Friday, December 6, 2013

Romancing the Novella by Lavinia Kent, contributor to 'Once and Forever'

'Once and Forever' is a romance collection by a group of talented authors. Books to Light Your Fire is proud to have Lavinia Kent stop by to share some of her thoughts on how to develop a solid romance in a novella, versus writing a novel. Please leave her comments and questions below!

Romancing the Novella
By Lavinia Kent

I love reading novellas. They are such a wonderful way to sample, to taste, to discover. I find this true whether reading an anthology of different authors or the collection of a single author. Either way I get to dip my toes into the wonder of new worlds, to find what I love and what leaves me looking for more. It’s part of why I was so eager to collaborate in writing Once and Forever. I wanted to offer my readers that chance to taste and sample – and to hopefully find a new author to love.

Before I even started to seriously dream of writing, I was hooked on anthologies. I read mystery, romance, classic literature and science fiction, always looking for that introduction to something special.

And, I must admit I liked that they were short. In today’s world, sometimes we all need easy and fast.

When I finally started to write, however, it never even occurred to me to write a novella. My mind was filled with the long, lush historicals of my teenage years. That was what I wanted to write, where I belonged.

And I enjoyed writing them. The opportunity that a novel affords to an author for full character development is wonderful. It allows us to truly know everything, to spend time letting our characters take us places we weren’t expecting to go. My writing is very character-driven. I can even remember driving on icy roads one January, knowing I couldn’t die because I had a story to complete, nothing could happen until those words were on paper, that heroine was free.

There’s one problem with writing novels – the sagging middle. No matter how much I plotted and did flow charts of how my story should work, somewhere about page two hundred I realized that things were off track and not going quite where I intended. It could require weeks of frustrating revision to get things back where I wanted to go. I sometimes had to put aside hundreds of pages to get it right. And I couldn’t keep the whole book in my mind. I had to look back constantly, check my notes incessantly, or reread whole chapters to remember just what had happened when.

And then I contracted to write Kathryn, the Kitten, the first novella in The Real Duchesses of London series. I’d never tried to “write short” before, and it was a revelation. It just worked. I could imagine the beginning, middle and end, and the story flowed from my fingers without having any time to go wrong. I could hold the whole story in my head and just release it from word to word and from paragraph to paragraph.

Novellas do require a different thought process than full-length novels. They tend to work best when the characters already have a history together. It’s hard to fit a whole relationship into a hundred pages. My first novellas were all stories of married couples who had lots of romantic problems just waiting for me solve. And in figuring out their histories, I learned all the character secrets I normally discovered in writing a full length novel.

The only big problem I found in writing novellas is that they require almost as much thought as writing a novel. When I wrote the first four Real Duchesses novellas, I wrote at the pace of one a month. It left me drained. I had to get to know eight people in the time I normally spend getting to know just two. At the end, my mind was a jumble.

It was not something I wanted to do again -- ever.

For the fifth Duchesses novella, I took my time, and didn’t let other commitments push me to write before I was ready.

And then came my most recent discovery. I can write novels in the same way I write novellas. I’ve started to think of my novels in distinct parts, with an over-arching story. Now, when I hit the middle, I see it as a piece by itself – and I know exactly how it’s supposed to flow. There are differences from writing a novella, but most of them lead to a stronger piece of work. I have more time to spend with my characters and to see how they grow and change. I can move pieces around more and be sure that everything ties up tightly.

My most recent novella, Never and Forever (in the Once and Forever anthology), follows this pattern. While it’s a complete story by itself, it’s also clear that there’s more to come. It’s the story of two almost-lovers who come together at the wrong time and in the wrong circumstances. The Duke of Radford is very aware of his own importance and knows he could never find more than an evening’s dalliance with a woman who runs an employment agency. And Molly Watson would never even consider trading a moment’s pleasure for a lifetime of consequences. She’s seen what happens to women who dally, and has no desire to join their ranks.

Never and Forever is the just first piece of their love story. I can’t wait to share it with my readers.

