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Saturday, May 30, 2015


By Suzanne Rossi

Hi everyone.

Before I say anything, I’d like to thank Caroline Clemmons for inviting me to join the “Smart Girls Read Romance Blog.” I’ll be here on the 30th of each month (guess I get February off ) with what I hope will be interesting views into my world of writing.

Let me begin by introducing myself. I am Suzanne Rossi. I write romantic suspense for The Wild Rose Press. My two latest releases are “Through My Eyes” and “A Novel Death.”

Sasha Bellwood hates being psychic, but is forced to deal with her abilities when she witnesses a murder through the eyes of the victim. She is not fond of skeptics.

Detective Reed McIntyre hates being stuck on the cold case desk. Almost killed in the line of duty, he’s itching to get back into the action. He thinks psychics are frauds.

With Sasha’s abilities increasing daily, the two must overcome their suspicions of each other and their growing attraction to track down a serial killer before he strikes again. Unfortunately, the murderer already has both in his sights and is stalking them through the streets of Memphis.

How far can Sasha push her powers of the mind, and will she and Reed survive to claim a future together?

Finding the bludgeoned body of bestselling author Isadora Powell sends Anne Jamieson and her four remaining critique partners into a panic. All have secrets and motives for seeing the woman dead.

mysterAnd the victim, a genius at research, knew what lay hidden. With Anne leading the way, they attempt to help the police solve the crime. But each bit of evidence unearthed peels another layer from those secrets. Lies to the police and each other trip them up at every turn. Can they find the murderer before he or she strikes again? Could it be one of them? And can the budding relationship between Anne and lead detective Gil Collins flourish under a cloud of suspicion?

Okay, now that I have the blatant self-promotion out of the way, let’s move on.

I was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana—actually, a small town north of there called Carmel. Well, it was small when I grew up. Not so much anymore. I’ve been married 46 years (which conflicts with the fact I am only “39” years old and have been for some time now) come August to a man who thoroughly gets what I do, God Bless him. I have two sons and seven grandchildren. I’m also a dog lover. The more, the merrier—both grandkids and dogs.

At present I live in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida living just five miles from the beach. That’s far enough away to avoid the crowds, but close enough to enjoy the sand and surf on occasion.

My passions are my family, reading, writing, wine (must have wine!), shopping, and sitting on my lanai watching the boats go down the canal heading for the ocean. I love Italian and Mexican cuisines, but, in order not to resemble the Goodyear blimp, try to follow the Atkins diet. Sometimes I even succeed.

As time passes, you’ll discover I can be sarcastic, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I use a lot of it in my books along with humor. Can’t live without humor. It keeps me sane, especially during the times when that stupid plot line just won’t come together like I want.

This is me in a nutshell—I love clichés. I hope you don’t find me bland or boring. In June I’ll get down to the nitty gritty (see, told you I loved clichés) and give you some insight on how I view the world and my writing.

Thanks to all of you. See you soon.

Suzanne Rossi

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Location, Location, Location

