Death of a Character


There’s a hole in my universe.

As a writer, I’m a student of humanity. I watch people and their habits and patterns. Friends, family, and even hip-and-trendies I observe in Starbucks are fair game. Fictional characters develop in my head from these observations. Once they’re established in my gray cells, I weave them into stories in ways that reveal my own humanity. And hopefully, I sensitize readers to their human condition.

I treat my characters kindly, and my real-life tribe with even more respect and care. Christendom, at least the way I understand it, has room for a vast variety of people. (As long as they meet a few basic criteria related to Christ and repentance. I am not a Universalist.). Since I write international suspense driven by a middle-aged female protagonist with a Christian worldview, my broad inclusiveness shouldn’t surprise you. Put in traditional CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) jargon, there’s room on my buckboard for more than one kind of bonnet, pardner.

But back to the gaping maw. In book 3 (which is stirring up the publishing world, thank you), I introduce a character. She’s the yang to the elderly archaeologists who surround my protagonist, although I don’t see the old guys with the negativity of a yin force. This powerful, joyful, resilient old lady faces the world head on with love in her heart. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly and lives by standards that some consider old-fashioned. Others see them as Judeo-Christian and well-mannered.

I’ve been planning to launch her into the literary world for quite a while, but didn’t have the right storyline to do it. The closing of book 3 was perfect. She chides her adult daughter (my protagonist who has just returned from a dangerous assignment in Britain and Turkey) over a barn cat that snuck into the ranch house. As I wrote the scene, I heard her voice in my head, the inflections in certain words. I saw the twinkle in her eyes, and the sunlight creating a halo of swirly white hair.

I knew her. She blessed me. And I held her hand as that halo became real just before Christmas.

I can’t wait to introduce you to Lily Belle (1930 – 2015).

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