On the Heartbreak of an Unfinished Series

In addition to the Paradox series I read another book last month,  To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane. (I also finished More Usefully Employed by Brenda Moon, the Amelia B. Edwards biography. But that is not germain to this post.)

Finishing To Play the Lady was both a euphoric experience and utterly soul crushing. Particularly after the Paradox series, which was such beautifully tidy three book deliciousness.

Here’s why.

You may think, I hated it. Or I loved it but it was so badly edited that my enjoyment was thwarted. That’s not it at all.

Did I like it?
Yes! It was YA with a strong magical warrior heroine. Many of my favorite tropes were hit. It felt a bit like Tamora Pierce meets Sherwood Smith, how could I not love it? There were some flaws, mostly in length and editing, some repetition, some errors in overuse of cliche phrases, but 90% of the time my immersion in the story was unaffected. Trust me, that’s really good.

Do I recommend you pick it up?
Yes but…

The book was released in 2011, it is a completed work but unmistakably the start of a series. It’s self published. (I have nothing against self-published books but it does mean the author has only a self-imposed deadline. There are exceptions, but authors are notoriously ill-disciplined.) The most recent update from the author indicates a certain lack of optimism over a release timeline for Book 2.

Health, life, money, tragedy: there are many reasons an author stops writing. (See The Business Rusch: Why Writers Disappear) Being an author myself, I completely understand ~ projects derail. You saw it happen to me with Prudence. However, as a reader, I would rather have not read this book, then be left without knowing what happens next. Now I fear I never shall. It’s too good and yet too sad. I reached out to Naoimi and she immediately emailed me back to say she was trying but couldn’t make any promises. I’m hoping that she keeps her head high and fights the good fight and I wish her the best of luck. Selfishly, for my own sake.

This has happened to me before

My first experience was with Claudia J. Edwards. She began her Bastard Princess series with Eldrie the Healer in 1988 and I loved it. And then, nothing. She never wrote another book. I’ve no idea what happened to her or why she stopped writing. She died in 2010, having published nothing at all (under that name) for over 20 years.

I kind of want to sing a song: Whatever happened to Claudia J. Edwards?

My second experience was with Sharon Green. A prolific writer known, perhaps best, for her incredibly complicated world-building and fantastic nookie scenes. Her best magical system, if you ask me, was in The Far Side of Forever series. It was working up to feature a pretty fab romance too, and then… oh, and then… She left a romantic cliff hanger at the end of the second book in 1989. She went on to write hundreds of books but never finished that series. I must assume it did not sell well enough.

I was crushed and never read her again. Although, now, I see she has some stand-alones and I might try a few of those. Cautiously. Carefully. A burned child near open flame.

Confession time

As I write this, I am struck with the horror of realizing I have done this myself. To you, Gentle Reader. I think Crudrat stands alone but it certainly isn’t a finished series. I too am a sinner. I am mortified. I can only apologize profoundly and make amends. And so, you read it here first. I will finish the second Tinkered Stars book, and I will make it as complete a story as possible, within the next five years. This I vow. I will carve out the time from my other series for those few who loved my little sci fi audio offering. I will NOT be that author. I will not give up because of life, like Claudia. I will not sacrifice a lesser loved series for a more popular run, like Sharon.

And I will write more stand alones. I promise. Because I love them, and their aren’t enough out there.

Now, you tell me: Any lost or abandoned series that trouble you at night, Gentle Reader? 

{What is Gail’s Book Group reading for July? Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause ~ YA werewolf from before it was a thing}


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Purse Gold Coin Lilli

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“Gail Carriger, where have you been all my life?…This is a fast-paced book that will have you laughing and swooning — and maybe wanting to talk in a proper British accent for a while after finishing. There’s romance and vampires and werewolves and just so many things to keep readers interested.”

Quote of the Day:

“From thence we sallied forth to see the clean, quaint village of Stratford. It was built just to have Shakspeare born in.”

~ Around the Tea Table by T. De Witt Talmage (1875) 

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Posted by Gail Carriger

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  1. Angelica R. Jackson said:

    I must admit to starting to read this post and thinking, "This better not be a way to lead into saying she's not continuing with Crudrat!" So glad you redeemed yourself by the end of the post! {}:{o
    (That's supposed to be a pleasantly surprised mustachioed gent wearing a beret, btw)

  2. Morgan Manning said:

    When I was in elementary school, Bruce Coville wrote a book called Into The Land of Unicorns. I loved it. I desperately wanted a sequel! And he didn't write one for 5 years, which is an eternity for an 8 year old. I had forgotten about the series by then. Same with his Magic Shop series. Two books in the early 90s and then years in between. I wanted more books in the Anywhere Ring series too… 4 in 1995 and 1996 and then they stopped! The girl could travel in time with her grandmother's ruby ring. They were fab. Can't think of any other examples right now but it is a terrible feeling!

