Thursday, November 3, 2011

Keeping it Short and Sweet, Guest Blogger Suzie Grant

Please welcome Suzie Grant, our guest blogger today!

Who would have imagined that I’d like them short? Novels, I mean. More like novellas, if you want to get technical about it. But I do.
When I was asked to join in the Regency Christmas anthology I had two things going against me. One: I had never written a Regency before (nor had I read many either), and I’d never written anything under 80,000 words before in my life. Now, one problem is rather easy to overcome. It’s called research, and luckily I love it. But I solved that by taking what I already knew, which was ships, and added what I didn’t, which was the Regency era.
It worked out pretty well since I knew a thing or two about smugglers and ships already.
Now my second problem was length. I had never imagined writing anything twenty thousand words or less before. Now I had to. I’m a plotter and planner. Normally I have three scenes per chapter at about twenty chapters per book. That comes out to about sixty scenes. Now I had to literally cut that in half and make it make sense. Not so easy to do.
So I wrote about two scenes per chapter with ten chapters which equals twenty scenes at approximately one thousand words a piece. And they didn’t all come out quite that length, but somehow I made it all fit.
The important thing about novellas is making every scene count. Everything must have a purpose for being there otherwise you should cut it because you don’t have time to dawdle on nonsensical things inside a novella. You must reveal solid characters with a solid relationship, and go through the entire relationship as if you would in a novel and do it in half the time. And if you’re like me, you must create an intricate plot because I know no other way to tell a story. My plot was quite complicated, and I needed it to be very fast paced because that’s my style.  Keeping my voice was very important to me. When Ava Stone suggested I write about Regency sea captain in order to keep my action-packed style of writing. I knew I may have just found my new niche.
Keeping the scenes shorter meant less back story and more forward action. So any back story was kept to dialogue between the characters, which is really how it should be handled anyway.
I also needed to go through the steps of falling in love quicker, but be able to show time had gone by during the story. In the beginning of the story you meet our characters in a Barbados jungle swamped with heat and bad guys. By the end of the story, they arrive in England on Christmas Eve after more than fifty days at sea. Being able to show time had passed needed to be kept to just a few sentences. So I had to build my world as they were moving in it. It was much more difficult than I had imagined it, because I do love to world build. Here’s an example from the story:
An icy breeze snaked through the rigging of La Obsidiana as she docked in Scarborough on Christmas Eve. After Blythe’s last attack, they’d repaired the damage without docking somewhere and made good time. Jewel clutched Rand’s overcoat closer together to ward off England’s winter chill. The dark material swallowed her amongst its massive folds as she and Rand made their way down the docks towards town.
Snow dusted the ground in soft patches and lingered on the roof’s of quant little shops. Early morning washed the wharves in pink dew, and a hazy mist hung over the port like a shroud, dampening the already chill air.
See here, in just a few lines you see that the chill of winter had set in, the temperature had dropped, and time had passed. And the best part is they’re still moving forward, which in turn means the story doesn’t slow down just for me to describe my scenery. You won’t get pages upon pages of descriptive sentences from my stories. Instead you’ll get tiny patches here and there that build the suspense while it’s enhancing the story line, which helps move the novella forward and keeps the pacing tight and fast.
While I’d love to tackle a Regency set in London, England. I know that number one, I am not prepared enough to do so and number two, the Regency reader is a rare reader who really knows her stuff. So you can’t fool them. So I will wait to make such an attempt, and when I do be sure to hang on to your caps and bonnets, because it’ll be one heck of a ride.
Now that the Regency Christmas anthology is out, I hope you enjoy my first attempt at a Regency as well as my first attempt at a novella. It was quite fun and right up my alley. I’m looking at writing another set of novellas in 2012, as well as a Regency series called The Exiled Lords. I hope you’ll join me then.
Be sure to leave a comment with an email address, and check out my website here to see how you will be eligible to win a Kindle, as well many other surprises.
And feel free to surf around while you’re there. You’ll find the links to the other twelve authors who joined me in writing the Christmas Anthology. Thanks for joining me today while I discussed how I overcame writing a novella for the first time. And perhaps you’ll join me soon for another adventure while I take life and happily-ever-after by the horns.
A Caribbean Jewel for Christmas

Blackmailed by a British Naval Commander, Captain Randall Whitton, a smuggler with a penchant for gold is rescued by Jewel Derington, a feisty plantation owner and the very woman who betrayed him in the jungles of Barbados. Escaping danger has never been so thrilling. Together they are drawn into a political game of winner takes all from which only his grandfather, the Duke of Danby, can rescue them.

