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A Short Story about A Short Story

Several years ago I was asked to be part of a Regency anthology — could I write a story that was under 10,000 words? Sure, I said, without thinking much about it. 10,000 words, eh? That would be simple.

Thus said the woman who always writes long.

Writing a full love story, in 10,000 words or less, is not easy. In fact, it is a true challenge to an author used to having the roomy wide open spaces of 90,000+ words to introduce characters, establish conflict, introduce a plot that will entice readers to follow the hero and heroine along on their adventure and, like the hero and heroine, fall in love along the way.

No, 10,000 words requires you jump right into the story, into that snapshot of a moment, when two people fall in love and find their soul mate. In other words, love at first sight. Which is why I used that most perfect of love at first sight plots, Cinderella, as the framework for my short story, Cynders & Ashe.

I also had only about 10 free days to write the story, while I was between contracts and novel commitments.

So I planned accordingly–taking notes about the story when they occurred to me, mapping out the characters much the same way, so that when I sat down one Sunday evening, I had a file of information to organize. I also used this story as my first attempt to use writing software–in my case, Scrivener. I organized my story into the software folders–using the plot note cards to designate each and every scene, compiling my character sketches so I had all my players lined up like a cast in a play.

Then when Monday morning rolled around, I sat down to write.

But in this case, I didn’t start at the beginning, I wrote whatever scene appealed to me at the moment. In the mood for a masquerade? I wrote the ball scenes. Feeling a little morose about my future, I wrote about the heroine’s life as a lowly seamstress. The story unfolded quickly before my eyes and I found myself, like the characters in the story, enfolded right into the action. At the end of 10 days, I had it. 33 pages of passion, love and a satisfying romance. Okay, so I did run a little over 10,000 words. But then again, I always do.

Eventually the story was published in The Mammoth Book of Regency Romances, and now I am pleased to offer it as single story for a digital download. Check it out on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and coming soon to iBooks.

(And of course, I had to use Earthly Charms for the cover design–isn’t this the most stunning cover you have ever seen?)

So, do you like short stories or novellas? If not, why? I’m about to start work on another novella and would love to hear reader’s thoughts on these stories.

Comment below to be entered in this week’s blog drawing.

The Rules:

1) Leave a comment below and let me know which of the covers or books you love:


2) Tweet the following: Enter to win a signed book by #JuliaQuinn & an arc of @elizboyle’s Along Came a Duke at http://elizabethboyle.com/blog/?p=2189 #contest

Do both and you are entered twice! I’ll give you all until midnight, PDT, Saturday, April 7th to get your entries in.

Make sure to check back here Monday, April 9th to find out if you won. You’ll have a week to claim your prize.

Last week’s winner is: TinaM, who was poster #23 and made her comment on March 26, 2012 at 2:07 PM. Tina, contact me with your address and I will send you your prize. You have a week to claim it.

34 comments to “A Short Story about A Short Story”

  1. Rhiannon Rowland
    April 2nd, 2012 at 7:06 am · Link

    I love short stories, sometimes I am just not in the mood to read a longer one and just need a quick fantasy. πŸ˜‰ The thing I don’t like about them is that sometimes it seems like they fall in love so quickly you wonder if it will actually work out and how could that possibly happen in real life. But overall, I do love them!

  2. Kylan Alexander
    April 2nd, 2012 at 7:11 am · Link

    Some of my favorite novellas are the briefly mentioned friends or relatives from my favorite series. Letting that essential character with the small part to have their own spotlight romance. πŸ™‚

  3. Diane D - Florida
    April 2nd, 2012 at 7:21 am · Link

    I really do prefer short stories and novellas on my Kindle. However, if I’m reading a paperback, then I prefer a longer story.

    I do love your cover with it’s spectacular colors for “Cynders & Ashe”.

  4. charlotte Skipper
    April 2nd, 2012 at 7:22 am · Link

    I love short stories! The cover for Cyders and Ashe looks very interesting. I would definitely enjoy reading this short story.

  5. Diane D - Florida
    April 2nd, 2012 at 7:22 am · Link

    I tweeted your contest too. (englishmeadows)

  6. alisha woods
    April 2nd, 2012 at 7:51 am · Link

    Huge fan of novellas/anthologies. You might not have time for a complete novel and a novella will fit the bill

  7. Linda Morrison
    April 2nd, 2012 at 8:52 am · Link

    I prefer novels. Short stories feel more like cheating on a diet, whilst novels are a feast. I prefer feasting to dieting. πŸ˜‰

  8. Karen H in NC
    April 2nd, 2012 at 8:55 am · Link

    I like short stories for several reasons but mainly they allow me to get a taste of the work of a new-to-me author. They also allow my favorite authors a chance to do a follow-up story on a popular secondary character from a previous book when a full-length novel wouldn’t do.

  9. Susan Blakeley
    April 2nd, 2012 at 10:33 am · Link

    Some characters are not meant to be a primary character, but there is always a story. I like novella, or short stories for this purpose. So we are satisfied that a favorite secondary character got a happy ending, in most cases, but would not generate a whole book of material, like Wick in Eloisa James’ Storming the Castle.

  10. Sheri F.
    April 2nd, 2012 at 10:35 am · Link

    I find that I like novels better, but an occasional short story keeps things interesting. If I find myself in between new arrivals, I can pick up a short story and get a quick pick me up!!

  11. Marianna
    April 2nd, 2012 at 12:03 pm · Link

    I like short stories, especially if they have characters from a favorite book! They are good to read on my ipad. If I’m reading a paperback, I love long stories!

