Wide Awake but Dreaming

Slip into my thoughts and do watch your step


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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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The Curtain Parts

Today is Travel Day once more:  that day where I hop in the car and drive six hundred and thirty-five miles back to The Burg after a week of sleeping in my old own bed.  So on the road about ten my time, and back to the apartment about ten at night Burg Time–or as the kids in my story would say, around twenty-two.

I managed to get Parts One and Two formatted and set up as a pdf for beta reading.  I sent the first one out last night, so right before I headed off to bed someone was reading this:

Yeah, this is what it looks like when you give Scrivener the go-ahead to make your manuscript look nice and pretty.

Yeah, this is what it looks like when you give Scrivener the go-ahead to make your manuscript look nice and pretty.

Two parts, one hundred and seventy-six pages.  Part Three is waiting in the wings, and I know one of my readers will demand I have it to her soon.  I’ll be mean and ship it off about the time the season finale of The Walking Dead comes on, because I’m that sort of mean girl.  Naw, I wouldn’t do that.  I’m not that mean.

This is another of the great things about Scrivener.  I set up what I wanted printed, told it I needed a pdf, set the basic formatting, and there it was–and there it was again, because I’d find something I didn’t like, and I’d go back and fix it, then tell the program I needed another pdf.  I did this for a few hours, because I pretty much did another read through of the manuscript.  My beta reader found a couple of things like words that are unnecessary and a few other things, but I know that’s coming.  There’s one hundred forty thousand words there, and I’ve only given this a pretty good read through, and a so-so yesterday.  There’s probably three or four more edits ahead of this act before it’s to where I want it.

I know this, because I’ve become a better writer in the last year.

But the manuscript is nice and need, and if I’d wanted I could have made this an .mobi and let someone read it straight up as an ebook without navigation.  Or maybe with it, because you can have Scrivener set up your own table of contents.  I should try that and see if it works.  The people could get here sooner:

When Helena smirks, a shiver should run down your spine, 'cause it's not a good smirk.

When Helena smirks a shiver should run down your spine, ’cause it’s not a good smirk.  Don’t worry:  Annie will get to see it next week, ’cause she’s gonna have fun . . .

And right there is where I go from one scene–The Witch House–to another–Selena’s Meadow–with the four “#” there to show where the break happens.  I have them labeled for me, but the reader won’t see them–unless I set it up in a table of content and allow the person reading this on an ebook to go right to the scene.  Not a bad idea, actually.  A bit of work, but . . . if you’re paying to read a huge first act, then you should have the option to do it your way, right?

This gives me extra incentive to get back to The Burg in one piece, ’cause I’ll have someone eager to read Part Three real soon.  Like . . . yesterday soon.

I knew I should have formatted that when I had the time last night.


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Second Leg of the Triathlon

This is what’s waiting for me:

It doesn't look like much, but . . . yeah, it is.

It doesn’t look like much, but . . . yeah, it is.

I began looking over Act Two in detail yesterday, full of the realization that come Monday night I’m going to sit down at this computer and start writing again–just like Liz Parker, only without the trauma that comes from dating a kid from another planet.  (Though now I wonder if Liz Ortecho wrote as well . . .)

The interesting thing, at least for me, is I looked this section of the story over, and I was like, “Eh, I know what I need to do, so no problem here.”  The biggest thing I’m looking at is figuring out what spells the kids are gonna work on in one of the early scenes, though there’s something coming up in transformation class that’s gonna be fun.

And during this mental walk-through I did something that I rarely do.  It’s right there–see?

You gotta look close--see it yet?

You gotta look close–see it yet?

No, you’re not going to see it, because I’m playing with you.  As of yesterday, there was a scene right before “The Walking Tests”, but the more I looked at that scene, and then looked at what I wanted to do in the chapter, the more I came to the realization that it didn’t fit into the flow of what I really want to say in Chapter Fourteen–particularly since the new first scene sets up something that’s spoken of in the scene, “Preparing the Evidence”, and this helps push along the plot to “Confronting the Students”.  Since there’s a scene in Chapter Thirteen that will do the job just as well, I decided to delete the Chapter Fourteen scene.

This is one of the reasons why I lay everything out before I write, then look everything over again and again.  When I laid out the novel I knew what I wanted to say in that scene, but as you work things out in your head, and you see these scenes three, four, five times before you start writing, it’s a simple matter of knowing if they’re going to fit or not.  I know my novel, I know what’s happening–and I knew after some consideration that scene didn’t fit.  So off to Scene Hell you go, love.  Have fun.

I also thought up a few scenes for the next book–what did you say?  You’ve seen my time lines, you know I’ve thought things out way more in advance of this first novel.  There is more to this story than just Act One, and about the only thing I don’t have all that figured out is what happens during the last year of school for this kids.  Oh, I have a general idea, but nothing down in any sort of detail.

The last thing I have to do today–besides everything else I need to do before heading back to The Burg tomorrow–is print off Parts One and Two for someone who wants to beta read the story.  Since Scrivener lets you determine what you want to print, I’m removing Part Three from the compile options and I’ll have that pdf created before you know it.

If only the weather were better today . . .


