Take Your Heroine To Work Day!

We all know why we love a great hero. Maybe because they’re larger than life. Maybe because they NEVER leave the gas tank empty or they take out the garbage when it’s overflowing or they drag those cans back up the driveway without being asked… just so we don’t have to do it.


Okay, that would be FANTASY WORLD here on the farm, and probably in a bunch of places! In our house the division of duties generally falls on the female of the species, and honestly… I’ve learned that teaching myself how to do things is way better than waiting for someone to do it for me. And in doing that, I’ve strengthened my heroines by default.


One heroine learned how to lay tile on a floor after I installed our woodstove tile and floor…

And she opened her own bakery after learning the ins and outs in a big commercial grocery store bakery… and the fact that my night job when I first got published was working in a commercial bakery didn’t hurt! 🙂

One heroine ran a sheep farm in the North Country using the STAR method… We don’t have sheep here, but we’ve got the farm!

Kayla Dougherty was a hospice nurse, based on the great hospice nurses who helped us through my mother’s cancer…

Restaurant? Waitress? A prodigal daughter comes home to help run her family’s small-town restaurant. My eleven years of waiting tables and being headwaitress at the end came in handy here…

Meg in “Small Town Hearts” ran a candy store in Jamison, New York… and guess who loves, loves, loves to make candy for holiday trays??? 🙂

After waiting tables I was offered a job as a bridal consultant at a local bridal store… I grabbed that chance to work in one of the most fun environments you can imagine… and with SO MUCH TO LEARN because I am no one’s fashionista!!! I am the opposite of fashion-savvy so I had to learn everything from the get-go. Hardest job I ever jumped into, and the most fun… And this laid the groundwork for the Grace Haven series where three sisters step in to help their mother’s event-planning business, focusing on weddings! The Gallagher girls got the best of my long-time experience, and we had so much fun!

I used that same experience for a sweet novella contracted by Harper Christian “All Dressed Up In Love”, a story of a young about-to-be lawyer who really wants to run a wedding shop and the hard-nosed lawyer who inherits the wedding gown shop when his mother passes away… and the last thing he wants is to run this store because he’s got plans… BIG PLANS!!!… and he’s also got a heart and can’t bear to see his mother’s employees and friends all out of a job. Set in Old City, Philadelphia, I drew on my experience and eight years of having boys at Penn to fill in the blanks.

Now I get that not everyone has had to hold the number of nametag and hairnet jobs that I’ve done in order to make ends meet… but the huge blessing of that was that I got first-hand experience in so many facets of real-life jobs and now I can apply them to characters and settings!

Readers are not only intuitive, they’re smart. They don’t have to have held these jobs to rationalize the reality from the made-up story. Those grains of reality are what make a story’s heart beat. They’re what cause a person to set a book on a keeper shelf and not in the donation pile… although I don’t mind being donated so that other folks get a taste of what I’m sellin’!!! 🙂


I’ve never lived in the West or run a ranch, so for that I take 3 parts farm life, 2 parts knowing men and how funny they are, 2 parts common sense, 2 parts research and one part Chaps and it’s a right solid recipe for creating a Western series. My Double S Series was so much fun to write… and later this year the first book of my Shepherd’s Crossing series will release from Love Inspired! Oh be still my heart, writing cowboys is fun… but then so is writing lawmen and military heroes and farmers and contractors.

This year I bought myself a bunch of power tools. My favorite one is the heavy duty cordless drill that drives screws into place. I’ve built two chicken coops (and made mistakes!) but now my heroine can make the same mistakes and it will sound real because it is!

I don’t like the pneumatic hammer… it’s too hard for me to hold the nail gun up high, I’m short and don’t have that upper body strength, dagnabbit… but I LOVE A GOOD HAMMER!

I put a roof on… badly…. ooops. But the next roof was better! 🙂

Drawing on our lives, our friends’ lives, our jobs, our experiences is a great way to round out those heroines and make them the kind of strong, forward-focused women who can match your hero step-for-step.

I love a strong heroine who’s based in old-time values, appreciates a smokin’ hot hero, and gets the job done… even when the job seems impossible, kind of what sweet Kelsey faced when lake effect snow off of Lake Erie forced her off the road and into the arms of an amazing small town… and gave her reason to renew the two friendships that got her through years of foster care as a Philadelphia teen. “Welcome to Wishing Bridge” might not be a western, ladies and gents, but it’s got the great small-town values we love and the beauty of promises kept… even when they’re old.

Because if my heroines can achieve their goals, there’s a better chance for a long and happy marriage. Pretend, of course.

But happy, nonetheless! 🙂

And for today I’ve got a sweet offering for you guys. Own it before you can buy it!

I’ve got a copy of “Her Secret Daughter” to send to some lucky person… leave a comment below… tell me what kind of heroines appeal to you? Shy? Introverted? Insecure? Or plucky? In-your-face? Determined?

The nice thing is that God made all authors different, so there’s something for everyone!


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37 thoughts on “Take Your Heroine To Work Day!”

