Cleaning Out the Fridge

If you follow this blog then you know a few things about me.  I’m a writer; I’m a little bit nuts; and I’m a geek.  These days I don’t know how large of a geek that would be, due to all the brolash that has come up in the last few years about who is “fake” (usually women) and who isn’t (usually the bros makin’ up the rules).  Needless to say my creed is good, and while I might not be able to tell someone exact issue and page for whatever comic one might use as a litmus test for pureness, I know I could come back with my own set of questions that would put them right down on their ass.

As such, many of my friends are geeks in various areas, and many of them were watching closely when the cast pictures for the new Star Wars film was released.  And the thing that a majority of them noticed right away:  one new female actor, one male actor who is black, and a whole lotta white light sabers flashin’ around.  Oh, and Andy Serkis to likely motion capture an alien meant to represent whatever racial stereotype the movie is inadvertently mocking, cause yeah, gotta go there.

At this point it’s difficult to say that if you’re doing any sort of story within a “universe”–which, admittedly, is a pretty big place–it’s not going to be easy to explain away why one doesn’t have more women in their stories, or don’t have more people of color wandering about.  Particularly in geek entertainment, where even in the middle of the second decade of the 21st Century, a large number of stories have women for one of various reasons:  to act as the romantic interests for the male characters, to come off as a bit of fan service for the bros, or to get Fridged and lead one of the male characters into their huge moment of angst.  Naturally, the first two reasons are not mutually exclusive from the last, which allows one to hit the trifecta if you’re really wanting to go in that direction.

I was telling a friend the other day that I had someone looking over my current work in progress, and they had a couple of comments.  The first was, “You have a lot of women.”  And the second was, “And a lot of the characters aren’t Caucasian.”  I asked them if that was a good or bad thing, and the response was, “Well, there are a lot of women in the story . . .”  And that’s true:  it’s pointed out that, in The Foundation, it’s a Lady’s World, with the women outnumbering the men about three-to-one.  At the school the ratios are even higher:  in the student body the girls outnumber the boys about four-to-one (something that Kerry points out to another student), and as far as staff and instructors go . . . never mind:  The Queens Conquer–and have.

As they say, lets look at the cards–literally:

You can't tell who's going to lay into you in class without a score card.

You can’t tell who’s going to lay into you in class without a cheat sheet.

These are just my instructors–the situation is different with the staff.  Three out of four positions are held by women, and the director of security is half-Egyptian.  And all of the support staff are female–you don’t see them, but I do.

But running across my instructors, we have five men in that group.  Fitzsimon Spratt is a black man from Jamaica and Shuthelah Kady is from Turkey.  Holoč Semplen is the lone white male coven leader from the Czech Republic.  And Mathias and Adric are white guys from Canada and England, there for comic relief–just kidding.

Going across Deanna is Iraqi; Harpreet Bashagwani is Indian; Ramona Chai is Chinese.  I haven’t yet worked out Wednesdays full history, but it’s pretty much a given she’s a white girl from New Mexico.  Jessica is black; Helena is half-white, half-Māori.  Maddy, Vicky, and Erywin are white; Polly Grünbach is half-white, half-Moroccan, Inyx Armanjani is from Azerbaijan, and Tristyn Julin is a black woman from South Africa.

Of the five coven leaders four are women; two are white, one is Iraqi, one is black.  One is an Atheist, one is Muslim, two are Wiccans.  One is divorced, one is widowed.  One has never been married, and one is a lesbian in a relationship with another instructor that’s lasted thirty years.  Out of my instructors and staff five are gay/lesbian (sorry:  no bi or trans–yet), and all of them are in relationships–two of the couples are right there in the school, though you haven’t seen the second one yet.

I decided when I started this that if I’m going to represent the world, I had to represent.  I had to bring in people from everywhere, and try and make things as representative as possible.  In time these names will change, new people will arrive–maybe the school will even get more guys.  But I will try and keep a world view; I’ll try and keep things representative.

‘Cause, this being the 21st Century an all, you gotta know there’s a whole universe out there in which to play.  And it’s a very diverse place.

A Roundabout History

It didn’t take a lot of words:  all together about one hundred and eighty.  There was a bit of deleting, and some moving of things here and there, but after an hour of writing, I managed to finish the scene I’ve worked on for almost a week.  And ended it off this way:

 

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

“You know: we can get our picture taken at one of the most famous departure points of one of the most famous schools in literature—and tomorrow we’re leaving for Amsterdam to get ready to leave for our own strange school.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “Kind of a coincidence, don’t you think?”

Annie nodded slowly. “Yes, that is rather remarkable.” She sipped the last of the Lemon Aid—not so much to quench her thirst but to hide the smile that had begun to form . . . Oh, Kerry: if only I could tell you about how strange things are at our new school.

 

Oh, Annie, you little minx.  You could tell him, but you’d probably have to leave his body in an alley somewhere afterwords, right?  No, she’s not like that.  Not at all.

Five thousand, two hundred and sixty-three words, which turned two scenes that were about three thousand words total into one scene about eighty percent bigger.  But a lot gets done in this scene, and I feel it’s far better than what had come before.  And I am finished–

See the little hash marks at the bottom?  That means "I'm Finished!"

See the little hash marks at the bottom? That means “I’m Finished!”

This time around.  Later comes the edits and the additional grief, but for now–done.

