Wide Awake but Dreaming

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Break Down in Russel Square

Hacking and Slashing (now there’s a term I haven’t used in a while) was hot and heavy last night.  I finally had my kids off their feet, out of the Tube, and into the restaurant, and the cutting and adding of words was underway.  By the time I finished for the evening, I had no idea what I’d written.  That’s because with all the deleting that was underway my total words written check was way off.  There are ways to figure this out, however–like copying the area you were working in and pasting it to another text form.  That way you discover you wrote and edited nine hundred and six words.  Easy as Pi, right?

With all my old scenes deleted–goodbye, you first draft messes–my corkboard looks like this now:

All my scenes lined up, sorta neat because they never go anywhere.

All my scenes lined up, sorta neat because they never go anywhere.

 

While my outline shows me where my word counts are:

The numbers keep going up.

The numbers keep going up.

The word count for my current scene is just under three thousand, but that’ll change.  Then I have to rewrite the trip through the Chunnel, which takes on an air of confusion for Kerry due to things happening in this current scene, and then I can move on and rewrite a few other things–

Then I can get back to Act Two.  Maybe.

So what did my kids do last night?  A little of this:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

A light rain was falling upon Russel Square when Annie and Kerry stepped from the Underground station and made their away across the street to the Pret a Manger cafe. The place was busy but not overwhelmed with people, so they found a table and ordered food. Since the lunch rush was coming to an end their orders were ready in under ten minutes. Kerry’s was first: a club sandwich with avocado and a mango smoothie. Annie’s came moments later: a chicken salad and a Lemon Aid. She returned to their table to find Kerry’s computer unpacked and powered up.

“What are you doing?” She sat across from him, twisting her neck to see if she could follow what he was doing with his phone.

He didn’t look up. “Bluetoothing the pictures over to the hard drive; I wanna make sure I get all the pictures we took.” He tapped tapped something on his phone. “This way I have plenty of room for more, and everything’s saved.” He lay the phone next to the computer. “That should finish in a few minutes.”

It was difficult for Annie to keep from chuckling: he always seemed so serious when it came to his technological toys. She wanted to talk about something else . . . “You said you’d been to London once before?”

 

Yeah, bluetooth those pictures, Kerry, and free up some space on your phone.  You never know how many more you’re gotta get with that little octopus hangin’ on to you.  This is where I wish I could draw, because there were some great photos they good that I could include.

As if I didn’t have enough to work with at the moment.


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Anatomy of a Rebuild

With the new scene out of the way, the time had come to start tearing up an old scene:  lunch at the Pret á Manger outside the Russel Square tube station in London at 13:17, or 1:17 PM for you not on Universal Time.  Since I know some people will ask, “How do you know there’s a Pret á Manger outside the Russel Square tube station?” because just like Johnny Cash, I’ve been everywhere, man:

Resturaunt on the left, tube station on the right.  You're welcome.

Restaurant on the left, tube station on the right. You’re welcome.

Now, getting in and tearing things up isn’t always pretty.  I could have just copied the scene off and put it aside with, “Don’t Touch Until Ready to Delete,” but I didn’t want to do that because it just gets in the way eventually.  The easiest thing to do here is use the Scrivener ability to take a snapshot of your document.  The snapshot is nothing more than a saved copy of your scene/chapter/whatever at the time it was taken.  The nice thing about the snapshot function is that you can take as many as you like, and “roll them back” into the original any time you like.  Or delete them if you think they serve no other purpose in your writing life.

It doesn't really have the same impact without Ringo singing in the background.

It doesn’t really have the same impact without Ringo singing in the background.

I knew where my kids were going this time, but I now needed to make some notes concerning stations and the such.  Because I’m nutty like that, you know?  For this scene I’d already went into the Document References and attached a link to the map of the London Underground that I’d imported into Scrivener, so I split the screen and pulled it up so I could make sure I get some of the stations right–which came in handy later, because you’ll see why.

This is how you get around with a map--and a bit of imagination.

This is how you get around with a map–and a bit of imagination.

Now that I knew my stations more or less, I brought up the document notes–and the London Journey Planer website that I’d also embedded in a note card in Scrivener, and started looking at the route I’d taken.  There were a few points on the trip where I wanted the kids to walk, so I plugged in a few stations, knowing that walking is something they do in London, and the website keeps track of that.

Yes

Yes, you can walk this route in ten minutes if you’re healthy–and training for the next Olympics.

You can see my notes on the right as to where the kids are going, what stations they’re arriving at/leaving from, and in this shot I’m figuring out if they can walk from the London Eye to Big Ben tower–and since Westminster Station is right across the street from there, and this Journey Results tell me I can probably walk it in ten minutes if I push it, then, yes:  it’s very doable for a couple of eleven year old kids.

