The Dreaded Word Count




Once upon a time, novels were a neat, slim 60k words. To nonwriters, that’s about 240 pages (250 words/page, double spaced, although I’ve read books that were shorter). I could see myself writing something that size.

Then the years rolled by and I discovered that the word count for fiction went up to 80k. Okay, I could adjust. I continued writing my novel, trying not to panic at how far the horizon was stretching. I could do this.

And then I thought to check what the average word count was for my genre. And my heart dropped right into my stomach and stayed there. Apparently, the average word count for urban fantasy is 90k. I stared at the screen in horror.

Needless to say, I made the 90k. Is it a better story for being longer? Perhaps. It caused me to slow down and flesh out the people and events. But I worked hard to make sure any filler was cut from the story, trimming the fat, as it were.

But when did this happen? Why did this happen? And where did this rule for how many words needed to be in a story come from?

I’d love to know.


* Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


New Story


I wrote a blog about going on vacation and not writing. The short story that came out of that vacation was written after I got home. I could still feel the dry, hot, desert air on my skin and the words tumbled onto the page in a flurry of typing.

The Town of Witch’s Rock is for those who enjoy urban fantasy and slow, hazy summer days.

My Mom and Writing



In the US, it was Mother’s Day yesterday. My mom is gone now but she (along with my dad) supported my writing efforts. So I’m going to share a “mom and writing” moment here.

It was a short story that had turned into the thriller-that-wasn’t. But I allowed my mom to read the first chapter. She had a puzzled look on her face. “It doesn’t end?”

I smiled. “No, it’s the setup for the rest of the story.”

“No,” she said, holding out the last page. “It doesn’t end.”

I took the page from her with a little impatience, ready to defend my darling, when I saw she was right—somehow, I had omitted the last paragraph.

“Oops,” I said.

She forgave me.

After she read the rest, I asked, “What did you think?”

“Well, it needs more sex,” she replied.

Mom, I miss you lots.

* Image courtesy of scottchan at

Spring, Home Renovations, and Writing


Spring came. Cool breezes with no real bite to them softened the air. Pale green buds on trees and blinding-bright yellow forsythia adorned the streets and neighboring yards.

The mating call of home renovations sounded, manifested by crowded lanes in every hardware and home decorating store, where people filled their shopping carts with cement and pored over paint chips. And this year, I heeded the call.

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