January Character Profiles: Poppy Martin

(The third in a series of posts highlighting some fictional characters who I want to be more like during the new year. Check out past spotlights on Gage McKenna and Brandy Phillip.)

Poppy Martin
from Todd M. Johnson’s Critical Reaction

“Look, son,” his father said to Poppy before she could take him away. “When you reach my age, you sit here waiting for the Lord to take you, and you look back on your life. It’s all you’ve still got—and you count yourself lucky if you can do that
. . . . Don’t let ‘em make you do something you’ll sit here and regret.”

Critical Reaction
Character Description: Hanford security guard Patrick “Poppy” Martin is a man of modest size but solid stature. He is “grounded,” both in faith and personality; the kind of man who puts principle and truth ahead of expediency. It is a quality in people, men or women, that quietly but naturally garners love and respect. In the book, that respect and affection are evident in Poppy’s relationship with his children, his wife, his colleagues on the job and in the union, and eventually the lawyers who come to represent him.

Notable Character Quality: Integrity

Todd’s Reaction: Poppy was particularly patterned after a man with whom I worked on a street crew during the summers when in college. He was universally liked and respected for the “Poppy” qualities he brought to the job every day, including serving as a mentor for an orphaned worker who was under him.

Amy’s Reaction: I absolutely loved the character of Poppy. He’s an average working-class guy who would rather just go about his life in a familiar routine . . . but when that doesn’t happen, he certainly rises to the occasion. Without going into much detail and spoiling the plot, I will say that I actually cheered out loud for him during the final chapters. I’d love to be more like him, especially in his stubborn refusal to compromise his principles.

Related Scripture:
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”
1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV)

About the Author:

Johnson_ToddTodd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as adjunct professor of International Law and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong. He lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter. Visit his website at www.authortoddjohnson.com.

Who is (or was) an older person in your life who served as a mentor or an example of who you wanted to be someday?

January Character Profiles: Brandy Phillip

(The second in a series of posts highlighting some fictional characters who I want to be more like during the new year. Check out last week’s spotlight on Charlotte Graham.)

Brandy Phillip
From Kathryn Cushman’s Chasing Hope

This was the type of training where, in the past, Brandy had been most prone to cheat. Push not quite as hard as she could during the first half, try to save a little something for later. . . . Not today. Today she was going to give everything she had. Maybe if she endured enough pain she could at some point forgive herself, at some point quit kicking herself for throwing away the closest thing she’d had to a friend in a long time.

Chasing Hope

Character Description: Brandy is a troublemaking teenager from the get-go. She also has an absurd natural talent for running . . . and a childhood that no one would envy. She makes mistakes over and over, and yet she keeps getting up off the ground and trying again.

Notable Character Quality: Perseverance

Kathryn’s Reaction: I admire Brandy because she has some compelling excuses to quit, and although she plans to quit on several occasions, she never does. In spite of the fact that “life has been completely unfair,” she’s still pressing forward. She makes some wrong decisions, and she has unknowingly let bitterness take root deep inside her, but she perseveres. She inspires me to keep going—even after I’ve blown it. Again. And again. And again.

Amy’s Reaction: Even though Brandy started out in the story as a tough girl who couldn’t care less what anyone thought of her, I liked her from the start. I could see that she was a fighter coming from a difficult background, and that what she really needed was someone to look up to. And it made me wonder: how many people around me are like Brandy? How many people do I judge by appearances without really getting to know them?

Related Scripture:
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” —Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)

About the Author:

Cushman_Katie1Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy. She is the author of five novels, including Leaving Yesterday and A Promise to Remember, which were both finalists for the Carol Award in Women’s Fiction. She is also the co-author of Angel Song with Sheila Walsh. Kathryn and her family currently live in Santa Barbara, California. Visit her website at www.kathryncushman.com.

Who comes to mind first when you think of someone who you’d like to imitate in the coming year (fictional, historical, or someone you know personally)?

