Friday, February 20, 2009

We've Got Company! PETIT FOURS & HOT TAMALES welcomes guest chef, CAROL BURNSIDE.

Carol Burnside is our blog sister from a tiny town in Maryland. Contemporary, historical and paranormal romance are highest among her writing interests in both short stories and series-length novels. The desire to be a writer did not burn a hole in her soul from birth, but she’s had characters living in her imagination ever since she can remember. Walking, talking, emotional characters who felt like old friends from their inception. Simply put, she says writing and creative endeavors keep her sane.

PFHT: Though you are a part of the PF&HT blogging family, this is your first feature on the blog, isn’t it?
CB: Yes, and thank you for shining the spotlight on me. I haven’t been as active on the blog as I’d like because of my recent move from Georgia. We bought a newly constructed home and I’m still neck-deep in home décor. It’s fun but exhausting too.

PFHT: Wow. In addition to all that going on, you have a new story out in the premiere issue of The New Love Stories magazine. We’ve looked all over, but can’t find this magazine in stores. What gives?
CB: According to the website, the magazine is only available by subscription until March. However, the price is very reasonable at a reduced cost of $19.97. Lots of great reading sent directly to your mailbox!

PFHT: The cover is gorgeous! Tell us about your story.
CB: Gamble on Love is a contemporary piece, a friends-to-lovers story told from the heroine’s perspective. Because her love for him has changed and deepened, she takes a gamble, risking their friendship for the hope of something more. In the process, she shakes his world up quite a bit, which is always fun.

PFHT: Sounds like my kind of story. Do you find it easier or more difficult to write a short story than say, a novel?
CB: I don’t know if I’d call it easier. It’s never a simple thing to tell an entire story in 5,000 words or less. For me, I think there’s a kind of relief in knowing I don’t have to labor over it for several months. A short story is a quick, satisfying feeling of accomplishment. Writing them between novels is like giving myself a little treat. And if they sell, all the better. :)

PFHT: Where do you get your ideas and how do they come to you?
CB: Life. Seriously. Ideas are all around us, if we stay alert to them. My best ideas seem to come to me in vivid, just-before-waking dreams. Sometimes it’s an entire scene which may or may not end up in the story, but tells me what I need to know about that character’s motivations. For instance, I woke up at about 2 a.m. one morning, my heart racing, the horrific visions of a teen girl's rape in a Halloween fun house still running through my mind. I wrote it down immediately. That scene turned out to be backstory for a paranormal erotic romance novella (Phantoms & Fantasies) that I wrote as Annie Rayburn. It sold in e-published form and received great reviews, though it is no longer available for purchase.

PFHT: What do we have to look forward to from you?
CB: I believe the first short story I ever sold is still available for purchase on Amazon. It’s called “Homecoming” and is in The Rocking Chair Reader Family Gatherings: Stories of Celebration and Reunion. I’ve sold several stories and feature pieces to True Romance and True Confessions magazines, but those back issues would be harder to find. Red Sage has an Annie Rayburn novella under consideration, and I intend to submit a few more to other houses as soon as my work load lightens up at home.

PFHT: Carol, good luck on getting your new home squared away. We hope to hear about many more of your sales in the future.
CB: Thank you. I hope so too. :)

PFHT: Several of our frequent visitors are also writers. Before you leave, would you be willing to answer a few questions from our audience about writing short stories?
CB: Absolutely. I’ll check the comments section throughout the day, so fire away!


Nicki Salcedo said...

Hi Carol, we miss you! Thanks for your comments on the difference between writing short stories and novels.

My question is this: Did you plan to write short fiction or did you stumble onto it?

Come back and see us for Moonlight & Magnolias!

Cinthia Hamer said...

Hi Carol...what Nicki said. We really are going to miss you. But hope you enjoy your new home up in Maryland.

One question: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Cyrano said...

Same from me too Carol. We're gonna miss you, but this is a good way to keep in touch.
I also second Cindy's question- panster or plotter? And also, how many novellas did you write before being published? Any full lengths?

