Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday 20

As I was packing up the trunk of my car with photo albums on Wednesday, and wondering what else I should take in case the wildfire creeping toward us decides to fry my house, the telephone rang.

It was, I thought, Mom. Calling to tell me someone was in the hospital, or one of her dogs was sick, or subtropical storm Andrea had strengthened and was heading our way, or something else to add just a little more delight to my week.

It was my very busy editor. She never calls unless she has a publishing fire she needs me to put out. No doubt she wanted me to send in my revisions yesterday, or approve cover copy in fifteen minutes, or finally write a decent bio because the ten-word one I have on file is annoying the Powers That Be.

Frankly, I wasn't happy to hear her voice. Florida is carpeted in flames and smoke, hurricane season decided to start a month early, I'm trying to fit forty-six years of memories in a trunk slightly smaller than a hamster's cage. At the same time, I knew I'd do whatever she wanted, and began envisioning myself on the laptop at a turnpike rest stop, typing up whatever she wanted by the soft orange glow of my town burning in the distance.

My editor said hello, how are you, and Night Lost made #21 on the New York Times extended bestseller list.

Look, I started to say, my state is on fire . . . and then I sat down on the riding lawn mower. I think I said What? a few times.

It was, indeed, The Call.

My editor talked and laughed and said a lot of very nice things. I have absolutely no recollection of what they were, but she's a lovely person, so I know they were nice.

It took me ten years of weekly submissions, twenty-eight manuscripts and over thirteen hundred straight rejections before I received my first offer. And yeah, like most rookies, I daydreamed about my debut novel becoming a huge, overnight success and showing up on the NYT BSL. I felt the same way about the second one, and the third, and the tenth, and the fourteenth. Hope, even the wild pie-in-the-sky variety, only goes so far. After I'd published twenty novels, I stopped daydreaming. Obviously, it wasn't going to happen.

I didn't mind. In some ways, it was a relief, because by that time I'd dropped out of sight, got rid of all my author clothes, and just stayed home and wrote books. I've always wanted to be a paperback writer, and I am, and that is the world to me. More than that would have been very nice, but c'est la vie.

That's what I told my agent earlier this week, when she cautiously mentioned that I might, could possibly, in the remotest sense of the word, have a shot at the Times. We've been there before, I reminded her (at one very high point, Dark Need was the 18th bestselling mass market fiction novel in the country.) We've been told by authors who have done it that books get on the list do it by writers placing bulk orders or by signing at the stores the Times use for their stats. I won't do that, therefore it will never happen to one of my novels. I'd be honored and beyond satisfied with my novel making any spot on the USA Today top 150.

So here we are. I can't call myself a NYT bestselling author until I crack the top fifteen (my publisher is rather strict about this), but like I'm going to complain. And while part of me still expects the publishing version of Ashton Kutcher to show up on my doorstep today with a handheld cam and tell me that I've been punk'd, I've seen the printed list, and it doesn't look like a typo.

It is real, and it does happen, and we're not crazy to hope. That's what I want you to remember when you're a paperback writer.

Any questions out there for me this week?

80 comments:

  1. Valmarie8:55 AM

    Wow! No questions, just a big congratulations from me. :-)

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  2. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!! Dreams do come true when you work hard and decide to be happy where you are on the way to where you're going. This is fantastic! I'm so happy for you!

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  3. Bettye9:07 AM

    Congradulations. No matter what the number, making the NYT list is a BIG deal.
    Hope you escape any real damage from those fires. We had that problem here in Texas last year. This year it's tornados and floods. Ah well, it is always something.

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  4. Wow, Lynn. I'm *thrilled* for you!

    And thank you for posting this, in particular:

    "It took me ten years of weekly submissions, twenty-eight manuscripts and over thirteen hundred straight rejections before I received my first offer."

    Perspective is important. The fact that becoming an author is hard work and takes persistence is an important reminder for me right now. Thank you for it.

    And I hope and pray your family and your home remain safe.

    best,
    lisa

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  5. Anonymous9:35 AM

    Congrats, Congrats, Congrats!!! I hope you don't have to evacuate. I have friends here in N. Florida/Baker County that did and if you think trying to move everything in your trunk is bad, imagine having 15 horses and begging for other horsey friends to help you move all of them! I went out and I helped and it's a scary, scary thought. Take care and know that you deserve to make any list and be in the top 10 in my book! I rank you right up there with S. Kenyon and C. Harris.
    Tami

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  6. Congrats again, Lynn!

    Did you celebrate? Or will you celebrate with something special, as the case maybe?