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Act Two of Act One

As I mentioned a couple of weeks back, when you have time on your hands and you’re looking for something to do, you might end up, oh, I don’t know, editing a whole lot of words because you don’t want to do it later?  It wasn’t enough that I was editing someone else’s novel, but I decided that I was time to get into my own.  I mean, time be time, right?

So, in the period of just under two weeks, I put my just under one hundred and forty thousand word novel through a first pass edit.  I fixed words; I rewrote passages that were wrong; I deleted words that weren’t needed; I add those that were.  And what do I have?

Nice and shiny, it is.  Oh, yes:  it is.

Nice and shiny, it is. Oh, yes.

Act One is a First Pass Finish, and “They went home” is probably as good a close as I’ve done.  And now I’m about to get the kids into some insanity, so that’s going to keep me busy for a while–

In fact, I may start on that insanity tomorrow.  Maybe today.  Maybe today.  But right now I’m so ready to write I’m about to flip out.  Not that I haven’t done that before, but this is a good flip out.  Particularly after I worked up one of the scenes in my head yesterday, and when I realized it was going perfect lead-in for a few scenes that follow, I had to pat myself on the back and say, “You rock when it comes to this shit, Cassie.”

What does the story look like now?  Cleaner.  I did a good read of manuscript and caught things that were missing, and removed words and phrases that were redundant.  But I also added a few things.  How much?  Well, the First Draft was 139,375 words; the Revised Draft First Pass is 140,290 words–a net addition of nine hundred and fifteen words.  Not bad, really, particularly if it makes things better.

What will happen now is I’ll remove Act One from Compile status and set up Act Two that way, so Scrivener will track the word count for all the new material.  I say with all my heart that I don’t want to write another one hundred forty thousand words for this part, but I’m pretty certain it’s gonna top one hundred thousand without a problem.  Transporting is two hundred forty-five thousand words, and I see myself getting damn close to that total by the time I get to the end of Act Two, where I’ll type something along the lines of, “Good evening, Headmistress; ladies.  May we have a word?”  See?  You already know how Act Two is going to end, which means I’m in a good mood, since I almost never give away anything.

It’s a happy day around here because I’m ready to get into the three or four month slog for the second act of my novel, where Annie and Kerry are gonna learn things about their abilities, and both will find themselves in some incredibly deep caca at a couple of points in the upcoming school year.  There will be blood and more than a few trips to the hospital.

It’s gonna be glorious.  I can’t wait.

"There's nothing I like more than torturing my characters!  Yay!"

“There’s nothing I love more than putting my characters though hell! Yay!”


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Sky Captain and the Dark Witch

Here it is, Tuesday, and by this evening I’ll have the first read-through edit of the The Foundation Chronicles finished.  There are three and a half scenes remaining, and one of those scenes is seven hundred fifty words and a no-brainer to do, so I should burn through that in no time.

The scenes I was into last night were lovely:  Kerry way, way up in the air, and Annie suffering in some deep despair.  It’s an interesting metaphor, because until last night I didn’t realize that it’s a moment where Kerry is finally learning to soar, to accept that he’s not this huge loser that he’s believe he was for so long, while at the same time Annie’s sinking, telling Deanna the Seer that she wonders if she’s dragging him off to a destination not of his choosing–and then hearing of the report The Foundation put together on Kerry–and it doesn’t give a faltering description of the ginger lad.

It’s a nice dichotomy–not Die Me, Dichotomy, mind you–but it’s strange that until last night I didn’t recognize the inferences.  And these tie in with the scenes that follow, which bring a nice resolution to the prior four scenes.  If I’d actually considered writing it that way–well, it probably wouldn’t have turned out as well . . .

"I haven't seen something this bad since the last time I visited White Castle."

“I haven’t seen a mess this bad since the last time I visited White Castle.”

I’ve already started looking ahead to the next scenes, taking what the metadata is telling me and putting the ideas in my head.  I already knew them when I laid the novel out, but now everything is starting to gel in a good way.  I mean, take a look:

It all means something--doesn't it?

It all means something–doesn’t it?

Chapter Thirteen looks pretty straight forward–spells, something at the Madness, Nurse Coraline working her magic, and–oh, look, a Genesis song and someone must be having a birthday.  Yeah, those are easy to work out.  Now Chapter Fourteen is a little more difficult–there are labs and rhymes about September, and something about confronting students–doesn’t sound good.  And The Walking Tests?  Yeah, I’m having fun with that one.

What this tells me is that my kids are gonna have a busy September, and with that they’ll get the first month of classes behind them.  They’ll be well tested by them–maybe.  Who knows what’s going to happen with this stuff, right?  I do, but that’s because I’ve been living with this in my head for a couple of years, and now it’s time to let it out and run around the yard for a while.  Otherwise it’s gonna go nuts and start tearing up the furniture.

Today or tomorrow I end one segment of this story, and next Monday night I move on to the next.  I may do some editing passes on this once I start Act Two, or I may wait until Act Two is finished and do it all from the beginning once more.  Act One will go quickly because I’ve already given it a bit of a polish, and then I can go nuts on Act Two.  And then . . .

I can’t think about Act Three right now.  That’s off in the future and I’m not Deanna Arrakis–

Or am I?

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