Dancers in the Dark: the Dance Begins

Here we come, already, to the almost end of Chapter Twenty-Five.  There was a lot going on over the weekend, and I actually did get a lot done, and spent a lot of time on the road as well.  You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but for most of Saturday I wasn’t even online, save for those periods early in the morning when I was doing my Saturday blog post.  And not sleeping.  Hated that part.

That part is over, however:  the last two nights I’ve gotten pretty good sleep, and even this morning I don’t feel as if I’m drugged.  Though I think the walk to work is gonna be chilly, since it’s only 37 F outside–

Hey, that’s pretty much the same temperature as the outside when I wrote this scene.  I know ’cause I looked it up.  Which is why the scene starts this way . . .

 

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

The door leading to the lower level open and two students stepped into the Cernunnos Tower ground floor commons. Anyone still awake in the tower would have recognized them right away for they were almost always the last ones to leave the Midnight Madness these days, but no one else was on the commons floor at thirty minutes after midnight.

Annie and Kerry slowly made their way towards the stairs at the other end of the commons floor, but before they could turn and ascend to their rooms, Kerry stopped and lightly tugged on Annie’s hand. “Do we have to go up right now?”

Annie didn’t need much coaxing. “We could sit in front of the fire.”

“What’s left of it.” The fireplace was enchanted so that it would begin burning out not long after midnight every night. Kerry led Annie over to the sofa; he sat first, then waited for Annie to sit next to him before he pulled her close for cuddling.

“It’s still warm, though.” Annie liked how Kerry was now taking initiative when it came to romantic gesture. Not that he hadn’t before, but since his declaration of love after the Day of the Dead, he’d begun doing things—like this suggestion they not go up to bed right way—without needing hints first. “And you’re keeping me warm.”

 

Kerry:  Keeping Annie Warm Since a Couple of Weeks Before.

I would have tried to find a picture with a boy in here as well, but most were of the "Too Sexy" varaity.  So, just imagine Annie in a few years after she's sent Kerry off to some magic story in another country, and she's killing time waiting for his butt to return . . .

I would have tried to find a picture with a boy in here as well, but most were of the “Too Sexy” variety. So, just imagine Annie in a few years after she’s sent Kerry off to some magic story in another country, and she’s killing time waiting for his butt to return . . .

Though the truth is he’s done that before–sometimes without even being asked.  But things are different with him now, particularly since he laid the “I love you” bit on Annie.  He must be feeling the vibe a little more.

Of course Annie thinks he has something on his mind, because he’s been quite tonight.  She then has to ask about what’s on his mind.  And . . .

 

She received an answer, but it wasn’t the one she expected. “The dance.”

“The Samhain dance?”

“Yeah.” Kerry touched his cheek against her hair. “It’s been almost a month now.” He chucked softly as he stared into the fire. “I miss dancing.”

Annie turned so she could see his far and figure out if he was joking: he wasn’t. “You do.”

“Yeah, I do.” He closed his eyes for a moment. “I’d never danced with a girl before; it was . . . special.”

“It was special for me as well.” She turned back and was staring into the fire along with Kerry. “I’d never danced with a boy before, nor did I have anyone dedicate a song to me and then dance with him—alone—in front of everyone there.” She felt a tingling in her head. “I still get a little light headed thinking about that moment.”

Kerry slipped around Annie and stood. He faced Annie, and with the fire to his back his entire front was cloaked in shadows. “Dance with me?” He held out his hand for Annie to take.

She looked up, and the tingling in her head intensified. “There’s no music.”

“We don’t need any.” His hand remained outstretched. “Dance with me, Miss Kirilova?”

Annie took his hand and allow him to assist her to her feet. “I would love to, Mr. Malibey.”

 

I’d keep an eye on those titles they just threw out, because . . . you might hear them now and again?  Isn’t that called foreshadowing?

They must be about to get into trouble.  Yeah, that’s it . . .

Count the Ways to Count the Story

With NaNo right around the corner–less than two weeks to go now–one of the key points that comes up again and again is, “How do I track my word count?”  It’s an important thing with NaNo, because you gotta run that 1,667 words a day count every day, or you’ll fall behind quickly.  The reality it, however, that when you write you usually have a need to know about how much you’re writing every day, and how big your story is becoming–or how many more words you need to write to turn a novelette into a novella.

Keeping track of your word count in easy in Scrivener, and there is a great deal of flexibility when it come to knowing the counts of scenes, chapters, parts, and even the whole novel. I do that to track my current novel, and I’ve used it with all my other works.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

The easiest way to keep track of your progress come from using your Project Targets.  This is done from the menu, using Project>Project Target, or by selecting Ctrl-,.  I show these all the time on my screen shots, and here is my current view.