It’s also a little strange for me as a writer as well, because today is an important day in the history of my make-believe school.  Really, tomorrow is when all the hell breaks loose, but the 29th of April is when the school suffered a massacre during the last full school year of the 20th Century.  Instructors and students died–a lot of them pretty horribly–and when it was all over a few of the people who are in my current story did what they could back then to hold everything together and keep the school from falling apart.  After all, when thirty-plus students and a good portion of your staff and instructors die at the hands of crazy infiltrators, it tends to make the returning student body feel like maybe they should find another place to practice their mad skills.

Come for the Magic, Leave in a bodybag because someone ripped your heart from your chest.

Come for the Magic, Leave in a Body Bag because a bad person ripped your heart from your chest.

Interesting story, and one I have to fix up and publish.  Also the first one where I had to deal with a nutty beta reader who would not read past the third page because it was “slow”, and told me to remove the first two parts (which she didn’t read) while at the same time refusing to read the third part until I made the changes she demanded.  Um . . . yeah.  I’ll get right on that, because I’m all about dancing to the tune of crazy readers.

Maybe I could find a way to send them off to my school for a weekend . . .

The Slumbering Afterglow

Though I didn’t write in quick bursts yesterday, I wrote a lot.  Well, maybe not a lot:  after all, there were a lot of things going on, one of which was getting an infection in my left thumb cleared up.  Do you know what it’s like to take the part of your thumb that’s sort of swollen with an infection and bang it again the space bar every time you need a space between words?  It hurts–a lot.  But all better now, so I can continue my insanity.

(I know you’re thinking, “Why didn’t you just stop writing, Cassie?”  Don’t bother:  you already know the answer.)

I didn’t think I’d written much, since I seemed to peck along due to a number of things.  One was the thumb, the other was thinking over a couple of others scenes that I want to do, and another was . . . well, lets call it feelings, cause they were there when I was writing this part.

And since I’m in a good mood this morning, you get to see all of it–just about nine hundred and fifty words.  It starts up right when the excerpt I published yesterday ended.  And if you didn’t read that–for shame, for shame.

 

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

Annie brushed a few strands of hair from her face. “I’m glad I asked you out.”

Kerry blushed once again. “Um . . .”

“Yes?”

“I’ve never had a girl tell me they, um—” He tried not to look at Annie. “That they asked me out.”

“Really.” She took a long sip of her Lemon Aid. “Does it feel as if I’ve asked you out on a date?”

“I guess.” Kerry seemed ready to sink into this tee shirt, and appeared to want to do a dozen other things besides answer these questions. “I’ve never been asked out on a date, so I wouldn’t know.”

“You mean asked out by a girl?”

“Well, yeah: that, too.” He finally managed to get his fidgeting under control. “I’m just happy you asked me along. You’ve been—” The deep blush grew bright. “You’ve been really nice to me.”

“Why wouldn’t I?” It was easy for Annie to be nice to Kerry, though he didn’t know this, or why. “You don’t complain, which is one good thing about you. And you can hold a conversation, which is another.”

He nodded, as a slight grin began to form. “Thanks.”

She rested her cheek against her hands as she leaned towards him. “I’ll bet all your friends say the same about you.”

The blush and the semi-grin vanished as Kerry’s face went slack. He was facing Annie, but he wasn’t looking at her. “I . . .” His lips tightened as his gaze began darting from place to place.

“Kerry?” Annie knew something was wrong, but she wasn’t sure what had just happened. “What is it?”

His voice sounded very small. “I don’t have any friends.”

Uh, oh. She was aware that Kerry was a solitary person, but she didn’t realize he was friendless. I never asked . . . “I’m sure that’s not true—”

“It is true.” He bit his lower lip to prevent it from quivering. “Never had any in California, and for sure don’t have any in Cardiff. That’s why no one ever asks me to do anything, or if I want to do something.” He took a deep breath as the fight to keep his lip from quivering was lost. “Not even my parents; they never ask me if I want to do anything.” He looked out the window as a tear trickled down his cheek. “No one cares about me.”

Her expression never changed as Annie’s heart shattered. She’d heard sadness before, but never anything like the despair she’d just felt emanating from Kerry. “That isn’t true—”

It is.” The trickle had become a stream, and his words barely escaped his tightening throat. “I don’t have any friends at school. My parents think I’m some weird kid who sits in his room and reads and does stuff on his computer and listens to music, and that’s it. If it wasn’t for The Foundation paying for me to go to school, they wouldn’t have cared if I wanted to go or not. No one cares about me; no one loves me.” He set his glasses aside and covered his eyes. “No one at all.”

Annie felt her own growing sadness as Kerry broke down. She wasn’t sadden by his actions: she was saddened by his statement, “No one loves me”. She wanted to leap across the table and hold and tell him the truth, tell him what she knew, what she felt—

And if you do, then what? Will he believe you? He doesn’t know you. He’ll think you’re crazy, that you’re playing with him, and that will only make him more upset—and it will be your fault.

“Don’t say that, Kerry.” Annie keep her voice low and her tone full of caring. “I know there is someone out there who cares for you, who loves you: I know it. And if you think hard . . .” The corners of her mouth turned upward slightly. “I know you’ll see them. I know you know them.”

The tears stopped; Kerry sniffed several times, trying to clear his nose. He never once looked at him, instead keeping his face in profile. “My grandparents.” He raised his voice a little as he finally turned towards Annie. “They do; they love me. I know it.”

She nodded slowly. “See? I knew you’d find someone.” She maintained the slight grin so Kerry wouldn’t see what she was feeling—

“Yeah.” He wiped his eyes with the back of his arm. “You’re right.” He picked up a napkin and dabbed at his face. “I didn’t mean to do that, it’s just . . .”

