Once Again, With Madness

Here we come around to this particular date, 31 March, 2014, and this is a date I have marked down and have mentioned many times on the blog.  It’s the date that Act Two begins, and that begins starts sometime tonight.

I’m ready and . . . I’m not.

There’s a lot ahead of me, and I lot still remaining.  I’ve already set the word count to one hundred thousand words, but I’m almost certain I’ll go over that–not by much, but over is over.  I have a huge sequence to write, and it’s not intimidating, but one of the last things that happens in this sequence I was going over last night, and I realized something that might happen between Annie and Kerry, and . . . oh, it’s a hard thing to imagine.  Maybe even harder to write, because I’ll be crying a lot while writing.

Parts Four through Eight are waiting; Chapters Thirteen through Twenty-Seven are set with the directions.  All I have to do is write the words.

The journey of a hundred thousand words begin with "It's not fair!"

The journey of a hundred thousand words begin with “It’s not fair!”

Yesterday saw me tweak a few things here and there, mostly with Annie, working not to make her come off like a complete hard-ass in a few place–and, if I should say so, I think I did the trick.  And since one of the things that a beta reader told me was there could be a lot of confusion with how I set up measurements and scales, I created a notation page for the start of the novel which explains a few things to the reader:

 

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

Throughout the story various scales are used to denote how time is told, how things are measured, and how buildings are laid out.

Floor Plans

The Foundation uses terms used in much of Europe and South America for building floors. Ground floor is found where the entrances are; first floor is the floor above that, second above that, and so on. The thirteenth floor is used within The Foundation; it is not considered an unlucky number. This will also be explained by characters from time-to-time.

Measurements

The metric system is used throughout the book by The Foundation. There are times when the Imperial system is referenced, but metric is the standard way of keeping track of distance, speed, and weight.

Time

The Foundation and nearly all countries other than the United States use twenty-four hour universal time; this results in times in the story being listed at “09:00” or “17:30” for denoting when events occur. Some speakers will speak in universal time, while other will interchange between twenty-four and twelve hour times when speaking.

As a character in the novel says, “This tends to confuse the U.S. kids when they first arrive,” and it will likely seem confusing to the reader at first. Remember, it’s also the first day in a new world for you as well.

 

It’s not much, but it’s an aid.  And it should help you along.  And, no:  I’m not doing conversions for you.  That’s what the Internet was for.  And please don’t say, “I don’t wanna do conversions when I’m reading,” ’cause I did them forty years ago when I was reading stories, and there was no Internet, so you found a book and memorized your conversations, and that was that.  You kids these days . . .

I’m ready, about as much as one can be to throw themselves back into a daunting task.

Wish me luck.

Rebuilding Off the Beta

First order of business:  I made it back to The Burg, and it was a real adventure.  I started out in cool but cloudy conditions, then it got windy, then it started to rain–and right around Cleveland it started snowing.  Hard.  Real hard, like you could only see a few cars lengths in front of you and one lane was clear hard.  Then I made it east of the Cuyahoga River and it turned to rain.  Then I made it to Pittsburg and it turned to harder rain, and by the time I rolled through the Allegheny Tunnel with Brian May blasting the guitar solo from Brighton Rock, it was fog, spray, and hard, hard rain all the way.  One good thing was very few people heading east, because I didn’t have to deal with idiots.  And I had some new old tunes, so that helped the time pass.

Still, it was a nearly twelve hour trip, with an hour or so at a rest stop in Ohio because I needed to eat and decompress, and I chatted a little with people I know.  I needed that, because heading through the mountains the rain was hard enough to cause ponding on the PennPike.  I didn’t stop to ask if it was Amy Ponding . . .

Thank you.  I’m here all week.

Once I make it home a little after eleven PM (or should I say 23:00?), I start up my computer and slip into my jammies, and what do I do?  I find one of my beta readers on line, and we start talking about my novel.  But of course, because after driving twelve hours through some climate hell, what else would a writer do?  Go to bed?  Surely you jest!

But it was a great chat, and we covered one chapter that had mistakes–I seem to slip “the” in a bit where it’s not needed, like saying “the her bedroom”, which is likely my way of starting out impersonal and then making the object personal–but more importantly, discussing a line that has bothered me since I first wrote it, because it makes the character in question seem like a bitch, which is not my intention at all for the character.  My beta reader picked up on it right away, and we both agreed that it was something that needed changing–so now there is a note in the scene that reminds me to look this over at some point in the future.

