Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Absolute End

by Christine Wells

I can't remember when my passion for stories began, but I clearly remember the first time it got me into trouble. You know those moments you want to curl up into a ball so tight you turn invisible? The ones that are etched on your brain for the rest of your life? This story even followed me to high school. I still cringe to think of it...

I was five, sitting in a classroom in Australia with little wooden chairs, faux wood veneer desks and linoleum floors. The teacher was reading a story out loud to the class. It was one of those melting summer days, where the heat shimmered off the tarmac outside and the ceiling fans simply shifted stifling air around.

I'd drunk a lot of water at 'big lunch'.

And right in the middle of this fantastic, breathtaking story, I had to pee.

But boy, did I need to hear the end of that story. I wriggled a bit. I glanced outside. The bathrooms were a bit of a walk away...

The angst of indecision tore me apart as badly as any tortured hero in a romance novel. In the end, story won.

And now I'm a writer, I want to make people hang on the edge of their seat for the end of my novels. I want them to say they couldn't put the book down--yes, even when they needed to pee. But how does a writer achieve that goal?

Is it tension and pacing? Is it making the reader care passionately about the characters? Is it conflict? Is it plot? Is it all of those things? What makes an ending compelling? After you've burned through the pages to get there, what ingredient makes the anticipation worthwhile, leaving you triumphant yet desolated and restless when the book ends? Do you know that feeling? I certainly do. I mourn some books for days afterwards, wishing I hadn't read them so quickly. Sometimes I even re-read them straight away.

What is it about those books that make me want to go out and buy the author's complete backlist, or long for her to hurry and write the next in the series?

I'm pretty sure I know what *doesn't* work for me as a reader. I've read romances where the romantic conflict is resolved far too early, leaving about a quarter of the book to deal with solving the mystery, getting the bad guy and so on. You know, I'd really like to say I cared about the stolen diamonds/long lost sister/orphans in trouble, but the truth is, the *romance* is what keeps me reading a romance novel--a compelling relationship between hero and heroine. If the couple spend the final fifty pages in perfect accord, they're probably fifty pages I won't read.

But sometimes the romantic conflict just drags on too long, until you're convinced these two can't possibly be happy together. So it's a fine balance. I don't think I have the answer. I just have to write the books as they come and do the best I can to give the reader that pay-off at the end. But if anyone has the secret, I'm here, ready and willing to listen.

So what about you? What's your favorite ending to a romance? Can you tell me why? And what's your most embarrassing childhood moment?
Oh, and here is my new cover!! This is for my second Berkley historical romance, The Dangerous Duke. Isn't it gorgeous?

88 comments:

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I so cannot wait for this book!!

Eva S said...

Hi Christine,
loved your post. It got me to think about all the wonderful stories I've read and why some of them have been "greater" than the others. For me it's the conflicts between the characters and the HEA of course, but not to soon or to late. If it's only a few words on the last page, the book is ruined to me...

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Oh my goodness! I got the GR, on the east coast, and he is looking for wine and all I have is vodka. Wonder what they are going to think of him at work today????? Come on big guy, get yourself together now, we have to get out the door, get the kid to school and go to work.

Eva S said...

Congrats Dianna!
If I only hadn't dreamed about so many heroes...

Amy Andrews said...

Oh Christine - you explained the cover to me earlier today and I knew you were so happy with it but man!! It's wonderful. No wonder you were beaming over it!!
I hope you caught your train ;-)

Deb Marlowe said...

Congrats dianna! I hope you and the GR have a rockin' time!

Oh, Christine, that is the most beautiful cover! Absolutely divine!

And I totally agree about the romance vs intrigue balance. It's so hard to strike the exact right balance--but when it's done well, it can be magic.

AndreaW said...

Christine, this cover is absolutely gorgeous!! I can't wait to read this one! Congrats on another beautiful cover!

Hugs,
Andrea

p226 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
p226 said...

I suppose it could be any number of things that keep me glued to the pages. I've come to call that quality "intensity." "Intensity" can take many forms. Suspense, character conflict, plot (dying to know what happens) and a number of other things can make a read, or a portion of a read "intense." I suppose there'd be ample opportunity in romance for... another kind of ... "intensity."