One of the things I left off of here, and didn’t realize it until I was writing, was the place that Kerry hinted at going.  So I popped up Google Maps, got the location, then looked for nearby tube stations that would take them to Russel Square.  Found it–probably because I’d actually almost used it before–and added that note in as well, saying they’d summoned a cab–or a dragon, hard to say which–at taken it to the place Kerry wanted to see.

Lastly it was time to skim and see where new stuff needed to get added, and old stuff that didn’t make sense needed to come out.  One of those things that came out was a few comments about Collin and Alicia and why they weren’t invited, but since Annie had made those comments in the prior scene they didn’t need to be here as well.

I made a few comment markers in the story and highlighted them so I’d know where I should put my new stuff and where I might need to edit the old.

Just like some of us used to do in school--when we did that study thing.

Just like some of us used to do in school–when we did that study thing.

With all that out of the way–about an hour’s work or so, not counting getting the maps and stuff a few days ago–it was time to write.  And in that empty space between the two orange comments, I wrote.  I had Annie taking Kerry around London; nothing major, just out to London Bridge, then down the Thames to the London Eye, then over the river to Big Ben and St. John’s Park and a look at Buckingham Palace . . . a nice little walking tour where kids could talk and take pictures–and at a couple of points in the narrative, Annie managed to get a little touchy-feely with her newest traveling companion.  That girl–whatever is on her mind?

When I finished I’d had my best night in a while.  The count said 1,063, but that didn’t take into consideration the one hundred and thirteen words I’d cut before I started, so the final count was far closer to twelve hundred words.  And that’s just the start.

There’s more to come tonight.  Much more . . .


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Sourcing the Odds

Though last night was one of those nights where it seemed like I was doing a dozen things at the same time, I managed to get a lot done.  It wasn’t crazy time or anything like that, just busy stuff that kept me going pretty much from the time I walked into the apartment until I was time to go to bed.

Let’s see:  I was writing my new scene, I was editing a story for a friend to read, and I was chatting with said friend about some of my old stories, most of which are strange erotica.  Of late I’ve gone through a lot of that old stuff, thinking about updating it and throwing out on Smashwords and Amazon to take its place alongside all the other strange erotica out there.  (What I want to know is why isn’t there more lesbian werewolf erotica?  I see a lot of gay werewolf erotica, but nothing for the ladies?  Or are we too busy being seduced by dragons and krakens?)

I found one story that I’d even forgotten I still had, though I remember writing it so long ago.  How long ago?  Someone made a reference to Windows 98 in the story, that’s how long ago.  If I remember the situation behind the story, I think I wrote it about 1997 or so, and ended up posting it on a now-defunct website for all to see.  That way I could say to all, “I be published, yo!”  The other thing I forgot about the story is that someone actually illustrated the story for me, throwing in a couple of drawing for some of the stranger scenes.  Why did they do that?  Because they liked the story.

Ah, back in the day when I was such a hot-shot kinky erotica writer.

Did I mention I was also drinking last night?  Yeah, a little bit of the cognac to take the edge off a long week.  And it managed to get the creative juices flowing, too.  What can I say?

"I'm such a busy girl--next up on my list:  getting blind drunk and finishing my novel.  Worked for Hemmingway!"

“Next up on my list: getting blind drunk and finishing my novel. Worked for Hemingway!”

And through all this I managed to get back into my new scene.  Honestly, with all the jerking around I did last night I had no idea if I was doing anything right in the story or not.  It felt like I was writing, while on the other hand it felt like I was spinning my wheels getting little done.  By the time I shut the project down and headed off to bed, I’d clocked in just over seven hundred words, which isn’t a huge amount, but it’s inching back up towards a thousand, and that’s really where I want to be in terms of getting my word count on.

Which led to this little moment:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Ms. Rutherford was on her feet before Annie could react, and snapped her finger in the direction of the lifts. “Then there’s our third member—Kerry.” The chaperon’s smiling eyes followed Annie to her feet. “He’s gonna come out of those lifts any moment now because he’s usually early when he’s not sleeping in—” She chuckled as if she were keeping a joke to herself. “He’ll probably have his backpack with him, and his phone and computer inside. He’s going to look around, wonder where everyone is, and then head into the cafe because if there’s one thing that kid won’t miss, it’s free food.”

This much Annie knew to be true. “I noticed that last night.”

“The thing with Kerry is there’s a fifty-six percent possibility—”

Annie’s right eyebrow shot upward. “Fifty-six percent is a rather exacting prediction, isn’t it?”

“You think?”

“For someone who isn’t a Numerologist, yes.” She locked her arms across her chest. “Too exacting, actually.”

“I can assure you I’m not a Numerologist—” Ms. Rutherford didn’t bother to keep from smirking. “Though you don’t know what I took when I was in school . . . As I was saying: there’s a fifty-six percent possibility that once Kerry hears today’s news, he’s gonna head back up to his room, set up his computer, and do whatever it is he does on it all day long. And should that happen, we’ll not see him for the rest of the day.” She glanced down at Annie’s darkened expression. “Or should I say, you won’t see him for the rest of the day—I won’t see him ’cause I’ll be in the office.”

