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The Agony and the Ecstasy of a Dual Timeline


I’ve written a two-book series (Wanting Mr Wrong and Escaping Mr Right for those who are interested – and my intention is to make that into a three-book series within the next year or so), and I’ll also finish writing a three-book series for the new Harlequin DARE line by early 2018.

But in between, I’ve done something a little different and completed a duet.

What makes two books a duet instead of a two-book series?

Actually, I’m ignorant of any specific publishing terminology about the difference, but I attribute the distinction to the fact that my ‘duet’ books share a chunk of timeline: book 2, The Dating Game, is getting underway (unbeknownst to readers) while the last quarter of book 1, Kiss Don’t Tell, is still playing out. There are hints that something is happening behind the scenes in that last quarter of Kiss Don’t Tell, but it’s not until you pick up The Dating Game that it all becomes clear.

Okay, so right about now I should probably introduce the main players in this escapade:

  • Lane Davis (heroine #1, Kiss Don't Tell) – an uptight economist with her lustful eye on her colleague David Bennett but who requires an upgrade in her sexual skills to ensure she can not only attract him but keep his interest

  • Adam Quinn (hero #1, Kiss Don't Tell) – a huge, dark, hulking alpha male, reluctantly roped into skilling Lane up by his sister (and Lane’s good friend) Sarah

  • Sarah Quinn (hero #1’s sister who becomes heroine #2, The Dating Game) – a talkative, party-loving, livewire PR executive who’s had a gutful of dating and wants a forever love

  • David Bennett (the ‘other man’ in Kiss Don't Tell who becomes hero #2, The Dating Game) – a sinfully handsome, sexually sophisticated, divorced Adonis, who’s pondering an affair with Lane in until he takes one look at Sarah and decides he needs her for his own specific purposes

Not to give too much away, all four of those characters are in both books up to their eyeballs – whether in person or in absentia. Each of them knows bits of what’s happening with the others but none of them knows everything.

Here comes the agony…

I’m a pantser, and I thought I’d get away with my usual just-start-writing approach for these two books. To a certain extent, I did – motivation, character development and the direction of specific scenes certainly shifted all over the place the way they usually do when I write. But – and it’s a big but – there was no way to avoid a fairly rigid sequence of cross-checking, which required me to print out a calendar and plot the appearances for all the major players in both books – to the day, almost to the hour, week by week – to make sure everyone was where they needed to be and who knew what by when!

So where does the ecstasy come into play?

Ah well, you see, by the time you get to The Dating Game, there’s a touch of screwball insanity about the whole operation, and that makes reading them one after the other F.U.N. fun!

Can’t ask for much more than that from a romantic comedy!


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