  12. Melissa McClone
    April 2nd, 2012 at 12:22 pm · Link

    I love the cover! The blue is very eye catching as is the mask. Congrats!

    I enjoy reading novellas. It’s a great way to see if an author’s voice appeals to me and if I’d like to try something longer. I discovered a new-to-me historical author this way through the RITAs.

  13. Paula Hemenway
    April 2nd, 2012 at 12:52 pm · Link

    I can’t wait to read Cynders and Ashes. I just got it on my kindle. I love short stories. Sometimes I only have time to do a quick read.

  14. Lois M.
    April 2nd, 2012 at 2:40 pm · Link

    Sure, I love short stories – if for no other reason, because even with limited time to read in a day, you can get one done. But also to, you can get introduced to other authors when getting an anthology initially from an author that you already read. πŸ™‚


  15. bn100
    April 2nd, 2012 at 4:39 pm · Link

    I like short stories because you can read a good story without a lot of time.

    I like the cover and the colors for the Cynders and Ashe book.

  16. Jane
    April 2nd, 2012 at 6:00 pm · Link

    If I enjoy an author’s works, it doesn’t matter if it’s a short story, a novella, or a full-blown book, just as long as I get a chance to read it! Thanks for keeping me entertained.

  17. Donna M
    April 2nd, 2012 at 6:51 pm · Link

    I enjoy reading short stories. Though, I also love novels, there are times when I don’t have enough time to read a novel, but a short story I can finish relatively quickly. I think there is a place for both novels and short stories.

  18. Michele Stegman
    April 3rd, 2012 at 8:21 am · Link

    I’ve written a few short stories, and I enjoy reading shorts. But I do prefer longer books. I would rather read a 100,000 word book than a 40,000 word book. I like the complexities and sub plots you can get in a longer work.

  19. Des
    April 3rd, 2012 at 9:17 am · Link

    Thank you for a stunning post your books sound wonderful,tweeted and commented ! Thanks for the contest !

  20. Betty Hamilton
    April 3rd, 2012 at 9:49 am · Link

    Ilove the book cover for Cinders and Ash!! Beautiful.

  21. Lee Ann Higginbotham
    April 3rd, 2012 at 9:59 am · Link

    I am not a fan of short stories or anthologies. when I read them I am left feeling like something is missing cause the stories are so short it doesn’t really let me get into the story the way I normally. If it’s a good story I think about the story all day trying to figure out what might happen. With a short story it’s just not the same. I will read one if I get it free like from a friend but I don’t normally buy them. Sorry πŸ™

  22. Sarah
    April 3rd, 2012 at 10:18 am · Link

    While I do mainly enjoy longer novels, I love all of your writing. I did find the cover of this short story especially beautiful. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but I’m so bad about picking up things with the lovely cover art. Some of my favorite authors have started with my love affair of a dress or book cover coloration.

  23. Lory Lee
    April 3rd, 2012 at 10:54 am · Link

    I actually adore novellas. It’s really amazing how authors like you squeeze in lots of emotions into a short story. Not everyone can make readers fall in love with just 10,000 words. πŸ˜€

  24. Cynthia
    April 3rd, 2012 at 12:20 pm · Link

    I am not a big fan of short stories although I do read them on occasion. Mostly I feel sometimes the characters don’t get developed well and things move along very fast. On the other hand when the story is written well then I will wish it hadn’t ended so soon.

  25. Melissa Porter
    April 3rd, 2012 at 5:21 pm · Link

    I like short stories. Especially when I dont have a lot of time. Or I just need something to fill in for a quick break .

  26. Linda Mc
    April 3rd, 2012 at 6:46 pm · Link

    It’s been a long time since I’ve read a fiction short story. I think I should read some again. I do read non-fiction short stories and find them enjoyable. But my favorites are novels.

  27. gamistress66
    April 3rd, 2012 at 8:42 pm · Link

    I enjoy the occasional novella — it’s a nice way to try a new author or fit in some reading when time is limited. the big challenge of course is to fit a full & engaging story into a more condensed package without that “something’s missing” or “rushed” feeling.

  28. Winnie P
    April 3rd, 2012 at 11:50 pm · Link

    I enjoy shorts or novellas when I don’t have the time to immerse in a full novel.

  29. Winnie P
    April 4th, 2012 at 3:04 am · Link

    I also tweeted (winiep)
    I have the Mammoth Book in both paper & ebook – I wish all the short stories had covers, especially when the covers are as gorgeous as your Cynders & Ashe cover.

  30. Kathryn
    April 4th, 2012 at 3:37 pm · Link

    I always have a hard time with novellas and short stories because when they are well written, I don’t want to leave the characters. I want more, and there generally isn’t. πŸ™

  31. stephannie M.
    April 4th, 2012 at 4:25 pm · Link

    I prefer full novels for the most part….but novellas are perfect for passing the time in the car while traveling! I just adore the cover for Cynders & Ashe!!

  32. Chris Bails
    April 4th, 2012 at 4:57 pm · Link

    I love short stories & novellas. This gives you a chance to check out the other authors also. I love the shorter stories, especially when a play off another book. I would love to win any of the books. Elizabeth is a new author for me. I have a lot of Julia’s books-love the Bridgerton series. I do like the Cynders & Ashe book cover, love the blue color scheme.

  33. Jessie Llewellyn
    April 4th, 2012 at 6:58 pm · Link

    I like short stories because it gives me a chance to explore new authors. I live your cover for Lord Langley is Back in Town!

  34. eli yanti
    April 4th, 2012 at 9:57 pm · Link

    i love this cover book of Cynders & Ashe.

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