Blog Hopping the Worldwide Artist Way

Do not panic!  I’m just taking control of programming and bringing you something else for a quick moment.  Trust me:  the followup to the dreams of Annie and Kerry are coming.

No, this is something I haven’t done in a while:  I’m giving a short interview for the Worldwide Artist Blog Hop!  I wouldn’t lie, no I wouldn’t.

I was nominated by the owner of HodgePodge Crochet, my good friend Tanya, and while most of the people she knows are of the crocheting persuasion, she’s also known me for a long time and also knows there’s not a lot of times I’ll say “no” to her, so when she asks if I’ll jump in on this sucker, I’m like, “Wait–you want me to do something?  For you?  I’ll get right on that, Missy!”  I didn’t actually act that way, but I gotta make it sound more exciting than me PMing her back and saying, “No problem.”

Does this housewife look like she'd say no to a good friend?

Beside, does this housewife look like she’d say no to a good friend?

It’s a simple process:  I answer four questions, and then I nominate two other blogers who may or may not accept this challenge.  I can’t get too upset if they say no, because I tend to blow these things off as well, but I’ll give it a shot and see if they go for it, or write nasty things about me in one of their blog posts.

With that in mind, let’s get to the questions, shall we?

 

Why do I do what I do?

I do it because these days I have to.  I’ve mentioned many times on this blog about the struggles I’ve had over the years with becoming a serious writer, and it wasn’t until I took a creative writing course in 2010 that I decided to give it a try and to keep at it.  However, I didn’t have much of a success at it until July 2011, when I was asked to write a story for a possible Halloween anthology.  With a bit of a push–and a lot of editing help–from Tanya (the same one who nominated me for this blog hop), I wrote Kuntilanak, and the rest is kinda history.  Since then I’ve kept at the writing, and next year I’m determined to start a big push to publish, either the self way, or through the “traditional” fashion.

 

How does my work differ from others of it’s genre?

This is one of those crazy, insane questions for which there isn’t any real answer.  I’d say my settings and ideas aren’t all that different from others, but I always try to come up with interesting characters.  In fact, I feel all my stories are character driven, as they are the one who actual make the story work, and keep the reader interested.  If you don’t have interesting characters, you’ll have to throw in a lot of Bayplosions, and I’m not good with those.

 

How does my creative process work?

Holy geez, as my character Kerry would say, I could spend all night talking about this question.  Let me try and keep it below the word count of my current work in progress . . .

Once I get an idea I think about it–a lot.  I might spend a month hammering out things like characters and plot, and as that happens I might begin to make notes about events and characters.

During this point I start actively piloting out the story, usually in Scrivener (my writing software of choice), though I will often check the story’s time line using Aeon Timeline, which is another great piece of software.  If I feel like I need to develop an event or character–either before I start writing, or during the process itself–I’ll jump into Scrapple and start making mind map notes.

By the time I get to writing, I know who my main characters are, who the secondary characters are, what everyone is going to do, who they know, who they like, who they don’t like, and who they’ll change opinions about.  I also know where the story is going, and while I may change a few things along the way–like deleting or adding scenes–I generally don’t have to because I’ve already roughly written the story in my head.  All I gotta do is, you know, put those words into the computer.

 

What am I working on now?

My current work in progress is a name titled The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, a novel I started on 30 October, 2013, a couple of days before that year’s NaNoWriMo, and am still going at strong, having already added nearly another forty-five thousand words since 1 November, 2014.  I know some of you are asking, “You’ve been working on this for over a year?  How big is this novel?”

Big.

Big.

Yes, that says three hundred and thirty-seven thousand, ninety-four words, and I’m maybe seventy thousand words from the end.  Maybe.  I’ve joked that this is my Infinite Jest, and it certainly is as big as any of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, but without the character deaths–which I can change if I get bored . . .

I will finish this story, and it will happen early in the next year, and the fact that I’m going to add fifty thousand words to this by the end of the month means I’m feeling like I could actually add another thirty or forty thousand words in December, so maybe–I’ll finish it before 2015?  Hey, if I can type “The End” by the end of January 2015, I’ll be a happy girl.

 

There you go:  my answers to the four presented questions.  Now, the big question–who do I nominate.  Well, now, here we go–and don’t hate me, ladies, because I’m beautiful; I’m sure you can find all sorts of other reasons.