Blue Ridge Mountains
Does location matter in your story, or could you set it anywhere? For me, it's all about time and place. Certain settings inspire me, like old homes, particularly haunted ones, Scottish castles, Southern plantations, and their opposite, rustic log cabins, but most especially, the mountains. I love the misty mountains. What stories they hold. Secrets, mysteries, ghosts...
Many accounts centered around the mountain people were recorded by late author and valley historian, John Heatwole, who left a rich wealth of information in his books about the Shenandoah Valley and mountain people. Wonderfully inspiring. I'll give you several  spooky examples from his book, Shenandoah Voices.
Moonlit Night
“When Nelson Whetzel was a young man he had an interesting experience while walking home from work one evening. In Brocks Gap in earlier times the only things to light ones way were the stars or the glow from a lamp in a neighbor’s window. 
As he walked Nelson heard a horse coming up the road behind him.  Nelson stopped for a moment, thinking, ‘Good! I’ll have someone to talk to.’ But the sound of the horse’s hooves stopped when he did. He called out, asking who was there in the pitch-black.
No answer came and Nelson began uneasily walking again, this time a little faster. The sound of the horse picked up pace to match Nelson’s. He stopped a second time and the sound of the horse ceased to be heard. Nelson started trotting and the sound horse’s hooves were heard at a trot behind him, close on his heels. He grew very frightened and began to run as fast as he could.  The galloping horse seemed to be so close, Nelson thought he felt the breath on the back of his neck.
Up ahead Nelson saw the lighted windows of the cabin belonging to George and Mat Smith. He was so terrified that he hit the Smith’s front door at full force. He knocked it down and went right through the structure, knocking down the back door as he exited. The Smiths blinked at each other in wonder and amazement. They saw no phantom horse follow Nelson through their home.
Immediately after his encounter with the doors Nelson noticed the sound of the pursuing horse was gone, however, he ran on home as fast as his feet would carry him.”
*That tale reminds me of the headless horseman from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Scary!
“The Roadcaps lived in a two-story log cabin just down the road from Gospel Hill Mennonite Church. All of the girls of the family shared a room upstairs.  One night one of the sisters, Peggy by name, went to the bedroom alone.  There she saw a woman sitting up on the iron headboard of one of the beds.
The woman didn’t say anything or move toward the frightened child, just sat there and looked at her. Peggy was rooted to the spot in fear but able to find her voice and call to her father to come to her aid.  There was something in her voice that demanded immediate attention and she heard his heavy footfall as he hurried up the stairs. As her father neared the room, the woman vanished into thin air.  Peggy never entered that room alone again."~
"The children of the Roadcap family loved to play on the banks of the little Shoemaker River near their home. Once they came running home and told their father they’d seen a woman all dressed in white walking along the opposite bank of the river from where they played. They’d never seen her before and being shy had not spoken to her but only observed her progress.
Their father listened thoughtfully and then told them they had seen the spirit of a young woman who had died years before of a broken heart. They were told they would probably see her again and that she would do them no harm. They were to behave as they had before and refrain from calling out to the spirit.
They believed their father. There were not that many people living in those parts and the children knew them all. They promised not to disturb the apparition if they encountered her again. During their childhoods they witnessed her strolling along the river on several more occasions."~
That story reminds me of the novel, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, which was a very intriguing BBC mystery/thriller starring Tara Fitzgerald. I saw the film on Netflix and highly recommend it.
***If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy the one I wrote entitled:
***John Heatwole's books are at Amazon, but may only be available as used copies.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I Feel Like I'm on a Merry-Go-Round of Writers

Most writers find their niche and stick to it, growing a following and improving their skills. I mean, can you imagine Agatha Christie writing paranormal romance?

Some write 2 sub-genres, say contemporary and romantic suspense. Then there are a few--like me--who have no clue what they want to write when they grow up. My writing career, short though it's been, has been on a revolving wheel of "gee, what do I wanna write next?" Now that I'll soon be writing exclusively for Random House Loveswept, I'm being told what to write or given a choice between what's hot on the market.

My first book was a contemporary Western. Then I wrote two historical
Westerns followed by two more contemporary Westerns. Some were books and some, novellas. I wrote a 3-book romantic suspense series set in Paris. Following that was a 3-book bear-shifting contemporary series set in the Scottish Highlands. Intermixed with the bears was a 3-book series of firefighters in Florida. Now, my editor wants a series of ex-SEALS with physical and emotional wounds, finding healing on a ranch.

How am I going to develop a following when I keep hopping from one type of story to another? Readers won't be able to say I love the suspense stories or the Westerns written by Vonnie Davis, because I'll have no niche. Look for me on the merry-go-round of writers. Mainly under the section marked "spiced with humor." Now, there's my niche.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


By Guest author, Geri Foster, USA Today and NYTImes bestselling Author

For all the years I’ve been writing, not once did I consider writing a Historical Romantic Suspense. I’ve always leaned toward danger and suspense, but more in the contemporary world with spies, special agents and lots of action.

