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?

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.

How Long Would You Survive?

Did you ever want to run away from home? Did you pack a bag? If you had to go off-grid, how long would you survive on what you packed?

Perhaps you were six-years-old, packed your toys, and really didn’t plan to survive off-grid—you planned to walk to grandma’s house. Or you might have been thirteen and tired of sharing with your older brother or sister, so you packed a little more aware of what you needed to survive. But how long would you survive on what you packed? 

My protagonist and his siblings in Fellowship must run for their lives. They escape to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with little more than what’s on their back. They use evasion and survival skills but the mountains aren’t very forgiving. Will they survive?

Today’s internet and reality TV may make you think you know how to survive in that kind of a situation, but do you really?

Image of a man on the rocky shore of a river running through a valley between pine covered mountains. How long would you survive?

Survival Quiz

Here’s a quick quiz to test your knowledge. No cheating. Answer to the best of your ability without looking up the answer or reading ahead.

  1. How long can a healthy adult live without water?
  2. List four different ways to find water.
  3. Name three symptoms of dehydration.
  4. What is the one thing you must do to all found water before you drink it?
  5. How long can you live without food?
  6. What the best source of protein when you’re stranded in the woods?
  7. List four ways to be sure you stay warm when stranded in the woods.
  8. When preparing to sleep in the woods, what’s the first thing you should do?
  9. What should you pack in a first aid kit?
  10. List two ways to determine which direction is north.

Bonus Question: What five tools would be priority survival items to take with you?

Image of traveller carrying a bag--is he or she ready? How long would you survive on what you packed?

The Answers


Excess heat, excess exertion, and excess salt intake can alter a person’s need for water. Generally, a healthy adult can survive for three days without water. But symptoms of dehydration will set in and create dangerous situations.

How to Find Water

The first is to listen for running water. Hopefully, there’s a creek nearby. If there isn’t, no worries. 

First thing in the morning, collect dew draw a shirt through wet foliage then wring out your shirt into your mouth or a container. 

If you’re at a lower elevation you can dig for water. If you’re in the mountains remember water travels downhill. Travel parallel to the mountain, you should come across a stream or creek. 

Follow ants up a tree. They usually have a source of water in one of the nooks and crannies. 

Make a solar still. You can find directions here.

Symptoms of Dehydration

  • Thirst. Sometimes we confuse thirst for hunger. 
  • Dry mouth.
  • Dry, cool skin to very dry skin.
  • Not urinating much to not urinating at all.
  • Dark yellow pee.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Fatigue to sleepiness, confusion, or irritability.
  • Dizziness.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Sunken eyes.
  • Fainting.

What You Must Do to Found Water

Rain or creek water may look pure, but it’s not. Always purify found water before you drink it. You can learn ways to purify water here.

How Long Without Food

A healthy adult can survive three weeks without food. Your body goes into starvation mode 24-36 hours after your last meal. To help you survive, your body slows your metabolism and the functioning of the rest of your body. You’re fatigued and tire easily. You start losing your hair. Sleep issues, irritability, and feeling cold all the time are also symptoms of starvation. 

The Best Source of Protein

Insects. Mealworms and crickets and grasshoppers are the best. Many others are edible, too. Remove the head, wings, and legs and eat the rest. 

Insects with bright colors or strong odors could be dangerous. 

Wild game is difficult to catch, especially if you’ve never done it before. 

Fish are a good source of protein if you’re near water. But 100 grams of mealworms actually have more protein than 100 grams of salmon.

Stay Warm

Besides appropriate clothing, shelter is the number one thing you’ll need to stay warm. A lean-to of deadfall packed with mud and leaves to stop the wind and deflect rain is a priority.

Build a campfire is the second way to stay warm. But if you don’t have matches there are other ways to build a fire.  

Wear a warm hat. You packed that, didn’t you?

If you have a survival bug-out bag, you’ll have an emergency blanket. 

A waist-high pile of leaves and pine needles will keep you warm.

Stuff your clothes with pine needles and leaves to keep your body heat in.

Prepare to Sleep

Don’t sleep on the ground. At 52 degrees, it will reduce your body temperature. Prepare a mound of pine needles and leaves, or make a platform from deadfall to sleep on.

Your Basic First Aid Kit 

  • A first aid manual.
  • Medical adhesive tape.
  • Insect bite treatment.
  • Butterfly bandaids or adhesive wound closure strips.
  • Blister treatment.
  • Ibuprofen or other pain reliever.
  • Gauze pads.
  • Antiseptic wipes.
  • Antibacterial ointment.
  • Antihistamine.
  • Nonstick sterile pads.
  • Assorted adhesive bandages.
  • Tweezers.

Determining Which Way is North

Number one is to use a compass. You didn’t pack it?

Know how to identify the north star.

Moss grows on the shady side of the tree, which is the north side (in the northern hemisphere). Find a tree in the sun, see which side the moss grows on.

BONUS Priority Survival Tools

  • Steel and flint or a striker. Not just a lighter in case it fails or runs out of butane.
  • A survival knife.
  • A whistle (for summoning help)
  • Compass.
  • Cord.
  • A signal mirror.
  • A bow saw.
  • Water carrying device.
  • Water purification system.

How Did You Do?

Did you have answers I don’t have listed?

I know the answers but I have no practice at most of those skills.  How long would I survive? Not long… How long would you survive?

Unimpressed to Loving the Blue Ridge Mountains

A soft blue haze enveloped the first mountains I ever saw. They didn’t impress me much. In the distance, they looked like rolling hills. Then came the drive up the mountains, through the mountains, and along the ridge. Each curve, dip, and climb yielded breath-taking vistas of forested mountains, bald knobs, and valleys swathed in the blue haze. I was in grade school during that first trip. I went from unimpressed to loving the Blue Ridge Mountains and that mysterious blue haze.

public domain image

I made many trips to the area as a child. I no longer recall all the details, when and exactly where, but there are moments etched in my memory. Memorable moments include a walk to a gorgeous waterfall, a climb to a rocky knob, and the larger-than-my-sister bear cub that sat three feet behind my little sister who played on the picnic table in the next camping site.

