Please welcome my guest, Historical Romance Author, Alison Henderson. She's written a great post about writing novellas, or as we writers call it, writing short.
Short, Sweet, and Unexpected
Hi, Katherine and friends! Thank you for inviting me to visit today to talk about my new novella, The Treasure of Como Bluff. After three full-length novels, this was my first attempt at writing something shorter, and I have to admit the structure gave me fits almost until the last chapter.
The Treasure of Como Bluff is a part of the new Love Letters line from The Wild Rose Press. I’d never considered attempting to write a novella until I read the editor’s call for 20-25K word historical stories in which the action is precipitated by a letter—a love letter, a Dear John letter, a letter about an inheritance—any kind of letter. The premise intrigued me, and the kernel of an idea began to germinate in my imagination.
I’d had the image of a female paleontologist finding an unconscious man at her dig site in my mind for a long time; I just didn’t have a story to go with it. This premise made me wonder, what if she found a letter in his pocket? It was the perfect jump start for what turned out to be a lighthearted, funny story set during the Bone Wars in Wyoming in 1879. How’s that for unexpected?
My two previous published novels were essentially serious stories set in a serious time—America right after the Civil War. Like the rest of the country, my heroes and heroines had suffered deprivation and heartache and struggled to create new lives out of the ashes of their old ones. The Treasure of Como Bluff gave me an opportunity to do something completely different.
When I originally wrote my post-Civil War novels twenty years ago, I must have been a much more serious person. They are both poignant stories about overcoming hardship. The Treasure of Como Bluff is just plain fun. I had a great time writing the snappy banter between Caroline and Nick and thinking up outrageous situations to amplify the conflict. One reviewer likened them to western versions of Hepburn and Tracy or Lombard and Gable. (I don’t think it would be giving too much away to note that Nick spends an inordinate amount of time in a pink sunbonnet.)
Here’s a blurb about the story:
In her race against rival bone hunters, the last complication paleontologist Caroline Hubbard needs is an unconscious stranger cluttering up her dig site. Nicholas Bancroft might have the chiseled features and sculpted physique of a classical statue, but she's not about to let him hamper her quest to unearth a new species of dinosaur and make her mark on the scientific world.
Nick has come to Wyoming in search of silver but, after a blow to the head, finds himself at the mercy of a feisty, determined female scientist. Despite his insistence that he's just passing through, he agrees to masquerade as Caroline's husband to help save her job. Once their deception plays out, they face a crucial decision. Will they be able to see beyond their separate goals and recognize the treasure right in front of them?
And here’s an excerpt:
Nick laughed. “Are you always this grumpy when you’re working?”
“I’m about to face the biggest challenge of my life, one that will affect my entire future, and you refuse to take it seriously.” She glared at him through narrowed eyes. “I have every right to be grumpy.”
“Perhaps, but remember, you asked for my help. You need me to pull off this deception.”
He was right. She did need him, and if she wasn’t careful he’d get back on his horse and ride out of her life forever. The thought pushed her near the edge of panic. “I know, and I’m sorry. It’s just that this is so important to me.”
Nick slid his arm around her shoulders. “I know. Don’t worry; I won’t abandon you. I owe you. You saved my life, remember?”
When he didn’t release her immediately, Caroline breathed a tiny sigh and allowed herself the luxury of leaning against him, wrapped in the safety and comfort of his arm. She closed her eyes and rested her head against the warm solidity of his chest, absorbing the reassuring rhythmic thump of his heartbeat. She’d always been alone in her quest; it would be a relief to have someone to share it with, even if only for a few days.
She thought she felt something whisper-soft touch the top of her head, almost like a kiss of breeze, but the air was still. It couldn’t have been Nick...could it? She lifted her head and turned until she could see his face. The devil twinkled in those sea-blue eyes, and a lazy smile played across his lips.
“Flip you for the bed.”
Thanks again for allowing me to share my new story with you, and here’s hoping you like a little humor with your romance.