See?  When I say I make a note about not making someone a bitch, I mean it.

See? When I say I make a note about not making someone a bitch, I mean it.

More feedback will come–probably when I’m more awake and not having just drove through a flood that could be surprising as hell when blasting out of a tunnel at . . . fifty-five.  Yeah, that’s how fast I was driving.  Me drive like a manic when it’s raining like hell?  Not a chance!

But there will be feedback, and discussions, and since this is a long-term project, there will be lots of work before this is published.  Because this time I want to get it right.  However, the fantasy porn I can probably shoot out their like no one’s business, right?

Act Two is set up, at least for the first two parts, which now have part and chapter cards.  The word count is reset, and I’ve determined what’s going to get counted, which includes the title cards, and that’s why you see a number in the total word count.

A clean document ready to get sullied by my thoughts and ideas.  Poor kids:  they deserve better.

A clean document about to be sullied by my thoughts and ideas. My poor kids: they deserve better.

Am I ready for this?  About as ready as I’m gonna get, which is to say bring on the stress and doubt and craziness that comes with writing a story.  Particularly a long novel that is going to take me most of a year to finish a first draft.  But I’m the one who signed up for this, and I will see it through to the end.  As Neil Gaiman says, “Write.  Write every day.  Finish what you write.”

I started this mess, and I’m damned if I’m not going to give my kids a great ending.

The Curtain Parts

Today is Travel Day once more:  that day where I hop in the car and drive six hundred and thirty-five miles back to The Burg after a week of sleeping in my old own bed.  So on the road about ten my time, and back to the apartment about ten at night Burg Time–or as the kids in my story would say, around twenty-two.

I managed to get Parts One and Two formatted and set up as a pdf for beta reading.  I sent the first one out last night, so right before I headed off to bed someone was reading this:

Yeah, this is what it looks like when you give Scrivener the go-ahead to make your manuscript look nice and pretty.

Yeah, this is what it looks like when you give Scrivener the go-ahead to make your manuscript look nice and pretty.

Two parts, one hundred and seventy-six pages.  Part Three is waiting in the wings, and I know one of my readers will demand I have it to her soon.  I’ll be mean and ship it off about the time the season finale of The Walking Dead comes on, because I’m that sort of mean girl.  Naw, I wouldn’t do that.  I’m not that mean.

This is another of the great things about Scrivener.  I set up what I wanted printed, told it I needed a pdf, set the basic formatting, and there it was–and there it was again, because I’d find something I didn’t like, and I’d go back and fix it, then tell the program I needed another pdf.  I did this for a few hours, because I pretty much did another read through of the manuscript.  My beta reader found a couple of things like words that are unnecessary and a few other things, but I know that’s coming.  There’s one hundred forty thousand words there, and I’ve only given this a pretty good read through, and a so-so yesterday.  There’s probably three or four more edits ahead of this act before it’s to where I want it.

I know this, because I’ve become a better writer in the last year.

But the manuscript is nice and need, and if I’d wanted I could have made this an .mobi and let someone read it straight up as an ebook without navigation.  Or maybe with it, because you can have Scrivener set up your own table of contents.  I should try that and see if it works.  The people could get here sooner:

When Helena smirks, a shiver should run down your spine, 'cause it's not a good smirk.

When Helena smirks a shiver should run down your spine, ’cause it’s not a good smirk.  Don’t worry:  Annie will get to see it next week, ’cause she’s gonna have fun . . .

And right there is where I go from one scene–The Witch House–to another–Selena’s Meadow–with the four “#” there to show where the break happens.  I have them labeled for me, but the reader won’t see them–unless I set it up in a table of content and allow the person reading this on an ebook to go right to the scene.  Not a bad idea, actually.  A bit of work, but . . . if you’re paying to read a huge first act, then you should have the option to do it your way, right?

This gives me extra incentive to get back to The Burg in one piece, ’cause I’ll have someone eager to read Part Three real soon.  Like . . . yesterday soon.

I knew I should have formatted that when I had the time last night.

Second Leg of the Triathlon

This is what’s waiting for me:

It doesn't look like much, but . . . yeah, it is.

It doesn’t look like much, but . . . yeah, it is.