 

Burgess Taylor, who loves to write with coffee in hand and who feels like a true kindred spirit when it comes to getting those words out–even when she struggles with it, as I have from time to time.

And a friend from Down Under–Rachel Tsoumbakos, who not only writes novels but does some wonderful reviews of current TV shows like American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones.  We sometimes chat about all three shows–more like I leave witty comments on her posts and she witties me back–and more times than not her reviews leaving me smiling.  Just don’t ask her about her nick for Cersei, which means you will . . .

 

Okay, there it is.  Hope you had fun, and believe me when I say there’s another post coming.

Would I lie?

 

Our People in Paris: the Meetup

NaNo wordage was met last night, and then some, but due to . . . shall we say, issues, occurring, I didn’t finish the scene.  And I know some people reading this right now are probably reaching for their hair going, “Cassie!  You promised!”

 

"Seriously?  You're pulling this crap?"

“Seriously? You’re pulling this crap?”

Sue me, sunshine, because sometimes there are things well beyond your control.  But I managed my NaNo count, and the scene is close to an end, and I will probably flow into the next scene tomorrow.  Either way, Act Two will finish this weekend at the latest.

But what happened last night?  Well, there was a meeting, but before that was a nervous Kerry . . .

 

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

Kerry had pretty much stopped shaking by the time he reached the Main Conference Room across from the Headmistress’ Office. He’d found a message waiting on his school email account that he was to report there by ten, and that the meeting with the person from Paris would end before lunch. Nothing more was stated, which didn’t leave him feeling at ease.

Even though she wasn’t asked, Kerry brought Annie along. He wasn’t at all sure about what he was going to hear, or what was going to happen, but he wanted her next to him no matter what. He was afraid she was going to be asked to leave once they arrived, but he was intend to argue for her to be there.

After all, he had nothing to hide: he hoped the people from Paris didn’t, either.

They showed up in the antechamber that separated the Headmistress’ Office from the Main Conference room. Kerry found someone familiar waiting. “Ms. Rutherford—what are you doing here?”

“Hello, Kerry.” She gave him a quick smile, then turned to Annie. “Hello, Annie. It’s nice to see you again.”

“Nice to see you, Ms. Rutherford. And congratulations on being Kerry’s Intermediary.” Annie found it a bit unusual that this particular woman was here; Kerry had told her about the new part she was playing, but it didn’t explain why she was here now.

“Thank you, Annie.” Ms. Rutherford looked over both children. “I don’t recall anyone but you being invited, Kerry.”

“I know, but . . .” He held Anni’s hand tight and gave it a squeeze. “I want her to be here—I think she should be here.”

“Very well, then.” Ms. Rutherford pushed open the door to the conference room. “Shall we go in?”

 

So is Ms. Rutherford there to calm someone?  To reassure?  What’s going on?  And she’s not from Paris, either:  we know that.  But we find out who is from Paris, and why she’s there.

 

The room was large, but at the moment the only things inside were a long table and seven high backed chairs. The Headmistress stood at one end of the table, and next to here stood a tall dark haired woman with a dusty complexion. No one else was present. Ms Rutherford led Annie and Kerry over for introductions. “Kerry, Annie, this is Ms. Yalpat. Nuray, this is Kerry Malibey and his . . .” A slight grin spread across Ms Rutherford’s face. “. . . girlfriend, Annie Kirilova.”

“Pleased to meet you both.” For a moment it seemed as if she were going to shake Kerry’s hand. “You’re the one who brought me here, yes?”

“Um . . .” He wasn’t sure if he should answer the question or not.

“It’s okay, Kerry.” Ms. Yalpat chuckled and waved away his concern. “It was meant to be rhetorical. Come, let’s sit.”

Kerry waited for Annie to sit before he picked the seat to her right. Ms. Rutherford and Ms. Yalpat sat on the other side of the table, with Ms. Yalpat sitting across from Annie and Ms. Rutherford across from Kerry. The Headmistress selected to sit in the chair at the head of the table. The moment she was settled she looked about the room. “I think we can start now, even if it is a little early.”