I know, it feels like I'm bragging.

I know, it feels like I’m bragging.

Project Targets allow you to set the size of your story–the Manuscript Target–and how much you want to write while Scrivener is running–the Session Target.  Something to keep in mind here:  a session is the time that Scrivener is up and running.  If you bring the program up, type in 800 words, then close it and bring it up again later, the session bar resets:  it doesn’t track what you type in a day.

You can see that the pop-up window allows you to define your targets for both the full manuscript and how much you want to write.  Now, there is a bit of a cheat with the Manuscript Target:  notice the check box, “Documents Included in Compile Only”?  Yeah, that’s an important item.

Let’s first look at this screen, which is of one of my chapters in the recently concluded Part Seven:

I don't miss you, you monster.

I don’t miss you, you monster.

Over on the right you’ll see the column, “Include in Compile.”  Compile is the function that Scrivener uses to take all the stuff I have on the screen in front of me and turns it into a document of your choosing.  Such as–

I take all of Part Seven--

I take all of Part Seven–

Press the “Compile” button . . .

To 149 pages of awesome.

And turn it into 149 pages of awesome.

Whatever you have ticked off as “Include in Compile” will be converted into whatever you like by Scrivener.  It’s a great way to not only control what you print and create, but track your wordage.

But if you’ll notice, that’s a check box under your Manuscript Target.  With my story I have everything in Act Two–the part of my novel I’m currently developing–checked for Include in Compile, but everything in Act One is turned off.  Why?  Because I want to check my progress for Act Two only.  However, if I uncheck that box–

Now it really feels like bragging--

Now it really feels like bragging–

Everything in the manuscript–see the very top left of the Binder–is included.  And you can see how my progress bar jumped from the orange of Act Two–which is only about half way to the three hundred thousand total of the manuscript–to the bright green of “I’m almost to the end.”  Numbers and colors help you visualize where you are in the writing process.

You can see that even better when you are tracking the progress of your document.  Let’s look at the last scene I completed and check out the lower right hand corner of the screen.

Right down here.  See?

Right down here. See?

Click on that little dot and you’ll get another pop-up that allows you to set the total wordage for the document you’re working upon at the moment.

Three thousand seems like a good number.

Three thousand seems like a good number.

Hit Ok and you’ll see the following pop up at the bottom of your screen:

Look--new stuff!

Look–new stuff!

That first number–the 2,152–that number id always there–just look at the picture above.  Now you have your target number to the right of what you’ve written, and there is a progress bar next to the button, which is now red to indicate you haven’t reached your goal.  Once you do, that dot turns green:  trust me, it does.

This is also a great thing for keeping track of your progress if you’re bring up Scrivener and closing it several times during a day.  You can either keep everything in one document that you’re working on for the day, or adjust the target number as you go from document to document.  Easy Peasy.

Last of all, we can look at our Project Statistics, which you can find on the menu under Project>Project Statistics, or by selecting Ctrl-..  Scrivener will give you a snapshot of your identified manuscript–using your Compile and how you set up things under your Option tab–and what you may have selected in your Binder.  Here I’m identifying Act Two as the manuscript, and I’ve selected Part Eight.  So I bring up my stats, and . . .

Act Two seems quite the page turner.

Act Two seems quite the page turner.

Just so you know, I have my pages set up on my Option tab as three hundred and fifty words per page, so that’s how Scrivener figures that my Act Two is 370 pages long once you figure in the page breaks for Act, Part, and Chapter headings.  Not quite A Dance With Dragons, but I’m getting there–with fewer deaths, too.

There you have it:  so many ways to watch your counts.  Now all you gotta do is write.

The Shadow Teaching

It’s way early right now, like five AM early, because I didn’t sleep at all.  Well, a little here and there, but not as well as I would have liked.  And I can’t make coffee this morning, so somewhere along all my driving today–yep, I’m out on the road once more–I gotta find some java.  And then a couple of rest stops along the way.

A question came up last night:  what’s you’re current word count.  Well, now that I have two of three scenes finished for Chapter Twenty-Five, it’s pretty easy to say, “I’m right here now.”  That’s means a couple of screen graphics are in order.  First, where am I with the Act?

Yep, right there.

Yep, right there.

And there where am I with the novel?

I'm at a point between foolishness and total insanity.

I’m at a point between foolishness and total insanity.

