Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Arlene James Wraps Up the Big Sky Centennial and Writing!

The Thanksgiving holiday has just passed, and as usual I have found much for which to thank God. I am richly blessed in family and friends. Three decades plus and some ninety books into my career, I continue to be able to publish, and for that I am truly grateful. Life on this side of Heaven is not always (or even frequently) easy, however, and never perfect. We require God’s grace, guidance and goodness to get us through, and that’s the exact theme I try to convey in my writing. It’s the theme of my life, after all. How could I write about anything else?


God was especially good to me when He linked me together with a specific group of other authors for a continuity project. Continuities are always interesting. Writing is a very solitary endeavor, but continuities require cooperation between writers and much brainstorming. Sometimes egos can get in the way. Sometimes schedules can conflict. Sometimes styles clash dramatically. Somehow it all works out in the end, but seldom does it all go smoothly.
The editors set up the bare bones of the thing: the premise, the backstory, the setting, even the characters. They provide brief synopses of each book, which typically have a timeframe of one month each. Then the authors have to figure out how to make everything work. Inevitably adjustments have to be made––sometimes huge ones.
Research must be done. Details must be agreed upon (Streets even have to be named!) and minor characters must be invented, descriptions written and distributed... 
Our town map drawn up by Val Hansen so we all had the same visual. You don't think about how important little details are until you put a drugstore where someone else has a firehouse or the auto parts store inside a rectory!
In the end, every mystery must be solved, every question answered, every loose thread tied up, every main character matched, and it all has to be satisfying and believable. Moreover, everyone must do her part without stepping on the “writerly toes” of every other author.

We shared pictures to visualize how each person saw the town and their buildings. This was the Fidler Inn.
And the one below is how Ruthy saw Mick McGuire's ranch, the "Double M".
It isn’t always a pleasant experience.
Thankfully, The Big Sky Centennial continuity series from Love Inspired was an absolute joy. The other authors, Valerie Hansen, Ruth Logan Herne, Carolyne Aarsen, Brenda Minton and Jenna Mindel, made it so.
Mine was the sixth and final book in the series, HER MONTANA CHRISTMAS, so I had to depend on the other authors to set up much of my story. I was, in a very real sense, at their mercy. By the time the series gets to the last book, everything is set in stone. The first two or even three books may already have been through editing. The editors certainly aren’t going to be open to change at that point!

All along, however, Val, Ruthy, Carolyne, Brenda and Jenna were shooting me details, descriptions and questions via email. We set up a Yahoo group at the outset so we could post photos, track emails and upload manuscripts easily. That’s standard procedure, but it’s only as helpful as the people who use it. More importantly, they asked me to write descriptions and details for them so they could portray my characters as I wanted them portrayed in their books.
Better yet, we did a lot of brainstorming through the entire process to make the premise work logically and smoothly for all storylines. That meant that we were all involved in some way in every book.
What made the process really fun was the excitement we all felt in the creative process. Every time it became necessary to invent a new character (waitress, librarian, wannabe florist…), the ladies naturally shared. Of course, we needed to keep track of such things as names and physical descriptions so everyone in town didn’t wind up all named Jane and looking alike, but this went beyond that. For the first time in my personal experience (and I’ve done many continuities), that meant not just reporting what had already been done to the rest of the group but everyone actively participating in the creation.
I found that particularly helpful when it finally came time for me to write the sixth book. Over the years I had been involved in many stages of a continuity series, from the first book through the middle books, but this was my first time to write the end book. Frankly, I expected only to be heavily involved early on when the town (Jasper Gulch, Montana, in this case) was being designed. Like everyone else, I had to find photos that resembled the characters I envisioned in my head and the specific buildings they would inhabit. After that, I figured the other authors would fall away as their books were finished, their group participation diminishing as they wrapped up their own stories.
It didn’t really happen like that, though. The email traffic did slow down, but the group hung together right to the end, and I was so thankful. I had lots of questions, lots of details to work out and loose ends to tie up in this story. More than that, I was going through a terrible season in my life: unexpected losses and illness in my personal life. These ladies prayed me through. (And people wonder why I write Christian/inspirational literature!)