I began looking over Act Two in detail yesterday, full of the realization that come Monday night I’m going to sit down at this computer and start writing again–just like Liz Parker, only without the trauma that comes from dating a kid from another planet.  (Though now I wonder if Liz Ortecho wrote as well . . .)

The interesting thing, at least for me, is I looked this section of the story over, and I was like, “Eh, I know what I need to do, so no problem here.”  The biggest thing I’m looking at is figuring out what spells the kids are gonna work on in one of the early scenes, though there’s something coming up in transformation class that’s gonna be fun.

And during this mental walk-through I did something that I rarely do.  It’s right there–see?

You gotta look close--see it yet?

You gotta look close–see it yet?

No, you’re not going to see it, because I’m playing with you.  As of yesterday, there was a scene right before “The Walking Tests”, but the more I looked at that scene, and then looked at what I wanted to do in the chapter, the more I came to the realization that it didn’t fit into the flow of what I really want to say in Chapter Fourteen–particularly since the new first scene sets up something that’s spoken of in the scene, “Preparing the Evidence”, and this helps push along the plot to “Confronting the Students”.  Since there’s a scene in Chapter Thirteen that will do the job just as well, I decided to delete the Chapter Fourteen scene.

This is one of the reasons why I lay everything out before I write, then look everything over again and again.  When I laid out the novel I knew what I wanted to say in that scene, but as you work things out in your head, and you see these scenes three, four, five times before you start writing, it’s a simple matter of knowing if they’re going to fit or not.  I know my novel, I know what’s happening–and I knew after some consideration that scene didn’t fit.  So off to Scene Hell you go, love.  Have fun.

I also thought up a few scenes for the next book–what did you say?  You’ve seen my time lines, you know I’ve thought things out way more in advance of this first novel.  There is more to this story than just Act One, and about the only thing I don’t have all that figured out is what happens during the last year of school for this kids.  Oh, I have a general idea, but nothing down in any sort of detail.

The last thing I have to do today–besides everything else I need to do before heading back to The Burg tomorrow–is print off Parts One and Two for someone who wants to beta read the story.  Since Scrivener lets you determine what you want to print, I’m removing Part Three from the compile options and I’ll have that pdf created before you know it.

If only the weather were better today . . .

And Today I’m With Rachel Carrera!

Before I get into my normal post, a couple of weeks back I was interviewed by Rachel Carrera, and today the interview is up on her blog.  Click on this link, go over and give her a little love, and read all about get into my work.

As if you didn’t know already.

The Order of the Wordness

To say I didn’t write yesterday would be misleading, because there were lots of things going on in my head–I simply didn’t put any of that stuff down into the computer.  Nothing to edit, nothing to write.  First time that’s happened in some time.

And the good news is I didn’t freak out.

"I haven't put a single word in my story in ten minutes--my god, the walls are closing in!  Help!"

“I haven’t put a single word into my story in ten minutes–my god, it feels like the walls are closing in! Help!”

Like I said I worked on scenes in my head, mostly for the upcoming Act Two, but I branched out into Act Three a little.  Safe to say I know the ending of this novel–and pretty much every one that happens after this.  I’m nothing if not ready–though some would say, insane.  But there’s nothing wrong with a little crazy, right?

I might also have a few people who’ll beta read part of Act One.  I always fear that, because the last time I sent something out for beta reading the person told me they couldn’t get past the third page, and that I needed to cut the first two parts–without reading any of it, of course.  But I’m thinking about sending out the first part, then if that goes well the second, and then the third part, which is pretty much half of Act One.  Then sit back and wait for the comments to come in.

There is something that concerns me, and that’s word count.  This first book is long . . . real long.  Act One is 140,290 words, which, if I use the Harry Potter word count metric, is just short of both a Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets.  Once Acts Two and Tree are in place, this one story will pretty much end up about the length of those aforementioned novels, plus The Goblet of Fire tacked on for good measure.

Which is the main reason why I decided to publish the individual acts alone:  throwing the whole story out there would be a little insane, and I don’t need War and Peace comparisons.  (For the record War and Peace clocks in at 561,304 words, and I have read it.  You get a definite feel for war in Russia in the winter, trust me.)

But then there’s these guys . . .

