CREATING A MULTI-AUTHOR SERIES by Charlene Raddon

 

When I got the idea for my Widows of Wildcat Ridge series, I had no idea what I was doing. The notion popped into my head; I became excited and jumped in with both feet. I think I left my head behind.

The first thing I did was contact a couple of writers I highly respected and ask them their opinions and if they’d be interested in joining me. They said yes. I wonder if they’re glad they did. At this point, we’re about to complete our second multi-author series.

That done, I did some research on locations. I wanted an isolated gold mining town in the mountains where I could destroy the mine and kill most of the miners. Had I seen Godless at the time? No, I didn’t know that TV series existed. Since I live in Utah, a state not often used in romance novels, that’s the location I chose. I avoided the Wasatch mountains where several mines had existed (think Park City and Alta; ski towns now). I decided to set the series In a mountain range a little farther south, the Manti-La Sals. I picked a spot for my mine to sit, with the town nearby. I wrote to several good authors to invite them to join in, and most accepted—a thrilling surprise.

I researched the flora and fauna of the area, which I already knew, but double-checked my facts. I shared this information with the authors, and, with their fertile minds, they quickly came up with ideas. And we were off and running.

Unfortunately, we soon ran into difficulties. What happened to destroy the mine and kill most of the miners? More research. The deeper I dug, the more problems I encountered. The main roadblock was the fact that there had never been a gold mine in those mountains. There were coal mines, and one had suffered a devastating explosion. Two hundred miners killed. Only a ghost town remains.

I decided to base the series there. It didn’t work. Too many differences between coal mining and gold mining. And other problems. So, I kicked the Manti-La Sals into the round bin and went back to work. I settled on the Unita mountain range, where a gold mine had existed in the 1800s. Not only that, but the Spaniards had established mines in the area in the 1600s. Mines no one’s ever found.

We opened our town, destroyed our mine, producing lots of widows to feature in our stories. Our next dilemma? Learning to share, communicate, and weave all our tales together. Now, that was phenomenally painstaking.

You see, we wanted a town and stories that blended, clashed, and intermingled.

We succeeded.

By “we” I mean myself and the other nine authors in the series: Pam Crooks, Caroline Clemmons, Zina Abbott, Christine Sterling, Kit Morgan, Linda Carroll-Bradd, Tracy Garrett, and Kristy McCaffrey. Some of us did more than one book, producing a total of sixteen.

We had maps of the area and town. We had lists of flora and fauna. Weather, travel routes and modes, what towns and cities existed at the time, what Native Americans lived in the territory? At first, we posted our research data on DropBox, but not everyone liked DropBox, so we switched to Google Docs. We formed a Facebook page for the series open to readers and another for the authors to communicate among ourselves. Believe me, tons of emails and posts went back and forth. So many that some of us thought we’d go crazy trying to keep up with everything. Three authors dropped out and were replaced. Our lives breathed, ate, slept, and dreamed of this series from the summer of 2019 to May 2020.  

To achieve our goal, we had to read each story published. We had to keep charts of characters, names, dates, characteristics, minor characters, plots, premises, and on and on. Trying to meld our stories together wasn’t easy. Inevitably, someone used a character from someone else’s story and accidentally gave them the wrong color hair or name. A nightmare in the making. The decisions to be made seemed endless. How often should we publish? What promotions should we do? Who should handle what? You might call the series a co-op.

Then there were the covers, all of which I created, according to the wishes and descriptions of the authors. We made memes for announcements and promos. We arranged launch parties. We worked, and we worked hard.

Despite all that (or because of it), the Widows of Wildcat Ridge (not the first name we came up with) proved a huge success.

I told my friends, if I ever mentioned starting a new series, to shoot me. Amazingly, they didn’t. Nor did I shoot myself. I endured and my fantastic authors along with me. I have come to love each of them.