So she knows. Annie was aware that her family knew why she wanted to arrived in Amsterdam with the London group, but this was the first indication she’d received that other’s in The Foundation also knew why she was staging here. “That’s likely, I’m afraid.” She wasn’t about to give Ms. Rutherford the satisfaction of seeing her mood change for the worse.

 

Damn these Foundation people:  knowing the odds and your little secrets.  Well, when you do your best to run the world, you pick up on these little things.

Just wait until Annie is running things:  she’ll probably drive people crazy with her crap.


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The Naming of the Names

Between various things–you know . . . how the rest of it goes–I was back into the new scene.  I rewrote some of what I’d written the night before, getting rid of some draggy stuff and adding information where needed, and then started writing the new stuff.  Not a lot was actually written–about another six hundred words–but something did happen in the discussion between Ms. Rutherford and Annie:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Ms. Rutherford’s last statement had Annie sitting upright. “We can leave the hotel?” She leaned towards the chaperon. “Without supervision?”

“Well, if I’m not here . . .” Ms. Rutherford tapped a fingernail against the envelope. “It would appear you’re on your own—yes?”

This brought forward another problem. “It might be a little difficult getting around—”

“—Without money?” Ms. Rutherford held the envelope for Annie to take. “You’ll find four pre-paid debit cards in there with instructions for setting up the PINs. Anyone wishing to do a little sightseeing won’t need to worry about fund.”

“How much is on each card?” It was a necessary question, because Annie was getting an idea for why Ms. Rutherford had handed her the envelope.

“£200.” Ms. Rutherford pulled her handbag to her lap and held it tightly against her body. “More than enough for buses, the underground—even a taxi if anyone wants to hire one.”

It wasn’t that Annie didn’t think she couldn’t handle the responsibility, but . . . “Why are you giving this to me?”

“Because you’re a Legacy.” Ms. Rutherford’s eyes shined brightly while rhythmically drumming her fingers against her thighs. “That means I should be able to trust you. Or . . .” She nodded towards the lifts. “Would you rather I give this to one of the Normal children?

This was the first time Annie had heard Ms. Rutherford use the labels that Annie knew, but didn’t expect to hear spoken aloud until everyone arrived at Salem. True, there wasn’t anyone close enough to hear their discussion—still . . .

Ms. Rutherford began digging around in her purse. “I doubt you’ll have to worry about handing out those cards; once you’re told the other they have the day to do as they please—” She set her gaze upon the area around the lifts and the cafe. “Would you like to hear?” She didn’t wait for Annie to give an answer. “If I were a betting woman—”

“Or a Numerologist.” Annie saw nothing wrong in voicing her own opinions now that Ms. Rutherford and she were speaking openly about their affiliation.

Ms. Rutherford didn’t respond to the taunt. “If I were a betting woman, I’d say two of your fellow students won’t do anything with their free time. Collin will come down, find out nothing is planed, and head back to this room to watch a football game, maybe get someone to come in and set up a video game for him.

“Alicia will complain, as she always does. She complain there’s nothing to do; she’ll complain she doesn’t like the food; she’ll complain there’s nothing to do in her room, and that she’s bored.” Ms. Rutherford gave the inside of her purse one last glance and snapped it shut. “She’ll probably come down here and complain to anyone who’ll listen about how bored she feels.”

 

And there you have it:  Legacy and Normals.  And a Nurmerologist, but what the hell are they?  Doesn’t matter:  you’ll hear that name come up again.  But I figured that rather than keep some of the stuff about The Foundation in the background–and since people, cleaver people, would already figure out that there’s something different about Annie, keeping things hidden when these two are speaking was rather silly.  Why would Ms. Rutherford entrust £800 to a girl a month short of the twelfth birthday?  Because she’s one of them.  And if you can’t trust them . . .

Then it’s onto the next scene, a big rewrite, probably a snapshot getting taken as well.  But I’m also going to use a function–well, not actually use it, because I already have looked at his a little.  But here is one of those nice things about Scrivener that can make your life easier when writing.

I’m talking about bringing in interactive websites while you’re working on something.

It’s very simple:  you add a new card, tell it when adding that you’d like to make it a website, tell it a little further in you want a dynamic website, put in the address, and click Okay.  And there you have it:  website in your project when you need it.

This means when I’ve got my kids walking around London, if I don’t feel like going to my browser and maybe getting distracted by whatever the hell distracts you on the Internet these days, I just split my screen and bring up this:

Anyone notice the time?  :)

Anyone notice the time? That’s, um, a joke.

That’s not a screen show, that’s the actual Journey Planner for the City of London website.  But what if I don’t know where I am in London, and where I want to go?  Well . . . I’m ready with that, too:

I started off by winding my way down Baker Street--hey, I already went there in the story.