“You get emotional at times?”

“Yeah. Can’t help it when that happens.” He laid the napkin next to his plate and put on his glasses. “My parents hate it. My dad says it’s because I’m ‘not strong’, whatever that’s suppose to mean. My mom . . . she just says, ‘You cry like a girl’.”

“That’s not a very nice thing to say.” She sat up, her eyes clear and sharp. “And it’s also not true. I don’t cry, and I’m a girl. So there.”

Kerry chuckled. “You don’t cry?”

She shook her head, her eyes half closed. “No. Not at all. My mother once told me it wasn’t natural.”

“Ah.” He waved his hand as if not concerned. “What do our parents know, huh?”

Annie watched him turn away from the window and refocus upon her. “Are you okay now?”

He took a deep breath. “Yeah.” His head slowly tilted to one side. “Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to go and spoil the day.”

“You didn’t.” The smile that formed was meant to be warm and comforting. “And there’s still a lot left.”

Kerry looked like he was going to pick up his phone and check something. “There is?”

“Yes. We don’t have to be back to the hotel for another four hours.” She leaned her chin upon her joined fists. “There are still things to see.”

 

There are always things to see, Young Annie.  And you will, trust me.  You will.

This was a difficult part for me to write, at least from an emotional standpoint.  I’ve said a lot of the things that Kerry said at one time of another, many of them when I was his age.  And the things his parents said to him–yeah, I’ve heard them as well.  And he had better grandparents than mine, who were a bunch of racist assholes and drunks.  At least he has something better than me.

And then–then–when I get to the “No one loves me part” and Annie’s feeling her heart break (for reasons I know, but you don’t) . . . well, I’m listening to music, and it’s a live version of the final two compositions off Wind and Wuthering, … In That Quite Earth and Afterglow, the final stanza of Afterglow comes up:

 

And I would search everywhere
Just to hear your call,
And walk upon stranger roads than this one
In a world I used to know before.
For now I’ve lost everything,
I give to you my soul.
The meaning of all that I believed before
Escapes me in this world of none,
I miss you more.

(Music and Lyrics by Anthony Banks)

 

And that was about the time I needed to sit out on the balcony and get over a good cry of my own.

Really, though:  was I thinking it was Annie trying to pull Kerry back into something that she knows but he doesn’t?  Or was Kerry feeling something that he knew once but has now forgotten.  Or was I pining away for something I dearly want, but can likely never have?

Yes.

What this means is this long stretch of writing, this scene now over five thousand words, is just about finished.  Just add a few things tonight, hack and slash it into place, and I can call it revised.

No, really, it's really near the end.  Really!

No, really, it’s really near the end. Really!

And when this is finished–

I can move on to other scene and drive myself crazy.You

Harboring Sleep Within the Test

The last couple of days my energy has really been at a low ebb.  Now only has work taken its toll of late, but I’ve not been sleeping well–again.  There can be any number of reasons for being tired–though I think a large part is due to my hormone replacement therapy–but the sleep thing?  Damn, that’s been with me forever.

Now, something interesting came up in a conversation yesterday.  Never mind the umpteenth requests I received to get some sleep–I know I’m tired, you don’t need to tell me I need sleep–but this comment that caught my attention:  “Your novel is keeping you awake.  It’s on your mind all the time, and it won’t let you rest.”

Now there’s a secret that isn’t unknown.  I do get caught up in what I’m writing.  I get caught up in the characters.  Sometimes it driver me a little crazy, but I consider that par for the course.  But keeping me awake?  Well, now, that’s something that hasn’t happened before too many times.

Maybe there is some truth here.  I know I slept well last night, so maybe I’ll finish up this enormous scene tonight before Cosmos comes on.  In the meantime–Kerry asked Annie a question, which was, “Don’t you think we did a lot of goofy crap yesterday, and now . . .”  And now here’s the end of that question . . .

 

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

After her chat this morning, Annie had more insight into why she was sent off with the others without waiting for Kerry. Not that I can tell him— “I can agree with everything you said, but why do you think today is a test?”

“I just do.” He tapped his fingers on the table for a few seconds. “What time did she tell you she was called in?”

“She didn’t say—just that she’d been called in for a meeting.”

“But you both talked early, and she already had the debit cards. They could have been sent over, but even so, The Foundation would have made those last night. Which mean they knew this was going to happen.” He glanced out the window, something Annie noticed he did quite often. “There was a card for each of us—our names were on them. Someone went through all this trouble last night so we’d get them this morning.”

“And you think Ms. Rutherford planed this?”

“Not her: this Foundation. Though she probably knew about this and the stuff yesterday.” Kerry finished his sandwich and slowly pushed his plate to the side.

If only I could tell him what I know. Annie had heard about these things from her mother a few days before leaving home, and found none of Kerry’s suspicions shocking. She was also fairly aware of why Ms Rutherford was telling her about what she thought the other students would do today . . . “If it is a test—” Annie rested her head against her right hand and twirled her hair. “—I’m glad I passed.”

Kerry looked downward as he grinned. “I don’t know if it’s one we were expected to pass, but I do think Ms. Rutherford is keeping an eye on us.”

Annie didn’t what to hear Kerry go on about different ways The Foundation could follow them—she knew nearly all of them—so she moved the conversation in another direction. “I’m only asking because I’m curious, but . . . would you have left the hotel if I hadn’t asked you out?”

“I . . .” Kerry chuckled, then pursed his lips as he pushed air through them. “I don’t know. Yesterday wasn’t that bad because I didn’t have to go that far, and we were suppose to be doing things for school.” His sigh was loud, even against the background noise. “I’m glad I didn’t stay in the hotel.”

