In Short…

Hi, everyone!  Today’s topic is one I wouldn’t have thought about before I had an ereader.   It’s short fiction–novellas and short stories.  The advent of ebooks makes it possible to buy one short story, one novella, not an entire anthology.  This was a boon to me because I usually found, in buying anthologies, that there was one story I didn’t like so much.  Sometimes I liked them all, but not every time.  

And sometimes there was only one story that interested me at all. Pay $6.99 for one novella or short story?  Um, no.  Not unless I like at least half of the stories in the collection.  But now I don’t have to make that choice.  I can buy the stories I know I want.

I can also try out a new author for not a lot of money or time, comparatively.  I’ve discovered several authors this way.  So today we’re going to look at short pieces I’ve enjoyed and my fellow bandits have liked.  Since people define novella and short story differently, I’ll give you page counts.

4963747The most recent novella I read was Barbara Monajem’s Under A New Year’s Enchantment.  The hero of this Regency tale (55 pages), Garrick, Lord Westerly, has recently returned from the war.  Grieving for his lost comrades, he has ordered no mistletoe placed in the house.  But he can’t avoid the post-Christmas celebrations entirely.  His aunt has decided he should marry and so has organized a house party without his permission.  The eligible young ladies she invites zero in on Garrick like expert riflemen.  And some of them don’t mean to play fair.

Desperate for relief from their pursuit, he turns to another guest, his longtime friend, Theodora Southern, for protection.  This is a lovely friends-to-lovers tale, with all the attendant qualms.  Should Garrick and Theodora see if they can be more than friends?  What will happen to their friendship if they fail?  

Complicating matters, his guests include an incubus and a succubus who are giving Garrick and Theodora erotic dreams that evoke their old and largely ignored attraction to each other.  The story may be short, but it has humor and emotion and heat, wonderful for this chilly weather.

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Suzanne Ferrell recommends The Accidental Duchess (79 pages) by Sandy Blair.  This winner of the Golden Quill and Barclay Awards for Best Novella, set in Victorian London and Scotland, features alpha Highlanders, history, humor, a chocolate cake recipe and romance.

Destitute governess Rachael O’Leary finds shelter during a blizzard in a shuttered London townhouse, knowing nothing of its owner or why it stands empty. Needing a few weeks of peace in order to sort out his financial problems and secure his childhood Highland home, Connor Kenroe, the Duke of Kilgory, returns to his closed London townhouse after a long sojourn in Egypt to find a lovely slip of a woman asleep in his bed. When his shocked mother and ex-fiancée arrive unexpectedly at the bedroom door, he spouts the first lie that comes to mind, trapping himself and his feisty trespasser in a complicated web of lies they now have to unravel.

 Suz says, “I love it because not only does he protect her with a lie, he falls in love with her over her chocolate cakes!”

Unknown-1One of the first novellas I read after I got my iPad was Sabrina Jeffries’ The French Maid.  In this shorter piece (33 pages), the wife of a career-obsessed politician learns some tricks from the title character, whose name is Babette.  Eleanor has some misgivings, but Babette’s suggestions help her draw Henry’s attention away from politics and enrich their lives.

The characters are deftly drawn, and the conflict is believable and sympathetic.  This was a great introduction to individual shorts.

Unknown-1Anna Campbell suggested “Lassie Go Home” by Connie Brockway from My Scottish Summer.

“I love novellas. I love how I can get my romance fix in around 100 pages. One of my favorite novellas is “Lassie Go Home” by Connie Brockway. And not just because the story centers around collies – I love collies almost as much as I love novellas. This story’s a real charmer. When American dog breeder Toni turns up in Scotland to pick up a dog, she discovers the owner hasn’t consented to the sale. And that the owner is brawny, charismatic, gorgeous Devlin.
 
“In the meantime, the dog has been kidnapped (dognapped?) and they join forces to track him down. You can pretty much guess where it goes from there, but my goodness, it’s a smile a minute with this one – and it’s very romantic too!”
 

Unknown-6Last fall, I enjoyed Halloween for a Heroine by my friend Eilis Flynn.  Sonika, a superheroine, is my favorite of Eilis’s characters.  This holiday tale (34 pages) finds Sonika on patrol during her first Halloween after assuming the responsibilities that go with her superpowers.  (She made her debut in Introducing Sonika, but this story stands alone.)

As Sonika walks the streets, her costume is inconspicuous in the gaily clad crowd.  It’s also very popular.  She keeps meeting people dressed in replicas of her outfit.  This isn’t just coincidence, and it presents her with a problem she has to solve to keep Halloween from becoming a disaster.  This story has mystery, action, and a fun holiday setting.