We all know George R. R. Martin, he of the “Don’t Get Too Attached to That Character” school of writing.  When you get into The Song of Ice and Fire series, the first book, A Game of Thrones, is 298,000 words.  And that’s the shortest book.  Second is A Feast of Crows, which is three hundred thousand, and they go from there.  Total count for five novels is one million, seven hundred seventy thousand words, and the remaining two novels will crank this up to about two and a quarter million words.

Stephen King’s Dark Tower series started out small, with The Gunslinger ending up fifty-five thousand words–King was probably having a bad day.  The remaining novels in series ran between 170,000 and 250,000, those the last book, The Dark Tower, ended up 288,000 words, bringing the series total to one million, two hundred and ninety-five thousand words.

But if we want to talk about massive word counts, let us head over to the Wheel of Time.

Robert Jordan’s fantasy series is huge:  eleven novels, with the shortest of them being about a quarter of a million words, the saga has a total word count of three million, three hundred and four thousand words.  Now, that brings it in just short of the ten novel series, Malazan Book of the Fallen, by Steven Erikson, which has a total word count of three million, three hundred twenty-five thousand words, but after Jordan died it was decided to bring in another author to finish Jordan’s final novel, A Memory of Light.  Brandon Sanderson finished that novel, and when it was published it was cut into three novels because–have you been following this thread?

A Memory of Light was huge.  How huge, she says?  The book was turned into The Gathering Storm–297,502 words–Towers of Midnight–327,052 words–and A Memory of Light, the original title, and that ended up with a count of 353,906 words.  Let me do some quick adding here, and . . . the final novel in the series was 978,460 words.

A million word novel.  Yeah, I can see that.

Come on, little fella--let's do this!

Come on, little fella–let’s do this!

 

You throw that into the mix, along with a prequel that’s just over a hundred thousand words, and the entire Wheel of Time series is 4,410,036 words, or 684 chapters, or 11,916 pages of good, fantasy fun.

I should also point out that David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest ran five hundred and seventy-five thousand words, and I seem to remember a lot of people trying to read that–“trying” being the operative word here.  But that sucker sold, and is probably still selling today.

So, is this where I’m heading?  Writing about these kids for the rest of my life?

Well . . . there are worst things that could happen.

Act Two of Act One

As I mentioned a couple of weeks back, when you have time on your hands and you’re looking for something to do, you might end up, oh, I don’t know, editing a whole lot of words because you don’t want to do it later?  It wasn’t enough that I was editing someone else’s novel, but I decided that I was time to get into my own.  I mean, time be time, right?

So, in the period of just under two weeks, I put my just under one hundred and forty thousand word novel through a first pass edit.  I fixed words; I rewrote passages that were wrong; I deleted words that weren’t needed; I add those that were.  And what do I have?

Nice and shiny, it is.  Oh, yes:  it is.

Nice and shiny, it is. Oh, yes.

Act One is a First Pass Finish, and “They went home” is probably as good a close as I’ve done.  And now I’m about to get the kids into some insanity, so that’s going to keep me busy for a while–

In fact, I may start on that insanity tomorrow.  Maybe today.  Maybe today.  But right now I’m so ready to write I’m about to flip out.  Not that I haven’t done that before, but this is a good flip out.  Particularly after I worked up one of the scenes in my head yesterday, and when I realized it was going perfect lead-in for a few scenes that follow, I had to pat myself on the back and say, “You rock when it comes to this shit, Cassie.”

What does the story look like now?  Cleaner.  I did a good read of manuscript and caught things that were missing, and removed words and phrases that were redundant.  But I also added a few things.  How much?  Well, the First Draft was 139,375 words; the Revised Draft First Pass is 140,290 words–a net addition of nine hundred and fifteen words.  Not bad, really, particularly if it makes things better.

What will happen now is I’ll remove Act One from Compile status and set up Act Two that way, so Scrivener will track the word count for all the new material.  I say with all my heart that I don’t want to write another one hundred forty thousand words for this part, but I’m pretty certain it’s gonna top one hundred thousand without a problem.  Transporting is two hundred forty-five thousand words, and I see myself getting damn close to that total by the time I get to the end of Act Two, where I’ll type something along the lines of, “Good evening, Headmistress; ladies.  May we have a word?”  See?  You already know how Act Two is going to end, which means I’m in a good mood, since I almost never give away anything.

