Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

If I had finished my rewrite of Book One on time this year, I'd be posting a holiday-themed story for The Everyday Divinities Project. Maybe next year. For now, you'll have to settle for this little holiday post.

It's getting late here at my dad's house in Colorado, my baby sister is in bed, and Santa is busy placing presents under the tree for her to discover in the morning. I'm getting my writing in while I can, but even so, I have to pause and take in the wonder of the season. The holidays are such a magical time of year, and while the commercialism of the shopping season threatens to overshadow that at times (which I'm sure pleases the inanimate gods), we still understand the essence of it. It's family and friends, good meals with good company, and giving unconditionally of our food, our time, our love. That's what I get out of the holidays, at least, and I hope you do, too.

So, from your penniless writer and his family, I give you all our best holiday wishes. May this season bring you and yours limitless comfort and joy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Between the Lines - The Alarm Clock

This is an idea that's been brewing in my head for a while, but I've been so busy with other things - not the least of which is my trilogy - that it's been consistently put on the back burner for other things. Finally, in an attempt to keep my poor blog from being neglected while I write the next great YA series, I thought I'd give it a test run and see how it goes. Consider this a "story behind the story" feature that I like to call Between the Lines. We'll kick off this first installation with the first of the short stories that I've posted here...

The Alarm Clock

First off, let me say that I should never edit my own stuff. I'm not objective about my writing at all, and what makes a great story in my head doesn't necessarily translate that well onto the page. For the first short story of The Everyday Divinities Project, I should really have let someone else read it first to see if it made for a strong intro to the world that I'm creating in my fiction. Oh well, I'll eventually figure that out later on in the Project.

That said, I wanted the EDP to focus more on the inanimate objects rather than the people, a contrast to the style of storytelling I'm using for the trilogy where the focus is on a human protagonist. The first story, then, was going to set the precedent for featuring the divinities over the mortals, which is why the boy barely gets more than two paragraphs to himself. I also wanted to start strong with a god that is often abused and rarely gets any appreciation at all. I don't know about you, but I dread my alarm clock going off in the morning, and I can imagine that enough people thinking similar thoughts would adversely affect such a divinity. Garvin, then, would give as good as he gets.

It should also be noted that the alarm clock god was one of several featured gods in the initial draft of Inanimate Gods, albeit under a different name. His character changed radically enough in the rewrite, however, that I decided to revive his original concept here for the EDP. Sometimes ideas that don't work in one fictional arena work just fine in another.

As an aside, Garvin is a modification of someone's actual name. No one I know personally, but I borrowed the name and altered it to fit with the peculiar naming conventions I'd set up for my divinities. With that, Garvin was born!

Oh, here's one more little tidbit about this story, straight from the Twilight Zone. After I'd posted the story up on my blog, my alarm clock refused to work. Well, that's not entirely true. It still displayed the time, but the alarm function refused to work. It simply wouldn't wake me up anymore, as if silently protesting my portrayal of him in my story. Either that, or he decided to move on to a new position in the divine hierarchy, satisfied that he had finally received the attention due to him after all these years of faithful service.

Do you have a question you'd like to ask about The Alarm Clock story? Go ahead and post it in the comments section below, and I'll post answers on this very page!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

Yep, it's that time of year again, to stuff yourself silly with food alongside family and friends while watching a plethora of movies and sports. I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving! See you in the food coma!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Hero's Journey - The Road Back

I know, I know, we’re all having so much fun on our road trip, it’s almost a shame to have to go back to the real world. That’s exactly what we have to do, however. I mean, they don’t call this stage The Road Back for nothing, right?

No one wants to go back home when they’re in a new and wondrous place, and that includes the Hero. Very rarely, the Hero will stay in the special world, but more often than not, he’ll make the trek back to the ordinary world with all the lessons he’s learned along the way. This is where the main character rededicates himself to the role of Hero and his place in the grand adventure. Just because he’s going back home, that doesn’t mean the reset button is hit and everything returns to normal. It also doesn’t mean he goes back home unscathed. By surviving the Ordeal and claiming the Reward, our Hero is now so much more than he was before… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

You know those thresholds that the Hero has been crossing since stepping into the Special World? Well, this is another one, except it’s the threshold of the Ordinary World. The Threshold Guardian for this one, however, can be anyone. It could be his companions who have accompanied him this far and would love it if he stayed. It could be his own desire to belong in this new place, refusing to go back to being ordinary again. Then again, it might be the Shadow if the villain of the piece wasn’t finished off in the Ordeal. This last one lends itself well to a chase scene, a sure way to spice up this piece of the Hero’s Journey and amp things up after relaxing in the Reward stage.

I wish I had some incredible way to illustrate how the Road Back applies to Rob’s Journey, some dazzling example that would completely wow you and demonstrate how layered this stage can be. Honestly, though, his Road Back at this point is a literal road back home from the NaNoWriMo after party. On the way back, though, he has plenty of time to reflect on his success and realize that he’s very capable of writing a novel. In fact, he’s already got one in the bag. What is he going to do with it? That’s the question that weighs heavily on his mind as he returns to his Ordinary World.

We’re nearing the very end of our Journey! I’m kind of sad about that. I feel like we’ve been through a lot in the course of this year. We’ve been to the Special World and have returned… from the dead? Why not? Next up: Resurrection! (Bring your own phoenix metaphor.)

Monday, November 1, 2010

What's Your Word Count?

Is it November already? Sheesh, where did the year go? I swear, it was just July a second ago.

Today is November 1st, which marks the first day of NaNoWriMo! For the uninitiated, that means National Novel Writing Month, where would-be authors from all over are encouraged to stow the "I wish I could..." and finally pen that story that's been playing out in the back of their brain. Don't worry your pretty little head about page count: we're looking at word count here, with the goal being 50,000 words before the calendar turns to December. Want to find out more? Want to see if any of your friends are getting their NaNo on? Check out their site at http://www.nanowrimo.org/ now!

So, while I'm building toward the final few chapters of my rewrite, who among you is hammering out a 50,000 word story this month? Feel free to step up and share your story idea/inspiration/word count here!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

He's Still Alive!

Though the past couple days certainly haven't made me feel like I'm alive. Whatever flu/cold/T-virus epidemic has been making people sick this week, it finally nailed me, and hard. So as long as I'm stuck on bed rest with my laptop, I may as well make an update on my blog. Apologies if it's not coherent, I'm still coughing up a lung.

And while I'm apologizing, I'll add another to the list: I'm sorry this month has been so barren of my usual wit and wisdom. The last time I made so few posts in a month was back in March, which happened to be the month that I made some great breakthroughs in my writing and got some quality work done. Three guesses, then, why this month has been so empty on my blog, and the first two don't count.

I've been working my tail off this month to finish the rewrite of my manuscript before the year's end, and I've got some AMAZING work to show for it. Unfortunately, it also means that I've been working on that every time I sit down to write, which meant I was neglecting my poor, lonely blog. In addition to all that, I bought a car, celebrated my birthday, and ventured out into the world more than I might have otherwise. Time is a scarce commodity in my life right now, especially considering that I work a full-time job, but it looks like this week has been one of "Slow the frak down!"

Maybe that's why I got sick. I pride myself on never really succumbing to the usual illnesses that float around and take everyone else out of the game. I've been eating healthier, exercising more (especially now that I have a car and don't need to walk everywhere), and staying true to my obligations. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's because the friend I visited over the weekend wasn't fully over whatever he caught the week before, despite his assurances to the contrary. Maybe this is just nature's way of saying "Slow the frak down!"

Whatever the case may be, it's time to rest and recover so I can meet my self-imposed deadline before the year's end. And speaking of obligations, I haven't forgotten about all of you, my loyal followers. I'll have the last few legs of the Writer's Journey up on this blog, count on that, though it may not come as timely as I'd like. The Journey will reach its end, though.

Mine, however, has barely begun.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Different Point of View

I hesitated posting this because I'm not the type to sing my own praises. I leave that for others to do for me, both because I'm much too modest and I enjoy having other people talk about me, preferably in a positive light. Then I realized that I wouldn't be tooting my own horn here, I'd just be giving my loyal followers a different perspective of me through someone else's eyes. Plus, I'd be promoting a friend's blog, which I'm always happy to do.

All that said, this is the blog of my very dear friend Karuna Tanahashi. She has been an amazing source of inspiration for me while I've been rewriting my trilogy, as well as a wonderful friend who allows me to experience L.A. through the eyes of someone who is still new to the city and hasn't become jaded by it. (She's also the editor behind my last two short stories on this blog, which is no doubt why they're so much better than the ones I've edited myself.) The link leads to a gleefully geeky night we shared together, and fans of Joss Whedon will no doubt get a kick out of our little adventure.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday

Stolen from Laura and Lisa Write, because it's an awesome idea and it adds something to my blog other than story structure or quotes. So here goes!

1. I haven't finished my manuscript. In fact, I recently went back and rewrote the first chapter of my rewrite, which means I need to rewrite the rest of the rewrite so it flows naturally from that new opening. On the plus side, the new first chapter is so much stronger for it. Less talk, more action!

2. It's another overcast day here in "sunny" California. I think I'm going to put on my WoW Horde hoodie for the first time in months and walk to work in it.

3. The Coffee Bean definitely has better coffee, but they don't have the Pumpkin Spice Latte I love so much. Thank you, Starbucks, for having a location near to both work and home.

4. I should really be getting ready for work, not typing up truths for my blog. Whatever, I've got another few minutes.

5. October is my favorite month. It has my birthday, Halloween, and awesome weather. Bring on the Fall!

6. Now that I've mentioned the Pumpkin Spice Latte, I really want one. Mmm, coffee...

7. I still have no idea what costume I'm going to wear for Halloween. I should put more thought into that. Otherwise, I'm going to slap together my usual - Indiana Jones - and I think people have had enough of me as Indy over the years.

