Feasting time?

Seems like every book we write has its own research quirks. With the Cursebreaker series, James and I are always looking through herbalism texts and plant nurseries. On a trip to Philadelphia, I spent more time than I probably should admit to photographing every plant in the “poison garden” at the Mutter Museum. (This information may or may not make into Heart of Glass but it’s going somewhere.)

This weekend, as I started working on the second chapter for Heirs, I started looking up how medieval people ate and what they ate. While we don’t stick exactly to real-world history when writing our fantasy novels, I find it helpful to mix a little historical background in with bits from our imagination in order to give readers something to ground themselves with.

Specifically aphrodisiacs, a word that I never can spell correctly. Some things I expected, like oysters and deer testes. I hadn’t thought about the erotic qualities of milk or sparrows, however.

It’s going to be a fun scene.

The Whitings are Writing!

Hello! It’s Gwen here.


Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I’ll likely be the one posting most of the updates to this blog. Of the two of us, I’m the (dubiously) social one which is ironic, given that James writes most of the dialogue in our book. He is the Teller to my Penn.

With the first two books that we wrote together, James and I developed a pattern of working together in layers. To give you some insight into our writing process, it looks a little something like this: we sit together and talk through the plot, characters, and various settings of a book. James is a pantser and proud of it; I’m a plotter who feels nervous without an outline. So I take this and then write an outline to keep us on track.

One of us then takes the “lead” on the book and writes a skeletal first draft to the outline. It isn’t always continuous. If the lead gets stuck, the book gets bounced over to author 2 to pick up until they get stuck, and so forth until the book is finished. Because we’re married and (gasp!) enjoy talking to each other, we also spend a lot of time during this entire process throwing ideas around.

James and I feel more comfortable with different aspects of writing and it shows in these first drafts. For example, dialogue isn’t a strong point of mine so I will fight my way through it. Sometimes this will resemble people talking to each other. Other times, it will look something more like “(something incredibly profound that makes everyone stop and look at her),” Olga said.”

The next and future steps in the process involve editing and rewriting. The author who did not “lead” the book starts the editing process, writing a different layer and fleshing out those things that weren’t fleshed out before. Then it goes back and forth with us both doing this, cutting scenes, fighting over scenes and cuts and additions, etc. There’s probably no better way to find out how strong your marriage is than to edit one another’s work. I say this with love. 😉

After this is done, we send this to our agent who edits it and then we start over again.

Because we’ve done this twice now (not counting a short story we wrote first, to determine whether or not we could actually write together without killing one another), we’re now working on two books concurrently. James is leading off on the third Cursebreaker novel, Heart of Glass, while I’m working through a book in a different world, working title of The Heirs of Wind and Sea. (It remains to be seen if this will be part of a trilogy though right now, we think it’s a single book of doorstopping length.)

This blog will consist of “behind the scenes” notes of our process, the things we are working on, and various bits of inspiration and wonder that we come across as we work. If you are following along, feel free to let us know what you would like to see!