Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Dazzling Dozen, Plus One By Laurie Schnebly Cambell

Sandra here to welcome one of my favorite guests, Laurie Schnebly Campbell.  She taught us about The Hero's Fatal Flaw and today she is going to give us points for the heroine.  I made a pot of chocolate velvet coffee and have a kettle of hot water going for hot chocolate and tea so grab a cup and let's visit with Laurie.

The Dazzling Dozen, Plus One
by Laurie Schnebly Campbell

We've all heard of the Twelve Steps in the Hero's Journey, right? Maybe even written novels or screenplays using those steps, read Joseph Campbell's book, or taken a workshop on it.

Confession time: I've never really GOTTEN the hero's journey. I know there are thousands of writers who swear by it -- there's clearly some value in those twelve steps.

But for some reason, they've just never quite worked for me. My heroes don't meet wise mentors, don't face dark caves, don't return with elixirs... My heroes are just regular guys who hear advice from equally clueless friends, occasionally get rained on at the ballgame, and maybe return with a can of Coke.

Same is true for my heroines. Swell women, all of 'em, but they're sure not out there staging interplanetary raids and facing down corrupt sheriffs and rescuing secret formulas.

No, their journey is more internal. Even if they're taking off from their everyday life and flying to Cleveland, the challenges they face aren't the kind that'll have movie-goers crunching popcorn at twice the usual speed.
Their challenges are more like our own.

"My husband doesn't understand why I need time to write." "My best friend left the company and nobody else is as close." "I wish I could make Mom understand why I didn't choose her way."

And, like most of our heroines, we occasionally settle for being less than we can be.Of course, by and large, we do a pretty good job of looking out for our loved ones and ourselves. We speak up eventually when something bothers us. 

We try something new every so often; we recognize that even if our dreams aren't practical they aren't stupid. But even so, we don't always live up to our highest self. We're not always the strongest, healthiest, wisest, best person we can be.

And neither are our heroines.

That's where we get to the Heroine's Journey. Just like every action hero goes through twelve steps, a heroine who hasn't yet achieved the victory of being her true self needs to go through thirteen steps.

(Hmm, what does it mean that women have more steps then men?)

Each one of those steps takes her from being a person who depends on others for self-worth to a person who's innately worthy in her own right. She might start and finish the book as a scullery maid, but along the way she'll make a difference in her world and become her own person...usually for the first time in her life.

She'll go through the steps that Kim Hudson, author of The Virgin's Promise, calls the Price Of Conformity, Dressing The Part, Caught Shining, and ten intriguing others. And each one takes her closer to the ultimate triumph.

What's cool about this is that the heroine, like each of us, is involved with other people throughout her journey. Whether they're her parents, friends, co-workers, children, fellow peasants or students or country club members, she's engaged in some kind of society. 
Increasing the tension of the book, the people in this society want to keep her where THEY (often with the best and most loving intentions in the world) think she belongs, rather than where she gradually discovers she can truly become her best self.

So that's where we get the payoff of the lucky thirteenth step -- because once she's her best self, she doesn't just go off and forget where she came from. She makes things better for those around her, as well, and that's what makes her a REAL heroine.

We'll get into more detail on that next month at my WriterUniv.com class on "The Hero's Journey, For Heroines," but meanwhile I'd love to hear some real-life examples. If you've ever managed to go beyond the limits that other people set for you, could you say what you did? And if you'd rather I DIDN'T use your comment, please mention that...but somebody who comments will win free registration to the October class!

Laurie, who'll be at my writers' group annual dinner tonight but checking for comments all day and relying on Sandra to post a winner this weekend
Laurie Schnebly Campbell always wondered what was wrong with her, not really GETTING the Hero's Journey, until she discovered its feminine counterpart. Then she got excited -- not only by the premise, but also by the chance to create a brand new class for WriterUniv.com

She can't wait to see who else shares her enthusiasm for characters making discoveries within themselves, as well as within the world...no matter what their gender.


  1. Hello Laurie:

    I believe the heroine’s journey, as you describe it, is mirrored in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

    These are basic human needs that apply to all people. However, not all people climb as high in the hierarchy as others do but those that do have the more interesting stories and seemingly more fulfilling lives.

    The Needs are:

    1. Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter. etc.
    2. Safety needs - protection from elements and security
    3. Belongingness and Love needs – affection and relationships, etc.
    4. Esteem needs - self-esteem, achievement, and mastery, etc.
    5. Self-Actualization needs - realising personal potential, self-fulfillment, and peak experiences.

    Conflict is what stands in the way of achieving these needs. The journey from basic animal needs to self-fulfillment seems to make the ideal character ARC. I like the idea of leaving the reader with a 'peak experience'.

    What do you think of this idea?


    P.S. Please enter me for a chance to take your course.

  2. Loved this post!! This should be a class...

    And again, Vince nails it on the first try. :)

    Or maybe that's just what I was going to say so I think he's right. We should wait for the official judgement.

    Once someone used Maslow's Hierarchy to explain to me why my historical was NOT going to sell. My hero and heroine were journeying in their heads and hearts. Not enough up top. Too much on the bottom.

    So I threw some fire and storms and wild horses at them. We'll see where that takes us.

  3. Duh, sorry. It IS a course!

    I meant this little post should be a bullet point on the writer's list of topics to cover.

    *going back under her chair now*

  4. I'm so looking forward to reading this carefully later. Off to work right now, but I'm psyched to catch up when I get home.

    Thanks for explaining it, Laurie.

    I would LOVE a chance to take your course.

  5. All I know is that I took a writing class on character motivation from Laurie and it was probably the best online investment I've made.

    I learned to dig deeper when my characters tell me what they want.

  6. Would love a chance to win the course.

    I have done a lot of things folks thought I couldn't do. From testifing in a trial to hiking the Alps with a central nervous system disorder, I go through a period of thinking it is easier NOT to do something because everyone tells me I can't and then decide I might as well.

