When Writing Gets Scary

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Writing can be scary. Anyone who has never written for publication may feel I’m exaggerating.  But the fears are real. I’ll only speak from my own experience. There has not been a time when I wasn’t at least a little concerned about my words as I craft or submit them. The longer I work at this creative craft of writing the scarier it can become.

At first, I fought fear:

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  1. When I sat down to write wondering if it’s any good.
  2. Sharing my work with others.
  3. Having my work critiqued
  4. Pitching it at conferences
  5. Sending out manuscripts to agents, editors and publishers
  6. Receiving Rejections
  7. Receiving a call saying a contract is on the way
  8. Working though the publication process
  9. Marketing that book
  10. Writing the next book

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Now I only get scared when:

  1. I begin a new book
  2. Pitch a new idea
  3. Complete my Manuscript
  4. Receive an email request for my manuscript
  5. Get a rejection
  6. Get the call of acceptance
  7. Get a call from an editor to write in a novella collection
  8. Write the novella
  9. While finishing a requested manuscript
  10. I wonder if my readers will love it

And at times I feel the fear more intently because I know how much work is involved in getting the story out into the marketplace. Each new cover gives me a feeling of joy and dread. Will the readers like it? Is it my best work? Will sales be good enough to get me noticed so I can continue to do what I love.

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For me all through this scary journey as an author I have recalled the verse: “Whenever I am afraid I will trust in You.” And mant other passages draw me out of my fear. My faith keeps me focused and brings peace amid the stormy times. Reflecting on God’s Word is my calming place. Those powerful words written by the Author of the Universe remind me who is in control of my life and I need not be afraid.

What is the scariest part of the writer’s life for you? What calms your fears ?

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A Visit with My Favorite Novella Author Pegg Thomas

Illinois is having it’s first significant snowfall. This is a great time to cozy up with a good book. If you’ve never read a novella collection this is the perfect time to do it.  Each story can be read in a matter of hours. It’s the ideal companion with a hot beverage and a blanket. Today’s guests is one of my favorite novella writers,Pegg Thomas. I want ot pick her brain a bit about her newest project, The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection. Welcome Pegg.

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Pegg Thomas and Kathy Rouser at a booksigning. If you’ve been followng me you read Kathy’s story a few weeks ago.

 

Pegg, you’ve been in several Barbour novella collections. I think I’ve read them all by the way. Why write in a novella collection?

I’ve written for four Barbour novellas so far, and have a couple more proposals out to them. I didn’t actually set out to write novellas, I more or less fell into the first one. I prefer to read full-length books myself, so these never crossed my radar until God put one right in my path. He has a way of doing those things. And thank you for being a reader!

How popular are they?

I wish I knew. I know the current release, The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides, has been on Amazon’s top 100 for collections and anthologies off and on for the past few weeks, even before it released. But I don’t get any stats from the publisher as to what’s selling off the shelves in other outlets.

 

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I enjoyed this collection so much. Not being from Michigan I loved visiting the lighthouses through these stories. I discovred some new authors to follow.

 

Tell us about The Great Lakes Lighthouse Bride Collection.

This collection is my “baby.” I wanted to showcase our Great Lakes, and so I came up with the idea, contacted the other authors, and put the proposal together. Many people told me that Barbour would only take prairie romances, but I wanted to try and the rest. . .as they say. . .is now history.

How did you come up with the idea? 

I was born in Michigan and have lived here almost my entire life. I love everything Great Lakes. Our historical lighthouses, many of which are open to the public in the summer months, have always held a special place in my heart. And really, is there a more romantic setting than a lighthouse on some distant shore? I think not.

What was it like to be in charge of the production?

Nerve-wracking. I’ve always been a take-charge, get-er-done kind of person, but suddenly I had six other authors depending on me doing a good job of selling this proposal to Barbour’s publication board. Yeah. That was a bit unnerving.

How did you choose your authors?

As with any collection, you want to put together the best authors you can. I started with authors who had some connection with the Great Lakes. My agent asked me to try to field the authors from our agency, which eliminated a couple I would have liked in the project, but I think we did wind up with a very strong cast of authors. I’m particularly happy that Candice Patterson is onboard with this project. Candice and I have been critique partners for more than six years, and she’s an awesome writer. I just had to convince her to take a stab at writing historical. She did a great job with it.

Other than the lighthouses was there any other connection between the stories?

When I contacted the authors, I left it up to them where they wanted to set their stories. We have five Great Lakes and they touch two countries and eight states. Everyone “claimed” their lighthouse so we didn’t wind up with two stories set at the same place. Our stories include three of the lakes, Michigan, Superior, and Huron, and each one is set in Michigan. That was totally by chance, not design, but of course being my home state, I love it. Since lighthouses were put where they are for a reason—dangerous areas to navigate—of course there are some shipwrecks in the stories too.

As with each of my releases, I’m giving away one of my signature handspun, handknit wool shawls. This shawl is called Beacon on the Bay in honor of our lighthouse stories. The only way to get into the drawing is to subscribe to my newsletter. The drawing will be November 30th.

 

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Here is the shawl she’s giving away. Beacon on the Bay was not only knitted by Pegg, she spun the yarn from her own sheeps. She’s a eral pioneer woman.

 

About Pegg:

Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. They raise sheep and chickens, keep a few barn cats, and Murphy the spoiled rotten dog. A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” Pegg is published in the Barbour historical romance collections. Pegg also works as Managing Editor of Smitten Historical Romance, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not working or writing, she 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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Stitches Thru Time

Before I go I promised to post the winner of Normandie Fischer’s newest novel  The Sea Prayers  in ebook today. The winner is cydnotter. Cydnotter please contact me at cindyhuff11 (at)gmail(dot)com to claim your prize.

If you stumbled across my blog this week and enjoyed it. I’d love to have you subscribe so you don’t miss fun interviews like this and other writerly stuff.

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?

If you love reading author interviews and learning writerly stuff don’t forget to subscribe to receive notification in your email when a new post is available.

 

 

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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