What Essential Stage is Missing from Your Heroine’s Journey?

“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.” —Willa Cather

 Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

                            Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At the American Christian Fiction Writers conference, I attended Christopher Vogler’s workshop, “Essence of Story.” He clarified Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, a set of stages in the age-old three-act story. 


Modeling the stages using, Calculated Risk, would give my story away. So, I’ll use “Little Red Riding Hood” by Brothers Grimm. Visit Hero’s Journey for in-depth understanding and helpful charts.

Act 1 – Separation


1.  Ordinary World

Everyone loved the girl. She always wore the red riding hood her doting grandmother had made. Her grandmother called her Little Red Riding Hood.

Image courtesy of papaija2008 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of papaija2008 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2.  Call to Adventure

Little Red Riding Hood’s mother sent her with cakes to her ailing grandmother. She forbade the child to run off the path.

3.  Refusal of the Call

Little Red Riding Hood agreed to heed her mother. She refused anything but an uneventful, boring-to-the-reader day.

256px-Arthur_Rackham_Little_Red_Riding_Hood+4.  Meeting the Mentor

In the forest, Little Red Riding Hood met a wicked wolf. He obtained directions to her grandmother’s house. He advised her to collect flowers for her grandmother.

5.  Crossing the Threshold

Little Red Riding Hood received his counsel. She ran off the path and picked flowers. She crossed from her Ordinary World into a Special World.

Act 2a – Descent – Dragons (or wolves)


6.  Tests, Allies, Enemies

After waylaying Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf ran to the grandmother’s cottage and devoured her. He donned her clothes and got into her bed.

7.  Approaching the Inmost Cave

CottageLittle Red Riding Hood remembered her grandmother and hurried to her cottage. The open cottage door surprised her. She felt uneasy. Inside, her grandmother was in bed, her cap pulled over her face and looking strange.

Act 2b – Initiation (changes but must find her way to the right thing)


8.  The Crisis/Supreme Ordeal

Little Red Riding Hood questioned her grandmother’s odd features. The wolf leaped from the bed and ate her.

9.  Seizing the Reward

A huntsman heard the wolf snoring. Suspecting the wolf had eaten the grandmother, he cut the wolf open. Little Red Riding Hood sprung out, followed by her grandmother. The child collected stones, and they filled the wolf’s stomach. When he rose, he dropped dead from the heavy stones. The huntsman gained a wolf’s skin. The grandmother ate the cake and revived. The girl vowed to mind her mother and never leave the path by herself. 

Act 3 – Return (to Ordinary World)


10.  The Road Back

Image courtesy of anankkml at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of anankkml at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Later, Little Red Riding Hood took cakes to her grandmother again. Another wolf tried to entice her from the path. She went straight to her grandmother and told her about the wolf.

11.  The Climax/Resurrection

When no one answered his knock, the wolf waited on the roof for Little Red Riding Hood to go home. The child put cooked sausages in the trough outside. The wolf leaned over to smell them and fell into the trough and drowned.

12.  Return with Elixir

Little Red Riding Hood returned home joyously and no one harmed her again.

Consider these stages of a hero’s journey in your 3-act story. Click to tweet.

What stage is missing or weak in the story you’re reading or writing?

Tips to Connect with Readers After Your Author Events

“The future of publishing is about having connections to readers and the knowledge of what those readers want.” — Seth Godin


Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Authors meet readers at such events as book signings, public launch parties, and library meet-the-author discussions. Some attendees would enjoy further contact with authors and subscribing to their newsletters. But not all readers.

From my research and experience with Calculated Risk, here’s a way I connected with interested readers after these events.

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Authors, use obtained email addresses for one-time offers to connect with readers. Click to tweet.


Tip 1. Collect email addresses at all your events.

  • Have a nice giveaway for a drawing, such as a basket of book-related items or a book. On the drawing entry forms, ask for email addresses to contact winners. At the bottom include a checkbox for contestants to tick if they do NOT want email updates from you.
  • photoAt events in which you don’t offer a drawing, have a guestbook available and invite guests to sign it for updates on your books.
  • If you lead a workshop, pass around a sign-up sheet for email addresses to receive a valuable complimentary and complementary extra you’ve created for participants.


Tip 2. Soon after each event:

•  Eliminate the entry forms on which boxes are ticked that the contestants don’t want updates from you.

