Friday, December 7, 2018

Writing A Christmas Novella - Easy?


guest Leslie Ann Sartor

It’s funny that I pin my hope for the world on the short season of Christmas, but I do. While I try to always offer a smile to anyone who passes by, at this time of year I make it brighter to the harried store clerk, or frazzled family. And I also fervently send up prayers for peace, for mankind to believe that the goodness in each of us should be shared and that war and hate and discrimination are never solutions. Light and love seems more powerful during this season. Let us each light up the world and become the miracle we so believe in. 

It's one of the reasons I wrote a series of novels featuring the holiday season. To give hope to readers and coax a little "magic" into the holiday season. 

And then, I thought writing a Christmas novella would be easy. Short and sweet, piece of cake, walk in the park…you get it. 

Well, not for me.  Dream Of Me This Christmas Eve was turning into a nightmare.
I was sooo keen to start writing Caroline Young’s story because—get this—readers were asking me to write her story. They learned about her in Forever Yours This New Year’s Night, book two of the Star Light ~ Star Bright series, and they wanted more.
Sure, no problem I thought. 


Except that I needed to make the conflict in this 24,000+ word story not as deep as I usually did in my 60,000+ word tomes. And I needed to build the romance and develop the character.

Caro was a wild child growing up in Kansas, now she’s an engineer who designs and builds floats, and she lives and has her company in Pasadena. My hero, Maximillian Henderson III, lives in Boulder and is a second-generation lawyer.

Easy conflict right? Who is going to move where? 

Well, neither can. 

So, as I was pulling out tufts of hair, my buddy Audra came to my rescue. Happily Ever After I asked? How about Happily For Now she responded.  And she suggested that I stop making food their crutch and start making them need each other. Not that yummy sushi I had four paragraphs about them eating. (But I love sushi, I whined.) She just gave me that Audra look.  Okay one paragraph.


I needed to find ways to add in the romance immediately, make the story work and make my readers fall in love with Caro and Max. LET ALONE give cameos to the other characters in the series. 

But you know, with the help of some trusted friends who pointed out a few or many issues, I was able to pull it together by make each scene a bit more intense, choosing my words carefully, putting myself in the character and consciously think about what they’d do and want. 

Word choice was key, along with reminding myself as I wrote (then edited each scene) that this was a short book that still must deliver an emotional pull of the heart-strings. As well as entice the reader to read the other three books in the series. Each scene had to pack in all the above … in less than half the words.

Phew!!





So, it wasn’t an easy learning curve. And you know, I can’t wait to write another one.
Dream of Me This Christmas Eve is the fourth book in the bestselling Star Light ~ Star Bright series.  Book one, Believe In Me This Christmas Night won the prestigious International Digital Award for Contemporary Short. The series has garnered the coveted #1 seller on Amazon, both achievements are dreams come true.

I’ve been asked why the star in the books.  We do have a star on Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder and I recalled a story mom told me about it. She was at a party and one of the neighbors was grousing about the star being too Christian. Mom said she completely disagreed.  That no matter your faith, the star represented the feeling of hope, the promise of the new day, the talisman of looking forward. 


Amazon



Merry Christmas to you all.

PS. One commenter will receive Dream Of Me This Christmas Eve as an e-book.





I started writing as a child, really. A few things happened on the way to becoming a published author … specifically, a junior high school teacher who told me I couldn’t write because I didn’t want to study … urk … grammar…

That English teacher stopped my writing for years.  But the muse couldn’t be denied, and eventually I wrote, a lot, some of it award winning. However, I wasn’t really making a career from any of this.

My husband told me repeatedly that independent publishing was becoming a valid way to publish a novel. I didn’t believe him even after he showed me several Wall Street Journal articles. I thought indie meant vanity press. 

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I started pursuing this direction seriously, hit the keyboard, learned a litany of new things and published my first novel. My second book became a bestseller, and I’m absolutely on the right course in my life.


Please come visit me at www.lasartor.com, see my books, find my social media links, and sign up for my mailing list. I have a gift I’ve specifically created for my new email subscribers. And remember, you can email me at Leslie@LeslieSartor.com  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

48 comments:

  1. Leslie, I love Christmas novellas! I’ve read countless numbers of them and penned two. I’m excited to learn about your series, I’ll have to check them out.

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    1. Hi Terri,
      Thanks for checking them out. Now that the "trauma" of writing it, getting it out into the world is over, believe it or not, I'm ready to start another one. Merry Christmas, L

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  2. Leslie -- I'm with Terri--I, too, LOVE Christmas novellas. A bite-size, taste-of-the-holidays treat at a busy time of year. :)

    I've always wanted to write a novella (a Christmas one, of course!) but there are so many different challenges to a novella or short story than writing book-length fiction and I haven't quite figured them out! I'm glad our insightful Audra was able to offer some helpful thoughts and your novella is now a reality!