I started off by winding my way down Baker Street–hey, I already went there in the story.

I bring up a map of the London Underground, and by using the image tools below the map–which I get by double clicking on the image–I can make it bigger or smaller.  When I’m done with the map I can arrow back to the story–using the arrows in the upper left hand of the left frame–and get back to writing.

Yep, it’s really that simple.  And once you got it in place, you never gotta worry about it again.

Until you need something new, that is.


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Chestnut Breakdown

It’s Liz Parker Time around the casa once more.  That can only mean one thing:

I’m writing again.

I say I’m always doing something writing related, but now I’m actually back writing.  Slow, yeah, but I’m back.  Nothing new, either–unless you consider a rewrite of an existing scene that needs some tuning up and something added a rewrite, well, I’ll take it.  I’ve sections of Act One that are in need of rewriting and, in at least two scenes, to be made completely new.  There may be more, but I’m getting to them.  Because it needs getting to, you know.

There is one good thing to come out of all of this:  in deciding to completely redo a scene in Chapter One, something will happen there that will actually tie into a conversation that will happen in–let me look it up–Chapter Thirty-one.  It would be Chapter Thirty-two, but I think I can change the time line just a little, move a couple of scenes from there to Thirty-one, and eliminate a chapter.  Whee!  That means I’ll only have to write forty-two chapters–which, you have to admit, is a lot more geek-lined.

However, getting to that link required thinking about how the story would play out on the other end, and that wasn’t pleasant.  Oh, the planning and whatnot is always a lot of fun–usually.  There are moments when it’s all a pain in the ass to get everything straight in your head, which is why I always make charts and such to help me along.

No, it’s when you have to get into your kid’s heads and understand why they do some of the things they do.

The scene in question brings up the matter of dreams, which in the world I’ve created are usually a lot more than they seem.  Particularly if you’re Annie and Kerry, who seem to have an issue when it comes to a special form of lucid dreaming.  These dreams have special meaning to both kids, and for the first time yesterday I thought them out, even made a few notes, because at some point gotta talk about them.

But it wasn’t those dreams that caused issues in these scenes:  it was remembering another dream alluded to in Kerry’s dream.  It’s something that explains an action he takes in Act One; it explains something that’s been bothering Annie since meeting Kerry.  It’s something that ties in something said in Chapter One–something she’ll say a few more times, as if she’s trying to trigger memories.

In bringing up this new dream, however, it pulled out a few memories and feelings of my own, one of which is particularly painful at the movement.  And in doing so, I had a full-on crying meltdown.

"These imaginary characters of yours are tearing you apart.  Why don't you take up another hobby--like, something without emotional connections?"

“These imaginary characters of yours are tearing you apart. Why don’t you take up another hobby–say, like, something that doesn’t involve emotional connections?”

The upside is I finished the scene, and made notes.  One moment I’m all about to fall to the ground crying, and the next I’m trying to set it down in writing.  I blame the hormones, which probably did play a big part in what happened last night.

But I’m back writing again.  I feel good.

Let see how long this goes.


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No Rest For the Timid

There wasn’t much to get done yesterday.  I was falling asleep at work, I ended up walking home in the cold rain–and my walk is about a kilometer, or three-quarters of a mile–so by the time I arrived I wasn’t in the best of moods, and I was feeling a bit of a chill.  But there were packages waiting for me, and one of them were new jeans and a fleece jacket, and I had to try them on and check things out and get pictures and . . .

And by the time I finished doing all that and chatting with people, nine PM had rolled into town, and the brain wasn’t doing what it should do.  Never to mind.  It did a lot of that stuff earlier during the day, usually between moments when I was working on programs and going to meetings.

It’s how I pass my day when I’m working at my other life.

The other thing I’m into at the moment is mind mapping.  I’ve done this before, and talked about it on a few occasions.  These days I use Scapple–not because I work in Pennsylvania, but because it’s a good product.  Mind mapping is a good thing if you’re trying to work out something and you just don’t know how all the pieces fit together.  This isn’t the same thing as building a time line, though you can take the information here and build up your cause and effect–or your Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey ball of stuff if you’re in that sort of mood.

So I’m trying to rebuild a character, and I’m forty-eight notes of information into the process, and I’m still going.  I’m trying to be honest and saying the things that should be said from the questions being asked.  It’s from this that I’m trying to build the layers of the onion, and every so often it does make me cry–

 

This is your life in notes--I hope mine is more interesting.

This is someone’s life in notes–I hope mine is more interesting.

Why do you cry?  Because I’m not certain that I’m asking the right questions.  If you don’t ask the hard questions, you’re not going to get the good answers.  You’ll get crap.  You know:  garbage in, garbage out.  It’s just like a computer, only this crap is swirling about in your head before you put it on a page.

