Archetypes of the Hero’s Journey Series #5: The Herald
By Leigh Holland.
A Herald, or herald of arms, was a medieval messenger and diplomat sent between noblemen and kings. They also were responsible for recording the arms for each nobleman and monarch and managing tournaments in which only those of noble blood could participate. Heralds wore a tabard decorated with the coat of arms of the nobleman they served. Photo by Nicholas Jackson.
An example of a herald giving an introduction at a medieval tournament can be found, albeit modernized, in the excellent film “A Knight’s Tale”.
In Greek myth, messengers were so important that a deity, Hermes, was assigned to fulfill this function among the gods. In The Odyssey, Zeus sends Hermes to deliver the proclamation to Calypso that Odysseus must be released so he may head home.
In Disney’s Mulan, the Herald is the message that the Fa family must provide one male to fight in the war for China.
Far from merely issuing orders, messages, and reciting introductory lineages, the Herald can serve a myriad of functions in a tale. The Herald can serve as a call to action and motivate the hero onward to the next leg of his journey. While the Herald can overlap with other roles in the story, such as ally or love interest, he can also be a servant or messenger of the story’s villain. The Herald is not always a positive role. An example of a Herald who works for the villain can be found in Shakespeare’s Henry V.
Furthermore, the Herald doesn’t even have to be a person. It can be an object, such as a found treasure map, or an event, such as a phone call or telegram. The Herald functions in the story to bring about a transition. Once the Herald appears on the scene, the hero must make a choice and take action, spurring on the adventure.
Based on information found in The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition by Christopher Vogler, which can be purchased at The Writer’s Journey 3rd Edition.
Shadow Eyes (Shadow Eyes Series 1) by Dusty Crabtree, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2nd Edition, 328 pages, June 27th, 2016, Genre: Paranormal and Urban, Young Adult. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
Review by Leigh Holland.
“Shadow Eyes” is a story about good versus evil. It’s also a story about feeling imprisoned by false feelings of helplessness and inadequacy, feelings each of us has had at some point in our lives, particularly during our teenage years. It has been said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” In “Shadow Eyes”, this lesson is learned through a series of struggles by Iris Kohl.
Iris Kohl is a seventeen-year-old girl whose life seems typical: she has divorced parents, two older sisters, a couple of close friends at school, and a favorite teacher. But there’s nothing typical about Iris herself. After a traumatic event on her fourteenth birthday, Iris gained the ability to see “shadows”. These shadows are really more like demons, invisible, but influencing them subliminally, hanging on their shoulders. These shadows don’t appear to have the ability to force people to behave a certain way; rather, they wait until the person is in a difficult situation fraught with negative emotions. This is their opportunity to pounce, to subtly influence a person to step over the line and commit an immoral act they were already tempted to commit in a moment of weakness. The shadows terrify Iris and she pretends not to see them most of the time. She learns to stay away from people who are surrounded and infested with them, for her own safety. The more she observes the shadows, the more Iris comes to believe people are truly wicked, and that she’s powerless to do anything to change it. Iris makes friends with some new students at school, Patrick and Kyra. Kyra sets an example for Iris to follow by helping those in the grips of the shadows and works to build up Iris’ self-esteem. Patrick, meanwhile, is crying out for help, filled with guilt over things he has done. As Iris sees her own family being pounced on and influenced by the shadows, she knows she can no longer sit by the sidelines. She has to gain enough confidence to make a difference. She has to act.
My favorite character, hands down, was Kyra. Filled with security, peace, confidence, and concern for others, Kyra is a role model for the others to follow. She allows her friends to make their own choices, but is always only a moment away in their time of need. Iris makes a good choice when she befriends and looks up to Kyra.
The story was well-written and centered more on characters and their challenges than on plot twists. I enjoyed watching Iris learn and grow as a character and I’m curious where her newfound purpose and sense of confidence will take her. I’d recommend this book to anyone- but especially to young adults- who likes paranormal stories of good versus evil.
This book is available on Amazon at Shadow Eyes.
Leigh Holland’s Interview with Maria Mayer
Today I’m delighted to have Maria Mayer, author of “Crone”, here on my blog. Thanks for agreeing to be on the author spotlight!
I’m so excited to be a guest on your author spotlight. Thank you so much for having me.
Leigh: Your bio says you’re a Michigan native. Tell us a little about yourself and about Michigan.
