From the Space and Time to the Sensuality

First there will be some geek talk, and then I’m Bringing Back Sexy in an open and honest way.  If you don’t want the sexy, read the two paragraphs after this one and bid the page Audios!  No harm, no foul, and You Have Been Warned.




For the last few days I’ve found myself in some rather interesting conversations.  Naturally, because of my geeky nature, and those of others I know, we’ve chatting up a lot of Doctor Who this week because it’s time to come up with another Doctor, and for us who are into this sort of thing, we like to talk about it.  It also helps that BBCA has been running shows all week, so that gives us the opportunity to re-watch episodes that we’ve already seen a dozen times, and snark on about what we like and what we don’t like.

"Seriously, she thinks Rose is the best?  I'm gonna have to set this bitch straight, won't I?"

“Seriously, she thinks Rose is the best companion? I’m gonna have to set this bitch straight:  that’s what The Internet is for!”

It’s been a lot of fun chatting this stuff up, particularly since I consider myself to not only be an expert on the show–because I’m old and from Chicago, which was one of the only places that used to air the show in North America in the 1970’s and 1980’s–and because I’ve personally turned a few people onto the show over the years and made them nearly as geeky as me.  Nearly, I say.  That means when the lowdown on trivia is needed, and information is required for aspect that elude others, I’m the Go To Girl for All of Time and Space.  Just call me Idris, because I may as well travel around like that.

It’s a lovely diversion, but it’s not the only one . . .

‘Cause now comes Sexy Time.  You want more?  Come on in.


You ready?  Let’s go, let’s go.


. . .


. . .


. . .


There’s another conversation I’ve been falling into as well, and that’s something we, in the one group I’m in–are calling our “Sex Education Talk.”  Though “sex education is really a bit of a misnomer:  it’s more like the ladies getting together and talking about kinky-ass sex–in some cases actual kinky ass sex.  It’s really been all over the place, particularly in the area of toys, which seem to get used a lot.  I don’t have a problem with toys, or lotions, or wearing articles of clothing to help ramp up the passion and sensuality, or just the out-and-out Let’s Get Down and Bang This Gong feeling that’s gonna hit in any second now.  Particularly this last, because if they’re one thing I love, it’s sexy clothing or night gowns, or even a bit of fetish wear if you can find some that (a) fits and (b) doesn’t feel like you’re encased in something unyielding.  Unless that’s exactly what you want . . .

"Hi, honey.  Guess what's for dinner?  Tacos!  You better say yes if you know what's good for you--"

“Hi, honey. Guess what’s for dinner? Tacos! You better say ‘I’m so hungry’ if you know what’s good for you–“

It’s refreshing to sit and read some of the things my lady friends have experienced, some of the wildness they’ve gotten into, and some of the advice they have for those who may be less experienced in this area.  Because if there’s one thing we’re not open about is sex.  Particularly these days, when you have buttheads running for public offices who say watching women walk around topless will lead to men becoming gay.  Dude:  projection is a total bitch.  You should do something about that.

I haven’t said much about sex in the group simply because most of what I know these days ends up on the printed page.  Sure, I’ve written erotica, most of which is pretty strange, and probably goes well beyond anything my friends would ever consider–unless it is their total kink to turn into a human-like centaur with the fully functioning genitals of both genders, and then have a couple of women get down on them.  Then they’re right up there in my ballpark, ’cause that’s how my mind works.

I am happy to know sexy is alive and well with all kinds of people, but I’m also a little saddened because it’s not something I experience.  Intimacy is something I haven’t known in some time, and likely isn’t in the cards for some time to come.  That’s kinda of choice, and it’s . . . well, complicated, just like time travel.  The reasons for it I won’t divulge, but needless to say depression played a part there, a singular lack of love played another part–and these days I’m so uncomfortable with my body that it’s difficult for me to think about getting intimate with myself.

I’ve had the “sex talk” with my HRT doctor.  We’ve discussed the changes I’m going through, which is really nothing short of Puberty Mk 2.  My doctor is also trans, so she’s been through the same thing I’m going through, and had some advice for “exploring,” if we wish to call it that.  My reactions are decidedly feminine these days; stimulation starts in different places within the body than where they happened before.  There are physical reactions now that were never present in the past, and with continuing hormone treatment those reactions will become more pronounced and intense.

I did reassure my doctor that I wasn’t about to go running around town looking to score because that’s never been my style.  I’ve always been tentative about meeting other people face-to-face, and I’ve always been uncomfortable about my body and putting it on display for others.  Even more so now, because with the physical changes I’m also experiencing the insecurity that comes with those changes.

While I would love to get a sexy night gown and feel good about myself, I’m afraid I wouldn’t, just because it’s hard for me to feel that way.

This is my idea of sexy night gowns, though my sack of potatoes body wouldn't look nearly as nice in this one.

This is my idea of sexy night gowns, though my sack of potatoes body wouldn’t look nearly as nice.  Also, I’ll do without the Hello Kitty slippers as well.

It’s taking time to get to the place where I’ll be as comfortable talking about vibrating rings and beads and schoolgirl outfits as my friends–though I really sort of see myself as the domineering Headmistress in the corset dress wearing her shiny black boots, so watch out, girls.  That doesn’t mean I can’t write about it, and I have developed some good ideas that could turn into short, hot stories.  And once I’m though with this monster of a novel I could just do that–

Or maybe I should jump in and write about a woman who spends so much time in a sexy crocheted body suit that she just can’t find the time to take it off–

Hey, you should hear some of my other ideas.

