When Your Copy of Romanov Arrives [the definitive guide]

In the event that anyone happened to forget, Romanov by Nadine Brandes releases May 7. That is a week from today.

A. week. from. today.

For those of you who don’t know (where have you been and what have you been doing with your life?), Romanov is a historical fantasy retelling of Anastasia.

I had the privilege of reading it last summer, and I wasn’t sure how it could ever top Fawkes or The Out of Time series (Nadine’s previous books which I ADORE to high heaven). But then it did.

Thus, in celebration and warning, I’ve compiled this guide for when Romanov appears on your front step (because you’ve pre-ordered it, right?). You’re welcome in advance. (Also, this started out as an eleven part series, but I’ve taken the liberty of condensing it down to a single post.)

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If you’re like me, your heart is tuned to the sound of the mail truck. And the FedEx truck. And the UPS truck. Thus, when you hear (aka: sense with your bookwormish, snail-mail-obsessed sixth sense) the delivery truck approaching, you know the time has come.

Romanov arrives.

You fling open the door, race and/or dance down the front steps, and scoop the box out of the driver’s hands before he’s even made it out of his truck.

Or maybe you’re slow and/or an introvert and find that Amazon fulfillment box lying alluringly just outside your front door.  Your hands go shaky, your mouth goes dry, and you gather up the box like a dragon with treasure, retreating back into the safety of your house.

Step One: Put on the proper soundtrack. 

You know in the movies when the hero finds the priceless artifact? He opens the box, and light floods out while a orchestra adds epic notes to the moment.

Friends, this is that moment in your life.

Or also that moment when Thor’s restarting a dying star. It’s also like that moment.

You’re only going to get it once. So make it count.

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Select the proper song (I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a playlist for such a moment [no, I’m not obsessed]), pop on the headphones or bluetooth connect with the speaker, and turn the volume to the max.

Step Two: Wash your hands.

I don’t know what you’ve been up to on The Day When Romanov Arrives, but you don’t want to get any grubby fingerprints on that gold-foil cover no, I’m not fixated on the gold-foil cover, why do you ask?.

So go scrub the chocolate or pizza residue or ranch dressing off your fingers.

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Step Three: Open the box.

You can video this to post on Instagram and/or Facebook if you like, but I advise against it because cutting open a box one-handed is bound to end badly. You could end up stabbing yourself, or worse, Romanov.

So don’t try to be a hero. Video yourself with Romanov after you’ve already opened the box.

Step Four: Pose for pics and videos and publish on social media.

On the day Nadine revealed the cover for Romanov way back in 2018, I rambled and raved for a full nine Instagram stories. And that was just discussing the cover, so really, the sky’s the limit for this initial photo shoot/five part Youtube series about Romanov‘s arrival and how excited you are about it and how much you want to read it.

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Thor = Romanov, the girls = you, Loki = e’rybody else

Also, did Romanov even arrive if you didn’t document it on social media (that was not at all a burn to the #bookstagram world [or was it? {I need to stop, especially since I will be documenting the socks off the arrival of my various copies of Romanov}])?

Step Five: Stop Reading Whatever It Is You’re Already Reading.

Romanov arrives on your doorstep (because you’ve pre-ordered it, right?), and you think to yourself, “Oh, wonderful! I’ll start it as soon as I’m finished with Such-and Such.”

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That is not at all what you should say to yourself when Romanov arrives in all its gold-foil glory.

Stop whatever it is you’re #currentlyreading. It’s lame in comparison to Romanov (I realize that is a VERY bold statement…. and I stand by it 139%).

Step Six: Abscond from all responsibility for the next 72 hours.

“Why 72 hours?” you may ask yourself. You clearly have never read a Nadine Brandes book.

Granted, it’ll probably only take six or so hours to read Romanov (probably less because it is in fact the smallest book Nadine has written to date). But you will be so wrecked after that you will need quite some time to recover and crawl out from under the mountain of used tissues.

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^ how Nadine writes books ^

I am not a story crier. I don’t cry over books or movies hardly ever (I didn’t cry during Avenger’s: Endgame, if that gives you any perspective).

However, there are two novelists who have a history of sending me to tears: C.S. Lewis and Nadine Brandes.

So just know that this book is going to take you everywhere emotionally before it finally spits you out at the end, and it takes time to recover from such trauma.

A few reactions I had along the way:

magical 1

jack sparrow not good 1

freak out 1

this is bad 1

freak out 3

rdj 6

stranger things 21

^ me trying to make everything okay with fire ^

thor 3

goldblum 1

lego batman 1

thor 3

thor 3

thor 3

thor 3

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(this many uses of this Thor gif is not an accident, FYI)

Step Seven: Gather reading supplies.