Embarrasing childhood moments? Honestly, there aren't many of those. Hell, I was pretty embarrassed YESTERDAY. I got to eat a healthy portion of shoe leather. Open mouth, insert foot. Yepyep.

Now, as to the gotta pee versus gotta read issue, well, of course, the solution to that problem is to do about 80% of your reading ON the throne. That way, if you have to go, well, it's a simple matter of convenience.

At least until you really get drawn into the book. And forget you're on the throne. And your legs go numb. And when you get up you take two steps and fall down. And you find your wife standing over you, "legs go to sleep again?"

"Uh huh. Could you drag me over there, the tile is cold."

terrio said...

That cover is gorgeous but that dress is really falling off now isn't it. LOL!

I do know what you mean about keeping the reader turning the pages and obsessed to the end of the story. Then having the story stay with them for days or longer. But I don't have any secret on how to do that. I just call it the Ah! factor and hope I manage to create it some day.

Most embarrassing moment? Not sure I could pick just one. And not sure I'd want to share any. LOL! How about when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, I had a major crush on a neighbor who was my older sister's age. Once I had to go sit in her class and when the teacher told me to sit somewhere, I headed straight for the neighbor which resulted in him saying, "Not here!" in front of the whole class.

I was very embarrassed but what can you do with puppy love when you're 8?!

p226 said...

And, I really should start previewing my comments before posting. Sheesh. I swear, sometimes my brain commands my fingers to type one thing, and they just mutiny on me. A little finger conspiracy. "Muahahaha, he wanted to type 'open mouth, insert foot,' but let's switch 'em up, because 'open foot, insert mouth' will make him look like an idiot, muahahahahah"

Stupid fingers.

Kirsten said...

Dianna, have fun with our little rooster today! And make sure he sobers up by sunset, just in case he falls into p226's clutches tomorrow...

Eva, I totally agree-sometimes you need an epilogue to really enjoy the HEA. Something with the hero and heroine and their kids.

Christine, I absolutely ADORE that cover. Any chance you can beg the author to sell you the original? Can you imagine having the actual painting on your wall?

I'm like p226--I have enough embarrassing moments in my everyday life that I don't need to relieve my childhood ones. But you've all heard more than enough about those!

As for what makes me pick up the next book, or not want to put down one...hmmm...really caring about the characters is a big one for me. They have to be real. I like to laugh, and I like to wonder what's going to happen next. If I can script out all the scenes of the book from start to end, I can't see much point in reading it.

Off to the salt mines--ya'll have a fun day!

terrio said...

I'm glad p226 mentioned that bathroom thing. I was thinking that but I wasn't about to type it. LOL! There's a reason why at my parent's house everyone knows what it means when someone asks where my mom is and the answer is *the library*.

Christie Kelley said...

Well, shoot. If my son's high school hadn't lost power last night, I'd have been up at my usual 6:15 and might have snagged the GR. Oh well, congrats, Dianna. Someday he'll make a trip back to Maryland. I think the 40 mile winds scared him aware.

Christie Kelley said...

Great post, Christine. I think all writers for that perfect balance.


Eva, I agree with you and I love a short epilogue to let us know what's going on with them a little later. Luckily, my editor seems to like them too (he suggested I put one in).

Christie Kelley said...

Oh, Christine, I know I said it on the loop, but your cover is absolutely gorgeous.

MsHellion said...

That is a HAWT cover!

Eva S said...

Christine,
I forgot, what a wonderful cover! Another book on my TBB list (yes,I do sometimes buy books only by the cover, but I haven't been disappointed yet...).

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

G'morning Christine! Great post! There are just waaaaay too many of those childhood embarassments - I have two older brothers, does that give you any idea? - so I'll leave that alone, but I totally know about not wanting to miss the story. I've been known to read at stoplights just so I don't have to quit reading. I do draw the line at the shower, but sometimes read while the water's warming up if the book's THAT good. And yeah, P226, I get the numb legs thing. Snork! (Oh, and it IS a conspiracy...mwah-ha-ha!)