Thanks for the interview!
Have a wonderful day.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Hi Carol:
Isn't the internet wonderful? At least we get to have you as an e-friend since you moved! Here's my question: How do you get characters that are developed enough for us to identify with in only 5000 or so words?

Sandy Elzie said...

Hi Carol,

Isn't Maryland beautiful? (well, it will be in the Spring) Anyway, hope you enjoy your new home.

First, congrats on your success and can you tell us if you have anything else coming out soon? Are you writing more articles for the magazine? (if so, we need to subscribe!)

Thanks for joining us today and we look forward to celebrating your continued success as time goes on.
Hope to see you at M&M!


Carol Burnside said...

My plan was always to write an entire book, but I have a tad of ADD. When I heard about the subject of the next Rocking Chair Reader, I knew I had a story to tell straight out of my childhood. I was about 3/4 though my first series manuscript when I set it aside for a bit and wrote "Homecoming." It was accepted less than a month after submission and a light bulb came on. I've been writing shorter stories ever since.

Carol Burnside said...

I miss all you guys and the GRW meetings too!

Corection to Nicki - make that my second manuscript. I had to go back and double-check my dates. LOL.

Cinthia and Tamara:
I'm a pantser, learning to plot more. Actually, I find that I don't mind having a synopsis to start out with, but I don't want it too detailed. Discovering the story as it unfolds is the magic for me. :)
Of course, with very short stories, there isn't a lot of plotting on my part. They're mostly a moment in time, an afternoon, a day. The trick is to get enough backstory woven in and character revealed quickly (and seamlessly) in order to engage the reader.

I'd finished my first novel, had it rejected, when "Homecoming" was accepted for publication. I continued writing short stories, mostly for fun and practice. Some of them may never see the light of day. LOL!

Carol Burnside said...

Yes, I love the internet and the connection to all my friends. :)

Your question was:How do you get characters that are developed enough for us to identify with in only 5000 or so words?

Wow. Great question. Try thinking of it like this. Writing a novel is like wading into a pool from the steps at the shallow end. You have time to test the water, let your skin adjust to the temperature, etc. When writing a short story, you're doing a swift plunge into the deep end.

Here's the first five paragraphs of "Gamble on Love" to give you an example:
“Hey, Suze. Lookin’ gooood tonight, babe. When are you gonna run away with me?” A long-time friend shouted out the greeting as I shouldered my way through the crush of people in Thomas’ beach house. With the music and noise from a party which had become a 4th of July tradition, I barely heard him.
I pretended to give the question serious consideration, then yelled back, “When you learn what fidelity means.”
Mack clutched his chest as if I’d mortally wounded him, amid hoots and raucous laughter. I moved in closer to the group, noting several pairs of eyes focused on my cleavage. Typical. Some of these guys would never grow up. “Anybody seen Thomas around?”
“Try the kitchen.”
I nodded, saving my voice, and moved off in that general direction. I searched the crowd, greeting several people I recognized, including a tiny blonde with fake breasts who made me feel like an Amazon. With my height, dark hair and athletic body, I was her exact opposite. I kept pushing through to the only man I wanted to see tonight. Thomas is my best friend and had been all through high school and college. Tonight I hoped our relationship would evolve into something more.

Does that help? In 204 words you have setting, approximate age, basic description of the person speaking, her relationship and history with Thomas, a bit of characterization and an understanding of her GMC.

Remember that a short story is a moment in time, an incident, a few scenes. Suze (or Tiffany Sue we learn later) is intent on changing the dynamics in a long-term relationship. The reader doesn't need it spelled out to know that there's potential disaster here, that Suze wants a stand-up, dependable guy, that she'll need courage to risk what she already has for something better. Do you have sympathy for her situation? Can you root for her?

Carol Burnside said...

Hi, Sandy! Yes, Maryland is quite lovely, even in the winter. Our little town runs along the Potomac which is wide and shallow at this point. I'm sure I'll enjoy it all much more in warmer weather. :) It's cold and windy here this time of year.