“A little early gets me back into Paris in time to freshen up before dinner.” She turned her attention to Kerry. “As you’ve surmised, I’m here before of the search that was conducted on Aisling Callaghan. As you may have also surmised, Aisling is indeed in our data base—but what you couldn’t have known is that we’ve been waiting a long time for someone to look for her name.

 

And once the preamble is out of the way, Ms. Yalpat gets into the history:

 

“Aisling was a witch, as you may have guessed. She was born 20 April, 1807, in the area where you grandfather searched for her. Callaghan isn’t her actual family name: it was originally Whelan. Nor was Aisling her given name, but seeing as how she was shadowed into the Normal world, none of that matters, do it?

“Aisling was discovered just after she turned seven—”

Annie looked at Kerry and spoke in a “Almost the same age at which you were noted.”

“What?” This was the first time he’d heard concerning the first time he’d come to The Foundation’s attention.

“It’s not important, Kerry.” Ms. Yalpat shot Annie a disturbing look before continuing. “What is important is that Aisling was moved in with a family in Liverpool that knew something of magic, and it was there she was allowed to perform magic and perfect her Craft before going to school.”

“There were families that knew magic?” It wasn’t a surprise there were witches in England at that time, but Kerry imagined they’d keep quiet about what the could do. Except if the people before The Foundation were involved in this, then they had to know about these people . . .

“Of course, Kerry. In fact, the family Aisling lived with were rather good at it. The father had studied with a coven in Belgium, and the mother—” Ms. Yalpat chuckled. “How do you think we came to know of the famous School of Salem?”

 

And that’s how we knew of the the Salem school, ’cause witches hooked up with those groups who were on their way to becoming The Foundation, and talked about what they learned.  For historical sake, The Foundation didn’t buy the Salem School until the 1870’s, about two hundred years after it was founded.  History!

And Kerry learns, the hard way, how Greatty Grandma Aisling could go to Oxford and not get tared and feathered by all the dudes there:

 

“Aisling learned her Craft, and eventually attended school at Edinburgh, which we now know as ECMI. Aisling graduated from there and then went on to attend school in Oxford—”

“How did she manage that?” Kerry was still puzzled about how she and other women could go to an all-male college and never have a problem. “No one noticed there women going to class?”

“Kerry—” Ms. Yalpat crossed her arms on the table top as she leaned over them. “You saw the Abominations breach the Salem defenses, did you not?”

He nodded slowly. “Yeah.”

“Did you hear of hear of any the major news organizations in the Normal world reporting on the attack on Salem?”

“Um, no.”

“Your parents work for the BBC; did they hear anything from their news organization about the attack?”

“No.”

“Well, then . . .” Ms. Yalpat’s eyes sparkled. “If magic can be used to cover as large an event as the Day of the Dead Attack, it should be rather easy to enchant women with Glamore spells so they aren’t noticed, don’t you think?”

“Of course.” Annie turned to Kerry. “I didn’t think of that, either.”

“Neither did I.” They were just getting into using Glamore in Advanced Spells, and everyone was finding it a little tricky to work because you had to visualize an image you wanted to project for others to see, and getting the image right was hard, especially when you couldn’t see the image from the outside. “That would make everything easier.”

 

Glamore, bitches:  it works.  Most people would look at that as a fae spell, and I’m not saying if there are fae or not.  There were fae in Torchwood, and they were mean little suckers.

There’s something else that comes up in conversation as well:

 

“All that changed when Deheune came along . . .” Ms Yalpat’s demeanor changed. “She’s the one that we’ve kept hidden.”

This was a name Kerry hadn’t heard yet. “Who’s Deheune?”

“She was Aisling’s first born, and almost as good a witch as her mother.”

“I thought the first kid born was Gwendolyn?”

“That was the history that was created; she was born five years later. Deheune would have been your great-great-great-great aunt—had she lived.”

 

So there wasn’t another witch, but . . . what happened to her?  Well, I said in the scene, but I’ve not said it here.  Needless to say, she didn’t found a witch line, and if The Foundation kept her hidden from Kerry’s family, something happened to her.  In the scene Kerry discovered he’s the first of his family to hear of this aunt that never was.

There’s something else, too–

 

“It’s likely. Aisling watched her children, and grandchildren, for signs they might develop Awareness, but by the time your great-grandmother Paulette was born she’s pretty much given up hope of ever seeing another witch in the family.”

