Through the Door of Imagination

Coming to the end of my scene last night–and I should mention, the end of Chapter Sixteen as well–I wrote this final paragraph:

 

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

Erywin sat staring at the empty chair across from her, fingers tapping against both arm rests. “There’s something we, the instructors, say—” She slowly turned her head so she was looking at both children. “—that pertains to both teaching and counseling, Annie. ‘We can show you the door; we can even hold it open for you. But you have to be willing to step through to see what’s on the other side’.” Erywin rose, straightening her pajamas. “She insisted there isn’t anything on the other side, and that’s as far as I can take her.” She respectfully bowed her head. “Have a good evening, children.”

 

I use the symbolism of a door a lot in this novel.  Passing through one door to another and finding something incredible waiting.  This was the end of Kerry’s Evaluation and Assessment:

 

He nodded slowly. “Okay, Doc.” He looked for the exit. “How do I get out of here?”

The doctor nodded at something behind him. “Go out the patio doors.”

Kerry turned and started walked towards them. After three steps he stopped and turned. “There really isn’t a patio out there.”

“There is if you want one.” She gave him a knowing look. “You’re going to find out that around here vision and willpower—and knowing how to apply them correctly—go a long ways towards making things you want happen.” Again she nodded toward the doors. “Go on, Kerry. Enjoy what’s waiting on the other side.”

 

Kerry did, and slipped right down into the rabbit hole.  Annie did much the same for hers:  she walked through one door, found she had to walk through another to meet with her adviser–and ended up telling a multi-millenniums old creature that she could stuff it, she was there at school for her reasons and her reasons only, and to hell with everything else.  What did she get for her troubles?  Shown to another door which should have lead to a nice, comfy bed–which in a way it did, where she said something to a certain doctor/nurse, and that led to questions and answers and reveals and . . . well, the start of something great.

Annie did the same thing to Kerry in London.  When she suggested he come with her on a walking tour of London, she didn’t say, “Pack your shit, Welsh Boy, we’re going out.”  No, she asked, “Would you like to do something? Would you like to go somewhere with me, Kerry?”  She showed him the door, but in the end, he had to decide to walk through and investigate the wonders she was about to show him.

Writing a story, a novelette, a novella, a novel–when you start they’re all like standing before door, wondering what you should do.  The door is the idea, but what is on the other side–that’s your imagination.  What you’re going to find on the other side . . .

Hey, you gotta open it first.

Hey, you gotta open it first.

What you’ll find is a room full of jumble.  Plots, characters, scenes–they are everywhere.  It’s the way things are.  Stories are a messy thing, there’s stuff all over the place.  But if you work that idea enough, if you think about your characters and where you want them to go, what you want them to do, what sort of adventures they’ll have–in time, you’ll tidy up that room, get things in order, and eventually produce something.

Or as Dwayne Johnson might put it:

 

When you walk up to opportunity’s door, don’t knock.  Kick that bitch in, smile, and introduce yourself.

 

And then start moving things about and getting that story in shape.

I’m always thinking about my stories.  If not the one I’m on, then the next.  Though this time is different:  I’m eight months into writing, 201,101 words into the story, and I might have another six, seven, eight months of writing ahead of me.  I’m going to make a push to knock off twenty thousand more words by the end of July and get extremely close to the end of Act Two–and then I’m gonna start editing another novel, because publishing, that’s why.

I think all the time about my stories, my characters, where I want them.  It’s a non-stop thing.  Once I’m through that door I have to stay and get things done.  That’s why you get a little crazy writing, because you want out of that room, but you can’t leave until you finish.

But not everyone is like me, wanting to write grand, sweeping novels.  Some people are really good with short stories.  The process is the same, the time frame is a lot different.  And keep in mind, there’s writing, and there’s editing.  Writing starts the story; editing builds upon that foundation, allows you to correct what isn’t right.  No story is perfect on the first draft:  I know this all to well.  Keep polishing.  Make it pretty.  In time, you’ll get it there.

Your stories are waiting on the other side of a door.  I’ve shown you that door–

It’s up to you to go on through.

Unpitching the Tent

In all the excitement that was yesterday–you know, with work and eating and trying to write–I completely forgot it that it was the start of Camp NaNo for a lot of people.  If you don’t know Camp NaNo, it’s a far more relaxed version of November’s NaNoWriMo, where you can come, relax, set your own goals, and really have a much easier time of writing than one may find during the insanity of writing fifty thousand words in thirty days.  And it’s also held twice a year, which means you can stretch out that story you always wanted to write over a couple of months.

"And when you're finished, it's up to you if you wanna toss that manuscript on this lovely, warming fire . . ."

“And when you’re finished, it’s up to you if you wanna toss that manuscript on this lovely, warming fire . . .”

My first–and so far only Camp–was a year ago, during the July 2013 event.  I ended up in a cabin with two friend I know from Facebook, and a couple of other people who kinda talked about writing but never really did much, and we . . . well, we set out upon our writing adventure.  (I should explain that in order to give one the feeling that they’re out on a camping retreat, you’re placed in a virtual cabin with other people, and the idea is you sit around in your pajamas and eat snacks and drink hot chocolate, and tell everyone about the great story you’re going to write.  Then you go to sleep and do it again the next day.)

If I give this too much thought, I can pin down where I am today with The Foundation Chronicles to this point a year ago, for it was with Camp NaNo that I started on my quest to Salem.  No, I didn’t start on my current novel:  I actually wrote the prequel to it, The Foundation Chronicles:  The Scouring, which ended up becoming the point where I brought to the stage some of the characters that inhabit my current novel–and even more importantly, I brought everyone in the school, the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning, and made it a real place.

