On Beyond One Thousand

After all the fun and well-wishing yesterday, it’s back to business and new days.  It’s the last day of January and the first day of the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Horse, so work hard, play hard, and leave a good looking body, as the Fonz always used to say.

After a day off from the novel–and it was Wednesday, ’cause I had the all time consuming big post to get out–I took my time jumping back into it last night.  There were reasons for that, but the main reason is that after a long, trying day at work, I really need to decompress and come down to something resembling reality.  Yesterday was a trying day, and it was close to eight PM before I was ready to roll.

But roll I did.  Strangely enough, it was all about the days of birth, and names and genealogy, which really all came about because of someone trying to weasel their way out of not talking about what was really on their mind.  You get into those places and you gotta think fast, and it lead to some great word play–and needing to look up stuff that I hadn’t looked up in a while.

You’d think I’d know better, but sometimes that happens.  I can’t be perfect all the time.  Hell, I can’t even be close to imperfect most of the time, so there are moments when I stumble from one life event to another.  Sometimes that works, other times it feels like a bad dream.

No, I never thought I was a purple unicorn finding myself back in school.  That's just crazy.  I was pink.

No, I never had a dream where I was a purple unicorn who found herself back in school. That’s just crazy. I was pink.

But the conversation between Annie and Kerry went fast and smooth while they relaxed in their own private universe.  They revealed their birthdays, then from there they went to the naming of names, which in a school full of witches is a thing you only do in a moment of supreme confidence (no, not Supreme, I’ll probably write about that tomorrow), because as they’ll learn with the Queen of Darkness and the Master of Spirits, knowing a true name is one of the guaranteed ways to control things, living and otherwise.

Handing over your name to some girl you just met a couple of weeks before is a great way to find yourself getting controlled to hell and gone later–though the door swings both ways, and as she did the same, it’s turnabout fair play.

I stopped when I did because there’s a particularly emotional part coming up, and I didn’t want to end on a bummer, even though thinking about it got me a bit weepy.  I don’t hate that, but I didn’t want to leave my writing for the night on a down note.  It affects the way you look at it when you come back the next day.  It drops your emotional energy to a low before you have to crank out more words, and when I start writing anew, I wanna feel up and ready.

We’ll get to the weepy parts tonight.  It’s Friday and I’ll be inside writing.

Perfect time to start crying.

Millennium

Here is it, the one and only, my 1000th post.  After nearly three straight years of coming here to share, with my audience and followers, my almost-innermost thoughts, I have reached a most impressive goal.

"It's all darkness and misery, leading to a lonely, pointless death."

“What is the point?  In the end it’s all darkness and misery, leading to a lonely, pointless death.”

Thanks, Frank.  I knew I could count on you to bring the good times to the party.

At least there are others who feel differently . . .

"I already knew your inner thoughts and secrets--your passwords were easy to break, even with the childish encryption you used."

“I already knew your inner thoughts and secrets–your passwords were easy to break, even with the encryption.  You are a sad, foolish girl.”

Ray of sunshine you are, Lisbeth.  Don’t you have a large Swedish corporation to take down?

What started me down this strange path?  Well, to be honest, writing.  Not writing a blog, however.  No, not at all.  When I first started this sucker I was going in fits and starts, and my postings were uneven.  I had nothing to say, I just posted things here and wondered if anyone would read them.  And frankly, I gave very few shits if anyone did.

What started me working hard on the blog was when I was writing my novella Kuntilanak.  I wanted to get into the habit of writing, and it wasn’t just enough to work on the story, because I was afraid I would–as I had done many times before–just give up somewhere along the line.

Then came the brilliant idea:  what if I talked about writing my story by writing on my blog?  It’s simple:  I work on the story in the morning, do a little editing in the afternoon, and at some point in between I’d set up a post detailing my writing exploits.  Not exactly the greatest idea in the world, but it kept me writing my story–and it’s kept me writing my blog.

And how much have I kept writing.  I went back and looked, and found that the last day I didn’t post an entry was 24 March, 2012, a couple of months short of two years ago.  However, there were two posts on 23 March because of something that kept me from posting on the 24th.  So it’s not really a missed day, just a day where I posted the day before.  The last day where nothing was written:  8 September, 2011.  Which, if you’re following the details of current work in progress, is the actual day Kerry is shocked so badly by the Queen of Sorcery, Helena Lovecraft, that he ends up spending the night in the hospital.

Coincidence?  You tell me.

So much has changed since that summer of 2011.  Since then I’ve been through three jobs, and I’ve moved for two of them.  I still suffer from depression, but not nearly as much as back in 2010 and 2011.  I cry more, but that’s because I feel more, I’m not cut off from my emotions any longer.  I finally came to grips with my gender dysphoria, began seeing a therapist and came out, and now spend a reasonable portion of my life as female (as opposed to Life in Technicolor, but you can blame Coldplay for that).

Most of all I write.  I write stories, and I write on my blog.  I’ve sold one story and self-published two.  My sales are crap, but I’m keeping at it.  2014 is the year I start sending more things out, because I’ve got a slush pile and a half waiting, and it’s time to move that monster.  Talk is cheap, and I got bills to pay.

Yesterday and today I looked over my posts and my stats, and decided to list my ten biggest posts in the history of this blog.  We  aren’t talking huge numbers here, and with the exception of one time when I was sort of damned with faint praise by someone who said, “You only get about forty hits a day?  I thought you were huge.  I get more than that,” I’m happy with my few thousand followers who literally come from everywhere on the planet.

Behold my Global Empire!

Behold my Global Empire!

Since I’ve always wanted to do this, allow me to offer up my own top ten.

 

Top Ten Posts of All Time:

10. If I Go the Plane Way, 8 November, 2013.  140 views.

This was about a set of scenes I was working one during the last NaNo, and how I used Scrivener to layer additional scenes under existing scenes.

 

9.   The End Beginning Again, 5 January, 2014.  144 views.

This was about my idea file, and how something I’d thought about using for an old story in the file was considered for a much later story I wanted to write.  This is the only post from 2014 to make my top ten.

 

8.   Time Tunneling, 16 October, 2013.  148 views.

In the run-up to NaNoWriMo 2013 I went into a lot of detail about how I set up my novel, and some of the things I was doing with time lines.  This was the third of my “October Three” where I had fantastic hits for three posts in a row.  Just as I did layers of scenes, this showed how to do layers of timelines within timelines.

 

7.   You Are Now Leaving Silent Hill, 22 September, 2013.  167 views.

My first “Daily Excursion” post after arriving in Harrisburg, PA.  I ran up to Centralia, PA–which was once used as inspiration for the art direction of the movie Silent Hill–walked around, got pictures, and lived to tell the tale.

 

6.   Preparatory School, 14 October, 2013.  207 views.

The first of my “October Three” post, where I show the lay out of what was to be my NaNo 2013  novel, and that is still my current work in progress.

 

5.   Playthings in the Hands of the Arbiters of Decency, 27 February, 2012.  231 views.

This is the only one of my rants that made the top ten.  It was about how PayPal was getting crappy about being used to pay for what it saw as smut, and how it arbitrarily decided to impose rules that screwed over a lot of writers.  Things are much better now, unless you write monster smut . . .

