The Grim Dreams

After such an interesting weekend, here I am back at the start of the last full week of September.  Weather’s cooling off, and things are changing.  It rained Saturday afternoon, and was cloudy for most of the morning yesterday.  Oh, and I managed to write my article yesterday, all twenty-three hundred words of it.

I have things to do this week; it didn’t help that I had some very strange and disturbing dreams last night.

I don’t think there is just one thing that can be said about them, because there didn’t seem to be one thing that stood out and said, “Hey, disturbing.”  It just felt bad and depressing, with a lot of running around and being kept in small places, and feeling lonely and isolated.  It was very strange, ’cause I don’t think I can point to one thing, it was only feelings and sensations.  Oh, and cold:  there was that, too.  The feeling of cold.

Now, some people might say, “It’s because you went up to That Place on Saturday,” but I don’t believe that.  I didn’t feel like that Saturday night, and Sunday I was in a great mood all day.  Maybe it was because of watching Breaking Bad, which is down to its last episode, and is about a grim and dark as you’re ever going to find on television.  Sure, watching Meth Damon blow away some woman on her front porch after saying, “I want you to know this isn’t personal,” wasn’t a good moment, but the end?  Hey, never go on TV and say things that are going to piss off a drug kingpin who feels like getting even.  You’re getting tickets to Belize.

I can’t say, because you don’t know how your mind works, and you know even less about your subconscious.  I stopped trying to understand my dreams a while back, because trying to see if there was some meaning there was making me a little bonkers.  Besides, I’m not good at figuring out stuff like that, so I leave it to others.

But, man, no one wants to get up at two-thirty in the morning feelings like they just ran a race, and knowing that part of the time in your dream you were locked in a cage.  Bummer, man, bummer.

However . . . something woke me at five-twenty, and it was one of those, “Am I sleeping or am I awake?” kind of deals.  But someone was rubbing up against me, and I know who the person was and what part they were using to do the rubbing.  And that was driving me nuts, too, because more and more I’m looking for human contact, and this was definitely the sort of contact that I wouldn’t mind.  Yes, you can see where my mind is now . . .

It isn’t bad to have a grim dream now and then.  It’s when you have them all the time that it becomes a little hard on your constitution.  People want and deserve happiness, and when you don’t get it, you suffer.

Who wants to suffer?  Be happy with all you do–even if you’re forced into some bad dreams once in a while.

You Are Now Leaving Silent Hill

First things first:  I didn’t write my article yesterday.  There were various reasons for this, mostly because the afternoon slipped away from me before I knew it was gone, and I walked a little over two miles in the rain to go to and from my dinner location before sitting down to watch Torchwood:  Miracle Day and Season One of Orphan Black.  I was very bad, I admit it, though during my walk I worked out a long scene between two of my characters.  So not a complete loss:  it’s still writing if you’re thinking about your story, right?

But the highlight of my morning was the drive up to Centralia, Pennsylvania, the location of a coal mine fire that’s been burning since 1962.  As was mentioned, the town was the inspiration for the look of the movie Silent Hill, though these days much of that inspiration is gone, vanished into the mists of whatever hell that movie rose from.

First off, the road into town.  State 61 is the main route into the town, but a stretch of the highway passed over the burning coal, and the heat caused the road to buckle and split.  Centrailia Enter 61These days St 61 detours along an old logging road that used to pass through Byrnesville, the other town that was eliminated by the fire.  The bypass route is winding, narrow, and a bit funky, but whatcha gonna do, right?

You can walk along the stretch of old St 61, which is covered in graffiti for most of the way to the most damaged section of the road.  You might not be able to tell from the pictures, but there was a heavy overcast, and while I half expected it to rain at some point, it didn’t.  No need to get drenched while keeping an eye out for things that want to kill you.

Even though the new St 61 passes close by, that roadbed follows terrain lowers that the old St 61, so when youCentrailia Down 61 02 factor in that, trees, and a light breeze, you get silence–lots of silence.  And I was the only one there that time of day–or was I?  That’s one of those things that plays through your head when you’re in a place like this, though being out in the open during daytime didn’t get that flight or fright reflex going.  This was more of a morning stroll with my computer in my backpack (yes, I wasn’t about to leave it in the car), walking along in a place you’ve heard of maybe times before.

