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?