Scared Off–A Maine Clambake Mystery Novella–Released

by Barb, loving the end of summer here in Maine

I am very excited to celebrate the release this week of Scared Off, a Maine Clambake Mystery novella. Triply excited because I’m sharing the release week with Cate Conte and Maddie Day!

Here’s the blurb

Barbara Ross returns to glorious Maine with a spooky but fun Julia Snowden mystery set during Halloween season.

Three teenage girls having a sleepover on Halloween night get spooked when high schoolers crash the house for a party. But no one expected to find a crasher like Mrs. Zelisko, the elderly third floor tenant, dead in the backyard—dressed in a sheet like a ghost. With her niece traumatized, Julia Snowden must uncover who among the uninvited guests was responsible for devising such a murderous trick . . .

About the book

Scared Off is book 9.5 in the Maine Clambake saga. In other words, it falls chronologically between book 9, Shucked Apart, and book 10, Muddled Through. Scared Off originally appeared in the collection Halloween Party Murder along with novellas by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis, so if you own that book, you already own this story. This week’s Scared Off standalone release is ebook-only. If you are a person who prefers to read in print, there are still copies of Halloween Party Murder available.

Here’s what some nice people said about the novella.

…my favorite novella in the collection. I enjoyed getting to spend some time with the characters, and I loved how the mystery unfolded.

Carstairs Considers

Barbara Ross always gives us solid characters that cleverly enhance her atmospheric cozies. Scared Off is a tasty Halloween morsel not to be overlooked this holiday season!

Wonder Woman Sixty

…my favorite cozy author, Barbara Ross, …provides us with another excellent installment of her Maine Clambake Mystery series.

Criminal Element

What is the deal with the novellas anyway?

This year library speaking events have really come back and I’ve done a bunch. The most common questions seem to be about the novellas. Here are some answers:

  • Yes, they are about the Maine Clambake characters, Julia Snowden and friends. They take place in the world of Busman’s Harbor and they do move the narrative forward in important ways. (Especially the later ones.) For those of you eagerly awaiting the next full-length book, they are a good way to visit with the Snowden family and friends.
  • Novellas from Kensington are typically 25,000 to 35,000 words, or round and about 100 to 125 pages.
  • Given the length, only one of my novellas is structured like a traditional mystery, with the central question of whodunnit? (That one would be Hallowed Out.) The others are structured around the central question, whatisgoingonhere? Though I do promise an answer to all reader questions, including whodunnit by the end of each.
  • The novella stories do fall chronologically between the books (see below). In the beginning I had a little trouble with this and the chronology of the first couple is just a little off. Once I got into the flow of one full-length book set immediately before, during, or after the Snowden Family Clambake’s summer season, and one holiday-related novella set during the off-season each year, it really seemed to work.
  • I’ve indicated the novellas chronological placement in the list below.

Please join me in congratulating Cate and Maddie and celebrating a big week for Wicked Authors books.

Readers: Do you think it’s fair to move the series characters’ stories forward in the novellas, or no because many people skip them?

36 Thoughts

  1. Congratulations to all of you on new releases! It’s an exciting time for all because us readers are just as thrilled as the authors I would say.

    Don’t see a reason not to. After all, reading a series, means you are always biting at the bit for the next book. This gives one a way to spend time with the characters a bit while waiting on the next book.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  2. Congratulations on the new release Barb!

    I don’t think it is unfair to advance the running plotlines of a main series in these novellas. If people skip the novellas, that’s on them. It’s not like the book is unavailable to them, they just choose not to buy it / borrow it from the library.

    1. It’s a good point about the library, Jay. Because the novella collections are hardcover and have Leslie Meier’s name in big letters on them, they are much more apt to be at your local library.

  3. Myself, I’m honestly not into reading shorter stories, so I’d most likely skip novellas. But I find most authors are excellent at explaining characters and their current situation, so skipping novellas would be okay.

  4. Congratulations, Barb! I think using novellas that way is fine – as long as you sufficiently catch people up (without a ton of backstory) in the next book, just for those who don’t read the novellas.

  5. Congratulations! Honestly, I don’t really like shorter stories/novellas but I think it’s fine to move the characters forward.

    1. Thanks, April. I didn’t used to like shorter stories because they were less immersive. Then I fell in love with Alice Munro and the rest is history.

  6. Kudos on the novella, Barb. Thankfully, authors can make an informed decision whether their fan base appreciates the use of novellas to move the series characters’ stories forward. I lean toward skipping most novellas in favor of long-form novels.

    1. I used to be a novella-skipper, too. But when I love, love, love and author, I will look for anything I have written. (And the more prolific they are, the more of a hunt that is.) In my case, it was looking for every Ruth Rendell Wexford book, story, novella, and so on.

  7. Congratulations, Barb! This novella was exceptionally mysterious and had such an appropriate atmosphere to read around Halloween! I have read it more than once, and have marveled at how the plot developed and came to an end. Brilliant! Anything you write is exceptional, so I would never miss one of your novellas. Carry on writing just as you are doing. I love the “in between” stories featuring Julia Snowden and the gang from Busman’s Harbor! Luis at ole dot travel

  8. I think it depends on how you move the characters forward in a novella. If Julia got engaged in a novella, that would be hard. But something smaller works.

    Congrats on the release. My stand alone review (which will sound very familiar) should go live tomorrow. Assuming I get it scheduled….

  9. I think there is no right or wrong answer to this question. It’s true that some readers skip the novellas. But other readers don’t read the series in order. Others read the novellas in a collection of three novellas by three different authors, and they have not read any of the other books in the series. Some readers read only kindle books, and others read only printed books. How is an author supposed to satisfy everyone? It just isn’t possible!

  10. I’m not normally a big fan of novellas, but I do love yours and Edith’s. As long as I’m not lost in the next full novel, it’s OK by me to forward the characters in novellas. Thanks for keep writing!

    1. It’s always a challenge not to bore regular readers, especially those who read in order, but to keep new readers and out-of-order readers up-to-date. It’s a challenge I enjoy.

  11. I think novellas are fair game and they give readers a fix on their favorite characters and settings while waiting for the next in the series. Besides, there are smaller stories that would be stretched thin in a full-length novel. Usually, novella prices reflect the length and are not priced the same, too.

  12. I like them but some people may not read the other authors and then don’t want them or don’t own a Kindle or Nook to download the eBook. I like it when they do an in-depth character study of the characters.

  13. I love them. It is fun to take a short trip with the characters that I love. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

  14. Characters are gonna do what they want to do. If I’m REALLY curious (and have the emails and ARCs under control) I can go to the library and check out the book.

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