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    1. Hi Glynna, bite-sized, I like that. You are were I was several months ago. I know you can do this, I did!! Just give yourself a bit more than than a couple of months:). And then let us know so we can all run out an buy it. Merry Christmas, L

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  3. Leslie, welcome back to Seekerville. Thanks for sharing your struggles writing a novella. Just because it's short, doesn't mean it's easy. Sometimes, after reading the mouth-watering bites your characters share, I think you were born to be a food reviewer!

    I love your entire Star Bright series. You definitely bring a burst of Christmas love on each page. Merry Christmas!

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    1. Well, buddy 0'mine, thanks for having me back on Seekerville. I love being here. You know I couldn't do any of this without you by my side. And yes, food will never disappear from my stories :) BTW, I think I'm going to write Margo and RJ's story next year. Merry Christmas, my friend, L

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  4. Leslie, thanks so much for this insightful post. I enjoy Christmas novellas but sometimes if the story is good, it leaves me wanting more! I think its a great idea to connect the novella to another series, and I'm sure the HFN works well. (Please enter me in the draw! Lee-Ann B)

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    1. Hi Lee-Ann, I feel the same way now, I admit, I hadn't read many before writing this one. Oh, and the HFN really is an HEA :)
      Merry Christmas, L

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  5. Leslie, welcome back! I love Christmas stories! And I've also struggled writing novellas. They end up taking me nearly as long to write as a full length book!

    I had to laugh about the sushi scene! I've had my own problems writing too many eating scenes. :)

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    1. Hi Missy, it's so nice to be back. I just flat out love Christmas, and I admit for all to see, I'd rather write a Christmas romance than watch Hallmark...now did you all pick yourselves off the floor? I love the older Christmas movies hands down. I agree about the time it takes, after all we develop plot character conflicts in these shorter books as well.

      Merry Christmas, L

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  6. What a great post Leslie. Thanks for visiting us in Seekerville today. I love to read Christmas novellas. I have tried writing a few - much harder than it looks. Thanks for the insights, especially about connecting to a series or longer book. Julie Lessman does this so well. Dream of Me this Christmas Eve will be on my reading list, for sure.

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    1. Hi Cindy, I hope you love Dream... it's going to be a sad day when I don't have another book in the series, so I'm going to create more characters in each book to lead it forward!! Yes Julie is a master at this. Merry Christmas, L

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  7. Leslie, welcome back! I love Christmas novels and novellas, too... I love writing them and reading them. They make me happy!

    Missy and Leslie, I remember Audra critiquing one of my novels years ago and she was SO NICE when she said..."all they do is eat. I think they need to do SOMETHING ELSE, Ruthy, my love..."

    And she was right!

    NO FOOD!!!!

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    1. Ruthy, that is sooooo funny, I can hear her right now. Happy is a wonderful feeling after you've read a book. I love to finish it with a sigh, a happy sigh.

      How about A LITTLE FOOD!! :)

      Merry Christmas, L

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  8. I love reading Christmas Novellas. I have a couple short stories with a Christmas theme. Thanks for sharing. I will have to check out your books.

    Everyone is preparing for a snow storm this weekend here in Western NC. The predictions are all over the place. I had a ride to Walmart Wed. night after prayer meeting and the store was already out of bread. The shelves were completely empty. I bought a package of rolls instead. I had to chuckle at the empty shelves.

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    1. Wilani, be safe in this storm, I can't believe the beating we've all taken this year with our weather. I'm glad you could chuckle at the empty shelves, I'm not sure I would have done that, but then getting mad doesn't work, so you're right. Chuckle and move on.

      Merry Christmas, L

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  9. Hey I need Christmas cookie after all this talk of food, did anyone bring some? Pass me one, please :)

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    1. I just finished baking Christmas butter cookies. Now for the chocolate dipping and sprinkles. I will save you one... (Lee-Ann B)

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  10. I love novellas and have wanted to write one, but have been too scared! It was cool to get a glimpse into your experience! I may get brave and try one next year. :)
    Now, to go check out your books!!!!

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    1. Sherrinda, somehow my reply is below, and not in the body of yours, sorry. ~L

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  11. Sherrinda, go for it. Frankly, a lot of my issues came from the fact that I was short on time. So start now, while the magic of Christmas is around you, then you have plenty of time to work through the kinks and get it out for next year. I know you can do this.

    I hope you enjoy Dream Of Me...

    Merry Christmas,
    L

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  12. Great post, Leslie, and yes, speaking from the vantage of more than half a dozen novellas, I can vouch for the fact that novellas aren't a piece of cake or a walk in the park. Just like full-length novels, they're a lot of work! Some might even argue they're harder to write than longer books, simply because you need to compress so much. Kudos to you for doing it and for planning to write another.

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    1. Thank you Amanda. They kinda get in your blood. But I need to start soon so I don't have this kind of rush again!

      Merry Christmas, L

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  13. Hi LA;

    A novella is simple to make. Just write a great novel and extract it down to its pure essence or quintessence.

    The hard part is giving up a great novel to get a superlative novella. It is somewhat like taking a perfect cappuccino and refining it down to a tiny one ounce cup of espresso.