“Wait a minute . . .” He sat back and held out his hands as if pushing something away. “I’ve seen my grandpa’s charts, and Grandma Paulette was born in 1904; Grandma Aisling died in 1903—”

“No, Kerry: Aisling vanished from sight in 1903.”

“What?”

Annie stiffened slightly: she knew what was coming, and she was afraid Kerry wasn’t ready to hear what was coming next. He doesn’t know about how long we can live . . . “Kerry—”

He turned to his left. “Yes?”

“Remember how I’ve told you to keep an open mind from time-to-time?”

“Yeah.”

“This is one of those times.” She nodded at Ms. Yalpat. “Continue, please.”

 

This is going to come up in the next scene:  age, and how long witches live.  As you see below, Aisling had a long life . . .

 

“Yeah. Um . . . when did Aisling die?”

Ms. Yalpat finally pulled the tablet in front of her. “8 June, 1950. Her son Randal passed on almost two years later.”

Kerry took several deep breaths as he consider everything he’d been told. “Okay, yeah. I mean . . .” He didn’t know how to put his thoughts into words. “I can’t tell my grandfather about this, can I?”

“No, not yet. We’ll send you an electronic copy for this, and in a couple of days we’ll courier over hard copies of everything.” Ms. Yalpat shook her head. “But you wouldn’t be able to come out with this information until at least after your B Levels are complete, and maybe . . .” She spread her hands. “Maybe even a little longer.”

“I understand.” Kerry turned to Annie, then looked down the table to the Headmistress before turning back to Ms. Yalpat. “Is that all?”

“Actually, Kerry . . .” Ms. Yalpat shook her head. “That’s not the reason we’re here.”

 

And why are they there?  Only I know!  Sorry, I had to throw that in.  But I will write this tonight, and you’ll learn of it tomorrow–I promise!  I really do.

You gotta trust me on this one . . .

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/2:  2,043

NaNo Total Word Count:  11,070

The View Beyond The Foundation Window

Where was I last night?  Actually I had to run out and pick up a couple of things, and by the time that was over I was back at the apartment somewhere around seven-thirty.  After I got back onto the computer and started working . . . nothing was really coming.  It’s interesting how that happens, you know.  Eleven hundred words the night before, less than four hundred last night.

But since I was asked, “Who is Kerry gonna speak with at lunch?” it’s only fair I show you.  And Kerry is a mess right now.  He is Mr. Mopie Sadsack right now, because his sweetie is off in Bulgaria–probably walking up after whatever magic The Foundation slipped into her Readjustment Mixture works its magic and got her on the proper local time–and he doesn’t even feel like eating, which is a first for him.  However, someone comes a callin':

 

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

It hasn’t even been three hours— Kerry poked the Italian sausage on the right side of his plate. And I’ve gotta stay here for like another nine hours—or ten—maybe longer . . .

“Now here’s a young man with something on his mind.” Kerry looked up from his plate to find Professor Sladen standing across the table from him. She regarded him with a studied eye. “Ah, he is conscious, and not in some self-imposed trance.”

He chuckled as he set his fork to the side. “Hi, Professor Sladen.”

Erywin waved dismissively at him. “Oh, please: school’s out for the year. You can called me Erywin.”

“I don’t know if I can get used to calling you all by your first names.”

“’You all’?”

“You know: instructors.”

“Well–” She placed her hands upon her hips. “You have no problem addressing Wednesday by her first name—what does she have that I haven’t got?” She chuckled as his face turned a bright red. “May I join you?”

Kerry calmed himself and nodded. “Please do . . . Erywin.”

 

All this calling instructors by their given name and stuff–really, it’s going to drive a kid crazy.  And what has she comes to talk about?  I’ll have to write that tonight.

It’s interesting that now that the novel is moving towards the end of Act Two and a few truths are going to emerge, not just with Kerry but with Annie as well.  And in Act Three we finally get out of the school and wander about the land beyond the walls.  I was asked recently about the world beyond the walls of Salem and what it was like, and my answer was simple:  it’s the world of 2011 as we knew it–because we are in 2014, and we’re looking back–and there isn’t much of a change other than one discovers during this story that there’s a shadow organization that spans the entire globe and not only gathers children from all over the world, but brings them to a school that no one can see save for those known as The Aware.

