Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Short People

by Anna Campbell

Am I showing my age if I mention the song Short People by Randy Newman? For those of less advanced years, here's a link to the video:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=1NvgLkuEtkA

I must say I got a shock when I saw it went all the way back to 1977!

I suppose you could say this is sort of a follow-up post to the big fat books one. But 'short' is on my mind right now because, shock, horror, pain, agony, I have to write a short story this month.

Short does not come easily to me. Sheesh! I have trouble restricting myself to the 400 pages that Avon allow me to tell a story. Every book I've written has come out at least twice as long in its first draft. So with restricting myself to 100,000 words proving tough, you can imagine how I feel faced with something only a few pages long. Ouch!

In May, I had the pleasure of seeing my first published short story. I wrote short stories in my long, LONG writing apprenticeship. I entered them in contests with variable results - generally if it was a romance, I did OK. But the length always felt unnatural, especially as my ideas are usually complicated enough to last a whole novel.

Anyway, the Australian Women's Weekly took on LADY KATE'S SCOUNDREL and I got a nice Regency illustration to go with it. I suspect the artist had seen the BBC PRIDE AND PREJUDICE - the hero has a definite whiff of Mr. Darcy about him, hasn't he?

By the way, you can read LADY KATE here. The wonderful people at Avon Australia have put it on their website.

On a personal note, I got a real thrill from the AWW gig. The magazine is an institution here in Oz and my late mother would have got such a kick out of her daughter being in the Weekly. I mean, you can keep your publishing contracts from New York. You've REALLY made it if you're in the Women's Weekly! I knew Mum was somewhere chortling!


Which brings me back to my current short story project. On Monday, some good news became official. CLAIMING THE COURTESAN has finaled in the Romantic Book of the Year Award here in Australia. The R*BY is our equivalent of the RITA and is open to all romances published in 2007 written by an Australian or a New Zealander. There are two awards, one for category romance and one for mainstream. They make a lovely fuss of you - the finalists are announced in another huge magazine here called The Woman's Day and we have a big awards night at our conference in August where the trophies are presented.

As a finalist, I also have the opportunity to write a romantic short story for The Woman's Day. LADY KATE came in just over 4,000 words. This time, I have to restrict myself to 1,500 words. How tough is that? But it's fantastic publicity for me and my writing so I can't say no. And anyway I enjoy a challenge - at least when I've surmounted it, LOL.

Wish me luck! And I'll let you all know when the story hits the presses.

In the meantime, writers, do you write long or short? Are there advantages you can see to either approach? Readers, do you enjoy romantic short stories? My mother, who was a lifelong romance reader, used to hate them because she just got interested and it was over! Does anyone have any favorite short stories - romantic or not? Are there times when you think short is BETTER?

Also, make sure you check out the Eloisa James/Julia Quinn charity auction. It's for a really great cause and some wonderful items are up for grabs.

Please let me know if you haven't read CTC. I'm giving away a signed copy to celebrate the great news about the R*BY!

108 comments:

Jennifer Y. said...

Congrats!!!

I love short and long stories...as long as they feel complete...does that make sense? I want a realistic conclusion...and I know they are short so it is hard to fit everything you want in, but I want them to feel complete and not rushed. I don't like feeling like I missed something once I finish it.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Congrats on the GR AGAIN, Jennifer!

And SUPER CONGRATS to Foanna on getting the FAB R*BY nomination! Yet another kudo for CTC! Wish I could be DownUnder in Aug. to cheer you on, but I'll have to content myself with cheering in San Francisco at the Rita awards. Obviously you didn't write that one too long nor too short, m'dear, but JUST RIGHT!

In the world of Single Title, I actually tend to write "short" that is if you can call a 364 page manuscript short. :-P Waaay back in the day (about the same time Randy Newman wrote Short People) I wrote a few short stories. Not sure I could do it now, so you have my admiration on that too, Fo.

flchen1 said...

Ooh, congrats, Jennifer Y! So, does the GR like short stories?

Anna, I agree with Jennifer--I've really enjoyed some short stories, and found others very frustrating (like your mom probably did--if the story's just getting going, and then, blam, "then they lived happily ever after"--I just HATE that!) But I hate that sort of abrupt end to any stories I read!

Anyway, I mostly like them, I think because I don't always have the time to enjoy longer stories, and I can fit something short in its entirety into the time I have instead of being really annoyed that I have to stop at some really good part and go help the little guy use the potty again or fix something for dinner ;)

Plus, sometimes in anthologies, they're a fun way to get a taste of different writers, and then I'll go find their longer books and enjoy those when I've got more time or patience with being interrupted.

Oh, and when I first saw the title, I thought you were going to be talking about being vertically challenged, because uh, yep, that's something I can definitely relate to :)

flchen1 said...

Oh, and just popped over to read your short story and quite liked it--very nicely done in such a few words!

And congrats on R*BY! Woohoo!! (And I would love a signed copy of CTC... ;))

Jane said...

Congrats, Anna and good luck on the R*by. That's a pretty award. I usually prefer reading long stories. I prefer my books to be 300-400 pages. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a short story and I'll pick up a category romance, usually around 180 pages.

Minna said...

Congrats, Anna!

I love both short and long stories, but the longer the better. And if the story continues in another book, so much the better.

I would love a copy of CTC! =)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Jennifer! The chook returns to his true love ;-) Actually he's been a bit of a handful lately. Don't let him run TOO wild!

Thanks for the congrats! That's a serious bit of red glass you get to take home if you win!

I know exactly what you mean about a rushed short story. I've been thinking about what I'll do with the one I've got ahead of me. 1,500 words isn't very long. I think it's basically going to have to just be one scene.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Aunty Cindy! Thanks for the congrats. Must say I've been wandering around with a big smile on my face ever since I heard! Wish you could be down with us when the announcement is made! Seriously, if anyone is thinking of travelling to Oz, we always have our conference in August and it's great fun and we love overseas guests.

Short stories are tough, aren't they? A friend of mine said she missed the emotional complexity she expects from me when she read Lady Kate. I've got to say I snorted. 105,000 words compared to 4,000? What did she expect? I must say I had a soft spot for the hero, though. It was nice to write a man who wasn't as tortured as my guys usually are!

