Back To Our Regularly Scheduled

So that* happened.

And before it did, I’d planned to blog a bit about our holiday feast.

Your monthly dose of Griffin

In the time of Covid, we’re focused on staying safe. We have a bubble going with Jason, Kat and Griffin with all the adults working at home, not going out other than when necessary. Masks, sanitizer, hand washing, and all of it.

2021 has to be better, and we all want to get there.

Kayla’s also part of our bubble when she’s here. Before she drove home from college, she and her dorm mates got tested, then switched to all on-line classes to self-quarantine. They didn’t want to bring anything home but themselves.

Smart girls!

So we could have our little group for our big feast.

And I had a lot of help in the kitchen.

Pie baking—apple and pumpkin on Wednesday, and a pasta meal.

The most efficient diner in the house.

Griffin turned two the end of October, and he’s spent about ten months now at home, just his parents. We didn’t see them for the first three or four months of the pandemic, so the boy and I had to inch our way back. It’s a long time in a toddler’s life.

He’d play on the floor with me, walk outside, babble. But I was not allowed to pick him up or hold him. Uh-uh, Mom or Dad only! So no snuggles through spring, summer, into the fall.

We had a breakthrough—more to be grateful for. Last October I bought him this crazy little robot toy on the way to New York. It plays an incredibly repetitive nonsense song while it dances around and shoots out light.

At one, it terrified him. So away it went.

Now, he’s two, so let’s see what he thinks of it.

Interesting….let me stand way over here and observe it. Okay, now I must touch. And laugh. And dance. Nana dances, too. And for the first time since February, he wants me to pick him up. And we dance with the robot.

I lift weights three times a week, but the boy weighs 35 dense pounds. As my arms give out, I think we’ll sit on this kitchen stool and watch the robot.

No, we won’t! Dance, Nana, dance. And I get a hug for it.

Worth spaghetti arms.

A bonus for the feast.

We’ve got turkey, stuffing—and a meatless dressing for our veggie. Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, roasted Brussel sprouts, roasted cauliflower—much peeled and chopped by Jason, veggies roasted by Kat as I handled making the gravy and other dishes. Homemade cranberry sauce, succotash, deviled eggs, a pretty round of sour dough bread.

A thankful meal

Pie for days.

Nobody went hungry.

Before and after I’ve been at the keyboard through the week, working out after the writing day, then, with zombie book brain, signing tubs of books from TTP, and crashing.

On weekends, since we’re still stuck in COVID, it’s clean. No more weekly housekeeper—not since March. So I scrub toilets and floors and all the rest with my faithful sidekick BW. And I cook, and I bake.

Trying some new breads—and as Jason has become a pandemic bread baker, or as Kat calls him The Bread Wizard—we’ve exchanged recipes.

I made his Irish Soda bread—yum! Then tried my hand at Stottie bread. Also yum.

Irish soda bread.

 

Stottie bread
Italian bread

And since Christmas is coming, I shop on line.

Which is finished!!!!

Since it’s finished, there’s wrapping (Kayla’s helping!) gift bagging, and shortly shipping gifts to pals I can’t gather with this holiday. I miss them!

And there’s decorating. We all need some cheer, especially in 2020. I’ve got a start on that, and will likely finish this weekend.

Just the start of the display

It’ll be a quieter Christmas than usual, with no New Year’s Day Open House to follow. But we’ll stay safe, look out for each other, take the blessings we have and treasure them.

Wishing the same for all of you through the holiday season and beyond.

2021 can’t possible suck this much.

Nora


*What happened? Basically, comments in The Awakening discussion thread were picked up on Twitter and six days after Nora dealt with the issue, we had a blog breakdown from all the people rushing in to read the comments. No need to add anything, just filling you in. ~Laura

Guide to Irish terms and names in The Awakening

Instead of a glossary in the back of The Awakening, I thought it would be helpful to have a list of definitions for the Irish you see in The Awakening along with a link to hear the pronunciations. They are listed in order of appearance in the book so it’s easy to follow along.

Click on the word itself to get the pronunciation link. When there are choices in dialect, go with Connacht.

Very special thanks go to the Macmillan Audio team for coming up with the list as they prepared for recording The Awakening. Any and all errors are mine.

