Character Reveal: Irene

The character reveal is a new feature on my website. Characters from my books (in print or works in progress) will answer questions from a standard personality assessment test.


Today’s character reveal character is Irene.

Image of a person holding a card with a question mark in front of their face. who will Irene show herself to be in this character reveal.

Lady Irene Susan Earnshaw nee Clarke was twenty-two when she appeared in My Soul to Keep. Now, twenty-six, she plays a major role in If I Should Die.  Daughter of Donald and Kara Clarke. Younger sister to Miranda Clarke.

1. Who is your role model?

Image of Carrie A. Nation with axe and Bible, who Irene says is a person she admires in her character reveal

Carrie A Nation. By Philipp Kester (German photojournalist, 1873-1958) – The New York Times photo archive, via their online store, Public Domain

The good Christian, Carrie Nation. She had the strength to act upon her faith. Had she lived long enough, she would have been a good Fellowship member. 

2. Who knows you the best?

My mother. She’s gone now, so I suppose the person who knows me best now is my husband, Felix. But, you know men; he doesn’t really understand women.

3. What would your friends say about you?

I hope they would say that I am a good mother, a good wife, and a good Fellowship member.

4. What is the question people ask you most often?

People ask many things. They ask what it was like seeing my husband perform his first miracle. They also ask what it’s like living with, being the wife of the Prophet. 

5. What is the thing you’d never say to another person?

I would never say something that would lead another person astray. 

6. What is your greatest achievement?

My daughters, Sandra and Annabelle. 

7. What is your greatest failure?

Being a lackluster Fellowship member earlier in my life.

8. What did you learn from your greatest failure?

I learned that God is all-powerful. Miracles can and do happen. Miracles like my daughter, Annabelle.

9. What is the thing you are most proud of?

One thing? I can’t choose one. I’m proud of my husband and my daughters. 

10. What would you like to change about yourself?

If I am totally honest, I wish I knew God’s purpose for me. I know that sounds vain. I should be grateful for the role he’s given me—to be the Prophet’s wife. But I have the sense that there is more that he wants me to do—some greater purpose. I pray each night that I will learn that purpose so I can better serve my husband and the Lord.

11. If something in your house breaks, what is the first thing you do?

I used to tell my husband. Now, I tell his secretary and she arranges a repairman to come out.

12. What is the greatest obstacle you’re facing right now?

If you had asked me a few months ago, I would have said adjusting to life in America again. It’s so different from life in Buenos Aires. But right now, my loneliness is my biggest obstacle. God forgive me, but I miss having my husband to myself. I miss keeping house and walking the girls to school and visiting the market. 

13. How do you like to “waste” your time?

I don’t waste time. I invest it in my daughters, my husband, and my faith.

14. What is the ritual that helps you calm down?


15. What is your favorite place in town?

Here? In the District? I don’t have one in town. Here in the states? Before, I would have said the beach house. Now, I don’t know—I haven’t found one yet.

16. What do you prefer–a book, a movie or a theater play?

The Bible. Most books, movies, and plays are morally corrupt.

17. What was the happiest period of your life?

I’d have to say in Buenos Aires—before my husband’s first miracle. I would not go against God’s will. And I adore Annabelle. But I was happy being the wife of an unknown man, the mother of their daughter. We were poor but happy.

18. What is your most treasured memory from childhood?

The Christmas I was five. Mother and Father were both home. And Santa brought me a baby doll that could drink from a bottle. 

19. What was your favorite game when you were a child?

Image of old fashioned doll at tea table--a favorite game Irene played as related in her character reveal

I loved giving my dolls a tea party. 

20. What is the greatest injustice you’ve lived through?

The exile of my family. My Father and Mother did nothing but serve the Fellowship. They didn’t deserve—especially not from their own—I’m sorry, I can’t. I pray every night that the Lord give me the strength to overcome my anger and forgive her but I’m only human.

An Invitation

I invite you to take part in this an all future character reveals. If you are an artist or doodler and have drawn an image of Irene or any other character in one of my books, send me a digital copy. With your permission, I’ll post it on the character’s page on this website and share it on social media. 

Did you enjoy this character reveal? Based on Irene’s answers above, what question would you ask of Irene? Is there a character from My Soul to Keep you’d like to see answer these questions in the next character reveal?

Who Gets to be a Saint?

Today, Friday, November 1, 2019 is All Saints’ Day also called the Solemnity of All Saints, All Hallows’ Day, Hallowmas, or Feast of Saints. In celebration people light candles, say prayers or liturgies, and sometimes make offerings. It is a day during which Christians around the world honor persons who have lived a life of almost perfect virtue. The Catholic church has canonized around 3,000 people. But who gets to be a saint?