Unknown-2If you drop by here regularly, you know I’m a fan of Grace Burrowes’ historicals.  Her first books centered on the offspring of the Duke of Westmoreland.  The duke, Percival Windham, and his wife, Esther, were powerful but secondary characters.  Grace published a couple of novellas about their courtship and early marriage.  The first is aptly titled The Courtship (90 pages, and it has a different cover now)It’s a keen look at the social strata of the period.  Esther was at a distinct disadvantage among the wealthy young ladies of the ton, but she was the one who caught Percival’s eye.  This story tells us why.

It also offers a look at the duke and duchess that adds layers to them, but particularly to him.  It’s easier to understand his manipulations and scheming after reading this novella.  He wasn’t unsympathetic before, but he became much more likable after I read this novella.  The emotion is deep and the romance intense, as in all of Grace’s books.

Unknown-3Kate Carlisle says her favorite e-novella is Jennifer Lyon’s The Proposition (123 pages).  

“It’s so sexy and fun and suspenseful, a completely satisfying read. I fell in love and sympathized with the two main characters immediately. The hero Sloane is especially swoon-worthy. And the best part is that this is book one of a trilogy–although each novella can be read separately.”

Unknown-3One author I sampled through short fiction and then proceeded to gobble up was Laura Griffin.  I bought Unstoppable (112 pages), because it was romantic suspense and had archaeology and a Navy SEAL.  What’s not to like?  Except sometimes I can read a book and find nothing at all wrong with it, only I don’t quite connect to the author’s voice.  So I read an excerpt and decided to give this a try.

When archaeologist Kelsey’s dig turns into a murder investigation, her uncle, a SEAL, decides she needs some protection out there in the desert with just her excavation team.  He happens to have a SEAL he thinks needs some time away from the job.  So Gage comes to look after Kelsey, a situation that doesn’t delight either of them.

Despite their mutual distaste for the situation, they’re intensely attracted to each other.  And when the murder mystery becomes something even bigger, they find that they work well together.  The book has action, intrigue, and hot romance.  There’s an HEA, but Gage and Kelsey later got their own full-length book, Scorched.

 We have short fiction offerings here in the Lair, too.  Here’s a sample:

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 Winter Wife

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m working on another novella.  It’s called Sentinel and is part of the Light Mage Wars story arc.  The Protectors series (Renegade, Protector, and Guardian) is part of this overall story arc.  

Sentinel is a prequel, set before the events in Renegade.  It will be a March release.  

If you’re interested in reading it and will agree to post an honest review (the content is up to you) within two weeks of the release, email me:  nancy AT nancy northcott DOT com (no spaces), and I’ll send you a free copy.  If whether you can do this depends on what your life is like on the exact release date, but you want to get on the list as a possible reviewer (this offer is limited to the first 20 at this time), email me and let me know that.

I’ll send a Kindle or Nook download of Protector, which is only available in ebook  form, to one commenter today (US only-sorry!), so tell me:  If you read short fiction, what have you recently read and enjoyed, and what do you like about the short form.  If you don’t read short fiction, why don’t you?

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Comments

45 Comments

  • Jane says:

    Hello Nancy,
    I loved Jen’s “The Proposition,” too. I’ve also enjoyed a few of Laura’s short stories like “Nightfall” and “Surrender at Dawn.”

  • Amy Conley says:

    I read a novella right before I got sick, Elizabeth Boyles’s part of her Seldon/Dale, RHYMNES WITH LOVE series. I know I really liked it, but that’s all I can remember. Sorry this bug has been a monster and I’m still not 100%.

  • What a fun post, Nancy! I must say I’ve always had a soft spot for short stories and novellas. Some of my earlierst romantic reading was the English Women’s Weekly – my grandmother used to buy it for the knittingpatterns. They always serialised a Mills and Boon-style story and also had a short. Some of those were so lovely that I still remember them over 40 years later. Magazines here have pretty much given up publishing short stories which is such a pity so I’m so glad that there’s been a resurgence in shorter length romances.

    And thanks for all the recommendations!

    • Thanks, Anna. Your comment about English Women’s Weekly reminds me that my mom used to buy Redbook magazine, which always had short fiction in it. No serials, just short stories, some of them really short!

  • Tawny Weber says:

    Love the post, Nancy. Novellas are so great, and like you, I’m thrilled that so many are being released as stand alones.

    My favorite time to read novellas is the holidays-especially holiday stories 😀 There is usually just enough time to read one before the craziness ensues again, and it’s a wonderful treat.