Don't let the witches fool you, it's really a nice place to send your kid.

Don’t let the witches fool you, it’s really a nice place to send your kid.

That prequel, which was suppose to be a twenty-five thousand word novella, turned into fifty-three thousand word novel by the time the month was over, and that eventually led to where I am now:  continuing to work on a massive novel that just just last night saw me trip over forty-five thousand words for Act Two.  And it’s become something of a real love/hate relationship, because there I time I so want this story over.  I know how it ends, but . . . getting there is taking so much time.

"Just as soon as we get back from my ten mile canoe trip, I'll get my five hundred words in for the day."

“As soon as we get back from my ten mile canoe trip, I’ll get my five hundred words in for the day.”

I’ve run into this with some of my novels in the past.  You start out zooming, full of energy.  Then you slow down a little.  Then you find out that it’s getting hard to start those chapters.  Then you start to feel like there’s no end in sight, and then, when everything is darkest, you realize you’re almost finished, and you don’t really want it to end.

Well, actually, you do.  You can’t wait to slap on “The End” and move on to the next adventure.

Thinking about it last night, this is the first time I’ve stayed involved in a project that’s lasted a year.  It’s really more than a year, though, because I spent most of last June prepping The Scouring, and the work I did there led to the current novel as well.  And I probably spent a good year working on the idea, working out the characters and the location and the story.

And I’m dealing with the understanding that I could find myself dealing with the end of this novel a year from now.

"So you started this during a camping event, and you decides to celebrate finishing the novel by . . . camping?" "Yeah, I'm strange that way."

“So you started this during a camping event, and you decides to celebrate finishing the novel by . . . camping?”
“Yeah, I’m strange that way.”

I will end Act Two and then find the time to start getting another story published before climbing into Act Three.  I also have to consider the possibility of publishing Act One as a stand alone to get interest started in Act Two, which may or may not be a good idea, but it’s a start to something.

Have fun at the camp, guys.  I won’t be joining you because there’s all the stuff I have going on around me–you know, things–and I’ve got a lot of other reasons to keep my tent in my closet this year–

A little over one hundred and ninety-five thousand of them when you think about it . . .

A little over one hundred and ninety-five thousand of them when you think about it . . .

Have fun fighting off the bugs!

The Visions of the Road Ahead

You know it’s going to be a long day when I’m drinking coffee in the afternoon.

Working on a program and being up about four-thirty AM that morning put a thump on my head, and by one in the afternoon I was getting a cuppa, because I knew I was going to crash and burn if I didn’t.  I made it through the afternoon, and I did so with a plan . . .

When I got home I waited for traffic to die down a little–I usually finish my walk from work by four-thirty PM, so it’s still rush hour out there–then I went out for a little shopping.  I picked up a few things I needed, then headed over back across the river to the West Bank–as I’ve heard people at work call it–and hit my favorite Panera.  I picked up a flatbread, some soup, and a smoothie.  Oh, and I fired up my computer and pulled up something writing related, because if you aren’t writing you’re thinking about something writing related, yeah?

I got out my Idea File.

I said yesterday that I needed to start getting serious not just on writing, but on publishing.  If you’re not publishing, you’re writing for yourself, and while that’s cool, I don’t have a problem with others doing that, it’s not what I’m doing.  As a friend of mine posted on her wall the other day, “Some people dream of success, others make it happen.”  Shit, dudes, that’s more true than you can imagine.  If I wanna get those stories out there, they ain’t gonna publish themselves, are they?  Just like my characters aren’t writing the story when I’m sleeping, otherwise my current novel would be finished . . .

But going through the Idea File was more than just deciding what to publish–I had to do something else . . .

The File in all its messy glory.

The File in all its messy glory.

I added a few statuses to the file.  First, I have “Won’t Do”, and that’s pretty self-explanatory.  There are some stories that, while the ideas are, or I should say were, great, I’m probably never going to write that particular tale.  As I read somewhere the other day, being a writer sometimes means having to let go of the past, because you’re beyond that.  On the Out was an idea I actually worked up through the 1990′s as a trilogy, and I really liked it–I even wrote about fifteen thousand words for it.  But it’s dead.  I’m never going there.  I take that back:  I won’t say never, but I don’t think the story would be that good if I wrote the sucker.

And the other two–simply couldn’t do them.  Lorelei’s Lessons actually goes back to the summer of 2011, and I also wrote a few thousand words of that.  But I didn’t feel what I was producing touched me, and I’ve never went back to it.  Which is probably for the best.

So, what did I plan?  Here it is:

Don't look so shocked there's actually something there!

Don’t look so shocked there’s actually something there!

Sometime after I get Act Two almost finished I’m going to start editing Kolor Ijo, which was my 2012 NaNoWriMo novel, and the followup to my story Kuntilanak.  Yes–a sequel!  It’s a good novel, a good story with good characters, taking place in Indonesia, a place few people really know.  My plan is to get it done with editing and a cover and have it ready by the end of the year.  Maybe like by the first of December, so all those people looking to blow money on gifts will send a few bucks my way.

Fantasies in Harmonie will come out in March the following year, and it’ll be under a different name ’cause it’s dirty.  As in like there’s a lot of crazy sexy stuff going on.  I gotta come up with a good, sexy, mistressy sort of author name for this stuff, because I do have a few strange erotica tales floating about.  Just ask the people who’ve read them . . .