 

It’s not the sort of test you’re expected to pass?  Oh, Kerry, you poor sap, you’re being tested right now.  Only by someone different and for different reasons . . .

Now I should think about the sort of damage one little girl can do with access to a library full of deadly arcane knowledge.

Not that I don’t already know.

"Yes, I could use my shadows to follow Kerry everywhere--technically the shadows are the ones stalking him . . ."

“Draught of Truthful Submission?  That’s much better than a love potion–“

Shadow Collections

There comes into every writing life where you need to take a break and work on something that isn’t your story.  The break I was working on last night was my nails, and . . . they didn’t turn out the way I wanted.  Boo, hiss, the hell with it.  I stripped them down and brought up the story.

You know, sometimes your instincts are always the best for figuring out what you need to do at any given time.  Sometimes you should just write, even when you don’t feel like it.  Maybe you’ll end up making something crazy and wonderful, or wonderfully crazy, and before you know it, you’re the next big thing.  Or still struggling.  Who know?

Since it was a little late to be writing, I played with the story.  Not in the way you may think:  no, this was writer’s playing–

One of the things I’ve always wanted to try in Scrivener is to set up collections.  To understand Scrivener Collections, you need to understand the Binder.  It’s that thing on the left side of the program when you have it displayed.  Here:

Hey, over here!

Hey, over here!

If you need a better way of imagining the Binder, go to your local store, buy a three-ring binder, return home, find your story, put it in your binder.  There you go:  Scrivener Binder in physical form.  You have all your parts and chapters laid out so you know where everything is located, and you can lay things out in whatever order you like.  Each folder represents whatever you want it to represent:  headings, page markers, whatever it is you put into a binder to keep things neat and orderly.

Then what is a Collection?  Let’s say you have sections of your story that you want to return to from time-to-time, but you don’t want to go looking through your binder for that part.  Maybe it’s some historical information you dug up a while back and you need to review now and then.  Maybe it’s a new scene you’re working on and you don’t know where it should go inside your story.  Maybe it’s an old novel you wrote prior to the mess you’re working on now, and you want to be able to pull it up and check something without it being right there in your face.

If so, you set up a colored tab for that section–in Scrivener that becomes your collection.

Color tabs, just like I said.

Color tabs, just like I said.

And when you want to look at that section of your story, click on the tab and start looking.

You can even get fancy and look at it two different ways if you're of a mind--or even without one, like me.

You can even get fancy and look at it two different ways if you’re of a mind–or even without one, like me.

Working on your story here in the collection is just like working on it inside the main binder, because you’re still in the binder, only you don’t see the rest of it because you’ve pulled this part off by its lonesome.  If you need some additonal research, you can add that to the collection as well–

Or maybe you can give it a home of its own; it might like that.

Or maybe you can give it a home of its own; it might like that.

Collections aren’t forever:  you can keep them as long as you like, then remove them when you’re finished.  It won’t remove the original information–or the changes you made to it–since you were really working in the binder, only . . . not.  Software is funny that way.

There was something else I did as well:  I added a chapter.  What?  Are you insane, Cassie?  Well, yeah, a little, but that’s beside the point.  I’d come up with another set of scenes a few weeks back, and I wanted to incorporate them into the story.  The scene comes at the end of Part Eight, which I call Holidays There and Back, and this happens a few weeks after a somewhat traumatic point in the lives of Annie and Kerry.  Chapter Twenty-Five, Continuations, is meant to show that life not only goes on in this strange world, but sometimes you start learning unusual things and pass that knowledge on to people close to you.

Shadows?  Like the ones trying to take over the galaxy?  Guess again.

Shadows? Like the ones trying to take over the galaxy? Wrong story.

Three interesting scenes, with the last being a tender, maybe a somewhat creepy moment, but more tender in the long run, because it ends with dancing before a fireplace.  And maybe a couple of shadow ribbons.

Yeah, those are gonna be nasty.

The Moments in a Touch

The editing thing–going smoothly.  The rewrite is actually something I’m enjoying a great deal, because now that I feel reconnected with the characters, and this part of the story, it’s coming along fine.  Once I get over the feeling of exhaustion that I have nearly every night.  Hormones, baby:  they aren’t always your friend.

How I’ve set up everything, though, how I planed out this section of the story, once I start editing and rewriting, the words seem to come naturally.  Having my little break marks in the story to show me where things should go help a great deal, too.

And this

There’s a lot of new stuff that goes into that space between the two orange comments.  Some of it is below–

And what is in that below area?  Just look:

 

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

It wasn’t something she wanted to discuss; Annie knew Kerry was curious about their outing yesterday, but she wanted to put the day behind her. “I’d rather not—”

“Please?”

Given that he’d said please—and was looking at her with big, moist, pleading eyes—Annie relented. “Well, then: first there was Collin—” She rolled her eyes. “There’s three of us, and he’s the boy, so he has to have the map. After fifteen minutes he had no idea where we were—in part because he had the map upside down. I finally grabbed it from him and got everyone to the tailor’s shop.”

Kerry could almost see Annie pulling one of the small, printed maps from Collin’s hand and indicating what direction they were suppose to go. “I don’t imagine he was happy with that.”

She half-closed her eyes and hurmped. “He’s a silly boy. He’s a small child from a small town, and a large city like London is far too much for him to handle.”

“Yeah, I can believe that. And what about Alica?”

“Oh, her: all she did was complain—about everything.”