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  7. Anonymous9:50 AM

    Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What touching words you posted today. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

    I love that you blazed your own trail. You did what worked for you and not what everyone else told you to do or say and you still made it.

    Anyone who has taken the time to read your books can see the brilliance shining through.

    I can't think of anyone who deserves this more.

    Good luck with all that mother nature throws your way.

    Ann

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  8. Wow! Congratulations! I hope you break the 15 soon.

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  9. Wow, what a roller coaster!

    And how very exciting!! Congratulations!

    Hope the fires stay away though, and you and your family are safe.

    Me? I'm off to (belatedly) buy my copy of Night Lost at my indie bookseller and help push you in the Top 15.

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  10. Anonymous10:23 AM

    CONGRATULATIONS!!
    ~Briana N.

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  11. Congrats!

    Does it taste the sweeter for being unexpected?

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  12. I said it in the comments below, but here it is again: CONGRATS! I hope you celebrate. In between evacuating or whatever else comes up.

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  13. Congratulations! I got my copy of Night Lost last week, although the nice customer service lady at B&N had to fetch it from the back. She brought out four copies and gave one to me. I'm assuming the others went on the shelf.

    I hope the fires and the storm pass you by and leave you and yours unscathed.

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  14. Congratulations! That's great news.

    Not so good about the fires and the hurricanes. I can recommend Wales as a safer place to live.

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  15. Great news on the NYT list!

    I've watching the happenings in your area and I hope that your home is spared. My area has been having "fun", tornadoes, lots of rain and flooding, so I can sympathize.

    Let us know how things go.

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  16. No questions :)

    Just a huge congratulations!! I can't think of anyone who deserves this more. :D

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  17. Anmada11:06 AM

    Congratulations! I finished the book over the weekend and picked it up again yesterday to breeze through parts of it again. Also read the preview of Evermore through again, slowly, and now am gazing at the cover art on your site. So wonderful to see deserved recognition of your work while being able to dream about the stories to come.

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  18. No questions. Just a hearty congratulations, my friend. I am so very happy for you. :D It's about friggin' time. :)

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  19. No questions here, just hearty congratulations and well wishes for safety. That's marvelous!

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  20. No questions, just muy congrats!

    Big {{{astral hugs}}} to you and yours while the fires are raging. Hope everyone and everything comes through ok.

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  21. I've already posted it, but by God it deserves to be posted again: Congrats! Way to go!

    Also, I hope you stay safe from those fires.

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  22. Congratulations!!! I know exactly why it's a best seller. I just finished it last night and I want more, more, more!!

    So my question will be Darkyn related...

    Everytime a new Darkyn book comes out there are so many new characters introduced. Did you already have it planned in which the order of books would come out or do you all of a sudden introduce this character you have to write about (*ahem*Korvel*ahem*)? Are they going to be released every six months now (or seve)?

    That's technically two questions. Feel free to ignore one. :)

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  23. I already said congrats on the other post, but wow! Congrats again. And that's a marvelous story with your expectations being blown out of the water. Always so much better when a dreaded phone call turns out to be fantastic :).

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  24. Anonymous12:19 PM

    Your story made my day...to say thank you, I just bought my own copy of Night Lost and hope you make it to 15 and higher very soon.

    Your writing is phenomenal -- and you are an inspiration!

    MicheleL

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  25. Again, congrats, congrats, congrats. That is entirely, totally awesome. Thanks for sharing that story with us, makes it easier for me to wait for my first rejection (it's been 13 months- I think it's safe to say the answer will be no- I just want my manuscript back at this point *g*).
    I hope you get lots and lots of gentle rain and no wind damage (it just sucks doesn't it- if you don't get any storms at all you get stuck in a drought). Hope you get a chance to celebrate. Ann

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  26. No questions. Just thank you for this post. And congratulations!

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  27. No questions.

    But that is freaking fabulous!!
    Congratulations!

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  28. Doing a happy dance for you!!!

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  29. Yayy! Congrats Lynn! I'm so happy for you! Heh! *wg*

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  30. I'm sure you haven't heard this before:

    CONGRATULATIONS!

    :-) This is very very cool!


    Take care of yourself!

    ~PJ~

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  31. No questions here either, but major, lucy in the sky with diamonds congrats!!!

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  32. I'm muy miles away from the fire zone, but I came out of the house the other morning and my car was covered with ash.

    Scary stuff.

    You and your family stay safe.

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  33. Lynn,

    Woot! Congratulations on making the NY Times list!

    Hmmm, me thinks you might be changing the title of your blog in the future. :)

    I'm very happy for you!

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  34. I was so excite for you I forgot to say...stay safe!