 

4.   Dancing with Demons, 4 November, 2011.  272 views.

The oldest of my top tens, this one puzzles me.  I was four days into my first NaNoWriMo, hard at work on Her Demonic Majesty, and I threw this one up pretty fast.  And for some reasons it has pulled in nearly three hundred hits.  Must be the demons . . .

 

3.   Done Ready, 21 October, 2013.  312 views.

A quick discussion about how I was ready to start NaNo 2013.  I say in this post that I’d finish the first book of The Foundation Chronicles by 31 December.  I think I meant I’d finished my drugs then.

 

2.   Timelines and the Aeon, 15 October, 2013.  644 views.

The middle of my “October Three”, and the biggest by far.  This is where Aeon Timeline ended up on my computer and I told everyone about it.  Apparently a lot of people liked that.

 

1.   Penultimate Daydream, 2 May, 2012.  645 views.

And this is another puzzle.  Why?  Because nothing much is said here.  Well, actually, there is, but it doesn’t make that much sense.  I was sleep deprived, I hated my job, I was almost hallucinating.  It was the day before I turned 55, and the incident I speak off while dining, I did think someone I knew was dining with me.  And then they weren’t, and it killed me.  I’ve always wondered if there was some kind of bot that drove the numbers up.  Not that it maters today.

 

Honorable Mentions:

The Rough Guide to My Alternate Chicago, 12 December, 2011.  120 views.

This was the first post where I really got into talking about the wonders of editing, and though most writers hate it, about this time was when I was starting to love it.  And so I have to post my love.

 

Hail, Scrivener!, 31 July, 2011.  128 views.

The oldest of my posts with more than one hundred views, this is where I started talking about Scrivener, and how much it was helping my writing and my story telling.  What was nice about this post was there was a comment from the Scrivener people, saying they enjoyed the kind words I had for their product.  That was when it first hit me:  there are people out there actually reading this stuff!

 

In looking over some of my old posts I saw likes from people who no longer blog, who have vanished from the face of the Internet, who I wonder about.  Blogging isn’t something you stick with day in and out for years.  I’m probably one of the strange examples, getting up every morning and cranking out my five hundred words, or more, before starting out my day.  And if any of you who used to blog, who I used to see every day, are still out there following me–hey, I miss you guys.  Hope your life is treating you well, because we all need that.

What comes next?  No more special posts for a while, that’s for sure.  If I do another, it’ll come when I reach my 2,500th post, which over four years away.  And that begs the question:

When will I stop blogging?

Because everything comes to an end, doesn’t it?  In four years I’ll be sixty-one, and I can’t say if I’ll still show up here, blogging every day, or if I’ll still continue churning out stories that no one reads.  Or if I’ll even be alive, cause the next eleven hour run back to Northwest Indiana could see me flying off the side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike at high speed into a valley, all the time regretting nothing.

Or perhaps I will have reached my dream of being a full-time writer, and I can be like Chuck and blog to all the word slaves out there (the penmonkeys are his), giving them encouragement and telling them why they shouldn’t stop, because look at me, I made it.

I won’t be quitting any time soon.  I can’t.  I still feel as if I have something to say.  But should it become time to move on and find my wide awake dreams elsewhere, I’ll fall back on this quote–something I heard over Christmas, and something that speaks to me of what can be the finality of change:

 

“Times change and so must I. We all change when you think about it. We’re all different people all through our lives. And that’s ok, that’s good, as long as you keep moving, as long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear. I will always remember when The Doctor was me.”  The Eleventh Doctor, The Time of the Doctor.

I’m not quite as good at The Doctor, but I do remember so much of who I’ve been these last three years.  I remember the people I’ve known, those who’ve been a pain in my ass, and those whose friendship and help I have cherished through the years.

And I remember those who have left their mark on me in such a way that it will never be erased.

A thousand down, and still more to come.  Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine.

There are stories to be written, you know.

Penultimate Madness

Number nine, number nine, number nine.  That’s what you get when you bring together the numbers for the post.  Don’t know if it means anything, but there it is in all its glory.

This look nothing like the picau ar y maen I ordered--

This looks nothing like the picau ar y maen I ordered–

Last night I inched over the line into one hundred nineteen thousand words, which adds another nine to this party.  I do mean inch, too:  I think my final word total was 119,007.  I had what I was looking for, but I semi distracted myself looking up marvelous pastry confections cooked in Ireland and Wales.  Didn’t find any in Ireland, but found some for Wales, and that was added to my “Things Kids Talk About When They’re Sitting on a Sofa in the Middle of a Big, Dark Room” list.

Plus, I ended the new scene in a spot that, if I’d gone on, I’d have broken my chain of thought for the scene, and when I’d come back to it tonight I’d probably screw something up in the continuation.  I believe it was Chuck Wendig who said when you’re writing end your time with your characters on something of a cliffhanger moment, so when you sit back down at your story, you’ll see that, you’ll wonder what’s next, and the creative juices get flowing again.  When I see that point in my story, I stop and recharge–

But it’s not as if I don’t know where the story is headed.  I know what comes next, I know what Annie and Kerry say next, and I know who I’m introducing in the story next.  Yes, at nearly one hundred and twenty words into the story, I’m bringing in another character.  And why not?  I’ve already had something like twenty characters speak, so throw in one more.

And just because I’m a bit nuts, the people who have so far had speaking part are:  Annie, Annie’s mom, Annie’s dad, Mr. Mayhew, Kerry’s mom, Kerry’s dad, Kerry, Ms. Rutherford, Collin, Alica, Headmistress Laventure, Deanna, Erywin, Helena, Adric, Isis, Coraline, Madeline, Victoria, Wednesday, Harpreet, Emma, Jessica, Holoč, Bianca, Gretchen, Ramona, Matthias, and finally Una.  Forgive me–twenty-nine speakers.  Now I bring in number thirty–this is a party, people, so let’s rock!

I’ll finish up the current scene by this weekend.  I have something I need to work on tonight, so even if I do get to the novel, I won’t write much.  Maybe I will put in a few hundred words to get it where it’s suppose to be, but if not, there it always Thursday and Friday evenings.  Then just one more chapter and a bit of fanfare, for Act One will be in the books, so to speak.  When?  Maybe another ten days, maybe less, maybe more.  But this project should come to an end within the next two weeks.

I keep saying that, but this project won’t end for a long time.  I know this, and I keep telling myself this, but a part of me cringes whenever I figure out just how much I have left to write.  By the end of May I’ll have spent almost a year prepping and writing, and if I’m lucky I’ll be about half way into Act Two by then.

Oi.  Why do I do these things to myself?

Views from the Madness

The wind chill is seven below so I will bundle up for the walk to work.  There’s nothing like a walk in numbing cold to sorta wake you up and get you to where you want to spend the rest of the day under the covers.

Just like my kids at school.

