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RSS Welcomes GH Finalist Ella Sheridan…and her sister

Today I have the joy of welcoming a guest blogger from the Lucky 13s–the Golden Heart Finalists of 2013. Ella Sheridan is a finalist in the Paranormal category with her manuscript UNBROKEN – she’s also my twin sister. We thought we’d do something a little different, and just talk about the joys and struggles of writing, and the novelty of having someone be a part of your life from the moment the egg splits.

Please join me in welcoming my sister, Ella Sheridan!

Ella Sheridan, Unbroken

Dani: I can’t believe you’re here! Seems like we’ve done everything together. We went to school together, took the same classes, got the same major and minor degrees. Married within 6 months of each other and had all our kids pretty close together.

Then you had to copy me and start writing…

Ella: Now, I did start when we were teenagers. I just had to develop stamina. You didn’t start until you were older.

D: Still, we’ve always read voraciously.

E: I think you learn a lot from reading. A lot of the things I do now I do instinctively because I absorbed it. From a very young age we were learning about story details, arcs, and characterization. We were reading adult books at 12 or 13.

What I think is interesting is your process hasn’t really changed all that much through the years. Whereas mine has evolved…and in some cases, is all over the map.

D: I basically do brainstorming, then plot, and get it all down in extensive notes. Then I do a really fast, really rough draft before revising.

E: And your story doesn’t really change. Once you plot it, you don’t make any huge changes (to the story) after that. But I typically have a major change—

D: In just about every chapter! I really don’t know why you want to write the book twice…what’s the point of that?

E: If I could get it right the first time, it would be a lot easier. I’m just a glutton for punishment, I guess. I’ve done that with all except for 1 Nano book, which I only had to rewrite the ending of because my critique partner read it and said, um, I don’t think so.

D: You are a plotter, though, like me.

E: Yes, I plot—

D: –Then you re-plot.

E: Then I plot some more. And then I change those plots.

D: But you know when it’s right.

E: Yes, that’s the thing that has changed a lot with my GH book. I still struggle with the worry over whether its good enough, but I don’t worry if the story is moving in the right direction, because if it’s not right, I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t settle and have that calm in my head because I know something is off. Even if I don’t know what it is. And when I get a scene right, I have peace. I’ll worry about whether someone else will like it, but I know I’ve gone in the right direction.

That’s the biggest change with this book. I don’t know if it’s a confidence level or an evolution of my process or just this book.

D: I can’t help you there. I’m actually published and I haven’t figured it out. I get it ready to send in and think, “What if I screwed that up?” But it’s too late by then.

E: Well, I’m still working on plotting the next books a little at a time, and the thought of plotting book 2 of a 9 book series terrifies me. Because I do not want to repeat what I did with this one: force myself to write a rough draft that I knew wasn’t right but I thought, well I’ll just get it on the page and revise it. Oh, man, what a load of crap…

I have never struggled with revisions this bad, even though I’ve done major revisions on all of my previous 4 books, but this one was a major overhaul and a half – agonizingly painful to revise.  Part of it was that I didn’t know the rules of my world well enough. I hadn’t figured them out to my satisfaction. I tried to just push through it and hope that those details came. And that didn’t work.

The other part was that I wasn’t as familiar with my characters as I should have been. I mean, I’d been thinking about UNBROKEN’S characters for 3 years. I thought I knew them, and could write them. Then I started the book and…nope. Probably my first clue should have been that I had no music for this book. When I started writing I searched and searched. For me music is vitally important to plotting, getting through certain scenes, setting a mood in my mind—

 

D: Another thing we do the same.

E: Exactly. And with this book I could not find music that worked that way for me. Until I started the rewrite and then it finally fell into place. That was a huge warning sign that I ignored. You learn, though, and hopefully the next one will be easier.
Of course I always think that the next one will be easier. No. No its not.

D: Come on, girl. You’ve got to get it together. I say, as if I have it all together, and don’t call her every couple of weeks asking her to talk me off a ledge because I’ve freaked out over something.

