The Quiet on the Campus

Did you know my kids were treated at a magical location hiding in place sight?

Wide Awake But Dreaming

The fight in Kansas City is over, and it’s time for some rest and reflection.  This scene–the first of only two in Chapter Thirty-Eight–is a big change of pace from what’s happened before.  One, no one is watching someone else, running all over town, and trying to puzzle out mysteries.  And two–they’re not in Kansas City any more, Dorothy.

Time to see what happened, right?  After all, it’s time to wind down a bit and reflect . . .

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

Erywin sat back and looked up and enjoyed the feel of the sun on her face. Compared to Kansas City, it was much nicer here—brighter and warmer. And from her position on the bench she could turn to her right and look out over the small lake just below this quite…

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Education of a Chemical Kind

And there was that time, three years ago, one of my favorite witch instructors explained how to cook magical meth. Didn’t get that at Hogwarts, did you?

Wide Awake But Dreaming

Here we are, early morning, and it’s time to write.  I wrote last night–worked my way through writing–and I am sitting close to the ninety thousand mark I thought I’d make before the end of the year.

Last night was research night.  I had a few things the my current instructor, Erywin, needed to know in order to say them to someone in her class who was going to ask her–as eleven year olds often do–a stupid question.  What was I looking for?  Chemical processes.  What was the question?  Here, take a look:

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

Erywin turned her back on the front row. “Do you kiddies have any questions for me?” There was one she expected to occur sometime today, and she felt it we best to get it out of the way as quickly as…

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The Future Epiphany

This is probably the best scene I’ll likely never write.

Wide Awake But Dreaming

Readers of this blog know that I like to listen to music.  Not so much the music that is pandered about these days, but rather the music of my youth—which is to say, strange music.  I was into a lot of things from the late 1960’s to the early 1980’s, but for a while, in the middle there, I was heavily into progressive rock.

One of the groups I listened to quite a lot was Genesis.  Foxtrot was the first album of note that I remember (because it was played on the radio), but I remember having Selling England By the Pound, and then on to Wind and Wuthering and Seconds Out, skipping The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and A Trick of the Tail.  After the various breakups I also bought And Then There Were Three . . . and Duke

And it’s last that…

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Arts and Music: Seeing and Hearing

Here we are at the penultimate day of the year, and as of this moment I’m about twenty-seven hundred words from one hundred thousand.  Getting that amount in the next two days is doable, so I’m gonna have to get with it if I want to hit my mark.

Now, I’m about to get technical–yeah, I know, some of you don’t like that.  You want magic and morte spells and kissing and possible love triangles, but given that one of my characters is an esteem nerd of the highest caliber and can chat the lingo when needed, there are times when the story is gonna get down with the techspeak.  And this is one of those times.

So hang on…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie and Kerry followed the professor the short distance down the corridor to the famous Keyboard Room, were nearly all of the schools usable keyboards were kept. Matthias headed inside and headed down one of the aisles, finally stopping before group of instruments that looked nearly brand-new. “At the end of the last school year I put in orders for some of the newest equipment from both Korg and Roland. These came in at the beginning of August.”

He lay his hand across one of them matte black keyboards. “This is a Korg KROME workstation. I managed to pick up five of these: one 88 key version and two each of the 73 and 61 key versions. It has a very nice action, lots of processing power, and you can use the MIDI function to upload and download sounds as you need them.” He turned to Kerry. “For your performance what do you want to use and how?”

Kerry had his answer ready to go. “I want to use two keyboards. I’ll use the bottom one as a piano/synthesizer and the top one as an organ/synthesizer.” He looked at Annie and smiled. “Really simple set up, you know?”

Annie was half laughing as she turned toward Matthias. “I’ve heard about this several times, including once when we were in Paris.”

“He interrupted your time while you were alone with this?” Matthias shook his head. “He must be serious, then.” He ran his fingers over the KROME workstation. “This is a good machine, but it’s not quite the top-of-the-line. However, I would suggest using the 73 key version as your organ/synthesizer: it would be perfect in that role.”

Kerry appeared satisfied. “That works for me. So what do I use for the piano?”