I love the balance you were talking about too, Christine, where everything wraps up tightly at the end. THere's an author - very famous mainstream-er - who I have come to rally dislke. Her books are wonderful, rich with detail, with memorable characters and settings. Her endings stink. It's like she's got three more chapters to wrap it up and her editor said, "Nope, do it in one" So the end of the book is slam, bam, No-thank-you-ma'am, here's what happened, there, I'm done. Ugh. I thought it was just the one book...bought another...Oh, nooooo. It's every one of them. Girl needs a workshop, or something! Grrrr. Its really awful because I truly LOVE her writing style up to that last chapter...sigh.

On a much nicer note, LURVE that cover, Christine!!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Dianna, congrats on the GR!

Gillian Layne said...

Dianna- congrats!!

Christine, really just elegant and beautiful. I'd sent the artist a bottle of wine or something ;)

I went and dug through my pile of books cause of course I have so many I love....but I LOVE the end of My Favorite Bride by Christina Dodd. Right up until the end, you wonder how they will resolve it without it being "trite" or ruining the rest of the fabulous book (well, I wondered...) But it made me laugh and cry, so it was perfect.

I gotta tell you guys, I'm having a canceled school day (hurray!) We are having a thunder storm, big booms that shake the windows, but the rain is all ice and sleet. Bizarre. But on a Monday, as long as the power stays on, I'll take it!

Donna MacMeans said...

Christine - That is one fabulous cover. It almost makes me wish it was coming out in trade size, just so the cover would be bigger! Can't wait for this one to hit the shelves.

Donna MacMeans said...

I went to a Susan Elizabeth Philips workshop once and she said she never resolves the internal conflict until the last chapter. Otherwise the story is over whether or not there are pages left. I never naysay SEP *g*.

But if I fall in love with the characters, I never want the book to end, no matter if everything is resolved or not. I just want to keep living in that world.

Beth said...

Christine, your cover is so gorgeous! The Banditas get the BEST covers *ggg*

I have way too many embarrassing moments as a child to ever pick just one ;-) I guess I'll save them all for my YA.

I prefer my stories end with the romantic resolution. And I'm all about characters - they're what keep me reading when I'm supposed to be writing. Or making dinner. Or sleeping. Or picking up my kids :-)

Pam P said...

Love the cover, Christine. I don't mind some suspense in the story, and like those where both work together to solve a mystery or crime, but I definitely want to follow the romance and conflicts between the two. It's all about the characters in a romance for me, make them interesting and engage me.

Keira Soleore said...

Dianna, congratulations on snagging the GR. That's one for the Bluestockings.

Favorite ending to a romance is a HEA for me; I'm old-fashioned that way. And I do prefer the external conflict resolved before the internal one and both should be fairly close, or else you risk boredom from readers.

As far as re-reading goes, I pulleed a record in January: I read Untouched twice back-to-back; I read Diane Gaston's Vanishing VIscountess thrice back-to-back.

I'm still embarrassed by THAT episode in my childhood. Can't reveal it yet.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Christine, what a great post and I just love the cover to your next book!

What keeps me buying an author. Characters. In fact, I just read Sherrilyn Kenyon's newest Dream Chaser. And wished I could read more. Of course I know there will be more, but I really didn't want that book to end!

Nancy said...

hrdwrdmom, great job! Let us know how your co-workers liked the GR!

Eva, I agree with you. I need to see the payoff developed. "And then they lived HEA" just doesn't cut it. Well, okay, maybe in a fairy tale for five-year-olds with short attention spans, when the whole story lasts about five minutes. But not for me.

Gillian and Christie, we had severe winds yesterday. The power blinked once but didn't go off, thank goodness! Many people in our area lost power, though. Glad you're okay.

Christine, it really is a boffo cover!

We share p226's strategy. There's always a book in the throne room, sometimes more than one. I like to think of it as what the father in Cheaper by the Dozen--the book, not the movie that bears no resemblance to it--called "utilizing unavoidable delay." In fact, there's pretty much a book in every room where I might sit for any period, so there's always one to hand. Years after I developed this habit, my mother told me her mother had a book in every room.

