I’ve always loved writing novellas. I’ve written more than a few in my years as an author, most often in a collection as a holiday promotion from my publisher. For someone who writes long books, novellas are an odd attraction. Still, from the beginning, I found the format was a welcome break. While our practice as authors is to “show not tell,” we can tweak that rule with a novella. While my regular novels hover between 100,000 and 150,000 words and leave acres of room for story development, my novellas are more often in the 25,000 word format. If I have background information to work in, I can simply tell it up front. I can use direct narrative and description. Something different, in other words. Something different is almost always fun.
This week I began my first “novellini.” This is not a real word, at least I don’t think so, so please don’t look it up and lecture me in an email. My very first editor once used this to describe a short, short novella she was editing, and the term stuck with me. Now I’m working on my own novellini. Not quite a short story, not a novella, either.
I’m writing it for you.
Let me back up half a mile. So there I was, having lunch with my friend, the quilt designer Pat Sloan. We were lamenting the end of our Season of Grace Block of the Month promotion. For those of you who don’t know, this was a large wall quilt pattern we offered for free on our websites, designed to be either an advent quilt or a Christmas wallhanging, depending on the whim of the participant. The pattern was based on a quilt in my novel Sister’s Choice. Pat and I had fun with the design, and judging from the email and photos we received, so did our quilters.
Anyway, at lunch Pat and I began to talk about the possibility of doing another project together. Only this time, she wisely suggested I get out of the quilt block biz and back into the writing biz. Why didn’t I write a “story” to put on my blog to go with a quilt she would design.
Wow. Friends are a wonderful thing to have, aren’t they?
Since I was finishing Sunset Bridge, book three of the Happiness Key trilogy, we decided both the story and the quilt should honor the series. And fueled by Cobb salads, a new project was born.
Treasure Beach, my novellini, will debut here beginning in February and continue through until July, when Sunset Bridge arrives at your favorite bookseller. The story is set between the end of Fortunate Harbor and the beginning of Sunset Bridge, and features all my Happiness Key characters. I’m having such fun. I get to be with my Florida friends again after I thought I’d said goodbye.
Each Tuesday of those months I will “blog” a piece of the story right here. All you have to do is log on to Southern Exposure and read along. Of course, there’s that fabulous wallhanging, too. Pat will sell a kit for the whole quilt (be sure to grab one!)… then at the beginning of each month she will have directions for the free block of the month at her blog.
Those of you who want to use your own fabric can get the free pattern online then. But I’ve seen a mock-up of the quilt, and it’s absolutely charming. Pat perfectly captured the feel and theme of the books. I can’t wait to make one myself from her kit.
What can you do in the meantime? Well, if you’re not current with Happiness Key and Fortunate Harbor, buy them and read, read, read. The story will make more sense to you if you do, and then you’ll be ready for Sunset Bridge, the final installment. Of course you don’t have to make the quilt, but why wouldn’t you? Pat’s directions will be easy to follow, even for a beginner, and it’s really going to be a winner.
So come share in the excitement. Novellinis and wallhangings. Not an Italian pasta dish, but something delicious of a different sort. Where else but here?
PS: Don’t forget to comment on my last blog for a chance to win an autographed book in my latest giveaway. Deadline to comment is Monday, January 24th.