Matthias took three steps to the right and touched another matte black keyboard with wood finish on the sides. “This: the Korg KRONOS. This is the successor to the OASYS and improves have upon that workstation significantly. This is basically everything that Korg wanted to do with the OASYS that they couldn’t because they lacked the technology at the time.

“This is DAW ready, has MIDI inputs and outputs, and allows you to select a nine different engines, including three analog modelers and one of the best piano engines in electronic keyboards today.” Matthias activated the machine and began pressing icons as soon as the display panel was active. “How’s your playing?”

 

This section above is the result of about two weeks of off-and-on research trying to not only figure out what sort of systems would be profiled for Kerry’s pleasure, but what all this stuff means.  I mean, I went through different sites and watched videos, and once I’d figured out what I wanted to see, I had to check if they were actually available in the fall of 2013.  All for about four hundred words within the story.  Believe me when I say I care to get things right, kiddies.

Now, what does all that stuff mean?  Let’s go through it:

Keyboard Workstation is a particular kind of keyboard with the processing power to allow you to take pre-generated sounds and modify them, usually as MIDI files, for later playback.  You can even used a keyboard workstation to layer different digital samples together for a combination of sounds that are later used either in a recording or a live performance.

Kerry is using two workstations.  The first is the 73 key Korg KROME, which is a nice system that is affordable (about $1,000) to anyone serious about performing.

At least Kerry is getting his keyboard for free.

At least Kerry is getting his keyboard for free.

There is actually another Korg keyboard similar to the KROME called the KROSS, which is considered a more mobile system (that means it’s lighter) good for live performances.  Start doing your research and you discover there are a lot of “KROME verses KROSS” discussions out there, and while they don’t usually get too heated, you quickly see this becoming the “Star Trek/Star Wars” debate for the keyboard players.

As for his main keyboard, Kerry’s going with the 88 key Korg KRONOS:

A lot of keyboard sweetness right here.

A lot of keyboard sweetness right here.

This is considered one of the top workstations today, the successor–as pointed out by Professor Ellison–to the Korg OASYS (pronounced “Oasis”, because if you sound out the acronym it’s O-A-SYS.  OASYS actually stands for Open Architecture SYnthesis Studio), which showed up in the mid-2000s and was replaced after four years due to advances in technology.  The reality is the KRONOS is what Korg wanted the OASYS to be, but they didn’t have all the needed technology until about eight years later.  It’s more expensive (about $3,500) but a lot more powerful than the KROME, and has one of the best piano engines in the world.  And “engine” is something I’ll touch on below…

Action is how the keys feel.  The KRONOS feels like you’re playing an actual piano due to the weighted keys, while the KROME feels a bit more like playing an organ, and this is the main reason for Professor Ellison’s suggestion on setup and usage.

Daw is Digital Audio Workstation, which is the standard for recording these days.  It’s often a computer tied into a keyboard workstation upon which composing is done and downloaded as a digital file.  There are a whole lot of programs out there, some of which are open-source designed to run on any computer, which means just about anyone can begin composing and recording anywhere.

Engines are the keyboard’s built-in software used to process the sound samples and allow them to be reproduced when the keys are pressed–or as we’d say in the business, “triggering an effect”.  (Least you get too confused, triggering an effect means that when you press a key something happens.  In a work processing program on a laptop computer, pressing the key marked “C” makes the character c, while pressing the middle-C key on the KRONOS produced a middle-C sound as sampled.  Both are examples of triggering an effect.)  One of the KRONOS engines allows you to emulate just about any kind of piano in the world, and since the keyboard is a workstation you can change those sounds up however you like.

Analog Modeling is used in some of those engines:  that’s a fancy way of saying you can take a clean, digital sample and run it through various filters to make it sounds like a warm and fuzzy analog synthesizer sound.

And yesterday Kerry said something about Splitting the Keyboard, which is something you can do on both these machines.  The software in the keyboard can segment the keyboard so you can play one set of sounds with your left hand while playing something else with the right, or so something like add cellos to your lower register keys while you play piano with both hands.  If you watch video of Roger Hodgson, formerly of Supertramp, playing the opening bars to Hide in Your Shell, you’ll see a good example of splitting the keyboard, as he plays a combo piano/electric piano sound with his left hand while playing a combo organ/synthesizer sound with his right.

