Friday, September 12, 2014

Writing Continuities, Babies, Westerns and Romance with Carolyne Aarsen

Hey there. Carolyne Aarsen here. 

Sitting at my computer, all alone, trying to work up the energy to go for a walk and then dive into edits. When I had starry-eyed dreams of writing, I didn't realize how much time I would be spending on my own - just me and the voices. There are many times I wished I had a group of people to work with.  People who cared about my characters the same way I did. People who could help me work through the process. I have a writing partner and we do fantastic together, but sometimes you just need another voice.
And then, into my life, came continuities. These are editor driven series written by various authors. The first time around I was overwhelmed by the people I was working with. Smart, savvy and quick. They helped me decipher the ‘bible’ and showed me to create a proper flow from one book to the next. I discovered that working in this group environment was way more fun than I thought it would be.  I had found….my people. And every time, after that, when I got asked to do a continuity, I said yes.
This past year I’ve had the special privilege of working with an amazing group of people. Okay, I know your thinking “Obligatory public thank you speech” wherein you proceed to gloss over any and all troubles that occurred within the group.
But I don’t need to to any glossing over. We had such a great time together. There was an energy and interaction that made the writing more fun. 
It all started with the introduction of the fellow members of the continuity. We introduced ourselves and we were away. Val Whisenand set up the first book and let us know what she was doing as she fleshed out her characters, gave quirks to secondary characters - Rusty Zidek and his mule -  and introduced new ones. She set up the story world, Ruth took over from there and both gave me a foundation to work with. As Jenna, Brenda and Deb all participated we solved problems in the storylines, came up with additions and changes. Details were seen to and inconsistencies were addressed.
There was an energy to the group that I fed off of. Whenever I read what the others wrote, I would get pushed to try just a little harder. To write a bit better.

ISN'T THIS STINKIN' ADORABLE???? OH, I JUST WANT TO SMUSH THEIR LITTLE CHUBBY CHEEKS!!!
Every morning one of my favourite moments was when I opened my e-mail and saw all the letters from my fellow continuity writers. I knew they understood the story world I usually spent so much time by myself in. They knew my people and I knew theirs. 
With this group I had people to complain to, people who understood my story and cared about my characters and slowly, as we work together we started sharing more than just story ideas. We shared personal stuff. We shared virtual cups of coffee and tea and chocolate. We became friends.
I truly had a wonderful time working on this continuity and I was sad to see my part in it end. I hope it shows in the story!

Ruthy here: We had so much fun on this project that it should be classified as illegal by federal marshals!!! (Because federal marshals are C-U-T-E but not as cute as cowboys!!!!) Carolyne's right, we not only worked well together, we became friends and that made the whole project special.

Come on inside and leave a comment... no drive-bys!!!... and Carolyne is graciously giving away 3 (THREE!!!) copies of "Her Montana Twins" and one winner will receive a copy of those two precious babies (Her Montana Twins) AND three books from Carolyne's "Hearts of Hartley Creek" series! 

We've got Friday morning food revved up, a full breakfast buffet from Le Peep (Love their food) and fresh coffee with a barista on hand! Come on in... Set a spell... Let's talk writing and great books!

47 comments:

Marianne Barkman said...

I just finished Her Montana Twins! I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT!!!!!! And your post is fun, too, Carolyne

Terri said...

You make writing a continuity sound like such fun! Something to look forward one of these days. So how does a continuity work? Do you have input into how your hero and heroine are portrayed in earlier books?

Cindy W. said...

I just love reading continuity series. Whether by one author or several I love it. Sometimes I wait until I have them all and then begin reading them. Right now I have Her Montana Cowboyand His Montana Sweetheart and they are calling me to begin reading. I would LOVE to win a copy of Her Montana Twins and you are right Ruthy...those two adorable little people need their little cheeks smushed..cute, way cute!

Everyone have a blessed day!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, Carolyne, good morning dear one!!!!

