Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ryan Jo Summers on the Art of the Novella #Giveaway

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 3 comments
My guest poster is Ryan Jo Summers. Her novella Glimpse Eternity will be released on Feb 23rd on Kindle for 2.99. Right now on pre-order, it's 99 cents. I  pre-ordered my copy.

 Most standard applications accept a novel as over 40,000 words; a novella as between 17,500 to 40,00, a novelette as having between 7,500 and 17,500 words. A short story usually has under 7,500 words and flash fiction is below 1,000 words. My preferred specialty are novels, anything from 60,000 to reaching well over 100,000 words. On the other hand, I also like shorter stuff.

I use shorts and flash to either recharge the creative batteries if I feel I'm in a slump or feel particularly moved by something. My 740 word flash fiction "Emily" came to me as a dream. "Wishing on Time", a couple thousand word short story began as a semi-autobiographical tale which gave me permission to 'murder' the woman my husband had an affair with and still let me play with my interest in time travel. "The Lesson" was my first short story, written in first person too, and it had been geared for a dog writing contest I did not win. None of these are published, but I periodically submit them to university English departments and the feed-back is encouraging.

"Glimpse Eternity" is actually a novelette, weighing in at around 11,000 words (give or take a few with edits). This book began with me driving home Valentine's evening. It was dark, rainy and about midnight. In the center of a road cutting through a residential neighborhood was a complete bouquet of red roses-- dozen roses, baby's breath, ferns and cellophane wrapping. How could it have possibly gotten there? Lover's quarrel? That seemed so sad. The writer in me tossed scenarios around until one day, while up at my favorite forest hang out, I wrote the most probable reason as an opening scene. That scene eventually moved closer to the end of the story instead. In the meantime, I was struggling to come to terms with some physical issues and a friend suggested I write it out as therapy. So I created Kasey Griffin, the heroine in "Glimpse Eternity", gave her some devastating limitations and then gave her a love interest. Conversationally, her last name stems from my interest with mythology.

In my travels, I heard Melange Books was looking for Valentine's themed stories. In a moment of optimistic whimsy, I sent it in. Wonder of wonders, they wrote back, offering a contract. It had not been my intention, but I'm happy to see Kasey and Ben's struggles--and mine!--validated.

So how are all these different, beyond the obvious story length? First, how are they similar? Genre tends to be the same, whether they be romance, sci-fi, thriller, etc.. POV is the same. All the same grammar rules apply. Pacing is different, as you don't have as much time to hook, talk about and then end your story in shorter works. You have to plan more, having less space to catch loose ends or plot snags. Conflict is usually less in shorter works, though still always present. People fall in love in few pages, time moves differently. Backstory is usually abbreviated, if present at all. These are generalizations, of course, and there are certainly exceptions out there.

Writing shorts has inspired me to spread my wings with them more. While my heart lies with long stuff (80K+), novellas and novelettes can be fun. My current WIP is a novella, around 25-30 thousand words, about finding love in a dog park. It is also my first venture into romantic comedy. I'm finding it tough to face the complexities of conflict and tension while maintaining a light-hearted style and voice. 

         Kasey Griffin is determined to prove a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis isn't going to ruin her life or define her expectations. She is dedicated to her pregnant sister, her pets and operating her bookstore, 'The Next Chapter'. She has everything she needs to have a full and satisfying life--the daily challenges of her condition notwithstanding.
         Then hunky musician Ben Salem rolls into town. Ben's subtle charm quickly reminds Kasey she is more than a woman with a disease, she is also a woman with a heart. And Ben wants it.
         Will Ben still desire her once he learns the terrible details of her condition?

Bio:  Ryan Jo Summers is a North Carolina writer who likes to pen romances with a twist. Love stories blended as inspirational, with paranormal, suspense or time travel--or several at once. She also writes non-fiction for regional periodicals. Her dad is a songwriter and his aunt wrote poetry, so Ryan came by the writing gene honestly.
         Her hobbies include poetry, bird watching, houseplants and gardening, gathering with friends, hiking in the forest, painting canvas and ceramics, and working wiggly word find puzzles, mah johngg or chess.  She lives in a 1920 cottage with a menagerie of pets. She often daydreams of the shore and frequently uses water as settings in her stories.

       It should not be this difficult, Kasey Griffin decided, taking aim at the nail head once more. Missing, she nicked her thumb again and dropped the hammer. Swallowing another oath, she sucked tenderly at her bruised thumb, cursing the wave of dizziness that lead to making this such an impossible task. Honestly, hammering a few nails in the wall was all she wanted to do.
      Well, not today at least. Temporarily admitting defeat, she returned the tools to the box and shoved them aside. Heading to the freezer, she withdrew a small bag of blended vegetables and a pint of ice cream. Sometimes chocolate chunk caramel ripple can have medicinal benefits.

WEBSITE: www.ryanjosummers.com ;
BLOG: http:summersrye.wordpress.com  

Thank you for this lovely post, Ryan Jo. Love the excerpt. I look forward to reading Glimpse Eternity. Ryan is giving away either a PDF copy of Glimpse Eternity or a PDF copy of When Clouds Gather. - Winner's choice. Leave a comment to enter. Happy week, everyone.


  1. Susan, thank you for the visit. Have a wonderful week.

  2. Thank you for this opportunity. I recently had it confirmed that I do have MS and apparently have had it for some time. I'm very interested in reading your book. Of course, every MS patient is different.

    1. Nancy, sorry to hear of your diagnosis. It can be such a scary and uncertain time. I hope you have a knowledgeable and caring support team around you. Perhaps Kasey's struggles will help somehow. Best wishes. ~RJS


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