Lessons I Learned from My Heroine by Vella Munn – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Vella Munn will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Lessons I learned from my heroine

To give some background, the heroine in Death Chant is Winter Barstow. She was given the name by the people who found the little girl in Barstow California in the middle of winter. Her features say she’s Native American, but she has no way of learning who her parents are or where she came from. She spends her childhood in various foster homes living day to day while trying to tell herself that her heritage doesn’t matter.

That starts to change when she’s in college taking an anthropology course from the middle aged man she comes to call Doc. He sees through her defenses and challenges her to find direction for her life. She becomes an educational assistant at the university where Doc works and specializes in Native Americana.

Then Doc uses a grant to go to the Olympic Forest in Washington State to study the indigenous people, leaving Winter to earn her living while trying to convince herself that she doesn’t feel drawn to the area. What would be the point when she’ll never know whether that’s where she came from? However, she can no longer deny that draw when Doc sends her an authentic Hoh totem mask—and goes missing.

Winter isn’t full of denial so much as she’s determined to deny her vulnerability over having no roots. She’s determined to live in the present, not acknowledge the holes in her. I believe we all have holes and vulnerabilities we try to hide from others. We want to present ourselves as competent and contained even while tears flow deep inside.

I tried to give Winter a story designed to force herself to face truths about herself, and to give her a sense of belonging. I gave her a hero who takes his heritage for granted, who resents having that heritage dictate every aspect of his life. In other words, Jay discounts what Winter needs to feel whole.

Despite her inner struggle, Winter is one brave young woman. She’s more determined than I knew she’d be as she works to determine who killed Doc who she saw as a father figure. In addition, she has a hard choice to make. Can she accept Doc’s flaws? Her greatest challenge comes when she has to decide whether to entrust her vulnerable heart to Jay. Because Death Chant (so called because Winter hears a wolf spirit howl) is a romance, it’s a given that Winter and Jay will fall in love. What I didn’t know when I started the story was how much insight she’d have about Jay’s emotional journey. She might be too independent for her own good, but thankfully she was there to help Jay deal with loss.

As a way of wrapping this up, I must admit that in some regards, Winter is me. I have family. I know where I came from and how important roots are. What I didn’t have was a father who wanted me. As a result, Winter and I share some of the same vulnerabilities and holes. We both tell ourselves it doesn’t matter, but it does.

mediakit_bookcover_deathchantWinter Barstow knows nothing of her past or ethnic heritage. Everything changes when Doc, her mentor, sends her an authentic ceremonial wolf mask from Olympic National Forest.

Then Doc disappears. Winter goes to the mysterious forest where she’s confronted by Native American ranger Jay Raven, who has no love for Doc.

Still, Jay can’t walk away from Winter. Not only has a spirit wolf reached out to her, but he also suspects she’s in terrible danger…and his growing feelings for her are too strong to ignore.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Silver eyes stared at her. The slightly open mouth could either represent a grin or a snarl. If it was as old as Doc had said it was, the mask had been created as part of ancient Native ceremonies.

Going by what she’d learned about the Northwestern tribes, someone, probably a proven hunter, had placed it over his head and mimicked a wolf’s movements. Little children might have cowered before the fierce figure, but hopefully their parents would have assured them that the wolf dancer represented courage and survival. The hunter would stalk, threaten and mock attack.

How did wolves factor into Hoh spiritual beliefs?

It shouldn’t be here. If university staff learned what Doc had done, he’d be fired—unless someone like Dr. Wilheim decided the rare treasure would bring enough attention to the university to warrant defending a colleague under the cloak of research and discovery.

Dr. Wilheim defend Doc to the point of challenging the law? Wasn’t going to happen.

She came closer then picked up the mask. Although heavy for its size, the incredibly well-preserved artifact seemed to have been designed to fit over her head. Holding the mask at arms’ length, she walked into the bathroom, put it on the counter and stood in front of the mirror. Large black eyes, a somewhat broad nose, high cheekbones and thick, shoulder-length midnight hair reflected back at her. She’d studied herself countless times over the years, but the feeling that she was looking at a stranger remained.

Who was she?

About the Author:mediakit_authorphoto_deathchantVella Munn freely admits to being a dedicated and sometimes demented fiction writer. She has always been drawn to nature and those who feel at home in it. A career writer, she has had way over 60 books published, most of them romances both past and present. As far as personal statistics go, she has one husband, two sons, four grandchildren, and is owned by two rescue dogs. Home is southern Oregon within a two hour drive of Crater Lake. She frequently visits Montana in her mind and heart.

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  1. Audrey Stewart says:

    I am glad I got introduced to Vella and her work.

  2. Thanks for hosting!

  3. What do you hope to find in your stocking this year?

  4. Lisa Brown says:

    Congrats on the tour, I enjoyed the excerpt, and thanks for the chance to win 🙂

  5. I liked the excerpt, thank you.

  6. I feel as if I’ve known Long and Short reviews for years because someone here reviewed two of my grandfather’s short stories. For the record, he’s been dead since my mother was six but he’d written for the pulp magazines and I helped get them republished. A true work of the heart.

  7. The excerpt was great, and Winter sounds like an interesting heroine.

  8. amy bowens says:

    Sounds like a great book really enjoyed the excerpt

  9. Really great post – thanks for sharing 🙂

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