Isn't this so stinkin' fun????

We had such a good time, and how blessed am I to call these women friends.... and to be able to sit and chat with them, pray with them, eat virtual food with them????

Carolyne's in western Canada, so she most likely won't be here for a bit, but Terri, my buddy, the editors have an outline they use that everyone goes by... and that helps solidify who's who and what's what, but then you build your own story independently while staying true to the guidelines. We kept checking back with one another to make sure we were all on the same page, and because the characters interact, we needed to represent them accurately. So checking and rechecking is a regular occurrence because we're all writing at the same time over several months.

It was wonderful. Fun. Exciting. And I learned so much from working closely with this talented team, and that's not obligatory praise. It's just how it was!

Jackie said...

It sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing!

DebH said...

wow. it's so cool when great minds come together to create something. i can see how the interaction could energize you. i have a love/hate relationship with continuities. i LOVE reading them, i hate when i can't find one of the books because then i feel the complete picture is missing something.

it's fun to see authors so excited for each other and the overall story arc. way cool.

please put my name in the draw for Carolyne's book.

Cindy Regnier said...

Continuity. I know what it is, I love reading it but I guess I never heard the word used in that context before. Thanks for enlightening me and getting me revved up to read Her Montana Twins! That cover ought to make anyone want to read it - how adorable. Thank you CAROLYNE AND RUTHY!

Wilani Wahl said...

I am loving this series. I can't wait for the next one. You have all done such an amazing job. I would never know it was written by different authors.

An idea for a new book popped into my brain yesterday, so looking forward to developing it and preparing to write.

I hope everyone will have a great weekend.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Carolyne. Thanks for sharing your experience with continuities. Love that you all were able to work together so beautifully. I've heard that doesn't always happen. Just proves you're terrific people and professional writers.

Ruthy, thanks for bringing Le Peeps' buffet this morning. I love their breakfasts! Seems like my favorite is called the Eighteen Wheeler. LOL I'm a hearty eater.

Janet

Missy Tippens said...

Carolyne, welcome! Working on a continuity sounds so fun! I'd love to be invited to do one someday. I think it would be so fun to plan out books with other writers. A revved up brainstorming group! :)

kaybee said...

RUTHY, I don't get it. You're giving away the twins? Live babies?
By-the-by, RUTHY, I heard Derek Jeter is writing a children's book. Maybe you can do a book tour together.
CAROLYNE, maybe I'm dense but I still don't get it. How is a continuity different from a series?
I would love to write with a community. It wasn't till this year that I began to feel the solitariness of what we do. But it's worth it. Or will be.
Kathy Bailey

Missy Tippens said...

By the way, I remember Ruthy often telling us how much fun she was having with y'all, and what a great group you were!

Lyndee H said...

Hi Carolyne,
The dreaded author isolation. (That's why I have dogs, lol). This sounds like a terrific experience and how lucky are we? We get to share in the spoils, reading a collection of great books by great authors. Works for me!

Myra Johnson said...

CAROLYNE, welcome! Thanks for sharing YOUR perspective on this collaboration! We're not always sure we get all the facts from RUTHY, who tends to . . . um . . . embellish.

I mean, how can you trust anyone who uses the word "stinkin'" to describe sweet, adorable little kids???

Seriously, the idea of working with other authors on a continuity sounds both challenging and fun. As MISSY said, the brainstorming teamwork would be amazing! And I do enjoy reading about continuing characters.

Debby Giusti said...

Carolyne!

If Ruthy was involved, the experience had to be fun!

I too hate the isolation of writing...that's why I need to interact with people each day, even if it's only at the grocery store! :)

Love those twins! Too cute. They've stolen my heart.

Meghan Carver said...

I'm new to reading continuities, but they are fabulous! So much fun to read since the story isn't over with just one book. Your post, Carolyne, makes them sound fun to write as well. Working with others who understand one particular story world? Yes, please!

Jennifer Smith said...

