Let Us Gather ‘Round the Reading

Here’s the thing:  about a week back I started playing with this video stuff, because why not?  All the cool kids are doing it, right?  The first one I put up in Facebook got a big response, and it got an equally good one here.  Then I kinda said something along the lines of, “You know, maybe I’ll put up a video of me reading from my novel.”  Really, I didn’t think people would take me seriously–

Ha!  Hahaha!

"And now we come to the part of the story where Walter White blows up a nursing home.  Are you ready?"

“And now we come to the part of the story where Walter White blows up a nursing home. Are you ready?”

If there’s one thing I’ve discovered, it’s that once you say something like that, it’s put up time, and you better be ready to go.  I decided that, you know, it might be fun to try at least once, and in the process I’ll learn along–like, you know, I might need a mic for some of this stuff.  But there’s the learning curve, yo, so don’t get to hatin’.  It’s all good fun.

Here it is, then:  I’m gonna lay it out for you.  This first video is an introduction of the Foundation and Salem, and a little about my two main characters.  It’s done late, about nine PM, after a long day of trying to upload a twelve minutes video and discovering that the software I normally used freaks out when that happened, and I had to get some other software.  This was one of those “learning curves” I was mentioning.

Video One:  The Intro.

 

The rest of the videos were performed on 30 July, 2014 (the one above was done on 27 July, 2014).  The second video sets up the where I am in the story before I start reading.  All I’ll say at this point is that it takes place during the Samhain dance.

 

Video Two:  The Setup.

 

Now, if you’re curious about what Annie and Kerry were wearing at the dance–and I know some people were–why, I have access to the same Internet that Kerry has, which means I can find the same things he does . . . though I’m sure he can use The Foundation’s search engine and get results a lot quicker.  Here you are, kids:  feast your eyes.

Though Annie isn't showing near that much cleavage.

Though Annie has a far different . . . necklace.

Yes, they went as Malcolm Reynolds and Inara Serra as seen in the Firefly episode, Shindig.  As stated earlier in the story, Annie’s gown didn’t show as much skin in the front and the back, but was otherwise a duplicate of that.

Now we get to the reading.  Since I didn’t want to deal with a long video that might take forever to load, I cut the reading into two parts.  Some of the sound quality may be iffy–after all, I’m not used to reading my own work out loud–and I did stumble in a few spots.  But you should still be able to follow along.

Here you go:

 

Video Three:  The Reading, Part One.

 

Video Four:  The Reading, Part Two.

 

And at the very end, I do a wrap up explaining something very unusual about this scene, and something that will likely surprise you.

 

Video Five:  The Wrap-up.

 

And since I don’t like to leave any stones unturned, here’s the song dedicated to Annie as she would have heard it on the dance floor of the Great Hall of Salem, echoing off the walls as she slow danced with her moyata polovinka while nearly every student–save for those making gagging motions at such a romantic display–and instructor looked on:

 

Like I said, that Annie’s, she’s a lucky girl.

 

Since I’m writing this the night before I post, I can say, “Back to writing tomorrow.”  And that’s when I start to get my George R. R. Martin on and get ready to kill some students.

Ya gotta show these kids who’s boss around here . . .

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.

Renumbering ‘Tween the Bonfires

Before I get to the writing, I think I should make this official:  I now have a new video camera.  After breakfast I was like, “I gotta break up the routine a little,” and decided a new camera was just the thing to help me out with my multimedia experiences.  I’ve already charged it up, recorded, downloaded to the computer, uploaded to YouTube (sorry, none of the test videos are there), and presented one on Facebook.  I have this so down, trust me, though I might even play with getting things set with an SD card reader, just so I can make things fast.  Maybe.

Oh, and I visited two stores in order to find one pair of shoes I wanted, so also did the totally woman thing with my shoe shopping.  Yes, I rule.

There wasn’t a lot of writing accomplished last night, because it seemed like there were few times when I could write without interruption.  It was one of those moments in time when everyone had something they wanted to say, and they were saying it to me.  Not only that, but my mind wasn’t really focused on the task at hand, either:  I was trying to pulled out the purple prose to describe an event happening to my kids, and it wasn’t happening.  Maybe it was due to the interruptions, or maybe my head was someplace it wasn’t supposed to be.  Either way, I made four hundred and fifty words and called it a night.

Oh, and I also discovered that in the last three weeks I’ve written just over twenty thousand words.  How do I know that?  Shhh–spoilers . . .

But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t hard at work on the story.  You know that, “I’m always thinking about my story,” thing I’ve mentioned from time-to-time?  I was deep in that yesterday, and I began thinking:  I have a big event coming up right after Samhain, but not right away.  However, with this event in Kerry’s life–the one I’m calling his “Four Nights”–it would make sense if the second and third nights were, you know, closer together–

Allow me to explain.

