Will O’ the Witches

Before I get started, I would be remiss not to remind people to pop over and visit Zen Pencils.  I’ve posted a couple of Gavin Aung Than’s strips before, but this week was his tribute to the passing of Nelson Mandela, and I thought it necessary to post something inspirational this morning, because who doesn’t need it from time to time?  And last week’s post, a quote from Professor Brené Brown, is another worth giving a read.  In fact, the whole site is worth marking and reading every week.

Last night, however–ah, it was back to school night.  Well, my school, anyway.  It’s a new day down on Cape Ann, and the sun is shinning, the wind has died down, and the rain is over.  Time for my little witch to get on stage:

 

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

Tuesday morning was bright and sunny. Yesterday’s storm lasted until about seventeen, then blew itself out leaving behind fallen tree branches and lots of muddy puddles of water. The grounds crew was out cleaning the branches, and the water would dry up in a couple of days.

From Wednesday Douglas’ point of view, the sunny day reflected her feeling that today would become something to remember.

As the students filed into the Number One Lecture Room, she looked over the students, watching their body language, seeing which of them looked in her direction—and which of those gaze turned strange when they realized she was the instructor. By now, the beginning of her sixth year as the Mistress of Magic, Wednesday was used to that look. It was understandable: when she was a student, none of her instructors looked like her.

Wednesday had celebrated her twenty-fifth birthday this last June, and of the three staff members under thirty—Isis Mossman, Deanna Arrakis, and her—she was the youngest. She’d missed becoming the first teenage instructor since 1847 by less than three months, and spent her first three years instructing students who’s started at the school year she’d graduated.

It wasn’t unusual for students to confuse her for a covenmate and not an instructor. Wednesday was short—one hundred and fifty-seven centimeters, or five foot, two inches—and petite. Since instructors were allowed to dress as they liked, she often showed up to teach class much as she had when she attended. Today she wore a comfortable top and a short skirt with black leggings that perfectly matched her black ankle boots. Her long, wavy hair was pinned back to show her large hoop earrings, and her silver Celtic knot necklace matched the cuff bracelets on each wrist.

Wednesday didn’t care if there were people in The Foundation educational council who felt she was too young to be an instructor. If she wasn’t good, she wouldn’t be here. It was that simple.

Though sometimes she found it necessary to remind these people how she’d earned her right to teach at Salem . . .

 

How did she earn that right?  You’ll have to wait until I publish the prequel to this story.  Here’s a tip:  never leave this woman alone in a dusty room.

Little Wednesday is going to play important in my story, and in the lives of my two main characters.  That’s coming up in the second episode of the first book–yes, I know.  It’s like a movie, isn’t it?  Anyway, she does something that sets the kids on a new path, and she’s an all around nice person.  She’s already begun talking about magic as an extension of willpower, and she’ll give her views on wands and show you what happens when you say disparaging things about her during her lecture.  And she has a test laid out for the kids–really, not the sort of thing you’d expect kids to do for their first spell casting.

I never had an instructor like her.

Then again, neither have my kids.

Between the Holographic Pylons

There were are:  Chapter Six is in the books.  It wasn’t easy at all, let me tell you.  Oh, the writing wasn’t that bad.  It was actually pretty enjoyable.  But I was a mess.  Really, it wasn’t a pretty sight.

Yesterday was one of those days where I didn’t know if I was going to fly or cry.  Lots of strange things rolling about in my head, and it’s hard enough for me to keep track of this stuff on a normal day, so you might have some inkling of what was happening.

By the time I was home I was pissed off at myself.  There are things I need to see to, things that need to be done–but that’s not for you to hear.  Just to know that I have them and they are being considered.

So it sort of went like write, listen to good music, have a drink, write, go out and have a cry, write, listen to more music, and finally, finish the chapter.  Yay!

They flew.  They went out into a terrible storm and got pelted with rain and wind, and they flew.  Some didn’t do so well.  Some flew into the forest around their meadow, some crashed into the mud.  But they headed around a big meadow, Selena’s Meadow, turning between holographic pylons in the air, all the while set up in a special configuration:

 

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

Professor Salomon picked four students to fly alone at the front and back of both groups; two pilots would act as leaders, and two would keep an eye on the formation and notify the professor of people who’d crash, and those who were falling back. The first student was the Japanese girl, Sutou Takara, who’d been given the call sign “Mothra”. The second student was an American, Emmalynne Neilson, a red haired girl who’d flown right after Kerry, and who’d been given the call sign “Selene”.

Annie almost gasped when the last two students picked were Kerry and her. She was even more shocked when Takara and she were picked to be, respectively, Group One and Group Two leaders, while Kerry would be the spotter for Group One, and Emmalynne the spotter for Group Two.

They moved into position and were given their instructors about speed and spacing before the professor switched over to a private channel and told the four of them not to worry, take it nice and easy, just keep your eyes open and remain aware.

After that they were legs up and underway with the professor in the lead.

 

Yeah, I gave a Japanese girl the call sign for a gigantic moth.  So?

