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Guest blogger: Brenda Gayle

27 October 2013

Brenda HealdThe end

‘The end’. A short time ago I wrote those very satisfying words to mark the completion of my contemporary romance, The Forsaken Heart. But it was more than just the ending of a book, this was also the end of my Heart’s Desire series; the wrapping up of a story arc that ran through three books and involved three cousins searching for love and family acceptance.

As I was writing The Forsaken Heart, I was aware that, in many ways, the entire book was a finale of sorts, and I began to feel a heavy burden of responsibility to “do it right” for the reader.

As authors, I think we often expend more effort perfecting the beginning of our stories. We work hard to create a compelling hero and heroine, to set the stage for their meeting and mutual attraction, and to introduce a conflict that will keep them apart. We want to capture the reader and draw her into our story.

I suspect, however, for readers, it is the ending of the story that matters most. It’s not enough that it simply wrap up all the loose ends and have the hero and heroine ride off into the sunset; the ending must leave a reader with mixed feelings of satisfaction and disappointment. I want her to be satisfied that the hero and heroine are finally together and all is right in their world (this is romance, after all), and disappointed that the book is finished and she can’t continue on their journey with them.

As I was writing The Forsaken Heart, I kept asking myself what makes a truly satisfying ending? How can I reward the reader for her emotional and time commitment to my story/series?

Although the each of the Heart’s Desire books can be taken individually, I wanted to give readers who had followed the series the opportunity to revisit the heroes and heroines of the previous books, as well as some of the more interesting secondary characters. So while The Forsaken Heart focuses on the relationship between Anna and Callum, readers can catch up on what’s been happening in the lives of Hunter and Nora (The Hungry Heart) and Chad and Shelby (The Doubting Heart). And the conclusion of the book provides a glimpse into everyone’s future.

I won’t know if I have been successful in creating an emotionally satisfying, “damn, I wish this book/series wasn’t over” type of ending until The Forsaken Heart is published early next year.

In the meantime, though, I’d like to know what you think. What makes the perfect book ending? Do you have any examples you can share? One commenter will receive a digital copy of The Hungry Heart, book 1 in the Heart’s Desire series. (The giveaway is now closed. The winner was Yvonne.)

You can find out more about me, my Heart’s Desire series, and other projects at www.BrendaGayle.com.

The Hungry HeartExcerpt from The Hungry Heart

Nora rubbed the condensation off the mirror and stared at the face looking back at her. She tried to be objective, but all she could see was a woman about to turn thirty-five. Tiny lines were beginning to form at the corners of her eyes—he’d called their color café noir when they’d first met—and there were more lines just above her top lip.

Her age had never bothered her—in fact, she’d always felt she’d accomplished a lot while still quite young—at least professionally. But dammit, it would be nice to experience fantastic sex at least once before I’m thirty-five.

What was it about turning thirty-five that disturbed her so much? It was just a number.

Her lips were a rosy pink and slightly swollen. She touched them gently, remembering the feel of Hunter’s mouth as it grazed hers, and then the hard urgency with which he had kissed her in the garage.

Stop it.

She turned away, frustrated. This was getting her nowhere.

Forget it. Forget him. None of it mattered anyway. Tomorrow morning she’d be back in her real world, and all this would be nothing but a memory.

She heard a noise and paused to listen more intently. Was that banging?

She slipped on a robe—the scratchy generic one provided by the hotel, not at all like the luxurious plush one she’d borrowed from Hunter—and opened the bathroom door.

Yes, someone was definitely pounding on her door.

“Who’s there?” she called, tightening the belt of the robe.

“Room service.”

What? “I didn’t—”

She stepped up on her toes to peek out the peephole. Her knees felt like jelly and she leaned against the door, closing her eyes and murmuring a heartfelt “thank goodness.” Then she looked again to make absolutely certain her eyes weren’t playing tricks on her.

Hunter was magnificent in a fresh pair of dark khaki pants and a red golf shirt. His hair looked damp, as if he had just stepped out of a shower, too. In one hand he balanced a platter, covered by a large silver lid. He was impatiently shuffling from one foot to the other.

She pulled open the door and stepped back, waiting.