The pajama party is starting and my kids are in the hall.  Everything is light and entertaining.  It’s probably better to show than to tell:

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

The dining tables and chair were gone, replaced by large, comfortable reading chairs, love seats, sofas, and even—yes, there were even a few huge beds capable of holding a half dozen students easily, as a couple already were. Scattered around the hall were a few large carpets covered in throw pillows that reminded Kerry of the classroom in Memory’s End where they met with Professor Arrakis. The light was down in the hall, but there were small, brighter spots here and there—floor lamps that were set alongside a few of the large chairs and love seats.

As they entered the hall Kerry took in the relaxed but excited environment.  With each chair, sofa, or bed there was at least one table where one could set snacks, drinks, and various forms of entertainment.  Three girls to his right, sitting on a sofa and an easy chair, were playing cards on a coffee table made of a dark wood.  Another boy was sitting in one of the large chairs reading, a drink sitting upon the end table to his right.  The bed with the six girls had high, narrow tables at what he guessed was the head and the foot of the bed, and while they talked they were also munching on snacks kept in bowls on both tables.

Something caught Kerry’s eye: a group of five kids, three boys and two girls, sitting on the floor around a low, circular table. One of the boys had his tablet at his right and a cardboard screen in front of them, and all the students had sheets of paper and dice laid out before them. “Hey, those guys over there are—”

“Oh, look.” Annie tugged on Kerry’s arm and pulled him along.  “There’s the perfect spot.”  She dragged towards a sofa located near the center of the hall, one facing the east wall. It wasn’t alone: there was also a table at each end of the sofa, an easy chair facing north and south, and a low coffee table in the middle of it all. Kerry was surprised no one was already sitting there—then again, there were maybe seventy people in the room, and it looked as if there were plenty of empty places remaining.

Magical girls spending the evening chatting about other kids, doing their nails, and thinking about demons they gotta smite.

Magical girls spending the evening chatting about other kids, doing their nails, and going on about demons they gotta smite some day.  Cats and sushi not included.

All and all an enjoyable, fun evening.  A bunch of magical kids relaxing in what may or may not be the moonlight–let me check the sky for that day . . . yep.  Almost a full moon–blowing off the first week of classes and doing things that Normal kids do at these shindigs.

Now, as for my kid–well, it’s a new experience for them, but one of them knows a little about what’s going on, and the other doesn’t care, he’s just happy to be where he’s at, because it’s not home.  It’s also with someone who’s at least once said that she loves him, and when you’re an emotionally withdrawn kids who has spent a lot of time on his own and being alone, it’s a heady thing with which to deal.

That’s also part of the story, and part of the Madness.  These kids grow up fast, a lot faster than Normals on the outside, and it’s not out of the question to say that some of them will face life or death situations before they are out of their early teens.

When you got that sort of heavy hanging over your head–not that they know this yet–it’s no wonder the school gives them to chance to kick back and let their hair hang down.

After all:  Witch Hard, so Party Hard.

That also works if you’re a mutant or a mad scientist, too.  This school is nothing if not equal for everyone . . .

Acts of the Madness

Back home it’s Indiana Blizzard Time:  here isn’t cold, but nothing near that bad.  Tomorrow, though, we get wind chill out the butt, so that’ll make the walk into work all the more interesting.  Though back home it’ll drop to twenty below zero, so I’m not complaining.

So Nice, So Neat.

So Nice, So Neat.

Home stretch time on the novel.  Not only did I whip out one scene last night–short and sweet, just under thirteen hundred words that sets up what’s coming next–but I also organized my novel into what I feel is the final format.  In the picture I’ve placed here for all to see, I’m showing what the current act looks like, with parts and chapters and scenes laid out in Scrivener Outline Mode, but looking in the binder to the left one can see the other parts laid out in the other acts.  Yep, she’s looking good.  I even managed to get everything named the way it should be named.

I’ve had more issues getting this thing laid out and sections named than I’ve had with any other book, but then, I’ve never written anything this big and complicated before in one sitting.  When I look at the other acts and realize there’s probably a quarter of a million more words waiting to get written, this is a long-term project, and may end up being the only original material I write this year.

What did I write about last night?  The Midnight Madness.  What is that, you say?  At my school, every Friday and Saturday night the school lets all the students who want to join come to the main dining area and hang out with their fellow classmates.  The one main requirement is that they have to come in appropriate sleepwear.  Once there they sit around and play games, read, have snacks and refreshments, or just spend the night talking with friends until sometime after midnight.

It’s a school-approved pajama party, and everyone’s invited.

Does this mean that some couples are off in shadowed corners locking lips and sucking face?  They’re teenagers:  what do you think?

When you think about it, when you have a few hundred advanced and intelligent kids locked up in one spot, and all of them are either witches, gifted (they got crazy mutant powers, yo), or budding mad scientists, you gotta give them the chance to get out of their coven towers and relax.  And some of these kids occupy all three spots on that Vern Diagram, which means they’re really burning the candle at three ends, and they probably need to drink fluids, munch on sandwiches and pastries, and play a few card games to unwind.

Only when you’re losing a game of Magic at Salem, you flip that table with your mind.

There you have it.  Kids unwinding, author unwinding.  Lucky for them their weekend is just starting, and I’m having to get back into the week.  At least it’s not twenty below zero outside, but rather a tolerable cold.

Makes the walk to work feel like less of an impending doom.

Your Permission to Suck

After one of the longest posts I’ve ever written–yeah, I’ve had a couple inch up into the two thousand word range before–Saturday was a sort of get back to basics and get some writing done kind of day.  Mostly because I’d taken Friday off and I needed to get the mojo restarted.  Those are always a good think, I find, ’cause you need that recharge from time-to-time.

And look where it got me?  Two thousand plus word blog post, and sixteen hundred words of novel writing during the evening.  I’d say that’s a pretty good day of word cranking.

In my story all my Week One classes are out of the way.  Just a little something for the last Friday evening awaits my kids, and then some Saturday inquiries–and that’s Act One.  Seven remaining scenes to write, and I can bring this part of the story to Wrap City.  I even spent part of last night moving a few scenes around in Scrivener so my Book One, Act One, Two, Three format would work.  ‘Tis not a big thing, and after five minutes I had things formatted oh, so right.

The scene I worked last night sort of speaks to me as a writer, and it’s something I have to remind myself of every so often.  But my Professor Ellison gets the truth out there in short order, and in a way you wouldn’t expect instructors to speak to eleven year olds.

The setup is he gets Kerry to play him part of a song that, in my little fantasy world, was recorded live on the very interment Kerry is going to play–sort of like being shown the guitar Jimmy Page used to record Stairway to Heaven and then being asked to play Stairway to Heaven with said ax.  It would be, for some people, a slightly heady experience.

And it leads into a discussion . . .

 

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

Her smile grew wider as the professor joined in on the piano and Kerry stepped back just a little, pleased with what he was creating on the keyboard. After another fifteen, twenty seconds he waved his arm and stopped playing, then half-threw his hands into to air. “Oh, man, yes.” He half-skipped to where Annie stood. “I can’t believe that. I’ve heard recordings of that song played live on that keyboard, and I just did the same.” He threw his arms around Annie and gave her an excited hug, then turned back towards the approaching Professor Ellison. “What did you think?”