    For example, I came back from Switzerland with more muscle mass, less pain, and a lot of good memories.

    I am going to apply the same premise to my writing.

    Great post!

    Peace, Julie

  7. Welcome to Seekerville, Laurie! Love that you said: once she's her best self, she doesn't just go off and forget where she came from. She makes things better for those around her, as well, and that's what makes her a REAL heroine. You've nailed the kind of heroine we can all root for. Thanks!

    I brought bagels and cream cheese this morning to go with Sandra's beverages.


  8. Good morning early birds. (Or maybe you're night owls-smile)

    Laurie will be here soon as its still only 5:30 here. You do know that Arizona doesn't go on daylight savings time so we are the same as Pacific Time in the summer.

    Great insight Vince-as usual smile I'll be interested in what Laurie says.

    Virginia you are toooooo funny.

    Debra, I too have been so helped by Laurie's classes. They are terrific.

  9. Oh Janet, Thanks for bringing the bagels and cream cheese. Can't believe I forgot food. Goodness.

    How about a platter of fresh and exotic fruits to go with them.
    And some lox.
    And some of those flavored cream cheeses.

  10. Welcome back, Laurie! I've enjoyed your other posts and would *love* to take one of your classes! I'm a character-driven writer, and gaining a better grip of what makes the hero/ine tick would help me a lot with my external goals & conflicts.

    For an example of breaking out of comfort zone: I've always been terrified of public speaking or being center stage. But learning self-defense helped strengthen my confidence (externally) which boosted my internal confidence. Later I began *teaching* women's self-defense, which scared me half to death. But when I saw that I was really making a difference in other women's lives, it made overcoming fear worth it.


  11. Hi Laurie!

    I'm one of those people who "gets" the hero's journey, Joseph Campbell, all that stuff, but you're right - it doesn't fit most heroines, especially when it comes to category fiction, where the heroines are more concerned with saving relationships than saving ideals.

    So this sounds like a great class!

    I enjoyed the one I won here on Seekerville the last time you were here - I got busy (i.e. revisions that led to a sale!) and couldn't finish the lessons on-line, but I DID finish them, and they've been so valuable! Everyone here needs to check out the WriterUniv.com class offerings. What a great resource!

    Don't include me in the drawing this time - someone else needs to have the opportunity I did!

  12. Sandra, you may have forgotten food, but you remembered coffee. And chocolate. That counts for a lot in my book. :)

    I like this post, and I'm coming back to it later. I can always use wisdom on creating a better heroine. You've got me thinking about the people in my heroine's world. And other things. Thanks!

  13. I'm thinking on a real life example, but I think maybe the writing journey is it, though I'm not done yet [is anyone ever?] - but the Seeker gals are definitely on Step 13, even if they're on other steps too. Helping make the world a bit better, a bit easier for the rest of us.

    I'd love to win!

  14. Awwww Carol, What a sweet thing to say. Thanks and back at you. smile

    Jeanne I would never forget the coffee. smile Or the chocolate. But the bagels are yummy.

    Jan I'm so glad you got so much out of Laurie's class. It is really a great source. I so wish it had been around when I started. Would have saved me a lot of confusion and poor writing.

  15. Did you see the pic I posted on FB Sandra?! What lovely package was waiting for me when I got home?!



    Oh, wow, what fun seeing all the posts already here! (At 7am my time.) And I realize I've forgotten how to respond to individual people, so I'll just use all-caps headers while I figure that out.

    Meanwhile, thanks to everybody who's posted so far...I'm gonna combine getting ready for work with responding one-by-one, AND diving into the wonderful treats from Janet and Sandra!


    You know, there might be a connection there! I'm surprised it never registered, and embarrassed that I'm already using Maslow for a different class (The Personality Ladder, coming in February) without applying him to this one at all.

    But I can see creating parallels between his 4th through 7th stages, especially, and those of the Heroine's Journey. It'll be fascinating to go back and look at that in more detail!


    Oh, I love your description of "too much head and heart up top, not enough on the bottom" AND your solution of throwing "fire and storms and wild horses at them."

    Because you're right that we need both ends of the spectrum for a fabulous book -- physical adventure alone isn't quite enough, but neither is cerebral contemplation. And most of us tend to be better at one than the other, which I suspect is what fosters great Writer Teams. We solo writers have to fix our own weak spots, which it sounds like you've done!


    -- after work. Yep, I'm SO there with you! Back soon...


    Wow, thanks for the "best online investment I've made" description of Plotting Via Motivation...I'm gonna ask for permission to quote you!

    And what a fabulous description of how to make characters come alive. :)


    Talk about a wonderfully inspiring journey! Hmm, we should make you today's Heroine. :)

    Those steps of "thinking it's easier NOT to do something" and then deciding you "might as well" sound like what a whole lot of fictional heroines go through -- sometimes not even realizing at first how big their journey will turn out to be -- and it's so COOL to see that happening in real life.


    What a wonderful insight, overcoming your fear of teaching with the realization that you're making a difference in these women's lives. You (and they) might not even know, at the time, what a difference you've made...but knowing that there IS one is a lovely motivation to keep going.

    Good for you on setting such a strong example of "soldiering on" despite the fear! (Although I wish I could come up with a better phrase than "soldiering on" because that sounds more masculine. What's the feminine equivalent, anyway?)

  23. Hi Laurie, This day will be interesting as already it has some fun insights about heroines.

    Thanks again for joining us here in Seekerville. Always an interesting day when you're aboard.


    That's a great description of numerous category-romance heroines -- it does seem like relationships count for more than saving the family farm, or the shipwrecked treasure, or whatever else. Even if saving THOSE is part of the story, the relationship is still the most important...in women's fiction, as well, even if it's not a romantic relationship.

