Three Quick Questions (3QQ) for Deanna Raybourn

Three Quick Questions (3QQ) is a new, ongoing feature at Fall Into the Story that highlights some of the authors scheduled to join Nora at a Turn the Page signing.  This week, we’ll meet three authors who will be at the July 13 signing (Turn the Page’s 18th anniversary signing) from noon – 2 pm.

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Deanna Raybourn at RWA 2012

Deanna Raybourn is a New York Times best-selling author whose Lady Julia Grey series tells the stories of Victorian sleuth Lady Julia and her enigmatic partner, private enquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane. The series has been a reader favorite since the first book, Silent in the Grave, was released in late 2007.  (You can include one Nora Roberts among those readers!)  Silent in the Grave won the 2008 RITA for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements

A Spear of Summer Grass, Deanna’s latest book, is set in 1923 Kenya where (after the uproar brought on by her latest exploits in Paris), Delilah Drummond is exiled to her favorite stepfather’s savannah manor house until gossip subsides.

This is Deanna’s third visit to a TTP signing and we are delighted to welcome her back.  Now, onto the questions.

1. You had a long career writing before you were first published.  Then your first book, Silent in the Grave, won the 2008 RITA for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements, beating one Nora Roberts’ High Noon.  How did you feel when you heard that Nora said if she had to lose, she was delighted that Silent in the Grave was the winner because she loved that book?

It was honestly one of the most phenomenal compliments I’ve ever received. I wrote for fourteen years before I got published, and I collected a lot of rejection letters. To go from that little bubble of isolation to someone like Nora Roberts knowing my name was surreal. I was shocked and delighted that she’d read the book, and even more excited that she liked it. She was just so enthusiastic and so gracious about my work—I realized she was not just a wildly successful writer but also a fabulous role model. To cheerlead newcomers in your field shows tremendous grace. I joke that I want to be her when I grow up, but it’s not really a joke!

2. When you go back to add another story to a series such as the Lady Julia Grey books do you immediately feel welcomed back into her world or do you have to take the time to re-transition?

At this point I’ve written more than half a million words in the Julia series, so it’s always like coming home to pick up her story again. It is an absolute luxury to be able to spend so much time with the same core group of characters—especially characters I’m so fond of. It took me two years to write the first book in the series, years I happily spent researching and world-building. The effort I put in at the beginning means I can just supplement with additional reading as I go along, adding even more detail and color to their late-Victorian world. Of course, the difficulty now is in making sure I don’t contradict myself throughout the series. It would be disastrously easy to forget a character’s eye color or how I killed them off!

3. Your current book, A Spear of Summer Grass, is positively modern as it’s set in 1923, compared the Victorian era of the Lady Julia Grey books.  What were the most interesting differences in writing about a woman living in the small British community in Africa during the roaring 20s compared to a woman like Lady Julia who had to wear a heck of a lot more clothes?  Or were there more similarities than one might think?

There was tremendous freedom in writing about Delilah Drummond, not only because she’s a woman of the 1920s but also because she is a particularly liberated sort of woman. Julia pushes the boundaries of acceptable behavior for 1890 at times, but she gets away with it because she is wealthy, titled, and from a notoriously eccentric family. (And if you are at all familiar with historical eccentrics of the English aristocracy, you know Julia is actually quite tame!) Delilah is a cat of an entirely different color. She has also had a privileged upbringing, but while Julia was the petted darling of a large family, Delilah has been essentially rootless. Her mother is dotingly neglectful, her father dead. In part to remedy the lack of a structured family life, Delilah lives large, doing exactly as she pleases—with whomever she pleases. She is a force of nature, damaged and self-absorbed, but also vital and dynamic and incredibly courageous. What they have in common is that they are both women pushing against the restrictions and expectations of their times—it just so happens that their times were very different.

Where else can you find Deanna other than Turn the Page this Saturday?  Take your pick of fun: on her delectably delicious blog, on her Facebook page or on Twitter, where she waxes eloquent about many, many things from style, to research to the Tour de France.

If you would like a signed copy of Deanna’s books, just click on one of the links to Turn the Page, place an order and the fabulous TTP staff will make sure Deanna finishes up on Saturday.

And if you have any questions for Deanna, post them here and I’ll be sure to ask her, then post the answers in the recap of the signing weekend (scheduled for the evening of July 14).


