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The Esther Diamond Series
1. When will the next Esther Diamond novel be published?
2. Is Disappearing Nightly, the first Esther Diamond novel, available?
3. In Unsympathetic Magic, why does the text state that Esther played Ophelia in Othello? Desdemona is the female lead in Othello, not Ophelia (who is in Hamlet).
4. Will you please write/not write [insert item here] in this series?
5. How many Esther Diamond novels will there be?

The Chronicles of Sirkara
1. Are you going to write any more books about Tansen, Mirabar, and Sileria?
2. Why are you calling this series "The Chronicles of Sirkara?" That's not on any of the books.
3. Why is The White Dragon labeled "Part One" on the cover of the original print edition?
4. When will the next "Chronicles of Sirkara" book be published?
5. Why is the next book taking so long?

 

FAQs about my romance novels
1. Are you going to write any more Laura Leone romances?
2. Is Sara in Fallen From Grace based on yourself?
3. Why do you have two names—Laura Resnick and Laura Leone?

4. Will you be releasing your old Silhouette romances as ebooks?

5. Who is Laura O'Leone?

 

General FAQs
1. Do you blog? Do you podcast? Do you Tweet? Are you on Facebook?
2. Where do you get your ideas?
3. Do you get to choose the covers of your books?
4. How long does it take you to write a book?
5. Do you have a specific writing schedule?
6. What do you think about fan fiction?
7. What do you think about fan art based on a novelist's work?
8. Will you introduce me to your agent? To your editor?
9. Will you read my manuscript?
10. Are you any relation to Mike Resnick?
11. How did you start your career?
12. Do you read reviews of your books?
13. What do you read?
14. Which book is your favorite of your own work?
15. Which book is your least favorite of your own work?
16. Do you do public appearances?
17. Are your books available electronically?
18. What are you working on now?

 

The Esther Diamond Series

1. When will the next Esther Diamond novel be published?


The Misfortune Cookie
will be released November 2013. This series is currently contracted through book 10, and the 7th Esther Diamond novel, Abracadaver, is expected to be released in 2014.

The order of the Esther Diamond novels (so far) is:

(1) Disappearing Nightly
(2) Doppelgangster
(3) Unsympathetic Magic
(4) Vamparazzi
(5) Polterheist
(6) The Misfortune Cookie
(7) Abracadaver (2014)
(8) TBA
(9) TBA
(10) TBA

 

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2. Is Disappearing Nightly, the first Esther Diamond novel, available?

Yes! The first edition of Disappearing Nightly went out of print soon after publication (by a different publisher) several years ago. DAW Books, which is publishing the rest of the series, released a new edition of the book in 2012.

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3. In Unsympathetic Magic, the text states that Esther Diamond played Ophelia in Othello. Are you so shamefully ignorant that you don't even know that Desdemona is the female lead in Othello, not Ophelia (who is in Hamlet)? I am shocked that you and your editors could be so careless and unprofessional. I also now seriously question the accuracy of ALL your research—and, indeed, whether you even deserve to be published!


Short answer: Oops.

Long answer: Actually, I'm a big Shakespeare fan, I know his work well, and I've seen and read both Hamlet and Othello multiple times. That careless error in the text of Unsympathetic Magic was a brain glitch on my part, and it's the sort of thing that I, in fact, do quite often (which is an example of why it's a good thing I write novels for a living rather than test nuclear weapons). I normally catch and fix such errors during the many, many passes that I make on each scene during my writing process. But I never caught this one. Sometimes that's what happens. My bad.

Editors are a writer's back-up plan and they often catch such mistakes before publication (and mine certainly caught many other errors that were in the original manuscript for this book); but the author is the person responsible for every word in her novel, as well as being the first and the last person to review the text before it's published. (See my blog entry, Who Writes the Book?) So you can safely leave my editors out of this and just stick to blaming me for mixing up the names of two Shakespeare heroines.

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4. In the Esther Diamond series, will you please write/not write [insert request, recommendation, heart's desire, or darkest dread here]?

Readers often contact the author of an ongoing series to comment on how they do/don't want to see the story develop. The requests which the author receives cover a wide range of readers' personal preferences and interests. And I'm very glad that readers feel invested enough in Esther Diamond to care how her story proceeds. After all, a series where readers don't feel invested is one that's probably doomed to a short and obscure existence.