    And, woo-hoo, congratulations on your sale!!!


    Good point on how the other cast members can be just as important as the heroine in creating a memorable story.

    If she didn't have anyone to care about, or anyone trying to fit her into whatever position seems best, it'd be hard to keep the book interesting...because, no matter how well-intentioned they might be, those other people usually DON'T make her life easy!

  26. You asked about our personal heroine's journey. Years ago, a drunk driver, not only nearly killed me, she almost cut off my left leg at mid-femur. Only a few muscles kept my leg from being severed.

    I was in the hospital for 2 months. When I was checked out the doctors said I would be in a wheelchair and handicapped the rest of my life. But with the help of my mom who told me, "This woman may have taken a part of you, but don't let her take all of you", I defied the doctors odds.

    Since then (and after a total of 21 surgeries) I've been rock climbing, water skiing, sky diving, horseback riding, ridden my bicycle 100 miles many times for charity, taken a k9 search and rescue class, and now am deeply involved with Doberman rescue.

    And I met and married my dear husband who doesn't care that he's married to Scar-barella (seriously I could make a fortune if I started a website for folks who have a scar fetish). But bless the man, he sees me not the scars. Talk about winning the husband lottery!

    Anyway, without having taken Laurie's class I can say I've gone through my own heroine's journey and come out the other side stronger, bolder, and unafraid to try new things.



    Good thought on how it never ends -- and how the Seekerville gals are on Step 13 along with various others. That's the best thing about real life, is how we CAN be on different steps at the same time.

    Unlike the heroines who only get to live on the page, and whose journey is limited by the length of their movie or book, the rest of us can pursue as many journeys as we want! (And they're even more fun with great refreshments. :)


    Wow, talk about a tremendous heroine's journey for you AND your mom...I love that both of you got the rewarding triumph of seeing you not only survive but thrive.

    And the fact that you're sharing that spirit of survival with your Doberman rescue work creates a whole new cycle of triumph!

  29. Side note:

    Check out multiple Seekers [and the ever lovely Pepper Basham] on Barbara Vey's Blog

  30. Hey Laurie! Sounds like a great class! Well, I supposed I've done a lot of things people didn't expect me to do (as you know!), but the most recent thing is that I've started a nonprofit organization that creates and supports cultural groups in the area. The first group started under this umbrella is a children's choir with a western theme - they'll learn the about the history and the cultures of the West. We've also already sponsored a Native American dance troupe at an event. I feel like I've come far enough in my life that I'm able to care for "things" outside of myself - the community, and kids especially.


    I like your description of caring for things outside of yourself, like the community and kids (besides your own).

    That's definitely Step 13 on the journey, because while any decent heroine will care for her own nearest-and-dearest, taking such care outside to the entire community is what proves she's become her best self!

  32. Wow Leslie, Talk about real life self fulfillment with peak experiences. Great going Miss real life heroine.

  33. I think for me it was getting a huge account that everyone said was impossible. Even the person at the account didn't want me to get it, but I persevered and won!

    Great post.


    Way to go on landing the impossible account -- especially when the person THERE was rooting against you. Talk about daunting odds!

    It's exactly that kind of situation that some of us writers who hate-to-see-em-suffer (yep, that's me) think of as "too tough" for our precious heroines...and yet when they DO persevere and triumph, it's so much more rewarding than if they triumph over, say, a broken fingernail. :)

  35. What a great post, Laurie. It's so inspirational to read what others have done against difficult odds and expectations.

    I've done a few things that others didn't believe I could do...and even more things that I thought I couldn't do. Like writing a novel, landing an agent, teaching workshops and carrying twins to 36 weeks! Lots of experts (doctors and nurses) told me that last item would never happen.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and time with us!

  36. Wow! Awesome triumphs.

    I've never done anything like rock climbing, sailing around the world, solo flights. I've raised/ing four kids. And even though they're not what the Christian world would see as 'gooders' and they're not what the mainstream world would see as successful, they are finding themselves in the Lord and showing others who Jesus really is. For me that is a great gift. As they've grown they've helped me become bolder and more self-assured in my identity in Christ.

  37. Great blog, Laurie, and sounds like a tremendous new class. I was told the government didn't have a glass-ceiling for women employees but that's not true. The particular position I wanted was considered a man's world but I had a dream and not a fantasy. I couldn't stand fraud, waste and abuse and made it my goal to become the Director of the largest White Collar Crime Unit ever assembled. Mission accomplished.


    Ooh, good illustration of how things "I thought I couldn't do" (never mind what other people think) can be even more daunting than what critics or doctors or other experts say is impossible.

    I'm glad you succeeded at ALL those missions -- as are your readers, students, and friends of the twins!


    Boy, it's hard to imagine a greater success than raising four children who are not only finding themselves in the Lord and helping others along the journey, but helping you with your journey as well!

    That's a lovely circle, because none of you could've achieved what you have without one another. Well, I guess God could. But none of the humans. :)

  40. i Laurie,

    I'd love to be entered into a draw for this class. I learned such a lot from potting via motivation.


    It's lovely to see a real-life example of breaking through the (supposedly non-existent) glass ceiling -- what a classic scenario for a heroine who has to fight the constrictions of the society she lives in.

    Corporate Tradition can be every bit as limiting as Family Tradition or Village Law...either way, it takes a strong heroine to overcome such mandates!


    Absolutely, everyone who posts here gets an entry...I'm relieved at not being the one who has to pick (that honor goes to random dot org) because there are so many people here who sound like a real treat to have in class!

  43. Arrgh! Only part of my comment came through. Here's the reast

    "but meanwhile I'd love to hear some real-life examples. If you've ever managed to go beyond the limits that other people set for you, could you say what you did?"

    When I was a child I was very shy and quiet at school. One day when I was about 9 or 10 the teacher asked for a volunteer to lead the school asembly. This was in the days before children taking part in school assemblies assembly became the norm -- only the teachers did assemblies.