Kerry shrugged. “She’s from Scotland, so that’s pretty normal for her.”

Annie held her breath for a few moments, then burst out laughing. “How can you say that?” She giggled some more. “But she did complain constantly. It began wearing after a while.”

He nodded in agreement. “I noticed that last night. It’s like a sport with her: see how quickly she can wear down everyone else.”

“I didn’t seem to bother you, though.”

“Yeah, well . . .” He tilted his head from side to side while sipping his smoothie. “I’m good at tuning out people after a while.” He sat back in his chair and drew a deep breath. “I get a lot of practice at home.”

Annie didn’t want to bring up this part of his life; after all, she’d heard and seen enough to know his home life was less than ideal . . . “You weren’t tuning me out today, were you?”

“You?” His face darkened as he shook his head. “No, not at all.”

“I did prattle on a bit.”

“No, you didn’t.”

She leaned the slightest over their table. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah.” He shook his head quickly, his eyes now affixed upon hers. “You weren’t talking that much. I think I was talking more than you.”

“You were asking a lot of questions.”

“I know.”

Quite a lot.”

The corners of his mouth turned downward. “Yeah, but, I mean—”

Annie didn’t want to string the boy along too much longer. “Kerry—”

“Yes?”

“I’m teasing.”

He blinked a couple of times, his face stone still. “Really?”

“Yes.” She started to reach across the table, then stopped herself. “I liked talking with you today. And I like the silence we shared. It was . . .” Annie glanced upward as she shrugged. “Perfect. Don’t you think?”

She could tell he didn’t know what to say. Part of her knew he was at wits ends trying to come up with something to say that wasn’t going to sound silly or stupid—and another part of her knew something completely different.

When he found his voice he spoke slowly and assuredly. “It was pretty—nice. It was. I don’t know perfect because . . .” Again he lowered his head, looking at the table. “I’m not sure what perfect should feel like.”

This time Annie did reach across the table and touched his left hand. “It felt like today, Kerry. That’s what perfect is like.”

He looked down at his hand, then up at Annie as she slowly drew hers back.  There was a puzzled look on his face as if he were expecting something, and it hadn’t yet arrived. “I believe you.” His voice was almost inaudible against the background sounds of the restaurant. “I believe you know perfect, Annie.”

“Sometimes.” She winked.

A couple of minutes of silence passed as they both returned to their forgotten meals. Annie began wondering if she’s pushed Kerry too far, if all her moments of contact and minor intimacy were too much for him. She didn’t think what she’d done was strange, because she’d seen her parents do the same with each other for years. The slight glances, the little touches here and there, the brushing of fingers against an arm, the holding of hands . . . I did nothing different. And then there’s

Kerry tapped his fingers against his plate while not looking across the table. “Can I ask you something?”

Annie braced herself for the worse. “You may.”

 

And what is the question Kerry is asking?  Well . . . psych!  I’m not telling.  You’re just gonna have to wait.  But that Annie:  she loves to torture her boy–

She also loves touchy-feely, too.  As I’ve alluded to from time-to-time, there is much more going on between these two that seems . . . normal.  Then again, the only “Normal” person at this table is Kerry, and he’s not all that normal when it comes right down to it.  He’s a bit lost at the moment, but don’t worry:  Annie will show him the way.  More or less.  In time.

And if you only knew what was going on inside her head–

But you will.  Eventually.

 

Break Down in Russel Square

Hacking and Slashing (now there’s a term I haven’t used in a while) was hot and heavy last night.  I finally had my kids off their feet, out of the Tube, and into the restaurant, and the cutting and adding of words was underway.  By the time I finished for the evening, I had no idea what I’d written.  That’s because with all the deleting that was underway my total words written check was way off.  There are ways to figure this out, however–like copying the area you were working in and pasting it to another text form.  That way you discover you wrote and edited nine hundred and six words.  Easy as Pi, right?

With all my old scenes deleted–goodbye, you first draft messes–my corkboard looks like this now:

All my scenes lined up, sorta neat because they never go anywhere.

All my scenes lined up, sorta neat because they never go anywhere.

 

While my outline shows me where my word counts are:

The numbers keep going up.

The numbers keep going up.

The word count for my current scene is just under three thousand, but that’ll change.  Then I have to rewrite the trip through the Chunnel, which takes on an air of confusion for Kerry due to things happening in this current scene, and then I can move on and rewrite a few other things–

Then I can get back to Act Two.  Maybe.

So what did my kids do last night?  A little of this:

 

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

A light rain was falling upon Russel Square when Annie and Kerry stepped from the Underground station and made their away across the street to the Pret a Manger cafe. The place was busy but not overwhelmed with people, so they found a table and ordered food. Since the lunch rush was coming to an end their orders were ready in under ten minutes. Kerry’s was first: a club sandwich with avocado and a mango smoothie. Annie’s came moments later: a chicken salad and a Lemon Aid. She returned to their table to find Kerry’s computer unpacked and powered up.

“What are you doing?” She sat across from him, twisting her neck to see if she could follow what he was doing with his phone.

He didn’t look up. “Bluetoothing the pictures over to the hard drive; I wanna make sure I get all the pictures we took.” He tapped tapped something on his phone. “This way I have plenty of room for more, and everything’s saved.” He lay the phone next to the computer. “That should finish in a few minutes.”

It was difficult for Annie to keep from chuckling: he always seemed so serious when it came to his technological toys. She wanted to talk about something else . . . “You said you’d been to London once before?”

