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Beyond the Steps of Stone: Maturity, Character Voice & Evolving Story

One of my goals is to get Beyond the Steps of Stone published in 2021. I don’t care if I go the traditional route and pitch it to an agent or self-publish it. I just know that next year is the year. As I started reworking the book, I also discovered that I did not connect with the characters the same way. So, I started looking at the original character templates I came up with and that little voice in the back of my head went, “Nope.” I no longer heard any of the voices the same way and I knew that my book was changing into something more as I worked on it.

When I first started writing Beyond the Steps of Stone, I did not understand how much this story would come to mean to me. It is based on a premise a friend gave me that just sprang to life in my head. I started the first draft of the story in 2003. It is the only finished manuscript my father got to read before he passed in 2006. For years, this book was bittersweet for me until I used it for my editing class while earning my master’s degree.

I knew, after blowing the dust off it and rereading it, that over the last 15 years, from 2003 to 2018, my writing had matured. It was time to pull this book out and revamp the entire story. I wanted to make it darker; I wanted the dialogue tighter, and I wanted to evolve the story between the heroine and her lover into something deeper. I had hinted at it, placed objects in the way with the thought to do something more with it. I never did until I started reworking the book.

One of my goals is to get Beyond the Steps of Stone published in 2021. I don’t care if I go the traditional route and pitch it to an agent or self-publish it. I just know that next year is the year.

As I started reworking the book, I also discovered that I did not connect with the characters the same way. So, I started looking at the original character templates I came up with and that little voice in the back of my head went, “Nope.” I no longer heard any of the voices the same way and I knew that my book was changing into something more as I worked on it.

Let’s meet the principal characters. I have a Pinterest board for each of them so that I can see some progression, if possible. You can check them out since I included the link to them at the end of each section. The original character bios I had for these characters were very short and the basic information in them is still valid.

Colonel Morgan Langtree

When I first started this story, my heroine was known as Colonel Brecca Morrisey. I have come to hate that name. It just rubs me the wrong way. I dug deep into my well of characters and discovered that the one character I loved and still related to was an original character I created for my “Farscape” fanfiction series, Morgan Langtree. She is a strong, feminine lead and honestly, she needed a chance to break free of the fanfiction and have her own novel where she could shine.

Name: Colonel Morgan Langtree

Age: 35
Height: 5′ 9″
Eyes: Green
Hair: Red
Personality: Natural born leader, stubborn, loyal to her friends, deadly to her enemies, quick sense of humor, jumps into situations without looking back

A ninth-degree black-belt and branded a ‘lethal weapon’ Colonel Morgan Langtree was handpicked by her superior officers to lead an elite experimental team of Army Rangers. She successfully led her team of seven on many missions, never leaving a man down and developing a report with them that garnered and earned respect both ways.

Langtree’s team was chosen to go into cryogenic stasis, the Army feeling that they were the best suited to protect the remnants of mankind. She was the first to come out of stasis and quickly discovered there was something desperately wrong.

Teaming up with archaeologist Dr. Chesney Devine, a student of the Inca and the Mayan’s, Langtree leads her team to the Belize Valley Area in South America, discovering human survivors and the Allorvian’s.

Knowing she must get information from the aliens without blowing her cover, she willingly goes with Lord Jericho Juriath, finding herself in deeper trouble than she counted on and losing her heart and soul to charismatic and handsome alien.

I had originally picked Julianne Moore for this character. She is Brecca Morrissey. Not Morgan Langtree. Instead, Karen Gillan is my Morgan. She exudes the right amount of sass and strength this character needs without sacrificing her femininity.


Lord Jericho Juriath

Jericho is the leader of the Allorvian’s, a race of aliens that have come to Earth after their own home world is attacked and slowly destroyed by their enemies. The only difference from the original character I imagined is Jericho today is a little rougher around the edges and moodier. He is a natural-born leader and will do whatever he needs to do to keep the remains of his people safe.

Name: Lord Jericho Juriath
Age: 43
Height: 6′ 3″
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Black/Brown
Personality: Serious because of his position as leader but with a dry sense of humor and a love of life

Leader of the Allorvian people, Juriath’s family has ruled for generations, passing leadership from father to son. Faced with the extermination of his people, Juriath gathers as many survivors as he can, fleeing his home in the Andromeda cluster and traveling to the Milky Way and Earth, a planet his forefathers had aided almost 10,000 years earlier. Expecting to find an advanced civilization to disappear into, all Juriath finds is a planet with little life left on it, a planet that had been thrust millennium into its own past.