It’s a happy day around here because I’m ready to get into the three or four month slog for the second act of my novel, where Annie and Kerry are gonna learn things about their abilities, and both will find themselves in some incredibly deep caca at a couple of points in the upcoming school year.  There will be blood and more than a few trips to the hospital.

It’s gonna be glorious.  I can’t wait.

"There's nothing I like more than torturing my characters!  Yay!"

“There’s nothing I love more than putting my characters though hell! Yay!”

Sky Captain and the Dark Witch

Here it is, Tuesday, and by this evening I’ll have the first read-through edit of the The Foundation Chronicles finished.  There are three and a half scenes remaining, and one of those scenes is seven hundred fifty words and a no-brainer to do, so I should burn through that in no time.

The scenes I was into last night were lovely:  Kerry way, way up in the air, and Annie suffering in some deep despair.  It’s an interesting metaphor, because until last night I didn’t realize that it’s a moment where Kerry is finally learning to soar, to accept that he’s not this huge loser that he’s believed he was for so long, while at the same time Annie’s sinking, telling Deanna the Seer that she wonders if she’s dragging him off to a destination not of his choosing–and then hearing of the report The Foundation put together on Kerry–and it doesn’t give a flattering description of the ginger lad.

It’s a nice dichotomy–not Die Me, Dichotomy, mind you–but it’s strange that until last night I didn’t recognize the inferences.  And these tie in with the scenes that follow, which bring a nice resolution to the prior four scenes.  If I’d actually considered writing it that way–well, it probably wouldn’t have turned out as well . . .

"I haven't seen something this bad since the last time I visited White Castle."

“I haven’t seen a mess this bad since the last time I visited White Castle.”

I’ve already started looking ahead to the next scenes, taking what the metadata is telling me and putting the ideas in my head.  I already knew them when I laid the novel out, but now everything is starting to gel in a good way.  I mean, take a look:

It all means something--doesn't it?

It all means something–doesn’t it?

Chapter Thirteen looks pretty straight forward–spells, something at the Madness, Nurse Coraline working her magic, and–oh, look, a Genesis song and someone must be having a birthday.  Yeah, those are easy to work out.  Now Chapter Fourteen is a little more difficult–there are labs and rhymes about September, and something about confronting students–doesn’t sound good.  And The Walking Tests?  Yeah, I’m having fun with that one.

What this tells me is that my kids are gonna have a busy September, and with that they’ll get the first month of classes behind them.  They’ll be well tested by them–maybe.  Who knows what’s going to happen with this stuff, right?  I do, but that’s because I’ve been living with this in my head for a couple of years, and now it’s time to let it out and run around the yard for a while.  Otherwise it’s gonna go nuts and start tearing up the furniture.

Today or tomorrow I end one segment of this story, and next Monday night I move on to the next.  I may do some editing passes on this once I start Act Two, or I may wait until Act Two is finished and do it all from the beginning once more.  Act One will go quickly because I’ve already given it a bit of a polish, and then I can go nuts on Act Two.  And then . . .

I can’t think about Act Three right now.  That’s off in the future and I’m not Deanna Arrakis–

Or am I?

Under the Covers

Today is one of those days where I should have gotten out of bed with a lot more sleep, but that didn’t happen, so there’s a good chance I’ll find myself taking a nap this afternoon.  Ah, the lazy days of being off and doing nothing–save for going to the tax people near to noon.  Not a good time, but one that must be done.

I have to print off a few things and I’ll be set for five hours from now–probably four by the time I make this post.  Let’s hope I have everything.

Yesterday and last night I managed to edit six scenes for about fourteen thousand words.  There are five scenes left:  nine thousand, one hundred twenty-two words to go, and my first past edit is finished.  No rest for the wicked, however:  there are a few scenes that have paragraphs that feel clumsy still, even after I gave it a polish, and I’ll go over them again.  After all, I have time:  another four days to rest and relax before spending the upcoming Saturday driving back to The Burg.

The chapter edited yesterday dealt with The Midnight Madness, the first one my characters attended.  I needed to do some rewrites in these scenes, because I now realize I must have been tired as hell when I put the words down the first time as some of the stuff was just all over the place.  I’ve found that in a few sections, where my paragraphs came off sounding a bit like I might have been a little high while typing.  I won’t say that’s impossible, but a better guess is I was completely out of it after work, and the gibberish was the end result.