Fascinated by the glitter of his Caribbean Jewel, Randall's lust for gold soon fades. His quest to tame this fiery treasure catapults them both into an adventure where the stakes are higher and the prize greater than either of them have ever dared dream.

Fall 1812
Smuggling had its disadvantages, especially inside a tavern full of British soldiers. The crackle of the fire filled the silence. Captain Randall Whitton eased back in his seat as the proprietress filled his tankard. He nodded his thanks and returned his gaze to the man seated across from him.
Unease snaked its way up Rand’s spine. This prearranged meeting hadn’t gone quite as planned. First, had he known he would be meeting in a tavern filled with British officers, he would have never come. And secondly, had he known it was a British commander who’d requested his presence, he would have run like hell in the opposite direction.
Commander Blythe studied him through dark blue eyes narrowed in the dim light. “Would you care for anything to eat, Captain? It’s on me.”
Glass clinked in the establishment and a soft drone of voices carried through the public house. They were the only two people in the upper balcony of the tavern, but it didn’t alleviate Rand’s anxiety in the least. He shook his head. “No, thank you. Why don’t we set aside all pretenses, Commander? I find I’m rather curious about your reasons behind the invitation.”
The slightest smile brushed the commander’s features. “Indeed.” Silence descended once again as the man sliced through his mutton chops. “I hope you’re comfortable. I would hate to think I’ve not made you feel welcome.”
Rand glanced over his shoulder at the only visible exit in the main hall. Comfortable? Indeed, like a mouse being pawed by a cat.
The clatter of dishes brought Rand to his feet and a hand on his Rigby flintlock pistol. When all eyes turned in his direction, Rand cleared his throat and reseated himself with a muffled apology. “I must confess to being on a schedule and I’m anxious to get on with my errands.”
The commander smiled. “Understandable. This was a rather spontaneous meeting. I do hope you’ll forgive me. After all, we’ll both profit from this encounter, or at least that’s my wish.”
“Excellent, what can I help you with?”
The uniformed soldiers resumed their previous endeavors one-by-one, and the normal drone of voices continued. Rand leaned back in his seat and sweat trickled down his temple.
Reputation colored him a criminal and being in a roomful of “His Majesty’s finest” made Rand extremely nervous.


Suzie still believes in happily-ever-after and after growing up reading classic adventure literature like Treasure Isle, Gone with the wind and watching classic westerns like Gunsmoke, Lonesome Dove, and Bonanza Suzie knew what she wanted to do with her life. She brings the action of thrillers to historical romance with steamy love scenes and a pace that will leave you breathless!

From Castles to cowboys there's something thrilling on every page. Take a deep breath and join Suzie on a journey as she takes happily-ever-after by the horns!

During her rocky teenage years writing became an emotional outlet for her and it wasn’t until she had married and had children that writing as a profession became an option.

After a very long divorce she again finds herself climbing that rocky path of life and has learned to live by a single quote: “Obstacles are placed in our path to determine whether we really wanted something, or just thought we did.” By Dr. Harold Smith.

Suzie looks forward to each new obstacle.

She lives happily ever after with her new beau, three boys and one little Shitzhu named Peppy Le’Pew in NC. One day she plans to retire and sail along the east coast an adventurer to the end.

To find out more about Suzie Grant please check out these links:

Here is a little about what Suzie Grant is working on now.
To be released November 1st 2011 A Summons from the Castle
A Regency Christmas anthology by twelve different authors.
The powerful Duke of Danby summons all of his wayward grandchildren home for the holiday


  1. Suzie ~ I'm so glad my suggestion of ship's captain worked out for you! Your first Regency is wonderful... Welcome to my world. ;) You might not ever want to leave! Good luck with the book.

  2. Welcome to the world of Regencies, Suzie!

  3. I really enjoyed your novella, and I'm sure readers will too. :)

  4. Hi Suzie,

    Thanks for a great interview and excerpt of your new Novella. I love finding new authors and look forward to reading your book as I'm a huge fan of Regency novels.

    Congratulations to you.

    dpd333 (at) aol dot com

  5. Oh Ava, I think you're right. I really do not want to leave this incredible new world you've shown me. It's fantastic!

    Thanks Samatha! I've loved all of the anthology stories, they're all really, really good. I am so grateful to have been able to join you all!

    Diane! Thanks so much for stopping in and I am so glad you like the excerpt. This story was so fun to write. I can't wait to see how everyone likes or even dislikes my version of the regency world. It's not your traditional regency story but it will certainly take you for a ride. Thanks again for stopping in! And thanks to Bernadette for having me again!

  6. It was a pleasure having you here! I hope you'll stop back by! :)