By Sue Ann Jaffarian
How do I know if a story idea is better suited for short or long fiction?
Boy, I am not the person to ask about this. If I'd followed my gut several years ago, my very popular Ghost of Granny Apples series might not exist.
|Novella due out March 5th|
When Barbara wrote back that she wanted to hear more, I fleshed out the story line a bit, again not a mystery. A minute later came another e-mail – she wanted to know more. Okay, at this point I was out of material already set in my brain so I did what any writer would do, I made it up on the fly, quickly giving the ghost a back story, personality and purpose. She would be trying to find someone to exonerate her of a murder, I told Barb. And she’d be from someplace cool like Julian, California, during the gold rush days.
At this point I went to shower and get ready for the day. When I returned to my computer there was another message from Barb: This is not a short story. This is a novel. Okay, I told her, I guess it could be a cute stand alone. No, she responded back, it’s a series. How soon can you get me a manuscript?
And thus the Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series was born. And Barb was right. Granny Apples wasn’t a short story, it was a full-blown mystery series which to date has three novels under its belt and more on the way.
|A day I'll never forget!|
The Ghost of Granny Apples is also my most popular series, barely nudging out my Odelia Grey mystery series in sales. And when Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini, the second book in the series, was listed as the Kindle Daily Deal, it shot to #1, edging out notable authors like John Grisham and Stephen King. It didn't stay there, of course, but it's still not too shabby for an idea that almost didn’t happen! I am also pleased to say that the last novel released, Gem of a Ghost, was nominated as a Romantic Times Reviewers award.
And it all started with a short story idea that I was too dense to see as long fiction.
The moral of this is two-fold: 1) don’t listen to me, I’m lost in a fog; and 2) listen to the people who know and don’t be afraid to bounce ideas off their heads. They might recognize a gem when you think you're holding a common rock.