Striking Out Along the Low Road

You know what works wonders for a bit of depression and being unable to get the words out?  A trip out to eat, and writing in public.  Which is exactly what I did yesterday.

I had to run out and pick up a light bulb and some coffee, but I thought I’d bring my computer along, because Panera is right there by the store, and it doesn’t hurt to stop, grab a bite, and write.  That was the plan, and that’s what happened.  Of course the funniest part of the night was the guy running the counter.  He just kept staring at me, probably because I’m just so damn awesome he was at a loss for work.  That, or transwomen scare the hell out of him, and he thinks he’d gonna catch some bad gender cooties if he opens his mouth.  Whattsa matter, bro?  Scared of tall girls?

(I should mention that I was wearing my new espadrille sandals which add about two-and-a-half inches to my five foot, eight inch frame, so I was getting up there towards six foot.  Just wait until I’m out in some nice evening pumps.)

The upside is I finished up the last scene in Chapter Twenty with a thirteen hundred word run that lasted about an hour and forty-five minutes.  The scene worked out at just over three thousand words, which is sort of half expected due to the stuff going on.  But it was written, and it is done.  Getting out into the public places and writing does seem to get my juices flowing, probably because the whole, “Up in the morning, go to work, come home, write,” thing gets a little old after a few weeks–or in this case, months–and you need that break to freshen things up.  Plus, I had news shoes to wear, and what women doesn’t like going out in new shoes?

Where are we, then?  Vicky’s giving the last of the orders to her gallant fliers.  Let’s pick up there . . .


 (All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Vicky spent several seconds in silence considering the students before her while contemplating all the possible permutations for the day ahead. “I hope today is boring.” She nodded slowly as she looked from right to left. “I really do, because a boring day means nothing happens; it means the Deconstructors aren’t coming for us and there’s no chance of anyone getting hurt. Which means when this is over—maybe in a few hours, maybe at the end of the day, maybe sometime late tonight—we can all gather in the Dining Hall and have something to eat while we talk about how we flew in circles doing nothing. The hot cider’s on me, by the way.

“In the meantime we’re going to do our job: we’re going to play our part in the defense of the school. There’s only seventeen teams, and two of those teams are volunteers, which means we’re a little short—and that means we need to be extra vigilant today. Keep your eyes open and the chatter to a minimum; if I hear you gabbing away like you’re on a Saturday flight around the ground I’ll give you a verbal warning first and I’ll be up your ass in person second: there won’t be a third—you’ll get pulled, because what’s the point of keeping you in the air if you’re not doing your duty.”

Vicky raised her voice slightly to drive home this last point. “I want you all to take heed of this last—if you can’t follow orders, I will sit your ass down, either at Carrier or Laputa, but I will yank you out of the sky. I don’t want gawkers, I don’t want sightseers, and I damn sure don’t want heroes. Not today. I want thirty-four pilots, seventeen teams, who when given an order will follow it exactly.”

She lowered her head slight and stared at the ground for just a moment. “This is the big time, kids, and if things even get the least bit ugly at some point there won’t be any room for ambiguity. If you’re told to do something, you get to it, nothing else, nothing more, no questions asked. At the end of the day I want to stand in the hangar and collect everyone’s broom—I don’t want to be spending my time looking for you at your last known position before you vanished from Fortress’ scans. If you follow your orders, the later won’t happen; you gotta believe me.”

She shifted her weight back and forth as she watch the expression of her pilots. They got it; they know what could happen today. That’s good . . . “That’s all I got.” She turned to Erywin. “Let’s get ‘em lined up and in the air.” She turned back to the students and spoke with obvious emotion in her voice. “Fly safe, everyone. See you back here in a while.”


There it is:  the big time.  This is where things could get nasty fast, because the school has been a target in the past, and it could be a target this November day.  Like it or not, this isn’t a game, not by a long shot.  In the history of the story about forty students and instructors were killed eleven years before, and it could get just as bad today.  So . . . let’s be careful out there.

Particularly these two–


Emma and Kerry turned along with the rest of the students, but before they could follow the others they heard Professor Salomon voice ring out loud and clear. “Selene; Starbuck.” They turned and saw her pointed at the ground in front of her. “Front and center.”

Vicky waited until the A Levels were directly in front of her before she spoke to them in a normal tone. “I hope you understand that everything I said about following orders goes double for you.”

Kerry nodded slowly. “Yes, Professor.”

Emma was also nodding. “You don’t have to worry about us.”

“I hope not.” Vicky relaxed so she didn’t appear too intimidating. “I know you guys can fly, and I know you can do what’s expected of you. What I want to make sure of is that you don’t decide to take it upon yourself to do something that I don’t want you to do.”

“That won’t happen . . .” Kerry cleared his throat. “Nightwitch.”

Vicky chuckled. “That’s what I want to hear—Starbuck.” She nodded towards the line preparing for takeoff. “Okay, you two. Get on the line and get ready for take off.”

Emma’s eyes lit up. “Roger, Nightwitch.”