I grew up in a suburb just north of Detroit. We witnessed the Big D’s rapid deterioration after two of the three automakers pulled out. That was the beginning of the end, but I do have fond memories of concerts, festivals, incredible fireworks displays, and outdoor ice skating at Hart Plaza, with my mother constantly reminding us ‘not to make eye contact’, ‘don’t open your purse’, ‘put toilet paper on the seat’, you get the idea. When it was still called the Detroit Zoo, we used to go with regularity. Me being an animal lover, I stooped to pet the cute little chipmunk sitting near one of the animal enclosures. My father grabbed my hand just as I was about to pet a giant rat! Hey, I was only 5.
The neighborhood was reminiscent of the burg Janet Evanovich describes in the Stephanie Plum novels – everybody knew everybody, and it was a gossip-cigarette-bourbon fest at the Bingo fundraisers instead of the beauty salons. We lived in a typical middle class, brick, ranch style home complete with creepy basement….where it all began, muhahaha!
Leigh: “Crone” is based on an urban legend in Michigan. What do the legends say about her? Have there been any sightings?
My sister and I always had pajama parties, and part of the festivities in addition to junk food and giggling all night were the story circles. We couldn’t wait to jump into the latest rumors, sightings and shrill screams heard coming from the uninhabitable stretch of woods behind the local elementary school. That despicable hag is real. I’m here to tell you there is something to the legend!
Yes! There have been evil faces in bonfires, but that was before the advent of cell phones. Still, some faces have been captured and can probably even be Googled. There were ominous black shadows and people gone missing after sitting in the cemetery calling to her. The UL goes back more than 6 decades. I referenced true-to-life events and embellished them like any imaginative writer would, lol, but I swear to you I heard the sinister laughing. My whole body went primal and I felt like a small rodent being stalked by a predator. It’s a feeling I can’t shake to this day when I’m alone in the dark.
Leigh: How has your professional and educational background helped you write?
Funny you should ask. I started out like any other aspiring pre-med student, but jumped ship to Pathology, earning a BS degree in Mortuary Science. Freaky me, I soon realized I was more interested in the science and technical end of things. Before long I was assisting then Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Werner Spitz, who was an expert witness in the OJ Simpson trial! Guess who was privy to all the evidence, documentation and court testimony…that’s right! I did a post-secondary training circuit at a huge medical facility in Oakland County, Michigan, where I learned how to perform autopsies. No! Bodies do not sit up randomly or move involuntarily, just in case you wondered. The rest is just my obsession with all things paranormal and a lot of humor to get through life.
Leigh: “Crone:” is the first in the Scarlet St. James series. What do readers have to look forward to as the series continues? Anything you can tell us without giving too much away?
I love the recurring characters in the Scarlet St. James series. Everybody knows that two Seers can’t co-exist for any length of time, right? Dum dum duuum, one of the Seers must go! Since both Scarlet and her 7-year-old niece Olivia have the gift, I had to come up with a solution. I love Scarlet and Crone because both antagonist and protagonist are formidable and fierce in their own right. The next novel has an equally strong female antagonist the readers will not soon forget.
Because Scarlet is a paranormal PI called in on special cases, there is a wealth of eerie, haunting, evil supernatural events ordinary people have experienced that can lead to inexplicable deaths to choose from. Rest assured Scarlet’s support systems, both dead and alive, will not abandon her on her next case. I scanned some of the newspaper obits and wrongful deaths reported in Michigan, where I will base the majority of my stories out of, and let my wild imagination do the rest.
Leigh: Which authors have influenced your writing the most? Do you have a favorite author?
At some point I started following Ken Follett, Robert Ludlum and Patricia Cornwell, back when “following” meant something different. I love the diversity. To be honest, The Thornbirds was my childhood favorite, then I grew up and discovered Michael Slade – by far my biggest influence. The novels had all the elements a horror fan could want, and all were based on actual cases in Canada.
Leigh: Zak, Nick, or Aaron?
Zak man, hands down. All 3 are amazing, but I’ve always had a secret thing for ZB. Too bad he won’t give me the time of day. I gave him a shout out on the Acknowledgements page in my book, offered to send him a free signed author’s copy, reached out to him on Twitter and nothing, lol. Crickets chirping.
Leigh: What TV shows and films do you enjoy?
