I’ve Seen the Saucers

Oh, Hai!  It’s Soufflé Girl once again but this time I’m on the road.  Well, my machine isn’t a dud, all stuck in the mud, so that’s a good thing in my favor.  That might have given you a clue, so I’ll tell you straight out:  I’m in New Jersey, and I’ve been on the road since four-thirty, and as it’s now eight AM, you do the math on how long I’ve been traveling.

Why am I here?  Because no one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns, they observed and studied, the way a man with a microscope might scrutinize the creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency, men went to and fro about the globe, confident of our empire over this world. Yet across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded our planet with envious eyes and slowly, and surely, drew their plans against us . . .

And if you don’t recognize those lines–which are not mine, as if I need to say it–you need to turn in your sci fi geek card if you have one, because you just suffered major alien invasion fail.

I am just south of this somewhat fuzzy-looking, early morning field–said picture taken at seven AM with a mobile phone and a pair of semi-shaky hands.  It’s actually a park next to a pond just outside of Princeton Junction, NJ, which is just to the east of Princeton, home of the famous university and professors.  It doesn’t look like much, does it?  Really, it isn’t.

GM Field 01

So pretty in the morning light . . .So why be out here at dawn’s early light.

Because of these guys:

 

Why you gotta come down here an cause a ruckus?

Why you gotta come down here an cause a ruckus?

That is the marker set at one end of the field to commemorate that this place is, indeed, Grover’s Mill, NJ, and on October 30, 1938, Orson Wells decided this joint was as good as any to start the alien apocalypse.

For a little background:  The Mercury Theater On the Air radio troupe decided that for their Halloween broadcast they’d do a modern-day reenactment of H. G. Wells’ War of the World.  Rather than place the story in England, where it took place in the novel, Orson moved the local to the U. S., and had the Martian War Machines first touch down outside Princeton, NJ, so he could play the part of the smarty-pants scientist who comes in, sees them crawl out and start mowing everyone down before heading for New York–sure, Philadelphia is much closer, but even Martians knew no one wants to go to Philly ’cause they’ll get booed.  “You only killed two hundred with that heat ray?  You suck!” Tough crowd.

During the broadcast it was announced that what people were hearing was a presentation, but if you missed like the first ten minutes of the program and only heard the simulated death and destruction, you might assume you were hearing the real deal.  I mean, it’s not like anyone had an Internet where they could get the shit spoiled out of the program, so you had to go on faith that what was playing was legit.

Some people, apparently, thought just that.

Now, there are all sorts of stories about what happened that night.  I have stories from my maternal grandparents that people were in a panic that night, though they didn’t know anyone who panicked–it was always some guy who knew a dude who’s wife’s best friend went crazy.  There is a well-known story that a woman in Indianapolis ran into a church where services were being held, told people New York City had just been destroyed and it was the end of the world, but if you come from Indiana–as I do–you’ll know that’s also known as “Thursday Night”.  Jack Parr was working in radio at the time and he told the story about how people called him and asked what was happening; he told them it was just a radio show, and eventually some of the callers accused him of covering up the invasion.

Since 1938 a bit of investigating has been performed, and it’s safe to say that the majority of the, “People were ready to kill their families!” stories are anecdotal.  One of the things that Wells took advantage of was timing the “Martian Invasion” part of his broadcast to start about twelve minutes into the show.  Why?  A popular show on the NBC Red Network would start a musical number after the opening comedy sketch, and Wells wanted “station flippers” to be confused by what they were hearing, and stay to find out what was going on.  That Orson:  always the showman.  Tell us what Rosebud really meant . . .

Most of what we know about the program today is due, in part, to bad human memory and the media blitz that followed in the weeks after the broadcast.  Though the stories dropped off the front pages in a matter of days, over twelve thousand articles were written about the broadcast, and one might say the media played a big part in making a huge star out of Orson Wells.  Though a lot of people remember this shot:

You Martians! Get off my lawn!

Proof positive that someone was so taken in by what they heard that they were gonna start blastin’ those war machines.  Except it’s a staged photo:  someone from Life Magazine paid the guy to pose for the picture so they’d have something to run in their next issue.

That doesn’t mean that someone didn’t do any shooting . . . behold!  The Martian War Machine!

Jump back, Hoomans!  I'm here to kick ass!

Stand aside, Hoomans! Mars needs Women!

What you are looking at is something that is pretty hard to see these days.  It’s an old water tower that was used by the residents of the area in 1938.  Legend has it that a few people were out that night trying to figure out what was going on, saw this thing in the woods, and took a few shots in its general direction.  The reason I say it’s hard to see normally is because it now sits on private property, and the trees normally block the view of the tower.  So, by visiting when the trees are bare, one may see the war machine in all its, um, glory.

There you have it:  my visit to the site of the alien invasion landing site, and I’ve lived to tell the tale.  There are a couple of other places here in New Jersey I’d like to visit, and I still have one location in Pennsylvania that will take me at least a good seven hours of driving to get there and back, and if I’m going to spend that much time on the road, I may as well head back to Indiana.  But these day trips are good for getting out of the apartment, and how many chances will I ever get to see something like this?

We now return you to the regularly scheduled program, already in progress.

A far better look at the Martian Memorial, not taken by someone with shaking hands in the early morning light.

Behind the Black Curtain

There’s just a touch of snow on the ground, I’ve finished my soufflé and I’m working on my coffee.  It’s time to get down to brass tacks.

If you were looking in on me yesterday–and my blog stats say you were–you can see I made it through the day.  It was a long day, because I didn’t make it to bed until just after midnight.  So, up at four AM, off to bed at midnight–yeah, long day.  My evening was pretty much one thing after another:  The Spirit of St. Louis was playing on TV, I was chatting with a couple of people–one who was going off on an anti-vaccination fool and another discussing another article I have coming out, maybe today–and I was working on my novel.

A bit like this, only I like my coffee in a mug.

A bit like this, only I like my coffee in a mug.

Busy little multitasking beaver I was.  If there were only any money in that.

So what has been happening with that novel of late?  Writing.  A few nights ago I wrote twelve hundred words, then about six hundred, then last night I ended up somewhere between eight hundred and a thousand words.  I didn’t get an exact total, because in the middle of all this multitasking I managed to shut Scrivener down by accident and lost my session word total.  But based upon where I left off Thursday night, and where I left off last night, it was about a thousand words.