These four nights have a profound effect upon Kerry’s life.  He’s already had the first one, that night in the hospital an week and a half before, story wise.  The Second Night is happening right now in the story:  the events of Samhain.  Now, the third night takes place the night of the attack, and it affects both him and Annie.  (The Second Night does this as well, but not in the same fashion.  First Night was actually initiated by Annie, but she doesn’t know that.)  In keeping with my little nudge at Shakespeare, Fourth Night happens some months off in the future, after the kids come back from Yule holiday and a few other things have taken place.  That one will rock both their worlds–

But we’re not there yet.

I decided that since Second and Third Nights are going to affect both kids, and affect them hard, it would make more sense to place them closer together.  So I pulled out my time lines and moved The Big Time up a week, to 1 November.  Because I can.

See how easy that was?

See how easy that was?

It’ll make for a more interesting time for my kids, particularly for Annie, who’s going to enter some tough times in the next couple of days.  But really, girl, I’m not doing it to be mean.

You want mean?  Here’s my second video.

Running on Sights

Long night–or should I say morning?  Was feeling a little emotionally out of it when I went to bed, and then I wake up at like three in the morning and having trouble getting back to bed because I’ve got a song stuck in my head and my dreams had me chased by the undead.  And as soon as I manged to fall asleep–zombie dreams come after me.  What did I ever do to them, other than have a couple of my students whack the hell out of them?  They should learn to mellow out.

Yesterday I said I’d post the video I made for one of my Facebook groups the other day, and when you get to the end of this post you’ll see it and a bit of my messy, somewhat stark abode.  But that’s at the end:  there are other things in between.

So three instructors arrive, two leave, and Annie is sitting there with Kerry and Professor Arrakis, and then this happens:

 

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

Annie was going to make a comment about the departing instructors, but Emma chose that moment to hurry over and stand across the coffee table from them. “Hi, um . . .” She turned to Kerry. “Would you like to dance?”

Kerry froze for a few second, his eyes locked upon Emma. “Um, yeah . . .” He cleared his throat twice, casting a sideways glance at Annie before continuing. “Um, I was, uh . . . I wasn’t planing on dancing—”

Annie jumped in to save her nervous boyfriend. “Kerry, go ahead. I don’t mind.”

He quickly turned to Annie as if to make certain she wasn’t playing with him. “You sure?”

She lightly touched his left hand. “Go ahead. I want to speak with Professor Arrakis anyway—” She leaned closer to him as she lowered her voice. “Girl talk, you know?”

He nodded. “Got it.” Kerry quickly rounded the table and joined Emma. “Okay, let’s do this.”

Annie was careful to note as the two walked away that he didn’t touch Emma—he placed his hand close to her back but never made contact—and kept her to his right as they headed for the dance floor. She’s not to his left; I’m the only one who ever walks on his left

 

Emma:  still being a buzzkill.  Though Annie did let he walk away with Kerry and she didn’t throw a spell at her back before she vanished into the crowd.  Because she’s talking “girl talk” with the School Seer–

 

“You were surprised.”

Annie looked straight ahead. “Yes.” She turned her head just enough to see her. “I was.” She finally turned her body enough that she wasn’t uncomfortable looking at the instructor. “I wasn’t expecting to hear him nearly tell Emma that he wasn’t going to dance with her.”

“He was going to say more than that; he was about to tell her that he wasn’t planing on dancing with anyone but you.” Deanna slid around so she was resting between the back and arm. “He’s changed.”

“Yes, he has.” She looked for him on the dance floor, then decided she trusted him enough that it wasn’t necessary to keep an eye on him.

“Quite a lot after his accident a couple of weeks ago.” She looked over her shoulder also searching for Emma and him. “His night in the hospital must have had a profound effect upon him.”

Annie didn’t want to speak of that night in the hospital. She didn’t want to speak of her anger at him, of her after-hours apology, and of the moments she spent in the near dark watching him sleep. Though she wanted to talk . . . “He’s so different tonight. Kerry’s always been attentive, but tonight he’s noticed so many small things . . .” She looked off to her right, towards the exit into the East Hallway. “He’s been so complementary tonight. Telling me I’m lovely, I’m beautiful . . .”

“You’re waiting to hear something else, aren’t you?”

Her eyes flickered over the seer. “Yes.”

Deanna nodded. “Perhaps—” She turned to watch the students dancing. “—he finally feels he’s worthy of giving you love.”

Annie’s attention snapped back to Deanna, her eyes filled with curiosity and interest. She knew it wasn’t an accident that the professor spoke nearly the same words that she’d spoken to Kerry that night in the hospital, telling him he was worthy of her love, and deserved all that she felt for him. “What do you know, Professor?”