E: We’re both needy. Something else we share. But it does kind of amaze me that our processes developed separately, but are still so similar. We both use the music, plot to an excessive extent, fill out forms and notes, and both need pictures of our characters. I need to be able to picture them, no matter how minor.

With Unbroken, I have pictures of places too. For the lair I googled underground bunkers, and came up with a home built into the ground in Sweden, but it’s all brushed concrete inside. I started looking at pictures of the inside, because they rent it to people –

D: You could actually go stay in your house!

E: Exactly! And this is where they got on the leather couch and… Research!

D: We get asked a lot, are you twins? Which is funny because I think the older we get, the less we look alike.

E: Me too. I think it’s the husband influence.

D: What would you say has been the neatest and the least favorite part of being a twin?

E: The least favorite part? I think now, there’s not anything about it I don’t like. But when I was just reaching adulthood, that was a hard time to kind of find out who I was –

D: Hey, you stole my answer!

E: Well, we are twins. I think that was a hard time to find myself, and I think it took me longer than the average person.

D: Yes, because you have to find who your identity is on your own. We had an identity as a set. But then we had to find our single identity outside of this other person, which is difficult when you’re with that person all the time. And used to being addressed as, well, one.

E: And thought of as a set. Sort of interchangeable, in a way. Even by people who should have known better.

D: It wasn’t until people got to know us, realized we had different personalities and different ways of approaching things, that we got the more individual approach.

E: The thing I like the most is I don’t have to go anywhere by myself if I don’t want to.

D: When I first started writing, it was the first major thing I ever did by myself. Even though getting married and starting a family were done separately, I was just adding another partner. And it was a normal pursuit.

But writing was outside the norm, and I had to do it alone, I had to walk into my first writers meeting by myself, make my first submission by myself. That is what helped me establish my identity more than anything. So when people talk about writing and how being a writer is something that is wrapped up in who you are, I think this is truer for me than it is for most people. Because it helped me establish myself as an individual person.

E: For me, it was more like following in your footsteps, so I felt like I had to work really hard to prove that I was good enough, that I wasn’t just going along. I had to really work hard.

That’s why the GH means so much to me too. It’s something we share, and that makes it more special to me. Probably less special for you, because you’re like I have to share this too? But for me, I feel like I’m following behind you and giving honor to a legacy, so to speak.

D: Aw, I have a legacy!

E: Don’t let it go to your head or anything… especially the next time you send line edits to me.

D: You do make my books better.

E: That’s an area I feel like I’ve come into my own. Not just with this book, but with my work as a line editor that helped set me apart and give us some differences. It’s something I specialize in. Also it helps that we aren’t targeting the same publishers either. So we’re doing the same thing but coming at it from different angles.

D: And even the things that are similar both have their own voice. We may look the same, but we don’t write the same.

E: Just like we have different personalities, we also have different voices and ways of carrying out our stories.

D: How about some fun facts?

1. We’re mirror image twins. Dani is left-handed and Ella is right-handed. We’re opposites in certain physical areas. We have the same moles on opposite sides of our faces.

2. Ella is allergic to a lot of things that Dani is not.

3. We have similar tastes in clothes, and are both struggling through that “I don’t want to look old” stage.

4. Ella is an inch taller than Dani but Dani is 2 minutes older than her.

5. We do have siblings, but the oldest is 18 years younger than we are. Our youngest sister is creative too, writing songs and poetry.

6. We handle conflict very differently. Ella is the fighter. Dani is more likely avoid conflict if at all possible.

7. Ella’s interest in martial arts adds a whole new element to her evil twin status. Dani is more of an elliptical kind of person, but Ella tells her how to hurt people in her books.

8. Dani’s 2009 GH book features a heroine who is trying to save her twin sister from a kidnapper.

D: The one thing that’s been the best about being a twin is I’ve never had to be alone, really. Through good times and bad. There’s always this person who is not only there, but actually gets it without you having to say anything.

E: We don’t have to explain things to each other.

D: All I have to do is look at you and you know what I’m thinking.

