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 *

“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.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


"Invest in a comfortable pad for the chair in which you work. Because - as I always tell anyone who says they want to be a writer - so much of becoming a writer is simply applying butt to seat of chair and staying there, no matter what. You simply have to put in your time, no matter how frustrating it sometimes gets or how long it takes to make progress."
Peter S. Beagle, Author, The Last Unicorn

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Everyday Divinities Project - The Alarm Clock

The Alarm Clock - by R. B. LeMoyne
© May 17, 2010 *

Very late at night, or very early morning if you prefer, a most peculiar scene was unfolding in a young boy’s bedroom not too terribly far from your own. If that boy had woken at that particular moment and looked over at the alarm clock perched on the nightstand next to his bed, an alarm clock that looked remarkably like your own, he might have found a small man no bigger than the action figures he played with sitting atop it. He might have seen in the dim light of his room that this small man was dressed in a fine button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up, a nice pair of khaki pants and polished work boots, all in colors that so closely matched those of that same alarm clock. If that wasn’t distressing enough, he might also have noticed that the small man was glaring down at him with bright red eyes that mirrored the ever-present glow of the clock’s numbers.

All of these are things the young boy might have witnessed, if he hadn’t been fast asleep. And that suited Garvin the alarm clock god just fine.

For as far back as Garvin could recall, all the way back to the first alarm clock ever, he had been the subject of abuse. It happened sometimes, when an inanimate object is created to serve a purpose that is deemed necessary by humanity without being entirely welcomed. The god that is supposed to embody that object, who is tasked with making it function as it should, suddenly finds itself in a thankless job that is supposed to be performed daily and with all the effort and enthusiasm one can muster. So it was back in the Beginning, and so shall it be long after humanity has run its course.

The thought that he would outlast the teeming masses known as humanity was small comfort for Garvin. After all, his kind was in a symbiotic relationship with the mortals who populated the planet they called Earth. Without him and other divinities like him, all of mankind’s creations would be so much useless junk, serving no purpose at all. Phones wouldn’t call out, faucets wouldn’t run water, and lamps wouldn’t light up. Not without the power of his brethren to make them function as they should. Without the mortals of the world, however, his kind wouldn’t exist. If there was no need for an alarm clock, why would there be an alarm clock god?

That, of course, led him back to his chief complaint. Garvin scowled down at the sleeping boy, his brow knit in impotent rage and pondered a question that he asked himself day after day: If the mortals needed alarm clocks to wake them, why did they abuse them so? It was such a common phenomenon – the alarm would go off, serving its function to wake a mortal, then the mortal in question would inevitably enact some form of violence on it. True, there were brief reprieves from the abuse, usually over the weekend, but that was always the exception to the rule. Usually, it was subtle violence – fingers groping and poking and prodding incessantly as the mortals molested Garvin’s assigned domain in their half-awake stupor – but there were those who had no respect whatsoever for the fact that the alarm clock functioned so flawlessly. Those mortals would slap, stab, hit and sometimes throw it against the wall. Sometimes they would add verbal abuse, yelling at him for nothing more offensive than doing his job well.

That was what he was supposed to do, wasn’t it? Perform his job to the best of his ability? He filed his paperwork on time, executed his duties with practiced precision, and worked well with both the department of radios and the timekeeper administration to serve multiple functions for his mortals. His boss was always pleased with his work, why weren’t the mortals happy with him? Why was it always such a pain to serve humanity?

As always, his anger at his lot in life bubbled over, and Garvin couldn’t keep quiet anymore. In a voice colored by all the injustice of his work, he shouted at the young boy, “Why? Why can’t you just appreciate that I’m doing what I’m supposed to do? Why is it so hard to be thankful? Huh? Why? Why? Why?! WHY?! WHY?!

James struggled to open his eyes, groaning as his alarm clock complained ceaselessly in his ears. It was the most obnoxious sound in the world to him, reminiscent of the gruff old man next door who would yell at his dog in a loud, harsh tone. It grated on his nerves, spurring him to grope blindly for the button that would shut it up. He found it at last and had to hit it a few times to finally shut the thing up before he could savor the silence that followed. Of course, by then he was awake enough that the notion of going back to sleep was as distant as his dreams.

“All right, I’m up,” he muttered to himself, staggering from bed to start his weekday morning routine before he had to go to school. If only he could have slept in just a few minutes more. Why did his alarm clock have to work so well?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Thank You Note

In the name of spring cleaning, I was going through some old papers of mine this weekend that had been collecting in my room, tossing what I didn't need and keeping whatever was left. I cleared out a lot of garbage and came across some real gems. One such gem triggered a spontaneous trip down Memory Lane, way back to my "fresh out of high school" days.