 

Forget it, Annie.  you aren’t getting anything out of her.  That’s what it means to be a seer:  you have all these secrets you have to keep . . . and Deanna Arrakis is very good at keeping them.  This is going to cause a little back and forth between the instructor and Annie, but if you think Annie is going to learn her future while sitting at the Samhain dance, guess again.

I’m going to work on this scene right after this post goes out (at the moment it’s 7:10 AM, so figure before 7:20), because my afternoon is going to be way busy and I need to get my writing in where I can.  And I want to finish this scene and get then next going because there is fun coming, I tell you, fun!

The next chapter is nothing but laughs!

The next chapter is nothing but laughs!

Since a lot of you asked for it, here’s my video.  I’ve been asked in my Facebook group to do readings of my work, and there’s a very good possibility that’s going to happen.  For now, however, enjoy this.

 

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.”

Let the Real Dance Begin

The strangest thing happened yesterday:  I made a video.  Really.  Not very long, just under four minutes, but it’s me, dressed pretty casually–like sweater over my pajamas casually–and I’m saying hi to a lot of women I know in a certain Facebook group to which I belong, and I’m talking about me and a little about my writing.  There was a time, even before my transition, that I’d never show my face anywhere:  I didn’t like taking pictures, and I never did video.  Now I’m sort of like:  eh, let’s just do this thing.  Actually I’m sorta like:  hey, I should do more.

Just one more thing to add to my multimedia empire.

I don’t know if this is a portent of something good or bad, but I wrote six hundred and sixty-six words lasts night.  Well, it is a Samhain dance, so you can excuse me if that number comes up and people are bothered.  Am I bovveed?  Do I look bovvered to you?  Actually, I’m at 668, so that makes me the Neighbor of the Beast, and they’re coming over tomorrow night for cocktails.

But seriously.  I managed to get out my video, get out my writing, watch a little television–which is probably why my word count was down–and even chat with people.  All in a night’s dealings.

But what about Annie?  Let’s see that gown.

 

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

Her gown was satin, the color of soft, creamy gold. It was sleeveless with keyhole shoulder pads, and she wore matching fingerless lace gloves on each hand. The gown pulled in slightly at the waist and spread away in a modified semi-tight A line. The original design of the gown has a plunging V line in the front and a scoop back; the back on this gown was normal, which the front dropped only low enough to allow her heart pendant to rest against bare skin. “Thank you, Nadine. I . . .” She leaned against Kerry. “It was all his idea, really.”

Kerry looked down as he grinned. “But you’re the one that makes the gown look good.” He brushed the back of Annie’s right hand. “I just thought about what would be nice.”

“Either way, you’re both killer.” Nadine continued to admire Annie. “I like the changes you made with the outfit, too.”

“I wanted something a bit more modest.” She touched her necklace. “I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing the original design.”

 

By original design she means wherever Kerry saw the outfit and got the idea.  She lets Mr. Geeky find the outfits, and she just does the alterations.

But there’s something else going on here:

 

“It looks better this way.” Kerry took Annie’s hand, raised it to his lips, and brushed a kiss against the back of her fingers.

Annie’s blush began spreading beyond her cheeks to her entire face. Kerry was his normal self throughout the day, but from the moment he saw her in this gown, his demeanor changed completely: he was attentive to her every need, he seemed to become more protective—and far more loving. Like now; Kerry wouldn’t have kissed me that way a few weeks ago

 

Ah, yes:  maybe Mr. Geeky is starting to get his feelings together  We might find out except for . ..

 

“Hey, guys. Hey, Kerry.”

Annie felt her stomach drop just a little as Emma walked up and spoiled the moment. There were many things she wanted to say, but as most of them were mean, she kept them in her thoughts. Though Kerry didn’t appear disappointed, he appeared to deflated slightly. Annie felt something float away from him—from them both, actually. It was the first time she’d felt this between them and wondered if it had something to do with the heightened magic permeating the grounds.

Kerry was polite to Emma, though. “Wow.” He didn’t move from Annie’s side, but did turn and twist his head as if he were taking her in from several different angles. “You decided to go all in on this, didn’t you?”

 

Emma:  buzzkilling relationships since two weeks before.  One day she’ll do that to the wrong witch–the wrong Dark Witch, I’m thinking–and she’s gonna have to watch her butt closely.

Here’s what I have:

Hey, looks different, doesn't it?

Hey, looks different, doesn’t it?

I’ve finished the entry into the dance, renamed the bonfire section, and altered the last part that I’d added.  The times are more in sync with what’s going to happen, too.  I’m doing this because, in my mind, I know how I want this chapter to now play out, and this is it.  Three little scenes, but I now know how they go.

Now for the magic to continue.

