Posts Tagged ‘Hero’s journey’

Dear Writers/Caregivers/Advocates for Loved Ones,

Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan here . . .  I see how helping a loved one/being an advocate is so much like writing a book.

My papa has been diagnosed with Parkinsonism by his neurologist. If Papa is telling his story, he would be the first-person narrator; if I’m telling the story about him, then I would be the third-person narrator.

A book (story) consists of one main character (also known as “hero” or “protagonist”) or multiple main characters and other characters (other archetypes), a subject matter that is discussed repeatedly (“theme”) and at least one plotline (“what happened?”). The merging of these elements helps the writer show the hero’s journey.

Helping a loved one/being an advocate consists of at least 2 protagonists (YOU and the loved one) and other archetypes (physicians, healthcare and social service providers, other family members and friends, neighbors, coworkers, vendors, . . . the stranger who gives up her/his seat on the train for you), themes (the cause for help and advocacy and the related issues), and plotlines (the interconnected events associated with all the characters).  Who will be the most transformed in the story?  The loved one?  You the caregiver/advocate? The person who is most transformed would be the main character/hero/protagonist.  Perhaps both people will go through great transformation.  Two protagonists!

I am writing – I keep a notebook for whenever I visit my papa or when I do something on his behalf- gosh, there are so many little “subplots” to keep track of! (Is this Papa’s third or last session with the physical therapist? Mary and I need to witness the exercises so that when the P.T. closes the case, we would be able to coach Papa. Did he say he wanted another heating pad? Oh my, there are at least 18 model to choose from.   Gotta review friends’ advice about what is a comfortable bed and also Consumer Reports. Then Papa has to “test drive” some beds. You just can’t shop for a mattress the way you shop for a pair of shoes.

MATTRESS SHOPPING TIPS (from Sealy’s website)

  1. Plan to spend at least one hour in the store.
  2. Wear loose clothing and easily removable shoes.
  3. Test out mattresses in groups of three for easier comparison.
  4. Lie on each mattress for 5 to 15 minutes to let it fully adapt to your body.
  5. Don’t feel rushed. It’s ok to ask for privacy.

I would add:  Bring your own pillow so that your neck is supported while trying out mattresses; maybe bring an extra pillow case too.

And, I am reading the book The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity by Norman Doidge, M.D.  Chapter 2 is titled “A Man Walks Off His Parkinsonian Symptoms”  . . . how John Pepper has been able to reverse the major symptoms, the ones that Parkinson’s patients dread most, those that lead to immobility. He’s done so with an exercise program he devised and with a special kind of concentration . . .

All the “characters” in Dr. Doidge’s books (The Brain’s Way of Healing  and The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science) and in Dr. Victoria Sweet‘s book (God’s Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine) are guiding me on my journey as an advocate for my father.  And, I just know that my mom plays a huge role in helping me.

I thank everyone who has given me her/his time, energy, and prayers.

Here are links to websites I’ve relied on lately:  Frances Kakugawa  B. Lynn Goodwin  Norman Doidge, M.D.  Michael J. Fox Foundation

Special thanks to Margie Yee Webb, Frances Kakugawa, Penny Manson, Debbie Ramos and her daughter Melanie who went out of their way to help me research specific items and to Mary, my sister Maria Leung, Linda Harris, Sue, Janet, and Elaine for being there in person.


Writing Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan












Author & Fanbase-Building Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan says: “Reach out, not stress out. Enjoy your writer’s journey.”






April 25, 2015

Writing Coach Teresa asks: “How do you hook your reader at the middle of your book?”

Writing Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan here . . . recording notes . . .  energized from co-teaching with Mary E. Knippel today – Day 2 of “For Theme’s Sake: Edit Your Own Manuscript Before Pitching or Self-Publishing”.

Our students / hardworking authors supplied plenty of inspiration for their own protagonists as well as for fellow-classmates.

Today we focused on the middle of everyone’s manuscripts. Why the middle?

Before I take on the role of the writer, I put on my reader’s hat.  For me, reading a book is like going for a hike on a trail that I’ve never been on before.  By looking at the signs at the trailhead, I know how long I would have to walk in order to get to the end . . .  just as I know how many hours it would take to read a book by seeing the page count.

That hike I’ve started – the sign posts on the first half of the trail are clear and helpful. I know that if I follow the arrows, I will reach the end, and feel great as I always do after a “good” long walk.

I’ve started reading a book. The author hooks me from page one – sometimes that hook is the narrator’s voice/language, other times it’s the subject matter (a topic that I do relate to or one that I would like to know more about).  By page 5 (oftentimes, even sooner) I know what the main character/protagonist wants or needs, and, I want to see what’s going to happen next. So I turn the page.  I am in the story world.

The author had planted “sign posts” to guide me. Those sign posts are called “themes”.

By the middle of the book, that core theme/sign post better be there.  If the story has stopped hooking me, I will put the book down and probably not open it again.  (On my hike, if at midpoint the trail seems to have disappeared, the marker has fallen off its post, and I’m all alone  . . .  do I continue on? By the way, I am not interested in getting lost today. My dinner awaits me at home.)

Such is the task for an author – how to guide the reader with that core theme, scene after scene.

