The Lies We Believe

Last Wednesday, I explained how I develop my characters’ spiritual growth by looking at the lie they believe at the beginning of the story and the truth that will set them free by the end. We brainstormed ideas for the hero of our evolving story, and this Wednesday we’ll have some fun with the heroine. 
But today I’d like to look at Ginny Bryson, the heroine of Deep Cover, and discuss the lies we believe.
Ginny cares for a dying mother, and is absolutely devoted to her mentally challenged younger sister. She pours her life into helping others, championing a group home for special needs adults seeking independence, and coaching a T-ball team of special needs youth.
Yet, when her mom takes a sudden turn for the worse, Ginny says to Rick, “I’ve taken care of Mom and Lori my whole life. When they’re gone, I’ll have no one. Be no one.”
This is the lie she believes.
We all have them. Some conscious. Some unconscious. They shape our thoughts, our choices, our actions, and our reactions. Sometimes a loved one (maybe our very own hero) helps us to see the truth. Sometimes God leads us to it in other ways. Sometimes we struggle for years not realizing we’re shackled by a lie.
Your turn: What are some of the lies you’ve believed? Can you share a truth that set you free? Like Ginny, does your sense of worth and identity come from what you do or from who you’re with? Where does God want it to come from?

The Truth will Set You Free

As promised, today we’re looking at how I develop characters. A technique I learned from award-winning author and mentor, Susan May Warren, is to ask what is the lie my hero or heroine believes.
Often the lie is something from his past that changed the way he looks at himself or relationships or the world around him. More than that, it changed his approach to those things.
By uncovering the lie he believes, I can frame a story that will reveal the truth that will set him free.
If the hero (or heroine) believes a lie that resonates with readers, the unfolding of the truth to the hero has the potential to minister to the reader as well. This was my own experience when I began reading Christian fiction, and something I hope my readers will experience.
In Deep Cover, the lie the hero believes is that he alone can, and must, stop the bad guys. So as not to spoil the story for those who haven’t read it, I won’t detail how this plays out in the story.
Instead, let’s brainstorm some ideas for the story concept we talked about last Wednesday.
Let’s go with a fireman hero who was badly burned trying to save the villain’s wife. Perhaps, he hasn’t yet returned to active duty. Perhaps, he blames himself for the woman’s death. Perhaps, he feels he made a poor judgment call in the middle of the rescue.
Your turn: What lie might our hero believe? And/or… have you read a book in which the truth the hero or heroine learned really resonated with you?

The Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth?

Today, we’re following up—from the heroine’s perspective—on last Monday’s discussion about whether a hero who lies (for the sake of his job) can be a man of honor.
The heroine of Deep Cover is Ginny Bryson who says,  “I’d rather know the truth than be lied to out of some misguided notion that I’ll somehow be happier or safer.”
Do you feel the same? If you said yes, are you sure?
I freely admit that there are times people have disclosed things to me that I would’ve have been much happier not knowing about. Every smart husband knows how not to answer the question—Honey, does this dress make me look fat?
And yes, if you read my book and hate it, choosing to keep that to yourself won’t hurt my feelings in the least. Honest!
I’m sure each of us can remember a time when we’ve sugarcoated the truth to spare someone’s feelings. It seems like a noble thing to do, don’t you think?
Yet, not necessarily. Sometimes I have to step back and consider whether my words will help or hinder the other person’s understanding of themselves or their circumstances. 
Your turn: What do you think about Ginny’s perspective? Care to share an example from your own experience?
Join me Wednesday to learn how I use lies to develop my characters when plotting my story. And for fun, we’ll play with the strategy on the hero we dreamt up during last Wednesday’s brainstorming session.

Undercover Cops ~ Is it possible to be a man of honor and live a life of lies?

Thank you to all who shared their hilarious pet stories over the weekend. Today, we’re going to talk about a different kind of character, or rather character trait. Being honorable
I think it’s safe to say that most female romance readers, as well as the heroines that populate romance novels, long to fall in love with an honorable man.
My dictionary defines honorable as “having or showing a sense of what is right and proper; honest; upright: It is not honorable to lie or cheat.” 
Ouch! Not looking good for Deep Cover’s hero Rick Gray, an undercover cop who’s obligated to keep his true identity, occupation and purpose from the heroine Ginny, a woman who esteems honesty above all else.
Rick likes Ginny, really likes her, and desperately wants her to see him as honorable. Each Love Inspired book has a scripture quote before the title page. For Deep Cover, it reads ‘There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.’” Luke 12:2
For most people the verse is an uncomfortable truth, whereas Rick longs for the day he can disclose his true life to Ginny. The day she will finally understand that he works for a greater good. The day she will know he’s honorable. 
Rick holds to the maxim that the end justifies the means. But as an undercover cop, sometimes those means are contrary to God’s Word.
It’s an interesting dilemma, don’t you think?
For Rick, feigning to be someone he’s not in order to bring a bad guy to justice is not the problem. Perpetuating the lie with a woman he cares for—for the sake of the case and her own protection—is.
But the bad guys need to be stopped. And he’s working within the law to do that. He’s doing his job. Yet, his conscience is torn.
I asked Lee Lofland, retired police officer and author of the suspense writer’s must-have book Police Procedure & Investigations, to give us his perspective on the dilemma. Here’s what he had to say:
A cop’s job is certainly a tough one, and all one has to do is watch the evening news to see why—shootouts, car chases, kidnappings, robberies, murder, and, well, you get the idea. But there’s a private side to law enforcement that not many people see. And that’s the side where an officer must sometimes push his/her core beliefs aside to get the job done.
An undercover assignment can have a negative impact on officers who try their best to keep their faith intact while working in an extremely faithless environment. After all, working undercover often means having to take on the guise of an immoral person. And some real-life cops have found themselves in a genuine struggle trying to separate reality from their make-believe undercover world.
Officers like Rick Gray, who protect others at all costs, eventually rise above the rest. They’re the officers who take their oaths seriously. Sure it’s a tough job, and it takes a tough person to do it, but isn’t toughness a trait of all heroes?
Thanks, Lee. Speaking with officers to research for this story, and participating in the Writer’s PoliceAcademy that Lee organizes, and writing Rick’s story, has certainly given me a broader appreciation of the emotional havoc law enforcement officers sometimes face.
Your turn: What do you think? Is it possible to be a man of honor and live a life of lies?

Conversations Set to Begin August 2011

Is it possible to be a man of honor and live a life of lies?

Rick Gray hopes so, because as an undercover cop, he’s had to make too many sacrifices, including a future with Ginny Bryson, the woman he loves.

But when she finds herself in the center of an arsonist’s line of fire, Rick’s lies just might be what they both need to save their lives – and the lives of those they love.

What do you think? Is it possible to be a man of honor and live a life of lies?

We’ll discuss this and other dilemmas raised by my characters beginning in mid-August. This first novel in my undercover series doesn’t hit the bookstores until the second week in September, although it will be available on in early August.

This will be an interactive blog where I’ll share behind-the-scenes tidbits of how my characters come to life. I’ll also invite you to share your own experiences with inspiring, quirky, even scary characters. Maybe they’ll even end up in a future book! We’ll also explore the questions at the back of the book. (You can answer them without having read it) I hope you’ll join us.

Sign up for a post by email or feed notification in the righthand column so you don’t miss the launch. There will be a giveaway!!!