Monday, September 30, 2013

Epilogues: Love in Action with Guest Blogger Karen Kirst

First of all, I’d like to thank the lovely Seekers for having me here today! While I’ve been a long-time lurker and occasional commenter, this is my first time blogging on this site, and I’m truly excited to interact with all of you.  Since I’m a huge tea lover, I’d like to invite you to enjoy a steaming cup of Earl Grey and chocolate chip scones. 


 Have you ever been standing in line at your favorite coffee shop, patiently waiting to order when you discover a total stranger has generously paid for yours?  Or sitting at your favorite restaurant waiting on the check when your server informs you that another patron has paid for your meal?  Well I have, and it felt fantastic!  An unexpected kindness is something you won’t soon forget.  That’s how I see epilogues.  For 200+ pages, I’ve struggled right along with the hero and heroine, shedding tears for her, railing at the hero, so when I get to the end, I feel like I’ve earned the right to see them actually happy together.  Don’t get me wrong, I live for that final scene—the tender apologies, the whispered words of love and commitment, the fireworks-in-the-sky kiss. But the epilogue, that’s the bonus, the last cookie in the bag when you thought your kids ate them all.  As my editor, Emily Rodmell, has said, “Our readers love epilogues.  It gives them a chance to see the happily ever afters in action. It’s like the icing on a cake.” 

    
Epilogues come in all shapes and sizes.  They can be fun and flirty, emotionally intense, crowded with secondary characters or private interludes with the hero and heroine.  They can be long or short or somewhere in between.  And there’s no rule that says they have to center around a wedding ceremony.  Maybe your happy couple is on their honeymoon or renovating their new house.  Maybe your final scene didn’t end with a marriage proposal.  Wouldn’t it be neat to do it up right in the epilogue?  This is the perfect time to show resolutions or dreams-come-true that weren’t possible in the final scene.  What if your heroine has struggled with infertility in the past?  Since you can fast forward into the future, you have the chance to show her joyfully sharing her happy news with her new husband.  Or giving birth to their long-awaited bundle of joy.  Or perhaps your hero was planning to switch careers or start his own business.  You can allude to his success in his new venture. 


I sometimes use the epilogue to give readers a hint about the next book in the series.  Here’s a brief excerpt from my November Love Inspired Historical release, The Husband Hunt, book four in my Smoky Mountain Matches series.  Nathan O’Malley is the hero, Caleb is his younger brother.  The whole family has gathered for a Thanksgiving feast.  The day is nearly done, and Nathan notices Caleb trying to slip away unnoticed. 


He caught sight of Caleb slipping out the kitchen door and followed.


“Hey,” Nathan closed the door behind him, “where are you sneaking off to?”


Caleb pivoted back, kicked up a shoulder.  “Just going to check on the cows.”


“Too much togetherness for one day?” he stepped off the porch and joined him, sensing the nervous energy his brother radiated.  Sorrow overtook him as the truth sunk in.  Caleb was leaving.


“You could say that,” he hedged, his restless gaze scanning the horizon.


“When are you leaving?”


His brows shot up.  “How did you know?”


Nathan settled a hand on his shoulder.  “Wasn’t that hard to figure out.  I’m surprised you’ve stuck around as long as you have.”


“Figured I’d ease the workload for a while after your wedding,” a ghost of a smile crossed his lips, “give you and Sophie time to adjust to married life.”


Nathan huffed a laugh. “Thanks, bro.  I appreciate that.”


“No problem.”


“Are you sure you won’t stay a little longer?”


Caleb’s gaze darkened.  “I couldn’t, even if I wanted to.”


What did that mean?  


Seeing the unspoken question, he continued, “My presence around town bothers Rebecca.  Well, let’s be honest, it bothers more folks than just her.  But she’s the one I’m most concerned about.”


“You can’t let others’ opinions rule your life.  If you’re around more often, seeing you wouldn’t come as such a shock.”


Pulling away, Caleb’s jaw set in stubborn lines.  “I’ve already made my decision, Nate.”
The door opened then, and Sophie joined them, linking her arm with his
.


    Copyright [2013] by [Karen Kirst] Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.  


By inserting this conversation, I’ve hinted to the reader that Caleb’s story is next. The reader now knows that Caleb is leaving town and that he has a problem with Rebecca, who I introduced earlier in the story.

I’ll be honest, I usually squeak by the minimum word count requirement, and epilogues are a great way for me to reach it.  But the main reason I include them is that I’m simply not ready for the story to end.  And I’m hoping the reader isn’t either.   


Here’s a brief description of the book I’m giving away today, The Husband Hunt, recently awarded 4.5 stars from Romantic Times.

 



Wanted: A Husband  

Sophie Tanner gave up hoping for Nathan O'Malley's approval—and love—long ago. Getting married is the only way to protect her younger brother and keep her family's Smoky Mountain farm. As much as she'd like Nathan to be the groom, he can't seem to get past their friendship…or their differences. 

Since they were children, Nathan has known Sophie was too impulsive, too headstrong. She's forever rushing into situations without thinking them through, like this scheme to snare a husband in under a month. Nathan always thought he'd  fall in love with someone like himself—sensible, cautious, levelheaded. Sophie is his polar opposite. So why can't he picture anyone else at his side?   


Smoky Mountain Matches: Dreams of home and family come true in the Smoky Mountains.

What are your thoughts?  Are you for or against?  Apathetic?  Or does it depend on the story?  For writers, what influences your decision on whether or not to include an epilogue?


      
Karen Kirst was born and raised in East Tennessee near the Great Smoky Mountains. She attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she received a B.A. in Speech Communication. A lifelong lover of books, it wasn't until after college that she had the grand idea to write one herself. The pursuit of her dream would take longer than she first anticipated...years, in fact. In the fall of 2010, she got the happy news that Harlequin Love Inspired Historicals wanted to publish her manuscript-a true blessing from God. Now she divides her time between being a wife, homeschooling mom, and romance writer. She and her husband, along with their three boys, recently said goodbye to military life and are thrilled to be back home in Tennessee. 



You can find her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/KarenKirst.author


Twitter @KarenKirst or swing by her website www.karenkirst.com for information about her books.