Vicky smiled. “Make me proud.”

Kerry smiled. “We will.” He turned and walked off with Emma for the back of the flight line.


Sure, the last time they were off together they ended up in the hospital.  No chance that’ll happen today–right?  Right?

When they are ready for takeoff, one finds there is always time for a little banter, and the discovery that one of your favorite lesbian witches is also a bit of a geek:


Finally they were the last remaining. They stood next to Professor Sladen, whose gaze shifted from her tablet to the students and back. “You excited, Emma?”

Emma almost bounced on her tip-toes. “Yes, Ma’am.”

“And what about you, Kerry?”

“You know it—” A lop sided grin formed. “Savage.”

Erywin snorted. “I knew you’d recognize my call sign.”

He pointed at her jacket patch. “And your little tin doggie, too.”

“Smart arse.” She tapped her display twice. “By the way, your team call sign is Myfanwy.” She raised her right eyebrow. “You know that one as well?”

Kerry looked off into the distance, his half-grin now a full one. “I promise not to fly off to The Hub.”

Emma was completely lost. “I have no idea what you guys are talking about.”

“English geekness, my dear.” She check her display. “Hover and mount; HUDs up.”


For the information of people who don’t know better, in that short passage was seen the reference of two well-known Companions from Doctor Who, and a certain pteranodon from Torchwood.  It helped that Kerry recognized Professor Sladen’s jacket patch, because geek.

And with that–


Erywin snapped her right arm forward. “Launch.”

They were off the line and rising quickly. Kerry saw the dim outline of a flight route in his HUD. “I have the course.”

“I see it.” Emma quickly glanced over to her wingmate as they banked left. “I’ll watch speed, you watch altitude.”

“Got it.” They climbed quickly and silently into the sky, the air cold against the exposed skin of their faces. Kerry kept the flight line between them, and noticed as soon as they were next seventy meters the color changed subtly from a light white to a pale yellow. “Okay, we’re here.”

“Roger.” Emma quickly scanned her HUD. “We’re right on target for speed. Call it in.”

“Roger.” He lower his gaze towards the ground as he contacted flight control. “Carrier, this is Myfanwy. We’re on the Low Road: altitude seventy meters; speed forty kph. Over.”

The response was almost immediate. “Roger, Myfanwy. We see you on the Low Road. Maintain current altitude and speed. Over and out.”

Emma turned and smiled at Kerry. “Here we are.”

“Yep.” He shot her a quick smile, then turned back to watching the land close to the outer wall slowly slip behind them. “Here we are.”


And there you are:  the chapter is complete.  Preparations are over; now we wait.


Cheer up, Kerry.  You don't have much to do now except go rest in a few hours.

Which are the actual chapter names.  Cheer up, Kerry. You don’t have much to do now except go rest in a few hours.

Anxiety and Affection

Some people don’t like new technology–some don’t like it, period.  Last night I was going to do something with my new video camera, and technology decided to bite me in the butt.  Hard.

"Don't worry:  I totally got the shot.  No problems, right?"

“Don’t worry: I totally got the shot. No problems, right?”

Getting the shot isn’t the problem, though, is it?

"It's an eight minute video--why are you going to hell on me?  Why?"

“It’s an eight minute video–why are you going to hell on me, you demon computer? Why?”

That was me last night.  Every time I shot a video that lasted more than, say, five minutes, the software I was using to download it to my computer had fits.  Lots of fits.  As in, “I ain’t gonna be your coded slave, bitch.  You figure out another way to get this down.  Bwah, hahaha.”

It was very frustrating to say the least.  But, in the end, I figured out the problem and managed to get the first video up to YouTube.  And . . . I may reshoot it, because it was done in poor light.  Hard to say what I’ll do, because by the time I managed to get it up there, I was pretty frustrated by the whole process.  Then again, it’s new for me, so there’s a learning curve.

What this also did was cut into my writing time.  I managed almost seven hundred words, but I’d wanted more.  Tonight I need to go shopping, so that will cut into time–

Oi.  What’s a girl to do?

My kids went to a bonfire after the dance and walked back to the center of the school, so when finally reach a point where they can rest, it’s late–probably the latest they’ve ever been up.  And this happens . . .


(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Rather than take the return portal back to the Great Hall, she asked if they could walk back. Since the temperature was dropping, Kerry asked if she would like to take the tunnels back, but Annie refused; she’d brought the beautiful crocheted shawl her grandmother had made for her earlier in the year and it kept her warm; the path back to The Pentagram was illuminated; and she was wearing flats.  She didn’t see a single problem . . .

She wanted to enjoy the darkness and silence with Kerry by her side, hand in each other’s hand.

Neither broke the silence all the way back to Founder’s Gate. Never once did Kerry even seem as if he were going to speak: to Annie it felt as if he knew she wanted to linger in the quiet night and enjoy the spark between them, and would only speak when Annie was ready to speak. He knows my moods and perhaps my thoughts. Once inside The Pentagram she turned him onto the second left hand garden path instead of entering the Great Hall. She knew it would be cavernous and dark inside; here there was still the abstract indirect light that made walking though the Pentagram Garden at night such an enjoyable and loving experience.