No “Lay your broom on the ground and say ‘Up'” crap here.  They got their basic check out in the hanger, they flew nice and slow in formation three meters off the ground, and they had leaders and spotters to keep people in line and report when someone failed.  That’s how I like my flight schools, nice and ordered.  Just wait until they start racing.

Tonight it’s Wednesday.  No, not the day:  the instructor.  My littlest witch, Wednesday, is gonna show my student how to will work.

It’s going to be fantastic.

Flying in the Safe Zones

I didn’t believe I was going to write last night.  The moment I came home I ran out again, because I had . . . things.  You know, I’m working on things, and I had to go out.  So here, a week before Christmas, I’m out in rush hour traffic doing . . . things.

Of course one of the interstates here was messed up because somewhere there was an accident, and when there’s an accident here, it’s almost impossible to squeeze by because the roads are so narrow.  So I went to get something to eat, and by the time that was over I was able to make my way home by taking the long way.  Even the long way at The Burg isn’t that long, because this isn’t that big of a place.  Made it home, did something to my thing, and there I was, seven o’clock, and I’m tired.

But writing was needed.

And so I wrote.  And wrote.  I got Annie off her broom and Kerry on his, and after a few wobbles he was able to start out on his paces.  Now all I need is to finish the last scene–which isn’t going to be anywhere near as long as I originally imagined it, ’cause I’ve edited it in my head–and then it’s time to bring my little witch on stage and have her tell the kids if you’re using a wand to do magic, you’re a bit of a loser.  No, really:  she does.  Tough crowd, I’m telling you.

The scene I finished last night is the longest I’ve written for the book.  I was just short of six thousand words, and so far the scenes at the Flight School have run nine thousand.  By the time I finish the last scene I’ll have ten thousand easy for just learning to fly, and the first day of the first week is over.  Then it’s Tuesday with Wednesday, and later some astronomy.  As for now, however, I have my kids flying–well, hovering in a hangar, going through basic control, and the next scene . . . yeah, into the storm to get your wings.

The thing that surprised me the most is I wrote nearly sixteen hundred words.  That’s something I haven’t done in a bit, not since NaNo.  But when I got to where I thought I should stop, I didn’t want to stop.  I needed to finish, so I keep going until I reached the end.  Pure and simple.

My Tuesday writing for my Tuesday classes may just inch me over eighty thousand words.  If not, it’ll get me close.  It’s easy to see right now that I’ll cruse through ninety thousand before this “week of school” is over, and by the time I have my kids resting on the shores of Lake Lovecraft, looking up into the warm September sky, I’ll be over one hundred thousand words for a story for the first time in about twenty years.

All that’s left after that point is to keep going and write more.

It’s not like I don’t have anything to say.

Milestones on the Scenic Route

A few minutes ago I crawled out of bed.  Actually it was closer to fifteen minutes ago, but let not get too exact.  What was on my mind when I hit the ground and powered up my computer?

The word count of my novel.

Last night I finished up my writing moments with a total word count of 75,197 words.  Since I’d started and restarted Scrivener a couple of times during the day, I wasn’t sure just how much I wrote yesterday–I’m guessing it was about thirteen hundred words, just as I’d done the day before.

I finished November 30th with a count of just over sixty-five thousand, two hundred words.  Fifteen days later I’m just over seventy-five thousand.  A thousand words a day and/or night.  Not bad.  At that rate I’ll be somewhere around ninety-two thousand by the end of December, and I should have this first episode of the story finish before the end of January.

And at this rate I’ll finish the novel as a whole by . . . what?  If this book gets as big as I think it’ll get, I could finish this up just in time to start Camp Nano in July.  I’m realistically looking at another six months of writing to cap it off.  We’re not even talking about editing it:  I’m talking about doing the first draft.

Really, my head about exploded when I considered this.

I think it’s because unlike the other novels I’ve written, this one is happening while I’m in the middle of a lot of other things.  Her Demonic Majesty was eighty-six done in twenty-five days because I could spend all day cranking out three or four thousand words a day.  The same with Kolor Ijo:  I wasn’t working, so seventy-two thousand wasn’t a big deal.  Suggested Amusements is really the only novel I’ve written while working that popped up over seventy-thousand words, and that took me almost three months to write.  Everything else after that was in the high-fifty thousand range, or was a novella.

This story I’m into now is getting back in the range I had for Transporting:  maybe two hundred and fifty thousand words, maybe a little more.  It’s gonna be a monster that’s going to eat up at least half a year.

And I still need to put out other things, because the slush pile is building, and nothing’s getting done on that end.  I’m in the middle of an edit with one novel, and I could do another novella just to get it out of the way, but editing is time, and time is writing.

Christ, talk about a quandary.

What it looks like is this:  I need to step up the game a bit, start dividing my time up and stop with distractions.  Yes, I should still go out on weekends and do things that show I’m really human, because staying in the apartment day and night isn’t good for you.  But I may need to push for twelve hundred words a night, because in five days time that’s six thousand words, and that’s an extra six thousand words a month than you’d have written if you’d written five thousand every five days.  And in three months time, would you have rather written ninety thousand words, or one hundred and eight thousand?

