I started reading Harlequin at a very early age. Too early, in fact, for my mother, who banned the books for a few years until she realized her efforts were futile. I quickly graduated from Harlequin Romance to Harlequin Presents, and then dove right into the meaty, bodice-ripper historicals of the eighties. Loved 'em all. The bigger (and sexier) the better--Laurie McBain was my favorite. I wanted sweeping epics that took me to multiple locales, and stories where the heroine had more than one lover/husband. (Anyone else a Bertrice Small fan from the early Skye O'Malley days?)
When I started writing a couple of years ago, I turned immediately to the historicals of my memory. But, of course, you can't go back. I found that not only was the market not there any more, but I had changed, too. I now enjoyed a faster read--stories with dialogue, not description, and smaller packages that I could finish in one or two gym sessions on the exercise bike. But I worked my way through those first couple of books, struggling to fill up the space for a single title historical.
I hadn't considered category until I started reading category books written by friends from my local RWA chapter. I thought I was being polite, reading their stuff. I realized that these books were incredibly fun--and perfect for my post-college, post-babies, multi-tasking, short attention span.
So I gave it a try--and loved writing short. I recently finished a draft of a manuscript I'm targeting to Harlequin Blaze. And if category wasn't short enough, I found there are tons of short stories out there, particularly accessible via e-pubs who offer them at a few dollars a pop. I wrote a short story for Highland Press which will be coming out sometime in the next few months, and I'm now working on something for eSpice, which is taking me days to finish, not months.
So I'm loving the new shorts, and I don't think I'm the only one. I hear from publishers that single title books are getting shorter all the time. Other short attention-spans out there, I guess.
What about you? Do you read or write shorts? Prefer the sweeping epics of old? Do you feel confined by work count, or do you struggle to fill the pages?