It wasn’t until they were nearly to the opening of the covered walkway leading to their tower than Annie uttered her first words since leaving the bonfire. “Moyata polovinka.” She slowly ran her left finger down the Kerry’s left arm.

He waited until she was finished before responding. “What does that mean?”

“Moyata polovinka—” She stopped the moment they stepped onto the path between Cernunnos Tower and the Great Hall. “My soulmate.” She gently pressed against Kerry and gave him a peck on the cheek. “If you say the last as two words it’s moyata srodna dusha.”

“Moyata polovinka.” Annie thought Kerry’s pronunciation was almost spot on, though the accent needed work. “I like how that rolls off the tongue.”

“You can say it in a much softer, gentler tone, too.” She tugged on Kerry’s arm. “Let’s sit at our bench.”


Our bench, our sofa . . . our time together.  It’s starting to get real serious here, and I’m gonna try to get to that tonight, at some point.  But I’m getting there.

If I’ve not pulled what little hair I have left out by then.

The Calm Before the Seeing

First off, let’s move this out of the way:  after mentioning yesterday that I made a video for the first time, I had, shall we say, a few requests to see me speak.  Oh sure, I’ve presented pictures of myself, but never have I gone and made a fool of myself before one of those talky camera things.  So, today, I’ll upload the video to my YouTube account and present it here for you amusement.  You Have Been Warned.

And I had a session with my therapist, the first since starting my hormone treatment.  She was happy to see me, happy to see I appear happy, happy to hear how I’m moving forward in my life.  She also pointed out a few things she noticed about me, and this is where I do a Law & Order trope and invoke doctor/patient privilege so that I don’t have to go into just what it was she noticed.  While I’m open to a lot of things in my life, that isn’t one of them.

Which brings us to writing.  It must have been a good night, because I ended up just short of twelve hundred words for the evening, setting up a new scene at the Samhain Dance.  I also mentioned yesterday that I’d written six hundred and sixty-six words to finish the last scene, so imagine my surprised when I checked my word count this morning . . .

I believe I've moved into the Condo of the Beast.

I believe I’ve moved into the Condo of the Beast.

I love seeing number like that:  Ms. Rutherford would probably tell me that the Numerologists of the Foundation would find that an auspicious sign.  Given what I know is coming next in the scene, and the following scene, and the following chapter, they’re probably correct.

Onward to the party!



(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“Hope we’re not disturbing.”

Annie looked up along with Kerry and found Professors Sladen and Arrakis standing on the other side of the coffee table. Sladen’s costume was a simple affair: A rather plain halter top and matching brown wrap around skirt that feel to her knees, brown boots, and a braided gold and brown headband used to tie back her hair. She also carried a large fighting stick, maybe a jō, outfitted with leather bands to allow the user better control.

Professor Arrakis was far more elaborate and beautiful. She wore a bright green outfit that looked like a silk dress with a high collar and long sleeves, but Annie also saw what looked like the end of leggings just above her ankles. She also wore a helmet adorned with a feathered headband, and each wrist was covered with large gold wrist bands.

Annie shook her head. “No, Professor Sladen. We’re just sitting here enjoying the dance.” She was glad she didn’t need to raise her voice; there were enchantments in place to keep sound at a lower volume outside the dance floor, so people could enjoy the music and still carry on a conversation. “Please sit with us.”

“Thank you.” Erywin chose the chair to Annie’s left.

Deanna pointed to the empty spot on the soft to Annie’s left. “Would you mind if I sit next to you?”

She shook her head. “No, go right ahead, Professor.”

“Thank you.”

Kerry waited for both women to get comfortable before addressing Professor Sladen. “I recognize your costume—”

The right side of Erywin’s mouth curled up into a smile. “You do?”

“Yeah—where’s your Xena?” He looked around, grinning wildly.

Erywin laughed. “Either in the loo or preventing Armageddon from breaking out. She should be along shortly.”

“But your costume . . .” He looked around Annie at Professor Arrakis. “I have no idea.”

Deanna flashed Kerry a sweet smile. “You mean I’ve stumped you? I thought you knew everything.”

He shook his head. “Not everything. Not since coming here.”

“You have an honest boy there, Annie.” She smoothed down her skirt. “Razia Sultain, first female Muslim ruler in South Asia. She was the fifth Sultan of Delhi for four years, until 1240.”


See?  I not only give you a costume party, but a little history lesson.  And you discover that Kerry doesn’t know everything.

It’s not all fun an games at the dance, though.  As you can see when, as Kerry calls her, Erywin’s “Warrior Princess”, shows up to the party.


Professor Lovecraft walked up, greeted everyone with a hello, then sat in the open chair to Kerry’s right without asking. She leaned back and loudly exhaled her last breath before looking across the coffee table at both instructors. “I’m about to round up all your shieldmaidens and Celtic warriors and dump their asses somewhere north of the Observatory so they can beat the hell out of each other until no one is left standing.”

“Are they getting a big anxious for their annual skirmish?” Each Samhain the girls from the Åsgårdsreia fight team challenged the girls of the Mórrígan fight team to an “Ancestral Battle” fought with mock swords and shields. This had gone on for almost two hundred and sixty years, but in the last five years the lead up to the battle had begun to turn a lot more acrimonious, and it wasn’t unusual for the students to use the “Safe Space” status of the dance—meaning no one could be “called out” to settle their grievance with a real challenge fight inside Gwydion Manor—to start throwing a few non-magical punches back and forth.