Three quick questions for Kristan Higgins

Three Quick Questions is a new, ongoing feature at Fall Into the Story that will highlight some of the authors scheduled to join Nora at a Turn the Page signing.  This week, we’ll meet three authors who will be at the July 13 signing (Turn the Page’s 18th anniversary signing) from noon – 2 pm.

TTP manager Janeen Solberg and Kristan Higgins

Kristan Higgins is a New York Times best-selling author of contemporary romances.  She won the RITA for best contemporary romance in 2008 for Catch of the Day and again in 2010 for It Had To Be You.  Her current book The Best Man was named one of Amazon’s top 10 Romances for the first half of 2013.


BTW, Kristan is performing feats of great endurance by flying in for the signing early Saturday morning, driving out to the bookstore, chatting with everyone on line, signing books, then driving back to the airport to fly to Atlanta that night.  I bow in awe because after chatting with all the lovely readers who come to the signings, snapping photos when necessary and lending a hand to the TTP staff, all I want to do is be served food and drink.

Here are Kristan’s three questions:

  1. After the signing at Turn the Page, you head down to Atlanta where you are the RWA Awards Luncheon speaker on Friday, July 19, do you remember the speakers at your very first RWA conference?

I sure do! It was Lisa Kleypas, and she was magnificent! Very down-to-earth and funny…and she made me cry, which I love for some masochistic reason. I also heard Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Suzanne Brockman speak, and at the time, I could barely even look at them directly, because they were just so fabulous. I didn’t know any published authors and was too busy being in awe to have very clear memories of that conference. My first book had just come out; it was my first National conference, and I alternated between embarrassing fan-girl moments and hiding in my room.

2. The RWA conference is the place where romance writers mix business with pleasure — meeting with editors and agents and hanging out with pals.  What’s your favorite (non-RITA award winning) memory of the conferences you’ve attended?

I love the big signing (Kristan will join Nora at the Readers for Life Literacy signing on July 17). It’s a little terrifying; you think, “Please, please let just a few people come to my table” and then holy heck-o-rama, there’s a whole bunch! It’s so thrilling and fun, and it makes all those hours hunched over the keyboard in stretched-out yoga pants and stained t-shirts completely worth it.

3. You’re known for writing witty, award-winning contemporary romances.  In your current book, The Best Man, you write in third person rather than the first person, which you’ve used successfully in other books.  What prompts that change? Is it harder or easier to write?

The first time I made the switch, it was for the simple reason that the hero (Liam from UNTIL THERE WAS YOU) had too much to say. Same with James in SOMEBODY TO LOVE, and yes, definitely with Levi in THE BEST MAN.

It was hard to make the switch at first; my men kept waxing poetic and talking, dropping flowery descriptions of sunsets and food. Then I’d look over at McIrish, my sainted husband, and think, “Does he even know what ‘cerulean’ means? Would he use it in a sentence? Would I respect him if he did?”

The harder part came from having to cut back on what I could show the heroine doing. In first person, you know everything about a character. In third, you only get half as much space, so it was a little tricky. But I love it! That being said, I imagine I’ll write another book in first person, just because sometimes the story is better from one person’s point of view.

BTW, Thanks for having me at TTP! It’s a tremendous honor.

Where else can you find Kristan other than Turn the Page this Saturday?  Take your pick of fun: on her blog, on her Facebook page where she has deliciously fun Man Wars with her pal Jill Shalvis or as a regular contributor at The SIsterhood of the Jaunty Quills.

If you would like a signed copy of Kristan’s books, just click on the link to Turn the Page, place an order and the fabulous TTP staff will make sure Kristan signs it before she jets off into the night.

And if you have any questions for Kristan, post them here and I’ll be sure to ask her, then post the answers in the recap of the signing weekend (scheduled for the evening of July 14).



A summer pastime

Nora was selected to Quirk Books’ Literary Baseball All-Star Team!  She’s playing the hot corner, just like her favorite baseball player, Brooks Robinson.

This got me to thinking:  who would I vote onto a Romance All-Start Baseball team?

I’m not going to choose positions, but for me, Nora would captain a team of Romance vets including Jane Austen, Mary Stewart, Georgette Heyer, Linda Howard, Mary Balogh, Nalini Singh, Jill Shalvis and Sarah Morgan.

Who would play on your Romance All-Star team?



The name game

We’re having a quick discussion about the Dream trilogy on Nora’s Facebook page.  This is probably my most favorite of all the trilogies — I love those women and their friendship and generosity toward each other.

Or it could be that a Laura is the heroine of Finding the Dream.