January Character Profiles: Charlotte Graham

(The first in a series of posts highlighting some fictional characters who I want to be more like during the new year. Check back every Wednesday of this month for more!)

Charlotte Graham
From Dee Henderson’s Unspoken

“That’s the problem. God is too good. He’s too willing to forgive. He would have forgiven the men who hurt me.”

Character Description:  Charlotte Graham is confident in business but extremely cautious when it comes to people—and she has every reason to be. As a teenager, Charlotte was the victim of one of the most famous kidnappings in Chicago history. She’s changed her name and built a new life for herself since then, but she’s never fully recovered from what happened. The one thing she’s sure of is that she’s single for life. When she’s left a sizable family legacy, however, the quiet life she’s built for herself is about to be turned upside down.

Notable Character Quality: Trust

Dee’s Reaction: Charlotte Graham hit a personal chord with me. God was reaching down to help her put the pieces of her life together and used Bryce to glue some of those pieces back in place. This is a relationship you want to see thrive. I listened to their story and I could see God’s hand at work. A woman with a dark past. And a man who loves her—who loves her so deeply and well she can heal.

Amy’s Reaction: Like so many of us, Charlotte found it easy to give and hard to take. She cared about using her money to help others, but didn’t want to be helped, because opening herself up to love meant she would have to risk being hurt. That’s a fear that all of us have, to different degrees, deep down, and one that made Charlotte’s character very relatable to me. Just as she has to learn to trust Bryce, she has to learn to trust God as well . . . and so do I.

Related Scripture:
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” —Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

About the Author:
Dee Henderson is the author of eighteen novels, including Jennifer: An O’Malley Love Story, New York Times bestseller Full Disclosure, the acclaimed O’Malley series, and the Uncommon Heroes series. Her books have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, such as the RITA Award, the Christy Award, and the ECPA Gold Medallion. Dee is a lifelong resident of Illinois. Learn more at deehenderson.com or unspokennovel.com.

What verse has been meaningful to you in hard times?


Welcome to Bethany House’s fiction blog! We’re getting ready to launch our Christmas Countdown. Starting on Friday, November 29, the day after Thanksgiving, our authors will be posting on the blog to share their Christmas memories and traditions with you.

I’m Amy Green, fiction publicist here at Bethany House.


Much easier to attach bows to garland when you don’t have to carry them around.

You can read more about me here, but the most important thing for you to know is that I’m a reader who loves the fact that, thanks to social media, readers can interact with writers.

Come back and visit—there will be a new post every day until Christmas. We’d love to hear from you, so comment often. Share a post on Facebook or send it to a friend who needs encouragement. Maybe even buy a few books as last-minute Christmas presents. (I’m not the only one who gets excited when I feel the distinct shape of a book under holiday wrapping paper, am I?)


We decorated Bethany House for Christmas today.

Now, one more note: I am one of those strict, no-exception defenders of keeping Christmas things in the Christmas season.  (The suspicious question: “Is that…a Christmas carol you’re playing/singing/humming?” is pretty typical of me all throughout November.) So I was a little hesitant to announce this Christmas blog series today, as it might take some of the focus away from Thanksgiving.

And yet, this year, I’ve learned to see the connection between Christmas and Thanksgiving.


The Bethany House tree-trimmers

This year, I’m thankful for stories, and the ability we have to share them with one another. I’m not ashamed to admit that reading a few of our authors’ Christmas posts had me crying in my office, while others put a smile on my face that just wouldn’t leave.

I’m thankful for the extra focus that the holiday season gives us on what really matters. It’s the only time of the year where everyone, Christian or not, will talk about gratitude, peace, and joy. (We need to work on slowing down to appreciate those things…but they’re still there!)

And, of course, I’m thankful for the birth of Jesus. Reading these posts—yes, even reading them earlier in the season than I might have wanted—has reminded me to be grateful for the simple, yet completely unexpected gift of Emmanuel, God with us. I hope and pray that it will do the same for you.


What’s something you’re thankful for this year?