    I volunteered! And was chosen (Probably because the teacher thought it would bring me out of my shell) My voice sounded very strange but I got through everything without a mishap. Except at the end when I'd finished. The room was silent and all the children stood looking at me. Then I realised they were waiting for instructions, so I said "Turn: Lead out" as I'd heard the teachers do, when they'd taken the assembly.

    The front row started leading out of the hall (phew!) the teacher at the piano began playing -- and I felt so important. My confidence grew from that moment and 11 years later I became a primary school teacher. :)

  44. Hi Laurie,

    I never thought I would be able to stand up and fight for what's right for myself and my parents. I've always been mousy and shy, and always wanted to stay behind somebody and let others do the fighting. Mainly because I've been hurt too many times in too many ways. It's why I refuse to do social media, even if it means I won't ever be published.

    I'm not out of my comfort zone yet, but if you had told me I'd ever stand up to people and not back down, I wouldn't have believed you. I still try to see the best in people and respond to that, but I'm also no longer a pushover. That's a total change.

    Years ago, I backed off when a magazine stole some of my photos and gave in to them even though I knew they were wrong and they were manipulating me. I was a coward in those years. Now I'd take on a magazine and not give up until I won and got what I was entitled to.

    Great blog, Laurie.


  45. Laurie you can quote me. I made a binder from that class I I've highlighted notes to re read from time to time. I feel like I have a 'secret' now that has improved my writing.

    Your teaching style was wonderful. We worked through what you were teaching so we were able to 'figure it out' on our own. By giving little assignments, you drew the class through the process rather than just told us.

    It's not just the subject, but the ability of the teacher to impart the knowledge--that's the value of a class. Thank you.


    What a great moment that must have been, turning to lead everyone out of the room with no idea whether they'd follow and discovering that you DID have the leadership ability to get things done!

    And I suspect that as a primary teacher yourself, you've kept a special eye out for other shy kids who need a bit of encouragement to discover their own ability. :)

  47. Laurie, thank you so much for sharing your insights with us in Seekerville today! I just got back from the ACFW conference, and my brain is still in recovery mode, but I know this is going to be a very helpful post as I work more on fleshing out my heroine's background and characterization.


    It's empowering to see someone who was formerly "mousy" develop the grit it takes to stand up against greed and oppression and injustice -- way to go!

    And while readers feel pretty certain that fictional heroines WILL triumph in the end, we don't have that same assurance in real life...which makes such courage all the more impressive.


    Wow, thanks! Speaking with my advertising-copywriter hat on, here, you have a real gift for writing great quotable material.

    Hmm, already I can envision a rush of Seekerville writers beating down your door to ask for reviews...


    Welcome back and good luck with the recovery process -- seems like that always takes as long as the conference itself, but at least it includes all kinds of fun memories and uplifting new discoveries.

    Which I'll bet will ALSO help with fleshing out your heroine's background and characterization...it's amazing how inspiring it can be to spend time with other writers in a "live" setting!

  51. Wonderful post, Laurie! I always see writing through a new perspective with your posts. Thank you!

  52. Golly, my parents always had high expectations for me, so it was hard to exceed them. The only thing that comes to mind is a job I had in college. I was desperate for employment, but the only job I found was working 20 hrs/week for the first ten days of the month at minimum wage. I was there for almost five years. By the time I left I was working 20 hrs/week all month, responsible for sending out consultant supplies and the monthly newsletter. I was flattered to be offered a full-time job running the computer side of our division on the recommendation of one of my co-workers who was moving up, but had to decline (too many student loans to quit). I don't think anyone saw me advancing like that (least of all me). :>)

    This is an interesting take, because I've never tried thinking of myself as a heroine before. To me a heroine is someone larger than life, not a common Jane like me. Then again, maybe I'm too steeped in the Hero's Journey because my characters ARE on an adventure.


    Okay, a new perspective for an author who creates worlds as diverse as yours is REALLY saying something -- thanks!


    Who else but a heroine would say great adventures happen to "someone who is larger than life, not a common Jane like me" -- that's just classic!

    But you're right that none of us thinks of ourselves as out-of-the-ordinary, even when we're working at impossible jobs and making a go of it. Maybe compared to superhero feats that IS kind of ordinary, but it's exactly what readers love about heroines who could just as well be themselves.

  55. This would be a fabulous class. I tend to write my heroines as women who have some hang-ups like we all do. It would be really great to learn of different ways to deepen their characters. To help them work though those hang-ups using better techniques like I'm sure this class for the Heroine's Journey would teach us. Where do I sign up??

  56. I'm male, so I suppose it's no great surprise that very few of my attempts at doing things have been met with pushback from people who thought I couldn't do it. Or maybe it's not (just) because I'm male; maybe I'm just too cautious with the goals I set.

    In any case, I'd love a chance to take your class on the Heroine's journey, both because it sounds fascinating, and because I'm curious to see how it fits in with Armless Maiden folktales. (I only recently found out that such stories existed - an iFriend brought them up - and they're both fascinating and deeply disturbing.)

    So instead of offering a story of something I did despite people thinking it wasn't possible, let me tell you about something my mother did: she walked.

    I know, I know, walking doesn't sound all that impressive to most people. But my mom's legs are paralyzed, both of them, from a childhood bout of polio. She was told that she would be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Instead, she learned to get around using crutches and braces, and for most of my youth she was the primary breadwinner for our family. (My father is brilliant but slightly daft, and had trouble holding onto jobs. This wasn't a matter of loyalty, skill, or work ethic; it was just that he was completely oblivious to political undercurrents, particularly in the workplace.)

    Come to think of it, my parents were also told that they {wouldn't / might not} be able to have children. And yet, my brother and I still meet them for lunch once a week.


