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Extraordinary Stories That Touch The Heart And Challenge The Mind

HOW DO I END THIS STORY?

My late friend, Eileen Stanton, wouldn’t read a novel unless she knew it had a happy ending. She was not at all ambiguous about exactly what a happy ending is, either.

“I don’t want any of the main characters to die, and I want everybody to be happy because they’ve solved all their problems in the story,” she said. “And I don’t want the author to leave me guessing about what happens next when the story ends,” she added. “I want to KNOW what happens next and that it’s all good.”

Obviously she’s not alone in her preference. We wouldn’t have so many books and movies with Sleepless in Seattle happily ever after endings or the good guys defeat the bad guys endings if that wasn’t the case. Happy endings sell books.

A psychologist would probably say we have so many ambiguities and unsolved problems in our real lives that when we seek entertainment or escape, we want to see movies or read novels about situations where all the ambiguities and problems are fixed and tied up with a big red bow.

While I’m not fond of existential endings that leave me scratching my head and wondering what all that means that I just read, I don’t insist on a traditional happy ending. What I want to read and write are novels, whether mystery novels, literary fiction, historical fiction, or YA fantasy with SATISFYING endings.

Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove doesn’t end happily. One of the main characters is dead, and the other is an old man who has lost his ranch and the love of his life. But he’s gained something, too, something better, I would say.

Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy doesn’t have a happy ending since “the prince” has died a tragic death, and so many people had been hurt so deeply, but the main character’s redemption made the ending satisfying.

One of my favorite literary novels, is Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. At the end, we still don’t know whether or not Grace is a murderer. We only know she didn’t end up with the man she loved, yet we see in the quilt pattern she is making at the end that she has no regrets about any forbidden fruit she has tasted because it gave her life.

That’s not to say that I don’t also love a happy ending, especially the kind of happy ending Anne Tyler is so good at. And of course I loved Sleepless in Seattle. How could you not love that?

My own novels include historical fiction, contemporary fiction, mystery novels and YA fantasy, and the endings are as varied as the genres. I want to know how you feel about endings. Do you need a happy ending? A satisfying ending? An existential question ending? Leave a comment on this page and no matter what your opinion, you’re automatically entered in a contest to win a free copy of my latest novel, Sins of the Empress. (It has what I call a great ending.) Read More 
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A BIRTHDAY GIFT FOR THE WINNER

Catherine the Great’s birthday is this month, and you can have all the presents—a free Kindle and a spa basket fit for an empress (or emperor).

Go to www.coolwellpress.com/sins and sign your name. That’s all you have to do. Of course, I’d love it if you would buy the novel I wrote about Catherine, although that’s not necessary to win. The novel is called Sins of the Empress, published by Cool Well Press.

You may have heard of Catherine. She’s the tsarina with all the lovers. The one they tell that salacious story about having sex with a horse. That story is NOT true. It is true that she was a very passionate woman, not only in her love life, but in all that she did. That’s the reason she is such a good subject for a novel.

She was forced into an arranged marriage with the heir to the Russian throne when she was still in her teens. Her husband, Peter III, had been an alcoholic since the age of eleven, and it stunted his growth, both physically and emotionally. On his wedding night he brought his toy wooden soldiers to share the bed with Catherine.

She was under pressure to produce an heir, and since her husband didn’t seem to understand the mechanics of sex, her ladies-in-waiting convinced her to take a lover. She had several before her life ended (by natural causes, not by the horse incident), and she did produce an heir as well as another son and daughter. One of the tragedies of her life was that she was not allowed to see her children, and she risked her life to be with them.

Some accused her of murdering her husband—I’ll let you decide whether or not she did after you read the book. She did manage to secure the throne, though, even before his death, and proved to be one of the greatest rulers of the Russian Empire.

She was no ordinary woman, refusing to stay within the confines of what a woman “should do.” Many disapproved of her, many still do. That is exactly the kind of woman who makes a great story—the kind I love to write about.
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Win Three Free Books!

A few days in England? I’d like that. But alas, I can’t go at the moment.

I’d also like to give away a few days in England to some lucky winner of a contest I’m ready to launch. I can’t do that either.

So I’m going to do  Read More 
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I Dumped the Body.

Paula Paul, creater of The Alexandra Gladstone series
I dumped the body at Percy Gibbs’ place, and I trapped the doctor in her own house so she couldn’t get out and investigate the murder.

I didn’t mean to do it!

I wanted Dr.Alexandra Gladstone out there investigating Alvina Elwold’s murder day after day, but alas she was felled  Read More 
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What Happens When Women Stay In Their Place?

Attitudes toward birth control have historically been contentious. I learned that in the course of my research for writing a romance novel entitled SWEET IVY’S GOLD.

The character in that book, a married woman in America in the 1880s, used a primitive form of birth control, knowing she and her husband could be  Read More 
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BOOKS AND PINK RIBBONS

The recent controversy about a nonprofit group that fights breast cancer cutting off and then restoring funding to another group that provides breast cancer screening brought back memories of my own battle with breast cancer.
I don’t intend to take a stand one way or the other in this blog about either group’ Read More 
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FEAR THE EDUCATED WOMAN

Author Paula Paul
When my character Alexandra Gladstone would have been growing up, too much education for females was frowned upon. It was thought a woman or girl was “unfeminine” if she was overly educated.
While girls from the middle class, as Alexandra would have been, could be educated at home and perhaps later sent away to  Read More 
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WHAT WOULD BEN DO?

The advent and phenomenal growth of e-books has, as you might expect, caused an upheaval for libraries. The rules for how we are to live with e-books in general are not yet completely written, and how libraries are going to deal with them is one of the thorniest issues.
It’s not that libraries  Read More 
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EXPLAIN TO ME WHY YOU READ.

Recently I read an article on line from The Guardian in the UK stating that humans have a need to read. I, for one, certainly have a need to read. If there’s nothing else handy, I read the print on the cereal box while I’m eating breakfast.

Apparently not everyone has a  Read More 
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A Writer Learns to Blog

The Dr. Alexandra Gladstone mystery series is being republished in both print and electronic form AND, I'll be writing more in the series! That's the good news, and I'm excited about that.

The not so good news (at least I thought it wasn't good when I first heard it) is that my new editor  Read More 
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