    I have a few novellas on my keeper shelf. Every year, Nora Roberts used to release a paranormal in an anthology. I’m sure I read the other stories, but its always hers I return to again and again 🙂

    • Thanks, Tawny! I really love holiday novellas. They’re perfect for those snatches of available time during all the madness.

      Those J.D. Robb anthologies, I generally enjoy. I buy them for the Eve Dallas stories, but I’ve also liked the others.

  • Helen says:

    Nancy

    What a great post and I too enjoy short stories or nevellas sometimes life is so busy and short read it jsut the thing to help I recently read Rachael John’s The Kissing Season set in a beachside town in Western Australia and it has a bit of everything in it a secret baby a black sheep and a very sensual romance I really enjoyed this one.

    Have Fun
    Helen

  • Heathercm2001 says:

    I’ve never really thought about it, but I guess I have not read a lot of short fiction. I’ve read stuff that goes with series that I really like. I’ve also read a couple of stories that were released in small parts. I don’t know why I’ve never read short fiction on its own, but I think I might have to give it a try. Thank you for letting me know I’ve been missing out on something wonderful!

    • Heather, I checked out short fiction in ebook format because I had a conversation with someone in the industry who said he thought standalone shorts might be one of the results of having ebooks. He put the bee in my bonnet, so to speak.

      When my only choice was print anthos, I generally read only shorts that tied into series I already liked. Having to buy the bundle made me leery.

      Glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Diana Huffer says:

    I haven’t read any short fiction for quite a while. However, I do read it and have a few loaded on my Kindle-for-PC. I love reading them on occasion because they are face-paced and a refreshing break.

  • Caren Crane says:

    Nancy, I tend to gobble up novellas at Christmas, since I adore holiday stories and Christmas seems to be a very popular setting for novellas!

    This holiday season, I read Anna Campbell’s The WinterWife for the second time. Once wasn’t enough! Then I moved on to A Grosvenor Square Christmas, also featuring Anna, and thoroughly enjoyed all the stories.

    I read the anthology of novellas by Regan Black, Kimberly Hope and V R Marks called A Season For Romance – highly recommended!

    I enjoyed Sarra Cannon’s NA novella A Season For Hope. Very emotional story, which I loved. I downloaded Mary Jo Putney’s The Christmas Cuckoo, but haven’t read it yet. Really looking forward to it, because I love Mary Jo’s writing and haven’t indulged in a while!

    Novellas are perfect for trying new authors, as you said, and also for getting a “fix” of favorite authors while waiting for the next full-length novel. I adore them and plan to put out two this year, both set in my fictional community of Cross Springs, NC. 😀

    • Caren, I also love holiday novellas. I agree that The Winter Wife was great! I didn’t get to the Grosvenor Square anthology, alas, though I do have it, but I will before the winter ends.

      I love Cross Springs, so I think shorts are a great idea!

    • Caren, you know, The Govesnor Square series was the first one that I thoroughly enjoyed ALL the stories. Read them one right after the other!

  • Debbie Oxier says:

    I read it if it’s a favorite author or a topic I am extremely interested in. Also, if it is part of a series I have been reading then I will spend the money. At Christmas I read a few novellas. I don’t dislike them, but if they turn out to be very good then it’s always disappointing they aren’t longer. Just read Chance For Love by Marie Force because it was part of her McCarthys of Gansett Island series. In this case, I had already built the main character up in my mind and was very disappointed at the length of his story and its resolution. However, if I hadn’t read it, I wouldn’t have known what was going on with him in the next book. 🙁

    • Debbie, I know what you mean about wishing things were longer! I tend to prefer longer, meatier books in general. One thing I like about shorts is that they let the authors fill in gaps between books.

      I really, really hate it, though, when the author puts something that’s essential to understanding the next book in a novella. I might not mind it so much now that I can buy the novellas as standalones, but I stopped reading one series because the author put critical character and story developments in novellas that were bundled with others I had no interest in reading. I felt as though I were being forced to buy the novella or be confused. And that irritated me. I wouldn’t have minded if she’d just put a couple of sentences in the books to fill me in on what I’d missed. But she didn’t, so I was done.

      I’ve taken that as a lesson, not to put anything that’s crucial in a novella and not also touch on it in the book. There’s nothing in Protector you have to know to read Guardian, and there won’t be anything in Sentinel you have to know to read the other books.

  • Deb says:

    Nancy, I really enjoy reading novellas and anthology collections. I like a quick read that can give me a romance fix, especially after reading a longer story or novel. I have read many in the last few months. I enjoyed the anthology of A Grosvenor Square Christmas and At The Duke’s Wedding. I like how the characters wove in and out of each story in some way. Thank you for the suggestions of other novellas!