However, writing a novel or a series on the basis of trying to accommodate reader requests would not be a process of vision, creativity, commitment, and craft—in fact, it would be the exact opposite, and would result in gobbledeegook and drivel. (It also wouldn't be practical or feasible, since many of the requests which I receive contradict each other.) I don't write by committee or focus group, and I don't acknowledge, discuss, or incorporate requests, recommendations, or suggestions about how I should write my books from anyone other than my editors.

 

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5. How many Esther Diamond novels will there be?

Many, I hope. I currently have no fixed number of books in mind for the series.

 

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The Chronicles of Sirkara

1. Are you going to write any more books about Tansen, Mirabar, and Sileria?

I hope so. For now, though, Sileria's conflicted tale comes to a pretty solid resolution at the end of The Destroyer Goddess, and the characters are enjoying a well-earned rest. But I may return someday to these characters with a new story.

 

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2. Why are you calling this "The Chronicles of Sirkara" on your website? That series name is not on any of the books.

Oh, it's a long, convoluted story (much of which even I don't remember anymore), the upshot of which is that, on my website and in conversation, I categorize the books set in this world as part of the Chronicles of Sirkara, though that series name hasn't appeared on the books (at least, not yet).

 

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3. If The White Dragon is the second book of the Silerian trilogy, then why was it labeled "Part One" on the cover of the original print edition?

I wrote a very long novel called In Fire Forged as the sequel to In Legend Born. The book's original print publisher informed me late in the day that, due to production costs and logistics, it couldn't be published. I had about four days to figure out what to do. So I split the massive manuscript into two books and titled the resultant novels as The White Dragon: Part One of In Fire Forged and The Destroyer Goddess: Part Two of In Fire Forged so that readers would know which volume to read first. Unfortunately, though, those titles created the erroneous impression that these were the first two books of a series called In Fire Forged, rather than volumes 2 and 3 of a trilogy that had started with In Legend Born.

Agh! Oh, well. Live and learn.

For the new ebook editions, I've re-subtitled the novels as as Books 1, 2, & 3 of the "Silerian Trilogy." Hopefully that will make things much clearer than they were on the covers of the print editions!

 

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4. So when will the next "Chronicles of Sirkara" book be published?

Sorry, I don't know. But when I do know, it will be announced front-and-center on my website.

 

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5. Why are you taking so long to write another book in this series?

Well, there are a lot of complicated reasons for that. The short, simple version is: Because I've been writing a lot of other stuff. I wouldn't leave readers hanging for years wondering "what happens next???" in an unconcluded story arc (let alone a cliffhanger). But with such a firm conclusion to the Silerian trilogy (In Legend Born, The White Dragon, and The Destroyer Goddess), which was a closed story cycle, I've wound up doing a lot of other projects since then, for various reasons.

 

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FAQs about my romance novels

1. Are you going to write any more Laura Leone romances?

I'd like to, but I have no current plans to do so. For the foreseeable future, I have too many other writing commitments.

 

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2. Is Sara in Fallen From Grace based on yourself?

No. In fact, during the early stages of working on Fallen From Grace , I tried hard not to make Sara a writer, precisely because I was worried that people would think I was basing a character on myself. But then I remembered that "worrying what people will think" is a doomed way to write a book. So I let it go and let her be a writer. Which was simply how I saw her.

However, sure, since the character is a writer, this meant I knew a lot about her working world from my own working life, and many of my experiences became hers. Many other writers' experiences became hers, too. That's not basing a character on myself (or my various writer friends), but rather a case of "using what you know."

 

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3. Why do you have two names—Laura Resnick and Laura Leone?

Back when I was starting my career, my first book deal was with Harlequin (a.k.a. The Evil Empire), to be published under their Silhouette imprint. At that time, they had just instituted a new policy (in fact, I was one of the first writers to whom it applied) whereby any newcomer who sold them a book was required to take a pseudonym—or else there would be no book deal with Harlequin, kiss it goodbye, kid. So I came up with the name "Leone" because I thought it would be lucky for me, Leone being my star sign (Leo) in Italian; I had been living in Sicily when I wrote my first couple of Silhouette novels.