Karen is giving away a copy of her November release, The Husband Hunt, to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition!

167 comments :

  1. You know what? I never write epilogues.
    And you know what? I love epilogues.
    I think I'm making a mistake.

    Of course in a series it gets tricky. You can't go too far in the future because you don't want to jump beyond the next book, right? So you have to be mindful of that. But the LAST book could have an epilogue, right?

    I think I'll start writing epilogues.

    Tomorrow.

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  2. I love epilogues. I write epilogues.

    And, yes, we've gotten to the cash register and found that someone has already paid our bill.

    Got the coffee pot plugged in.

    Helen

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  3. No one has ever paid a bill for me, :(

    but I've been getting tons of people miffed at me for not having an epilogue on my novella (and mad that it's short, so mad that I wrote a novella essentially....) and so I've been thinking book #2 (currently without epilogue) should have an epilogue since my M.O. is to leave the H/H getting together until the very, very end.

    So, you've only added fuel to the "Melissa, you should always write an epilogue" litany in my head.

    I think I need to write an epilogue...despite being way over word count.....

    Baby is mad that I've ignored feeding him to comment, must be off now.

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  4. Here's an interesting bit of trivia. IN SIX YEARS, we have never had a blog post on epilogues. Strange, huh?


    I love epilogues as well.

    Fortunately Love Inspired does too.

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  5. "and, yes, we've gotten to the cash register and found that someone has already paid our bill."

    Helen, what does this mean???

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  6. Hi Karen:

    I’m a big supporter of epilogues. They are more than the icing on the cake. If done well, they are a second helping of the HEA. They are like a booster rocker that can send an already happy reader into a rush to buy your next book.

    Epilogues need to be done right or they can be a big negative. One book I read used the epilogue to prequel the next book in the series and something bad happened to the heroine which stepped all over the HEA of the book I just read. This was really stupid. I gave up on that author.

    Another epilogue was just a come on for the next book and really did not add one thing to the current romance’s HEA. This agrivated me. Don’t call it an epilogue. Just call it a scene from your next book. That’s Okay.

    A good epilogue can contain a second happy ending in which a future goal of the hero and heroine is finally achieved. I also like it when some little HEA happens to secondary characters in the story – as long as their happiness augments or is divertive of the hero and heroine’s HEA.

    An epilogue is also very helpful for writers who just can’t or won’t write a great ‘stand up and cheer’ ending. (I write this type of ending first so I am sure the book is going to have one.) An epilogue with a second HEA can partially make up for a weak HEA.

    Too many writers get to their word count and they just end the story. They miss so many opportunities to reward the reader with a great reading experience and a super HEA. I read these all the time. As a marketing person this makes me cringe. It is said that the opening sells your book but the ending sells your next book. An epilogue is like have a second salesman get a shot at your reader.

    While I have not written a post on just epilogues, I have included epilogues in my posts on rewarding the reader. I’ll say this: I have never read a romance that did not have an epilogue that I could not have written one for the author. They are not hard to write.

    BTW: Along with epilogues it is also very powerful to have acknowledgements, dedications, and ‘Dear Reader’ sections. These are very useful in creating the right kind of reading abidance in which to provide for the best reading experience.

    Thank you Karen. I’m so happy to find someone else who believes in the power of epilogues.

    “Epilogues: don’t leave the HEA without one.”

    Vince

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  7. I saw this cover on the Love Inspired facebook page and have to say it's one of the best historical covers I've ever seen... It's absolutely marvelous, Karen, with a hint of whimsy and fun (Mary Connealy, just fyi "whimsy" is not a bad word)... and I fell in love with it, Karen!!! Don't they do amazing covers for us?

    LOVE IT!!!!

    And Vince scolds me if I don't put an epilogue in a book.... and that's so funny because old-time books often didn't have epilogues, but I admit they're fun... although when I read single titles I kind of like that the ending leaves the door "open" and I can imagine the epilogue if I love the characters that much.

    Congrats on your success!!!

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  8. Hi Karen,

    Thanks for sharing today. I love epilogues. You're right, they are the icing on the cake.

    Thanks for sharing the tea and chocolate chip scones. Have a great day!

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  9. Good morning, Karen. Count me in the epilogue-loving crowd.

    I'd dare say they're possibly my favorite part. Oh, I know I'd get bored if the entire book was like the epilogue (or so I'm told), but honestly, I love reading about them happy together. Who really needs all that conflict. ;)

    Your story looks like great fun, and I agree with Ruthy. Awesome cover!

    Happy Monday everyone.

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  10. Thanks for this wonderful post! I hadn't thought about epilogues much before, but since this post I realize I really, really like them! Especially when I'm not ready for the story to end. I prefer it to be about the current story, just at a future date. Alluding to the next book in the series without adding anything to the future of the HEA doesn't quite work the same. I also like the acknowledgement section and reader section. I would love to be entered in the drawing for The Husband Hunt. Thanks!
    tscmshupe [at] pemtel [dot] net

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  11. I, too, don't think much about adding epilogues, but I can now see clearly why they are popular. Hmmm. I expect that when I wrap up this current WIP, the right epilogue will be apparent, and now I'm excited about the opportunity.

    Thanks, Karen!
    I'd like to be in the drawing for your LIH!
    debraemarvin (at) yahoooooo

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  12. Good morning, everyone! Waking up a bit late on this foggy morning in East TN. I've got my cup of spiced chai beside me and I'm ready to chat. :)

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  13. Mary,
    You're absolutely right. I can only give a hint of what the next book is about. I don't wanna even think about my last epilogue in the series. After 8 books, it could get out of control.

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  14. Morning, Helen! Isn't that the best feeling? I've paid for someone's coffee behind me in line but I haven't paid for someone's meal. I'm thinking I should do that soon. The holidays would be a great time to do that. :)

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  15. Personally, I love epilogues! It's nice to know what happens after the story ends. But I've never written one.
    I think it's important that it seems to be part of the story, not something just tacked on.

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  16. Hi Melissa,
    Sounds like your readers are sad to see your story end, a very good problem to have. :) Is book 2 a novella? You mention word count, so just wondering.
    BTW, whenever someone paid our bill it was while we were in the Marine Corps. Seeing a young family with a man in uniform brings out strong patriotic feelings in some folks. :)

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  17. Good morning, Tina! Is it hard to fit an epilogue in when writing the contemporary Love Inspired books?