I'd never heard of a continuity series until I first read about it on here...Neat concept! And yes, definitely a way a writer can get some interaction with others. :)

Chill N said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful experience, Carolyne -- and went into it with an equally wonderful attitude :-)

Congratulations! Wishing you all the best with your writing.

Nancy C

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Carolyne. How fun to match a face to the name of a fellow Love Inspired author.

You're Canadian, eh?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Jennifer Smith you are so cute with those profile pictures!!

Vince said...

Hi Carolyne:

I’ve been a fan for years. I always looked forward to your books when I subscribed to the large print version of Love Inspired books. Just one Aarsen book would make the four book monthly selections a success.

Now as far as writing a continuity: do you have a test to weed out the pantsers or do you accept a certain amount of PTSD (Plot Traumatic Stress Disorder) from those pantsers who have to write to a largely plot driven romance?

Btw: I just loved “Father Lessons”. Also for Kindle people, Amazon has a deal for your book and Tina’s book plus one more at a real good price!

Vince

Carolyne Aarsen said...

Continuities are fun. No doubt about it and I'm glad so many of you enjoy reading them. And good morning to you too, Ruth...only trouble is I"m just jumping in now because A) I slept in and B) I'm in MST zone....But yeah the interaction with continuities is great and we really fed off each other.

Carolyne Aarsen said...

Hey, Kaybee, yes. Ruthy's adjective of choice IS stink in. And with twin babies.....she could be close to the mark.

Carolyne Aarsen said...

Thanks so much for the warm welcome. What a great group of people here at Seekerville! For those of you who want to know what makes continuities different from series, at least to me, is that continuities are a series, published one month apart, written by different authors. A series is often written by one author and, unless the publisher sets it up differently, are usually published a few months apart. So with continuities, the story is.....continuous.

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Carolyne!

Thanks for sharing how a continuity works - and that it works well! It sounds like a lot of fun when you have authors who work together as well as your group did.

I'm one of those authors who enjoys my solitude, but I'm not a complete hermit :) It would be fun to be part of a continuity some day.

And put me in the drawing for a couple of those twins. Ruthy, you are giving away live children, right?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Hey, by Friday afternoon I am QUITE LIKELY to give away live children!!!!

:)

By 4:00 PM????

It's a no-brainer!

Carolyne Aarsen said...

Hey, Vince, thanks so much for your kind words. I'm so glad you enjoy my books. That means a lot. As for Pantsters VS Outliners - the reality is with the continuities we are given a 'bible' for each continuity. These give us the characters for each book and then give us a rough outline of each story as laid out by the editor. That's one of the challenges of writing a continuity - working with someone else's story and characters. For the pantsers, I guess they simply have to work with what is given them as laid out in the bible.

Carolyne Aarsen said...

Hey Jan, if you want Ruthie's live children, you better be careful. They are probably Stinkin' Cute!! The reality of writing is we need solitude and, often, crave it. But we also need interaction with people to give us a creative boost. Face to face is best but when you live at the corner of No and Where, like I do, you take what you get!

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, gosh, Carolyne ... you make it sound so good that even I'M -- a certified loner -- tempted to do a continuity too!

It truly sounds like the continuity process makes writing even more fun, so thanks for sharing!

Hugs,
Julie

DebH said...

laughing at the child give away comments. i've seen Ruthy's cuteness exploitation photos - stinkin' cute about covers it.

i'm keeping/cuddling/lovin' my little stinker. he's in his second week of pre-school and is loving it (thank the Lord). he's quite pleased to have mastered the ABC song. mommy's pleased that he can write his name (9 letters long - poor child, mommy wasn't thinking about that when she hung his moniker on him)

i really need to get Ruthy's book to keep in sync with the continuity...

Pam Hillman said...

Sounds like you guys had a ton of fun with that series :) I'm sure it's a whole 'nother ballgame entirely!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Janet, I fell in love with Le Peep in NEBRASKA!!!! I blame Mary Connealy and there are none here....