Anna Campbell said...

Fedora, I think that's what Mum objected to in a short story. Everything was tied up so quickly, she didn't get a chance to experience the emotional journey. I on the other hand enjoy them, if they're done reasonably well. Like you, I like the fact that I can read two or three before I go to sleep at night without worrying about staying up all night to find out what happened. And it's a nice way to taste an author's style, sort of dip your toe in the water. I find novellas are great for that too. Although with novellas, I find if I really, really like them, I want a whole book because I want to spend that time with the characters.

How tall are you? I'm only 5 feet two. My brother used to sing Short People to me to get a rise out of me. He's six foot six, you see. Grrr! He could have given me a few inches off his height and not missed them!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Fedora, you're now on the prize list. I just thought I should check with people because I know a lot of our regulars already have CTC. And thanks for checking out the story! Glad you enjoyed it. And also thanks for the R*BY congrats.

Jane, I know what you mean about a category romance. Often, they're just what I feel like. And I can read them in a couple of hours so I find they fit in with my hectic life. I'm a terror if I get a book I'm really enjoying - I won't move even if the house is burning down around me.

Hey, Minna! Don't you have CTC either? Well, you're definitely on the list too! Good luck! Thanks for the congrats. There's something lovely about getting the recognition in your home country.

Annie West said...

Hi Anna, and again, mega congratulations on the R*BY nomination!

Can't wait to see how you go restricting yourself to such a short word count. I can't imagine it.

Like you I tend to write long then have to slash and burn to get somewhere near an acceptable word count. My foray into short stories didn't last long. It was reasonably successful but it just wasn't me. Having said that, one of the pieces of my writing that I'm most proud of is a very short story. But for a change I managed to get an idea that was just right for that short length.

Some short stories leave me cold, often because the idea is too big for the length. But on the other hand, as you and I have discussed, some long books have had the same effect when they end with a subplot out of nowhere that must surely have been added to make up the wordcount. Whether its a short story, category length, single title or massive saga - I'm happy to read so long as it's well written.

Annie

Annie West said...

Anna, I've only just had time to go back to yesterday's blog and read the rest of the comments. Wasn't it fun? But I'm killing myself laughing. Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic yes - it's a fragrant delicacy. But 1,000 cloves? If you want me to cook that for you it'll be outdoors and you can sleep on the verandah in the hammock!

Annie

Eva S said...

Congrats Anna!
Lady Kate was great for a short one and I'm sure you can do someting interesting with only a few words!

Usually I don't like short stories, I agree with your mother! I want more, I want to get to know the characters better, laugh and cry with them and enjoy the settings. That's not possible in short ones, if I want short I read the daily newspaper...

My CTC isn't signed but perhaps when your new book arrives...

Amy Andrews said...

Hey Anna - congrats from one shorty to another. Go you on our most prestigious award!!! Fabulous news!! Couldn't happen to a nicer person or a better writer.

Short or long - doesn't bother me. As long as the story's good then I'm fine with the word length. Can also write both ways which I guess is a bit of a plus.
Now if only I had an idea for the novella I'm supposed to be writing at the moment.....

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, sadly as you signed on as my critique partner for the entire voyage, you're going to have to read my SHORT short story. No whingeing from the ranks, thank you!

Thanks for the congrats. You know how excited I am about this!

I think you're right - if it's well written, it doesn't really matter how long it is. But I admire people who can really get that emotional punch in a shorter length. That's one of the things I particularly admire about your writing. I don't know how you manage so much oomph in only 180 pages!

Gosh, you people! All I want is my 1,000 cloves and yet the Banditas are threatening to throw me out into the snow and you won't give me your spare room. You can tell who your friends are when the chips are down!

Anna Campbell said...

Eva, I think you and my mum would have got on like a house on fire ;-) And watch this space - there will be contests for a signed copy of Tempt the Devil, never you fear!

Amy, I so admire your versatility. I tend to gasbag on and on. Although I think of my process like making a really good stew. You know, you start with lots and lots of liquid that you reduce down until you get a strong flavor. Hope I'm not kidding myself ;-) Good luck with the novella. When you've done that, perhaps you can write my short story for me! And thanks for that lovely congratulations!

Keira Soleore said...

Foanna, what wonderful, fabulous news!! (And that photo? A keeper. I saved it. Aren't you cute?)

Congratuations, not only on finaling in the RBY, but also having a short stoy published, and have a new short contracted. 1500 words--six pages--imo is so very tough. Are you staying within the Regency period for this one?

Congrats to JenniferY for safe-housing the GR.

Natalie Hatch said...

Hello Anna,
You've got rascals on the brain don't you? Great story, waiting for the next *g*
Nat

Annie West said...

Anna, I was expecting to see your short short story. Wouldn't miss it for quids!

Laughing at you thinking 180 pages is short - I live with a teenage son who thinks writing anything longer than a paragraph a chore. But getting down to 180 pages is soooo hard sometimes.

Sheesh! I cook you great food (well, OK food) and all you do is get finicky and demand more. In fact, if you want 1000 cloves of garlic I think we might do it on a fire well away from the house. Maybe at the lake. That's about a mile away. And we can string up the hammock there between some trees just for you...

Annie

Anna Campbell said...

Keira, what a lovely thing to say about the photo. It was taken at the Sydney afternoon tea with Anna Campbell gig. The local office of Avon ran a contest where people could have afternoon tea with me (I have afternoon tea with me all the time and it's not that exciting, but I didn't tell them that!). Anyway, the Sydney one turned out to be morning tea WITH CHAMPAGNE. So the definite lean and the rather misty smile can be explained by the fact that I was imbibing alcohol at 10am!!!

Thanks for the congrats. I'm going to do another Regency story - it's meant to be a teaser for my books so I don't want to wander too far away from what I do usually.

Anna Campbell said...

Natalie, I do like a good rascal! ;-) Thanks for checking out the story. I'm really glad you like it.

Actually when I visit you, you DO cook me great food, Annie. Laughed at the spare bedroom suddenly becoming a hammock by the lake. It's the middle of winter!!! I'm starting to feel like the Little Match Girl!

Anna Campbell said...

Minna, did you see the prize post just below this one? I think you might be interested ;-)

Helen said...