So now that I’ve gotten ALL THAT out of the way, it appears Kerry is interested.  The question is:  does he feel like giving the keyboards a spin right now?

 

Kerry made a back and forth motion with his right hand. “I suspect I’m rusty. I didn’t feel like playing a lot over the summer.”

Matthias glanced at him. “I think that’s gonna change as soon as you play this.” He stepped away from the keyboard. “Give it a go.”

Kerry gave Annie’s hand a squeeze and then stepped up in front of the workstation. He surveyed the control panel before seeing that the display was set for piano. He ran through the intro of his A Level performance, Lovers in Japan. He not only felt how the keyboard reacted much like the P255, but that it had an even richer sound than that piano. He stopped after close to a minute of effortless playing. “Wow. This is incredible.”

Annie moved up alongside. “You should have seen your face.”

He slowly turned toward her. “What do you mean?”

“You looked fabulously pleased while you played. It was like seeing you back on stage for a moment, though you seemed far more satisfied with what you were doing this time.”

“That is certainly true.” Matthias stood just beyond the the right edge of the KRONOS. “Care to satisfy my curiosity?”

Kerry stepped back away from the workstation stood alongside Annie while facing Matthias. “What do you have in mind, Professor?”

“I want see how rusty you actually are.” He nodded toward the keyboard. “Play the intro to Firth of Fifth. I know you practiced it last year because you told me.”

Kerry’s eyebrows shot upward for second. “Yeah, but I haven’t played it since then. That’s been over a year.”

“It’s not like I’m asking you to play it at 9/8 tempo.” The instructor chuckled. “Come on, dude. You know you want to give it a shot.”

 

All I can say is you gotta love it when one of your instructors calls you “dude”.

 

“I…”

Kerry was about to hesitate again when Annie whispered in his ear. “I would like to hear you play.”

He touched the left side of his forehead to her right forehead and spoke in a low voice. “That’s what you said to me the first time we came here.”

“And you were hesitating then about playing Ostara.” Annie twisted her head around so she could see his eyes. “Professor Ellison is right: you want to do it and you know you can do it.”

Annie stepped back as Kerry turned to face the keyboard. She said nothing, for she didn’t want to do anything that would affect his concentration. Like Professor Ellison she waited for Kerry to remove the doubt from his mind and play.

She watched as he let his hands hover over the keys. She noticed the imperceptible motion of his fingers and knew what was happening based upon the few times she’d sat in on a few of his rehearsals: he was imagining playing the first few notes and his hands were reacting appropriately.

He started playing without saying a word. His fingers touched the keys and music emanated from unseen speakers. Annie wasn’t watching his hands, however: she was watching his face. Whenever he wasn’t certain that what he was going to play was note perfect the tension was reflected through a series of facial tics, frowns, and grimaces. But when he knew the piece he was performing, his face grew relaxed and his hands danced over the instrument.

Right now his fingers dance with great freedom. If Annie had been unaware of Kerry’s statement, she would’ve assumed he’d last performed this piece the day before.

A little over a minute later he slowed the tempo, touched the last few keys, and removed his hands from the keyboard. He took a step back from the instrument and glanced toward Annie. “How was that?”

A smile slowly formed upon her face. “I’m not that familiar with the piece, but it sounded perfect to me.”

“It was perfect.” Matthias stepped up to Kerry and patted him on the shoulder. “Pretty impressive for someone who hasn’t played that piece in over a year.”

 

As for more research, I looked around to see if there was any video of someone performing the same opening.  Fact:  there are a lot of videos of people playing the intro to Firth of Fifth ’cause it’s a good piece to show off your chops, and people love to show those chops.  It only took viewing about a dozen videos before I found this one, which the person in question performed on a Yamaha Clavinova CVP 301 electronic piano, first built in 2004.  Though one person says there’s a small mistake in this performance I’m damned if I can hear it, so I say this is about a perfect as you’re gonna hear it without going to the original recording.