8. I should have gone to bed early last night, but I was redlining a manuscript for Barbara Deutsch. Why? Because she's helped me get this far as a writer, I feel honor-bound to help her with her own book. It all comes full circle.

9. I'm countering all the seasonal coffee with actual exercise this time! Hooray!

10. I'm really leaving for work now, I swear. Until next time, my faithful followers!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Welcome, New Followers!

It's been a while since I've made an acknowledgment post, but let me assure you, I've certainly noticed the new people who have joined my small but loyal band of followers.

To the new folks, welcome to my humble corner of the web! If you haven't done so already, check out the links to the right of this post. You'll find a few short stories under The Everyday Divinities Project that will give you a better idea of the world I'm building within my soon-to-be-rewritten trilogy. Then, check out The Hero's Journey posts to learn more about the story structure behind my work of modern mythology. And if you've read through those already, you can read my earlier entries and laugh at how green I was at the whole "blogging about my writing" thing. ("Was?" Still am, in some ways.)

And to both the new people and the longtime followers, you guys (and gals!) are awesome, and your presence helps me keep focus on doing what I do best - writing, writing, writing. I salute you all.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Hero's Journey - Reward

We’re finally here! It’s been a long, hard road up to this point, but the payoff is worth it. Through all the battles fought and won, friendships forged and villains thwarted, we’ve finally arrived at the part that makes it all worthwhile – The Reward!

Joseph Campbell calls this stage Seizing the Sword, in honor of all the stories of dragons slain for their treasure. The Hero conquers the Shadow and wins his reward, which may include a magical sword, a grateful kingdom and a very pretty damsel. The exact reward can be anything – a hidden treasure, a captured princess, a secret weapon. In spy movies, it’s usually some key to saving (or, in the wrong hands, destroying) the world. In romances, it’s some hottie (guy or girl) who the Hero has been trying to woo. It can be anything from the Holy Grail to a childhood toy. The one thing they all share in common is that they were fiercely sought after by the Hero. This is also where the characters can relax for a moment and savor their victory. We won the day, so let’s party! This is where the trumpets sound, campfires are stoked, and everyone can relax around the holochess table on the Millennium Falcon while Han takes them to lightspeed.

Story-wise, the Reward stage is where your readers can breathe a huge sigh of relief. We’re not at the climax yet, but after the harrowing battle of the Ordeal, there should be a way to relieve all of that pressure with a payoff. Don’t cheapen the victory over the Ordeal! This is what the whole story has been building toward all this time, and while there could be a strong lesson to be learned in the Hero not getting everything he wants, he’d better get something to show for all his pain and suffering up to now. This is as necessary for the readers as it is for the characters. While the story isn’t over yet, there should be some time to linger in the feeling of accomplishment before launching into the next leg of the Journey.

Now, how does this apply to the ongoing tale of Rob’s Journey? His Ordeal is at an end. He’s got his first novel written – it’s time to celebrate! As the winners of National Novel Writing Month gather to share their novels and the stories behind them, he joins in the revelry, proud to have made it to the winner’s circle. It’s cathartic for him to relax with others who have just made the same marathon run for the literary finish line. For some, this is something they do every year. Others have only completed their first, same as him. And among them all, only a handful dream of having their tale published. Rob’s novel may be complete, but his story is not yet over...

Neither is ours. True, we’ve come a long way, and we’ve reached the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but where do you go from there? Home, of course! When next we return to the Hero’s Journey, we’ll be packing up to take The Road Back.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

They're At It Again!

WriteOnCon was such a hit, the talented ladies behind the kidlit convention are moving forward with it in a big way. Check out the awesome announcement regarding future con events here, and enter for a chance to win one of five truly incredible YA books here!

Epic epicness abounds! So what are you waiting for? Get in on it now!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Everyday Divinities Project - The Cell Phones

The Cell Phones - by R. B. LeMoyne
© September 9, 2010 * robertlemoyne@gmail.com

“Are you kidding me? There’s no way I’ll be her cell phone again!”

Sal blinked as B.B. Tana threw the new assignment folder back onto his desk, shocked at the conviction behind her retort when he told her which mortal was to rejoin her divine client list. For a tense moment, the two gods of the cell phone domain stared at each other, Sal sitting behind his office desk in a crisp dark suit and the lithe goddess Tana standing with her arms folded across her sporty attire, until Sal finally gave in.

“Uh, come again?” he asked.

Tana shook her head, pointing at the discarded folder. “I’m not going to be her cell phone again. No way, no how. Not now, not ever.”

Sal gathered up the file, replacing the papers that had spilled out of the manila folder. “You’ve served hundreds of thousands of mortals since joining us here in the Division of Cellular Communication. Why the flat refusal to serve this one?” He held up the photo of the mortal in question, a young girl of exotic beauty pictured laughing with her friends.

“Why? Because she’s a cruel, heartless, careless witch with a vendetta against cell phones. I’d sooner walk into the heart of the Great Void than go back to serving her.”

“Wow.” Sal looked at the picture before putting it back into the folder. “That’s… extreme. You’d rather be unmade than serve this one mortal?”

“It’s the difference between years of abuse and a single catastrophic moment,” Tana answered with a shrug.

Sal’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Abuse? Now you’re the one kidding me.”

“Do you even read these files before you hand them out? Give it here.” Tana snatched the assignment folder out of her boss’ hands to read off her crimes. “Okay, let’s start with her first phone, Flip. He sure lived up to his name – she flipped his top half clean off.”

“So you have one incident that-“

Tana shushed him and continued. “Her next phone was Talnax, who got infected by a fatal virus. Kablooey, another one bites the dust.”

“It was completely unintentional, a stroke of bad luck,” Sal countered. “And as I recall, he was more than a little absent-minded. I always got complaints that he failed to put calls through.”

“Yeah, so that makes it okay.” Tana gave him a withering look as she forged ahead. “And I guess it’s okay that she tossed her next phone, Vernon, into a pool? Seriously, Sal. SHE THREW HIM INTO A POOL!”

Sal squirmed in his seat, at a loss to offer an explanation.

Tana glowered at the file as she reached the end of the document. “Here we go: my cousin, B.B. Monique. Your mortal didn’t staff Monique with a memory card so she could serve her properly – totally not my cousin’s fault – but it didn’t matter. She ditched her for my sister, Alicia. Not six months into serving as her cell phone, she broke Alicia’s ability to take a charge. She dumped her and went for her twin, Amelia, and the same thing happened. The same thing! So what did she do? She ditched Amelia for me, and ended up abandoning me in a cab in Santa Monica. And then, if that wasn’t enough, my twin sister Tamara picked up where I left off, and…”

“…And her domain was destroyed, too. No one’s sure where the pressure cracks came from, or how they spread so fast. It’s likely we’ll never know.”

“Yeah, well, maybe now you understand why I want nothing to do with this mortal.”

“I do,” Sal nodded, rising to circle around his desk. “And believe me, if it were my call, I’d reassign her to someone else. It’s not up to me, though. You know how these things work, Tana.”

“The system is broken,” Tana shot back, closing the folder with a sharp snap. “Everyone’s so concerned about pleasing the precious mortals. What about us? Who looks after us? The Animates? The Ephemerals? I doubt it. So answer me, Sal, who cares about us?”

He wanted to comfort her. He really did. And years ago, when the mortal champions of the inanimate gods were still active, he could. But those days were long gone, and there was no one left in the world to look out for them. Rather than expose that painful truth, Sal changed the subject. “I can try to pass it back upstairs and get it reassigned to another divinity. It might take some time, though, and someone will need to-”

“Oh, shut up,” Tana grumbled. “I’ll do it. I’m not going to like it, but I’ll do it.”

Sal touched her arm and smiled. “You’re one in a million, Tana.”

“Yeah, well, she’s damn lucky I like you so much,” Tana quipped, poking him in the chest with the assignment folder. “And if she so much as tosses me onto a table, I will curse her so hard, her great-grandchildren will have problems with phones.”

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that,” Sal laughed. “Now go on, do what you have to do. If you need me for anything at all, you know where to find me.”

“Thanks, boss.” Tana gave Sal a brief hug before leaving his office. She opened up the folder on the way out of the building, chuckling. O little mortal, it’s time for some payback…

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Status Update

Greetings, my loyal followers! I hope you've been enjoying The Everyday Divinities Project shorts, because I've got another cooking for the ol' blogosphere. The inspiration has been running rampant over here, and short story ideas are flowing from my writing left and right.

But what about my trilogy? Well, we're in the final stages of the rewrite for Book One. By October 13, the rewrite should be done, and then the Inanimate Gods will live and thrive in a story far beyond what was in the original draft. It's pretty exciting to see where my manuscript is now compared to what it looked like when I first put it down in words. So much has changed in it, and all for the better. I can't wait to be able to share it with you all!

Alright, back to the writing. Keep watching for that new short story!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Everyday Divinities Project - The Desktop and Laptop Computers

The Desktop and Laptop Computers - by R. B. LeMoyne
© September 1, 2010 * robertlemoyne@gmail.com

“It’s about time you got here, old friend! Let me guess, another MMO?”

Holland Parcell, dressed in his usual divine business attire, heaved a sigh and joined his counterpart at the outdoor cafĂ© table . “Of course,” he replied. “You’d be surprised how many people let themselves get absorbed into those time sinks, Dall. They look like good fun, but one hour becomes five, and the mortals could care less that they haven’t eaten or showered or even stepped outside. Not that I mind – more business for me if they’re using my domain instead of, say, playing sports – but I’m constantly amazed by the mortal capacity to ignore all other concerns when it comes to playing a simple computer game.” He smiled half-heartedly, adding, “Many apologies for my tardiness.”

“Bah, think nothing of it,” Dall countered, waving his hand in the air to dismiss the apology. “Believe me, enough mortals use my domain for online gaming, so I can sympathize. I swear, it’s amazing how much time a mortal will sink into a game that has no tangible reward or gain. As if they were actually making money at it!”