Congrats Jennifer

Huge congratulations Anna so well deserved totaly agree Womans Weekly and Womans Day are such an institution here in Australia and I loved Lady Kates Scoundrel. I do prefer a long story and can see what your Mum was saying my Mum used to say the same thing just get into it and it finishes but I do like a short story sometimes especially when I know I have a lot of things to do and can't sit too long reading LOL.
Often Authors put short stories up on their web pages and some of them are really good.
Jenna Petersen did a you tell me the story and she would write the first chapter and give 3 senerios for us to choose what happened next and they are excellent.
Great post Anna and best of luck in the contest you have my vote

Have Fun
Helen

Margay said...

For some odd reason, I don't get into short stuff, either as a reader or a writer. I've tried my hand at both (reading and writing it), but I prefer the long stuff. I guess I'm just one of those people who likes to invest in things for the long run! I haven't had a chance to read CTC yet, but would love to - it is on my ever-increasing, long tbr list!

Anna Campbell said...

Thanks, Helen! I'll let you know when the story goes up. I agree about a short story fitting the bill sometimes but I must say I really like something I can sink my teeth into, both as a writer and a reader.

Thanks for the congratulations! This is really exciting!

Margay, you're on my prize list too. Which I think is a lot shorter than your TBR list ;-)

Margay said...

Anna, all I can say is thank goodness I love to read!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Congrats Anna! I already have CTC, not signed of course but better someone get it that hasn't read it. I share your mother's opinion to a degree. There are several short stories that really should have run longer, the story just wasn't quite done. I do however read a lot of them in anthologies but that is how I picked up new authors. You could just tell they had a lot more to say.
Congrats Jennifer on the GR, is he behaving himself? He is generally a little wild and wooly when he has been with p226.

Helen said...

Anna
Where is the conference being held I would love to be a fan cheering you on that would be so much fun

Have Fun
Helen

PJ said...

What a lovely photo, Anna. You look filled with joy!

Congratulations on finaling! That award is gorgeous and I'm sure would be lovely in your home. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you.

I'm one of the few people on Earth who hasn't ready CTC. Not that I don't want to. I do! I just haven't. Yet! ;)

I grew up listening to my dad read us the short stories of James Thurber so I have a fondness in my heart for the shorts. Back in my younger years, before I carried a romance novel everywhere with me, I enjoyed reading the short stories in women's magazines. They made great reading while waiting in doctor's office and such - just the right length for a quick, satisfying read before being called back to see the doc. Wait times were much shorter in those days too. ;)

Deb Marlowe said...

Congrats, Anna!

1500 words? Ugh. I've had longer grocery lists. :-)

Good luck and best wishes for bringing home the award!

Buffie said...

Congrats to you Anna!!!! I just love it when people I just adore get recognized for their outstanding work. You deserve this and so much more!

I can't wait to read thes short story and I'll be keeping my fingers and toes crossed that you will that big award.

Kirsten said...

Congratulations Anna! We are so proud of you!! It's an absolutely fabulous thing to watch someone so talented and so deserving rise to fame. Couldn't be happier about all your success.

As for that short story -- I tend to write short in general, so short story doesn't intimidate me the same way, but 1500 words is REALLY SHORT!! You'd really have to narrow the story's focus, wouldn't you? I mean, can't go from first time they meet to HEA in 1500 words, can you? Sounds like a great challenge to me!

Have fun (and OF COURSE I've read CTC! I want a copy of the magazine with the short story. Why don't you put one of those up for grabs?)

Christie Kelley said...

Great post, Anna. I tend to write longer too. But a few years ago I decided to write a novella (erotic novella) for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to see if I could write short and since erotica was so hot (no pun intended), I wanted to see if I could write it.

Turns out I could do both. I have to admit that writing short was harder (again no pun intended) than writing the erotica. I really had to plot the story out because I knew the plot couldn't be very complex.

Personally, I like reading either length. When life gets really busy (like when isn't it), I do enjoy a shorter story because I can get through it faster. It gives me that sense of accomplishment.

Tiffany Kenzie said...

Congrats and good luck on the R*BY!

I love short stories. I've written one, so far... but wow on only 1500-4000 words. My kind of short is like shoving as much as I can in about 16-20K

I thought you were going to be talking vertically challenged too, when I opened it up :)

jo robertson said...

Anna, so glad you explained about the R*BY for us Yanks. What an honor to final! Congrats on that and being asked to write the short story. Wow, 1500 words is shorter than short, isn't it?

I write short and then I edit long. By that, I mean my "dump" version is just that -- getting it all down in black and white, so to speak, before my memory fails and that wonderful spark of an idea I initially had fades. Then when I revise I usually add about 10,000-15,000 words as I flesh out the story.

Hemingway is one of the best examples of writing short, especially his short story "Hills Like White Elephants," written in the 20's about a man and woman discussing an abortion. But the word itself is never mentioned. Hemingway's a master, of course, and you have to look for what he DOESN'T say or rather what you can infer from a single word or action. Pretty amazing.

jo robertson said...

Oops, forgot to congratulate Jennifer on capturing the Golden Rooster. Way to go!

LOL, Flchen1, I thought Anna was going to talk about height too. In my family of nine, I'm the shortest person and I'm tired of getting a kink in my neck from looking up at everyone!

Wow, Anna, how'd you get a 6'6" bro when you're such a bit of a thing? Weird gene distribution, huh?

I used to love short stories -- the time factor, I think -- but now I prefer long, very long, lovely books that take time to finish. Of course, well-written too!

Virginia said...

Hi Anne, congrats on the R*BY. I enjoy short stories and long ones as long as the story is completed. Sometimes I am just in the mood to read something short. I really enjoy anthologies,because you get a little taste of different authors.

M. said...

As a writer, I tend toward the wordy. None of my critiques partners has EVER said 'You know, you could expand on this point some more....' It's very hard to cut back the words that took so long to come out of my brain in the first place, I usually have to do it in layers, like peeling an onion. And yes, I cry that more layers come off!

As a reader, I tend to look at short stories as a way to get a taste of authors I don't know yet. I've found some favorite new authors via their novellas in anthologies, but also decided to avoid the full-length novels of others due to being underwhelmed by their novellas.