And last, Suggestive Amusements.  I wrote that damn thing the summer of 2012, before writing Kolor Ijo, when I was doing time in Indianapolis and I truly thought I was going to lose my mind.  I like the story, I like the characters, and I want it out.  It’s as good a story as anything I’ve written, and a change of pace from the other two on the list.

There’s one other status I put up in my file:  “Next”.  As in, “What should I write after this monster I have now is done?”  I’m going for Northern Lights.  This means I can start thinking about the characters and locations and other important stuff like, you know, plot.  That’s my plan, because I would love to write a horror story about three women roaming around Alaska.  I mean, what could go wrong?

One thing I didn’t put here:  I could always publish the various acts of The Foundation Chronicles–A for Advanced, as I’m going along.  That could always come out when you least expect it . . .

There’s my plan, and I’m doing my damnedest to stick to it.  Time to tell the world–

Cassie’s got some stories to sell.

The Long Evening of Silent Dreams

Yesterday was pretty much one of the best I’ve had in a long time.  Had a good day on the blog, with probably my biggest days ever.  Managed to get through work and was pretty productive in the process.  Had a fairly light dinner which did wake me up in the middle of the night with gas.

I wrote almost nothing, however.

It was really a combination of emotions and my body telling me I needed a break.  The last couple of days, between my novel and blog posts, I’ve written about forty-five hundred words, and when you add that into the normal mix of, you know, working, it adds up to a lot going on, mentally speaking.  I don’t get much of a physical workout typing, but it does put the strain on the brain.

And then I looked at my over all word counts–

First I looked at Act Two and was like, okay . . .

First I looked at Act Two and was like, okay . . .

But then . . .

I looked at the whole manuscript, and was like, "Holy shit."

I looked at the whole manuscript, and was like, “Holy shit.”

Eight months now I’ve been hard at work, with a month and a half of that to do edits and rewrites.  This has really become my second job, writing this novel, and I haven’t spent this much time on a single work since–well, since my first novel which ended up taking twenty years to finish.  I do promise I’ll finish this one in a lot shorter period of time.

But now I have to start thinking like a real writer; I need to start getting things published.  I haven’t put out any new work since last May, and the thinking is starting to go like, “Maybe what I need to do is pick out a couple of things that I can get out to readers so they can look them over, offer suggestions for edits, and then find someone to do covers.  Because the shit in my “Stories to Edit” folder aren’t doing anything but collecting electronic dust there.

So my thinking is, after Act Two is in the bag I’ll pull out a couple of things and start getting them ready.  I can think of two novels that could go up, and maybe even one rather dirty little story as well–under another name, of course.  But there’s more to writing than just writing–it’s just fan fiction that doesn’t see the light of day if I don’t get it out there.  Yeah?

I’ve also got to consider if, by the end of the year, if I want to start putting this novel out by acts.  Say, Act One out by the first of the year; then Act Two in March, and then Act Three . . . well, by next summer I should have finished Act Three.  And it would be a great way to get interest in the story releasing it that way.  I hope.

Last night was also a good night for crying.  That was another reason I couldn’t write anything:  lots of emotional distress.  Really, getting flippy is not a good way to spend the evening.  You look at something, you smile, then a minute later you’re gasping for air you’re so crying so hard.  And ten minutes later you’re back to laughing, or at least smiling over a random thought.

Tonight I’ll be back into the new scene, which I really do want to finish.  And the one after that should be short and sweet.  I need to get to my Witch House by this weekend–

Which reminds me:  I have to think of something else to write as well.

Does it never end?

The Editing Muse

There was no editing last night.  None.  Nada.  Absolutely zero.  And I’m certain my story feels badly about the whole thing.

"We miss you!"

“We missed you!”

I’m sure you do, pumpkin, but mommy had other things to do last night.  Like drive to Silver Springs, MD, and hang out with an author friend I’ve know for a long time, but never met, Dana Myles.  We walked, we ate, we chatting–you know, doing things that normal people do.  It was fun, and it’s something I should get out and do more often.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t think about my story.  Oh, no.  We talked about it.  A lot.  Dana wanted to hear all about my story, and I was ready to tell her–

But I was also thinking about something else on the ride down, which was a nice, long one because someone decided to take out a lot of guard railing in Baltimore, leaving me stranded in a five mile long backup for almost an hour.  I thought about editing.

Yesterday’s posted elicited a few comments on editing, and the consensus seems that editing is the suck.  Most writers I know hate editing.  Even though they know they need it, when their story tries to send them to editing, they say no, no, no.  I was the same way; I dreaded getting into editing mode.  Such a pain in the ass–

Well . . . not really.

One thing I’ve learned over the last couple of years is that editing isn’t a necessary evil, it’s just necessary.  Because no matter what you do to get your story off the ground, no matter what you do to make certain it’s going to become a good story, there’s always something . . . off.

A lot of my feelings on the matter of getting your first draft perfect match what I wrote back in late January of this year:

 

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

Kerry didn’t look at Professor Ellison as he mumbled a reply. “I don’t . . . I’m not sure I’d be any good.”

“I can understand that.” Ellison now moved a little closer, relaxing to keep his body language neutral. “Are you worried you’re gonna suck?”

Annie almost laughed; Kerry looked up a bit surprised by the question. “A little.”

“That’s okay, you know—” The professor leaned against the machine closest to Kerry, but he kept the boy the center of his attention. “As a creative person you have permission to suck—particularly if it’s your first time trying something. Writing, painting, drawing, playing: the first time you try any of these things you’re probably going to suck—and that’s okay.”

