spent lost in your stories.

  13. As a only child, and pianist( many many hours /years practicing ) and I understand the “alone” time. It’s the only way I’d have it.
    Thank you for endless hrs of enjoyment …
    And for all your dedication…. we appreciate it.

    1. Thanks for sharing. It was interesting. However, I am sorry you keep having to justify yourself. Don’t know why people keep wanting to knock you down.

  14. Just like I imagined your creative proccess. ?

    I’ve read the “this book wasn’t writen by Nora” in reviews, forum or wherever but I always thought how difficult that would happen with a person like you with little patience for BS. And when you give your work to others to do you have to take it – as nice and “perfect” that person would be there’s always ego and I don’t see you “discounting” just because you want that book out with the neat N and R on top ?

    One of the worst things of people in recent times is to think they own the creatives – a writer, a sports player, celebrity… and that you owe them something and then there are less talent (and/or talentless) people that think that in order to deliver it is right to steal, to lie, to pretend, to cheat…?

    I really don’t like to see you “justifying” – even if you aren’t exactly- so now I need THAT drink ?

    Keep Going and Enjoying it ❤️ Go Nora ?

    1. Thanks, Teresa, for saying something important. When did so much of the reading/watching/listening public start to think they had ownership rights over the notable? It’s really sad that Nora has to waste her valuable time explaining once again something that isn’t any of our business.

      I’m grateful to her for sharing the above as I selfishly enjoy her putting some words together for any reason. I won’t spend my meager book budget on “celebrity” authors who use co-authors (name in small print at bottom of cover). I’m a happy re-reader while waiting for Nora’s annual mother-load. Now I too will lift my glass to her health, productivity and happiness.

  15. I think the reason I like biographies is that you find out about the hows and whys of that person.

    Thanks for this insight into your writing process.

    A thankful reader.

  16. Thank you for explaining your process. I had wondered if you used a spreadsheet to keep your characters’ attributes consistent from story to story. I admire you for being able to keep it all in your head. Your In Death series is my absolute favorite series and I really appreciate how you have allowed the characters to evolve and mature. And I enjoy your blog, too. Please don’t let the turkeys get you down.

  17. I applaud you for your work ethic. Hard to find these days. I ❤️ all of your books, especially the JD Robb series. Be yourself and write on. You are authentic and an original.

  18. I enjoyed reading the insight into your process. I’m a huge fan, first of Roberts, and then I stumbled across Robb, years ago. It seems like Lt. Dallas gets some of her badassery from you! Keep it up, as I devour your books and appreciate the 4 per year.

    1. I was thinking the same re Dallas. No wonder she feels so real: she’s got a lot of her creator in her!!

  19. I have loved your work for many years and appreciate you dedication. You have told your readers how you work and I am sorry you had to do it again because of foolish people and liars. Thank you for all your books that I have read and listened to many times. I have other authors I enjoy but you are still my favorite.

  20. Very much enjoyed this. I found myself thinking there’s more than a bit of Eve Dallas in your working process – solitary woman, no “small talk staff people.” Glad you’ve found what works for you so I can continue to enjoy 4 new books a year.

  21. I am rereading the “In Death” series. I had to laugh, so much of this sounds like Eve Dallas.

  22. Nora,
    Thank you for all of your wonderful books. I too like my alone time. Now that I am retired I can indulge in one of my favorite obsessions, needlepoint. Any of your books in audible form are fabulous to stitch to.

  23. I love that you still use Word Perfect! It is so much better than Word! I am in awe of your discipline. Thanks for the hours, and hours, and hours of entertainment and enjoyment due to your diligence and routine brilliance!

  24. Awesome, Nora. Love all your books and J.D Robb. Pre order all so they are in my mailbox the day they hit the stores. I loved your comment about DOS. I work where one of our systems is still DOS.

  25. All of us loyal readers know it’s all you. I’m excited to start every book and sad when it’s over. I’m an avid reader but always know the book I read right after one of yours will likely feel flat. It’s rare for an author to keep me up reading all night because I have to know what happens next. I’m grateful you give us four books a year. Thank you!!

  26. I am a big fan and appreciate all your hard work. When my mom was alive i turned her on to J D Robb. We both enjoyed the books. We would discuss your books in detail. I miss those days. Thanks for all you do.