I mean, take a look.  There’s the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning (SIGEL) right in the middle of the picture, just to the north of Gloucester and to the east of Rockport.

It's right there.  Don't you see it?

It’s right there. Don’t you see it?

I see it, because I know the layout in my head, but that huge green area in the middle of Cape Ann, where one would find a large forest and quarries and even the remains of Dogtown, there is instead a huge, walled school that normal people live next to and have no idea exist.  That’s where your smoke and mirrors and magic all come into play, convincing everyone that all is right in the world and there’s nothing to worry about, because should you wander into that area, everything you think you’re gonna find you will.

Annie and Kerry get to venture into the old world–well, old to Kerry; Annie’s always been used to living in her Foundation World while dealing with the Other World–and they’ll travel into Salem, maybe even by train.  I can’t tell you what they’re doing there, because spoilers and River would come after me, but it’s not something anyone would probably believe at this point.  Needless to day, being outside in the world is going to have an affect on both my kids.

And Annie will be haunted by one of her deepest fears right in front of this statue in Salem.  Probably because Samantha Stevens has that effect on young witches.

And Annie will be haunted by one of her deepest fears right in front of this statue in Salem. Probably because Samantha Stevens has that effect on young witches.

The later stories (yes, there are more stories) get out into the real world even more, and if I ever get the second novel written you’ll see Kerry out and about, though the third, forth, and fifth novels would actually see them outside the walls of Salem a lot more.  Right now they’re innocent A Levels and I can’t let them leave the safety of the school.

Which is why Kerry’s already been in a coma.  Because safety.

Count the Ways to Count the Story

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

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

Let’s take a look, shall we?

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

I know, it feels like I'm bragging.

I know, it feels like I’m bragging.

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

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

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

I don't miss you, you monster.

I don’t miss you, you monster.

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

I take all of Part Seven--

I take all of Part Seven–

Press the “Compile” button . . .

To 149 pages of awesome.

And turn it into 149 pages of awesome.

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

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

Now it really feels like bragging--

Now it really feels like bragging–

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

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

Right down here.  See?

Right down here. See?

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

Three thousand seems like a good number.

Three thousand seems like a good number.

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

Look--new stuff!

Look–new stuff!

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

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

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

Act Two seems quite the page turner.

Act Two seems quite the page turner.

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

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

Good News Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But really:  nothing bad happens.

Well . . . nothing too bad.

Aid Time, Angry Annie Aftermath

I’ve been rocking out on David Bowie this morning, writing to Station to Station, and now blogging to Scary Monsters and Super Creeps.  Both brilliant works, and standing up to what passes for music today.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in this time that I love the work so much, but the truth is I wasn’t a huge Bowie fan as a teen, and it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve been able to revisit his catalog and revel in his brilliance.

Why am I bringing up Bowie?  No reason.  Just into the music this morning as I grow closer to the end of Chapter Twenty-Two.  The penultimate scene is finished, and all that remains is the last scene, Intervention, then I can move on to the end of this long and dangerous day for my kids.  As for now, Annie’s part in this chapter is over, but Chapter Twenty-Three is almost all her observations of ongoing events inside the Great Hall as night falls.

Until then, she has to resolve these issues she is having–like whether or not to rip Emma’s lungs out and squeeze them . . .

 

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

Annie never let her emotions rule her; she never allowed them to driver her impulses. She’d told Kerry that she never cried, and it was also true that she was never angry in the ways that people understood anger. She wouldn’t scream or shout, but rather turn cold and keep her fury contained.

But now . . .

She’d never been in the position of having someone she loved put in a position of danger that could lead to injury or death. Kerry was out there, on the school grounds, perhaps with an Abomination after him—or maybe it had caught him and he was lying in the forest dead and . . .

Either way, alive or dead, whatever was happening to Kerry was due to this girl . . .

Annie pull Emma’s jacket tight around her throat. Her eyes never left those of the frightened and now-drugged girl, and Annie resisted the urge to shake and scream at her for being such a silly, stupid, ignorant girl, but she kept the words she wanted to yell at the top of her voice within her thoughts. How could you do this to Kerry? How could you not listen to him? How could you leave a safe place and lead him to his death

A hand tightened around the back of Annie’s neck and she was ripped away from Emma. She was pulled away from the triage area and towards the West Transept; a few seconds later Coraline spun her around and shook her roughly. “The hell is wrong with you?”

