This weekend we have Bestselling Author Charlene Raddon visiting. She’s heavily involved in writing big series’ with many authors and has become quite a pro at it. She’s just finishing up The Widows of Wildcat Ridge. So what’s next? Maybe you can ask her. Please give her a big welcome.
How many of you have followed the series, The Widows of Wildcat Ridge? For those who haven’t, this series consisted of sixteen novellas about the widows left behind after an explosion decimated the Gold King Mine in Wildcat Ridge, Utah Territory, 1884. Virtually every miner died. A second explosion killed many townspeople who had rushed in to try to save them. When it was over, the town of about five hundred residents had been reduced to almost 50 widows, their children and a few men.
If you think my series sounds similar to the film series, Godless, I’ll take that as a compliment because Godless was an excellent production. Had I seen it before coming up with my idea, the Widows of Wildcat Ridge would likely never have existed. No matter. The series did exist and has been extremely successful.
But now it has come to an end. The sixteenth, and final, book of the series came out on May 15.
Ophelia, book 16, was my fourth book in the series. Each was fun to write with different characters and challenges. All the stories in the series were interrelated, meaning that each likely contained or at least mentioned some events and characters from previous releases. This made the work much more difficult, confusing and problematic. But also more fun.
Each widow suddenly found herself alone, some with dependent children, no mate, no funds or income, and little hope. What did they do? They gathered together, sharing supplies and joining forces to bringing their town back to life and produce incomes for themselves and their families. They held a horse auction to bring in people, particularly marriageable men. They turned a nearby hot spring into a 19th century version of a spa.
They didn’t sit home and bawl. They dug in their heels and did what they must to survive. True pioneers, every one of them, and each had to deal with the series villain, Mortimer Crane, who owned the town (or believed he did), plus other antagonists unique to each tale.
In my first book of the series, Priscilla, Book 1, the minister’s daughter, who lost her husband and father in the second explosion, takes the town leaders to see a hot springs she had recently found. She comes home to find an unconscious man bleeding all over her bed from a gunshot wound. Braxton Gamble had been tricked into taking part in a bank robbery. Because he’d escaped—with the stolen funds—the outlaws are after him.
My second book, Thalia, Book 7, centers around Thalia’s long-time crush on Dinky Moon, the town drunk. Sobering him up and keeping him that way presents quite a challenge, but she handles it, along with a stranger who comes there believing she has something belonging to him.
In Cadence, Book 13, the series villain, Mortimer Crane, proves himself as evil as everyone believed him to be. On finding a young woman in dire straits, with a little sister in tow, he hires Cadence as a maid and brings her to Wildcat Ridge. Once there, she discovers the establishment she’s to work at is a bordello and her new employer wants more from her than her talent with a dust cloth. To keep her there, he takes her little sister away and refuses to tell where.
Finally, we have Ophelia, Book 16, the last of the series.
Ophelia was Mortimer Crane’s wife. After twenty years of a so-so marriage, she learns just who she had married—a letch, a liar, and a cheat. She also learns something else that gives her the key to controlling him. So, she leaves the house in Salt Lake City Mortimer had installed her in to keep her out of his affairs, moves to Wildcat Ridge, and sets about starting a new life. On her first day in town, she comes face to face with a man from her past, one she had loved with all her heart. Together, she and Brody Duvall must find a way to defeat Mortimer. Can they do it?
Creating this series was a huge project that could never have taken place without the wonderful authors who joined me in this endeavor: Caroline Clemmons, Zina Abbott, Linda Carroll-Bradd, Pam Crooks, Kit Morgan, Christine Sterling, Tracey Garrett, and Kristy McCaffrey. I’ve made new friends, not only my fellow authors, but many fantastic readers who helped to make the series a success.
And I learned a ton! About working with other authors and managing a big multi-author series. A quarter of the way through, I told my non-involved friends to shoot me if I ever said I was doing another one. These days, I’m keeping one eye on my back trail.
If I had this project to do over again, I’d make sure it was all laid out, all the decisions made, before ever inviting authors to join in. We’d have online meetings to decide further details and have one uninvolved person read each book, create a book Bible for them, and keep track of who did what when to avoid conflicting information in the stories. When did that horse auction take place? What was the marshal’s name? Has anyone named the owner of the bakery? What businesses exist in this town? Are they open or closed? Details, details, details. So much to keep track of.
Ah, but it’s done now, and every story is a gem.
If any of you consider the idea of starting your own multi-author, interconnected series, contact me. I might be able to save you some time.
As for the future, keep your eyes and ears open because even though the Widows of Wildcat Ridge is finished, some of its authors are not.
Here’s every book in the series on Amazon!
Are you a big fan of these continuing series involving multiple authors? I’d like to hear your answers. I’m giving away two $5 Amazon gift cards so leave a comment to enter.
Charlene Raddon is an Amazon bestselling author with fourteen western historical romance novels to her credit. Her books have won contests and awards. She is also a book cover artist who specializes in historical covers and lives in Utah with her husband and the most neurotic cat ever.