Once I actually suggested to Nora that it might be simple and elegant to just name all her heroines Laura forever more.

She — rather unsympathetically — told me no.  I’ve slowly accepted that decision over the past decade and have instead enjoyed the variety of names of characters over the years.  My favorites?  Brooks (The Witness) and Cilla (Tribute).  I love Ford as a hero’s name too!

Readers have shared stories about the names they love in Nora’s books.  Some people have named their babies after a beloved character and send lovely photos.

How do you feel about character’s names?  Do you have a favorite?  ~Laura

Fall into a Brunch with Nora

How would you like to have brunch with Nora?

Now’s your chance as we begin taking reservations for our “Fall into a Brunch with Nora”. The brunch will be held at 11:00 AM on Sunday, July 14th at Dan’s Restaurant & Tap House. The price of the Brunch will be $30 per person. This price includes your meal, drinks (non-alcoholic), dessert and gratuity for the wait staff.  Due to limited seating, we ask that you refrain from purchasing tickets for spouses or family members who are not Nora Fans.

Payment for the Brunch will only be accepted in “cash” format, i.e. cash, check or money order. Payments through PayPal can NOT be accepted.

We will also be holding a raffle for a chance to sit with Nora!! Three very lucky people will be chosen to sit at Nora’s table. These tickets can be purchased for an additional fee ($5.00 each) and all proceeds will go towards The Nora Roberts Foundation. Right before the Brunch, Nora will draw the names of those who will sit at her table. We will not be selling these tickets the day of the brunch, so please get yours early.

The final cut-off date for the purchase of tickets (Brunch and Raffle), or for reimbursements of ANY kind is June 28, 2013.

If you purchase a ticket and then find that you will not be able to attend, please contact me before this date. I will NOT be able to issue any refunds after the June 28th deadline.

If you would like to attend the Brunch, please email me at: I will send you a reply email with all the needed information so that you may purchase your tickets.

Hope to see you there!

~ Jeannie

Summer reading survival

Nora and I love to spend time at home though she seems to achieve that a little more consistently than I do these days.  She’s at her desk writing (next year’s hardcover — no title yet) while I’m heading out on a tour of the Mid-Atlantic states that will go from New Jersey to Virginia over the next week.

Guess where I’d rather be?

It’s taken a while but I’ve learned the beauty of driving to an audiobook soundtrack.  And instead of the usual 10 books (you know, 2 to read, 8 just in case) in my extra bag I’ve now got a kindle loaded up for reading when I get to the next stop.  (This time I’m driving, but when I fly I do carry at least one take off and landing book)

What are your tricks for keeping up with your favorite authors while you travel?  And who do you plan to read this summer? ~Laura

A spring evening

Turn the Page Bookstore took part in the spring edition of Girls’ Night Out in Boonsboro last Thursday.  I drove up to meet Nora and our pal Sarah for the event.  The weather was perfect, everyone was in a wonderful mood and conversation flowed on any and all subjects.  Here are a couple of photos:

IMG_1047 The Nora Room at Turn the Page.

IMG_1044Some of the crowd around the front door.

IMG_1052  What else do girls do on a a night out but show off their “guns”? (That’s Sarah, Nora and me, Laura.)


IMG_1051 For some people, the best part of the evening was running into Nora.

Here’s the question of the day:  If you ran into Nora on the street, what would you say/ask?



The Garden Report (Mother’s Day edition)

Nora sent photos from this weekend’s forays into the garden, including an update on growth in that well-loved face pot.  When I’m up at her house, it’s always fun to find the fanciful figures tucked in among the flowers.  There are so many that I’ve completely missed the face table (that’s missing it over more than five years, y’all)!  So she kindly sent a photo of that as well.

nr garden md 15 The goddess of the garden oversees all.

nr garden md 14 Look how the flowers have filled in.

nr garden md 13 Broken flowerpot?  Plant it!

nr garden md 12Barrel of flowers and grow bags at the ready.

nr garden md 11The higher planter holds Nora’s prized Meyer Lemon Tree.  The lemons she’s harvested have been wonderful!

nr garden md 7 Hidden in the garden…

nr garden md 3 See the face???

nr garden md 2 Garden wellies.



A Friday question

At Turn the Page events, we meet a lot moms and daughters who share the love of Nora’s books.  With Mother’s Day (US) on Sunday, I wondered a couple of things:  do you share your books with your mother?  How much influence did your mom have on your reading choices?

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend and for all those moms out there — hope a wonderful book is part of your Mother’s Day.  ~Laura

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