Meet a pastor and an editor in
Salena House Publishers
Life has taught Miska Tomlinson that there are no honorable men. Her womanizing brothers, her absentee father, and Mark, the married baseball player who claims to love her—all have proven undependable. But Miska has life under control. She runs her editing business from her luxury condo, stays fit with daily jogs along Chicago’s lakefront, and in her free time blogs anonymously about life as a kept woman.
Enter new neighbor Dillan Foster. Between his unexpected friendship and her father’s sudden reappearance, Miska loses control of her orderly life. Her relationship with Mark deteriorates, and Miska can’t help comparing him to Dillan. His religious views are so foreign, yet the way he treats her is something she’s longed for. But Dillan discovers exactly who she is and what she has done. Too late she finds herself longing for a man who is determined to never look her way again.
When her blog receives unexpected national press, Miska realizes her anonymity was an illusion. Caught in a scandal about to break across the nation, Miska wonders if the God Dillan talks about would bother with a woman like her—a woman who’s gone too far and done too much.
Introducing Miska & Dillan
Brief physical description
Miska is an exotic beauty—slender, since she’s a runner, and tall with golden skin and long, curly black hair. She’s just hit thirty and is dealing with everything that means to a single woman who secretly wants to marry and start a family. She still turns head everywhere she goes, but for some reason she’s attracting all the wrong kinds of men.
Dillan’s just your average guy—except for his height. He’s six foot, nine inches tall but isn’t an athlete. Shorts, T-shirts, and shampooed and air-dried hair are fine with him. He’s pretty serious and keeps things private, which means most people would look right by him. Except for the height, of course.
Kim Kardashian from a few years ago looks a lot like Miska Tomlinson. Just give her curly hair. I have a Pinterest page for Kept.
I found this guy (see below), a real American soldier, on Nat Geo’s Inside Combat Rescue. I kept looking at him, thinking, Where have I seen him before? Figured it out on the second episode. I used this exact photo when I wrote Miska’s description of him in chapter three when the four key characters had dinner together.
Strengths and weaknesses
Miska’s strengths are that she’s a hard worker, focused, and determined. Sadly she’s doing really well at a lot of things no one should be doing. On the plus side, she’s kind, sweet, and rather vulnerable, despite having to protect herself from the rotten men she’s spent a lifetime attracting.
Dillan is loyal and black and white. He comes from a strong Christian family, which has done him well. But he’s got a bit of a pride issue he doesn’t yet know about. That’s going to make him say and do some things he’ll really regret.
Quirk (if any) Tough one! Miska is too blunt for Dillan’s taste and is way too comfortable talking about things he’s never discussed with a woman.
Dillan’s quirk would be that he refuses to open up, except to a select few. More than once, he asks Miska a somewhat personal question, only to clam up when she asks him one herself.
Your inspiration for the character
Miska—and the plot— came straight from ESPN’s SportsCenter. The show did a series on temptations pro athletes face, and one of them was women who make their living off pro athletes. They interviewed one woman, had her completely silhouetted, but I could still clearly see her very unique short hairstyle. As the interview went on, she admitted that not only did one athlete “keep” her, but she did the same thing for another athlete—and each man thought they were the only one. I thought, Honey, I hope you’re wearing a wig. Or they know now.
She just haunted me, and I had to figure out what would make a woman live that way—and what would make her want the truth.
As for Dillan, I realized he needed to be the exact opposite of Miska’s usual guy. So since she was dating an athlete, Dillan became a klutz. Since her athlete was rich, famous, and good-looking, Dillan was an assistant pastor and an average guy. Since Miska was promiscuous, Dillan wasn’t.
But I knew there had to be some reason for Miska to notice Dillan. As I thought through what I knew about him, I remembered a guy in college who hated that everyone assumed he was on the basketball team just because he was tall. He referred to himself as a klutz—which I already had down for Dillan. So there it was—Dillan was really, really tall! Even taller than the pro athlete Miska is with.
Background to the story
Other than the SportsCenter bit I mentioned above, I wanted to explore what happens when God saves people out of our messed-up society, a culture that’s become more and more promiscuous. I’ve known a number of women who’ve come out of pasts similar to Miska’s, and they either struggle with guilt over things they’ve done or live in fear of their past getting out, afraid their church family will hold it against them or view them differently. And some of these women really want to talk to a mature Christian about their past, due to that guilt that still haunts them. Those were the women I wrote for.
Another aspect that developed was to show that pastors are normal guys too. I get so tired at how fiction portrays pastors—quite often even Christian fiction! They’re either pansies or cartoonish saints or gender neutral altogether. Pastors are men, just like every other man in the church, and they fight a sin nature like we all do. Plus they work in a society that views their job and education—often a master’s degree and sometimes a doctorate—as a joke. Add in that most pastors don’t make a lot of money, and that begins to wear on a guy. So I wanted to write about a real guy who’s dealing with all of that. And singleness. Good luck, dude!