“I’d rather not suck in front of a bunch of people.”

“No one does, but even the best do now and then. And between now and and the weekend after the 21st of March, you’ve got about five months to practice and get better.” He decided to try another approach. “You know who never sucks?”

Kerry almost said “Professionals,” then caught himself because he knew of numerous examples where they had. “No. Who?”

“The people who never take a shot. The ones who are sitting in the audience going on about how people suck, how you suck, all the while sitting there running off their mouths.” He let himself relax, so as to put Kerry at ease. “I can get you a good tutor. I know just the perfect one for you, too.” He stepped away from the synthesizer and stood before the boy. “What do you think? Wanna be one of the few A Levels who gets up and shows everyone what you got?”

You are allowed to suck, but it’s a good idea to keep the sucking to a minimum.  That’s why Professor Ellison wants to get a tutor for Kerry–because there is sucking, and then there’s “That’s one hell of a train wreck, fella,” sucking.  It’s one of the reasons I spend so much time setting up my novels before the first word goes on the page, because far too many times I’ve seen people put up a post about how they’re seventy thousand words into their story, and it’s a complete hot mess and can’t be rescued–

That’s train wreck level sucking, and I stay away.  I always try to figure out my story well ahead of time, so I get rid of the plot holes and the such.  One of the reasons I time line things out the way I do is because I don’t want to mess that stuff up.  Like I pointed out last night, there are events that happened to Annie and Kerry in Part Three of Act One that never get resolved until about Chapter Twenty-Eight of Act Three.  There’s something that happens to Kerry in Part Three of Act One that doesn’t get resoled until the third book.  There are things that I just have to know, because . . .

I’m like that.

And yet, no matter how good you are with a story, there are times you get something wrong–something that is way, way the opposite of right, and then your story–more likely a beta reader who hates what you’ve done with a character–turns and comes at you like an unstoppable creature who has you tied up in the bathroom, and is hell-bent on forcing you to return to the story and rewrite things so they become right!

"You have her crying--crying?  No, no:  you will go back and you will fix her!  I look serious, do I not?  Then, when you are finished, we have Jell-o with lots of sugar--"

“You have her crying–crying? No, no: you will go back and you will fix her! I look serious, do I not? Then, when you are finished, and all is correct, we’ll have Jell-O with lots of sugar–”

There’s a muse you do not fuck with.

You do it because, as a writer, you have to get it right.  You’re allowed some sucking on that first draft:  there’s no excuse after that.  That’s why I edit.  And guess what?

I actually kinda like it.

Inside the Blue Event Horizon

Today I make the Walk of Shame back to work, past the point where I crashed and burned on Friday afternoon.  The arms are better, but the right side still hurts, and the head is a bit woozy from the sleep medication I took last night.  I’ll make it through the day, however, ’cause that’s what I’m suppose to do, right?

So many things to do today:  work, maybe having someone come into my apartment to look at my A/C, which shut off about 5:30 PM (or 17:30 as the people at my Salem school would say), and then decided to come back on about four hours later, return some glasses frames I was trying on over the weekend . . . oh, that was fun.  The one frame I like, I was told I look a little like a soccer mom when I wear them with my hair pinned back.  And here I thought I was going to be sexy.

I spent the afternoon rewriting, however.  I found what I was looking for in the scene I described yesterday, and this happened:

 

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

She stood frozen as Kerry almost kissed her on the cheek, then pulled away at the last moment. Annie said nothing, was unable to say anything, for her mind remained enchanted by the three words he’d spoken moments before. She didn’t know why he hesitated, why he pulled back with his face etched in confusion, why he touched her face once more and then said something before turning and heading for the stairs.

The shadowy tower turned darker as Annie’s mind began spinning. She couldn’t move and she her chest constricted as the air grew thick and oppressive. She drew in a small breath and forced herself to mutter the one word that filled her thoughts—

“Kerry.”

She pitched over backwards into dust of a hundred years.

Kerry had only reached the stairs when he heard Annie call his name weakly, and turned just in time to see her go over backwards onto the ground, her feet bouncing up in the air as she landed hard on her back. “Oh, holy geez.” He ran over and knelt beside her.

Annie was awake, but dazed.  “Kerry?”

“Yeah, I’m here.  What happened?”

Things were slowly coming back into focus: she sensed Kerry kneeling next to her, though he seemed little more than another shadow in the darkness. “I’m . . .” She blinked twice. “I just fainted.”

“You fainted? Are you okay?”

How could she explain that question? I am okay, and I’m not. I wanted something from you, and I received more. I wanted to feel loved: what I felt went beyond that. The only thing she could tell Kerry was a truth that he’d understand. “I’m okay.” She offered her hand. “Help me up?”

He helped Annie to her feet and brushed at her clothing. “You really scared me.”

 

Poor Annie:  she gets so excited.  And all for a cuddle and a peck on the cheek.  Maybe they’ll come dancing . . .

And then it was on to other scenes in other chapters, and I fixed up Annie and Kerry pretty much to where they should be.  I also removed a few things that weren’t needed, or were redundant, and things were added:  mostly in the Astria Portal scene, but in other places as well.  And my notes are in place.

The No Crying Zone is only found on Foundation property and planes.  They'd make a fortune flying people around.

The No Crying Zone is only found on Foundation property and planes. They’d make a fortune if they ever went commercial.