Finally, you reach the spot where the road Centrailia Burning 61has buckled and split, and . . . yeah, it’s just as you might imagine, minus the demons crawling out of the ground, asking if you’ve got a minute to hear about their dark lord and savior, Leviathan.  There wasn’t any smoke coming from the highway, has has been photographed up until a few years ago, but that’s okay, because this was freaky enough.

There isn’t a lot of smoke rising from the ground these days.  According to the people who study these things, they believe the fire has moved into deeper seams of coal, moving the center of the fire away from Centralia.  At one time the town was shrouded in a light cover of coal smoke, but that doesn’t seem to the rule these days.  Today you’ll see a few plumes of smoke here and there, but nothing so thick that you’re going to feel like a character in a movie . . .

I did find a place where Centrailia Burningsmoke was venting, but the breeze was doing a good job of dissipating said plume.  Trust me, though, the smoke is there, and I stayed upwind the whole time.  i should mention that just to my left of this picture are the town’s two cemeteries, which at one time saw tombstones sinking into the ground because of the heat.  That means it was keeps all those body-filled coffins nice and toasty–and here I was, about a hundred feet from them all.  Anyone wanna go back there with me at night?  Anyone?  Tap, tap.  Is this thing on?

These days there isn’t much to Centralia.  Centrailia Ghost TownA few years back the state went in and tore everything down, because why not, right?  Yesterday all I saw were empty streets and the places where homes and businesses used to be.  There are still people living there:  eleven at last count.  I saw four houses and a trailer, and someone had four vehicles all done up with camo paint jobs, and I don’t wanna know what that’s all about.  There’s no zip code for this place, but I saw a mail box in front of one of the homes, so someone is coming out here to deliver.  And since there’s a wind farm on the ridge to the north there’s mobile phone signals, ’cause when you’re working on the windmill, you wanna call in and let your boss know zombies are trying to get you.

Not long after I left Centralia I came down with the damnedest headache.  I suspected I’d been around carbon monoxide, and a friend told me the same thing later.  Makes sense:  coal fire burning deep in the earth, here I am standing near open vents, and the car is sitting close by with the windows up.  Or maybe it’s something else . . .  Well, I’m not sprouting wings, so maybe I’m okay.  Maybe.

There you have it:  my trip to a place you thought existed only in the movies and in games, but psych, it’s all real.  And if you think this is something that doesn’t happen that much, guess again:  there’s something like this in Germany known as Brennender Berg, and if you go to a Land Down Under you’ll find Burning Mountain, which has been burning and venting for six thousand years.  No, I didn’t add a zero there:  six thousand years.  Rock me, baby.

There is my tale, and like Sean Bean, Centrailia Big CI lived to bring it to you.  Next Saturday I’ll take trek to a another location that some of you have seen on the big screen, and give you some more historical lowdown.  As my buddy Big C says, “Y’all come back now, I need your soul–I mean, ya hear?”

Rolling on Three

Today is going to be a “Play by Ear” sort of day, because I have a lot of things I’d like to do, but I’m not sure I can get their all finished before the end of the day.  I know that one things I want is a good night’s sleep, because I slept like crap last night.  Part of it was screaming from the street at two in the mornings:  apparently there was some partying going on that I didn’t know about.  Part of it was I had a big supper and it wasn’t setting well with me.  I need to stop with the huge dinners and get thinking about what’s best for me, ’cause if I don’t watch my girlish figure, no one will.

After I leave Panera I believe I’ll see about getting a digital camera and then making the trek up to Centrailia, because I want to see smoke coming out of the ground, and wander the streets of a ghost town or two.  Hour and change up, hang around for an hour, and an hour back.  Grab a salad for lunch, then back to the Nest.

Then what?

I’m thinking about doing another article, something I can write up in about two hours or less.  I have an idea for one that won’t be too research heavy, so that appears to be my afternoon exercise in wordsmiting.  It’s not the big article I want to write, but it’ll help lead into that.  It’ll help me keep my skills sharp, and maybe I can have some fun with people.  Maybe someone will even learn something . . .