Talamh –  earth, ground, land
Taoiseach – chief, leader
Cosantoir – defender, protector
Clann – family
Misneach – Courage, spirit  
Sláinte! – health  
Mo stór – my treasure 
Ogham – early Irish alphabet 
Bodhrán – traditional Irish drum  
Fáilte – welcome 
Déithe – gods  
libh – you  
Sidhe -fairy 
Dobhar-chú – King Otter
Cróga – brave 
Lasair – blaze
Mo dheartháir – my brother
Athame – blade
Lough – lake 
Fírinne – truth 
Finnguala – fair of shoulders
Lir – sea
Tuatha Dé Danann – tribe of the gods 
Taoisigh – chief/leader  
Ceilidh – a gathering with folk music and singing, traditional dancing, and storytelling  
Mo bandia – my goddess 
Mo chroi – my love, my darling  
Samhain – end of the harvest season

And here’s how to pronounce some names – which are also in order of appearance.

Aisling –  https://forvo.com/word/aisling/#ga
Tarryn –  https://youglish.com/pronounce/tarryn/english?
Mairghread – https://www.pronouncenames.com/pronounce/mairghread
O’Ceallaigh – https://forvo.com/search/%C3%93%20Ceallaigh/ga/
Siobhan –  https://forvo.com/word/siobhan/#en
Eian – https://youglish.com/pronounce/eian/english?
Lonrach –  https://forvo.com/search/lonrach/
Keisha –  https://forvo.com/word/keisha/#en
Finola –  https://forvo.com/word/finola/#en
Kavan – https://youglish.com/pronounce/kavan/english?
Mac an Ghaill – https://www.pronouncekiwi.com/Mairtin%20Mac%20an%20Ghaill
Igraine –  https://forvo.com/search/igraine/cy/ 
Odran –  https://forvo.com/search/Odran/
Mahon – https://forvo.com/search/Mohan/en/
Aoife –  https://forvo.com/word/aoife/#ga
Shana – https://forvo.com/search/Shana/
Mina –  https://youglish.com/pronounce/mina/english?
Yseult –  https://forvo.com/word/yseult/#fr
Deaglan –  https://forvo.com/word/deagl%C3%A1n/#ga
Bria – https://youglish.com/pronounce/bria/english?
Mac Aodha – https://forvo.com/word/mac_aodha/#ga
Ultan – https://forvo.com/search/Ult%C3%A1n/
Devlin –  https://forvo.com/search/devlin/
Beryl –  https://forvo.com/word/beryl/#en
Largus –  https://forvo.com/search/largus/
Minga –  https://forvo.com/search/minga/bar/
Og –  https://forvo.com/search/og/ga/
Aidan –  https://forvo.com/word/aidan/#en
Daryn-  https://youglish.com/pronounce/daryn/english?
Ywain – https://forvo.com/search/ywain/
Birgit –  https://forvo.com/search/Birgit/de/

Thankful

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.

Nora

The Awakening discussion thread

On sale now!

The Awakening is now available in stores/on e-readers! And this is the place to discuss all things about the first book in The Dragon Heart Legacy.

Just a quick reminder of the official cover copy:

In the realm of Talamh, a teenage warrior named Keegan emerges from a lake holding a sword representing both power and the terrifying responsibility to protect the Fey. In another realm known as Philadelphia, a young woman has just discovered she possesses a treasure of her own.

As a young girl, Breen Kelly listened to her father’s stories of magical places. As an anxious twentysomething she’s mired in student debt and working a job she hates.  Then one day she stumbles upon a shocking discovery: her mother has been hiding an investment account in her name. Worth nearly four million dollars, it was funded by her long-lost father.

Little does Breen know that when she uses some of the money to journey to Ireland, it will unlock mysteries she couldn’t have imagined. Here, she will begin to understand why she kept seeing an silver-haired, elusive man, why she imagined his voice in her head saying Come home, Breen Siobhan. It’s time you came home. Why she dreamed of dragons. And learn her true destiny lies through a portal in Galway which takes her to a land of faeries and witches, to a man named Keegan, and to the courage in her own heart that will guide her through a powerful, dangerous destiny.

Hope you enjoyed The Awakening! Share your thoughts in the comments. Remember Be Ware: spoilers up ahead.