Reading supplies you will need for Romanov include but are not limited to:

  • a suitably comfortable chair or couch
  • pajamas
  • coffee or tea (and don’t go decaf; I don’t care if you have to work in the morning; once you start Romanov, you won’t care either; get a caffeinated drink)
  • chocolate and assorted snacks (but take that gold foil dust jacket off, kids; don’t be barbarians)

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  • two boxes of tissues
  • a blanket for when the cold of midnight comes upon you
  • a bookmark in case you need to take a bathroom break
  • cell phone (in case you need emotional support from a friend)
  • paper bag for when you hyperventilate

Step Eight: Start Reading.

If this step needs explanation or elaboration,  I don’t know what you’re doing here or with your life in general.

Bonus! Start measuring time in relation to when you read Romanov.

There is only before and after. B.R. = Before Romanov. A.R. = After Romanov.


And that’s it, kids.

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With love,

Rosalie

p.s. – there’s a fun Instagram photo challenge that starts tomorrow, in case you want to jump in! Search for this: #romanovninjas

p.p.s. – I’ve been waiting to be able to squeal with the world about Romanov for mooooooonths, and I’m (clearly) very excited that it’s finally going to be out and about. Nadine has worked so hard on it and executed it so. freaking. well. Excuse me while I go reread it. Again.

p.p.p.s. – don’t forget the Romanov arrival playlist (if you thought I was joking about making a playlist for the arrival, you were clearly wrong; I don’t joke about Nadine Brandes books).

 

Cap-tivated [a flash fiction]

I’ve decided to share a flash fiction I wrote a while back with you all on the blog. For those of you who don’t know, a flash fiction is a story in 1000 words or under. Cap-tivated (the flash fic I’m sharing today) comes to 971 words.

Note: I’m under no delusions about my romance writing skills, just so we’re all clear from the outset. I just know that the way to get better at something is to practice, so here’s to practicing and jumping out of the comfort zone and writing romance even though you don’t really know how to write romance.


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She sported that awful St. Louis Cardinals tee and baseball cap the first time Cal saw her in the fifth grade. Any decent person would know better than to wear Cardinals stuff in Chicago Cubs territory, but Cal supposed that it was more proof that she was not a decent person.

It was just another Saturday of backyard ball with Jimmy, Nate, and Alex. Cal had struck Alex out twice and was about to start on a third thanks to his wicked curveball when she came up to the edge of the yard, baseball glove in hand and Cardinals cap shading her face. “Hi’ya! Do you have room for another player?”

The other boys looked to Cal. His yard, his job to get rid of the girl. He rubbed his thumb across the baseball and shrugged. “Ah, nah, two-on-two works pretty well for us.”

She adjusted her cap. “Oh, okay. Well, I’m Molly. I just moved into the house two doors down, so just give me a holler if you have room for another player.”

Cal nodded, as if they would ever want a girl underfoot for one of their games, and she disappeared down the street with an overly cheerful wave. Trying not to smirk, Cal wound up for his next pitch.

But she came back the next Saturday. And the next. And the next. And every single Saturday after that, even when it was raining. Always in that awful cap. And each time, the other three boys would look to Cal to handle it. His yard, his job to get rid of the girl. And each time, he’d come up with something to send her away.

But then Mom happened to be there one day when Molly showed up, and all hope was lost. “Cal, you let this sweet girl play with you,” Mom said before disappearing inside.

Sweet girl? Psh. Just look at that cap! There’s nothing sweet about her. But he had no choice. Molly bounced up to Cal. “Can I pitch?”

He shot a glance at the kitchen window. Mom’s silhouette lurked by the sink, probably watching their game with her Mom-eyes. Crud. No getting out of it. He reluctantly tossed the ball to Molly, teeth grinding. “Sure.”

The summer before high school Cal’s friends went off to camp while he stayed home. He sat on the swing set in the park, baseball glove on one hand, baseball in the other. One week in, and it was shaping up to be the loneliest, most boring summer in the history of summers.

A pair of tennis shoes appeared in the corner of his eye. “Hi’ya, Cal! Your mom said you’d be here.”

Mom, why do you do this to me?

Molly ground a woodchip under her shoe. “I thought we could maybe play some catch.”

He glanced up and took in her dusty, summer appearance. Two braids, an ever-present smile, and that awful Cardinals cap. She didn’t seem to ever change as the years passed. It was either that or he couldn’t get past that hat. “Eh, I’m not really in the mood.”

But she wouldn’t let it go. She straightened her cap and flipped a braid over her shoulder. “Or you could finally teach me that curveball.”

