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THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT

Today's guest is the author Jaime Samms, talking about the joys -and frustrations?! - of the short story over other formats. In my opinion, she's a mistress of it, and make sure you check out the free reads on her site (link below). Her imagination is rich and passionate, and also very perceptive and humane. We've kept in touch for some time now, and when she had the inspiration for the Immortal Fire anthology at loveyoudivine, she invited me to submit for it. I don't mind saying, it's one of the best stories I feel I've written for a long time, so I was thrilled :). Jaime has two stories in the anthology, Windblown and Black Roses - available in print in the antho HERE and also individually at loveyoudivine and All Romance Ebooks.



Her Blurb: ... you might want to know a little more about me. I write, romance, fantasy, urban fantasy, shifter stories about men, about life, about love. I review, mostly the same types of stories, as well as the books I read to my kids, who I home school, and occasionally, I’m gainfully employed. I write for the love it, and hope to pass on that love to my readers, my kids, and anyone else who comes along.




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The Long and the Short of it...

Or...How the Short Story Took Over My Life...Career (they feel like the same thing some days)
Way back when I was a kid, new and innocent and thinking I could do anything, I started writing a story. I wrote it because I was poor, I read all the fantasy book I owned. More than once. I'd read most of what was in the local library that interested me, and I needed a new story. So I wrote one. What better reason is there to write a story than because I needed something to read?



Well, this story was based, to some degree, on the books I did read. Long. Epic. Fantasy with multiple races, quests, magic swords...the metal kind, people! Even a few hinted-at love interests. (And some serious UST between those close male bonding pairs. Even way back then, before the internet and e publishers, I had my mind on getting those guys together.)
Looking now at my published work, 35,000 to 37,000 words is about as long as it gets. Most of my stuff is much shorter. I often wonder what ever happened to my staying power. Don't get me wrong. Short stories are my bread and butter, and I like to think I'm fairly decent at turning out a not-so-bad love bite ... erm ... I keep forgetting the crowd I'm talking to... I think I do okay getting a start to finish love story down in not too many words, is what I was trying to say before y'all got distracted! Lol!

Part of it, I think, is knowing that I don't have the same kind of staying power in reading on line, or on the screen, as I do in print. I've often tried to figure out why that is. I think the medium is just too distracting. Think of all the things you can do with a lap top; surf the net, chat with friends, post to blogs, listen to music, watch a movie...hell, even write a story! The list is long, and the idea of just sitting there reading seems...boring. I like to read short stories, stands to reason I'm not the only one. So writing short makes sense.

Maybe my writing style itself lends to shorter work. Let's face it. There isn't a lot of extraneous stuff in there. I tend to write to the point and spare. I've been accused of being a little too spare at times, and had editors and beta readers admonish me to at least "put a setting in. Don't you think people want to know where this all is taking place?!?!?" (I kid you not. That is one of my favourite editorial notes from someone in my crit group.) The story was very short, about a dancer mourning the loss of her lover. I knew perfectly well where she was, but it seems I neglected to actually say so in the story.



That comment actually led me to Black Roses. I suppose I was being a little tongue-in-cheek, going over the top with description and embellishment, and what do you know... Immortal Fire was conceived. Though it was over a year in gestation in my own brain before it took on life with my fellow authors and the LYD staff, that tiny little story was the beginning. It took those five other authors to get the word count up high enough to get me into print, though.
Sometimes, I kind feel the longing to go back to those early, oh-so-innocent days when I knew I could write a full length novel and it never occurred to me what an involved and difficult project I'd embarked on. It all seemed so simple back then. Pick up pen. Write. What could be simpler? Or more complicated?



So. Readers. Do you want long or short? STORIES!!! Do you like the quick fix of a short read, or do you prefer to dive in deep and hang out with those characters for longer? Writers, what do you like to write? Is the short story the ticket? Or do you need more time with your characters to really do some damage before you fix 'em up and make 'em happy?

~~Jaime Samms~~

Jaime's Website.
Jaime's Blog.


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AND JUST FOR FUN...!!

Today's Quote:
"Artificial intelligence is a wonderful thing. I told my computer that today is my birthday, and it said that I needed an upgrade."

Today's Daft Google Searches for 'Clare London':
"So what was the carbon footprint of Copenhagen" But I don't know :(




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Follow this month with Clare (look at the goodies so far...):

Jan 08 : Jessewave shares her love of bright, shiny guys but wonders - tongue in cheek - where the less shiny ones are!
Jan 09 : Anne Cain shares her books and some of her fabulous art - and also encourages us to show and tell!
Jan 10 : My latest release Upwardly Mobile is out at Amber Quill today.
Jan 11 : Author Lee Rowan discusses why love should not be a garotte.