So I’m doing that.  I played out a couple of scenes in my head yesterday, because between panicky requests to make changes to a program, one needs to put their mind to other, more important things.  Like figuring out when Papa’s gonna ask about a certain boy, because he knows his only child is really off to school to meet this kid.  Or what someone does when they are the first off the elevator and they get strongearmed by their chaperon to take one for The Foundation and do something special.  I also realized yesterday that one of the new scenes I created in Scrivener isn’t needed:  that journey around London can be discussed while having lunch.  No need to tell everyone about it . . .

It’s taking time, but it’s all slowly coming together.

The real treat is when I start writing again.


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My Own Private Scouring

Sometimes you gotta get real and know when you gotta make changes.  There are times when you know something is wrong and you gotta make it right.

This is one of those times.

For most of the weekend my mind has been whirling about with what I need to do for Act One of my work in progress to make it better.  Right now it’s wrong, because one of the main characters is wrong.  There’s no focus on her; it’s all following and smiles, and it’s not the way she should be portrayed.  I’m not in a panic–no, not this time–but I have been thinking and working and even mapping.

Right now I have a Scrapple map set up with forty-five notes on the character, and I’ve got a ways to go.  It’s a going over that I didn’t get into the first time, and the nice thing about Scrapple is where you come up with something you throw down the notes and link it where you want to link it.  My mind maps usually look pretty neat, but that’s because I’m like that when I’m putting my things together.  The neatness gives me focus, and the focus helps me understand.

Besides, I’m good with maps.  Everyone knows that.

There are other things that need doing, however–and one of the nice things about Scrivener is, as a project planer, once you decide on where you want your story to go, you send it off in that direction.  So with that already in mind . . .

Sorry, little scenes, but you just don't go with the flow anymore.  It was nice knowing you.

Sorry, little scenes, but you just don’t go with the flow anymore. It was nice knowing you.

Yes, you throw up that big ‘ol “Delete” sign and pull those suckers out of there.  It’s not that big of a deal:  they were only about twenty-five hundred words, so it’s not like I’m killing off huge chunks.  But it’s the rewrites . . . yeah, I need that.  Why?  Because the first rewrite leads into the first new “To Do”, and the last To Do leads into the the final two rewrites.

That’s where focus changes.  That’s where I can show things a little differently, and bring another character out into the open.  Not just more, but show something else that I was trying to hide from the reader, but realized over the weekend that the something I was trying to hide was already sort of outted right away.  So why hide it?

Besides, the real goods don’t come until the kids get to the U.S. and they’re greeted at Logan International by a bunch of LaRouchies–as I was during my only visit to this airport–warning them of the dangers of the New World Order and how it’s going to force The Mark of the Beast upon them, and that darkness is pretty much gonna fall upon the land if we don’t go back on the gold standard.  Which, come to think of it, would make for a pretty good scene, since The Foundation is seen by some in my world as the New World Order, and having a few LaRouchies square off against a bunch of NWO witches, sorceresses, and spirit summoners might be fun–for a few seconds.

Onward and upward, I say.  The day awaits.


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DNF

I’m something of a motor racing fan.  I used to try and keep up with Formula 1 and NASCAR back in the 1960′s and 70′s, and used to religiously watch racing on television before I realized there were other things I could do with the four or five hours I spent camping out watching people drive around an circles.  These days I generally check the stats on-line and leave it at that.

I used to love my GTR2 game, back when I had my Logictec G25 while with in-line shifter; I downloaded all the tracks and spent a lot of time tearing up the course.  I even finished the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, in the rain, driving 550 laps over the course of a week (you could save the game, which helped), and even did one fuel run in the dark with no headlights.  Never could complete the 24 Hours of Le Mans, though:  I was always blowing an engine right around the twelve hour mark, which tended to suck hard–though not as hard as the time I was running the 24 Hours of Hockenheim and lost the transmission of my Porsche at the twenty-two hour mark.

Good times, let me tell ya.

Not shown:  the time I barrol rolled my Masarati through Eau Rouge/Raidillon.  Who said virtual near-death experieneces can't be fun?

Not shown: the time I barrel-rolled my Lamborghini here through Eau Rouge/Raidillon. Who said virtual near-death experiences can’t be fun?

The expression used in racing to indicate a driver didn’t take the checker flag is “DNF”, otherwise known as Did Not Finish.  Crash out a hundred meters from the finish line on the last lap, and your standing will say DNF.  You didn’t make it, you didn’t end the race the right way, you may have managed some kind of standing, but you are DNF, love.  It’s a rare sort of driver who can crash out as they cross the finish line, have a car that’s not going to run ever again, and still win a race–just as Jeff Burton.