Back in (oh boy, I'm going to date myself here) 1997, White Wolf Publishing boldly announced a Writer All-Call. Anyone who wanted to work for the Wolf and could write using proper English skills was encouraged to send in a cover letter and writing sample, and the best of these would be added to their pool of freelance writers to tap for upcoming game books. It was a golden opportunity for every fan of White Wolf's roleplaying games who had ever read one of their books and thought, "Hey, I could write this sort of stuff for them, why don't they hire me?"

As a young kid with dreams of getting his writing published, I jumped at the challenge. As a fairly recent convert to the World of Darkness at that point, however, I knew I had to do my research so my entry would hold up against the avalanche of submissions they were sure to receive. I decided to gear my entry toward my favorite White Wolf game at the time - Mage: The Ascension - and set up the concept, then purchased any Mage book I needed to make sure the details lined up with what was already established. Following their submission guidelines, I worked up a 3-page writing sample and cover letter and sent it off to White Wolf, hoping to get any sort of reply from them, positive or negative.

Late that October, I got my wish.

When I got the mail and saw the White Wolf emblem on the envelope, my heart just about stopped, then kicked into overdrive as I realized what it signified. My first form letter from a publisher had arrived! I wasted no time - I ran back into the apartment and opened it up to find a letter written (or printed, more accurately) on White Wolf Publishing stationary. I'll spare you the word for word reproduction of the letter and summarize it, instead: "We got your submission. We're impressed by it. You're on The List of Freelance Writers. We'll be in touch when we need you. Congratulations."

Thirteen years later, minus a few months, and I can tell you that they didn't need me - or if they did, I'd moved around so much by that point that they couldn't keep track of the forwarding addresses. It's entirely possible (and very likely) that, among all those new names, I was toward the bottom of that list. After re-reading the submission that I'd sent them, I wouldn't blame them for that one bit. It's a cute writing sample, and it does show that I can use proper English, but you can tell that it was written by someone who had a lot of raw talent but little training to back it up. That's not the point, though. The point is that someone saw the potential in that submission and sent a tangible piece of encouragement back to that kid, encouragement that convinced him that he could do this writing thing and pushed him to continuously hone his skills.

Thank you, White Wolf Publishing, for giving this writer encouragement that he carried with him to the present day. I'm tacking this letter up on the same board that the outline for my trilogy is sprawled across.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


"I like Joseph Campbell's advice to 'follow your own bliss.' Only you can figure out what that actually means in your life. Follow that sense of joy to the place it takes you that is all your own. That's when and where you find your voice. And once found, say what you have to say loudly and clearly. Speak from the heart concisely and persistently even when it seems like the world is ignoring you. If you really have something worth paying attention to, someone will eventually hear you. And when they do, they will have reason to listen to your unique voice. That's what worked for me anyway."
Larry Marder, Writer/artist, Beanworld

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Everyday Divinities Project

Updated 12/23/2011!

Okay, I've collected my data, and I've worked out the format. Now I can let you in on this project I've been working on. But first, a little backstory.

My goal as an author is, ultimately, to share my boundless imagination with the world. Not just my friends, not just my geek and gamer community, but the whole world. I want to put my creations out there for the public to read and enjoy. I want to invite them into the world I've been creating for the past 6 years now, not in the nebulous future when my trilogy is complete and published and on bookstore shelves.

Inspired in part by some of my fellow writers - most notably Jess Hartley and her Shattered Glass Project, and Ed Valentine and his Play-A-Day project - I've decided to commit to a new writing project of my own. Not just a writing exercise (although it serves as that, too), and not just an excuse to post more to my blog (although it serves as that, too), this will introduce the online world to my literary world and show them what it is I've been working on all this time. Thus, The Everyday Divinities Project (EDP) is born.

Why Everyday Divinities? Because the world around us is filled with wonders that most people don't even notice, or otherwise take for granted. The alarm clock that sits on our nightstand, the coffee maker that helps us wake up in the morning, the TV set that educates and entertains us - all of them are modern-day miracles that are a part of our daily lives and deserve to be honored. I'm showing my respect to these creations by writing about them. Also, in the fictional world I've created, all of these objects are embodied by spiritual aspects (think along the lines of gods and goddesses of classical mythology) who have their own lives in a world apart from, yet very much connected to, our own. It's these divinities who make our everyday appliances and other objects work the way they should, and they tend to show their personality quirks through these objects when they aren't accorded the respect they deserve.

