All’s Well that Ends Well

Let’s face it. Every part of a book is important. The beginning is important to hook the reader and draw her into the story. The middle is important to flesh out the characters, and ramp up the conflict. The back end is important for the emotional roller coaster of the climax and the all-important happily-ever-after. The best promotion is a good book.  It’s said that the ending of a book will sell the next.

I believe this. I’ve read books and short stories when the ending just…well…ends. And I feel cheated somehow. I want either that perfect sigh that all is right with the universe – especially with this couple that obviously loves each other – or I want a twist or a little punch that intrigues me and makes me rush to download the next book. You know what I mean.

Moors Tear 1600x2400The second book in the Hunger Games series, Halt and Catch Fire, was like that.  I was fortunate that my daughter had already bought Mockingjay.  Have to say I didn’t like Mockingjay as well as the other two books, but I still had to read it based on the previous book’s ending.

Earlier this month I released The Moor’s Tear. Several of you have read it (thank you.) What you may not realize is that I never really intended to write that story. My agent had an opportunity for me to sell a short story but I only had a weekend to write it. At the time I wasCharming the Professor final working on the beginning of Charming the Professor, and thought I could write a story that would tie into my time travel. With the help of fellow banditas Jeanne, Cassondra and Nancy, we plotted a story that I love. However, when I turned it in, my agent said that she forgot to mention that it couldn’t tie into an existing book. Now Charming the Professor wasn’t an existing book at the time, but the ending made it clear that something happened to the charm teacher. I rewrote the ending but I felt it was rather flat. The story didn’t sell and I got to put my original ending back on it. Meant to be, I think. 🙂

Scotland Christmas ReunionOn November 2nd, I’m releasing my Christmas story, Scotland Christmas Reunion. I had some unique challenges to this story. For example, did you know that Christmas was not celebrated in Scotland until the 1950s? This made it difficult to write a Scotland Christmas story. 🙂   It all worked out though. The heroine is the Laird’s mother from The Whisky Laird’s Bed. Remember her? But I Untitled-3had difficulty making the ending pop. I’ve rewritten the ending several times.  You’ll have to let me know if you like it. (and let me know what you think of the excerpt of To Bait a Rake – the next Rake Patrol book included with the short story).

So I’m curious. What endings of books do you remember the most? Were there any that made you rush out to read the next book? Let’s talk about endings today. I’ll give two people leaving a comment a copy of Scotland Christmas Reunion.

Don’t forget I’m giving a book away every month to someone who signs up for my newsletter.  You can sign up here.

As I’ve totally forgotten how to imbed the links in the book covers:  I’ve listed them here for anyone interested:

The Moor’s Tear

Scotland Christmas Reunion

The Whisky Laird’s Bed

Charming the Professor – coming December 2015 (still working on putting it up 🙂  )

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  • helensibbritt says:

    Hi Donna

    h I love a good ending in a story with it leading to another book most of the books I have read over the years I have loved the endings in of course not all of them leas to another book but when I shed tears of happiness that can also make it fab now you have me thinking about the endings and I have such a bad memory sometimes 🙂

    I read a book not long ago called The Secret Years and it is a time slip and the ending was so perfect even though I was crying heaps it also had me smiling.

    Sorry I still have your book The Moors Tears to read I have been really snowed under lately not that I am complaining I love having lots of books to read 🙂 I love your stories

    Have Fun

    • I love a good time slip. I’m going to have to look for the Secret Years. To me, a good ending is a hallmark of good writing. It’ll make or break a book for me. If the ending leaves me smiling, it makes the whole experience worthwhile.

      No worries on The Moor’s Tear. Charming the Professor doesn’t come out till December. Life is good.

      • Helen says:


        This one is set around World War 2 and Townsville a town up the top part of Queensland and it really is good 🙂 I hope you get to read it one day

        Have Fun

  • Mary Preston says:

    Endings that surprise I tend to remember longer. It might be that they tug on my emotions too.

    • Good point, Mary! I like a good surprising twist at the end (as long as it makes sense and is “fair”), probably due to the emotion implications. By “fair,” I mean a stranger doesn’t suddenly show up at the end and solve a mystery, or the reader discovers that a stranger is responsible for the crime. I believe those are “unfair” endings. Just saying… 🙂

  • Ki says:

    Oh endings, it can make or break a book. I’ve had several books end in such great memorable moments that I was happy and sad to close the book because it was absolutely perfect and I don’t want anything to mess it up. But I’ve also had books end on a flat note leaving me cheated and sour. I don’t usually do serials or cliffhanger series but there are some that leaves me wanting more and fast, but sadly I always end up waiting for the next part, impatiently.

    One series I love is Karina Cooper’s St. Croix Chronicles. It’s a dark mystery steampunk Victorian romance and has semi-cliffhangers that leads you into the next book. Book two in that series ended in such a heartbreaking and torturous way that I had to lay low for awhile. I was so invested in the story that when book 2 ended the way it did, I was crushed and mentally unstable along with the heroine. It was supposed to end on a good and happy note but no, it took a turn and twisted it all into agony, jaw dropping, book throwing, speechless, want to forget memory. And waiting for the third book was like hell. I wanted it, but at the same time I was so scared to read it when I got it. A whole year it took me. But man, the whole series when it wrapped up was so good! Just love it.

    • Ki –

      You are braver that I. I probably wouldn’t have continued on to book 3 with the “life’s too short” theory. Good to know that the series ended well. I’ll have to mention it to a friend who is a fan of Steampunk.