Of course she had to mention his famed curveball. It was like she knew he couldn’t resist the offer. She was that annoying. But by the last week of summer when his friends came home, Molly was throwing a better curveball than Cal, and Cal was carving a C and an M into a tree in the park.

“Tonight was really the best, babe.” Molly toyed with the brim of her Cardinals cap as they pulled into their driveway.

Cal shot her a smile and killed the engine. “I’m glad you liked it.”

She laughed. “I loved it. I still can’t decide if it’s harder to believe that you, Cal Foster, took me to a Cardinals game, or that it took four years of marriage for you to finally get around to it.”

“You know I work in baby steps.” He opened his car door. “I just wish you would have let me buy you a new cap. That one’s a mess.”

“Agh, Cal, this cap has so much sentimental value!” She pulled the cap off and gave the brim an affectionate brush.

“Then I can get you a glass case for it.”

She rolled her eyes. “Let’s pretend you didn’t say that. Anyway, babe, I’m gonna need some help getting out of the car.”

“Ah, right.” He swung his door closed and went around to her side. With a grin, he took her hands and helped her stand.

“Phew.” She put a hand on her rounded stomach, breathing a little hard. “He’s going to be a big boy.”

He led her up their front steps. “Boy? Since when did you decide that it’s a boy?”

“He carries so differently than Emma did, and Emma needs a little brother.”

Fishing the keys out of his pocket, he quirked an eyebrow at her. “That sounds so scientific.”

She grinned and twisted the end of one of her braids. “It is. And, your mom agrees with me.”

Cal groaned as he pushed the door open. “Of course she does.

Molly kissed his cheek. “And, also, I got Emma a little something special while you were getting refills.” She smirked and wandered inside, dropping her purse as she dug some cash out of her pocket for the babysitter.

As she disappeared into the kitchen and started chatting with the sitter, he opened her purse to find a toddler size Cardinals cap nestled next to the baseball she caught at the game. He rubbed the cap’s red and white stitching. “Well, boy or girl, this next baby gets a Cubs cap.”


Cap-tivated was submitted to a magazine and rejected in June 2017, and so it shall live out its days on Penprints. :)

Thanks for reading! You can find my published flash fictions here.

Are you a fan of flash fiction?

With love,

Rosalie

P.S. – here’s a shout out to my favorite sister-in-law, Janie, who came up with the adorable and brilliant title for this story!

The Penprints Flash Fiction Dash [the giant wrap-up post]

The time has come to wrap up the very first ever Penprints Flash Fiction Dash (refer back to this post if you don’t know what I’m talking about)!

There were 44 initial sign ups, 44 prompts went out, and 26 stories came back! My mind = so blown by how excited people got about this challenge and by the uniqueness of each story submitted.

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How this wrap-up works:

All the stories are linked to the prompts below, either via a PDF file or a blot post on the author’s blog.

The stories are divided into very broad genre generalizations (and if I didn’t know what genre to stick it in, it went in “other”), and the last two stories are separate from their genres because they were inspired by song prompts rather than picture prompts (I didn’t want them to get lost in all the pictures, so that’s why I put them at the end in their own little category).

Scroll through this post and click on the picture prompt(s) of the stories you want to read!

NOTE: I do not own any of the following pictures that were used as prompts, and I also don’t own either of the songs used as prompts.

Fantasy.

The Reeducation of Kylee Flintlock by Kat Vinson of Sparks of Ember.

"The Reeducation of Kylee Flintlock" by Kat Vinson

Impossible Love by Adaline Griffiths.

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Till the Wind Changes by A.K.R. Scott.

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Empty Image by Amanda Cox of Hope Perch.

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Painted with Light by Kathryn McConaughy of The Language of Writing.

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Under the Surface by Moya Tobey of An Existence Transcribed.

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White Winds by Emily Jayne.

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The Confession by Rachel Leroy.

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Paper Boat by Melinda Wagner.

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Ellusa by Katherine Massengill.

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The Dragon in the Mini by Chelsea Hindle.

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Science Fiction.

Strange by Evan Hildreth of Plot Hole Fragments.

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Poisoned Time by Kyle Shultz.

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So Close by Leah E.

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Contemporary.

The Backup by Heather Tabata.

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Clouds by Alina Kanaski of Ordinary Adventures.

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Bird-watching and Other Human Pursuits by Jebraun Clifford.

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Ali Green by Lindsey Tessa of Story Haven.

Other.

Away by Michael Blaylock of Fencing With Ink.

"Away" by Michael Blaylock

Underwater Dance by Nicole Fritz.

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Hoofbeats in My Heart by Sarah Rodecker.