“But what of your novel, Cassie?” I hear you saying–though that voice in my head is usually growling something else, but no mater.  What of The Foundation Chronicles?

Surprisingly, there’s not a lot of world building remaining.  I have most of the background worked out; I have most of the timeline laid down.  There are thing to do, but nothing that’s so huge that I need days upon days to whip it into semblance.  I’ve had this story going on in my head for a couple of years, so when I know I need to throw something into that mix, then I’ll get it in before moving onto something else.  I’m certain as 1 November grows closer I’ll think of things that need doing, but i’ll be more than ready to go before then–

Though I just remembered:  I need my lexicon.  Oi.  Just when you think you have it all figured out . . .

No worries.  I have this in my “To Do” list now, and I’ll see about this either tonight after Torchwood runs (on the BBC here in The Burg, pedantic people who get to mansplaining if you don’t say BBCA), or tomorrow, when I find I have nothing to do–which is most of the time.  But get it done I shall, for I have mentioned more than a couple of  times that it needs doing, and no point waiting until the end start writing it down.

I would like to do something in October besides research the hell out of something I already know.

River Misting

One of the nice things about where I currently live is that I can see the river from balcony.  I’m eleven stories up, though the way they count the floors in this building, I’m actually twelve, but lets not quibble.  It’s one more, it’s eleven, and I’m good with that.

I stepped outside for a moment, just to take in the cool morning air while my computer finished booting.  Things are lit up, and there’s a bit of traffic on the street below.  But, off maybe two blocks, the river is dark, as is the opposite bank.  And rising off the river, up and down the length, is a light, cool mist, topping out at nearly the same height as my apartment.  It’s something I haven’t seen in . . . well, pretty much forever, since I’ve never lived by a river, and never lived in a high rise apartment.

But it’s something that I loved seeing.

Where I’m at now with life gives me a little different perspective on writing as well.  The Summer of ’13 was the pits:  looking for work, getting depressed about my last novel, struggling to get through a novella before cranking out a story that ended up turning into a novel–it wasn’t the best time of my life.  It all felt a bit disjointed and meandering.  And before heading out to The Burg I was seriously considering giving up writing, because I felt as if I were going nowhere fast, and getting there even quicker.

This is what depression does to you:  it screws up your perception of the world, and what’s going on around you.  It makes you want to kill your dreams, even when you know you shouldn’t.  I’ve gotten through it before–my time in The Undisclosed Location was nothing but depression, and I managed some great writing.  But this last summer was something else entirely:  it was like The Bad Old Days, and you don’t want to go through those.

One of the things that set my teeth to gnashing is reading all the comments from people who like to say that all writers are crazy.  “Oh, I was looking up how to murder someone with a pen, I be so nutty!”  Uh, huh.  I think I was doing that when I was nine, after someone in school pissed me off and I considering ramming a pencil through their neck.  No, there are crazy writers, but they’re nutty not cause the think things that no one else thinks, it’s ’cause they got demons chewing at their butt The and they want them the hell out of their lives.

Crazy is thinking you suck when you don’t, and putting yourself down because you can.  It’s being like me, an emotionally repressed person suffering with bi-polar disorder and gender identity issues most of her life, and has come extremely close on a few occasions to grabbing a bottle of sleeping tables, a liter of Gray Goose, and taking a midnight ride to the middle of nowhere to lay herself down to sleep one last time.

Now, though . . . I see the mist rising on the river and I’m ready to keep going.  The crazy can kiss my ass, I want to go on.  I did a short story, I’m working on my next novel, and I’m thinking about what I want to publish next.

I’m moving forward, and it’s a good feeling.

Or as Liz Parker once said in her journal:

 

“We try to live responsible, logical lives. But we can’t tell our hearts how to feel. Sometimes our hearts lead us to places we never thought we wanted to go. And sometimes our hearts can be the sweetest, gentlest things we have.

“Sometimes our hearts can make us feel miserable, angry, excited and confused. All at once. But at least my heart is open. And I’m writing again.

“I’m feeling.

“I’m breathing.”

