Creating Characters – Real Virtue

I’m delighted to introduce you to Katy Lee, today. I read her book this weekend at it is soooooo good. One hundred percent romance and one hundred percent suspense and utterly enthralling!

I met Katy online in the writers’ loop of the Faith, Hope, Love chapter of RWA. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, three children, and two cats so we’ve yet to meet in person.

Katy writes higher-purpose stories in high-speed worlds. As an inspirational author, speaker, home-schooling mom, and children’s ministry director, she has dedicated her life to sharing tales of love, from the greatest love story ever told to those sweet romantic stories of falling in love. 

She’s been a huge encouragement to me, so when I heard she’d landed her first publishing contract, I invited her to drop by and share with us the inspiration behind one of her characters.

Wow! What a story she has to share, too! Take it away Katy…

Hi, Sandra! Thank you so much for having me on your blog today to talk about characters. I’m especially excited to give a little more insight into one of my characters from my Inspirational-Romantic-Suspense, Real Virtue. Now, normally, I would share about my hero and heroine, but today I’m not going to talk too much about Jeremy Stiles and Mel Mesini. Instead, I want to share about my heroine’s mother, Arlene Mesini.

Arlene is near and dear to my heart because her character was influenced by my own mother. Like my mom, Arlene suffers from the horrible brain disease, Schizophrenia. When I set out to write Real Virtue, I did not plan for Arlene to have this disease. Never in my wildest imagination did I think my story would link up with it either, but during my research of online virtual-reality gaming I came across an avatar with this affliction.

You see, in Real Virtue, my heroine is a gamer who takes her pastime a little too far. She is living a life that is a bit removed from reality…just like her mother. But in Mel’s case, she has the choice.

It was during my research that I found this video of what a day in the life of a schizophrenic person is like, and in watching this video I knew I had found my heroine’s mother—and the perfect conflict for Mel to face. A conflict I understood very well.

I’m going to be honest here and say, growing up with someone who has this disease is extremely difficult, and it took me a long time to understand my mother’s pain, but more importantly, to accept her as she is. If I was ever to have a relationship with her, I needed to stop trying to escape from the reality of the situation, (excuse the pun) and get to know her.

The same goes for Mel.

So, once Arlene was “born,” I knew I had an opportunity to take it one step further and honor my own mom through her. I dedicated Real Virtue to my mom as the strongest person I know. I can only hope Arlene does her justice.

And now, here is a about Katy’s romantic-suspense, Real Virtue:

In a virtual reality game where she can fly, someone’s aiming to take her down.

Mel Mesini is a New York City restaurateur and an avid, virtual reality world traveler. But her successful life—both online and in reality—takes a swerve the night her father is seriously injured in a hit-and-run. To make matters worse, Officer Jeremy Stiles, the man who had once cut her deep with his harsh, rejecting words, is heading the investigation.

When Jeremy realizes Mel is the actual target, his plan is to protect her—whether she wants him to or not. What he wants is answers, especially about this online game she plays. Is it a harmless pastime as she says? Or is she using it to cover something up? As a faceless predator destroys the things that matter to her, Jeremy knows he’s running out of time before she loses the one thing that matters most—her real life.

  Katy, thanks so much for sharing with us. I am awed by how God directed you to Arlene’s characterization. How special that you’re honoring your mom by dedicating the book to her. And I’m sure your story will give hope to many others who face similar difficult experiences.

And I’ve got to add that I love the cover! 

Real Virtue is available now in ebook from and and from her publisher, Paperback coming this fall! Katy’s fresh and unique voice brings a fast-paced and modern feel to her romances that are sure to resonate with readers long after the last page.

Any last words?

Thank you, Sandra, for having me on your blog! Readers, I love comments and would love to hear from you.

And please keep in touch with me at my website:

You will see links for Twitter and Facebook and Goodreads. Let’s connect and get to know each other!

“So then we are no longer strangers, but members of the household of God.”
          ~Ephesians 2:10

Your Turn:  Any questions for Katy?

Giveaway: I’m giving away an Ecopy of Katy’s book this week. If you’d like your name thrown into the hat, please leave a comment on today’s, Wednesday’s or Friday’s blog. The winner will be announced Saturday. Please stop by Wednesday to join the conversation about characters in the book.

Fun Friday – News!!

Ever notice how things seem to happen in threes?

Well, I have 3 things to share with you today.

First of all my super-exciting, big news that I’m finally allowed to disclose!!

Revell Publishing has given me a three-book contract for a romantic suspense/mystery trade-length series. This was a series for which the proposal was submitted in June 2010, so aspiring writers…don’t give up hope!