  27. Nora…Don’t be weirded out because this is meant in the most sincere way…I love you, you’re my hero! Not a month goes by that I’m not reading vintage Nora, JD Robb, or something current you’ve written…it’s just my happy place when I’m in the book with you! Thanks for sharing your gift…

  28. Thanks for sharing, Nora. I’m a big fan of the in death series, and reading this is like I am in my favorite fictional murder cop, Eve’s head. Keep on writing and I will continue reading. ?

  29. I, too, am Powered by Pepsi.

    Some days, I refer to it as The Blood of my Enemies. Others, it’s Mother’s Milk.

    Depends on the day.


    In all seriousness, thanks for sharing and all that you’ve done (and continue to do) for the romance community–readers and writers alike. You’re pretty much a national treasure as far as I’m concerned.

  30. I often wondered how you worked. It was incredible to me that you could write, so much and do good. Now I know and I’m grateful for your gift because it has given me many, many hours of enjoyment. I love your characters, but I melt with your “In Death” ones. I live for the next fix and God bless you for giving me two shots per year. Happy writing, Nora, and keep them coming.

  31. Nora, I applaud your work ethic! I had 11 years of the Sisters teaching me, so I know where you’re coming from….put your nose to the grindstone and just do it!
    People are going to believe whatever lies, conspiracy theories, plagiarism accusations they want, but those of us who have been reading your books since the Silhouette days, know YOU put the effort in. NO one else!
    Please keep writing! I’ll keep reading!

  32. I have loved your work since I was a 13 year old girl now I’m a woman with a child in college and I love your work more now. You were the reason I wrote my first book and the reason I fell in love with storytelling. I for one am glad you are the way you are. From one solitary person to another, keep kicking ass Nora and rock on.

  33. Thank you so much for an insight look into your writing process. I love knowing how writers work and how what works for them. Thank you for creating such rich wonderful stories. I love escaping into them when I can and get excited when there is a new one coming.

  34. Thank you, truly, for sharing your personal time and space with us. While it came about due to some real lying jerks out there, it was wonderful to read about your day and your process when writing… I am amazed at your discipline – that too is a gift! Your voice shines through every book YOU write. I am very thankful for it as I get to enjoy – thoroughly – the results!

  35. Hello Nora. Never would I question who writes your stories. Certainly not formula but your style shines in all your novels. Whether I am sitting down to read a NR or JD Robb I know I will be reading or rereading a well written story with engaging characters and an interesting plot.

  36. I sometimes joke that I wish all the writers I love would write like Nora Roberts… Not like you, but with your prolificity. But reading thru this? I don’t know how you write like Nora Roberts. Wow.

    I remember your first book, and have read nearly everything you’ve ever written. Thanks for nearly 40 years of entertainment. Looking forward to many more Nora’s.

  37. Thank you for sharing the insights into your process of writing a book. It’s truly a blessing to love what you do and I can tell from your books.

    I started reading your books around 17-18 years. I love and always looking forward to them. I am quite like you. I like to stay home, although I wish I can make myself workout 90 minutes a day. I also like my space a lot, hence quite difficult when it comes to work. I don’t like it when my colleague invades my space or working area. I prefer working by myself.

    Thank you for sharing all these wonderful stories with us. I love both NR and JD Robb books.

  38. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Your hard work is so appreciated. I smile, laugh and forget my troubles. You are truly talented. Interesting though ad I’ve always wondered how you and Eve mesh so well…you are her haha. Hard working and a little creeped out with people in your space. I am so sorry this plagiarism crap is happening to you and the other authors. I remember the earlier happenings and I remember reading that authors books and thinking hmmm. I am the type to go and chrck copywrite dates. I stopped reading that Authors books but have been an avid fan of yours for more years than I can remember, as far back as the silhouette days. Thank you again for YOUR work and trust me we can tell.

  39. I respect your routine and the discipline involved to write your wonderful books. You are a woman of principle, and I admire that. Just continue to enjoy your life, your family and your friends, I will continue to purchase your books and read them with relish and enjoyment and in support of your talent in keeping me enthralled from start to finish.

