I like a challenge. Particularly one that will help me hone my skills as an author, and force me to try things I might not otherwise consider.
For me, the biggest challenge I face in my writing is length. (Heh, heh.) Keeping a novel under 150,000 words is a constant mix of tiptoeing, editing and blind luck – because I love me some complex characters and a layered plot.
At the start of the year, I faced this challenge by committing to write novellas for some anthologies (no, they aren’t out yet and yes, I’ll tell you when they are). I managed one at 40,000 words. I managed one at 26,000 words. I managed one at 20,000 words. Who is this person? I don’t even know!
Every year, the Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) runs competitions for two different anthologies. One, the Sweet Treats, involves a 3,000 word limit written according to that year’s theme. The other, Spicy Bites, involves a 5,000 word limit according to that year’s theme.
No exceptions. No, “I’m just ten words over.” You shape up, or you’re not even in the running – and if you do well, you’re awarded a spot in that year’s anthology.
Me being me and clearly crazy, I decided to give it a try. Because obviously, if I can manage to only blow a 40k word limit by a few thousand, then I can totally do 3k and 5k, right?
I’ll let you imagine the hair-pulling and swearing that ensued as I agonised over these two little pieces. Small in word count, big in heart and character, all while keeping to the theme. Consider me well and truly stretched.
Sweet Treats, I wasn’t lucky enough to make the cut – the ladies who did, though, did amazing jobs. But Spicy Bites? What do you know, I got in! I was over the moon.
Fast forward several months and in late August 2020, the ‘Spicy Bites – Leather’ anthology was released. Seeing my name on the cover was a huge rush, because it might only be five thousand words, but it’s a massive achievement for someone who usually only thinks in series instalments… and I had so much fun shouting at my ipad that I’m clearly going to enter them both again next year!
If you’re interested in checking the anthology out, you can find it digitally here and in print here.
Until we meet again, have a fabulous Friday!