This was not, as has often been rumored with great authority by people who have no idea what they're talking about, a "house name." (A house name is one that belongs to the publisher, and numerous different writers write under that name.) I am Laura Leone, and I am the only person who ever wrote for Harlequin (or for any other house) under that name. The pseudonym policy was Harlequin's attempt to protect its profits by restricting freelance writers; the contracts incuded clauses that prohibited us from using our pseudonyms at any other house. Consequently, if a writer like me built a readership while at Harlequin, I could not attract those readers to any books I wrote for any other publisher since, in those pre-Internet days, Laura Leone readers would never know I was Laura Resnick when I published elsewhere.

I was still a Silhouette writer, and still bound by that policy, when I sold my first science fiction/fantasy short story. Since I was contractually prohibited from using my professional name on anything not published by Silhouette, I published that story under my real name, Resnick. The story was intended to be a fun, one-off project between books, not a new career path. However, I wound up writing another sf/f short story, then another, then a bunch more, and suddenly one day I had a second professional name and was marketing books under it. So Resnick became my primary professional name.

Meanwhile, Harlequin's pseudonym clause was starting to come under legal scrutiny. Though the clause took a few more years to die at Harlequin, they released my pseudonym to me when I stopped writing for them, so I was finally able to use it elsewhere. It was clearly useless to me by then for writing sf/f, where I was already known as Resnick; but Leone was the name I was known under as a romance writer, so I continued using it when writing romance.

There are many reasons that writers use pseudonyms. Some writers want to maintain their privacy. Others have real names that are hard to remember, pronounce, or spell. Some use different names to brand the different types of fiction they write (ex. one name for mysteries, another for fantasy). Some change names after weak sales figures have made the previous name difficult to keep marketing. And, like me, dozens of romance writers wound up with a pseudonym because they started their careers at Harlequin/Silhouette during the era of the notorious pseudonym clause.


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4. Will you be releasing your old Silhouette romances as ebooks?

Yes! I have done so. For more information, click here.

 

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5. Who is Laura O'Leone?

I have no idea. The name appeared last year on Amazon, as the author of an ebook, showing up in searches for books listed under Laura Leone, the name I've used for two decades and fifteen novels. I wrote a letter to the author's e-publisher suggesting that they ask her to consider using a different pseudonym, since it's not a great idea for two authors to have almost-identical names. They didn't respond.

 

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General FAQs

 

1. Do you blog? Do you podcast? Do you Tweet? Are you on Facebook?

I'm on Facebook. Look up my name or click on this link.

I don't Tweet. (I tried it for a few months and just Didn't Get It.)

I don't have a blog or a podcast. I guest blog, and I am a sometimes guest on podcasts. So check out the Going Public! page to read/listen to those appearances.

 

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2. Where do you get your ideas?

From everywhere. Ideas are the easy part of writing. Figuring out how to take an idea (or, rather, a million ideas—which is probably how many go into the a book) and develop it into a compelling story that many thousands of total strangers, whose personal schedules and budgets are limited, will spend their time and money to read, and that they'll stay absorbed in long after they should have turned out the light and gone to sleep... that's the hard part.

Since this is perhaps the single question writers are asked most often, it's evidently something that people are curious about. So I've added a page about it to this site, called Where Do You Get Those Crazy Ideas? To make it more interesting than just me talking about where I get my ideas, since every writer is different, some other writers visit to talk about where they got their ideas, too.

 

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3. Do you get to choose the covers of your books?

The process by which a book gets a cover is complex and varied. To learn more about it, take a look at A Book By Its Cover, the page of this website that reproduces a 5-part series of articles I wrote a years ago on covers and the cover process. Based on what I learned while researching and writing those articles, I typically take a proactive, hands-on approach to my covers. Sometimes my input is used, and sometimes it's not.

Writers tend to be verbal, rather than visual. Consequently, many writers avoid getting involved in the cover process at all, feeling it's just not their strong suit. Additionally, most publishers aren't that eager to have us involved in our covers, so a writer who isn't actively trying to get involved in the cover process is usually not part of it. Also, even among those of us who do actively try to be involved, publishers, art directors, and editors all vary tremendously in how receptive they are to this. Finally, even where there's genuine good will about involving the writer, her input may still wind up on the cutting room floor, for a wide variety of reasons.