E: Just the lift of an eyebrow or the turn of the head and I get it completely. I could talk for hours at my husband and he wouldn’t get it. I want to say, “Can’t you read my mind?” But no. No, he can’t.

The older we get, the stronger the twin telepathy gets. “I’m not feeling good today. Think I’ll give Dani a call.” Yep, she’s sick.

D: That really has gotten stronger. It didn’t really develop fully until we were adults. I only remember 1 incident of telepathy as a teenager, but other than that it was mostly once we were older. Now it’s strengthening to the point that instead of being triggered by extreme emotions, it’s more everyday things.

One day, Ella texted me and said, “Did you hear from your editor today? Because I’m feeling unusually antsy.” I replied, “I got my celebratory sale shoes.” Oh, so that’s what the excitement is all about…

Dani and Ella will be hanging around today, answering questions about plotting, characterization, being Golden Heart sisters, and anything twins.

Ella Sheridan is a 2013 GH finalist in the Paranormal category with her manuscript, UNBROKEN. She’s a member of RWA and writes contemporary romantic suspense and paranormal with an erotic flare. Her spare time is filled not just with freelance editing, but also teaching karate/jujitsu classes. You can learn more about her here

UNBROKEN:

The human world is populated with myths that allow them to pretend their plain, mundane world is more than it seems—except those myths are true. They stem from one shape-shifting species, the Archai. The Archai’s special abilities gave birth to the legends humans revered, but man can never truly understand what it means to be Archai. Their gifts. Their purpose. The depths of their betrayals.

Arik counts on no one but himself, and he likes it that way. Isolated, alone, he watches and waits for the opportunity to gain the only thing he’ll allow himself to desire: revenge. Then, in the dark of night, the perfect weapon falls unexpectedly into his grasp.

Kat is always on the outside looking in. She’s resigned to being invisible, until an innocent walk home from work is interrupted by a savage attack, forever changing the person she’s always been. Now she’s the focus of a man bent on destroying her world to settle his own score.

Two wills clashing. Two empty hearts in need of each other. Surrendering to the hunger between them is a given, but a deadly enemy lies in wait, and surrendering their souls may be the only thing that saves them.

48 responses to “RSS Welcomes GH Finalist Ella Sheridan…and her sister”

  1. Congratulations on being nominated, Ella. And Dani, thanks for sharing your twin with us. I’ve always been fascinated by twins. In fact, I’ve written two books starring twins. The first set were identical, but that book is sitting on my computer. My second twin novel, NO EXCHANGES, NO RETURNS is published and stars fraternal twins. Coincidentally, that book is FREE for the Kindle today and tomorrow. (Yes, I know–shameless promotion):) But, hey, it’s a compelling book everyone should read if they like twin stories.

    Good luck in the GH, Ella! Don’t let anyone kid you. Being a GH finalist is an amazing experience, but winning is like the cherry on top!

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    • Thanks, Laurie! I love reading and writing about twins too, although it’s a bit easier for me to tell if the author hasn’t done their research. I actually have a contemporary manuscript featuring twins with a semi-psychic connection a bit more overplayed than mine and Dani’s but still, I could so relate to how it felt that it was easy to write. 🙂 And good luck with your book!

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    • Dani Wade says:

      Cool, Laurie! I love stories about twins too. I don’t think I mentioned this in the article, but Ella and I happen to be identical.
      Since free book is yours, I’m sure its fab!!! And free, can’t get better than that! Thanks for dropping by today.

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  2. Congratulations on your GH nomination, Ella! Fun interview, Dani! I know sisters have finaled in the GH together (hello, Elisa Beatty and Eileen Emerson!), but it’s incredibly cool that a set of twins have finaled in the GH, albeit it in different years. I wonder if this is a first for RWA.

    Btw, I always wanted a twin sister. I bet you hear that all the time, huh? 🙂

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    • We do, Vanessa, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like hearing it! In fact I always wished one of us had a set of twins, but alas, our children are stepladders. 🙂 Still, at least we’re able to raise them close by instead of far away, and I hope they have a little bit of the closeness Dani and I share.