“You were a bit slow to start, and off a little on tempo here and there, but given how nervous you were likely feeling . . .” He slowly applauded. “Bravo, Kerry. Bravo.”

“Thank you, Professor.” He bowed his head and shook it while continuing to smile. “That was unreal.”

“I can imagine.” Ellison flipped off the Quadra. “You should consider playing at our Ostara Pageant next year.”

Annie felt Kerry stiffen slightly. “What’s that?”

“It’s the celebration we hold for the Vernal Equinox every year. Your coven is responsible for getting it organized.” Ellison moved back a couple of steps, so as not to make Kerry feel pressured. “The Saturday night after the equinox we hold a talent celebration in Orchestra Hall, and students get up and do creative things.”

“Really.”

“Yeah. We usually get a couple of dozen kids every years. Some dance, some read poetry, some play instruments—one year we had a student do some spoken word free verse.” Ellison glanced down at the keyboard that Kerry had played. “We don’t get too many people who actually play their own songs.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The people who never take a shot. The ones who are sitting in the audience going on about how people suck, how you suck, all the while doing nothing but running off their mouths.” He let himself relax, so as to put Kerry at ease. “I can get you a good tutor. I know just the perfect one for you, too.” He stepped away from the synthesizer and stood before the boy. “What do you think? Wanna be one of the few A Levels who gets up and shows everyone what you got?”

Kerry felt conflicted. In a way he wanted to say yes and have the chance to “take his shot”. But he’d never performed for anyone before, much less in something called “Orchestra Hall,” which meant that all the students in the school would be there. And the instructors. And the staff. And maybe other people . . .

He felt his right arm squeezed. Annie was holding him, her arms wrapped around his, the look on her face one of adornment. “I don’t know about the rest of the students, but I’d love to hear you play.” She tilted her head to one side. “And if you have five months to practice, I believe it’s impossible for you to suck.”

Ellison held his hands up and out in mock surprise. “See, you already got a fan. And you should listen to your fans.” This time he held his hand out towards Kerry. “You wanna try? Yes?”

 

Sucking.  We who try to be creative suck every so often.  Sometimes we suck all the time, and we realized it and we figured out that our creativity lay elsewhere.  Well, some of us do, but that’s another story . . .

Ed Wood

“It’s not that I suck, it’s that you can’t comprehend my vision with your stupid, stupid mind!”

 

I’ve written steady, in one form or another, for almost three years now.  I’ve a few works out among the public, and I’ve more waiting to spring upon these folk.  I still make mistakes when I write–my fingers simply can’t or won’t always do what my mind tells them to do.  Or I misspell stuff and never catch it.  Or I write a clumsy paragraph that, first time through, looked fantastic, but on review pretty much blew hard because it made no sense.  Which is why we rewrite, because unless we are all literary Mozart’s, our first drafts aren’t the shit, but more like crap that needs a serious massaging.

The more I write, the better I become.  I do feel that to be true.  I also feel that my style has changed as well, and if I go back and look at work I wrote years ago, it doesn’t read the same as my work these days.  If you stick with any author long enough you’ll see their style evolve as they charge ahead from novel to novel.  Sometimes it comes from taking chances, sometimes it comes from understanding what works for them and what doesn’t.

Remember, though:  there will always exist the possibility you’re going to suck with whatever you’re producing.  Which is okay.

Go on, take that shot.  It doesn’t hurt.

Much.

The World Beneath the Water

Lets roll out the new from last night, first.  It was “I’m Off Night,” last night, because after dinner and a little shopping I had zero creative energy to sit and do anything.  I knew what I wanted to write, but after a good hour of looking at the story, I finally said, “I think I’ll just sit and relax,” and did that until I started falling asleep at ten PM.  It’s not a bad thing:  sometimes you need to recharge your batteries, and if that means a night off, then take it.  I don’t have anything to do today, so it’s a good time to make up for last night’s lost time.

So what I’m going to talk about today is something completely different, and in the process of this discussion I’m going to bring up some things about a rather well known television show about zombies where no one ever says the word zombie.  There will be times when I’m gonna go all Ms. Spoilly McSpoil, so if you don’t want to read something that’s going to cause you to shake your fist at your computer screen while you scream, “Curse you, Cassie!” through clenched teeth, then read a book, listen to music, or watch some good movies–TCM will show Bonnie and Clyde, Jaws, and Alien back-to-back tonight, so you might want to keep that block open.

I have given warning–you know–

Or is that, "Don't Dead, Open Inside"?  Maybe I should check . . .

Or is that Don’t Dead, Open Inside? Maybe I should check . . .

There’s a meme that’s been rolling around Facebook of late, one that doesn’t actually involve some kid getting picked up for a DUI in Miami.  No, this is a picture of a huge iceberg, floating peacefully along while waiting for a ship to smack into it.  As you know an iceberg is pretty much under the water, a huge thing you never see, which is probably good because you’d likely get hypothermia swimming around trying to get a look-see.

The part above the water–the small part–is labeled “Movie”, while the part below the waterline is labeled “Novel”.  You know what they’re trying to say:  the parts you see in a movie are only a small part of the story that’s adapted from a novel–if, of course, the movie is adapted from a novel, and it’s not an original tale.

But this is often true.  One could point to any of the biggest movies of late–the Harry Potter films, the Lord of the Rings, the Hunger Games–had to leave out a lot of the story to get the tale up on the screen.  For some tales you need to do a four or five hour flick if you want to get everything on the screen–or do as was done with The Godfather, which took the early life of Vito Corleone and worked it up as a flash back around original material.  And in doing this, they still left out a lot of the story.  (Maybe due to threats of a lawsuit by a certain Italian-American singer and actor who’d won an Oscar who didn’t like a character in the novel who was Italian-American singer and actor who ended up winning an Oscar, all with a little help from his godfather.  Purely a coincidence, I’m sure.)

When you translate a novel to television, however, you are allowed a little more leeway, because you have, if you’re lucky, more time to develop your story.  Rich Man, Poor Man was a good example of the early television mini-series, where you could take your time moving as much of the story from the page to the screen, and stay true to the material.  Yes, some things don’t get translated well–maybe due to things that are going on inside a person’s head, or, depending on the times, there are things in the story that violate a network’s “standards and practices,” which is a fancy way of saying you’ll never get a particular scene past the censors.

This is pretty much alleviated by the advent of premium cable these days, where one can pretty much get away with showing so much that the joke has  become, “It’s not porn, it’s HBO.”  Yes, there are some things that HBO won’t show–in A Song of Ice and Fire our lovable Mother of Dragons was more like I’m Just Barely a Teen Mommy of Dragons, so she was aged up just a little for Game of Thrones.  And by “just a little,” I mean she could have appeared on 16 and Pregnant–with DRAGONS!  Which is a reality show I’d watch . . .

Basic cable has gotten into the act as well.  Breaking Bad was a true gem of drama, with a story and characters that was at both times compelling and revolting.  This was, however, an original show, and the story could develop as slowly and fully as the creator/producer liked.  And that brings us to the real iceberg of this tale, The Walking Dead.