One of the many reasons I am so happy with DAW Books, the publisher of the Esther Diamond series, is that they actively include me in the cover process. Another reason I am so happy is that they commission wonderful artists such as Daniel Dos Santos and David Palumbo for those covers. I hear often from readers who discovered the Esther Diamond series because the DAW covers caught their eye and got them to pick up the books. That is exactly what you want in a book cover! Additionally, the illustrations really capture the flavor, tone, and essential story elements of these novels, which is also what one really wants in a book cover.

Finally, a recent major change in this area is that many writers, including me, are now electronically self-publishing our backlists (old out-of-print books). And we do get to choose the covers when we are the publishers of our own e-editions.

 

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4. How long does it take you to write a book?

Somewhere between 12 days and 8 years, depending.

For example, I wrote Nights of Fire in two weeks. It was a short, simple book—and I did nothing else for those two weeks but write that book. (I didn't socialize, or cook, or go to the gym, or read. I just wrote.)

By contrast, In Fire Forged, which became The White Dragon and The Destroyer Goddess shortly before publication, was an extremely big (more than 400,000 words!), complex, difficult book, so it took a long time to write—more than 3 years. And I wrote lots of other stuff while writing it, since I was at it for (did I mention?) more than 3 years. I find, by the way, that a 100,000-word book isn't twice as difficult and time-consuming as a 50,000-word book, it's about five times as difficult and time-consuming. These things seem to multiply geometrically.

The "how long does it take?" question is additionally difficult to answer because of the way I work. I usually have to think about a book, do research, and makes notes for months before I can write the first chapter; meanwhile, of course, I'm busy writing books I've already thought about for months. Moreover, since I do this for a living and am (thank goodness!) almost always under contract, I always have deadlines, and so I rarely finish a book for which I do not yet have a contract or a deadline. Therefore, like many career novelists, I usually write a proposal (maybe 1 page, maybe 100 pages, depending on circumstances) for a book that I only sit down to finish writing after I sell it and have a deadline; and selling a proposal has, so far in my career, taken me anywhere from 2 weeks to 15 years.

 

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5. Do you have specific a daily or weekly schedule, or an exact amount of pages per day that you write?

By and large, being self-employed is professionally and fiscally risky, the IRS punishes you for it, health insurance costs the earth, there's no such thing as a sick-day or a paid vacation, and no bank will offer you a mortgage or a car loan. So you need to take advantage of what few benefits there are! Such as flexibility. I work very long hours; I just seldom work the kind of set, fixed, inflexible hours that a salaried employee typically does.

I do tend to set a page-count goal most days, but it varies from day to day, depending on my schedule, my deadline, the book, and what I need to accomplish with the book that day. But setting a fixed, perennial goal of "X" number of pages per day as a lifestyle would ignore the fact that I often discover that I need to spend the day revising a chunk of 150 pages or completely rewriting a chapter or a scene.

 

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6. What do you think about fan fiction?

Unless the creator of the original material (be it a movie, a TV show, a novel or series of novels) has explicitly granted permission for the fan fiction, it's unauthorized derivative material based on someone else's intellectual property—and therefore should not be distributed (such as being posted on a website or blog, for example). For a thorough explanation, please see the blog post I wrote about fan fiction.

Publishers, gaming companies, playwrights and producers, film and TV empires, and graphic novel companies all respect a novelist's legal rights over her own artistic creations (and court cases usually arise when they do not respect these rights). Readers (and certainly aspiring writers, of all people!) should respect the novelist's intellectual property rights, too.

Please note that I explicity decline permission to base fan fiction on any of my work.

 

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7. What do you think about fan art based on a novelist's work?

I address this subject strictly from my perspective as a novelist; for a visual artist or a multi-media copyright owner, the answers are perhaps entirely different, and certainly more complex. In my opinion, visual art based on written text can be legitimately categorized as work inspired by the written material, rather than as derivative work; so the legal and ethical violations inherent in fan fiction do not apply to fan art when it's based on text. However, I do refer strictly to visual art. A graphic novel or game, for example, is covered under the derivative works clauses of publishing contracts and, if unauthorized and distributed, would be a violation of the author's intellectual property rights. (Again, for more information, please see my blog post about fan fiction.)

 

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8. Will you introduce me to your agent? To your editor?

Well, I can't possibly introduce you to my agent, because I don't have one. There's a brief explanation about this in a blog post I wrote, The Agent-Author Business Model.