As I continued to write these books, in the back of my mind was a very frightened, weary young woman begging me to tell her story. I ignored her for over a year, with my critique partners, writer friends and even my editor telling me to go for it. I believed that Women of Courage simply wasn’t my kind of story and not what people had come to expect from me.

What would my readers and fans say? Would they cross over? Going from Action Adventure to Historical Romantic Suspense is a wide gap. It was a gamble. What if no one liked that era? Was it too soon to write a post-World War II book?

I would be stepping out of my comfort zone as a writer and I was very leery.

Another thing that frightened me was that this story would be an extremely emotional story of true love and I didn’t know if I was up to that. I would have to write raw, gritty and heartbreaking scenes. That’s so difficult for a writer to settle into. But, the story also had its rewards. There were other touching scenes of tenderness of loving a child, heartwarming reunions, true bonds, and happy ever after.

No longer able to keep the story inside, I set out on this daunting journey with the idea I’d write one book and see how it goes. I learned in the writing world it doesn’t pay to make plans. Every story has a life of its own and Women of Courage would not allow me to stop until the story was finished.

I set the story where I was familiar, my great grandmother’s hometown. My hometown is twelve miles away. So much of the story is set in a fictional place that’s a blend of both places.

My character’s name is Cora and so was my grandmother’s, and that’s just a hint of how much of the story parallels things I’m comfortable with.

I hope you will try this serial. While I’d meant it to be one, maybe two books, it’s grown much larger and even as I write this, it continues to grow.

If you like to immerse yourself into the lives of fascinating characters facing the difficulties of life after the Second World War, people forgiving the past and finding true, deep, abiding love then you’ll enjoy Women of Courage.    

Thank you,

Geri Foster

The first volume is free everywhere except at Amazon, where it’s 99 cents
Here are the buy links:

Amazon=99 cents    FREE@ Apple        Nook          Kobo     Google Play                   
Here’s the blurb for WOMEN OF COURAGE: LOVE RELEASED, book one.


He stands on the other side of sorrow and despair with a love so vast and strong it reaches into her soul and sparks the courage to become the woman waiting for her.

She’s running from her past and he’s duty-bound to protect her.
Cora Williams is an ex-con exiled to Gibbs City, Missouri. A small town where she hopes to remain undisturbed and unobtrusive. With her nephew Jack, her wants are simple, to hide from the horrors of her past.

Sheriff Virgil Carter is a WW2 veteran with demons of his own, but Parker County is his to protect. That includes a young, beautiful woman newly released from prison who longs to be left alone.

Love often comes like sleep, softly, quietly and unexpectedly. You just have to close your eyes. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Dream World by Rain Trueax

 at the entrance to the Native American section at Arizona State Museum 

Although I know I should, I don’t keep a dream journal alongside my bed. I remember most of them, but sometimes a vivid dream, which I wake in the middle of the night remembering, will be gone by morning. I count on my brain remembering their energy.

With a remembered, interesting dream, I head for an online Dream Dictionary to see if it has a message from the muse or my subconscious. 

With May’s full moon, my dreams were particularly vibrant, colorful and unique for me. 
The hummingbirds were all around. When my cat caught one, I got it away, assessed it was unharmed, and freed it. It flew to land on my shoulder. 
Since hummingbirds flit around our house all the time, to dream of them isn’t unexpected. The unique part was its landing on my shoulder. Surely, that would have a message-- not that I found. I even went so far as to look for birds landing on your shoulder. Apparently, that doesn’t happen often enough in a dream for a meaning. They did though have one, which if this ever happens to me I’ll be sure and remember-- if you dream a bird got its beak stuck in your neck, it means you have been gossiping too much!