Like Kirsten and p226, I prefer to move on to fresh embarrassments, of which I have plenty, rather than dwell on ones long past. Of which there also were, alas, plenty. However, I'll share one that's about 20 years old.

When one of my cousins married, his rehearsal dinner was held in an elegant old hotel. Women wore long dresses and men wore suits or dinner jackets. Unfortunately, I'd had a bee sting on one ankle several days before and was still on the cortisone pack, which minimized but didn't stop the swelling and itching. Looking for something in my parents' cabinet that might help, I came across Preparation H. According to the label, it would address the very problems I had with my ankle. How terrific! So I dabbed it on there.

This worked fine as long as I could go barefoot and in jeans. However, I didn't want the ointment to mess up my dressy sandal's ankle strap. So I hit upon the "ingenious" notion of putting a toilet paper pad under the strap. My dresses for the wedding and the dinner would conceal it, I figured.

So we walked into this elegant hotel with its marble pillars and oil paintings and tasteful dark carpeting, down a hallway and into a beautiful dining room. As we took our seats, my sister leaned across the table and said, "I hate to tell you, but you trailed toilet paper all the way across the lobby." I looked down, mortified, and my pad was gone. Aack!

At least no one else there knew me, but I pitied the person who had to pick it up, not knowing what it was.

jo robertson said...

Me too, Dianna, and it's not ALL about the gorgeous cover. The story between the pages sounds delicious!

LOL, great solution, P226, who among us has NOT fallen to the numb legs on the toilet sitch?

Nancy, loved that variation on the toilet-paper story!

Excellent topic, Christine. I, of course, had no embarrassing childhood moments. Tee hee.

Since I read a lot of mainstream suspense, I like the romance and the suspense to run along parallel lines as the story progresses. However, most mainstream suspense writers don't do this (probably b/c so many are men). I'm still looking for the perfect balance in reading and writing.

p226 said...

I came across Preparation H. According to the label, it would address the very problems I had with my ankle.

That stuff tastes terrible. I once woke up horribly hungover (probably more like "still hammered"), grabbed the wrong tube and brushed my teeth with it.

Cassondra said...

Congrats Dianna!

Don't make the GR work too hard!

Christine, that cover is gonna make the bookstores crazy with reorders. It's so gorgeous. I want to sit and just stare at it.

My entire childhood was one long stretch of embarrasing moments. WAY too many to mention. I get my share of them now, mostly the ones like P226--open foot, insert mouth--variety.

I can just see poor little Christine in her chair, wiggling and needing to pee.

MsHellion said...

I'm with Suzanne--I just got done with Dream Chaser too, and I loved every moment of it. CHARACTERS. I don't know how she manages to make you wonder how it will work out up until the very end. It's magic.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Dianna! Kudos on the bird! And believe me, if there's no wine, he WILL drink vodka ;-)

Christine, that cover is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. It's so meltingly romantic. It just makes me sigh with pleasure every time I look at it. The Dangerous Duke is going to fly out of the bookstores because what's inside is even better than what's outside! Yayayayayayyay for you!

Oh, dear, I know that desperation for story. Not sure I ever went to quite your lengths, though!

Actually, endings are so important, aren't they? I've read endings which have turned an enjoyable read into a great one. I've read endings which have turned an enjoyable reader into a wallbanger. And they're so tough to get right!

flchen1 said...

Hi, Christine, great post today! I agree with everyone that said HEA, but not too soon, and not too fast (all smushed together at the end) either! I don't want to eat the entire candy bar in one bite, really! (Granted, I do have a big mouth, since I can fit my foot in it pretty regularly, but still!)

Most embarrassing childhood moment? I'm sure there were many, but one formative one was that we were late to my preschool graduation and all of the rest of my classmates were already up on stage. I didn't know where to go, what to do, or how to get there, and was completely mortified. As a result, I can't stand to be late most places these days. My husband, who doesn't subscribe to the "let's be early" philosophy, is dragged off to be the first guests at the party because of my little hang-up... oops!

