Long Author's Note (beware!):
I wanted to thank everyone who has been reading this story to this point. It has been quite a journey, and one that I never would have imagined thirteen months ago when I wrote the first chapter on a whim.
I went to Sanibel/Captiva, and as I was driving down the main road on Captiva, my son (the Castle fanatic kid) and I passed these beautiful houses that were right on the beach. Some were humble (for beach houses) and some were huge. I'd been into Castle Fanfiction for several months by that point, and had written a few things myself. So as I was driving past these houses, I kept thinking about how I could just see Castle in one of those houses. It was a fun little daydream.
Then when I returned home, I wrote the first chapter on that first day after I got back. Honestly, at that point, I'd only planned in my head for about three days into the vacation. I never planned for them to get together in my story, partially because I hated the stories where they just realize they're madly in love at the drop of a hat and partially because I didn't think I could write them 'together'. And also, I guess I imagined that nobody would really be interested after a few chapters.
But I was wrong! The response was so wonderful, and the reviews spurred me on to write more and more. (At one point, I wrote so much that I had the nastiest kink in my upper back that wouldn't go away for several days-I think it was because I spent every spare moment with my shoulders hunched, furiously typing out new chapters.) Without those wonderful people who took the time to review and send me messages of encouragement, I'm quite sure I would not have continued writing this story. So please know that if you have ever left me a review for this story along the way, or if you have ever sent me a PM about this story, it has helped me and it is because of you that this story became what it did.
I don't want to bore you all too much about this, but from an author's point of view, feedback from those who read and follow a story is so incredibly important; it's essential. I know there are people out there who say 'I never review anything', almost proudly. When I read a comment like that, I have to wonder...why not? If you like something, why not say that you like it? What is the harm in that? Speaking for myself, those reviews or private messages are pretty much the only way I have of knowing if what I spend hours creating matters to someone else. It's not about the review count at all, although I'm sure some of the more cynical people will say that. I've also heard the comments about 'begging for reviews'. I honestly don't understand why some readers feel that authors wanting feedback is...offensive or something. The derision that I've heard from some people regarding this is amazing. One of the episodes of Castle-the show that we all love-even dealt with reviews, and I don't think anyone thought less of the character for wanting good feedback about his work or being anxious of what people thought about it.
Some people say 'write for yourself'. I can do that, but at the end of the day, I want to share it. I want to know if it's any good. I want to know what I can improve. I'm human, and I can't exist in a vacuum. And I know that I'm not always my best critic, so that feedback from others in invaluable; some of the chapters that have been the best-received by my readers are the ones that I wasn't overly pleased with initially. So it shows what I know (LOL) and it further illustrates the importance of reader comments. So truly, they are appreciated so much.
Now, the reason for this long explanation and this author's note: after a lot of deliberation and despite the fact that I do have more ideas for at least a few more epilogues of this story, I've decided to scrap those ideas and end it with the last chapter; Epilogue 2 is the end of the 'The Plan'.
I have gotten some wonderful comments about the last couple of chapters and for those people who took the time to comment, I thank you so much for those. Some new people have just found the story and have bravely tackled it, and they've sent me some wonderful messages. But overall, I believe that readership has dropped off. I get the impression that, with the exception of a handful of wonderful fans, people are just sick of the story and want it to be done. Based on relative traffic lately, it seems that very few of the over 700+ subscribers are actually invested in reading a new chapter anymore. Traffic to the story has been way down, so I'm reading the writing on the wall; I'm taking the hint. Like I've read about some TV shows or sports stars: they'd rather retire gracefully than to be canceled or cut. So I'm not going to push this story any farther; I'd rather people not remember this story at the one the author couldn't stand to end after the obvious conclusion and it went down the toilet. So I'm going to concentrate my efforts in other directions.
Once again, if you're reading this, I sincerely thank you for making it this far. I didn't just want to mark this story as complete without giving you an explanation. If you're one of those who has ever commented on my work, I thank you and have very much appreciated your feedback; I can't put into words how much. Some readers have sent me some truly heartwarming messages about how the story helped them escape from their problems for a bit, or just took them to a happy AU for a little while, and I'm truly touched that my little story could do that for you. It's amazing, and I'm humbled that my story could help people like that, more than just for entertainment value. If, by chance, you're one of those who say they never review but still want to follow stories, I implore you to reconsider. If the story is good enough to follow, then please tell that author why, at least once during the story. It costs you nothing except a few minutes, and it can make a great difference to that author, maybe the difference between continuing to write that story or not.
So I bid you farewell, and I truly hope that you have enjoyed the story and might someday find the time to read some of my other stories.
Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading.
(PS...don't review this chapter. There's no point. It's just a long note, and an explanation. Now go and read some other wonderful fanficton from the other talented writers out there. Right now...go do it!) ;-)