Hunter’s eyes widened and then he dropped his gaze to take in her bare toes. Slowly he raised his head. His appraisal of her was slow and intense. She felt exposed, and rubbed her palms against the fabric of the robe just to assure herself she had actually put one on. When he got to her face he paused, and then broke into his seductive, heart-stopping grin.

“I see you’re expecting me,” he said.

15 Comments
  1. 10 November 2013 3:34 am

    Thanks everyone for coming by and checking out my blog. I used random.org to select the recipient of The Hungry Heart, the first book in my Heart’s Desire series. The winner is Yvonne! Congratulations. Please send me your email addy and what format you’d like the book: epub, mobi (kindle), or pdf.

    brenda(at)brendagayle(dot)com

  2. Yvonne permalink
    30 October 2013 12:09 am

    Women get better with age and can much more fun with their love life. Confidence and a love of life are great things to have and great to read about. Diversity with heroines is wonderful to see and I greatly appreciate authors such as youself, who are able to demonstrate this. Loved the extract and will be very keen to read this story. Although a good ending keeps a reader happy, for me, it is how a book can by itself or as part of a series, draw me into another world and leave me hooked and anxiously awaiting the next story. The impact can be tremendous and I am always envious of people with your talent, who take you to different places and leave you wanting more.

    • 30 October 2013 5:32 am

      Thank you for your kind words, Yvonne. I agree, there is nothing I love more than being totally transported to another world while I’m reading. Thanks for coming by.

  3. lyn permalink
    28 October 2013 10:24 am

    I like the sound of this series it is nice to read about “older” people finding romance——lyn

    • 28 October 2013 10:53 pm

      Hi Lyn, I agree with you completely. Just because you’re over 25 doesn’t mean your love life has to stop. I really loved writing about Nora and Hunter’s relationship because Nora wasn’t your typical romance heroine. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  4. 28 October 2013 10:06 am

    Brenda, I agree a story should leave the reader emotionally satisfied and yet wanting more. And I believe that’s the beauty of a series. The characters are already familiar when they appear in later books, and offer a sense of continuity. And yep, I’m always waiting for the next book in the series to appear so I can catch up!

    • 28 October 2013 10:50 pm

      HI Kallie, with two series on the go, you’ve really got this down. Best of luck with both your Shadow Soldier and Black Force Renegade series.

  5. pulpfictionme permalink
    28 October 2013 4:22 am

    I totally get it. While creating plot you are creating this knot. Twisting and twisting as the story goes on. The ending is the untying of the knot and should give a release. I just got done reading east of eden and like all Steinbeck stories I literally threw down the book. His stories have a way of getting you invested in the story and then releasing. I exploded with so much emotion that I had to get the physical energy. I started pacing around the house and my room mate looked on in confusion “why are you reacting like this?” I tried to explain but said simply “you have to read it.” The reader will read stories the same way we write them. If you are crying while writing then most likely so will the reader. If you end the story and throw the pen down caught up in the story then you have done your job. I view writing as inviting the reader to experience what we experience. I have always said for myself that I write for my own benefit and if people read it and experience it with me then I am honored.

    • 28 October 2013 10:48 pm

      So wonderfully said. Thank you. I love books that stay with you days, weeks, or months later; that leave a small hollow in you when you’ve finished them.

  6. 28 October 2013 3:59 am

    I think it was Jane Austen who said (paraphrased) that a well-written story always feels too short. The same thing could be said about a series ending, I think. Enjoyed the excerpt and wishing you all the best with your upcoming release.

  7. 28 October 2013 12:43 am

    Hi Brenda,

    I perfectly understand what you mean when you talk about that mixed feeling of satisfaction and disappointment. I experience it each time I finish a series, whether I’m writing it or reading it. If I don’t, I know something’s wrong! Good luck with the series!

    Anne

  8. helensibbritt permalink
    27 October 2013 10:50 am

    Benda

    I do like the sound of this series and I agree I get really invovled with books in a series and love to meet up again with past characters and know what they are up to and what is in the future for them. I really enjoyed Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series and I think that with the last one everything was done really well and then of course she did the epilogues as well🙂

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • 28 October 2013 10:43 pm

      HI Helen, Julia Quinn is certainly a pro. I love epilogues generally, but hers really are terrific.
      Thanks for stopping by.

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