Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Make It, Bake It, Grow It

My large family decided years ago rather than spend tons of money on everyone or draw names, we would do make it, bake it, or grow it Christmas gift. This is my this year's effort (and my Santa's helper, who sanded and primed the gourds, and the cut holes). My sister Jewel grew the gourds. I painted them. They haven't the final coat of polyurethane on yet, but I thought they turned out pretty good. Hopefully, wrens will like them for homes this coming summer. Outdoors I think they should last one or two seasons. By then, Jewel will have grown more gourds (the season is too short where I am), they'll have cured long enough to shed their outer skin and I can then make more birdhouses! Hope everyone liked them as much as I liked painting them.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


This is my week to go through all drawers and file folders, closets, and containers, to discover out what's where, what's needed, what's not, and what needs a new place. This way I at least start the year out organized. It's a big deal. Going through bills and receipts, deciding what to keep and what to toss. Later I might find I've pitched something I really needed to keep. That's one danger. The other danger is resorting something into a safer, saner place. Sometimes that space is so secure I can never find it again.

Writing science fiction and fantasy, I always imagine there is a black hole, a time-space dislocation, someplace near me. When I need something, it is usually in that alternative universe. That item does return to this time and place until it is no longer needed, has been replaced or is forgotten. Then, something desperately needed exchanges place with it. That's why the annual reorganization is needed. It often flushes out those dislocated items.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Heroine Completes Her Hero's Journey

Fifth post on Pride and Prejudice.

Just when Elizabeth Bennet feels attraction to Darcy and he seems to return her regard, she learns from her sister Jane's letter that Lydia has run off with Wickham, and her world falls apart. This event is without doubt the ordeal every hero must face. Lydia represents the shadow, who acts on the base innermost desires inside of everyone. Certainly for a Regency Miss, the desire to thwart the very tightly corseted society demanded of every woman with any pretense to gentility, must have been a very strong hidden dream.

It is often hard by today's standards where the individual is judged by their actions to understand how one sister's moral failure tarred her siblings, but that is how society used to view women, and not so terribly long ago. Lydia's indiscretion affected the matrimonial chances of all of her sisters. If Colonel Foster and Elizabeth's father and uncle did not take immediate action to find Lydia and force Wickham to marry her, the whole family would be smeared with her shame (as would Colonel Foster, with whom Lizzy was staying). None of the Bennet sisters would have made good marriages. Elizabeth knows this and feels guilty for not having disclosed Wickham's character. A promise to Darcy stopped her. Luckily, the couple is found, and they marry.

The visit of the newlyweds to the wife's family is, in turn, hilarious and disgusting. Their arrival begins the journey back from the wilderness Elizabeth has been in on her journey to find love. Lydia is unrepentant, still careless and oblivious of anyone but herself. while many sixteen-year-olds share these characteristics, most are not so totally ignorant, most know right from wrong. Perhaps Mrs. Bennet's behavior had an undue influence on Lydia; after all, Lydia was her favorite. But if that is so, why did her influence not affect Jane and Elizabeth, who are both clearly humiliated by Lydia's actions and behavior? Lydia, during her visit, forgets a promise and tells Elizabeth that Darcy was at the wedding.

This information drives Elizabeth to find the truth of Darcy's involvement in forcing Wickham to marry Lydia and save the family's reputation. When Darcy visits, he is distant, throwing Elizabeth into a flurry of self-doubt. His intervening with Bingley brings Jane her happiness, but Elizabeth doubts any man would offer again after the refusal she gave Darcy. Before Elizabeth can finish her journey, she must face more gatekeepers. One comes in the form of a letter from Mr. Collins to her father, and Elizabeth must dissemble to her father. The other is the more formidable ordeal in the visit from Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who demands Elizabeth's promise not to marry Darcy. Here Elizabeth proves true to her journey's lessons and faces rudeness and hostility with calmness and honesty. It is not long after this visit that Darcy returns to Longbourne. When Elizabeth faces him with her thanks and gratitude, she earns her heart's desire. Mr. Darcy renews his pledge of love and desire that Elizabeth should become his wife.