I’m in the event horizon of creativity, and these rewrites are nearly over.  Maybe by the end of the week I can start getting my kids into some new mischief.

It’s not like I haven’t been waiting to do so.

The Return of the Fictional Faces

This is the part of the blog post where I usually say, “Last night I started writing–”, but that’s not going to happen this morning, because there was no writing last night due to injury.  And by “injury,” I mean while I was walking home from work I, while waiting for a crossing light to change, somehow tripped over my own feet and stumbled right into the intersection.  I did a very good Shuffle Off to Buffalo imitation for about ten feet (or three meters for everyone else outside the US) before going right over and tumbling.  The fortunate part involved no cars happening by at the exact moment I performed this pratfall, though one car did enter the turning lane where this happened about five second after I hit the ground.

I was very lucky indeed.

The downside to this adventure was getting both elbows scrapped up badly, getting a dime-sized hunk of skin torn out of my right thigh due to having a set of keys in my pocket, and bruising the hell out of my ribs to the point where taking a deep breath hurts a lot.  My head hurts a little this morning, making me wonder if slamming down onto hard pavement has given me a slight concussion, because if their is anything the 2001 Daytona 500 taught us, it’s that you don’t have to hit the wall to cause brain damage, you just gotta come to a real sudden stop.

This means I didn’t write much at all last night while I went “Ooh” and “Ouch” every time I moved.  I did make notes for a scene I’m going to rewrite, but that was about the extent of my work.

See?  Notes.  I wasn't lying.

See? Notes. I wasn’t lying.

Since I like to be Chatty Cathy on the weekends, I needed something to talk about.  And then it hit me about 4:30 this morning–yeah, my sleep cycle sucks–remember that time I talked about who I imagined my characters looking like when I put them together?  That was for a story involving people who were at my School of Salem eleven years before–what about the characters now?

Ha!  I got you covered.  Lets go through what I’ve written so far and meet the folks.

 

The Kids and their Families.

First, we have Annie’s family, as they are the first we meet.  Annie is an easy one, because the person who first created her did so for a role play, and she knew how she wanted Annie to look.  Annie looks like Jodelle Ferland, better known as Bree the Soon to be Dead Undead in Twilight: Eclipse.

As for Victor and Pavlina, her mother and father, we have Stanislav Ianevski, the original Bulgarian Bon-Bon, and Eve Myles.

Now over to Wales where we meet Kerry’s family.  Since I was in Cardiff I went on a real Torchwood kick, and came up with the following:

Davyn Malibey – Gareth David-Lloyd

Louise Malibey – Indira Varma

As for Kerry . . . I’ve never based his look off anyone.  He’s kind of short, though no shorter than Annie. with an angular face, green eyes, red hair, lots of freckles around his nose, light complexion inherited from his Irish mother.  Since he doesn’t get out much, he has little muscle tone, and his chest is pretty shallow.  When we first meet him he’s wearing rectangular titanium frame glasses, but by the time he reaches his C Levels he ditches the glasses because one, he’s good with transformation magic, and two, unlike the Harry Potter universe–where transformation magic seems to be used only for changing rats into cups–if you’re good at transformation magic, you can fix your freakin’ eyes.

There are two Foundation people who come to visit Kerry.  I kept with my Torchwood roots and have as Burn Gorman as Mr. Mayhew and Yasmin Bannerman as Ms. Rutherford.  In fact, it’s Yasmin’s appearance in the Torchwood episode, They Keep Killing Suzie, that I pretty much used for Ms. Rutherford’s appearance in my story.

"Escort this new witch to Amsterdam?  Beats getting hit on by this omnisexual bloke."

“Escort these new witches to Amsterdam? Beats getting hit on by this omnisexual bloke.”

The Kids on the Train.

We have Collin and Alica.  They are Jamie Bell, from the movie Billy Elliot, and Kelly Macdonald, best known as the voice of Merida from Brave, and as Ewan McGregor’s “I didn’t tell you I’m fifteen before we had sex?” girlfriend from Trainspotting.

The Plane, The Plane.

Deanna, Erwin, and Helena we’ve already met.  That leaves Headmistress Mathilde Laventure and instructor Adric Lewiston.  They are Audrey Tautou and Matthew Waterhouse.  I mean, Adric?  Come on.  You know I went there.

Cernunnos Coven.

We know Isis and Coraline.  That leaves our kid’s new coven leader.  Professor Holoč Semplen is David Nykl, better known as Dr. Radek Zelenka from Stargate:  Atlantis.

Instructors at School.

We know Wednesday, Jessica, Ramona, and Mathias.

Madeline Palmescoff – Mary-Louise Parker.

Victoria Salomon – Vanessa Angel, who I remember as the Tok’ra Anise from Stargate:  SG-1.

Harpreet Bashagwani — here I have to hang my head in shame, because I’d based her upon the picture of a woman from Hyderabad I’d found on a dating site.  Sure, I could have went with a Bollyword actress, but I didn’t.  So–shame, shame.   I know.

What About Our Librarian?

Trevor Parkman is based upon Anthony Head because it should be obvious, no?

And What About Those Other Meddlesome Kids?

Emmalynne Neilson — There’s only been a few glimpse of her so far, but Kerry and she get a big adventure in Act Two, one that doesn’t leave Annie all that pleased.  She’s modeled after Kirsten Dunst.

Lisa Glissandi — Pain in the Ass Mean Girl is modeled after Taylor Swift, only with a lot less talent due to not having a dumped boyfriend to write songs about.  Give her time, though:  there’s still six years to go.