Holland raised a finger. “Ah, but it is entertaining. Sometimes there doesn’t need to be a concrete gain, only a good time.”

Dall rolled his eyes and muttered something about mortals and the other good time they search for online. “Anyway, can I get you a cup o’ joe?”

“Ugh, no, thank you,” Holland answered, face twisting in disgust. “I’ve had enough of Java for the time being. I’ll take a green tea, if you’d please.”

“Suit yourself.” With a slow wave of his hand, Dall conjured up two mugs, one filled with coffee, the other brimming with tea. “Me? I’ve been craving coffee all day. I blame that damnable college kid earlier today. I thought he’d be taking up residence in a coffee shop to write that paper, but he went to that accursed Penara place.”

Holland inhaled his fragrant cup of tea as he cocked an eyebrow at Dall. “Penara? I don’t believe I’ve been there.”

Dall shook his head. “No, you wouldn’t have, and truth be told, you’re better off for it. I hate – HATE – having to go there, and wouldn’t you know that every laptop owner with an inflated opinion of themselves just loves to take me to Penara,” he drawls, the last few words drawn out with a heavy dose of sarcasm.

“I take it there’s more to this loathing than meets the eye?”

“Okay, it’s like this,” Dall began, ignoring his steaming mug of coffee. “You know how coffeehouses used to be the place to go to sit down with a laptop, have some coffee, and check your email or write a school paper or whatever?”

Holland nodded, replying, “Of course. Has that changed?”

“Oh, plenty of people still take their laptop to a coffee shop, sure. That’s fine. But Penara…” Dall frowned, struggling for just the right words. “Let’s put it this way. If you were a snob who liked to pay far too much for far too little food, and you wanted to check your email in the most elite and trendy way possible, you’d go to Penara.”

“I don’t understand. The food is overpriced, so you don’t like mortals taking you there?”

“It’s not necessarily the food. Okay, it’s not just the food. No, it’s the type of people the place attracts. They’re the same stuck-up, prissy rejects that the mortals who created our domain back in the day loathed. Now they’re using me as some sort of elite status symbol, checking their social networks in an eatery that isn’t even all that good, and doing web chats right there at the tables. Web chats!” Dall shouted. “In Penara! It’s disgusting!”

“You know that the mortals you call ‘rejects’ are the very same mortals who give you power through their devotion to your domain, yes?” Dall scowled at Holland, who sat there smugly sipping his tea, before finally taking a drink of his coffee mug. His silent retort sent Holland chuckling. “All the same, I do believe you need to come to terms with the evolution of mortal gathering holes. Before our time, it was the tavern. Now that we’re leading the mortal information age, it’s all about who can best supply our needs, regardless of the environment’s image, yes?”

“Well, something better than Penara needs to come along, and quick, before I stage a protest,” Dall grumbled into his mug. “It’d serve those stuck-up mortals right if all their precious laptops blinked out all at once, right in the middle of their all-important and totally inane web chats.”

Holland laughed, sipped his tea, then rose from his chair. “Well, as entertaining as it is to listen to your rants and would-be plots to rebel against your sacred duties, I really should get back to work.”

“What? You just got here, and you’re already headed back? Honestly, H.P., the online gamers can do without you for another few moments!”

“Ah, but the gamers are only a minority of the mortals I serve,” Holland countered with a sigh. “The others who use my domain for business and other noble pursuits are why I must depart. As ever, it was a pleasure to see you, dear friend.”

Dall nodded, a smile sneaking across his lips. “Yeah, same here. Don’t be a stranger, now. Your domain may be stationary, but it’s good for you to get out now and then, you know?”

“But of course.” Holland bowed, smiling warmly and, in a brilliant bolt of light, returned to his domain in the Bureau of Computational Processing.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Quotables

"There's no 'magic secret'; writing is like everything else; ten percent inspiration or talent, and ninety percent hard work. Persistence; keeping at it till you get there. As Agnes de Mille said, it means working every day — bored, tired, weary, or with a fever of a hundred and two."
Marion Zimmer Bradley, author, The Mists of Avalon

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Hero's Journey - Ordeal

The ultimate showdown. The final battle. The central crisis. The Hero is delving deep within the Inmost Cave to do battle with the villain at its heart. There are many names for this stage of the Journey. Joseph Campbell calls it The Ordeal.

Contrary to what you might think, the Ordeal is not the climax of the story. No, the Ordeal is toward the end, but not the end itself. If you check your Road Map, you’ll see that there are four stages of the Hero’s Journey still to go. “But you just built this up to be the big fight!” Well, yes, because it is. The Ordeal is where the main battle is, the title match between good guy and bad guy. All the trials and tribulations earlier in the story have led to this moment of truth, when swords (or pistols, for you gun fanatics) are drawn and everything goes plunging straight toward the big fiery pit of doom. The Hero needs to show that those lessons earlier in the Journey were not in vain as he puts them to the test in a high-stakes battle against a superior foe. To continue that learning curve metaphor, think of the story as school and the Ordeal is your mid-term (and just as tension-filled, if done properly). Suddenly the label “Ordeal” is more than just a clever name, isn’t it?

This is probably as good a time as any to talk about the Shadow. No, not the pulp hero of the same name, we’re talking about the story archetype. The Shadow is everything the Hero is not. He’s an evil twin, a dark reflection, the figurative shadow to the Hero’s light. In fact, the Shadow often serves the function of showing us, the audience, what the Hero could become if he doesn’t learn the lessons of the story. A good example of this is Harry Potter’s Shadow, Voldemort. The Dark Lord is everything Harry could be if he had ended up in Slytherin instead of Gryffindor, and Harry finds himself wondering a few times in the course of that book series if he isn’t starting to walk the same path as that ultimate evil. The Shadow doesn’t need to be an external force, though. It could be the Hero’s own impulses and desires, warring within him for dominance in the story. It could be an old state of being that he’s trying to change, or a love that continues to burn him from the inside out. Any way you slice it, the Shadow is the archetypal villain for the Hero to thwart in the Ordeal.

Let’s see this phase at work in Rob’s Journey. When last we left him, he was gearing up to tackle his own Ordeal – writing his first novel. The novel isn’t the villain, of course. No, the Shadow he needs to fight is his own fear, self-doubt and old habits. His Inmost Cave is the room where he writes, and his Ordeal is thwarting temptation so he can focus on writing 50,000 words in one month. It’s not an easy task, not when he still has work occupying the majority of the week, friends who want him to sit down and game with them, and family to visit in the holiday toward the end of the month. The deck is stacked against him from the start, but our Hero perseveres and fights to meet his word count day after day. Back and forth he goes, the days ticking by as he sits at his desk (or coffeehouse, sometimes, with his trusty PDA) and lays out word after word. Finally, the clock strikes midnight on November 31, signaling the start of December and the end of NaNoWriMo. Rob sits back and looks at his final word count: 50,007. He did it. He wrote his first novel.

We’re not through with our story yet, though. To the contrary, the true climax of our Hero’s Journey is still to come. The stress of the Ordeal has been overcome, now it’s time to kick back, relax and enjoy our victory as we savor the Reward!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day Two and Three of WriteOnCon

Okay, to make up for yesterday's lack of a Day Two review of WriteOnCon, I'll fold it into today's review of Day Three to make it an uber-post.

First of all, major kudos to the convention's founders/administrators/organizers - Jamie Harrington, Elana Johnson, Casey McCormick, Shannon Messenger, Jennifer Stayrook, and Lisa and Laura Roecker - for getting such a huge number of writers, agents and editors to take part in the first online convention for writers I've ever heard of. Blog posts, vlog posts, and live chats (both text and video) were presented in rapid fire and so smoothly to the eager writer aspirants in attendance. You ladies made it all look so easy!

Now to the meat of it. As a writer of YA (AKA young adult) fiction, it's always a good idea to know more about your community in the publishing world. WriteOnCon gives you the red carpet treatment as it welcomes you in, hands you your beverage of choice, and proceeds to roll out advice, tips and secrets of the kidlit world all from the comfort of your own softly humming computer. As much fun as it can be to go to a convention center and interact with people, getting caught in the press of the unwashed masses is something you'll never have to contend with here, nor will you have to leave one room to find another panel you want to sit in on at a different room. It's the ultimate in convenience - the convention quite literally comes to you at the click of a mouse button!

And what a convention! So much information is imparted from so many different sources in so many different ways, I'm still catching up on some of the posts from Day Two. Fortunately, the convention isn't going anywhere, even when it's over. For those of us who had to work throughout the bulk of the convention, all the information posted over the past three days will remain online for easy reference. As for the live segments, transcripts will be made available on the web site and video chats will be uploaded to YouTube. It sure beats having to scribble down notes in an overly air-conditioned hotel room, that's for sure.

I can't even begin to tell you how helpful the information imparted through this convention has been to me. There are questions I didn't even know I had that got answered, in addition to my own curious musings. I have to admit, I'm looking forward to seeing my name pop up in the transcripts as my questions were posed to the professionals. (Even got a few of my humorous comments past the moderators and into public view - score!)

What were my favorite topics? I'm so glad you asked! Er, you didn't? But you were thinking it, right? Right? Right. Anyway...

Day Two was a racy day at the con, what with such topics like "Romance in YA," "Sex in YA: The ABC’s of Hooking Up," and "Authentic/Edgy YA" spread throughout the day. In addition, I gravitated instinctively toward the "Writing Genre Fiction," "Creating Memorable Characters," and the live chat where the topic was voice - both author's voice and character voice. For the record, though it's not written exactly as I posted it, the final question of that panel was one that I'd put through at the last minute, and got some good responses and a couple of books named as examples of my particular character voice question.