Keeping notes is very important when writing any book but especially a continuity book. It’s necessary to keep track of such things as names and descriptions, but it’s even necessary to know what types of vehicles the characters drive and what kind of pie they serve at the diner. We kept group lists, and everyone was great about keeping them updated. I didn’t realize how very helpful this would be until I got into composition with my book. It’s easy to make these “minor” decisions when writing a stand-alone book, but when writing a continuity book, every detail has to be consistent, and by the last book, the details are myriad. With their generous record keeping, my “partner authors” kept me from having to comb through five preceding manuscripts for those details.
In all honesty, the premises that the editors dream up aren’t always completely believable, but the books that we authors write based upon those premises must be believable. Otherwise, the reader goes away unsatisfied. When an author comes up with her own premise, she already believes in it herself. When she’s handed a premise dreamed up by someone else, she has to find a way to make it work for her and her characters. By book six in the continuity process, the premise has been stretched and pummeled as far as it can seemingly go.
All the clues have been dropped. We’ve had five happy endings. Now, book six must give us TWO resolutions. The main couple must have their happy ending, and the backstory must come to a satisfactory conclusion.

My work is always character-driven. I simply let the characters do the work for me. They have to get past their personal hang-ups, doubts, fears, misconceptions and mistakes (which I invent) to the right choices/actions. When you think about it, life is pretty much the same way, isn’t it? We all have to get past our personal hang-ups, fears, misconceptions and mistakes (which we invent) to make the right choices and take the right actions, which God will direct if we allow Him to do so.

Ruthy here...  Arlene has graciously offered to give away 3 copies of "Her Montana Christmas" today! Leave a comment inside (and yes, Helen Gray's got the pot perkin' and I brought holiday creamer flavors! Oh, happy day! And hot water in the kettle for you tea drinkers!)  Stop in, chat it up, and imagine yourself working with a team of authors... Would you love it? (I did, absolutely)... or would you run, screaming? Head inside and let us know!

ARLENE JAMES is the author of more than 85 novels. Publishing steadily for nearly four decades, she has concentrated on Inspirational Romance for several years. She and her husband, artist James E. Rather, have traveled much of the world and, after living in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, area for 33 years, now call northwest Arkansas home. She can be contacted via email at deararlenejames@gmail.com or on Facebook.

78 comments:

Wilani Wahl said...

Ruthy and Arlene, This series has been awesome! I am now reading Her Montana Christmas and I have to say that this whole series has read as if written by the same author. I have really enjoyed it and will hate to see the series end. I guess that means I will have to pick up the books and read them again!

I have enjoyed learning how this type of series is written.

Donna said...

Wow...I can't imagine how you all kept all of those details straight. But it sounds like it was a lot if fun collaborating. I look forward to reading the rest of this series. Please enter me.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome, Arlene! Best explanation of a continuity series, EVAH!! You rock.

Delighted to have with us today!

Mary Preston said...

Just thinking about writing a continuity gives me a headache. Good thing I'm a reader, not a writer.

Cindy W. said...

Hi Arlene & Ruthy! I love to read continuity series. I usually start reading when I get the first one and then wait impatiently for the next book, then the next, etc. With the "Big Sky Centennial" series I have been so busy I didn't have time to read book 1 and then book 2 was out. So I decided to wait and read them once I had them all. I just bought Her Montana Christmas and I can hardly wait to begin my journey in reading this series.

Have a blessed day everyone!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Cindy W. said...

Oh, and thank you for the map. I will try to print it out so it will help me visualize when I am reading the books.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Cindy, you'd be amazed by how many people do exactly what you did! They buy the books and then save them to read later, once the last book is out. I heard that from readers in July, so I decided to do the same thing. Now I know what's going to happen, and I've read parts of all the books but I can't wait to read them in succession and see how it all flows together! What thrills me is that the readers seem to love them!!!!

Oh my stars, that makes me happy!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Wilani, it's cool to see, right? And what a wonderful compliment about the writing meshing. Thank you!!!!

Jackie said...

It sounds like a lot of work and a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing.

I love the pictures.

Audra Harders said...

Arlene, thank you for the final wrap up experience of this continuity series! It sounds like all the ladies worked well together and you've created a series to be proud of.

So many details to keep straight! OMG. You guys are awesome!!!

Deborah Rather said...