At the movement my current project is in a bit of a flux.  I’m wildly off the mark of what I wanted to do with one of the characters, and I’m back to the drawing board to try and get things amended.  The characterization is part way there, but I’m missing things, and my Points of View are all over the place.  And I realized last night that one bit of information that I gave to my beta reader–that I didn’t want to show too much about The Foundation before all the Normal kids arrived–well, child, I blew that shit right out of the water in the very first chapter, because if the reader is paying attention they’ll know something’s afoot, and it’s not normal.  If I’ve done this in plain sight, then what am I hiding?

Me being me there have been moments when I’ve thought about throwing up my hands and saying, “It was a good run, girl, but you gotta move on.”  Sure, a lot of writers get that way:  they hit a kind of wall, they feel everything is turning to shit, and they wanna bail.

I’m note a lot of writers.

I keep falling back to what Neil Gaiman has said, which in paraphrasing is, “Write.  Write every day.  Finish what you write.”  Sure, I could toss this story in the bin and mark it up to trying to write more than I was ready to write.  Egos do that sometime.  But I can’t, because I have something here.  It’s almost in place, but it needs changes.  And those changes will make it better–that is a fact.

I just gotta work through this.

I know I can.


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Clone Me Maybe

It was warm in the bed this morning and I really didn’t want to crawl out, but I had to because work and this–my blog.  Well, really, more the the blog, because all work is good for is paying the bills.  It’s not like I get any kind of stimulation from it other than the exercise walking to and from the local.

If you were here yesterday you’ll know I had a bit of a meltdown Wednesday night.  If you’re here today, you’ll know things are much better.  These things happen, and this one happened in part to a combination of situations that brought up a bunch of bugaboos in my head.  Yes, that is a technical term, so you can trust me.  Your mind can kill you, and mine has done of good job of trying that for–oh, maybe fifty years now?

The walk to work was refreshing.  The morning was bright and quiet, I didn’t feel bad, I was taking in the fresh air, and I had the song Borderline running in my head.  Why?  Because I’d picked it up after reading something on one of the blogs I follow, and that’s how I role with the earworm.

But this tune got me thinking, and by the time I rolled into work I had a question that needed answering.  So I shot it off to my beta reader and Trusty Editor(tm):  what is the soundtrack of Annie’s life?  What music defines her?  This I had to know, because I was getting my inner Tatiana on–

Allow me to explain.

Though I didn’t pick it up on the first run, I am a big fan of the show Orphan Black.  (And you should be, too, but that’s a different story.)  It’s the story about a lovely lady who discovers she’s really a bunch of lovely ladies, one of a batch of clones born in 1984.  She leans this when one of her clones takes The Big Dive right in front of her, and Sarah, the clone the story revolves around, ends up taking over that woman’s life.  And in the process he discovers she’s also a soccer mom living in the same city, and an American student, and a German rocker, and a crazy Ukrainian bitch who wants to kill everyone, and . . . well, it just goes on and on.

One of the things the main actress, Tatiana Maslany, does to get into the character of the women she’s playing was to create playlists of songs for each character.  So when she’s getting made up for Sarah, she listens to The Clash, Dizzee Rascal, and the Streets; when she’s Helena’s it’s Antony and the Johnsons and Tom Waits; Cosima is Grimes and electro/Diplo music, and Alison is show tunes, Les Miz and West Side Story.  She puts on the music and gets into the grove, and that’s what allows her to play three different people all sitting around wondering what they’re going to do with their lives.

If the three people sitting around getting hammered on wine are all you, do you get wasted that much faster?

If the three people sitting around getting hammered on wine are all you, do you get wasted that much faster?

When I had the chance I role played out a scene between Annie and Kerry, one that I’d written back in November and was told was lacking something–namely, Annie didn’t feel right.  Since I used to role play a lot–and most of that almost meant I was the game mistress–I’m good at doing different characters because I had to be.  So that came into play, and by the time I arrived back at the apartment, I had a good idea about the interaction.

Then the email came, and I had three tunes, and the first one, I was told, was probably the best one to describe Annie meeting Kerry for the first time in person.  (I’ll leave that “in person” dangling here . . .)  So I started rewriting, taking my time, getting things the way I thought they should . . .

And when my editor came on and read the part I’d finished, she was like, “You got it!”  She loved the new action, and the new Annie.

I’ve been tired and under a lot of strain the last few months, and it’s shown in my writing.  A lot of adverbs need to go bye-bye, so they gotta go.  But I need to relearn things, to be more descriptive, to roll back into the role playing, get it out there me.

My characters are different, but they aren’t their own real people.  They are me, and I have to live them.

Otherwise they’ll never have a life of their own.


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The Dark Witch’s Thoughts

This is a number:  one thousand fifty-three.  That’s how many words went into the new scene last night.  It took a while to get there, but I made it.

The first night wasn’t a much as I liked, though given that I was doing two, maybe three things at the time, I have to admit that typing in a little over six hundred words isn’t a bad accomplishment.  Last night was more of me starting to hit my stride, looking for and finding the groove I needed, and heading off down that path.  It was slow, it was halting, but it was also fun to start getting back into the minds of my kids.