    What a great summary of the class mission, learning new techniques for helping "everyday" heroines overcome their hang-ups.

    Having you in the class will be great; you can sign up over at (all one word) Writer Univ dot com. But you might want to wait and see if you win...although the winner can always apply that freebie to some other class!


    Wow, now I can't wait to go check out the Aimless Maiden folktales...it sounds like there could very well be a parallel here.

    And it's hard to imagine a better example of Perseverance & Triumph than your mom -- I love that she and your dad still get plenty of time to enjoy their sons!

  59. Welcome back, Laurie! Thanks for this fantastic post. I've had a difficult time figuring out some of the steps of the hero's journey as well. I totally cracked up when you said your hero might show up with a Coke instead of the elixir. :)


    Isn't that always the way?! I remember laughing when Liz Curtis Higgs talked about hearing other speakers open their mouth to reveal pearls of wisdom, while for her it was pop-beads.

    And, shoot, that's how it often is for our heroines as well as ourselves -- but there's still plenty of room for tremendous courage and perseverance and triumph even in everyday life. Er, pass the Coke?


    I just love your use of headlines. I can follow all the comments at a glance:

    Who wrote the comment.
    What the comment is about.

    Why hasn’t someone else done this before? I’m going to copy this from now on. Laurie: you are a communicator.


    eHarlequin has just posted the November books available for sale on October first from their website. Everywhere else the release date is November first. This is Virginia Carmichael’s book! If you are like me and you don’t want to wait thirty days, you can download ”Season of Joy” at 12:01 am October 1st, 2012. See you there! : )

  62. Leslie, what an amazing story of overcoming! Thanks so much for sharing with us. You're definitely one strong heroine!

  63. Emily, that's great about your overcoming your fears and teaching self defense! Very cool!

  64. Charlotte, it sounds like you've started an amazing program! Good for you for stepping out and helping!

  65. Wow, Misty! That's great you carried your twins so long! I bet they're adorable!!

  66. Hi Laurie --

    Great post! Loving all the comments, too.

    Yes, I agree, women have 13 steps. Do you think it has something to do with our ability to give birth - whether to our own children or the extension of that process: taking in and/or caring for others in society?

    To your question... The only person to whom I listen when she says I can't do something is me. I am, indeed, my own worst enemy. I have achieved many heights, personally and professionally, smacking convention (and sometimes other people’s opinions of me) square in the face.

    On my desk, I have three yellowed bits of paper that have traveled with me for a long time. The first says “I am not afraid... I was born to do this” ~St. Joan of Arc. The second... “Do, just once, what others say you cannot do and you will never give heed to their limitations again” ~J.R. Cook. The third is Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote [personalized]: “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either do things worth the writing or write stories worth the reading.

    Right now, I own three thriving businesses and I get to spend my days creating ebooks, designing covers and writing winning sales copy for many bestselling authors across several genres.

    But when I sit down to write my own stories... that Old Me steps in, finger wagging. Nothing is good enough. Nothing is right enough. I’ve won/placed in several writing contests, studied with several Greats in my genre, learned from the very best (including you Laurie!). But somehow (sadly), none of that counts, either. I’ve yet to figure out how to defeat this “person” inside of me. It is my greatest battle. But I will overcome.

    In the words of Joan of Arc “One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it.”

    I believe I will overcome Me.


  67. Christina, what you said really touched me. I know my kids have helped me grow bolder and more self-assured as well.

  68. Janet, what a wonderful story about you becoming a teacher! Isn't it amazing what we can accomplish if we think one person believes in us?

  69. Sheri, congratulations! That's so inspiring.

  70. Hey Laurie!
    So glad to see you here today at Seekerville! And I'm already trying to figure out if I can squeeze in this course in between two deadlines. . .

    Ladies and Gentlemen, if you have the opportunity to take any of Laurie's classes, do not pass it up! I believe I would still be sunning myself on unpubbed island if not for her Plot Via Motivation class. And while I have taken that particularly one twice, I can vouch for her character developing classes too.

    As far as a personal dazzling dozen plus one, I would have to say it happened ten years after my spine was damaged by an attacking patient. Everyone from my family to my doctors wanted to wrap me up in cotton and for a while there, I was terrified that anything I did would cause me a great deal of physical pain. But I've always been an extremely active person so it's no surprise my frustrations grew.

    And it all came to a head over a roller coaster. See, I love riding roller coasters--the faster, the better. But as you might guess, most everyone I loved(and a few I didn't) didn't want me riding something that would more than likely cause me pain. Only my dh told me that yes, I might get hurt but then again, I might not. What did I want to do?

    I got on the roller coaster. There wasn't any pain or weakness, nada, zip. It was then I realized that I would always have some pain but wouldn't I rather be living my life rather than watching it go by?

    That was 20 years ago and another spinal operation ago. I recently hit the six month mark since my latest surgery and the neurosurgeon released me. My last question to him--when can I get back on the roller coaster? And his answer--anytime!

    Patty who really needs to get back to her writing instead of prowling the internet!

  71. Michael, thanks for sharing the story of your strong mother!

  72. Nina, I suspect that's a common problem among writers. We live in our heads a lot and have to constantly defeat negative self talk.

  73. Great post! I always love when I find out I'm not the only one who didn't quite "get" the hero's journey. I love the way you broke it down and restructured it. Now, it makes sense to me :)

    Thanks for turning on the light! Can't wait to take your workshop on this!


  74. Hi Laurie,

    Wow! Twenty-three posts. You're smoking'.

    I've always considered Campbell's Hero's Journey to be metaphorical for the internal journey we all take to complete ourselves. To grow our soul, so to say.

    Haven't really been limited by others, but have very often limited myself. To me, the real challenge is overcoming the limitations I place on myself for various reasons. Overcoming these obstacles is often like the Journey.