Day Three attempted to cover everything else that hadn't been said, and I'm still poking through a lot of it. The first topic I read about the moment I got to the site today was "Creating New Mythologies," not surprisingly. Beyond that, I was drawn into such topics as "Writing a Complete Story as Part of a Trilogy," "Writing Realistic, Captivating Dialog," and "The First Five Pages," which gave a sobering peek into how those first few pages of your manuscript will either net you an agent's request for more or a solid pass. The convention wrapped with the final chats, and I snuck in some comments and questions there, too. You'll just have to wait for the transcripts to see what made it and what didn't.

Now that it's over, I have the time to go back and read over every topic and revisit the ones that impacted me and my writing the most. As much research as I've done over the years on writing and publishing, you never really stop learning, and these three days presented me with a lot more ammunition to bring to bear as I get my trilogy up and running. I feel like I'm part of a grand community of writers going through a similar journey with their own manuscripts. More importantly, I feel like a successful writer for having made it this far. I may not be published yet, but I'm farther along than I've ever been, and I call that a win.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Day One of WriteOnCon

Now that I've finished watching "Working With Agents and Editors: A Live Video Workshop with Literary Agent Mark McVeigh," I can officially declare that I've fallen in love with online conventions. Sure, there's nothing quite like meeting someone in person and shaking their hand, but the next best thing is hosting a free convention that is accessible anywhere there's internet service. That's what WriteOnCon is, a 100% online convention for kidlit writers that is totally free to attend. It's just like a regular convention - you have guest speakers, panels and the like, all geared toward a particular topic, all laid out over a few days - only you don't necessarily need to bring pen and paper to jot down notes, most of it is presented in a convenient text format! (You may want to jot down notes for the live video chats, though. While the questions are presented in text, the answers are given over live video chat!)

Most of the topics are geared specifically toward writing for a younger audience ("Illustrating Children's Books" and "Writing Middle Grade" stand out there), but there's also a lot of material that applies to every writer, such as "Questions to Ask Yourself Before a Revision" or "Give Yourself Permission." If you fancy yourself a writer, you owe it to yourself to check out the convention here and bookmark it for future reference. You'll be glad you did!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Trilogy Update

Among all the other excitement of this weekend, I have new word on the progress of The Inanimate Gods Trilogy - the second act of Book One has been revised!

Yes, technically, Book One has been completed, but I was never entirely satisfied with the middle part of the book. With the new opening and ending, it became the weakest part of the story, failing to measure up to the strength of the rest of the novel. I blame Alex, that spotlight hog, who wanted to be the sole main character of the series.

Well, Elonia had some things to say about that. Not content to remain a secondary or support character, she wanted to be a main character in her own right, to step into the spotlight instead of remaining at the edge of it. We had a long talk about it (because I converse with my characters from time to time to get a measure of their role in the narrative) and I agreed that her Hero(ine)'s Journey was just as important as Alex's Journey. I went back to my chapter outline - the road map of this insane undertaking that has consumed my life for the past few years - and reworked it, changing chapters already in place and adding new ones. Elonia is happy that she has more to do in the book, Alex is happy that he gets to join in on the fun, and I'm happy that my story is all the stronger for it.

So, once I'm done adding in all the new goodies, the second act of Book One will be just as strong as the rest of the narrative. I'll need to change a few of the details in the last part of the book for consistency, but it's a small price to pay for a great story.

More on the progress of my trilogy as it develops!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Quick Take on WriteOnCon

I've never heard of an online convention before. So when I found out that an upcoming writer's convention would be held entirely online instead of at a convention center or hotel (like they usually are), my interest was definitely piqued. WriteOnCon is a convention specifically geared toward kidlit writers, but a quick glance at the first day's schedule reveals quite a few topics that could apply to writers of many genres. Best of all, it's FREE! If you're a children's or young adult fiction writer, or just a writer in general, check it out!

Special thanks go to Karly Kirkpatrick and her blog, without which I would never have stumbled upon this gem.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Hero's Journey - Approach

So we’ve spent a good deal of time exploring the extraordinary world, learned some very important lessons from its denizens, and made new friends and new enemies alike. It’s been a lot of fun, but now it’s time to up the ante. Buckle up, readers, we’re about to make our Approach!

The Approach stage is shorthand for Joseph Campbell’s Approach to the Inmost Cave, usually the lair of the bad guy, the dragon’s cave, or some other den of deadly things in old mythology. This is where the journey starts to get more difficult, the trials of the previous stage paling in comparison to the challenges ahead. The Hero zeroes in on the source of the main conflict and, much like the preparation involved in Crossing the Threshold, prepares for the story’s central crisis event. In fact, this stage is often considered a second threshold in the story, complete with its own Threshold Guardian. If the Hero has paid attention to the special rules of this new world, this encounter should be the first time he puts his newly acquired knowledge to the test.

It’s very likely that your Hero doesn’t expect to return from the final confrontation. This is appropriate – death and resurrection are, after all, an integral part of the great myths, and this plays directly into the Resurrection stage of the Hero’s Journey. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. A lot of high stakes stories involve final battles between the main character and the villain of the piece, and only one is expected to walk away. Settling his affairs before the big fight is something that the Hero should certainly take care of at this point of the Journey. Likewise, in stories where there’s an emotional conflict instead of a physical one, the Hero may have to come to terms with some painful truth before moving toward the climax of the story. The Inmost Cave in that instance may be the depths of his own soul as he deals with some hard truths. Any way you slice it, the Approach is where the protagonist mentally, physically and emotionally suits up for the big showdown.

Let’s check back in with Rob to see how this stage plays out in his own Hero’s Journey. He’s been working at the office for a while now, learning new skills in administration and organization, but he hasn’t been following his dream of being a writer at all. Betty changes that by adding a new layer to his life, challenging him to write short stories about inanimate objects to get the creative juices flowing. At first baffled by the notion of adding writing to what he considers an already full life, he nonetheless takes up the challenge and makes the time to hammer out one short story after another. It soon becomes apparent that each one he completes builds on the last to develop a common thread linking them together, which makes writing the next story easier as an overarching mythology is born. Good thing, too – he discovers that National Novel Writing Month is fast approaching, its siren’s call irresistible to Rob now that his muse is getting warmed up. 50,000 words is a hefty challenge to someone who has never written a novel before, but with his new array of time management skills and creative direction, it’s a battle he’s never been more prepared to fight.

Our Journey is more than halfway over, but the best is yet to come. Though we’re not yet to the climax of our tale, we’re definitely entering crisis mode and fast approaching the big finish. The Hero’s Journey kicks into high gear next time as we launch right into the Ordeal!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Everyday Divinities Project - The Copier

The Copier - by R. B. LeMoyne
© July 23, 2010 * robertlemoyne@gmail.com

“Why won’t this thing print for me?!”

Aaron stood over the small office copier, glaring down at the offending piece of technology. A page had jammed in the feeder again, halting his printing job for the fifth time today. A task that should have taken only a handful of seconds had now stretched into long minutes, and his boss was waiting for the document in the other room.

“Damn copier! Give me my friggin’ document!” he growled, jabbing the “Stop/Clear” button viciously, over and over.

“Hey! Just what do you think you’re doing?” Cari demanded, her tone heavy with accusation as she turned in her chair to watch her frustrated coworker.

His annoyance growing, Aaron gestured violently to his boxy nemesis. “The damn copier won’t print for me! I’ve been trying to get this report copied for the boss since I got in this morning, and it keeps jamming on me, every single friggin’ time. Stupid piece of outdated…” A snarl of aggravation choked off his words as he restrained himself from slamming his fists down on the copier.

“See, that’s your problem right there. You need to treat her with more respect than that, or she won’t print for you.”

Aaron turned to her, his anger ebbing momentarily as a dubious expression crossed his face. “Her? She? What?”

Cari nodded and continued, “Yeah, she likes to be treated nicely. Give her a little love, talk to her a bit, and your problems will be over. I promise.” Her advice given, she turned back to her desk to continue working on her computer.

Aaron sighed and tugged his page free from the copier, neatly arranging the stack of papers in the feeder once again. “Talk to her,” he muttered under his breath. “Riiiight. As if this thing was one of the office assistants or something. Craziest thing I’ve ever heard...”

Once the stack was ready to be printed again, he leaned against the copier and growled, “Okay, you oversized paperweight. You’re going to print this for me, or I’m going to toss you out the window. Got it?” He hit the “Start” button and stepped back with satisfaction as the first few pages copied without a hitch. When the fourth page jammed in the copier, the image of carrying through with his spoken promise rode through his mind on a wave of hate.

Cari sighed as she stood and walked over to the copier. “You’re not doing it right. Step aside and watch a pro at work.” Aaron backed away and gestured widely for her to step up and give it a try.

In a low, sweet voice, Cari cooed, “It’s all right, baby. Cari’s here to take care of you.” She loaded the documents into the top feeder tray and continued, with a sidelong glance at Aaron, “Don’t mind him. He just doesn’t know thing one on how to treat you right.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Aaron muttered in disbelief, staring at the bizarre and rather one-sided conversation before him.

“See, this is why she won’t print for you,” Cari said in response to his comment. “It’s that kind of attitude that turns her off.”

“And I suppose it’ll print for you instead of me?”

Cari tapped the “Start” button and smiled smugly at him as the copier completed its printing job without a hitch. Aaron stared at the copier, blinked incredulously, then frowned at her. “That was luck,” he said sharply, snatching the original document and its copy from the machine before taking both sets of documents in to his boss.



Later that day, Aaron approached the copier with another stack of documents to copy for his boss. He stepped up to the machine cautiously, as if he were afraid it would snap at him.

This is beyond silly, Aaron chided himself with a frown. It’s not a she, it doesn’t have feelings, and it doesn’t need to be pampered like a newborn baby. It’s a damn copy machine. You just need to check the feeder tray to make sure it doesn’t jam again.

After checking the tray three times to make sure the edges of the document were perfectly aligned and lightly situated in the feeder tray, he hit the “Start” button to begin the printing job. He glanced over to where Cari was watching him and gave her a smug smile of his own… a smile that dropped quickly when a page jammed in the copier. Cari snorted in amusement as Aaron pulled the jammed paper free, cursing all the while at the “fickle piece of outdated machinery.” He shot a glare at her, his face flushed in anger.