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  3. Vivi Andrews says:

    Welcome and congrats, Ella! I’m a paranormal junkie, can you tell us a bit more about your book? Good luck in Atlanta!

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    • I cannot believe we forgot that! Thanks for reminding me, Vivi. 🙂 Here’s the blurb for Unbroken:

      The human world is populated with myths that allow them to pretend their plain, mundane world is more than it seems—except those myths are true. They stem from one shape-shifting species, the Archai. The Archai’s special abilities gave birth to the legends humans revered, but man can never truly understand what it means to be Archai. Their gifts. Their purpose. The depths of their betrayals.

      Arik counts on no one but himself, and he likes it that way. Isolated, alone, he watches and waits for the opportunity to gain the only thing he’ll allow himself to desire: revenge. Then, in the dark of night, the perfect weapon falls unexpectedly into his grasp.

      Kat is always on the outside looking in. She’s resigned to being invisible, until an innocent walk home from work is interrupted by a savage attack, forever changing the person she’s always been. Now she’s the focus of a man bent on destroying her world to settle his own score.

      Two wills clashing. Two empty hearts in need of each other. Surrendering to the hunger between them is a given, but a deadly enemy lies in wait, and surrendering their souls may be the only thing that saves them.

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      • Elisa Beatty says:

        Oh, oh, oh, oh!!! I think I’m not supposed to say this, but I read this one!!! Oh, it’s really good!!! Yay!

        Good luck, Ella! I’m sure we’ll see this on shelves soon!!

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        • Ach! I LOVE you, Elisa!!! c;

          Actually we’ve had a couple of Luckies whose entries were read by other Luckies, so now that all those pesky scores are in, I’m glad you told me. Makes me feel wonderful this morning!

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        • Dani Wade says:

          It is, isn’t it? I’m reading back through it now to critique her final revisions, and I’m loving it!!

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  4. Kimberly MacCarron says:

    I always find twin stories so fascinating. I love hearing the stories about how they might be on separate sides of the world yet know that the other one is sick or in trouble.
    I get what you’re both saying about having an identity separate from each other and following your own individual path–even when it ends up being the same one. 🙂
    It’s great that you two can share this journey, and it’s even better that we were able to hear about it.
    Go, Lucky 13s! 🙂 We are, indeed, a lucky bunch.

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  5. […] RSS Welcomes GH Finalist Ella Sheridan…And Her Sister […]

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  6. Elisa Beatty says:

    Welcome, Dani!!

    Such a fun interview. And, yes, as Vanessa mentioned, I’m lucky enough to have finaled with my sister, Eileen Emerson, last year.

    It’s intense to be sisters and also writing together–but who can possibly know you better, or give you feedback you can trust more?

    So lucky!

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    • We are, Elisa. Being so close also makes it easier to say what another critique partner might be afraid to say (like hey, this sucks, lol!). I’ve actually line edited Dani’s self-pubbed releases, and I know there are days she hates me, but then it passes…usually. 🙂

      I really find it awe-inspiring to follow in Dani’s footsteps with the GH. When she finalled, I had just begun my “official” writing career, still very much in infancy, and I remember being so proud of her and wishing I could “be her” when I grew up.

      Wait, does that mean I’m grown up now? 🙂

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      • Dani Wade says:

        Yep, some days I get those line edits back and want to shut my computer off. But hey, the books are always better for it! I’m just not gonna stop bitchin’ while I have to do them… 🙂

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  7. Daco says:

    Hi girlfriends!! What a fun and interesting post, you two sisters are amazing. I didn’t know realize twins could be opposites like in hand dominance and physical features, but it makes sense. You’re split aparts and soul-mates all in one. Wishing you much deserved success!! YOU GO, GH FINALIST!! Daco

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  8. How lucky you two are to share such a special bond! Congrats, Ella, your story sounds wonderful.

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  9. Amanda Brice says:

    Welcome Ella! Dani, I didn’t realize you’re a twin. How cool! And so amazing that you both write.