What sort of writing project is this? Well, those of you who follow me on Facebook may recall a post where I asked for your favorite inanimate objects. I took those suggestions, added them to others that I received from my Wed. morning group, and put the best of those on a master list of short story ideas. From that list, I'll write a short story featuring one of those objects and post it here on my blog. Each story will be set within the world of my trilogy, showcasing the object and its secret life within that setting. By doing so, I'll also get to develop my setting and character voices that much more, which will enhance the trilogy that I'm working on.

Will these stories end up as part of the trilogy? Indirectly, but not exactly. I've already got the main characters of my trilogy lined up, and the plot of each book is already outlined if not fully written. It's highly unlikely that any of these stories will be incorporated into the trilogy as it is now. Even so, they'll share the same world, so it wouldn't be too difficult to imagine any of these characters in the background of my trilogy.

Are you going to publish them at all? Already did! You can find five of the EDP stories collected in a digital book currently available on Amazon Kindle, and soon to be available in other e-book formats. Now you can have them all in one scrollable document instead of having to search them out on my blog!

Why are your stories on Kindle and not Nook? The Nook is far superior to the Kindle in every way. Obviously you've been talking to my friend Christina. But seriously, you want it on Nook? You've got it on Nook!

What about other e-reader formats? If you have a preferred e-book format, post it in the comment section below and I'll try to make it available here on my blog. I can't promise miracles, but it's important to me that my writing gets out to the widest audience possible.

So, that's The Everyday Divinities Project... or this branch of it, at least. It's too early yet to delve into the other aspects of the project, but rest assured, I'll keep you updated as it develops!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Hero's Journey - Refusal of the Call

To give our traveling metaphor a bit of a rest, I’ll take up another for just a moment. Say you get a call from someone out of the blue. Might be someone you know, might not. In any case, the call comes at an inconvenient moment – you might be with friends, you might be with a loved one. Maybe you’re in the middle of a project or on the line with someone already. Whatever the case may be, you have a choice. Do you answer the call, or do you ignore it and continue on with whatever you were doing?

That, at its core, is what Refusal of the Call is all about.

This is the moment in the Hero’s Journey where two paths present themselves to our Hero. He can answer the Call to Adventure, propelling himself into the unknown, or he can ignore it and continue on the predictable path before him. It’s a very important moment of the story, the first real test of our Hero. Which will he choose? Well, obviously he’ll go on to the adventure, but most people who are set in their ways don’t just drop everything to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow. They’re either happy with their status quo, or in denial about the need for adventure.

Heroes should resist the Call to Adventure, at least initially. They should be stubborn or resistant – maybe not overly so, but enough to let the audience know that this is a step that is not taken lightly. Let them get a taste of the consequences of inaction, and allow that to propel them forward into the journey. One example of this kind of Refusal – and you’ll have to forgive that this is a movie example, not a literary one – is in The Matrix, when Neo gets a literal Call to Adventure from Morpheus. Rather than follow his future Mentor’s advice, however, Neo’s Refusal of the Call leads to capture and a terrifying encounter with Agent Smith.

Refusal of the Call doesn’t always come from the Hero, however. Said Hero might leap at the opportunity to go on the grand adventure, but something – or someone – else is keeping him from taking that first step, causing the Refusal. Harry Potter would love nothing more than to escape from the custody of his aunt and uncle, but his guardians simply will not let him escape their cruel treatment by going to Hogwarts. They’re so adamant about their Refusal of the Call that they try to take Harry far away to keep the letters of summons from reaching him, but the Call is never so easily denied…

Finally, we have the ongoing Journey of our young Hero, Rob, and his own Refusal of the Call. Unemployed, he has a great opportunity now to break free of the soul-crushing retail job he’s been working and follow his dream – to write his first novel. Rather than rise to the challenge, he wallows in his own feelings of inadequacy and withdraws from family and friends alike, convinced that he’ll never amount to anything. His passive Refusal of the Call manifests in a self-delusional state of escapism, where video games and roleplaying games become his reality in an attempt to replace the pain of his circumstances. And all the while, the money dwindles with each bill that needs to be paid.

This Refusal gives us a glimpse of the downward spiral that is sure to be the destruction of our Hero if he doesn’t change his ways and rise to the challenge presented to him. Sometimes a Hero needs help facing that adventure, though, someone to teach and guide our protagonist on his Journey. Sometimes, the Hero needs a Mentor.

We’ll discuss Meeting the Mentor in the next installment of the Hero’s Journey.