Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thursday Talk Time with Terri Reed

Here with us for Thursday Talk Time is Steeple Hill Love Inspired & Love Inspired Suspense author, Terri Reed. Everyone give her a warm Pink Heart Society welcome!!

CONTINUITIES - Stories that keep going, and going...

For those who don’t know, continuities are a series of connected books written by different authors. These books aren’t the authors’ series; the concepts belong to the publishing house. The editors come up with the plots for each book, the characters for each book and the over-arcing theme for all the books. They put together what is called a bible (notice the lower case b) which is a guide with synopses of all the stories, character statements for every character who are important to the over-arcing theme, and descriptions of significant places that can appear in any of the books. A continuity series can be anywhere from six to twelve books or more. Some are suspense-filled, some are geared around a town, some around a family or any group of people the editors decide on.

The publishing house retains the copyright of the book, though the author is paid an advance as well as royalties. Continuity series usually do well with readers. I think this is because as readers, we invest our emotions into the characters and like seeing them over the course of several books, even though each book’s focus is on a different main character.
Writing continuities is a huge undertaking and not one that should be decided on in haste. It requires collaboration with not only your editor, but with several other authors as well. The give and take of information is crucial to the success of keeping the continuity series consistent.

I’ve written a part of three continuity series so far for Steeple Hill. My first venture into this challenging and decidedly interesting world of continuities started with my Steeple Hill Suspense May 2006 release STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL, Book 5 of the Faith at the Crossroad continuity, a continuation of the Faith on the Line continuity. So really I was writing book eleven of twelve. Needless to say, I had a lot going on—the bible two inches thick. I wanted to find the six books of Faith on the Line, because my hero and heroine both appeared in each of those books. But since this is category, the books were no longer available, and I had to contact the authors directly and ask if they would be willing to send me a book or at least the scenes from their books that my characters appeared in. Next, the six authors of the Faith at the Crossroads formed an email loop so that we could exchange information. Because this was a suspense book, one of the authors brilliantly made a spreadsheet tracking the suspense plot and we all were diligent in keeping each other appraised of necessary information.

The actual writing of the book was a huge learning curve for me. Trying to keep so many characters straight, making sure I was being consistent with the other authors on the descriptions of the settings, and trying to make a story work that I hadn’t come up with was trying at times. I needed to stay true to what the editors had written and yet try to stay true to my voice. In the end, I was pleased with the book.

My second venture into the continuity realm was a blast. This was a six book suspense series revolving around six sisters and the mystery of their mother’s death. Each of the books was loosely based on a Shakespeare play. I was asked to write the third book in the series (much easier than eleventh).
, Book 3 of the Secrets of Stoneley, is a March 2007 release. My heroine was the youngest sister, named Juliet. Can you guess which Shakespeare masterpiece I got to play off of? Working with the other six authors was a hoot as well. The exchange of information came readily and consistently, which made the writing much easier. And because we weren’t dealing with already established characters, we had more latitude in our story building. I’m thankful to have been apart of this series.

My third and most recent continuity is a Steeple Hill Love Inspired to be released in November 2007 titled GIVING THANKS FOR BABY, Book 5 of the A Tiny Blessings Tale continuity series. I ended up, again, writing book eleven since A Tiny Blessings Tale was a continuation of Tiny Blessings continuity series. This was a hard book for me. I was dealing with some personal issues, my editor left in the middle of the process, and the subject matter of the book took a great deal of research for me to feel comfortable tackling some of the heavy issues. Plus there was a suspense element to deal with. Did I mention I developed an eye twitch while writing this book? ( a surprisingly common occurrence among authors) All in all, this made for a tough few months of writing, but now that it’s done…I’d do it again. I grew so much as an author. Always a good thing.

In fact, I had lunch with my new editor a couple of weeks ago and she asked if I’d be interested in doing another continuity. Of course I said yes!
Thanks, Terri!! XOXOXO

To learn more about Terri, check out her website and profile on Steeple Hill Authors. Her lastest release is available now in stores and on eHarlequin.


  1. Continuities are interesting to write, aren't they! I've taken part in a cross-line one based on the island of Niroli. (Left of Sicily - and, no, it doesn't really exist. :) )

    The bible was a huge tome and it felt rather like being presented with the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and no picture to guide you. I ended up with mine covered with highlighter pen and scribbles in the margins. Carol Marinelli's book preceeds mine and we had such fun linking our characters.

    I think it's the first time M&B have done a series which crosses 'lines'. I was told to write within 'Romance' guidelines (and shut my bedroom door) which leaves me wondering what kind of reaction I'll get since I follow three much sexier books.

    It's going to have its own special branding. Apparently each of the eight books are going to have a bit of a crown on the spine and if you buy all eight books you'll end up with the full thing.

    Penny Jordan's book is released in July. I'm book four and will appear in October.

  2. Terri,
    Thanks so much for the details. This is so interesting, and explains so much. Best of luck! Your books sound great.
    I've often wondered how much input came from the eds...and how much from the author!
    Natasha, good luck on your release, as well.
    [just completed second bk of connected stories...very impressed with those who can follow someone else's 'idea' and write the book!!!}

  3. Must be difficult to stay within the confines of the bible (lowercase 'b'). Your editors must know you well and trust in you. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.