The last minor ordeal Elizabeth faces is telling her family she has won the prize, the elixir of life, marriage with Darcy, that her quest sought. Both she and Darcy are changed people, both have found love in their choice of mate, and as true of many journeys, Elizabeth will not return home, but begin a new life as a woman married to an affluent man.

I hope these few posts on Pride and Prejudice have shown how the Hero's Journey has worked through this story. I am a true believer that stories are tied to our individual psychologies and our own paths along the Mythic Hero's Journey.

The five posts on Lizzy's journey:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Elizabeth's Transformation

Fourth post on Pride and Prejudice.

Elizabeth has always prided herself on her insight and acumen on the people around her and has learned from watching and listening to her father, no doubt. Since beginning her hero’s journey to find her other half, in this case a man she can love, she has endured Mr. Darcy’s overheard dismissive rebuff, Mr. Collins’s boastful self-importance ineptly hidden by his mask of humility, Mr. Wickham turning away to court an heiress, Mr. Bingley’s abandonment of Jane, a visit to her former suitor, Mr. Collins, now married to her best friend, and finally, Mr. Darcy’s impassioned but disdainful proposal. Her road of trials has been long. Now, unexpectedly, Mr. Darcy’s unexpected letter gives her the ultimate fortune, truth. She accomplishes this by giving up her own conceits and prejudices and examining her own motives.

A new world emerges from her insight. She begins by seeing both Wickham and Darcy in different lights. Once home in Longbourn, she also sees her family’s failings and is embarrassed by their less than suitable behavior. When the proposed invitation from Mrs. Foster for Lydia to move to Brighton with her, Elizabeth pleads with her father to save Lydia by not permitting her to go. She has seen the disaster that awaits, not only Lydia but all of her sisters; but her efforts are all to no avail.

Although the prejudice with which she viewed her world has gone, Elizabeth has not finished her journey. While traveling with her aunt and uncle, Elizabeth encounters a much different Mr. Darcy and his home of Pemberly. He is no longer so haughty, withdrawn in his own superiority. However, any hopes of a beginning a friendship with him are dashed by Lydia, for news arrives that she has run off with Mr. Wickham.

The five posts on Lizzy's journey:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thank You!

I hope everyone enjoyed my guest author's post. Billie says she will drop by again, an event I look forward to. My thanks to her, and to Phyllis for their contribution to the hero's topic. Click on their names to visit their websites and take a look at their books.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mystery and The Hero's Journey

What could they possibly have in common? The setting can be anywhere and any time period - mysteries cross borders and time zones as easily as any other genre. So it is no surprise when they look to the hero's journey for character types.

For most of my work, I do an intensive character sketch - part of that is to pick which hero or heroine (most of my sleuth's are female) best suits the particular story I'm telling.

In Small Town Secrets the sleuth/heroine, Chaneeta Morgan, is a strong independent woman, made strong by her circumstances. While Chaneeta is a strong heroine such as an Amazon Woman heroine, she leans heavily toward being a Madonna.

Amazon women are capable, independent, self-sufficient. But Chaneeta is more than that, she has a soft side a mothering side. She is the chairperson of the small town where she lives - She is the owner of The Golden Kettle Cafe, she is many things to many people. Example:

Someone is bent on burning it down one building at a time. Can Chaneeta and Olga bury their rivalry long enough to use their powers to stop the arsonist before the town is destroyed, or will the skeleton in the Town Chairperson’s closet be her undoing at the hands of Editor in chief of the Daily Nettle Newspaper, Olga Corn?

Chaneeta is vulnerable, but not defenseless. She is not above receiving help, she does not need everyone's approval though she would sincerely like it, because she feels better when people like her. Olga Corn, her rival and most time nemesis is a shape-shifter doing whatever it takes to get what she wants.

While Joseph Campbell's Hero's journey elucidates the hero's journey for me, Christopher Volger also explains the journey when he says, "We test out our ideas and feelings about some human quality and try to learn more about it."

As readers we find our answers, or confirmation of our beliefs, in the books we gravitate to again and again as our favorite reads. Wise old woman or man, mentors, guides, heroes and heroines are all necessary to tell a story that readers are willing to spend time reading and it is our joy to write. Mystery and suspense are my favorite genres and they benefit greatly by exploring the various aspects of the Heroes journey.

Billie A. Williams.