What has happened is my Dark Mistress of All, Helena, has for reasons unknown started using a little magical electricity on Kerry, which isn’t setting well with Annie, because it seems like Helena’s stepping up the power each time.  And sooner than you can say Lum chan:

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

Annie was almost out of her chair. “Stop it. Stop what you’re doing.”

Helena stepped to her right, her eyes locked on the young girl. “How do you know I’m doing this?”

“Stop playing stupid. You know you are.” Annie clenched her fists. “Stop it now.”

“Or?”

That was the real question—what would Annie do? She knew better than to throw a spell at an instructor—particularly one who’d been, or was, a Guardian. She also knew she wasn’t going to allow Kerry to be hurt . . . “Just stop it.”

“You’re going to have to convince me.” Helena shook her head. “Words won’t do it, I’m afraid.”

She’s being impossible. “What do you want me to do?” Annie turned to Kerry, then back to Professor Lovecraft. She spoke as forcefully as she could without yelling. “Can’t you be decent?”

Helena crossed her arms and leaned her face into her right fist as she appeared to consider Annie’s question. “Oh, Annie . . .” She dropped her hands to her sides. “You know what I am.” She snapped the right fingers—

Kerry’s whole body clenched: his shoulder drew in, his arms curled, his legs pulled together as he clenched himself. His eyes closed as his mouth opened in a silent scream. He remained frozen like this for a few seconds, then jerked to the left and right as if he were having a seizure. Five seconds after his current turmoil began he flopped over onto his desk, his head lying against his right arm as he moaned.

Annie couldn’t take any more. She jumped from her chair and marched towards the professor as the class watched in silence. “That’s enough, stop it, Stop It NOW.”

If Helena appeared bothered by the outburst it wasn’t evident. “Please return to your seat, Miss Kirilova.”

Miss Kirilova wasn’t about to meekly return to her desk. “I said—”

I heard you. Now, return to your seat.” Helena stepped around her and approached Kerry.

“What are you doing?” Annie spun on her. “Stay away—”

Helena pointed to the empty seat. “Get in your goddamn chair, Annie.” It was the first time the professor has spoken in anything but calm, even tones.

Felisa Ledesma, the Mexican girl in Blodeuwedd Coven, didn’t bother speaking softly. “What a crazy bitch.”

“You be quite too.” Helena was now standing over Kerry as Annie glumly retook her chair. “Or I’ll show you just how crazy I can become.”

Yeah, Salem is a fun place.  Come for the class, stay for the electrocution.

Helena teleports Kerry off to the hospital where he is cared for by Nurse Coraline, who also gives Helena a butt-full before she returns to class.  After class she returns with Annie, they see Kerry, find out he’s staying over night, and Helena comes up with an excuse to take Annie to the back of the ward to be alone.  After throwing up a magical black curtain–she is a sorceress, right?–they discuss why teacher was laying on the magical juice to Annie’s  boyfriend:

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

She turned to Annie, who was staring at her with a combination of animosity and curiosity. “You’ve been waiting to confront me since I shocked Kerry. Here’s your chance: let me have it.”

For the last couple of hours there were many things that Annie wanted to say to Professor Lovecraft, but after hearing her apology to Kerry, there was only one question that mattered. “You said you had your reasons for casting that spell on Kerry. What was it?”

Helena widened her stance slightly and crossed her arms while meeting the girl’s gaze. “You.”

For the first time since the incident with Kerry Annie registered an emotion other than anger. “Me? You’re crazy.”

You understand my mental state now?” Helena didn’t let Annie respond. “End of June, you were visited by a couple of people from The Foundation, yeah?”

Annie remembered the interview well: her mother and she had gone into Plovdiv to meet with two women from the regional office in Brno. They’d had a pleasant chat, talked about the upcoming school year, what she wanted to do . . . “I remember it well. My mother and I spent the day in Varna before going home.”

“They asked you a lot of questions about magic . . . About what you wanted to learn, but more important, what you already know.” Helena’s tone softened. “They asked you a lot about sorcery.”

That wasn’t a question. “How do you know that?”

“Because that interview produced a report.” She brought her hands together and tapped her thumbs. “One that I read.”

The anger was back, and Annie felt her face redden. “You’re spying on me?”

“Oh, please. Get over yourself, Annie.” Helena chuckled, which made Annie grow even redder in the face. “It’s a standard practice with Legacies these days—particularly those Legacies who have an interest in sorcery.” Her face darkened slightly. “We wouldn’t want another Scouring.”

Annie felt a chill run through her when she heard the word “Scouring”. Her parents had left before that event, right near the end of the school year in 2000. Her parents had told her a little about what happened, how there’d been an attack by Deconstructors who’d spent years infiltrating the school and convincing some students to follow them. Students had died along with instructors, and parts of the school were destroyed.

I can see why she’d worry about Legacies who know sorcery. “I understand now.”

“Good.” Helena hesitated as she eyes Annie closely. “The report was fairly standard: said you had a good grasp of the basics of spells casting; that your knowledge of sorcery was ‘advanced’, and that your ability to perform simply sorcery spells was ‘astounding’.”

“Really?” Annie’s mood swung back from dark to light. People from The Foundation thought I was astounding? “They said that?”

“They said other things as well. The line that stuck out the most was that ‘while the subject is technically competent and exceptional proficient, she comes across as emotionally immature’.” Helena’s demeanor turned stern. “And the last thing I want in my classroom is an emotionally immature sorceress.”

Emotionally immature. The words stung at Annie. There were many things her mother had called her from time to time, but “immature” wasn’t one of those things. “I’m not like that—”

“Maybe not. But I couldn’t take the risk.”

“Were you afraid I was going to attack you?”

“It’s happened before.” She motioned pass the dark shield into the ward beyond. “Had a B Level come at me the second week of school last year, about a quarter of the way into the class. She ended up in the ward out there, and it wasn’t for just a night.”

“Yeah, I wanted to get a rise out of you, so I stuck your boyfriend’s fingers in my magical light socket.  No hard feelings.”  Probably a good thing they don’t have corporal punishment, though wait until you find out what some of the detentions are.

There you have it.  Thursday in the story is almost over–one scene and I’m there.  Three more chapters and this first episode is history.  Then I can move on to the next project.  And tomorrow I may be taking a road trip.  I’ll see how the weather goes.

It’s nice when we can sit and just chat, isn’t it?

In the Brambles of Your Mind

Here it is five-forty in the morning, and I’ve been up for maybe a little more than an hour.  It’s going to be a long day, but if I can get through this without being yelled at, and getting my other work done, and not loose my mind in the process–which is always an iffy possibility–then it’s a three-day weekend for me, and some work on the novel, and a road trip, something I haven’t done in a while.  Still deciding if the road trip is tomorrow or Sunday, but right now it looks like I might be on the road early Sunday morning to go visit my planed destinations.