Magically Distracting

First off:  thanks to everyone who commented on yesterday’s picture, which, if you weren’t aware, was from the movie The Craft, which brought to life the notion that if you wanted to do magic, you needed to be an emo-goth girl and learn how to do the sexy walk in slo-mo.  Most of the comments were to remind me that there was a show with witches on television called Charmed and that I could have showed them some love as well.  Guess what?  I am.  Here they are.

Though it took me a while to find a picture that didn't have them magically keeping their breasts inside their silky tops.  I kid.

Though it took me a while to find a picture that didn’t have them magically keeping their breasts inside their silky tops. I kid.

Actually, I’m pretty sure there are a few witches like these ladies at my fictional school.  You know:  driven women who won’t take crap from anyone once they discover their powers.  And since my school is pretty much a school for young girl run by the Matriarchy, they grow up fully in charge of their lives, ready to not only take on the world, but to reshape it to become a better place.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to write as much as I would have liked last night.  There was a friend who was having a problem, and I was there lending as much of a hand as I could, while I was also conversing with a couple of other people at the same time.  This kept my word count to just under five hundred words, most of which I present to you below:

 

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

In many ways the hall didn’t look much different from a normal Saturday night leading into the Midnight Madness. There was sofas, love seats, chairs, and tables everywhere, though the beds were away for the night. The instructor’s area was, for the most part, missing, and the podium before the fireplace supported a table with a mixer and three computers feeding music to unseen speakers. The center portion of the floor in front of the music podium—an area maybe twelve meters by fifteen—acted as the dance floor, where currently maybe forty students moving to a song Annie didn’t recognize.

Everyone visible was in costume, even the instructor. Annie saw Professor Semplen, wearing some kind of older military uniform complete tall hat and sword, chatting with professor Salomon, who was dressed in something hard and futuristic that Kerry pointed out looked like powered armor. Headmistress Laventure was decked out like a cross between a Victorian lady and a person with mechanical parts. Wednesday and Isis Mossman were dressed casually, almost like high school girls, though Isis—who was now blond instead of her normal brunette—wore a pouch with sharpened stakes around her waist, and Wednesday’s hair was auburn, her top had long, flowing sleeves, and she wore a pentacle necklace. Kerry whispered that he thought they were Buffy and Willow, which meant nothing to Annie, but she thought they did look nice.

They had managed to walk to the far end of the dance floor when they were approached by Nadine, who was wearing a dark pink bodysuit, lighter pink leggings, dark pink boots and gloves, and what looked to Annie to be an incredibly uncomfortable head band. They stopped before each other and spend a few moments looking each other over—though it seemed most of the looking was occurring between Kerry and Nadine.

He was the first to break the silent stalemate. “Having a good time, Wanda?”

Nadine nodded. “As best I can, Captain Tight Pants.” She turned to Annie, a big smile on her face. “Annie, I love that gown. You are simply gorgeous.”

She blushed, because even though she knew she might receive complements, she wasn’t used to hearing them. Even though she knew they were true . . .

Her gown was satin, the color of soft, creamy gold. It was sleeveless with keyhole shoulder pads, and she wore matching fingerless lace gloves on each hand. The gown pulled in slightly at the waist and spread away in a modified semi-tight A line. The original design of the gown has a plunging V line in the front and a scoop back; the back on this gown was normal, which the front dropped only low enough to allow her heart pendant to rest against bare skin. “Thank you, Nadine. I . . .” She leaned against Kerry. “It was all his idea, really.”

 

Yes, she is.  And I hope you picked up on the clues for their costumes.  I’m sneaky that was.  Extra points if you can figure out the Headmistress’ costume.

I’m hoping to get re-energized tonight, to get into the dance an rip off a thousand words.  Then again, I did write up a two thousand word blog post yesterday–that you can find here–so I suppose I can’t be blamed for only getting down five hundred words in my novel.

Dammit, though:  I need to do better there.

Enter Samhain

You know the hardest part of doing today’s post?  Trying to find pictures of witches that are, you know, sexy, or taken from movies where the witches are, you know, sexy.  And not named Hermione.  It’s a pain, I tell you.

Like this. Annie could kick the asses of all these poseurs now.

Annie could kick the asses of all these poseurs right now.

One of the interesting things about writing up a scene at a Samhain dance is figuring just how crazy you can get.  You’ve got your normal witches, you have people with “super powers”–haven’t seen many of them, but there are a few, like Isis, who can fly without invoking magic to do so–you’re got a fair number of great sorceresses . . . and then you have the transformation experts who are making the costumes and changing the bodies.  If you’re a master transformationest, like Jessica, you’ll find yourself pretty busy for the few days leading up to the dance.  At Salem, when you say you want a makeover, you’re liable to come out the other end a whole new person.

And it’s not just the dance, but a busy day all around . . .