Annie quickly gathered her wits about her and realized what was happening. “I—”

“I said you could use that shit against the Deconstructors if they got in here.” She pointed back at the triage area a few meters away. “I didn’t mean you could use it on our patients.”

Annie’s vision followed Coraline’s outstretched arm. Emma was still in her examination chair; Nurse Gretchen hovered over the girl, swabbing away the rivets of blood emanating from Emma’s nose and tear ducts . . .

“Get her up to the ward: Bed Fourteen.” As soon as she received an acknowledgment from Gretchen, Coraline returned her attention to Annie. “You better have a damn good reason for what just happened, or I’m gonna lock you up in my office for the rest of this situation, Annie.” She folded her hands in front of her, trying not to come off as too domineering. “Well?”

 

The question came up yesterday, “Is Annie the only one who knows death spells?” and the answer to that is, out of all the A Levels, yes, she’s the only one who knows death spells–in particular, she knows one, Exsanguination, which is a D Level spell if one must know.  Both of Annie’s parents were pretty good with Sorcery, and while they didn’t go that route, they have books about the house, and little Annie found those books and read through them.  Ergo, that’s how she learn a death spell.

And what is Exsanguination?  Here is the definition:  “The action or process of draining or losing blood.”  In laymen’s terms it means you bleed a lot, and if you bleed enough, you’ll bleed to death.  Those rivets of blood coming from Emma’s nose and eyes?  Yep.  Annie was laying a little death spell on her, and if she’d actually put her mind to it, Emma would have had blood spurting from her nose faster than a teenage Japanese boy in a hentai animation.

That’s what she was being tasked to use on the “bad guys” if they got into the Great Hall.  Annie was gonna bleed them out–and not slowly.  Someone who knows what they’re doing, like Professor Lovecraft, could make a person bleed from every pore and opening in their body, which means you could put a person down in a mater of seconds.  Yes, it’s a messy way to go–but in my world it’s them or you, right?

There are other students who know how to do this sort of thing.  Do they used them against other students?  No.  Why?  For one, most students at the level where death spells are taught are also taught how to block them.  But also because if someone starts slinging that sort of magic, they’d vanish.  It’s that simple.  Kill a student while you’re a student and that’s it, you no longer exist.  Remember how Isis thought The Foundation might have to do something with Kerry and Emma’s parents if something happened to them?  They’d have basically made them vanish from existence, and anyone who’d come in contact with them would forget them–forever.  Same thing happens to wacky students going around trying to kill people:  they vanish.  Usually into Cloudland.  But that’s another story . . .

There was another question as well:  is that the only death spell?  Nope.  There’s no Avada Karvada in this world:  there are many ways to kick someone off this physical plain in a permanent fashion.  I know this because I have a list:

Spell List:  a work in progress you never leave home without.

Spell List: a work in progress you never leave home without.

Anything listed as “Sorcery (Morte)” is a spell designed to kill.  Yes, it can be used for other things:  Lovecraft used Electrify on Kerry the first day of Sorcery class because she wanted to see if she could get Annie to react, and her skill with the spell is such that she can shock you a little, or she could flat-out fry a person where they sat and they’d be dead before they knew they were dying.

Really, though:  any kind of magic could be used to off someone if you’re inventive enough.  During The Scouring–the other time The Deconstructors came and tried to destroy the school–Wednesday, while a student, killed a Deconstructor by creating a little tornado around his body and flaying him to death with dust and stone particles.  As she’s been known to say, Visualization, Energy, and Willpower:  if you can imagine it, you can make it happen.  If you can see how to do it, and you can channel that magical mojo into your Craft, all you need is the will to make it happen.

Annie’s had it drilled into her that using a death spell just to use it against someone is bad.  She had a slip-up, and . . . yeah, she explained to Coraline that she lose control for a moment because of what happened with Emma and Kerry, and it was her bad, don’t worry, it won’t happen again.  And Coraline, knowing how magic can go sideways when you’re upset, understands . . .

 

“Okay.” Coraline put a finger across Annie’s lips. “Don’t say that. Don’t think the worst.” She began slowly running her hands over Annie’s shoulders, trying to comfort her. “I’ll make this one up as a loss of control—” She leaned closer and eyed Annie hard. “But it’s not going to happen again—is it?”