Wilani, that's a great compliment. Every author develops her own voice when writing, but a continuity must "hang together," or readers lose interest or simply fail to believe in the continuing backstory. This team worked so well together that I think we literally fed off each other, and that's very rare in my experience.

Tracey Hagwood said...

Hi Arlene and Ruthy,
I'm really looking forward to this final book and happy that it ends with a Christmas story. I just finished another series of yours Arlene that began with Deck The Halls and loved all three so I know you will do this continuity justice.

Thnak you for an opportunity to win Her Montana Christmas.

Mary Hicks said...

Hmmm, this is a very interesting look behind the scene where writers pool their talents to produce a continuity . I would have been scared witless I'd be the one to throw a wrench into the whole project!

You girls deserve a medal...well, at least a truck load of sales.:-)

Carolyne Aarsen said...

Writing with you, Arlene, was such a blessing! Not only you, but all the other authors. We had fun and we encouraged each other in so many ways. This was a great series and I'm looking forward to reading the last one. Unfortunately, as one of the writers, there are no surprises, but it will be fun anyway. Blessings.

Arlene James said...

Takes lots of record-keeping, Donna. That's where a Yahoo group account comes in handy. To complicate our lives, Yahoo changed everything in the middle of our setup, and one of our authors didn't get signed on before the change. Took her days to get signed on after the change and days for the rest of us to figure everything out again after the change, but we finally got up and running and had a good site to store all of our pictures and lists and descriptions.

Arlene James said...

Part of the fun, Mary Hicks, was throwing out new ideas. No one thought of it as throwing wrenches. Every time someone came up with a new idea, the rest of us grabbed it and ran with it. Valerie, who had the first book, usually had to run it by the editors, but as long as all the authors were on board, they usually went with it. The creativity was thick in the atmosphere, a writer's paradise!

Arlene James said...

Thanks, Tina Radcliffe, for the welcome and the compliment. Writing this series was the most fun I've had in a while. I loved working with Ruthy, Carolyne, Val, Brenda and Jenna.

Jackie Smith said...

Welcome, Arlene! I have your book as well as the others in this continuity series and plan to read them all NOW! Yep, like Cindy and others, I like to wait until I get them all and then read, read! Am excited!!!

Sherri Shackelford said...

Great explanation and wonderful advice! I'm bookmarking this blog for next year :)

Mary Lawson said...

Thank you for sharing the process of a series. Can't wait to read this one. I too will try to print the map as I love to see the geography of a place. Thank you all for sharing your gift of story. Mary Lawson

Marianne Barkman said...

(I have enjoyed the ones I the series that I've read, too!but then, those are authors I love anyways, and I know they only publish great books! Thanks for a look behind the scenes! And for the chance to win...I don't have this one yet!

Arlene James said...

I'm surprised by how many readers collect all of the books and read them back-to-back, but it makes sense. As for the map, I'm betting Val wishes she had made a more formal job of it now. LOL. It's very helpful for the authors to have that kind of thing, so I imagine it is for the readers, too.

kaybee said...

Interesting. I could probably do it a few books down the line, but not for a first book. It sounds like you had a good group to work with.
Kathy Bailey

Arlene James said...

That's a wise assessment, Kaybee. The truth is that continuities are an "invitation only" project. Authors are picked by the publisher, and they tend to be authors with proven track records. Editors want authors who can work quickly and cooperatively. Not all groups mesh as smoothly as this one did, though, believe me. I've worked with groups that included authors who simply wouldn't respond to the rest of us, and that's very frustrating. I've also worked with groups when one author wasn't able to participate except for a couple weeks during the whole six-month-long process. That's also very frustrating.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mr. Blogger was giving Arlene a rough time early on... Oh, Blogger!!! Be nice to our guests, you silly technological goofball!

ARLENE!!!! I'M SO HAPPY TO HAVE YOU HERE!!!!

People laugh when I tell them how much fun we had... and the beautiful bonding of new friendships... but honestly, all I can say is you guys made this newbie's life easy. You rock!

Sally Shupe said...

Loved this post and the insight into how authors write continuities. I think it would be hard to write a continuity and keeping all the facts straight. Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks! Hope everyone has a great December!

December 2, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Arlene James said...