  1. Happy New Year Ruth. I loved your blog. My favorite kind of heroine is the spunky type who doesn’t take grief from anyone, she’s self reliant, doesn’t need a man to do her bidding, but deserves a man too. She know when to step back and let them take the reins to a-peace them, but knows deep down She can do it herself.
    You have a great year.

    • Tonya, I’m with you! I once started a book with a weaker heroine and my editor shot me an e-mail that said something like “WHAT ARE YOU DOING??? THIS ISN’T A RUTHY HEROINE!!!!”

      Needless to say I changed that heroine very quickly! 🙂

      The grace of all this is that their are abundant readers out there who prefer one way over the other, and the trick for us authors is to connect with them. With less shelf space in stores, and less “show” time on the shelves, we need all the help we can get… so when readers give shout outs and/or share books, and talk around the lunch table or the water cooler, that’s a huge plus for us.

      We are so grateful!

  2. Good morning and Happy New Year! I loved this blog! Boy have you had a ton of experiences in your life! I love a take charge, not dependent on anyone, don’t mess with me, back off kind of heroine yet she’s not afraid of being the ball room fashionista that all the other ladies want to be and all the men want to be in her life kind of lady too. I’m not asking mucg am I? Lol I’d love the opportunity to read one of your books. I’m always looking for a new author to add to my go to authors list and from this blog I’m guessing I’d love your books!! Happy New Year!

    • And I’d love for you to be able to read one, too! 🙂 Stephanie, I love that I’ve been able to turn life’s lessons into my mid-life career. That was always my dream!!! So to have it all work out that way is Totes Magotes!!!

      I have no idea what Totes Magotes means, but it’s fun to say!

  3. I love your heroines, Ruthy! I like a heroine that does not rely on a hero for everything. I like all different kinds of heroines but they must have or develop a good heart.

    Happy New Year!

    • Thank you, Andrea!!! I like that self-reliance, too. I look back at the pioneers and see how they struggled and how people packed up and turned around… and realize that the Midwest and the West were built from some super strong stock… Unafraid to stand their ground and do the work required because if they couldn’t handle it in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, they moved back east.

      Strength begets strength…. but I also love to take a heroine out of the wretchedness and bring her into her own… Empowering women is a wonderful thing.

  4. I really enjoyed your post. Life experience is the best. It’s a great feeling when you learn something new and you can become more independent. It’s good when you can do something yourself and don’t have to wait for someone else to do it.
    Carol Luciano

    • Carol, I agree! And we tend to get sulky when we wait for something to get done, and I’m not pretty when I’m sulking. Smiling is better!!!! 🙂

      And it’s fun to keep the brain active, learning new things. And by doing that, it seems to add that extra layer of reality into the story and that draws readers in.

      SEE THAT???


  5. I love the spunky I can do it myself heroine and I love for her hero to only add to her not try to tame her

  6. Good Thursday morning Ruthy. I like a heroine who is kind and forgiving; ready to take on a challenge; unfraid to break a nail or chip her polish; strong as steel but able to cry. Women may lack the physical strength of men but most women have a core that can’t be broken. And yes, we readers know when authors writing what they don’t know!
    Blessings & Happy New Year!

    • This has to be about the very best description of the all-around best heroine I’ve ever seen… Connie, thank you! And you are spot on about the readers and info… I might have had a different experience than some in any one job, but most folks who know the job/situation, realize that there’s a spectrum of reality. But that accuracy is important… I remember reading a farm book once that had an inordinate number of milking animals during haying season and one farmer. And of course that wouldn’t work… and his house was CLEAN. SAY WHAT??????

  7. Happy New Year, Ruthy! I love your post! You are a go getter and I love that! Nothing like a strong gal to get the job done. Keep it up, Ruthy!

    • Melanie, hey!!!!! I’m so glad you stopped by. I am a go-getter. I wonder if that’s nature or nurture???? Maybe born with a frenetic personality that I then inflict on innocent bystanders… and THEN… nurture (or lack thereof) encouraged me to be crazy busy!!!

      Or there were bills to pay. 🙂

  8. Happy New Year, Ruth! I like to read about a variety of types of heroines, both for the change of pace and for different kinds of insights. I differ from a good friend who writes and reads primarily feminist romances. Since I’m a strong, independent woman myself, I prefer variety over just one character type.

    • Hmm… feminist romance.

      What is that, exactly??? I’m picturing … wait. You don’t want to know what I’m picturing!!!!

      I like variety with strength… But also challenged. I mean the reality these days with single parents/mothers, women in the work force/sexual harassment, women with histories of abuse at home or from men, women who’ve fought their way to success… so that’s all solid stuff because despite what we know, women are still subjugated in a lot of ways in our country… So I love stories that show them rising above that and becoming their own selves… and then a helpmate worthy of loving them.

      But now I’m wondering about the feminist romance, Eliza!!!!

  9. Good morning, Ruthy! I like to read about ladies that are strong and self sufficient, maybe because circumstances have required it. As a single parent, my mom took on a lot of roles that i’m sure she never expected. I remember when I was ten years old she took an auto repair class for woman so she could change the oil in our car herself. Mechanics were expensive and we didn’t have much so she learned to do it herself! I also enjoy a heroine that can laugh at herself, because that just seems so important for us all. I am looking reading “Wishing Bridge” now and loving it! Looking forward to adding more new books to my “Ruthy shelf!”

