Guest Post: Writing – The Long and Short Of It by Patti Sherry-Crews

Please welcome author Patti Sherry-Crews today!!

Take it away, Patti.

“When are you going to stop writing for boxed sets and write another novel?”

That was a question my daughter asked me some time ago.

Her implication being that writing novellas for anthologies is a lesser feat than writing a novel. The question did give me pause. My daughter is one of my biggest fans, and I often share my work with her because she’s a careful reader, picking out all the little breadcrumbs I leave along the trail from page one to writing “the end.”

So, why put my energies into novellas? I’ve written nine novels (some yet to be published) and numerous novellas for both my publisher, Prairie Rose Publications, and Indie boxed sets.

There are many reasons I write novellas. I like the companionship, the reduced workload involved in a group effort, and the chance to learn from others. I also like to have a couple of projects going at once. I flip back and forth, letting one rest while I go back to another with a fresh eye. I find if I’m not writing it affects my mood. Sometimes I don’t have a big idea for a novel in mind, and to be able to answer a call for submission or write a story for an anthology ensures I have something on my laptop.

But is a novella really a lesser feat? Not at all. Size doesn’t matter. In fact, I’d argue writing a short piece is more challenging.

When I submit to my publisher they have a word count limit. Indie anthologies differ in that way because I can write a longer piece–in fact it’s encouraged as long as it still comes in as a novella. But still, the word count in one of my novellas is typically a third or less than a full novel. There’s less room to have your story arc or flesh out the characters, which is actually difficult to do. I measure every word to make sure it has the feeling I wish to convey, given that I have fewer words to work with to set the mood. Character has to be fine-tuned and defined in a few pages, opposed to chapters.

Editing is something I actually enjoy. I think of the process as polishing. Image of a rock tumbler running in my head. I polish, polish, polish. Every sentence, every word. The advantage of editing a short piece is that I can run through a novella from beginning to end in a matter of hours rather than days. I think that helps with issues such as continuity or to quickly see I’ve used a word or phrase a few too many times.

The short read is also a place to showcase what I’m capable of. And because I feel a responsibility to the other hard-working authors in an anthology, I put my all into these efforts.

So, Missy, I will continue to write both novels and stories for boxed sets!


Available at AMAZON and Kindle Unlimited

Includes Patti's story – PHOENIX HEAT

After losing her fiancé and her New York City business, Harper Donovan returns to Arizona and meets cowboy Frank Flynn. Will his past and their differences extinguish the heat between them?

An excerpt from PHOENIX HEAT

She switched off the ignition and reached for the bag when she heard the sound she dreaded. The sound of another car approaching. She squeezed her eyelids shut. After taking a second, she swallowed hard and opened her eyes. A pickup, riding a cloud of dust—pulling in behind her. Trapped. The driver turned off the engine and sat still for an agonizing few minutes.

Looking in her rearview mirror, she could see the grimace on his face. At last, Flynn climbed out of his truck. She took in a long, deep breath. Still looking in the rearview mirror, she watched his slow progress toward her. A plain white t-shirt and tight jeans might be the sexiest look on a man, she decided. His broad shoulders, trim waist, and muscular arms swinging at his sides couldn’t show more to advantage in any other clothes—except maybe his birthday suit. She caught herself mentally undressing him and bit down hard on her lower lip. He continued forward in an unhurried pace, a scowl etched on his features. An ache in her lungs alerted her to the fact she’d been holding her breath.

She rolled down her window as he approached and looked back at him over her shoulder. His feet landed in her tire tracks leading him closer, boot prints stamping a new pattern in the dust. Maybe she could hand him the bag and be on her way. He leaned down and put his hands on the driver’s side of her car with his arms spread wide. Oh my. He has a tattoo. Around one muscular bicep ran a band of Celtic design. He had his cheek sucked in like he wasn’t too pleased to see her.

“Hi, I brought you some food from the hotel,” she said, surprised by the slight squeak in her voice when she’d been going for relaxed.

“Rosa have you running her errands?” No squeak in his voice. He spoke in a deep, slow drawl. Very sexy.

“I pass by here on my way to work. It’s not a bother. I work at—”

“I know where you work,” he said in that same slow, deliberate way. That man didn’t do anything fast.

“Oh, right, well, here you go then,” she said, shifting the bag in his direction. “Nice of you to do this. I brought the food yesterday, so I know normally I’m to put the bag on the back porch.”

To her discomfort, he stood there, not reaching for the bag, intense eyes boring into her. She lifted the bag higher. “Well, here you are. I’ll just be on my—”

“Yesterday? You were here?” The muscles in his wide-spread arms bulged, making her feel like prey trapped by a more powerful opponent. His body, radiating heat, blocked her view. His male scent filled the car.

“Yes, I let your dog in too. Poor thing was frantic to get in with the storm coming.”

His face got tight and he narrowed his eyes. “Very kind of you, except I don’t own a dog.”

“Oh, well, I—”

“That dog did some damage.” A vein in his neck twitched and his compressed lips went white.

The scorch of shame flashed over her cheeks. “I’m so sorry! It never occurred to me…. Was it bad?”

“Words fail to describe. Let me show you what I came home to yesterday. Come on,” he said when she continued to sit in the car.

He stood back to let her open her door and step out into the hot sun, pulling the bag after her. She stood face to face with him now. With his hands hooked in his belt loops, elbows out, she was aware of the size of him. Large and imposing, his body held her captive without touching her. She didn’t know what to say, and he seemed to be taking his time raking her over with his eyes. He stood so close to her, she smelled the musky scent of him. The individual stubble of each whisker on his chin, clear to her.

Finally, he walked away, moving to the back of his truck, where he picked up something large and threw it over one shoulder—a fifty-pound bag of dog food.

“I thought you said you don’t have a dog?”

“It appears I do now.”


Patti Sherry-Crews lives in Evanston, IL with her husband, two children, one good cat, and one bad but lovable puggle. She writes historical western and medieval romances for Prairie Rose Publications. She also enjoys writing contemporary romances. When she’s not writing, she’s usually walking the dog or indulging her love of cooking.

Find Patti at

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