Yes, you read that headline right. Got your attention though, didn't it?
I'm pleased to welcome Jenna Jaxon to my blog today! I hope that you'll leave a comment and let Jenna and I know you were here. Plus, Jenna is sharing an excerpt from Almost Perfect as well. So, without further ado, I'm going to step out of the way and let Jenna have the floor. :)
We all say that size doesn’t matter. Well, that’s just not true. Size does make a big difference--to a writer at least. And especially when we are talking about the length of…their work. Is it really a big deal if you are writing a short story, novella, or full-length novel? I can’t speak for all, but for this writer, size does make a big difference.
The first romance I ever wrote ended up being a super novel--187, 000 words. It was my first and I didn’t know any better. So I just wrote the story as it unfolded in my head. Didn’t know my head was that big. LOL But unless you are self-publishing or are Stephen King, your length, even for a full novel, needs to have a limit. Novels, depending on sub-genre for romance, give you up to 110,000 words to create your characters, get in all your plot points, and have ample room for some sexy love scenes. So writing a novel gave me almost unlimited freedom. And for a long time I believed I simply could not write short fiction. Not enough words, period.
Then came the contest. A local conference offered a short story contest. Four categories. All not to exceed 2,500 words. 2,500 words! That’s a chapter to me! And a short one at that. But I so wanted to enter that contest. So I came up with an idea, a scene really, and started to write.
It may have been the hardest story I have written because I kept going over budget with the words--I think the first draft was a little over 3,000. But it was one of the best writing experiences I’ve ever had because it taught me to make every word count. You don’t always need a flowery phrase, or all those descriptors, or to use ten words where two would suffice. I whittled away at it one summer down at the beach. The word count function became my best friend. But I got it down to 2500 words exactly. And that little story went on to win third place in the fiction category! I was absolutely thrilled. Not only because of the award, but because I had proved that I could write short stories as well as long. It just takes a bit more discipline.
Writing short stories or novellas for me is now a mindset. I start all my books with the germ of the idea, figure out what needs to happen in the story and plot it out. If I know I have a word limit--say 12,000 for a novella--I make sure the story, as I see it, can fit into that framework. Some stories I know immediately are going to be novel length; others I see in my mind as novellas. Not sure how I know, but I usually do.
I have now found that short fiction can be just as rich and vibrant and rewarding. By crafting the story in the shorter format, the writer must hone their skills as a wordsmith, creating characters, setting, and plot with succinct language choices. There is little fat to be found in short fiction--it’s all lean muscle and sinew, giving the reader the most satisfying experience possible but in a shorter form. Writing those lean, mean shorts are very intense affairs for me. I feel under the gun to bring the work in with the exact amount of words. It’s both tense and exhilarating, a very different kind of rush.
I had one such rush while writing Almost Perfect for Decadent Publishing’s 1Night Stand series. The maximum word count was 12,000, which may sound like a lot, but for me was a nightmare. There were so many elements I wanted to weave into the story--the island, the pirate fantasy, the constant movie references. And, of course, sex scenes. They come toward the end of the story and by that time, unfortunately, I was almost out of words. So I went back to make a cut here, a cut there. I still couldn’t bring it in under the limit. Finally, I asked my crit partner, who took a pen to my draft, made room for some nice long love scenes and brought me right to the wire at 12,000 words.
So, who still thinks size doesn’t matter? :)
Blurb for Almost Perfect:
Pamela Kimball’s birthday present, a 1Night Stand adventure, promises to jump-start her life, put a new man in her bed, and help her forget her past. Unfortunately, movie-buff Pam’s Pirates of the Caribbean fantasy takes an alarming wrong turn when she’s abandoned on a not quite deserted island—with ex-husband Roger Ware.
Forced by hunger to accept Roger’s offer of dinner, Pam realizes the geek she married has transformed into one of the most charming, sexiest men she’s ever met. His newfound confidence—and hot body—re-kindle old fires. A simple kiss leads Roger to challenge her to discover how much his lovemaking skills have improved, leaving Pam torn between self-preservation and burning desire.
With time running out before they’re rescued, Pam must decide if her heart can survive the consequences of becoming Roger’s “almost” perfect 1Night Stand.
Excerpt for Almost Perfect:
She inched into the lapping surf, searching for movement. Reflection off the water made this task harder than expected. Wasn’t the Caribbean supposed to be teeming with fish? Now that’s something she’d had a lot of instruction in. Almost every marooned-on-an-island movie had a scene where the heroine learned to catch fish. Six Days, Father Goose, Blue Lagoon. All you needed was your hands and patience. She could do this.
Pam waded out further then stopped just before the water hit her now dry shorts. “Not gonna to have a damp crotch all night.” The words reminded her of exactly what she had hoped for tonight. “But not from wet shorts!” She headed back to shore to remove and drape them next to her shirt. The bandeau was a different story. Still damp, even after several hours, and uncomfortable. Might dry better if not next to her skin anyway. “Screw it! Live dangerously.”
Standing as good as naked on the deserted beach, Pam smiled as the warm breeze caressed her bare body. The sense of being slightly naughty added to her delight in the sensual feel of the air as it dried her breasts. Her nipples peaked as the wind cooled them. She strutted down to the water’s edge to sink her toes in the sand, the salty tang in the air adding to the perfect moment.
“If you’re skinny dipping, you forgot to remove one very important piece of clothing.”
Pam whirled around. Roger stood on the beach behind her, a green bottle of Perrier in one hand. His gaze played up and down her naked torso and his salacious grin widened. “Mind if I join you?”
Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance who has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, Jenna has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own writing.
Jenna lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets. When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.
She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.
Decadent Publishing: http://www.decadentpublishing.com/product_info.php?cPath=75_105&products_id=416&osCsid=68ti48u914jdkbaebhb4bh54j2
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I found this topic to be insightful, Jenna, and I thank you for your take on the matter. I wish you many sales, and I do hope you'll stop by again!
Until next time,