  40. And there it is! I absolutely love your work and how you do it. Keep on keeping on!

  41. Thank you for explaining your process! I hear Eve in a couple sentences, shows how you use your voice with your characters and how we can hear them.
    PS I celebrate when everyone leaves my house too shhhhh

  42. I am so glad you write the way you do. I enjoy all your writing especially the In Death books which I listen to from Audible. Personally I wish I could have a two hour listen to In Death Books 365 days a year. I round be such a happy person. I hope you continue your writing fir a very long time. Thank you fir making my life more enjoyable and entertaining. I appreciate it.

  43. Nora – I have owned and read every book you published since Book 1. The way you pull a reader into your characters is a gift that only God can bestow – and he gave you a really big package. You have honored that gift by writing such wonderful stories – romance, suspense, paranormal, futuristic (and a believable one at that) and mystical. No matter what name you write under, I buy every one. I just read too fast so I am always rereading the ones I have read before. Know that your readers have known about your integrity FOREVER and know how honorable you are in your writing and personal life. We are the same age and I am hoping you won’t retire like I did as I really need to keep reading Nora until I pass. Love Eve and Roarke.

  44. As a fellow Catholic school, nun-educated individual (12 years!), I relate to your acceptance of that’s just “my wiring.” I’ve always credited Sister Theodora from 9th grade for my love of the written word.

    Several blog posts ago, I asked you if you did your own research. Your reply was similar to your explanation here. I smiled as I wondered why I was suddenly hearing Eve’s voice.?

    I so appreciate you taking on this battle when I am sure you would much rather do something more productive (like writing). I thank you for the decades of joy I have experienced through your dedication and hard work.

    I know you don’t need to hear it, but, just keep on being you.

    P.S. I am reading the book, Silence in the Age of Noise, by Erling Kagge. I repeatedly hear myself muttering, “Yes!” I think you would enjoy it (if you haven’t already).

  45. Like all of the comments on this post I have read your books for so many years. There is no one that writes likes you, sobthat you can see the world your characters live in as you are reading. No one can duplicate your voice. Thank you for being you and sharing your stories with us.

  46. So happy to hear this. I’ve often wondered if you do all your own writing. I won’t read Patterson because he doesn’t. I’ve read all the In Death books at least twice. JD Robb is my all time favorite author. I like you too Nora Roberts lol. I appreciate your dedication and passion. I wait breathlessly for the next In Death book. I too love to be alone. My kids say all I need is my dogs and my books. So true. I’ve been married for 52 years and he gets me so we’re good. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

  47. You have been my fav author for decades now. Its your “voice”, writing style that I recognize in every book you’ve written. You’ve been blessed with the ability to tell a tale, and tell it well! And I am blessed with the ability to read! I think that works out rather well. Keep doing ” you” Nora.

    1. Thanks, Tami in Michigan, for reminding us that not only are we blessed with Nora’s ability to tell a tale, and in writing, but also we are blessed with the ability to read those tales!

      I probably wouldn’t have known what I was missing fully if I hadn’t learned to read, but sure am glad I do know, if that makes any sense. So many thanks to the teachers that helped me to be able to read & to appreciate what is written!

  48. Nora–While I enjoy your books written as Roberts, I LOVE the world of Eve & Roarke! I could see Eve in your explanation of how you work, and you are a master. Long may you keep writing !

  49. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain how you work Nora, you are such a gifted storyteller whose voice is utterly unique. Eve may be a fictional character, but it’s easy to see who she gets her focus, work ethic and spine from! To paraphrase Commander Whitney, the people accusing you of using ghostwriters, co-writers, collaborators or whatever (eye roll) should aspire to achieve half the integrity that you so obviously have. I am grateful for every single one of the wonderful books YOU write, so please don’t let the bastards get you down.

  50. Nora, sending you prayer bouquets since many of your books reveal your affection for the fragrant and colorful. Hang tough.