 

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

Growing up Annie had heard many stories about Salem’s Samhain celebrations. She heard about how all the students participated in a fall cleaning of their rooms, which involved dusting, sweeping, and changing of their bed sheets, which was something usually left to housekeeping. As much of the dirt and dust was bagged, and the students were required to take the small bags and leave them outside the coven tower entrances, where they were collected and sent off to be consumed in the two huge bonfires in Selena’s Meadow.

Breakfast and lunch were turned into a brunch starting at seven-thirty and lasting until ten-thirty. This was due to the Samhain Races, which started at noon and usually went on for three hours. Unlike other race days, all coven teams paired off to race each other for five lap heats on the Blue Line. Since there were five covens, most of the races were elimination heats that continued until the two teams that had won the most heats finished with a ten lap race alternating between the Green and Blue Lines. Not only was it a huge day for compiling team points, but many pilots saw their individual point standing change for the better—or worse.

The Samhain Feast began at sixteen sharp and went on until seventeen-thirty. After that the students hurried back to their towers and prepared their costumes for the Samhain Dance, which many saw as a glorified Halloween dance, but as the tradition had been in place since the nineteen-thirties—when the dance was then known as the “Guiser’s Celebration”—it was felt there was little need to change things now.

 

No trick or treating here; it’s all serious business, and probably a lot of quick healing at the hospital when someone crashes and burns, which tends to happen when you’re racing Class 1, 2, and 3 PAVs and a racin’ deal goes bad.

Though I managed almost seven hundred an fifty words I didn’t get into the dance proper.  That’ll start happening tonight.  I did get as far as this:

 

They stepped into the room and were greeted by Head Chef Agnes Piña, who’d transformed herself into a beautiful silver android. She turned to the assembled crowd and made the announcement that Kerry had emailed into the staff earlier in the evening. “Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Annie Kirilova and her escort, Kerry Malibey.” She nodded at Kerry. “Mr. Malibey, I need you to surrender your weapon.”

Annie watched Kerry undo the heavy belt around his waist and hand it over with the authentic looking pistol still in the holster. “I’ll need a receipt for that.”

 

Kerry with a pistol:  that’s a dangerous situation.  At least he checked it at the door . . .

No matter how crazy you think you can get things, a lot will be left to the imagination.  I’ll do my best to channel the madness, but the real focus is on my two main characters, and a few interlopers here and there.

There’s a lot more magic going on here than meets the eye.

Twilight in the Night Ward

It is done:  Chapter Seventeen is done, finished, first drafted.

See all those "First Draft" labels?  I don't lie.  Much.

See all those “First Draft” labels? I don’t lie. Much.

In the last scene written Annie got caught, but the punishment . . . well, it’s not all that hard.  Really.  Nurse Coraline is a big softy.  Not only that, but Annie admitted something that she wouldn’t tell Kerry–probably not ever–but she would admit to another woman.

 

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

“It’s not just that, Nurse Coraline—” Annie hated to admit to anything bothering her; it wasn’t her nature. And it wasn’t like what she was about to admit to bothered her a lot, but given her current situation, she knew what she was about to say wouldn’t go beyond the person listening. “Kerry always sees me to my room. He’s the last person I see before getting ready for bed. And . . . we’re the only ones on the floor. Even though he’s on the other side of the tower, it’s comforting to know if I needed him, I only have to knock on his door.”

 

Now we know that there’s always a “Good Night” given somewhere on the First Floor of Cernunnos Tower, and that Annie had to go to the hospital to get hers that night–but that’s not the same, is it?  Doesn’t really have the same, loving impact that holding hands and giving someone a kiss and telling them “good night” before heading into your room to fall asleep has. Which is probably why Annie is back on the ward because . . . well, she has her reasons.

And Coraline has to lay down the law.

 

“Okay, Annie.” Coraline patted the girl’s shoulder. “Here’s what’s going to happen: first, consider this a warning. The rules I have about sneaking into my hospital are there for a reason, and I don’t like seeing anyone break them—even people I like. Should this happen again, there’s gonna be detention.”

Annie glanced down and nodded once. “It won’t happen again.”

“That’s good, because you don’t want detention from me.” She didn’t bother waiting for the question from Annie. “It’s always the same: you’re sent to clean up the morgue. In the lower levels. At night.” She slowly raised her eyebrows as she smirked. “No one ever wants a second detention from me.”

Annie met Coraline’s stare. “I don’t want a first.”

“Then don’t sneak onto my ward again.”

“I won’t.”

 

Yeah, girl, this is crazy, but you just snuck onto my ward floor, so how about heading down to the morgue at eight-thirty PM and doing a little dusting maybe.  No bodies lying about, but that doesn’t mean the place hasn’t been used.

