Thursday, September 10, 2009

Guest Blogger: Lena Nelson Dooley

I’ve been on a number of novella teams, and I’ve learned a lot through these experiences. The easiest kind of teamwork is done on a book where the novellas aren’t tied together or where they are generational in progression.

If they’re not tied together, the authors don’t have to worry about coordinating details with the other authors. With a generational novella collection, the stories are tied together, but they don’t take place simultaneously. This also doesn’t require much interaction with other members of the team.

A giant caution here, though: Readers really like for the stories in the collections to be closely connected. Those types of novella collections have higher sales than the other kind.

I’ve been on teams where all the members stayed in close contact and worked out any places where the stories overlapped, making sure they didn’t have different details. And I’ve been on teams where each person wrote the story alone and only tried to connect at the end. This brings up all kinds of problems.

My suggestion is for the whole team to choose a couple of months to write their stories, hopefully leaving at least one month at the end to iron out difficulties before the deadline. For two of the novella collections I’ve been in The Spinster Brides of Cactus Corner and Wild West Christmas, we worked together to plan the fictional town where the story is set. I’ve created a map of each town using the input of all the authors. Those were valuable. With Wild West Christmas, I even drew a map of the ranch and a plan of the ranch house that we all used in our stories.

With the close connection and critiquing each other’s stories, the team will end up with a much better product to send to the editor. That makes less work for them, too.

Writing a novella for a collection sounds easy. It can be if you’re careful to plan into your schedule time to interact with the other team members. Not doing so could lead to chaos either right before deadline or before the galleys come out.

Planning and teamwork have contributed to some very good collections.

Actually this year, I’m in two Christmas novella collections: Wild West Christmas—with Kathleen Y’Barbo, Vickie McDonough, and Darlene Franklin—and Christmas Love at Lake Tahoe with Jeanie Smith Cash, Jean Kincaid, and Jeri Odell.

There are 4 books here, so we will draw 4 names from those who leave a comment here on the blog along with their email contact. Drawing will be Monday, September 14 after noon.


PatriciaW said...

How did you break into novella writing? Which do you prefer, a closely connected set of stories or the completely independent ones?

Pepper Basham said...

I've tried my best to think in less than 75,000 words and it's so hard for me. It seems much more intense to write a novella than a 80,000 word + novel.

What are the main points to ponder when considering this genre?

Barbara said...

Thank you for sharing about what goes into the making of a novella book. How is a novella team put together?

Debby Mayne said...

Hey, Lena! Congrats on your anthologies coming out this year. I loved working with you on Montana Mistletoe!

Janalyn said...

Hmmm... Novella writing sounds fun. I'd love to do this also. I don't think I'll give up writing full-length novels, but it would be nice to do something a little less laborious here and there. I'm interested in your answers to the others. (Good luck, everyone!)

Wanda said...

I would love to be entered in your draw. Thank you!

Cathy Shouse said...

It's interesting to go behind-the-scenes of creating an anthology. I don't think I read one in quite the same way again.

I'd love to win a book.

cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

Kathleen L. said...

A Blue and Gray Christmas is on my list to buy, fer sher. It would be amazing to win it!

Kathleen L. Maher


Sally said...

Looking forward to reading A Blue and Gray Christmas!

Vickie McDonough said...

I enjoy reading and writing novellas. They move along quickly and you can read one in an hour or two. I've been blessed to work with Lena in several collections, and she's such an awesome lady.

I like the closely related stories, but there's much more that goes into planning those than the ones less connected.


Jennifer said...

How did you break into writing?

Kaitlin said...

I would love to be entered in this drawing! I love the Barbour Novella collections. Whenever I visit a bookstore, I always glance along the bottom of the shelf, looking for the Barbour publishing symbol :)

Mary Connealy said...

I've written a few novella's and Pepper you're right, there really is a trick to it. Probably a trick I haven't learned since I've never managed to get one published. :)

I love these short books though, so easy to pick one up and read it in a sitting. Very satisfying.

Rose said...


I love the novella collections. Thanks for some insight on how they are developed.

I do have a question, does an author/authors come up with the novella idea/theme or does the publisher approach the authors to write that particula novella?


RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

Aaron McCarver said...

Hey Lena,
Congrats on the new novella collections. I actually had the privilege of editing "Spinster Brides" and the stories were very well put together and flowed smoothly. Thanks for all of the great info!

Renee said...

It's so hard to beleive when it's 85 degrees outside that Christmas isn't all that far off! I just love the holiday season! I would love to get in the spirit by reading all of these great books. I know I only have a chance at winning one, but they all look awesome!

XOXO~ Renee

Lori (sugarandgrits) said...

I'm so glad there are multiple Christmas novellas being released again this year! I got all 4 of them last year, and loved them. I just can't resist Christmas-themed books. LOL

Lena, I read and thoroughly enjoyed The Spinster Brides of Cactus Corner ~ it was great! I can't wait to read Wild West Christmas.

Even though y'all have to work harder at them, I really enjoy the novellas that are "closely connected". I like to keep up with everyone, even after their particular story had ended. :)

Thank you for the awesome giveaway!

~ Lori

Edna said...

Please enter me into the drawing, I like the novellas I buy more of them than I do the series now, because with a series I like to buy all of them at once and that is hard to do as they are not written close together. May God bless


Donna L. Rich said...

I love it when the novellas are all tied together. Can't wait to read about Christmas. :)


Anonymous said...

Please enter me in your drawing--I love Christmas books!

Patty Hall

Margie said...

Thank you for the insight on the novella writing..good points for me to ponder!

I'm looking forward to the new books coming out.

I appreciate the giveaway!

mez said...

Please include me in the drawing, these look wonderful. Thanks!


Debra said...

I love Christmas stories. Please enter my name in the drawing.Thanks!


mary bailey said...

These books look sure to get me in the Christmas spirit! Please enter me in your contest. Thanks and God Bless.