I’d mentioned, just off hand, that I’d hit somewhere around 280.000 words, and I was right there in the ballpark.  This makes me believe that Act Two will likely end up somewhere between 150,000 and 160,000 words, or just slightly longer than Act One.  And if Act Three is about the same . . .

Yeah.  Madness.

With that in mind, what’s the madness going on in my kid’s private lab?  Annie’s impressing Kerry with the thing she made for him–sort of . . .

 

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

Kerry wasn’t quite sure what to make of the . . . ribbon floating before him. “It’s pretty—” He gave Annie a puzzled look. “What do you call this?

“It’s called a shadow ribbon—at least that’s what the spell is called.” She waved her hand to her left and the ribbon moved to Kerry’s right, then up and over his head, to finally float back down on his left and settle back where it had started. “You can make them as big or small as you’d like, and once I know how to work this spell better, I can control more than one at the same time.” She nodded at the animated shadow. “Go ahead, touch it.”

He ran his fingers over the wavering ribbon. I shouldn’t be able to touch this, but I can. “It feels like silk.”

“Light and flexible, yet strong—just like it.” She came closer and placed her hand next to Kerry’s. “I’ve actually see people use these to suspend heavy objects from walls and ceilings.” She removed her hand and performed a quick circular motions with her outstretched index fingers. A moment later the ribbon partially wrapped itself around Kerry’s right wrist. Annie slowly waved her right hand off to one side, and the ribbon lifted Kerry’s arm away from his body. “I can use it to take you were I want you to go.” She chuckled, her eyes shinning brightly, happy that she could show off her abilities to her soul mate.

Kerry chucked as well. “It’s not like you need magic to have me go somewhere with you.”

“That’s true for now . . .” Annie waved both hand and the shadow disappeared into nothingness.

 

For a young lady who’s just starting out at a school for advanced students who can bend reality, she’s able to crank out the crafting.  And someone is noticing . . .

 

“Most sorcery is fairly blunt force in its application: shadow magic requires a deft touch to craft correctly. Lovecraft said it was like the different between punching holes in walls to working with rice paper.”

“I saw how you were working with it.”

“Yes.” Annie nodded. “Light touches everywhere.”

“That was pretty obvious.” Kerry smiled broadly. “I don’t know why Lovecraft was so surprised, though: she should know by now you’re really good when it comes to this stuff.”

“Well . . .” She blushed thinking about how Professor Lovecraft had asked her a couple of times if she had actually done Shadow Ribbons before, since she was able to craft a ribbon on her third time, and it had taken her weeks to manipulate her first one.

“After all—” Kerry stepped next to her, taking Annie’s hand. “You are my Dark Witch.”

“Stop.” She brushed her fingers down his chest in mock anger.

“And now you’re the Dark Shadow Witch.” He laughed, and Annie joined him a moment later. “I don’t understand why this is sorcery, though. I would imagine Wednesday would teach this to us.”

“It’s because it can be used against people.” Annie took Kerry’s left wrist in both hands. “As light and silky as that shadow felt, I could have tightened it until . . .” She pretended to pop his hand off his arm.  “It would have been easy to amputate your hand.”

“Glad you didn’t.”

“I’d never do that to you . . .”

She didn’t say about doing it to anyone else. “I know.”

 

Yeah, she never said anything about lopping off someone else’s hand.  You know, like nosy wingmates who are asking personal questions of your soul mate . . .

But that’s for the future.  Annie has something else in mind at this very moment–

 

Annie studied Kerry closely for almost twenty seconds. He said nothing, but she expected that: he’d grown used to watching her observe him. She though about how he’d looked when she’s created the ribbon, and how acted when she maneuvered it around his body and wrapped it around his wrist. It won’t hurt to ask . . . “Would you like to learn how to do this spell?”

Kerry’s eyes beamed. “You’d ask Lovecraft if she’d teach me?”

“No.” Annie’s eyes beamed back. “I’d teach you.”

“Wait . . .” He brows furrowed. “I thought you have a sorceress’ bargain with her so you could access the library in the Witch House?”

“I do.” Creating a bargain had been a requirement before allowing Annie into The Black Vault. “The bargain says that anything I learn in The Vault I can’t pass on to others—” She tapped Kerry on the chest. “I think that was designed to keep me from showing you everything I learned.”

He’d figure that as well after she explained the deal she’d worked out with Professor Lovecraft after she’d shocked Kerry into the hospital for the night. “What’s different now?”