A Day?  For Me?

A Day? For Me?

Yesterday I discovered that January 16 is National Dragon Appreciation Day.  That’s right:  there’s a day to appreciate your dragon, or dragons if you happen to have more than one.  Yes, you little fire-breathing flying monstrosities, we do appreciate you being around, because it’s always good to have a sense of wonder about these beasties in their various incarnations.  There are few people who’ve never heard of dragons, and even fewer who probably haven’t had a dragon story inside them.

I have one:  I’ve had it for a long time.  If I think about it long enough, I’d say the idea probably came to me about fifteen years ago, maybe twelve.  But it’s been around for a long time.  And it is a stories that I have in my idea file, and that I intend to write one of these days.  In fact, it was bugging the hell out of me for a couple of weeks in December, 2013, where it was sitting in my head saying, “I’m right here, why don’t you take me out for a spin?”  Why?  Because you’re going to be a long story–novella at least–and I’m in the middle of something else.

“But, you can drop that story and come stroke my scaly head, can’t you?  I’m gonna be a lot of fun!”  Nope, sorry ol’ chap.  You’re just gonna have to wait your turn.  I have a plan, and I’m sticking to it, and when I do write your story, it’s gonna be a good one.  But it’s coming when I say it comes, Flammy, and not a second sooner.

When you’re working on a story, you gotta finish, and that means you have to leave those pesky and nagging ideas in the bramble to scoot around and root for food, or whatever the hell it is a put-aside idea does when you’re not working on it.  And sometimes it’s best, because if you have an idea pop into your head–one of those mythical plot bunnies I keep hearing about–then I, at least, run the risk of writing something that’s eventually gonna piss me off.

That happened last year.  I can even tell you when:  late April, 2012.  A friend asked me if I would write a story for them, and they were pretty persistent about it, and eventually I gave in.  I set up the story, started into writing it . . . and about three thousand words in I said, “Screw this,” and put the story aside.  As of this moment, it’s the only one I’ve started in the last two-and-a-half years that I decided wasn’t worth my time finishing.

No, I won't write about killer robot hamsters!

No, I won’t write about killer robot hamsters!

That story wasn’t a cute little bunny that came hopping out of the bushes, it was more like one of those insane war rabbits from Watership Down, and it was necessary to go all Bigwig on it’s butt and put it in it’s place.  Because if I’d spent my time–no, back up and rephrase that:  if I’d wasted my time on that story, I wouldn’t have written Diner’s at the Memory’s End, and I’d feel worse for the wear, because I like what I did with the second story, and realize there was no place in my life for that first.

There are a few things in my idea file that will never see the light of day, that may never get written.  That’s okay, because there are a lot of writers out there who’ll tell you they had a great idea come up, they wrote it down, and when they returned to the idea later, it was as if they’d found a hairball in the middle of their new white shag carpet.  What is this thing?  How did it get here?

Don’t worry, buddy.  Sometimes your mind does that.  Clean up and move on–

You got a story waiting for you in another part of the house.

Bemused in the Wilderness

Last night was Witches Wednesday, which means I had a witch dream.  Yep, I did.  It was me and mostly other women and girls, stuck in a house with loads of strangeness, a trap door with lasers in it, an attached restaurant that was taken over because some guy won a bet by wearing a dress to a store, and me trying to put a heat sink back into a broken Nokia mobile.  Yeah, there were some interesting things happening.

The one thing I remember, however, is that the majority of the story happened way the hell out in the middle of nowhere.  It was like there was a huge shopping mall in the middle of North Dakota or Wyoming with nothing else around but a road and empty land.  A lot of my dreams are like that:  I rarely have dream locations that take place inside urban areas, but rather in the woods or the country–or in this case just way the hell out in the bumble sticks.

Just like Indiana, only no one is as well dressed.

Now, there probably is a reason for that.  It likely has to do with how the mind works, which is to say like bad animation:  you get a few details in the foreground, but as far as filling in huge amounts of background information, you get nada.  You may wake up and think you had a whole city in your mind–like The Matrix downloaded into your head when you weren’t looking–but that’s your mind playing with you.  You think you saw all that detail, but you didn’t.

This was how my monster house dream was.  The outside was there, and I saw trees, but the inside seemed bare.  There were stretches of the house that seemed to have little or nothing; there was one room that was all in tones of brown and shadow; and then there was the hallway upstairs that would scare me to walk down it, because there were areas of darkness here and there, and at the far end I knew something waited . . .

For me.

Yes, I do have that monster house dream down in my idea file.  I wouldn’t miss that.  I even worked out where it’s at, some of the character history, and a little bit of what happened.  It’s another of those ideas I want to write, but I don’t know if I ever will.  The funny thing is, I keep going back to that story now and then.  I’ll sit at work and start putting ideas together.  I even went out on Google Maps and re-figured out where the house should be located.

You see, I don’t need to spend a lot of time thinking about my current story right now, because I’ve done all the thinking on it:  all that is left is the writing, which I am now doing.  Yes, I do give some parts some thought, but there’s no need to spend a lot of time getting The Foundation Chronicles down pat:  it is.  It’s good to go, and it is going.

Which leaves the question:  which location will I visit when I’m finished with business in Salem?

Hurting the Ones You Create

For a while I when got up The Burg looked a bit like London.  There was heavy fog in the street, and even the well-lit hospital and parking garage across the street were hard to see.  Now, twenty minutes later, there is fog, but it’s not that bad.  The Weather Channel is telling me that we will have dense fog until nine AM, and there’s black ice on the highways.  Good morning!

About last night’s writing:  yes, it was good.  Yes, I finished one scene and moved onto the other.  Yes, I hurt one of my students badly–

How badly?

Eh, I just electrocuted him a little.

My black magic woman–not a gypsy queen, mind you–had something she wanted to test.  I can’t tell you what that is, because in all likelihood I won’t write down that reason for a couple of days.  Helena was going on about how she liked the spell Electrocute, and . . . she tried it out.  On Kerry.  Several times.  By the time she was done zapping him he was slumped over his desk moaning and crying.  With that Helena whisked him off to the hospital to leave him under the tender mercies of Nurse Coraline, who is going to get Helena an ass chewing before she leaves.