"I don't speak with an English accent.  I'm from Kentucky; no one from the South speaks with an English accent."

“I don’t speak with an English accent. I’m from Kentucky; no one from the South speaks with an English accent.”

At the moment the AMC show is three-and-a-half seasons into a four season run, with a fifth promised.  It’s done very well in ratings and has a loyal, sometimes fanatical following, but that’s to be expected with any fandom.  The show follows this guy, Sheriff Rick Grimes, who wakes up from a gun shot-induced coma and discovers that, no, he’s not in Indiana, he’s in the middle of the Zombie Apocalypsetm, his family is missing, and everything he’s known has gone straight to hell.  In the process of the first episodes he finds his family, a group of survivors, and most of all his best-I-left-you-for-dead-and-I’m-bangin’-your-wife-friend and former partner from the force, Shane.

The show has followed the meta plot pretty closely:  they find Atlanta messed up, they find  Hershel’s Farm, they find The Prison, they find The Governor, they fight The Governor, they lose the Prison, and as of right now they’re On The Road looked for each other and safe harbor.  Since it’s been stated they run into the traveling trio of Abraham Ford, Rosita Espinosa, and mullet-sporting Eugene Porter, the metaplot will have them heading northward to the Alexandra Safe-Zone, where life won’t exactly become any easier for them.

I’ve only watched the show off and on throughout the years.  I usually haven’t had the time to watch the show, though these days I find there is more time in The Burg for relaxing, so I have watched episodes off and on.  I’ve also been an off-and-on fan of the comic, which has run since October, 2003, and is now up to Issue 120, with a confirmation of printing through Issue 132.

In terms of iceberging, this story is the perfect iceberg.  There is so much that has been set by the wayside in order to get the story on the screen.  About half of the Prison story was removed, for example, which could have been an entire season in of itself–instead of, say, a whole season of hanging out on The Farm.  That season could have seen Hershel losing two of his kids to his zombie kid in the barn, Tyreese’s daughter and boyfriend messing up their suicide pack, the beheading of Hershel’s twin daughters by crazy prisoners, Tyreese giving Rick a beatdown and throwing him off a second-story walkway, Carol deciding to do Death By Walker–

Wait, what?

Like I said, there were a lot changed to move the story from the comic to the small screen.  For one, they got rid of a few characters:  Hershel had a huge family, and he pretty much gets to watch six of them die almost right before his eyes–the last one, his son Billy, does when he takes a bullet to the head during the Woodbury assault on the prison. There are a few prisoners who make it as far at the Woodbury assault but no further, and one of two Woodbury defectors also meet their end at that point as well.  Dale–he of the famous show’s Dale Face–survives well beyond the Woodbury assault, only to be eaten by cannibals while on the road to Washington, D.C..  He is also the one who loses a leg, but since Dale was long-gone by the time of the show’s Prison Time, that leg bite went to Hershel.

Oh, and the Show Rick swears a lot less than that Comic Rick, but that’s because It’s Not HBO, It’s AMC, and while the show may be able to get away with a “shit” and “asshole” now and then, having Rick throw out the word “fucker” every so often wouldn’t go over well, and tell Michonne and Tyreese that the Woodbury folks “have fucked with the wrong people!” is pretty much HBO fodder.  And there’s a few sex scenes, because even when you’re surrounded by the undead, there’s always a moment for sexy time, right?

"This is my resting bitchy face.  I'm really not as bad as I'm made out."

“This is my resting bitchy face. I’m really not as bad as I’m made out.”

And then there is Lori.

If there is a part of this ‘Berg I find way the hell off, it’s the way a few of the women are portrayed.  In the original story, Lori is concerned, she’s protective of her family, she admits to having had sex once with Shane but no more, she makes it through Judith’s birth, becomes a protective mother–and then dies in about as gruesome a manner as one can imagine.  If it’s any consolation, her death–and the death of another–leads to the death of The Governor, but by that time Lori’s a Walker in Training and gives no shits.

The Show Lori, however . . . when your character is made out as the worst thing in a world full of undead looking to eat you and your loved ones twenty-four/seven, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, until the day you join the shambling herd, there is something seriously off.  By the end of Season Two most viewers, given the choice of having their face gnawed off by a hungry Walker, or having Lori ask them if they saw Carl in the house, would say, “Hey, Walker:  you want a side salad with my face?”  No way was she ever getting Mother of the Year awards, and given the narrowness of that field in the story, it’s a pretty damning indictment for her character.

The same thing was done with Andrea.  On the show she was something of an annoying pain in the ass who got separated from the group, was rescued by Michonne, went to Woodbury, hooked up with The Gov, waffled back and forth with the, “Is he good, is he psycho?  I can’t kill him, the sex was pretty good,” line, and ultimately ended up dead due to her own kind of stupid.

"No, I never shot a redneck by accident.  If I shoot him, he ain't gettin' up!"

“No, I never shot a redneck by accident. If I shoot him, he ain’t gettin’ up!”

This is more the way she really was:  kicking ass and forgetting the names as soon as they were dispatched.  And that scar on her face?  That’s from taking a rifle shot to the head, which sort of kinda put her out of action just a little in the final Woodbury assault.  But, in the comic story, Andrea’s still alive, still kicking ass, and pretty much Rick’s girlfriend at this point.  A lot of her personality in the original story got ported over to Carol, who, on the show, you learned not to be near if you had a bad cough.

I can understand some of the changes that were made:  it’s basic cable, you only have so many episodes in a season that can air, you wanna cut through as much of the Peyton Place stuff as possible and stick to the action, and you never know how long your actors can stay with you, so sometimes you kill off ones where they shouldn’t die, and keep around those who should have died because they’re good for the story, which is to say fans like them, and fans equal viewer, so go with that.

That, ultimately, is why you have the iceberg when you translate a story to a screen.  Reading is one thing, the visual medium another, and a lot of the people doing the viewing aren’t necessary going to be doing the reading.  There are a few exceptions to the rule–Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings instantly spring to mind, as well as a few superhero movies based upon other comics–but in the case of TV, it does seem that you have a lot more people who watch the story, and are surprised as hell when one tells them that what they’re watching was based upon a book, or in the case of TWD, a comic.

It’s an interesting thing to look at from the point of being a writer.  I’ve seen more than a few Facebook threads that go, “If your story is made into a movie, who do you want to play your characters?”  A better question may be, “If your story is made into a movie or television show, what would you be okay with getting changed or dropped?”  After all, your story would end up someone else’s iceberg.

And there’s so much water in which to hide.

The Keyboard Lover

Some bracing days here in The Burg.  It’s cold, we’ve had snow–it’s feeling like back in Indiana, though we haven’t had massive car pileups that have left people dead here . . . yet.  Give it time:  winter has a ways to go.

Where am I–oh, yeah.  It’s story time, and did I have a good one last night.  The scene was something I’ve been thinking on for a while.  Annie and Kerry head off to the school’s music hall–actually Orchestra Hall, but lets not quibble–and they head up to the keyboard room, because throughout the story it’s been hinted that Kerry is something of a keyboard lovers, and it’s mentioned during his discussion with Professor Matthias Ellison that he kinda, sorta spends a lot of time looking at this stuff online.