In short, this is pretty much how Kerry would have played that day in the Keyboard Room:

It looks like Kerry has everything he needs–however, there may be just a bit of a problem…

In the Link

Two years ago my fictional kids found themselves in the fight of their lives…

Wide Awake But Dreaming

I have written a lot these last couple of days, completing just a minute or two ago the longest scene I’ve done in some time.  How much?  This much.

1107 12/27 night

842 12/28 morning

1501 12/28 evening

555 12/29 morning

That’s a lot of words to get out, but then there were a lot of things going–namely, trying to stay alive as Erywin and the kids make their way to safety.

All they gotta do is enter the stairway on the left and walk. All they gotta do is enter the stairway on the left and walk.

But is it going to be that simple?  Nope.  Never is.

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

Erywin did her best not to look nervous or tight. She only glanced at Kerry a couple of times during the forty meter stroll to the entrance to The Link. There were actually two, and the second one was…

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‘Vikings’ Season 4 Part 2: Episode 15 Recap, “All His Angels”

Yep: shit got real. So did snakes.

The Snarking Dead TV Recaps

History's 'Vikings,' Season 4, Part 2, Episode 15, Ragnar Lothbrok in a cage [Image via Jonathan Hession/History] Shit got real in Episode 15 of Vikings. Like so real. So goddamned real that it hurts.

Here’s what went down in Episode 15 (entitled “All His Angels”) of Season 4 of History’s Vikings.

That Shitty Place Where King Aelle Lives(Otherwise Known as England)

Basically, the entirety of Episode 16 occurs in England and revolves around Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) and his little chat with King Ecbert (Linus Roache). Ragnar still has a death wish and Ecbert has agreed to hand him over to King Aelle (Ivan Kaye). Before this happens though, Ecbert lets Ragnar have one final visit with his son, Ivar (Alex Hogh). Because everyone thinks Ivar is nothing more than a cripple and Ragnar would never, ever have anything up his sleeve. Well, fuck you Ecbert and that fat cow, Aelle, you rode in on. Ragnar certainly does tell Ivar that…

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Arts and Music: The Personal Evaluations

While I managed to cross the ninety-six thousand word line last night, I didn’t come near thousand words as I wanted.  Probably because when I got home around five I sat down and watched the last movie in the Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest.  So there was three hours spent camped out in front of the TV right there.  No complaints, though: you need that time to sit and recharge the batteries, and to get your mind and write creative space.

Will I write three thousand, seven hundred words by midnight on Saturday?  Doubtful.  But I will cross the hundred thousand word mark by at least 1 January, because I don’t intend on going out and getting stinking drunk on New Year’s Eve like I did last year.  So crossing that line will be a good way to celebrate the coming of what I feel is going to be a year just as shitty as 2016.

And as I pointed out to others, on New Year’s Eve instead of playing Auld Lang Syne, we’re gonna play The Rains of Castamere:

This is a perfect image of 2016--

This is a perfect depiction of 2016, and I’m sure I’m not the one holding the knife.

On to happier news now.  When Kerry goes off to visit Professor Ellison on the first day back to school, it’s often with Ostara in mind.  That’s what happened the first time Annie and Kerry visited, and it was implied that they discussed music selections when they visited during their B Levels.  And it’s true he’s there to discuss what he wants to do during this year’s performance–please also doing a bit of a postmortem on what happened last year…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“First, I want to scale back my next performance. Instead of doing one long, complicated song, I’d rather do two or, if you let me, three songs instead.”

“Any particular reason why?”

Kerry nodded. “Burning Rope was a complicated piece and I feel I may have gotten a little over my head. I pushed myself with an ambitious piece—” For just a moment he looked a bit chagrined. “And it almost got away from me. I feel like I need to step back a little and do a change of pace this year so I can push myself again the following year.”

Mathias said nothing for a few seconds: when he did speak there was a semblance of pride in his tone. “Again, spoken like a true artist. We are often our own worst critics, but if we can put that ego aside and look at those points where we know we were skirting with danger, it helps us grow that much more as an artist.