 

Yeah, bluetooth those pictures, Kerry, and free up some space on your phone.  You never know how many more you’re gotta get with that little octopus hangin’ on to you.  This is where I wish I could draw, because there were some great photos they good that I could include.

As if I didn’t have enough to work with at the moment.

Anatomy of a Rebuild

With the new scene out of the way, the time had come to start tearing up an old scene:  lunch at the Pret á Manger outside the Russel Square tube station in London at 13:17, or 1:17 PM for you not on Universal Time.  Since I know some people will ask, “How do you know there’s a Pret á Manger outside the Russel Square tube station?” because just like Johnny Cash, I’ve been everywhere, man:

Resturaunt on the left, tube station on the right.  You're welcome.

Restaurant on the left, tube station on the right. You’re welcome.

Now, getting in and tearing things up isn’t always pretty.  I could have just copied the scene off and put it aside with, “Don’t Touch Until Ready to Delete,” but I didn’t want to do that because it just gets in the way eventually.  The easiest thing to do here is use the Scrivener ability to take a snapshot of your document.  The snapshot is nothing more than a saved copy of your scene/chapter/whatever at the time it was taken.  The nice thing about the snapshot function is that you can take as many as you like, and “roll them back” into the original any time you like.  Or delete them if you think they serve no other purpose in your writing life.

It doesn't really have the same impact without Ringo singing in the background.

It doesn’t really have the same impact without Ringo singing in the background.

I knew where my kids were going this time, but I now needed to make some notes concerning stations and the such.  Because I’m nutty like that, you know?  For this scene I’d already went into the Document References and attached a link to the map of the London Underground that I’d imported into Scrivener, so I split the screen and pulled it up so I could make sure I get some of the stations right–which came in handy later, because you’ll see why.

This is how you get around with a map--and a bit of imagination.

This is how you get around with a map–and a bit of imagination.

Now that I knew my stations more or less, I brought up the document notes–and the London Journey Planer website that I’d also embedded in a note card in Scrivener, and started looking at the route I’d taken.  There were a few points on the trip where I wanted the kids to walk, so I plugged in a few stations, knowing that walking is something they do in London, and the website keeps track of that.

Yes

Yes, you can walk this route in ten minutes if you’re healthy–and training for the next Olympics.

You can see my notes on the right as to where the kids are going, what stations they’re arriving at/leaving from, and in this shot I’m figuring out if they can walk from the London Eye to Big Ben tower–and since Westminster Station is right across the street from there, and this Journey Results tell me I can probably walk it in ten minutes if I push it, then, yes:  it’s very doable for a couple of eleven year old kids.

One of the things I left off of here, and didn’t realize it until I was writing, was the place that Kerry hinted at going.  So I popped up Google Maps, got the location, then looked for nearby tube stations that would take them to Russel Square.  Found it–probably because I’d actually almost used it before–and added that note in as well, saying they’d summoned a cab–or a dragon, hard to say which–and taken it to the place Kerry wanted to see.

Lastly it was time to skim and see where new stuff needed to get added, and old stuff that didn’t make sense needed to come out.  One of those things that came out was a few comments about Collin and Alicia and why they weren’t invited, but since Annie had made those comments in the prior scene they didn’t need to be here as well.

I made a few comment markers in the story and highlighted them so I’d know where I should put my new stuff and where I might need to edit the old.

Just like some of us used to do in school--when we did that study thing.

Just like some of us used to do in school–when we did that study thing.

With all that out of the way–about an hour’s work or so, not counting getting the maps and stuff a few days ago–it was time to write.  And in that empty space between the two orange comments, I wrote.  I had Annie taking Kerry around London; nothing major, just out to London Bridge, then down the Thames to the London Eye, then over the river to Big Ben and St. John’s Park and a look at Buckingham Palace . . . a nice little walking tour where kids could talk and take pictures–and at a couple of points in the narrative, Annie managed to get a little touchy-feely with her newest traveling companion.  That girl–whatever is on her mind?

When I finished I’d had my best night in a while.  The count said 1,063, but that didn’t take into consideration the one hundred and thirteen words I’d cut before I started, so the final count was far closer to twelve hundred words.  And that’s just the start.

There’s more to come tonight.  Much more . . .

Questions Answered

Finally, thirty-five hundred and sixty words later, the new scene I’ve been working on for my novel is finally finished.  With getting in five hundred words here and six hundred there, there was a week of writing, but it’s there.  It’s finally there.

First Draft?  That means it's okay if it sucks, right?

First Draft? That means it’s okay if it sucks, right?

I don’t mind that it took a while to get to this point:  I was working with a different mind set for the scene, and it was greatly different from the scene it replaced–for one, two characters were pulled out, and the dynamic is strictly one-on-one in both instances where characters are speaking.  It also sort of establishes that Ms. Rutherford and Annie are of the same world, and Kerry is just some interloper who happens to be there because–we’ll, you find out in Part Two and Three.

For now, however, one of the questions that kept getting asked is finally answered:

 

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

She realized she’d made Kerry a bit uncomfortable, but there was the possibility that his mind was focused on her, and when she asked him the question again, his mind wouldn’t wander. “Would you like to do something? Would you like to go somewhere with me, Kerry?” She leaned every so slightly towards him. “I’d rather not spend all day in the hotel, but I’d also rather not wander about London by myself.” She moved ever-so-closer. “I’d like it if you’d join me.” She sifted in her chair, sitting back while never allowing her eyes to drift from him. “Please?”