There was, however, a section of the story that, when I read it, always gets to me:

 

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

Yeah, I'm a sucker for kids and their tales of leaving things behinda

 

Yeah, I’m a sucker for kids and their tales of leaving things behind.  I read that section and I start getting weepy.  Why?  Maybe I identify with Kerry’s sorrow.  Maybe I had something similar happen, though not at that age.  Or maybe I feel there were times when I lost something precious, and the pain has remained to this day.  All of those are a possibility.

Something Kerry says will come back to him, however, because if there’s one thing his soul mate Annie does–and she truly is that, you can believe it–is listen and remember.  She doesn’t like him sad, and when he is, she is.  So there will come a scene where . . . well, she’ll turn that frown upside down, and give him something good to cry about.

Annie is about as loving a person as they come.  Yes, she’s a bit of a pain in the butt–just ask her parents–but for her lovey-dovey boy she’ll move mountains for him–or go all Dark Witch on someone’s ass if they say or do the wrong thing to him.  You can say all the mean and hurtful things to Annie you like, but you do not break bad on the soul mate.  You do not.

I mean, a character could try if they didn’t value their existence . . .

I’m sure someone will make that mistake.

Spectacular, Spectacular!

No, I have not taken over the Moulin Rouge and I’m doing my Harold Zidler impression to get you to spend you hard earned gilt on Satine–I do not accept Bitcoins, by the way.  No, no:  this is something else.

This is something really spectacular.

Late last night my daughter returned from Indiana University, where she was competing in the state Science Olympiad.  It’s not a science fair:  these kids do real scientific stuff, like figuring things out through the scientific method, or building things that work.  My daughter is in ninth grade and this is her second, and last, year competing, and for the second year her school won their division state championship.  Not only that, but she scored three golds out of three events.  Here’s one of them, Disease Detectives, which is sponsored by the CDC, so that means she’s got her shit down cold for when the Zombie Apocalypse(tm) breaks out.  Her other events were Meteorology and Music, and in this last event she and another kid built a working violin.

I should also mention she plays cello–no, she doesn’t know someone named Coulson–and paints as well as draws, so she’s not only got the science stuff down, but she’s artistic, too.  This is what comes of letting her do what she wants to do.  Nice to know she’s doing it right.

In other creative news, I edited like a mofo yesterday.  Yes, that’s a technical term, mofo.  It means I spent most of the day at the computer reading my work, and had a great time going over the work I created.  I edited Chapters Eight, Nine, and Ten, and went over some great stuff, if I may say so.  I wasn’t paying attention to the word count yesterday, but in the light of this morning’s light, it was just over thirty-eight thousand words.  That’s a good day’s work.

No, really:  it only looks like work.

No, really: it only looks like work.

I found things wrong.  I found some things misspelled.  I found words that weren’t needed.  I found Coraline doing something that was completely out of sequence, so I rewrote a couple of paragraphs, and when I think about it today, I can rewrite the first paragraph to have her do the absolute correct thing, because when you got magic working for you, it’s easy.  I found Kerry using an “s” in one of the words of a song title he’d know better than to use–sure, I could leaving it and say he was excited and didn’t know what he was saying, but no, that’s not happening.

One of the scenes I edited was the demonstration fight between Ramona Chai and Coraline, and since I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I should excerpt that scene–well, guess what?  Here it is:

 

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

Ramona walked to the south end of the mat, directly opposite Coraline. They bowed, then pressed the palms of their hands together. The air around each woman shimmered for a second, then all was normal. Ramona began moving her arm while she widened her stance, preparing to fight. Coraline did the same, planting her feet wide, getting her left arm back while she raised her right hand as if to block. They watched each other for a few moments. Ramona exhaled slowly before giving the command: “Begin.”

It was all Kerry could do to follow the two women.

Both moved so quickly their motions were a blur. Ramona was off her spot and moving to her right, while Coraline came at her directly across the mat. Though their moments didn’t look hurried, both women were moving at least—Kerry figured their actions were maybe ten times faster than those of a normal person. He was reminded of the scene in The Stars My Destination where Gully Foyle was being chased by the Martian Commandos, all of them moving at similar speeds and trying not to run into each other least they be killed by the impact.

That wasn’t the case here, however. Ramona turned and ran towards Coraline before throwing two punches which the head nurse appeared to block. Kerry assumed they were blocked because not only were the punches difficult to follow, but there was a quick flare of light against Coraline each time Ramona struck her.