    • Hey, Julia!!! I agree, and your mom’s situation is exactly where I’m coming from. I love the romance of a happy ending, but we all know that might take a while!

      And I’m so glad you’re loving “Welcome to Wishing Bridge”!!!! I am in love with that town and every single character in it!

      Thank you… sincerely.

  10. I like to see a variety of types in my reading… enjoy seeing each characters’ personality shine in their own stories…

    • Colleen, that’s the major goal we strive for, I think. To let each character… and their story… shine as the story unfolds. And variety is good!

  11. Great post, Ruth. Sounds like you’ve had a lot of interesting jobs. I think it’s only natural to incorporate part of our own experiences into our characters. I did that last year with my book In the Rancher’s Arms. I made the heroine a reporter since I’d been one, but her job was way more exciting (and dangerous!) than mine in that she was an international reporter who went into some pretty dangerous places.

    I’m currently writing a series set just outside Yellowstone National Park, so I regularly ask my sister questions because she worked there for a year and lived in Montana for a while more recently.

    • Trish, yes… You’re international reporter is like my wedding and event planner… I was a bridal consultant so I kind of upgraded the job considerably! And that’s okay, because we know the basics… and I made sure to give my boss copies of the books and they had fun with them. So did I!

  12. I had to laugh – I am the same way in teaching myself how to do something seems much quicker than asking for help from the hubby. 😉 I also grew up on a farm with three brothers who didn’t want to help me one bit! I learned real fast to become independent and do things myself. Even if they are badly done the first time! I love how your life experiences have been woven into the stories. Thanks for sharing! As for heroes, well I like them determined, soft heart but will go and get things done if asked. 😉

    • Susan, YES!!! TWINSIES!!! BESTIES!!!! And I’m totally agreed on heroes…. have them rugged and determined enough to be manly, but I want them willing to go the distance for the heroine because he KNOWS she’s the one… even before he knows it or admits it to himself!

    • Kim!!! Happy New Year right back to you! I love great heroines, too… It wasn’t heroes who brought me to writing or my love of books… although I love, love, love romance! It was heroines… Jo March… Anne Shirley… Clara Barton… Eleanor Roosevelt… my Aunt Isabelle!

      Betsy in “Understood Betsy”… I love seeing women claim their strength despite adversity or sometimes because of it. What doesn’t kill us can make us stronger, indeed!!!

  13. I love a heroine like Corinne in the Lawman’s Yuletide Baby who is just a regular Jane working her way through life and taking care of her kids…and then things start to happen. And she gets the rewards she deserves! Those types of stories always make me happy.

    • Jenna, thank you so much! I love that story, and I was so excited to write it… Corinne needed her own story, her own chance at happiness. That’s exactly the kind of story I love to read, too! Thank you so much for that shout out. That means so much to us authors.

  14. You certainly have had a wide variety of experiences. It makes for an interesting life as well as good resource material. I believe we should all do and try as many things as we can. We are capable of much more than we think.
    As for the type of heroines I like, “Shy? Introverted? Insecure? Or plucky? In-your-face? Determined?” Yes to all of them. It depends on the story and the hero. The heroine needs to fit both of those. One thing that is needed for them all is inner strength.

    • Patricia, I agree… that inner strength is clutch. And we are so much more capable!!! It’s kind of amazing, isn’t it? And the funny thing is that as kids, no one puts power tools into little girl’s hands… Well, we’re changing that here, LOL! When they’re big enough, of course, but learning to can foods, freeze foods, and build things are the basics of survival. I think every kid should have an ongoing course on all of the above!

      • Our daughters can handle tools and helped us build an addition. They hike, camp, cave, canoe, cook very well at home or over a campfire. Our son took cooking lessons in preschool (a fun extra class series) and is a pretty good cook, as is his dad. He is a rock climber, hiker, camper, kayaker, canoes,can build anything and has an artists touch with wood and iron. They have all learned to take on anything they are interested in. One thing I am sure of, they could all survive under most circumstances. They can all garden, can and dry foods, make sausage and jerky, hunt and fish, make a shelter and build a fire, and know what wild foods they can find and eat. Sadly so many of the younger generation can’t survive without take-out or a microwave and their electronics.

  15. I love that you use your experiences in your writing. I like a heroine that can take care of herself or at least is willing to learn. What I don’t like is a heroine who is helpless or one who is so stubborn she won’t allow anyone to offer help.

  16. I think I’ve finally met someone who’s had more types of jobs than I have! I found the same thing you state — I learned something from every one of them. Also, with time I realized that not one of those experiences was a waste. It’s amazing how two seemingly different things can meet and require both skills. Whether heroines are shy or brassy or know-it-all or whatever, I like for them to be open to change … I like to see the heroine different at the end of the story than she was at the beginning, if only in a minor way.

    Loved the Stafford series!

  17. Happy New Year.the kind of heroines that appeal to me are Determined. I am looking forward to reading “Her Secret Daughter.” Thank you for the opportunity to win. I enjoy reading your books.

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