“I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to stifle your confidence, but I had my doubts you could actually pull that performance all. It wasn’t that I thought you wouldn’t play well; it was more that I was worried you were going to convince yourself you couldn’t do piece correctly. And when you go into a performance like that with any sort of doubt, the results can sometimes be disastrous.

“It was a good performance: maybe not the best you could’ve done, but still a hell of a lot better than what most people were doing. But from where I was sitting I could see that look in your eyes on a couple of occasions where you were wondering, ‘What the hell have I gotten myself into?’ The fact you got through it with nary a bobble is another sign of true artists: keep pushing on no matter what.”

Matthias stood and circled around to the edge of his desk. “As a C Level you have an option on three songs, though as you know you have to keep them relatively short. If you’re looking at doing something a little simpler, three songs isn’t a problem.”

Kerry smiled, appearing relieved. “Thank you, Professor.”

“You’re welcome. And as I’m sure you’re going to discover, Nadine is also doing three songs. So you guys will be able to rehearse together again.” He took a couple of paces away from his desk. “Since you indicated a first thing you want to discuss, I gather there’s a second?”

 

In the B Level novel Kerry shared his concerns with Annie that perhaps the song he played shouldn’t have been the song he played, and he felt as if he’d taken on too much too soon.  Were finally hearing that Professor Ellison agrees with that summation, but that he’s also happy to hear that Kerry learned from the experience and wants to scale things back just a little this next time around.  Someone might say, “Well, performing three songs isn’t actually scaling back,” but Kerry will have an option of playing three, which means he can only play two if he wants.  Sure, two five minute songs is still ten minutes of performing, but at least you break up the action a bit.

Now to Kerry’s done with his postmortem–and this time around he didn’t beat himself up too bad–he gets to the second part of why he’s there.  Beyond the, “I want to talk about what I want to play this year,” stuff:

 

“There is.” Kerry stretched his shoulders before letting them drop to his sides. “For the performances this year I’d like to work with keyboard workstations.”

This caused Matthias to return to the front of his desk where he once more against the edge. “That’s interesting to hear. But why the sudden interest in working with that sort of equipment?”

Kerry ran his right hand through his hair a couple of times. “Last year it was really cool to get to use all that different equipment. I mean, playing Tony’s ARP was tremendous, and I got to use a mellotron which was cool, but the more I thought about it over the summer the more I realize that stuff is all part of the past.” He gave a quick shrug. “If I’m gonna play in modern times, I need to know how to use modern equipment.”

Matthias returned rubbing his chin. “Hence using a workstation.”

“Yeah. I did some research over the summer and saw what you can do with the new workstations. I want to learn how to create and modify MIDI files; I want to use one with DAW software; most of all I want to be able to do things like split the keyboard and switch between engines and use customized play lists. And you’re only going to be able to do that with a modern keyboard workstation.”

For a few seconds Matthias regarded Kerry. “You know what Tony thought about new equipment, don’t you?”

Kerry was well aware what Tony Banks thought on that subject. “He said he always tried to work with the newest technology and he didn’t look back on the old stuff with any sort of nostalgia.”

“Pretty much. He certainly liked working with digital samples more than he liked working with stretching tapes and overheated electronics.” He stood up once more began heading toward the door, waving it open as he turned towards his guests. “Come on, I want to show you both something.”

 

Ah, keyboard workstations, something I spent a good two weeks researching just so I could get a thousand good words on the matter.  (Trust me, it’s usually like that…)  Kerry got to play with a bit of history during his B Level Ostara performance, but he also got a taste of the present when he used an Akai keyboard controller to play MIDI files so his keyboard sounded like an organ.  So now he wants to move up to creating those files and working with Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) and splitting that keyboard so he can pretty much play two different things at the same time.

You know, just like real musicians do.

Which means we keep to see what sort of goodies Professor Ellison has stashed away in the Keyboard room–

Arts and Music: The Necessary Introductions

It was on to a new chapter in the new scene last night, but only after I watched Part Two of the Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire.  I’ve been meaning to watch the whole trilogy for a while, and since it is leaving Netflix in a couple of weeks, I figured I could spend some of my time after getting home from work getting through each of the three films.  And once I’m through the films, it’s time to get to writing.