Pumpkin cream cheese stuffed FRENCH TOAST.

To die for.

I'm starving now.

Sandra Leesmith said...

HI Carolyne, Welcome to Seekerville. Thanks for joining us. Love the cover of your book. Have a fun day.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hello Carolyne (fellow Canadian)!
I think I'm a little jealous of you authors having such a great time together! It is such a solitary career, isn't it? That's what I love about going to the conference - people that totally get what I do!

I've started this series with the free novella which was cute and can't wait to read more! Please throw my name in the hat. (Although I think I won a copy of Ruthy's a while back - ahem!)

Cheers,
Sue (from Toronto area)

Kav said...

Yay -- a fellow Canadian...but west...does that mean you experience that horrid snow this week?! It's nippy here, but not snow weather yet.

Thanks for sharing about how continuity series work. I've been a fan of the Big Sky Centennial series from the start. Loved Her Montana Twins so don't enter me in the draw. And, woohooo, just received His Montana Bride in my Harlequin order. I especially love how the new book in a continuity series comes out every month. Makes it very exciting for the reader.

Connie Queen said...

I'm still trying to figure out if it would be easier/more fun being a part of a continuity series project or just writing by yourself. Alone. Hmm.

And let me say, I LOVE your cover.

The Artist Librarian said...

Sounds like you had a great experience! Was the main story arc plotted between or by all the authors involved, or was it more like each author is writing their own story but all the characters and "world" is the same for the series? As a reader, it's good when authors take continuity seriously. I've read franchise books where characters have slight personality changes depending on the author. :)

Walt Mussell said...

You referred to a continuity series as an editor-driven series. Does one author not come up with the concept or does it more come from the publisher? Does a single author pitch a series?

Tanya Agler said...

Dear Carolyne, Thanks for the insights into the hard work that goes into a continuity set of books although your attitude shows that the authors can also enjoy the camaraderie that goes along with the continuity. They are enjoyable to read since the reader gets the benefit of the same characters but also the benefit of discovering new authors.

CatMom said...

I'm super late to the party, but wanted to say I enjoyed your post, Carolyne. Oh my stars--those babies on the book cover are ADORABLE! (anything that features babies and/or cats always gets my attention, LOL).
It sounds like you and the other authors had a great time working together, and of course with Ruthy in the group it had to be a blast! :)
Thank you for sharing with us today.
Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

Sandy Smith said...

Really late to the party today. I worked all day and my son has come home from college for the weekend so enjoying time with him. I enjoyed reading this post. If it's not too late, please enter me into the drawing.

Mary Preston said...

The cover IS adorable. Great post.

Edwina said...

Adorable twins!

Patsy said...

Love the cover! That is just too cute! Do you get to design or pick out the cover of your books?

Dana McNeely said...

I think writing continuities sounds so fun. I've always thought co-writing a novel would be fun and probably more productive with someone else who was familiar with the characters and story line, to cheer you on, prod you to work when you were feeling clueless, had strengths where you had weaknesses and vice-versa. The community of either process sounds intriguing to me. At my day job, I work by collaborating with others and love it, so it must come naturally for me. Hoping some day I'm able to do this. :)

Alena T. said...

I've really enjoyed reading your books. Can't wait to read the next.
Twins..absolutely adorable!

Carolyne Aarsen said...

Just finishing up on some of the comments. Sorry I dropped away for awhile. Thanks for the positive comments. You keep reading, I'll keep writing. As for some of the questions,
Kav - we got some of the snow, but not what Calgary did. I live further north.
Artist Librarian and Walt - the editors come up with the characters and concepts, the authors flesh them out and put their own stamp on the story.
As for covers, the writers fill out what's called an Art Fact Sheet where we give ideas for scenes, what we think the characters look like and a synopsis of the book. Our amazing Art Department does all the rest. They've done so many beautiful covers for all the Love Inspired lines. I think they do a fantastic job.