And a strange woman who may hold the key to it all, Colonel Morgan Langtree, a red-haired woman who steals the alien’s heart.

Jericho is on his third “played by.” He originally started out as Viggo Mortensen aka Aragorn from the “Lord of the Rings” movies. When I started the original rewrite, I came across a drawing someone did of Sebastian Stan (“Bucky Barnes”) with long hair and a nose ring that made me go… Jericho! But the more I worked on the rewrite, the more I realized the voice I was hearing in my head was much deeper, huskier, and more commanding than either of them.

Enter Richard Armitage (“Thorin Oakenshield”). Yes, he shows up a lot as my leads, but, as some of my friends have pointed out over the years, I have a thing for tall, dark, blue eyed, moody actors. I have made it a point to watch as much of his stuff as I can. For every role he has played, I see something of Jericho in him, including a certain dwarf lord. I couldn’t find the right Jericho for the longest time. He was right in front of me all along.


Isaiah Acennanson

Isaiah, like Morgan, started out with a different name. At first, he was known as Simion Acennanson, but I tired of the monkey jokes that went with the name. The spelling is actually the Romanian version of the name Simeon or Simon. I like the last name, so I kept it but changed the first name to Isaiah. It works better in the story, although I must pause whenever I type it.

Isaiah is Jericho’s second in command and nephew. Like Jericho, he’s evolved into a rougher version of his original self. Instead of having two romances in the story, apparently a “no-no” in romance novels according to an editor I had, he forms a strong friendship… bromance… with Morgan’s second as they work together to solve a mystery.

Name: Commander Isaiah Acennanson
Age: 38
Height: 6′ 0″
Eyes: Green
Hair: Reddish/Brown
Personality: Loyal, fun-loving, easy-going, charming with an enormous heart and lust for life

The only surviving member of Acennanson family, Isaiah is Lord Juriath’s nephew, son of the Allorvian leaders late older sister. Isaiah grew up around his important uncle and the two men are more like brothers than uncle and nephew. Until Juriath gains a consort and produces an heir, Isaiah is the next in line for leadership of the Allorvian people, a position he really does not want. Isaiah is the one Juriath turns to with all the important matters of state he needs investigated.

To say I was in a different place when I started this book is an understatement. As a huge fan of “Highlander: The Series,” I saw this character originally as actor Adrian Paul. While Adrian would have worked still to this day, Jensen Ackles (“Dean Winchester”) works better, especially the Kroatoan version of Dean. If you’ve never watched “Supernatural,” you should. Jensen’s work on that show is epic and when I watched that episode with my husband one day, I realized that I had found my Isaiah.


Major Alex Brandon

To eliminate having two romances in this book, Major Alex Brandon got a sex change. The character started out as female, being Morgan’s best friend. In the military, there is no reason your best friend can’t be a guy, right? It also made more sense as I was working the rewrite.

Name: Major Alex Brandon
Age: 34
Height: 5′ 9″
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Sandy Brown
Personality: Headstrong, protective, acerbic sense of humor, not quick to trust and dangerous to anyone who hurts his friends, deadly if provoked

Major Alex Brandon rose through the ranks of the Army at the side of his best friend, Colonel Morgan Langtree, working with her in an intelligence operation that successfully promoted them to the Army Rangers. Considered the Army’s top sniper, Alex is not one to be messed with at any cost.

When Morgan goes with Lord Juriath to get information, Alex is left in command, quickly disobeying his commanding officer’s order to leave if he’s had no contact with her for three days. When things go south and accidents occur, Alex digs around for the cause, knowing that Morgan and Lord Juriath are both in danger.

Befriending Commander Isaiah Acennanson, Lord Juriath’s nephew, the two of them uncover a deadly plot that could lead to the extinction of both of their races.

My original “played by” for Alex was Jodie Foster. Now, Tom Hardy fits the bill. Rougher, edgier, he embodies the sniper and intelligence gatherer I first envisioned in this character.


Next week, I’ll introduce you to the rest of the cast of characters and give you a sneak peek of this story.

Have you ever had characters change in between the draft and the final version of your manuscript? Let’s talk about it.


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