Laura

UPDATED: Let’s talk about the book in the comments, shall we? As of 12/6 any comments not related to The Awakening and its plot will unapproved. Because, seriously, we need to chat about Sally and the nonblood family Breen creates. Love, love, love. ~Laura

Faithless in Death excerpt

Out February 9, 2021

Time for a first look at Faithless in Death! Here’s the official description:

The scene in the West Village studio appears to be classic crime-of-passion: two wineglasses by the bed, music playing, and a young sculptor named Ariel Byrd with the back of her head bashed in. But when Eve Dallas tracks down the wealthy Upper East Side woman who called 911, the details don’t add up. Gwen Huffman is wealthy, elegant, comforted by her handsome fiancé as she sheds tears over the trauma of finding the body―but why did it take an hour to report it? And why is she lying about little things?

As Eve and her team look into Gwen, her past, and the people around her, they find that the lies are about more than murder. As with sculpture, they need to chip away at the layers of deception to find the shape within―and soon they’re getting the FBI involved in a case that involves a sinister, fanatical group and a stunning criminal conspiracy.

Some of you may have noticed the release date is tweaked slightly from our original pub date. Faithless in Death will now be in stores on Feb. 9 (which is why we always say titles and dates subject to change).

And now, without further ado, here’s Chapter One.

Laura

A november-ish update

November, how can that be? I mean, I know HOW it can be, but still am stunned there are 61 days left to this year.

Before 2020, Fall into the Story was full of bright, interesting travel, family and life updates from Nora along with lively book discussions. This year, while the book chats continue to bring up differing points of view and some charged opinions, the life section has simmered down to monthly updates with varying degrees of Groundhog’s Day (the Bill Murray movie, not the weird shadow day. Though I admit to preferring Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow for a movie about a day without end.)

I volunteered to take November. For those who love Nora’s own voice, I know she’ll be back with an update around the holidays. Today you’ve got the Cranky Publicist.

In Nora’s world, she and BW celebrated her birthday in the 2020 way — lots of virtual love and gifts by mail. Plus a visit from the ever entertaining Griffin and his parents.

C’mon Atticus, show me a downward dog!

Writing-wise, Nora’s immersed in the second book set in the world you’ll meet in The Awakening (out November 24). It’s hard sweaty work to build a world, but I sense it’s also daily respite from the stress of the world where it’s 2020.

Last weekend, Griffin turned 2! (Ok, if I can’t believe it’s November, I’m really having issues with Griffin and two.) He celebrated in fine style with his Nana and Grandda (and those necessary chauffeur parents). Word is he wanted everyone’s cake — especially Mom’s — instead of his own piece.

Yours looks more interesting. Mom!

Time for the first #randomkatness in a very long time! I know long-term readers have asked occasionally about the blanket Kat was knitting for Griffin. I have proof she finished it before the 2nd birthday:

One side…
the other.

In the Cranky Publicist world — outside of Nora responsibilities — my very first solo photo show opened at Gifts Inn BoonsBoro yesterday. When we planned it in January, the opening coincided with TTP’s Halloween signing. While events at TTP are canceled (the store remains open), the talented team at Gifts continues to forge ahead with in-person and virtual exhibits of interesting art from creatives all over the Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania area.

Including, it seems. Me.

As some of you know, I tend to take photos as I go on my daily walks. The pieces I chose for this show feature walks from 2018 until last month. I framed 12 pieces, then made cards and a calendar.

Framed, ready to go.
A selection of cards.
Outside the shop on delivery day.

And all will be on display/online until the end of November. You can see my pieces here.

I’ll close in the best way possible: a sweet little boy on a tree stump. I KNOW you don’t find that every day.

Perfect form.

As always, stay safe, stay well, and be kind.

Laura

Keeping on and keeping up

I imagine that’s what we’re all trying to do as we move into COVID fall.

Around here, we’ve got a routine going, and routines always keep me steadier. I’m writing away, and that always keeps me sane and steady. I recently finished next fall’s In Death—and no! We’re not telling you anything about it yet.

Now I’m working on Book Two of The Dragon Heart Legacy trilogy. Fantasy’s a fun place to go when reality is particularly hard.

Weekends are for cleaning, cooking, baking. Not much gardening recently as herds—and I mean herds—of deer gobbled up at last half my gardens. Nothing stopped them this year—not repellant, not dogs, not whirligigs, not nothing, not no how. Twice I went out and chased about ten away. And we have a good-sized fawn—still spotted—who has come right up to my kitchen window—three times—still chewing on one of my shrubs.

