Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On Continuities....

by Christine Rimmer

That's right. Continuities. Plural of "continuity," which the American Heritage Dictionary defines as:

1.The state or quality of being continuous.
2. An uninterrupted succession or flow; a coherent whole.

a.A detailed script or scenario consulted to avoid discrepancies from shot to shot in a film, allowing the various scenes to be shot out of order.
b. Spoken matter serving to link parts of a radio or television program so that no break occurs.

Well, sort of....

In this case, as I'm using the word, a continuity is a series of related books, each complete in itself, but each sharing a part of an overarching plot. While a continuity could be and often is a series conceived and written by a single author, in category romance terms, continuity is a series conceived by the publisher and written by various authors.

The fabulously popular Montana Mavericks and Fortune's Children stories are all continuities. In a continuity, a house editor writes the "bible," which is a ten- to fifty-page guide for the authors, giving them the characters and the main plot and the basic elements of each individual plot. The authors take it from there, turning in their manuscripts to a single supervising editor, who reads and edits them all, checking as she goes to be certain the books all "fit" together, in terms of setting and story and character description.

I actually enjoy writing continuities. For a little variety in my working life, I mean. Not all authors like doing them. Some would prefer root canal or perhaps hitting themselves in the head with a ball peen hammer. Continuities are not for everyone. But I work well with others--on occasion--and I like taking the basic information the publisher gives me and trying to make it my "own," figuring out a way that the story can work for me as the writer.

My most recent foray into continuity land is on the shelves as we speak, my July release, In Bed with the Boss, which launches a six-book continuity in Silhouette Special Edition called Back in Business. Was In Bed with the Boss fun to write? At times. Was it challenging? You bet. It always is. The launch book in a continuity bears the burden of setting up the overarching plot. It can be tricky. To set the ongoing story that will develop through all the books in motion--but to make sure that the romance in my book is the central focus, the strongest element, satisfying and complete in its own right.

A girl could tear her hair out. I often do--but really, there's hair-tearing with every book. So that's not news. And the launch book is certainly "easier" than the final book, where you get to tie up all the loose ends and bring all the happy couples of the previous books back on stage for a final bow. I would never do the final book. I don't have that much hair to tear out. I so admire the authors who do--and do it well.

In Back in Business, the Taka-Hanson company, a media giant based in Kyoto and Chicago, is going into the hospitality business. That means hotels. Luxury hotels on a grand scale. My hero, Tom Holloway, is chief financial officer of the new project. Tom is a man with a past. He's been in prison, as a matter of fact. And the guy who put him there is still around, and determined to make sure that Tom never leaves his past behind. Enter Tom's new executive assistant, Shelly Winston, who has a secret she's forced to keep and insists she'll never get involved with her hunky boss...

I hope you'll give this new continuity a look. For more info, including a list of the other books in the series, go here.

And now, I have to ask. Have you tried continuties? Do you like them?


Pat Cochran said...

Hope this isn't a dumb question! Is
a continuity the same as a series?
If so, I have read several of what
I call a series by a variety of

Pat Cochran

Christine Rimmer said...

Pat, not a dumb question at all. And yes, a continuity is a specific form of series, one where there's an over-arching plot through the books,a connection in the story beyond just the characters. But again, they're pretty much the same thing.

And readers as a rule do love series. I know I do. Once I'm hooked on a group of characters, I so want more stories about them.

Estella said...

I enjoy reading series books.

Ellen said...

I read your book and enjoyed it. I got kinda unhappy with Tom and thought Shelly was a little nieve but that is not to say you didn't write an excellent story. And I can't wait for the rest of the books in this continuity. I did review the book in eharlequin's book challenge.

Christine Rimmer said...

Estella, me too!

Christine Rimmer said...

Ellen, thank you! I'm so glad you liked IBWTB, and will read the others in the series. That's the challenge of the launch book. To make readers want to go on to the second book. And the third...

(spoiler alert--till the end of this comment!)

I think you're right on both counts--Shelly was so thrilled at getting that "plum" job, she behaved in a naive manner when she should have "gotten down" with the facts of the situation sooner. And Tom? Well, I do see your point. I felt he was so wrapped up in "competing" with his nemesis, he failed to see the reality of Shelly's dilemma until it was almost too late.

And I did read your comments on the 100K book challenge and thought they were right on! For an author, the challenge is always to keep readers reading the book, even if they want to slap the h/H now and then. In this case, I see that I succeeded in holding your interest. I'm happy about that. :) Interestingly, originally, Shelly was supposed to be a corporate spy working for the bad guy. It was one of the elements I changed from what was in the bible. Could be I went too far the other way...

Ellen said...

I am really glad you changed Shelly from a corporate spy because I don't think the story would have worked as well as it did. And no I don't think you went too far the other way. I think she had to be too nieve to make the story work the way it did.

Christine Rimmer said...

Ellen, thank you--again. I think most authors have a certain...what? "Thing" they do, maybe? As a rule, I would just not write a corporate spy. Unless she had some really good cause, I mean. Beyond putting food on the table. And my heroines do tend to be on the naive side, they look at life through rose-colored glasses.