“Coraline’s already fixed one broken nose—” She pointed at Erywin. “—that one of your girls threw, Honey.”

Erywin didn’t seem that concerned. She turned to Deanna. “I’m sure it wasn’t that bad.”

Deanna nodded as she he’d heard her fellow coven leader, but didn’t quite believe her. “Perhaps you could discuss protocol once again with them before they are unable to participate in the evening’s encounter?”

Helena nodded then stood. “That might not be a bad idea. I’ll help.” She turned to Annie and Kerry as Erywin rose from her seat. “You look lovely Annie. You’re . . .” She smiled slyly. “Good too, Kerry.”

Kerry almost laughed. “Thanks . . . Xena.”

Helena snorted. “I’m from New Zealand: who the hell else am I gonna come as?”

He pointed at her legs. “Your skirt’s a little long, though.”

Erywin stopped next to Helena as the later gave the skirt, which ended just above her knees, a tug. “Forgive me: I’m modest.” She turned and both teachers made their way through the crowd.


Helena?  Modest?  As with everything here, there’s probably a reason for that . . .

Also, you see the semi-informal school event that I actually blogged about way back on January 13 of this year, something I said I was going to write.  That post also included an excerpt from the first time Annie and Kerry attended Sorcery Class with Professor Lovecraft.  And here she is again, seven and a half months later, breaking up fights between the two groups of energetic fighting witches.  Just like Annie, I keep my promises.

Besides, these girls have been waiting months to kick each other’s butts.

"I'll break more than your nose, bitch."

“I’m gonna break a lot more than your nose.”

"You just screwed with the wrong Sheildmaiden."

“You just screwed with the wrong sheildmaiden.”

The Order of the Wordness

To say I didn’t write yesterday would be misleading, because there were lots of things going on in my head–I simply didn’t put any of that stuff down into the computer.  Nothing to edit, nothing to write.  First time that’s happened in some time.

And the good news is I didn’t freak out.

"I haven't put a single word in my story in ten minutes--my god, the walls are closing in!  Help!"

“I haven’t put a single word into my story in ten minutes–my god, it feels like the walls are closing in! Help!”

Like I said I worked on scenes in my head, mostly for the upcoming Act Two, but I branched out into Act Three a little.  Safe to say I know the ending of this novel–and pretty much every one that happens after this.  I’m nothing if not ready–though some would say, insane.  But there’s nothing wrong with a little crazy, right?

I might also have a few people who’ll beta read part of Act One.  I always fear that, because the last time I sent something out for beta reading the person told me they couldn’t get past the third page, and that I needed to cut the first two parts–without reading any of it, of course.  But I’m thinking about sending out the first part, then if that goes well the second, and then the third part, which is pretty much half of Act One.  Then sit back and wait for the comments to come in.

There is something that concerns me, and that’s word count.  This first book is long . . . real long.  Act One is 140,290 words, which, if I use the Harry Potter word count metric, is just short of both a Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets.  Once Acts Two and Tree are in place, this one story will pretty much end up about the length of those aforementioned novels, plus The Goblet of Fire tacked on for good measure.

Which is the main reason why I decided to publish the individual acts alone:  throwing the whole story out there would be a little insane, and I don’t need War and Peace comparisons.  (For the record War and Peace clocks in at 561,304 words, and I have read it.  You get a definite feel for war in Russia in the winter, trust me.)

But then there’s these guys . . .

We all know George R. R. Martin, he of the “Don’t Get Too Attached to That Character” school of writing.  When you get into The Song of Ice and Fire series, the first book, A Game of Thrones, is 298,000 words.  And that’s the shortest book.  Second is A Feast of Crows, which is three hundred thousand, and they go from there.  Total count for five novels is one million, seven hundred seventy thousand words, and the remaining two novels will crank this up to about two and a quarter million words.

Stephen King’s Dark Tower series started out small, with The Gunslinger ending up fifty-five thousand words–King was probably having a bad day.  The remaining novels in series ran between 170,000 and 250,000, those the last book, The Dark Tower, ended up 288,000 words, bringing the series total to one million, two hundred and ninety-five thousand words.

But if we want to talk about massive word counts, let us head over to the Wheel of Time.

Robert Jordan’s fantasy series is huge:  eleven novels, with the shortest of them being about a quarter of a million words, the saga has a total word count of three million, three hundred and four thousand words.  Now, that brings it in just short of the ten novel series, Malazan Book of the Fallen, by Steven Erikson, which has a total word count of three million, three hundred twenty-five thousand words, but after Jordan died it was decided to bring in another author to finish Jordan’s final novel, A Memory of Light.  Brandon Sanderson finished that novel, and when it was published it was cut into three novels because–have you been following this thread?

A Memory of Light was huge.  How huge, she says?  The book was turned into The Gathering Storm–297,502 words–Towers of Midnight–327,052 words–and A Memory of Light, the original title, and that ended up with a count of 353,906 words.  Let me do some quick adding here, and . . . the final novel in the series was 978,460 words.

A million word novel.  Yeah, I can see that.

Come on, little fella--let's do this!

Come on, little fella–let’s do this!