Jan 01 : The New Year is ushered in with the release of the Immortal Fire anthology IN PRINT.
Jan 02 : author Chrissy Munder wonders whether following current affairs in our writing is delightful or just dates us.
Jan 03 : author Madeleine Urban describes how her characters hijacked her brain...a willing victim!
Jan 04 : author Theda Black describes how her writing has been influenced by everything from a bionic penis to the power of Pan.
Jan 05 : author Josh Lanyon shares some exceedingly good books with us and asks about *your* recent reads.
Jan 06 : author K. Z. Snow questions what all the fuss is about authors 'making shit up'.
Jan 07 : Josie aka 1more_sickpuppy compares her life and friends online and off.


Want to grab a day to pimp, pose or pontificate? Email me at clarelondon11 @ hotmail.com and I'll happily find you a space ♥

NOTE: pictures credited where known, others may be used without direct permission, please contact me with any queries/concerns.

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Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
angelasstone
Jan. 12th, 2010 12:33 pm (UTC)
Can I be greedy and ask for BOTH?? (I can... Oh good!!)

As a reader:

I like short stories (especially because i'm in school and have 0 time to read). They give me that quick-fix for when I need to read something-now! So I love them...

I love longer stories/novels as well. I like falling in-love with a character! I love reading about their lives being torn apart. And then built back up, stronger better!

As a (wannabe) writer:

Short stories are great to get that idea out. Sometime they stay as short stories, sometimes that short story gets change and added into novel-length story.

The only novels I've ever completed will never, ever see the light of day. However the first novel(that is written as a novel not just a group of short stories that become novel-length) that I intend to show anyone is at that critical "30 000+" stage. What i'm finding is that I have MORE to say. It would work if I wrapped it up now. But I don't want to my idea has grown from "Get character A & B to get it on" to "This happens to A, and B still loves him, and they deal with this and then that happens. And oh look it's not perfect but that's ok 'cause they'r in love and it's working it's self out"

So I guess a a writer I like both and have mostly dappled in short stories but am having a blast writing a novel!

and forgive my rambley comment I think i'm still half asleep...
dontkickmycane
Jan. 12th, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC)
Be as greedy as you like! There's tons of good stuff out there to read.

I think I like reading shorts because of the time thing you mentioned. I feel like if I have time to sit and read a story, I should be writing or doing some other useful thing.

As a writer, I am definitely a pantser, so I write until I get to the end of the story. I don't generally set out to write a story of a certain length. I just stop when the story ends, so to speak. Writing a novel, of which I have three or four started, has proved to be much harder for me.

Thanks for your comment.
cdn_tam
Jan. 12th, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC)
I love short stories
I never read a short story before I found m/m. Because I mostly read paper books there weren't a lot of shorts to be found and anthologies weren't really my thing. Then I found m/m, then I found shorts. I go on jags where I will read 20 shorts in a 3 days or so. I love shorty shorts of 12 pages and I like shorts of 40-50 pages.

That's certainly not to say I exclusively read shorts. Sometimes I really like a longer story. Although I have one of 400 pages which is staring me in the face and I'm girding my loins to tackle that. I've heard it's great though so that helps. So I like all lengths and it really depends on my mood.

I do know some people hate shorts and don't find there is enough meat but I am always thrilled when an author can put everything I need in 15 pages and make it feel like it was much longer because it covered so much. It is a skill. As someone who can't write concisely to save her life (this post is an example), I an in awe of those who do it well. Great post.
dontkickmycane
Jan. 12th, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
Re: I love short stories
You know, now that you mention it, I think that's been my experience, too. I didn't read that many short stories before I came on line and found I wasn't the only one writing about men and their romances. It takes a certain amount of commitment to read a novel on the screen, I think. I much prefer the portability of paper for longer stuff. But that's just me. And maybe when I get an e-reader...
clarelondon
Jan. 12th, 2010 03:05 pm (UTC)
One thing I've discovered in the last two years is that short stories call on a different skills set! It's still up to the author to create fine characters and a good setting, but the balance is different from a longer novel (well duh, I hear you all say). It's been a challenge for me to spin a tale that's within the size but still covers enough - and well enough - for the reader to have a rewarding time, like Tam describes.

As a reader, I like short stories too, for the times I'm on the move or just can't settle to something longer. They're good for reading on a screen. For the good ones, I come away feeling I'd *like* more but I'm satisfied with the balance and memory of what I *have* read :).

As an author, I really like it as a format for stories that are a 'slice of life' - I don't necessarily have enough to spin out the characters for 40k+ words, but I want to dip into their lives just for that moment.