“Somehow, this is all your fault,” he said balefully. “I’m not sure how, exactly, but it is, I know it.”

Cari smirked at him and replied, “I’m telling you, it’s all in your approach. You have to treat her like you’d treat any office employee. She’s as overworked as the rest of us, and she doesn’t like having a huge workload thrown at her like that. You have to be nice to her, talk to her, let her know you care. She’ll appreciate that, trust me. Once you acknowledge her and her hard work, your own work will go that much smoother.”

She pushed him aside and leaned in close to the copier, caressing the machine’s hard plastic shell gently. “There, there, baby. Cari’s back,” she said soothingly. “Everything’s okay, you just need to print this one little stack for him and he’ll leave you alone.”

“Hey, now-“ Aaron began to protest, but Cari cut him off with a shush. She fixed the papers in the tray, tapped the “Start” button, and left her bewildered coworker to collect his perfectly copied document.



Aaron glanced around, checking to make sure that Cari had already gone home before stepping up to the printer again. It was the end of the day, and as he predicted, his boss had handed him a stack of documents that he wanted copied just before clocking out. Figures that the world would conspire to keep me at the office the day I plan to get together with friends after work.

He eyed the copier warily, then glanced around again to make sure no one was watching. He straightened the documents and placed them with care in the feeder tray, then said aloud, “Alright, I know we got off on the wrong foot. I was… inconsiderate… and I apologize.” With a light caress of the keypad, he added, “Right now, I really need to get this copied so I can leave work on time, so I’ll make you a deal. You get this printed quickly and without a hitch, and I’ll make sure you’re fully stocked with fresh paper first thing tomorrow morning. Do we have a deal?”

Inwardly hoping that he wasn’t making a fool of himself for nothing, Aaron pressed the “Start” button. The copier whirred to life and began printing one page, then two, then three. As the feeder grabbed the fourth page, he was sure that the machine would jam on his document yet again… but was then pleasantly surprised when it accepted the fifth and sixth page without pause. He stood in awe as the copier finished with the rest of his document seconds later. A quick check of the copy confirmed that every page printed flawlessly.

At a loss for words, he grabbed the original document and ran before something else could make the day any stranger than it already was.



Within the spiritual domain of the office copier, Okuko the copy goddess signed the last of the paperwork that symbolized another successful copy. A relieved sigh passed between her tiny lips, her white luminescent form relaxing in her charcoal gray office chair. Today was another busy day full of important documents. She gave a silent thanks to Cari, who always seemed to make the day go by that much faster with her kind words and attention. They were both expected to do so much work for so little reward, and sometimes it grated on her far more than she’d admit. Still, it was comforting to have someone in the office that understood and appreciated the hard work she performed on a daily basis.

Okuko smiled as she filed away her paperwork and considered giving Aaron a divine blessing should he follow through with his promise. Though he didn’t fully believe in her yet, he was on the path of acceptance. Tonight’s small demonstration would make that transition from skeptic to believer a little easier, but as always, it would take time. With any luck, Cari would help things along on her end.

She looked forward to her fresh paper tomorrow morning.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

New Update Coming "Soon"

The title for this post is an inside joke that most fans of video game companies like Blizzard and Valve will get pretty quickly. The rest of you will just have to wait and see to get the joke, or Google "Valve Time" or "Blizzard Soon" to get the oft-humorous explanation. For now, let's get down to it.

My sincerest apologies for the lack of meaty updates these past few weeks. I've been trying to balance two jobs and a house guest from out of town, all while writing my trilogy. I can tell you that I have been working on the next leg of the Hero's Journey, Approach, but I can't tell you when it'll be posted. Maybe tomorrow, maybe later in the week. Maybe today, if the clouds part and the choir sings, heralding a miracle of time dilation that would make it all possible.

I've been receiving inquiries lately about the Hero's Journey, Joseph Campbell, and the mythic structure of story, which has me thrilled. It's good to see such interest in what many believe to be the essential building blocks of narrative, having survived from ancient mythology to become an integral part of modern storytelling. In response, I've added links just to the right of this post, below The Everyday Divinities Project, that will take you directly to each post I've made regarding the stages of the Journey. As it's been a sizable amount of time since the last Hero's Journey post (almost a month?!) this will help you brush up on the Journey for the next exciting installment.

Keep checking the blog for future updates!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Quotables

"It took me a long, hard five years to complete The Philosopher's Stone. The reason so much time slipped by was because, from that very first idea, I envisaged a series of seven books - each one charting a year of Harry's life whilst he is a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And I wanted to fully sketch the plots of all the stories and get the essential characteristics of my principal characters before I actually started writing the books in detail."
J.K. Rowling, Author, Harry Potter series

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hidden World vs. Alternate Reality

I love reading modern fantasy stories! The Dresden Files, the Harry Potter series, even the Anita Blake books offer some great escapism by allowing readers to explore our world in a new light. It's no surprise, then, that my trilogy is following in their speculative footsteps.

Hidden worlds like the ones that Harrys Dresden and Potter live in show the dangers in balancing the obligations of a secret supernatural society with those of the normal world, and offer some great tension when one world bleeds into the other. Alternate realities like the one that Anita Blake lives in, however, give us a glimpse of what the world would be like if the hidden world wasn't so hidden anymore, and the new issues that arise for the people who live in that world.

Both types of stories make for great settings. Which one is your favorite, and why?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Quotables

"Here's the secret of how to get published: keep going. There is an enormous weedout factor for wannabe writers. The good news is that you aren't competing with every published schmoe out there. You're only up against the rest of the wannabes, and it's like the old axiom about being chased by a grizzly bear. You don't have to run faster than the bear to get away. You just have to run faster than the guy next to you. Keep trying when the guy next to you quits in disgust. Keep writing when the girl next to you sobs and throws her manuscripts into the fire. Keep conducting yourself like a professional, and you'll get someone to believe that you are one. If you're lucky, maybe even yourself."
Jim Butcher, Author, The Dresden Files

Monday, June 28, 2010

It's Good to Give Thanks

A quick "thank you" note to all of my followers, who prove that people do indeed visit this blog! As a blog writer, it's often just you and the computer with no way of knowing if people are really reading what you're writing... except in those rare instances when they leave a comment. (I like feedback, too!) It's always a pleasant surprise, then, when I see that someone else has joined the ranks of the Followers on my blog. All of you inspire me to keep going when times get tough.

Thank you all very much!

The day job has been stealing away some of my prime writing time, but don't worry. The next big post is coming soon!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Everyday Divinities Project and My Trilogy

What's the scoop on the novels? When's the next EDP short story going to be posted? How are the two connected? Are they connected? Time for a real update.

The short stories are great fun and have helped me figure out some elements of backstory and "rules of the setting" that had been missing from my novel in its present form. Now that I have a better idea of what needs to be added and changed, I'm going to be dedicating more of my time to making sure Book One is ready for publication.

That being said, The Everyday Divinities Project is not going anywhere! Short stories will still be written, when I need to take a break from the novel to let other aspects of my creativity out to play. And while it's waaaaay too early to set anything in stone, I will allude to the concept of my novels existing under the umbrella of the EDP, in addition to any future ideas I might come up with that present the everyday divinities of the world in a new and fun way.

You'll get more updates on the progress of my novels on this blog, as well as the usual quotes, writing help and Hero's Journey posts. Stay tuned, exciting things are on the horizon!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Hero's Journey - Tests, Allies and Enemies

Thanks to the previous entries of the Hero’s Journey, the beginning is told – the foundation established, the stakes set, the rules established – now we jump into the middle of the story, where the adventure kicks into high gear and we learn the new rules of this strange, unknown world of adventure that awaits us. A new adventure means new friends, new adversaries, and new trials to overcome. Sometimes these are obvious to us on the Journey and are easily prepared for along the way. Sometimes they come out of nowhere to blindside us. However they present themselves, the bulk of the journey ahead brings with it Tests, Allies and Enemies.

The three elements of Tests, Allies and Enemies combine to introduce the reader to a new mode of thinking and being through the Hero. Cut off from what he’s known to be true in The Ordinary World, our Hero now needs to learn all new lessons, to grow and evolve as the story grows and evolves. This is made evident in stories like the Harry Potter books, where Hogwarts is nothing if not year after year of Tests, Allies and Enemies. Harry makes friends within the school, encounters antagonists among the student body and staff, and is constantly tested both by school work and evil wizards. Robert Langdon and Harry Dresden are always running a gamut of Tests, Allies and Enemies in the course of their investigations. Because of the huge amount of potential that these three elements present, this phase more than any other represents the bulk of the story being told. In movie terms, every stage of the Hero’s Journey up to this one takes place in Act One. This single stage takes up the vast majority of Act Two.

Because of its importance within the structure of the story, it’s crucial that these three elements aren’t wasted. Tests should not be meaningless encounters, they should impart important lessons that will figure prominently in the climax of the story, which we’ll discuss much later. Allies should not be arbitrary, either. Each one should serve an important story function, whether it’s as simple as comedy relief or as complex as a love interest. Enemies as well should not be random bad guys who have no reason to give the Hero trouble. Every manifestation of an element here should serve a function to move the story forward, to challenge the Hero’s previous way of thinking and being so he’ll be prepared for the big finish. This is key – it’s a poor storyteller indeed who will introduce a character just for the sake of working some personal friend or enemy of his into the narrative, or who loves a particular scenario so much that he’ll shoehorn it into the course of events, even though it serves no real dramatic function. Don’t fall into the trap of letting your ego dictate what works or not! The story is everything, and at the end of the day, every facet of the narrative should go toward building the best story possible.