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  18. Hi Karen,

    Yes, I've had people surprise me and pay my bill, but they weren't strangers. They were people I knew. I wasn't eating with them though.

    I love epilogues too and I write them. Five of the books I've written have epilogues.

    Great topic.

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  19. Vince wrote, "They are like a booster rocker that can send an already happy reader into a rush to buy your next book."

    Love this! You're so right, Vince. I've come across a few epilogues that do what you said-basically preview the next book-and I agree, totally unnecessary. Good point about the secondary characters.

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  20. Ruth, wow, you just made my day! :) I do completely love this cover. (Imagine my three boys gaping at me as I did a happy dance around the room the moment I saw it. lol) As you know, we send in three suggested scenes for the cover. I was really hoping they'd choose this one with the tree. The book opens with the heroine in the tree and there are several scenes with it. I made sure to let the art department know how important it was to the story. I agree, we are blessed with a talented Love Inspired art department. They just keep getting better and better.

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  21. Hi Jackie! Thanks for stopping by. I hope your day is wonderful as well. :)

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  22. Mary Curry wrote, "I love reading about them happy together. Who really needs all that conflict."

    Mary, yes! We all know the conflict is what moves the story along, but it's also what keeps me up way past my bedtime and has me locking myself in the bathroom away from the kids so I can finish another chapter! lol I'll admit, in real life I avoid conflict. This carries over sometimes in my writing. I'll be in the midst of a scene trying to smooth things over with the hero and heroine and then I think, wait! I can't fix it for them. Not yet. Then I have to hit the backspace key. Sigh.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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  23. Thanks for stopping by, Sally!

    Debra, I'm glad you're thinking about adding an epilogue to your current work. I think they're a blast to write. :)

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  24. First, Karen, how did it get past me that you are an East Tenn native? My dad grew up in Bristol and I spent a lot of time in the state.

    The downside to Kindles is the lack of a pretty cover. So put me in for the drawing. Even if I am pre-order for the ebook!

    I tend to be an epilogue fan because I like a good wedding.

    I haven't seen too many epilogues that have the hint of the next story. But, you know, I do believe that is my preference!

    Blessings to you on this fine Autumn day.

    Peace, Julie

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  25. Good point, Cara,
    I've never really thought about that. Hopefully the epilogue blends well with the main story and doesn't seem false or forced.

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  26. I love epilogues, Karen. For the exact reasons you mentioned, epilogues are the concluding cherry atop the sumptuous sundae of a book.

    I love getting the glimpse into their HEA and a hint of the next book.

    Obviously I'm a fan of series -- in books and television : )

    Yes, I've been the recipient of others' generosity and extended the same. I actually got more giddy over gifting to someone else. Made my day : )

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  27. Good morning, Rose,
    I'm curious, were all your epilogues similar (ie wedding scenes) or did they take place in different settings? Some of mine have featured the wedding and some haven't.

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  28. Thank you Karen, for addressing this much neglected topic. I love it when I come to the end of a good book and find an epilogue. The author just gave me a little more.

    I like seeing the story projected a little farther into the future. It's somehow—more satisfying.

    Like topping a good meal with dessert.

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  29. Hi Julie,
    Up until last fall we were in the Marine Corps stationed in coastal NC. Now we're back in TN. We're actually not that far from Bristol. I had a disastrous first date at the speedway many, many years ago. lol Anyway, we're so happy to be back home. Love these mountains!
    Good luck on the drawing. :)

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  30. Hi Audra! I love series, too. It's wonderful to get to know all the characters and get a feel for the town. But then I get sad when it ends!
    You wrote, "Yes, I've been the recipient of others' generosity and extended the same. I actually got more giddy over gifting to someone else. Made my day."
    I still remember the Christmas our church in NC challenged the congregation to do random acts of kindness around town. Our pastor actually went through the Starbucks drive-thru line and knocked on windows to give out money for coffee. He got some strange looks, of course, but it was fun. It does feel great to help someone else. :)

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  31. KAREN,
    There is nothing like Earl Grey tea, especially in a china cup. Preferably antique or vintage Blue Willow.
    Kathy Bailey

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  32. Great to see you here, Mary H. You've brought up an interesting point. How far into the future do you prefer?

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  33. Hello,

    I've enjoyed your books very much Karen. Thank you for coming to Seekerville today. Epilogues have grown in importance. Some feature the wedding while others use them to give the sneak peek at the next book in the series. So it is important to know how to do one.

    Have a great day!

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  34. Ah, another tea lover! Hello Kaybee! There is this amazing aromatic Earl Grey loose leaf tea from Ceylon that I purchased at a Middle Eastern store. If you boil water and sugar on the stove and then brew the tea and add a mint leaf, it's heaven in a cup.

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  35. KAREN, I've never had someone pay for my meal but I was in Barnes & Noble a few years ago when times were tough and a woman walked up to me and handed me a gift card. I was trying to do Christmas shopping so it was really a blessing. She actually went to the store that day looking for people to help!
    KB

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  36. Hi Piper,
    Thank you. Hearing that a reader enjoys my books is such a blessing and a thrill. So glad you stopped by today. :)

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  37. Kaybee,
    That gave me goose bumps. What a blessing!!

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  38. KAREN, how do you define an epilogue? Does it have to take place in the future? I think I may have one in my current EIP (boy, that is redundant, if it's a work in progress it IS current). I have my hero and heroine married and staying in town, my secondary leads going off to start a ranch, and my heroine for the next book, the redoubtable Jenny Thatcher, getting ready to head back to the Plains to find the Indian brave she loved and left. Everything is wrapped up for two-thirds of my characters, but not for Jenny. She rides with Michael and Caroline as far as their ranch, and the last thing we hear is Jenny saying, "Wagons Ho." So it's a new beginning for everyone, but especially for Jenny whose story is not done. Don't know if it works or not, but I'm having fun.
    Kathy Bailey

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  39. HI KAREN, Great article on epilogues. I personally love them for the very reasons you gave. smile.