I knew this was coming, because I’ve thought about this scene for a while–more than a month, more than a year, actually.  It wasn’t suppose to be a nice thing, and as I said there are reason why poor Kerry needed to get his finger stuck in the magical light socket.  He’ll be all right;  I mean, it’s not like I’m going to kill him off this soon in the novel?

I have a bad feeling about this . . .

I have a bad feeling about this . . .

Or will I?  Bwah, hahaha!

Go on, get that look off your face.  I haven’t killed anyone–yet.  But the whole idea that I was going to feel bad about bringing major harm to the character–naw, not a bit.  It was planned, thought out, and finally written, and the biggest trouble I had was figuring out how to write it so it didn’t drag, and described what was happening.  Because sometimes you gotta hurt those characters.

Whacking out people for the fun of it isn’t my style.  But if I gotta get down on someone’s butt–even if they’re eleven years old–for the sake of the story, then downing will commence.  You have to keep things “real”, even in a science fiction story (and even though this has magic it in, yeah, I’m calling it science fiction, ’cause I’m rolling that way), and people are going to get hurt in interesting ways.  There will be pain, both mental and physical, though I won’t dwell on the physical aspect.

Your characters are your babies, but some times you gotta get hard on those kiddies.  Sometimes you do need to need to point at one and think, “Yeah, in the grand scene of the story’s universe, your time has come,” and you drop an elephant on them. (A term I learned from my role playing days.)  Since you are the writer, sometimes you gotta drop more than one elephant on a character–or a few elephants on a number of characters.

Sometimes you gotta look at what you’re creating and think, “What my story needs is a Red Wedding.  With a bit more death.”  Naturally.

Why does it have to end in tears?

Because the universe inside your head won’t let it end any other way.

Sightseeing Along the Broadway Everglades

Yes, it rather was like this.

Last night was Writing Night in a lot of ways.  I more or less finished an article I’d promised to write and put it up on a site waiting for images and proofing.  It’s something with a lot of references and links and fact that I need to look it over again before I release it for publication.

One of the things that troubles me is that it sounds very much unlike me when I’m writing stories.  I once had a person tell me that they liked reading my articles because there was a personality to them, even little bits of humor.  The way they read came across almost like someone was telling you about the stuff in person.  Sometimes I manage that rather nicely:  sometimes I come off like a stilted off biddy.

My article writing is so unlike my fictional writing.  I enjoy doing it, but it comes along mostly when I want to pass some information to others without trying to put it into a story.  Think of is as my “science fact” writing as opposed to my “science fiction” stories.

But I’m still telling a tale when I write an article.  Maybe that is what troubles me about this new one:  it doesn’t feel like a tale.  It feels like I’m spouting facts.

After I wrote about a thousand words on the article, I headed back into The Foundation Chronicles and ended up writing another eight hundred and fifty words.  I talked about some rather interesting things:

 

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

With that out of the way . . . “Miss Kirilova.” Annie’s eyes snapped towards her. “What is the name of the category that defines the various spells used to kill someone with sorcery?”

Annie stared back at Professor Lovecraft for nearly five seconds before responding with her own question. “Why are you asking me, Professor?”

“Because you are a Legacy.” Her smile was as close to sweet as she could manage. “Your parents were also quite good at sorcery—this I know, because they were my students the first year I taught here. Therefore it’s not unreasonable to believe that you’ve taken up the same interests.” Helena crossed her arms and gently cupped her chin. “Or am I mistaken?”

Annie shook her head. “No, you’re not.”

“So you do have an interest in sorcery?”

There was no point in trying to deny it now. “Yes, Professor: I do.”

Helena nodded. “Good. Please tell the class of the name I asked for earlier.”

Annie slowly drew in a breath, holding her answer for as long as she thought she could manage. “It’s known as morte.”

“Morte.” She moved slowly towards Annie. “As in ‘death’.” Helena’s tone was so passive that one could almost imagine she was discussing something unassuming. “Have you ever read of any of your parent’s books on the subject?”

Annie felt she was being held up for display to the rest of the class, and she wasn’t liking it at all. There was little she could do, however: he choices were limited to refusing to answer—and probably getting on the professor’s bad side should that happen—or admitting to her background. “Yes, I have, Professor. I’ve read both.”

“Did you ever get any others to read?”

“Yes.” She was meeting Helena’s nonchalant stare with one that was filled with far more emotion. “I picked up a book on the subject two years ago—”

“When you were nine?”

Someone behind Annie said something too faint for her to hear: she imagined they found the idea of a nine year old girl reading up on death spells a bit morbid. “Yes, Professor. I was for my ninth birthday, actually.”

“Your parents obviously had your future education in mind.” She didn’t chuckle or appear to make fun of Annie: if anything, she was showing an interest in what she knew. “What’s your favorite morte spell?” She arched her left eyebrow. “I’m certain you have one.”

Annie wasn’t about to back away from the professor’s questioning, not now. Exsanguination.”

Helena stopped and did something unexpected: she smiled. “Oh, my.” Now she chuckled. “That was my mother’s favorite. It was one of the first spells she taught me—”

This time the voice that spoke—a boy’s—was much clearer. “Huh? What a freak show.”

Silence.” Helena pointed into the class, not bothering to look in the direction of the comment. “Or you’ll find out just what sort of freak show this class can become.” She addressed Annie. “Do you know what my favorite morte spell is?”

“No.”

“Electrify.” Helena shifted her weight to her right leg. “It’s one of those spells—like exsanguination—that once you understand how to control all the subtleties, can be used for more than killing someone.” She lazily stared off towards the class. “It’s comes in handy in my other duties to The Foundation.”

Though the professor’s comment was lost on the rest of the class, Annie understood the allusion:  Professor Lovecraft was a Guardian.

 

Nothing livens up an afternoon class like discussing various death spells with an eleven year old student.

Now, while I was writing all this stuff, I was listening to music, which is something I normally do, because it’s far less of a distraction than having the TV on in the background.  I was listening to old Genesis concerts–“bootlegs,” as they are properly called–and one was as far different from the other as you could get.  The one I listened to when writing my article was recorded on 10/30/1981, during the Abacab Tour and a few weeks after they were booed by fans during their Leiden, The Netherlands, show–that concert was where Phil said he was gonna come out and kick the shit out of everyone.  (True story.)  The second was recorded almost six years to the day, on 11/01/1975, in Lakeland, Florida, USA, during The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Tour.  Two different shows, very different recordings of different songs done at different times.  One might say the writing employed different voices for different projects.