To say Kerry is standing in a little stretch of person heaven is a bit of an understatement.  As we’ll see, he does know his stuff:

 

Place looks a bit like this, only there's a lot more toys . . .

Place looks a bit like this, only there’s a lot more toys . . .

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

Annie watched Kerry closely, but she was also watching Professor Ellison closely, too. Kerry was interested in this short history lesson, but his eyes were also darting around the room—and the professor was seeing this as well. Any moment now the professor is going to start showing Kerry the other items in the room—

She didn’t expect what the professor did next. He looked Kerry up and down while he tapped his left index finger against the top of the organ. “Tell me—” He pointed at an instrument about three meters away. “Do you know what that is?”

Kerry answered right away. “Mellotron Mark IV.”

“And the one to the left?”

“That’s a Mellotron Mark II.”

“And you know that because . . ?”

Kerry backed a few steps away from Professor Ellison. “The Mark IV has had that same sort of case for most of the time it’s been produced. The Mark II . . .” He look over his shoulder, then back. “Two manuals, side-by-side.”

“Correct.” Professor Ellison move slowly towards the instruments. “This Mark II is a bit famous—it originally came from King Crimson—” He stood before the machine and powered it up. As soon it was ready, he began playing.

Kerry’s face broke into an enormous smile as the professor held the first chords, then progressed to the second set of chords. “No. You’re kidding.”

Professor Ellison played for another ten seconds before stopping. “Oh, yeah. It’s, uh, gift to the school.”

Though the two males in the room knew this music, Annie certainly didn’t. “What was that you played?”

Kerry turned, all excited. “The opening to Watcher of the Skies: it was the first song on Foxtrot.” He pointed at the machine. “This is the machine it was recorded on.” He turned back to Professor Ellison. “Right?”

“You are.” He patted the machine. “Tony says he has a mellotron in storage, but he’d rather not dig it out because the new tech is better . . .” He chuckled. “Or he doesn’t want to fly across the ocean to get this.” He pointed to another keyboard on the other side of the room. “Do you know that one?”

It was one difficult one to figure out, but he finally figured it out by the brightly colored buttons above the keyboard. “That’s a Rolland Jupiter-8, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is.” He grinned. “Do you sit up at night and look at these things on the Internet?”

“Um . . .” Kerry felt a little silly answering. “Yeah. Did anyone own that?”

“Oh, yeah. That was used by ABBA on their last studio recordings, though that one’s been loaned out a few times for other recordings.” He pointed at a black one positioned on a stand behind him. “This one?”

Kerry had this one right away. “It’s got OB-X in the upper left corner, so I know it’s an Oberheim.”

“One of the more well-know systems. It’s the original case and everything, but we’ve givin’ it the Xa upgrade. Still plays the same, though.” He narrowed his eyes as he grinned. “On what album you think it was played?”

Kerry knew what he wanted to say, but shook his head, keeping it to himself. “I don’t know. What?”

The Game.”

Just what I was thinking. “Oh, man.” He put his hands to the side of his head out of frustration.

Annie was loving the interplay between Kerry and Professor Ellison. The professor was obviously enjoying quizzing Kerry and then watching his reaction, and Kerry was euphoric being surrounded by what he saw as musical history. “Does that mean something? About the album?”

“That album was the first time Queen used a synthesizer.” Kerry ran over and touched it. “Wow, this is . . .”

“Nice, isn’t it?” Professor Ellison winked at Annie, then headed towards the far end of the room. “What about this one?”

The blue and green buttons gave it away. “ARP Quadra.” Kerry looked it over closely, because he was familiar with this type from having seen it in videos. “This wasn’t one of Tony’s, was it?”

The professor laughed. “You ever see the Lyceum shows?”

“Yeah, I’ve got DVDs of it.”

“Same one. He also used this on the Mirrors Tour.”

Annie’s memory was jogged by something the professor said. “Didn’t we visit the Lyceum Theater when were in London?”

Before Kerry could respond, Ellison had his own question. “You visited the Lyceum?”

Kerry nodded. “Yes, when we—Annie and I—had a free day before going to Amsterdam.”

Ellison nodded slowly. “Sweet. Lucky you.” He pointed to the one to the left of the Quadra. “And that?”

“Well, since I can see ‘Pro Soloist’ on the cabinet, it’s an APR Pro Soloist.”

“Dead giveaway, I’d say.” He flipped it on and played a short snippet. “Recognize that?”

Kerry nodded. “Keyboard solo from Firth of Fifth.”

“For someone eleven years old, you know a hell of a lot about seventy’s prog rock.”

“You can blame my dad for that.” Kerry looked down at the machine the professor had just played. “He was into this, and sort of got me hooked.”

“You should hear Kerry talk about this.” Annie came over and stood next to him. “I certainly have.”

Poor Annie.  A week with this kid and already she’s a music geek widow.

They wander about looking at more things, pointing out some tech that the professor didn’t think Kerry would recognize but did (the Memotron MIDI rack modules being one), and then they get to the Big Three–

 

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

They reached the far end of the room where sat three massive systems. Professor Ellison rubbed him hands together. “Now for the big players.” He pointed to the one on the right. “That one?”

Kerry felt Annie’s grip on his arm tighten as if she were willing him to give the correct answer. “Moog modular analog synthesizer.”

“Correct. I know, it’s pretty easy guess that one.” He motioned for them both to come closer. “This was used by Wendy Carlos during the recording of Switched-on Bach. We’ve spent a lot of time getting it back into pristine condition.” He moved to the middle system. “This is . . ?”

Kerry had seen many pictures of this system, but he never thought he’d see one in person. “Yamaha GX-1.” He pulled Annie closer, as if he were sharing a secret. “Only a hundred of so of these were made, and like only a dozen were sold to people outside Japan.” He turned to the professor. “Who did this belong to?”

“No one.” Ellison almost chuckled at the look of disbelief on Kerry’s face. “It was bought in 1977 especially for the school. According to the manufacturing certificate, it’s the last one built.”

“Wow.” He wanted to reach out and touch it, caress it—a real piece of history, this is—but he didn’t want to seem too starstruck. I so much would love to play this . . .

Ellison wondered if he was going to have to pulled Kerry away from the machine. I’ll have to invite him over again and let him at least sit at it. He moved to the lasts machine. “Now this keyboard—” He stepped before the dual keyboards, one positioned over the other, and brought the machine to life. “I’m going to bet you, Kerry, that you’ve not only heard this machine play, but you’ve seen it as well.” He twisted around, his fingers taping on one of the wings. “Well?”

When he didn’t say anything for a few seconds, Annie wondered if Kerry didn’t know what this thing was. I’m certain he does—he only need a little push . . . “You’ve seen this before, haven’t you?”

There wasn’t a response for another few seconds, then Kerry began nodding slowly. “It’s an ARP 2500.” There was no response from the professor, though Kerry was pretty sure about what he was waiting to hear. “If everything’s ready here on the Dark Side of the Moon . . . play the five tones.”