    Congrats on the 4.5 stars from Romantic Times. Sounds like a great read.

    Have fun in Seekerville today.

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  40. KAREN,
    LOOSE Earl Grey? You are killing me...
    I meant WIP, not EIP.
    Off for now, back later.

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  41. I love & write epilogues :) I don't want to let the characters go!

    Mary Connealy said: <>

    I'm working on a series now and Mary is right, it's tough making the epilogue build for all three books without giving too much away!

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  42. I haven't written an epilogue yet, but they definitely are the icing on the cake for some stories. I think it depends on the story. Your book sounds like an interesting one. And I loved the epilogue for it. :)

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  43. Hi Karen,

    I've had someone pay our meal, I think because we were in an expensive restaurant and were dressed like tramps. I kept that person in my prayers for a long time. I'm looking for a single parent with the children to pay for.

    Your post was timely for me. I was trying to decide if any of my manuscripts would fit in the SYTYCW contest and you've solved it. I have only one with an epilogue and someone said LI likes them.

    The best epilogues are like mountain top experiences.

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  44. Is this me, arguing with the great Connealy????

    Naw, not really, but I think it's pretty easy to write a series epilogue if you cling to the obvious: Keep it simple, sweet, and couple directed... Now Karen did a great job with setting up her next book in hers and I LOVE IT!!!! But you don't have to do that... sometimes a sweet scene after baby is tucked in bed... A wedding rehearsal or the groom sneaking in to see the bride before the wedding to reassure her.... Or a baseball game (!!!!!!) because everyone loves baseball! :) I think it's a little different when you're righting longer books. Mary's piling in 80-90K books and that might make a difference. At the end of 58K, I think everyone kind of yearns "Vince-like" for that extra glimpse...

    And they're so fun to write, joyful and uplifting. I love epilogues. They make me smile.

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  45. Kaybee, I see an epilogue as a way to extend the happiness of the H/H and wrap up details for main and secondary characters, if necessary. Wikipedia says it's a way to give the literary work closure. The way you've handled your epilogue intrigues me. You've shown the H/H happy together on their ranch and ended with a secondary embarking on a journey. If I were you, and I had the time, I'd write it a second way-encasing the secondary's departure in the middle and ending with the H/H-and let a critique partner or friend read both versions and give you feedback.

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  46. Thank you, Sandra!

    Sherri, yes, I can relate. Letting them go is hard!

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  47. Ooooo, KAREN, GREAT POST!! Welcome to Seekerville and, YES, I love it when a complete stranger pays for something for me. Happened twice -- once at a Starbucks and another time at a fast-food drive-thru. And I think I even did it once, but a long time ago. I need to do it again, especially since our Christian radio station, JOY, actually provides little "you've been JOYED" cards to give out when you do. :)

    I have to admit, for the longest time I HATED both prologues and epilogues because, well, they always seemed kinda lame to me, like an afterthought. So I pretty much vowed never to do them.

    And then in book 2 of my Daughters of Boston series, after I had completely finished writing the book, it somehow felt incomplete, so I added a prologue after the fact. Not only did I figure some readers might balk if I hit them with the vixen heroine from the prior book smack dab on page one (the one readers asked me to slap for them or wanted to see "maimed or killed"), but I found myself REALLY missing a long-awaited post-war reunion between the hero in book 1 and the heroine's father, who had become very close. So I slipped that in a prologue after my final edit stage to reunite readers immediately with the beloved couples of book 1 and I felt SOOO much better!! :)

    By book 3, I had NO intention of writing an epilogue, but my daughter railed at me, saying, "Mom, you put your readers through all this pain, then you don't even give them a wedding???" So I wrote a wedding epilogue for that book, which not only neatly wrapped up the book and the series, but hinted at the next book in this family saga as well.

    My agent suggested a prologue in book 5 after I'd finished writing it to strengthen the heroine's motivation, and in the sixth and final book of this family saga, I just HAD to wrap everything up (15 main characters!!) with an epilogue, not only for my readers, but for myself. :)

    So, that's a long, L-O-N-G explanation of just why I am now an advocate of both prologues and epilogues if there's a good enough reason. :)

    Coffee break!! ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  48. Good morning, Jeanne! Thank you. This epilogue was one of the longer ones I've written. When I submitted it, I kept wondering if my editor would ask me to shorten it. But it felt right for the story. :)

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  49. Elaine,
    LOL, I think I may have to try wearing jeans and a scruffy T-shirt next time I go to The Melting Pot. For those of you who don't have one of these, it's fondue. Delicious and expensive! But I digress...
    Seriously, I wish you good luck with your SYTYCW entry. It takes courage to put yourself out there and let others judge your work. Good call on the epilogue.

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  50. Welcome, Karen! What a great post. I LOVE epilogues. Love reading them. Love writing them. But I honestly never thought to use an epilogue to lead into another story! Thanks for the idea. :) I loved your example!

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  51. Ruth,
    Thank you! And I was wondering how word count affects a writer's decision...if there's room in the story or not. I was able to include one in my Christmas novella and still come under the max count. :)

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  52. Oh, gosh, now I get what Helen, meant. The cash register. And I put the post up and forgot. Duh.

    I have never had that happen.

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  53. Julie,
    I bet your daughter is your biggest fan! It's wonderful that she can give you honest feedback. I would feel the same as her, give us a reward after hanging in there with the H/H. :)
    So, 15 main characters to deal with in that final epilogue. How tricky was that? I'll be dealing with something similar in the future. I can't imagine saying goodbye to characters I've lived with for so long. Sniff, sniff.

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  54. Ruth,
    How about a baseball game proposal??

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  55. Sometimes the epilogue is the only connection from book one to two.

    In The Rancher's Reunion someone is sitting in the church at the wedding and it turns out to be the heroine from Oklahoma Reunion.

    Gosh that was a fun way to tie in and I almost forgot about it. Must use it again. HA.

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  56. I'm with Vince. I love that second helping of Happily Ever After... reading and writing them.

    And your book cover is awesome. Love it! Put me in for the drawing, please. ☺

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  57. I love epilogues, but I'm okay without them too :-) Especially is the story comes to a solid conclusion

    And I love the sound of your books! Smoky Mountains? My neck of the woods, Karen! I'm going to have to pick up one of your books!

