Most people who’ve met me know I’m a big fan of Marvel’s Peggy Carter. I love the Captain America movies, but I adore the fact Peggy is competent and kick-ass without being a superhero. She is what she is by dint of training and hard work, and a healthy appreciation of her self-worth. There’s an iconic line in the Agent Carter series where Peggy says, “I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.”
I love that line. I try to embody it, but the truth is, I’ve spent more time running myself down than building myself up. I grew up in a household where the standards were impossibly high, and I could not possibly ever be pretty enough, smart enough, talented enough… in short, Good Enough. Under those circumstances, it’s frequently easier to put yourself down before others can do so. Over time, it becomes a bad habit, teaching you to settle for less than you deserve because you don’t believe you deserve better.
One of the things I love doing is creating heroines who have this potential living in them, but they need to find it for themselves. Part of that is by giving them heroes that build them up, that believe in them. Not to rescue them. But helping them to see they can rescue themselves. I also write supportive heroes because the world is a tough place. You might be able to go it alone, but it’s easier to keep fighting the good fight when you have a support team on your side.
My SO and I currently have to maintain separate households because of the pandemic. I’m an essential worker. The SO can work from home. So we made the decision for him to self-isolate with the high risk family members in their home, while I, as an essential worker exposed to the public every day, am staying on the farm to take care of the animals.
I had a REALLY crappy day at work yesterday. Exhausting, frustrating, and incredibly stressful. I came home to find a package waiting for me from the SO. He’d sent this mug:
It immediately brightened my day, but it wasn’t until this morning that the real message struck me… by sending me my favorite quote from a favorite character, he was saying he knew my value too.
Wow. Just wow.
So I recommend to you all: find someone builds you up when you’re feeling down. Who makes things easier for you, not harder. Who knows the tribe is strongest when we support all members. Who believes in you. Who knows your value.
The Panther’s Lost Princess features just such a couple. Ellie is a waitress seeking to change her future. What Jack knows about her past changes everything. On Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. Only 99 cents for a limited time!
Ellie stared into her mug as though she might be able to divine her future there.
She looked up sharply.
“What’s not to be okay about?” Her words had a definite snap to them. Before he could speak, she leaned across the table so she could hiss intently, “You waltz into my life, telling me that not only am I the long-lost heiress to a kingdom I’ve never heard of, but apparently I can turn into a dragon and I’m some magical musical messiah to boot. I’m supposed to just give up everything I’ve worked so hard for—hell, even my identity—and go live with people I know nothing about? Oh, yeah, and someone is trying to kill me as well. Forgive me if this is a bit too much.”
“Well, if you put it like that…” He smiled, hoping she’d see the humor in it.
“Look, Ellie. I know this is a lot to take in, and believe me, I think you’re handling this really well.” Her expression registered on him and he continued hastily. “Amazingly well. Seriously. You have no idea. I wish I could have explained it better somehow. I don’t know, broke it do you more gently or something.”
Ellie leaned in over the table to speak in a low hiss. “Exactly how would you have explained that I can turn into a dragon more gently?”
Jack shrugged a little helplessly. Ellie rolled her eyes and sat back in her seat with a huff.
“Look, I’m telling you this because you need to know, but also because I don’t know what’s going to happen from here on out. If we get in a jam, I want you to shift and get yourself out of it, you hear?”
Ellie frowned. “I thought you—we—shifters had rules about changing in front of others. At least, that’s the impression you gave me. Isn’t that the whole reason you don’t want me at Nightingale?”
Jack glanced around the diner. No one seemed to be paying them any attention. “You’re right. The current atmosphere is pretty anti-shifter. If the US president goes forward with his plans to start internment camps, it would be bad for anyone to know you’re a shifter. That’s one of the reasons we don’t tend to shift in front of the general public. That’s why there are special resorts and compounds—so that shifters can change at will without fear of persecution. But if it comes down to protecting your identity or saving your life, you have to shift.”
“I don’t know how.”
He laughed at that. He couldn’t help it. “Honey, most people don’t know how to have sex the first time they try it but they figure it out. Instinct kicks in.”
Her face reddened. She didn’t meet his eye. Instead, she fiddled with the empty paper packet of sugar. “I don’t see what the rush to get me back home is. It’s been almost twenty-five years—why can’t it wait a few more weeks?”
“I think it’s a timing thing. Your birthday is next week. Your grandfather wants to bring you home and introduce you to the kingdom with a combined birthday celebration and coronation. And, uh, besides, there’s the Prince to meet.”
“Prince.” She spoke the word with the flat coldness someone else might have used to say, ‘spider’ or ‘snake.’
Jack coughed. “Um, yes. Prince.”
“As in my brother? Another family member I’ve yet to meet?” She tapped her spoon on the table in irritation.
Oh hell. “Not exactly. More like as in your betrothed.”
“My betrothed?” She didn’t shout the words, but she rose out of her seat and planted her hands on the table to lean over and snarl at him. A small puff of smoke released from her nostrils and she gasped and sat down again, her hands clasped over her nose. Her pupils widened into black holes, and her eyebrows climbed up into her hairline.
“I’m starting to think even the amulet can’t hold you back much longer. Why don’t you ditch it and accept who you are?”
The Panther’s Lost Princess is the first book in the Redclaw Security series, but each story can be read as a standalone. Check it out today!
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Suggesting she ditch the amulet and let her true self free might not have been the best suggestion.
Enjoy drinking from your cool new mug.
*grins* That depends, doesn’t it?
Thank you! I think I’ll park my new mug on the corner of my desk for all my coworkers to see! 🙂
Loved the line about explaining how she could turn into a dragon, gently. Is that possible.
Poor Jack! Normally he’s cool under pressure but Ellie really rattles him! 🙂
Love the personal background: your husband’s a definite keeper!
He is that! He’s my biggest supporter in the writing, but in everything else, too. 🙂
I love this post. Excellently articulated, and it resonates indeed. I am so sorry you and your partner are in different dwellings at this time…that seems so challenging. 🙁 It is lovely, however, that you have found the kind of partner you describe in this post. I love that you write characters like that as well! I don’t know what kind of essential worker you are, but thank you, and I wish you (and yours) all health and wellness.
And terrific excerpt. 😉
Oh, thank you. That’s very sweet of you. I’m not only grateful to have such a great partner in life, I’m grateful we have the means to split our household right now. If not… well, it’s bad enough to be afraid for yourself, but to know you might bring something lethal home to those you love is simply nerve-wracking. I hope you and your family stay safe and well, too.
You picked a great excerpt but honestly I LOVE your mug!!!!
Thank you!! (Isn’t that the coolest mug? I can’t wait to take it with me to work…)
Very enticing excerpt. Sounds like her options are dwindling. Great hook. Enjoyed your post. Thanks for sharing. Also enjoy that cool mug! Loved Agent Carter too!!
Thank you! Yes, Poor Ellie–she had her life all mapped out before Jack appeared and upended everything!
Wasn’t Agent Carter a terrific show? I loved the snappy dialog and characters so much!