But the Head Doctor/Nurse isn’t a total meanie:

 

“I believe you.” She slid her hand behind Annie’s shoulders and directed her back down the ward corridor. “Now, second: I’m gong to to walk you back to your tower—” She felt the girl stiffen under her fingertips. “I’ll see you into your commons, and I’ll give you something that will help you sleep. And I’ll watch you take it, just to make certain you have—”

Annie hung her head. “Yes, Nurse Coraline.”

“—after you spend some time with Kerry.”

Annie looked up, absorbing what she’d just been told. “Really?”

“Did you think I wasn’t going to give you at least a little time with him?” Coraline stopped in front of Kerry’s curtained-off bay. “Like I said, Annie, I’m a romantic, too. If I’d had a boyfriend in the hospital when I was an A Level, and I felt about him the way you feel for Kerry, I’d have probably risked detention to see him.”

“Thank you, Nurse Coraline.” Annie was genuinely touched. She knew Coraline was upset with her rule breaking, but she also sensed the honesty behind her actions. “How much time do I get?”

“I’ll give you thirty minutes.” She half way slid back the bay curtain and spoke softly. “I’ll come and get you when time’s up. No one will bother you, so Team Annie—” Coraline grinned broadly. “—can have enough time to comfort her sleeping boy.”

 

Team Annie.  Because only pervo vampires sneak into someone’s place of rest and sit their watching them while they sleep.  Nurse Gretchen already called Annie out on this, saying she was getting into some “strange Twilight stuff” with that, but that’s okay with Annie, because . . .

 

Annie sat and moved the chair as close to the bed as possible without scrunching her legs against the frame. She knew it likely seemed strange to both Gretchen and Coraline that she wanted to sit and watch Kerry sleep, but she felt that since she couldn’t share their dreams together—for whatever reason—this was the next best thing.

 

If I can’t see you in my dreams, I’ll do the next best thing.  Which means it must torture her to sleep across the tower from Kerry and not be able to do the same.  You can draw any conclusions you like . . .

But do it fast, because Samhain is up next, and believe me:  Halloween dances at a school full of witches and gifted kids might just be a lot of fun.

Anatomy of a Sneaky Girl

Well, now, it’s another day, it’s another Sunday, it’s another “The weekend is almost over” feeling.  We do this all the time, and it’s not a bad feeling–not as long as you do something with your time.

What did I do?  A lot.  Oh, yeah, writing, too, but I was doing a lot of other things as well.  So many that by nine PM I was falling asleep.  That’s an indication I was hard doing . . . something.  It’s not all just sitting on my butt in front of the computer.

Though it’s close . . .

If there’s one thing I have learned about Annie, it’s that she gets what she wants.  She’s explained that she’s been called “selfish” for this attitude, but she’s just a girl who knows what she wants, and she’ll keep at it until she gets it.  Or she just does whatever the hell she feels like doing, which is what she’s sort of doing now that she’s away from her parents and off to school with her Ginger Haired Boy.

What happens when he’s in the hospital and not sleeping across the tower from her?  What does she do when visiting hours are over?  What do you think?

 

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

Pushing open the door to the hospital waiting room slowly, Annie peeked in to see if anyone was present. The room was empty, as she’d expected, so she used the moment to slip inside and eased the door shut. She stood still for almost ten seconds, waiting to see if Nurse Gretchen came out of Coraline’s office, or from out of the ward. When she found herself still alone she moved ahead.

Annie knew what she was doing was wrong, that it was after visiting hours and sneaking onto the ward was going to be frowned upon. She also knew that using the Light Bending spell she’d learned in Transformation Class to allowed her to enter without being seen was also going to be viewed in a dim light.

She was facing a lot of detention to do this.

She didn’t care. She wanted to sit with Kerry for a little.

 

 

Who needs an invisibility cloak when you can just bend light around your own bad self? That’s a problem with this school: witches be roaming the grounds at all hours, sneaking into places they aren’t suppose to be.

Then again, all the instructors graduated from this joint, so what do you think that means?

 

She decided to move the chair between the beds so she could sit next to him for a while. If Nurse Gretchen walked in she could always jump up and get out of the way before she moved the chair back into place, but Annie considered the possibility of the night nurse walking in on her slim. It wasn’t like Kerry was a specialty patient in need of constant observation; he had only a broken ankle and a damaged knee. Unless he woke up and called for the nurse—

There was a tap on Annie’s right shoulder.

She turned and found no one there. A moment later the dim outline of a taller woman appeared, and within seconds the outline constituted into the form of Nurse Coraline. She cocked her right index finger at the invisible and motioned for her to come along. Annie dropped her Light Bending spell and followed Coraline into the corridor and to the far end of the ward where she’d held her conversation with Professor Lovecraft weeks before.