    Your book cover is beautiful!!

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  58. I just love the notion of an epilogue being a random act of kindness from an author. Like paying it forward. :-) That makes me smile.

    And yes, as a reader I love epilogues -- and prologues for that matter but I understand that they aren't taken kindly to by editors.

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  59. Tina, glad you got it. :)

    Ruthy, baseball is big right now. Go Cardinals!

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  60. Karen,
    You're from near Bristol?
    Oh wow!
    I'm in JC.
    The Speedway is about 20 minutes from my house.
    Happy DAY!! Another writer in the wilds of Eastern TN
    LOL

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  61. Welcome Karen! I'm always excited to have a Love Inspired author in Seekerville. Congrats on RT's 4 1/2star review!

    None of my books has an epilogue. I tend to be on the longer side of the word count, but I could manage a short one. But, for some reason I don't understand I always feel the story is finished. Or maybe it's just me that's finished. LOL I want to please readers so I'll ponder your suggestions with my wip.

    My dh and I went to a movie and the person in front of us paid for our tickets. She explained a family member works for management and gives her a gift card that allows her to attend a movie every day of the year. It was kind of her to share the wealth.

    Janet

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  62. I LOVE epilogues. They might be the best part of the whole book to me because the conflict is over and I can just enjoy the happily ever after (or HFN). I always write epilogues. :)

    Thanks for the wonderful post!

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  63. Hi Karen!

    I love epilogues. They're the icing on the cake. The happy sigh after the HEA. The opportunity to show the readers your H/H can actually get along without all the conflict!

    That said, I have to admit I've only used one. Maybe I should think about adding one to my current WIP....

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  64. I do like reading an epilogue at the end of the book, but I don't think that it's needed every time. ;)

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  65. Welcome, Karen! Interesting discussion! I've gone both ways with my books. Some stories call for an extended HEA in an epilogue. Others seem more self-contained.

    My favorite epilogue is the one I wrote for Autumn Rains. I wanted to show how far the couple had come through the challenges they faced, so I set the epilogue 10 years later, after they were married and had a family.

    What I don't care much for is an epilogue that is ONLY about the wedding. There needs to be some point to the scene, something beyond just marching the characters down the aisle and pronouncing them husband and wife. I like to get new insights or see an important plot point (like family issues, etc.) brought to a satisfying conclusion.

    You've also given me another thought for best use of an epilogue. In many romance novels, the time frame covered in the main story isn't nearly long enough for two sensible people to jump into marriage, especially if they didn't even know each other when the story began. An epilogue set several months after the end of the story could show how the couple grew even closer and are now ready to tie the knot.

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  66. Hi Karen, almost forgot today was the day you would be here, happy to see you and to read this post.
    an epilogue, I relly really like them, it is like the icing on the cake. Yep Mary you need to add them, I am anxious to read this next book of yours "Husbantd Hunt", usually we are looking at Brides so Husbands is little different and I love it.
    I want to do this pay it forward one day, I love seeing happy faces.
    thanks for sharing.
    Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

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  67. It's cool in GA this morning so I'm raising my cup of tea to Karen in welcome!

    My son's in the military, and a number of folks have "gifted" him by picking up the check when he's at a restaurant, which warms my mother's heart. God bless all those who recognize our military in such a special way!!!

    I love epilogues, especially after taking my hero and heroine through a dangerous ordeal. As a suspense writer, I enjoy endings when the sun shines and everything looks bright. In fact, that change of pace is so much fun that I often draw out the endings and linger in the happy place where my characters' dreams come true! :)

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  68. A couple of years ago, me and about 7 kids went to 6 Flags. After a long hot day, getting wet on the water rides, I'm sure we looked a sight. Stopped in at Cracker Barrel when some man paid for our meal. I've always wondered if it was because we looked so bedraggled or that we held hands and said grace before we ate. The waiter said a man seated near our table had watched us. I will always remember...

    Karen, I like epilogues. Wraps the story up neat and tidy.

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  69. I usually enjoy epilogues, but sometimes they detract from the story. If the author does a good enough job wrapping things up in the last chapter, I don't miss an epilogue.

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  70. Elaine wrote:

    “The best epilogues are like mountain top experiences.”

    Wow! I don’t think this idea could be expressed any better. Give your reader a ‘peak experience’ as the book ends and you’ve probably make an ‘auto-buy’ fan for life. Now, like ‘belling the cat’, it’s not that easy to write such an epilogue but it is a worthy goal!

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  71. Hi Julie:

    The incident with your daughter wanting an epilogue on your story shows the difference between two ways to write:

    1) thinking of the needs of the story

    2) thinking of the needs of the reader – giving the reader the best reading experience.

    Your story may not have needed an epilogue according to the needs of the novel itself but the reader did need an epilogue to maximize the reading enjoyment.

    Now, as far as long books go, I think the longer the book, the shorter the epilogue should be. However, the short epilogue should ideally contain some very happy surprises that the reader never expected but which are fully supported by story foundation. Short, happy, and surprising. A great way to end a story.

    In your case, with 15 major characters, I think that when you are finally finished with a saga, you could write a novella which is really an extended epilogue for all six books. In a way, I viewed your first six books as being a long epilogue to “A Light in the Window”. That made it the book I most enjoyed reading!

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  72. Great article in the PW Debby! Love all of the pics! See you soon at M&M!

    Come on c.p. Elaine, get into SYTYCW! There aren't too many of us in LI over here and we need company!

    Piper

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  73. Hi Pepper,
    My nephew just started college there in JC. :)

    Hi Clari! So pleased you all like the cover.

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  74. Kav,
    I haven't tried a prologue yet. Haven't needed one but who knows what the future will bring. I've heard they can be tricky, at least in category romance.

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  75. Thanks Janet! If you're satisfied with your final scene, your readers must be too. Unless you've gotten an irate email demanding more?! lol I wonder if any authors have gotten such a request?
    I sometimes contact authors. Once I was so sure the secondary character would be the hero of a future book because that's how the author set it up. Alas, I was disappointed.
    As for your movie theater experience, I wouldn't have thought to do that. Very cool!

