Meet Judith

Happy Mothers day to all the mamma’s out there! I decided in celebration of mother’s day, I’d share my favorite book mamma, Judith Harris with the world.

In book one of the Fire and Fury series (Chasing Fire) we briefly met Judith Harris (mother to Scott Harris). We get a LOT more of Judith in book two (Smoke and Mirrors).

When I set out to create Judith I didn’t want her to be the southern, Christian mamma that you see Hollywood portray with the crummy accent and the southern bible thumping stereotypes. I didn’t want her to be the monster in law like many books and movies paint the hero’s mother to be. I wanted her to be a realistic image of what a Texas, southern mamma was like. I wanted her to invite Tori into her family with open arms. I wanted her to “Love Jesus but drink a little.” (Best quote EVER).

Judith’s husband (Scott’s dad), Wayne, says the following when Tori slips out a curse in front of him:

“Judith sings sweetly with the choir on Sunday, but can cuss like a sailor Monday through Saturday when the preacher ain’t around. Just don’t ever say the big F word in front of her. She will whack you upside the head for that one.”

Judith is a fiery red-head southern mamma that takes shit from no one. When she says jump, you can really only ask how high. You don’t argue with Mamma Harris.

Tori’s fork dropped out of her hand and clanked loudly on the plate. “Church?” Tori swallowed her mouth full. Scott didn’t say anything about church being on the agenda.

“Well of course, it is Sunday after all,” Judith said as if it was normal practice for Tori to go to church on Sunday. “Pastor hasn’t seen Scott since he was a teenager and I would love to show you off, Victoria.”

Tori knew she had to look like a deer in the headlights. She dug her nails into Scott’s thigh.

“Oh, dear I’m sure they’re exhausted from the flight, we don’t expect you two to go.” Wayne came to her rescue. Tori was not a hugger but she could have jumped across the table and flung her arms around the man at that moment.

“Yeah mom, we’re pretty worn out, maybe another time.” Scott squeezed Tori’s hand on his lap.

“Fine, but next Sunday I’m not taking no for an answer,” Judith said adamantly. Tori knew there was no way they were going to get out of it the following week. She was learning one thing, you don’t argue with Scott’s mom. Judith was already displeased that they were sleeping in the same bedroom. Tori thought it was ridiculous. They were in their thirties after all.

The woman has grit and a strong backbone. She’s also very nurturing. She will go above and beyond for her kids (to a fault… she can be a bit smothering at times), but she does it from the bottom of her heart that is the size of Texas.

“And look here at this sweet girl you brought home!”

The next thing Tori knew she was getting a bear hug from Scott’s mother. “Oh!” Tori flinched and chuckled in surprised amusement from his mother’s ambush. Tori politely returned the warm embrace around Judith’s small, yet strong frame. The hug lasted a few moments longer than Tori was comfortable with.

“Well my goodness.” Judith pulled back and held onto Tori’s shoulders. “Aren’t you a pretty little thing?”

“Thank you, Mrs. Harris.” Tori gave a genuine smile. Although the welcome was a bit much, it made her feel warm all over. She’d never been hugged that tightly before even by her own mother. How on earth could she have been afraid of this woman with the sweetest voice she’d ever heard?

Family is not really Tori’s thing. Her father died when she was very young and her mother turned to self-medication with booze and drugs. She’s never had anyone that she could really count on to be in her corner. She knows that Scott comes from a good, wholesome family. So heading to Texas to meet Scott’s very large family is going to bring a lot of issues to the surface. Without getting too into spoilers, my goal was even through the turmoil and self discovery that Tori has to do while on this trip, this was to become a very healing process. Finally, Tori gets the family she never had growing up. Judith fills a little of the gaping hole that was left in Tori’s heart.

Judith’s hand reached over and squeezed her leg. “Oh honey! I didn’t mean it like that. I know you’re quite capable. I just care about you. Lord, I bet people question you all the time. That must feel awful…” Judith sounded so upset with herself. “I should know better, when you need help you’re smart and bold enough to ask. I just…” she let out a heavy breath, “I just wanted to mother you a bit.”

Tori put her hand on top of Judith’s and squeezed it. There were about a thousand emotions that filled her with that statement, but they all clogged in her throat. Finally, Tori managed to croak out a meager, “Thank you.”