As you know, in June 2020, we did start another series, just not an interconnected one. The idea for Bachelors & Babies bounced around in my head for a few years. I decided that when Widows of Wildcat Ridge ended, that’s what I would write. It would be a trilogy about three brothers who ran a Montana ranch together and a girl who arrives on their doorstep one night, pregnant and terrified. The more I thought about it, the more I realized what a good series it would make, and so, I jumped into the fire again, taking most of my fellow authors with me.

Those of you familiar with Bachelors & Babies will know how well that series has done. Will I ever do another one? Well, maybe. Keep watching and find out.

And if any of you get any notions about doing your own interconnected series, give me a ring. I might be able to save you a few headaches.

Today I’ll give away a free ebook of Priscilla, book 1 of Widows of Wildcat Ridge, and an audio copy of Barclay, Bachelors and Babies book 4. Be sure to leave a comment!
 

ABOUT CHARLENE:  Charlene Raddon fell in love with the wild west as a child, listening to western music with her dad and sitting in his lap while he read Zane Gray books. She never intended to become a writer. Charlene was an artist. She majored in fine art in college.

In 1971, she moved to Utah, excited for the opportunity to paint landscapes. Then her sister introduced her to romance novels. She never picked up a paintbrush again. One morning she awoke to a vivid dream she knew must go into a book, so she took out a typewriter and began writing. She’s been writing ever since.

Instead of painting pictures with a brush, Charlene uses words.

 

Char’s Links:

https://twitter.com/craddon http://www.facebook.com/charlene.b.raddon http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1232154.Charlene_Raddon

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/charlene-raddon

https://www.pinterest.com/charraddon5080/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlene-raddon-00854629/

https://www.instagram.com/charrad75/

 

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33 thoughts on “CREATING A MULTI-AUTHOR SERIES by Charlene Raddon”

  1. Wow y’all’s endeavor sounds painstaking complicated and hard, but the end results sounds awesome and well received.
    Very interesting title to the series and the plot sounds amazing. Congrats on sticking it out until the end.

  2. My dad used to say that anything worth doing is worth doing well. You’ve done it well! As authors, you share a whole new world with me as a reader. There are authors I love so much the thought of you not writing about steals my joy. You’re in corners of my heart. I’m so thankful for you.

    • Dear Kathy, thank you so much for your kind words. I’m extremely grateful for you and my other readers. Nothing I do would be worth anything if it wasn’t for you. And I’m not quitting yet. We are about to announce a new series so stay tuned.

  3. I really enjoy your books. To me it seems writing books with different authors would be hard to do. You have to keep up with everyone characters and everything.

  4. When I’ve read these types of series in the past I’d think about how difficult it must be for the authors to all coordinate everything with the town, people…just everything! I’d love the opportunity to read these books!

  5. Good morning, Charlene! Ooh, you brought back memories, girlfriend! Working with you on WIDOWS OF WILDCAT RIDGE was my first multi-author experience. I think you had the brunt of the frustrations, but for me, it was a fabulous experience. (My book was ELEANORA, friends.) Then when you asked me to be a part of BACHELORS & BABIES (My book was TRACE) I didn’t even have to think twice before I said ‘yes’! I loved the concept. And as for a third series, well, yep, something is coming down the pike . . .

    Stay tuned, all!!

    • Morning to you, Pam. We have had some experiences together, haven’t we? One thing I know is that I couldn’t have done it without my fabulous bunch of authors, and especially you. Thanks for being my right-hand gal.

  6. Welcome. Wow this is truly interesting. I am sure you are just giving us the tip of the ice burg here. I do love reading about how series and stories get started and the up hills and valleys that make it all come together to make a fabulous book/series. Thank you for sharing what you all went through to bring us a fabulous series or three. LOL quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

    • Thanks, Lori. I should take this opportunity to invite you and all the members of P&P to join our reader’s group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2143576775865837. Right now, it’s called Bachelors & Babies Reader’s Group, but as of next month, after our last book is released, the name of the group will be changing because we have a new series coming up. So do join us, if you haven’t already.