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  76. Jan wrote, "The opportunity to show the readers your H/H can actually get along without all the conflict!"

    YES! Exactly! :)

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  77. Hi Dawn! Hi Annie! Great to see you here. :)

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  78. A very timely post for, me since I need to write the epilogue for my newest LIS today.
    What you said about infertility sparked something, (not that the character has struggled with that, but that apparently didn't matter to my brain!)
    So thanks Karen!

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  79. Hi Myra,

    So true...a wedding simply to watch them exchange vows does seem (yawn) a bit boring. As for having the epilogue include a proposal, I read a Love Inspired contemporary (Sorry, can't recall the author!) with this approach and loved it. It was well done and appropriate considering the storyline.

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  80. Ooh, Karen
    I teach at that college in JC :-)

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  81. Hi Paula, great to see you here today! I hope you enjoy Nathan's story. :)

    Debby, I know we've talked a bit about being in the military. When you live in a military town, you don't always see the appreciation in such an upfront way. So when we returned to the Baltimore airport on Labor Day after taking advantage of a free military flight, I was literally blown away by the people-young and old-waving and clapping and expressing their thanks. They even gave us snack bags. I'll never forget that emotional day.

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  82. Connie,
    What a touching story. You never know who's watching and how they are impacted by your actions. Thanks for sharing.

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  83. Hey Heidi, thanks for swinging by today!

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  84. Yay Lisa! So glad I could help! :D Good luck...

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  85. I actually don't care much for epilogues. A story that can be wrapped up without an epilogue leaves a bittersweet feeling of saying 'goodbye' to the characters. And I love that feeling, wondering where they're going next, but knowing that whatever happens, they're happy together. Sometimes the epilogue seems to drag things out and you lose that feeling.

    In writing, I prefer to just leave the hint of that special thing happening.

    I do like the idea of using an epilogue to transfer to the next book in the series. I'm going to keep that in mind for future reference :)

    Thanks for the great post!

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  86. Pepper,
    So you may have him in one of your classes! Small world. :)

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  87. Great post Karen! How exciting to have your fist Seekerville guest post! What an honor!:D

    I like epilogues too. I'll have to think about using them. So far, I've been writing a series, so the story continues in the next book, which means an epilogue doesn't really work.

    What do you think about epilogues in non-romance fiction?

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  88. Hi Victoria,

    So you would rather imagine the characters' journey than have it spelled out. I know when I've read books without them, I'm left with a bittersweet feeling, too.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

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  89. epilogue as transition as well as ending... must remember that!

    Piper, I hope you have plenty to report from M&M. How I'd love to come one of these years!

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  90. Hi Amber,
    Great question. I'll admit, romance is my addiction so I don't read a lot of non-romance fiction. Lately I've been straying into the YA fantasy aisles and I haven't noticed many containing epilogues. And with a series surrounding a recurring main character, I'd think it would be difficult. It could take away from the cliff-hanger effect.

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  91. I enjoy epilogues. As Karen said, it's fun to see the HEA in action.

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  92. Also, I'm with Melissa Jagears on this. I can't remember anyone ever paying a bill for me.

    So I have to be content with the occasional epilogue.

    I have a toll bridge near my home and I have occasionally paid the toll of the person behind me. But then I got the paranoid feeling that the toll booth people were just pocketing my dollar and then I was annoyed and all churned up inside and how could I check, huh?

    So I stopped doing that.

    I may have an overactive imagination.

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  93. I think Book #3 of the Trouble in Texas series either has an epilogue or it has a final chapter that is epilogue-y enough to count as an epilogue.
    It's not to late to do final revisions, I don't think. If not, I'm definitely calling it an epilogue.

    I've been Swept Away by the idea and now I'm all Fired Up. :)

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  94. YAY! I just checked! Yes, it's an epilogue!
    Babies and pregnant wives and everyone is all settled and happy.

    I need to do that more often at least at the end of the series.

    One reader told me they wished I'd have let Julia get pregnant by the end of the Kincaid Brides series and I sort of wish I'd ended Over the Edge with an Epilogue.

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  95. Oh, those Toll Booth Scavengers!!!!

    I like the commercial where the cute girl buys the smokin' hot guy's lunch at the drive through...

    And no, nothing of the sort has even come close to happening to me.

    I'm lucky if DAVE buys my lunch.

    Sheesh.

    GWYNLY IS HERE! THE GWYNMEISTER!!! THE ONE AND THE ONLY GWYNSTER WHO WAS RECENTLY SPOTTED RIDING IN A ROADSTER!!!!

    Oh, b'gosh and begorra, such a day is this!

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  96. You know, though, sometimes it's nice to leave the reader wanting more, isn't it????

    To me, that's a delicious feeling, of leaving a beloved story and imagining the future life. I think "Sweet Hush" by Deb Smith was/is a great example of that. The last chapter (Now if I find out it's an epilogue, oops).... was wonderful, full of hope and second chances. But it didn't go to those second chances, it just hinted at them....

    So I think it can work either, way, can't it?

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  97. I love epilogs if the story has more to learn from the characters.
    I always get drawn in to a good story line and I leave disappointed if I am left in the dark as to what happens to the rest of the main characters.
    I did have someone bless me by paying my way at a fast food drive through. It was a good feeling. Gotta love that tea!

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  98. Karen, the Atlanta Airport greets the redeploying military with cheers and applause, handshakes and words of thanks, all of which is so heartwarming. The USO gives out phone cards and small gifts to the returning heroes as they leave the security area, and people line up in the corridor to welcome them home.

    It's a wonderful, emotional time. Kind of like a good epilogue!

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  99. Piper, can't wait to see you at M&M! Squeal!!!

    Julie, will you be there? Hope so! More squeals!

    Deb M, there's a ground swell of interest in M&M 2014. Lots of Seekers and Villagers are thinking about attending. Would love if you could as well.

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  100. Mary, Atlanta outlawed paying tolls for the next car in line. Everyone was upset so about three days later, they reversed the decision.

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  101. Ruthy, Deb Smith is this year's Keynote Speaker at the M&M!!! Deb Dixon will be there as well talking about her GMC. Should be a great conference.