In books, when it fits, I have used my own dreams as dreams for a character. Some of my dreams are like watching a movie with characters and plots. One gave me an opening scene, and I saw what the hero looked like, for a contemporary romance that became Her Dark Angel. Another led to my paranormal, Diablo Canyon. If a movie dream interests me enough, they don’t all, I spend the usual time figuring out the flesh of the story as they are very much bare bones. 

Some years back in a dream, I was told I had been a Yaqui in an earlier life. The people in the dream (none of whom do I know) told me that they were my family and in the next room was my Yaqui soul mate. The dream ended before I went through that door. 

My interest in the Yaqui culture has led to collecting books, like the two below, on their view of their place in the cosmos: 

Yaqui Deer Songs Maso Bwikam, a Native American Poetry 
by Larry Evers & Felipe S. Molina 
Yaqui Myths and Legends by Ruth Warner Giddings

The Yaqui concept of the five enchanted worlds and their teaching regarding seatakaa (more on it in Yaqui Deer Songs) are at the heart of their culture even today when many of them practice Catholicism but have not left behind rituals like the Deer Dance. 

from the Yaqui section in the Arizona State Museum 

Yaqui characters and their beliefs have been in three of my Arizona historicals— Tucson Moon, Arizona Dawn, and the recently written and due to be released this summer, Aztec Moon. 

As happens to me a lot, after I wrote this blog, I had a dream that seemed perfect for a blog on dreams. I debated changing this one but then opted instead to put it into my regular blog where it will be up the 23rd. If you are also into dreams and how they can be silly or sometimes lead somewhere, check it out-- Rainy Day Thoughts

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Scents in #Writing by Sandra Nachlinger

As anyone who has put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) knows, there’s more to writing a book than just the art of telling the story. There’s the craft of writing as well—grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, to name a few items. As writers we’re also advised to use the five senses in our descriptions to better engage our readers. Recently I’ve been paying close attention to how other authors use taste, smell, sound, sight, and touch in their books. One of the most powerful is the sense of smell.

Science has proven that the sense of smell is located in the same area of our brain as memory, creativity, and emotions. We can tap into that connection in writing. For example, if a scene takes place in Grandma’s kitchen, how do we describe it? We may mention a sticky countertop (touch) or a white porcelain sink (sight) but what does the area smell like? Onions? Chocolate chip cookies? Lysol? The odor included by the writer creates a reaction in the reader and can reveal something about the grandma. 

Here are a few examples I’ve found where writers used this powerful sense.

In Katie and The Irish Texan, Cara Copelin writes:
As Dermot slowly came to, the acrid smell of spent gunpowder filled his nostrils. A particularly putrid smell overwhelmed his senses and he realized the dead body of X lay sprawled next to him on the stairs. (X – I’ve omitted the name of the dead man to avoid a spoiler.)
      The scene comes to life when the scents of gunpowder and a putrid dead body are added to the description, doesn’t it?

Caroline Clemmons writes in The Most Unsuitable Courtship:
Blood from the head of her lovely milk cow stained the ground red. The stench of blood mingled with smoke. Why?
      This shocking image is made even more powerful when the stench of blood and acrid smell of smoke are included.

In my contemporary romance, Bluebonnets for Elly, the heroine wakes to familiar morning sounds and scents.
She could almost see Granny lift a steaming kettle of water from the stove, fill the silver teapot, and drop three teabags inside, then cover it with the quilted cozy. The spicy scent of chai tea wafted through the small space, finally rousing Elly from bed.

Have you noticed scents in books you’ve been reading? Do you think they’ve added to the story? Have they evoked memories for you? I’d love to hear what you think. 

Photo of spices by kris krüg from Vancouver, Canada ( [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Recognition Lives in Our Senses by Joan Reeves

What would you do if you recognized someone by his touch--his scent--the minute you met him?

When your eyes meet his, heat inundates you. Yet, you remember nothing about him.