At least I avoided my Robinson Crusoe moment last night.

Wouldn’t that have looked stupid.

 

Hanger Babies

The saying goes, “If the wifi doesn’t work at one Panera, go west young–er, old girl.”  Which is exactly what I’m doing this morning.  I ventured out and headed west over our now ice-laden river, and ended up at a location where the wifi is letting me.  Maybe I’ll try the other Panera next weekend, but for now I have found another home to call my own.

Where am I in the story?  Out of the ready room and into the hanger–or, if you prefer normal building designations, off the first floor and down to the ground floor.  And why hanger?  Call sign for the Flight School is “Carrier,” and as Annie was told, if you think of the building in that sense, then all the “aircraft” are gonna be kept in the hanger.

Vicky is showing the goods.  The students have seen a whole lot of storage cabinets with a whole lot of things inside them, and Professor Salomon is proud of the program she’s put together.  Now it’s time for her to give you a lesson, so sit back while I let her speak:

 

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

The students parted as she waded into the group once more. “What are we going to do? We’re going to fly. But how? Let me show you.” Vicky placed her hand behind her butt like she was reaching for something; a second later her hand appeared holding a long metal pole that appeared from out of thin air. She allowed a few of the students their gasps of surprise before moving ahead with the lesson. “This is my baby.” Vicky held the simple pole with an oval piece of metal at one end in front of her for the students to see. “She is a Qunkat Mark III, and I’ve had her since they started making these in 1995. They stopped making the Mark IIIs in 2003, but on the professional circuits you’ll still see these going head-to-head with the Mark IV and Vs. They are that good, especially if you’ve made a few mods to them—as I have to this one.”

She slowly lowered the broom to her side. “What makes these fly? Originally PAVs were brooms, because it was easy to enchant the wood and get them to hold a charge.” She waved off questions. “Wednesday will go into that more tomorrow. What you need to know is if you want to fly a real broom, you can find on, enchant it, power it up, and take off on that sucker. You won’t have all the niceties of what we have here, but you can say you’re a honest-to-goodness witch on a honest-to-goodness broom.

“Once The Foundation got their hands on some real brooms and began to reverse engineer them, they figured out not only how to improve them, but how to keep them powered indefinitely. See, you can enchant a broom to get it fly, but if you don’t re-power the enchantment now and then, you might just find yourself plummeting to the ground when you least expect it. Not only that, but have you ever thought about sitting on a broom? Sure, you could use some magic to make them a bit more comfortable, but—” She shook her head. “Who wants a hunk of wood stuck in their crotch for a few minutes, much less a few hours?”

Vicky turned the rod around and held it in both hands. “The Class A PAV is a simple thing. A meter-seven long, made of carbon-carbon filament—” She placed a hand under the oval attachment at one end. “The processor keeps the enchantment charged through constant energy replenishment. And where does it get that?” She grinned as she looked upon her students. “Tell you in a minute.”

 

Vicky is a chatty one, isn’t she?  The important thing is in the construction of the world.  The PAVs are manufactured, constructed, crafted as a device to be used.  And yet there is something different about them:

 

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

Swinging her right leg over the hovering broom, Vicky positioned herself on the seat in one smooth, seamless move. She leaned forward and placed her hands on the PAV while her legs folded up and back under her, as if they were being held in place. She brought up the HUD before sitting up part ways, one hand still lightly touching the broom’s shaft. “As you can see, once you get used to learning how to pilot on of these, it’s a lot like riding a bike—only you’re usually floating around at a couple of hundred meters above the ground, so if you fall, it hurts a lot more.

“Now, that part about recharging the enchantment that keeps it flying . . .” She twisted around and laid her free hand against the oval metal attachment she’d called the processor. “Normally this will supply enough energy to keep the enchantment running for close to a day, and it also draws enough power on its own that if the enchantment is drained, it’ll power it back up after a good night’s sleep.

“But when some one is flying a PAV like this, the processor draw energy directly through the pilot. Why? Because the pilot—me, you, whomever is up here—can channel enormous amounts of mystical power—” Vicky waved off a couple of hands that popped up. “Wait until tomorrow, Wednesday will cover that . . .” She turned her body so she was facing forward again. “The pilot is the biggest source of power, and since the processor can pull energy from them, you literally find yourself in a position where you never need worry about your enchantment draining and causing your PAV to crash.”

There was mumbling from a few of the students. One of the girls from Australia, Loorea, chuckled. “The bloody thing is a vampire.”

“You’re not the first one to say that.” Vicky swung her right leg over the broom and sat side-saddle so she could look at Loorea. “That’s what a lot of people have called it over the years. And they’re right: it is taking something from you—only what it gives you in return is the ability to stay in the air and fly for as long as you’d like.”

 

Yes, sir, let that thing suck the power right from you.  What’s the worse that could happen?  Don’t worry:  that doesn’t occur.  You think I’d kill my kiddies off with a cheap stunt like that?  Don’t answer that.

There is also a rather nice scene I put together down here.  It’s sort of between Kerry and Annie, when the former has to pick out a broom for the later, ’cause she’s about to show the class how to fly one of these things.  What does he do?