Professor Ellison turned back to the keyboards and pecked out five notes: D, E, C, an octave drop to Middle C, then G—the five notes that were once used to communicate with an alien mothership. He turned to face them. “You mean like that?”

“You have got to be kidding me.” Kerry slipped away from Annie and examined the device up close. “Hum. Custom case, two wings, dual manuals–yep, this looks like it.” He looked up at Ellison. “How long have you had this?”

“We picked it up a couple of years ago.” Ellison shut the machine off. “We knew the person who had it, but never thought to bring it into our collection. Finally we convinced him to part with it—for some great compensation, mind you.”

Annie started tugging at Kerry’s arm; she gave him a look of pure bemusement once she had his attention. “And what was that all about?”

“That, um—” Kerry waved his hand over one of the wings. “This was the synthesizer that was used in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The five tones were used to send a message to the aliens that came to visit us—”

“I hope they were friendly.”

“They . . .” Kerry figured Annie was playing with him; he saw it in her body language, and her tone of voice. “They were nice.” They both laughed as Annie repositioned herself on Kerry’s left arm.

Now that he’d shown Kerry most of the goods in the room—and developed his opinion on his knowledge of keyboard history—it was time to do a little digging. “So, what can you play?”

 

Kerry doesn't play as much as this guy, you can rest assured.

Kerry doesn’t play as much as this guy, you can rest assured.

Yeah, time to dig into the kid and see what he can play.  What can he play?  Well . . . I’m gonna write about that tonight.

Where as a few days ago I felt like I was at a personal low, last night, using all the information I’d gathered and putting it out in the history I was spinning, I wrote almost nineteen hundred words.  I could have went two thousand, but I want to finish up the last part in a single sitting, and I figured where I stopped was the best place to stop.  Some writer once said that you should leave your story hanging at a cliff-hanger moments so you’ll get the creative juices flowing when you come back later, and I find that works will with this story.

The week is winding down, both in real life and at my school.  Only it’s taken about a month to get through the school week:

There are times, however, when real life feels much the same.

Early Morning Afternoons

The end of the week approaches and already my mind is in a flurry over what I could do come Saturday.  I don’t have any long trips planed, not with another threat of snow on Sunday, but if it’s better on Sunday I may go on another road trip to somewhere close.  I find I feel a lot better when I get out into the real world and don’t stay closed up inside the apartment all the time.

One needs this to at least feel a little human.

I’m also thinking about what I want to write this weekend.  I have an idea for a post to write Saturday morning, because it’ll take to long to write it during this stretches I have between when I wake up and walk off to work.  That means the best time to do this one is over coffee and whatever I’m munching on at Panera.  I’m also working on an idea for another article, but that’s something that probably won’t start up this weekend.  Maybe next.  I’m never really sure how that works; I just go with the flow.

Okay, maybe they're not going out that far . . .

Okay, maybe they’re not going exploring out this far . . .

Most of my writing time will be on the novel.  I’m in the final stretch now.  It’s Friday afternoon, classes are over, and since there isn’t a lot of study–it is only the first week, and it’s not like they have homework yet–my kids are off on a little side trip of exploration.  Really, it’s Kerry’s trip, and Annie’s following and observing.  See, there was something that was said to Kerry way back–well, it was a couple of weeks ago for him, but it’s more like almost three months for me, and he’d almost forgotten about that comment until overhearing a couple of teachers.  Then he woke up, went, “Hey!”, and now it’s Side Trip Afternoon instead of resting with all the other kids who have pretty much burned themselves out by now.

A night in the hospital will do that to you, ’cause you get all rested up.

I’ll finish this scene tonight, then it’s on to something I call The Midnight Madness, and then there’ll be some Saturday activities that will flow into something that happens just after midnight on Sunday morning.

And that will be that.  Episode One of Book One is over and done.

Right now I’m sitting at exactly 112,500 words, and one hundred and thirty thousand words does seem to be right about where I’ll end.  That means I’ll wrap it up first part of February, about three and a half months after I started writing for NaNoWriMo.  Then on to something different, something . . . maybe smutty, since I found out some erotica stories I sold back in 2011 are mine again, and that would be a good time to see about getting a cover, reformatting the suckers, and putting them out there under a different name.  Then watch that cash roll in, Yes Sir.

I won’t hold my breath.  But I will work on editing.  I will work on getting something out there.

It’s about that time.

Taking the Magic to the Mat

It would appear I have survived Snowmaggedon II:  Electric Boogaloo, here in The Burg.  We got eight inches of snow and I was sent home early because it was pretty nasty out there.  Though not as bad as the last snow we had–at least this time there were plows about and about.  At the moment the cold is what I need to worry about, as it’s about five degrees outside, and the wind chill as I walk to work will be about fifteen below.

Perfect weather for flying back from Manitoba.  But that’s not gonna get written for a few more years.

After feeling down and low the night before, I threw on some old music–like early 1970’s stuff–and examined what I’d written the night before.  I saw where it was lacking, so I did a little editing and a bit of adding, and when I was finished I was far more satisfied with the final outcome.

But that was the stuff I’d already worked on.  I needed to finish out the scene.

The class is Self Defense for Beginners.  The instructor is Madam Ramona Chai, straight outta Hong Kong, who is never going to come out and say, “I know kung fu,” but rather, “Besides t’ai chi ch’uan, wing chun, and southern style praying mantis, I know pencak silat, yaw-yan, eskrima, and krav maga.”  She also knows how to use the weapons that several of those disciplines use, so you have an instructor who could probably kill anyone with one hand and not a lot of thought.

Oh, and she knows magic.

What better way to scare the hell–I mean, demonstrate how she is looking out for their safety when they get on the sparing mat and face off against one another?  Oh, yeah.  They will.  She pretty much tells them without telling them, which is a very kung fu movies way of doing things, if you think about it.  But back to the basic question:  how does she show them?

Nurse Coraline comes in, and the two face off.

Up to this point most students know red haired Nurse Coraline as pretty and curvy and ready with a quip.  They didn’t know she can fight like a demoness, too.  Both she and Madam Chai go at each other with super speed–Kerry is reminded of the Martian Commandos in The Stars My Destination, who are able to accelerate their bodies to ten times normal speed–start landing blows, and when all else fails, they began throwing magic at each other.  Madam Chai does something that looks like a wall of compressed air, and Coraline jumps up in the air and does a slow back flip like an anime girl before tossing a fireball at the instructor.

This is how you do it without the fan service, kids.

This is how you do it without the fan service, kids.

By the time the demonstration was over, the kids were able to see that they might get a few bruises here and there, but they weren’t going to die from an electrical attack, and students outside the mat didn’t have to worry about being consumed by magical hell fire, as there was an invisible barrier that went up when the competition starts.

I’ll say this much:  I had fun writing the scene.  I’d been thinking about it for a while, and when it was time to get it down, I went right at it and didn’t stop until it was finished.  I signed off for the night happy and even pleased with what I’d done.

I’d had my own fight–and I think I came out on top.