Ramona jumped back about three meters and seemed ready to set up another attack. Coraline leapt across the space with ease, almost flying through the air, and kicked the instructor once in the chest, knocking her off her feet and back towards the students. She landed on her back and was immediately on her feet, moving her arms as if she were drawing something towards her. Then the air before Ramona’s body swirled into a visible form—

She pushed it away, driving it towards Coraline. The head nurse saw the attack and jumped straight up into the air to get out of the way. The attack struck an invisible wall on the far side of mat; whatever protective force was there became visible for a second, and the air rippled from the impact.

Coraline hadn’t yet touched ground. Kerry watched her soar five, almost six meters into the air, slowly back-flipping into position like a character from an anime fight. She finally touched down and readied herself before drawing back her right arm. A ball of bright light appeared in her right hand, but this was nothing like the orange globes Kerry saw her make in the hospital. This one was reddish-white and crackling with energy. The head nurse spun twice and threw it at Ramona, who raised an arm to block.

The instructor did more than block, though: Coraline’s attack hit the barrier she’d thrown up—one that flared brightly when it was struck—and shot off towards the students. Most of the students screamed and threw up their hands; a few dropped to the floor. Kerry grabbed Annie and put himself between her and the mat, almost knocking her to the floor in the process. The energy attack hit another invisible wall at the edge of the mat and flared brightly. The wall rippled again, then all was once more as normal as possible.

Stop.” Ramona brought her feet together and her hands to her sides: Coraline did the same. They bowed, then walked towards each other to met near the center of the mat. There was another shimmer around them, then they shook hands, both smiling. “You still are one of the best.”

Coraline brushed a strand of hair from her face. “I learned from the best, Sifu.”

 

Yeah, you can keep your wand:  I’m gonna stand over here and toss fireballs at your ass.  I should point out that later in the story Coraline tells one of my kids about how, before she became the Head Nurse of the school and she was working at a woman’s clinic in the city of Salem, someone tried to mug her as she walked home one night.  Poor bastard never knew what hit him.

Today will be a lot of running about and getting things done away from the home, but I’m two chapters away from finishing a first pass on Act One.  That’s a little over twenty-three thousand, three hundred words–that’s all that remains on this pass of the edit.  While I have time I’ll do another full pass on the act, and while that happens I’ll start on Act Two next Monday.  I’m looking it over, and as I view the metadata it comes back to me what I needs writing.  What’s going to happen.  How things are going to go down at my Magical School On the Cape.

Everything's so nice and simple--until I get to that Big Time at the bottom . . .

Everything’s so nice and simple–until I get to that Big Time at the bottom, then it all goes to hell.

It’s a good time to be doing something you love.

Lateness and Latte

This is probably the latest I’ve slept on a Saturday morning in a long time.  Normally I’m up and out at my local Panera by six-thirty AM, but I’m at least six hundred miles away from the Panera I usually visit, which means I’m writing from my old library back at The Real Home with my music playing and my coffee next to me.  Not only that, but I’m being helped by my guest bloggers, Fran the Phoenix and Cthulhu, so give them a hand.

F'tuga'chuta'g to you all!

F’tuga’chuta’g to you all!

Needless to say, I didn’t get out of bed until about eight AM EDT, and it was a good sleep.  And that probably means I need a better bed back in The Burg, but since I’m little more than a transient there, I doubt that’s gonna happen.

Even after all the driving–which, I should point out, was done on very little sleep, which likely explains why I slept so well–I edited.  I chatted with a few people, but I was editing like crazy, too.  I headed into Flight School, the beginnings in the Hanger and the test in the storm, before rolling over to Professor Wednesday’s Basic Spells Training and a couple of someone’s getting their witches’ hats for completing their first assignment.  (I should add that into the scene because it’s cool, and it is something Wednesday would do.)

But I came across something I’d forgotten, something that happened back in the Briefing Room at the Flight School.  This is going to happen from time to time, because I’ve a hundred and forty thousand words to sift through, and little gems are gonna get missed.  But the moment I began reading this section it came back to me.  It’s the first paragraph–

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

Kerry knows when all else fails, turn to The Doctor for smoothness.  Which might get your slapped, but hey . . .