Congratulations on being a candidate for book of the year! It is on my TBR list based on my trust in two of your biggest fans.

Susan Seyfarth said...

Anna! Congrat on the R*BY nomination! Nothing surprising there, as we all know CTC is a fantastic read, but an honor nonetheless. I will now take a moment to bask in the reflected glow of your glory.

Mmmmmm.

Okay, moving on. :-)

Congrats, Jennifery Y on the GR! Take good care of him. Be extra nice, though, because I believe he spent some time with P226 recently, which always leaves him dirty & exhausted. And, I suspect, hung over, though he doesn't say much about what goes on over there. :-)

As for the long/short debate (is it just me or does that sound dirty?) I can't write short to save my life. Ask my long suffering critique partner Kirsten. Like you, Anna, my ideas only come in one flavor: complicated. It takes a good 400 pages to sort it all out, then I have to make it all make sense, which is another couple hundred pages...

And writing symposes? Gah. Ninth circle of hell. I so envy people with a nice, clean, linear thought process.

Donna MacMeans said...

Congrats again Anna on the nomination. Fingers crossed that you'll bring home the statue.

I just finished a short story for a 2009 anthology called Tails of Love. All the writers and agents have agreed to donate their royalties to the Animal Adoption Foundation. Watch for info in the coming year.

However, writing short is tough. You don't have much time to get a full beginning, middle, and end in there. I would say I write fairly tight, my novels tend to be considerably less than 100,000 words - but still I struggle with packing it all in there *g*.

Good Luck with your short, Anna

Terry Odell said...

I think it was Mark Twain who said he wrote such long speeches because he didn't have time to write short ones.

Short stories are HARD. I usually need about 75K words to get going.

But I HAVE written short stories. I started writing short stories, thinking that was how you were supposed to do it. My mentor at the time said, "You have a beginning, a middle, and more middle. END THIS THING!"

My shortest is more a vignette told first from "his" POV, then from "hers" (because I couldn't decide.) I think the whole thing is about 1800 words.

My romance short stories are with The Wild Rose Press.

On a whim, I tried a mystery short story, a totally different venture, and was about 6K words into it when I checked the submission guidelines, which said max of 8K. Yikes! Had to go back and cut a lot. And, sigh, yesterday I got the very polite rejection. But I only submitted it to one anthology magazine, and it was the biggie in the field. I'll probably try sending it to a few more places before abandoning it.

I think for a short to work, you have to cut away absolutely everything that doesn't move the plot, and no sub-plots, secondary character arcs. Tell your story and go home.

louisa said...

WOOOOHOOOOO! More kudos for CTC!! And rightly so. I am so thrilled for you, La Campbell! And that is definitely a nice piece of hardware that I fully expect to see you carry home in August. Now I have to put the Australia Conference on my "Bucket List."

I don't think I could write a short story. I tend to go on and on an on. I mean Lost in Love came in at 116,743 words for goodness sake! Yes, I will be snipping away at it for a while.

I know your Mum is smiling down at you for your big "debut." Those women's magazines are a very big deal in my Mom's house!

I have always admired those short story writers whose work I first read in high school - Edgar Allan Poe, O. Henry (The Gift of the Magi is a romance story!) William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily (a bit macabre, but a love story of sorts)

What a lovely photo of you, La Campbell! You look the picture of Spring, so to speak.

louisa said...

Congrats on the GR, Jennifer. That fickle bird just keeps coming back to you!

jennybrat said...

Congratulations on finaling! Good luck with the award and writing the short!

Joan said...

Major congrats on the R*BY, Ms. Anna! This is your year for well deserved accolades!

And I'm right there with you on the 5' 2". Recently I went to the doctor's. The med tech was doing the whole weigh and measure thing, just chatting away about how women of a *certain* age lose height.

I all but grabbed her by the collar, looked her in the eye and said emphatically...I. Am. Not. Shrinking.

I refuse to.

As to the 1,000 garlic? You can crash at my house....My allergies keep me smelling much of anything
:-)

jennybrat said...

Can someone tell me what's the GR?

Pat Cochran said...

Congratulations to Ms. Anna, In my books you are the sure winner! With everyone else, I will await
the good news in August!

I agree that short stories are over
too soon. They are best for me when
I only have a short time to invest
in reading. I keep a stack of varied anthologies for those occasions.

Ms. Anna, shame on me, I have not
read Courting The Courtesan!

Congratulations, Jennifer Y!!

Pat Cochran

MsHellion said...

I write long. Or medium long. My plots aren't convoluted enough to qualify for 400 pages (though I do try); and my stories aren't clever enough to only be 1500 words.

I don't read short romance stories. (I don't like to read anthologies much either--it feels too rushed and not really believable. Like I came into a CBS drama in the middle of it. Sure I know what's going on and catch up, but it's the same as being there in the beginning as well.)

BUT I do like the occasional short story. I love O. Henry. The Gift of the Magi, The Ransom of Red Chief... I love him. And I love Mark Twain's quirkier short stuff, like the Diaries of Adam and Eve.

Christie Kelley said...

Anna!!! I forgot to say congratulations on the nomination. Not enough coffee this morning.

kimmyl said...

Congrats!!!!
I love short or long stories. Long stories more b/c you get more of a feel to them. You get to know the character instead of reading about them. And if the story turns into a series all the better.

terrio said...

Jennybrat - GR stands for Golden Rooster. The first commenter of the day gets to take him home (virtually of course) and keep him until the next day. He can be loads of fun or a real handful. Depends on who had him the day before. *gives pointed look to p226*

Big congrats on the R*BY! WTG!!! RITA and R*BY in the same year. Talk about hitting it big when you finally hit. All deserved though this is where I confess, I haven't read it. *hangs head in shame* I did read the second one and if I were to get this one in the mail, all signed and pretty, I'd read it first thing. Promise.

I prefer to read long but am better at writing short. As AC can tell you, description is not my forte so anything that lets me get to the stuff I am good at, all the better I say. I wrote a short story of about 13K and enjoyed writing it very much. However, 1500 words? Yeah, that's REALLY short. Good luck with that.

I'll get over there to read the short as soon as I get a chance.

Susan Crandall said...

