Time, Time, Time – What’s A Reader To Do?

This morning, I'm happy to welcome Cathy Perkins to talk about one of my favorite subjects — reading.

Cathy's award-winning suspense writing lurks behind a financial day-job, where she learned, firsthand, skills like camouflage and hiding in plain sight -- skills employed by her villains. Born and raised in South Carolina, the setting for Honor Code (A Mystery Novella) and her mystery novel The Professor, Cathy now makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her workaholic  husband and a 75-pound Lab who thinks she’s still a lap-puppy. You can learn more on her website

Find Cathy

On Facebook,https://www.facebook.com/#!/CathyPerkinsAuthor
On Twitter, http://twitter.com/cperkinswrites

Time, Time, Time – What’s A Reader To Do?
by Cathy Perkins

How can we get it all done? Everything we have to do – plus the things we want to do?

We still have twenty-four hours, right? Do we cram too much into each day, or do we simply have too many balls in the air?

When the day job, family, volunteer activities, oh, the rest of life gets hectic, often my reading time suffers. I love to read. My favorites are character-driven mysteries. But sometimes, I start a novel, then come back two days later and backtrack to remember what’s going on. Frustrating, and not conducive to "getting lost in a story."

My Discovery

Recently, however, I’ve rediscovered short fiction. Stories I can read during lunch or while sitting in the orthodontist waiting room, or …. Well, you have plenty of those moments, right?

But I do want a story. Character. Conflict. Short stories and novellas can deliver them in bite-size chunks.

As an author, I’d always been a little awed by short story writers. In just a few pages, they set up a conflict, shape a character and deliver a twisty ending. And don’t get me started on song lyrics — whew, a complete story in less than four minutes.

Writers often seem to fall into one camp or the other — long or short — without much cross-over. I figured I was firmly in the "long" camp, concentrating on novels. I’m one of those authors who loves writing twisty, multiple suspects, numerous red herrings and a few subplots just in case things aren’t complicated enough already stories.

I was going crazy with the day job this summer, trying to finish a story to turn in to my editor, when a funny thing happened. A character from The Professor cleared his throat and said, "Get over here and pay attention."

And I discovered novellas can be fun to write.

Why Novella

Novellas fill that gray area (or whatever shade you want it to be) between short story and novel. While I usually write complex subplots, with this novella, I stripped those out to focus on the central story and theme. In Honor Code (A Mystery Novella) the story revolves around the way the main characters choose to live their lives — their code of honor.

Or lack of one.

The layers of complexity in a novella must serve multiple tasks, both driving the story forward and defining the characters. The romance in Honor Code is a subplot to the suspense, but I found a theme in mature love that I really want to explore in another story.

Hmm… maybe another novella….

What do you like as a reader or a writer? Long or short? Giving secondary characters the stage for a while? Or would you rather focus on the main character, the primary plot?

Takeaway Truth

Thanks for visiting, Cathy, and good luck with your novella and your novel. May you have great success with the short and long forms.


  1. Good morning, Cathy. So glad to have you on SlingWords today.

  2. Hi Joan

    Thanks for letting me visit today.

    It's been so much fun watching people's response to Honor Code - whew, as an author, we're always happy when readers enjoy the story!

    To celebrate Honor Code's week on the Mystery/Short Story Bestseller list, I'll give away several copies of the novella to commenters.