    Three cheers for Joan of Arc -- boy, did she nail that! And you already know you can overcome OTHER nay-sayers, because look at what you've accomplished. It's just that last one saying "not good enough" that can haunt us for a lifetime.

    I'm amazed when award-winning bestsellers say they STILL hear that voice. It seems like there's no connection between self-doubt and reality...but that discovery is what the heroine's journey is all about.


    Wow, what a fabulous image -- it's so easy to picture all the worried faces as you climb aboard, and the sheer joy of seeing you reach those soaring heights.

    Hurray for your husband in backing you up, AND for you in making the choice you did! (Although as a total wuss, I'd never join you on even the tamest of coasters. :)


    Whew, count me as someone else who's relieved at seeing I'm not the only one who didn't get Hero's Journey...I actually dithered over whether or not to admit that, because there's this little voice that still says "stupid, you're not trying hard enough."

    So thanks for the reassurance that other bright people don't get it either!


    You know, I think overcoming our own limitations is considerably harder than overcoming those set by others. It makes a better external conflict when some mean boss or duke or patriarch is saying "can't do that," but the toughest part is when WE say "can't do that."

    And yet when you look back at everything you HAVE managed to do, it's a little easier to remember "oh, yeah, wait, I've faced that limitation before and burst through it in the end." Whew!

  79. Thank you, thank you, Laurie! For giving me permission NOT to follow the hero's journey.

    I'm in the middle of an on-line course right now and I've stalled out because my story doesn't adhere to the Ordinary World, Exotic World, refusal of the quest, etc. I'm about ready to pull my hair out! (Loved your example of dark caves! LOL).

    It's like trying to squeeze a square into a round hole. I think the Heroine's journey is much more my style.

    Thanks again! Whew...


  80. P.S. Has anyone heard from Julie? How's her aunt doing?

  81. Oh, I'm so late to the party but clearly you didn't need me because this party is ROCKING!!!!


    Oh my stars, Laurie you make me smile like THIS BIG. Huge. Steps, journeys, cans of Coke.

    It's a love thing!

    Hey, I'm still working with urchins today but I had to pop in and say hey (Willie Mays, go BASEBALL!!!) to the lot o' youse.

    I'll stop back once kids are picked up and serve some fresh burgers off the grill with an amazing oh my stars so good rice/broccoli/cheesie thingie that I'll serve over at the cafe before too long...

    Laurie, excellent! You just made me smile!


    You're right Vince. These headlines really help. Good point.

    Thanks Laurie.


    I'm with you, Laurie. No roller coasters for me.

    But love a heroine who is on a roller coaster ride. Congrats Patti. What a great story.

  84. Waving at Missy. Aren't these comments inspiring? Love em.


    Oh, shoot, I know what you mean about that feeling of "my story doesn't fiiiiiit" -- it's a horrible feeling. And yet it sure doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong; you're just writing a different kind of journey.

    Which might not look as fabulous on a movie screen, but which can be every bit as compelling (if not more so) to readers who love watching people cope with the kind of internal challenges we all face in everyday life. Like [ahem] worrying about our story... :)


    Okay, as the wife of a devoted baseball fan you've got me incredibly curious -- what's this about?

    I'm delighted you got a big huge smile from this rocking party (cool!) amidst the fun of urchins, pickups, burgers, and yummy rice-broccoli-cheese at the cafe (ooh), but I hate thinking there's a Willie Mays quote I don't know...

  87. Laurie, I love your down-to-earth stories.

    When I was in high school my creative writing teacher told me I should pursue my writing. The other adults in my life told me I couldn't make a career of writing. It was a hobby. I believed them, for 30 years. I'm still not making much money at writing, but I've only started. I don't know what the future will bring, but I know Who holds the future. I would never be where I am if I hadn't decided to try. I feel more like the person I was always meant to be, if that makes any sense.

  88. Awesome post as always, Laurie :)

  89. Laurie, whenever I hear you have another blog post about writing, I run gleefully to the blog to take it in. I've learned so much from you, Laurie!

    Like you, I've never been able to get into The Hero's Journey. It's too abstract to me. And like Nina Paules said above regarding negative self-talk, I'm my own worst enemy. LOL!

    As far as doing something that others felt I could not, my goodness, I have so many instances I could tell about! I'm one of those perverse people who, when told, "You can't do that," makes me even more determined! Everyone told me my horse was too big and the wrong breed to compete successfully in Endurance Racing, but I proved them wrong, winning all 4 races that I entered. They also told me he wouldn't last for the 100 mile Competitive Trail Ride competition, but we did it anyway, winning 2nd place and doing the 100 miles in 22 hours.

    When I was a kid, my mom gently told me that a picture I had drawn for the children's page of a magazine wouldn't be published, but the magazine not only published the picture and paid me for it, but accepted more artwork from me over the next several years.

    I built a 35' long rockery wall, manhandling the rocks myself. I remodeled my bedroom and built a walk-in closet, then built another closet in the laundry room. I guess I just don't know the meaning of "You can't." *g*


    What a lovely example of how as a writer, you're becoming the person you were meant to be. It makes such total sense that God wouldn't give us talents and expect us to waste them, yet all too often "life" gets in the way of letting that talent shine.

    So even if you never make a living as a writer, you're still far more than a hobbyist...you're actively engaged in becoming the person you were meant to be!


    Aw, thanks -- glad you liked it!


    That's a wonderfully gutsy, gritty response to being told you can't do something -- proving that you absolutely CAN.

    And don't these examples sound exactly like what a fictional heroine would do? Racing the horse nobody thought could win, showing her well-meaning mom that her art is wanted, and deciding to build whatever she sets her mind to. I can almost hear the soundtrack already, and it's a powerful one...

  93. Laurie - if I can squeeze out the time, I'm sure you'll find me in your next class - whether I win or not!- you teach the best classes evah! =)



    Well, I'll keep my fingers crossed that you find the time so I'll find me in the Heroines Journey class...it should be a fun one!