Little did I know then that these mountains would become the backdrop and setting for the world of My Soul to Keep. They are integral to the story of Fellowship.

World’s Second Oldest

The Blue Ridge Mountains formed about 1.1 billion to 250 million years ago. South Africa’s Barberton greenstone belt are the only mountains in the world that are older than the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Located in the eastern United States, these mountains are part of the Appalachian Mountain range that spans from Georgia to Pennsylvania.

They were the home of Siouan Manahoacs, the Iroquois, and the Shawnee and other tribes. The Powhatan name for the Blue Ridge was Quirank. The Virginian branch of the Siouan called them Ahkonshuck.

The Blue Ridge Mountains encompasses two major national parks and eight national forests. More than 100 mountains in this range reach or exceed, an elevation of 5,000 feet. Learn more here.

The Haze

The blue haze is a result of all the trees. When excess heat stresses the trees, they release a hydrocarbon called isoprene into the air. The isoprene reacts with other molecules in the air and causes the blue-tinted haze.

The Parkway

Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited the newly finished Skyline Drive in 1933. During that visit, U.S. Senator Harry Byrd of Virginia suggested extending the road. He envisioned it connected with the recently established Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A meeting between the governors of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee took place. Plans for the park-to-park highway were drawn up.

There were protests about the Parkway. People’s homes were taken in the name of greater good and conservationists worried about the impact on the mountains and their ecology. Years of construction, refunding, and negotiations finally saw the Blue Ridge Parkway completed in 1987. (Learn more about the construction and more about the Parkway.

An Alternate History

These are the kinds of things I must research to make the alternate history world of My Soul to Keep. In that world, the U. S. did not get involved in World War II. The ramifications are huge. There would be no financial growth due to the war efforts and there would be no population boom when the soldiers returned. Thus, in Fellowship we learn that the Blue Ridge Parkway project was never finished. Those areas nourished by the tourist trade up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway would not have flourished. At least not the way they have in the real world.

Writing an Alternate History is fun but fraught with research. But it isn’t boring when I get to relive (physically and virtually) how I went from unimpressed to impressed and in love with the Blue Ridge Mountains.

My Story Went to the Dogs

What do a bloodhound, a satellite, and a tracking device have in common? The answer is a search and research. I researched all three were subjects for my short novel, Fellowship (formerly Ian’s Trust). After the research, my story went to the dogs. 

Fellowship is the story of Ian Hobart, an eighteen-year-old high school student. Ian lives in an imaginary town between Lynchburg, Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains. His parents and older brother are Taken by the Fellowship. Ian in a desperate attempt to save his younger siblings takes them into the mountains. 

The pursuit of Ian and his siblings takes place in the same world but a couple of years before My Soul to Keep. To create a believable pursuit, I needed to learn about methods of tracking escapees. 

Early Communication Satellites

I dove into the history of early satellites and telemetry to learn about tracking methods like GPS. 

The first artificial Earth satellite was Sputnik 1. Launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957, Sputnik had an on-board radio-transmitter. A major step in space exploration, it was not a communications satellite.

The first satellite purpose-built to relay communications was NASA’s Project SCORE in 1958. It stored and forwarded tape-recorded voice messages. 

Image of Echo I, a balloon satellite launched by NASA and part of the research that meant my story went to the dogs.
public domain

Launched in 1960 Project Echo was the first passive communication satellite. Signals from one location on Earth bounced off Echo to another earthly location.

The U.S. Department of Defense launched the GPS project in 1973. Intended for use by the United States military, it became available to the public in the 1980s. 

That’s where my research ended. My timeline and the world of My Soul to Keep would not have as advanced a space program as we did in reality. So, GPS tracking was out. 

Electronic Tagging

An electronic tracking device and its receiver--another item that failed to fit my story so my story went to the dogs.
The electronic tracking device (bottom) is surgically implanted in paddlefish. The device sends a signal to the receiver (top) which records data that can be downloaded wirelessly. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region [Public domain]

Electronic tagging is a method of surveillance. A tracking device is attached to the animal or person. Devices can use GPS technology or RF (radio frequency) technology.

Ralph Kirkland Schwitzgebel led a team Psychological Experimentation at Harvard University. He created a tracking device to relieve inmate crowding. His 1968 experiments with prototypes are the basis of today’s technologies for electronic monitoring systems. 

And so, electronic tagging was also not available in my story’s timeline or world. 


Photo of a bloodhound tracking a scent in the field--this is what I mean when I say my story went to the dogs.
John Leslie from London, UK [CC BY 2.0 (]

Bloodhounds are a scent hound. Their origins reach far back into history.

The French monastery, St. Hubert, bred hounds in 727 AD. This may be the origin of the true bloodhound.

Robert the Bruce (King of Scots 1306-1329) and William Wallace, a Scottish knight (1270-1305) used Sleuth Hounds (bloodhounds) to track and hunt people. 

 In 1860 Bloodhounds entered England’s second national dog show.

Bloodhounds can track a scent in the air and on the ground. A bloodhound can follow his nose for 130 miles or more. He can pick up a trail that’s almost two weeks old.

My Story Went to the Dogs

Enter a tracker named Fischer and his bloodhound, Xena. 

With a bloodhound on their trail, can Ian and his siblings escape? 

Did you really think I’d answer that one? My story went to the dogs but you’ll have to read Fellowship to find out what happens to Ian and his siblings. Coming soon to your favorite online bookstore,