Creativity is a Process

People often ask us how we come up with the ideas for our books. The idea part is the easy part of writing. It’s the fun part, at least for us. The rest of it can be difficult. Creating a plausible plot, creating characters and staying true to them through the story but aware enough to know that they have to grow just as people do, creating believable situations (yes, even in fantasy it has to be somewhat believable), and creating a world and history for it. There is so much more. We like to call it hammering out the details. Those are all the hard parts of writing. The parts that take time and effort. Details.

Whereas we sit down and write without an outline so that the story can still surprise us, we still have to keep all of the details straight which means extensive note taking of when, why, and where something happened. We even have to take notes on our characters for hair color, eye color, personality traits/ticks, etc. That’s were the awesome program OneNote has helped tremendously. We used to have spiral notebooks with all this information in it and it would take forever to find something we’re looking for because we forgot something. With OneNote, it has made it so much easier. We can organize our thoughts and world/character details easily.

And for each writer, the process for creativity is different. What works for me doesn’t necessarily work for my husband. What works for some well-known authors who have shared glimpses into their writing styles and habits works for them and others. I’ve tried some of their suggestions and processes. They didn’t work for me the way it did for them. I have taken some of what I learned from them and reworked it to suit my needs. As a writer, you are always learning new ways for creativity. Sometimes those new ways inhibit the process and sometimes they help. The advice we give to any writer is: You do you. Don’t worry about what works for Steven King, George R.R. Martin, J.K. Rowling, Jim Butcher, James Patterson, and so many more. Worry about what works for you and only you. Writing is an extremely personal process.


I Will Be a Writer

Before writing this post, I was working on the rewrite of Book 3 in the Ordinary series and thinking about the process of writing. For some of us it’s difficult. For others, we rarely experience what’s known as writer’s block. For some of us, probably most of us, we have self-doubt about what we’re writing. Is it any good? Is anyone going to like it? To answer both questions, it is good and someone already likes it. You.

It’s true when others say that you have to write for yourself first. If you don’t like what you’re writing, it’s going to show. As for something being good, you thought it was good enough to write it in the first place and the only way any of us are ever going to get better is to write and keep writing. Even if what you’re working on isn’t that great, keep working on it. Finish it. Writers only grow through writing and honest, critical reviews from people. Now, these critical reviews don’t have to be mean. You can say something sucks in a nice way. Tell them how you thought they could improve. Tell them things that didn’t work for you. Be nice about it though. It’s hard to finish a book, but it’s even harder to let others read it and give you their opinions. For us, that’s the scary part, letting others read our work. Yes, that’s the goal but it doesn’t make it less scary, less intrusive.

The most important thing is to remember to keep writing and to never stop. Don’t let the cynical part of your brain win. Giving up is the biggest form of failure. If you never give up, even if you don’t succeed and become the best-selling author you dream of, you still win. You still never gave up. You still kept on writing and working on your dreams. You still kept writing the novels you felt needed to be written.

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How We Create Characters… Sometimes

How I Create Characters

There have been more times than we would care to admit where we’ve been driving down the road and saw some random person, and suddenly, we’re creating an entire backstory for them. Some of them, well MOST of them, are outlandish and just downright ridiculous. It’s a good creative exercise for us that is super fun. And sometimes, just sometimes, they end up being a character in one of our books.

New Beginnings Sample Chapter


The world trembled beneath his feet, vibrating up through his body. Ogden paused mid-sentence in his conversation with Hethera. He furrowed his brow.

“What is it? What’s happened?” Hethera asked, touching his arm in concern.

A second tremble passed through the earth, pulsing up into his body. A building tension in his chest made him release the breath he hadn’t known he was holding. He reached down with a hesitant hand and placed it on the soft earth. Another shudder passed. This time, it seemed more like a relieved sigh than anything else. For several moments, he remained there, hand on the dirt, feeling the small pulses. They stopped as suddenly as they had come.

Hethera hadn’t moved, staring at him the entire time. Ogden looked up, meeting her questioning gray eyes with a small, worried smile. He turned his eyes to the glittering stars above them. She continued to stare at him with one brow raised. A look of impatience had settled over her face.

“Ogden, please, what’s happening? Why are you acting so strange?”

“You didn’t feel it?” He watched his wife scrunch her brow further. “It’s strange that you wouldn’t.”

“I felt it,” she answered. “Tell me what’s happening.”

Her eyes darted about the dark land. He watched her for a moment. It was as if she expected an immediate attack. He wished he could tell her one wasn’t coming. He had no idea what would happen now. He had no idea how They would retaliate. All he knew was that They would.