  95. Leslie, hugs and big a high five!!

    Way to live your fullest life!

    I'm totally inspired now..


    You're so funny to advertise my book. Did you see it got 4.5 stars on the RT book reviews?

    I thought we weren't supposed to pay attention to reviews, but then someone just said give a little nod of recognition and crawl back in the cave.

    I'm going to hold on to that 4.5 star rating when those ol' one stars start rolling in. Which they will. :D Just waiting...

  97. Ooops, I don't do headlines well. That was for Vince. With a 'c'.

  98. Hi Laurie,

    Since I'm in your Personality Type class and it's the third one of yours I've taken, I've learned more than I could have imagined. Your teaching style is better than most college classes I took on writing.

    My characters in Hada's Fog are more deeply developed since I've followed your information and insights.

    I'd love a chance to win another course from you.




    How cool that your characters have become deeper because of things you've learned in classes -- whether mine or a college's, I'm a big believer in learning wherever an opportunity arises.

    And I'll bet that's true for you as well...although we probably couldn't say the same thing about Hada!

  100. Okay, urchins gone....

    Breathing!!! Excited to be here, Laurie, oh my gosh, next you should give lessons on being the number one, exciting perfect blog guest!!!

    Willie Mays the Say Hey kid...

    We love baseball, love so many things about it and Willie... oh my stars, what an example of a good player, great athlete and man to admire! And he just sent Derek Jeter the nicest note because Jeter passed him on the all time hit list two weeks ago... Jeter has moved to tenth place...

    Two gracious men. Love them both!!!

    And I have to agree with the gals, I'm over the top excited by the response/the comments of these lovely women.

    I love success over adversity stories. I embrace them. This rocks, Laurie!

  101. Here's the link to "Talkin' Baseball" the cool baseball song written by Terry Cashman... the original title was Willie, Mickey and the Duke...:) Clearly related to today's topic somehow, right???

    Talkin' Baseball

    And here's a link to the original Terry Cashman song that ended with Willie's "Say hey, say hey, say hey..."

    <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWKA9Zi5-_Y&feature=related>Willie, Mickey and the Duke</a>

    So that's my baseball trivia fun with your husband while you're workin' the blog like a crazy woman!


    What great links -- thank you! Poor hubby has to sit home alone tonight because it's my RWA group's annual dinner...but now I'll have a treat for him when I get home.

    And, hmm, that'll reprieve me of any notion about saving him my dessert; now I'll get to eat it all myself! :)

  103. Laurie, I just signed up for your class. I'm never sure what my heroine's journey ought to be! I've read so much about the heroes' journey though.

  104. Hello Laurie ***waiving arm***

    Thank you for posting this ... sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to discover, and anytime you explain it I get it... Your classes are always clear too... you just rock... :)


    How cool that you'll be in the class! And, boy, I know what you mean about wondering what the heroine's journey should be...sometimes planning it all out in advance sounds just too daunting because who knows what else might happen along the way?

    That's where it's handy to have a few possible steps in mind...and whether or not you already have a heroine taking shape, you can create a brand new one in the class OR use one you already know and love. Nice to have options, huh?


    Oh, you're so right about how simple things can be the hardest to discover -- isn't that always the way? Maybe that's why people enjoy watching kids work and play, because they don't yet know what's supposed to be easy and hard; they just jump in and DO it.

    Or fall down, but get right back up again and keep trying until they can walk across the room all by themselves, or do something else that'll seem simple from that moment on...

  107. I like to take the Hero's Journey and the Heroine's Journey, throw them into a bag, shake it up, and then dump them out and pick up the pieces.

    That way you get that little jingle about "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan..."



    What a great idea -- and a great memory of those old Charlie commercials!

    And in fact, combining the Hero's and Heroine's Journey works perfectly well...at least according to Christopher Vogler, who wrote the book based on Joseph Campbell's work and who also wrote the foreword to Kim Hudson's book. He said he could easily envision using one system for a hero & the other for a heroine in the SAME story. :)


    Shoot, I wish tonight weren't my RWA chapter's annual Member Appreciation Dinner (or at least that I weren't on the sponsoring committee) because it'd be such fun to hang out here instead!

    But Sandra has promised to keep track of things here, which is our only consolation for her NOT being in town tonight. Anyway, I'll check back as soon as I get home -- and BOY do I wish the location weren't a full hour away. :(

  110. Hi Laurie. Great post. The Heroine's journeys can be just as inspiring as a hero's, if not more! 'The Help' was one such great story that I enjoyed tremendously.


    You sure hit a home run down my memory lane. Thanks so much for this poem/song.

    Talkin' Baseball

    “The Whiz Kids had won it,
    Bobby Thomson had done it,
    And Yogi read the comics all the while.
    Rock 'n roll was being born,”

    On October 1, 1950 I saw my first baseball game on tv at my grandfather’s house in Long Island. The Wiz Kids beat the Dodgers on the last day of the season to win the pennant. It broke my grandfather’s heart. This was my introduction to baseball.

    Then in 1951 I got to hear Bobby Thompson hit the ‘shot heard around the world’ just as I was getting into the house after getting off the school bus. I was a Giant fan at the time!

    I didn’t have anything to be baseball happy about after that until 1954 when Dusty Rhodes hit the home runs that let the Giants beat Cleveland in four straight games. In that same year I bought my first 45 record: “Rock Around The Clock”.

    BTW: I heard Willie Mays say a very famous quote. (He was quoting himself after a game.)

    “Baseball is very simple: when they throw the ball, I hit it. When they hit the ball, I catch it.”

    I heard Willie say this. So this quote is from memory and not looking it up anywhere. Willie was my hero back then but my baseball coach would not let me make basket catches! :)


  112. FOR VIRGINIA RE: 4.5 Star Review of “Season of Joy”

    Virginia, I read about your 4.5 Star RT Review before I even knew you had a book coming out!