Which was probably why I went for such a dramatic shift in music to carry off different shifts in my writing, because one was so unlike the other–

Or maybe I needed a simple break from reality.

Selling the Sorcery

I’ll tell you, Sundays are never a good day.  I was busy all morning, busy all afternoon, and by the time you get to writing you feel dead–exceptionally dead.  Sort of like the Resident Evil movie that was on last night:  brain dead but still moving, albeit slowly.

However, I did think more on the idea I posted yesterday about the Mórrígan and Åsgårdsreia students–mostly the girls, the boys would probably feel foolish–squaring off during the Samhain Ball in the great hall.  Since everyone’s in costume, you’ll have your various interpretations of the Goddess of War on one side of the room, and your Valkyries and shield maidens on the other, and it’ll be like:

Come at me, Bro!

Come at me, Bro!

I am no Bro.

I am no Bro!

Yeah, I gotta write that.  Even if it’s only a short scene, and it’s taking place outside the Hall, and they aren’t really using swords, but being how they’re all witches and gifted students and technogeek mad scientists, they can probably come up with something else.

Part of the business was due to an article I was writing.  There was tons of research I needed to do, and at one point I was getting tired hunting down the correct papers I needed to write.  Still managed to get out five hundred words, and I’m not finished.  I’ll do my best to get that wrapped up by this weekend, though no promises.

That meant when it came time to actually write last night, I did about five hundred and fifty words.  Not a good total, but I’ll take it.  As I’ve mentioned before, some times you feel the words, some times you don’t, and perhaps it was a combination of being tired and feeling distracted that put me off my count.  Not worried, not worried:  I’ll bounce back tonight, hit a thousand, and start my, “Helena is a Bad Girl” section of the scene.  It’s gonna be great.

One of the things I like doing is setting my story in the current world while indicating that most, if not all, of our pop culture references do exist.  You’re in a school full of witches and super powered kids, with a mad scientist thrown in here and there, and when you have a room full of eleven-year-olds, who isn’t expecting to hear something asked based upon what they may have read or heard in the Normal World:

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

“This leaves sorcery. Whereas the other disciplines can used against another person, sorcery is designed to work against a person, whether directly or indirectly. You all encountered what Professor Sladen eloquently called the ‘Hell Shawl’ yesterday—” Helena grinned, satisfied by the looks on the faces of her students. “An example of my handwork.

“Sorcery is all about dominating people, controlling them, hurting them . . . killing them. You can do it directly, or you can do it with cursed items and various chemical product—” She heard a few students say, “Potions,” and almost mentioned that it was a good thing Erywin wasn’t there to scold them, for if there was anything she truly hated, it was hearing her lovely formulistic magic called potions.

“There’s also two lesser branches to sorcery: necromancy and daemonmancy. Adric will instruct you in the ways of dealing with spirits and the recently deceased, but even he won’t touch necromancy—we teach you that together. As far as daemonmancy is concerned . . . I only teach that on a need to know basis.” She half turned to her right. “I doubt if many of you will need to know.”

Helena was ready for her experiment. She had every student’s attention, had then following her every word—and now it was time to do what she’d planed for most of the week. All she needed was for someone . . .

“Is there like a main spell used for killing people?”

She didn’t know who asked the question, but Helena didn’t care. Every year someone asks that, and I have to answer. She turned her attention back to her students. This year I’ll have help . . . “There is more than ‘a main spell’. I can think of a half-dozen different ways to kill someone with little more—” She raised her right hand and snapped her fingers. “Than that.”

With that out of the way. . . “Miss Kirilova.” Annie’s eyes snapped towards her. “What is the name of the discipline set aside for the various means of killing within sorcery?”

That Helena:  she doesn’t care to keep hearing about all this fantasy crap, does she?

Lastly, I was upset–well, just a little–that Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany didn’t win a Best Actress Golden Globe award last night.  You play seven characters, some whom interact with each other in scenes that take the better part of a day to film, and people just don’t give you props.  I’ve fallen in love with Orphan Black, mostly for the acting and writing, and the life Tatiana brings to each member of the Clone Club.

The hell with them.  Lets get out on the floor and move to our groove.  Go, little psycho bitch, go!

And this is the part of the post where we dance with the tail!

Crowing to Start

The morning started out well and good today.  Panera RavenHop out of bed, get ready, drive to the local Panera for breakfast . . . but as I’m walking up to the entrance this  guy is waiting for me.  The one in the middle, mind you, not the buddy on the higher wire who flew in while I was snapping the picture.  Naw, the raven in the middle, he/she is watching me, and as soon as I got even with them–caw, caw, caw!  Dude just went off.

Being a sociable gal, I stopped and said, “You bringing me a message from The Imp?”  Caw, caw!  “No?  Mommy of Dragons?”  Caw, caw . . . caw, caw, caw!  Maybe yes, maybe no.  I didn’t get the full message, but I do know I wasn’t being asked if I lift.

For the record I find ravens fascinating.  Like this one here, she’s obviously a big fan of Morrigan Ravenmy work in progress because she knows one of the covens is named after the Mórrígan, which is a good name for a coven of witches, as The Mórrígan  was a goddess of battle, strife, and sovereignty, and I know the young ladies–and a few of the guys who sneaked in there–are all so happy about that.

For the record the Åsgårdsreia Coven was named so in honor of the Valkyries and the Wild Hunt.  This means the witches of Åsgårdsreia, most of whom were and are women, take pride in their shieldmaiden status, and give it to the Mórrígan witches as good as they get.  No word yet if anyone has fought an Åsgårdsreia witch and told them, “Can’t hurt me, bro,” only to be told, “I am no bro.”  Should work that into the story.

Speaking of my current story, there are a few teachers who are Mórrígan legacies.  The most famous at the moment is the one whom I’m writing about at the moment, Helena Lovecraft, the Head Sorceress.  She’s the sort of person who’s taken the whole Goddess of Battle and Strife line right to the limit, and then a little beyond that.  She shows up to teach class in jeans tucked into black boots, a simple pull over, and a leather jacket, because she can.  It’s how she rolls.  And right off the bat, she likes to get the class set straight:

 

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

Taking one step back from the front row, her stacked boot heels clicking against the wood floor, the professor finally spoke. “I’m Helena Lovecraft, and I’m a sorceress.” She took hold of the lapels of her jacket. “I’m a damn good sorceress, and that’s not just a brag—that’s over twenty years of working for The Foundation as one outside Salem.” Her black eyes shifted back and forth, as if she expected someone to challenge her. “You may address me as Professor Lovecraft, or Professor. I’m certain, however, that by the end of this month most of you will have another name or two you’ll call me once you’re out of earshot.”

