Have you ever wondered what writers consider when they put together connected stories? Then today’s your lucky day!
1. Decide upon a theme. What connects these stories? Will your stories be location driven? Family driven? Holiday driven? For example, all stories in Christmas, Actually are set in Christmas Town, Maine. The three stories feature three siblings. It’s the holiday season. All stories are sweet (no explicit sex).
2. Same note or different tune? Will all the stories be light-hearted or all sexy? Do the author voices blend together or complement each other? For example, in Christmas, Actually there are three unique storytelling voices – from a more emotional read to a lighter touch.
3. Brainstorming community traditions. Every town, city, or suburb has a set of traditions, myths, and rites of passage. These traditions will help tie the books together. For example, in Christmas, Actually there is an annual holiday pageant that involves the entire town. And if you kiss someone on Christmas Eve under the town square gazebo, there are wedding bells for you in the new year.
4. A unique set of characters. It sounds silly, but you should check in with your characters. Unless one of your themes is cops, you probably don’t want every story to have one. Nor do you want them to have the same first name. And if your character shows up in someone else’s story, you don’t want their names to sound the same (Ted, Tad, etc.).
5. Draft check-in. If your character shows up in someone else’s story – even as a walk on – you need to review their dialogue and action to make sure it’s consistent with the way you’ve written the character.
With a little bit of prep and regular check-ins, you can pave the way to a worry-free, connected set of stories. If you don’t…trust me. What can go wrong, will go wrong. Good luck!
The Christmas Date is the third novella in Christmas, Actually – three holiday stories about three siblings living in Christmas Town, where tradition has it that a kiss on Christmas Eve in the town square gazebo will lead to wedding bells in the new year!
Gina Vernay was in an accident as a child and has a scar down her right cheek. Since then, Gina has always sat on the sidelines, lacking the self-confidence to shine. Wanting what many of her friends have – love, a family – Gina signs up for an online dating account. But her picture doesn’t show her scar. And she’s always too busy running The Tea Cup in Christmas Town to meet anyone, much less a man to share a kiss under the mistletoe in the town’s gazebo. But when one persistent on-line suitor arranges to meet her on Christmas Eve, Gina’s life turns upside down.
Excerpt from The Christmas Date:
In the wee hours of Christmas Eve morning, Gina stood at the edge of the town square and traced the deep, jagged scar that ran from her left temple to her jawline with the tip of a gloved finger, as if her touch could erase the past. The small ball of worry, the one that hadn’t let her sleep last night, expanded like bread dough in her chest, pressing against her lungs.
I should have told him.
Snow fell silently, blanketing the square and the balsam firs lining it. The trees, mistletoe gazebo and surrounding quaint old buildings were draped in holiday lights. The town square looked like a snow globe, beautifully pristine and peaceful. The wind swirled around her, stealing her worried breath.
A whistled tune drifted through the darkness. “Jingle Bells.”
A block away, a figure appeared on Taylor Street. Nick Banning, the town handyman and whistler.
Gina sucked in cold, much-needed air. There was too much to do today for her to wallow in what-ifs. She hadn’t told him and this afternoon she’d face the consequences.
Carefully, Gina walked along the snowy sidewalk toward The Tea Pot. She’d bought the corner shop from her aunt last summer, trading in safe columns of numbers and isolated cubicles for early morning pastry making and running the place where everyone in town gathered.
Arriving at her doorstep just as she did, Nick finished a whistled chorus, his breath mingling with snowflakes. “Morning.” He had a boxy tool bag slung over his shoulder. Holiday lights softly illuminated his handsome, reassuring features. Nick was one of the few people in the world who made Gina feel at ease, despite her scar.
She hurried to unlock the door and get them out of the cold. Once inside, she scuffed her boot soles across the extra large doormat, ridding them of snow. “When I asked you to show up first thing, I didn’t really think you’d show up this early...whistling.”
“No reason not to whistle.” He stomped the snow from his feet, first on the outside grill, then on the inside mat. “Big day today.”
She had the distinct impression that he knew she had a date this afternoon, and was teasing her about it. Gina flipped on the lights and peered at Nick. He tugged off his knit cap and slid it into a coat pocket, revealing short dark hair, a gaze that didn’t mock and a familiar, lopsided grin.
Nick caught her staring. His grin widened. “What? You forgot today’s Christmas Eve? The annual Christmas pageant? The night Santa Claus comes to town?”
“No...I...no.” Of course he didn’t know about her blind date. Well, it wasn’t exactly a blind date. In her continued quest to de-comfort zone herself, she’d signed up for an online dating service and had been instant messaging a guy named Football20 for a week. He was going to introduce himself to her in person this afternoon. They planned to have coffee together. That was, if he didn’t take one look at her scar and bail.
Award winning, USA Today bestseller Melinda Curtis writes the Harmony Valley series of sweet and emotional romances for Harlequin Heartwarming, and the indie pubbed Bridesmaid series. Brenda Novak says: “Season of Change has found a place on my keeper shelf”. Melinda also writes independently published, hotter romances as Mel Curtis. Jayne Ann Krentz says of Blue Rules: “Sharp, sassy, modern version of a screwball comedy from Hollywood's Golden Age except a lot hotter.”
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