  51. I’ve read several of your books over the years and as much as I loved some of the other books. The In Death series is to me your raw work. It seems like it allows you to write outside the norm of typical romance novels. Not to say all romance is typical but growing up reading tons of romance novels it almosf felt like the majority were I dunno formulated. The first In Death book I read was Portrait In Death In 2004. I was in Ad school abroad in Hamburg, Germany homesick for America and I didn’t realize while reading it that it was a series. When I did I scoured every used book store I could find to read every In Death book I could find. I honestly didn’t even know JD Robb was you til later. I sleep with Roarke and Eve every night. I never get tired of them. I’ve been in love with Eve ever since I read the first description about her and never tire of reading them although now I’m probably killing myself and my eyes because all 60+ books live on my phone and I read them before bed every night. They make me happy because I am never without them, but before that I owned every paper back and don’t regret the Euros I spent on the ones I found in Germany. I’ve read tons of articles about you but I feel like after this blog I couldn’t love you any more now than ever because again it’s raw and it’s real and we’ll blunt af. You almost sound like a recluse and the older I get the more I feel like I just don’t like people anymore. I think I can count on my right hand the people who matter in my life. I’m not saying you’re a recluse but to write the way you do I don’t doubt for a second you’d have to do it every damn day. I think it’s sad so many of us will tell you how great you are but sadly the fockers that you remember are the asshats that call you a liar. As Roarke would say Bollocks to that. So you do you and please keep writing because even though re-reading these books takes me a fairly long time. I don’t know where I’d be without them. So I, and everyone else, who will add to this thread will continue to love and read (yours and yours alone) books that no one else could even try on their luckiest of days to write other than you. My point and I had one somewhere is you are loved and maybe hated but I’d put a wager on loved more than hated so #preachNora and keep fighting the fight but in the end you know you and what’s yours so fuck em if they say different!!! Just another fan with way too much to say but I hope you get the jist or is it gist <3

  52. Thank you, as an aspiring novelist, I’m already an author in a different medium, this post has really helped with my confidence in myself. I love your works and audio books of them are often my companion at my day job.

    You are an inspiration and anyone who has read your works in their entirety can tell that they are all written with the same hand.

  53. Hi Nora…. I’ve attended many of your “chats wth” sessions at various RWA conferences since 1990. And every time you speak about your “writing process” it is exactly as you’ve described here in this Fall into the Story posting.

    WTF is wrong with people that they don’t believe you…??? Are they just born brain dead…? Or do they make up these idiotic stories in order to inflate their self-importance…???

    Thank you for your patience (with idiots) …! Thank you for being as dedicated as you are to your craft. You are an inspiration to those of us who love to write, struggle at it and create characters who have stories to tell.

    Also a big thanks goes out to the nuns who instilled that work ethic in you. The Presentation Nuns taught me “tenacity” which is another quality a writer needs.

    Thanks again for your books…your patience. Take care and happy writing…!

  54. Thank you for your writing and for keeping us informed even when you’re busy writing. Also, though I do use Windows now, I started using WordPerfect on DOS with the bluescreen and it will always be my favourite wordprocessing program.

  55. You are awesome that’s all I have to add to what everyone else has already said. I too value my alone time. I like being at home just me and the dogs doing my thing. I’m handicapped now and can no longer work but that just means more reading time and creative time for me. Keep up the good work Nora you’re the best and now we all know why!

  56. Thank you so much for sharing this. And I have to say, it makes my heart happy to know that Eve Dallas is alive and well because man oh man, that description of you, was her! Which makes sense in a way, but still makes me smile. Thank you for all of your hard work and know that despite the few out there who need to pour their unhappiness all over other people, there are many people who love and appreciate what you do everyday.

  57. I loved the ‘process’ – but I wish that those who criticise you and others would just shut . They obviously don’t have your work ethic – which brings us back around to plagiarism .
    Keep writing and I will keep reading .

  58. Fascinating insight, though Word Perfect was a shock and a blast from the past!! I’m amazed you can get it to work on a modern machine, unless your laptop is also ancient ?. I’ll be honest and say I never considered authors weren’t writing their own books as what would be the point in that, but as we have all learned it is apparently a thing motivated by greed. The fact that anyone could suggest it of Nora is ridiculous though, the voice is just too clear and identifiable, even reading this blog you can recognise when its Nora or Laura.