Anna Campbell said...

P226, it's been said before but it bears saying again, you're such a GUY!

Anna Campbell said...

Keira, thanks for saying you read Untouched twice! Mwah! Must find Diane's book and read it - as you're a woman of unfailing taste and discrimination (well, I'd have to say that, woudln't I?).

Actually, Christine, meant to say I absolutely get that wandering around like a lost sheep after I've finished a REALLY great book. And then I blame every book I read after it for a few days because it's not that particular GREAT book. Which isn't really fair. I've learnt I need to go to some nonfiction then just to clear the palate because it's not fair on the next lot of writers. I remember when I finished the Lymond series (fantastic ending). I was in a daze for days! I'd become so attached to that world, lived and breathed it, much more so than my real one. I really did have separation anxiety when it was all over! Isn't it fantastic when a writer can do that - make their story more vivid and tangible than the world we actually exist in.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Jo! Great embarrassing moment. And kudos to you for being brave enough to share it!

Gillian, stay safe!

Helen said...

Congrats Dianna have fun with the GR.

Christine what a beautiful cover can't wait to hold the book in my hands and read it.
I like epilogues as well I tend to get close to the characters in a book and want to know what happens a little into the future. I have read many books that I have not wanted to put down but wanted to get to the end to find out what happens but really didn't want it to finish and they stay with me for weeks. I like a little suspense in the story especially when the couple work together to solve it but I don't like it if it takes over the romance.

Embarassing moment as a child when I was in year 4 my teacher made me be Santa Claus in a play because I was the biggest girl in the class and she made me a suit out of crepe paper and the pants ripped halfway thru the play horrible day.

A big congrats on the cover Christine and I can't wait to read it.
Have Fun
Helen

limecello said...

I love that cover! I don't think I've read too many books where the conflict/romance between the hero & heroine were worked out too early- but when it does happen, books drag- there's no real sense of anticipation anymore. I do love, however, when you think there's a resolution, and a real twist occurs. It's also always nice to have a little closure and be sure that the characters do have their happily ever after.

Christine Wells said...

Dianna, thanks for that and congrats on the Golden Rooster! So sorry I'm late to my own party. Slept in a little this morning:)

Christine Wells said...

Hi Eva, thanks for your thoughtful comment. Readers do like to wallow a little in a happy ending, don't they? But not too much. It is difficult to know where to stop. Hands up who likes epilogues?LOL

Christine Wells said...

Dianna, I was a little late...er, I mean, tricky with my post today. Glad to see someone on the east coast won!

Christine Wells said...

Thanks, Amy. I'm glad you like the cover! And yes, I caught the train. Thanks for organising a fantastic hauthor lunch.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Deb! Lovely to see you here. Thanks for the compliment on the cover. I love Linda Howard's Cry No More for the perfect balance between romance and suspense. As you say, it's difficult to achieve.

Christine Wells said...

Thanks, Andrea! I have an excerpt of The Dangerous Duke on my website and don't forget Anna's and my contest. We're giving away a signed ARC of The Dangerous Duke, so hurry and enter! Details on our websites.

Christine Wells said...

P226, you make me laugh! I don't think anyone would want to lend me books if I took that advice.

Intensity is great in a book, I agree, and I've read many intense books that fall down at the end. Sometimes, the more intense the beginning, the harder it is to pull off the ending. What do others think?

Christine Wells said...

Terrio wrote: what can you do with puppy love when you're 8?!

Internalize it, remember it, eat chocolate, write about it, Terrio! THanks for sharing your story, I remember that feeling well.

Btw, Terrio, you won some chocolates on Kim Castillo's guest day--have you collected them yet???

Christine Wells said...

P226, I've just told everyone I peed my pants in the first grade. I don't think a typo really compares.

Christine Wells said...

Kirsten, the prints of my two covers arrived yesterday, so I will be framing them and hanging them on my wall. They're beautiful! I was so lucky to find my cover artist, James Griffin. He's just fabulous. It's amazing what he can do with the scant information he's given about the book. He gets the clothes right because he actually does some research. Imagine that:)

Christine Wells said...