Let’s check in on Rob’s Journey to see this phase at work. When last we left off, he had just gained a new job in the course of working with his Mentor. There’s no time for him to grow complacent, however. The office that he works in is much busier than his previous work, and he needs to learn a new way of operating so he can keep ahead of the curve. Organizing the office is easy – his boss teaches him how to keep their charts and files organized, and he sets right to it. Once he’s got that down, however, he’s taught more challenging tasks, such as checking insurance for patients, keeping patients informed on tests and services, requesting records from hospitals and other doctor’s offices, and all manner of administrative responsibilities to keep the office running. He makes new friends on the job, even earning a friendship with the office curmudgeon, but doesn’t seem to earn himself any enemies… or so it seems. In actuality, his greatest enemy is time itself, as the demands of the office and the demands of spending time with his friends means he has little time to himself for what he really wants to do – writing. He’ll have to deal with that enemy sooner or later, and it might be sooner than he thinks.

Every Journey leads somewhere, and all the Tests, Allies and Enemies will play a part in the following phases. More than half of our story is told, but the climax is yet to come. Strap yourselves in, because next time we delve into the Hero’s Journey, we’ll be making our Approach!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

New Layout!

No, you didn't click on the wrong link. Yes, my blog has a new layout!

I have to admit, when I first set up R. B. LeMoyne's Blog, I didn't know what I was doing. I've kept personal blogs before, but none that were designed specifically to highlight my writing like this one. As such, I didn't have my mind focused on a clean, professional appearance for a writer's blog. I just wanted something that looked good. Instead, I got that "old-time wallpaper" look that my blog started with, and I was never pleased with it or any of Blogger's other blog templates.

That all changed with their new Template Designer. Now, I'm not insanely knowledgeable about HTML. I know the basics, I can cut and paste code to format my stories online, but I much prefer having options presented to me that I can mix and match to get what I want out of them. After exploring the new options they presented for blog appearance, I was finally able to come up with a new blog design that is much closer to what I originally envisioned this blog to be. If my old blog was the first draft, this is the edited and polished second draft.

On that note, I'd like to welcome you all to the new R. B. LeMoyne's Blog, now with a much cleaner and more professional appearance! I'll be adding a couple more features in the near future to help people find all of my Hero's Journey posts and The Everyday Divinities Project short stories, so keep your eyes peeled for new additions!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Gamer Geek

Yes, In addition to being a writer, I'm a gamer geek. It's how I landed a Geek Consultant title on a web series about LARP, and it's why I was running a tabletop roleplaying game last night for my friends instead of watching whatever major sports game was on TV. I'm a gamer geek, and I'm proud of it!

This was a big week for my fellow gamer geeks, because it marked the 15th Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3. Yes indeed, all the major game companies (with a few exceptions) come out for E3 to show off their upcoming releases in games and gaming technology. Unfortunately, the convention is largely closed to the public, so guys like me can only get in if they somehow arrange temporary employment with one of the companies within to demo their games (like I did back in 2005). Fortunately, the press is all over this convention, and they faithfully report on the amazing announcements made within the convention halls so we can all drool in rabid anticipation of our favorite upcoming games.

I'm not going to go into detail on every little thing that was announced at E3. This isn't that kind of blog, and you can find plenty of websites that will happily note every little detail of every game revealed, with video footage of new game trailers and live game play demos. No, instead I'll be gleefully noting a handful of games that I'm looking forward to, discussed from a writer's perspective. That means the game is likely full of story - good story, at that - and not sports or random explosions. For example...

Epic Mickey: The first thing that grabs you about this game is the steampunk-ish art. Then there's the unique "combat" mechanic of using paint and paint thinner to affect the game world and the enemies within it. THEN there's the creamy center of an incredible story that brings in obscure elements of Disney's early animation and ties them together in new and interesting ways. The end result is a sort of retro feel to the game, re-imagining Mickey Mouse for a new audience who may not be familiar with his early work while remaining faithful to his origins. Do you want to play the mischievous Mickey of old who always gets into trouble? You can do that! Do you want to play the squeaky clean hero that Mickey has become in recent years? You can do that, too! It looks like the story is built around how Mickey interacts with his environment, and I'm most curious to see how the choices you make in the game affect the plot as it leads to the inevitable confrontation with Disney's forgotten creations.

Portal 2: GLaDOS is Still Alive and ready to begin testing once more! With the amazing success of what was originally a short and sweet puzzle game filled with quirky dialogue and portal projecting madness, this sequel is set up to give fans even more of what they loved from the first game, along with all-new mechanics to challenge Chell. That's right, the silent hero of the first Portal is back, released once again from stasis to jump through the mind-bending hoops set up by the sinister AI, GLaDOS. While the controls stay largely unchanged, there are new features in the environment that will challenge how you think with portals. But what about the story? Rather than reinventing the wheel with a new protagonist, they're keeping the Chell/GLaDOS dynamic in place to explore that continued relationship in the wake of the first Portal's ending. Add in a few other quirky AIs and you have even more characters to interact with in the course of the game. Of course, the question on my mind is this - will Chell ever free herself from the Enrichment Center? I guess we'll find out next year!

DC Universe Online: Okay, so a lot of people have given Sony flack for how they've mistreated their previous MMOS. I'm ready to give them the benefit of the doubt, though, considering how closely they've worked with DC Comics to bring the DCU to life in an online game. As a big fan of comics, I've been sadly disappointed with the superhero MMOs thus far, mostly because I want to play alongside recognizable heroes, not cheap knock-offs, and this game will finally deliver on that. Story-wise, I'm excited because they've been bringing on DC Comics writers to build their in-game quests and storylines while recruiting legendary artist Jim Lee to build the visual component of the game. This means we'll see less of the ol' "kill these creatures and bring me their toenails" quests and more along the lines of their Doomsday adventure, where you can either work with the good guys to thwart Superman's nemesis or work with the bad guys to recruit the big brute to the forces of evil. Story aside, however, I confess that there are two things that really make me want to play this game - running with the Flash using my own tricked-out speedster, and targeting Wonder Woman with a flirt emote. If I can do both of those things later this year, I'll be a happy geek.

Star Wars - The Old Republic: This is it, the Star Wars MMO I've been waiting for! If there's one thing I've learned about Bioware, it's that they rock at RPG games. They have great stories, great characters, and great dialogue... and we'll get all that and more in The Old Republic. Not only will this be the first MMO that has full voice-over for every character - yes, even yours! - it's also the first that has put a solid emphasis on story. There are cutscenes that propel your character's adventure forward in-between the action, and your choices in how to reply will affect how the story plays out. Make enough bad decisions that cost people lives, and you'll start to slip into the Dark Side. Choose to do the right thing, and you'll become a shining beacon of the Light Side. Anyone who has played their Knights of the Old Republic game is familiar with this mechanic, which means it's absolutely possible to have dark Jedi serving the Republic and Light Side Sith working within the Sith Empire. Plus, customizable characters! Player-owned starships! Companion characters you can banter with! This game is going to ROCK.

Okay, the geekgasm is over. Time for me to get back to writing the next short story. But first, maybe a quick round of Portal...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Writing and Audience Participation

Now that The Everyday Divinities Project is underway, it might be a good time to mention a unique feature of this writing project, and that's the audience participation element.

"Audience participation? I thought writing was pretty much a solitary, non-audience thing?"

Usually, yes, but not always. The creative process is something I absolutely love - there are few things that bring me as much joy as creating new worlds, new characters to populate them, and new scenarios to put them through. I also love helping others with their creative process and seeing my contributions in the finished product. No one else may realize that the dialogue that character says was inspired by me, but I do, and it makes me smile every time I read it. I mean, really, how often do you get to contribute to someone else's work in such a way?

I want to give that joy to others, too. More often than not, I inquire on my Facebook account when I'm looking for inspiration for my latest story. (My fan page also has a discussion section for this, and sometimes I send out inspiration requests on Twitter, too.) For The Coffee Machines, I specifically asked for people's coffee maker quirks to add into the narrative, and one reply even made it in as a quote in the story itself. This sort of audience participation is what I love - fans being able to feel as though they're a part of the creation process and seeing the tangible results of that input - and something that I'd like to see more of as The Everyday Divinities Project continues.

Do you have a favorite inanimate object you'd like to see in a story? Put it in the comments section below and give me at least one quirk, if not more, that makes it stand out in your mind. Who knows, it may end up as the next short story on this blog! And don't forget to join my Facebook profile and fan page to keep track of the latest creative developments of this unique writing project!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Everyday Divinities Project - The Coffee Machines

The Coffee Machines - by R. B. LeMoyne
© June 15, 2010 * robertlemoyne@gmail.com

“You wanted to see me, boss?”

Taryn looked up from her desk at the young god standing in her doorway and smiled pleasantly. She was a vision of professional beauty, dressed in a classy cream-colored blouse and matching tan skirt suit, her honey-blonde hair pulled up in a bun. “Ah, Mister Caulfie. Please, come in, and shut the door behind you.”

“Sure,” he said, stepping into the office after closing the door quietly. “Also, you can call me Mr. C, if you like. Everyone else does.” He glanced around her room, noting the accolades on her wall and the pictures of her with coworkers and very important divinities. He only had one other opportunity to view the interior of this office before, back when he was hired, but that was in 1972. The number of framed commendations had increased dramatically since then, as well as the number of pictures. Mr. C doubted he would ever see half the gods Taryn had posed with, let alone appear as casual with them as she appeared to be in each image. Such is a divinity’s life that, even if he had centuries of service under his belt, he was simply one small part of the Inanimate Pantheon.

“All right, Mr. C,” she began, gesturing to one of the chairs across from her before closing the file she had been reading upon his arrival. “Have a seat, and we’ll begin.” At her request, he sat down, smoothing down his black tie and tugging on the cuffs of his white long-sleeve shirt nervously while trying to guess why he had been called in to see her.

Finally, Taryn folded her hands on top of her desk and regarded him evenly. “Do you know why I called you in here, Mr. C?

“No, ma’am,” he answered, shaking his head in the negative. “Should I?”

