My Writing Process (A Blog Tour)

Meet our wildly-talented friend, Chris Cander. In addition to rocking a pilot's license, a MENSA card and a 2nd-degree black belt in taekwondo, she is a much lauded author. Chris's novel, 11 Stories, was named by Kirkus Reviews as "one of the best Indie General Fiction Books of 2013." While focusing primarily on fiction, Chris also writes children's books and continues to write articles for health and fitness, lifestyle, and parenting magazines, and is collaborating on two screenplays. 

Chris invited us to answer four questions as part of a blog tour on our "Writing Process," which we gladly accepted. We love reading what inspires and motivates other authors, as well as the steps they take to go from idea to finished product. [See Chris's answers in blog tour here.] Below you'll find our answers to these questions and then we'll invite two more authors to join the fun!

what am i working on?

While we await the trade release of River Royals Paddle the Potomac, Katie and I are working on the next books in the River Royals children's book series.

River Royals Crash the Colorado focuses on the Colorado River as the duo search for GOLD! If they find a quick way to add gold to their piggy banks, they could live like royalty. During a wild trip back to the Gold Rush of the 1860’s, the siblings raft through the Grand Canyon and visit the Hoover Dam. Eliza Jane and Henry strike "fool's gold" and conclude all that glitters isn't gold. "This land was made for you and me," but prosperity and success only come through hard work. 

River Royals Airboat the Amazon features the Amazon River in South America as Eliza Jane and Henry become Inca Sapa (King) and Coya (Queen) of the Ancient Incan Empire. With their royal titles, they embark on a journey to save the world’s largest rainforest. Exploring this majestic region, they begin their journey in the Andes Mountains, traverse jungles in the luscious rainforest and samba their way through the heart of the Amazon at Carnival Manaus. On this colorful adventure, they learn that we all have an obligation to “make the world a better place.”

River Royals Travel the Thames meanders the Thames River in London with Eliza Jane, Henry, the nasty King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and other members of Britain's Royal Family. Through fun experiences watching the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, chasing the ravens at The Tower of London and getting a bird's eye view of Big Ben from The London Eye, King Henry VIII's personality reveals itself to be most disagreeable. Eliza Jane and Henry proclaim themselves Queen Elizabeth the Great and King Henry IX with golden crowns to teach the nasty King Henry VIII the worldly "Golden Rule," namely to do unto others as you would have them do unto you!

River Royals Navigate the Nile explores the Nile River in Africa as the brother-sister duo partner with child royals, Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, and King Tutankhamen. The foursome set out with grand plans to restore the Great Sphinx of Giza and the Egyptian Pyramids. This 4,000 mile adventure up the world’s largest river takes them through various landscapes of extremes including desert, jungle and savannah. Learning from Cleopatra and King Tut’s youthful reigns, they discover “little hands can make a big difference” in our world today.

Why do I write?

First, we write because we enjoy it! We often tell each other that we have the best job in the world! Katie has a journalism degree and I have a law degree that we've put to use in very different writing capacities over the past ten years. We also share a love of children's books and enjoy creating and returning to our elementary school selves as kid-lit authors.

Second, we write because it provides a creative outlet outside of our daily (and wonderful) duties while wearing our wife and mother hats. After a writing session, marketing meeting or school visit, we return to our jobs at home with more energy and gusto.

Third, we love to see the reaction of our children when we dive into a world in which they are the experts. They are our best critics and fans at the same time. It's also given our children the confidence that, "If Mommy can do this, I can too!" It makes me so happy when my daughter writes me another staple-bound story with the comment, "It's a series, Mom."

How does my writing differ from others of its genre?

We found precious few patriotic books in the world of children's literature. That is very sad and it's the reason we decided to create the River Royals book series! We're authors, mothers and friends who share a love for our country borne from our families' military backgrounds. Our fathers served as Army and Navy officers during The Vietnam War and our grandfathers served as officers in World War II with the Air Force, Army and Navy. We grew up realizing the value of freedom and appreciating the sacrifices soldiers make that enable us to live in "the land of the free and the home of the brave." Children must be educated, in an age-appropriate way, about our military, our soldiers' amazing service and the reason we continue to live in a free country. It's a fun and joyous lesson to teach through the River Royals series! 

How does my writing process work?

We began our "writing process" with Thursday night "book nights" at Cafe Express in Houston, Texas. They played great music, provided plugs under our tables to keep our laptops alive and served delicious black bean soup, with the occasional glass of wine. (We've found wine helps when creating dialogue for animals.) We generally start with an idea of the adventure that we want the River Royals to take. Then, we pull out our laptops and start researching. That leads us to discover Carnival Manaus at the heart of the Amazon River and child-rulers, King Tut and Cleopatra, along the Nile River. What follows is a wonderful collaboration of two best friends in their "happy place" writing together.

Our Blog Tour Invitation to Two Wonderful Authors You Need to Meet

Sarah Frances Hardy


With a juris doctorate cum laude from the University of Mississippi School of Law, a Bachelor of Arts in fine art from Davidson College, and subsequent studies at Parsons School of Design in New York and Paris, Sarah Frances Hardy took an early retirement from practicing law to paint and write full time. Most recently, Sarah Frances has redirected her creative juices towards writing and illustrating books for children--picture books as well as middle grade and young adult novels.

Her first book, Puzzled by Pink, which she both wrote and illustrated was published in April of 2012 by Viking Children’s Books. Her next book, Paint Me!, about a girl who begins the day painting a portrait of her dog and ends up painting everything she comes across was published by Sky Pony in May of 2014. Visit Sarah Frances's website,, to learn more about her artistic and literary talents!

Brandi Sikes


Brandi McDonald Sikes is a an executive managing director of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank in Houston, Texas. Over the course of 18 years, Brandi has completed over ten million square feet of brokerage transactions, representing a total value exceeding $2 billion. (Eliza Jane would throw out a "Girl Power!" right here.)

What's more, she's a strong advocate for educational endeavors within her community. She is a volunteer for the STEM program through GHWCC and has served as a mentor for the University of Houston Bauer College NAWMBA program and Pershing Middle School.

She has recently engaged her love of inspirational writing through blogging for Sacred Stories Ministries ( and publishing her first children's book, "My Santa."  It is the first in a series of books that illuminate the mind of a child, transitioning them from traditions of this world to the truth of Jesus.

Until next time,