You did a great job, Ruthy, and made the whole thing fun, as I suspect you do with everything! Everyone did a great job, though. I've worked with Carolyne, Brenda and Val before, and we've always gotten along really well. Jenna was a sweet surprise. You and Val kept us all in stitches, though. The cooperation and creativity of this particular group was truly unique, but so was the camaraderie. I love you all.

Cara Lynn James said...

Hi, Arlene! Thanks for all the information about writing continuities. It sounds complicated, but lots of fun. I imagine all that collaboration really helps, although I can see it must be hard, as well.

Cynthia Herron said...

Good Morning, Arlene (and friends)!

So fun to learn more about a continuity series! The details can be mind boggling, I'm sure, but readers do pay attention and have long memories where their favorite characters and stories are concerned. Can't wait to read Her Montana Christmas! (And I love the cover. :) )

Our MozArks group so appreciated you sharing about your writing process a few months ago. Thank you so much for your servant's heart, Arlene. Your encouragement made a difference.

Now--I'll take another round of that coffee if you don't mind, but minus the creamer. I prefer mine straight up! :)

~Blessings

Arlene James said...

Thanks, Sally. The secret to the details is lists and pictures. Every time someone posted something to the site, everyone else was automatically notified. That meant literally hundreds of emails, but everyone was good to stay abreast of the information. We also shared our written descriptions as soon as we had them, and that helped a lot.

Arlene James said...

Hi, Cynthia! (Waving!!!) I always enjoy getting to come up to MOZARKS. Wish I was closer. I have to tell you something about the cover. HQ always does a great job on the covers, but I wasn't particularly pleased with this one. The church on the cover isn't the one described in any of the books. I complained and so did some readers, so the books on the shelves now has a nifty Christmas sticker over the church. LOL

Arlene James said...

You are so right, Cara Lynn! It's all about the collaboration.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Arlene! Thanks for sharing what's involved with writing a continuity. Wow, I'm impressed that you all worked together right till the end of all six books!

Congratulations on your awesome career! God has indeed blessed you. But you've taken advantage of the opportunities He provided and done the work. Did God ever give you a story?

Janet

Arlene James said...

Thank you, Janet. He gives me every story. All during my career, people have asked me where I get my ideas, but that has truly never been an issue. I've never known a time when something wasn't percolating in the back of my mind or weighing on my heart, just waiting to be told. God has opened every door for me and shined a light on every path, and I praise Him for it. I can't imagine how I could do this any other way.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Wow, great description! I love the map and need to make one of my own for a series that I'm doing myself!

Thanks for the glimpse inside the series!

I'd love to win a copy of your book!

Cheer,
Sue

Arlene James said...

Thanks, Susan. Maps help a lot. I use maps a great deal. I even have one posted on the Chatam House series website for my personal Chatam House book series. I think they help the author visual the setting clearly, and apparently they help the reader, too.

Jennifer said...

Wow! I've always wondered how authors felt with all this information and one another? I'm so grateful that you all stuck it out and prayed together! My brain would be fried with all that you all do and I'm always amazed how good all of your books are every time !!!! I'm one grateful reader!

When I read a book that's not Christian and the characters are having troubles I find myself wanting to pray for the characters or expecting a prayer. :) Jenny

Mark Abel said...

85 books and counting after 40 years of writing! I am amazed, inspired and encouraged!

Working on my first over here and wondering what it will be like to finally type 'The End', getting closer.

I am especially touched that you give the glory to God who has blessed you and sustained you.
Thanks again for sharing Arlene.

Arlene James said...

That's great to know, Jennifer. When I wrote secular, my characters always prayed when they made a mess of things and got themselves into trouble, and the editors didn't have too much problem with it back then. I wonder if it would be different now, though.

Arlene James said...

Keep going, Mark! Everyone has to write a first book. I had a college professor who pointed me in the direction of romance, and I fell in love with the whole genre. I wrote the first book and it got immediate interest. Then the editor who bought it wrote me a revision letter. I'd been telling God that if He didn't want me to do this, He'd have to hit me hard with a big stick, and that seemed to be it, because I didn't have a clue what to do, but I prayed about it, and He gave me every answer. I rewrote the book in a single night-and didn't do another revision until 22 books later. He really has opened every door!

Kav said...

I just loved this series. I read them one a month as they came out and couldn't wait for the next book. Just finished Her Montana Christmas and, Arlene, you did a masterful job of wrapping the series up in your own unique story.