“I didn’t learn this spell in The Vault.” Annie turned her eyes up towards the ceiling for a few seconds. “This isn’t the first spell I’ve learned, either—And none of them I’ve learned in The Value.” A slight, playful grin played across her face. “Lovecraft won’t let me practice any spells in The Value. She says it’s too dangerous.”

 

Now we reach the part of the program where Annie, after almost three months in the joint, decides it’s time to step up the game and start passing along what she knows to her significant other.  Though it would seem as if the wonderful Mistress of All Things Dark left a big opening for Little Miss Dark Witch to do just that.  And she’s realizing it, but . . .

 

It could be she wants to see if I’m going to take what I’ve learned and pass it along to him. She gazed deeply into his eyes. But this is something he should know—something I want him to know . . .

She made up her mind in an instant. “I want to teach this to you.”

Kerry chuckled and turned his gaze towards Annie’s feet. “I don’t know; I think—”

“Kerry.” He snapped his heard up and met Annie’s burning gaze. “You’re a good sorceress. Lovecraft said so, and I say so.” She ran her right hand down his arm. “It’s time you became my Dark Witch.”

 

No shits are given–she wants her own Dark Witch.

And we all know by now:  what Annie wants, Annie gets.

Shadow Lab

The action in the story returns to the somewhat infamous lab my kids have in the sub-levels of their home away from home, Cernunnos Tower.  And, for the first time in two chapters and a dozen scenes–I know because I counted them–the scene is told from Kerry’s point of view.  That’s unusual, but given that he spent nearly the time in one chapter in a coma, expected.

This time, however, he’s only sleeping on the sofa in the lab when Annie shows up with great news.  Well, she’s happen he at least wakes up, but there’s better news:  she learned a spell!  And she wants to show it to him.  What’s it all about?

Shadows.

Different shadows, guys.  Sorry.

Different shadows, guys. Sorry.

And it makes up a good part of what I wrote last night:

 

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

Annie stepped near the mid-point of the table and looked about the room as she adjusted the ambiance. “Lights, low.” The lighting dropped to something akin to the illumination they would have with a low fire. Annie moved towards a collection of shadows in the corner farthest from the sofa. “This is what you can do with shadow magic.”

She stood before the collection of shadows and spread her hands out before her, as if she were smoothing out an invisible sheet. She did it twice more, then began making a pattern on the invisible sheet with her fingers. Annie continued laying out her pattern, then slowly lifted her hands the slightest bit—

A section of the shadow darkened and coalesced before it parted from the rest of the mass and floated towards Annie’s outstretched hands. The section was maybe a half a meter long and ten centimeters wide, but from where Kerry stood, it seemed as if whatever his sweetie had created had no visible thickness.

The segment of shadow hovered a few centimeters from Annie’s fingers. She didn’t look away from her creation as she brought up the light to medium illumination; while the other shadows grew dim in the brighter light, the one hovering before Annie remained dark and solid.

She skimmed the shadow through the air towards Kerry and brought it to a hover about twenty centimeter in front of the amazed boy. Annie lowered her hands and approached. “How do you like that?”

 

Short and sweet, with a bit of a lead-in about what Kerry was working on for Ostara.  Actually, I’m trying to keep them all short and sweet at this point, but there are still a lot of scenes to write–and one or two that might just get the ax before I get to them.  I’ve got one in my sights right now . . .

You can guess which one of these, 'cause there's no guessing with me.

You can guess which one of these, ’cause there’s no guessing with me.

That’s my evening and I’m sticking to it.  I have something in mind for tomorrow, and since I’ll be on the road most of the day I’ll likely need to write that tonight.  And since I have to run out and fill up my silver beast . . . I know just the place to do that.

Out of the Transept and Into the Vault

Part Seven, the longest day in this school’s history–and it seems like the longest one in my writing history, too–is finally over.  The Wednesday Night Panera “Dine and Write” went well, oh so well.  I managed to close out the scene, which in turned closed out the chapter, which in turn closed out the penultimate part of Act Two.  So long, you Day of the Dead.  It was nice knowing you.

There are moments in your life when you want to cheer that you had a job well done.  This is one of them.

There are moments in your life when you want to cheer that you had a job well done. This is one of them.

And what happened in the final part of the scene, where Deanna looked about ready to rip Annie a new one?  You can find out for yourself . . .

 

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

Deanna leaned against the railing. “In all the years you knew your Kerry, did you ever imagine that he would become a witch? Or a sorceress? Did you ever imagine that you’d both go to school together? That this Normal boy would become as good as spell crafting as you, a witch whose lived with magic all her life?”

Annie glanced at her soul mate and realized a truth that had eluded her until this moment. “No.”