Snork! Terrio, that's hilarious.

Christine Wells said...

Christie, I've never written an epilogue but I think I can see one in the future for the book I'm writing now.

Hi MsHellion! Thanks, I think the cover's Hawt, too!

Christine Wells said...

Jeanne, I know exactly what you mean! There are a few authors who are fabulous at beginnings and middles and then they don't seem to know how to end. Beginnings have always been my strength, so I'm hoping for some advice here:)

Christine Wells said...

Gillian, sounds like a perfect day for curling up with a book!

Yes, you're right, my cover artist did a wonderful job. I hope they ask him to do the next one, too.

Christine Wells said...

Ooh, wouldn't trade paperback be lovely? Thanks, Donna, that's excellent advice from SEP. In Scandal's Daughter, I resolved everything but left one niggling doubt which wasn't put to rest until the second last page. I did wonder whether that was giving the reader enough wallow time but my editor didn't have a problem with it, so I left it as it was.

Christine Wells said...

Beth, yes, the characters have to be worth reading about. You sound like me--any opportunity for reading, I'm there. I don't read while driving, though. THat's something I've never mastered. I think I'd be seriously dangerous to the streets if I did.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Pam P, thanks so much for commenting! I'm like you, the romatic conflict is always the thing I want to know more about. A really great author can make me care about the suspense plot, too, but really the romance always comes out on top.

Christine Wells said...

Keira, I don't blame you for reading Untouched twice back to back. Isn't it fabulous? I haven't read the VV, must try it after those Garwoods:)

I notice no one is joining me in shame, except Terrio. Thanks, Terrio! You've helped me not feel so alone:)

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

First off just let me warn whoever gets the GR next to never ever take him into an office with approximately 100 women in it. He went nuts! The fact that he had a few nips of vodka first thing in the morning didn't help. I think now would be a good time to get that manual written on the care of a Golden Rooster.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Kirsten the GR is sober but still kind of wound from spending the day with all those women. Since he is in WV he seems to think P226 is going to grab him and send him out with the coyotes again.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

That cover is so gorgeous and I love it that he isn't half nakie, not that I mind half nakie hunks but you know they don't walk around like that all the time.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Cassondra, the GR didn't work a lick, he just went from desk to desk being adored and made much of.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I have read several books that were perfect right up to the end. Then they just died, right there in front of me. I might add that none were from the Banditas. I have also read some books that had me wound so tight I had to go on a reading hiatus to recover. Those are the ones you just can't wait to read the next one. What kills me is to find one of those and there are no more.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Most embarrassing moment as a child?? Oh, well gee, there were so many...... I would say first grade, first day of school. Little boy behind me pulled my pigtails (I am not lying, he did) and after saying stop a couple of time I got up out of my chair and decked him. Got my first spanking. It was a very traumatic day.

doglady said...

Congrats, Dianna! I am SURE the GR can be persuaded to drink a martini - shaken not stirred! I should have hopped online this AM before I trotted out the door at 3:30 AM!!! The donut girl called in sick so I had to go in at 4AM. What and UNGODLY HOUR!

Christine, that cover is just sublime! I have the one you sent me from Scandal's Daughter framed on my writing studio wall. You have definitely been touched by the cover fairy. Beautiful!

p226 I AM going to say it again. "You are SUCH a guy!" Sounds like your wife knows exactly how to take you!

My childhood seems like one long stream of embarrassing moments when I think about it. There was the time I was racing my bicycle down the hill from the Anglican church in Kelsale along with half a dozen of the village kids and my brothers. To this day I am not really sure what happened but suddenly I was in the air, flipping down the road, got separated from my bike, slid down the road on my face and hands to come to rest under a policeman's car. My brothers dragged me out from under the car and then had the nerve to ask "Are you okay?"

I worked in a stable in the same village and while I was cleaning out his stall a Shire stallion stood on my foot and refused to move. I was 9 years old, but no dummy. I grabbed his .... family jewels and squeezed as hard as I could. He squealed and moved. Never came near me again. When I told the stable master I thought HE was going to pee his pants. Come to think of it most of the blokes at the stable treated me with a lot more respect after that!