Giveaway Entry Form

•  Send a one-time email to the rest that’s honest and reads something like this:

Subject: Appreciation

Hi [contestants first name],

Thank you for participating in the drawing(s) for [title of your book and/or the giveaway] at [name/place of the event]. Winners have been notified. This is a one-time email. I respect your privacy.

If you would enjoy learning more about my books, reading fun articles, and trying recipes, I invite you to sign up for my quarterly newsletter at [give the link to your website].

Best wishes,

  • photoDrive readers to your website, where they’ll find everything you have to offer them, including your book page with buy buttons. So in your email signature give only your website link. This drives interested readers to your website, where they’ll find your social media buttons on every page. My blog is embedded in my website, making it easy for readers to visit my blog.
  • Use a Subject Title that’s less likely to be thrown into spam folders. Don’t use exclamation points or promotions words.
  • Honor recipients’ privacy. Don’t send them another email unless you’re already friends or they responded to your email. Also, either send individual emails or use the blind copy option.
  • Expect a small percent of responses. However, with a few from every author event, you’ll grow your interactions with readers and gain newsletter subscribers.

Example: I failed to ask the name of a particularly interested reader who bought a couple of books and took a picture with me at a book signing. I wished to send her a personal note. But I didn’t know which entry form for the drawing was hers. After I sent individual emails to all participants who’d allowed updates from me, she responded. We learned we’d lived a neighborhood away from each other at one time. She visited my website and signed up for my newsletter.

What other ways have you respectfully connected with readers after events?

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers

Because mine is a how-to blog, writing a blog-hop interview this week is a treat. My nominees, the rules, and their questions follow the interview.

Thank you, Paula Mowery, for nominating me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.


Here are Paula’s questions and my answers:

What is something you would count as a “success” from this past year?

Naturally, debut Calculated Risk’s release. But when I launched my weekly how-to blog in 2012, I wondered how long it’d be before I ran out of things I knew how to do. So my 2014 success was celebrating my 100th blog.


Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net







Who has had the biggest influence on your life?

Naturally, Jesus. Unfortunately, also the Enemy, the devil, with his relentless temptations. But through Christ’s victorious influence, I know Him and have eternal life.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Naturally, stoves are hot. But in 1981, I protested to John that I was too much older than he to marry. When he was eight, I could’ve been his babysitter. He said, “Look at it this way, when you’re eighty, I’ll be seventy-two.” Our age gap is actuarially sound. We should die about the same time. 

If you could have a week to retreat, where would you go and what would you do?

photoNaturally, heaven. But my sister and brother-in-law and John and I have already scheduled a winter retreat in the Dominion Republic. I’ll sit under a palm tree on the beach and read instead of write books. And celebrate my sister’s birthday.


Looking back on this year, what are five things you are especially thankful for?

Naturally, my five senses. Equally, my five grandchildren who keep me young and laughing.

What is one lesson you feel you learned this past year?

Naturally, book promotion is overwhelming. More importantly, God is the Great Orchestrator.

If there were no limits, what is one goal you would like to achieve this year?

Naturally, to win the Christy Award. No limits? I’d like to finish this next book within six months.

What is one Bible verse that is special to you and why?

Naturally, Proverbs 21:19 (below). But staying positive, Galatians 6:9. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. One thing I do well is persevering.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Why or why not?

Naturally, lose 10 pounds if I did. But I don’t make resolutions. For fifty-two weeks, I send weekly goals to my accountability partners. That’s enough.

512px-David_and_GoliathDo you set goals for yourself in your spiritual life? Give an example.

Naturally. This year I worked on inner giants that hinder my faith walk. Nagging is one. That’s why I mentioned Proverbs 21:19 above. Better to live in a desert than with a … nagging wife.

Paula, thank you for this opportunity to join in and introduce interesting and helpful bloggers to others.

My nominees:

Valerie Comer, Kristen Blankenship, Jane Thompson, Joanne Sher

The rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Put the Award logo on your blog.
  3. Answer the 10 questions you’ve been sent.
  4. Make up 10 new questions for your nominees to answer.

Their questions:

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What was the topic of the blog you wrote that had the greatest impact on your readers and why?
  3. What is your process from getting a blog idea to announcing your just submitted post?
  4. What is something you’d like to learn how to do to improve your blog this year?
  5. What kinds of blogs do you enjoy reading?
  6. What are three words that best describe who you are?
  7. What book did you most enjoy reading last year and why?
  8. What is a non-blogging goal you’d like to accomplish this year?
  9. When you’re not blogging, what do you enjoy doing?
  10. What was a spiritual lesson you learned in the past year?