“Not necessarily. You may or may not know that I’ve been conducting evaluations of my employees over the past few years, gauging job performance with an eye toward the future of our business. As the goddess of coffee machines, I want to make sure our relationship with the goddess of coffee herself stays on very good terms,” she explained, idly tapping the file centered squarely on her desk.

“Of course,” Mr. C nodded.

Taryn nodded in return and continued, “To that end, I wanted to go over your file with you. For the most part, you’ve been an exceptional employee, filing your paperwork on time, keeping your domain in excellent working condition, performing your duties as the god of home coffee machines with enthusiasm and devotion.”

Mr. C smiled modestly and said, “Well, I do my best.”

“Your best,” she echoed, opening the file on her desk again and scanning the first page of the collected documents with a scrutinizing frown. “I have a few recorded events of ‘your best’ here that I wanted to get your take on. See if you can help me understand some of these… unique claims.”

The god blinked, stunned, unsure of where Taryn was going with this. “Uh, okay. What sort of claims?”

“The first one I have here,” she began, taking up a fountain pen before peering into the file, “is a report that you brew tea. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but you are the god of home coffee machines, are you not?”

“Yes, I am, but-“

“And is there not also a goddess of home tea machines to take up that task?” she asked, quirking an eyebrow at him critically.

Mr. C answered, “Yes, there is, but to be fair, Mrs. Tee’s domain wasn’t fully realized until I had been in my position for twenty-three years. In that time, mortals had already misused my domain to brew tea, a bad habit that I have no control over, unfortunately.”

“Hm. Then there’s this report,” Taryn continued, turning back to the chart again to make a note before flipping to the next page. “It says here that your domain, and I quote, ‘would seem like it was finished brewing - until I pulled the carafe out. Then a stream of coffee would suddenly pour down,’ end quote.” She looked up at Mr. C with a questioning frown. “We’re in the business of wasting another god’s domain now, are we?”

The god sitting across from her shifted his position uncomfortably in the seat. This was not going well. “No, we’re not, and I’m terribly sorry about that, really I am. But like the previous issue, mortals can only be influenced so far. It’s up to them to clean my physical domain, not me. I can only do so much without revealing my presence to the mortal realm, as I’m sure you’re well aware.”

“I see.” Mr. C was not reassured by her neutral tone that she did see, but that didn’t stop her from making another note and continuing with the evaluation. As she turned to the next page, Taryn went on, “Then there’s this report here that you leaked water all over a counter instead of using it to brew coffee.”

Aha! The god smiled and respectfully replied, “Actually, those instances are exceedingly rare and usually account for an error by the mortal using my domain. I’ve done some looking in to that report as it’s been brought to my attention previously, and I’ve found that they’re actually attributed primarily to office coffee machines, not home coffee machines.”

“Which means you’re accusing your co-worker of negligence when it comes to his domain?” she countered quietly.

“Uh, no, not precisely,” Mr. C responded, his smile faltering in the wake of her accusation. “Only that it’s possible the paperwork had been misfiled, or otherwise labeled incorrectly, to attach it to my domain, ma’am.”

“Possible,” Taryn echoed, making a quick note before setting her pen down and closing the file once more. “There are several more claims in there, following along the same lines as those three. Am I to gather, then, that they are no fault of your own and easily chalked up to either mortal incompetence or the carelessness of file clerks?”

Mr. C tugged nervously on his sleeve cuffs again. “Well, it’s hard to say without hearing the claims themselves. I will say, however, that if I’m at fault for anything when it comes to my domain, it’s in not exercising as much influence on the mortals as I could. I try to walk the fine line between influencing them in the care and upkeep of my physical domain, and allowing them the benefit of the doubt, but I tend to err on the side of withholding my influence so as not to draw undue attention to myself. If you’d rather I push that line more than I have, I can easily do that, but my concern is – and always has been – the Rule of Prime.”

Taryn stared at him for a moment in silence, the two divinities simply watching each other over the immaculate desk – the goddess with a critical eye and the god with a wary gaze. Before Mr. C could shatter the quiet with an anxious remark, however, his boss smiled pleasantly and spoke. “No, I don’t think that will be necessary, Mister Caulfie. It’s my professional opinion that you have a strong grasp of your duties and a remarkable intuition when it comes to how much pull to exert over the physical realm. And as you’ve noted, mortals don’t always allow us the luxury of performing our duties flawlessly. You’ve done some excellent work over the years, I must say, and I’m recommending you to fill my position when I’m promoted this year.”

It took Mr. C a moment to process what she had said, and even then, he wasn’t sure he had heard her correctly. “Wait, you’re… promoting me?”

“Indeed I am. The goddess of coffee herself is taking me on as her personal assistant, which leaves me in need of a responsible and trustworthy god to take my place when that happens. We’ll work up the details later, after you’ve had time to come to terms with this revelation,” she commented with a mildly teasing tone, “but be prepared to pull double duty as you’ll be carrying out your normal tasks while I train you to take on my own.

“I… I don’t even know what to say!” he stammered, rising from his seat as Taryn did, and thrust his hand out to her. “Congratulations to you, boss!”

“And to you, Mr. C,” she replied with a more casual smile, taking his hand briefly before sitting back down. “I’ll see you tomorrow, bright and early, so we can go over the finer points of your promotion.”

Mr. C grinned, nodding, as he opened the door. “Absolutely! I’ll see you then, boss!” He closed the door behind him and walked down the hallway with a spring in his step and a song in his heart, eager to find out all that his new role in the pantheon entailed.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Hero's Journey - Crossing the Threshold

This is it, the moment of truth, the point of no return. There were plenty of opportunities to turn your back on this great adventure before now, but you made the choice to forge ahead, even knowing that the road ahead is a long and scary one. It’s too late for second thoughts now, though. There’s no turning back. You’re Crossing the Threshold.

The stage of The Hero’s Journey known as Crossing the Threshold marks that part of the story where the adventure truly begins. The main characters cross the city limits to begin their road trip, or enter the haunted house, or otherwise venture into unknown territory. There’s a boundary between the world that is known and that which is a mystery, a threshold, and crossing it means the Journey has truly begun. Harry Potter embarks on that Journey every year when he takes the Hogwarts Express to school. Robert Langdon Crosses his Threshold when he’s brought to the scene of whichever crime he’s to give his opinion on by the authorities.

This doesn’t necessarily need to be an actual journey going from one city to another. The main character might not even step outside the city limits. This could be as simple as beginning a task, one that will be carried through to the climax of the story. It might be an investigation, or a new year of school, or a new job. It might even be an emotional journey, as the Hero embarks on a new romance or tries to reconnect with someone from his past. The main thing to keep in mind during the Crossing the Threshold part of the Hero’s Journey is that the main character leaves the old behind to start something new, even if there are elements of familiarity to it. As long as you’re charting some form of new territory – physical, emotional or otherwise – there’s a Threshold marking the end of the old mode of being and the beginning of something new and exciting.

Where there’s a Threshold, however, there’s bound to be a Threshold Guardian. This Archetype, much like the Hero, Messenger and Mentor, serves a function in the story, usually to keep the Hero from progressing on his Journey. The Hero must them find a way to defeat this guardian to progress, much like video games require you to beat a boss before advancing to the next level. This doesn’t have to be outright combat, though. Outwitting the Threshold Guardian works just as well, even befriending him or her. In all cases, the guardian is there to test the Hero’s resolve once committed to the adventure.

Going back to the example of Rob’s Journey, he’s devoted himself to working through this dark time in his life with Betty’s guidance. However, the true test of that commitment is following through on her instructions, one of which is to get out there and find a new job. He knows he can do it, and she knows that having a new job will free up his creativity so he can write without worry. Unfortunately, there’s a world of Threshold Guardians out there that he needs to get past so he can score that first interview. Over and over he tries, putting his name and resume out there, but nothing seems to be working. Finally, he discovers an “in” with a dentist’s office – one of Betty’s other clients knows that his friend who runs the office needs a new assistant. The first interview is scored, and his natural charm and wit – as well as common ground with this Guardian through the friend – lands him the job.

Now that the Ordinary World is well behind us, the Hero’s Journey can truly begin, with all the pitfalls and possibilities that such a Journey entails. Once the Threshold is Crossed, there’s all manner of new people, new situations and new mistakes to make, both good and bad. We’ll get into that in more detail next time, when I discuss Tests, Allies and Enemies.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Quotables

"Read, read, read. Everything. I don't mean just comics or graphic novels. Read about the world, about things that don't interest you, about people and places you are unfamiliar with. Broaden your horizon. You will discover worlds you never knew existed."
Chris Claremont, Writer, X-Men: Days of Future Past

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Five Movies

I got bitten by the meme bug. Blame the whole crazy blogosphere that I've become part of these days. These are my five favorite movies, the ones I could watch over and over again:

Iron Man - Yes, I'm a geek. Yes, I love comics. I've never really been a huge Iron Man fan, though. I don't collect his comics at all, but I love the portrayal of his character in The Ultimates. Not surprisingly, I saw a lot of that come through in this movie. It was funny, well written, well cast (I didn't even realize that was Jeff Bridges until halfway through the film), and portrayed the perfect "secret origins" movie to set up the franchise. I can watch it from beginning to end, even now, and still love it. Well done, Jon Favreau!

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl - Who knew that a movie based on a Disney ride would be such a hit? This movie has everything I love: Awesome swordplay, great humor, Easter eggs for the die-hard fans (Can you count how many pieces of the ride ended up on film?) and compelling characters that bend the usual pirate archetypes... and one who exemplifies every pirate archetype. And while everyone goes on about Johnny Depp, my initial draw to the film was Will's Hero's Journey as he steps out of his Ordinary World and grows into Captain Jack's world of adventure.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - I may get some flack for choosing this Indy movie instead of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but I'll defend this choice until I'm blue in the face. Raiders was a great movie, no argument there, but Last Crusade has the more compelling story where Indy is active instead of reactive. Plus, you get a glimpse at Indy's first adventure in "archeology" and Sean Connery tags along as his dad! All of this, and the usual action/adventure staples that make the Indiana Jones franchise, all combine to make for an awesome movie experience.