“No.” Annie shook her head. “It won’t. I’m sorry, Nurse Coraline.”

“Yeah, well . . .” She looked back at the now-empty examination chair. “Emma’s the one you should apologize to, not me.” Coraline tapped Annie’s shoulders. “Let’s get back to work; I have a feeling more are coming.”

They’d taken no more than three steps when Coraline touched Annie’s arm and stopped her. “Hey. Kerry’s a smart boy.” She gave the worried girl a smile that she hoped would put her at ease, though she knew it likely wouldn’t. “If there’s anyone who can get away from an Abomination, it’s him.”

 

See?  All is forgiven–more or less.

As for that last statement, Coraline–

I may have something to say about that . . .

Though intervention usually means help is on the way . . .

Though intervention usually means help is on the way . . .

Talks Among the Ins and Outs

The new day is here, and there is a feeling of getting things done today.  Don’t know why–maybe I just woke up in a good mood.  It’s always a plus to have that happen.

But there was also writing last night.  Lots of writing.  You want proof?  Here:

See?  I wouldn't lie.  Much.

See? I wouldn’t lie. Much.

Almost twelve hundred words to finish up the last scene in Chapter Twenty-One.  Not only that, but the novel is over ninety thousand words, and I’m creeping up on another milestone here, which I’ll discuss in a moment.

But first, the writing . . .

There’s a five-way conversation going on in this scene.  Isis and Wednesday in the Security Center, Ramona Chai and Fitzsimon Spratt, the Practical Super Science instructor, on the ground at the scene of the break-in, speaking through a couple of magical floating cameras/monitors, and the Headmistress in her lair in Sanctuary.  Question of the hour is:  how did they break in?  Answer . . .

 

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

The Headmistress glared at all through the video display. “You have an explanation for what happened, Isis?”

“I do.” She’d seen this demeanor many times before: she called it the “Mean Headmistress Look” and it only appeared when the Mathilde didn’t want to leave any doubt as to who was in control of the conversation.

“And?”

“The computer analysis shows the Deconstructors threw a number of people as a small spot on the screen, one right after another, in an attempt to hammer through a breach.”

“When you mean ‘one right after another’—”

“I mean they teleported people into the same spot on the screen in a matter of about ten second. As soon as one person hit the screen, another was right behind them, doing the same.” She turned and indicated Wednesday. “Wends has looked at the data as well, and agrees with that analysis.”

On the Monitor Two Fitzsimon—who was sending and receiving images from a Spy-Eye, one of several that the Rapid Response kept on hand for this sort of thing—raised his hand. “If I may something, Headmistress.”

Mathilde softened her glare a little. “Go ahead, Fitz.”

“Ramona and I have had a chance to examine both bodies.” The Self Defense and Weapons Instructor nodded from Monitor Three, watching and recording about six meters from Fitzsimon. “It looks like the body I’m standing over—the one that wasn’t retrieved by our stone friends—”

Isis spoke up. “That would be Gahooley.”

This gave the opportunity for the Headmistress to sigh loud enough for all to hear. “Is it actually necessary to give all the gargoyles names?”

“I find it necessary.”

 

Leave it to Isis to name “her” gargoyles.  And should we ask how it is she’s come into command of gargoyles in the walls, because if she’s giving one a name, there are probably more out there.  In a way it’s kind of scary.

But they get back to the matte at hand:

 

“Thank you.” He glanced at the body lying on the ground but didn’t kneel, knowing the Spy-Eye would follow if he did. “Of the two who made it through, this one appears in the worst shape: burnt by the energies in the screen, and missing part of his right arm.”

“He’s the one that was DOA coming through.” Isis wanted the Headmistress to know that even with a breach, the effort wasn’t a complete success.

“Yes. But . . .” Fitzsimon’s turned back to the camera. “He was wearing a device, and it’s obvious it was imbued with an enchantment.”

This was of interest to both the Headmistress and Wednesday, though the Mathilde was the first to speak. “What sort of enchantment?”

“It’s difficult to say right now; there’s only the lingering presence of an enchantment.” Fitzsimon shrugged. “Isis, Wednesday: did you see anything in your data that indicated a drain spell was used?”