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A Delusional Path by Annalia Fiore.

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Historical.

Anika Rojkkers’ Experience of 1953 by Laura Danner of Flowers in My Basket.

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Stories from a song prompt.

Collapse of the General Eternal by Just B. Jordan written from “Ghost of a King” by The Grey Havens.

Birdie by Emily Kazmierski written from “Keeping Your Head Up” by Birdie.

The giveaway winner!

All the writers who sent a story back to me (even if they didn’t want it included in this post) were entered to win The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction as well as a one year subscription to the Splickety Publishing Group magazine of their choice!

So I picked a name out of a hat (okay, I just typed all the names into a random name picker, but that’s just boring sounding), and I need a drumroll people.

*whispers* Are you giving me a drumroll?

The giveaway winner is Laura Danner, author of Anika Rojkker’s Experience of 1953! Woohoo!! Congrats, Laura! I’ll be shooting you an email in a day or two!

And congratulations and thank you to each of you lovely people who signed up and wrote stories!

So, which story was your favorite? Have you fallen in love with flash fiction yet??

With love,

Rosalie

P.S. – yes, yes, this post was supposed to go up yesterday, but I encountered major technical difficulties. Thus, this amazing wrap-up post was delayed a day. :( Trust me, there was much growling and groaning and gnashing of teeth as I tried to trouble shoot the technical hiccups. Updates on delays and post sneak peaks and such can be found on my Facebook page, just so ya know.
P.P.S. – writers who participated in this challenge, keep a weather eye on your inboxes as a debrief email should be arriving within the next couple of days.

In Defense of Short Fiction

In last week’s post about sorting fiction by length, I mentioned my (strong) feelings on brief fiction, and so this week is all about those (strong) feelings.

Warning: copious use of parentheses ahead; also, slight ranting.

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There seems to be some sort of grading of stories by their length, and I’m not talking about sorting. I’m talking about an inflated sense of importance or significance or prestige or betterness (yes, I made that a word) based on a story’s wordcount.

It’s become a badge of sorts to write mammoth novels, as if the higher your wordcount is, the more fantastic of a writer you are. It’s some sort of milestone to reach 100,000 words in your novel or for your final word count to come to 120,000 words (or higher), and it’s almost like you haven’t arrived as a writer until you’ve hit the big 100k.

And if your novel’s only in the 60,000’s, well, I mean, that’s great and all, but… you know… it’s kind of short, and really, what story is worth only 64,000 words? And if it doesn’t even make it to 50k, well, um, is it even technically a novel? Isn’t that more of, like, a novella, and who even reads those?

Spoiler alert: it’s small-minded to think that a story is better because it’s longer. This post is for the people who are afraid their story’s too short, it’s for the people who think a short story isn’t worth their time, and it’s also for the people who think that you aren’t a certified writer/author until you’ve written a full fledged novel.

Writers, listen up and write this down: the. power. of. a. story. does. not. lie. in. its. length.

I’ll say it again because some people are thick-headed like me: the power of a story does not lie in its length (that’s a quote from a writer named Tara L. Masih, by the way).

A famous bit of micro-fiction (typically attributed to Ernest Hemingway) is only six words, and it tells quite a sorrowful story.

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

I bet you didn’t see that coming.

I read that story, and I get an image of this young couple who’ve been trying to have a baby for so long, and then they finally get pregnant, and the baby’s coming, and they get things all set up for a nursery and a little mobile over a crib in a room painted blue, and there’s all that excitement and love and anticipation, but when the baby comes, it’s stillborn. So they sell unworn shoes. What about you? What story rises up in your mind when you read those six words? What thoughts and feelings come to the surface when you see that handful of words?

Peeps, the power of a story does not lie in its length.

The power of a story lies in the emotions that it evokes, the memories it pulls out of the moldy corners of our minds, the old truths that it casts in a new light, the complacency that it challenges, the new ideas that it gives, and the old ideas it causes us to reexamine.

So go after that power, that heart.

Some stories need a hundred thousand words to tell them, maybe even five hundred thousand. I get that.

And some stories call for only six or six thousand or sixteen thousand or sixty thousand words, so don’t try to add to them. Don’t make them bloated in your quest for an awe-inspiring wordcount and don’t think less of yourself because you “only wrote a novella”. Before you start berating a story (yours or someone else’s) for being “only” 30,000 words, remember that the power of a story does not lie in its length.

There is so much brio in brevity, so much to be said for the writer who can take a snapshot of life with fire and few words, so much in the story that you can read in an hour and come away shaken, so much in that image painted with broad, deft keystrokes that comes to mind again and again.