Annie didn’t need to read minds to see Kerry was suffering from a great deal of indecision. She began wondering if perhaps she’d pushed too hard, if the selfishness her mother often railed at had taken over, and she’d scared him away. He has no idea what he wants . . .

She watched his eyes shift from side to side as he considered her proposal. She couldn’t read him because of a mask of semi-confusion etched upon his face. Being able to read him didn’t mater, though: there were only two outcomes for her question—

Kerry rubbed the side of his face with his left hand. “Well . . .”

Failure, or

He met Annie’s piercing gaze. “There is this place I would like to see—” He turned his eyes towards the floor for a moment. “Would that be okay?”

Success.

She nodded slowly as a slight grin appeared. “I’m sure we can fit that in.”

 

See?  Not that big of a deal.  One just didn’t see the fifteen hundred or so words needed to get Kerry to make up his mind and decide if he wanted to stay at the hotel, or get out and pound a little London pavement.  And that will lead into the next scene, which is getting rewritten a lot as well, and will incorporate parts of a scene that was cut out and cast aside–one of those two cards in the picture with “Delete” written over the top of them.

Ask a question, get it answered.  Simple, yeah?

 

Fear For Your Lives

Despite the promises that I’d get a lot done yesterday, very little was actuated.  Call it holiday blase or whatever, but the writing spirit wasn’t there.  Also, the two rather hefty pints I had for lunch probably didn’t go much good for the mood, either.

But, hey:  can’t have every day being a writing day.

Thing is, when I look at my notes for the current scene I’m in, I realize that I can probably wrap up the whole thing in a day or two.  If I really jammed it out tonight, and I do it for sure, because all that remains it (a) having Annie tell Kerry there is no way in flippin’ hell she’s asking the other two monsters if they wanna see the city, (b) she answers his question about why she’s asking him to run around the city with her, and (c) asking the question for the third time and getting an answer.  Easily peasily, as Pinkie Pie says.  (Who, some quick research show, shares a birthday with me.  Um . . . okay.)

Annie is trying to get what she wants, which is something she does a lot.  That was something my beta reader told me about her:  she’s a leader, not a follower, and she does things.  She wants to go out, and she’s gonna drag this kid along no matter what.  Well, if he says “no” she’ll probably get steamed and then go after him in another way, but–yeah, Kerry’s hitting the town with her, like it or not, and that’s that.

"Aren't we supposed to be walking through London?"  "Pretend for a moment we're not in a stock photo, Kerry."

“Aren’t we supposed to be walking through London?” “Pretend for a moment we’re not in a stock photo, Kerry.”

In the original version of this scene Annie was the passive one and Kerry was Mr. Take Charge.  Someone who’d only been to London once was about to drag around a girl who’d been all over the world–yeah, that didn’t seem right.  Particularly after it’d been pointed out to me.  Now the feeling seems a little different, a little better–

I’m still afraid of Annie, though.

I wrote her wrong in the start–or, as I was told, it felt like I wrote around her.  She had no personality, no feeling.  As she points out in this new scene she’s been all over the world, but that didn’t come across the first time.  Now it’s better, but there is still the feeling, when I enter the scene, that I’m still afraid of her.

Or, maybe, I’m getting her too right, and that starting bringing on memories that I’d rather keep repressed right now.

Makes any sense?  No?  That’s the way writing is at times:  the writing knows what they hell they’re rambling on about, and the read is left to wonder why.  Needless to say, I’m becoming less afraid of Annie and more willing to write her as she should be–just as I’m doing with Kerry.  The juxtaposition of personalities is happening, and it’s forcing me to go slow with my scenes and get their out the way they should.

But with all things slow and steady, in time you reach the end.

Usually in once piece . . .

Questions Asked and Yet Answered

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, I’m awake and alive (the two can be, at times, mutually exclusive), and I made it through another Saturday which wasn’t one of the best, but it was better than I expected.  There wasn’t as much writing as expected–I feel just short of six hundred words before I was busy doing some research during the afternoon, and there were distractions like Where Eagles Dare being on TCM (bit of trivia:  it has the highest body count of any Clint Eastwood movie–total 100 people–and it was the last movie where he didn’t receive top billing) and then Orphan Black Season Two starting an hour and a half later, seestras.  But the quantity isn’t important:  it’s the quality.  And it ended with one of the more important things I’ve written for the story:

 

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

Annie patted the envelope with her right hand. “Ms. Rutherford left prepaid debit cards with £200 on them for us to use. No need to worry about money for the day.”

“Oh.” Kerry’s eyes took on a far away look as he seemed to consider Annie’s words.

Seeing the indecision on Kerry’s face, Annie knew the time had come to push the forty-four percent odds in her favor. She reached out and touched his hand; Kerry’s head swiveled around to face her immediately. “Would you like to do something? Would you like to go somewhere with me, Kerry?”

 

Yeah, those last two questions are going to come back a few more times in this scene, and later–well, I know what sort of importance they play much later in the story, and the effects are going to be fairly tramatic.  You wouldn’t think that would be the case, but it will.  It’s gonna tear someone’s heart out.

Don’t worry:  they’ll get better.

Yesterday’s post seemed to generate a few of my more interesting comments, which were along the lines of, “Wait, there’s werewolf erotica?  Since when?”  Since people were writing, that’s when.  Off the top of my head I can’t remember the actual title, but back in the days when Rome was pretty much kicking everyone’s ass, one of the more popular books around had the main character turn into an ass and head off some sexual adventures.  It has been pointed out by no greater an authority on the mater than Cracked.com (I was biting my inner lip when I wrote that) that strange fetishes have been around a long time–sometimes centuries, sometimes a lot longer than we’d like to admit there’s recorded history.