    • Deb, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! I also enjoy the ability to get an entire story in a fraction of the time a book takes. Connected stories with crossover characters always appeal to me, whether it’s in short fiction or novels. I think that’s why I like series so much.

  • Jeanne Adams says:

    Hey Nancy! I didn’t used to like the shorter stories much, preferring something with some meat to it. Grins. However, as busy as I’ve become w/ kids and life and so on, sometimes it’s great to have a novella or novellet to pick up and devour in one sitting. I also have come to like anthologies for the same reason you mentioned – I know I’ll like ONE of the authors, and may find a new author to enjoy!!

    • Jeanne, I used to have a book for the carpool line. I’d read a chapter or two while waiting for the bell to ring and the doors to open, but that creates a jagged reading experience. If only standalone novellas and short stories had been available during that stage of my life!

  • bn100 says:

    Don’t really read them; prefer longer books

  • Eilis Flynn says:

    Nancy, what a great post! And thank you for the mention of HALLOWEEN FOR A HEROINE. I’ve always liked the short story form — it’s a fun challenge to write — and since Sonika is a comic book heroine, the succinct nature of the short story just seems to work with her!~

  • Nancy,

    I love the ability to buy one novella length book now. Like you, I always found one story I loved in an anthology, one that was okay, and one that was a stinker!

    I’m giggling over the comments I made about Sandy’s novella, THE ACCIDENTAL DUCHESS. While I do like the hero’s honor to protect the heroine and his falling in love with her over her chocolate cakes, it’s really Sandy’s story telling that always draws me into her stories, even a short one like this. Her characters have depth and there’s alway shots of humor throughout, as well as a really developed romance between the hero and heroine.

    If you haven’t read THE ACCIDENTAL DUCHESS, y’all really should. It’s an enjoyable afternoon read!

  • Cassondra says:

    Nancy, I used to never read novellas. I’d gotten so many that I didn’t enjoy, and as you say, you had to get an anthology and maybe get only one good story out of it.

    But I’m being won over to the shorter stories now that I can get them as standalones. Sometimes a shorter read just fits the purpose–for a plane ride, a wait in an airport, sitting with someone in a hospital, etc.

    These all look like excellent choices, and I’m glad to have this list to pick from. The last one I read was probably Anna Campbell’s The Winter Wife and I absolutely loved it. I enjoyed Protector too. Such a fantastic story. Can’t wait for your release of Sentinel Your Light Mages are one of my favorite series.

  • Joan Kayse says:

    I bow in the general direction of those who can write “short”….about tall heroes… :0

    I enjoy novella’s connected to series. One that comes to mind is Into the Dreaming by Karen Marie Moning. I LOVE this author!

    As a writer, I’m making my first baby step into novella land. A as yet untitled Roman novella connected to The Patrician series.

    I just need to make sure that I leave enough room for cats 😀

  • Nancy, thank you so much for mentioning my novella. I love both writing and reading short romances. In either case, the Happily Ever After comes quickly. 🙂

    I still buy anthologies as a way to find new authors. Usually I make sure there is at least one author I like in the anthology so I’ll be sure of one good read, as well as hopeful for several more.

    A great thing about e-novellas is that they can be sold as an e-anthology OR separately, such as Harlequin is now doing with their new Gothic series, Shivers. They are offering them as a bundle at first and separately a few months later. The best of both worlds! 🙂

  • Jo Robertson says:

    I used to love short stories when I was young, Nancy, for the most apparent reason that I WAS young and they held my attention nicely. I think one of the most brilliant s/s ever written was Somerset Maughm’s “Appointment in Samarra,” which is so short it’s almost a parable!

    I later evolved to longer works of fiction, but still enjoy the occasional novella. Sometimes you just want a quick, short work to finish in a single sitting.

    • Jo, I read short stories in science fiction when I was in college. ( Isaac Asimov was especially prolific.) I never made the leap to shorts in general, though, until recently.

  • Great post, Nancy, and thanks for the novella suggestions. I normally prefer to read full novels, but holiday anthologies or anthologies around an event ( a ball, a snowstorm, etc) really appeal to me. They enable me to read a complete story on breaks at work. During the holidays that is a special advantage as I tend to be interrupted more during those weeks.

    I haven’t tried to write a short, but I have a sneaky suspicion I wouldn’t do well at it. I tend to be long-winded in basic novels, I can’t imagine how long my “shorts” would be! LOL