Jeff King: Tell Us About Your Novels

>> Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Jeff King asked: how many novels have you written, and would you mind posting up some of the synopsis with genre and word count...

I have complete a draft of at least three novels.

The first one I wrote was called An Unknowing Vow and it was a Regency romance intended to follow the style of the incomparable Georgette Heyer. It only ran about 60K words and involved what all romances involve. Naturally, it had cats, a friend who was hilarious (for our hero) and seven aunts pushing our hero into marriage. It also had an evil doer, a ridiculous "standard Barbara Cartland" hero and an idiot heroine to go with it as a contrast to my main characters. It was a learning experience and did a great deal to help me work on characters and dialog. The plot, however, stunk and it's in desperate need of a rewrite. I know what I want to do, but it hasn't been a priority.

The first novel I feel I've "finished" is The Curse of the Jenri, which was based, loosely, on a short story I got published in the now defunct PLOT magazine, "Code of the Jenri." This novel, which is a true sword and sorcery fantasy novel, involves a loose organization of women and their mates, the Jenri, who cannot have male children, have ties to their founder hundreds of years before, have a rigid code of ethics. They also have a mystique where I combine aspects of Amazons, ninjas and Native Americans because, hey, I'm like that. I wanted to turn the tide on the hackneyed damsel-in-distress concept and challenge many of those old stereotypes. And I wanted it to be funny. I think I succeeded at least in that. It's ~130,000 words.

The last novel I finished (which still needs polishing) is Beast Within, a combination science fiction/fantasy combining elements of both, but also a castaway theme, except there's a great bunch of them. Again, I like to play with societal stereotypes and mores and address not just prejudice but the fear of prejudice and how the fear of being viewed as a monster can make you one. It's about 93,000 words.

I have perhaps another ten or so novels in various states of completion, at least have a dozen or so with more than ten chapters. I have a screenplay that I completed that could also use a revamp (or trash heap), some plays based on original fairy tales I've written, some fairy stories I've written and a large number of short stories.

So, there you have it.


  • JD at I Do Things

    I have had the immense pleasure of reading the final draft of Curse of the Jenri. I hope it'll be available soon to everyone -- in the form of a published book. It's a wonderfully entertaining read and as well-written as you would expect from Stephanie. Looking forward to the next one!

  • Stephanie B

    *Blushes* Thank you, JD.

    I should have added that, though I do the writing grunt work, editing, nuts and bolts and character development, these books (except for the first one) are collaborative projects with my husband who provides technical detail, an editing ear, and cold water when I get excited about something that doesn't work. I really should have used the term "we" rather than "I".

  • The Mother

    Just out of curiosity, if they can't have male children, have they developed some test tube solution? Or are they one generation from extinction?

  • Stephanie B

    It's a perfectly reasonable question, the Mother. Whatever isolation they have is self-imposed but hardly absolute. What they have to do is mate outside their own tribe. Given that the rest of the society is strictly inheritance father-son, this is a quite a concession on the part of the prospective mates; they must effectively give up their birthrights and/or be comfortable with never having a son to pass them along.

    Most mates, at least in my novel, choose to stay with the Jenri and forgo their previous ties.

  • Jeff King

    The Curse of the Jenri,
    sound similar the novel i am working on, being that it is a sword and soccer type of book but the overall idea is very different... it is my first venture into writing and it is even harder than i thought.

    Best of luck to you, one thing i have read over and over again on my agents and publishers websites, is if you are a first time author you should not have a work of fiction the goes over 90,000 words. It is like an unwritten law... they say to break it into two books if it does go over and make the 2 books around 74,000 words.\

    at least that is what i have read over and over again. That 300 to 350 pages is the desired page length for a premiering book/ author.

  • Jeff King

    *my* i ment many agents and publishers websites.

  • Stephanie B

    To tell you the truth, Jeff, I've heard everything from publishers who wouldn't accept books that were less than 100,000 words to those that wouldn't take less. With my 60,000 word romance, I was told specifically to make it at least 90,000 to 110,000.

    On Curse, it used to be almost exactly 100,000 and I was told it would do better longer.

    Here's the thing. I believe I'm better off writing a novel that's the right length for the novel's sake than trying to cut something whole into bits or trying to pad up something svelte so it runs longer.

    I'll mess with it if it suits the story; I've done it and I'll do it again. But I want to write the stories as I think they should be written, not try to fit some sort of template. If that means I have good stories that never make it into print, so be it. I'd rather have good stories never published than stories I wasn't proud of that were.

    If getting published is the penultimate goal, of course, one would probably recommend a different path.

  • Stephanie B

    (It should be noted that the "perfect length" is not static. When you start writing, a particular style or type of work might be going gangbusters, helping dictate a length. By the time you're finished, something longer (or shorter) might be all the rage and the "perfect length" has changed.

    I know first (and very successful books - like say Harry Potter) far longer than 100,000 words. I know first (and very successful) that are 75,000- 80,000 words.)

  • Jeff King

    thx for your input, i have to agree just wondered if you worried about it or even heard about it thx

  • Stephanie B

    I had heard the 100,000 word guideline, but, ironically, ONLY from wannabe writers. When I've spoken to agents and publisher, they either haven't given a specific length or have give specific lengths for specific imprints (romances). I guess I'm just saying (a) I'm not convinced that one size fits all and (b)I think designing a book to fit a particular length is a good way to write a bad book.

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