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  102. Waving hello to Keli! I had my very first interview on your blog a couple of years ago. What fun. :)

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  103. Good afternoon, Jackie! I've never had anyone do that at a drive-thru. What a nice surprise. :)

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  104. Piper,
    I forgot to ask, what do you teach?

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    Replies
    1. Hey Karen, I think you mean Pepper here, but I do teach English. :)

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  105. So many lovely faces here today. What a treat. I better bring in more tea and coffee and how about scones and some muffins from Patti Jo's Cafe and Bakery??

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  106. I love an epilogue if it's one of those great stories that makes the characters seem to live and breathe. Otherwise as long as the loose ends get tied up by the end, I can do without one.

    I've never had someone pay my bill, but I've always wanted to pay for someone's. But how do you know how much their bill is going to be, unless it's something like a toll booth like Mary said? Which we don't have.

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  107. Thanks Tina! I'm getting a little sleepy and need a pick-me-up. :)

    Donna, good question. If you offer to pay for the church van full of campers behind you in the drive-thru, I guess be prepared. Seriously, there's no way of knowing. I love the idea of handing out gift cards. You get to choose the amounts and bless more than just one person.

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  108. Hi everyone! I love epilogues. In fact, I almost always look to see if there is one before I buy a book lol. My book will definitely have one. Karen, you've made me a tad jealous this morning. I'm from East Tenn as well. I have been in West Texas for 27 years and STILL miss the foggy mornings. I have had my meal paid by a total stranger before and it is such a blessing. In fact, I should do this for someone later this week while in Lubbock. Please put me in the drawing.

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  109. I love epilogues! That's one thing I appreciated about Lori Wick's writing. She always took us past the engagement. It gave us time to relax and enjoy the couple just being happy without all the villains and problems getting in the way. On top of that we usually got an epilogue too! Most of the time the epilogue was after the wedding had already taken place. Sometimes it was on the honeymoon. Other times it was years later after several children had been born.

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  110. Debby, please pray one of your famous prayers over me before I pitch to Deb Smith. Not because of my stuff but because Sweet Hush is a serious favorite and I don't want to go into the stalker fan girl mode,ok? Thank you.

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  111. Hi Pat,
    Do you ever come back for visits? We were in NC eight years and, while I liked the beach, I missed my mountains!
    As for foggy mornings, there's a huge farm behind our house. When I wake up early and that field beyond the trees is foggy, I half expect Mr. Darcy to emerge. Remember that scene from the newer Pride and Prejudice? Sigh...

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  112. Hi Sylvia! I'm a big fan of Lori Wick's books. You've reminded me that I need to pull them off my keeper shelf and reread them. :)

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  113. Oh, you're right, Piper! So what grade do you teach? My sis is a music teacher, and I have great respect for your profession. I homeschool my three boys but I could never attempt an entire classroom!

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  114. Piper, we will meet for prayer before your pitch...for your story and for your control! :)

    Can't wait to see you!

    Karen, ATL isn't far from your neck of the woods. Think about attending Georgia Romance Writers Moonlight and Magnolias Conference next year. It's usually held the first weekend in OCT.

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  115. Debby,
    That sounds like fun! Could you email me some info about it? I'd appreciate it.

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  116. Now there's a villain, Mary! The toll booth guy that pockets all the do-gooders change....what sinister things is he doing with his ill-gotten gains? Because if you can steal a pay-it-forward you have to be capable of some serious evil.....OR he's in some serious doo-doo, so I guess he could be a good guy gone rogue...

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  117. LOL, Piper! Deb is one of my very favorite authors as well. I can imagine fan girl moments. :)

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  118. I love epilogues! It gives me a tasted of the happily-ever-after life! Your story sounds so exciting!

    ~Cecelia Dowdy~
    http://ceceliadowdy.com/blog/

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  119. I am a BIG fan of epilogues. Nothing disappoints like too quick of an ending - after all the angst to get there. An epilogue goes a long way in giving us that extra sigh of satisfaction and proof of the HEA.

    Love epilogues. Most of my stories have them.

    Cheers,
    Sue

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  120. Thank you, Cecelia! Hi Susan! Glad you all could stop by :)

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  121. I've had such fun today! I'm off to a mission conference at church, but I'll check back in later tonight.

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  122. Karen,

    To further confuse things, like Pepper, I teach college as well, but in Atlanta. I'm thinking of coming up to your lovely state for fall break though...does that count? :)

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  123. Yay Debby, thank you! Maybe Missy can come and the fan girl feeling would be divided amongst us....

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  124. Well Karen, I am really sorry it's been such a slow day in Seekerville.

    GEEZ LOUISE, they wiped us out of the reinforcement food an hour ago.

    Running to the store for chocolate and after dinner tea.

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  125. Everyone loves Karen!!

    Calling in re-enforcements! Here's some chocolate covered coffee beans. I ran to Costco and bought a HUGE bag to share. It happens to be my favorite writing snack, along with cappuccino of course. ;)

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  126. im late commenting (not feeling well again and am so over it I feel like I am always complaining I am going to try and see my dr this week I know it will take a miricle to get an appointment but I have to try).

    I haven't had a stranger pay for a meal etc like you mentioned but it would be cool. I have had friends buy my lunch or a iced chocolate etc and that is such a blessing also.

    I love epilogues. They are great to tell me what happens next. Love them more than prologues. I love that they give a glimpse into what happens next and love when they set up another books (sometimes) sometimes I think oh no now I have to wait for the next book.

    Please enter me.

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  127. Welcome Karen, and thanks for this great post. I really do like epilogues--both in reading AND writing (I've got one in my current historical ms I'm polishing).

    Your upcoming book sounds wonderful--and the fact I love the Smoky Mountains makes it even more appealing to me *smile*. In fact you live in my most favorite place (East TN)--my family and I love Gatlinburg, Cades Cove, etc. - SO beautiful!

    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

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  128. p.s. @Jenny Blake, SO sorry you're still not feeling well, sweet friend. Prayers going up for you!

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  129. Thanks Patty-Jo going to ring in a couple of mins to see if I can see my dr. I really am praying I can get an appointment.

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  130. Ooh! Thanks, Amber and I love you new profile picture!!