Oh, my Anna, a SHORT story! I admire your courage. I too need every last one of the 400 pages to tell a story.

Let me add my congrats on the nomination.

terrio said...

BTW - am I the only one wondering how you pronounce R*BY? LOL! Is it ruby?

Esri Rose said...

Anna, huge congrats on the R*BY nom!!!

I don't write all that long myself (320 pages tends to be my length), but short stories require a skill that I've never mastered. To me, reading a good short story is like watching a really good magic trick. When someone can make realistic characters, give them a riveting conflict in a short time and then resolve it satisfactorily, I want to stand up and applaud!

I'm sure the Women's Weekly gig is going to get you bunches of new readers. I agree with your late Mom -- that's a big deal. :)

Gillian Layne said...

Huge congrats on all those awards, Anna! :)

Long is good cause I can loose myself in the story. Short is good because realistically, I'm interrupted so often during the day it's the only thing I can finish in one sitting.

Delle Jacobs said...

Hi Anna-- Great cover! So romantic!

I admire you for even attempting to write short. Now I have to do it and I am cringing. But I was the one who proposed the story to my editor so I'd better do it. The thing is, a short story seems sort of like love at first sight, and straight to the HEA. Nice, but we wonder, will it last? How do you develop a romance in a short story so it feels like love that can stand the test of time?

Delle Jacobs
SINS OF THE HEART- Samhain Publishing

Kirsten said...

Delle! What are you doing in the Bandita Lair?! For those who don't know her, Delle is the ultra talented writer of regency romance who won the golden heart too many times to count. And a chapter mate of mine! Pull up a cabana boy (they make nice chairs you know) and stay a while. And everyone go buy delle's book from samhaim! She is truly remarkable.

Delle Jacobs said...

Hi Kirsten! I love the
romance Bandits! I drop by now and then, but I'm usually too busy to stop to comment. Too many blogs! Too little time! But I just announced the Royal Ascot finalists so I'm taking a mini-break.

Thanks for the plug! It's so great to know somebody thinks I'm fabulous!

Delle

Anna Campbell said...

Margay, you crack me up! As a writer, can I thank you for your dedicaton to books? ;-)

Dianna, we haven't heard a peep out of Jennifer since she won the rooster. I suspect he's running her ragged! Actually I agree about a short story being a great way to find out about an author I wouldn't necessarily know about otherwise. And sometimes even if the SS doesn't work for me, there's something about the style or the voice that makes me look for longer work. Thanks for the congratulations!

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, it's on in August in Melbourne. I think it might be bit writer-focused for a general reader to be interested but it would be fun to see you there! Here's the website:

http://www.romanceaustralia.com/conference/2008/index.htm

Or just google "Romance Writers of Australia" and then click on the conference information button on the home page.

Anna Campbell said...

PJ, laughed at "filled with joy". Filled with champagne, more like. But thanks for the compliment. I usually take an AWFUL photo, but I quite like this one. I think because I look so tipsy, uh...HAPPY!

I must say I'd love to include a lump of red glass in my decor! But there's some great books up against me. I'm not counting any chickens (or roosters!). Thanks for the congrats. As you can probably guessed, I'm pleased as Punch.

I'll put you on the prize list! ;-)

Oh, I LOVE James Thurber. "Does it hurt? Only when I larf!!!" Gotta love Walter Mitty. Actually I think that's a point worth making - there are a couple of styles of writing that I think short stories are great for. Humor and erotica spring to mind. There's some wonderful Anais Nin erotic stories that are amazing and are precisely the right length for maximum impact. Actually I've read some great science fiction short stories too - I remember one by Ray Bradbury that was only a page or so long about a guy waking up from a cryogenic coma hundreds of years after her was frozen. And it just ends, "In the war between man and the cockroach, man hadn't won." SOOOO cool!

Joan said...

Anna, I just followed the link to "Lady Kate".

You're as awesome short as you are long!

I LOVED you hero! You are fabulous with your heroes, btw.

Now, go back and expand it by another 90,000 words, will ya? I've got to read more!

Anna Campbell said...

Deb, sadly, because I like my food, my grocery lists are ALWAYS longer than 1,500 words! Clearly you're feeling my pain! Thanks for the congrats and the good wishes.

Hey, Buffie, I've got to say I LOVE awards. I love them even if I'm not in the running. I just love that air of celebration and excitement they generate. Thanks for the congrats and the good luck!

Anna Campbell said...

Kirsten, what a lovely congratulations. And right back at ya! What a great idea about putting the magazine up. Mind you, the thing weighs over a kilogram. I know - I posted one airmail to my agent and it cost the GDP of Mexico in stamps! Actually, going back to the short story - I learnt a few tricks while I did Lady Kate. Or that I didn't do with Lady Kate. With 1500 words, it's going to be a reunion and it's going to be one scene only. And basically just the hero and heroine. Even then, it's still going to be tight!

Anna Campbell said...

Christie, thanks for the congrats! I know exactly what you mean about a short story exactly fitting the bill sometimes. You have limited time and attention and getting that complete character/story arc in one small package works a treat. I haven't read a lot of erotica but I've got to say my feeling is that short works particularly well for those really sexy stories. Any ideas why?

Tiffany, are you another shorty? Perhaps we should form a club! I think of 16 to 20k as almost a novella. Actually I would have loved some extra words for Lady Kate. I really enjoyed the banter between the hero and heroine and would have loved to include more of that. And maybe an extra meeting before they go to the ball. Thanks for the congrats!

Anna Campbell said...

Jo, thanks for the congrats. The RBY is quite a big deal over here so I'm ultra thrilled to be mentioned in the final six.

Interesting comments about your revision process. I tend to just get the bones of the story down with the first draft. There's a lot of repetition and awkward, over-complicated sentences. Cutting back a lot of the shrubbery isn't actually that tough. But what I then need to do is go through and make it deeper, stronger, faster (hmm, this is starting to sound like Olympic trials!). Then of course, I'm usually over length again so I have to go through and cut again. Repeat and rinse!

You know, I don't think I've ever read a Hemingway short story. I've read a few of the novels with varying degrees of enjoyment. The prose style is fantastic, of course!

Anna Campbell said...