Kerry knows when all else fails, you turn to The Doctor for the right thing to say to your special someone. Which might get you slapped immediately afterwords, but hey . . .

And because I’m such a stickler for getting it right, I know that line was said during The Doctor’s Wife, which aired on 14 May, 2011, and since this is 5 September, 2011, it’s all good.  Research!  Plus Kerry’s a geek and it all fits with him.

But a nice thing happened last night.  I was conversing with someone who knows Kerry and Annie very well, and they were reading one of the excerpts of their adventures together.  After they read my snippet–which had to do with a special moment in Annie’s life–they told me, “That was beautiful.  It’s all about her.”

Writers do not get a lot of feedback while they are in the middle of the process, and if they do get any it’s usually along the lines of, “Yo, this kinda sucks, you know?”  But when you sweat over a scene in the hopes of having it turn out as something special, when someone who you know is gonna tell you if that scene sucks instead tells you it’s beautiful–that’s when your heart sings out loud.

To say I went to bed with a big smile on my face is something of an understatement.

I have Astronomy class up next, then it’s off to Formulistic Magic and moving some crap in Botany class.  I may even make my way into Thursday at Salem on the Cape at this rate.

This week is certainly going a lot faster this time around.

This week is certainly going a lot faster this time around.

And then . . . it all starts anew.

I can’t wait.

Reflections on My Mind

Where in the world is Cassidy Frazee?  Why, I’m here:

Otherwise known as the middle of nowhere.

Otherwise known as the middle of nowhere.

I’m also here:

Say "Howdy!" to Nowhere's Sister.

Say “Howdy!” to Nowhere’s Sister.

I’m in the first westbound rest stop in Ohio after driving for four hours through the darkness of Pennsylvania.  It’s now 5:50 AM, and the above pictures were taken twenty minutes ago, and believe me when I say I’ve still got this joint to myself.

I think I’ll name it Trevor.

I’m on my way home for a week, and after three hours of sleep–and some damn strange dreams–I decided to Blow The Burg an hour early and set out on my trek west.  The last time I did this–which, if you remember, happened during NaNoWriMo–I hit the Turnpike running, blasting music all the while with hardly another car in sight.  This time, not so lucky.  There was a lot of traffic on the highway until I reached Somerset, then it sort of faded so by the time I reached Pittsburgh there was next to nothing on the highway.  As Pittsburgh is the Zombie Capitol of the U.S.–Georgia can suck it, ’cause they gotta use tax breaks to get their Shambling Geeks–I can completely understand why no one was on the highway.

If I wasn’t blasting music, what was I doing?  I was alone with my thoughts.  Okay, with my characters, which is sort of the same thing.  They don’t say much unless I let them, and they certainly aren’t asking me if we’re there yet.  Their world and mine don’t intersect save for when I have Scrivener up and running–

No, don't concern yourself with my long drive, Annie.  You're heading into The Chunnel:  perfect time to play sucky face with you soul mate.

No, don’t concern yourself with my long drive, Annie. You’re heading into The Chunnel: perfect time to play sucky face with your soul mate.

Two scenes edited last night, because hell yeah, I’m going to do this while I can.  But with a long stretch of Keystone State behind me, and Buckeyes and Hoosiers ahead, I’m thinking up scenes not for this book, but for others.  I’m thinking up life experiences.  I’m dreaming up tales to tell, because that’s what you do when you have characters developed and you want them to do things.  You know, stuff . . .

Somewhere along the road I figured out the moment when Kerry’s friend and wingmate Emma finally realizes she’s in the Permanent Friendzone, and not even the death of a certain Dark Witch will change that condition.  I’ve put together a scene where someone tells an exhausted Annie of their time on the Polar Express, trying to gloss over how brutal it was for her because someone’s not sleeping because their soul mate is out there in the cold.  Right before I pulled into this joint I started piecing together what goes on in the Black Vault of The Witch House, and when you put a Kirilova and a Lovecraft together down there alone, what really happens?  It’s not that:  get your minds out of the gutter, people.

It’s good, quiet, dark times out there on the road back home.  The sun won’t come up for another thirty, forty minutes, maybe more since I’m racing it westward.  It’ll catch me soon enough, probably about the time I blow through Youngstown.

Coffee’s finished, I’ve got another seven hours on the road, and I’ve gotta get my mind into the Black Vault.

Aloha, dudes.