 

Coraline, she don’t miss a trick, and seems to know the same magic. She also knows something else:

 

Coraline didn’t bother with a privacy screen; she went right to the chastising. “First off, I have to say you really mastered that Light Bending spell that Jessica showed you. She told me Kerry and you both had it down pat, which doesn’t surprised me one bit.” She crossed her arms, trying to look as stern as possible. “What Jes didn’t tell you is while you can hide your physical form just fine, it doesn’t do a thing to disguise your aura. Which means you pretty much stood out like a beacon to me.”

“You were waiting for me?” Annie was surprised that her presence was expected. “Did Professor Arrakis say something?”

“Annie, I didn’t need a seer to figure this one out. The first time Kerry did an overnight you were in to complain that you were having ‘trouble sleeping’, and, oh, can I sit with Kerry for a few minutes? Then you were in just after visiting hours were over because you told Gretchen that you had to ‘apologize’ for something.”

Coraline shook her head. “No, no way. I figured you’d show up and it’d be a good idea if we had a chat. Of course, I didn’t imagine you were going to sneak into my ward . . .” She twisted her mouth up into a scowl. “There’s a half-dozen ways we know if someone’s coming into the hospital; even pretty much invisible, you still set off three of them. Just for future reference, in case you want to try this again.”

 

Here’s a woman who’s serious about kids sneaking into her hospital. Haven’t written the part up yet, but you never want detention from Coraline, because she’s a bit twisted when it comes to handing out punishment. And it’s not scrubbing bedpans, because there aren’t that many in this place. At least not used . . .

"Nurse Coraline, I don't know if I like the idea of using others for magical experimentation . . . what do you mean, you didn't say 'others'?  Why are you looking at me that way?"

“Nurse Coraline, I don’t know if I like the idea of using others for magical experimentation . . . what do you mean, you didn’t say ‘others’? Why are you looking at me like that?”

The Moment of Forgotten Love

I’ve written about love before, both times in stories set in a science fiction world I created over twenty years ago.  Actually there was a third story set in the same world that dealt with love, wanted and unavailable, and getting through that novel was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, because in pulling that story out of whatever crevasse of my mind held the damn thing, I also pulled out a lot of feelings that I’d not touched upon for a while.

You may have noticed I’m doing the same thing here, only . . . it’s a different kind of love.

The new scene I added to the novel was finished last night, with only a touch fewer than six hundred words needed to bring it to a conclusion.  After Annie’s profession of undying love, there weren’t a lot of places Kerry could go in his mind, wondering just what the hell this Girl From Bulgaria meant.  If I can figure it out, I’m sure he can . . .

 

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

“As would I.” Annie smooched Kerry on the right cheek, very near his lips. She lingered there for a few seconds, savoring the kiss. “Goodnight, my love.”

He folded his hands across his lap. “Night, Sweetie.”

She paused at the curtain. “See you in the morning.” She blew him a kiss, then departed.

Now alone, Kerry thought about the things Annie had said. He wasn’t all that interesting in her apology, or the information about her father—he continued going back to her talk of her love for him, and how she would love him—

He wanted to say “forever”, but it was more than that. And every day, as long as you live, you’ll hear me say those words to you. That was what she said. She wasn’t talking forever, not like someone would if they were talking about a long, indefinite period of time for which they didn’t know the end.

Annie said as long as I live. As long as I’m alive

From now until the day I die.

 

Yeah, dude, you’re getting it.  It’s easy to say, “I’ll love you forever,” because it’s a bullshit expression that runs out when the love does.  When you say, “As long as you live,” you’re setting a time frame for the object of the affection, saying you’re going to be their one and only until they kick this mortal coil, naturally or otherwise.  (Kerry needn’t worry that Annie’s gonna go all Dark Witch and plant his ass in the ground with some black magic–yet . . .)

Basically, she just set the limits for how long soul mates should exist.

And that brings out something else in Kerry . . .

 

But her saying that he deserved love—no one had ever said that to him before. Sure, his grandparents said they loved him, and when he was younger his parents told him the same, but it had been a long time—since leaving San Francisco—that he’d had anyone say “I love you, Kerry.” He’d not heard it from his father or mother. He’d not heard it from anyone else, because in all of Cardiff no one else was close to him.

The only person in the last five years who’d told Kerry they’d loved him was Annie. She was the only one who thought him worthy of her love—

Have I ever returned that love?

He lowered his head and a few stray tears dripped into his glass lenses. Why hadn’t he? Was it because he was unsure of his feelings? Was it because he didn’t know his feelings? Or was it because he knew his feelings, and he was afraid to express them? He’d told Annie he had trouble expressing his feelings, but there was a feeling deep within his self that told him . . .

There was a knock on the bay support. Kerry looked up and saw an outstretched arm reaching across the open curtain space. “Kerry?” Nurse Gretchen’s voice was soft, concerned. “Are you all right?”