Thank you for having me. I enjoyed discussing the differences between writing novels and novellas.

Never and Forever
by Lavinia Kent



Once and Forever - An anthology

By Mary Blayney, Elaine Fox, Emelle Gamble, Lavinia Kent and introducing Evie Owens

From five compelling authors, five original novellas which will make you laugh and cry, and believe in a love that once found will last forever. Meet a duke, a psychic, a bodyguard and a professor…and one "guardian fairy" in absorbing stories ranging from regency and contemporary romance to paranormal and women's fiction.

Playing for Keeps by Mary Blayney

Actress Kendall Marshall is determined to get an autograph for her sick sister from famous TV personality Mike O’Hara, the Oprah Winfrey of sports. In the process she meets his brother, security consultant Steve Marshall, lands a job on O’Hara’s show and gets in the way of a man set on causing big trouble. As the stalkers attacks escalate, Steve and Kendall are thrown together and find it impossible to ignore the chemistry between them.

The Princess & the Pinot by Elaine Fox

When a beautiful woman shows up at the Vineyard Inn, wine manager Kim is certain she’s been sent by fate for the inn’s owner, Cooper. Self-effacing to a fault, Kim knows she can’t hold a candle to Principessa Bella, who also seems to know even more about wine than Kim herself, but her heart has belonged to Cooper since they shared one kiss as teenagers.

While Prin sweeps easily into the job of sommelier at the renowned inn, Kim is afraid Prin will sweep just as surely into Cooper’s arms if she doesn’t do something about it. Can she tell Cooper how she feels without losing even his friendship?

Kim is willing to try except for one problem: she’s almost certainly losing her mind. Or is that belching, swearing, smoking, farting fairy – who claims to be trying to help her – real?\

Duets by Emelle Gamble

Duets offers alternating looks into the lives of two women who would seem to have little or nothing in common.

Screen star Molly Harper is on the verge of marrying a man who has swept her off her feet, thought perhaps hasn’t swept all her feelings for her first love away. Anne Sullivan, happily married for twenty-five years, is fighting to hold onto the man she loves, and hold off a confrontation that could shatter her family’s image of what they are.

Duets confronts a past secret that ties these two women’s lives together, just as chance events turn Molly and Anne’s worlds upside down.

Never and Forever by Lavinia Kent

Never and Forever is the beginning of the love story of two people who shouldn’t belong together. Molly, Miss Wilkes, runs an employment agency helping women of quality find positions perfected suited to their characters. Although her father held the title of Earl for just over a week before his death, Molly has never wanted to be a lady. She knows her place in this world – and it is not at the center of society.

The Duke of Radford also knows his place in this world – and it’s above everybody else’s. He cannot imagine a world without all the privilege and power that comes from being Radford. He’s had foreign princesses and heiresses dangled before him for years. Why would he ever have interest in a simple woman who doesn’t even understand that she should want to be a duchess?

Can these two overcome the obstacles of their own beliefs and realize that love can make all things possible?

Never and forever are both a very long time. Where will their love fit?

The Psychic Detective by Evie Owens

Psychic Martin Sterling doesn't trust cops--and the feeling is mutual. Detective Erin Healy needs more than a ghost story to save her job and reputation. Her partner is dead, a million dollars in drugs and money is missing, and all the evidence points to her.

Can a sexy psychic and a by the book cop, trapped between the living and the dead, unearth the truth? Or will a cold-blooded killer get away with it all...