Image of statues of saints on top of a building. But Who Gets to be Saints?

Prior to the tenth century, saints became saints due to public acclaim. By the twelfth century, the Church formalized the process for conveying sainthood on a person. Officially, neither the Pope nor the Church makes people saints; Instead, they recognize what God has already done. The five-step process can take a long while.

Step 1: Waiting Period

In the Catholic tradition, one cannot become a saint until at least five years after death. It could take a lot longer. They declared Saint Bede, the theologian a saint 1,164 years after he died. The Pope can waive the waiting period. 

Once the waiting period is over or the waiver granted, the bishop in the diocese where the person died can open an investigation. The bishop gathers evidence on the person’s life and deeds, including witnesses’ testimonies.

With sufficient evidence, the bishop then sends the information to the Vatican and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. 

Step 3: Proof of a life of “Heroic Virtue”

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints is a panel of theologians and Cardinals. Once they accept the case, the candidate is a “servant of God.” “Servant of God” is a technical title used during the process of beatification.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints evaluates the evidence. They look for signs of the candidate’s holiness, his or her works, and signs that the candidate’s example drew people to prayer. 

Based on their evaluation, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints makes recommendations to the Pope.

If the Pope decides that the person lived a life of “heroic virtue.” Thereafter, that person has the canonical title, “venerable.”

Step four: Verified miracles

Beatification is the next stage. Beatification requires a miracle. After their death, the candidate must have inspired people to prayers. If the candidate is already in heaven, the candidate brings the prayer request to God’s attention. God grants the prayer request, performs or causes the miracle

To be a miracle, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints must verify the incident(s). The Congregation looks for evidence that proves that the incident is a miracle. For example, a person’s incurable medical condition is cured after prayer to a venerable. If that cure has no logical medical explanation, they will probably accept it as a miracle. 

The one exception is someone who died for their faith, a martyr. The Pope may grant a martyr beatification without this fourth step.

Once the Pope grants beatification, the individual has the canonical title, “Blessed.”

Step Five: Canonization

Normally, the Congregation verifies a second miracle before canonization can take place. (Remember the martyr is the exception.)

During the canonization ceremony, the Pope conducts a special Mass, reading aloud the individual’s life history and then chanting a prayer in Latin that declares the person a saint.

Canonization is infallible and irrevocable.


I am not a Catholic. I have no firsthand knowledge of the religion or the practices mentioned here. My knowledge comes from consulting those more knowledgeable than I in person and in written literature. Please check out Catholic Online for more information. 

Any errors or inadvertent disrespect in this information are mine. Kindly point out my errors and I will correct them.

Research Becomes Story

Yes, as with most of my research, this article is part of my research. To create the world of the My Soul to Keep series, I studied several religions. I borrowed heavily from Western religions and their traditions. 

In book two of the series, they have attributed a miracle to a character you met in book one. They grant that person a highly honored position in the Fellowship. It will be up to the reader to decide if this person deserved the honor or not. 

I am working hard on book two and hope to have it published in late 2020. Were you familiar with the five-steps for who gets to be a saint? What traditions do you observe on All Saints’ Day? 

Come with Me Down the Novel Research Hole

Come with me down the novel research hole. Learn about the U.S. Coast Guard(USCG). It is busier than you know. On an average day, the Coast Guard:

  • Conducts 45 search and rescue cases; s
  • Saves 10 lives;
  • Saves over $1.2 M in property;
  • Seizes 874 pounds of cocaine and 214 pounds of marijuana;
  • Conducts 57 waterborne patrols;
  • Interdicts 17 illegal migrants;
  • Escorts 5 high-capacity passenger vessels;
  • Conducts 24 security boardings
  • Screens 360 merchant vessels for potential security threats;
  • Conducts 14 fisheries conservation boardings;
  • Services 82 boys and fixed aids to navigation;
  • Investigates 35 pollution incidents;
  • Completes 26 safety examinations of foreign vessels;
  • Conducts 105 marine inspections;
  • Investigates 14 marine casualties involving commercial vessels;
  • Facilitates movement of $8.7B worth of goods and commodities through the Nation’s Maritime Transportation System.


President George Washington signed the Tariff Act on August 4, 1790. The act authorized the construction of ten vessels referred to as “cutters.” The Revenue Cutter Service (RCS) was to enforce federal tariff and trade laws and to prevent smuggling. The Service grew in size and responsibilities as the United States grew.