You throw that into the mix, along with a prequel that’s just over a hundred thousand words, and the entire Wheel of Time series is 4,410,036 words, or 684 chapters, or 11,916 pages of good, fantasy fun.

I should also point out that David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest ran five hundred and seventy-five thousand words, and I seem to remember a lot of people trying to read that–“trying” being the operative word here.  But that sucker sold, and is probably still selling today.

So, is this where I’m heading?  Writing about these kids for the rest of my life?

Well . . . there are worst things that could happen.

The World Beneath the Water

Lets roll out the new from last night, first.  It was “I’m Off Night,” last night, because after dinner and a little shopping I had zero creative energy to sit and do anything.  I knew what I wanted to write, but after a good hour of looking at the story, I finally said, “I think I’ll just sit and relax,” and did that until I started falling asleep at ten PM.  It’s not a bad thing:  sometimes you need to recharge your batteries, and if that means a night off, then take it.  I don’t have anything to do today, so it’s a good time to make up for last night’s lost time.

So what I’m going to talk about today is something completely different, and in the process of this discussion I’m going to bring up some things about a rather well known television show about zombies where no one ever says the word zombie.  There will be times when I’m gonna go all Ms. Spoilly McSpoil, so if you don’t want to read something that’s going to cause you to shake your fist at your computer screen while you scream, “Curse you, Cassie!” through clenched teeth, then read a book, listen to music, or watch some good movies–TCM will show Bonnie and Clyde, Jaws, and Alien back-to-back tonight, so you might want to keep that block open.

I have given warning–you know–

Or is that, "Don't Dead, Open Inside"?  Maybe I should check . . .

Or is that Don’t Dead, Open Inside? Maybe I should check . . .

There’s a meme that’s been rolling around Facebook of late, one that doesn’t actually involve some kid getting picked up for a DUI in Miami.  No, this is a picture of a huge iceberg, floating peacefully along while waiting for a ship to smack into it.  As you know an iceberg is pretty much under the water, a huge thing you never see, which is probably good because you’d likely get hypothermia swimming around trying to get a look-see.

The part above the water–the small part–is labeled “Movie”, while the part below the waterline is labeled “Novel”.  You know what they’re trying to say:  the parts you see in a movie are only a small part of the story that’s adapted from a novel–if, of course, the movie is adapted from a novel, and it’s not an original tale.

But this is often true.  One could point to any of the biggest movies of late–the Harry Potter films, the Lord of the Rings, the Hunger Games–had to leave out a lot of the story to get the tale up on the screen.  For some tales you need to do a four or five hour flick if you want to get everything on the screen–or do as was done with The Godfather, which took the early life of Vito Corleone and worked it up as a flash back around original material.  And in doing this, they still left out a lot of the story.  (Maybe due to threats of a lawsuit by a certain Italian-American singer and actor who’d won an Oscar who didn’t like a character in the novel who was Italian-American singer and actor who ended up winning an Oscar, all with a little help from his godfather.  Purely a coincidence, I’m sure.)

When you translate a novel to television, however, you are allowed a little more leeway, because you have, if you’re lucky, more time to develop your story.  Rich Man, Poor Man was a good example of the early television mini-series, where you could take your time moving as much of the story from the page to the screen, and stay true to the material.  Yes, some things don’t get translated well–maybe due to things that are going on inside a person’s head, or, depending on the times, there are things in the story that violate a network’s “standards and practices,” which is a fancy way of saying you’ll never get a particular scene past the censors.

This is pretty much alleviated by the advent of premium cable these days, where one can pretty much get away with showing so much that the joke has  become, “It’s not porn, it’s HBO.”  Yes, there are some things that HBO won’t show–in A Song of Ice and Fire our lovable Mother of Dragons was more like I’m Just Barely a Teen Mommy of Dragons, so she was aged up just a little for Game of Thrones.  And by “just a little,” I mean she could have appeared on 16 and Pregnant–with DRAGONS!  Which is a reality show I’d watch . . .

Basic cable has gotten into the act as well.  Breaking Bad was a true gem of drama, with a story and characters that was at both times compelling and revolting.  This was, however, an original show, and the story could develop as slowly and fully as the creator/producer liked.  And that brings us to the real iceberg of this tale, The Walking Dead.

"I don't speak with an English accent.  I'm from Kentucky; no one from the South speaks with an English accent."

“I don’t speak with an English accent. I’m from Kentucky; no one from the South speaks with an English accent.”

At the moment the AMC show is three-and-a-half seasons into a four season run, with a fifth promised.  It’s done very well in ratings and has a loyal, sometimes fanatical following, but that’s to be expected with any fandom.  The show follows this guy, Sheriff Rick Grimes, who wakes up from a gun shot-induced coma and discovers that, no, he’s not in Indiana, he’s in the middle of the Zombie Apocalypsetm, his family is missing, and everything he’s known has gone straight to hell.  In the process of the first episodes he finds his family, a group of survivors, and most of all his best-I-left-you-for-dead-and-I’m-bangin’-your-wife-friend and former partner from the force, Shane.

