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The Original Idea for Ella and her Sisters

I had a reader ask on my FB page where I came up with the original concept of Ella and her sisters.

The first few scenes that I wrote for Just Ella were so bad. They were stilted and awkward, the dialogue was contrived, and I was trying to write in the style that Jane Eyre was written in, which didn’t work since I’m not Charlotte Bronte. I didn’t have a handle on the old timey speech, and I didn’t really know who Ella was.

The original beginning scenes were also nothing like what they are now. Ella and Gavin met, yes, but in the original version, Gavin was this stand-offish boy who had a major chip on his shoulder and refused to pay the royal family their due respect. Ella found this intriguing and sought him out and they became friends. It took me a while to realize there was no reason for him to be stand-offish, and I frankly didn’t like him that way.

As for the sisters. Why seven? I am from a family of seven kids. Ella was originally the fifth born instead of the forth born. Guess who’s the fifth born in my family? This gal.

Why seven sisters? I have five sisters and only one brother. I know what it’s like to have a lot of girls around. I know how different each relationship with each sister is. I know how different each sister can be from the others in looks, personalities and talents.

Me and the sibs…

Why no brothers? I didn’t want there to be an heir apparent. There’s an anxiety associated with each princess’s marriage because each could potentially take the throne. Granted, I was only thinking about that in the context of Ella’s story because I didn’t originally have any plans to write stories for the other sisters. But, boy howdy, that ended up being a big deal for Ella. Plus it helped that there were no overly protective brothers to detect her sneakery and ruin her fun.

So, I suppose the short answer is that the sisters came about because as I was filling in the world around Ella, that’s what made sense to me. It’s what I was familiar with. Also, keep in mind that the world and story didn’t come together smoothly. Just Ella took me seven years to write, so the vast majority of what you read is the result of a whole lot of trial and error.

Cause that’s how I roll.

Published inJust EllaMissing LilySaving MarileeWriting Process


  1. Ema Lee Ema Lee

    Your books are great! I love Jane Eyre when I have time to sit down and deeply get into the book, but when I just want to pick up a book and read a chapter with feeling, fun stuff, good characters and great scenes – I turn to the special place on my bookshelf that holds three special books with fantabulously curly titles. 🙂 I personally am VERY glad that you decided to push through those 7 years, and then decided to fill in Ella’s universe. To have a series that has different main characters, but reappearing characters from previous books is delightful. ‘Cause then the readers get to peek behind ‘HAPPILY EVER AFTER’ and make sure that, yes, they’re still the same and still in love and still wonderful. So thank you!

    Also, I love listening for the stories in songs, or trying to make text-to-song connections. So, the other day, I was listening to For the Dancing and the Dreaming, from HTTYD2 ( – this is my favorite cover) It made me think of all your couples. This is the ultimate proposal/happy ending song; I can totally see your amazing guys and wonderful gals singing it with all their beautiful hearts.

    • I’ll have to go listen to that song. Thanks for the suggestion. 🙂 So glad that my curly titled books have a special place on your bookshelf.

      • Ema Lee Ema Lee

        I hope you enjoy the song! And I’m very glad for those books on my special bookshelf niche! They make me smile and sigh dreamily all the time.

        Also, speaking of Ella and her sisters … Friday was my first day of summer and to celebrate, I decided that I wanted to draw. However, what should I draw? As I sat there, where should my eyes fall but – upon ‘Saving Marilee’ resting in my bag.
        After pulling out a notebook and a pencil, my doodling began!

        Today I’m on my third drawing, and they’ve definitely evolved from doodles to drawings in my mind. Marilee’s in her beautiful Wheat Fairy coronation dress, Lylin’s peering into Rhys’ cozy library and Ella is slowly being formed under the waterfall 😀
        Thanks for inspiring me!

  2. Ema Lee Ema Lee

    Agh. Copying isn’t working ….

    Let me see if I can work something out with email or Facebook 🙂

    • Ema Lee Ema Lee

      I just pasted links onto the ‘Contact Me’ message box. The message became rather squished – don’t copy that entire ginormous thing for Lylin. Look down until you see And Ella- for the end of Lylin’s link and the start of Ella’s, then find And Marilee- for Marilee’s. Sorry about it squishing like that. I didn’t expect it to do that :/

  3. Ema Lee Ema Lee

    If THAT didn’t work (’cause shockingly technology isn’t always flawless, right?) I’ll use Facebook. 🙂 Let me know, please c:

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