Anna Laskar — Spooky German Girl was a mystery for a bit until I made the following connection–

Mix this:

"No, really, I'm not dangerous--trust me."

“No, really, I’m not dangerous–trust me.”

With her more grown up psycho bitch hairdo:

"I kept verevolve in basement for years; is normal, no, sestra?"

“I keep verevolve in basement for years; is normal, sestra, no?”

And you have Tatiana Maslany in the part.  Anna probably was a young Helena, full of spooky looks and constantly ampped up on sugar.  Check her for severed tails before letting  her into the Samhain Dance.

There you have it:  pretty much all the bases covered as far as characters go.  That leaves just one thing:

Writing.

Yeah, I should get to that today.

Cleaning Out the Fridge

If you follow this blog then you know a few things about me.  I’m a writer; I’m a little bit nuts; and I’m a geek.  These days I don’t know how large of a geek that would be, due to all the brolash that has come up in the last few years about who is “fake” (usually women) and who isn’t (usually the bros makin’ up the rules).  Needless to say my creed is good, and while I might not be able to tell someone exact issue and page for whatever comic one might use as a litmus test for pureness, I know I could come back with my own set of questions that would put them right down on their ass.

As such, many of my friends are geeks in various areas, and many of them were watching closely when the cast pictures for the new Star Wars film was released.  And the thing that a majority of them noticed right away:  one new female actor, one male actor who is black, and a whole lotta white light sabers flashin’ around.  Oh, and Andy Serkis to likely motion capture an alien meant to represent whatever racial stereotype the movie is inadvertently mocking, cause yeah, gotta go there.

At this point it’s difficult to say that if you’re doing any sort of story within a “universe”–which, admittedly, is a pretty big place–it’s not going to be easy to explain away why one doesn’t have more women in their stories, or don’t have more people of color wandering about.  Particularly in geek entertainment, where even in the middle of the second decade of the 21st Century, a large number of stories have women for one of various reasons:  to act as the romantic interests for the male characters, to come off as a bit of fan service for the bros, or to get Fridged and lead one of the male characters into their huge moment of angst.  Naturally, the first two reasons are not mutually exclusive from the last, which allows one to hit the trifecta if you’re really wanting to go in that direction.

I was telling a friend the other day that I had someone looking over my current work in progress, and they had a couple of comments.  The first was, “You have a lot of women.”  And the second was, “And a lot of the characters aren’t Caucasian.”  I asked them if that was a good or bad thing, and the response was, “Well, there are a lot of women in the story . . .”  And that’s true:  it’s pointed out that, in The Foundation, it’s a Lady’s World, with the women outnumbering the men about three-to-one.  At the school the ratios are even higher:  in the student body the girls outnumber the boys about four-to-one (something that Kerry points out to another student), and as far as staff and instructors go . . . never mind:  The Queens Conquer–and have.

As they say, lets look at the cards–literally:

You can't tell who's going to lay into you in class without a score card.

You can’t tell who’s going to lay into you in class without a cheat sheet.

These are just my instructors–the situation is different with the staff.  Three out of four positions are held by women, and the director of security is half-Egyptian.  And all of the support staff are female–you don’t see them, but I do.

But running across my instructors, we have five men in that group.  Fitzsimon Spratt is a black man from Jamaica and Shuthelah Kady is from Turkey.  Holoč Semplen is the lone white male coven leader from the Czech Republic.  And Mathias and Adric are white guys from Canada and England, there for comic relief–just kidding.

Going across Deanna is Iraqi; Harpreet Bashagwani is Indian; Ramona Chai is Chinese.  I haven’t yet worked out Wednesdays full history, but it’s pretty much a given she’s a white girl from New Mexico.  Jessica is black; Helena is half-white, half-Māori.  Maddy, Vicky, and Erywin are white; Polly Grünbach is half-white, half-Moroccan, Inyx Armanjani is from Azerbaijan, and Tristyn Julin is a black woman from South Africa.

Of the five coven leaders four are women; two are white, one is Iraqi, one is black.  One is an Atheist, one is Muslim, two are Wiccans.  One is divorced, one is widowed.  One has never been married, and one is a lesbian in a relationship with another instructor that’s lasted thirty years.  Out of my instructors and staff five are gay/lesbian (sorry:  no bi or trans–yet), and all of them are in relationships–two of the couples are right there in the school, though you haven’t seen the second one yet.

I decided when I started this that if I’m going to represent the world, I had to represent.  I had to bring in people from everywhere, and try and make things as representative as possible.  In time these names will change, new people will arrive–maybe the school will even get more guys.  But I will try and keep a world view; I’ll try and keep things representative.

‘Cause, this being the 21st Century an all, you gotta know there’s a whole universe out there in which to play.  And it’s a very diverse place.

Harboring Sleep Within the Test

The last couple of days my energy has really been at a low ebb.  Now only has work taken its toll of late, but I’ve not been sleeping well–again.  There can be any number of reasons for being tired–though I think a large part is due to my hormone replacement therapy–but the sleep thing?  Damn, that’s been with me forever.

Now, something interesting came up in a conversation yesterday.  Never mind the umpteenth requests I received to get some sleep–I know I’m tired, you don’t need to tell me I need sleep–but this comment that caught my attention:  “Your novel is keeping you awake.  It’s on your mind all the time, and it won’t let you rest.”

Now there’s a secret that isn’t unknown.  I do get caught up in what I’m writing.  I get caught up in the characters.  Sometimes it driver me a little crazy, but I consider that par for the course.  But keeping me awake?  Well, now, that’s something that hasn’t happened before too many times.