  3. Mary said:

    From the title I didn't think of an author who simply didn't finish a series. My mind went straight to Sara Douglass and her book The Devil's Diadem, which is clearly the start of a series, but will never be finished due to her death from cancer. Heartbreaking.

  4. Reta Anna Maria said:

    Many of my experiences in this area are not actually unfinished series, but unfinished translations. My native language is Finnish and I've read many translated series openings, but sometimes the publishing house doesn't continue. Maybe it didn't sell well enough? This was a problem when I was younger and couldn't read in English. Nowadays I can read in English, but it's annoying to switch language in the middle of series, so I tend to find out if the series is fully translated before I start reading and if not, I start in English. Scott Lunch's The Gentleman Bastard Sequence is one of those series.

  5. Stephanie S said:

    I'm still hoping that Kalayna Price finishes her Alex Craft series. But like I tell my son, as frustrating as it is waiting & maybe never getting to know what happens next to the characters, life happens and some stories are never finished. Authors don't "owe" us anything other than the stories they've already given…no matter how much we want more.

  6. gmackenz said:

    Heather Gladney's Song of Naga Teot series comes immediately to mind when discussing abandoned series. Not sure how well it reads as an adult, but as a very impressionable teenager I really loved the first two books (very Yaoi long before I ever encountered that genre of fiction), then… Nothing. There's been rumors of a third book for the past few decades. A second seemingly long abandoned series was P C Hodgell's Kencyr series which seemed to have died with the second novel but the author it turns out recently resumed publishing after retirement from an evidently active academic career (very grateful she found a publisher in Baen after her long hiatus in the series).

  7. ebooksgirl said:

    I feel your pain!

    I'm spolit, as an American, because so much comes here, But.

    My favorite anime series of all time is Moribito. Only the first book got made into an anime, and around the same time, Scholastic picked up the novels that it was based off of. Yay!

    Except…Scholastic only brought out the first two books. So now I know just a bit more of the story…but not all of it.

  8. Loremistress said:

    Diane Duane's Tale of the Five/Middle Kingdom series. I read this from the library of my intermediate school (ages 10-11 to 12-13) and loved it. It was one of the few fantasy series that I read at that age that dealt with m/m and f/f pairings as an accepted part of the world, which I thought was pretty nifty. The title of the next book (The Door into Starlight) was announced on the last page of the third book. It's now thirty-odd years since the first book was published, but I would buy the fourth book in a heartbeat!

  9. ista said:

    Isobel Carmody' Darkfall "trilogy". The first 2 very long books were compelling reading, and i'd have re-read them by now, but … its been more than 12 years and i think even her publishers have given up hope she'll ever start the 3rd. She mainly writes multiple book stories, and I'll never start reading them as i dont think she's finished a single of her many series.

  10. epiphyllums said:

    So glad to hear about your Crudrat promise. Just finished re-reading it again yesterday and I really like your world and characters and you really did leave them precariously balanced on the verge of new experiences.

    We've discussed how horrible it is that Ann Maxwell left the Fire Dancer series unfinished. She's always claimed that it wasn't monetarily worth her while to write the next book. I wonder if she could be convinced if we got a Kickstarter funded…

  11. lill said:

    Mine was definitely Soulbound by Heather Brewer, I was so disappointed when she said the second book was not going to happen after all. Its one of those stories that I still think about every now and then. Very frustrating.

  12. NM B said:

    I loved the Gemma Doyle trilogy, I read the first two books back to back in late elementary/early middle school and I swear it took FOREVER for the third book to find me. This is not an unfinished series, but it felt like it at the time! Took at least 3 or 4 years for me to find and read the last book, at which point I'd nearly given up hope. Of course then the ending broke my heart, but it really wasn't going to end happilyeverafter.

    Another series I have to mention is the Manga version of your Parasol Protectorate series. It ends at such a crucial point in the story that the poor person who doesn't know that you have the entire series finished in non-manga form, it's just heartbreaking! I've read the entire series and love it so this isn't a criticism of you, or of REM, in fact it's not a criticism at all, just a slightly greedy wish for more. 🙂

    And then of course we have authors who die before finishing their last project, some books are fortunate enough to be finished by some one else but pity those that aren't.

