Friday, November 4, 2011

Guest Blog from Catherine Gayle


Thank you, Melissa, for inviting me to guest blog!

I write interconnected stories all the time. My novels are series, where characters from one pop in on another from time to time…sometimes more than others. I wrote a series of short stories, Wanton Wives, in which all of the individual stories combined to tell a greater, overall story. There are even characters from my novels who’ve shown up in the short stories, and who have moved from one series to another.

Needless to say, the idea of writing a story involving numerous other characters who had their own stories did not intimidate me.

But when a few of my critique partners approached me with the idea of taking part in an anthology, where all of the characters belonged to the same greater family, I got a little nervous.

For two reasons, actually. The first nerve-inducing thing was that they wanted me to write a novella. I’d never successfully written a novella before. Short stories, yes. But anything longer than that tends to turn into a full-length novel in my hands. I didn’t know if I could keep the idea small enough to write a shorter story that still felt complete. The second reason was that I tend to write the characters that I write, and they interact with the other characters in my head, but I’d never had them interact with another writer’s characters. What if I screwed it up?

Writing this anthology, for all of us, turned into an incredible experiment. We sent emails back and forth constantly. “Would your character be available on X day at Y time for me to use them in Z capacity?” “Um, sorry, but my character would NEVER say, ‘Balderdash.’” “Has anyone given J character a hair color yet? If not, I’m saying it is red.”

Some worked very closely together, as their characters were siblings (or even twins!), and so they had to all know the history of the others. Others took a branch of the family tree and kept to themselves, so as not to have to deal with too many spare characters popping in and out of their stories.

I think we all would say, however, that it was both a positive experience and, at times, a trying experience.

So, what do we have to show for it? The Regency Christmas Anthology, twelve novellas in four collections. The powerful Duke of Danby has ordered all of his wayward grandchildren to return to Danby Castle for Christmas. You’ll have to read them to see what takes place.

Have you ever done something you were intimidated to do? How did it turn out? If you leave a comment and include your email address with it, you’ll be entered in a huge drawing for prizes, including books, gift cards, and even a Kindle. More info at

My novella, An Unintended Journey, is in the third collection: A Summons From the Castle.

What once was lost…
Abby Goddard’s life is going along just swimmingly, apart from the disappearance of her life’s love—Wesley Cavendish, a man well above her station. Just before Christmas, Grandmama dies after revealing the identity of Abby’s grandfather. The Duke of Danby, no less. Now the entire family will travel to Yorkshire to confront Danby, hoping to gain a dowry for Abby. But then Wesley reemerges, sparking a hope Abby thought long destroyed.
Now is found…
Shall the prodigal son’s sole inheritance be an unsightly gash? Wesley Cavendish aspires to the political realm, despite his father’s near-murderous opposition…not to mention his opposition to Abby Goddard. But since Father died, will the new Earl of Fordingham rescind Father’s disgraceful allegations? Fordingham thwarts Wesley at every turn, threatening marriage to a prominent Tory family—which precludes Abby—to put an end to Wesley’s Whig involvement…unless Wesley can find a loophole.
You can buy A Summons From the Castle at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. Look for the other collections at those same websites, as well: A Summons From Yorkshire, A Summons From the Duke, and A Summons From His Grace.



L. j. Charles said...

Hi, Catherine.
I hadn't thought about the complexities of writing 12 interconnected stories before. And that y'all did it is just amazing. I have my copies but haven't started reading yet. I'm thinking I'll want to set aside a time when I can read them back-to-back.

Love the covers by the way.

L. j. Charles

Ava Stone said...

Catherine ~ Love the blog! I, too, wasn't sure how all of this would turn out. It was an interesting adventure and experiment; and I am so very happy with the result.

Every summer I end up doing something that intimidates me. My son is a certified scuba diver and loves the open ocean. I do not. I was born in the '70s and JAWS will always be in the back of my mind whenever I am in the ocean - Thank YOU Mr. Spielberg. Anyway, I always think to myself "I'm gonna be brave this time. I don't want him to think I'm a chicken again." And I always start off pretty good and then at some point I hear that ominous JAWS soundtrack start to play somewhere in the recesses of my mind and I cannot get out of the water fast enough. But I do try, year after year. :)

Catherine Gayle said...

Melissa, thanks so much for inviting me here today!

L.j. I don't think too many of us thought about how difficult it might be to write these interconnected stories until we were in the thick of it. :) Thanks for stopping by! And I'll let our cover artist know. We all love them, too.

Catherine Gayle said...

Ava, thanks for stopping by! Ack! You and I aren't too far off in age, so I know exactly what you're talking about with the Jaws stuff. I hear the theme song in my mind when I go into the ocean, too. Pools for me, please. LOL.

Unknown said...

Interesting post! I sort of wondered how 12 authors kept all the stories straight, good think we have the internet now :)
Starting a new job always intimidates me. I hate those first few days of not knowing anyone and not knowing whats what. Thankfully, I have only had to do this three times since I stay at my job for years it seems lol
tigger_time2 at yahoo dot com

Catherine Gayle said...

Thanks for stopping by, Lisa! I hate starting new jobs, too. One job, I actually did know one person when I started there...and he knew my first day on the job happened to fall on my birthday. So here I was, hoping to blend into the walls (I'm NOT very outgoing until I know you), and he came in with a cake, balloons, and flowers, and set them all on my desk. So now only was I a big attraction that day because I was the newbie, but I was also surrounded by stuff that would gain even more attention. It was very sweet of him...but I wanted to crawl under my desk and hide. :)

Catherine Gayle said...

Oh, and thank GOODNESS for the internet. I don't know how we would have done all the coordinating for this anthology without email, Skype, and the like.

Eli Yanti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eli Yanti said...

Hi Catherine,

this is the gread post and i love it, the book sounds great

i think to fulfil my boss's require in having much order to our job every month is always intimade me and make me want to resign from my job ;(

Catherine Gayle said...

Thanks for stopping by, Eli. I hope your job gets better, where you want to stay!

Sandra Sookoo said...

Hi Catherine. Stopping by to say hi and that I admire the dedication all the authors had to work together :-)Best wishes on many sales!

Catherine Gayle said...

Thanks, Sandi! It was a challenge, but it was also loads of fun.

Aileen said...

I know I enjoyed working with everyone, and really love the resulting stories!

Suzie Grant said...

Oh, it was a blast and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

What intimidated me recently? Writing a regency. I have written historicals many times over but I tend to stick with westerns, medievals or my favorite time period the golden age of piracy. These I know like the back of my hand. What intimidated me so much was the regency readers. Because these ladies know thier genre and you can't mess it up -- or beware if you do. So taking part in the novella (which I have never done before) and the fact that it was a regency on top of that, intimidated me greatly. But I have wonderful crit partners who marked up my ms. "You can't say this or they would never say that," LOL. So far I haven't been called out for anything serious yet but more than that I've found a new love affair for a new era. I'm interested in seeing what other stories I can write in this genre now. Here's to trying new things and finding how much you really love them.