    I’m always fascinated by twins. My niece and nephew are twins (obviously fraternal, LOL), and I thought it was so interesting that they had their own secret language for so many years.

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    • Dani Wade says:

      I’ve always thought a secret language would be cool, but we’ve never really needed one. Just a look would suffice. There’s also usually one more dominant twin, and one that’s usually the mouthpiece when they’re children.

      Our twin telepathy got much stronger when we were separated, living in different states. It was also a time of emotional upheaval, as we both had babies being born and several miscarriages. After Ella moved home, it seems to have become a more natural occurence instead of just during deep stress. Now just a lack of sleep or sickness can cause a fainter reaction in the other twin.

      Kinda cool, but also annoying at times, because we don’t want to be sick. 🙂

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  10. Hope Ramsay says:

    Welcome Ella. This was such a fun interview. And boy are two lucky to have each other. I have brothers. I love them, but I have pined away all my life for a sister. I think it’s just terrific that you are each following the same dream, but in different ways. Rock on girls…

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  11. Darcy Woods says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey’s, Ella and Dani! I love that your roads run parallel 😉 The support you offer each other is very heartwarming 🙂

    Growing up, some of my best friends were twins. Funny, no one could keep them straight but me. I mean, they seemed so OBVIOUSLY different in every way imaginable!!! Until of course they would mindmeld…

    Congrats again, Ella on your GH final. Nationals can’t come quick enough!

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  12. It is kinda like a mindmeld, Darcy, lol! And Amanda, I’ve seen twins who have a secret language too. For Dani and I it’s more like we just “know” what the other one is thinking/means. It’s all in a look, a gesture, sometimes just across the phone line. But our brains can go in different directions too, which is what makes Dani a great plotting partner (for when I plot, and replot, and replot again…grr!). It’s a wonder she doesn’t strangle me sometimes. c:

    And thanks for all the well wishes, everyone! This has been a wild ride, but an enjoyable one too.

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  13. Great interview, Ella and Dani!

    As an only child, I’m absolutely fascinated by the thought of having a twin sister, so thanks for sharing all those fun facts!

    And thank you, Ella, for sharing your writing process. It’s nice to know that another Lucky 13 follows the “write the book at least twice” method!

    Can’t wait to meet you both in Atlanta!

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    • Dani Wade says:

      Very much looking forward to meeting you too! Atlanta will be so much fun.

      Bless her heart, its rough watching Ella’s process! But the books come out wonderfully. At times like now, when I’m reading her work, I often wonder if I need to dig a little deeper. So her process both scares me and inspires me at the same time. 🙂

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  14. Very interesting blog, Ella and Dani! Thanks for the peek into the lives of twins who are writers. Congratulations to you both on all your successes – both shared and individual! I enjoyed hearing you were both story plotters. That’s me too. Most authors I’ve met say they are pantsers or that they write into the mist. Glad I’m not alone!

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    • Dani Wade says:

      Jacqui, Most writers I know are pantsters too, and often say once they know what happens that the story loses their interest. For me, I love the excitement of getting the plot down, learning the twists and turns of the characters (probably what they do while writing the book). But then I put flesh on the bones when I’m actually writing, which I enjoy.

      Good to meet another plotter!!!!

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  15. Fun interview! Welcome to the blog, Ella and congrats on your GH final! The fact that you guys are ‘mirror’ twins just fascinates me for some reason. And I love that you don’t ever have to do things alone — it’s so nice to have someone that understands you that much on your side!

    My sons are seventeen months apart and they always say that they wish they were twins. 🙂 They’re very close, though, so it’s almost like they have that special twin bond.

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    • Cynthia, I’m not certain how common mirror twins are. I think it has something to do with the splitting that takes place with identical twins — all that DNA getting divided like somebody pulling apart putty, so that the parts that were joined are then facing each other, if that makes sense. But then we also often have things occur in our lives at similar times or have them occur opposite the other too. Maybe it’s a cosmic issue? 🙂

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    • Dani Wade says:

      Having someone with you always makes life as an introvert so much easier!!! 🙂 And since Ella was our mouthpiece as kids, I got to sit back and enjoy!