    I'm not sure I can imagine writing a series, I have a hard enough time finishing my standalone stories. So Kudos to all you who can write an entire series! Goodness knows those are my favorite kinds of stories. 😀

  13. teadragon said:

    I have two series that make me howl with despair. On is the Decoy Princess series by Dawn Cook (also writes as Kim Harrison). The first two books were great and the second one led off to what promised to be an excellent third, but she never wrote it. When I checked her website ages ago she basically said she'd never write another one and the whole tone was that the vampire stuff she was writing then – which I couldn't get into- was a more important use of her time……
    The second one is ElvenBane by Mercades Lackey and Andre Norton. After Ms. Norton's death Mercedes Lackey said on her website she would complete the series with the final book. I'm still waiting. A decade and counting. Given my view of what she has been publishing (I feel it lacks the charm and creativity of her earlier works that ended with Storm Breaking), I would really like her to keep that promise…..

  14. Rachel Bowman said:

    In high school I was so disappointed when Felicity Pulman's Janna Mysteries (YA historical fiction/murder mysteries) was cancelled five books into a six book series after a disagreement between the author and her publishing house — thankfully the story had a happy ending a few years later when the author eventually self-published for her fans. Now I just despair that I'll never see the end of Kristen Britain's Green Rider series with a five-year-plus wait between each book 🙁
    It's so nice to know that we can count on you, Gail 😀

  15. Elaine said:

    Ann Maxwell's (Elizabeth Lowell's) Fire Dancer series. She wrote three books and then abandoned it. One book. One Book and she could tie everything together.

    She has written dozens of books since then. Good books, but I want my Fire Dancer ending.

  16. Paul Weimer said:

    Elizabeth Willey

    In the early 90's, she wrote a multiverse fantasy (similar to the Chronicles of Amber) with a lot of mannerpunk, inspirations from Shakespeare and more.

    The Well Favored Man was followed by a followup that went back in time, A Sorcerer and a Gentleman, and then was followed in that time frame by The Price of Blood and Honor.

    And then…silence. She dropped off the map, never to be heard from again. One series, *two* dangling and incomplete stories from two time periods.

  17. Elaine said:

    I didn't read these comments before posting my own. The Fire Dancer series is definitely the one I always regret not having an ending. Lowell may not think it is financially worth her while, but I have quit reading her altogether. I would buy a Fire Dancer book in a minute though.

  18. missrelena said:

    Melanie Rawn's "Exiles" series is my true heart-pain. In 1996 the 2nd book of the trilogy was released. The world was exquisite, characters were more real than most people I know, and the plot just grabbed you by the soul and would not let you go! It ended in a devastating character death and a cliffhanger of monumental proportions. . . and it has been nearly 20 years of Hell waiting for the final installment.

    The title was released over a decade ago. She has written several books since then. Why oh why must she make her readers suffer so?

  19. RowAn said:

    Oh, I can sympathize with the Gemma Doyle plight. I started the Skulduggery Pleasant series way back in 2006 or so. The third book ends on a horrible cliffhanger, and it took me almost two years to discover that there were more books after it–they just weren't published in the U.S. (it's an Irish series, so I can get them off Amazon).

    And I totally agree about the Parasol Protectorate manga. 🙂

    On the unfinished because of death front, the Tintin series always comes to mind for me. Tintin's creator, Herge, died in the middle of outlining the next book. Not only is it incomplete, but it leaves off right at a spot where it looks like Tintin is about to die. The notes and sketches for the book were published after Herge's death, and it's a pretty dramatic ending.

  20. Corina Corrente said:

    My biggest heartbreak was L.J. Smith's Night World series. She recently finished it after over 10 years. I haven't gotten to read Strange Fate yet, but it's on the list!

  21. Bethany said:

    I loved Crudrat and was hoping that there would be more (I really want to find out what happens next!). I'll be one of the first in line for the Kickstarter if that helps!

  22. shirl said:

    I know the frustration. I read manga, and got hooked on a series called Harlem Beat published in America by TokyoPop (now out of business in America). They published the first 10 volumes (of 25 volumes in Japan) and then stopped. Almost 2 years later they released a series called Rebound and completed it, it was Harlem Beats volumes 13-25. Volumes 11 & 12 was never translated. And then there were a few other series that I started and didn't finish due to a lot of manga publisher going out of business when the crash hit, and nobody picking up the pub right to complete them. Ugh!

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