Thursday, March 24, 2011

Magic Thursday Giveaway: Jess Anastasi

I never got novellas. What the heck was the point of them? They seemed too short. I always wanted more. I longed for a big, fat, juicy, full length book where the characters got to explore every nuance of expression and sensation and moment between them.
I made this decision based on reading only a handful of novellas. Maybe I was reading the wrong ones.
Once I started writing seriously, I didn't think I'd be able to write a novella. I thought it would be too hard. How to write a satisfactory story in sometimes less than half the length of a novel?
And then the idea for Sanctuary came along. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Angels and demons flying around in spaceships, at some point in the distant future. Who in their right mind would publish that, let alone even attempt to write it (thank you, thank you, Jill!)? I wanted to write this book, the idea was eating at me. And at the time I came across a publisher asking for angel and demon based stories for an anthology. I didn't know if I wanted to submit the story, because once again the issue of who-in-their-right-mind couldn't be ignored. But I set myself a challenge. I was going to write a novella in time for the publisher's deadline on the anthology.
Little did I know, a big lesson was about to come my way.
Because the story couldn't be any longer than 30,000 words, I knew I had to get my characters on the page, lay out their situation and get them on the journey in as few words as possible. I couldn't let any extraneous or irrelevant detail get in the way of that. But on the other hand, I also needed to give the reader enough to become invested and feel satisfied.
I did get the manuscript written in time, but then left it to take up space on my hard drive for over a year.
We all know how this story ends, because eventually I came across Noble Romance Publishing and Sanctuary was my first published work.
I didn't realize it at the time, but after writing that novella, my view of writing undertook a drastic change. I later recognized the importance of not wasting words, no matter what length your manuscript is. After that, when I started a new story, I didn't fluff around, but took my characters and plunged them – and the reader – right into the action. As a result, I'm much happier with what I'm turning out and if the reviews I'm getting are anything to go by, so are my readers.
Another thing I love about novellas is instant satisfaction and quick turn around for me as a writer.
I've been working on a full length romantic suspense for a few months now, though it feels like a lot longer! I actually wrote half of it, decided it wasn't working, trashed it and started again. I'm a chronic re-writer (editing, what's that?) but that story is for another blog post. After complaining to my editor (probably for the tenth time) about how much trouble I'm having with it, she suggested I take a break and write a novella.
Why didn't I think of that?
I'm now halfway through a sci-fi fantasy type thing. It’s a bit different, something I've always wanted to try. With any luck, my editor will love it and it'll be out in another few months. See? Quick turn around!
So for all those reasons, and probably some I've forgotten, I definitely have a new appreciation for novellas.



To win a copy of Severance (which recently got a 5 star review from Long and Short Romance Reviews. Yes, I know, I can't stop going on about it.) tell me if you've ever read a novella and what you love/hate about them.

12 comments:

  1. Hi Jess,

    It's not so much I dislike novellas, it's just that if it's a good story I want more of it. Simple as that.

    If the writing is good, the characters are strong, the emotions engaging, then I dread getting to the last page so quickly. I usually close the book and wonder why the author couldn't have turned the story into a full length manuscript!

    One of the classics - I read an Anne McCaffrey short story called "The Thorns of Barevi" in the GET OFF THE UNICORN anthology and absolutely loved the whole concept. I wanted more - to know about the Catteni, what the world was like, what happened to Kris and Zainal etc.

    Then, years later, Ms.McCaffrey wrote the Catteni series (bless her!) and I devoured it! :-)

    So, with novellas, if they're really good, I sort of hope the author will write the full length novel to go with it, one day.

    It's a bit like giving me one block of chocolate and withholding the rest of the bar. Totally unfair!

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  2. LOL Kylie, that nicely summed up how I felt too. But for my own case, I did turn Sanctuary into a series of full length books and the novella I'm working on at the moment could very well go the same way. I'm already having "why don't I just make it book length?" thoughts.
    We'll see what happens...

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  3. With my life so hectic anymore, novellas fit right in with my impossible-to-schedule schedule. I can read a novella in one sitting and get back to work.