Last night it was mostly Annie’s thoughts.  Watching spells not being done, feeling a bit bored about hers, and thinking about the week before.  Of course her thoughts are mostly about the person sitting to her right, but hey:  young love, right?  Though she probably wouldn’t eat a horse heart for him, but you never know . . .

Let me entertain you with a little excerpt, because I haven’t done that in a while–maybe a week.  I’m getting rusty.  And now that I’m writing, lets show it off.

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

In the last couple of minute, though, Annie watched Kerry growing frustrated with not being able to do the spell, or worse yet, having no control once he started the spindle turning. She saw that most of the time it was wobbling all over the place, which would prevent him from exerting any fine control should Kerry manage to turn his spindle three times.

She reached over and touched his arm. “You might want to stop and rest.”

Kerry seemed far from ready to rest, but Annie’s touch and calm tone were enough to make him slump in his seat. “Yeah. I’m pushing this too hard, and I’m getting all messed up.”

Annie thought of what Kerry was going through in lab as more than “messed up.” “I think you’re trying to hard—” You would know all about that, wouldn’t you? She pushed the errant through from her head. “Sit for a few minutes, clear your mind . . .” She slide her right hand along his arm until she found his hand. “Talk to me.”

There was much Kerry wanted to talk about, but most of it revolved around what she’d just done. “You managed this pretty fast.”

Annie shook her head. “I’d done something like this once before, so I just took that knowledge and applied it here.”

“I’ll bet you could do more.” He nodded in the direction of Annie’s spindle. “You could probably levitate it.”

Annie had never tried levitating something before, but she could understand why Kerry would think she could perform the spell. He knows I’m a witch, that I come from a family of witches, and therefore I’m already magically inclined. He doesn’t understand I’m not that good with simple spells. She decided to be coy with her response, to see if her suspicions were correct. “Why do you think that?”

“’Cause . . .” He looked at her, a broad smile across his face. “I think you can.”

“You have faith I can do this.” Annie patted his hand. “That is not the same as having skill.”

“You have the skill—” Kerry flipped his hand around and pressed his palm into hers. “You’re my Dark Witch; of course you have the skill.”

You’re my Dark Witch. Kerry had taken to calling her that after their stint in Sorcery, and her confession on Sunday that, indeed, she had her own books on the subject, and most of the spells she’d attempted were from that branch of magic.

But where Annie saw a serious discipline that required a tremendous amount of willpower, Kerry saw what she was doing as almost—fun. He’s a Normal, and sorcery and black magic are always very powerful in their fantasy worlds. He doesn’t understand the work one must put into learning this art—or what it can do to a person.

She thought about to last week, and what Professor Lovecraft did to Kerry in front of the rest of the A Level. From his point of view he was shocked bad enough to require a night in the hospital: he never saw this from her point of views, which was seeing someone who knew how everyone else in the class saw the act, while also expecting a possible attack from one of those students. And when Professor Lovecraft returned from dropping Kerry off, she launched right into a short lecture without ever explaining her actions.

Her willpower has to be extraordinary to be able to semi-torture a student in class and never mention the act again—except to me later—or even act as if it were anything other than what she does every day. Until Kerry performs sorcery on someone else, he won’t know what it takes to do that. She wanted to talk to him about this, but didn’t know if now was the time—

And then Kerry starts getting all excited about something, and . . . that’s the end of the scene.  More to commence tonight.

And just like a writer, as I was preparing the above excerpt, I began reading it and . . . I had to change some things.  Just a few.  And add some words–only twenty.

"No, no: it's far too early to have Annie start casting magic missile. She doesn't even play D&D yet."

“No, no: it’s far too early to have Annie start casting magic missile. She doesn’t even play D&D yet.”

That mean the number is now one thousand seventy-three words.

All in a good night and day’s work.


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Once Again, With Madness

Here we come around to this particular date, 31 March, 2014, and this is a date I have marked down and have mentioned many times on the blog.  It’s the date that Act Two begins, and that begins starts sometime tonight.

I’m ready and . . . I’m not.

There’s a lot ahead of me, and I lot still remaining.  I’ve already set the word count to one hundred thousand words, but I’m almost certain I’ll go over that–not by much, but over is over.  I have a huge sequence to write, and it’s not intimidating, but one of the last things that happens in this sequence I was going over last night, and I realized something that might happen between Annie and Kerry, and . . . oh, it’s a hard thing to imagine.  Maybe even harder to write, because I’ll be crying a lot while writing.

Parts Four through Eight are waiting; Chapters Thirteen through Twenty-Seven are set with the directions.  All I have to do is write the words.

The journey of a hundred thousand words begin with "It's not fair!"

The journey of a hundred thousand words begin with “It’s not fair!”