I like to make fun of the various sorts of erotica out there on the Internet, until I remember that (1) these people are writing, and (2) some of them are selling a lot.  What that says about people in general I’ll leave to you, because if you read some of my stranger erotica, you’d likely lump me in with the dino porn women.

If you are curious about the the sort of things out there, never fear!  I’m gonna show you, because I’m that sort of gal.  Click on any of these links at risk of your own sanity, and lets remember that every link takes you to that wonderful purveyor of reading material, Amazon.com, and not some shady, back-asswards website where the Internet has crawled off to die.

Without further ado:

"How is that even . . . no, no, no!  Why did I look?  Why?"

“How is that even . . . no, no! Why did I look? Why?”

Maybe you’d like some Kraken erotica?

There are also some excitable werewolves, and a leprechaun you might not want to meet.

Maybe you’re not the Mother of Dragons, but you could be the lover or one–or two.

I don’t remember reading about this Minotaur when I was into Greek Mythology–

Speaking of Dino Porn–yeah, it’s here.

Gay Cuttlefish Shapeshifter Erotica–that’s not something I made up:  I’ve taken that right off the Amazon page for the story.  You’re welcome.

Even unicorns won’t escape my gaze!

Last but not least, if you’re interested in how someone works to write stuff like this, they talk about it in long piece from io9:  How to Write a Sex Scene Between a Unicorn and a Rainbow.

Hummm . . . I think my work here is done.

Sourcing the Odds

Though last night was one of those nights where it seemed like I was doing a dozen things at the same time, I managed to get a lot done.  It wasn’t crazy time or anything like that, just busy stuff that kept me going pretty much from the time I walked into the apartment until I was time to go to bed.

Let’s see:  I was writing my new scene, I was editing a story for a friend to read, and I was chatting with said friend about some of my old stories, most of which are strange erotica.  Of late I’ve gone through a lot of that old stuff, thinking about updating it and throwing out on Smashwords and Amazon to take its place alongside all the other strange erotica out there.  (What I want to know is why isn’t there more lesbian werewolf erotica?  I see a lot of gay werewolf erotica, but nothing for the ladies?  Or are we too busy being seduced by dragons and krakens?)

I found one story that I’d even forgotten I still had, though I remember writing it so long ago.  How long ago?  Someone made a reference to Windows 98 in the story, that’s how long ago.  If I remember the situation behind the story, I think I wrote it about 1997 or so, and ended up posting it on a now-defunct website for all to see.  That way I could say to all, “I be published, yo!”  The other thing I forgot about the story is that someone actually illustrated the story for me, throwing in a couple of drawing for some of the stranger scenes.  Why did they do that?  Because they liked the story.

Ah, back in the day when I was such a hot-shot kinky erotica writer.

Did I mention I was also drinking last night?  Yeah, a little bit of the cognac to take the edge off a long week.  And it managed to get the creative juices flowing, too.  What can I say?

"I'm such a busy girl--next up on my list:  getting blind drunk and finishing my novel.  Worked for Hemmingway!"

“Next up on my list: getting blind drunk and finishing my novel. Worked for Hemingway!”

And through all this I managed to get back into my new scene.  Honestly, with all the jerking around I did last night I had no idea if I was doing anything right in the story or not.  It felt like I was writing, while on the other hand it felt like I was spinning my wheels getting little done.  By the time I shut the project down and headed off to bed, I’d clocked in just over seven hundred words, which isn’t a huge amount, but it’s inching back up towards a thousand, and that’s really where I want to be in terms of getting my word count on.

Which led to this little moment:

 

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

Ms. Rutherford was on her feet before Annie could react, and snapped her finger in the direction of the lifts. “Then there’s our third member—Kerry.” The chaperon’s smiling eyes followed Annie to her feet. “He’s gonna come out of those lifts any moment now because he’s usually early when he’s not sleeping in—” She chuckled as if she were keeping a joke to herself. “He’ll probably have his backpack with him, and his phone and computer inside. He’s going to look around, wonder where everyone is, and then head into the cafe because if there’s one thing that kid won’t miss, it’s free food.”

This much Annie knew to be true. “I noticed that last night.”

“The thing with Kerry is there’s a fifty-six percent possibility—”

Annie’s right eyebrow shot upward. “Fifty-six percent is a rather exacting prediction, isn’t it?”

“You think?”

“For someone who isn’t a Numerologist, yes.” She locked her arms across her chest. “Too exacting, actually.”

“I can assure you I’m not a Numerologist—” Ms. Rutherford didn’t bother to keep from smirking. “Though you don’t know what I took when I was in school . . . As I was saying: there’s a fifty-six percent possibility that once Kerry hears today’s news, he’s gonna head back up to his room, set up his computer, and do whatever it is he does on it all day long. And should that happen, we’ll not see him for the rest of the day.” She glanced down at Annie’s darkened expression. “Or should I say, you won’t see him for the rest of the day—I won’t see him ’cause I’ll be in the office.”

So she knows. Annie was aware that her family knew why she wanted to arrived in Amsterdam with the London group, but this was the first indication she’d received that other’s in The Foundation also knew why she was staging here. “That’s likely, I’m afraid.” She wasn’t about to give Ms. Rutherford the satisfaction of seeing her mood change for the worse.

 

Damn these Foundation people:  knowing the odds and your little secrets.  Well, when you do your best to run the world, you pick up on these little things.

Just wait until Annie is running things:  she’ll probably drive people crazy with her crap.