Petit Fours » A group blog of authors writing in different genres

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Just between us…

by Annie Rayburn and Susan CarlisleBittersweet Obsessions

Carol/Annie: Hey, Susan. Last night I went to bed with a scene problem in my head and this morning I woke up with the solution. Love when that happens. (grin) But I got to thinking about how many times that’s happened to me over the years. I think that just-before-waking time may be my most creative moment of the day. Has something like that ever happened to you?

Susan: Sure. If I’m stuck in a scene I often take a bath, go for a walk and *bang!* There is the answer. There’s something about clearing my head that makes the answer pop in.

C/A: Really? I’ve heard several writers say that exercise or showering clears their head and helps them figure out plot problems. Showering just gets me clean. LOL! As for exercise, I have to confess I haven’t tried that very often. Must put my new exercycle to use. What time of the day do you prefer to work?

Susan: I’m a morning person. I can usually get more done before lunch than any other time of the day. Surprisingly, I have found that I’m a pretty good writer in the mid-afternoon too.

C/A: We’re kinda opposites there. I’m definitely a night owl. I’ve written some of my best stuff after midnight. And mid-afternoon my brain goes into this dull, wish-I-could-nap mode. (light-bulb moment) Maybe that’s when I should put my new exercycle to good use. Hey, what about characters? How do they reveal themselves to you?

Susan: Recently, I’ve started thinking, what would such and such character do in this situation? Suddenly I have a tidbit, a detail that, makes the character more well-rounded, more real. That is exciting stuff for me.

C/A: And more exciting for the reader, I’m sure. Speaking of that – Congrats on your upcoming release date of your first Harlequin Medical Romance! Now that you’re doing guest blogging and interviews, what’s a common question that crops up?

Susan: Thanks! The question writers often get is where do your stories come from? To be truthful, I’m amazed sometimes how I come up with stories. Often I’m somewhere and I start wondering who would be here and why. Because I write medicals my first question is always what would a doctor or a nurse be doing here?

C/A: Since my stories incorporate Crainesians in our normal world, I look for ways to twist our everyday life, or themes in romance like a marriage of convenience plot that I can twist around to fit my Crainesian customs.

Susan: Tell me how you came up with your Crainesians? My mind so doesn’t work that way. To come up with that kind of world is so cool.

C/A: Funny you should ask about that because they came to me in a dream. I woke up with it still playing out in my head during the wee hours one morning and had to get the scene into the computer. Because they were telepathic and had different mating habits, I knew they had to be from another planet, yet they looked like us and were living in Denver. Voila! I had the Crainy world.

Susan: That’s neat. Our blog sisters must have these kinds of creative experiences, don’t you think?

C/A: Let’s ask them and our readers. Many of the non-writers have hobbies and do crafts. I wonder if they have special creative times or routines with bursts of creativity, or more productive times in their work day?


Commercial break:

Learn more about Susan Carlisle and her medical romances here: website, blog, Facebook, Twitter

Learn more about Annie Rayburn’s Crainesian world here: website, blog, Facebook, Twitter


Back to our regular programming:

Well? Let’s continue this conversation…just between us (wink) in the comments and be entered to win. Today we’re drawing for two prizes! One lucky commenter will win a copy of Annie’s Phantoms & Fantasies. Another will win …Heart Surgeon, Hero…Husband? and a basket of goodies.

Jane - January 6, 2012 - 1:40 am

Sometimes I’ll watch a show with some DIY projects and I’ll get an idea in my head about making a new shelf for my closet or create my own belt rack. I don’t always succeed, but I do get some extra energy from the excitement of a new project.

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - January 6, 2012 - 2:04 am

Excellent, Jane. Extra energy is a good thing.

Mary Preston - January 6, 2012 - 4:37 am

I don’t have special times for my creativity. Just when I can. I love to knit, crochet, sew & embroider. OF curse, I could not write a book to save my life.

I loved the Commercial Break & then Back To regular Programming.

Marilyn Baron - January 6, 2012 - 6:02 am


Since I never exercise, no ideas flow there. On the other hand, ideas almost always flow when I’m taking a shower, dreaming or the period right before I wake up. Those are the times I work out plot problems, get ideas for a book or a scene, etc. But ideas can come from anywhere – a conversation you overhear, a name you like. Anything can spark creativity.I’m definitely more productive in the morning. And reading a great book always inspires me. Great job on this post. Welcome to our new readers.