He rose and grabbed his wife’s hand. His entire hand enveloped hers. He led her into the house they were staying in. Ianen and Pralad were inside, sitting by the fire. Pralad’s eyes were focused on the other side of the room. Her face was pale and her eyes wide. Caraya stood there as a small child, no longer an infant. The same golden glow sat around her, only glowing stronger.

“Will you please explain what’s happening?” Hethera pulled his hand. Her eyes refused to leave the child who stood there, smiling at everyone. She was a graceful being.

“One of the false Gods is dead,” Ogden stated. “Hartland has received some of the power They took from it.”

“Yes. Hartland is healing,” Caraya’s small voice said. The child turned her glowing rose-colored eyes on Ogden. He couldn’t look away from her. “You will take me to the Kings Meet in the morning.”

Ogden gave a single nod. Hethera grabbed his hand again, pulling his attention from the child. He met his wife’s eyes. They searched his.

“I can’t explain any more than I already have. I don’t have the answers everyone seeks.” Even as he said it, he wasn’t certain it was true. He felt different. Empowered.

“How did you know what happened?” Ianen asked from where he sat. Not once had he moved since they had entered. Ogden wasn’t even certain if he’d reacted to Caraya changing into a young child.

Ogden clamped his jaw shut as Ianen scrutinized him. When Hethera gave his hand a loving squeeze, Ogden looked toward her. She gave him a small smile as if to encourage him to answer. He remained silent.

“He’s connected to Them. He would know if something changed,” his wife answered when he didn’t.

“You mean he’s one of Them,” Ianen accused. “If he’s one of Them, he’s part of the problem. He might…”

“How can you say such things?” Hethera interrupted. She shook her head at him. “They made him a Servant. That isn’t his fault. He accepted this Servitude to protect Hartland. To protect me. To protect you. He prevented people from dying in the war that They started.” Her voice wavered as she fought to stay in control of her emotions. He placed his hand on her shoulder. She sucked in a deep breath. “Ianen, you know this. Why are you suggesting such things?”

“Lady Hethera, I only…” Ianen sighed. “I wish you could see this as the rest of us do. I am sorry I upset you, but if he’s one of Them, he will have to make a decision. A decision you might not like.”

Tears slid down Hethera’s face. Ogden stepped in front of his wife, meeting her teary eyes. He placed his hands on her upper arms. She took in a few breaths, between sobs.

“We will discuss this tomorrow at the Kings Meet. There’s nothing we can decide now.” Ogden turned an annoyed look to Ianen. “If you need to voice this opinion, you’re welcome to do so at the Kings Meet.”

Ogden watched Ianen catch Hethera’s eyes. Something passed between them and Ianen’s harsh gaze softened. Ogden glanced back at his wife, but her eyes were focused on the ground now. It wasn’t the first time he had wondered what had happened during his time apart from Hethera. The two had grown close to one another. He knew her visions had interfered with her day to day life. Acen had told him his grandparents had started to live with them. Yet, they hadn’t left Lovic with her. He still wasn’t certain that had been a wise choice. Once more, he found his gaze lingering on Ianen.

“My presence isn’t necessary,” Ianen said, breaking the silence. “I spoke out of fear. I know you’re a good man. I know you’re protecting Hartland.”

Ogden caught uncertainty in the man’s eyes. He didn’t blame him. He was uncertain about everything as well. No one knew what the Gods had done to him to make him a Servant. That was, no one but the Gods.

Hethera wrapped her arm around his waist and rested her head on the side of his arm. She wore a distant look, filled with worry. Ogden glanced at her. Even now, whenever he looked at her, his heart swelled with love and pride. All he wanted in life was to spend his days with her. His choices hadn’t allowed him to. It was something he regretted daily.

“Tomorrow is going to be a long and trying day. I’d like to rest before then.”

He kissed the top of Hethera’s head before he left the small living area. On the first stair, he paused and his eyes connected with Caraya’s with uncertainty. She gave him a small smile before he finished the path to his room.

The False Gods Sample Chapter


Urgent pounding shook the door. Hethera jolted up in bed, heart thudding in her chest. It was still dark. Acen stumbled into her room, rubbing his eyes. She rose from the bed and motioned for him to remain in the room as she stepped out into the hall. The door gave a quiet click behind her.

Creeping down the hall, she took in deep breaths, trying to calm her thundering heart. She tiptoed down the stairs, cringing as one of the steps let off a horrendous creak. Ianen was at the door. He motioned for her to remain where she was as he drew his weapon. He motioned to someone off to the side that Hethera couldn’t see.

