Beth Cornelison talks about the challenges and charms of writing for a continuity...
A couple weeks ago, I was thrilled to get an invitation to write book 2 in a new Coltons continuity series coming next fall to Harlequin Romantic Suspense. I jumped on the offer because, hey, it's a paying gig, and I'm always flattered when the editors at HRS want me to participate in a continuity.
So, having just completed my latest contracted book, I have turned my full attention to the new continuity this week— taking the sketchy outline for a story which is a part of a bigger whole and fleshing out characters, details of plot and goals/motivations/conflicts.
Most category authors I know have a love/hate relationship with writing continuity books. We authors have to sometimes twist ourselves into pretzels trying to shape our stories to fit the editors' ideas, jive with the other authors' stories and stay true to the characters we been given to write. It can be a juggling act! Say you've just written a wonderful tense, evocative scene where the hero reveals his dark and painful secret to the heroine and you've used lots of mood-setting environmental elements like rain and fog and thunder... but wait! It can't rain in your story because the prolonged drought in the town is a key factor in the events of the next book. So there goes that wonderful moody scene and all your lovely imagery. Sigh.
Or the poignant and relevant backstory you've come up with for your hero to create a more powerful and emotional conflict between your hero and heroine gets nixed by the editors because it is too dark and disturbing for a category line. Back to the drawing board...
On the upside, writing a continuity gives you the chance to collaborate with other talented authors in creating a setting, a family, and a fun story arc. My August release, Special Ops Bodyguard (Harlequin Romantic Suspense) is an example of this type of collaboration. My book and the book following it (Gail Barrett's Cowboy Under Siege) took place on the same ranch, with many of the same characters, within a short time frame. Gail and I corresponded quite a bit as we wrote our books, comparing notes on what the ranch looked like, how many of what kind of dog lived on the ranch and what the dogs' names were, what the characters were doing, thinking feeling...so that her book could pick up where mine left off and not miss a beat. Do errors slip through? Sure. Sometimes. If writing a continuity and coordinating plot details with the other books in the series is confusing for the authors, keeping the details and moving parts of six books is even crazier for the editors!
But when all is said and done, writing a continuity book, though challenging at times, is fun and rewarding. Seeing the larger story take shape is as exciting for an author as it is for the readers. Authors are, after all, readers and lovers of stories, too! No wonder continuities continue to be hot with readers!
Happy reading! Beth Cornelison
Beth Cornelison's latest release is part of the Top Secret Deliveries series from Harlequin Romantic Suspense and is out this month. Elise Norris wants nothing more than to be a mother. Her joy turns to agony when newborn baby girl Grace dies mysteriously—before the single mom could even say goodbye. But grief-stricken Elise can't shake the feeling that the final chapter of Grace's story isn't yet written….
As he works through his own tragic loss, widower Jared Coleman and his one-year-old daughter become captivated by Elise. But while investigating the strange circumstances behind Grace's death, their new friend teeters close to an explosive secret. Can Jared protect her—or is he in over his head in a desperate life-or-death struggle?
Beth Cornelison- firstname.lastname@example.org
REYN'S REDEMPTION- January 2011-Samhain
THE PRODIGAL BRIDE- February 2011-SRS
SPECIAL OPS BODYGUARD- August 2011- SRS
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