The first book will release in June 2013 and is guaranteed to change the way you look at flowers.

This series is very dear to my heart. Book one was called Murder by Marigolds. I say was, because that title makes it sound like a cozy mystery, which it isn’t. So we’re in the process of brainstorming new titles.

Although… it does feature a herbal researcher-turned-amateur-sleuth as the heroine. The romance and an underlying suspense plot overarches the series, while each book features a standalone mystery. I’m very excited about having the opportunity to develop my characters and several subplots more deeply with the longer format.

Nothing is at it seems in this rural Niagara-area town!

Second: Aspiring Writers…I’m posting at MBT Ponderers today on Five Tips for Writing for Love Inspired Suspense.

Readers who haven’t snagged a copy of my latest release...I believe my host is generously giving away a copy to one of the commenters on today’s blog!

Third: This news is also for aspiring writers. I highly recommend you check out the Touched by Love contest. TBL is the contest of the Faith Hope Love Chapter of RWA. You don’t have to be a member of RWA to enter. 

I coordinate the historical category and so far we only have 3 entries! The entry numbers for the other categories are low, too. A contest win or final is a great boon to a proposal. And this makes the odds in entrants favor! 

Lynette Eason mentioned that she received her first LI contract as the result of a request following the TBL contest.

The deadline is midnight, this Sunday April 1st. Almost all the judges are published, the winner of each category wins a read from a Bethany editor and cash!

Here’s the link:  The entry consists of the 1st 30 pages of your ms and a 2-page synopsis.

Please feel free to share this info, if you go to my Facebook page, you can just click “share” to post the announcement to your page.

Your Turn: Do you have any news to threes or otherwise ?

Fun Friday – Book Giveaways!!!

Thank you to everyone who joined our conversations this week.
The winner of the signed copy of Highland Hearts is “Jennifer” (whose husband was injured). 
Please email me your mailing address and I will get the book to you. 
If you’re in the St.Catharines area, Saturday, March 24th, stop by and say hi to Eva and I at Heritage Christian Bookstore in the Grantham Plaza. 
We’ll be signing books between 1 and 3 pm. We have more prizes to giveaway!!
for a chance to win Deep Cover
Friday (today) is the last day!
The following bloggers are generously giving away a copy each of Shades of Truth, stop by and leave a comment for a chance to win, or feel free to pass on the news: 
I wish you all a fabulous weekend! 

Meet the Author of Highland Hearts

On Monday, we talked about Highland Hearts. Today I’d like to introduce you to its author, fellow Canadian, Eva Maria Hamilton.

I “met” Eva online soon after she signed her first contract with Love Inspired Historical, but it wasn’t until she made a comment on my Facebook page about wanting to visit the African Lion Safari, too, that I realized she lived near me.

In fact, she lives less than an hour away. As fellow newbie LI authors and fellow Southern Ontarioians, we became fast friends.

Last Saturday we even held a joint book signing together!

I asked her a few questions so we could all get to know her a little better.

What do want your readers to take away after the last page?

I want readers to take away the message that where there is love, anything is possible. If something is that important to you, never give up.

We talked about some great examples of that on Monday’s blog. Would you share with us a favorite character from a book you have read?

Here’s one from childhood – Ralph from The Lord of the Rings. Despite personal injury or rejection Ralph never backs down from his beliefs or his integrity. He is a leader not a follower.

Sounds like he might have inspired your hero. Could you share with us something that the enemy could have used to hurt you in some way, but God turned it around for good?

I had a truly horrible pregnancy. Without getting into detail I was in constant pain. A complete invalid. However I didn’t let that depress me. I dealt with it the best I could. And being unable to walk or even move much and thus stuck in my house I started writing. And that has turned into a blessing. I’m now a writer for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical line and loving every minute of it.

Wow, I had no idea! It always amazes me how God can turn our trials into triumph.

Do you have a life and/or a ministry verse (or for this book)?

The verse that resonates throughout Highland Hearts is Song of Solomon 2:10-13.
“My lover spoke and said to me, ‘Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come. The cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.'”

Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like to add?

Right now I am working on a proposal for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical line that is also set in 18th century Scotland.

To find out more about Highland Hearts and connect with me online please visit my website at where you can also view the book trailer I created. If anyone is interested in reading the first scene from Highland Hearts please follow this link: 

Here’s Eva’s official bio: Eva Maria Hamilton spent years studying people from all different areas of academia and brings that understanding of the human condition into each of her written pieces. An advocate for lifelong learning, Eva Maria Hamilton studied in both Canada and the United States, earning a diploma in Human Resources Management, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, an Honors Bachelor of Arts Degree in History, and a Master of Science in Education.