Whys and Therefores

Another step closer on the World Building Tour, 2013.  Two-thirds of my regional officers are in place, and there’s no surprises, save for maybe one or two.  I found it far more difficult to put these in place than to figure out where my Foundation pretty much directs the world from behind the curtain.  I almost said, “Rule,” but that’s not them:  they aren’t rulers.  They’re more like teachers, trying to move things forwards slowly but surely.

Yes, I hear some of you going, “Not very original, Cassidy.”  Well, neither is that romance novel you’re writing, so suck it.  Harlan Ellison–yes, I turn to him quite a lot–said something along the lines of there are only seven or eight original plots in the world, but it’s how you give your version of that will captivate people.  Sure, the love story has been done to death, but only Romeo and Juliet have pulled at us through the ages.  Though Hannibal might be the one that does it for you:  ah, just imagine that first dinner date . . .

Why spend all this time putting things together that, by my own admissions, may never see the light of day?  For one, it makes the world more real for me.  Once that works becomes real for me–not that it isn’t already–then it takes on a life when I write, and that makes it more real for any potential readers out there.  Get your foundation laid–no pun here, really–and the rest will come together.

Some of this comes from running role playing games.  The best games have a great world, albeit some are completely whacked out their minds, and others make no damn sense.  Nonetheless, the best gaming experiences take place in worlds that are fleshed out with great locations and memorable characters.  One can always hack and slash, true, but one can also immerse themselves in the feel of the rain upon their face, the sounds of the city, and the smell of the bum crawling out of the alley who’s about to shank your ass for the credit chip in your pocket.

When I put a game together I’d have a lot of background.  When I ran Diaspora I laid out the ten systems used in the game, which meant plotting the orbits of about two hundred and fifty planets and objects, and defining interesting things about those places that one could more or less about with little or no breathing gear.  When I ran Cyberpunk, I had information on dozens of characters the players met, and one of those dossiers ran seventy pages.  There were notes on a Mage game that ran for almost five years that kept growing and growing as I continued playing.

It can be a lonely, solitary duty to put this together, but it’s a fun duty.  Or it can be fun; some people may feel it’s too much time spent alone trying to come up with ideas on your own, but in the end, they are your ideas, and you live or die with them.  Even if they suck–and I’ve had my share of suck ideas–they are yours.  You own them.  They are you.

Look at it this way:  if you write something that sucks, then you know not to do that again, right?

 

World Headquarters Are Us

Getting the locations of where my next world is run was sort of finished up last night.  And by, “Sort of”, I mean that I figured out where most everything actually went, with most everything collecting around cities you’d expect.

There are three different level of headquarters in my story.  First off, you have administrative.  There is a world headquarters, then continental headquarters, and then regional, and two “Special Administrative” headquarters.  Three of the four were mapped out:  I need to go back and get my regional locations, because you’re looking at anywhere from two to six additional places per continent, and I want some nice places for that.  The U.S. is easy:  I know I have one in Boston, so that covers that.  As for everywhere else–well, it’s a big world, and there’s a lot of cities.  Time to farm it out.

The other two sets of headquarters?  I have two levels of policing in my world.  You have your normal line of self policing, and then . . . there’s the people you turn to when shit gets too real.  The first level is good:  the next level are your double-o types who are gonna give you that dead eyed look before they smoke someone’s butt with the flick of a wrist.  These people have their own people who give them their marching orders, responding up the chain of command to their regional headquarters, who in turn report to the folks at the top of the administrative headquarter.

I laid out those locations as well, picking a couple of places where it could seem unusual to have a headquarter, but I put it there anyway, so nah.  It’s my world, and I’m god there, and my characters dance to my tune–which, at the moment, happens to be ELO.  The point is, however, that I got this figured out, and the main stuff is pretty much done.

What remains, you ask?  I have the regionals to do, which shouldn’t be a huge amount of work, but you’re talking maybe twenty-five to thirty offices per HQ group, and that’s leaves seventy-five to ninety cities to report, and that’s going to take a few days to figure out.  Most are going to be easy, as you look at a country’s capital and slap something there.  I already know a few regional offices, because I’ve thought this out, and already thought of where some of my people are going to call home, but were talking like three places total.

Still a lot of work ahead.