Despite them, I have some bright spots out there.

I’ve harvested, chopped and frozen in ice cube trays my oregano and my basil. I now have a couple of big freezer bags of both for all those soups, sauces and stews I’ll make through fall and winter. Rosemary yet to deal with.

Laura’s branch vase

Snipped a few flowers for the pretty vase Laura made me. The ones with the tiny orange flowers attract hummingbirds so I plant a good flow of them every spring. We have a couple of feeders which they frequent, but I watched one spend at least five full minutes going from one of these tiny flowers to the next the other day. He actually had to fly up to a tree branch to rest for a minute, then came back and did it all again.

They’ll migrate soon, and I’ll miss them over the winter.

We brought in my lemon tree—we’ve had a couple of very cool nights—and I picked the last three lemons of this crop. Sweet!

Lemon harvest


I also had some coleus volunteer in the river rock beside the pot where I plant it every spring. These volunteers must have popped up from seeds blown out from last year. I managed to dig them up and pot them. Am happy to report after a week in the pool house, they’re doing well. Nice houseplants, and a nice reminder of spring and summer.

Coleus ready to winter


And every couple weeks, Jason and Kat and Griffin visit. That’s the real bright spot. He’s such a little boy now, and full of energy and toddler babbling. One of his favorite games is to set up some barrier—a box, a laundry basket, whatever, then chase of be chased around it by one or both of his parents until he just flops down exhausted.

This little man is nearly 2!


Kayla is staying safe in college, and it’s clear from our Face Times (at least once a week) and texting, college agrees with her.

BW stays busy, and this week finished a project I so much wanted. He added lights to the built-ins he built years and years ago. It’s exactly what I wanted, and makes me ridiculously happy.

Cabinets aglow. (And yes that’s a portrait of Nora and BW as Rick and Ilsa.)

Today, heavy sigh, it’s back to the dentist (other than the magical week at The Greenbrier, the only place I’ve gone since March) for two more crowns. My teeth are the nemesis in my mouth. I’ll stop on the way home for a flu shot, then expect to hunker in, once again, likely until spring.

We’ll vote by mail. And here’s your PSA for the day. Vote. Vote safely in person or by mail, vote early if you can, but VOTE. It’s both your right and your responsibility.

That’s really about it from my home front. I’m going to relax in my clean house for awhile!

As always, stay safe.

Nora


Just a little fall from Laura’s neck of the woods.

Shadows in Death teasers

At the time of this writing there are four days, 18 hours until Shadows in Death is in stores. (Four days, 9 hours until it starts showing up on ereaders). How to make it through? A few teasers, of course.

First, the description:

While Eve examines a fresh body in Washington Square Park, her husband, Roarke, spots a man among the onlookers he knew in his younger days on the streets of Dublin. A man who claims to be his half brother. A man who kills for a living—and who burns with hatred for him.

Eve is quick to suspect that the victim’s spouse—resentful over his wife’s affair and poised to inherit her fortune—would have happily paid an assassin to do his dirty work. Roarke is just as quick to warn her that if Lorcan Cobbe is the hitman, she needs to be careful. Law enforcement agencies worldwide have pursued this cold-hearted killer for years, to no avail. And his lazy smirk when he looked Roarke’s way indicates that he will target anyone who matters to Roarke…and is confident he’ll get away with it.

Eve is desperate to protect Roarke. Roarke is desperate to protect Eve. And together, they’re determined to find Cobbe before he finds them—even if it takes them across the Atlantic, far outside Eve’s usual jurisdiction…

As usual, I’ll share some teasers — things to look out for along the course of the case. No real spoilers, just some fun. I’ll add for the next three days, so stay tuned.

Thursday, September 3
– We take trip in the Wayback Machine with Jack and Ryan
– There’s a firm read on one of the Marriage Rules
– Reo and Eve play their roles to perfection

Friday, September 4
– Feeney has a different approach (and name?) for the Marriage Rules
– Roarke + Dennis Mira = a great deal
– We learn what could scare Eve, Roarke and Summerset.

Saturday, September 5
– Precautions: necessary — if insulting.
– Sometimes other people dream and soothe
– What if Roarke hadn’t gone legit?
– NYPSD kicks the world’s investigative butt

Laura

The official blog for Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb readers