That's the situation that confronts the woman known by the hospital staff as LG--Lost Girl--when she meets handsome David Galloway. He says he's her husband, and he has documents to prove it. Yet, she remembers nothing about him or their life together.

Their eyes meet. Desire flares like heat lightning in the night sky--spectacular but quiet with no accompanying thunder. The stormy emotion she sees in David's dark eyes tell of his passion as well as the secrets he hides.

My Latest

Heat Lightning, part of the Summer Fire Ultimate Romance Collection, is the story of memory and lies, secrets and desire. Secrets can kill. Can love--true love--conquer all?

Heat Lightning, Romantic Suspense

Her husband found her, claimed her, rescued her. Desire flashes like heat lightning on a summer night between David and Tessa. She knows his touch, but when she looks at him, he is a stranger to her. Not a flicker of memory is left of him or their life together. Everything and everyone she knew is lost to her since she awakened from a coma. All she has left are questions. Who is she? Why does David seem to hate her even as he pulls her into his arms? What is he hiding? How can she trust him when her gut says, “Trust no one”?

Excerpt from Heat Lightning

Drenching rain pummeled the roof of her old Porsche. She stared with tear-swollen eyes through the windshield and wondered where the hell she was. Not that it mattered. Nothing mattered any more. Not the wrong turn she’d taken many miles back. Not the summer storm that had ambushed her. Nothing.

She hadn’t seen another vehicle on this narrow blacktop road that cut through a densely forested area. Wind whipped the pines and oaks that lined both sides of the two-lane road. She was alone in the stormy night. All alone. Just like she’d be for the rest of her life now that she’d driven him away. Bitterness and hatred filled the crack in her heart. She gulped back a sob.

Bright light suddenly filled the interior of the small car. The light was so bright it seared her burning eyes. She jabbed at the rearview mirror to tilt it up and pressed down on the accelerator to put a little distance between her car and the driver behind who seemed intent on blinding her. Her little car lurched, fishtailed on the wet pavement then straightened out. The headlights behind receded.
The trees thinned. A quarter of a mile later, she drove out of the woods. Fading daylight showed an old high-arching bridge ahead. Below the bridge, she could just make out the flood-swollen river boiling around wooden pilings.

Light behind again filled the car’s interior. She accelerated, but the lights drew closer rather than fell behind. Fear whispered up her spine, raising the tiny hairs on the back of her neck. She glanced into the rearview mirror, eyes narrowed against brilliant white light that drew near as she watched.

Fear didn’t just whisper now. It shouted. She knew who was behind her. She grabbed her cell phone from where she’d tossed it on the passenger seat after turning it off. With shaking fingers she tried to power it on.

Crash! Her head whiplashed back then forward, striking the top of the steering wheel. Pain slammed through her. The cell phone flew out of her hand, landing somewhere inside the car. The other vehicle struck the rear of her car again. She fought the steering wheel. The lights came at her again.

Fear sliced through the pain in her head. She tried to brace herself. Another bone-shaking crash, and she lost control of the car. Her car struck something metal. Her head hit the side window. She nearly blacked out.

Rain and wind blew into the car through the broken glass, spattering her face. The car was motionless. Silent. She touched her throbbing head and came away with blood. Her thoughts were confused. All was silent except for the rain and the groaning of wind-whipped tree branches.

The sound of a racing engine cut through her confusion. Panicked, she peered through the broken windows. Through the falling rain, she could see a big black truck.

Stark terror gripped her. The lights on the truck flashed on. She didn’t even have time to scream. The truck hit her car broadsided. Metal crushed. Glass shattered, cascading over her. Tossed from the driver’s seat as if she were a rag doll, she finally screamed when the stick shift rammed into her right side.

Tortured metal screamed against metal. She smelled burning rubber and heard the whine of tires spinning on pavement. Her car moved. Inch by inch, the pickup shoved the crumpled car toward the side of the road. Metal bent and popped.