 

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

He flipped open the one on the left, ‘cause being left handed he always followed what his creative right brain told him. The PAVs were on a carousal with left-right push buttons next to a digital counter just inside the door. The simple thing would have been to pick the broom right there in the front, but that was too easy. He started playing with numbers in his head. We first met on the twenty-seventh of August, so four days until the end of that month, and now it’s the fifth of September . . .

He hit the left button and saw the counter advance to the number two. He cycled through the carousal until the ninth broom came to the front, then stopped. He lifted it off the hanger expecting it to be heavier than it was: he figured it weighed no more than a couple of kilos.

Kerry returned with the broom and handed it to Annie with both hands. “Here you go, Sweetie: Number Nine Dream.”

Annie didn’t hear the snickers from a few of the students behind her. All she saw was Kerry offering here the broom, and all she heard was him calling her Sweetie. “Thank you.” She took the broom he offered, then turned and approached Professor Salomon. “I’m ready, Professor.”

 

Obviously Kerry’s been hanging around River Song far too much.

It didn’t seem as if I did a lot of writing yesterday, Part Three Chapter Sixbut once I figured in the total time putting words down on the electronic page, I ended up with a little over thirteen hundred words for the day.  I hope to finish out this scene today and move onto the last of Chapter Six, which may or may not be as long as this scene and the last.  As you can see in the picture to the right I’ve been a tad wordy with my flying shenanigans, and since the scene I’m in now is probably going to end up another two thousand words longer, I may just skip the last scene–or make is a lot shorter than what I have imagined.

Right now I’m closing in on seventy-five thousand words, and if I turn the end of Part Four as the end of Episode One of Book One (did you get all that?), I’m easily looking at over a hundred thousand works just for this opening part.  I’ve two more episodes to get my kids through the rest of their A Levels at the school–and they have five more years of education ahead of them.

Damn.  I’d say I got my work cut out for me.

The Measure of My Tales

Facebook is a place that is often overtaken by–as a friend of mine once said–insane, time wasting crap.  Come play this game; look over this list of movies and tell us how many you’ve seen; watch this video of dogs and cats living together and you’ll see something you never expected; find out which murdered character you are from Game of Thrones.  Not to mention the ads I get suggesting that I’ll find happiness with insane racist conservatives who are also cannibals.  Okay, maybe that last is an exaggeration.  Maybe.

There is one thing going around at the moment–no, not that, but if you do have it, medicine will clear it right up–asking people to mention the ten books that have stuck with them.  As in, what did you read and it’s still there rolling about in your head like a ricochet from the novel Firestarter?  I haven’t mentioned anything about this on my wall, because I have to think about what I’ve read.  There are so many tomes I’ve gone through over the decades that picking just ten books out of thin air isn’t easy.  As I told a friend last night, “I think I’ll blog about this,” and wouldn’t you know, here it comes.

One thing, however:  this isn’t going to be just a list of ten books.  There will be ten items, but don’t expect ten books.  Why?  Because I follow my own rules, and it’s my blog, so–slipping on my sunglasses–deal with it.

Here we go:

1.  Earthlight and A Fall of Moondust, both by Arthur C. Clarke.  As I’ve mentioned before, these were the first adult novels I read.  I picked them both up in a two novel omnibus from the local library, and got right into reading.  I was seven, and I was fascinated by what was inside.  The Moon was a real place, there were people there, there were interesting things happening, and you even had ships sinking and people requiring rescue.  This is what got me hooked on reading in general and science fiction in particular, and if you notice an over-abundance of science fiction on this list, blame Arthur.

2.  The Threat: Inside the Soviet Military Machine, by Andrew Cockburn.  The 1980’s were scary times, sometimes even more scary than the 1960’s.  Not only did you have a ton of saber-rattling on both sides of the Iron Curtain, but I was constantly being reminded by people I worked with that the Commies were coming to destroy our way of life, and if we had to go nuclear on their asses, so be it.  Then this book came along and, in a few hundred pages, laid out the case that while the Soviet military was large and impressive, it was pretty much a paper tiger on the verge of falling apart–much like the Soviet Union did a few years after the publication of this book.  It taught me that one should do their research before heading off to state things as absolute–something Facebook Nation would do well to learn.

3.  Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank.  Yeah, lets talk about blowing shit up in a big way, shall we?  This was one of the first nuclear apocalypse novels, and I read though this story maybe a dozen times.  This was the novel that got me thinking about writing big stories, creating world changing events.  I even started planing my own nuclear apocalypse novel not long after one of the readings of his novel, planing out first and second strikes on the U.S. using an old Rand McNally road atlas.  I never wrote that novel, but I was pushed there, and this is the books that made me want to wipe out the world.

4.  The Scream and The Bridge, by John Skipp and Craig Spencer.  Horror doesn’t get any better than this.  Skipp and Spencer grabbed my attention, pushed me through the emotional wringer, and let me know in no uncertain terms, yes, there isn’t such a thing as too much.  While I probably read The Scream a dozen times, I’ve read The Bridge once.  Just once.  Not because it’s a bad novel–oh, no.  I’ve read it once because it’s so damn disturbing that I can’t bear to read it again.  And yet, I can’t forget the story.