  59. Thanks for sharing with us how you work. It was really very interesting. There were a few occasions when I thought I was listening to Eve Dallas talking which should not surprise me as she is one of your creations. I like the Nora Roberts books, but I love the J.D. Robb series. And Eve Dallas would fully agree with you that some asskicking is required from time to time – and now is one of those times.

  60. I really caught a whiff of Eve Dallas in your article …. It’s amazing to see the dichotomy of being such introverted personalities yet providing a product to please the masses that seems to be common among the authors I admire. I have always admired your talent but I feel now that we share the value of work even more.

  61. We enjoyed reading this as much as we enjoy reading or listening to your books, the “voice” is definitely yours, and yours alone. Thank you for sharing the fruits of your DDD labors with your readership.

  62. Three things from the above post stand out to me (I loved it all!)
    1. Word Perfect – I too loved the old blue screen and cried (real tears ) when my employer forced us to go to the “modern” version and then on to the Microsoft package because they got a discount.
    2. You ARE Eve – not fond of (most) other people being in your space or in your business. I feel the same.
    3. I LOVE all of your books, especially your JD Robb (I have read them all so far) and your Irish-themed trilogies.
    Keep up the good work – I look forward to each new book from you. Since my retirement you are the highlight of my day.

  63. First off – Nora, I love you.

    Secondly, the part of your post that had me doing a double-take? That you consider yourself a poor speller. Talk about a disconnect. For some reason, I thought that you were the world’s best. Ah, spell-check and editors, eh?

    At any rate, so glad you have the discipline, drive and desire. I say: lucky us. Thank you.

  64. I am so glad that I read this. It makes me feel good to know that I’m not the only “super-fan!” But then again, anyone who reads the In Death series knows, you don’t have any fans. We are ALL “super-fans!! Everyone knows what a bookworm I am & when they come to me asking what do I recommend or if I’ve read any good books lately, they all get the same answer. J.D. Robb! Even if they say “that sounds too “science fiction-y” I tell them to just take one of the paperbacks (nobody borrows my beloved hard backs) and read just one and tell me what you think. And obviously they borrow another one & then start buying their own. And they always come back super fans thanking me so much for introducing them to the series. You’re ALWAYS my first suggestion and nobody has ever brought it back and not LOVED IT!! I love the grown men listening to you in their big rigs. I met a man who I didn’t previously know and I was reading one of your books and he plopped down beside me & started discussing the books with me and telling me who he would cast in parts if there was a movie, etc. It was so awesome how big of a super fan this big ole trucker was. I bet we talked for over 30 minutes & I didn’t even know him! Lol So screw the haters and the people who really believe these books aren’t 100% YOU! I thought it was obvious! Thank you for your hard work and dedication to the In Death series! And for all of your other books as well! You discipline is mind blowing to me and very inspiring! Keep writing!

  65. Dear Nora. I am sad for the reason why you wrote this but I am glad you did because I found it fascinating. There are always going to be haters and those who can’t believe you could possibly do it by yourself. Jealousy is ugly. You have your truth and you do not deter from it.

    I have read probably 95 percent of your work and loved it. Have reread them multiple times so you have provided me with countless hours of entertainment. I meet you at a TTP book signing many years ago. I was very star struck and instead of saying something witty I said “write faster”. You were kind and laughed it off ( though in your mind you were probably envisioning Eve kicking my ass and I would have e deserved it). I have felt guilty ever since, you deserve to have a life as much as anyone else. I apologize sincerely for my insentivity. You remain my all time free avorite.

  66. Thank you! I found you in the early 80s…before cable and digital whatever stuff. You were one of the authors that saved my sanity when I had 3 babies in 4 years. I’d have a book with me whenever I was up at night for feedings, or rocking colicky babies. I’ve loved most everything you write. I’ll always read your books. Your stance on plagiarism is very well known. Shame on them!

  67. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into your life and writing routine. I love your advice to “stop making excuses and to write” and the following:
    “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.”

  68. Dear Nora, never doubted you for a minute and screw those that do! And I would like to say that I got a chuckle out of reading this blog because if you had been talking about murder or cop work I would have thought I was reading something Eve Dallas had written! LOL! There is soooo much of you in her. It’s hilarious and I love it! Keep up the good work! Your readers respect and value everything you do. Who gives a crap what anyone else thinks? Not this reader!