The good part is that I’ve already done so much for this story that once I have this part out of the way, I can pretty much kick back in October while others are starting their NaNo Scramble–or not, because some people are gonna be rebels and write by the seat of their pants and . . . well, after a couple of years and three NaNos (two Novembers, one July camp), I know where a lot of folks are headed.  As I’ve stated I’ll hit my fifty, but I like won’t finish the novel until December.  I’m good with that, because I won’t have the time to write three thousand words a day, I’ll have to settle for sixteen hundred to two thousand at night, and instead of finishing a seventy to eighty thousand word novel in under thirty days–as I did the last two NaNos–I’ll write seventy thousand and change in six, seven weeks.

The important thing is getting it finished.  To do that, I have to start . . .

Schools Are Me

Though I found myself following roads that seemed to go nowhere–I just love doing that–I finished my first goal in the world building for my next novel.  It only took a couple of nights–yay!  Or should I say . . . huuuuuuuuhhhh–yay.

Someone asked to see the list last night, and I saw no reason not to show them, so seeing as how this is out in the open (sort of), then I can show you.  Without further ado, here are my training facilities, their locations, and what people call them informally:

Facility

Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning
Edinburgh Institute of Magic
Valparaíso Sociedad de Ciencia Avanzada (Valparaiso Society For Advanced Science)
Thunderhead New Power Systems
Hem för Winter Draken (Home of the Winter Dragon)
Loongana
Hayasaka Pass
Serov Training and Development
Dawson Creek Science Center
Centro de Estudios Especiales (Center For Special Studies)
Petrin Escola de Estudos Mágicos (Petrin School for Magical Studies)
Baikonur Space Science Center
Hale Keshen Compound
Tai Kwan Tsuen Industrial Research
Gulack Institut Keyakinan dan Pemahaman (Gulack Institute of Belief and Understanding)
Vesuva Investigative Research
Te Awamutu (The River’s End)
Sky and Summit Observatory
Kellenberg School for Gifted Development
Le Fortier’s School for Girls

Known As

Sigel
EIM
VSCA
Thunderhead
Dragon Home
Out Loon
Hayasaka
Department 62
Alaska Gate
Tech Pec
Todos Santos
The Cosmodrome
Temara
Tai Tsuen
Gulack
The Vee
River’s End
S and S
KSGD
The Girl’s School

Location

Cape Ann, Massachusetts, United States
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Valparaiso, Chile
Mossel Bay, South Africa
Fatsjön, Sweden
Loongana, Western Australia, Australia
Hayasaka Pass, Shimohei District, Iwate Prefecture, Japan
Serov, Russia
Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada
Tehuantepec, Mexico
Salvador, Brazil
Baikonur, Kazakhstan
Temara, Morocco
Hong Kong, SAR, China
Cirebon, Java, Indonesia
Hyderabad, India
Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Granby, Colorado, United States
Reiselfingen, Germany
Dijon, France

What remains on this list is to enter the date of foundation, and the total attendance.  For some of these coming up with a year is easy–Baikonur was founded when the real Baikonur was founded, so getting the date is simple–and the attendance?  Well, I have a good idea on all those, since I stated in my last novel for The Foundation the biggest school, the next biggest, and what the others could handle.  Needless to say, once you get back the top three on the list, the number of students dwindles rapidly.

Don’t let the monikers of “magic” and “special” alarm you:  I have all that in my story.  These people are out an about, hiding in plan sight, but there aren’t a lot of them.  A friend asked last night, “How many of these people are there in your world?” and I told them about ten thousand world wide, not much beyond that.  Salem is probably the largest collection of these “Aware” in the world:  three hundred or so in one place at one time.  Not even the headquarters in my story have that large a population.

That’s because humans, normal humans, are a strange bunch, and you have to walk among them like The Silence and manipulate them from the shadows.  Otherwise, they’re coming after you because some wonky ass in a blue box rigged the most watch telecast in the world to tell people to kill you on sight.  Too bad for him the people in my story had something to do with that telecast . . .

There we are:  I’m on my way.  I’m all over the world, on every continent save Antarctica–or am I?  Seeing as how The Foundation has research centers around the world, it’s always possible there are a few down there, and up in the north as well.

Maybe I’ll call it The Mountains of Madness.  Seems fitting.