Thursday, May 17, 2007

The End

by Christine Zampi

No, not the end of the blog. And certainly not the end of me.

But writing those two little words or even reading those words can evoke such emotions for readers and writer. I just added those words to the bottom of my current manuscript. There’s a part of me that already misses the characters and the plot, even though I know I’ll be seeing them again in revisions really soon. I usually don’t feel this way when I get to the end of one of my own stories. By the time I’m finished, I’m ready to be done with thos characters and move on to the next. So this is a new experience for me.

Reading a story and coming to the end is a very similar thing. There are books I can’t wait to be done with and hope to never see those characters again. But then there are those special books. The books you don’t want to be done with and you don’t want the hero and heroine’s story to be over so soon.

My goal is to write one of those books. A keeper. The book that people come up to you and say they reread it every year.

My reality is that I haven’t read a keeper in awhile. How about anyone else here? Most of my keepers are 5-15 years old. So what’s going on? Is it me? Has writing caused me to become so critical of others’ writing that I can’t enjoy a good book anymore? Or has the quality of storytelling gone down hill? Personally, I don’t think it’s that.

So what do you all think?

And before you post your comments, the winner of yesterday’s contest is Kim W. Congratulations, Kim!!! Caren needs your email address so she can contact you. Please contact her at


Caren Crane said...

Christine, this is something I have pondered a lot lately. As I mentioned in response to Trish's world building post, it seems I used to become more attached to books than I do now. I think, in part, it's because they were such an escape for me. These days, I don't have that much to escape from, thankfully.

The books I revisit from the most recent past are the J.D. Robb "In Death" series and Elizabeth Peters' Egyptology books about Amelia Peabody and company.

Elizabeth, you asked yesterday about books that handle "romance" within a marriage. Elizabeth Peters does that in her Amelia Peabody mysteries - really well, as a matter of fact. Who could forget Emerson and his sapphirine eyes?

Anonymous said...

Goodness, Christine, I'm glad it's not the end of you!! :-)

I think there's definitely a connection between writing and not falling in love with what you read. It's much harder to suspend my disbelief now that I look at books with my critical radar on full power. Not to mention the ugly green monster sitting on my shoulder (this got published and I didn't? Hmph!).

That said, Susan Elizabeth Phillips always ends up on my keeper list. I devoured Natural Born Charmer in one sitting and was blissfully happy the entire time, and sooooo sad when I had to reach the end. If you haven't tried her, you definitely should.

Maybe we need to get her to guest blog on the Romance Bandits! still my heart!


Kathryn S said...

Christine, I had a lot more keepers before I got published. I think your 'needs' change after you sell a book. Really. I compare myself to every author I read now, and foolish things will catch my attention -- like a word that keeps showing up, or something the heroine says. It's harder for me to get lost in a book now. Sometimes I'm so envious of the author's voice that I'm convinced I suck and will never write again! lol.

Everyone wants to write a 'keeper.' Heck, I do too. Problem is, one person's keeper is another's UBS donation. You'll never write the perfect book, but you can always write the best book you've got in you. How's that for sage? lol.

And incidentally, even as I want to write brilliant prose, I'm always convinced that the book I'm working on is crap. :-)

Caren Crane said...

Inara, good call on SEP's "Natural Born Charmer". I adored that book and thought it was almost perfect. SEP is always a comfort read for me. But NBC went right on the keeper shelf.

Um, my keeper shelf has a lot of old Lavyrle Spencer. :-)

Buffie said...

First, congrats to Kim W. for winning!!!!

Second, the words "the end" are probably a thrill to see for writers, but as a reader I am usually sad when the book ends. I mean, I love seeing the h/h with their HEA, but usually I have become so engrossed in the story that I don't want it to end.

As for keepers . . . I tend to rotate the keepers on my shelf. After a couple re-reads then tend to be farmed out to friends, family or the UBS. There is one that has been on my shelf since I started reading romance. Actually it is the first romance novel I read -- The Wedding by Julie Garwood. And I read it every year.

And Kathryn S -- I do have a couple of yours on my keeper shelf and they have been there for a couple years -- In Your Arms Again and Still In My Heart. So you HAVE written a few keepers!!! Just keep cranking them out!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Saving Grace by Julie Garwood is my must read every year book. Johanna and Gabirel and the cast of both clans make me laugh and cry everytime I read it.

I do agree with Inara and Caren about Natural Born Charmer. I fell in love with the hero, heroine and the town. I've recommended it to about a dozen people so far.

But since becoming a writer I find I now have three categories for books:

1. Keepers: These will be re-read and savored over a glass of wine when in need of comfort. Also recommended to other readers.

2. UBS donations: I finished the book, but am not enamored with it. I will happily donate it to the UBS for someone else to enjoy, as it may just not be my cup of tea.

3. Trash heap: enough said.

I still look for more keepers each week when I go to the bookstore, and am not that often disappointed.

Joan said...

Hmmm...SEP. I've heard of her but, alas have not yet read any of her books (don't hit me)

My number one keeper of all time is Johanna Lindsey's "Fire in Winter". Classic Viking tale with brooding hero and fiesty heroine. I LOVE IT.

More recent ones are all of Karen Marie Moning's Highlander/Fae books. I've read The Immortal Highlander about a gazillion times. (Have I mentioned Adam Black? Grrrrrr..)

And of course there is...oh, what is her name? Oh, yes. Nora. I've read many of her books multiple times. Almost to the point I could recite it.