“Did you even wonder if it were possible?”

She shook her head. “No.”

“And yet, here he is alongside you at all times: in your coven where you sleep, in the Dining Hall when you eat, on the grounds as you walk, and in your classes where you learn. Even in the air along side when you fly.” Annie blushed at the mention that she had been flying around the school grounds with him on the weekends. “And let’s not mention the Midnight Madness, where you both are so close as to be inseparable . . .

“Let me as your opinion on another matter: we don’t know for certain what happened yesterday when Kerry rescued Emma. We know he was hurt, and we know he manage to draw it away.” While her smile remained friendly, Deanna’s eyes bored down into Annie’s feelings. “Imagine that it was you instead of Emma. You know your Kerry: what would he have done?”

Once again Annie glanced down at him, only this time her view didn’t waver. She continued staring in his direction, watching him sit with his hands in his lap, staring straight ahead, watching students as they walked through the large expanse.

Deanna didn’t wait for Annie to answer, because she knew she was afraid to say what she knew. “He’d have fought that creature for as long as it would have taken to know you were safe.”

Annie looked away from Kerry and nodded slowly. “Yes.”

“He would have fought that Abomination—something he’d never seen before—until either it, or him, or both of them, were dead.” Deanna leaned towards Annie, her voice cold and merciless. “You know this.”

Annie said nothing, for the seer was right: she knew Kerry well enough from their years together that, as he’d stated not that long ago, that she was everything to him, the most important person in his world. If there was anyone he’d do everything in his power to protect, it was her.

She finally looked up and slightly raised her eyebrows. “Yes. I know this.”

 

Annie does know this, too, because if you believe her hype, she’s known Kerry most of her life.  There’s no guessing with her:  she’s really certain that, as Deanna suggests, Kerry probably would fight some Lovecraftian creature to the death to protect her.  Because he’s that way.

And then Deanna lays this on our spoiled little girl:

 

Deanna nodded. “Maybe he doesn’t remember your dreams; maybe he doesn’t remember all the time you’ve already spent together; maybe he doesn’t remember that he loved you before you came to Salem. But he is your Kerry, and he loves you now. Actually, you have something special . . .”

“What’s that?”

“He’s fallen in love with you again. You: a girl he didn’t have any idea existed before you met him a little over two months ago. Without knowing a thing about you, he stood by your side, he spent his nearly every waking moment—and not a fun unconscious moments—with you, and he’s pledged his love to you.” Deanna finally turned so she could see Kerry sitting below, waiting for Annie. He looked up and waved; Deanna waved back. “In almost every way, he is your soul mate.” She turned her head and smiled at Annie. “There are a lot of people here who are envious of you, young lady. The first time they hear him say he loves you, they’re going to become jealous.”

Annie was facing in Kerry’s direction as well. She didn’t take her eyes off him. “That’s their problem, not mine.”

Deanna chuckled. “As I would expect you to feel.” She lowered her gaze and her voice took on a consolatory tone. “I’m sorry I called you selfish.”

“Well—” Annie sighed softly. “I was being selfish.”

“You’re in love; you’re allowed to be selfish now and then.” She stepped back from the railing and motioned for Annie to follow. “Come on; I want to say hello.”

 

I ended the scene pretty much there because to include anything else was to drag it out.  We know the kids did a great job, we know Kerry’s hurt, we know Annie’s pretty much happy and will find herself growing happier.  So th-tha-tha-that’s all, folks!  No more Attack Day.

But wait!  There’s more!

Damn right, because then I jump into the first chapter of Part Eight and not only started the scene, but eighteen hundred words later, I finished it.  It was probably the best day I’ve had writing-wise in a while, and I was well into NaNo word count territory, because I ended the evening with about twenty-three hundred words total.  (I managed almost five hundred words on the nose finishing up the last scene.)

We’re over to The Witch House now, and Annie’s down in The Black Vault, the area where all the pretty dangerous material on sorcery is kept.  (And if you want to know:  yes, the really dangerous material on sorcery is keep in the Library in the under-lock-and-key-and-spells Special Section which is protected by wards, enchantments, and Mr. Parkman.)

 

Helena pointed to the empty spot on one of the bookshelves. “Because a volume is missing, and it’s a companion to the other three volumes by Gilaromey.” She shook her head. “I know The Vault inside and out, and have pretty much memories the locations of every volume here.” She laid her right index finger against her lips and cleared her throat. “That way if when I need to look something up, I don’t have to go searching.”

“Makes sense.” Annie also suspected that Helena had probably put The Vault together, and was the one to determine where every book was place.