The show has followed the meta plot pretty closely:  they find Atlanta messed up, they find  Hershel’s Farm, they find The Prison, they find The Governor, they fight The Governor, they lose the Prison, and as of right now they’re On The Road looked for each other and safe harbor.  Since it’s been stated they run into the traveling trio of Abraham Ford, Rosita Espinosa, and mullet-sporting Eugene Porter, the metaplot will have them heading northward to the Alexandra Safe-Zone, where life won’t exactly become any easier for them.

I’ve only watched the show off and on throughout the years.  I usually haven’t had the time to watch the show, though these days I find there is more time in The Burg for relaxing, so I have watched episodes off and on.  I’ve also been an off-and-on fan of the comic, which has run since October, 2003, and is now up to Issue 120, with a confirmation of printing through Issue 132.

In terms of iceberging, this story is the perfect iceberg.  There is so much that has been set by the wayside in order to get the story on the screen.  About half of the Prison story was removed, for example, which could have been an entire season in of itself–instead of, say, a whole season of hanging out on The Farm.  That season could have seen Hershel losing two of his kids to his zombie kid in the barn, Tyreese’s daughter and boyfriend messing up their suicide pack, the beheading of Hershel’s twin daughters by crazy prisoners, Tyreese giving Rick a beatdown and throwing him off a second-story walkway, Carol deciding to do Death By Walker–

Wait, what?

Like I said, there were a lot changed to move the story from the comic to the small screen.  For one, they got rid of a few characters:  Hershel had a huge family, and he pretty much gets to watch six of them die almost right before his eyes–the last one, his son Billy, does when he takes a bullet to the head during the Woodbury assault on the prison. There are a few prisoners who make it as far at the Woodbury assault but no further, and one of two Woodbury defectors also meet their end at that point as well.  Dale–he of the famous show’s Dale Face–survives well beyond the Woodbury assault, only to be eaten by cannibals while on the road to Washington, D.C..  He is also the one who loses a leg, but since Dale was long-gone by the time of the show’s Prison Time, that leg bite went to Hershel.

Oh, and the Show Rick swears a lot less than that Comic Rick, but that’s because It’s Not HBO, It’s AMC, and while the show may be able to get away with a “shit” and “asshole” now and then, having Rick throw out the word “fucker” every so often wouldn’t go over well, and tell Michonne and Tyreese that the Woodbury folks “have fucked with the wrong people!” is pretty much HBO fodder.  And there’s a few sex scenes, because even when you’re surrounded by the undead, there’s always a moment for sexy time, right?

"This is my resting bitchy face.  I'm really not as bad as I'm made out."

“This is my resting bitchy face. I’m really not as bad as I’m made out.”

And then there is Lori.

If there is a part of this ‘Berg I find way the hell off, it’s the way a few of the women are portrayed.  In the original story, Lori is concerned, she’s protective of her family, she admits to having had sex once with Shane but no more, she makes it through Judith’s birth, becomes a protective mother–and then dies in about as gruesome a manner as one can imagine.  If it’s any consolation, her death–and the death of another–leads to the death of The Governor, but by that time Lori’s a Walker in Training and gives no shits.

The Show Lori, however . . . when your character is made out as the worst thing in a world full of undead looking to eat you and your loved ones twenty-four/seven, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, until the day you join the shambling herd, there is something seriously off.  By the end of Season Two most viewers, given the choice of having their face gnawed off by a hungry Walker, or having Lori ask them if they saw Carl in the house, would say, “Hey, Walker:  you want a side salad with my face?”  No way was she ever getting Mother of the Year awards, and given the narrowness of that field in the story, it’s a pretty damning indictment for her character.

The same thing was done with Andrea.  On the show she was something of an annoying pain in the ass who got separated from the group, was rescued by Michonne, went to Woodbury, hooked up with The Gov, waffled back and forth with the, “Is he good, is he psycho?  I can’t kill him, the sex was pretty good,” line, and ultimately ended up dead due to her own kind of stupid.

"No, I never shot a redneck by accident.  If I shoot him, he ain't gettin' up!"

“No, I never shot a redneck by accident. If I shoot him, he ain’t gettin’ up!”

This is more the way she really was:  kicking ass and forgetting the names as soon as they were dispatched.  And that scar on her face?  That’s from taking a rifle shot to the head, which sort of kinda put her out of action just a little in the final Woodbury assault.  But, in the comic story, Andrea’s still alive, still kicking ass, and pretty much Rick’s girlfriend at this point.  A lot of her personality in the original story got ported over to Carol, who, on the show, you learned not to be near if you had a bad cough.

I can understand some of the changes that were made:  it’s basic cable, you only have so many episodes in a season that can air, you wanna cut through as much of the Peyton Place stuff as possible and stick to the action, and you never know how long your actors can stay with you, so sometimes you kill off ones where they shouldn’t die, and keep around those who should have died because they’re good for the story, which is to say fans like them, and fans equal viewer, so go with that.

That, ultimately, is why you have the iceberg when you translate a story to a screen.  Reading is one thing, the visual medium another, and a lot of the people doing the viewing aren’t necessary going to be doing the reading.  There are a few exceptions to the rule–Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings instantly spring to mind, as well as a few superhero movies based upon other comics–but in the case of TV, it does seem that you have a lot more people who watch the story, and are surprised as hell when one tells them that what they’re watching was based upon a book, or in the case of TWD, a comic.