Unlike the other instructors Professor Lovecraft didn’t pace back and forth, but stayed in one spot as she spoke in an accent that Annie though sounded vaguely Australian. “Before we get into today’s lecture, let me get a few thing out of the way. First off, I’m from New Zealand—hence the accent. I’m of mixed ethnicity: my father is a Caucasian Kiwi by way of his family in England, and my mother is indigenous Māori. My mother was the second Māori to attend Salem: my grandmother was the first. Both were sorceresses; my grandmother was the Head Sorceress here for a few years.” She watched the students to see if anyone was going to speak, and saw the boy from the other day appearing like he wanted to speak. “You . . .” She gave him a slight grin: she knew his name, but wanted to appear as if she were searching her memory. “Kerry. You have something you want to ask?”

His face reddened as he realized he’d been called upon, but he recovered quickly. “Does your mother and grandmother have tattooing? And do you?”

Perceptive boy. “We all do. My grandmother has the traditional woman’s ta moko, but my mother and I follow a bit less traditional path.”

It was left to Lisa to blurt out the question that more than a few children had on their minds. “Wait—you have tats?”

As Helena turned to address Lisa her eyes narrowed. “I don’t have ‘tats’; there isn’t a bloody pink unicorn inked on my arse. Mine is ta moko, traditional Māori markings that are unique to me. Unlike tattooing, they were carved into my skin using uhi—chisels to you—so my skin has grooves.” She shook her head. “No, this goes well beyond the tattooing you see in the west. An expert in ta moko could look at my markings and know my life story in an instant.”

She didn’t wait for more questions on the subject. “Second: I am not related to Vivian Lovecraft, the founder of Åsgårdsreia Coven and co-founder of this school. My father discovered that particular Lovecraft family came from Northern England, and my father’s family is from near Bath. There is no blood relationship, so don’t ask.

“Third, I am also not related to another family Lovecraft known to these part, the American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Again, his family came from a completely different part of England that my father’s family. While I would love to claim that ‘Lovecraft Country’ is a part of my heritage, I’m afraid the answer is no. I’ll have to settle for the reality in which I live.

“And lastly . . . While I am from New Zealand, I know nothing of the Lord of the Rings. I know there are books; I know there are movies; I know the movies were filmed in my country. Beyond that, I know absolutely shite about the story, or any of the people who were there making the movie. I don’t know Gandalf, I don’t know Legolas, I don’t know any dwarfs or bloody hobbits. Evil magical rings, though, I do know: they’re rather easy to make. If you want one, come see me. And remember what people say about getting what you wish for . . .”

 

How many teachers are telling their students to come see them for an evil rings?  Mine do, because they figure if you’re dumb enough to want one, you deserve whatever curse she throws into the damn thing.  She’s already made the Hell Shawl (soon to be found on Etsy, $19,95, you pay shipping and subsequent petrification), so cursed items are a snap.

Though I can tell you, by the end of this scene there’ll be some cursing–

And Helena won’t be the one doing it.

The Willpower Wall

Last week it was all sunshine and blue skies, and today . . . the weather is warming and the frozen Susquehanna River is trying to thaw, so The Burg looks like a scene out of The Mist, on I-81 someone was run off the road after being chased for about fifteen miles and shot to death, and there’s a truck stuck under a bridge.

Before I get to the meat of the post, let me tell everyone of my latest article, Packin’ Up the Terra Plantation.  I haven’t written an article in a while, so run over and check it out and see my geek side on display.

Also I’m have a soufflé this morning, so I am officially Soufflé Girl.  I just need the dress and tennis shoes, and the Dalek shell in which to be implanted.

Transformation Class is over, at least as far as the first week of school is concerned.  It was an enjoyable scene to write, probably because I was getting into Kerry’s mind using that third person omnipotent point of view, and one could see his thoughts, get his feelings.  It was all the character and his concerns about the task before him:

 

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

Staring at the beans before him, Kerry started imagining what was needed to transform these back to beetles. He’d not talked about it with Annie because he didn’t want to come across like he was bragging, but there were times when was good at figuring out how to do some things. When he was six he taught himself to sort of play his grandmother’s piano by watching videos, though he was the first to admit he couldn’t play it very well, and he had a difficult time getting both hands to work together. A few years later, after they’d moved to Cardiff and his mother had decided to pay for some piano lesson, he figured out how to play most of the keyboard parts to the song Home By the Sea by watching YouTube videos of a Genesis concert, and mimicking Tony Banks’ finger work.

It had been the same way with yesterday’s Formulistic Magic class. One needed to figure out the instructions to get the mixture correct, and he did just that, though he still wasn’t sure how he managed the magical part. It’s all imagination and the application of willpower—yes, he got that. While he considered himself an imaginative person, he wasn’t certain about being willful. He’s always equated willpower with strength, and Kerry considered himself kinda lacking in that area. He didn’t care for arguments with people he considered dumb, he hated confrontations, and when it had come to speaking to girls, he’d found it nearly impossible—until recently, that is. Annie was easy to speak with, though he found it a bit hard to speak with other girls . . .

Enough of the girls. Back to the beans.

That Kerry:  mind all over the place.  And thinking about girls?  That’ll lead to no good . . .

Mostly, though, the scene was about willpower:  finding it so one may complete a task, and one can feel overwhelmed by said task, and the need to dig down and bring that willpower out when you need it the most:

 

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

He held the image in his mind for about ten seconds, then opened his eyes. The bean was still a bean.

What was wrong?

Kerry took a deep breath. He closed his eyes again and thought of the bean breaking apart, then opened his eyes and discovered nothing had changed. He drummed the fingers of his left hand on the counter wondering why this wasn’t working. Maybe this isn’t the way to do it—maybe I do need to think about transforming the bean. But . . . Professor Kishna said we’d never be able to perform that transformation, so this has to be the way.

It should work—why isn’t it?

This time he closed his eyes to calm himself. He was getting worked up and excited, and he didn’t need that, not now. That was one of his major faults: when things didn’t work out as he expected, he’d work himself into some major anxiety, and then he’d get all dejected and depressed, and start thinking himself a major loser.

He shook his head as he stared at the bean. Stop it. You’re not a loser. You’ve done magic this week. You need to push this aside

Only then did Kerry realize what his problem was.