“So . . .” Helena positioned herself next to the still-sitting student and kept her eyes locked on the volume in Annie’s lap. “If you’re reading Gilaromey, you’re reading up on shadow magic.”

Annie looked up, chuckling. “Nothing escapes you, Professor.”

“Gilaromey is the expert on shadow magic, and required reading for anyone whose interested in mastering that particular craft.” She reached down and checked the title on the spine. “You’ve skipped the theory and went right for the practical application.”

“I’ve read Matters of Light and Darkness.”

“Why am I not surprised?” Helena waved over another chair and positioned it next to Annie’s, though she was careful to keep about a meter between them. She sat and made herself comfortable before saying any more. “Shadow crafting is the most difficult thing for a sorceress to learn, much less master.”

Annie had heard this mentioned before, but was never given a reason for this belief. “Why is that?”

“You said you’ve read Light and Darkness, yeah?”

“Yes.”

“What does he say about darkness?”

“That most sorceresses deal only with what is real, and that darkness isn’t real—it only appears real to the senses.”

Helena nodded. “You got it. Darkness is nothing more than the absence of light, which means it only exists when light doesn’t. If magic—particularly sorcery—is meant to be the manipulation of what is real, then how can one control something that doesn’t actually exist?” She held out here arms and groaned as she stretched. “It’s a concept that a lot of great sorceress couldn’t ever get.”

 

Now we’re talking:  a couple of sorceresses getting down into some strange magic.  And they do chat about it, and it comes out that Annie’s sort of in awe of Helena’s life, since she learned a lot of sorcery when she was like seven and eight, which is something that happens when you mother and grandmother are pretty bad ass sorceresses as well.  But Helena’s laughing this off, because from where she’s sitting, her life wasn’t that amazing.  In fact, it had a lot of sucko moments:

 

She pushed herself deep into her chair, looked up and sighed. “Let me tell you a story: we had chickens on our estate because my mother had a thing about using fresh eggs in her cooking. While we had setting hens, we also had a fair number of clucks walking about that were meant for the dinner table.

“When my mother felt like chicken, she’d go out, point at a bird, and Blood Hammer that bastard. Boom! The head not only blew right off, but the hen usually bled out on the spot. Hey, better butchering through magic, right?

“When I turned eight I was told that I would take over the duties of Family Hen Killer, and I would need to learn the Blood Hammer spell. But rather than have my mother teach me, she handed me over to my grandmother for tutoring—only because she was the Queen of Morte. If there was killing to be done, Grandma was the one to handle the deed.

“I start learning Blood Hammer from her, and I sucked at it. Yeah, she had their version of our practice dummies, but after a few days of practice she started me out on chickens.” Helena started guffawing while remembering her trials and tribulations. “At first I don’t do shit to these birds, except cause a few to pass out because I’ve got too much blood to their little chicken brains and they can’t handle the stress.

 

“Honey, go out and use some magic to kill a couple of chickens.  We have company coming over!”  They should have gotten the house elf to do that . . . oh, wait:  wrong world.  And it’s sort of assumed that when Helena says “estate”, she’s not talking about some suburban bungalow:  she’s probably talking a very nice joint where she grew up.  With chickens.  Whose heads exploded from time to time.

Then she talks about how she screwed up one spell and literally made a chicken explode.  No exaggeration:  the way she tells it there was a fowl mess all over the yard.  Get it?  I know . . . well, apparently someone else didn’t get the joke, either:

 

“I’m laughing my ass off, and then I get this hand grabbing me by my hair, and my Grandma is dragging me off to a quiet part of the yard where she proceeds to beat the shit out of me. She never laid a hand on me, didn’t have to: it was all combat spells, like that bloody Air Hammer you’re learning to control.” She looked down as she twisted up the right side of her face. “She wailed on me for close to five minutes, and when she was done she just turned around and headed back to the house. I laid there for about ten, fifteen minutes, then managed to get to my feet and walk to my room. I passed both my mother and Grandma in the kitchen, and neither said a word to me.

“I didn’t say anything for a couple of days, not until Grandma came back to continue the lesson. The first thing I asked was why she tore into me like she did, and she told me, ‘While that may have seemed severe, it’s nothing compared to what you would have felt had that spell Backlashed.’ I got it right away: you screw up a death spell, and the Backlash from said spell could kill you.” Helena finally raised her head and looked at Annie. “I never screwed up a spell that bad again.”

