Tuesday, December 17, 2013

So, Susanna, are you ever going to write a novel again?

Several years ago, I decided it was high time I teach myself to write novellas. The shorter length didn't come naturally to me. The very first manuscript I ever finished, a chaste Regency in the heroine's first person POV that eventually morphed into my second published book, A Marriage of Inconvenience, clocked in at 150,000 words. Even in my newbie state I understood that was far too long to sell, so I ruthlessly trimmed it down to 100K. Which my brain apparently decided was the One True Length, because without me especially trying, every single novel I've written since has been somewhere in the 90-100K range, at least on first draft.

But I'm not the world's fastest writer, to put it mildly, and it occurred to me that if only I could intersperse my novels with novellas, I could build up my backlist a lot faster. However, it took me three discarded novellas before I managed to finish one. You see, with those failed novellas, I wasn't so much writing ideas that naturally belonged in a shorter form as novel ideas I found interesting, but not necessarily 100,000 words worth of interesting. Recipe for failure, that.

I then focused my mind on what made a workable novella-length romance. I thought of a couple who already knew each other, forced by circumstances to marry immediately, and wrote A Dream Defiant. I brainstormed a Christmas story covering less than 24 hours and ending with a Happily For Now (with strong possibility for Happily Ever After) instead of one of those baby epilogues I'm sappy enough to be fond of, and wrote Christmas Past. And I thought of a pair of star-crossed lovers reunited at Christmas and wrote my 2014 holiday release (title TBD).

Now, the most common criticism I've seen in reviews for both A Dream Defiant and Christmas Past is that readers thought there was too much story there for the brief page count. Without going into lengthy engagement with said reviews, I'll just say that I can see the readers' points in both cases. I've often had the same reaction to other authors' novellas as a reader. However, I do plan to keep writing novellas and trying to master the art of making a love story feel real, lasting, and weighty in 40,000 words or less.

That said, I didn't set out to release three novellas in a row--it just kinda worked out that way. And I'm delighted to announce that I've just sold another NOVEL to Carina Press. It's a sequel to A Dream Defiant, working title My Lady Defiant (though that could change). It stars Henry Farlow (whom readers of A Dream Defiant may recall as Elijah's officer friend who gives Elijah work on the side as a clerk to help conceal what modern readers will recognize as dyslexia), who is wounded at the Battle of New Orleans. He wanders off the battlefield in a daze, gets lost...and is rescued by Therese Bondurant, a femme de couleur libre struggling to keep her inheritance despite the fact her feckless planter father never got around to updating his will to align with American law. A few days later Henry gets to repay the favor by rescuing Therese and her half-sister and brother--but under circumstances that force them to flee for their lives.

That's all I'll say for now, since we're still over a year out from my release date (which is TBD, but most likely early 2015). I still need to finish writing the thing! But it is, indeed, a novel, and one I hope you'll enjoy once it reaches virtual shelves.

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