 

It’s a kick in the brain pan when you finally realize that someone is madly in love with you, and you’re still uncertain about what you feel for them.  So what does he do?  Well, this is the event I called “First Night,” which means there are two other nights ahead, and during that time he’ll figure out what he should do–

Better hurry, Kerry:  Annie's waiting, and she'll probably wait another . . . five or six years for you to make up your mind.

Better hurry, Kerry: Annie’s waiting, and she’ll probably wait another . . . five or six years for you to make up your mind.

The Boy With the Long Emptiness

One of the maxims of writing is, “Write what you know”.  Which is a hard thing to do for this novel, because what do I know about witches and super science and secret organizations that run the world without us knowing anything.  Okay, for that last I have notes from last week’s meeting . . .

But this novel isn’t all about witches and magic and fighting off some dark, unseen presence–though give me a few more scenes and you might be surprised.  It’s also about feelings.  It’s about my two main characters learning about stuff, you know . . . things.  That’s what happened earlier in the current scene I’m writing:  Annie came back in to see the laid-up Kerry, apologized, and told him a secret.  It’s all good, right?

Kerry’s got a few secrets of his own.  He tells Annie he understands strange relationships with you parents, because he has the same.  But he doesn’t stop there:  oh, no.  That would be too easy.  Because Kerry’s been hanging around Annie for almost two months now, and he’s discovered that, after all the years of being around his parents and experiencing an unaffectionate relationship with them, he really does have feelings.

Which leads to this:

 

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

Annie nodded slowly, witnessing the emotions flowing across Kerry’s face. Something was bothering him, something that he wanted to say aloud, and she wasn’t about to leave him alone with feelings that seemed to bother him. “Kerry?”

He took two deep breaths before he quickly raised his head so he was looking directly at Annie. “A couple of years ago my mother told me she wished I wasn’t with them. I knew she didn’t mean that I wasn’t with them in Cardiff: she meant she wished . . .” He took a long, tortured breath as his gaze shifted away from Annie. “I wasn’t here.”

 

Write what you know–and I know that one.  Because my own mother dropped that bomb on me when I was ten.  Sure, I was probably driving her crazy with my depression and all the other baggage I was carrying, and this moment came after my parents pulled me out of therapy after two months–therapy that was suppose to help me learn how to “make friends,” because one of my mantras then was, “No one likes me.”  At that time in my life I never left the house except to go to school and places with my parents.  There was one point where I didn’t leave my room unless it was necessary for about two years.

I’m sure none of this had anything to do with the various sentences my mother threw at me from the time I was about six that always ended in, “Like a girl.”  Yeah, thanks.  Lots of help there.

Fortunately Kerry has Annie.  And while he might not understand everything there is to know about girls, he will understand this:

 

If she could have Annie would have taken Kerry and pulled him close and held him, but she couldn’t do that, not with him being unable to move. She moved as close to him as possible. “Do you remember when we had lunch in Russel Square?”

He didn’t look at her, but Kerry nodded. “Yeah. That was—”

“Do you remember telling me that you felt that no one cared for you, that you weren’t loved?”

Kerry gaze slowly returned to Annie’s hazel eyes. “Yes. I remember.”

She laid their hands upon her chest and held him tightly. “You’re wrong. You’re worthy of love, Kerry: you deserve love. You deserve to have someone tell you at least once every day that they love you. You deserve to hear those words and know them to be true.” Annie lightly, lovingly kissed his hand. “I love you, Kerry. I always will. And every day, as long as you live, you’ll hear me say those words to you.” She placed his hand against her right cheek and closed her eyes. “Every day.”

Kerry felt her warm cheek against his fingers, her skin against his. He started to smile, then the gravity of her words fell over him, and it was all he could do to stare opened mouth, his breathing coming in short, jagged bursts. As Annie opened her eyes and looked back into his, he finally found his voice. “Every day . . . That’s a long time.”

“Yes, it is.” Annie lowered his hand so it once more rested on the bed, though she refused to let it go. “Unless you keep letting Emma crash into you.”

He began laughing; Annie joined in a moment later. The seriousness of the moment was now in the past, replaced by their levity. Kerry coughed once. “Yeah, that could shorten my life considerably.”

“By more than a few years.” This time the lights across the ward were out for three seconds before coming back on. “And I think—”

“That’s your cue.” Kerry slid his hand from Annie’s. “You better get going before Nurse Gretchen throws you out.”

 

Of course he remembers, Annie:  it right there in that scene.

Of course he remembers, Annie: it right there in that scene.

The rest of the scene comes tonight, when Kerry starts to understand something important.  Something not just about Annie, but about himself.  Something that’ll bring another kind of hurt–

Don’t worry, kid.  You don’t have to stay empty forever.