Annie wasn’t sure if she should say something or not. She’d never heard of any such cruelty like that in her family, but she didn’t discount that maybe, perhaps a few generations back, someone on either side of her family may have done something similar. I don’t know how I would have reacted if Mama had done something like that to me. But there was one question she had to ask . . . “Did you learn Blood Hammer?”

“Oh, yeah.” Helena grinned and nodded. “Got it right later that day, and took over the chicken killing duties the next day.” She laid her crossed hands upon her lap. “Was pretty good at it, too.”

 

There you have it:  the Mistress of All Things Dark started out as the family chicken killer.  Just point and Boom!  I got your chicken, Mama!

The end of Act Two really is in sight now.  And by tonight I’ll be at least half way, or maybe more than half way, through Chapter Twenty-Five, which isn’t a big chapter, but it’s setting things up for the next chapter, which is the month down the road that Annie is thinking about–and which is not making her happy.  I’ll get to that when . . . well, when I get to it.

Writers be writin' . . .

Writers be writin’ . . .

Above in the Transept: the Conversation

It’s now getting down to the End of the Act.  The last scene of the last chapter of Part Seven is more than half done, and what remains are Part Eight, four chapters, and maybe fourteen scenes.  These will get knocked off during NaNo, and in the very last moments of the very last scene of Act Two, you’ll be introduced to a character who is going to change the lives of a couple of kids a lot more than any of the instructors have. over the last few months.

Just a hop, skip, and a jump over from November to the End of December, and right into the end of January.

Just a hop, skip, and a jump over from November to the End of December, and right into the end of January.

There’s a conversation in the East Transept, one between Annie and Professor Arrakis, who seems to be popping up in these last few scenes.  And what is this transept you speak of, Cassie?  If you look at any old cathedral, they’re the “wings” that stick out of a building to make it look like a cross.  The West Transept of the Great Hall is where the Security Center is located:  the East Transept, as indicated in the scene, is the location of some of the offices used by the instructors, and it’s also where you’ll find the Headmistress’ Office.  The first floor on this side is unusual in that there’s a cutout in the middle of the floor, and one can look down upon the students coming and going out of the East Entrance–perfect for an instructor laying in wait for someone coming from classes there, or where they can spy on them walking through the Rotunda.

One East Transept, coming up.  Annie's in there somewhere . . .

One East Transept, coming up. Annie’s in there somewhere . . .

What happens in this conversation?  Just as mentioned the professor sees them walking in from the East–they wandered though the Pentagram Garden, around the south end of the Great Hall, and back up north towards Mórrígan Tower, and while Kerry is resting, Annie is talking . . .

 

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

Professor Arrakis had moved away from the Rotunda railing and was standing along the north side of the transept that led to the offices for some of the instructors that needed an office that was more accessible to students. Deanna stood close to the wall facing Annie as she approached. “Thank you for coming.”

“You’re welcome, Professor.” Annie wasn’t sure why she was being summoned, but she figured it was best to let the professor start the conversation.

Deanna did just that. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine.”

“And Kerry?”

“He’s . . .” Annie didn’t want to lie. “Not completely healed. He started limping after our walk around the garden.”

“But is he feeling well?”

“I think so.” Annie looked over her shoulder towards The Rotunda, but from where she stood it was impossible to see him. “He seems in a good mood.”

“I think we’re all glad he wasn’t too affected by what happened yesterday.” Deanna didn’t dwell on those matters. “So . . . has anything out of the ordinary happened with you both today?”

She knows something happened, but she doesn’t know what. Annie almost chuckled, but held back the urge at the last moment. “Yes, something did.”

Deanna raised one of her dark, expressive eyebrows. “Are you going to tell me, or will you keep me in suspense?”

“Kerry told me he loved me.”

 

So seers don’t see everything, though we do know that Deanna felt something would happen between them the night before, and that it would extend into today.  But there’s something else that Deanna missed which is still fresh in Annie’s mind.

 

Since Professor Arrakis was asking questions, Annie had to believe that she wasn’t aware of what happened in the bay last night. “Professor, Kerry remembered one of our dreams last night. The memories are still there.”

“That’s good then, yes?” She turned her head slightly to one side as if listening closely to Annie’s words. “That’s something of a breakthrough as well.”

“Yes, but . . .” Annie looked away as she clenched her fists. “He doesn’t remember any of it now. I thought he might, but it didn’t happen.” Annie moved a little closer to Deanna, shaking her closed hands before her. “The memories are there—why doesn’t he remember them?”

 

As one might say, “Again with the questions about the dreams.”  Annie won’t let it go, and now that she knows he remembers something, she damn sure wants to get to the reasons of why.

