Kicking off 2017 with Nora Roberts

As you know from yesterday’s post, I finished my 2016 goal of writing 365 Little Stories! Now I need something else to do. So, after much pondering, I have decided that I’m going to return to something that I did on my previous blog:


All artists need to study their craft, yes? And to study, you need teachers. And the best teacher for writing is reading, yes? Therefore, I’ve decided that I will do some focused reading on writers, both currently practicing and those that have long gone to the great library in the sky, and I will report my findings here…so we can steal their techniques, their methods, their habits, and their insights to improve our own writing.

(Not plagiarism. Plagiarism is bad. This is to learn the mechanics of things, not to steal the things themselves.)

Kicking off 2017: Nora Roberts /J.D. Robb!

You may have heard of her.

I write mystery reviews for Criminal Element, and for the last month, we’ve been collectively working on reading through the J.D. Robb in Death series, so I’m quite fresh-up on Roberts/Robb work. (And, for the sake of not having to do slashies — all of my references to Roberts/Robb will now be Roberts.)

Here’s what you need to know about Nora Roberts, and why I think we can learn some things about writing from her:

1. She’s been writing for my entire lifetime. She started writing during a blizzard in 1979 that kept her inside with her small children. She got an idea, started writing, and in 1981 her first novel Irish Thoroughbred was published. So she’s got the experience.
2. She’s incredibly prolific — having written over 200 books, she shows no sign of slowing down. There are over 40 titles in the in Death series alone. So she’s got the work ethic.
3. She’s a mega-bestseller. Millions of copies of her titles have been sold around the world.  So she can reach people.
4. Known for romance, she mixes up genres within the genre. So she’s got some flexibility in those typing fingers.
5. She has a blog too, if you want to learn about her “everyday” days. So she’s a real person.

Every Tuesday in January and February, I’m going to post something about Roberts’ work. I’ll switch mentors every couple months. Here’s a link to the previous mentors I studied on my last blog (I prefer WordPress’s format, so I moved over).

If there’s something specific you’d like me to look into about Roberts’ work, please let me know. And I would love to know if, as I suspect, there are writers reading this, there are any writers you particularly look up to? Why?

J.D. Robb Mentors Nora Roberts Writing

jenny maloney View All →

Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.

9 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Cool idea Jenny! I am a big fan of many writers. As you know from last week’s Throwback Thursday Thriller, I am a huge fan of Richard Matheson (As are you 🙂 Another writer that just impresses the hell out of me is Joyce Carol Oates. She has that amazing chameleon ability. Her first person stories are killer! For the most part, I enjoy her short story collections, but “Daddy Love” and “Zombie” are also mind blowers. The other thing about JCO that is amazing is how prolific she is! Every time I look around, she’s writing something else, as well as all the work for magazines, journals, and online. Just talking about her makes me want to go read. Off I go!
    btw, I enjoyed your stories very much. The variety was very impressive. So was the electric feeling I got from some of them!

  2. That’s a great idea. I particularly like Neil Gaiman and Ray Bradbury. I haven’t read their books but their advice on the writing process is really helpful. They might make interesting mentors.

  3. Well done Jenny, 100 points for the effort. Some were good, some were great, some not so much, but they were there and that’s what counts.
    My favorite writer, Charles Dickens, more recent Tim Winton, Australian author from W.A. who really understands what it is to be an Australian.

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