Meanwhile, I only see various editors once every couple of years, on average, when I have pre-arranged business meetings with them in New York or at major conferences. So the practical logistics of introducing you to them would be darned tricky. (Contrary to the way the writing life is depicted by Hollywood movies, novelists don't socialize with agents and editors on a regular basis.)

Actually, there are very few people in my career whom I had met before we started working together. The writer's work (and, later on, her sales and her reputation) is what generates agency and editorial interest in her, not meeting her.

The way to get an agent interested in representing you or an editor interested in acquiring your book is to send them outstanding material presented very professionally. If they love your work, they'll be interested in you. If they don't love your work, they won't care that they've met you, that you're the friend or acquaintance of another writer they work with, or even that they found you personally charming and delightful. This is business, and the only reason an agent represents a writer's career or an editor acquires her book is that they're exicted about the material and believe it will earn money.

For more information about finding an agent, take a look at my 3-part series of articles on agents, via the links on the Non-Fiction page of this website.

 

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9. Would you be willing to read my manuscript and tell me what you think?

No. I don't read or critique manuscripts. My skill is writing, not editing. I haven't the faintest idea how other writers can make their work "good." I'm fully occupied with learning how to make my work "good." So I just write. I don't critique or edit.

When you ask a professional writer to read your manuscript, you're underestimating just how big a favor you're requesting. Critiquing a manuscript is work and it's very time-consuming. More to the point, though, the belief that my reading your manuscript will have any effect whatsoever on your fate is a complete misconception of how the publishing industry works.

Unlike the portrayals you see in the movies or the tales you hear from people who have no idea what they're talking about, the reality of the professional publishing world is that even if I think you've written a life-altering novel of staggering genius, I cannot get it published for you. I don't mean I won't, I mean I can't—in much the way that I can't make you thin, rich, or Lithuanian, either.

An editor has to think you've written a life-altering novel of staggering genius (or at least a commercially viable book) for you to get it published. I have no influence over what editors think, and editors DO NOT CARE what I think.

Also, unlike the standard Hollywood portrayals, a writer's relationship with an editor or agent is a long-distance business association, not a close personal friendship of frequent lunches and shared confidences. I don't know any of my editors well enough to ask them to give priority to my manuscripts, never mind yours. The notion that my recommendation could get you a faster response is a shot in the dark; and the idea that my enthusiasm could get you a book sale is wholly false (though it's regularly perpetuated by absurd film/TV portrayals, as well as by apocryphal myths and inaccurate anecdotes about the business).

Additionally, reading your manuscript puts me in a potentially dangerous position. If I have very recently written, am currently writing, am planning to write, or ever happen to write anything that even faintly resembles some minor aspect of your manuscript, I'm opening myself to a nuisance lawsuit from you by reading your manuscript. And I just don't want that monkey on my back. (Yes, I read lots of books—published books. Professional writers very rarely fling around specious accusations of plagiarism. Whereas aspiring writers, unfortunately, do it rather often.)

Moreover, since I don't even like most published books, the chances that I'll like your book are slim. That's just the law of averages. This isn't because I'm brilliant and exacting. It's because I'm the literary equivalent of an annoyingly fussy eater. (Whereas when it comes to food, there's almost nothing I don't enjoy eating!) There are many award-winning, critically acclaimed, and/or bestselling books that I didn't like and/or couldn't finish reading. So clearly my reaction to your work will be no indication whatsoever of whether or not it's "good" or marketable.

Anyhow, I give some writing workshops where I discuss various writing principles and possible ways to approach doing the work (see the Going Public page); but I don't comment on manuscripts.

The Writer's Resource page of this website provides reams of information and resources for aspiring writers, including a list of reputable freelance editors who will read and comment on your work (for a fee). The page also contains additional information (as if more were needed) about why I don't read manuscripts.

 

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10. Are you any relation to Mike Resnick?

Yes, he's my dad.

 

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11. How did you start your career?

I read a book many years ago called How To Write A Romance and Get It Published by Kathryn Falk, founder and publisher of Romantic Times Magazine. I thought that writing a short novel about two likeable people who fall in love was something I might be able to do.