You asked: First, congrats on your success and can you tell us if you have anything else coming out soon? Are you writing more articles for the magazine?

Thanks! Unfortunately, I don't have anything else coming out, though I intend to submit more stories to New Love Stories Magazine in the near future. I have one contemporary ready to go and would like to submit a Western frontier story and a paranormal for their consideration as well. I'll keep you posted on any new sales.

Cyrano said...

Thanks for answering our questions. Also, thanks so much for the snippet. I loved it! Plus, your explanation of what a short story is-a moment in time, an incident, a few scenes- is great help!
Connie(my critique partner)has told me to try a short story. She knows me well. ADD all the way baby.
I'll have to try it sometime now that I have some grasp of it's makeup.
Thanks again.
Have a great weekend.

Tami Brothers said...

Great description, Carol. I love your explanation of the snippet which describes everything. I also love the frozen in time thing. Great way to think of it.

My first question has to do with money. When I was GRW's PRO-Liaison, I had several people ask me about submitting short stories to try and help with expenses. Do you think it will or could make a difference?

Also, people asked me many times if I thought writing and publishing the shorter stories/novellas would help with writing credits when they submitted full-length manuscripts to agents/editors. What are your thoughts on this?

With my full time job and full time school, I'm hoping I can focus my attention on trying a short story in order to keep my hand in the writing world, but I'm finding it's a lot harder than I thought it would be. Any advice you have is very welcome!!!

Thanks for visiting with us today and I'm definitely going to have to subscribe to that magazine so I can read the rest of your story... Great job and I add my sentiments to let you know that we really miss you. Definitely come out and visit us sometime!!!

Tami Brothers

Carol Burnside said...

Good luck with writing shorter. Give it a shot and e-mail me if you run into trouble. I'll help if I can.

Carol Burnside said...

My question regarding income for short stories is: It depends. ;)
If the writer is fairly prolific and learns to write a good short, yes. They can make decent money. I have a friend who has made well over 4K in two years by selling stories to Dorchester's True's magazines. That's at $.03/word, mine you. New Love Stories Magazine pays $300 for a 3-5K story. That's easily twice what the True's pay. Women's World (a harder nut to crack!) is the best paying I know of at $800 for a 800 word romance story, but they have a strict formula to follow. Mini mysteries pay $500 for a 700 word story. Again, rigid guidelines.

E-publishing can be lucrative, but you make more if you can keep the stories coming, both short stories and novellas. You also have to do your homework and pick your publisher carefully. Harlequin's Spice Briefs and Red Sage's e-line are others that are advantageous for getting your foot in that publisher's door.

Feature articles (standard feature every issue) also pay nicely. I sold a prayer (under 300 wds) for $75.

As for writing credits, it says something to an agent or editor about your writing ability if your work is selling. If you've sold to an e-publisher multiple times, that tells them you're not a novice to the publishing side. You already have an idea of what it takes to work with an editor, revise, proof, check galleys and line edits, etc. Depending on your track record in sales, it can also show that you have a built-in readership already established.

I hope this answers your questions. Good luck with writing short. Same offer goes that I extended to Tamara. :)

Carol Burnside said...

Augh! In that last post, make that

My answer regarding income for short stories is: It depends. ;)

Sorry about that. I blame it on a fuzzy head due to a cold. :(

Tami Brothers said...

Hey Carol,

I typed a comment on Friday and it didn't post. Not sure why.

What I said was THANK YOU!!! for the wonderful insight into short story writing. This helps a lot. I did mention your post to one of the ladies who originally asked me about it during the GRW meeting.

Also, we really missed you this weekend. I hope you are staying warm up north. It's cold here, so I can only imagine what the temp is there...grin...

See ya!!!

Tami Brothers

Carol Burnside said...

You're welcome and thanks for the mention, Tami!

I miss you guys terribly. Thank goodness for the internet--my lifeline!