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  35. Woo-hoo! Congratulations! It couldn't happen to a more deserving person.

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  36. Aw, you guys are wonderful. At this rate I will go through all the Kleenex in the house by dinner time. Thank you.

    Wildfire update: we are relatively safe and off immediate evacuation notice for the moment, but that can change with the direction of the wind. We just had a brief rain shower and are praying that subtropical storm Andrea dumps a bit more on our area and friends to the north.

    I'll be back in a bit to answer questions -- have to go grab the kids from school and check on some neighbors.

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  37. CHEERS! Congrats, PBW, and stay safe! I hope the fires pass you by.

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  38. No question here, either, just some chippy Conga Rats. :)

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  39. Anonymous2:46 PM

    YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    PBW on the NYT bestseller list!

    Hey..did you know you were in the subject line of my latest promo email from B and N?

    Loved it!


    Rebecca

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  40. Bridget Medora3:51 PM

    Congratulations!!! So thrilled for you. :D

    Praying for the safety of you and yours. Summoning all that rain I chanted away as a little girl ("rain, rain, go away..." well, now's the some other day, got it, rain? Go soak Florida.)

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  41. CONGRATULATIONS! That is awesome news!!! I'm so happy for you.

    Maripat

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  42. Woo hoo! Congrats!!!

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  43. No questions, just a comment.

    I'm not at all surprised. I've been reading you since Stardoc and I remember reading that short story of Alex and Michael on your old website thru Sff.net.

    You're one of the best writers I've ever come across and you deserve this totally.

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  44. Kristen5:58 PM

    Congrats!

    Major congrats.

    No questions, just stay safe.

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  45. Big congratulations. I too hope you make that top 15.

    I can't even imagine living where fires could get you. Hope all goes well.

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  46. No questions, just a big WHOO HOOOO!
    *grins*

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  47. Anonymous7:53 PM

    Very SWEET!!! Major congratulations!. I just hit the Books A Million to do my part. :)

    Christina

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  48. Excellent news on the NYT list! That's great.

    So the question that comes to mind - you spent so long and wrote so much before your first acceptance etc - what do you think helped you the most to improve your writing in that time?

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  49. Oh, how wonderful!!! Congratulations, you bestselling author, you. Truly fabulous news and well deserved. I hope the wildfire dies soon so you can celebrate properly. Enjoy!

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  50. A BIG CONGRATS LYNN !!!^_^ you so deserve it :). I am so sorry to here about you trying to pack your things my heart goes out to you i hope your house is ok in the end. And i think your books are AMAZING i buy them as soon as they hit the shelves ^_^. and i cant wait for Evermore heheh!!! Keep writting and keep the books coming and i will keep buying. *HUGS*

    AMANDA

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  51. Congratulations!

    And stay safe.

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  52. I'll repeat what so many people have already said...

    Congrats! It's always nice to know when your amazingly hard work has paid off! And it's always good to get good news when bad things are going on... So there is at least Something Happy happening...

    And I wish you (and your house) good luck! I'll hope for rain... Or at least controlled flames.

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  53. Awesome! Congratulations! And good luck with the fires. Hope everything is okay.

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  54. Anonymous9:13 PM

    :-D Congrats! I hope you got my ecard. Stay safe.

    I graduate tomorrow magna cum laude with the English Dept's writing award. Hope isn't crazy, but it's even better when you back it up with perseverance. ;)

    Jess

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  55. Mary29:23 PM

    Congratulations! Thank you for reminding us how persistent you had to be to get there. I love your books! When Night Lost makes it to #15, do you have to buy your author clothes again???

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  56. Just a quick congrats. I got chills just reading your post.

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  57. Paperback Writer, you've just hit #21 on the NYT best seller list! What are you gonna do next?

    *points the mic*

    Oh, and in case I didn't say it, CONGRATULATIONS! *dances for you*

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  58. Lynn --

    Congrats on making the list - even the extended list is something very difficult to accomplish and worth celebrating! I hope that real life gives you a brief respite so you can enjoy what you've worked so hard for...

    Brava!

    Terri

    PS -- I tried to make myself read it slowly since the next one isn't out until Jan 2008...it didn't work and I raced through it too quickly. Loved it....

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  59. Adele Dawn1:00 AM

    Just wanted to let you know, the bookstore I work at has you at #4 on their paperback bestsellers this week. :) (And I totally recommended your books to all my paranormal reading gals. hehe)

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  60. Now let's see, amidst all these lovely congrats, which I am printing out and putting in my day journal for posterity, there were some questions . . .

    May wrote: Did you celebrate? Or will you celebrate with something special, as the case maybe?