Oh, God! She’d been a fool. She’d come prepared for the confrontation, for her vengeance, but she’d run like a scared little girl. She tried to open the glove box to get the pistol, but the catch wouldn’t yield. Tears of frustration and anger, pain and loss flowed down her face. If only she could have wiped away the past and truly created the new life she’d wanted so desperately.

Another vicious shove, and the car slammed against the barricade of upright wooden posts.
Her last thought was of him. She loved him. But she’d ruined his life. Now she’d never have a chance to explain.

Would he mourn her?

Wood was no match for metal. The powerful truck gave one last violent push. The timbers snapped as if they were twigs, and her car went over the edge of the road.
Then she and her car were falling.



Into the cold black water below.

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt. For a limited time, the Summer Fire Contemporary Romance Collection is only 99cents. Grab the box set today from any of these ebook sellers!


My Giveaway

Please leave a comment with your email address and be entered in a random drawing for a free copy of Summer Fire: Love When It's Hot Contemporary Romance Collection. Giveaway is open until May 23. Winner will be chosen on May 24 by Random Name Picker and notified by email as well as in the Comments section of this post on Smart Girls Read Romance.

Post Script

Joan Reeves, whose book in Summer Fire is Heat Lightning, is a bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. Available as ebooks and audiobooks, her romance novels all have the same underlying theme: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” Joan lives her happily ever after with her husband in the Lone Star State. Sign up for WordPlay, Joan's free email list for readers:

Thursday, May 14, 2015


By Anna Jeffrey (who is also Dixie Cash)

I always have more to do than I have time for. So now all of a sudden, I'm working on 3 different books.

First, I'm editing my erotic novella, which I'm not sure is erotic enough. It's roughly 37,000 words. I hope to release it soon, so I'm in is-it-good-enough anxiety mode.

Next, I'm getting started on Book #3 of my Sons of Texas trilogy, THE HORSEMAN, that I believe will be 100,000 words and will be a plotting challenge. This book will tie up loose ends and complete the trilogy's story arc. I'll be lucky to finish this one before the end of the year.

And at the same time, I'm about a quarter of the way into another Dixie Cash epic, YOU CAN HAVE MY HEART, BUT DON'T TOUCH MY DOG.

As always, the cover was designed by the Killion Group and as usual, they've done a great job. Here's the blurb so far (but it's subject to change):

After two divorces, Trudy Coffman, Edwina's niece and entrepreneur extraordinaire, is on her own and loving it. She has made a success of the only gourmet pet food bakery in Midland, Texas. She’s a devout animal lover and a pet foster parent. When a golden-colored stray dog with an abundance of personality appears at her door, she can’t refuse him and she can’t keep from falling in love with him. She names him Waffle and gives him a permanent home.
Nick Conway has searched for months for his lost dog, Buster. Giving up on ever finding him, he looks for a new dog and finds a puppy that interests him at a pet grooming shop. While he went to the shop to see a puppy, he also encountered a beautiful redheaded woman he can’t put out of his mind. Little does he know that she found Buster in an alley months back and has now claimed him as her own. Things heat up between Trudy and Nick in the romance department, but sparks fly when he learns that she has custody of Buster and refuses to give him up. It will take a sitting judge to resolve this conflict.

To add to the fun, Trudy has taken in a foul-mouthed parrot that has plenty of opinions and even advice. Her only hope for him is for her Aunt Edwina to take off her hands and give him to her husband Vic as a present. Confusion and Domestic Equalizers mayhem can only follow. Look for this book to be released in the fall.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Short Story, Novelette, Novella, Novel by Paty Jager #writing

As Jacquie said in her post this month the length of a book is changing. When I started writing you could only sell a historical romance if it was 90,000 words or more. Now, I can sell any length I want as a self-published author.

But what do the readers prefer? That's what I'd like to know. I've heard many readers are moving toward the smaller word count because they have less time to read and like to come to a satisfying ending quicker.