Of course, I loved Bates Motel and am so disappointed the last season was on Netflix, boo! I’m an avid Columbo fan, and watch Ghost Adventures and Paranormal Lockdown pretty much every weekend. I love Shark Week, am addicted to the Planet Earth series, and don’t laugh – Finding Bigfoot! There are so many undiscovered species, who are we to think we know of every living creature out there? That’s my justification and I’m sticking to it.
Leigh: How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Come to Florida and hang out with me is one option. I’m a pretty private person and lie about my age, height and weight every chance I get, but I do have a Twitter address, FB page, Google profile. I’d stay away from trying to connect with former teachers and bosses, they all hate me, lol. JK not sure if they do or not.
Website: Novels by Maria Mayer
Facebook: CRONE, Book Series
Lnkedin: Maria Mayer
Amazon Author Page: Maria Mayer, author of Crone
Maria Mayer (fyi, there are 2 authors with the same name)
Goodreads: Mayer, Maria
Thank you, Maria, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
It was my pleasure and a true honor. Thank you for the opportunity to connect with your fan base. You have changed my life.
Photo: Daniel Ogren
J. K. Rowling’s Top 5 Writing Tips
Joanne Rowling was born July 31st, 1965, in Yate, Gloucestershire, England to Peter James Rowling, an aircraft engineer, and Anne Volant, a science technician. She was born with no legal middle name but adopted Kathleen as her middle name for her pen name’s initial. Her parents met while waiting for a train to depart from King’s Cross Station, which is featured prominently in the Harry Potter book series and is now a tourist attraction. She has a younger sister named Dianne. She described her teen years as unhappy due to her mother’s illness and disputes with her father, with whom she is not on speaking terms.
She came up with the idea for the Harry Potter series while on a four-hour delayed train trip from Manchester to London in 1990. It would be several years before the first book would be published. J.K. Rowling’s life is seen as a rags-to-riches story, of a determined author who’d lost her job, living on state welfare benefits while writing Harry Potter, to becoming a billionaire whose books are loved around the world.
J. K. Rowling is the author of the Harry Potter book series and also writes the Cormoran Strike series under the name Robert Galbraith.
Here are her 5 tips:
- Write in whatever time you have.
- Planning is essential.
- Rewriting is just as essential.
- Be aware of plot and pacing.
- Write your passion.
Blessedly Bound (An Elemental Witch Trials Novel Book One) by Lucretia Stanhope, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, February 6th, 2017, 218 pages, Genre: Paranormal. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
Review by Leigh Holland.
Blessedly Bound features a female witch as the main protagonist, depicting magic as a blend of shamanistic abilities and energy manipulation. After hundreds of years in Western culture of witches being depicted in an incredibly negative light, it’s refreshing to read a story in which they’re presented in a more positive manner. Although the genre is listed as paranormal, I’d also ascribe elements of romance and mystery to the work.
Gwen Hensley is a witch, a woman born with innate potential to tap into the natural elements and thereby use power for either good or evil as each witch sees fit. Gwen comes from a long line of witches. Raised in an orphanage since an infant, after the death of her mother, Gwen has never known her family but has always dreamed of finding a place and people to belong with. Gwen has a familiar, Lewis, who takes the shape of a raven or a man as needed and has been Gwen’s best friend and closest companion most of her life. Bonded to her, his job is to teach Gwen magic and boost her power. When her grandmother, Lizzy, is murdered, Gwen and Lewis arrive on the scene to solve the murder and inherit her sizeable estate. Traipsing about town, Gwen gets to know Lizzy’s friends and joins her knitting circle as she prepares for a memorial for her grandmother. Among Lizzy’s friends is the attractive, suave Sebastian. Sparks fly between them as Lewis grows envious over time.
Lewis is quite possibly the worst familiar ever. He teaches Gwen nothing, yet teaching her magic is his job. Lewis broke her heart when he rejected her romantic advances prior to the onset of the book. Apparently, if a familiar and his witch become romantically involved, the bond between them is broken, weakening them both magically. He treats her as a child, making choices that affect her future without her consent. Gwen, for her part, is a very young and inexperienced lady and witch, struggling to discover her family’s past and forge her own identity. Lewis makes mistakes, resenting his witch for his own romantic and magical frustrations. I was rooting for Lewis and Gwen to find a way to end up together, but by the end of the book, I decided Lewis needed to do some serious soul searching and maturing before he’d be the right fit for Gwen, as either a familiar or a lover. Gwen needs to grow and come into her own before she will be ready to commit to someone with all her heart, so I was satisfied that no permanent commitments were made. Sebastian is an intriguing character with a past still not fully revealed. The most mature of the trio, he serves as a balancing force and mentor for Lewis and Gwen.