Your Turn: Could you share something that the enemy could have used to hurt you in some way, but God turned it around for good?

On Friday’s blog I will announce the recipient of the signed copy of Highland Hearts, chosen from those who left comments Monday or today, so be sure to check back.

Highland Hearts – Character Discussion & Giveaway

Today we’re going to talk about the hero in Eva Maria Hamilton’s debut Love Inspired Historical, Highland Hearts.

I read the book last week. What a treat! Here’s a brief description before we chat: 

Logan McAllister survived years of indentured servitude in America to reach this moment. Now he’s returned to Scotland, ready to redeem the secret promise from Sheena Montgomery’s father—that five years as a servant would earn him Sheena’s hand in marriage. But when he arrives home, he learns that Sheena’s father has died, his contract has been lost…and Sheena is engaged to another man.

Sheena has spent the past five years trying to forget Logan, the man who abandoned her with no explanation. She won’t listen to his protests that he loves her—has always loved her. It’ll take more than empty promises to win her back…and to prove that his highland heart is hers forever.

I greatly admire this hero. Logan loved Sheena so much that he was willing to do anything to gain her father’s permission to wed her, even selling himself into what amounted to slavery.

And although I hate that he never told Sheena why he was leaving Scotland, I admire the kind of integrity it took to honor her father’s conditions rather than divulge the secret to the woman he loved, a woman he could have trusted to not betray to her father that she knew.

So here’s our question for discussion…and this week, I’ll be giving away a signed copy of Highland Hearts to one of our participants so don’t be shy!

Your Turn: When have you challenged yourself and pushed yourself to your limit to accomplish something important to you? Did you succeed? Was it worth the effort?


if you haven’t felt challenged in this way, what kind of circumstance might drive you to push yourself to the limit to achieve your desired goal?

The Truth about Lying ~ Part 2

Before we delve into examples of how my undercover cop hero (or you) might tell if someone is lying, I must warn you that it’s not a good idea to tell others about their signs of deception.

An intelligent liar will merely use the information to throw you off the next time. Hmm, now that might be an interesting plot twist!

On to the examples:

1) Frequently pausing before answering questions (if this is not a normal speech pattern) can be a strong indicator of deception, while stuttering or mumbling are generally not reliable indicators.

2) Nervous laughter might be a sign of evasiveness, or it might simply be a release of stress. But a single deep sigh after a subject has been uncooperative, often signals a readiness to confess.

3) Hand movement to the mouth, nose, eyes, or ears while talking often indicates deception.

4) Contrary to popular opinion, using the eyes to identify deception is unreliable. There are a lot more variables at play in whether someone frequently breaks eye contact, or moves their eyes in a certain direction.

5) Of course…since #4 is a popular belief, a liar may go out of his way to maintain eye contact to convince you of the truth of what he’s saying. An interesting observation I might use in my next cop story. *grin*

6) The movement of a person’s body away from you (often toward the door) is a strong indicator of deception, especially if accompanied by other cues.

7) Bargaining. “I was keeping up with traffic, not speeding.” Or a politician may have “misspoke” or been “quoted out of context.” These are all examples of attempts to disguise reality.

8) Attempt to remake the interrogator’s image of him, for example, by saying, “I’m a veteran.” or “I’m a faithful husband.” or “I’m a good employee.”

9) Attempts to stall. Examples: answering a question with a question; pretending didn’t hear; cough, repeating the question.

10) There are many more examples (and cautions) in the book, but I’ll end with the use of blocking statements. Example: “Why would I lie about something like that?”

Your Turn: Can you think of a memorable line or action you’ve seen in movies or read in books where someone is lying?

Like Lie to Me when they’d point out a “tell” then flash clips of famous politicians who’d been caught doing that very thing, such as Clinton touching his nose during his testimony about Monica Lewinsky.

Giveaway Notice: Kav has posted a fabulous review of my March release and is giving away a copy to one commenter this week, plus a copy of a January LI book of their choice! Here’s the link:


And the Winners are…

Congratulations to the winners of Stephanie Guerrero’s debut novel Shades of the Orient. 

The winner of the signed print copy is Loree Huebner!

The winner of the Ecopy is Victoria Dixon!

Please contact Stephanie at with your mailing information (or myself at the link near the top of right  hand column) Thank you to all who visited. 

If you have a Kindle, Shades of the Orient is currently only 99 cents at Amazon(a $24 saving off the print copy! Stephanie is offering a 30% discount on signed print copies if you contact her directly)
The Ebook isn’t up on B & N yet for Nook, but hopefully will be soon.