Short Story Writing Class Lessons

I recently took a short story writing class. This wasn’t an in depth exploration rather a general overview with time to practice and share with other writers.

Thought I’d share a little of what I learned with you and why I’m questioning if this works in romance.

Couple asleep on a bed head against headAs a reader, I love romantic shorts. But now I’m reading and seeing that maybe the ones I love are short novels and not short stories?

The short story compared to a novel:

Word Count: For the purposes of the class the short story was defined as having a length of between 5000 and 20,000 words. Beyond that was a novella, less than that was flash fiction (another favorite of mine!). Novels were defined as having 80,000 words or more.

Timeframe: Depending on length, short stories take place in a short amount of time. Think a day, a week, no more than a month depending on word count. Novel of course can span years and generations.

Characters: The short story has very few characters. The professor warned against having more than five at the high end of the word count. Her reasoning was that to fully develop even a minor character, word count is used up and takes away from the plot development. The novel can have as many as you dream up because the word count can sustain them.

Setting: The short story has one or two fully visualized settings (see prof’s reasoning above). This is one I struggled with accepting, personally. I don’t want to be in one or two places for 20,000 words for a romance. But then I thought about a murder mystery and I liked the idea.

Plot: The short story has one central crisis for the protagonist to overcome and move him or her towards resolution. According to the prof, the novel has this freedom to twist and turn and evolve into something different that what it seemed to be in the beginning.

For the most part, short mysteries follow these guidelines. I looked through the Kindle and yes there were few characters, limited settings in a tight time frame and yes there was only the central crisis – solve the mystery.

Back to my question – does this work for romantic shorts? Do readers only want to get lost for a long time in a different world or is there an audience for the quickie?

Books I Liked During the Class:

Crafting Novels & Short Stories by Editor’s of Writer’s Digest

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman

March 2013 – Status Update

I thought I’d get this in before the month was over!

Here is where I am now.

Organization: Office was set and I’ve started on my son’s room. Poor little guy, his space became storage so we’ll have to donate what doesn’t fit in the house. Can’t just clutter his closet with doll houses that no one plays with.

Exercise: Ooohhh! That came to an abrupt end. It’s very painful. I’m going to try yoga in March. That didn’t happen, we’ll try for April.

Writing: My goal is to complete four long works. I don’t want to call them novels because they may not end up that long.

Deja Vu – Completed and on sale!

Amber Meets Her Cowboy3WIP/Amber and Kevin – Trimmed down to 40,000 but still working on some kinks – shooting for completion by the end of April. And the cover has been nominated for 2012 Swirl Award for Best Cover – thanks to my wonderful designer!

A Loving Affair – The second story in the Rose Gold Collection. This is an outline of 13000 words and a few scenes written in a notebook. Got to get that moved over to computer. ~ Have yet to do this. Ugh! (same)

Dulce Means Sweet – The third story in the Rose Gold Collection. This is also in a notebook. No outline but character analyses completed and a few scenes. ~Eek! Double Eek!

Let’s hope I’m further along next month!

Déjà Vu – Available in Limited Release

It’s finally done! I missed my goal of writing a full length novel, but it sure felt like I did. The final project ended up being around 49,000 words. On retail sites, the word count will show as about 50,000 words but that’s due to the summaries of the other books in the collection.

And the saga continues, I’m releasing Déjà Vu as a print title on Amazon. Yes! A paperback!

However, this is a much longer process than releasing an ebook. So for the time being, Déjà Vu will only be available from All Romance and Smashwords (25% off with coupon code – NJ53M) until the process is complete. Right now I’m waiting for my proof copy to be delivered. Believe me, I’ll be rereading each page for what seems like the hundredth time!

Also there are two covers for the book – one designed by me and the one designed using the Amazon software which will only be available through Amazon. The same model is used but the cover layouts are different. I’m wondering if this is going to cause a problem and will let you guys know if you should never do this!

So it’s out there – Déjà Vu by Vallory Vance!

DEJAVUFinalAfter a few swipes on the wall near the door, Darcey found a switch and the bedroom flooded with light. She’d been tossing and turning for at least an hour. More wine might help in her efforts to sleep.

Maybe she’d look for that media room.

Darcey opened the door, pulled her favorite sleep shirt down over her panties, and took a tentative step into the hall. With each tiptoe across the floor, overhead lights blazed on and she traversed through the living area into the kitchen without a misstep.

Like the other rooms she’d seen, it was picture perfect— maple cabinets and shiny chrome appliances. She opened the double refrigerator and found a lone bottle of wine amid assorted juices and plastic containers. After opening a few cabinet doors, she found a glass and poured.

In the relief that followed the swallow of tangy tartness, she’d missed hearing Vincent’s footsteps across the polished stone floor.

“Did you need something, sweetheart?”

A waterfall of tickles cascaded down her spine with each of the words drawled out syllable by syllable until there was nothing left but a question mark hanging in the air. The idea of reigning in her impulsive nature melted in the heat beginning to rise slowly up from her toes.

“Sure.” She turned to face him and a hot wave crashed over her.

He stood less than a foot away, tightly coiled muscles covered his large frame and unlike the tailored shirt he’d worn earlier, the boxers seemed to be on the verge of ripping from his bulging thighs.

“And what did you need?”

She was done. Coyness grated away to nothingness over the coarseness in his voice.


A smile lit up his face, sparkling up to his eyes. “Good girl.”

Within seconds, Vincent had lifted her off the floor. She wrapped her legs around his waist while he balanced her in his arms. She kissed the lips she’d been dreaming of for a week and her head spun.

“Mmm…” Vincent had the softest lips she’d ever kissed. Her teeth sunk into the supple cushion of his bottom lip and he pulled back with a groan.

