Hey there, everyone! You’re safe from me for another day! 😉 Jackie decided to do some promo for her new story (congratulations, incidentally!) that she’s talking about today, and I’m happy to have her. Enjoy!
The Long and the Short of It by Jackie Barbosa
The first book I wrote after deciding I really wanted to be a published author was a Victorian-set romance with a plot that revolved around cheating in horse-racing. I started it with no clue about any of the writing “rules”—I still thought GMC was a model of car, wouldn’t have known character arc from Noah’s Ark, and had never met an infodump or an adverb I didn’t love. Needless to say, the course of that particular book did not run smooth. When it finally got to The End, the manuscript clocked in at 136,000 words. Most of which didn’t work very well. After several attempts to fix what was wrong with it (um, what wasn’t wrong with it, lol?), I shoved it under the bed.
So how did a writer who couldn’t even manage to get her first book in at 100,000 words come to be published as a short story and novella writer? Well, to make a long story short (haha!), I blame Ann Aguirre. She was writing a short for an Ellora’s Cave call for “Naughty Nuptials” and she encouraged her blog readers to do the same. The key with these “quickies” was they had to be under 15,000 words.
My initial reaction was “no fracking way!” Given my history of bloated manuscripts, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to tell a whole story in a mere 15,000 words. But I got a glimmer of an idea for a story, and before you know it, I was writing it and…reaching THE END at around 14,500 words.
As it happens, Ellora’s Cave turned down that story, Carnally Ever After, but it was ultimately picked up by Cobblestone Press. It wound up being my first offer of publication and it’s still probably the most consistent seller of all my ebooks. (In a small twist of irony, I got an offer from Harlequin Spice Briefs for this manuscript, which I’d submitted to them after the rejection from EC but then got nothing but crickets for several months. The offer came 13 months after I’d submitted it. )
In the process of writing that manuscript, however, I learned some things about myself and about writing. The first, and probably most important, was that writing short helped me hone in on the romance and the romantic conflict. When I wrote full-length books, I tended to concentrate too much on all the external moving parts of the plot and that wound up detracting from the romance. For me, writing short is an exercise is writing lean—and by lean, I don’t necessarily mean spare language or lacking in detail, but rather only writing those scenes the reader really needs to see to follow the thread of the story.
Writing short also helps with one of my major character flaws—I’m impatient and I don’t have the longest attention span. My hard drive is a treasure trove (or garbage pail, depending on your point of view) of manuscripts at varying stages—anywhere from a few pages of the opening to as much as 30,000 words. I love to start stories. I have tons of ideas. And whatever it is I’m working on, there inevitably comes a point when I lose interest in it and another new, shiny idea comes along to take its place. Fortunately, at least sometimes, I manage to arse myself to come back to the stories I’ve started and finish them.
My Spice Brief, Grace Under Fire, which was released yesterday (confetti and champagne toasts may now commence), was one of those manuscripts I abandoned in midstream and then came back to, months later. After I finished it, I sent it to my agent to submit it to Harlequin, figuring I might hear back in a little less than 13 months if the submission actually came through an agent. She called me back just 10 days later to tell me we had an offer for it along with a second story called Taking Liberties, currently scheduled for release in January of 2012. (I suspect the fact that we mentioned in the cover letter that they’d previously offered for a manuscript of mine might have expedited the process a little.)
For those who haven’t heard of either me or Grace Under Fire before, here’s the pitch I wrote for the story when we sent it to Harlequin:
Lady Grace Hannington is the most inaptly named debutante in all of London. Cursed with two left feet, hands that are nothing but thumbs, and a stutter, she’s certain to spend the next five years on the wall and the rest of her life on the shelf. Or so she believes, until her clumsiness pitches her literally into the arms of Lord Colin Fitzgerald and his best friend, Atticus Stilwell.
Colin and Atticus have been inseparable since a shared boyhood tragedy brought them together more than twenty years ago. Though it raises eyebrows, they share everything…including women. This particular quirk has made it all but impossible for Colin, whose title and lands will revert to the crown if he doesn’t have a legitimate heir, to find a respectable lady who’s willing to be his wife.
When a stroke of good fortune—and a little intervention from a well-placed foot—gives the two men a golden opportunity to show the lovely and lonely Lady Grace she’s not quite so gauche as she believes, they play it (and her) for all they’re worth. But once she’s discovered her true talents lie not on the dance floor but in the bedroom, Grace must decide whether a scandalous marriage that’s sure to ruin her reputation is what she really wants.
Harlequin wrote its own pitch, which is shorter and still good—I just like mine better, lol.
Now, Spice Briefs is an erotica line, so I have to warn the faint of heart that there’s quite a bit of sexing relative to length in this story. But I do promise an HEA, which isn’t a requirement for Briefs but is a requirement for a lot of readers. So, if you like erotic m/f/m romances, I hope you’ll give Grace Under Fire a whirl.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a way to give away a copy of Grace Under Fire at the moment, but since it’s digital only, that would be silly anyway since I have some swag to offer up in addition to books. With that in mind, I’d love to give away a copy of Behind the Red Door, my Kensington Aphrodisia novella anthology along with a couple of sets of my romance trading cards (you can see them here) and a few of my notepads.
I’ve read Behind the Red Door and enjoyed it. So, start talking! Have thoughts? Comments? Questions for Jackie? Get chatty! 😉