Judith isn’t perfect. That’s my number one rule about characters, they MUST have flaws. Judith is a bit nosy, and overbearing, and controlling (ahem, now we know where Scott gets it from). She tends to smother the ones she loves a bit too much.

Scott leaned in and gave her a deep kiss. “Now let’s head inside. Mom’s peering out the window being nosy, as usual. I can see her wild red hair poking over the frame.”

Here is a little from Blaze’s perspective on Mamma Harris.

He may have never met the woman face to face, but he’d know her for certain if he passed that red head on a crowded street. The woman that sent him not only letters, but dozens of cards with sky filled doves and bible scriptures scrawled on them when he was in the hospital. Oh, and cookies. Yeah, he appreciated those. He read every word she wrote, trashed the scripture filled cards, and ate every last crumb. The woman could bake a mean ass chocolate chip cookie.

I could go on and on about Judith. My inspiration for her was a mash up of all the mother figures that have poured into my life. My mom, like Tori’s dad, passed when I was very young. Judith has a dash of my mother’s willingness to go above and beyond for those she cared for. My husband’s mother is the same way. My very kind, loving mother in law will constantly inconvenience herself for all us kids. My husbands grandmother is a very wise woman who loves without condition and will always give you big hugs, AND tell you exactly how it is as she heaps you up spoonfuls of her home cooked roast on Sunday. And as far as her mouth, well, Judith gets her no-filter will say anything that pops in her head mouth from my Nanaw. My nanaw was also a bit of a southern gossip. That woman never knew when to keep her flap shut, but she was a RIOT. If I had a birthday party and the kids were playing musical chairs, you better believe my Nanaw was right in there with the kids being a total goofball. As far as her backbone and grit to take anything that life throws at her, she gets that from my stepmom. That woman has survived open heart surgery, breast cancer and MUCH more. She’s one of the strongest women I know.

So to all you strong mammas out there today, I salute you, and Judith Harris. I can’t wait for you to fall in love with Scott’s mamma.

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Image of man in bed with overlay of soldier.

Meet Scott


or the past few months I’ve had the joy of taking part in a daily hashtag game on Instagram. Today’s post is “favorite character.” I’ve done one of these on Blaze (my favorite SC) but today’s topic was your favorite MC.

I debated back and forth wether it was Scott or Tori. I love how feisty she is and I love her rough edges. Tori immediately jumped off the page. I KNEW her (probably because I made her personality a lot like how I wish I was. Bold. Brave. Daring. Takes shit from no one).

I know in my heart though that Scott is THE BEST part of this saga. (Funny, because he was really flat for quite some time.) It took a lot of effort for me to mold him into the hero that I wanted him to be.  I had to really dig deep and figure out what his goals were, and what was stopping him from getting there (other than Tori’s antics).

As a female writer it’s really hard to “write like a dude.” Many times I’ll read a romance novel and the man sounds so feminine. I’m not talking about beta males here, those types of guys are fine. Not all heroes need to be alphas. What I mean is that the male main character will say/think things that girls WANT to hear, not actually what a man would be thinking.

I’m fortunate enough that I have my husband to put me in check when Scott says or does something that would not be typical of a man to say or do. In fact, a LOT of how Scott acts and things that he says I steal, ahem, I mean, borrow from my husband. My husband has and always will be, my muse.

I was having a conversation with another writer friend of mine and she mentioned in a book (which I love) where a male character says “Oh my god, you are magnificent.”  She said “I don’t see any scenario where anyone would actually say this.”

Yeah, I could agree with her on that.

So, now that I’ve rambled on long enough let me tell you a little about Scott Harris.

Scott Harris was born in Texas and grew up a military brat. His father was in the Navy and they moved around a lot. They settled in Texas his freshman year of high school, so he considers Buda (a small town outside Austin) his hometown. From a young age he knew he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. Watching his older brother and older sister rebel, he stayed on the straight and narrow, stuffing down most of his wild streak. For the most part, he was a good kid.

This disciplined nature followed him to Annapolis, MD where he went to the Naval Academy. His goal was to make SEAL, and odds were that most men wouldn’t make the cut. He had no intention of being on the wrong side of the axe when it came down. When the guys would go out to party, eight out of ten times he’d stay behind and study. One night though, he decides to go out with the boys to blow off some steam.