The Princess Bride - My mom first introduced me to this movie when I was a kid, and we watched it so much, we could recite the whole film quote for quote from memory. In addition to being so insanely quotable, it's also the best film adaptation of a book I've ever seen. Not surprising, since the author of the novel also wrote the screenplay. It also has a wonderful Hero's Journey in it as well, as the title character embarks on an amazing adventure thanks to Prince Humperdinck's search for a bride. Amazing cast, awesome story, and the greatest swashbuckling swordfight ever filmed.

Dream for an Insomniac - No, I don't have a secret romantic side, and I'll keep denying it until the day I die. That said, this movie has a special place in my heart. During a time in my life when I was a writer who couldn't write, I came across this movie that featured a writer who couldn't write, and the woman who takes it upon herself to become his muse. Damned if I didn't wish I could take David Schrader's place and have a Frankie of my very own to inspire and fall in love with me... Er, I mean, uh... Hey, Jennifer Aniston is in here, too, pretty early on in her career.

So, what are your five?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Blog Is Now Networked

It's true - R. B. LeMoyne's Blog is now a part of NetworkedBlogs on Facebook. What does that mean, exactly? It means that, if you're on my Facebook fan page, you'll get instant updates through their news feed when there's a new entry to read. You can also Like, Rate and Share my blog easily with just a click. More than that, you can Follow my blog directly on Facebook by going to the page here!

So what are you waiting for? Spread the joy of my blog to your Facebook account today!

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Everyday Divinities Project - The Television and the Remote Control

The Television and the Remote Control - by R. B. LeMoyne
© May 31, 2010 * robertlemoyne@gmail.com

“Hey, Lily? Which remote works the TV?”

Remy stared down at the collection of remote controls scattered across his girlfriend’s coffeetable, his eyes moving from one to another to another as he stood there, perplexed. Out of his five choices, there were three that looked like they might work the TV set. He had hoped that Lily would call out an answer from the kitchen, but she probably couldn’t hear him over the sounds of pots and pans and other dinner-making noises, which meant that he was left to figure it out on his own.

The young man sat himself on the couch and looked over each remote in turn once more before finally settling on the one that looked like it might match the TV. “All right, let’s give you a try,” he muttered, hitting the Power button…



“Yes, we’re back on the clock!”

Moe lifted his feet off his desk and straightened his tie, glad to be back in action after an extended period of inactivity. Though the break wasn’t exactly unwelcome, it was always a pleasure to be needed in the workplace, and the TV remote control god was waiting for someone to finally put him to good use.

He snatched up a piece of parchment and grabbed a pen, then started filling out paperwork for the formal request. It didn’t take him any time at all to get it done – even after such long periods of downtime, he was as efficient as ever. He signed the request, stamped it with the seal of his office, then put the form in his “Out” box where it disappeared with the typical flash of white divine light.

Satisfied that his end of things was done, Moe leaned back in his chair with a smile and waited for the confirmation form to appear in his “In” box.

And waited.

And waited.

He frowned.

It never took Sonny this long to get back to him. True, it’d been a while since they worked together, but procedure was procedure, and there were certain things that gods simply did not do, not if they wanted to keep their job. One of them would be violating the Rule of Prime. The other was shirking one’s duty to their physical domain.

Moe got up from his chair and started pacing his office, glancing worriedly at his still empty “In” box. What could be keeping him? What could possibly be wrong? Was he okay? Truthfully, there was only one way to find out for sure.

The TV remote god went out to his office balcony and looked out over the divine landscape, briefly admiring the cityscape that dominated their side of the world before finding the building that housed Sonny’s office. He focused on the television god’s balcony, calling up his godly power to surround himself in a protective corona of brilliant energy.

Then, in a blinding flash much like the kind that had enveloped his request form, he shot from the balcony like a bolt of lightning.

Half a moment later, and he was landing on Sonny’s office balcony. The anxious god shed off the excess power from his travel as he walked into the office, only to find that the television god was reclining in his office chair much as Moe had been earlier, his feet up on his desk and a supreme look of boredom on his face. It didn’t make any sense to him – if Sonny had been here all this time, why hadn’t he responded to his request by now?

“Hey, partner,” he finally asked tentatively. “Are you all right?”

Sonny looked over at him, surprised to find that he wasn’t alone, and gave the god a wide smile. “Hey, Moe! It’s been a while, my friend! How are you?” He stood and embraced his old partner, which just confused the remote control god even more.

After taking a step back to look over his old friend, Moe answered, “I’m fine, if a little perplexed. I sent you a request form earlier, and I hadn’t heard back from you. So, naturally, I wanted to make sure it got to you safely, or if there were any complications I should know about.”

“Oh, no, I got it,” Sonny replied. “But I can’t approve it. Or rather, I can’t approve all of it.”

This took Moe by surprise. “What? Why not?”

“Because I take most of those requests from someone else now.”

What?!” Moe stared at the television god with an open look of disbelief. “But… but we’ve been working together for years, you and me! We were inseparable! Our physical domains were even packaged in the same box, made by the same company! What do you mean you take most of those requests from someone else? Who is it?”

Before Sonny could answer, a flash of white light heralded the arrival of a form in his “In” box. “Hold that thought,” he said to a stunned Moe as he checked the newly arrived paperwork. Nodding to himself, he dug out a response form, filled out his approval notice, then filled out a second form to carry out the request. Both forms were stamped with the seal of his office, put in his “Out” box, and vanished instantly in that same flash of brilliance.

“What was that?” Moe demanded, his voice carrying some of the upset that he was feeling.

“Oh, that was a request to turn on and display a particular channel,” Sonny informed his old partner casually.

“From who?” Moe asked, folding his arms expectantly across his chest.

“From Chaz, the cable box god. You know him, right?”



“Nevermind, I found it!” Remy called back to his girlfriend, relaxing on the couch to watch some TV. It took some trial and error, but he finally found the remote that turned on the TV and changed the channels. Lily would still be at it in the kitchen for another 20 minutes or so, which gave him just enough time to catch the rest of this week’s How I Met Your Mother before they sat down for dinner.

Maybe I could convince her to ditch some of these old remotes, he considered idly as he started to lose himself in the TV show.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hey, I'm On Facebook!

It's true! If you're a fellow Facebooker, you can check out my fan page here and join my small but devoted fan base. I'm also going to post updates on the page so you'll know the moment there's a new entry on my blog, as well as other exciting news about me and my writing!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Hero's Journey - Meeting the Mentor

Everyone has at least one person in their life that they look up to, someone who has given them the advice and encouragement that helped them get where they are now. For some, it’s a family member who was always there for them, or a friend who helped them through the darkest days. It doesn’t have to be someone so close to you, though. Help can come from anywhere – a co-worker, a boss, a teacher, even some random passer-by who passed along that little nugget of wisdom that set you on the right track. Whoever they are, wherever they come from, they fulfill one of the most integral archetypes of The Hero’s Journey: The Mentor.

Most Heroes need more than just a Call to Adventure to get them going. That adventure can look pretty daunting if they’re not well equipped to tackle it, which may have resulted in a Refusal of the Call. This is the part of the Journey where Meeting the Mentor is so crucial. He (or she, because the Mentor is no more gender exclusive than the Hero) is the guiding force for our adventurer. They may hand him the tools he’ll need to overcome future obstacles, point him in the right direction to begin his odyssey, or actively guide him through the strange new world that has replaced The Ordinary World. Sometimes, they’ll perform all of the above functions, accompanying the Hero on the Journey and acting as his own personal Jiminy Cricket. Other times, their appearance is all too brief, leaving the Hero to forge his own path. In all cases, the Mentor acts as a way for the Hero to answer that Call.

It’s worth noting that the Mentor doesn’t have to be a single character in the story. While one character can certainly embody that archetype exclusively (think Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter books), others are allowed borrow that hat from time to time. In fact, Hagrid is the first to take on that role for Harry, guiding him through the process of preparing for his first year at Hogwarts, and continues to wear that hat every now and then throughout the series. Even villains can take on this role, as the young Mr. Potter sometimes learns just as much from those who seek to kill him than he does from the teaching staff at Hogwarts.

This leads me into the unique concept of the Dark Mentor. It is possible that an antagonist can be a Mentor, both instructing the Hero while working against him. How? From the shadows, usually, but sometimes right in plain sight under disguise. Not to belabor the Harry Potter comparisons, but the Dark Mentor has been used several times in that series, to stunning effect. But why would the bad guys want to help the good guy? Sometimes they start as good guys and evolve into bad guys, forcing the student to surpass the teacher in the final confrontation. Sometimes it’s a show of what not to do, giving the Hero a clear concept of what he stands against… and thus, what he stands for. Then again, the Dark Mentor may have a vested ego-driven interest in building a worthy adversary to oppose him. Some villains are just that twisted.

To illustrate this aspect of the Hero’s Journey through Rob’s ongoing adventure, he needs outside intervention to get him to halt that downward spiral of his and accept the Call to Adventure. His parents, having been in similar circumstances in the past, send him to their personal champion, Betty Dawes. Mrs. Dawes is knowledgeable, patient, and insightful – everything he needs right now. She also knows that what he wants to do more than anything is to write, if only he had the confidence to pursue his dream. Fortunately for Rob, she has all the tools he’ll need to break out of his shell and pursue his dream. It’s up to him to make that first step, though, to leave his Ordinary World behind and actively pursue the great adventure ahead.

It seems like quite the trek already, but this is only the start of the Journey. The real adventure can now begin, as our Hero is armed and ready to face the unknown. We’ll discuss that in more detail soon, when we get into the next part of The Hero’s Journey - Crossing the Threshold.