To the dear authors in our class,

That big sheet of paper that Mary gave you today?  Tape the class handouts from Day 1 and Day 2 onto that sheet. Look at those aids every time you meet with your protagonist.  And, ask your protagonist these questions:   “Where are you today on your Hero’s Journey?”  “What do you want ? … in this scene.”

Speaking of “scene” –

Writing Coach Teresa says: “A scene is a compilation of paragraphs that creates a “movie” in the Reader’s mind.  Which means:  action, dialogue, sensory details, and authentic details.

A sequence of scenes guides the Reader in your Story World, and, is a vehicle to show the Hero’s/Protagonist’s transformation.  Go into scene whenever you want to show us what your protagonist is made of.

In real life, if someone says “I’ve changed. Take my word for it.”  . . .  wouldn’t you be thinking . . .  Hmm….    I’ll believe it when I see it.  Instead of telling us how your protagonist has grown, show us through scene, not through summaries.

Summary cannot spark the same emotional responses as a scene would . . . because summary either recaps what has happened or jumps over time in order to get to the next scene.

I recommend:

* Martha Engber’s book on how to write scenes
* Christopher Vogler’s book The Writer’s Journey (about Hero’s Journey and Archetypes)
* all books by Martha Alderson on plotting
* your rereading your favorite book and studying that author’s techniques

The fabulous authors in our class have mighty themes:

* make my own decisions and change my circumstances (author of YA science fiction)

* move on with my life in spite of unanswered questions and a broken heart (author of women’s fiction)

* speaking my truth transforms shame into courage and forgiveness (author of memoir)

* embracing my past and loving myself feed my spirit as well as my marriage’s spirit (Diana Lynn, author of women’s fiction)

Their readers will surely stick by their protagonists and be there at the end of the book.

Cheering for YOU!









Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan

on behalf of

“For Theme’s Sake” teachers Teresa LeYung-Ryan & Mary E. Knippel

May 2, 2015 Teresa LeYung-Ryan ( Build Your Writer’s Platform & Fanbase In 22 Days – workbook; Love Made of Heart: a Daughter, a Mother, a Journey Through Mental Illness – novel) celebrates Independent Bookstore Day / California Bookstore Day  with other local authors at Laurel Book Store, Oakland, CA  and

Saturday June 6
Teresa LeYung-Ryan (Fanbase-Building Coach and “Immigrant Experience Writing Contest” sponsor) joins California Writers Club colleagues for Writing Contest Awards Ceremony and Writers Helping Writers Through Mentoring;

June 13, 2015  for Authors Day

June 6 and June 13, 2015  at Literary Stage, Fine Arts Galleria, San Mateo County Fair (Cheers to Bardi Rosman Koodrin, Boris Koodrin, Laurel Anne Hill, David Hirzel, Margie Yee Webb, Wini McCaffrey, et al)





August 25, 2011  Coach Teresa here, adding the link to Lori Hope’s humorous/serious article at  Huffington Post:  Lori Hope: Direct Mail and How to Help Someone with Cancer


It was a lucky day for me when Vicki Weiland (dear colleague at Women’s National Book Association-San Francisco Chapter) called me to say: “Teresa, Lori Hope is looking for you!” Lori was the Managing Editor for Bay Area Business Woman News at the time; she invited me to talk about the themes in my novel Love Made of Heart.  When the interview (entitled “Bleeding Heart Bleeds Love” ) was published under the “Off the Shelf” column, I read Lori’s words and cried and cried. My mom would have been so proud.

What I had learned about the publishing industry was this:  busy people giving their time and energy to help newbies are walking-angels. Lori Hope was reviewing the galley proofs of her own book Help Me Live: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You to Know.  We know how thrilling and time-consuming that task is.  So, that’s how I remember my first meetings with Lori–she was generous, kind, and inspiring.

Recently, when I saw that Lori Hope commented on my post about Anna L. Marks, I was tickled to hear from her. But,  then I read Lori’s words: “Just recovering from cancer treatment . . . ”

I got very sad (this news meant a recurrence of lung cancer for Lori?). I read on. Lori said: ” . . . expanded and revised edition of Help Me: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You to Know comes out Sept. 13!   With love and always hope,  Lori”

“Always hope.”  Lori’s last name is also her gift to the world. She is a dear powerful spirit.

Lori’s “author’s journey” is her Hero’s journey.

Lori Hope says: "What do you say to someone with cancer — how do you show how much you care?"

I recommend Lori’s blog:  What Helps. What Hurts. What Heals.

Lori’s post “Dance With Me” where she says: “No sign of metastasis…” is truly music.

Is Lori Hope the WonderWoman behind “how to help, heal, and keep hope alive” ?   YES!

The second edition of Help Me Live: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You to Know, which includes a new foreword by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, new sections on gender, childhood and young adult cancers, and a survey of 600+ survivors, will be available September 13, 2011. News about appearances/fundraisers will be available soon. Please visit Lori’s website



Teresa LeYung-Ryan says: “Reach out, not stress out, when pursuing your dreams!”

Coach Teresa is the author of Build Your Writer’s Platform & Fanbase In 22 Days and Love Made of Heart.

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