If only I had discovered Caro Clarke’s writing advice ten years ago…
Formerly an editor, now a writer, Clarke dishes useful advice for writers with goals of publishing. Her writing advice articles are posted on her Web site, and she also tweets on the Twitter.
I’m about 10 days late to the party letting everyone know about this, but Coursera is offering a free course from University of Michigan called:
I took this class a couple years ago and let me tell you, it is amazing! Now, the class started on February 3, 2014, but you can still sign up and take the course and complete it. You don’t earn college credit, but the online coursework, reading materials, and video lectures will absolutely broaden your horizons about genre fiction. A must-see for any serious writer or reader! I highly recommend! Five stars! And Eric Rabkin, the professor, is a rock star diamond of a mind!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Thank you, Readers for all your likes, comments, and follows. Please allow my friends Young the Giant to express my love. 😉
Have a great day!
Urban Monomyth. This is how I would categorize my tastes in urban fantasy, books that show true hero characters enduring their journeys to destiny, about people in their homes and cities colliding with the spectacular world of fantasy. Thus, “Urban.”
“Monomyth” is a term used by the great Joseph Campbell, who borrowed it from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake to describe the basic cycle of the hero’s journey. If you work in storytelling and you haven’t ever encountered Campbell, you must meet the man. He is THE authority when it comes to literary analysis of epic stories. The monomyth is a basic and at the same time relatively complex archetypal cycle that the hero/heroine endures in their quest.
Urban Monomyth. You heard it here first.
Here’s a diagram, but there is a lot of free information on the Web about monomyth. Also, get your hands on a copy of The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Explore and learn!
The resume business is still going seriously bonkers, so my brain is off the fiction writing this past week. I am still waiting for word back on a ton of queries. I collected a few more rejections late last week and over the weekend — have received a couple nice personalized rejection notes complimenting my writing so I think that’s a good sign versus getting straight boilerplate letters. Still hopeful and very happy about my story. I wish I could share some of it here, but I have to keep it under wraps for now… Gah! I can’t wait for people to read it! 🙂
Anyway, I hope your week has started off well and your sights are set on great things! Keep on keepin’ on!
I wish I had known about this video by Ira Glass when it first came out. He gives absolutely awesome advice on storytelling for media — television, radio, and writing of all kinds. A must-watch for anyone in creative writing.
All four parts are available on YouTube. Enjoy!
In my weekend reading, I found a great article from Maya Rock, an editor and former literary agent out of New York. The title says it all:
It’s a fantastic article for anyone writing in the YA genre, not just those crossing over from other genres. Thanks Maya!
I would have cruised right past Jelly if he hadn’t said, “Heya Bounder.” Hearing his voice, I pulled my guns and wheeled around to face the notorious thief and killer of beat cops like me. I expecting he would be right there, standing in the middle of the alleyway, flanked by a brigade of ratty street punks. But he was alone, sprawled on a pile of trash next to a Dumpster in the gutter.
“Sky-high with the hands, Jellyfish!” I was relieved to see Jelly on the ground. This was good fortune, finding him helpless and unarmed; I immediately thought about the money. Twenty-five thousand to collar this creep, enough for Christmas presents and braces for Danny.
“It’s so cold,” Jelly whined. He shivered and shrugged his shoulders up around the hem of his red and white striped knit cap. He stuffed his hands deeper into the pockets of the threadbare hooded black sweatshirt he wore. A stiff wind ripped through the alley, blasting the concrete corridor with frozen air. I didn’t dare flinch. Running up on a cold-blooded cop killer like Jelly could wreck your life. Thank God I got the drop on him, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. What the hell is he doing laid out across this alley? A trickle of blood spilled from his nose and ran down onto his trembling lips.
“Come on, Jelly, don’t make me shoot you dead!” I shouted. “Hands up! Where’s your crew? You setting me up, Jelly?”
“Bounder…” He sputtered a maniac laugh. “I wouldn’t set you up, blue boy, not you. You’re one of the g-good ones, Bounder.” He stared up with his dark eyes, like holes drilled into his bleached-white face and he coughed weakly and sniffed at the blood on his lip.
“Jelly, you don’t look so good. Come on, let’s walk down to the station.” I took two steps toward him, still wary of any nasty surprises from Jellyfish McGee. “I can get you fixed up Jelly. Let’s go somewhere warm so you can get better.”