My point is: don’t strive to write 80,000 words. Don’t even strive to write a novel. Strive to write a story, however brief or long, that is your absolute best, one that leaves a handprint on someone’s heart, one that glorifies God.

So it’s 231,000 words. That’s quite something.

So it’s 878 words. That’s quite something.

So it’s 43,000 words. That’s quite something.

And don’t just read stories that take days to consume. Read the ones that are only as long as your lunch break but take much longer to forget. Read the ones that only fill an hour but keep haunting your heart. Read the ones that demand only an afternoon to start and finish but leave a trail of new thought through your mind.

The small story can have just as much power as the big book. You are just as much a writer for that small story as you are for that big book. Even if you can never master writing short fiction and can only write winding epics, you are a writer. Even if you can never get to that 60k, 89k, 124k novel and have to be content with novellas and novelettes and flash fictions, you are a writer.

All else aside, just remember these two things: the power of a story doesn’t lie in its length, and whatever you do, do it with all your might and for the glory of God.

So, peeps, talk to me. What do you think about all this?

Fiction Sorted by Length

On Saturday, I put out a poll on Twitter (hint: you should follow me on Twitter) asking peeps what kind of post they’d like to read on Penprints today, and of the three options presented, they favored a post about brief fiction.

Now, my feelings on brief fiction are quite strong (translation: I should probably calm down a little because they’re a wee bit too strong), but as I settled in to write out my thoughts on brief fiction I realized that I need to clarify some terms before diving in. Hence this post about classifying fiction by its length (i.e. – wordcount).

So, here’s a tiny post to lay out some common definitions of the various kinds of fiction.

 

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Micro-fiction.

Micro-fiction (which also goes by the names Postcard Fiction, Sudden Fiction, and Nano Fiction depending on who you’re talking to) is about as tiny as it gets without getting ridiculous. We’re talking 100 words or less. Yeah, it’s basically a blink, or better yet, just a spastic eye-twitch (you know those ones you get when you’re way past tired).

Here’s a piece of micro-fiction by Just B. Jordan that was published over on The Lightning Blog.

Flash Fiction.

Flash fiction (or the short short story) is right on the heels of its younger micro-fiction sibling. At 1,000 words or less, flash fiction is a flash-bang grenade designed to hit hard and fast.

Here’s a flashfic (that’s slang for flash fiction) by the fabulous Katie Grace

Short Story.

Short stories are where things begin to get a little more complicated and require a little more commitment than the leaner likes of micro and flash fiction that you can read in the line at a grocery store. It can take an entire lunch break to polish off a short story that ranges from 1,000-7,500 words.

Here’s a short story from Just B. Jordan on her blog.

Novelette.

And now we come to the beginnings of the novel’s family. Novelette’s are like those kids who never really grew out of that gangly, lanky phase and somehow have a size eleven foot, arms that are too long for any normal shirt, and most likely an intolerance to gluten. Now, I’m not saying this to be mean; I’m just saying that it’s quite hard for a novelette to fit into blogs or magazines or books because they range from 7,500 to 20,000 words. The best hope for a novelette is typically an anthology of some sort.

Five Enchanted Roses is a prime example of an anthology of novelettes.

Novella.

Novellas are the more filled-out brothers to novelettes. Ranging between 20,000 and 50,000 words, novellas are ideal e-books and $0.99 buys for your Kindle. They’re not quite as demanding as a novel and can be read in one night, a fairly quick but still lengthy fiction fix.

Personally, I recommend A Wish Made of Glass by Ashlee Willis (it’s like reading poetry but better) or The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson..

Novel.

At last, we come to the famed (perhaps overrated?) novel. From here on out, the sky is the limit. And I mean that literally. Novels are 50,000 words up to infinity and beyond. Now, some make the distinction between novels and sequels/epics, but I find this to be pointless personally. There are some wordcount distinctions made from genre to genre, but since that’s a genre thing, I won’t get into it here. So, novels can be 55,000 words. Or 89,000 words. Or 111,000 words. Or 230,000 words. (Note: marketability will plummet as your wordcount rises for a debut novel.)

And that, kids, is the brief introduction to next week’s post will be all about my (very strong) thoughts on brief fiction. So stay tuned.

How long are some of your writing projects? What’s the longest thing you’ve ever written? What’s the shortest thing you’ve ever written? Do you think it takes more skill to write a meaningful micro-fiction than it takes to write a 130k novel?

P.S. – don’t ask me what these wordcounts work out to when it comes to the number of pages; that’s all dependent on formatting, dialogue vs. description, etc..

P.P.S. – you should like my Facebook page to get updates on my secret (and wildly exciting) project.

~ Rosalie out. <3

 

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