Yesterday saw me tweak a few things here and there, mostly with Annie, working not to make her come off like a complete hard-ass in a few place–and, if I should say so, I think I did the trick.  And since one of the things that a beta reader told me was there could be a lot of confusion with how I set up measurements and scales, I created a notation page for the start of the novel which explains a few things to the reader:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Throughout the story various scales are used to denote how time is told, how things are measured, and how buildings are laid out.

Floor Plans

The Foundation uses terms used in much of Europe and South America for building floors. Ground floor is found where the entrances are; first floor is the floor above that, second above that, and so on. The thirteenth floor is used within The Foundation; it is not considered an unlucky number. This will also be explained by characters from time-to-time.

Measurements

The metric system is used throughout the book by The Foundation. There are times when the Imperial system is referenced, but metric is the standard way of keeping track of distance, speed, and weight.

Time

The Foundation and nearly all countries other than the United States use twenty-four hour universal time; this results in times in the story being listed at “09:00” or “17:30” for denoting when events occur. Some speakers will speak in universal time, while other will interchange between twenty-four and twelve hour times when speaking.

As a character in the novel says, “This tends to confuse the U.S. kids when they first arrive,” and it will likely seem confusing to the reader at first. Remember, it’s also the first day in a new world for you as well.

 

It’s not much, but it’s an aid.  And it should help you along.  And, no:  I’m not doing conversions for you.  That’s what the Internet was for.  And please don’t say, “I don’t wanna do conversions when I’m reading,” ’cause I did them forty years ago when I was reading stories, and there was no Internet, so you found a book and memorized your conversations, and that was that.  You kids these days . . .

I’m ready, about as much as one can be to throw themselves back into a daunting task.

Wish me luck.


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Rebuilding Off the Beta

First order of business:  I made it back to The Burg, and it was a real adventure.  I started out in cool but cloudy conditions, then it got windy, then it started to rain–and right around Cleveland it started snowing.  Hard.  Real hard, like you could only see a few cars lengths in front of you and one lane was clear hard.  Then I made it east of the Cuyahoga River and it turned to rain.  Then I made it to Pittsburg and it turned to harder rain, and by the time I rolled through the Allegheny Tunnel with Brian May blasting the guitar solo from Brighton Rock, it was fog, spray, and hard, hard rain all the way.  One good thing was very few people heading east, because I didn’t have to deal with idiots.  And I had some new old tunes, so that helped the time pass.

Still, it was a nearly twelve hour trip, with an hour or so at a rest stop in Ohio because I needed to eat and decompress, and I chatted a little with people I know.  I needed that, because heading through the mountains the rain was hard enough to cause ponding on the PennPike.  I didn’t stop to ask if it was Amy Ponding . . .

Thank you.  I’m here all week.

Once I make it home a little after eleven PM (or should I say 23:00?), I start up my computer and slip into my jammies, and what do I do?  I find one of my beta readers on line, and we start talking about my novel.  But of course, because after driving twelve hours through some climate hell, what else would a writer do?  Go to bed?  Surely you jest!

But it was a great chat, and we covered one chapter that had mistakes–I seem to slip “the” in a bit where it’s not needed, like saying “the her bedroom”, which is likely my way of starting out impersonal and then making the object personal–but more importantly, discussing a line that has bothered me since I first wrote it, because it makes the character in question seem like a bitch, which is not my intention at all for the character.  My beta reader picked up on it right away, and we both agreed that it was something that needed changing–so now there is a note in the scene that reminds me to look this over at some point in the future.

See?  When I say I make a note about not making someone a bitch, I mean it.

See? When I say I make a note about not making someone a bitch, I mean it.

More feedback will come–probably when I’m more awake and not having just drove through a flood that could be surprising as hell when blasting out of a tunnel at . . . fifty-five.  Yeah, that’s how fast I was driving.  Me drive like a manic when it’s raining like hell?  Not a chance!

But there will be feedback, and discussions, and since this is a long-term project, there will be lots of work before this is published.  Because this time I want to get it right.  However, the fantasy porn I can probably shoot out their like no one’s business, right?

Act Two is set up, at least for the first two parts, which now have part and chapter cards.  The word count is reset, and I’ve determined what’s going to get counted, which includes the title cards, and that’s why you see a number in the total word count.

A clean document ready to get sullied by my thoughts and ideas.  Poor kids:  they deserve better.

A clean document about to be sullied by my thoughts and ideas. My poor kids: they deserve better.

Am I ready for this?  About as ready as I’m gonna get, which is to say bring on the stress and doubt and craziness that comes with writing a story.  Particularly a long novel that is going to take me most of a year to finish a first draft.  But I’m the one who signed up for this, and I will see it through to the end.  As Neil Gaiman says, “Write.  Write every day.  Finish what you write.”

I started this mess, and I’m damned if I’m not going to give my kids a great ending.

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