5.  Danse Macabre and Different Seasons, by Stephen King.  What have we here?  Non-fiction and fiction together?  Yep, we do.  Danse Macabre is a written history of horror up to that point–1982–and Stephen lays it out for you:  where it came from, how it got to where we are now, and what it did for him.  Different Seasons contains, in my opinion, three of the best stories Stephen has ever written, proven by the fact that they ended up becoming the best film adaptation of all of his stories.  The last story in the collection is also good, but when compared to the other three, it becomes the literary equivalent of, “I’ll just wait over here in the corner.”

6.  At the Mountains of Madness, by H. P. Lovecraft.  I should say “Anything by Lovecraft,” but I need one story, and this really was the one that cemented me as a life-long fan of the crazy old racist.  When I read the description of what was found at the forward camp, I felt the cold, I heard the wind, I saw the way light was warped and tortured by those terrifying mountains of madness.  Even though there has been talk over the years about a movie, it’ll never match the mental images I have of this story.  This was also the story that pushed me into role playing, because the moment I heard there was a Call of Cthulhu game, I was like, gotta have this now.

7.  Watchmen, by Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins.  This story set the bar for graphic novels, and it’s yet to be topped.  Superheros who were real, an alternate world where we know who killed Kennedy and Nixon remained president for a long time because he won the war in Vietnam, and a naked blue guy who treated time and space like it weren’t no big deal–this is the sort of story that needed a twelve-part HBO mini-series to get right.  Even today, after many readings, I still get chills when I read, “I did it thirty-five minutes ago,” and I’ll get misty eyed when I turn to Episode Twelve and the opening panels before the title, A Stronger, Loving World.  Why?  Because I wish I’d written and drawn that.

8.  The Glass Teat and The Other Glass Teat, by Harlan Ellison.  Come on, as much as I rave about the guy, you knew he was gonna end up on this list.  The two volume collection of the television reviews he did for the Los Angeles Free Press, written between 1969 and 1971, these were the stories that hooked me on Harlan, and taught me that writing should be personal, you should throw your body, mind, and soul into everything you do.  And if you gotta swear in your writing, then piss on it:  swear.  Do it in an entertaining fashion, however, or you’ll come off like a twelve year old with Tourette Syndrome.

9.  Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clark.  Yeah, he’s back, with one of the greatest novels ever written.  Yeah, that sounds like hyperbole, but read it and you’ll see I speak the truth.  Seriously, when someone tells me they’re into science fiction, I ask them how they feel about Childhood’s End.  Most of the time I’ll get, “Huh?” which is disappointing, but it at least gives me the chance to tell that person they have to read it.  If, however, they tell me that didn’t like it–or worse, didn’t get it–eh, I have nothing else to say to said person.  You have no imagination.  You’re talking about the Devil, more or less, coming to Earth to oversee the evolution of humanity into something universe-spanning, which happens in a scene that been ripped off by both V and Independence Day.  This is another of those stories that leaves me in awe and weeping at the same time, because it’s too damn incredible.

10.  The Gaea Trilogy:  Titan, Wizard, Demon, by John Varley.  Every time I start to world building a story, I want it to be as good as the world created in The Gaea Trilogy.  Yes, Cassini has proven there aren’t any living Stanford Toruses in orbit around Saturn, but who cares?  These are an incredible trip into another world, where you have living beings inside another living being who’s pretty much a god that can do anything she likes.  To this day Cirocco Jones and Gaby Plauget remain two of my favorite characters of all time, because they are real, and it’s led me to make my female characters live and breathe the way these two do.

 

There you have it:  ten books, more or less–mostly more–that have remained with me to this day.  Are there another ten?

I’d be lying if I said no.

The Naming of Call Signs

I have to be forgiven because I only managed seven hundred and fifty words due to getting shoes.  Yes, that’s right:  I had two new pair of shoes come in and–do I need to say the rest?  I had to try them on, then tell one of my friends about it, and by the time I actually got around to doing some writing it was getting late, and that meant I couldn’t write as much as I could have written.

Bad stereotype, I know.

But I managed to finish the scene in the Ready Room–not long after I got this in:

 

Vicky ran her fingers around the patch on the breast of her jacket. “All of you have your coven emblem on your patch. You’ll see I don’t: that’s because I’m out of school. Even though mine reflects my call sign—which is Nightwitch, by the way—you’ll see I have a red border. This indicates I was a member of Bloeddewedd Coven. The rest of you have purple, red, blue, green, and yellow, for Åsgårdsreia, Bloeddewedd, Mórrígan, Cernunnos, and Ceridwen.

“You, on the other hand, have your coven guardians. Each of the creatures on your patches represented the spirit guides of each of the school founders. Some of your who know a little about Celtic mythology know that Cernunnos should have the stag that Åsgårdsreia has, and that no one should have a serpent, but tell that to the spirits: they had other ideas.