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  131. Congrats on your 4.5 stars!! This looks good. And when I don't write an epilogue, readers say, "This would have been great with one more scene."

    Yeah, like an epilogue!!

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  132. Melissa, isn't it that the 125 pages aren't all novella? Isn't there a large portion that is a sample of the next book? I saw goodreads discussion on that practice and everyone hates it. They want at least 97% of the book to be the book. (Funny people use percentages now because of Kindle...)

    *shrug* That's what I've heard... So I don't include any kind of sample at the end. I'm sure you didn't have control over that.

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  133. I do enjoy epilogues. It usually ties up the ending quite nicely and gives you a glimpse into the characters future. Yes. I most definitely love epilogues.

    I would also love to be entered to win a copy of your book The Husband Hunt. Thank you for the opportunity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

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  134. Jenny B...sending prayers so you can get an appt with your doctor. You need to start feeling better! NOW!

    Hugs and love!

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  135. Piper,
    Fall in East TN is amazing, especially the Gatlinburg area and the national park. I hope you enjoy your trip!

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  136. Piper, Sweet Hush is on my keeper shelf and has been there for a long, long time. I think it's one of those romances that gives such redemption to people striving to do the right thing... without the author padding the book... that to me it's simplicity is what makes it.

    Love it.

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  137. Amber,
    Chocolate-covered coffee beans?! I won't sleep a wink tonight ;)

    Tina, this has been a blast! Thanks for having me.

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  138. Hi Jenny,
    Guess what? We are having a missionary to Australia speak at our church tomorrow night. I'm very interested in what he has to say about your country. :)
    I'm so sorry you're not feeling well. I hope you get an appointment soon!

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  139. Hey Patti Jo,

    When I started planning this series, the Smoky Mountain area was the first place I thought of. It's so rich in history and natural beauty. Ok, now I sound like a travel brochure. lol But I am passionate about this area. Maybe if you read the stories you'll be able to picture the places. :)

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  140. Thank you, Virginia! It sounds like your readers want more, more, more. Great problem to have.

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  141. Hi Cindy, good luck on the drawing. Thanks for swinging by. :)

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  142. thanks all have an appointment in 30 mins. feeling really dizzy right now so could be interesting. will let you know how it goes.

    Karen cool about the visiting speaker.

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  143. Hi Karen, thanks for the interesting post. I like epilogues. I even had one all planned out for my current WIP. I ran out of word count and had to delete it. Now, to me, my ending feels too abrupt.

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  144. Virginia, it does have 3 chapters. the description does say "with extended preview of upcoming book" but then we know readers barely read that stuff....But when I was reading it I was like "when's this story going to be over already, how do I have such a big percentage to go!!!!" But that's probably just because I read it so many times. :)

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  145. The Epilogue is an interesting option I've not considered until reading your post. I thought the last chapter might be enough to preview the next story. But I can see how it might plant better with an epilogue. Thanks for the tips and thoughts.

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  146. Love your books, Karen! Great to see you here :)

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  147. Im back from the dr, more meds, I have to have a CT scan and Thanks to God have a ride down on Friday afternoon (its over an hour away and I dont drive). off to get meds now and will be resting for the rest of the day just so drained.

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  148. Totally off subject. I just saw a full page ad for Melissa Jaegars book A Bride For Keeps on page 27 of the RWR! Looks great.

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  149. I, for one, love the epilogue in a book.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

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  150. Congratulations on 4.5 stars from RT for your book! Just as a ribbon on a package, epilogues add that finishing sparkle to HEA. I like your thought of transitioning to the next book through the epilogue. Thanks, Karen! Enjoy an afternoon tea to celebrate your new book!

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  151. Karen, I do get back to visit usually once a year. My daughter just had her first baby 2 weeks ago so this year I'm staying close to home :))))))

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  152. It does depend on the story. Some stories just feel so complete with an epilogue, or give you a glimpse of what to expect in the next book of a series.

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  153. I had this page up all day and wanted to comment, but I was barreling toward my epilogue :) and since today was my deadline on the macro revisions pass, I stuck with it. Just got done and had to come over.

    I LOVE epilogues!!! They give us a chance to squeeze in more happily ever after, which I as a reader love. I'm always reading stories and watching movies thinking, Man, I went through all of those trials with the characters and wish they'd had a little more happiness together at the end.

    So, yes, I'm a huge fan of epilogues. :)

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  154. Good morning, Terri,
    Since you're concerned about an abrupt ending, is there a way to trim a scene of two in the body of the ms to make room for an epilogue or even to expand the final scene?

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    Replies
    1. Great idea! I'm revising now, do I'll try and manage that. Thanks!

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  155. Waving hello to Steve and Eva this morning! Sorry I missed a few comments last night. Had a great time yesterday.

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  156. Thank you, Sherida! Hi Wendy and Mary, glad you had a chance to stop by yesterday.

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  157. Pat, congrats on the new grandbaby! I'm glad you get a chance to visit TN regularly.

    Hello Natalie,
    I know all about deadlines. Glad you had a chance to stop by!

    Jenny,
    I'm praying for wisdom for your doctors. Hope you get relief soon!

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  158. I'm with the 'love epilogues'camp on this one. I always hate when the book ends, so it's like a bandaid for my disappointment.

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  159. i like epilogues - but only when it enhances the HEA. mixed feelings about hinting at the next story in the series because i'm the type who just HAS to read the WHOLE series and don't like the wait.

    side note: this is why i don't like TV series that end a season on a cliff-hanger. augh!

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  160. I normally like epilogues ... The only time that it's iffy is when they jump ahead like 25 years and show us all the grandchildren and stuff. Some of those are well done, but I often think, "aw, does this mean no chance for a sequel because we know that all this happens?" That might just be me though...l

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  161. Please authors, write epilogues!! We love to read them :o)

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  162. Never had a stranger pay for my food before. I don't know how that works because how would they know how much you're spending if they're in front of you? If you are at the Barnes & Noble café and get a lot of stuff (coffee, dessert, and a Panini) I'm sure the person wouldn't want to pay $15 for your stuff. Well, maybe they just pay $5.00 for the person in back of them.

    I like it when a book doesn't have an epilogue so it's easier to see how many chapters there are.

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