I love the books that force you to read on when you KNOW you should be doing something else - like sleeping or going back to work. So many come to mind, but one of my favorites is SLIGHTLY DANGEROUS by Mary Balogh. I mean the HEA just seems so unlikely as it is almost like WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. Each one is attracted to the other, but never at the same times. I LOVED getting to the end of it, but I also love hearing about the Bedwyns in her most recent books.

The same thing applies to CLAIMING THE COURTESAN. Verity seems so determined NOT to fall for Kylemore and definitely NOT to marry him. Anna C waits to the last minute to let us know that all will be, if not well, tempestuous, passionate and permanent!

By the way, I just finished Scandalous Lord, Rebellious Miss by Deb Marlowe. Read it, ladies! It is a keeper. I LOVE Sophie and her determination to be what she is. And Charles is like the brother or male friend you have that you just want to pop him in the back of the head and say "She's perfect for you! Wake up!"

Kate Carlisle said...

Christine, it's simply the most gorgeous cover I've seen in a long time! Banditas do have the best covers! :-)

I laughed at you wiggling in your chair waiting for the book to end. My most embarrassing six-year-old moment has a similar beginning to yours but the ending was...um, well, worst case scenario. LOL

I love a happy ending that includes a hint of a favorite secondary character about to get his own story. Of course, then I'm tormented for months, waiting for the book to come out.

Congrats on snagging the bird, Dianna! Sounds like he had a fun day being admired by all the girls!

Christine Wells said...

Suz, thanks for the recommendation! I agree, character is so important.

And Nancy, yes!! Love that embarrassing moment. Thank you for sharing and not letting me hang out on that limb all alone:)

Nancy said...

p226--eeew! I guess you look before you brush now, huh?

Doglady, you had a couple of really "ow!" moments, but it sounds as if you dealt with them really well.

Hrdwrkdmom, you and the rooster have had quite a day! I hope you can convince him to sober up before he comes home.

Christine, I think you get the Most Embarrassing Anecdote story.

Anna C., let's not go back to Lymond land. I do agree that after the end of that saga, all others pale for a while.

Christine Wells said...

Jo, if you know any male suspense writers who write great female characters, I'd love some recommendations. I don't tend to read them so much because the women tend to be peripheral to the action. Come to think of it, often the protagonist is a bit wooden, too.

Christine Wells said...

Cassondra, I hope you're not seeing that image TOO clearly.LOL I knew I was doing a risky thing telling you all my shame.

Thanks for the compliment on the cover. I like staring at it, too. Better stop doing that and write some words to go inside the next one:)

Christine Wells said...

Anna, thanks for saying more lovely things about The Dangerous Duke! THe cover is special, isn't it?

And I think you're right about the importance of endings. Didn't Micky Spillane say the beginning sells the book and the ending sells the next one?

Yes, the end of book malaise is terrible, isn't it? Love your notion of cleansing the palate. I must try that.

Christine Wells said...

Fedora, isn't it amazing how these terrible moments stay with you for the rest of your life? I have a husband who is late for everything and I've had to curb my impatience. Trying to rush him makes him go more slowly:)

Christine Wells said...

Helen, you're a sweetheart! Thanks so much, I'm glad you like the cover. DOn't forget to enter our contest and you'll have a chance to win the ARC of DD!

Ohh, my heart bleeds for the little girl that you were. What a silly thing, to make pants out of crepe paper. Thank you for sharing that. It makes me feel a teeny bit better about my little incident.

Christine Wells said...

Limecello, you've hit on a few ingredients there that make a great ending. The anticipation, the twist and closure---I have to remember all this!

Christine Wells said...

Dianna, you're hilarious! 100 women--I bet our GR did us proud. Vodka? Now that's an interesting idea, especially before midday.

Isn't the worst when you love the characters, love the conflict, and then the ending just trails away? It's worse than when the book is mediocre the whole way through, I think.