      But I do take endings seriously. I certainly can relate to that “cheated and sour” feeling – especially if the book was good otherwise. It’s one of the reasons I love Romance. Not just for the pervasive sexual tension but also for the guaranteed happy ending. I feel cheated otherwise.

  • EC Spurlock says:

    I agree with Ki, the ending can make or break a book. I like to have all the loose ends wrapped up for the H/h, although if it’s a series, there can be a couple of dangling threads left to tie to the next book. I also like the ending to happen logically and gradually; having the H/h turn around in the last chapter and handwave all the conflict with “I changed my mind” out of the blue does not work for me.

    I also like to have a general idea of what happened to the secondary characters. One of the problems I had with the Harry Potter series was that in the final book, several secondary characters whom I had become invested in behaved in very out-of-character ways just to further the plot, and were killed off-stage and hand-waved away. I felt I had no closure to their arc as a result, and it left a bad taste in my mouth.

    BTW I think the last book in the Hunger Games trilogy was called Catching Fire. Halt and Catch Fire is a TV series that happens to be filmed in my town. 🙂 (So was Resurrection; now when anybody visits from out of town I have to give them the “Resurrection tour”)

    • EC Spurlock says:

      BTW #2, I did not know that about Scotland and Christmas. I should think that a predominantly Catholic country as Scotland was for centuries would have observed Christmas. Was it just considered a religious observance, and not celebrated as a feast day?

    • Don’t forget that the National Church of Scotland is protestant. I think the major religion for the area is Presbyterian, but there are a number of Catholics in specific regions. Though it wasn’t really a National celebration, I think Christmas was a more quiet religious contemplation than the big celebration we know as Christmas. The big traditional Scottish celebration is Hogmanay, which is the celebration of the New Year. Given that the two events are a week apart, the festival atmosphere of our Christmas took a back seat in preparation for Hogmanay which is the big thing there. Still, it came as a surprise to me 🙂

      LOL on the Halt and Catch Fire. I shouldn’t write these blogs late at night :-). That was filmed in your hometown? Cool. My husband is in IT so we watched the series.

      But I hear you on endings. I think a lot of pressure is placed on the beginnings of novels to be memorable to sell the book, that the endings are sort of forgotten. But a good, strong ending will sell the next book for me everytime, as well as cause me to recommend the book to others.

  • I like an ending that is exciting, unexpected, pulls all of the threads together and keeps me wondering until the sighworthy end. As several people have said, so much is emphasized as to the hook of the beginning of the book that the end is often an afterthought. I’ve read a few books in the last year or so that were quite good and had great plot lines, but the endings seemed rushed. Never a good thing !

    • I think awareness of the importance of the ending is half the battle. It’s a reminder that the reader deserves to bask in the glory of the happily ever after. Love it.

  • Laurie G says:

    The endings that stick with me the most are usually very emotional and filled with the element of surprise, where you think it’s not going to work out.

    For example these books have stuck with me through the years:

    Angel and Hawk’s story -A Woman Without Lies by Elizabeth Lowell had me in tears, when she leaves him the beautiful stained glass painting

    Untamed by Elizabeth Lowell also quite emotional I remember her feeding him drop by drop to save him from dying

    Two Alone by Sandra Brown – fighting the environment to survive after a plane crash, will they be rescued

    Heather Graham Angel of Mercy survival in the Everglades good vs bad guys suspenseful ending

    Linda Howard’s White Lies you’re not sure who the good guys are until the end

    Karen Robard’s Walking After Midnight also unsure who the good vs bad guys are until the end

    Miracle On I-40 by Curtiss Mattlock
    Scrooge and the angel story of forgiveness and the belief in Christmas and love- heart tugging ending

  • Donna, the endings that grab me the hardest tend to be endings of series, the last part of the last book, though there are exceptions. The Pagan Stone, the last of Nora Roberts’s Sign of Seven trilogy, had me on the edge of my seat and the verge of tears. It’s a romance, so it had to end with HEA…but she’d set it up so brilliantly that I was convinced it wouldn’t.

    Lois McMaster Bujold’s Cryoburn is not the final book in a series, but it ended with a gut punch I never saw coming. There were actual tears this time (over an imaginary person, which makes me feel a little weird every time it happens).

    Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles had a twisty, sneaky, heart-wrenching ending. Considering that the first book, The Game of Kings, turned everything upside down and inside out at the end, it was fitting that the last book also do that and more. Loved the series so much that I lugged hardbacks of all six books back from England many years ago. Before I had the dh to carry heavy suitcases!

    Dick Francis was a master of heart-in-your-throat endings. So are David Baldacci and Jon Land.

    And of course there’s LOTR…

    I’ll stop there rather than browse the bookshelves so I can rattle on. Fun topic!

    • Thanks Nancy –

      I’ve always thought of Dick Francis as a master of beginnings but you’re right, the ending are great as well. Loved the list- and I love it when a book makes me cry as well. That’s when you know they’ve got you 🙂

  • I tried to post a comment, but alas laptop said I was no longer connected. If this is a repeat of a post, please forgive.
    I like to be kept in doubt until the last page. I don’t want a sudden proposal from a reformed rake and the certain acceptance by a gushing heroine.

    • Ursula –

      Not a duplicate at all! I like to be kept in doubt to the very end as well, but it can be hard in a romance, that’s why I like the lists. Now I can go study 🙂 The ending is so very important but I’m not sure it gets all the attention of beginnings.