And yay -- I had guessed part of Robin's secret a couple of books in so I was thrilled to be proven right. But you went way deeper and fleshed out all her hopes and dreams and fears and just why she got herself into the situation she did. Loved all that gnarly stuff. And loved that this is Ethan's story. You have no idea how many women I had him paired up with over the last six months! I'm as bad as all those Jasper Gulch matchmakers! Man, I'm going to miss Jasper Gulch...a lot. :-(

Oh -- and no need to enter me in the draw, because I already have my own copy of Her Montana Christmas...and in case you didn't figure it out -- I loved it.

Arlene James said...

Thanks so much, Kav! We always figure that savvy readers will figure out stuff, so we have to flesh out the motivations for our characters, give them deep backgrounds so what they do is reasonable, logical and believable. After all, most of us wouldn't do some of this stuff unless we were really pushed to it. The editors wanted Ethan to be a matchmaking target-and sick of it by the time he and Robin got together. So glad that worked out. It's tough to take someone else's ideas and make them work for YOUR story, but it can be fun, too.

Debby Giusti said...

Arlene,
Thanks for being with us today. I'm sure the last book in a continuity requires a dedicated author who will make that happily ever after for not only the hero and heroine of book 6 but also the entire series ring true. Thanks for explaining some of the techniques you used to keep the series on track. Lots of information. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to name all those characters! And not double up on anything!

Congrats for a lovely conclusion to a great continuity!

Jennifer said...

Probably

Arlene James said...

Aw, bless you, Debby. Naming characters can be a trial. Just in this continuity we had to rename several secondary characters for one reason or another. After 90 books you start to wonder if you've used all the recognizable names, and I sincerely try to avoid using the names of people I know for fear they will think I'm writing about them. I literally "mine" names, searching websites for popular and unusual names (surnames included). I've learned that it's the combination of names that ultimately makes the difference. Still, it remains a challenge, and sometimes my characters insist upon naming themselves no matter what I want!

Helen Gray said...

Yes, Helen had the coffee ready. She just didn't make it here to assure you of that. :)

Arlene, thanks for the insights into writing a continuity. We never know when these particular bits of wisdom will come in handy.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Aw, Arlene... you're getting me all misty-eyed!

Well, we got to make fun of Minton.

There's a lot of comic relief in THAT.

Arlene James said...

Ruthy, you're still picking on Brenda! And she's not even here to defend herself and those lovely corkscrew curls. As the other resident redhead and Arkansan, I must defend her. For shame! At least until she gives you two verbal black eyes, the minx. You two constantly cracked us up.

Helen Gray, I won't be surprised to see you writing continuity one of these days.

patti gellner said...

Wow took me long enough to find this lol. Thanks Arlene for all the help. I really love your books. God gave you a great talent. I am sure it is hard to come up with all the plots, diff names than ever before etc. God bless

Arlene James said...

Thanks for taking the trouble to comment, Patti, and thanks for your kind comments and support. Actually, I don't think I'm cut out to do anything but write because my brain is constantly percolating with stories. My problem is winnowing out the chaff in order to decide what to do next. I try to go forward prayerfully and let God guide me on what to do next. So far so good. :>)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Tina Radcliffe, I PAID Arlene to say nice things about me.

And it was totally worth it!!!!

ARLENE!!!!!

Oh, the Yahoo change!!!! Oy Oy Oy! I'd pushed that to the back of my thinning hair and memory!

And we survived, laughing! :)

You know, I believe in God's timing. That doesn't mean I don't question it sometimes (as most of youse know!) but being part of this group was totally a right time/right place for us.

I still smile, just thinking about it!

Myra Johnson said...

Arlene, thanks so much for sharing your perspective on continuities! I can't even imagine the detailed planning and communication such an undertaking requires!

You mentioned you had to find ways to make someone else's vision come to life, which also sounds like a real challenge--and obviously it isn't just your editor's vision for the series but combining each individual author's personal vision for the story and characters.

All I can say is hats off to all of you!

Arlene James said...

Ruthy, I'm thinking I undercharged. LOL Honestly, working with this group of authors was one of the best experiences of my career. They are every one generous to a fault. No ego issues at all, just pure creativity and helpfulness. That has not always been the case on other continuities. Christians are human, too, you know, and we all get protective of our work at times, but I didn't get even a whiff of that with these ladies.