Jo, sounds like your family's like mine. Mum was 5'11", Dad was over six feet. But I had one short grandmother and I got her height and then the valkyrie figure from the Danish side. It doesn't make for a sylph-like silhouette, sadly! At nearly six feet, you can carry off the Junoesque proportions. At 5'2", sadly, you can't!

Virginia, thanks for the congrats. I'm having a lovely party here in the lair! I 100% agree with you about anthologies. And another thing I like about anthologies is that if I don't like one story, I'll probably like the next one. It's like flirting with a succession of writers rather than marrying one of them ;-)

Anna Campbell said...

M, I can see you're another LONG writer like me! Actually I remember Aldous Huxley's advice to writers - kill your darlings. Although sometimes I can't bear to! If I love a phrase to death, I'll fight to keep it in like a lioness protecting her cubs! Fantastic you've already got CTC on a recommendation. I still think word of mouth is the best advertising. Thanks for the congrats!

Susan, all that basking and still no tan. What's the story? LOL Thanks for the congrats. It WAS an honor! Sounds like we have very similar (messy?) creative processes. Actually one of the frustrating things I find about short stories is I'll get a character or two I really want to explore and I have to tie up all the ends far too quickly for me, the writer, to get my emotional payoff. Mind you, I've got to say one of the nice things about writing so long is that in the finished product, I rarely have a sagging middle. It's trying to pack everything in that's the problem. Hmm, a bit like a fat lady trying to get into a girdle. Let's not go there!

Anna Campbell said...

Donna, thanks for the congrats. And what a great cause to write the short story for! Actually one of the great things about Lady Kate is that I've got quite a lot of mileage out of it. There were the people who read it in the mag. It's currently on the Avon Oz site. And I'll end up putting it on my website. Given that I'm basically on a book a year, it's great to have some new material to show people. I bet your short story is great!

Terry, what a fantastic quote. And it's TRUE! You know it took me two weeks to write Lady Kate. That's just crazy. Mind you, I wrote it just after I got Tempt the Devil in so there could have been some "I'm really tired" involved in that slow progress. Actually another Mark Twain quote I love is "There's lies, damned lies and statistics." I always get suspicious when people start spouting figures at me! Terry, the tell your story and move on thing is great advice for someone writing short. It's not naturally my style, but it's still great advice!

Anna Campbell said...

Louisa, you'd have a ball at the Oz conference. It's much smaller than nationals. I think they're expecting about 200 people this year and that's a good turnout for us. Means you have a chance of talking to most of the participants which is just out of the question at RWA. Although you are BOOKED to talk to me, girlfriend. Thanks for the congrats. That ruby glass thing would be a great burglar deterrent, wouldn't it? One conk on the head and he'd be history! ;-) Aww, lovely comment about the photo.

Thanks, Jennybrat! The Golden Rooster is a mythical bird who goes to spend the day with whoever is first to post. I think Pam/Louise/Doglady created him and he's become quite a personality since. He's done military training with P226. He's flirted with numerous hens (of the feathered variety - I'd never refer to our readers in that vein!). He's read Bandita books at Jennifer's place. He leads a pretty exciting life, actually!

Joan, you're so nice. Much nicer than some other people I could mention. You're kind to the garlic challenged! Thanks for the congrats. Oh, no! Don't tell me I'm going to end up even shorter than I am now!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Pat! No shame! I have trouble keeping up with all the great books out there. I wish somebody paid me to read! You're definitely on the prize list. Thanks for the congratulations and good wishes. This is such a nice accolade.

Hellion, I think O. Henry is amazing. The Gift of the Magi never fails to bring tears to my eyes. There's another one about a girl who thinks she's dying and watches the last ivy leaf on the vine out her window because when it falls, she thinks she's going to pass away. Do you know that one? It's just lovely.

Anna Campbell said...

Kimmy, you're a fan of series? I think that's the subject for another blog. I must say I have a love/hate relationship with series. Sometimes I feel they're extended beyond their natural life. Although I love to revisit beloved characters. I'm still hoping Loretta (did you see yesterday's great interview with Loretta Chase?) will bring back a few of her earlier characters and give us an update on their lives in her future work.

Terri, that boys' club thing with P226 does tend to send our chook a little nutsoid, doesn't it? Hey, you read Untouched. You're forgiven. And the shameless bribery of putting CTC at the top of your tottering TBR pile, I must say, makes you a real contender for the prize. I LOVE signed books, don't you? I didn't have any until a couple of years ago and now they're all over my bookcase. Thanks for the congrats! I know it sounds corny, but I'm really happy with the nominations. Winning is in another universe altogether!

Joan said...

Oh, no! Don't tell me I'm going to end up even shorter than I am now!

Not to worry, Anna. I've slipped some calcium in your margharita!

Tiffany Kenzie said...

no not so short I'm barely pushing 5'7" ... it was just the title that had me thinking. But I grew up in a house with men well over 6 foot every single uncle is 6'3"+, my mother is 5'10"...

I guess you could say I'm the shorty in my fam. :)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Susan, thanks for popping over. And congratulations on the release of Pitch Black. It looks fantastic! If anyone wants to find out more, this is Susan's web page:

http://www.susancrandall.net/

Never let it be said we let a fellow writer languish unpromoted on the Bandits! ;-)

Seriously, the 1,500 words is going to be a REAL challenge. But that's one of the things I like about being a writer (well, most of the time, anyway). It's never EASY, is it? Thanks for the congrats!

Anna Campbell said...

Terri, it is indeed pronounced RUBY. There's a gemstone thing going on at Romance Oz. Our unpublished award is the Emerald. And every year, we do a short story anthology featuring a gem. This year it's amethyst, I think. R*BY is a considerable improvement on its predecessor award which was the ROBOTY. Now, doesn't that ring in the ear like music? NOT!

Hey, Esri, always great to see you! Hope those elves are behaving! I agree about a good short story being an astonishing feat. And I think because I've tried to write them and know how hard they are, my admiration is tenfold. Thanks for the congrats. Ma is definitely smiling!!!

Anna Campbell said...

Hi, Gillian! Thanks for the congrats!

Hi Delle! Great to see you!!! So glad you're a regular lurker here. I love both my covers.