  69. Thank you for taking time and share with us your routine. It’s like a short story and so fascinating. Dallas is a lot like you or you are a lot like Dallas ?
    Again , thank you for all the wonderful books .

  70. Hi Ms Roberts,
    I want to start by saying i absolutely love and adore your books. I have been reading them since I was 13 years old. Reading books os one of my passions. And the books you have written have kept me company my whole life and helped me through good but also through very difficult times in my life. I love the fact that you are unquestionably yourself even in explaining the process of how you go about writing. Gives me more then a glimpse of the woman behind the writing of such heartfelt and beautiful books. I keep up with the books. Its maybe very selfish of me but i would be happy with even more books if it was possible and you were capable. Thats is how much i enjoy them. I am not from the states but from a little country in South America called Suriname. Not a very well know country i might add. But even here you have reached people who love your books.
    I hope you get to read my comment it would be very wonderfull. I want to close off by saying please keep writing all these wonderful stories Ms. Roberts,
    One of your biggest fans

    Conny from Suriname

  71. I am French
    My best friend made me know you.
    I read every Eve Dallas. And re-read. And re-read again. I am at my fourth reading.
    Then I read your other novels: from “Honest Illusions” to “Come Sundown”
    I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of sagas, but maybe one day I’ll go there.
    Anyway … All that to say that I love reading you and that this article is very interesting. Thank you for sharing with us the way you work. An exciting article
    thank you so much

  72. That process of writing reminds me of all the papers I had to write when I was going to CSU Sacramento, but the only difference was I was writing at the last minute and always turned in my first draft. ? I do know that writing took forever using WordPerfect, WordStar, and Write in DeskMate.

  73. Nora,
    I have been reading, rereading and collecting your books since the 80’s and 90’s. One of my favorite memories is having you sign Northern Lights in a B & N bookstore in Bellevue, WA. Thank you for being who and what you are……and for sharing it with everyone. I am thankful you are who you are – as I, for one, would be miserable without your stories!
    As for the rotten others who have no respect? Screw ’em all –

  74. Love your no BS work ethic! Love your work!!
    Thanks you for what you do!!

  75. Thank you for eve. This is the only series I buy hard backs in. I also buy digital. I have reread the whole series each year, luckily I speed read, I always post on my calendar when a new book comes out and read it that day. My daughter calls the next day and asks are you done yet so she can read it also. First read is always hard back so I can savor it. Then I reread in digital. My daughter takes longer( 6 kids) . Kick Butt and take no shit off the idiots. THANK YOU

  76. Nora, those who claim that you use a ghostwriter because you are able to successfully produce four quality books each year are, plain and simply, jealous of your success and obvious talent. Each and every book you release shows your hard work and dedication to your craft. Those who would demean your career are jealous because they want the adulation without putting in the effort you do. Thank you so much for becoming J. D. Robb. I have been with you from the first In Death book and patiently await each new release. You have been a part of my reading history since your first Silhouette release more years ago than I care to remember. Thank you for many happy hours of reading. Love to you and those you love, who give you the space to create such wonderful adventures.

  77. I love your books. I read and reread them until the next one comes out. Then I read it and reread it also. As in all books, there are some I like better than others, but I enjoy all of your books. I love the mystery and romance that are in all of them. Keep writing the way you do. I will keep reading and rereading them.

  78. Nora,

    It is work. Sometimes, hard work. It’s also the best job in the world. Right now, I work around my day job. I enjoy creating the characters, followed by any historical research. The writing really gets interesting, when the characters come to life. My favorite part!

  79. Hi, Wow…a delightful essay on writing from the Queen of Writing. My goodness, though, WordPerfect DOS? That was a good program. My real love was the IBM Displaywrter, standalone word processor. Best of the best, and liked it better than Wang…anyone remember Wang?

    I do not know how someone can say it’s not you, since your writing style is so unique.

    If you put this essay out without your name, I would know it was you.

    Keep on writing…and know we all support you.

    Thanks, Nancy

  80. Thank you for sharing your routine with us, I am so impressed with your dedication, and it shows in the work you offer Its sad that there is a need for you to explain your working week, but I love the insight. Thanks for the work you do

  81. Discipline. Routine. Experience. Innate talent. Of course you write all your books! Thanks for sharing your gift (and explaining your writing process).