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  16. Amy DeLuca says:

    Enjoyed that so much! Thanks for giving us a peek into your special world. You’re making me wish my sister was a writer, too!

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  17. Welcome, Ella! And thank you both for the insight into twins who both write. I had never heard of “mirror image twins” – so fascinating. And I love how supportive you are of each other. 🙂

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  18. June Love says:

    Welcome, Ella, and congratulations on your GH final. Great interview, Dani. I loved the fun facts!

    I would think having a twin as an adult is more fun than having one at a teen. The only reason I say this is because I knew a set of identical twins while growing up. I remember how hard they tried to separate themselves in dress, friends, and school groups. It wasn’t that they didn’t love each other, but more that they wanted to be seen as an individual rather than as a set.

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    • We went through the same thing, June, just a little later than most. 🙂 I think now that we’re adults I truly see what a blessing it is to have been able to grow up with someone who truly is another part of me.

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  19. Rita Henuber says:

    Welcome Ella. This is very interesting. One could use the interview to plot a twins story.

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  20. Sandra Owens says:

    That was a fun post, Ella and Dani. Had to grin because I have twins in one of my Regencies that I sold to The Wild Rose Press, and the heroine in my GH final is named Dani. Maybe I’ll name my next heroine Ella!

    UNBROKEN sounds fascinating and can’t wait to read it when it’s published. See you in Atlanta!

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  21. Addison Fox says:

    I love this post!!!!

    Ella – congratulations on your GH final!

    And Dani – so glad you’ve shared your sister with us today!! 🙂

    Addison

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  22. Piper says:

    This was a great post, Ella, thank you! I love the sound of your story–good luck!

    I’ve always been fascinated by twins, but I have heard that environmental factors do make identical twins less identical as they grow older. Still, have guys done the Twinsburg reunion thing ever?

    Piper

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  23. AE Jones says:

    Ella –

    So glad to hear about you and your sister’s journey. And from one paranormal writer to another, I love the blurb! Looking forward to meeting all of the Lucky 13s in Atlanta.

    AE

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  24. Joanna Shupe says:

    Great post, and congratulations, Ella! I find twins fascinating, so this was really cool. Looking forward to meeting you in Atlanta!

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  25. Fun interview, Ella and Dani! I hadn’t thought about it until now, but I have twins in each of my books. I guess twins fascinate me. 🙂

    Wish you both the best with your writing endeavors.

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  26. Nan Dixon says:

    What a great interview! I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to leave a comment last night.

    I’m a mother of boy/girl twins and watching them develop was so fascinating, especially during their finals senior year when they were getting crazy with studying and then realizing that they were going to be apart for the first time for greater than 10 days.
    I think it helped us to keep them separate because they were the 4th and 5th kids in the family. And they weren’t the same sex. If they’d been the first kids born – I might have tramatized them!! (We had 3 sets of twins in the neighborhood and one mother basically forced her kids to be twins–all the time. They weren’t allowed to play separately and she forced them into the same classroom. Geesh!) My kids also look so totally different – a redhead and a brunette — that there were kids in their school who just thought they were cousins.
    But I have always wondered how being twins has affected their competitiveness and psyche. Thanks for giving us a little taste of your intereactions. It was great!!

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    • Thank you, Nan! I know a lot of people had a tough time getting on the blog yesterday. I know environmental factors play a role in how twins age (as Piper mentioned), but I also think, as with you, that allowing kids to be individuals is important. We never dressed alike or fooled people, although we could have when we were little. We had days where we “went as twins,” or dressed alike, but other than that, I think we were together just because we were best friends and had all the same friends, which would be much different, probably with sibling who weren’t the same sex.

      Honestly, I find twins as fascinating as everyone else, lol. And I think it’s interesting that, just like every human being, every set of twins is unique in their relationship and how it plays out in their lives. Loved hearing about your twins, too! 🙂

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