    We did celebrate by taking the kids out for ice cream (our version of popping champagne.) I meant to have a whomping big hot fudge sundae, but my stomach was in knots and I forgot to take my lactase pill. So I settled for a vanilla chai and watched them enjoy themselves, which was just as good.

    Buffysquirrel wrote: Does it taste the sweeter for being unexpected?

    Honestly, I'm still not sure how I feel about it. This wasn't supposed to happen. I'd made my peace with it. Now I'm all discombobulated. But it was wonderful to tell my mom the news. She has a lot more faith in me than I do. ;)

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  61. Casee wrote: Everytime a new Darkyn book comes out there are so many new characters introduced. Did you already have it planned in which the order of books would come out or do you all of a sudden introduce this character you have to write about (*ahem*Korvel*ahem*)?

    I tend to write my series books with big casts and lots of new characters in every installment, so that's definitely part of it. I've also been tinkering with the Darkyn since 1995, so I've already written nine short stories and over a thousand pages of novel outlines, character sketches, family trees and personal histories. I've dozens of characters and backstory/frontstory threads that I haven't brought into the series yet.

    I actually held Korvel back for a few books rather than introduce him when Richard first appears in If Angels Burn. I felt Korvel would have distracted the reader from Eliane's presence and storyline, so I left him in Ireland. I also had one very good reason to keep him away from Alexandra until Richard abducted her, the details of which will be in Evermore.

    Are they going to be released every six months now (or seve)?

    My editor would like to bring out the novels every six months, and so would I. From here I'm going to work toward that goal. I can't guarantee anything, but I think Night Lost's performance will help a lot in that department.

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  62. Sandra wrote: So the question that comes to mind - you spent so long and wrote so much before your first acceptance etc - what do you think helped you the most to improve your writing in that time?

    Two things helped me the most: Reading every fiction novel I could get my hands on for technical quality. When you read for pleasure, you don't notice what the writer does with the story, you simply enjoy it. I started studying other writers' work for how they were writing, and then I'd go back and look at my own stories. That helped me see where I was dropping the ball.

    The other thing was pushing forward and writing book after book instead of rewriting and re-editing the same manuscript. The more books I wrote, the more I refined my process and the more confident I felt.

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  63. Jess wrote: I graduate tomorrow magna cum laude with the English Dept's writing award. Hope isn't crazy, but it's even better when you back it up with perseverance. ;)

    Congratulations, Jess. That's wonderful -- and a promise of things to come, too.

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  64. Mary2 wrote: When Night Lost makes it to #15, do you have to buy your author clothes again???

    I'll be very happy with #21. :) And honestly, I can't see me going back to being Public Author again. I'm much more comfortable (and happier) wearing Housewife clothes.

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  65. Gutterball, whose handle I want to steal, wrote: Paperback Writer, you've just hit #21 on the NYT best seller list! What are you gonna do next?

    I'm going to sort socks and mop the kitchen floor. Unless the Times wants to send me a complimentary maid....

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  66. Woohoo! Congratulations!

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  67. That's fantastic news. Congrats!

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  68. No questions just a big Yippee!

    Stay safe.

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  69. Congratulations. I have just read Night Lost twice :) Hopefully incentive for the publisher to offer additional contracts to keep extending the series.

    I have been working my way through your Jessica Hall and Gena Hale books also.

    Sandy

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  70. WOoT! Congrats, PBW!!

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  71. No questions, just a huge congratulations on your much-deserved success! And repeated thanks for so willingly sharing those successes (and trials) with us.

    The fires are awful; I pray you continue to stay out of harm's way.

    And, Happy Mother's Day. :-)

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  72. Congratulations! More Snoppy Dancing :-}

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  73. Wonderful! Deepest congratulations!

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  74. Way awesome, Lynn ;) Congrats!

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  75. Marjorie Liu4:35 PM

    Wooo!!! This is so wonderful! But what timing. :-) You stay safe. This is beautiful news.

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  76. WICKED huge congrats, PBW! For those of who prefer to hide under our desks than be social butterflies, this is a totally inspiring moment!

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  77. Major congrats!!! What fabulous news!!

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  78. Congratulation! You so deserve to be on the best seller list! I have been a loyal Darkyn fan since book 1. I am so impressed with your ability to create intriguing, multi-dimensional characters in each book. The secondary characters are equally as appealing as the main ones. I want this series to go on forever! I do have one question though. Do you plan on a book for John Keller in the future? I found his complex and conflicting personality very interesting and would really like to know what happens to him now that he had made peace with his past and his sister. Thank you and write faster, please. 

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