Then you'll always have the reader who reads a story that is marked as a short story and complain it was too short... I think writers can never hit the happy space that will make all readers happy when it comes to length.

What boggles me is how to label my stories. Even when it says in the description it is a short story, there are comments about how short it was. Do the readers know the difference between a short story, novelette, novella, and a novel?  I'm pretty sure they all know what a novel is, but even the length of novels has changed.

Wikipedia says this:
For a short story-
  • A short story is a brief work of literature, usually written in narrative prose
  • Short stories have no set length. In terms of word count there is no official demarcation between an anecdote, a short story, and a novel. Rather, the form's parameters are given by the rhetorical and practical context in which a given story is produced and considered, so that what constitutes a short story may differ between genres, countries, eras, and commentators
 For a Novelette-
  • A novella, especially with trivial or sentimental themes
  • A narrative work of prose fiction shorter than a novella and longer than a short story
For a Novella-
  • A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel.
For a Novel-
  • A novel is a long narrative, normally in prose, which describes fictional characters and events, usually in the form of a sequential story.

 Miriam Webster says this:
For a short story-
  • an invented prose narrative shorter than a novel usually dealing with a few characters and aiming at unity of effect and often concentrating on the creation of mood rather than plot
For a Novelette and Novella-
  • a story with a compact and pointed plot
  •  a work of fiction intermediate in length and complexity between a short story and a novel
For a novel-
  • an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events
  • the literary genre consisting of novels
These don't really tell a writer or a reader anything about length. This is some information I found after googling the lengths: Short stories range anywhere from 1,500 to 30,000 words; Novellas run from 30,000 to 50,000; Novels range from 55,000 to 300,000 words, though there are few novels that are 300,000 words long any more. 

Another source I found had this information:
The shortest type of fiction is the short story, which ranges in length from a handful of pages to over thirty pages. The novella lies between the short story and the novel in terms of length and scope. And the longest work of fiction is a novel between 70,000 and 100,000 words. 

And according to "Writer's Digest," a novel can range from 55,000 to 300,000 words, a novella is 30,000 to 50,000 words and a short story is 1,500 to 30,000 words.

All the information I found is contradictory. I would have to say how a story is labeled is up to the publisher. If the publisher is a self-publisher then make certain in the works description it is clear if the story is a short story, novelette, novella, or a novel. That's the best you can do and hope the reader finds the ending satisfying.

I'm currently getting a Christmas short story ready to release and have been back and forth on whether it should be longer even though I feel the story is satisfying.

Readers, do you have a preference for length of a story?  Why do you like that length?
Writers, do you have a preference of the length of story you like to write?  Why?


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Negative Reviews: The Painful Way to Improve

The most important statement today must come first:
Happy Mother's Day!!

Now, onto another obvious statement: no one likes negative reviews, especially authors. It’s a kick in the gut to something we’ve poured hours of energy into, spilled sweat, tears and sometimes blood into creating, and it hurts to hear that someone didn’t like the ‘babies’ we’ve made.
In addition, so much of this industry is subjective. What one person loves, someone else can’t stand. Which is why so many authors hear so many different kinds of ‘suggestions’ from various editors and Beta Readers. It’s the old adage: you can’t please everyone.