He didn’t bother closing his eyes this time: he had the image of the bean breaking apart solidly in his mind. No, the problem was his willpower. He needed to focus it far more, and now that he knew what was needed, he centered his hand over the bean, imagined it coming apart, and pushed that through out with his willpower.

He saw the bean shimmer as it had in Professor Kishna’s hand. A few seconds later the legs appeared, then the body, and finally the head and antennae.

He’d broken the spell.

The beetle scuttled about on the counter surface, it’s movements slow and unsteady. Kerry scooped it into the container that had held the beans and sealed it up. He held the clear container at near eye level and watch the beetle scurry about. His vision clouded: he blinked a few times before realizing there were tears in his eyes. The act of getting the transformation right, in proving he knew what he was doing, had tipped his emotions the other way, and his tears were those of happiness.

Kerry sensed someone next to him before he saw them. “Kerry—” Professor Kishna was whispering in his ear. “Pull yourself together.”

He set down the container and quickly wiped his eyes before anyone saw him. “Okay, Professor.”

Jessica nodded. “Save your tears for private moment; here, it’s best if you don’t give people something to hold over you.” She picked up his container and held it aloft. “Here you are, class: our first success. Apparently Mr. Malibey’s hypothesis was correct.” She turned about slowly. “Who is next, hum? Are we going to let Mr. Malibey be our only success—”

Annie raised her container so Jessica, and the rest of the class, could see the live beetle within. “Here, Professor.”

Jessica set the contained back on Kerry’s work counter. “Looks as if you won’t be alone.” Before she walked off she stared hard at the boy. “You have three more beans and more than an hour remaining—get to work on those other beans.”

 

Jessica doesn’t cut you a bit of slack:  task mistress to the end.

Writing is a willpower game:  you need it to get through those lean times where there isn’t anything to run on, where it seems like you’re spinning the wheels in the mud and sinking deeper by the second.  This is a solitary business, and a lot of us work without support from others as we hone our craft and dream of publication.

Then you write something that feels right and it makes you sour.  The willpower that’s held you in place is replenished and you’re ready to keep moving onward, kicking ass the whole way.

Last night I passed the willpower wall:  I reached one hundred thousand words and then some.  That’s the second time I’ve done that, and it makes me feel good to know I’ve reached this point, because for a while I wasn’t sure it would happen.

Willpower, baby.  You need it for all those times when you just gotta re-beetle that bean.

Onward to Helena, Dark Mistress of All, and the nastiness she’s going to do.

She also is strongly opinionated on pink unicorns . . .

Beaning Beetles

I can hear the cars outside driving through some wetness, and I’m told on various websites that The Burg is in “Winter Mix Mode” at the moment.  That means it could be snowing, or raining, or a little of both, because the temperature outside is hovering around freezing.  No need to worry tomorrow:  it’s gonna rain like hell all day.

Ten days into January.  When I ended last year my novel has just passed ninety thousand words.  A thousand additional words a night, and I should be at one hundred thousand tonight.  Well . . . that’s a read good possibility, ’cause last night I was in a zone.  Though it took me a bit to get going, I ended up writing almost fourteen hundred words, and pushed the final story tally up to ninety-nine thousand, six hundred words.  The crossing should be tonight, as I finish up the most current scene.

Jessica is holding forth in class.  She’s given the students beans and set them forth upon their work spaces.  And thus . . .

 

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

She opened her right hand and there was a bean identical to the ones the students had before them. “As this is a class about transformation, looks are deceiving. It appears to be a bean now . . .” Jessica held out her hand, palm up, for all the students to see. The bean shimmered for a few seconds before black legs emerged from the sides. The top of the bean turned black and hard, then the rest of it grew a head and antennae. What was a bean five seconds before was now a small black beetle.

“As I said, looks are deceiving, and now my bean is an insect—”

Linh Dam, the Vietnamese girl who was in Mórrígan Coven, was frowning. “You want us to change these into beetles?”

Jessica shook her head. “You misunderstand. I’ve already changed the beetles into beans—”

Another students, Balgaire Ibanez, the Argentinian boy from Åsgårdsreia Coven, almost jumped out of his chair. “These are bugs?”

“Don’t worry, Balgaire: they won’t bother you like this.” The right corner of Jessica’s mouth curled upwards into a smirk. “May I continue?” He nodded and calmed himself. “Last night I transformed a group of beetles into the beans you have before you. It is not your assignment to transform beans into beetles, but rather transform the beans back into the beetles. Trust me—” She smirked once again. “None of you have the slightest idea how you would transform an inanimate object into a living being, even one as simply as a beetle.” She looked about the room. “Are there any questions?”

Though his mind was full of questions, Kerry didn’t know what to ask. We aren’t transforming the bean into a beetle, but . . . He didn’t how the professor’s statement made any sense: if they weren’t transforming something, then what were they suppose to do? He kept running the statement over and over in his mind, thinking about what she said about transforming the beetles back . . .

Then the revelation hit him. “Oh.”

Jessica took a step towards Kerry. “Is something the matter, Mr. Malibey? Are you in pain?”

“No, uh—” He shook his head. “It was just something that came to mind, that’s all.”

Three more steps brought Jessica closer. “I see. Do you intend to share this with the class, or are you keeping this epiphany to yourself?”

Kerry didn’t like being put on the spot, but with Professor Kishna moving closer with each step, he knew he’d have to say something, or he’d have her leaning into his face much like she’d done with Franky. “It’s what you said, about changing the beans back into beetles.”

Jessica was only a couple of meters away now. “Yes?”

“You transformed everything, which means you used magic—”

“Go on.”

“So there’s some kind of effect in place around the bean. That means . . .” Kerry swallowed, his mouth dry. “This is a case where we do counter-magic. We have to remove the effect, not make a new one.”

She finally reached his cubical, and Jessica did lean against the short wall. Rather than lean over until she was nose-to-nose with Kerry, she maintained a friendly distance. “That’s an interesting hypothesis, Kerry.” She half-grinned at him. “Is counter-magic what you intend to use?”

He thought for a moment. “Yes, Professor.”

“Which means you’ll succeed, yes?”

He’d avoided making eye contact with Professor Kishna since she’d walked up to his cubical, but now he looked up and met her gaze. “I’ll try.”

Jessica shook her head. “No, no, no, Mr. Malibey. You’ll not try. You’ll either prove your hypothesis correct, or you’ll fail. There is no in between, I’m afraid.” She tapped her nails against the cubical railing. “Do you understand?”

Kerry nodded slowly. “Yes, Professor.”