    About reviews: I’ve had several authors tell me that they never read any reviews but they do have their CP read them and pass on anything that might be helpful. I like this idea myself.


  113. Laurie, thank you for the great post! The Hero's Journey is one of my favorite subjects. I don't necessarily 'get' it but I keep plugging away at it. I'd love to win a chance to take your class!

  114. Hi Laurie, For me it is the 'devil within' more than the ones without that challenge me in being my best.

    However, when I tell people I write romance novels, I've learned to smile when they snicker or look astonished. While no one says 'oh, you can't do that' - the looks are unbelieving - more like "You're What!"

    I am signed up for your Heroine Workshop and am looking forward to it.


    PS: While I also know Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, I like Glasser's "Needs Profile" - like it so much I created a workshop on using the Hero and Heroine's profile to increase conflict that has been well-received.

    PPS: Sure wish I was closer and could be at the meeting with you tonight! Enjoy that desert.

  115. What a great day it has been here with Laurie. She sure is inspiring isn't she?

    Loved all the heroine stories in the comments.

  116. Laurie, I have been WAITING FOR THIS CLASS! Wahoo - so excited - thank you so much for creating and offering it now!

    Like so many others here, I am a HUGE fan of your classes because of the insight you offer into creating a successful internal journey for both heros and heroines. And even a few antagonists. I love how I'm able to take your lessons and even apply them to my own life journey, too.

    Nothing brave to report personally but I do wish I could meet your fans in person. You attract some of the best, most interesting people in your classes and blogs.

    Kudos to you! See you in class,
    Kathleen M

  117. For VIRGINIA


    Screaming for joy. 4.5 from RT On your first debut.

    wooo hoooooooo


    Good example of a book with all heroines (or, well, female protagonists & antagonists because I guess technically they're not ALL the sort we want to root for).

    And each one's journey had its own twists and turns, with most of 'em ending up better / wiser / happier than when they started...but not all of 'em, which made it even more satisfying!


    Great memories Vince. I remember Rock Around the Clock. Not so much of baseball.

    Funny how a song or word triggers so many memories.


    What a cool quote -- I can't wait to share that with my husband, direct from somebody who was actually there.

    And I'm so glad the headlines are useful; if those become a regular feature at Seekerville it'll be due to your calling out the notion and acting on it. :) But I sure do love being known as a communicator...thanks!

  121. ADITE Good point. Great heroines in THE HELP

  122. Hi Laurie,
    This is a fantastic post. I would really like to take your class. The journey is fascinating!


    You know what's cool about plugging away at either system, is that they're designed to complement one another.

    So it'd be perfectly valid to have the hero following HIS journey and the heroine HER journey, and the two of 'em can still arrive at the happy ending together...plausibly, no less!

  124. Hi Laurie,

    How was the dinner? I'm so trying not to be jealous.

  125. Donna, Judith and Kathleen Have fun in class. I know you will.


    Oh, don't you hate that expression of "come on, you can't possibly be serious about writing a romance novel" -- what do people think, we're just making up a fake mission for the fun of pulling their leg?

    But good for you on recognizing the devil within as the stronger antagonist...it sure helps to know what you're up against, and the class should help provide you with some ammunition!


    Fun as usual, but you can tell I skipped out early -- not that the live music wasn't good, but given a choice of listening to 60s-70s-80s hits or hanging out here, guess which sounded more appealing?

    The dessert looked fabulous, though: cheesecake with a choice of caramel, strawberries or chocolate on top, plus chocolate cupcakes as the centerpiece at my table. I felt so incredibly virtuous NOT stuffing my purse full!


    Ooh, I love the idea that my blogs & classes attract "some of the best, most interesting people" -- I tend to think ALL writers are cool that way, but it'd be fun to think the ones here are even MORE cool!

    Seriously, though, you can't really be around a group of writers and not find all kinds of fascinating people...it's just all the more enjoyable when (like today) so many of 'em are willing to speak up. :)


    I think you're right; that's a great description for the heroine's journey -- or for the hero's as well, even though it's not one I've ever been able to grasp.

    But there are writers I admire who love it and use it, so that's gotta be equally valid...maybe it just depends on what kind of books we write!

  130. Laurie! Yahoo has been tossing me off the site all day! I've tried to say hi, but Yahoo keeps kicking me back to the sign in screen and then losing me.

    Okay, let's see if it works now.

    I loved this post. Heros and heroines are as real as the folks who write them. Thank you for confirming that, LOL!

    My character arcs are pretty ordinary. Not that I wouldn't love to write earthshattering, I have to admit, my characters do come across as real people.

    I'm okay with that.

    For now.

    I hope you had a great day in Seekerville.

    I hope this goes through : )

  131. YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY! Yahoo or Google or whoever FINALLY let me play!

    Of course, it's time to go to bed, but hey, at least I got to say hi!!


    Aw that's so sweet that you want to be with us. The folks here are pretty wonderful. :)

    And I'm very proud of you to not have stuffed those chocolate desserts in your purse. Kudos girlfriend.


    Whew, what a great way to end the day -- or, I guess, start the day now that it's 9:01pm here in Phoenix. I'm glad you kept trying and made it!

    Especially because of your point about being okay with characters who come across as real people rather than earthshattering...while there's certainly a market for earthshattering characters, a whole lot of us like the real-people ones better. :)


    With so many people commenting the other day, I doubled the free-class prize so we have two winners!

    Everyone else can still join the Heroine's Journey class over at Writer Univ dot com, but the $30 registration fee is waived for commenters #35 & #5 -- Carrie and Julie.

    Congratulations, and please send me your email addy (Book Laurie at gmail etc) so I can get you you into yahoogroups before the Monday kickoff. :)

  135. Thanks so much Laurie!! I can't wait! =)