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!
Until we meet again, have a fabulous Friday!