Hethera watched him open the door. Little sound reached her ears over the pounding in them. Her chest tightened. From where she stood on the wooden steps, prepared to run and grab Acen and flee, she saw a small form in the doorway. She narrowed her eyes at the object pressed up against the woman’s chest. Her breath caught in her throat. By the moon light streaming in through the doorway, she could see the woman held a baby. She raced toward the door and beckoned the woman inside.

Ianen frowned at her but sheathed his sword. Once the door closed behind her, he remained near it with his hand on the hilt of his sword. Every once in a while, he’d peer outside through the small window on the door as if expecting trouble. He met Hethera’s eyes and gave her a slight nod, telling her it was time.

Hethera turned her attention to the woman, hoping he wasn’t right. “Please, sit down.”

The woman shook her head. Graying brown hair fell down around her angular face. “We don’t have time for that. We have to leave before sunrise. If we don’t, we face execution.” Tears glistened in the woman’s kind, gray eyes.

“Execution?” Hethera breathed out, sinking into a nearby chair. She sat there in silence for several moments. A deep frown furrowed her brow. When she closed her eyes, tears slid down her cheeks.

“What’s happened?” Ianen asked. His voice was stern. His eyes didn’t leave the front of the house.

The woman fought back tears by giving a few rapid blinks. “This is King Zavad’s daughter. Her name is Caraya, and she is a wytch.” She sobbed before gaining control again. “She was born with power. More power than I’ve ever witnessed. As she was born, a golden light surrounded her. It’s faded, but her skin remains a golden color, as does her eyes. Her birth killed the queen.

“King Zavad has ordered us to leave Yul. He told me to take you with me as you knew what would happen to his wife and refused to tell him. We are no longer welcome in his kingdom. If anyone should find us while still in Yul, his soldiers have orders to kill us on sight. No questions.” She sucked in a deep breath. “We must leave now, Lady Hethera. If we’re not outside of the city before sunrise, he’ll kill us. Grief has maddened him.”

Hethera thinned her lips. It was curious why she hadn’t seen this coming. For the last two nights, she hadn’t had a vision. It had come as a blessing. These unwanted insights plagued her during waking and sleeping hours. Now, she wanted them back. She needed to know the future to protect everyone.

“Let me speak with King Zavad. He must see reason. I didn’t kill anyone.” She took the woman’s hand into hers and gave it a gentle squeeze. “He’s always seen it before.”

The woman gave a bitter laugh. Ianen’s eyes moved to her for a moment. “You don’t understand, Lady Hethera. You weren’t there. He will kill his own daughter. He views Caraya as a murderer and refused to even touch her. He’s not the same man you knew.”

Hethera knew the woman spoke the truth. The fear in her light gray eyes said it all. Hethera looked toward Ianen who still wore a grim face. His eyes met hers for the briefest of moments before returning to the small window in the door. His hand never left the hilt of his sword. Ianen had known this was coming. He had warned her. She had readied herself to leave, but she had never really thought it would happen.

“It’s in our best interest to leave now, Lady Hethera,” Ianen said, stepping away from the door. “There are no signs of the king’s guards yet, but that can change at any moment. I don’t trust him. You mustn’t let him kill you or his child.”

Hethera didn’t answer. This was her home. This was where Acen was born. This was where Ogden would come looking for her. The war was over and he was on his way. She longed to wrap her arms around him and know that he had survived.

Closing her eyes, she allowed a few tears to stream down her face. She would have to trust in the Gods to tell Ogden where to find her and Acen. It was far too risky to leave a clue. Besides, she had no idea where they would go. She didn’t know much about the other kingdoms.

“I know you planned for this, Ianen,” she said in a soft voice. She turned to meet his serious eyes. “I don’t expect you to come with me. You’re a soldier to Yul. You owe me nothing. Please don’t risk your life for me.”

Ianen shook his head at her. Hethera furrowed her brow. “I’m not going anywhere. You’re an important lady and the king’s not himself. I cannot serve such a man who is willing to kill his own daughter. My loyalties have been sworn to you, for quite some time now. Lady Hethera, you’re a special woman. Although your visions have been quiet for a few nights now, I cannot abandon you. I don’t think the Gods would look upon me with any sort of kindness if I were to abandon you now.”

“I’ll get Acen and our things.” Hethera rose, looking about her home again. Tears sat in her eyes. She and her husband had discussed leaving, but she had never imagined it like this. Her hand brushed the banister of the stairs with regret.

“Do you have any idea where we’ll go, my lady?” the woman asked.

Hethera turned toward her, watching the woman hold Caraya close. Though the child slept, the midwife rocked back and forth. Hethera guessed it was more of a comfort to her than for the baby.

“No.” She met Ianen’s steady eyes.

“Let’s worry about getting out of the city first,” he answered.