“We have group names for each of your covers, which you’ll also find out are the names of their racing teams. You students in Åsgårdsreia Coven, as you are associated with The Wild Hunt, you are the Hunters. Bloeddewedd fliers, you’re the Night Owls. Ceridwen fliers are the Warthogs, and don’t take that as demeaning, ‘cause one of the best aircraft ever built had that nicknamed. Since Mórrígan was associated with the raven, you students there are the Blackbirds. And since Cernunnos has the snake, you two—” She pointed at Annie and Kerry. “—are known as the . . .” She cocked a questioning eye at them, to see if they’d figure it out.

Kerry only had to give it a moment’s thought before he gave the answer with some excitement in his voice. “Viper pilots.”

Vicky smiled. “Somehow I knew you’d get it.” She checked her tablet. “Since we have only the both of you, assigning your call signs won’t be that difficult . . .” She pointed at Kerry. “You are Starbuck.” She turned her finger towards Annie. “And you are Athena.”

 

A bit geeky, I know, but it opens up a little more information about the coverns.  Unlike American Horror Story, my coverns are full of sweet kids, none of whom are having sex–okay, none that we know about.  But that’s another tale for another time.

Tonight I go through the dynamics of how to fly something that looks like a broom.  Also, a very simple count of Chapter Six shows I’ve written ninety-one hundred words, and I’m guessing I’ll have another five thousand down before this chapter is over.  Then there are six to go, and technically I’ll be finished with Episode One of Book One, and I can then start on Episode Two of Book One–are you confused yet?

Don’t worry; sometimes I get like this.

 

All Quiet in the Ready Room

A funny thing happened yesterday:  I left work early to take care of some business, I stopped to have a nice dinner, the first in a few weeks, and then I came home kinda buzzed from a couple of beers and started writing.  It was early for me, maybe five-thirty, but I got right into the word making.

I felt pretty relaxed, too, though that could have been the booze talking.  Or it could be I’m in a good part of the story and having fun.

I’m in the ready room at my flight school, and I’ve thirty-two students dressed like tiny World War II pilots, all pretty much wondering what the hell they’ve gotten themselves into.  The instructor is trying to set their minds at easy by–well, I’ll let her tell you:

 

“My name is Victoria Salomon, though most people call me Vicky, with a ‘y’. I’m a graduate of this school and a member of Bloeddewedd Coven. I’m forty-two and I have a birthday coming up in a couple of months. I’m on my second marriage, and I have two children, a boy and a girl—one from each husband. I don’t expect any more of either.” There were a few chuckles from the children, which was more than she expected: normally they were afraid to do anything with that comment but stare.

“I grew up in Portland, Oregon. In case anyone is interested . . .” She reached inside her thermal top and revealed the Star of David pendent on the chain around her neck. “My parents were Jewish, and I was raised in the faith. I still consider myself a practicing Jew, though I’m far from Orthodox, or even Reform. Which is to say, if you need to get in touch with me on a Friday night I can be found, and I’ve even been known to enjoy bacon now and then.

“After I graduated from here I got into racing. The Foundation maintains several PAV racing leagues, and that was where I went. I’ve flown three different classes of PAVs in four different leagues over thirteen years. Most of what I did was road courses and cross country rally racing, though I have been on a few of the more well-known race course throughout the world. I’ve won a lot of racing, and I won four championships, including one world championship.” She took a deep breath through her nose. “I’m rather proud of that last one.

“So why am I telling you this? Because I once sat where you’re sitting. And, I’m not a Legacy.” She let a low rumble of thunder pass before continuing. “I wasn’t even a good pilot my first year. If it weren’t for my instructor bending a few rules, and my father buying me a broom and sending me off to a summer camp, who knows if I would have done as well as I did.”

Vicky rested her hands on the podium and relaxed. “Each of you has the same opportunity as me: you’ve never been on a PAV, you’re wondering how you’re going to do it, and you’re nervous as hell.” She was once more interrupted by thunder, which made her turn towards the windows on her left. “You also have to deal with this stuff outside . . .” She shook her head. “It’s enough to want to set you off flying before you get started.” She chuckled, noticing that none of the students joined her. Yeah, nervous bunch here. Better get their minds on something else . . .

 

Did I mention the storm going on outside?  Yeah, I think I have.

There are two sub-scenes for the Flight School, and I’ll probably start on the first one tonight.  This is by far one of my longest section, probably bigger than the plane ride, though I would have to check that.  And I still have the rest of the week to write out.

I have figured out where I’m going to end this part of the story and turn it into it’s own book.  Considering I crossed the seventy thousand word threshold last night, it makes sense to turn the story of their first year at school into something with more than one volume.

I just hope the other books are this long.

Yeah, sure I do.

Prepping the Ready Room

Slow writing again last night, but it seems after I get everything else out of the way, I end up not getting into the story until seven-thirty or eight PM my time.  I suppose I could write longer, but it seems as if my window for getting things done right now is a couple of hours, maybe three at the most.

But it works.  I’m doing a thousand to twelve hundred words a night now.  It’s not a lot, but it’s every day, and that’s after all the crap I’ve had to muck through for the measure of the day.  I don’t consider it a problem:  I considering it making progress.