She raised her voice so everyone in the room could hear her clearly. “You may be on the right track, Kerry. Don’t let a bit of intimidation frighten you away: stick to what you think is right.” Jessica stepped away from the cubical. “As for the rest of you—any questions?” She looked about the lab, and saw no one had questions, or was willing to speak. “Very well. You may begin.”

 

No cats with glasses in this room, that’s for sure.

For some reason I liked this scene.  Perhaps it was due to how easy it wrote.  Or maybe . . . I don’t know.  Maybe as soon as I get through this scene it’s on to The Witch House and the evil sorceress?

Yeah, there’s always that, too.

Change is the Thing

There were witches in my dreams last night.  Not that nasty-ass witch Madison, who conked Misty on the head last night and had her entombed–yeah, right.  If Madison had been there I’d have magically shanked her and fed her skinny ass to the gators.  Don’t know if all this writing about witches, and then watching them slink about on television, had anything to do with the dream last night, but there has to be some correlation.

Anyway they let me into their coven and then sent me out on some kind of scavenger hunt, which involved mecha, which is another story all of itself, and probably better left for another story.  Not that I haven’t had those dreams, but I’m not getting there with any story any time soon, so if you want some mecha love, you gotta look elsewhere.

Meanwhile I wrote.  I was back in the writing nook a bit and managed a bit for my Transformation class–including a teacher who’s not only been around a while, but knows a little something about transformations on the geek side of life:

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

Franky Smith leaned towards the student in the cubical next to him. “What a shame; I was hoping to to see some Mystique action today.” His whisper wasn’t meant to be heard by others, but he failed miserably.

Jessica turned towards him. “Oh, you do?” In less time than it took for one to blink, Jessica’s skin turned a bright blue and her hair and lips changed to a dark crimson. “Something like this?” She approached Franky, her stark, solid white eyes pinning him to his chair. “Or did you have something else in mind, Mr. Smith?” She switched back to her actual self as quickly as she’d changed moments before. “Well?”

Franky was trying to get his brain to work, but he wasn’t having much luck. It was one thing to see something like that in a movie, where he knew they were using makeup and CGI, but to see someone actually change like that—and, worst of all, into her before coming at him with those dead, frightening white eyes . . . He took a couple of deed breaths. “I’m sorry, Professor?”

She wasn’t about to let it go. “Is that what you were expecting? What you wanted to do?”

“Yeah, but . . .” He turned his eyes away from her stare and cleared this throat. “I didn’t think you’d, you know—”

“No, I don’t know.”

“I mean . . .” He scratched his head. “I didn’t think you’d know who she is.”

There were many things the class expected Professor Kishna to do, but roll her eyes and laugh wasn’t one of them. “Oh, please. Do you imagine we exist in a pop-culture vacuum here, and have no idea what’s popular in literature and the movies?” She laughed again. “Ask Professor Salomon what my call sign is—it’s been my nickname almost since I started school.”

She leaned closer to Franky. “That said, if you speak out of turn again, I’ll see to it you don’t do it again. Understand?” He nodded slowly. “Good.”

As she stepped away from Franky’s cubical she addressed the class. “You are here to learn, children, not talk out of turn, not cut up and draw attention to yourselves.” She turned her head slowly to the left and right. “If you do, you’ll discover the sort of attention you’re drawing isn’t going to do you any good . . .”

She strolled to one end of the lab, almost stomping out the steps to the three white boards. “After Basic Spells and Formulistic Magic you now have an understanding of how magic works. After Formulistic Magic you have a better understanding of how exacting magic can be a times. Here you are going to discover how to use it in a precise way, for transformational magic demands this. When you are transforming anything—be it your closet doors into a desk, or a piece of wood into marble, or—” She stared at Loorea. “A person into a chair—you require a precise technique. You can’t afford half measures, for who wants to only half change something—or worse yet, half change someone?”

Jessica:  if you don’t like who she is, wait five minutes and she’ll become someone else.

Plugged in almost a thousand words last night, with my total sitting just short of 98,300 words.  Another thousand or so tonight will take me well over ninety-nine, and Saturday morning’s post will likely proclaim that’s I’ve passed one hundred thousand words.  Yay, me.

Maybe all this witch stuff is wearing off on me.

Guess I’ll have to start wearing black on Wednesdays.

Undone Transformation

Well, then, interesting morning I’m having.  It’s cold, but not that cold–not the Vortex crap that’s hitting the middle of the country.  Oh, sure, it’s six degrees outside, but I can walk three-quarters of a mile in it.  Like I did yesterday.  And the day before, when there was ice on the ground and the walkway in front of the Capitol decided to do a Tonya Harding on my right knee.  Why me?  Why?  Why?

Last night was a mess.  I started out with such high hopes of getting something done–and then turned into an emotional basket case.  I suffered a complete emotional breakdown over something that occurred back in May of last year, but someone has decided to go all passive-aggressive on me and find a million ways to call me a bitch without, you know, calling me a bitch.  I had a good fifteen minute crying jag over it, which is something I haven’t had in a long time, and while it was good to get all that out of the way, it completely ruined my mood for writing.

Emotions are good for writing.  You can feel them in your words as you bring them forth, and if you’ve gotten them right you can sense the feedback as they take shape on the page.  I’ve had a couple of stories where I was crying my eyes out as I finished the last few paragraphs, because what I was writing affected me that way.

But this was an external and personal situation, and when those hammer you it can screw up your process terribly.  Normally I just shake that stuff off–normally.  Last night I couldn’t.  Or, I should say, I was starting to shake it off when I received a phone call from someone who wanted to know the whys and wherefores of a charge on an American Express card.  I’ll go so far as to say that it seems like the only time they contact me is to talk about money, or bills, or bills and money, and if there’s something I don’t need it’s that bullshit.

All this means it was nine-thirty before I could get to where I wanted to write.  I didn’t get much out–finally count was only four hundred and fifty-five words.  I tried for five hundred, but it wasn’t there.  Like all the good feelings I could have used last night, the ability to sling the story wasn’t possible.  After getting a thousand or more words a day for the last week or so, I had to admit the writing fairies were not looking out for me, because it was highly likely they were sitting in a bar somewhere close getting hammered instead of heading into the cold and helping out us poor, struggling writers.

Tonight I’ll have to try harder.  I sound like Dora the Explorer there:  “Can you say ‘try harder’?  Say it!  Say it again!  LOUDER!”  Enough.  Anyone can come up with excuses for why you couldn’t; I need to work through that and say why I could.

Hey, it’s Wednesday.  If I get through this next scene, I can do something naughty.