I did not have any professional writing experience, nor had I ever taken any writing classes, and I had not been on staff at my college or high school newspaper. (In fact, as a foreign languages major, I hadn't even written many of my college papers in my own language.) There were two elements in my background, however, that helped me a lot when I started writing.

First, when I was a teenager, my dad, a science fiction writer, paid me $0.50 per page to type his manuscripts. (Years earlier, I used to carry manuscripts-in-progress back and forth between him and a collaborator, on my bicycle. But at the age of six, I was too naive to demand payment.) That not only taught me to be an efficient typist, it also taught me, by osmosis, how a good writer revises and hones his work. As I typed up successive drafts of various books and stories for the old man, I learned a lot about how and why a writer improves the material through revisions and line-editing.

Second, as an aspiring actress, I sought excellent training in the US and England. It didn't give me the talent or temperament to become a working actress (I'm much better suited to writing), but the years of dissecting dialogue, characterization, and scene structure from an acting perspective taught me, again by osmosis, a lot of valuable craft lessons that I've employed as a writer ever since I started work on my first book.

Anyhow, having grown up in a writer's house, I understood what a tough, competitive profession this is, so my commitment to myself, when I decided to start writing, was that I'd complete six romance novels before I reevaluated my plan or considered giving up. I hoped that rejections for the first three books would give me clear and consistent enough feedback that I'd have a better chance of writing something saleable on my fourth, fifth, and sixth attempts.

Using the essays and information in Falk's book as my guide, I outlined my first book and wrote it by hand, then typed up the final version on a manual typewriter, which was all I owned. By then, I had the idea for my second book, so I started working on that while sending queries to agents and submissions to editors.

A dozen agents rejected my first two books; but the first publisher I queried, Silhouette Books, a division of Harlequin, bought them both. (I was working on my fourth book by the time I sold the first one.) It wasn't smooth sailing after that, though. Silhouette rejected four of my next six proposals (and that also wasn't the last time they would reject four of my books in a row, either). But it nonetheless began an association that lasted for five years and a dozen books, and enabled me to become a full-time, self-supporting writer by the age of twenty-six.

 

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12. Do you read reviews of your books? Do you lurk on blogs that discuss your work?

I read professional reviews of my work in search of good reviews that I and my publishers can use to promote my books. I don't enjoy it (and sometimes I loathe it), but it's a business necessity.

However, publishers don't quote readers when packaging, promoting, or advertising a book. So there is no need for me to endure the painful process of wading through reader reviews. Therefore, I avoid reader-review websites.

Because it is indeed a painful process. Picture this: You've spent a year-or-more of your life working on a book. Plotting, researching, writing, rewriting, revising, polishing. You take risks, you stretch yourself, you give the material everything you've got. You sweat blood, you kill a billion brain cells, you do some of your best work ever.

And then, after the book is published, some anonymous stranger, in a public forum, for all the world to see, says something like: "What a piece of worthless shit. Don't waste your time reading this juvenile crap."

Or: "Totally derivative. Stole from a dozen other writers. It's obvious this author is just phoning it in."

Or: "I just couldn't get into this book. It was so boring."

And so on.

If I read ten glowing comments about my work, that still doesn't take the insomnia-inducing sting out of the one nasty or brutally snide or dismissive comment about my work on the same page. So it's much better for me just not to read such pages and websites at all.

People are perfectly entitled to hate my work and to say so in public. And I'm entitled not to suffer through their comments if I don't absolutely have to.

 

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13. What do you read?

I read a lot of research for my own writing (see the Research Library); for pleasure-reading, check out the Books & Films page, where I recommend what I've recently read for fun that I liked.

 

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14. Which book is your favorite of your own work?

Whichever book I finished writing last.

 

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15. Which book is your least favorite of your own work?

Whichever *@!$*%#*!  book I'm working on now.

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16. Do you do public appearances?

Yes. Check out my Going Public page for details.

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17. Are your books available electronically?

Yes. The e-books for my most-recent and my future books are licensed by their respective publishers and are handled by those houses. They try to get the books into as many venues as possible, including whichever your preferred platform happens to be.

Additionally, nearly all of my older books are now available now in e-book format at Amazon, BN.com, iBooks, Kobo, Sono, Diesel, and various other e-vendors.

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18. What are you working on now?

Autumn 2013: Working on Abracadaver, the seventh Esther Diamond novel.

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