So, Flight School . . . yeah, that’s where the kids are.  They hiked through the tunnel and under the woods, and now they’re getting dressed and about to get their lecture in the ready room.  I made my introductions with the flight instructor, Professor Victoria Salomon, and introduced the kids in their flying finery.  Which is to say, they aren’t dressed in the school uniform as much as they’re dressed in flying leathers–which I’ll probably describe more in the scene tonight.  There is a reason for the attire–but then, I figured this out long ago.

I was just telling a friend this morning that I stopped just short of sixty-nine thousand words last night, and if I’d bothered to check my total count before signing off for the evening, I probably would have pushed to hit it.  As is it, when I pulled the story up to check on something, I ended up making a few corrections and adding a word here and there, and suddenly I’ve added two dozen words and it’s even closer.  This is going to be a long scene, however:  maybe five thousand words.  Which is why I’m considering ending this part of the novel at the finish of the next chapter.  Then I’ll throw a marker in there, to show where Episode Two starts, and keep on writing.

Every day I think about this and work on it, the more the layout of this story becomes clear.  This is going to be a little like my unpublished novel Transporting, where, because of the size, I separated the first novel into a trilogy.  I’ll likely do the same here with The Foundation Chronicles, which is becoming a chronicle, all right.  It’s a lot of detail about a place that exists in my head, but is so very real to me.

Oh, and tonight, I had out call signs.  My kids are going to be pilots very soon, and like Professor Vicky–call sign Nightwitch–will tell them, while they’re not in the military, it’s easier to keep track of them by their call signs once they’re airborne.  This will come in handy later in the story, because there’ll be call signs all over the place.  You’ll hear about those as well.

I have bill paying to do tonight, so I might not get as much writing in.  Then again, I’m leaving work early, so I catch an early dinner–

Who knows?  I might just get the kids into the hanger this evening.

The Tunnel at the End of the Tunnel

Today is Snowmaggdon in The Burg.  People are freaking out because we are expecting one to three inches of the white stuff.  Um . . . yeah.  I’m from Chicago.  One to three inches of snow is otherwise known as “Tuesday” back home.  Let me know when it gets serious.

Back at my school, where they also laugh at one to three inches of snow because it’s New England and you’re right on the Atlantic Ocean, and that’s still flip-flop weather, I’m out of The Chunnel and into a smaller tunnel leading to Flight School.  My kids got tired of amateur insults and one of my characters finally had to lay some Cymraeg on the girl in question, and admitted to Annie that he’d just cursed, telling her in English what he’d said.  Gasp!  Eleven year olds cursing.  Yeah, it happens.  Just wait until one of my instructors loses it, which does happen later in the story.  It’s a thing of beauty.  It’s also a good thing this is a private school . . .

Walking home from work I positively, pretty much sorta, figured that I’ll need to split the story up into three sections.  Yeah, a lot going on for one year of school, but it is what it is.  As much, if parts of the story are shorter, then I can just cut it in half, or if it ends up under two hundred thousand words, then I just keep it as one.  Maybe.  This is one of those things I’m keeping in my head as I go along, and that I can change at any time because Scrivener makes it easy.  Just plug and play, people.  It’s that simple.

I was surprised, however, that I managed a little more than eleven hundred words last night.  I wasn’t feeling the story that much, but somehow in a forty minutes period I laid down almost seven hundred words, so inspiration must have come at me from somewhere.  It is strange how that happens, but at the same time it’s good when it does.

Speaking of inspiration, I have things to give away!  No, really, I do.

See, I won NaNoWriMo again, and I have all these goodies that I don’t need because, well, I either don’t need them or I already have to software.  Like, I have discount codes for Scrivener and Aeon Timeline, and I won’t use them because I already have both, and it’s Use It or Lose It time for those babies.

Instead, I’m going to give those away.  Actually, I have codes for the following:

Get Two Free Books from CreateSpace (Must have NaNo account)
50% off on Scrivener writing software for Mac OS X and Windows
50% off Storyist for Mac for NaNoWriMo winners
Save 40% on Aeon Timeline to Plan Your Next Draft or Next Novel
Book Country congratulates winners with 30% off an eBook publishing package, special placement, and double your marketing value with free BookStubs
50% off Spark Anthology
BiblioCrunch Gives 50% off Author Concierge Service for NaNoWriMo winners ($120 value)

There.  I’m giving it all away.  I don’t need it, so if you want it, it’s yours.

However . . .

I’m not standing in the middle of the street givin’ away money.  Here’s what you do.

Go into the comments and leave a message telling me what you’d like, but also telling me what your next story is going to be.  Tell me in . . . lets make it simple:  seventy-five words or more.  Yeah, go for it.  Oh, and leave your email address–though if you’re on Facebook you can look up sweet little Cassidy and PM that to me.

I’ll read the comments, and based on what I think will be the best use of whatever you want, then you’ll get.

Simple, right?

Just like walking through a tunnel–

Eventually you come out the other side.