Sandra Elzie - January 6, 2012 - 7:26 am

Good morning ladies. Good Job.

I get ideas everywhere I go, look, listen, etc and my most creative time is definitely in the early morning. I’ll do as many words in a 3 hour morning as I will in a five hour afternoon.

Yes, I’ve woke up around 2 or 3 with a scene running through my head. Of the 26 books I’ve written, 4 of them came to me that way. Most of the others from hearing someone say something or seeing a particular town or person. One idea came from a news cast…but that book is yet to be written, so can’t tell you about it. (g)

Susan Carlisle - January 6, 2012 - 9:31 am

You just never know when somehting is going to come to you and you have to do it. Nice that you try different projects.

Susan Carlisle - January 6, 2012 - 9:33 am

I don’t knit or any of the other but I do love to cross-stitch. It is great for think time or just down time.

Susan Carlisle - January 6, 2012 - 9:35 am

I’m a big shower person for sloving a plot problem. Somehow the water just seems to bring the answer.

Susan Carlisle - January 6, 2012 - 9:37 am

Hearing some comment or hearing something on TV is a great way to get a book starter. I keep a list of ideas that are just two or three words.

Maxine Davis - January 6, 2012 - 10:29 am

Carol/Annie and Susan, I loved your post! Such a great idea.

I get ideas for books/scenes from just a few words spoken on TV. Funny, but a couple of words on MASH could cause an idea to jump out and it would have nothing to do with what was said – go figure.

I tried something that, I think, Carol said. When I start writing, I move my Angel of Knowledge, yep that’s what she’s called, next to the computer and I hope she helps my brain work.

Pam Asberry - January 6, 2012 - 11:16 am

I do my best work in the morning when I am fresh from a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, I am also an insomniac, wide awake until all hours but not very creative or productive. I am experimenting with solutions; cutting back on caffeine and exercising more consistently seems to be helping.

Linsey Lanier - January 6, 2012 - 11:45 am

What a great post. You two ladies amaze me.

I love the Crainesian twists to Carol’s romances. Can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. :) And I really, really can’t wait to read “Heart Surgeon, Hero…Husband?”

As for creative experiences, I must dream some of my ideas, but I can never remember my dreams, LOL. My mind has a mean streak. When I get stuck or need a new idea, it often comes to me when I’m doing something else–and can’t get to the computer or even pen and paper. Like driving, showering, or just falling asleep when I have to get up early the next day. But I have a theory that all those great ideas are stored in my head and will come out when I need. Maybe with some coaxing with a little chocolate or wine, LOL.

The best thing about being a writer is when you get one of those creative spurts and your fingers can hardly keep up with what you’re seeing in your head. You get it down on the page and think, “Where did that come from?” What a rush. :)

Susan Carlisle - January 6, 2012 - 12:38 pm

The few words idea is pretty cool. It takes so little to light a spark. I might need to get one of those angels for my desk.

Susan Carlisle - January 6, 2012 - 12:39 pm

Excerise is my new bi-word this year. It does clean out my brain but it also makes me want a nap.

Susan Carlisle - January 6, 2012 - 12:42 pm

I write notes on paper napkins about books all the time. I have little pieces of paper filed away for use later.

EC Spurlock - January 6, 2012 - 1:38 pm

Congratulations on the release, Susan! I’m very excited for you!

Like Carol, a lot of my plotlines are inspired by dreams. I also get ideas by looking at standard plotlines in books or movies from a different point of view than that of the main characters. Secondary characters and characters that are overlooked have stories too!

My best time to write is usually in the evening and at night. All the necessary evils are done with and I can just clear my mind and focus on the story. Although I have had times when my characters have too much to say and I need to snatch a few minutes during the workday to take notes before the scenes or dialogue escapes me.

JB Hunt - January 6, 2012 - 1:49 pm

Taking a walk or going for a run! The characters begin carrying on fabulous conversations in my head. I’m not sure that’s healthy…

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - January 6, 2012 - 2:06 pm

Mary, I never learned to knit worth anything, but my Mom and Granny taught me to crochet, swe and embroider. I’ve done regular embroidery, cross-stitch and crewel. All take a certain amount of creative vision to see the end product turn out well. Especially, sewing, where the end product is completely in your head until it’s realized.