There were two themes in the work that stood out to me. From the romantic aspect, this was about longing, reaching out for the fruits of love but never quite touching them. Every interaction seems to be permeated with this longing. I’ll never look at knitting the same way again. The second theme is about unpleasant truths. We like to think that honesty is always the best policy and truth is a goodness. But things aren’t always so clear cut. “Sometimes the illumination of truth makes things darker.”
The book was well written, but the mystery’s solution was predictable. I wish the mystery had been more difficult to solve as I relish an element of mystery in any genre. Overall, I enjoyed reading Blessedly Bound. I’d recommend this to those who enjoy a paranormal series featuring a non-traditional magical female protagonist, particularly if the reader enjoys romance and the interplay between male rivals.
This book is available at Amazon at “Blessedly Bound”.
Leigh Holland’s Interview with Sojourner McConnell
Today I’m delighted to host the author of “Who’s That in The Cat Pajamas?”, Sojourner McConnell, at my author spotlight. Thanks for being here!
Leigh: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am delighted to talk to you and share about myself and my work. I am a writer, and I am also a mother of 3 grown children and grandmother of 13 ranging in age from 16 to one year. I am also the dog mom to Beau. He is my Australian Shepherd and my little time keeper. He keeps me on schedule. When I am not writing, I am enjoying a good book, writing reviews on them, or blogging. It is a favorite pastime to find fun things to blog about, funny moments, exciting events, favorite memories, and cute dog and kid pictures.
Leigh: Why did you decide to write children’s books? What attracts you to this genre?
I love children’s books. If you look on my Goodreads pages, you will see I love children’s books and always have. I still love a good Nancy Drew, The Secret Garden, and new releases. They make me happy and I do not have to write in a way that makes me uncomfortable. I am not a romance writer, or a mystery writer. I write about hope and fixing problems basically. I am now very happy to call myself a children’s writer.
Leigh: Where did the inspiration for the story behind “Who’s That in The Cat Pajamas?” come from?
I was requested by one of my granddaughters to write a book she could read. I took that request to heart and started writing a book about a fairy. A fairy that helps children with problems and troubles. When two of these grandchildren had to leave Kentucky and move to Michigan, it was hard on us all. This book is how I would have liked to help them adjust to the idea if they had been older, and I had been a fairy. Many parts of the story are true in the adjustment period they went through and Dolcey was able to help them see how fortunate they are to be living in this modern age.
Leigh: What is the first book you remember reading as a child? How do you feel about that book now?
I remember my very first book that I fell in love with was Mike Mulligan and The Steam Shovel. It was in a weekly reader pamphlet and my Grandparents bought it for me. I cherished that book and the illustrations. My sister and I still talk about Mike and his steam shovel.
Leigh: How is writing a book for children different from writing a book for adults?
My first book was a bit of a Young Adult book and I wrote about more mature subjects. Sadness was more emotional and the storyline was a little darker. Still with hope and difficult choices. Writing a children’s book gave me the opportunity to embrace the innocence of childhood. The problems are just as real for children, but they see things in a more black and white sense. The solutions need to come from their own decisions with prompting and guidance. I believe Melanie in The Path of the Child would have loved a fairy to help her see the light at the end of the tunnel. Both age brackets have a power and a beauty to me. It is just the characters that are allowed to join in the telling of the story.
Leigh: Has being a Kentuckian shaped your writing? If so, in what ways?
I enjoy giving hints about Kentucky. I am from Alabama originally so I have used both places as the background for books and stories. It allows me to write in a southern accent so to speak. With southern rather old-fashioned ways. I find it is a gentle way to view life. I have been asked if I really say things like by George, dad gum it, and dog gone. I do, and my characters do. My children talk like that too. I didn’t realize no one else was saying it.
Leigh: How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Pinterest: Pinterest Link
Amazon Author Page: Amazon Author Page for Sojourner McConnell
Smashwords: Smashwords Profile
Book Links: http://tinyurl.com/mdw5q7m
Goodreads: Sojourner McConnell at Goodreads
Thank you, Sojourner, very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.