I need to make a decision.
What it comes down to is 1) keep working on "Riverbend" and make it a great historical novel or 2) shorten the novel and make it a historical romance.
There is a difference. If I keep to the longer length (90,000 word or thereabouts) I can add more description, backstory, and character development.
If I shorten it (50,000 words) I have a better chance of getting published. I just have to think like a poet and give my descriptions and backstories with more concise and vivid scenes. Making one sentence draw the picture instead of a paragraph; one word instead of a sentence.
So - is my heart's desire to write an epic that may never be published or write a story I can share with readers?
The cold facts are that I have a chance in a million of getting the longer novel published. I could self-publish, but without a strong following, I don't see it selling more than a few copies to friends and family.
I learned from an editor at a recent workshop that digital publishing is the wave of the future. More and more people have e-readers and want to download books they can read in an evening or on a commute (hence the shorter word length). The good news is that there are millions of readers looking for books. Maybe even mine.
So I now face the chore of chopping whole paragraphs, maybe even chapters. Some of my favorite scenes must go. And I must introduce the hero in the second chapter and not the sixth. (A big "no-no" in romance genre. In fact, he should appear in the first chapter or even the first pages, but I need at least one chapter to set up the plot.)
Thank you all for your continuing input. Writers need support and I am grateful for yours.