“Ah,” he said, “there it is. That good old-fashioned goodness, Bounder. It’s warmer here than a stay in the poke so I’m gonna stay, Bounder, stay and talk to you.” He reached down into his pocket. My fingers flexed on the triggers, bending them to almost nothing between now and turning his brains into alley frosting. With his shivering, bloody hand, Jelly held out a bundle of paper and money. I kept my guns on him.
“What gives, Jelly? Get up. I don’t want your filthy money.”
“Danny,” he said, intoning my son’s name. Lightning shot through my guts and my fingers pulsed again on the triggers.
“Not messin’ ‘round no more, Jelly!” I screamed. “GET UP!”
“You’d do anything for Danny, wouldn’t you?”
“Keep my son’s name out of your filthy mouth, Jelly! Shut your hole and get up!” I kicked one of his snow-soaked boots.
“I have a daughter,” Jelly said, holding the papers higher. “I need you to help her. Please Bounder.” His hand dropped some and he struggled to lift it, seeming to spend all of his strength to keep his cold, cagey fingers pinched around the battered stack of paper. “You know…we’re a lot alike, Bounder,” he said and then coughed in a tattered jag and wheezed, “We live for family. We die for family.”
His turned his eyes to the ground and he said, “Sheila,” and smiled. His hand dropped into his lap. Blood and steam dripped from his lips, and he didn’t speak any more.
I put away my guns.
I wrote this story remembering a few years I spent working as a waiter, bartender, and cook. I loved the work and, in one way or another, met and worked with a few of the people appearing here.
Waiting tables will transform a person into a charming devil almost overnight, and if you’re the best like me, you eventually make head waiter and direct an entire dining room at your whims.
At Tres Peces, I rule the front-of-the-house as king over all my denizens: three waitresses, a busboy, and the señora who papers the tables after they are turned over and cleared. I manage all of this while running my own seven-table section. Customers adore us and our reservations are always full, from fear or love – it is always up to them. We always give the people exactly what they ask for. (This may sound confusing and like a lot of braggadocio, so I ought to give an example of our ways.)
If a customer orders off-menu, wanting a dish we do not offer, we make them fearful because the chef will not like this and it will show in the dish. If the customer relents and follows our lead, we show them love, and so does the chef; the dish is magnificent and a free dessert or bottle of wine may appear…there are all manner of rewards for those who do as they are told. For stubborn customers who insist on an off-menu dish, we will perhaps forget about them and let their rage sweep them from our midst. They always return, so we make no show of their departure. The boy will clear the table, señora will paper it. Newcomers will arrive to satisfy us. Love is fleeting. And this is how it always was.
We did not need another waitress and I was satisfied running the dining room and waiting on my section. Adrian saw otherwise. He said I was too busy; no one should have to run the room and wait tables. I complained for days, and the waitresses and the boy and the señora suffered greatly. For a week before she arrived, I exhausted them all, collecting many tears from the women, especially from the señora, who once fainted in the kitchen from exhaustion and sorrow. The boy, I was easy on him. A crying young man is an embarrassment, though I myself have felt like weeping in her presence.
Alyana. Before we opened for what would be a torturously busy Friday night, Adrian introduced her to everyone. Alyana, though beautiful, appeared unsure. The head chef and his sous chefs were smitten while I wished for her to fail miserably, which would justify my week-long ill treatment of the women and cause Adrian to rethink his strategy. I would regain my section.
All night long, Alyana allowed customers to order off-menu and wooed the kitchen, speaking Spanish to the chefs, winking, smiling, and making passes at the window with her chest out so they all stayed in love with her. The customers, men and women alike, were fascinated by her; she made them all laugh, and she danced through the room, waiting her seven tables with graceful ease. Every time I pulled her aside to advise her on the rules of the room, she ignored me and kept about her business. She was kind to the señora, tipped the boy twice what I would, and at the end of the night the other waitresses gathered her up and took her for drinks at a club down the street, leaving me to stew in the wrath of a king deposed.
It has been like this ever since. Alyana has become queen of Tres Peces. Alyana rules with compassion, and Alyana does not fear her king.
I have fallen in deepest love.