Actually while I'm in the mood for shameless promotion, I'm talking about my gorgeous foreign covers on Tote Bags 'N' Blogs on Friday. I've just seen the newest German one (for Tempt the Devil - don't even have the U.S. one for that yet!). It's amazingly sexy! Anyway, if any of you are free, it's always lovely to see a friendly face. Tote Bags' address is:

http://www.authorsoundrelations.blogspot.com/

Anna Campbell said...

Right, back to Delle! I feel your pain with the short story although I suspect having to be concise teaches a wordy writer like me a few lessons. Even with 4,000 words, I only got to the point where the hero offers to court the heroine. 1,500 is scaring me silly!

I saw the Royal Ascot list. Wonderful to see our Louisa/Pam there. And also some other familiar names. That's such a great contest! I entered a lot of U.S. contests before I sold but because my stuff is set in the 1820s (and therefore isn't strictly Regency), I wasn't eligible to go into the RA.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Joanie T, you darling! Thank you! I must say it was fun doing something in a slightly lighter vein than my usual. And yes, I definitely wanted MORE of the hero. I love a man with a witty riposte!

Oh, and if that margarita is good for me, perhaps you'd better get Demetrius to make me another!

Tiffany, it really is a game of comparisons, height, isn't it? I mean, 5'2" is definitely within the normal parameters, if on the lower end. But with such a tall family, believe me the short jokes ran fast and loose!

Cheri2628 said...

Hi again, Anna! I do like reading short stories. I have read many wonderful anthologies that featured stories by several authors. I especially like reading Christmas anthologies. Most of the short stories have been long enough, but every now and then I read one that just needs MORE. I guess it is hard as an author to write just the right amount to tell the story in a satisfying way.

Congrats on the nomination! I have not read Claiming the Courtesan, but I sure would like to. (hint, hint) If you end up sending a copy my way, be sure to send some of your Australian rain, too. We really need it in Georgia.

Cheri (AKA Cheryl)- who is a very short 5'3''

Beth said...

Congrats, Anna! So happy for you on the Romantic Book of the Year nom!

I'm not crazy about short stories, mainly because if I love a story, I want it to go on and on and on *g*

And I write long as well. I get nervous about it but the only way I can finish a book is to realize I can always cut words when I've reached the end :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Cheryl! Always lovely to see you! Actually a lot of Oz is still in trouble for water. Where I live is this strange little pocket where we've had good steady falls on a regular basis. Brisbane, the nearest big city, is still on really tight water restrictions. I laugh - my friends don't visit ME, they visit my water supply so they can wash their cars!

You're right about Christmas anthologies. I think the holiday thing lends itself to themed collections. I've read other themed collections that haven't worked nearly as well as a linking device.

I've put you on the prize list - which is longer than I was expecting! I might have to give out TWO copies of CTC!!!! I mean, a girl doesn't get nominated for a R*BY every day, does she? Thanks for the congratulations!

Anna Campbell said...

Beth, thanks for the congrats! Actually writing long really is my process - I'm currently sitting on a first draft twice as long as it needs to be. Tempt the Devil blew out to 700 pages TWICE!!! And at least I know a lot of places where I can cut the word count fairly painlessly. I just can't have my editor switched on when I'm trying to get the story down. If I do, I can't get past a single page. I just keep obsessively revising. So I just plough on and then fix the problems afterwards! It's certainly not the best way to work - but as Susan says, non-linear is the way I go and I can't seem to change it.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Many Congrats, Anna! I think CTC deserves and you deserve all the acolades you've received so far and the R*BY too!!

As for short vs. long. I prefer long, At least 300 pages. I want depth, passion and subplots, as well as murder, mayhem, humor....(Uh can you really say those three words together in a list?)

Occasionally I find an author whose short stories hold my interest, Jane Graves writing as Jane Sullivan is one, and our own Tawny Weber is another. Suzanne Brockmann's Navy SEALS for temptation was a great short series, but then, I read them all in a week.

But frankly, there are few and far between short stories that I love.

Carol said...

Hi to all,
Jennifer, that little bad boy loves it down there with you in the south!
Anna, Congratulations on your nomination, I read your short story over on the Avon site and loved it!
So reminded me of the short story in *English Womans Weekly*
...I bet your Mum read that! The Magazine is still going! thou I don't get it anymore.
It always had/has 2 serialised Romances and one short story , then lots of recipes and knitting etc.
I loved them more than the Aus. Womans Weekly (now monthly - you may notice why they didn't go with that name change! *a large snork*)

Cheers Carol

My preference - I love lots and lots of words!

Anna Campbell said...

Thanks, Suz. My Bandita sisters have always been so amazingly supportive. Mwah to you all!

Hey, did you see Jane Graves' Tall Tales and Wedding Veils got an A review over at All About Romance? They hardly EVER give A reviews. But the reviewer thought TTAWV was fantastic! We definitely get the rising stars here on Banditas!

Carol, thanks for the congrats. I do indeed remember the English Women's Weekly. My mother didn't read it but my grandmother was a subscriber. I can remember a couple of really blissful long summer holidays when I just went through every one of her back copies and read every single romance. Great training for a writer. They had great short stories, too. I can still remember a couple and I must be going back nearly 40 years! There were a couple of cute ones that were in letters. A great way to tell a short story. My grandmother was both a knitter and a romance reader so the EWW was right up her alley. They were big on knitting patterns too!

catslady said...

I'm with your mother and do prefer the longer books if given a choice. And I haven't read CTC but would love to :) Conrats.

catslady said...

Oh goodness, of course I wanted to say congrats - sorry.

Margay said...

Anna, can I thank you and all writers for feeding my addiction to books? And now blogs, too! I love this interaction!

Anna Campbell said...

Catslady, another one on the prize list. I think I'm going to have to make a commitment to TWO copies going out ;-) Thanks for the congrats. It's a great thrill, as you can imagine!

Margay, you keep reading them, we'll keep writing them. Deal?

Margay said...

Absolutely! so, if you're looking for me, I'll be in the book section...

Christine Wells said...

Hi Foanna! Mega congratulations on your R*BY final!! A well-deserved honour. Good luck writing your short story. I know you say you're not good at them but obviously AWW doesn't agree! I thought Lady Kate was a lovely read.