“Wait…” He ducked away from her next kiss and began to walk them out of the kitchen. “I can’t see where I’m going.”

She ignored his attempts to avoid her mouth and bent her head to his shoulder, tracing her tongue along the popping veins of his neck.

“Wait,” he groaned out again and picked up speed. His stomach muscles rippling between her outstretched legs, only hastened her antics.

She found his mouth again and flourished her tongue inside. His now stifled groans reverberated across her tongue sending tingles from her mouth straight to a tightening between her legs.

“Owww…” Her head scraped the doorframe to the bedroom she’d vacated. Only then did her lips leave his and she looked into the clear blue irises darkening inward from their ebony edges. “Ohhh…”

“Sorry, sweetheart. Are you alright?” He deposited her in the middle of the bed and stood above her, a statue carved in some masculine ideal.

She nodded. So sweet.

“Good. Get undressed.”

There it was. The drill sergeant look she shouldn’t like. Impassive and commanding.

Still, she got onto her knees, a fire burning between her legs ignited by the deep voice that dripped heated honey over her skin. She lifted the t-shirt over head, flung it aside and shook her curls back.

Her breathing hitched in her chest under the gaze of his eyes dimming to the color of a storm surge at sea.

“And the panties.”

She wriggled them down and off, reclined back on her elbows and waited. Vincent bent low to kiss each of her ankles, moved her leg aside to kiss up her calf to the back of her knee. She gasped and giggled at the ticklish sensation.

“I love to hear you laugh.”

Happy Reading ~ Val

January 2013 Status Update

This year on the blog, I thought I’d start a monthly update about my goals for the year. I hope this gives me some motivation to complete them since I’m writing them out into the universe.magic pen (series C)

Organization: My entire house needs to be organized. This is in the thinking stages. Hopefully next month there’ll be something concrete to post.

Exercise: I’m exercising! I’m going to RomCon 2013 in June and want to sit by the pool in a bathing suit. Since gravity has taken a toll on me in the last decade. I’ve got some work to do. You can see the full post over at Luscious Literaries!

Writing: My goal is to complete four long works. I don’t want to call them novels because they may not end of that long. Here is where I am:

Deja Vu – The follow up to Cheers is at 53000 words and in the second draft stage, I hope to have the first chapters into my critique group this weekend.

WIP/Amber and Kevin – Currently at 44000 words, no title, more work to do. It just isn’t right. I hope to spend February working on this.

A Loving Affair – The second story in the Rose Gold Collection. This is an outline of 13000 words and a few scenes written in a notebook. Got to get that moved over to computer.

Dulce Means Sweet – The third story in the Rose Gold Collection. This is also in a notebook. No outline but character analyses completed and a few scenes.

Let’s hope I’m further along next month!


Snippet Sunday #4 – Work In Progress

After a great day of rewrites, I have worked through four chapters of my current untitled work in progress. I’ve reached 21, 000 words in total with a net goal of 20,000 words. A little scary that I only have a 1000 words to spare.

The main characters:

Lena Spencer – professor of music at small private college outside of Dallas

Ethan Holden – working musician

The basic story is that Ethan is trying to win back Lena, the mother of his daughter. In this scene, Lena has agreed to meet Ethan to help him with a project and he encounters her family first. It has little to do with being hot and sexy, but I like it.

Are you looking for Auntie?” Jasmine’s eyes blazed.

He nodded and glanced toward the back of the store. “She’s helping me with something.”

“Hmmm…so nice that an ex would do that.” Marian rolled the words out of her mouth in an barely veiled sneer. Juan Carlos just shifted in his seat and grumbled.

“Well…” he started but was interrupted by Jasmine.

“Well it’s strictly professional, mama. I mean Auntie seems really interested in that guy over there.” Ethan followed Jasmine’s waggling finger to a register tucked between two aisles.

A cashier leaned across the counter and smiled broadly at Lena. She held her head in a slight downward tilt. Was she smiling too? His stomach twisted into one of those knots that had become increasingly familiar over the past few weeks.

“Oh now, he’s cute.”

“Auntie is turning into one hot little mama, isn’t she Ethan?”

“Oh, oh, oh….” Marion snapped her fingers in front of her “…what’s that word? Is it a milk?”

“No, mama it’s…

First Draft of WIP Complete

After working for the last few weeks on my next piece, it is finally complete. I should say that the shell is done.

Writing has been erratic over the last few days with storms raging through North Texas and Spring sickness spreading through our household. However I was able to complete a good first draft of over 17,000 words. I’m happy about that.

Things I’m not happy about:

The hero – He doesn’t have a name.  I know this sounds crazy but as I began to write the story, I realized that Evan Reynolds was not my trumpeter. Over the last few days, I have researched baby names, read through census records and even picked up a family history of founding families of Dallas County, Texas. Nothing is helping.

Time constraints – It is the busy season at my day job and I can’t sneak in marketing time at work so I am forced to cut down on writing time to accommodate my job’s insistence that I actually work at work. The nerve!

Research – This new work is about a working musician. Before I start editing and rewriting, I have a lot of fact checking to do. I need to know about festivals, recording studios, instruments and voice lessons. For a man who won’t tell me his name, he sure is asking a lot.

I’m taking advantage of this rainy afternoon to read authors who have done their research, marketed well and named their heroes.

Word Count – Untitled

I am working on a new piece with a projected word count of 25, 000 words.  This week I completed over 5200 words for a total of 8968 words.  I am currently at 39.5% of my goal.  I’m a  little worried because I am already in the middle of what is ACT II (since I have a background in play writing, I still think in those terms).

One of my problems is that I am used to writing succinctly so I don’t give myself the opportunity to fully describe settings and people. I’ll just have to overcome that.

Back to writing and hopefully next week, I’ll at least be at 50% of my goal.