Kathleen Rouser and her Novella Collection experience

In the pass few years I’ve enjoyed reading novella collections. And this past summer I was asked to be part of one. Today I am interviewing Kathleen Rouser, who is part of a just released collection The Great Lakes Lighthouse Bride Collection. Barbour has had success with collections and this is another outstanding offering of novellas. I found the seven stories creative and fun and I learned some things about lighthouses. I thought it would be of interested to my readers to get Kathleen’s take on being part of a collection.

 Kathleen Rouser

Welcome Kathleen, tell us the pros and cons of being in a collection?

Pros: There is strength in numbers. It’s great to collaborate and have your name and stories attached to other authors in your genre. It’s nice to be able to work together and help each other out and it certainly helps with marketing to hopefully be able to reach more people.

Cons: You are limited with what you are writing about as you stick to a theme and/or certain area.

I ask the next question because I found it a struggle for me. How much of an adjustment was it to write a novella after writing two novels?

After writing two novels which were over 90,000 words long I was certainly concerned about the constraint of word count and developing the characters and plot fully enough.

However, I also figured that it would be much easier to get to a much shorter word count and should take less time.

Was it challenging to write to theme?

In some ways, yes. I only knew the basic story ideas of the other authors, so I figured our stories were all different enough. Being that my novella was tied to a lighthouse, I felt that it lends some romance to the story right away. People always seem to think of lighthouses as somehow romantic and mysterious, since they stand alone, on a beautiful shoreline.

How much research did you have to do?

I chose Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse because I’d been there many times and always thought it would be fun to write a story set there. Still, I toured the lighthouse again, climbed the many steps to the top of the tower to see the view, asked questions, bought a book about the lighthouse, and read what articles I could find.

How much control does the editor in a collection have over what you write?

I have been in one other collection with Prism Book Group, so this isn’t my first. I can only speak for my novella, but the editor was very specific in what rewriting she thought should be done and left alone the bulk of the story. She improved The Last Memory, no doubt, but without changing my voice.

I just finished a novella for a collection. I found the shorter deadline a bit daunting. How about you?

I was surprised at how quickly Barbour wanted it, but it was probably a good thing for me to have that deadline. Since my novels were much longer, I felt like it was a goal I could reach. However, I turned it in just the day before the deadline.

Would you write for a collection again?

I would love to if I have the chance.

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About the collection:

Lighthouses have long been the symbol of salvation, warning sailors away from dangerous rocks and shallow waters.
Along the Great Lakes, America’s inland seas, lighthouses played a vital role in the growth of the nation. They shepherded settlers traveling by water to places that had no roads. These beacons of light required constant tending even in remote and often dangerous places. Brave men and women battled the elements and loneliness to keep the lights shining. Their sacrifice kept goods and immigrants moving. Seven romances set between 1883 and 1911 bring hope to these lonely keepers and love to weary hearts.

Kathleen’s Contribution:

The Last Memory by Kathleen Rouser
1899—Mackinac Point Lighthouse
Natalie Brooks loses her past to amnesia, and Cal Waterson, the lighthouse keeper who rescues her, didn’t bargain on risking his heart—when her past might change everything.

More about Kathleen

Kathleen Rouser is the multi-published author of the 2017 Bookvana Award winner, Rumors and Promises, her first novel about the people of fictional Stone Creek, Michigan, and its sequel, Secrets and Wishes. She is a longtime member in good standing of American Christian Fiction Writers. Kathleen has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She longs to create characters who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives.  A former homeschool instructor, mild-mannered dental assistant, and current Community Bible Study kids’ teacher, she lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of thirty-some years, and the sassy tail-less cat who found a home in their empty nest. Connect with Kathleen on her website at kathleenrouser.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kathleenerouser/, and on Twitter @KathleenRouser.

 

If you have any questions for Kathleen share them in the comments.

Tell me, readers, do you enjoy novella collection as much as I do? What was your favorite?

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Tips for Writing a Stellar Novella, Part 1

Novella Tips

Have you ever read a novella that felt like the story stopped with the word count? All of a sudden your at the last page and you felt cheated. Today I welcome Pegg Thomas, editor, author, Managing editor of Smitten an imprint of LPC to share the formula for writing a successful novella.  A novella that keeps you reading and gives the reader a sigh-worthy ending. Today and the next two Tuesdays Pegg will be giving us the tools we need to nail down a great novella.

When Cindy asked me to do a guest post on how writing a novella is different than writing a novel, I thought it would be simple. The answer is obvious—use fewer words. But the real knack for novella writing is learning how to use fewer words.

In my genre, historical romance, full-length novels average 85,000 words. Novellas average 25,000 words. If you’re any good at math, and I’m not, this means you have roughly 30% of the words in a novella that you have in a novel.

Let’s first consider what we can’t leave out.

A novella must be a complete story. That means it must have a hook, a 1st plot point, a mid-point shift, a 2nd plot point, and a climax—a full story structure. Along with that, it must have fleshed-out characters with their own goals, motivations, and conflicts that build their character arcs. You still need to use all the senses as you write. Bring a bit of smell, taste, touch, sound, and sight into your novella to make it real. And in my genre, there needs to be both history and romance.

So what can we leave out?

It’s not so much leaving out as it is simplifying. Novellas typically have fewer secondary characters, for instance. There isn’t the word space to develop any character that isn’t necessary. Even if the character is oh-so-cute and lovable—axe it if he or she isn’t essential to the story. If the heroine is one of fourteen siblings, at least ten of them need to remain off-screen.

Subplots, which are essential to a good novel, get squeezed out of the novella. There may be one, but it won’t get the full attention that it would in a novel. It’ll be more of a mini-subplot. For instance, in Embattled Hearts, the main plot is Alannah escaping her abusive stepfather, and Stewart helping her as they fall in love. The subplot is the end of the Pony Express. I didn’t spend much time expounding on it, but it’s mentioned a few times and things are happening that the reader sees. In a full-length novel, I’d have explored that subplot more.

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Click here to buy this collection with Pegg’s novella Embattled Hearts

Next Tuesday Part 2:  Trimming the timeline, history backgroound and setting.

Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” When not working or writing, Pegg can be found in her barn, her garden, her kitchen, or sitting at her spinning wheel creating yarn to turn into her signature wool shawls.

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