Read an excerpt:
“I do believe that we have actually circled back to my point,” the Duke of Radford replied. “Why would a man choose to marry a not quite suitable woman? Why would he willingly walk into such a trap? You say love. I wondered if there might be something else involved — if there might be some skill your women know, are taught, that renders a man insensible. I wanted to find out for myself.”
Molly had not thought it was possible for him to move closer, but now he did. Their bodies did not touch, but she doubted it would be possible to move a sheet of tissue between them. “I do not understand.”
“I spoke of seduction. I will be more frank. I wanted to find out if you — and your ladies — had knowledge of some sexual secret that would drive men from sanity. What man would not be curious? You do look as if you’ve been up all night. It does make a man wonder. Perhaps I should make you my mistress.” 
Her mind went blank. It could not comprehend what he was saying. His words made no sense. Sexual? She knew the meaning of the word, but could not remember ever hearing it spoken.
Secrets? Mistress?  
She was still trying to find the words to answer, even a single word, when she felt the air shift, felt him close that breath of space between them, felt his lips settle on to hers.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Lavinia Kent never knew that most people don't make up stories in their heads to pass the time. She still has a hard time understanding how those who don't make up stories in their heads survive the doctor's waiting room or a grocery store line.

Growing up in New York state and Wisconsin, Lavinia graduated from Wellesley College and holds an MBA from Georgetown University. Lavinia has remained in Washington, D.C. ever since.

She lives under the gracious (and usually benign) rule of Erzsebet, the cat, along with her husband, three children, one cockatiel, and Erzsebet’s younger, subordinate tomcat, otherwise known as The Golden Snitch.

As the mother of three, Lavinia finds "leisure time" to be ever-elusive, but when she is not reading romance novels, she watches far too much HBO and reality television. It must also be noted that she has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Buffy and the new Doctor Who.

Lavinia is the author of seven Regency Historical Romances and five novellas. She is currently working hard at creating a new Regency world and perhaps a Steampunk one.

Review Quotes:

Praise for What a Duke Wants:

“Kent does an excellent job mixing romance, mystery and history, keeping her readers enthralled with plot twists and revelations. Another winner! Four Stars!” The Romantic Times

“I am impressed by her (Lavinia Kent’s) fun storyline, dry humor and very warm characters. I'll definitely be checking her out again.” Happily Ever After, USA Today

Praise for Kathryn, The Kitten: The Real Housewives of London:

“Lavinia Kent’s “Kathyrn, the Kitten” has captured my attention, putting Kent's upcoming series on my radar. I can’t wait to read about the romantic tribulations of the four other women and to find out who is behind the caricatures.” Romance Novel News



The authors will award a digital copy of the book to five randomly drawn commenters and one grand prize of a $50 Amazon GC will be awarded to a randomly drawn commenter from this tour and the review tour. 


  1. Hey Lavinia Kent...what a great blog post! I found it really interesting how you now view the structure of a novel after writing so many wonderful novellas. And 4 The Real Duchesses in 4 months! My gosh, did you do anything else during that time? I know I'm partial because we're friends, but your Regency novels are truly great...real characters who transport a reader back in time in some of the hottest, most intense relationships I've ever read. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks, Lavinia, for sharing the novella writing process so thoughtfully. It's always fun to get insight into how other writers work and how their writing grows and changes with each new story they tell.

    1. I agree! I love to read about how other authors work. And it's funny, though we're all in the same critique group together, we don't necessarily discuss the process like this. Fascinating, Lavinia!

  3. Thanks you so much for having me. I learned a lot about my own process in writing this article.

  4. Hi there... love the blog! Love all of Lavinia's stories and this sounds like another hit! Can't wait to sit and read this one, hopefully this weekend! Keep up the great work Lavinia! This story is also in with some other great authors which I love to read as well!

    1. If you're already a fan of Lavinia's work, you'll definitely LOVE this novella! :)


  6. Congrats on your book and thanks for the great giveaway!

  7. I like anthologies and shorter works--novellas, short stories, etc. They're perfect for a quick read before bed.
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

  8. I love reading anthologies because I can sample a bunch of different authors. I often find myself enjoying them and then heading over to amazon and buying their full length books.

    izzyabbysmom2006 at yahoo dot com

  9. Interesting premises

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  10. Thanks for the chance to win!
    I love anthologies!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

  11. Unless I am really, really into a series I shy away from novellas, now I'm thinking I might really be missing out on some good stuff out there! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

    subwife683 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  12. Thanks all. I am a huge series reader, too -- although slightly obsessive about reading series in order.

    Thanks for all the comments -- and good luck.


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