Agitation, Bending Toward the Sun, Christian Fiction, Civil War, Dandelions on the Wind, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Missouri, Mona Hodgson, Novellas, Quilting, Quilting Circles, Readers, Ripples Along the Shore, Romance, St. Charles, The Quilted Heart, WaterBrook Multnomah, WaterBrook Press, Writer, Writing
READER: “Where is the rest of Caroline and Garrett’s story?”
MONA: “Prairie Song! Out August 6th, Penny.”
READER: “That’s almost cruel, you know! 🙂 But crueller still would have been, ‘I decided to end it there.'”
That was an excerpt from a Facebook conversation I had less than two weeks after the release of Ripples Along the Shore, the third and last of The Quilted Heart novellas.
Personally, I think a little agitation is good, don’t you? It tells me I was on the right track…causing my readers to engage with the characters and care what happens next.
Reading the titles of my Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series—Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride, you might guess how the stories end. A wedding, perhaps? The mystery is in the complexity of the characters and their relationships, the particulars of their external and internal journeys, the unpredictable nature of the Old West mining camp setting, and in the community interactions.
In The Quilted Heart novellas, I switched things around a bit. Okay, a lot. And in many different ways.
I still gave readers an ensemble cast, a community of characters to follow. And in Bending Toward the Sun and Ripples Along the Shore, I still follow the goings-on of the characters in the first story in the Quilted Heart, Dandelions on the Wind. Those are signature features of my writing style–“community” centered series.
But when writing this series, I left the bows in my literary drawer. Instead of three individual stories, typical of a novella, The Quilted Heart novellas read more like serialized stories such as you would’ve found in Strand or Pearson’s Magazine in the Victorian age. Even though each story had some bits of closure, I started the series with Dandelions on the Wind then kept it going throughout the three novellas and, here’s the kicker, into Prairie Song, Book 1 in the Hearts Seeking Home Series.
I wanted to write stories about a quilting circle. I also wanted to write a wagon train series. Made sense to combine the two, right? So I introduced some of our wagon caravan travelers in the novellas. My second series, The Quilted Heart, serves as a prequel to the third series, Hearts Seeking Home.
I experimented with points of view as well. In the Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, you’ll read scenes in the points of view of the Sinclair sisters who have already been featured as the main character in the previous books in the series. In The Quilted Heart novellas, you’ll read two or three scenes written from the point of view of the character who will serve as the heroine in the next novella.
Agitating, or enticing? You be the judge.
Here are the links, if you’d like to learn more about these surprising and agitating reads . . .
How do you feel about novellas?
Do you like stories wrapped up with a bow, or do you like twists and surprises…loose ends, at least until the next book?