As a writer, I like writing short stories, love the twist in the tale, but for romance I tend to think long. I actually think the short story form doesn't mesh well with a romance as we know it because romance depends so much on character development and that's hard to do in a short form. So IMO the trick in a romantic short story is to choose carefully where you start it, and to concentrate on one significant turning point in the relationship, rather than trying to write an entire novel in short story form.

I've read a lot of short stories but I haven't come across too many romance short stories that really worked for me. I like the time and leisure to get to know these characters inside and out.

Anyway, Fo, I'll be interested to see your next one! If anyone can write a compelling short story, you can!

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Christine! Thanks for those congratulations! As you know, because you were one of the first people I told, I was very excited about the news! And thanks for those kind words about Lady Kate. And also your advice. You write marvellous short stories. If anyone wants to check that out, they just need to visit your website:

http://www.christine-wells.com/christine-wells-short-stories.html

They're absolutely delightful.

I think you're right about a romantic short story being one of the hardest types.

Anna Campbell said...

Hmm, that website addy didn't work out too well. Just go to www.christine-wells.com and click on the short stories link. Seriously, Christine is one of the best short story writers I know!

flchen1 said...

I think you and I are about the same height, Anna--I suppose I can at least be thankful that no one in my family is incredibly tall--my mom and sis are an inch or two taller than me, and my dad and brother several inches taller than that. Boy, your brother could definitely spare us some inches and not miss 'em!

I've got to go check out Christine's stories now :) Thanks!

Nancy said...

Jennifer, congratulations on the rooster!

Anna, mega-congrats on the RBY final! What a cool-o trophy, too! I hope you get to bring it home.

When it comes to length, I feel your pain. I think it was Mark Twain who wrote, "I apologize for writing such a long sentence. I didn't have time to write a shorter one." Or some such. I started out writing short stories--comic book fan fiction, if you don't count my early crayon period. The stories gradually got longer and longer. And longer. I recently wrote a short story, and keeping it under 5,000 words was HARD!

1500 is not just short. It's a short-short. Congratulations on selling yours!

Terry, I'm sorry your mystery story didn't make it this time out. I hope your next market takes it.

Anna Campbell said...

Margay, I think you'll find a lot of us in the book section!

Fedora, I really think my brother was greedy when it came to all that extra height. Just an inch or two really would make a difference to me ;-)Good on you for checking out Christine's stories. The Opal one, I think, is my favorite.

Nancy, great to see you. And thanks for the congrats. As you say, a seriously cool trophy! I could definitely make room for that in the china cabinet, should I be so lucky! I think we all start out writing short stories, if only in composition class at school. But these days, I find cutting my ideas down to size is really tough!

Christine Wells said...

Oh, Anna, you're such a sweetheart! THanks for those kind words about my stories. They were written a long time ago now;) Fedora, hope you enjoy them.

Oh, and I'm with you on wanting to borrow a little height from somewhere--anywhere! Hate being short.

Carol said...

It is my great pleasure to announce the finalists for this year's Royal
Ascot!

*Hot and Wild (Paranormal, Erotic, etc.) Regency*
Angels At Almack's (Paranormal) Cathryn Leming
The Raven's Heart (Paranormal) Pamela Bolton-Holifield
Bluebeard's Hunger (Paranormal) Lori Phibin
Final Round Judge: Hilary Sares, Kensington Books

*Regency Historical *
Defensive Measures Alyssa Fernandez
Defiant Elizabeth Baldwin
The Changing Light of Dawn Joanne Lockyer
Final Round Judge: Tessa Avon HarperCollins Publishers

*Sweet and Mild (Traditional, Inspirational, Young Adult, etc.) Regency*
Rakes & Radishes (Traditional) Susan Newman
To Love a Lady (Traditional) Marjorie Allen
Merlin's Hideaway (Young Adult) Lavinia Klein
Final Round Judge: Lindsey McGurk, Samhain Publishing

Winners will be announced at the Beau Monde Soiree in San Francisco,
July 30, 2008
Many thanks to our fine judges who gave their time, expertise and
thoughts to all the contestants
Delle Jacobs

Hi ...another Matter!
To be Fair I've put everyone in!
but you can see the popular commenter listed here...doglady
and my own d.daughter Joanne!(bias*G*)
Cheers Carol

jo robertson said...

Hi, Anna, just had a moment to read your short story. Dang, it looks hard to write a romantic short story, but you did a fine job.

I think it's the genre -- suspense and mystery lend themselves to the short form far better than romance.

Now I'm off to read Christine's short stories.

Anna Campbell said...

It's terrible being vertically challenged, isn't it, Christine? Glad I could aim some people in your direction for the short stories. I think Opal was the first piece of yours I ever read and I was absolutely blown away by it. So much in such a small space. Yay, you!

CAROL!!! Are you Joanne's mum??!!! I had no idea! I'm so happy for her with this contest final! Goodness, it's a small world!

Anna Campbell said...

Jo, thanks for checking out the short story. Delighted you enjoyed it! I bet you LOVE Christine's!

jennybrat said...

Thanks for the info, Terrio.

Anna Campbell said...

Thanks, everyone, for a great day in the lair and for sharing your thoughts on short versus long. Don't forget to check in a day or so to see who won the TWO copies of CTC up for grabs.

And thanks so much for the congrats. It's been huge fun sharing the RBY final with you all!

Carol said...

Hi Anna, Yes a very proud Mama!

...and Congratulations to doglady/louise/Pam, cannot wait till you are published and we can read your books too!

Ps. anna...I've read CTC and really enjoyed the book, but have to admit I Loved Untouched! even more! Fantastic!
Cheers Carol

Anna Campbell said...

Carol, thanks for those kind words about Untouched. Matthew developed quite a fan club before he was finished ;-) And congratulations on your absolutely lovely daughter!

Delle Jacobs said...

Thanks, Anna! Alas, we've changed our rules too late for you! We'd take your entry now, but you're published!
The Royal Ascot was a huge thrill to coordinate, and to see some really good writers make their marks in it. I won it and/or finalled a number of times, and learned a lot from so many good judges, so it means a lot to me.
Delle

peggy said...

long storieslove to read all the details