Maybe there is some truth here.  I know I slept well last night, so maybe I’ll finish up this enormous scene tonight before Cosmos comes on.  In the meantime–Kerry asked Annie a question, which was, “Don’t you think we did a lot of goofy crap yesterday, and now . . .”  And now here’s the end of that question . . .

 

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

After her chat this morning, Annie had more insight into why she was sent off with the others without waiting for Kerry. Not that I can tell him— “I can agree with everything you said, but why do you think today is a test?”

“I just do.” He tapped his fingers on the table for a few seconds. “What time did she tell you she was called in?”

“She didn’t say—just that she’d been called in for a meeting.”

“But you both talked early, and she already had the debit cards. They could have been sent over, but even so, The Foundation would have made those last night. Which mean they knew this was going to happen.” He glanced out the window, something Annie noticed he did quite often. “There was a card for each of us—our names were on them. Someone went through all this trouble last night so we’d get them this morning.”

“And you think Ms. Rutherford planed this?”

“Not her: this Foundation. Though she probably knew about this and the stuff yesterday.” Kerry finished his sandwich and slowly pushed his plate to the side.

If only I could tell him what I know. Annie had heard about these things from her mother a few days before leaving home, and found none of Kerry’s suspicions shocking. She was also fairly aware of why Ms Rutherford was telling her about what she thought the other students would do today . . . “If it is a test—” Annie rested her head against her right hand and twirled her hair. “—I’m glad I passed.”

Kerry looked downward as he grinned. “I don’t know if it’s one we were expected to pass, but I do think Ms. Rutherford is keeping an eye on us.”

Annie didn’t what to hear Kerry go on about different ways The Foundation could follow them—she knew nearly all of them—so she moved the conversation in another direction. “I’m only asking because I’m curious, but . . . would you have left the hotel if I hadn’t asked you out?”

“I . . .” Kerry chuckled, then pursed his lips as he pushed air through them. “I don’t know. Yesterday wasn’t that bad because I didn’t have to go that far, and we were suppose to be doing things for school.” His sigh was loud, even against the background noise. “I’m glad I didn’t stay in the hotel.”

 

It’s not the sort of test you’re expected to pass?  Oh, Kerry, you poor sap, you’re being tested right now.  Only by someone different and for different reasons . . .

Now I should think about the sort of damage one little girl can do with access to a library full of deadly arcane knowledge.

Not that I don’t already know.

"Yes, I could use my shadows to follow Kerry everywhere--technically the shadows are the ones stalking him . . ."

“Draught of Truthful Submission?  That’s much better than a love potion–”

Shadow Collections

There comes into every writing life where you need to take a break and work on something that isn’t your story.  The break I was working on last night was my nails, and . . . they didn’t turn out the way I wanted.  Boo, hiss, the hell with it.  I stripped them down and brought up the story.

You know, sometimes your instincts are always the best for figuring out what you need to do at any given time.  Sometimes you should just write, even when you don’t feel like it.  Maybe you’ll end up making something crazy and wonderful, or wonderfully crazy, and before you know it, you’re the next big thing.  Or still struggling.  Who know?

Since it was a little late to be writing, I played with the story.  Not in the way you may think:  no, this was writer’s playing–

One of the things I’ve always wanted to try in Scrivener is to set up collections.  To understand Scrivener Collections, you need to understand the Binder.  It’s that thing on the left side of the program when you have it displayed.  Here:

Hey, over here!

Hey, over here!

If you need a better way of imagining the Binder, go to your local store, buy a three-ring binder, return home, find your story, put it in your binder.  There you go:  Scrivener Binder in physical form.  You have all your parts and chapters laid out so you know where everything is located, and you can lay things out in whatever order you like.  Each folder represents whatever you want it to represent:  headings, page markers, whatever it is you put into a binder to keep things neat and orderly.

Then what is a Collection?  Let’s say you have sections of your story that you want to return to from time-to-time, but you don’t want to go looking through your binder for that part.  Maybe it’s some historical information you dug up a while back and you need to review now and then.  Maybe it’s a new scene you’re working on and you don’t know where it should go inside your story.  Maybe it’s an old novel you wrote prior to the mess you’re working on now, and you want to be able to pull it up and check something without it being right there in your face.

If so, you set up a colored tab for that section–in Scrivener that becomes your collection.

Color tabs, just like I said.

Color tabs, just like I said.

And when you want to look at that section of your story, click on the tab and start looking.

You can even get fancy and look at it two different ways if you're of a mind--or even without one, like me.

You can even get fancy and look at it two different ways if you’re of a mind–or even without one, like me.

Working on your story here in the collection is just like working on it inside the main binder, because you’re still in the binder, only you don’t see the rest of it because you’ve pulled this part off by its lonesome.  If you need some additonal research, you can add that to the collection as well–

Or maybe you can give it a home of its own; it might like that.

Or maybe you can give it a home of its own; it might like that.

Collections aren’t forever:  you can keep them as long as you like, then remove them when you’re finished.  It won’t remove the original information–or the changes you made to it–since you were really working in the binder, only . . . not.  Software is funny that way.

There was something else I did as well:  I added a chapter.  What?  Are you insane, Cassie?  Well, yeah, a little, but that’s beside the point.  I’d come up with another set of scenes a few weeks back, and I wanted to incorporate them into the story.  The scene comes at the end of Part Eight, which I call Holidays There and Back, and this happens a few weeks after a somewhat traumatic point in the lives of Annie and Kerry.  Chapter Twenty-Five, Continuations, is meant to show that life not only goes on in this strange world, but sometimes you start learning unusual things and pass that knowledge on to people close to you.