So tonight I watched the last film, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest, then do another thousand words or so in the new scene–which, by the way, has Annie and Kerry out meeting Helena and Erywin at the Witch House; you can probably figure out what’s happening there.  And after that scene is done, it’s time to have the first new class with the instructor being profiled today.

We haven’t actually seen much of Matthias Ellison.  Sure, he hosts the Ostara performances Annie teaches art and music, but it is a bit more than that.  Not only did he get Kerry’s musical interests going, but during the Day of the Dead attacks we aw that he was one of the headmistress’ seconds in command, the other being Deanna.  Those are two unusual individuals to have getting ready to step in and take over the school if you’re killed, but there must be obvious reasons why both these people have that position.

Let’s hope we never get a chance to see them in action.

We ended up at Deanna yesterday and today we go over to Matthias’ office.  There’s a couple of different reasons why the kids go to see on the first day back from school, and today they’ve added another reason:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Matthias Ellison jaunted back to his office in the Auditorium precisely at thirteen hours after eating lunch with the headmistress, the staff, and the instructors of Salem in the Main Conference Room located directly across from the headmistress’s office. He was eager to get back to his office because he felt it wouldn’t be long before he was visited—not that he hadn’t been visited today. Several students, mostly new C Levels would have him for the first time, stop by to say hello and get acquainted.

But there were two students in particular Matthias was waiting to greet…

At a quarter past the hour he heard a dual pair footsteps approaching and figured that the visitors you been expecting all morning were now arriving. The moment they were framed in his doorway he stood to greet them. “Ah, there you are.”

Annie placed her hands upon her hips and smiled. “Were you really waiting for us, Professor?”

“Of course. You’ve stopped by on this day the last two years, so why wouldn’t I expect you to swing by today?” He came from around his desk and motioned Annie and Kerry towards seats. “How you doing, Kerry? Have a good summer?”

By now Kerry was used to having instructors asking him about his summer. He’d also gotten used to giving the same answer… “It could’ve been better. Things didn’t quite turn as they should.”

Matthias didn’t wish to dwell on the matter. He saw the look on Kerry’s face before he gave his answer and knew that whatever happened over the last three months, it rather pained the boy. “Well then, let’s talk about the present and the future. Are you both excited to be in my class this year?”

 

This is the year all the C Levels get to try their hand at drawing and painting.  And when we get to the scene of the first day in Professor Ellison’s class–and it is actually the next scene I’ll work on once I’m done with the current scene I’m in–one will get a chance to see just how passionate he is about art and role it plays in society.

Matthias is also somewhat empathetic to his students, and those who were about to be his students.  He realized Kerry didn’t have a good summer just from the way the boy acted: probably the professors’ ability to pick up on the feelings of a person before transferring them to the canvas.  And when the day half over Kerry is a little tired of being asked about his summer holiday–which we all know by now wasn’t

''How do I tell Mom that sharing a hotel room in different cites and killed bad guys ever so often is normal witch friends stuff?"

”Do you have to keep asking about my summer?  Couldn’t you just ask if I had any new hobbies, like mugging people using magic?”

But we quickly learn that carries a little nervous about this new class as well.  How do we know?  Because, someone tells us so:

 

“I’m extremely excited.” Annie reached over and patted Kerry’s hand. “Mi edin i samo lyubov, however—I think he’s a little nervous.”

Kerry gave a nervous shrug. “I’m not a very good artist.”

Matthias leaned against his desk. “Should I take that to mean you’re afraid you’re gonna suck? Because you already know my opinion about artists who suck.”

Kerry looked off into a corner of the room for a second while he chuckled. “At least they took their shot, right?”

“The ones who never suck are the ones who never try.” Matthias folded his hands in front of him and grew relaxed. “I’m not going to expect anyone to finish up the year with this amazing artistic ability that came from out of nowhere: it’s a skill that one needs to develop and that takes time. What I will do, however, is try and pull that ability out of you so that you can develop it properly.” He shrugged. “That’s all I intend to do: what you intend to do with what you discover is your business.”