I would love for one of my books to be a "keeper"

Caren Crane said...

Saving Grace and The Wedding - loved them both! I went through my Julie Garwood phase in the mid-90s, when my two younger kids were babies. Since those were the "crazy years" (yes, Joan, I could have been one of your crazies!), I recall very little from that time. I don't remember many details, but remember the warm, wonderful feelings that each of her books left me with. Hey, maybe it's time for a Julie Garwood re-read-athon!

If only I could find the time...

Christine Zampi said...

Joan, you mentioned a couple of my definite keepers. I love J. Lindsey's older stuff and Adam Black!! Yummy!

Joan said...

LOL Christine!

My last trip to Ireland I kept looking beneath the bushes for one of those sexy, Fae men :-)

My crit partner who was with me asked if I'd been sipping a pint (or several) without her knowledge.

Nope, just high on the beauty of the Emerald Isle

Christine Wells said...

Congratulations on finishing your manuscript, Christine!

I think you're right, there are fewer 'keepers' for me all the time. Maybe it's because I've read so many romances, very little seems fresh and new to me any more.

Oh, Caren, I LOVE Amelia Peabody! And did you know there's going to be a new Vicky Bliss? Night Train to Memphis is one of those books I read again and again.

Buffie said...

Joan -- here I thought I was the only one on the planet who hasn't read a SEP book!!!! At least now I have company. I've never read Nora Roberts or JR Ward either.

Christine Zampi said...

All right, I'll fess up. I haven't read SEP either. She's on my TBR list, but I just haven't gotten there yet.

Keira Soleore said...

I have a lot of oldie goodies in my keeper bookcases: Enid Blyton, Georgette Heyer, Ann Mather, Barbara Cartland, Julie Garwood's medievals, Amanda Quick's Regencies, Candice Hern, Diane Gaston, and on and on.

However, just in the past two weeks, I've had the great pleasure of reading Lisa Kleypas' "Sugar Daddy" and AnnaC's CtC. Both have been SUPERB and are definitely going on the K bookcase. Where LikaK is concerned, I'd put even her grocery list up there. Her talent leaves me in awe.

Joan said...

Oh Buffie,

You must read some of Nora's. A partial list I'd recommend is the Chesapeake Bay Series, The "Born in" series, the "Tears of the Moon" trilogy, the Red Lily trilogy and her last one Morrigan's Cross.

I will also go so far as to admit that prior to attending my first RWA conference as a newbie writer she was pointed out to me and I said "Who is she?". LOL.

I soon learned and after I got over the stunned sense of "I'll never write that good", rolled my sleeves up and added her along with SO many other wonderful romance fiction authors to my list of "teachers."

Hrdwrkdmom said...

Oh Joan, what about the Sisters Island Trilogy, that is a re-read for me at least once a year if not more. Any time I loan it I have to re-read it when I get them back. And like you I really did enjoy Karen Moning's Highlander series, but I still thought there should be two more, that is the way I read it anyway. Wish I could find Adam Black hiding under a bush, or laying on a bench, or anywhere else for that matter.

Hrdwrkdmom said...

I loved the Morrigan's Cross Trilogy but I gotta tell you, that was a set of books that could only be read in the daytime. I have way too active an imagination to do those after dark!

Buffie said...

Joan -- I skipped right over your comment on KMM. Can't believe I did that!!! She was my first time travel read and her books are on my keeper shelf too. And yes, Adam Black is the ultimate hero. Wonderfully made and willing to give up eternity for the woman he loves.

Joan said...

I didn't forget the Sisters trilogy but as you say, active imagination and all that.

KMM actually seems to be continuing, expanding the whole Highlander/Fae world in her newest series which started with DarkFever last year. VERY engrossing story. (For those who have read it suffice to say I didn't NOT have the same experience as the heroine in Ireland's National Museum :-0) It is written in first person which I'm not usually a big fan of, but it sooned grabbed you by the throat and took you on the hunt. The next is due this summer and I cannot wait!

Yes, that gripping writing can get to you. My crit partner TL Gray has her second book out with Cerrdiwan Press. "Object of His Affection" is a romantic suspense set in Louisville during Derby and it is, in her words, gritty.

I'll say. It is very intense, all that CSI info which makes me shiver. She laughs at me because here I "almost" crucify my hero in THE PATRICIAN'S FORTUNE, but cringe at the crime scene scenes.

Yeah, well not likely I'll get crucified but being stalked by a weird hospital orderly says the NURSE!

KimW said...

Yay!!! What a nice surprise, thank you so much! Just sent off my email to Caren.

Congratulations on finishing your manuscript! I still find "keepers", but I'm just a reader. I think it would be difficult to enjoy reading as much when you are the one that writes them, too. Maybe it's too closely related to working and really who wants to do that all the time. :)

Beth said...

I still have "keepers" like Nora Roberts, Meg Cabot, Virginia Kantra, Suz Brockmann and Tawny Weber's Double Dare *g*

I am a bit harder to please now that I'm a writer as well as a reader. Guess that goes with the territory :-)

Congratulations on finishing your story, Christine!

Kathryn S said...

First of all, I need to say that I love Buffie. :-)

I'm still adding to my keepers -- maybe not like I used to before I got published, but it's growing. I love discovering someone new to glom.

And now I will admit to never having read a JD Robb book, something I plan to remedy this weekend.