Shadows?  Like the ones trying to take over the galaxy?  Guess again.

Shadows? Like the ones trying to take over the galaxy? Wrong story.

Three interesting scenes, with the last being a tender, maybe a somewhat creepy moment, but more tender in the long run, because it ends with dancing before a fireplace.  And maybe a couple of shadow ribbons.

Yeah, those are gonna be nasty.

The Moments in a Touch

The editing thing–going smoothly.  The rewrite is actually something I’m enjoying a great deal, because now that I feel reconnected with the characters, and this part of the story, it’s coming along fine.  Once I get over the feeling of exhaustion that I have nearly every night.  Hormones, baby:  they aren’t always your friend.

How I’ve set up everything, though, how I planed out this section of the story, once I start editing and rewriting, the words seem to come naturally.  Having my little break marks in the story to show me where things should go help a great deal, too.

And this

There’s a lot of new stuff that goes into that space between the two orange comments.  Some of it is below–

And what is in that below area?  Just look:

 

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

It wasn’t something she wanted to discuss; Annie knew Kerry was curious about their outing yesterday, but she wanted to put the day behind her. “I’d rather not—”

“Please?”

Given that he’d said please—and was looking at her with big, moist, pleading eyes—Annie relented. “Well, then: first there was Collin—” She rolled her eyes. “There’s three of us, and he’s the boy, so he has to have the map. After fifteen minutes he had no idea where we were—in part because he had the map upside down. I finally grabbed it from him and got everyone to the tailor’s shop.”

Kerry could almost see Annie pulling one of the small, printed maps from Collin’s hand and indicating what direction they were suppose to go. “I don’t imagine he was happy with that.”

She half-closed her eyes and hurmped. “He’s a silly boy. He’s a small child from a small town, and a large city like London is far too much for him to handle.”

“Yeah, I can believe that. And what about Alica?”

“Oh, her: all she did was complain—about everything.”

Kerry shrugged. “She’s from Scotland, so that’s pretty normal for her.”

Annie held her breath for a few moments, then burst out laughing. “How can you say that?” She giggled some more. “But she did complain constantly. It began wearing after a while.”

He nodded in agreement. “I noticed that last night. It’s like a sport with her: see how quickly she can wear down everyone else.”

“I didn’t seem to bother you, though.”

“Yeah, well . . .” He tilted his head from side to side while sipping his smoothie. “I’m good at tuning out people after a while.” He sat back in his chair and drew a deep breath. “I get a lot of practice at home.”

Annie didn’t want to bring up this part of his life; after all, she’d heard and seen enough to know his home life was less than ideal . . . “You weren’t tuning me out today, were you?”

“You?” His face darkened as he shook his head. “No, not at all.”

“I did prattle on a bit.”

“No, you didn’t.”

She leaned the slightest over their table. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah.” He shook his head quickly, his eyes now affixed upon hers. “You weren’t talking that much. I think I was talking more than you.”

“You were asking a lot of questions.”

“I know.”

Quite a lot.”

The corners of his mouth turned downward. “Yeah, but, I mean—”

Annie didn’t want to string the boy along too much longer. “Kerry—”

“Yes?”

“I’m teasing.”

He blinked a couple of times, his face stone still. “Really?”

“Yes.” She started to reach across the table, then stopped herself. “I liked talking with you today. And I like the silence we shared. It was . . .” Annie glanced upward as she shrugged. “Perfect. Don’t you think?”

She could tell he didn’t know what to say. Part of her knew he was at wits ends trying to come up with something to say that wasn’t going to sound silly or stupid—and another part of her knew something completely different.

When he found his voice he spoke slowly and assuredly. “It was pretty—nice. It was. I don’t know perfect because . . .” Again he lowered his head, looking at the table. “I’m not sure what perfect should feel like.”

This time Annie did reach across the table and touched his left hand. “It felt like today, Kerry. That’s what perfect is like.”

He looked down at his hand, then up at Annie as she slowly drew hers back.  There was a puzzled look on his face as if he were expecting something, and it hadn’t yet arrived. “I believe you.” His voice was almost inaudible against the background sounds of the restaurant. “I believe you know perfect, Annie.”

“Sometimes.” She winked.

A couple of minutes of silence passed as they both returned to their forgotten meals. Annie began wondering if she’s pushed Kerry too far, if all her moments of contact and minor intimacy were too much for him. She didn’t think what she’d done was strange, because she’d seen her parents do the same with each other for years. The slight glances, the little touches here and there, the brushing of fingers against an arm, the holding of hands . . . I did nothing different. And then there’s

Kerry tapped his fingers against his plate while not looking across the table. “Can I ask you something?”

Annie braced herself for the worse. “You may.”

 

And what is the question Kerry is asking?  Well . . . psych!  I’m not telling.  You’re just gonna have to wait.  But that Annie:  she loves to torture her boy–

She also loves touchy-feely, too.  As I’ve alluded to from time-to-time, there is much more going on between these two that seems . . . normal.  Then again, the only “Normal” person at this table is Kerry, and he’s not all that normal when it comes right down to it.  He’s a bit lost at the moment, but don’t worry:  Annie will show him the way.  More or less.  In time.

And if you only knew what was going on inside her head–

But you will.  Eventually.

 

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.