  82. Thank you for sharing your process. I love learning how individualistic every writer’s process works. I appreciate you more than you could know, Don’t let the crazy makers drive you crazy. I learned long ago that there are just some people in this world who try to make you doubt yourself or can’t be happy for your success, so they tear you down. ~cheers from another Pepsi drinker and thank you for the years of wonderful reads. Hugs! ❤️❤️❤️

  83. I’ve been a fan since the beginning. NOT going anywhere. If I never read any other author but you, (and don’t get me wrong, I do like a few other authors) I would seriously be fine. And that’s the gospel truth. When asked what 3 books would you take on a deserted island, I have always said seriously — print ALL of Nora’s books in 1 book, and I’ll be fine 🙂 Now a days, with Kindle (or whatever else there is) that IS do-able, just NOT me. I HAVE to hold a book in my hands and turn the page. Dog ear the pages that I want to go back to and re-read again and post a note under the comment that just makes me laugh out loud or smile. I have MANY of these in my Nora books. This isn’t the first time I’ve read about you having to deal with this shit in your lifetime. And for that I am truly sorry. I pray it’s the last time tho. You should NOT have to keep going thru this. I almost feel sorry for the wrath that these idiots have brought to themselves but they deserve EVERY BIT that they get. And then some! I THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for ALL the stories, places and loves I’ve experienced thru your minds eye. It’s such a Wonderful place to be.
    A fan for life.


  84. Thank you for detailing your wonderful work! You do an amazing job!

  85. Thank you for your great books and sharing a part of your life with your readers. I am so glad to find someone else who likes being an occasional loner. I don’t need or want lots of people around me all the time. I enjoy my quiet time with my books and my dog. I finally broke down and hired a housekeeper for 1 day a month and then was shocked at how much I hated the intrusion, but I needed some help in the house so I could have at least one weekend day without house chores. It gives me more time for reading and knitting . I loved Kat’s double knitted baby blanket you posted for your fans. Thanks for the great stories.

  86. Well, if I weren’t reading a Nora blog, I would have thought that was me writing about myself and how I write. Every single thing about it perfectly matches my own routine and my own attitude. I have to hold my tongue every time I hear excuses for why someone couldn’t find time to write. You just sit down and do it. You cram it into every free moment on top of actually having a writing schedule. And you write because you absolutely LOVE it. I would EXPLODE into a tirade of words no one wants to hear if I were accused of having a ghost writer. I am very jealous of my work. No one gets to share in its creation. And I still do all my own cleaning, mothering, grand-mothering, being a wife, cooking, gardening, shopping, and for years I worked full time and still pumped out 2-5 big 500-page historical books a year. You just do it. Never mind the hundreds of hours that go into research to be added to all of that. And never an outline or synopsis. Boring!

  87. Thank you for being so honest and so real.

    As an author who is about to take the leap of faith I have great admiration for those who have gone before me and weathered the storms. I am taking your words “discipline and drive and desire” to heart. As simple as that sounds, it is the very essence of being a real author.

    I look forward to reading many more books written by you. 🙂

  88. You are one feisty lady! I LOVE your books, have all of the Robb books, and basically plan my reading schedule around each new release.

    Your dedication to writing is a blessing to my dedication to reading.

    Thank you for being there!

    PS : I don’t think I’ve read one book of yours (Robb or Roberts) that I haven’t liked.

  89. I have always loved and appreciated Nora’s body of work. Her dedication and productive skills are second to none. I’m one of those people who not only have bought books in hardback, I’ve rebought them in paperback and then paid for them again in digital format. I have faithfully bought the In Death series every February and September for more years than I care to admit. There have been a few clunkers along the way, but for the most part I have been awed by Nora’s story telling ability. Thank you

  90. Dear Nora,

    I only hope you never, ever stop writing….

    Thank you,

  91. I will never again apologize for being a solitary person who chooses when and where to engage socially. Thank you for this insight. It gives me even more respect, if that is possible, for the work and worlds you produce.