Arlene James said...

You're so right, Myra. Each author brings a fresh and different perspective to the project, and the editors have their own vision, too. Getting it all to mesh is sometimes a real challenge, and that often falls to the author with the first book. Val did a great job of running interference for us, not that the editors were problematic, really, but the author(s) always have to justify changes. In this case, we all seemed to have a unified vision from the start, and that helped immensely.

Lyndee H said...

HI Arlene,
This process sounds monumental! But I've read three of the books in this series (back to back) and I'm loving it! I like the continuity of reading them in order so I'm grouping them.

Thanks for the insights on planning such a large project. And gotta love Yahoo changing things in the middle. Errrgh! Can't live with or without them...

Arlene James said...

You're so right, Lyndee. If I remember correctly, they actually changed things more than once. Apparently, we weren't the only dissatisfied users. I think Val and Brenda shot off complaints to Yahoo about the changes, so more changes were made, but they did improve the site after the initial upheaval, so that was good. I, for one, copied files to my computer so I wouldn't lose anything, and I was glad I did because they had to be reposted at one point. We got through that, though, and by the time the editors combed the manuscripts, we were good. :>)

Jenna Mindel said...

Hey Seekers and all!!
As a newbie to continuities- I see that I have been spoiled by this group of wonderful authors in the Big Sky Centennial series.
I LOVED it!!
And I miss you gals!
Arlene couldn't have said it better - I think we worked well together, but even more important- I have friends I can ask for prayer and advice. I trust these women.
I love them too.
I purchased Her Montana Christmas opening week at my local Meijers. :)
I too, look forward to reading the entire series now that I have them all in book copy!

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Continuity series are always interesting, and this was a great look "behind the curtain" as to how you authors keep everything straight. You made the process sounds enjoyable, and I'd love to try my hand at something like that someday. Have a wonderful day!

Arlene James said...

You didn't act like a newby, Jenna. You contributed greatly to the development of the series. I already had friends in the group. Val and Brenda are Arkansans like me, and Brenda and I have been blessed to be able to meet over lunch. Those two and Carolyne and I have worked together before. You and Ruthy couldn't have plugged in more seamlessly. I knew when I came to you for prayer that I was going to get it, specifically when it came to the work. I just realized a great benefit of being last, though. I got to read the books as they came into production!

Arlene James said...

This was a particularly enjoyable experience, Stephanie. Continuities are always challenging, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Challenging ourselves is how we grow. I hope you get the chance to experience working on a continuity some day soon.

DebH said...

I read the prequel freebie to this series, but haven't gotten the books yet (pesky book budget *frowning*). I really want to get all the books and read 'em one fell swoop because I LOVE continuity series. It's so fun to see the character development from book to book.

I really enjoyed getting a peek into the behind-the-scenes posts as each book came out. I think it's wonderful that all the authors had such a blessed experience. I'm guessing that'll come through in the books as well.

I have some understanding of what it takes to bring someone else's vision to fruition because that's basically my job description as a graphic artist (at least where I work now). Communication is always key and it sounds like all you ladies really did that well.

Please put my name in the draw. I'd love to win a book, but if not...well there is that Amazon gift card I won... (*sigh* so MANY books, which do I choose first? dilemma...)

Thanks for sharing Arlene.

Arlene James said...

Oh, I love that insight into the creative thinking of a graphic artist, DebH. I am married to an artist (he works in black ink only) and one of our sons is an artist (animation). My husband has worked on commission, but what he does is so different from anything I've ever seen anyone else do that even on commission they were seeking his unique "stamp" to the design. As a graphic artist, though, you more clearly "get" what I and our son are always talking about when it comes to "translation" of someone else's ideas. Very cool. Even authors have to choose how to spend our reading $$, though!

Missy Tippens said...

Welcome, Arlene! I enjoyed reading how you pulled together the last book in the continuity. I can see how it could be difficult! I'm so glad this one went smoothly. I think it would be so fun to take part in one. I'd love to do one someday.

Ruthy, thanks for the coffee! I needed an afternoon pick-me-up!

Arlene James said...