Image of a US Coast Guardsmen lined up on a ship wearing combat helmets. Come with me down the novel research hole. Learn about the U.S. Coast Guard(USCG).

New Responsibilities

In 1915, the RCS merged with the Life-Saving Service and was renamed the Coast Guard. 

Eventually, Congress transferred the Lighthouse Service to the Coast Guard. 

Later, Congress transferred the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation to the Coast Guard. That meant merchant licensing and merchant vessel safety was under the Coast Guard’s control.

In 1967, they transferred the Coast Guard to serve under the Department of Transportation. However, in 2003, Congress transferred the USCG to the Department of Homeland Security. That made it the only armed service within the Department of Homeland Security.

Image of a large Coast Guard cutter escorted by a smaller Coast Guard Cutter.
The Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton is escorted by the Coast Guard Cutter William Flores off the coast of Miami Beach, Nov. 11, 2014. The Hamilton is the fourth National Security Cutter designed to replace the 378-foot high endurance cutters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Barney) Public Domain

The USCG Motto

Semper Paratus

(Always Ready)

Today’s USCG

The Coast Guard is both a federal law enforcement agency and a military force. It protects and defends over 100,000 miles of U.S. Coastline and inland waterways. 

The USCG has four national defense missions: maritime intercept operations, deployed port operations/security and defense, peacetime engagement, and environmental defense operations. 

Today, over 56,000 members of the Coast Guard operate a multi-mission, interoperable fleet of 243 Cutters, 201 fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, and more than 1,600 boats. 

Coast Guard Veterans

By U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary – USCG Newsroom. The U.S. Coast Guard’s official media relations site. Public Domain

If you’re of a certain age, you may remember a television show called Sea Hunt, starting Lloyd Bridges (father of Jeff and Beau Bridges). Did you know that Lloyd served in the Coast Guard? During WWII, he left his show and joined the Coast Guard. His two sons followed in his footsteps and also served in the Coast Guard. They awarded Beau Bridges the Lone Sailor Award in 2011.

Other famous people served in the USCG include:

  • Nick Adams (Actor)
  • Humphrey Bogart (Actor)
  • Sid Caesar (Comedian)
  • Walter Cronkite (newscaster)
  • Arthur Fiedler  (Conductor, Boston Pops Orchestra)
  • Sid Gordon (2-time All Star major league baseball player)
  • Alex Haley (writer)
  • And many, many more. See the list here.

Heroes of the USCG

Douglas Munro commanded a group of Higgins boats at the Battle of Guadalcanal, Munro coordinated the evacuation of over 500 Marines who came under heavy fire, using his boat as a shield to draw fire. He is the only Coast Guardsman to receive the Medal of Honor.

Lt. Thomas “Jimmy” Crotty was the first Coast Guard prisoner of war since the War of 1812.

After her father had a stroke, Ida Lewis took over as the keeper of Lime Rock Lighthouse, Rhode Island. Over her 39 year career, Lewis saved 18 lives.

There are many other heroes of the USCG. You can read about them here.

Recent Tragedy

I have been deep down the novel research hole about the USCG before the deadly dive boat fire off the California coast happened. My condolences to the families of the missing and presumed dead. After watching many YouTube videos of USCG servicemen and women, I know they feel these loses keenly. May they find peace in knowing they did what they could.

Down the novel research hole?

Thanks for following me down the novel research hole. In the sequel to My Soul to Keep, Miranda and Beryl will have an encounter with the USCG. Like everything in the world of My Soul to Keep, it’s not quite the same USCG as the one in our reality. Guess what differences the U. S. Coast Guard would have to have in Miranda’s world and time? 

Images from the My Soul to Keep Series

Images from My Soul to Keep, my alternate history dystopian novel, represent various bits of research. Enjoy the images or follow the links to learn more.

Concept Art

For your viewing pleasure these are concept art pieces my husband, Robert W. Burrows, created to inspire me as I wrote My Soul to Keep. (Yes, he’s a keeper!)

In an early draft, I described the Fellowship symbol. He used that description to create the image below.

The Fellowship Shield

The Azrael wear body armor, communications gear, and an assortment of weapons.

Image © 2008 Robert W. Burrows
Copyright Robert W. Burrows ©2005
Copyright Robert W. Burrows ©2005

The Clothes

Images of clothing that appears in the novel.


Images from My Soul to Keep include vehicles used in the story.

The Doll

Finding this doll on the web inspired me to include it in the story. Read more about that here.

If she loves a rag doll, is she still evil. The answer is yes, read why

Developing the Cover

Searching for a cover designer was scary and fun at the same time. Here’s an article about how I chose my cover artist.

