All My Couples Live Happily Ever After. All of Them!
Don’t read your reviews is what every author tells every other author. Guess what every author does? We read our reviews. Don’t respond to your reviews, is the other thing authors tell each other. This one is hard but necessary. Apparently even saying ‘thank you’ to nice reviews makes you look like a creep, and responding to criticism, even in a positive way, can lead to social media meltdowns. Reviews are by readers for readers. Doesn’t mean authors don’t read them.
Most of the time if there’s something I don’t like in a review I can shake it off. I have two liberal arts degrees, I know better than most that art is completely subjective. Occasionally there will be something where I grind my teeth and my partner gets stuck listening to me rant for a day.
But there is one comment that seems to turn up every seventh or eighth review that makes me bang my head against the wall.
HFN. Happy For Now.
I didn’t grow up reading romance novels. The idea that something sold as a romance would end in something other than happy ever after never occurred to me. It took me ages to even find out what the acronym HFN meant. However, every seventh or eighth person reviewing my work seems to feel that my couples are only HFN and that pisses them off, usually to the tune of a star, sometimes two.
Like so much of my writing I think this comes back to cutting my teeth on fanfic. You don’t get HFN in romance fanfic. You get smut, hate sex, massive angst at times, but if you are taking the time to write a romance then there are good odds you ship the couple. If you’re writing something that is 120,000 words the couple is almost certainly an OTP (one true pairing) and OTPs live HEA (Happy Ever After).
Now aside from writing a wedding epilogue for every single story, or maybe just writing ‘and they lived happy ever after’ at the end I’m not sure how to get across the fact that if I’ve put the time and effort into creating a believable couple they are going to live Happy Ever After. But that’s my problem. Something to work on. To quote that bastard Kripke
I take pride in writing sensible characters in at least somewhat realistic situations, which means I wasn’t going to have James and Gabe get married at the end of Bowerbirds. They’ve known each other five months. They have a lot more work to do but that work is really mundane day to day relationship stuff that I’m not overly interested in writing and I don’t think anyone wants to read. A friend of mine has orders to fly across the planet and smack me if I ever write Insta/True Love or Healing Cock, so that’s out.
But I want to reassure my readers that all my couples live Happy Ever After. Every couple I create is an OTP in my own little head fandom. I wouldn’t have bothered to write them if they weren’t. This next part should be considered canon for all stories unless I officially publish something to the contrary at a later date.
In Chronological Order
Gathered Here This Night (Simon/Anne) – Simon survives becoming one of the undead. He and Anne get married, see a counsellor every six months, and take separate vacations every other year and live happy together long into the future.
Through the Dark Clouds* (John/Robert) – Robert returns safe from the war. He and John set up house together as ‘bachelors’ and are one of the first couples to get hitched when Canada legalizes gay marriage in 2005.
Eden Springs (Aaron/Jonah) – Aaron comes back to winter in Eden Springs and ends up staying longer than planned. Jonah gets driven out of town by a new preacher and a ‘proper’ teacher sent by the territorial offices. Aaron goes with him and they set up house in Sacramento.
Whistle Blowing (Sebastian/Daren) – [Everyone can be forgiven for calling this one HFN. One day I will explain the clusterfuck that was writing this story.] Daren manages to take on his family and at least sort of win. They do have a nasty fallout when Daren starts reverting to some of his dumb rich kid ways, but they are too tangled up in each other and eventually circle back.
Empty Nests/Bowerbirds (James/Gabe) – These two absolutely live happy ever after (and if you join my mailing list you will find a story about them in issue one). James goes back to school. Gabe starts relaxing a little. The have a couple of tiffs along the way but Gabe eventually builds his house with an ocean view and he and James live there until old age.
And Everything Nice (Simmer Anthology) (Angelo/Simon) – Angelo provides good baking and great sex. Simon isn’t going anywhere. He talks Angelo into doing a YouTube channel called Baking for my Boyfriend which is a big hit and spawns a very popular cookbook. He gets offered a food network show but it feels too much like work and he turns it down. They get married and live HEA,
His Quiet Agent (Martin/Arthur) – This story ended where it did because this is where they guys stopped talking to me. People who complain about the short length don’t get that this one was like pulling fucking teeth. But I do know they stick together. Martin buys a couch and a second chair. They read to the kids and get them into good schools. Cook together and even go on double dates with Carol and Jennifer. Their lives are quiet and simple but happy.
Life Saving Dal (Nathan/Kris) Yeah, even these two dorks stick together. Nathan is really bad at having one night stands and Kris is way more of a romantic than he likes to admit.
So that’s that. Everyone lives happy ever after because somebody needs to.
*Of everything I’ve ever written professionally this is my favourite and it got mediocre reviews.