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  4. I love novellas, especially if it's the first time I'm reading an author. I'd rather not pony-up the cash for a full-length and then dislike the writing style. A short or a novella is perfect for that. I feel compelled to add as a side note: I hate over-priced novellas. I'm also not a fan of novels that clearly should've been reduced to a novella due to simple plot or blah characters.

    When I sit down to write, I have a length in mind, but it'd be a miracle if I stuck to it. I've only written once with a specific word count in mind. Noble's newest line requested nothing over 7k (although I believe they changed it to 10k later...grrrr! lol) so I wrote about 8k and spent weeks figuring out where to shave off some words but keep the flow. I think that may be the last time I ever write with an aim at a specific number. Better to write and find a place to put it, than self-tortue. ::winks::

    Excited to see what else you come up with, Jess!

    All my best,
    Allure Van Sanz
    Great topic.

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  5. I read novellas quite often. They make a nice break in between longer books, especially if I just read several in the same series. I have run across a few stinkers where there was no real plot, but most are good. And some are so good I wish they were longer so I could get more of the story.
    Thanks for the great post and I love the sounds of your angels and demons in space. I'll have to add the books to my to-buy list.

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  6. I enjoy a good novella. Like everyone else, if it leaves me wanting more, I am hoping the author will give the story and characters their very own full length novel.

    Severance looks very good and the cover is fantastic, so eye-catching.


    Judy
    magnolias_1[at]msn[dot]com

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  7. I have always been a "great big fat" book fan. But I recently bought a kindle and am loving being able to download smaller novella-type books as they are affordable and I can have lots of variety. I loved the "Severance" blurb and felt a bit like I was part of your journey, Jess (as a trusty fiend). You have given me much food for thought from your novella experiences - i.e. honing your skills and throwing away extraneous issues, getting straight to the core of the story. Makes me want to give it a go!

    Good luck with this and others.

    Jo Duncan

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  8. I just like a really good story no matter what the length, so I'll read all sorts. I'll admit to being sorry that some stories end before I'm ready to quit the characters, but that can happen as much in a full length novel as the shorter stories. I loved the blurb for Severance and will be checking out your other stories. I love a good demon (or a bad/good demon)!!
    Cheers,

    Vicki

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  9. Jess, you know I hadn't contemplated writing a novella until last year. I think the length is something that attracted me as a writer, and as a reader I enjoy reading shorter fiction. I'm glad you turned to novella writing and getting Sanctuary out there! Congrats on the 5 star review - totally awesome.

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  10. Hi, this is Vicki again. I just wanted to drop by to let you know that I just read the excerpts to Sanctuary and Severance, and decided then and there that I had to buy them - so I did. I'm about to start Sanctuary now!!

    Cheers,

    Vicki

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  11. Hi everyone,
    sorry I never got back yesterday to reply to your comments, it turned out to be 'one of those days' and everything seemed to be keeping me from the computer.
    Vicki - thanks for buying both Sanctuary and Severance, I really enoyed writing them and hope you enjoy reading them! I'm about to start the thrid one (titled for the time being) Singularity. So look out for that later in the year.
    Eleni - yes, novellas really are a thing unto themselves. LOL. I'm glad I changed my tune about them too!
    Jo - thanks for stopping by, bf friend! Yes, a lot has happened since Claytons last year. Its been a bit of a rollercoaster. I'm glad my post gave you something to think about ;)
    Hi Judy - yes, the cover is wonderful, but I can't claim responsibility for that. I was just lucky to work with a fantastic cover artist.
    Hi Beth - you make a good point about novellas being a good break from longer books. Also, I find I don't have as much time to read as I used to, so novellas can provide the satisfaction of a full story without the time it takes to read a novel.
    Allure - LOL on the wordcounts. These stories really do take on a life of their own sometimes!
    DA - it does seem we're all so much busier these days, which I think is a contributer in the fact novellas are becoming more popular.
    Thanks for visiting, everyone, its been fun! A winner will be drawn and notified soon.

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  12. Hi Jess,

    Yup, novellas. Love 'em and hate 'em. Love the reading part - hate when they end! LOL. Same as with Kylie, I too read Ms McCaffrey (The Rowan)and was very sad when it was so short. THEN, yay, it was a series. Love, love, LOVED it! I was lucky I was young enough it had already been written, I just had to go find it. *vbg*

    Good luck with it all!

    Michelle

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