Stuff Builds Characters – Ritter Ames Mysteries

Stuff Builds Characters

What Stuff SaysI revamped out my office this weekend, exchanging one desk for another. My dog loves it because she can take over every inch of the middle of my office floor (and is doing so right now. And snoring). But this changeover got me thinking about a kind of quiz I do each time I start brainstorming characters for my series. Since I’m a week away from the Henery Press release of Counterfeit Conspiracies and Marked Masters, I thought I’d spend a few minutes today talking about how “stuff” builds Laurel Beacham’s character.

  1. Laurel Beacham is likely to keep…things that fit in her huge purse and help her get into and out of trouble on a daily basis as she attempts to keep art masterpieces from disappearing into the “ether.” In her public persona, she’s more likely to use her cell phone to connect with someone who can provide the “open sesame” she needs to get into exclusive events. In her private persona as a reclamation angel, she uses the slick little gizmos and lock picks she’s bought and received from Nico and others to give her the edge needed to “reclaim” stolen art. She’s also prone to stashing costume jewelry, travel guidebooks, business cards, and alarms that warn when someone might be trying to sneak up behind her (yes, this happens a lot).
  2. Travel luggageSpring may be right around the corner but before Laurel can switch out her wardrobe she needs to…Well, usually she needs to find it. Her luggage may be tagged with her contact information, but more and more often she finds her bags disappearing and she’s left washing outfits in the bathroom sink each night or sending them down for hotel laundering. While that may not sound organized, losing her luggage is never her fault. And since she’s “out of the office” and somewhere in Europe about 200 days each year, she’s learned to be pretty self-sufficient when her belongings go AWOL and her credit cards are maxed out.
  3. Going to the grocery store is…pretty much an unknown for Laurel. Even if her mother hadn’t died when she was four, whenever she found her way into the kitchen of her grandparent’s mansion the cook usually just patted her on the head and handed her a cookie or piece of cake. By the time Laurel’s father inherited everything, then gambled it all away, her means of managing a meal was firmly established in deciphering a French menu rather than actually cooking a meal using a French cookbook. So grocery stores are still a mystery and a marvel to her, and she usually leaves with half her needs because she has no idea what ingredients are necessary for favorite meals. However, she does know where to find all the ingredients for a killer martini.
  4. poker tableIf Laurel ever forgets keys or a combination to a safe…it doesn’t fluster her. Thanks to training by some not-so-conventional friends, she can pick a lock or crack most safes. Because of this “training to stay calm under pressure” she is also an excellent poker player–a skill that comes in handy far beyond the gaming table.
  5.  art masterpiecesBecause Laurel’s life was pretty much an exercise in perpetual “loss” from her teens to early twenties, and she’s still saddled with debt incurred due to her father’s squandering practices before his demise, she’s a pro at pulling herself up and charging on–despite all new challenges or losses. The only time she won’t tolerate something going missing is when public art is involved. In those cases, she will do everything in her power to locate and gain back the missing masterpieces, and put the perpetrator behind bars if possible.

So what does your stuff say about you? 🙂

Counterfeit Conspiracies and Marked Masters can be pre-ordered now and will be released Feb. 2nd. You can find all the bookseller links for both books at Where to Buy My Books


6 Replies to “Stuff Builds Characters”

  1. Hmmmmm, my purse is sort of like Laurel’s in that I carry whatever I may need — or the Hubs — if I’m out of the house. I collect crazy watches. And books. Maybe the multitude of watches says I want more time to read all my books???? :>) And arranging your office for your pets, well, that’s why you did it, right?

    1. Oh, Gale, I knew we were kindred souls. We need to compare watch collections sometime. My husband keeps telling me I can only use one watch at a time, but then I see a new one I love and gotta have… 🙂 And yes, I didn’t actually plan to arrange my office to please the dog, but she’s so happy about it I can’t help but smile and happily step over her every time.

  2. Great question! My purse is similar to Laurel’s. I carry what our daughters or I may need medically (rescue medications), treats for my service dog, ID’s and insurance information,a cell phone and Kindle or book. “My space” in our home has books, Teddy bears, reams of medical and insurance paperwork and medical supplies (limited clothing). Pretty basic and essential. We live in a small house so keeping most nonessential items isn’t an option.

    1. Yes, I have the smallest room in the house as my office and “work” space. Of course, now I share it with a 100-pound Labrashepherd, but it works for us. Like you, my purse is my lifeline–which is why it’s so easy to write about Laurel’s. I remember about 10 or 15 years ago when the couple and their baby were lost in a snow storm and he used a cleaning bag to make a sled for their young son, and the couple walked until she couldn’t walk anymore, so they found some shelter for her and the child to stay in and he walked on for help. My best friend and I were talking about it later, comparing notes on how our families could likely survive for a week on what she and I always have in our purses and packed in the back of the car over the cold winter months. LOL

  3. The things I no longer carry are probably as significant as what I do. I am so glad that I no longer have to carry the make up, panty hose and personal items of my younger days. That lack mostly just shows my age and maybe reflects my retired status as does the lack of a watch or a can of soup for those days I couldn’t find time to get to the cafeteria. Since I seldom travel any more and don’t take my dogs everywhere now, you will no longer find a can open, dog food, a package of plastic where or a leash in my purse, but you would find them plus harnesses and a comforter for them to lay on in my car. You might also still find a dog treat or a rawhide but if you do, the dogs packed those not me. Having the cell phone doesn’t say much about me but the fact that it is a basic flip phone reflects the fact that I am not away from home enough to need higher technology often and that I am a little cheap.
    All the things you would no longer find in my car are also reflect of the fact that I have finally learned that I don’t have to prepare for all eventualities for everyone, or at least that I don’t worry about things away from home. It was almost a standing joke that if we needed a circus, we could probably find most of it in my car. But the reality was that many people appreciated knowing that if they need a punch bowl it probably wasn’t far from the library. (Slight exaggeration; the punch bowl was in the library, but I have found disposable serving spoons and large almost disposable bowls from after holiday sales still in my trunk when someone forgot to provided them and the time the soda machines ran out during our staff party many people would glad to have the 48 cokes I hadn’t unloaded the night before.) So I was a bit of a pack rat. It is had to get used to only taking care of my self and my guys.
    My husband does most of the shopping now and my two long sleeve shirts and a Christmas sweater are the extent of my winter wardrobe.

    1. Oh, I love this, Jeanie, and I especially like your idea about the things we no longer carry. You’re exactly right that things I used to have while I was a corporate worker are far different from what I carry now as a self-employed author. But some things just evolve. I always carried a paperback in my purse–now I make sure a Kindle is with me at all times. There were so many things I started carrying just because I was a mom–like baby wipes–that I still carry a pack of to wash hands when a sink isn’t handy. I know a lot of people carry Purell, but I never thought it was as good as truly wiping way the germs on my hands. LOL! Old habits die hard 🙂 Love that your dogs carry in their own rawhides. Smart move on their part!

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