 

A Winter’s Sitting

It’s finally here:  winter.  There was snow yesterday, so much so at one point the you couldn’t see the river a block and a half over.  I sat out on my balcony in my thermals and leggings, my sweater and heavy long skirt, my boots and scarf, and watched how the snow closer to the building hovers and sways in the updrafts.  It was fascinating.  I almost nodded off watching the flakes drift.

It wasn’t so much a writing day yesterday as it was a “I got things I need to do” day.  I spent a percentage of the noon time shopping and getting lunch, and once back I watched the snow come down.  It was a nice break from sitting in the apartment and writing, because I was getting a little stir happy yesterday, and I needed to get out.  Sometimes you need to break the routine, because we get into them so easily.  Like today:  up at six AM, blog, get ready for work, walk to work, work, eat, work, walk home, eat, write, watch the rest of Bonny and Clyde, sleep.  And that’s it for the rest of the week, save maybe tomorrow where I leave work early to go pay a bill.  Fun times, yo.

Even with all the running around, I managed to get in over six hundred words yesterday.  I was even getting up and writing in fifty word blocks during commercials last night, because I wanted to get things said.  I’ve brought out on to the stage one of Annie’s nemeses, a girl from Arkansas, and she’s going to be a pain in her ass for some time to come.  She’s yet to meet her other nemesis, a girl from Bolder, CO, who’s not such a pain in the ass but a nemesis nonetheless.  Hey, she’ll put her Kerry in the hospital–twice!  That’s enough to drive any twelve year old girl over the edge and straight into near-madness.

Come to think of it, Kerry’s in the hospital a lot in this book.  That’s what happens when you turn some kids loose and let them play on their own for the first time.  So it is written, so it is done.

One of the things I decided yesterday is that there will be enough material in this story that I could likely split this up into a trilogy if I wanted.  I’m already creeping in on seventy thousand words, and I’m going to finish Monday the Fifth of September.  There’s a lot more school ahead of them, believe me, and a lot more to say.  By the time I hit a good cut-off point, I’ll easily have a hundred thousand words, so that can be Book One, Part One.  Then Book One, Part Two, covers the rest of 2011 and the first month of 2012–I’ve already figured out where that cut will occur, with, “Good evening, Headmistress.  I hope I’m not interrupting.”–and Part Three takes them out of the of the school year and back home.

It’s a ridiculous amount of writing for what you might think is such a simply story, but that’s me:  Ms. Wordy at your service.

Maybe the story is long because there’s so much to say . . .

 

Chunneling Through the Storm

Today has been a bit of a disappointment.  First, I run over to Panera for my morning coffee and blogging.  I get everything I need and, boo–the Panera page won’t go past the log-in.  It was really a shame, too, ’cause I’m totally in Allison Mode, which means I have my thermal top on under my turtleneck sweater, and my little gold hoop earrings, and I could almost pull off the “I’m a horny, pissy soccer mom who’s also a clone” look.  Oh, well:  can’t have it all.

Then I get back to the apartment and I discover that a pair of boots I must have didn’t get shipped.  Why?  Maybe because the story doesn’t know how to keep track of their inventory on their web page, and they lead you to believe they have said boots when they don’t.  Bummer.  They were so cute, I gotta have them.  Which means I now have to hunt for another pair that’s probably going to cost me an arm and a leg in the process.

Oi, such a bad morning.  Lets hope the rest of the day is filled with much mirth.  Or at least some happiness.

The story.  Oh, yes, the story.  They’re out of history class, and there was a mention of them attending algebra right after.  Now it’s onto flight school, but there’s one hell of a storm blowing around outside–which is actually different from the weather for that day and time, but I changed it because–well, I wanted the storm.  I have my reasons.  That’s all you need to know.

Anyway:  Chunnel.  So named because when the tunnel was opened on the same day the first breakthrough happened at the English Channel Tunnel, which was 30 October, 1990.  It’s the biggest and longest tunnel at the school, and people started calling it The Chunnel about the same time the thing was opened.

It keeps the students linked to all thing south of The Pentagram.  Chunnel AboveSee here:  when you look south, you see The Pentagram and the Old Classes to the left, the science centers, the Hanger, and the Aerodrome in the lower middle, the Flight School in the upper middle, and all the way to the right The Diamond.  From Founder’s Gate at the south end of the Pentagram Wall to the Flight School is about a kilometer hike over uneven ground.  And it’s raining hard.  Not a lot of fun to walk at the moment.

What are students to do?  Go underground.

Here’s The Chunnel is all its glory, running from Chunnel Belowthe Transformation Passage straight to The Diamond.  One thousand, eight hundred sixty meters long, twelve meters wide, seven meters high.  For those of you not digging metrics that’s six thousand, one hundred feet–or 1.15 miles–almost forty feet wide, and twenty-three feet high.  Everything is connected, so all the students have to do is hit the cut-off tunnel from The Great Hall’s lower levels to the Chunnel, hang a left about six hundred meters along, and trundle over to the Flight School.

It’s quiet, it’s fairly warm, there’s romantic low lighting, and most of all, it’s dry.  You can’t even hear the storm raging overhead because you’re under a several meters of granite.  Along the way two more characters will put in an appearance, and then we get to . . .

Are they going to fly in this weather?

You never know.