Thursday, March 6, 2014

Janet Lane Walters on how a string of short stories can build whole worlds

I've written novels, novellas, novelettes, chapter books, short stories, flash fiction, and drabbles. Still, I've never done what today's guest, Janet Lane Walters, has accomplished: she's written a unified series of short stories about related worlds. I'll have to try that! But first, welcome to The Amber Chronicles.

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Writing Short Pieces - Amber Chronicles
by Janet Lane Walters 

I began writing short stories until the day an editor told me what I'd written sounded like a synopsis for a novel. Back to the drawing board and I was off on writing novels. Then I joined a group of writers called Jewels of the Quill as Dame Amber and was asked to participate in their anthologies. Thus the world called Amber was born. The stories weren't written in chronological order and ranged in length from 2500 words to 15,000 words. Four of the stories in Amber Chronicles were published in the anthologies and numbers 5 and 6 were written after I received the rights back to the books and decided to write a beginning to the story and tie all the stories together.
The main character is a witch called Emme who must learn what it means to give and receive love. She wants to marry a crown prince and when she constantly fights with her sisters is send to another world where she must learn her lessons. Emme starts out as more of a villain than a heroine but I knew she had to be redeemed. Writing the first story was difficult since she needed to be mean yet be able to learn what she must. Though the shortest story in the collection, this took the longest to write. But as a writer I loved Emme and wanted others to love her as well. Her story became The Amber Orb and she sets a curse on the first of the princes to turn her down. He is taken into the amber orb.
Stephen enters the orb and is transported to a land where a dragon is terrifying the inhabitants. The Amber Dragon tells the story of an enchanted princess transformed into a five foot, fat amber dragon. She has lessons to learn and she needs a prince to rescue her.  This was a fun story to write and was a bit of my take on The Princess and the Frog fairy tale we all know and remember. The story was a fun one to write and made me chuckle a time or two. Hopefully the readers will react in similar ways.
Having failed once, Emme tries again. This time the prince is Rafel who refuses to accept her offer and give her his love. He is transported to a world with an aging king who has a niece he raised from birth and another who suddenly appeared and who is everything the first niece isn't. Here Rapunzel came to mind and The Amber Tower was born. This time Rafel is the prisoner in the tower and he is faced with a choice to wed either of the princesses. Marriage is not a state he wishes. There were times while writing this story that I struggled but as well as Rapunzel, I had one of those Aha moments and added a bit of The Lady or the Tiger to the story.
Emme doesn't give up. She tries for Ivor and he refuses. He enters the orb and arrives in a world where a princess is in The Amber Cage. Ivor loves music and in the world he not inhabits, people sing rather than speak. He faces tests and has two rivals for the hand of the princess. The ending came to me from a record my father used to play a warp sound but I won't give what happened away.
In despair Emme decides to grow up with the next prince, Hugh. She now begins to learn the lesson she was sent to learn and the story ends with a reverse of the other stories. Odd thing was this was the first of the stories I wrote and I think I was a bit influenced by Anna Karenina, a story I read at a very young age and thought the ending was dumb. What always interests me in writing is how something from childhood enters a story in different ways. This story was titled Woman Cast In Amber.
The final story features Kristen the prince who fell in love with the woman cast in amber and how he wants to rescue her. Since this was the last story in the group, there had to be an ending and Emme had to prove she had learned the lesson. Started this story several times. I believe there were at least three versions before I found the right mix.
All in all, these stories were fun to write. Starting near the end of a series of related stories and going to the beginning of the events may not be how this should be done. I enjoyed writing each of the stories and bits of myself entered the three worlds of the Amber Chronicles.

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Learn more about Janet Lane Walters on her website and her blog.

You can buy The Amber Chronicles on Amazon.


  1. Fascinating insight on how you create your stories Janet. I love the idea of the amber orb, and that cover is delish!

  2. It's fascinating to hear that you didn't write the stories in chronological order. I always love learning about other writers' process and how they go about tackling the business of writing.

    The story sounds great, and I agree on the cover. Wonderful!

  3. Interesting to read how you put your stories together, Janet!

  4. That cover really draws me in! This book sounds really different and fascinating. It's inspiring to read how others come up with their stories so I thank you for sharing. Goodluck with the book!

  5. Goodness me what a difficult task you had Janet and how well you pulled it off. I am always fascinated by the different ways writers write!

  6. I am also interested in how authors write and feature someone every week on my blog telling all. I usually write my stories from beginning to end. Didn't work this time.

  7. Wonderful cover and I love the story about how you started writing. :)

  8. Hi Janet,
    Great post, nice to find out a little more about your writing journey.



  9. I enjoyed reading about how you create your stories, Janet. Good luck! I'm intrigued by the cover too.


  10. Wow. Fascinating how the Amber Chronicles came to be! Good luck in your writing endeavors!