    BTW: I went to Pasadena High School and I used to walk over and watch them spend months building those parade floats. They didn't look like much for months then, in a few days after the flowers came in, each became a floral Cinderella. The workers often asked if I wanted to volunteer to work on the floats.

    I think I have all your books and your Christmas novellas are my favorites. I think the cover art has also been a great help in commanding sales...each is a wonderland of wonderful looks.

    Can't wait to read the latest novella.

    Merry Christmas.

    Vince

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    1. Hi Vince, I've only seen the floats after the parade. Someday I plan on going early and staying a few days afterwards.

      Thank you for the kind words, I miss chatting with you.

      Merry Christmas, L

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  14. There is an art to writing a good novella, isn't there? Simplifying, streamlining, sorting. Some folks might think that because it's shorter, but shorter brings it's own challenges. Your novella sounds delightful! Merry Christmas!

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    1. Hi Erica, yes indeedy!! I hope you enjoy the book.

      Merry, Merry Christmas, L

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  15. I am totally impressed with everyone who writes novellas. It took me a while to figure out how to get my stories long enough to be novels. Now, I have trouble writing anything shorter than 65,000. Thanks for sharing your post.

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    1. LOL Amy. I hope you can write one if you ever decide to.

      Merry Christmas, L

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  16. I was trying to schedule my post for Monday and accidentally posted it today! I quickly pulled it down into a draft. But if anyone happened to see it before it disappeared, I apologize for any confusion! Leslie, I'm sorry I posted over your post briefly! :)

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    1. Too funny Missy. I didn't see it, so I'm sure there was no issue.
      Merry Christmas :) L

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  17. I'm not a writer but I can imagine how hard it would be to write a novella! You have to make the romance quicker, and make the story deep with less words. I can't even imagine having enough words in me to write a full length novel let alone a novella....yikes!

    I've read my share of novellas....some I loved, some not so much. The good ones are authors who know how to craft a story in just a few words and get the characters & scenery feeling real and making me invested in their lives. I don't read them often enough, but they are perfect for when I don't have a lot of time to devote to reading, or I just want a quick "bite". I bet its always nice to have another writer or editor come alongside you to help make your story shine.....short or long :-)

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    1. Hi Trixi,
      I so agree and I hope you'll find this in my novella. And during this crazy season, bite size reads are perfect.

      Merry Christmas, L

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  18. LA,I enjoyed reading your work. You are good at capturing the moment with words. I know more and more readers will enjoy your stories. Cheers

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    1. Hi Marilyn, thank you so much! And I hope you're right, I'd love to have a whole cadre of readers. Imagine having that many fans.
      Merry Christmas, L

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  19. Hi Leslie. I enjoy Christmas novellas because
    I sometimes am short on reading time during this season. Can you imagine? I look forward to reading Dream of Me This Christmas Eve.
    Merry Christmas!

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    1. LOL, nope just can't imagine it :) I hope you enjoy the novella.
      Merry Christmas, L

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  20. Leslie, I've never written a novella, but I know they're harder to write than a full-length novel. The best ones have been honed to tell the story with skill and precision and yet with the same heart and soul we expect of our characters in every book we read. I know with your love of writing and craftmanship, you have the ability to make it happen. And your previous novellas have proven it. I wish you much success and pray this story will touch as many people as possible. Many hugs, Donna

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    1. Donna, how incredibly sweet of you, and thank you. Maybe a novella will come from your new series????

      Merry Christmas, L

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  21. Leslie, please enter me in the drawing. I love Christmas novellas. I do think it would be hard to get everything needed in the word count. I also find for some reason that writing a good Christmas story is difficult for me at times. But I keep trying.

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    1. Sandy, please keep trying. It is hard, but once it's honed and edited it's so worth it. I hope you'll enjoy mine.

      Merry Christmas, L

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  22. Leslie thank you for sharing. As a reader, I appreciate learning what it takes for an author to create the stories I enjoy.

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    1. Wow, Caryl, once again my comment didn't nest under yours, sorry.

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  23. Hi Caryl, I love to share the highs and lows of this incredible career. I'm so glad you're interested in knowing the "behind the scenes" stuff that we writers go through.

    Merry Christmas, L

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  24. Leslie, I can so relate to this. After writing two 80,000 word novels I was asked to be part of a novella collection. 20,000 word should be a breeze. I finished the draft at 28,000 words and lost sleep trying to figure out how to rework and cut it down 8,000. God is ever faithful because I woke up one morning and knew what chapter to cut and where to trim that got me down to 24,000. My editor directed me how to trim it further. I'd write another novella now that I understand how to get in and get out and give the reader the swoon factor they always look for. Thanks for sharing Leslie.

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  25. Thank you for sharing your struggles with this novella. I don't read nearly as much as I should :( I've yet to read any of your works, but that will change! Have a Blessed Christmas!

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  26. Nicely done... Hi Audra! It was a pleasure meeting you. Leslie, you go girl!!!!

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