It’s an interesting thing to look at from the point of being a writer.  I’ve seen more than a few Facebook threads that go, “If your story is made into a movie, who do you want to play your characters?”  A better question may be, “If your story is made into a movie or television show, what would you be okay with getting changed or dropped?”  After all, your story would end up someone else’s iceberg.

And there’s so much water in which to hide.

Ringside with Buttercup

After all the excitement yesterday it time to rest up, relax, and spend a little time back in at the casa.  Spending four hours on the road can become a tiring experience, so by the time I rolled back to the apartment I wasn’t in the mood to do anything but veg and maybe watch a little television, and hope for a good night’s sleep.

The sleep I got.  The television was pretty lame, as there wasn’t anything good on, so I let it play in the background.  A couple of the flicks on were five hours of BS stuffed into two hours of celluloid, but since everything is digital these days, you can do that with compression.

Oh, and there was writing.  I finally put all my new kids in their respective covens, so no more worrying about who is suppose to be where when I need affiliations.  I also figured out who isn’t returning for their B Levels, because I do think ahead.  I’m like that; always planing for the future of people who don’t exist.

This also means the writing is back on track, with over a couple of thousand words written over the weekend.  The word count total–as the novel finishes up the Chapter Nine Thursday classes and moves into the Chapter Ten Friday morning participation–is one hundred nine thousand, two hundred ninety-nine.  I’ll pop up one hundred ten today, and it would appear, with this short Chapter Ten, and two more to go, that I’ll finish this first episode of Book One in another fifteen thousand or so words.  Yes, one third of a story clocking in at one hundred twenty five thousand words–no problem.  Happens every day.

It’s not a nice return for Kerry, however.  He spent the night in the hospital, and the other A Levels didn’t know what was happening with him.  No, they didn’t rush to his bedside:  this is a bunch of kids who hardly know each other.  No bonds formed here yet.

When he does walk into class–which happens to be “Self Defense for Beginners”–he gets asked how he’s doing.  He also starts getting teased by a couple of boys because when my Dark Mistress of All hauled Kerry off to the infirmary, he was doing a bit of the moaning and crying thing.  One even went so far as to tell another girl who was sticking up for Kerry that “sure, you’d cry, that’s what girls do,” and ended up getting all the female types in the room to shoot death laser eyes at him, thereby insuring he’ll never date an A Level girl at any time during the next six years.  (As a side note, the girls in the school outnumber the boys by a little more than four-to-one, something that Kerry pointed out with great glee.  Yes, at Salem, It’s a Girl’s World–and they will let you know it.)

How does Kerry deal with this?  He turns to Annie and starts quoting lines from The Princess Bride.  Fortunately for him, she’s seen/read it, and she start quoting what she remembers, and they end up playfully chasing each other around the huge, open room with a sparing mat in the center.

Kerry doesn’t say that quote.  You know which quote I’m talking about, don’t look at me like that.  That’s not one of my favorite quotes of the movie, and just like in the flick, it gets said over and over so much in real life that when I hear it I just sigh and pretend I’m atomizing the person.  No, the one I prefer is when he yells, “I want my father back, you son of a bitch!”, due in part to the intensity Mandy Patinkin delivers.  He admitted that when doing the scene he was reminded of his own father’s death, and the memories were getting to him when he uttered his lines.

Besides, I almost always think of Mandy as Rube Sofer from Dead Like Me, the middle man for the Reaper who always meet at Der Waffle House to discuss what souls they’re going to take for the day.  Rube, who is always trying to get Death to stop in for dinner and who swears at him when he doesn’t like something on the list of people they’re taking before they die.

"This job is killing me. Yeah, I went there . . . (checking list) Whadday say your name was?"

“This job is killing me. Yeah, I went there . . . (checking list) Whadday say your name was?”

And who tries to offer words of wisdom to new Reaper Georgia, who’s first assignment is to take the soul of an eight year old girl who dies in a train derailment, and decides not to, that it would be better to let her live:

Dead Like Me: Pilot (#1.1)

George: If you want her to die so bad, you do it!
Rube: [angrily] I can’t, no one can except you. Death is non-transferable, she’s your mark. Only you can do the deed.
George: Well then, barring any unforeseen accidents, I’d say she has another eighty years.
Rube: Yeah, well you believe me, that’s eighty years she doesn’t want.
George: What is that supposed to mean?
Rube: Her fate was sealed the moment she got onto that train. Her soul expired. You know what happens when you keep a soul around after its time?
George: No.
Rube: Same thing happens to milk. It spoils, goes bad, souls go bad in all kinds of ways.
George: But…
Rube: [continues to speak in quiet anger] If you’re having trouble comprehending the severity of the situation, why don’t you consult Webster’s on the definition of bad? If you don’t take her soul, it’s going to wither and die and rot inside her. I’ve seen it happen. Do you wish to condemn her to that?
George: [crying] She’s just a little girl. She can’t die, it’s cruel!
Rube: [gently] It is cruel. It’s cruel she won’t know what life’s really like. It’s cruel that she’ll miss out on so much love and pain and beauty, and that’s sad for everyone in the world except for her. She won’t give a rat’s ass, she’ll be doing something different. That’s just the way it is.

Good ol’ death, always a comfort.  And the Reapers will show up at Salem soon enough.

You can bet on that.