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Novelist Nora Roberts on Embracing Joy and Focusing on What’s Important

With 217 titles to hit the New York Times bestseller list in genres ranging from romance to mystery to fantasy, it’s obvious that Nora Roberts knows how to tell a great story. And after one chat with the Maryland native, it’s clear she’s equally skilled at sharing advice that inspires us to be the heroines of our own lives.

The 70-year-old grandmother and wife loves spending time with her family and tending her garden, yet is also a disciplined pro who has penned more than 200 novels over the past 40 years, including Hideaway, Year One, and the In Death series.

But Nora has also seen her share of struggle. From divorcing her first husband, being a single parent, balancing her career with her family life, and most recently braving the fearful isolation of the pandemic.

“This year has been the most difficult time,” she admits to Woman’s World. “It’s been so hard not being able to see my family and friends. But even though this time has been full of pain, struggle, and anxiety, I believe you have to get up in the morning and just count all of your blessings.”

These days, that daily gratitude carries Nora through all of the uncertainty in the world. “I have a house I love, dogs who fill me with joy and my beautiful family,” she beams. “I’m also so grateful I could make a living doing something I love — that’s a big blessing. To think that someone somewhere in the world is reading one of my books right now, that’s just the greatest gift of all!”

Here, Nora shares her tips to successfully juggling a busy life with joy, balance, and bliss.

Embrace joy with furry friends.

“Our pets are a constant source of joy — and my dogs are no exception!” Nora says of her rescue pups, Parker and Atticus. “Parker is a chocolate Lab mix who is so funny and loving! Atticus is a little guy from St. Lucia we adopted four years ago. He and Parker are the best of friends. They just bring constant laughter and entertainment to our lives, whether they’re howling along to our music or snuggling with us!”

Find peace in the present.

“In life, we all face pain,” Nora shares. “But when we’re trying to overcome loss or sadness, it’s important to remember that nothing lasts forever. The good times don’t and the bad times don’t. This moment is all we have. So you have to do your best with the moment that you’re in and just remember: This too shall pass.”

Allow patience and love to guide you.

“My husband, Bruce, and I have been married for 35 years,” Nora says with a smile. “And the key is patience! Women have to be very patient because men are men, God bless them! We’re different creatures and we have to learn one another’s strengths and weaknesses and how to support the strengths and ignore weaknesses at times. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also a skilled carpenter. Marrying a man who can fix your toilet is better than marrying a millionaire!”

Focus on what’s most important.

“Women are constantly juggling all of life’s balls!” Nora says. “We have to remember some are rubber and can drop, and others are glass. All you have to do is define what the glass balls are for you: what matters most. For me, family is first, and then my work. Just keep those balls in the air, and you’ll find balance and peace.”

Let loose with your best girlfriends.

“There’s nothing like great girlfriends!” Nora enthuses. “Girlfriends are the core that help me through everything. My girlfriends and I, we Zoom every few weeks, and it really helps just to sit and talk. On our little Zoom cocktail hours, we catch up with everyone and just vent. When you find people who understand, support and lift you up-that’s a priceless gift.”

Take things one step at a time.

“It’s easy to lose motivation at times,” Nora says. “So the key is just to start whatever you’re struggling to do and try to finish it. It’s like working out: You may not be able to do those yoga poses right now, but if you try a little each day, you’ll get farther along. Just don’t give up!”

Nora’s latest book, The Awakening (Buy on Amazon, $14.49), is the first in a new fantasy romance series where parallel worlds clash over the struggle between good and evil. “This heroine, who was never given the chance to do what she wanted to do in her own world, ends up in a parallel universe, where she grows to be someone very important,” Nora says. “I want my readers to take that to heart: It’s never too late‚ there’s nothing you can’t do!”

Hit play below for a sneak peek of the audiobook:

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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