I envy historical authors for one reason.
They can set their stories in a time period and don’t ever have to worry about the events / styles / technology in their stories from ever becoming “dated.” I have a friend who is republishing some of her older contemporary romances, but before she does, she’s updating technology like switching flip phones for smart phones.
For me being a contemporary author is like trying to hit a moving target. By the time a book is written, edited, and put on a release schedule, the story may already be “old.” For example, when I wrote Gambling On A Secret in 2009, I had set it in 2010. When I was looking for a publisher, I updated the story calendar to 2011and eventually contracted it in 2012. Which is fine, but this was the first book of a five book series, with all the books set to follow each other in the same year.
Gambling On A Secret covers March to August 2011. Although Gambling On A Heart (book 2 of Colton Gamblers) is written to immediately follow book 1 during August and September, I have it set in the 2012 calendar. Gambling On A Dream, which picks up the story in October, was set using the 2013 calendar. I chose to use the year I wrote the book in as the timeframe of the story to help keep it seem current. I laugh when I think about Charli (the heroine from book 1) having the longest pregnancy in history. But to be honest, I have no idea how else to keep these stories “Contemporaries.”
I’ve read several series that are chronologically set after each other, but take several actual years to tell the story. The one that immediately comes to mind is JR Ward’s bestselling paranormal series, The Blackdagger Brotherhood. I think overall she did a great job keeping the books seamlessly connected but subtly matching the real world calendar with her story calendar. But Ms. Ward is working in a fantasy world where if events are fudged a little no one would probably call her out on it.
I write stories very much rooted in the real world. Two of my heroes and the heroine in book 4 are veterans of the Middle East wars. Although I’ve learned to not mention events that actually happened in my books, further dating them, some of this can’t be completely avoided.
Researching a historical would be a pain in the behind, but I’d love not always having the moving target of time to contend with and trying to make my books current without sacrificing the story I set out to tell.
If you read a chronological series that takes several years to write and publish, do you ever notice the fudging of time?
And if you’re an author, how do you handle this sort of thing?
Colton Gamblers Book 3
BLURB – Gambling on a Dream – By Sara Walter Ellwood
With Everything At Stake…
It’s been years since Sheriff Dawn Madison said goodbye to Texas Ranger Wyatt McPherson. She’s closed the door on the heartache of her past. But when the sleepy town of Colton, Texas, is rocked by a series of shocking murders, Dawn has no choice but to trust the man who broke her heart if she wants to protect the ones she loves…
All Bets Are Off
Four years have passed. But Wyatt hasn’t forgotten the bold, Native American beauty who stole his heart . . . and broke it. Losing her and the life they had hoped to share left him an empty shell of himself. But if he wants to stop the deranged killer terrorizing the innocent kids of Colton, he’ll have to let Dawn back into his life. It’s a risk he’s willing to take, even if heartache is all he takes home…
When the door closed with a resounding click behind her brother, Dawn pounded a fist onto the table with enough force to rattle their coffee mugs. “Dammit, who is he protecting?”
Wyatt glanced back at the door. Her older brother Talon had always had it rough, but no worse than Dawn and their younger brother. Sure, being one of Jock Blackwell’s ill-begotten sons wasn’t something he’d wish on a rabid coyote. However, Tom Madison had treated Talon like a son all his life, even giving him a third of his ranch when he retired.
Talon had changed, and not for the better. His problems didn’t come from how he was raised, or even the occasional bullying. He was a troublemaker, and nothing would have changed him.
He sat in the chair Talon had vacated. “Or the question could be what is he hiding?”
She ran her hands over her dark hair to the tight bun at the base of her skull. With jerky movements, she pulled out the band holding the twisted braid captive. As she ran her fingers through the long mass of raven silk, heat coursed through him at the memories of all that hair covering him like a blanket while they’d made love. When she bent over the table and scratched her scalp in pure frustration, all he could think about was her hair hanging down her back to brush and tickle his thighs as she rode him–her favorite position–to orgasm.
The erection was fast and furious and nearly had him groaning. Thank God, he was sitting. He forced his numbed mind to focus on the case.
“We have to find someone else who may have seen or knows something.” She glanced across the table at him and straightened. If there was ever the perfect picture of a beautiful Indian maiden, it was Dawn with her hair down. Had she ever had the stuff cut? He swallowed hard and shifted in his chair as his jeans strangled his cock. How long had it been since he’d had sex? He couldn’t remember, but refused to believe he hadn’t been with someone since Dawn.
With swift, practiced motions, she broke the trance he was under by daftly braiding her hair and wrapping it into a bagel-sized knot at the back of her head. She snapped the hair band over the bun.
He cleared his throat. “When are we talking to Chris’s friends?” His voice came out sounding a bit husky, even to his ears.
She stood, taking their coffee cups with her, and refilled them. After she dumped that god-awful crap pretending to be creamer into hers, she handed him a mug of black joe. Sipping her coffee from the extra-large, bright green mug he’d given to her for her thirtieth birthday, she returned to her chair.
“Hendricks and Kennedy are getting a list, but according to Julie, he didn’t have many friends in Colton.”
“How about Justin Vaughn? He’s always been a known dealer. Maybe he knows something.” He sipped his coffee.
She smiled, and he almost choked as he swallowed the hot, bitter brew. “Haven’t thought of him. We should talk to him. They’re about the same age. Vaughn’s working over at his uncle’s farm and garden market.”
He set his mug on the table and glanced at his watch. “I can’t today.”
Grinning, he stood. “No. I’m buying the Estrada Ranch.”
Her dark eyes widened. “Really? I heard Luis and Stella were thinking of moving to New Mexico, but I didn’t know it was a done deal. I figured it would go to either Jose or Mary,” she said, referring to the Estradas’ son and daughter. “How long has their place been up for sale? I haven’t seen a sign in their yard.”
He shrugged and reached for his hat where it sat on the edge of the table. “Luis and Stella told Mom and Dad they planned to sell the place a couple of weeks ago while playing Bingo at the firehouse. When they told me, I called the Estradas and made an offer. It never officially made it on the market. I’ve been looking for a small ranch.”
“We’ll be neighbors when you settle in there.” She cocked her head to the side. “I never knew you wanted to be a rancher.”
“You never cared about a lot of things I wanted.” His bitterness surprised even him.
She stood and picked up her mug, leaving his where it sat. As she headed for the door, she nodded toward it. “We have a policy around here. We clean up after ourselves. Something I seem to remember you have a hard time with.”
ABOUT SARA WALTER ELLWOOD
Although Sara Walter Ellwood has long ago left the farm for the glamor of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her contemporary westerns. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia. Sara Walter Ellwood is a multi-published and international Amazon bestselling author of the anthology set Cowboy Up. She also publishes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name Cera duBois.
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