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Novel Challenges
Stuff 'n Nonsense 4-10-24

My latest Harlequin novel, “Colton’s Secret Stalker,” has hit the shelves this month and is already gathering steam with fantastic reviews. As part of a continuity, the book offers a richer experience if you read the entire collection, yet it stands strong on its own.

This was my inaugural venture into a continuity series at the invitation of my publisher, and I was elated to join. But the challenge was real; it honed my writing skills and streamlined my process. Here’s the kicker, though – despite having over a hundred projects under my belt, ranging from novels and novellas to short stories, embarking on a new project always unleashes those fluttering butterflies of anxiety in my belly.

You might wonder why, given my background. Writing novels should be second nature to me, almost a reflex. But here’s a little secret: it’s never easy. In truth, it becomes more daunting because with each story, you grow in knowledge. When you first begin, it’s a whirlwind of creativity. You’re swept away, hammering at the keys, allowing inspiration to take the reins – like a drunken monkey set loose in a fermented garden. It’s blissful ignorance at its best.

As you progress, your skills sharpen, your methods refine, and you learn to balance raw inspiration with seasoned logic, making sure the editing process doesn’t turn into one of Dante’s infernal levels.

Throw in the task of mastering a new writing process and adhering to a strict framework, and you’ve got a recipe for creative chaos, not to mention the kind of gut-wrenching anxiety that stifles your creativity completely.

By nature, I’m a pantser (working without an outline), but this project required me to follow an outline religiously. Straying too far from the established plot could wreak havoc with the continuity that other authors relied on for their contributions.

Imagine keeping track of endless email threads as we all contributed characters, settings, pets, and other details to build this shared universe. We had to be in perfect harmony.

Let’s just say, coordinating a group of creative minds is like herding cats. Some of us – okay, it’s me – don’t find structure intuitive. Nevertheless, it all came together wonderfully in the end, and my editor concurred.

“Colton’s Secret Stalker” joins the rare collection of my works that sailed through with no revisions – just a handful of minor line edits.

So, the takeaway is this: no matter how seasoned you are, there’s always room to grow. If you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone, you might just discover you’re capable of achieving far more than you ever thought possible.

“Colton’s Secret Stalker” is available in select Wal-Marts, Barnes & Noble, and always online at your favorite distributor.


Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide a monthly column. She can be reached at