  92. I can’t believe you are still using Word Perfect and it’s not rejected by other systems! Haahaha…good for you, Nora. Do you use Lotus too?
    I am fascinated by your work ethic and conviction. My daughter is so happy to know that you are a home body too and that’s it’s okay to be that way and be successful.
    I’m always looking forward to read what comes next from your books. Thank you for creating the world of Eve Dallas and Roarke. <3

    1. I don’t know what Lotus is so apparently I don’t use it.

      My amazing Jason found some work-around and can transfer my beloved WP to new comps.

  93. Hi Nora, don’t let the idiots get you down. Also, WordPerfect DOS is a great program. I’m a professional word processor, and I did like that program. My memory goes back to Wang and also the fabulous IBM Displaywriter. Have fun writing, because we sure do love reading.

    1. Wang! Wow, you are a trail blazer in your own right! Samna?

      Laura Cochran

  94. You are everything, as a writer, I wish I was. In my head I can knock out four books a year. In actuality if I can stay on point on my current WIP for three hours at a time, including getting sidetracked during online research, it’s a very good writing day. I can’t even make excuses that I’m too busy. I’m retired. I have all the time in the world. Way too many distractions. Bravo to you for your discipline.

  95. Thanks for letting your fellow authors that we are not crazy. Not crazy for needing solitude, not crazy for working in a routine that would drive people crazy. Thanks!

  96. Thank you for what you do. I get lost in your characters. I hate when the book ends and I have to leave them.
    I just finished re-reading the O’Dwyer trilogy and again I am sad to leave them and wonder what they are doing now.
    I would love to be able to write but I cannot, so I am very glad you can and I look forward to every book you write.
    I have to admit the Year One was very scary for me and I had a difficult time getting through the first pages but of course I still couldn’t put it down.
    Thank You!

  97. Reading this post I can clearly see why J.D. Robb evolved and gave us Eve Dallas. Every year I start at the beginning and read every In Death book in sequence. I laugh, I cry and I become fully involved in them even though I’ve read them multiple times. Thanks for taking her out of your head and putting her story on paper!

  98. My love of books started as a child to escape the reality of a shitty situation I’m my life. That love continued into adulthood. With it came the urge to write. But life came along and the direction for me was nursing it was joy and my passion. Through this I found you, your books of which I have many (understatement of the year) that joy stayed with me and sustained me while life took another direction and someone asked me what did I want. The answer was easy to write and be Nora. I quit my well paying job and all of the above I see inside me. The drive the passion and the joy of those that live inside your head.
    I’m inspired to be you ❤️

  99. I just found this page after reading Golden in Death. I have read the entire series twice and some books 3 times. It’s because I love them so much. I’m grateful to learn how and why you write Nora. I’m retired and have been doing my bliss as a visual artist. I find your discipline to your writing inspirational and thank you. I’m not a person who likes working out, so what do you do in your 90 minute daily? Anyway thank you. Your books are and have been part of my past time and love of reading since the series inception.

  100. I just came to this post this morning, and I’m so in awe. As a writer myself, Nora’s dedication to routine and the craft is something to which I can only inspire. I wish I could work like her! Every book I’ve picked up by Nora or JD is unique and totally “Nora”. I can’t imagine thinking any of the books are ghostwritten. She’s one-of-a-kind!

  101. Nora, you are my all time favorite author! Whatever your process, it works! I hope you never stop writing. I have a long commute to work (between 55-70 min one way) so I’ve started enjoying your books in audio; and let me say, the narrator can make or break your book, fortunately most of them are good, some are exceptional, one I had to stop listening to because she wasn’t good with other voices and just boring.

    I won’t bore you anymore, I would love to have one if your books signed, or see a schedule of your book-signings!
    Janet in Ohio

  102. Nora, you are amazing. I have read, reread, own and proudly display all of your dog-eared, carried around, carted from new home to new home books and the fact that you even had to defend yourself, your writing, your dignity and your work to some obviously quite fuck-heads…can I use the f word here? You did…lol…..saddens me. I think you’re great…love everything you write….truly adore Dallas so thank you for her & keep doing what you do for the fans like me who have never doubted for a second that every single one of your books is pure Nora! Jackie Mullica in NJ

Comments are closed.