December 4, 2013
Last fall, I was given the opportunity to be part of a new Colton continuity for Harlequin Romantic Suspense. I was thrilled. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of several other Colton family continuities, and the stories have always been intriguing and heartwarming. This new continuity, as other authors in the series have probably mentioned, was pitched as Dallas meets Downton Abbey. While I haven’t watched the new Dallas series, I’m an avid Downton Abbey fan. I was hooked! How fun, to create a story with some of the themes of my favorite British drama!
For the first time, I was asked to be the last book in the series, the caboose author, tying up all the loose ends and bringing the series to a happy ending for all. I hesitated when I learned that. Continuities can be tricky because you must coordinate the details of your story with five other authors with creative imaginations of their own. Six authors given the same outline can come up with vastly different ideas of where a story should go. Interpretation of details, nuances of character and added elements can trip up a continuity author. Out of sheer laziness, I generally prefer to write one of the earlier books where other authors’ details won’t be as great a factor in my own story. Now I was charged with coordinating the story lines and details of five other books in addition to my own. I gave my editor a somewhat reluctant ‘yes.’ I figured I was up to the challenge. How hard could it really be?
Famous last words! The Coltons of Wyoming proved to be the most challenging continuity I’ve ever participated in. The cast of characters was huge, and the suspense plot was multi-leveled with secrets aplenty. Then, as if the stories details weren’t vast enough, the other authors and I started adding characters, naming animals, tweaking the plot, layering in more suspense and intrigue. While the additions to the story arc were giving more depth and color to an already fascinating plot, I began to sweat over juggling so many balls at once. Who knew what when, and why did they do what, and how did he do that, and where was this story left hanging, and what was that guy’s name again? At times I thought my head would explode!
The authors set up an email loop and nary a week passed that we weren’t flooding the loop with questions and double-checking facts and suggesting fixes to problems we saw creep up. It was a dizzying amount of information to keep up with.
Okay, I know you think I’m complaining. That’s really not my point. The story was challenging, yes…but the result was worth the extra effort. I worked with some terrific authors on the continuity and we had a blast crafting this tangled and multi-faceted continuity.
COLTON CHRISTMAS RESCUE wraps up the series, and it is available now here and here. I hope readers enjoy the Coltons as much as the authors who worked on the series. So until Downton Abbey starts again in January…how about a taste of Colton-style drama?