I won't be surprised to see you participating in a continuity soon, Missy. Maybe we'll work together one of these days. That would be fun.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Arlene, Welcome to Seekerville and thanks for sharing with us today.

Wow, I'm in awe that you all can do a continuity. But I know that working with each other had to be fun. I've worked with Ruthy before and know what fun she is.

Thanks again. Have a great day.

Becky said...

It was fun hearing about all that goes into a continuity. I have a hard enough time keeping track of all my own details. But I'm only working on my first book, so hopefully I learn and improve!

I'd like a cup of Irish Cream Coffee please---as long as it's non alcoholic! ;)

Arlene James said...

She is, indeed, Sandra. Ruthy must have been class clown in school. LOL. She's a great writer, too. All the other authors were a joy. I miss the daily interactions with them!

Mary Connealy said...

Thanks for being on, Arlene. I'd think the deeper into the series you got, the trickier it would be, to keep things in order.

Sounds like you've got a great system.

Arlene James said...

That's true, Mary. The more characters introduced, the more backstory revealed, the more settings described, the more interactions that take place, the more details have to be juggled. One of the most difficult to get straight was the particular vernacular in which a certain character, a very old man, spoke. I think I rewrote his dialogue 3 or 4 times before I got it right. He was pivotal to the backstory, and his speech pattern had to jive with what everyone else had written, though he probably spoke more in my book than anyone else's.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Arlene, thank you for being here today! I don't think I've ever seen the intricacies of weaving a continuity explained better.... and I LOVE RUSTY ZIDEK!!!!!

He's such a great character. ♥♥♥♥♥

I can't wait to read how you handled him. My Christmas break gift to me is to catch up on Jasper Gulch!

Arlene James said...

It's been my pleasure, Ruthy. The Big Sky Centennial continuity series was a joy for me because of you, Val, Carolyne, Brenda and Jenna. I'm so thankful to have been part of it. I hope everyone here today has a glorious Christmas season. Happy reading, everyone! God bless!

Sandy Smith said...

It sounds like fun. Thanks for sharing the process. Please enter me into the drawing.

CatMom said...

Thanks for sharing this with us, Arlene (and sorry I'm super LATE visiting Seekerville - - had super busy day!). :)
You did a wonderful job explaining how a continuity series works, and it sure sounds like you ladies worked very well together.
Thank you again, and blessings on your Christmas season! Patti Jo

Julie Lessman said...

WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, ARLENE!!!

VERY INTERESTING POST ... makes me want to be part of a continuity, so you did your job very well because I am a Lone Ranger. :)

AND it occurred to me they needed a PRO at the end because that seems like the hardest thing to do -- to follow others' leads and tie it all up well.

You said: "In all honesty, the premises that the editors dream up aren’t always completely believable, but the books that we authors write based upon those premises must be believable. Otherwise, the reader goes away unsatisfied."

OH, AMEN, SISTER!!! And I will add, "Otherwise, the reader goes away unsatisfied, SHAKING THEIR HEAD"!!!" ;)

HUGS,
Julie

Andrea Strong said...

Waving like a star-struck fan to Arlene...because I am one. I just love that lady!

I'm a huge fan of the Love Inspired continuity series. I've often wondered about the process the writer's go through. I imagine it can get pretty hairy if people aren't in sync. I'm glad (though not surprised) to know that you ladies had a good time with this one. I've only finished two of the books so far, but I'm looking forward to the rest.

And I'd love to be entered for the giveaway of Arlene's book.

Waving goodbye now!

Mz.ZeyZey said...

I haven't thought too much about all the work involved in a continuity. I finally have the opportunity to embark on a series I've wanted to write for a while, and I have enough trouble keeping up with my own details, let alone sharing a massive amount of details with five other authors! I think doing a continuity would be a challenge, but fun and rewarding with the right group of people.

I've loved Arlene's books for a long time. I told them you were one of my favorite LI authors when I went to the Reader Luncheon earlier this year, and I meant it. I hope you have plenty more books waiting for us to read!

Edwina said...

Arlene,
Thanks for sharing your experience! I enjoyed it!

Arlene James said...

Thank you, ZeyZey, Edwina, Sandy and Julie. (Andrea, you are prejudiced, but I love you, anyway.) Julie, if you can get with a group as great as Carolyne, Val, Ruthy and Jenna, you'll gladly ride with the gang.