All in all, I give thanks to the e-publishing market for the opportunities for shorter fiction!
dontkickmycane
Jan. 12th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
The trick is dipping into their lives at the crucial moment when it's all going down and their lives are changing, the characters are growing, and something worth telling about happens. There's so much to get in in such a short amount of space. I love the challenge.
chrissymunder
Jan. 12th, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
In the end I find it's rather like the Three Bears and depends on the skill of the author, and the characters they've created. Some stories are too short and I want more, some stories are too long and ponderously dull and I want to gouge out my eyes with a spork rather than read on. The joy is in finding the stories that are just right.
dontkickmycane
Jan. 12th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
You're so right about that, Chrissy. Finding the balance between holding the reader's attention and keeping the promise you make to the reader to tell a complete and satisfying story is paramount, and part of that is creating characters they can care about in a very short space of time.
jambrea
Jan. 12th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
I love them both. :) Depends on my mood. I tend to write short myself. lol I was amazed when I got one to 53k! Mine are usually between 15k to 30k.

Some days I just need a really long one...um...BOOK! I'm talking about books. heehee
dontkickmycane
Jan. 12th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
That number is still a dream to me, Jambrea!

Of course you are! Aren't we all talking about books...?
(Anonymous)
Jan. 12th, 2010 05:55 pm (UTC)
Jaime,

I like both, long and short, and middle sized. LOL I think it all depends on the time, what people have time for and are in the mood for. are they rushing out the door in ten minutes? Do they have two hours to sit and read? There are times I just want a quick sexy read. Other times I want a mid-length love story I can finish up in one or two sittings. And other times I'll read a chapter and come back to several times. I figure most readers are the same too.

I also agree with you about readers sitting at computers or laptops. They may not have the attention span to sit and simply read. There is an enormous pressure on people to multi task, get the job done, NOW! Life is fast paced in many cases so a shorter story, say under 40K are going to be more popular, in my opinion.

Great stuff.

Hugs
Jude Mason
dontkickmycane
Jan. 12th, 2010 10:12 pm (UTC)
Life is too fast. But it is what it is, and we have to try and adapt and make it work. Long or short, it comes down to writing a good story, I guess, and capturing your readers' hearts.

Thanks for stopping by, Jude.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 12th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
Hello Clare - Hello Jamie
Fun interview, girls!
I'll check out your website, Jamie -
:)
Genella deGrey
dontkickmycane
Jan. 12th, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Hello Clare - Hello Jamie
Thanks for commenting, Genella! Hope you like what you find there. Lots to read. Some long, some short. I'm a big fan of keeping my characters happy in the long run.
k_kozakewich
Jan. 12th, 2010 11:41 pm (UTC)
Long or short... stories!
Love the post Jaime! And personally I enjoy both long and short stories. Sometimes I want to settle in for a nice long and involved read, but often I like the shorter stories too.
But, and this is a big one... BUT, the author has to know how to write a short story. If an author can get the point across, let me get to know the character(s) and what's happening, I'm very happy. There's someting very satisfying about a short story; you get in, you enjoy and then you're off to another.

So really, if all you're going to write is short stories, Excellent! If, at some point, you find yourself with more wordage than expected, wonderful. Just please, please, keep writing!?!!
dontkickmycane
Jan. 13th, 2010 01:56 am (UTC)
Re: Long or short... stories!
Oh, my dear girl! I have no intention of stopping. I like what I do. I don't completely suck at it. And I am working on longer stuff. It's just taking...longer.

Thanks for stopping by, Kathy. Much appreciated.
jenna_hilary
Jan. 15th, 2010 06:18 pm (UTC)
Great question, Jaime.

I think the art of short story writing is fiendishly challenging. Middling shorts are a dime a dozen; wonderful shorts are rare diamonds. There's a certain clarity of vision that's needed for an excellent short story, and I admire writers who can produce them. I really do think it's much harder to write short than long.

I've written loads of short *fanfic* stories, and I think maybe one of them was good, but now that I'm writing original work I really am not interested in writing short any more. I've made the decision not to even attempt to respond to calls for submissions of short pieces to anthologies but to concentrate on writing novels instead. I think long. Really long. Everything seems to turn into a series in my mind.

If I could just read those truly excellent short stories, I'd read loads of them! But my heart is really in novels for reading pleasure too. If I find that a book is "only" 80,000 words, I'm pretty disappointed. I really prefer books in the 120,000 word range and longer. With plot.

It's really a matter of personal preference, whether we as readers want to concentrate on that one crystalline moment or on the longer story arc. I'm glad there's plenty of short story writing going on in the gay romance genre, so everybody's got something to read.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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