Guest blog on the concept behind "Rachel's Eyes," a short story by Ellen O'Connell

Rachel’s Eyes is my first venture into the short story world, and I suspect both the way I came to write the story and my purpose are different than many authors. You see, Rachel’s Eyes is a spinoff, or maybe a continuation, of my western historical novel Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold. Although I deliberately found two beta readers who had never read the novel to be sure that the story worked as a standalone, the readers I wrote Rachel’s Eyes for are fans of the novel.

When I first indie published, I never considered putting out anything but novels. The three books I published in 2010 areRottweiler Rescue, a cozy mystery at 75,000 words, Eyes at 118,000 words, and Sing My Name, also a western historical, at 134,000 words. As you can see, short was far from my mind. However, Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Goldresonates with some readers so strongly that they send me emails asking for a sequel or another romance featuring one or another of the secondary characters. A few readers have even mentioned such a desire in reviews.

The truthful answer to these requests is that I don’t see another novel in any of these characters. In my opinion none of the secondary characters in Eyes is suitable as a hero or heroine in another romance. Even so, I hate disappointing people who like my book so much they write and tell me and make such requests.

As an indie author, I frequent several author forums such as the Kindle Boards Writers’ Cafe and read any thread that looks interesting. One day I read a thread discussing “shorts”— short stories, novellas, and novelettes. That thread started me thinking. Maybe there are no more novels in the characters of Eyes, but I’ve always known how my characters’ lives turned out 3, 5, even 10 years down the road. Could I tell short stories giving glimpses of their later lives? The more I thought about it, the more I decided the answer was yes.

So, in writing Rachel’s Eyes my purpose was not to introduce new readers to my writing (although if it does that, I’ll be very happy), but to satisfy existing fans by continuing the story of characters they already love. The story features Cord and Anne Bennett, the hero and heroine readers love, and their interaction with a woman who was a minor character in the novel. My plan is to write several more stories about Cord and Anne, their friends and relatives. Not only do I hope readers will like them, but also that the stories will keep me on readers’ radar screens during the longer stretches between full length novels.

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