Glad you liked our segue. There was no smooth way to do it. LOL

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - January 6, 2012 - 2:09 pm

Marilyn: One of my 2012 goals is to read more. With the Kindle and Kindle app for computer, I really do have a library at my fingertips. When I do read, I often get flashes of how I’d write a certain scenario different which sometimes leads to an entire story idea.

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - January 6, 2012 - 2:11 pm

Sandy: Good job keeping your creative force open and listening!

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - January 6, 2012 - 2:22 pm

Maxine: I know exactly what you’re talking about. The TV thing has happened to me several times and I often think ‘why did my brain go there?’ when the idea is so far afield of what’s playing out on the screen. Oh well. I’ll take them as they come.

I don’t think I can take credit for the Angel of Knowledge idea, though it sounds cool.

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - January 6, 2012 - 2:29 pm

Pam: I hear you on the insomnia. It’s not that I can’t sleep 8 hrs, it’s that my brain/body wants to do it from about 3-4 a.m. until noon. My mom was the same way. We used to sew, until 2 a.m. back when I was in high school.

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - January 6, 2012 - 2:35 pm

Linsey: Thank you! I’m working on Brekke’s (BJ in Bittersweet Obsessions) story these days. It seems he had a secret to tell and the opportunity for love comes to him in a very un-Crainesian way. How’s that for a teaser? :)

I all for coaxing the muse with Chocolate or wine, especially if you get a creative spurt. Those are definitely a rush!

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - January 6, 2012 - 2:37 pm

Linsey, I can attest to Susan’s note napkins. I’ve seen her dig around in that red bag she carries and come up with a handful of crumpled notes. Hey, whatever works!

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - January 6, 2012 - 2:39 pm

EC: Characters with too much to say is a lovely problem to have. Lucky you. :)

It’s a good thing those secondary characters have stories too or we wouldn’t have great book series to enjoy.

Anju Gattani - January 6, 2012 - 5:34 pm

Hi Carol & Susan,
What a lovely post to read… writer talk to writer!! :) Just made my evening bright! Productivity for me is usually at night – when my characters come to haunt me :) – and during cardio workouts when I literally work-out plots and problems. Showers help too and it’s so nice to read something like this and feel ‘normal’!!

Susan Carlisle - January 6, 2012 - 7:03 pm

Thanks for stopping by. It is nice to know when what you are doing is “normal.” I been known to wonder about me.

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - January 6, 2012 - 7:51 pm

Anju, I think ‘normal’ is whatever works for you (provided it’s legal and doesn’t harm you or others, of course). :D But I know what you mean about feeling like others are experiencing the same things and you’re not alone. Enjoy your hauntings!

StacieD - January 6, 2012 - 8:32 pm

I tend to do more crafts around the holidays. Although I did have a creative streak right after I moved into my new house. I had to repurpose some things because I went from a 3 bedroom two-story house to a small cottage. Believe me when I say I had to think outside of the box. Decorating is one of my biggest creative outlets.

Tami Brothers - January 6, 2012 - 10:22 pm

Hey ladies! Love this.

I get a lot of my ideas from pictures. I see a picture and immediately the scene flashes before my eyes. Unfortunately most of these happen when I’m driving. I might have to take Linsey and Tammy S.’s recommendations and do the Dragon thing :).

I’m more of a morning writer. But I really do need to retrain myself because mornings are just way to busy now days.

Thanks a ton for sharing this with us. I loved this look into your writing styles.


Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - January 7, 2012 - 1:51 am

StacieD: I can so relate. Hubby and I have moved numerous times. Some of those we drastically downsized. Others we expanded and started over. I’ve had a lot of experience decorating a house from top to bottom. The first four times were fun, after that…not so much. :)

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - January 7, 2012 - 1:54 am

tami, I got a digital recorder and used it for awhile. They’re inexpensive and easy to just keep talking into while driving.

Marilyn Baron - January 7, 2012 - 6:52 am

I didn’t know we had the “notes in our purse” thing in common. When I get an idea, I write it on any scrap of paper available in my purse at all times of the day or night. I’ve probably lost a lot of ideas that way. My sister-in-law just got me a note organizer. I’ve never seen anything like it. It has notepads organized by month, post it notes,etc. I can’t wait to try it.

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