Wednesday was slow to respond, as if she was going over what she’d viewed from the computers trying to see if she missed a key bit of evidence. “I didn’t see anything that stood out as a drain spell, but . . .” She turned to Isis and shrugged. “If they were throwing themselves against the screen trying to hammer it down, the energy flares could have covered it up. Particularly if it wasn’t a large spell.”

“It wouldn’t have to be large. If it was formed correctly, it’d end up being like a shape charge.”

“Yeah.” Isis shrugged. “But you couldn’t use a lot of them; too much of a chance you’d waste them before you hit the screen.”

Fitzsimon nodded. “Absolutely correct.”

 

There you see magic being used for practical effects–magical shape charges, if you will.  And now coming the whys and wherefores of how they got in, plus a little digging from the Headmistress.

 

The Headmistress wanted to get back to the point which originally brought this conversation together. “What I see here is the outer screens were breached and intruders entered the grounds. Isis, you said this wasn’t possible.”

“Headmistress, I said the screens as they are now would make nearly impossible to get into the grounds—” She wasn’t about the let Mathilde put words in her mouth and then hold her to something that was never said. “There is no such thing as a perfect defense, and I’ve said this more than once, if you’ll recall.”

“What does this mean, then?” Mathilde didn’t want more bad news.

“It means the Deconstructors have noticed a weakness and tested it to see if it was viable.” She pointed at a spot on the hologram of the school grounds behind her. “The entered near The Narrows, so my guess is someone was over in the observation tower in Halibut Point trying to see how it all played out.”

 

Is there really an observation tower over at Halibut Point State Park, at the northern most point of Cape Ann?  Do you really have to ask?

 

“Which means they know they can get in—”

“Maybe.” Isis shook her head. “They’ll also know it’s not worth their time.”

“Explain.”

Isis was glad she’d taken the time to memorize the data before having this conversation. “The data indicates thirty-three people hit the screen in the same place trying to hammer it down. Two made it through, and one of those was dead on arrival.” She looked up at Monitor Three. “Ramona, the guy who made it through alive—how was he when you got there?”

“Once your—” She was loath to the name given to the gargoyle by Isis. “—’pet’ returned the individual, he remained alive about fifteen seconds. And he wasn’t in much better shape than the individual Fritz is standing over.”

Mathilde didn’t bother hiding her surprise. “He died?”

“Yes.”

“What if you’d arrived before the gargoyle had gotten to him? Would you consider him a threat?”

Ramona looked off to the side for about five seconds before staring back into the Spy-Eye. “No, Headmistress. Given the extend of his injuries, any one of the Rapid Response team could have handled him without requiring magic. He wasn’t in any shape to put up a fight.” She glanced in the direction of the wall. “I believe he would have died, gargoyle or not.”

 

Gargoyle or not, you’re gonna die.  It’s all a matter when you’re trying to bust into the school of if you want to die sooner, or later.

What is the response to this?  Isis isn’t too worried, and Wednesday, the Second Witch in the Security Center, has got her ideas down:

 

“And we could act against them instantly.” Isis felt she’d covered all her points and was ready to move on to the end of this conference. “The one good thing to come out of this is Wends thinks she can modify the existing enchantment to make the screens harder to breach.”

With this news Mathilde no longer felt the need to seem the stern administrator. “What will you do?”

“I can make a slight adjustment to the enchantment so that if it detects as massive pin-point assault against a single area, more energy will get rushed to that spot.”

“How long will this take?”

“I’ll need about ninety minutes to work up the spell and test it. After that I just need to go down to the master node and rework the enchantment—that’ll take five minutes, no more.” Wednesday smile was friendly and relaxed. “Easy peasy.”

 

Just as long as you didn’t say “okely dokely”.  That might have been too much.

The high point too all this is I’m heading into Chapter Twenty-Two, where things get bad.  That’s where this second graphic comes into play:

Just look at the numbers, Lizzy.  Look at the number . . .

Just look at the numbers, Lizzy. Look at the number.

I’ve come within striking distance of 241,450 thousand word.  The longest thing I’ve ever written, Transporting, topped out at around 245,000 words.  That means sometime during Chapter Twenty-Two I’m not only going to pass that novel, but I’ll hit a quarter of a million words.

More importantly, the end of this Act is in sight.

Then . . . we’ll see.