Unfortunately for Deanna, she asks Annie to wait and be calm and see what happens.  Annie doesn’t want that, and for the first time in the story we see an Annie that has only been hinted at, mostly be her:  we get the Annie Who Gets What She Wants.

 

Annie’s head snapped up as he gaze bored into the Seer. She wasn’t about to let someone else tell her what was and wasn’t important. “I want my Kerry back. I want my Ginger Hair Boy, the one who I shared dreams with for years, the boy I grew to love, the boy who loves me. I want him, Deanna. I want him to—”

Veruca Salt’s got nothing on this girl.  Boyfriend’s got memory’s locked up inside his head and they won’t come out?  Screw it:  “I want it now!”  This is the Annie here parents have seen, but who has never appeared at the school before now–

Unfortunately for Annie, my Iraqi Seers isn’t her parents . . .

 

You selfish girl.”

Annie immediately stopped speaking and stared dumbfounded at the Divination instructor. She saw a Deanna that was contrary to the woman she’s known these last two months. She towered over Annie; her face was a mask of disapproval, her dark eyes hard and unwavering—

And Annie had driven her to this moment.

Deanna walked around the now stupefied student, then turned and cocked a finger at her. “Come with me.” Annie followed her to the railing overlooking the Rotunda. Deanna turned and motioned her to a point in front of her. “You stand there. I’m going to talk, and you’re going to listen.” Deanna’s voice unfroze and went back to what Annie has always seen before: a calm, pleasant, cheerful woman. But the tone of her voice remained the same, indicating her appearance was for show. “You can smile and nod your head, make it look as if we’re having a nice conversation—but at the same time I want you to keep an eye on that boy sitting in the Rotunda: the one waiting for you . . .”

 

And that’s all you get for today.  I wrote almost twelve hundred and sixty words last night, and I’ll finish it up tonight and maybe even start on the next scene of the next chapter–something to do with shadows.

Can’t wait to get to that.

Good News Day

Monday–yesterday–was another of my long, “I’m on the road and can’t really get anything done” days.  I had to visit my HRT doctor, and it’s a nearly two-and-a-half hour drive to her office–I’m in The Burg and she’s off in the Swamps of Jersey–so there’s a bit of driving.  A lot of driving, actually, and it’s pretty much heavy traffic the whole way there and back, not including the rain I was in last night.  Needless to say, by the time I returned to my hovel at seven-thirty PM, it was hard to get worked up for anything in the way of writing.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good day yesterday . . .

See, my visit was to go over my labs, which I’d taken a couple of weeks before.  Lab work is important, because you don’t want to worry that what you’re doing to your body is killing you.  And it can . . . Bit of full disclosure here:  back in April and May of 2014, this year, I was on a DIY hormone regiment for about six weeks.  I did it because I wanted to get on them, and as I always do, I dug into my research and figured out just how much I could handle without hurting myself.

Wrong thing to do.  I stopped taking the hormones right before I started my lab work, and didn’t get back on them until I started my injections.  One of the thing my lab work discovered was my iron and some of my liver functions were way the hell off.  The liver function was due to taking oral hormones (after you’re fifty they break down in your system differently and are metabolized by your liver as well), and the iron came from mistakenly taking a women’s vitamin, which are full of iron that I don’t need.

The moral of that story is don’t do meds on your own.  The other moral of the story is that in April I was pretty much an emotional basket case because of lady hormones taking over my body, and let me tell you, it wasn’t fun.  It also makes me understand far better the sort of hell women go through from time-to-time, and makes me want to slap guys with large, smelly tunas every time I hear them say, “Wow, you’re moody today.”  Hey, try this stuff for three months, dude, and tell me how you feel.

But the news yesterday was good.  Hormone levels are where they should be; liver function is good save for a slightly elevated bilirubin, which may or may not be genetic and/or affected by my lack of a gall bladder, my weight is continuing to drop, and even my blood pressure was down a bit–and while still high, it wasn’t up in the hypertension range.  It was all great news.

That's why I look so happy here--glowing even, as some people say.  I'll take that.

That’s why I look so happy here–glowing even, as some people told me yesterday. I’ll take that.

It’s back to the writing tonight.  Today I’ll ponder over some of the comments I’ve received concerning Annie’s and Kerry’s relationship.  It seems as if there are a few people who thing something bad is going to happen to them.  Since I already know everything that’s going to happen to them, I’m sort of sitting here smiling and thinking, “How are they gonna feel when I get to this scene?”

But really:  nothing bad happens.

Well . . . nothing too bad.