Dark and Stormy Write

Right before the alarm went off I was dreaming that I was writing about the strange dream I’d had.  It was full of people looking for things to do, and people pissed off that nothing was getting done–on, and a couple of cable guy who never showed up on time, who would then show up right when you’d just left the house after the appointment “block” was over, and claim you weren’t home–which, of course, you weren’t, because they didn’t show up when they were scheduled.

No one was offering to juice me up, let me tell ya.

I wonder if the reason I had such a weird dream was because I was so entirely not happy with what I wrote last night?

Now, after the excitement Sunday–I do use that term loosely–yesterday was very strange.  I was suppose to meet up with a friend online, and when they did show, they were so busy doing other things in real life that I could have used the two hours I spent waiting for them to write.  But, like a fool I didn’t.  That sort of set me off, and for the rest of the day, and into the evening, it was hard to get the flow back.

But it was a dark and stormy night . . .

But it was a dark and stormy night . . .

Oh, I did write.  But I wasn’t happen with it.  It felt uneven as hell.  I had things I wanted to say, but those things just weren’t there.  What came out seem to stutter, to form with an incomplete voice.  Whatever was coming out didn’t seem like me.

Sure, I was getting distracted, and that’s my own fault, but of late I haven’t felt like listening to music, and that’s been affecting me when it comes to laying down the tunes.  Music has always helped me through some bad times, but these days I feel like I’ve heard it all, and when I try thinking of something new to listen to, I kind of twist my head to one said and thing, “Naw, I don’t want to give that a try.”

The one thing I did do last night was push the story over one hundred ten thousand words.  I didn’t push it that much, but that’s okay:  there is another chance to fight the good fight tonight.  Another chance to sit down at eight PM and get my thousand in before ten.  Maybe even rewrite a little of the mess I did last night, because I was also dreaming that I was very unhappy about having to rewrite something, and that’s very likely a direct reference to what happened with my story, rather than within the story.

So, on 30 January, I will have one thousand blog posts completed.  That’s next Thursday.  The novel won’t be finished–I think there are more that ten thousand words left, though I could be mistaken–but the end for the fire episode will come to a completion soon after.

I have a good idea what comes after both those events are in the slush pile, so to speak.  Something wonderful, you ask?

You’ll have to wait and see.

Ringside with Buttercup

After all the excitement yesterday it time to rest up, relax, and spend a little time back in at the casa.  Spending four hours on the road can become a tiring experience, so by the time I rolled back to the apartment I wasn’t in the mood to do anything but veg and maybe watch a little television, and hope for a good night’s sleep.

The sleep I got.  The television was pretty lame, as there wasn’t anything good on, so I let it play in the background.  A couple of the flicks on were five hours of BS stuffed into two hours of celluloid, but since everything is digital these days, you can do that with compression.

Oh, and there was writing.  I finally put all my new kids in their respective covens, so no more worrying about who is suppose to be where when I need affiliations.  I also figured out who isn’t returning for their B Levels, because I do think ahead.  I’m like that; always planing for the future of people who don’t exist.

This also means the writing is back on track, with over a couple of thousand words written over the weekend.  The word count total–as the novel finishes up the Chapter Nine Thursday classes and moves into the Chapter Ten Friday morning participation–is one hundred nine thousand, two hundred ninety-nine.  I’ll pop up one hundred ten today, and it would appear, with this short Chapter Ten, and two more to go, that I’ll finish this first episode of Book One in another fifteen thousand or so words.  Yes, one third of a story clocking in at one hundred twenty five thousand words–no problem.  Happens every day.

It’s not a nice return for Kerry, however.  He spent the night in the hospital, and the other A Levels didn’t know what was happening with him.  No, they didn’t rush to his bedside:  this is a bunch of kids who hardly know each other.  No bonds formed here yet.

When he does walk into class–which happens to be “Self Defense for Beginners”–he gets asked how he’s doing.  He also starts getting teased by a couple of boys because when my Dark Mistress of All hauled Kerry off to the infirmary, he was doing a bit of the moaning and crying thing.  One even went so far as to tell another girl who was sticking up for Kerry that “sure, you’d cry, that’s what girls do,” and ended up getting all the female types in the room to shoot death laser eyes at him, thereby insuring he’ll never date an A Level girl at any time during the next six years.  (As a side note, the girls in the school outnumber the boys by a little more than four-to-one, something that Kerry pointed out with great glee.  Yes, at Salem, It’s a Girl’s World–and they will let you know it.)

How does Kerry deal with this?  He turns to Annie and starts quoting lines from The Princess Bride.  Fortunately for him, she’s seen/read it, and she start quoting what she remembers, and they end up playfully chasing each other around the huge, open room with a sparing mat in the center.

Kerry doesn’t say that quote.  You know which quote I’m talking about, don’t look at me like that.  That’s not one of my favorite quotes of the movie, and just like in the flick, it gets said over and over so much in real life that when I hear it I just sigh and pretend I’m atomizing the person.  No, the one I prefer is when he yells, “I want my father back, you son of a bitch!”, due in part to the intensity Mandy Patinkin delivers.  He admitted that when doing the scene he was reminded of his own father’s death, and the memories were getting to him when he uttered his lines.

Besides, I almost always think of Mandy as Rube Sofer from Dead Like Me, the middle man for the Reaper who always meet at Der Waffle House to discuss what souls they’re going to take for the day.  Rube, who is always trying to get Death to stop in for dinner and who swears at him when he doesn’t like something on the list of people they’re taking before they die.

"This job is killing me. Yeah, I went there . . . (checking list) Whadday say your name was?"

“This job is killing me. Yeah, I went there . . . (checking list) Whadday say your name was?”

And who tries to offer words of wisdom to new Reaper Georgia, who’s first assignment is to take the soul of an eight year old girl who dies in a train derailment, and decides not to, that it would be better to let her live:

Dead Like Me: Pilot (#1.1)

George: If you want her to die so bad, you do it!
Rube: [angrily] I can’t, no one can except you. Death is non-transferable, she’s your mark. Only you can do the deed.
George: Well then, barring any unforeseen accidents, I’d say she has another eighty years.
Rube: Yeah, well you believe me, that’s eighty years she doesn’t want.
George: What is that supposed to mean?
Rube: Her fate was sealed the moment she got onto that train. Her soul expired. You know what happens when you keep a soul around after its time?
George: No.
Rube: Same thing happens to milk. It spoils, goes bad, souls go bad in all kinds of ways.
George: But…
Rube: [continues to speak in quiet anger] If you’re having trouble comprehending the severity of the situation, why don’t you consult Webster’s on the definition of bad? If you don’t take her soul, it’s going to wither and die and rot inside her. I’ve seen it happen. Do you wish to condemn her to that?
George: [crying] She’s just a little girl. She can’t die, it’s cruel!
Rube: [gently] It is cruel. It’s cruel she won’t know what life’s really like. It’s cruel that she’ll miss out on so much love and pain and beauty, and that’s sad for everyone in the world except for her. She won’t give a rat’s ass, she’ll be doing something different. That’s just the way it is.

Good ol’ death, always a comfort.  And the Reapers will show up at Salem soon enough.

You can bet on that.