© 2018 by Elizabeth Leggett, posted with permission
Possible Cover for My Soul to Keep by Lynette M. Burrows. Illustration by Elizabeth Leggett. Read How I Found My Cover Artist for more information.
©2018 Elizabeth Leggett, posted with permission
The Cover

Book In Hand

How I found the right editor for my novel, My Soul to Keep

There is nothing so thrilling as holding your book in your hands. Except selling your book…and getting great reviews…and writing the next one…and…having great readers.

Want to see more? Take a look at my Pinterest Inspiration board.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these images from My Soul to Keep. Have you read the first book? It’s available on Amazon and other online booksellers. The second book, If I Should Die, is in progress. Fellowship, a book in the same world, is coming summer of 2019.

Inspiration Behind the Scenes with a Female Sniper

She was seventeen years old in June of 1943. Klavdiia Efremovna Kalugina (also spelled Klavdiya Yefremovna Kalugina) a Russian, born in 1926 came from a “not rich” family. She became the youngest sniper-in-training at a school for Komsomol (Communist Union of Youth) and ultimately became an inspiration behind the scenes. All the other pupils were eighteen. She could stay in the school as long as she didn’t “fall behind.”

Public Domain image via Wikimedia Commons

Sniper School

They divided the young women into pairs. Marusia Chikhvintseva, Klavdiia’s first partner, became her best friend. 

Accustomed to hard work, Klavdiia helped build the firing range for the school. But when it came time to shoot, she could only hit “milk” (jargon for a complete miss). Her squad commander took her aside and gave her private lessons. 

She learned tactics and camouflage and ballistics. And she qualified as a sniper. 

After graduation, they grouped pairs into squads and sent them all around the front. On March 1, 1944, six pairs of snipers, including Klavdiia and Marusia, were sent to the Belorussian front. 

On the Front

They rode in cattle cars with heaters as close to the front as they could get. The truck sent to take them to the fighting couldn’t get through the snow. Klavdiia said they carried the truck on their backs. 

The first day at the front, German soldiers who cleared snow from their trenches and equipment were easy targets. But neither Klavdiia nor Marusia could make themselves to shoot. They berated themselves that night. Why come to the front if they weren’t going to shoot? So, the next day they shot their first Germans. 

As a sniper, Klavdiia’s job was defensive. When her mission was to clear a machine gun nest or a sniper, she would find a position during the day. At night, she’d camouflage herself and take up the position and sit as still as possible. Her partner always sat within an arm’s reach. When her eyes grew too tired to watch, her partner would take over. 

When the time came, Klavdiia moved to a firing position. She took her shot. Once she fired, she returned to her watch position and waited for Marusia to take her shot. Then, Marusia returned to the watch position where they would wait without moving a muscle until after dark. 

After lying all day in the swamp or the snow, she’d return to her base camp and tear off her foot wrappings. Her feet always hurt. Everyone’s feet hurt. 

When she wasn’t being a sniper, Klavdiia stood in for the soldiers. She kept watch during the daylight while the Russian soldiers slept. The soldiers kept watch at night. One day when she grew tired, Marusia shifted her position to take over watch. A single shot killed her instantly. Klavdiia screamed so loud the soldiers begged her to stop for fear they’d get targeted. She cried all day. 

Klavdiia recounts that the snipers carried the wounded to safety. Sometimes the wounds were mortal. One time she recalls that there were more wounded than the sniper team could carry in a retreat. Germans moved in and bayonetted the wounded who remained in the trenches. How did Klavdiia know? Because of their screams.

Eventually, Klavdiia got assigned another partner. She and her partner fought in several different locations on the front.

Klavdiia has been credited with 28 kills. Kills were any German who fell when she shot him. The commander of the trench she stayed in would write her kills down on a slip of paper that she then carried until she could turn them in. Only her sniper shots were counted. The Germans she shot during an attack didn’t count toward her total killed. 


A total of 2,484 Soviet female snipers fought at the front, of whom only about 500 survived. An interview with Klavdiia is available at histomil. As far as I can determine, Klavdiia is still alive today.

I’m sharing this information with you for several reasons. It’s women’s history month and these women should be remembered as much as any male sniper. 

I learned of the female Soviet snipers during my research before writing My Soul to Keep. Reading about these women helped me create the character of Beryl. 

“Inspiration Behind the Scenes with a Female Sniper” is also part of my celebration. The hardcover version of My Soul to Keep is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Your local bookstore should be able to order it as well. Watch for special celebratory ebook pricing beginning March 10th.