They head to a dive bar in Georgetown on a night that they have a rare weekend pass as upperclassmen. There they can hit on drunk college chicks and get wasted for next to nothing.

This night changes his life. This is the night he meets Tori. This is where the story begins.

Tori challenges his disciplined nature. She’s everything he isn’t. Wild. Free. Uninhibited sexually. She brings out the beast in him. She pushes him far beyond his comfort zones. She brings FUN into his life. She changes him. Mostly for the better. (The jury is out on that one.)

Scott is a perfectionist to the core. He will NOT pursue something unless he knows that he will succeed. Failure is his worst enemy. It crushes him.

Keith sipped his drink. “You keep waiting for the perfect moment and you are going to miss your shot, I mean hell, she almost just died.”

Scott’s jaw clenched as Keith’s words cut him to the core. They could have had that by now and he could have saved her from this. That thought settled like a brick in his stomach. He’d waited years for the stars to align, waiting for the perfect moment and where did that get them?

For years he fights his feelings for Tori, lying to himself that they are better as friends with benefits. He tells himself that Tori isn’t the type of girl you settle down with. He tells himself this because deep down he’s afraid of not winning her heart. His pride holds him back.

Part of him wanted to run in there and rescue her from this creep. The other part of him wanted to scream at her for devaluing herself so much. Truth was, right now she wasn’t his to rescue or be angry with. Not yet anyway. She was a starving artist who trusted nobody but herself to take care of her, and he was an unemployed, disabled veteran, who had nothing to offer her but his heart.

When Scott comes home wounded from combat, Tori stays by his side. He’s lost his career and his leg. Everything he worked for his entire life is slipping through his fingers. Tori pulls him out of his pit. Shows him how sexy he always has been, and always will be. Tori is his redemption, but he still can’t penetrate her walls. (Tori’s arc is another blog post so I’ll end that here).

Underneath his smoldering gaze and tough exterior, Scott is really a softie. He cares for other people. He hurts when others hurt. He may be six foot three and a scary looking beast, but he’s a kid at heart.

Speaking of kids. He’s REALLY great with kids:

“But he has a robot leg, is he a robot?” The small voice chimed next to them.

“Shhhh,” the mother said quietly to her son.

“My leg isn’t a robot, but it is carbon which is stronger than a human bone,” Scott informed the kid.

“Can I touch it?” the kid asked.

“Sure, go for it.”

“Wow! It’s hard!” The little boy exclaimed. “Can you run on it?”

“I can’t run too well on this one, but I have a special leg I use for running, that’s a super cool blade. I just swap it out whenever I need to.”

“Cool! What happened to it mister?”

“Some bad guys tried to blow me up.”

“Woah…” the kid mulled that over for a minute.

“It’s ok, we got em back.”

I had a perfect image of Scott in my brain when I wrote this, what he looked like. I’ve yet to find an actor or model who is precisely him. I kinda imagine him size wise a bit like Joe Manganiello (Six three, about 220lbs). Joe has this amazingly serious looking smoulder but I’ve seen him play some comedic roles as well. Honestly, he could be a good fit, but it’s not EXACTLY how I imagine Scott.

In his face I imagine him somewhat like Nick Bateman. Although a little bit more rugged . Nick is pretty. Almost TOO pretty.

About two years into writing this I stumbled across romance writer and cover model B.T. Urruela, who is a combat vet, lower leg amputee just like my MC. God, if I had unlimited funds I’d hire BT in a second to do my cover just because I want to give back to vets. he would make a great Scott. I’m a huge advocate for PWD (people with disabilities) playing in TV roles and doing modeling gigs. We NEED more of this. Michael Stokes is an AMAZING photographer who showcases wounded vets in his photography (photo credit: Michael Stokes). I LOVE what he’s doing for veterans.

michael stokes photo of BT Urruela

None of these guys are EXACTLY as I imagine my hero, but it helps to build a picture of the man I was trying to create.

I hope that readers fall for Scott as much as I have. Somedays I think my husband is a bit jealous of how much time I spend with Scott. Other days I know that he’s flattered when he reads a line I wrote that came out of his mouth.

That’s why my first book will be dedicated to my husband. My muse. The one who started it all.

Thank you baby for sticking by me and being my biggest cheerleader. I can’t wait for everyone to meet the man you helped me create.

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