Oh, what a great story. I have one like that. We were told not to move out of our chairs while the teacher was out of the classroom. David Packer said, I bet you can't hit me. I said, I bet I can, and just as my fist connected with him, the teacher came back. He'd set me up, the little sneak.

Christine Wells said...

Doglady, what a great story about the pony and his, er, jewels! I would never have thought to do that as a 9yo.

So lovely to hear you have my cover framed. I'll be sure and send you a postcard of DD as well.

Christine Wells said...

Kate, that's so nice that you identify with my struggles:)

Interesting that you like the hint of the next character's story. I always read reviewers raising their eyebrows at that kind of foreshadowing, but I actually think readers like it. Thanks for being so nice about my cover Can't wait to see yours!

Christine Wells said...

Nancy wrote: Christine, I think you get the Most Embarrassing Anecdote story.

Yes, I think you're right, Nancy! I was hoping at least Kirsten would have a great story to tell.

jo robertson said...

Yes, Christine, I think sometimes for male authors, it's all about the action and suspense.

Michael Connelly does a bang up job with his Harry Bosch character, I think, really multi-layered, but not so much with the women.

Hmmm, I'll think on it.

doglady said...

Perfect, Christine! The cover for DD is definitely frameworthy and it will make a lovely set of inspiration for me. And I learned that little jewel trick from my brothers and their friends. They did NOT fight fair. Neither did the Shire!

Caren Crane said...

Congrats, Dianna! It's been a little while since the Gr visited with you. I hope he recovers from time in The Office. He's a free range chook, you know! *g*

Christine, your cover is so gorgeous. And, since Anna S. and Tawny aren't here to say it, HER SHOES ARE GORGEOUS!! Many of us would love to own a pair of those. *g*

I love drawn-out endings. I love an Epilogue. Love it! I want to see them happy and talking and interacting without the drama between them. It helps cement me in the feeling that they will stay together. *sigh*

Trish Milburn said...

It is a fine balance, isn't it? I think it definitely depends on the story and the two main characters how that balance comes out in the end.

And yes, your cover is absolutely gorgeous!

Keira Soleore said...

IN case I haven't mentioned explicitly before, PLEASE add my e-mail to all your Bandita lists. If you need a snail mail address (for those cute postcards) then I'll send it to you via e-mail.

Christine Wells said...

Thanks, Jo. I always admire a man who can write women well. Joss Whedon comes to mind. Not that I need any more for my TBR pile!

Christine Wells said...

Pam---it's going to be difficult to restrain myself from merchandising to the max with this cover, I love it so much!

Caren---snorked at the free range chook comment! I thought only Australians called them chooks. You learn a new thing every day.

I don't mind an epilogue, but it would be nice to have one with a surprise in it. I don't know, something different from babies and all the series characters coming back for a get-together. Need to think about that when I do mine.

Christine Wells said...

Thanks, Trish! Yes, I guess there's no magic formula. Each book is different. Thanks for the compliment on my cover!

Keira--will definitely think of you when it comes to sending out promo stuff:) Don't forget we have a cafe press store, too!

PJ said...

Christine, that is one gorgeous cover! Somebody in the art department definitely likes you!

I like conflict that continues to the very end of a book but it is a fine balance to keep me engaged and wondering rather than banging my head against a wall and saying "figure it out, you idiot!". I just finished reading Scandal's Daughter and loved the individual conflicts of the h/h added to their "couple conflict". It made the story more interesting for me. Btw, Christine, the book was fabulous and, yes, it did keep me so interested that when I finally put it down to attend to necessary bodily functions the dash to the bathroom was in record setting time! LOL!

I also love epilogues. I'm left with a very satisfying, warm glow to know the hero and heroine are still happily in love down the road.

~PJ

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Caren, that was the first time I had gotten the GR, I think it was a fluke. He enjoyed himself all day long then ragged on me all evening because there were no women! You all didn't tell me he was like that. I am all out of vodka so I have to get some (and some wine) before he comes back.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Christine out little GR was in heaven with all those women he was strutting around like...... well, like the cock of the walk......ROFL