But from the reader’s perspective, if they spent money on a book, then they want to truly enjoy it. They feel cheated if they’ve spent time reading a novel that they weren’t fully engaged in, especially when there are so many great novels out there to read. It’s important to respect the reader and their buying power.
I choose to look at the ‘negative’ reviews a different way.
I use them to help me improve.
First of all, the reader took the time to tell me what they thought. Most readers who don’t like a novel don’t even bother doing that. They just never buy one of my novels again. And that’s the real tragedy. So the fact that they put forth the effort to provide an honest review is a good thing.
If someone says they didn’t like one of my characters because they came off too negative or temperamental, that tells me perhaps I need to work on the initial likeability of the character. Yes, characters need to have development arcs and improve over the length of the story, but sometimes I can start them off too far left. So that’s something I can pay more attention to in the next novel. Hopefully I haven’t turned the reader off so much that they won’t purchase the next story because of the last one.
If someone says they didn’t believe the plot, well that’s a huge red flag to me. Clearly I need to focus more on fleshing out the details.
Even with the many beta readers I use prior to submitting to my publisher, and the various editors who tweak the story at the publisher (all supposed to help me ‘catch’ those issues), some things fall through the cracks. No one is perfect.
But believe that I pay attention to those reviews. They don’t go unheard. And some other authors I know who respond negatively to those kind of harsh reviews let it get the better of them. They stew in it, delay their next releases because their minds are in a funk, or worsestop writing all together. Probably the worst response is a retaliation of some sort: verbal bashing or defensive posts. All of which are completely unprofessional.
I don’t do any of that. I work to improve my writing with each story. Hoping that the next one is better than the last.

So thank you for your honest reviews. Keep them constructive, and I’ll keep improving.
Bringing the next great story to life.

And if you truly loved a story, the best thing you can do is go online (Amazon, GoodReads, or if you bought a print copy in a bookstore), and leave a review. It’s the best way to thank a writer. That, and purchase the next one!

Susan Sheehey writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


By Mary Adair

The stories I had been told about an Irish trader, James Adair, and his unusual adventures among the Native American tribes in the 1700s had so intrigued me I could hardly wait to start writing a fictional account of just such a man. I knew the woman to steal his heart had to be special. She had to be strong and determined. She had to be brave, firm in her beliefs, and she had to be a match for him.

I knew very little about the Cherokee woman of that time. Let’s face it, a historical romance can be a bit fantastical, but I wanted the Cherokee woman that would steal James Fitzgerald’s heart (my fictional version of James Adair) to be true to the culture of the Cherokee people. In Adair’s own writings, I soon learned the Cherokee woman and the place she held within the Cherokee culture was one of great respect and honor. Here are some interesting facts I learned not only from James Adair’s writings, but from numerous other sources.  

Wilma Mankiller
Principal Chief of Western Cherokee
Cherokee women, it seems to me, were the core of the village. Women in Cherokee society were equal to men. The highest rank a woman could earn was the title of Ghigau, “Beloved Woman”, also translated  “War Woman”. The Beloved woman sat in council as an equal. She had a voice and could vote in the General Council. As Beloved Woman she held a place of leadership for the women’s council. She prepared and served the ceremonial black drink, and held the duty of ambassador of peace-negotiator. She could also save the life of a prisoner already condemned to be executed.

Though Beloved Woman was the highest position a woman could hold, all women were respected as equals as they carried out their duties within the tribe. They took lead in the execution of prisoners, which was their right as mothers. They had the right to claim prisoners as slaves, adopt them as kin, or condemn them to death. 

Cherokee Couple
Clan kinship followed the mother’s family and it was the duty of an uncle on the mother’s side to teach a son how to hunt and fish and perform certain tribal duties. Children were born into the mother’s tribe, not the father’s.

Cherokee Mother and child
The clan, in Cherokee society, was your family. Marrying within your clan was strictly prohibited.  However, outside of her own clan a Cherokee woman had full right to marry any man she chose, be he Beloved Warrior from her tribe, a warrior outside her tribe, trader, or frontiersman. Women were totally free to choose.

Women owned the home and the furnishings. If the man she married turned out not to be the man of her dreams, she was free to divorce her husband by placing all his things outside the house. 
Also on her list of duties, women cared for the young, cooked and tended the home as well as the fields. She wove baskets, tanned skins and some even went on the warpath with their husbands.

Award-winning author Mary Adair is an Amazon bestselling author of Native American books with her Passion series. Find her website at  And her Amazon author page at