    • Thank you for reading my blog, Carylkane. There were days I truly regretted starting the whole thing, but there were more days when I thanked my lucky stars that I did.

  7. I do know how much work this is, because I’m involved in a contemporary multi-author series that is now spanning years. It’s complicated and there is so much information to assimilate and facts to check. I did several books in the Montana Mavericks in the past, and every couple of years, they wear out the location and create a fresh one. I loved being a part of Bachelors and Babies! Westerns will always hold a special place in my heart. Thanks, Charlene!

    • Thank you, Cheryl, my old friend. It’s been an interesting journey, hasn’t it? How long have we known each other? I know it was 1999 when we actually met for the first time, but we’d been online pals for a while before that. I was thrilled to have you in B&B. And our next series will be just as good.

  8. those of us who enjoy the books do not know the extent of the trouble the authors go through to get them written – thanks for this look into the background!

    • Teresa, Thank you for reading my blog and commenting. You’re right, there’s a whole world that goes on behind the lines that we authors write. A world populated by fascinating characters who become dear friends through the process of writing their stories. Right now, I have some new characters yakking in my head, telling me to get on with the writing of my next book.

  9. Such great advice! You speak to my heart! All the details, all the planing, all the research. Hearing your approach is awesome! I love to read series/continuity books so of course I jumped right in when a friend invited me to join a project she started. Currently, I’m involved in a contemporary series with seven other authors. I’m the obsessive detail person that keeps the master book of characters, events, etc. Hearing you speak of the process you employ is validation for my neurotic record keeping. Thank you!

  10. Bernadette, I sure wish I’d had you when I did Widows of Wildcat Ridge. Keeping track of all those details is pure hell. You have my respect for what you’re doing.

  11. Hi Char,
    I was so happy to participate in the Widows of Wildcat Ridge with you and all the other wonderful authors. It was such a great experience! I only wish that I was a faster writer so that I could have continued on, but I needed to focus on my own projects for a bit. The Bachelors series is such a great idea, and I’m thrilled it’s been a success for you all. I love the ROSEMARY cover you did for me. It’s still one of my favorites of all my bookcovers!

  12. Charlene, what wonderful ideas you’ve had! I’m honored to be in your Bachelors & Babies series. I read the “Widows” series, too, and loved the books. You’re an awesome author, too. I love the triplets, which gave you the idea for the B&B series. And you make covers, too! You’re so accomplished and a real dynamo!

    • My husband wouldn’t call me a dynamo, Hebby. I have a bad habit of putting my writing ahead of housekeeping Fortunately, he puts up with me and does most of the cooking and the heavier chores of housekeeping. He’s a gem.

  13. Everything I have read about both series has been very good. The premise of Widows of Wildcat Ridge was brilliant. The impact and ramifications of such an event certainly gave many story options. Instead of men needing wives, having the women looking and mail order grooms being a consideration was a nice twist. Jut the thought of Bachelors & Babies brings a smile to my face. I know some men are more than capable of taking care of infants, but back then it would have been more difficult for many reasons. I am reading my way through a bunch of books, but both of these series are high on my wish list.
    Thanks for an interesting look into how these series came about. I will be interested to see what unique idea you come up with for your next series. Take good care of yourself and stay healthy.

    • Thank you, Patricia. I hope you read the series soon and enjoy it. Today, our last B&B book has been released. We’ll be announcing our new one the 15th.

  14. Hey, Charlene! I’m sorry I didn’t get by to say howdy yesterday. I’m pretty much tied up with writing right now because I have a Sept. 1 deadline. And I still have 30k words thereabouts to go. Anyway, it’s great to see you! I love hearing how you create and implement these continuity series. You’re amazing and always coming up with these awesome ideas. I hope you never stop.

    • Thanks, my friend. I’m not sure I have the energy for another series after this next one that starts next month. But you never know. Hope you’re doing well and staying healthy.xo

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