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.
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”.
Photo by Kyle Cassidy
Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman, widely revered as the modern “Rock Star” of writing, was born in 1960 in Portchester, Hampshire, England. His parents ran a series of grocery stores. The family is of Eastern European Jewish origins; his great-grandfather came to the UK from Belgium around 1914. His family studied Dianetics at the Church of Scientology, but acknowledged their religion as also being Judaism. Gaiman’s own statements reflect a more agnostic personal view.
Having read as early as age 4, Gaiman adored reading. His early literary influences included C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, Tolkein, Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley, Rudyard Kipling, Alan Moore, Harlan Ellison, G.K. Chesterton,and Ursula K. LeGuin. His favorite sci-fi writer was R. A. lafferty and the author whose work Gaiman credits as having a large influence is Roger Zelazny.
Early in his career, he worked in journalism, making connections in publishing and writing and publishing short stories for fantasy magazines. He left journalism in 1987 because British newspapers began publishing false news stories as if they were fact.
Since 1991, Gaiman has won over 50 awards for his work, including the Newberry Award, the Ray Bradbury Award, and numerous Eisner, Harvey, and Locus Awards. His best known works are perhaps “Coraline”, “The Sandman”, “American Gods”, “The Graveyard Book”, and “Stardust”. Gaiman has written numerous comics, many of which within the DC Universe, 12 novels, 14 children’s books, 6 non-fiction books, and over 100 short stories.
His first wife was Mary McGrath, with whom he has three children. He is currently married to Amanda Palmer, with whom he has a son. They reside near Menomonie, Wisconsin.
Here are Neil Gaiman’s writing tips:
- Put one word after another. Find the right word. Put it down.
- Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
- Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
- Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
- Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
- Laugh at your own jokes.
- The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.
(From an article in The Guardian.)
Crone: A Scarlet St. James Novel by Maria Mayer, 478 pages, Archway Publishing, December 15th, 2015, Format: Kindle, Genre: Horror. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
Review by Leigh Holland.
Those who go looking for trouble will most likely find it. In Crone, those who’ve gone looking for trouble reap what they’ve sown. The story deals with a recurring set of crimes in Michigan, a serial killer who returns every thirty years to murder several men, then disappear. So far, nobody has connected the crimes, much less discovered any clues as to the true nature of the killer. Over the course of the book, the slayings and events leading up to them are recounted in horrifying, spine-chilling detail.
The murders take place in 1954, 1984, and 2014, respectively. Although events from the 1954 killings are mentioned, the main focus flips between the events in 1984 and 2014. Men are toyed with, psychologically tormented, ripped apart slowly, and devoured; pawns in a deadly cosmic battle between an immortal, evil witch and her demonic lover and master. While the police have tried to solve the crimes in prior years, forensics was unheard of in the 1950’s and barely used in 1984. However, this time they have forensic evidence to help them solve the crimes. As the mortifying evidence develops, clue by clue, they can’t believe what it suggests. Enter Scarlet St. James- a Private Detective, contractor for the cops, devoted sister and aunt, and an intuitive warrior against unseen evil forces.
Eerie and ominous, I felt there was a good balance between frightening, creepy material and grim, graphic descriptions. The primary theme was good versus evil. Evil can never be truly defeated by good; but the reverse is also true. There is a cosmic interplay between forces that at times produces horrific events, at other times, the very things that make life worth living as a simple mortal being. We can’t completely defeat evil, but we can drive it back and shine the light. The plot gets right into the characters and action but doesn’t provide a hook. I felt the intention was to slowly build anticipation and a sense of horror.
The Unholy 5 were bad boys who became obsessed with the occult. Biting off more than they could chew, they met what they’d been seeking, realizing too late what they’d done. It was gratifying to see them get what they deserved. I identified most strongly with the title character. While not perfect, Scarlet has many admirable qualities. Devoted to her family, fiercely protective of her loved ones, and dedicated to doing the right thing regardless of how terrifying it would be, Scarlet St. James was a likeable and relatable character.
I liked reading Crone. I’m interested to see where Mayer takes this character and the series. As a lifelong fan of Stephen King, I could feel his influence in sections of Mayer’s writing. I’m looking forward to reading more in this series. I’d recommend this book to fans of the horror genre.
Find this book on Amazon at Crone.
Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? (The Dolcey Series Book 1) By Sojourner McConnell, Illustrated by Ellie Barrett, 40 pages, June 2nd 2017, ISBN: 978-1545150269, Genre: Multigenerational, Children’s Books, Family Life. Format: Kindle. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
Review by Leigh Holland.
The age range for this book is listed as 5-12 years of age. I confess that I’m way older than 12, but I adored this cute children’s tale. Nobody likes dealing with change, particularly when you’re a child with no control over where you live. Change is difficult for everyone, but sometimes all that’s needed to embrace it is viewing it with a new set of eyes and a new attitude.
The fairy Dolcey has a special ability she learned from her mother. With this skill, she can find and help children who are sad or have a big problem. Dolcey finds Emily Patton, a little girl who is scared of moving to a new place. Dolcey befriends Emily in the form of a cat by wearing cat pajamas. By day, Dolcey is a lovable, cold, hungry stray whom the family decides to take in. By night, she is a fairy, helping Emily come to terms with the changes approaching in her life.
The book slowly provides children with the lesson that while change is hard and even scary, change can also be a wondrous adventure; an opportunity of a lifetime. Parents love their kids and make decisions they feel are best for them and the entire family as a whole. Trusting your parents can make change less difficult. Just as the kitty cat came into a new environment not knowing what to expect and found a loving home with new people, so too will Emily be able to make a new and happy life in her new town.
The illustrations in the book were cute, colorful, and fit the story perfectly. The writing was on par with the reading level for the target age range and evoked magical images to captivate the reader. I’d recommend this book to parents with kids between 5 and 12 years of age- not just for the kids to enjoy, but also the parents.
It’s available at Amazon at Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?
About the Author:
Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. Sojourner McConnell lives in Winchester, Kentucky with one of her daughters and three of her thirteen grandchildren. She has six grandchildren in Alabama and four that live in Michigan. Sojourner’s new book is a children’s chapter book, Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas which will release June 2, 2017. Her next book, Blip, is a sci-fi book with humor and intrigue and is due out by December 2017. The Path of the Child, The Power of Forgiveness, and 31 Days of October are available in paperback and in eBook format on Amazon and other retailers. Sojourner brings a taste of strong personalities with a healthy dose of southern charm to her characters. As co-founder and part of the organizing team of Mystery Thriller Week, she has become fascinated with writing a mystery of her own. In fact, there might be a little mystery woven into one of the two books she is writing at present. When not writing, she is busy entertaining her Australian Shepherd, Beau. Unfortunately, Beau tends to get jealous when she spends too much time working on the computer.