After a moment’s thought Kerry stopped fidgeting and sat back in his chair, forcing himself to relax. “I know, Professor. Just that—”

“You want to do well. I daresay you want to be as good as this young lady sitting to your left.” Matthias turned his attention to Annie. “I do hope this introductory class doesn’t bore you, however. You’ve already shown exceptional talent in this area.”

Annie shook her head as if to dismiss his worries. “I’m a self-taught student, Professor, which means there’s always new things to learn. Even though I’m a fairly good sketch artist and painter, there’s a great deal of room for improvement.”

Matthias clapped his hands together and rubbed his palms for several seconds. “Spoken like a true artist. With art we never stop learning; just when we think we’ve learned everything there is to know, something new comes along and we have to master that.”

Kerry suddenly seemed excited. “That’s kind of what I want to talk about, Professor.”

“Oh?” Matthias set his left arm across his torso and rested his right elbow against the hand so he can rub his chin. “And what is this thing you wish to discuss?”

After a couple of deep breaths Kerry was ready to speak. “I thought a lot about my last Ostara performance and while I’m happy with it, I don’t want to repeat that. There is a couple of things I want to do for next Ostara—”

Matthias continued rubbing his chin. “Go on.”

 

We see that with like a few other things, Annie is self-taught were art is concerned.  We know she learned to draw the early age because she’s told us so: she’s mentioned that over the years her sketches in her wedding book have improved over the first one she did.  And given that she is shown over the last two years that her drawing and painting is fairly competent, it’s going to be interesting to see what she does when she has an opportunity to learn from someone who knows what they’re doing.

Kerry is nervous about art, but he’s eager to try. He is stated before on numerous occasions that he would love to know how to draw: now he is going to get his chance.  But the thing this scene does is set up something else that has Kerry’s interest, and from here on out a lot of this scene revolves around him.  And given how his relationship with Professor Ellison originally developed, probably not difficult to see where I’m going…

C Level Seeing: What to Do About the Future?

The big event of this weekend was finishing Chapter Seven last night.  It came quickly and easily even though the last scene of the chapter required quite a bit of research to get right.  In fact, the scene before that also took a bit of research to get right, but it was a different kind of research.

Anyway, Chapter Seven is in the bin and I’ll start on Chapter Eight tonight.

It's right there all nice and neat just waiting for me.

It’s right there all nice and neat just waiting for me.

Given that I ended the chapter, it’s a good time to end the current scene, which means I’m about to dump a big excerpt.  It’s okay, because there are two full scenes remaining in Chapter Seven for me to excerpt before I get to the next chapter which I’ll start working on tonight.  That means you’re going to get to see the entire conclusion of what’s happening with Deanna, Annie, and Kerry.

Yesterday we discovered Annie had, at some point in the future, got her nose pierced–and it seems her partner-in-crime did the same.  Well, at least one part of “him” did…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Now it was Kerry’s turn to be surprised. “Wait, what? I had a nose piercing?”

“Yes, here.” Annie touched the left side of her nose. “I saw it when we were in the bedroom. I don’t know what color was, but it was dark. Given the lighting conditions—” She shrugged. “I’m guessing it was an emerald.”

“So you had your birthstone as well.” Deanna rubbed her chin. “Interesting.”

Annie wasn’t done with what she saw in the vision. “Kerry also had dual piercings in her ears.”

“For real?” Kerry didn’t even question the fact that Annie had referred to him using a feminine pronoun. “You sure they were pierced?”

Annie nodded. “Two small hoops going through your earlobes. There was no possibility they were clip-ons.”

“Wow.” He shook his head. “At least we’re twinsies.”

“In what way?”

“You had twin piercings as well. Only yours were a small hoop in the front and a diamond stud in the back.”

“Really.”

“Yeah.”

Deanna allowed a few moments of silence to pass between the couple before she spoke. “Whenever this happened, it’s obvious it’s at a time where Kerry has grown accustomed to his female half—” The seer turned toward Annie. “So much so that he doesn’t mind mimicking the same adornments as you.”

“It seems likely.” Annie was still hung up on the time frame of the vision. “But he didn’t have a nose piercing in our wedding night vision. So—”

“It means nothing. Do you seriously believe that in the next five years neither one of you will become confident enough with transformation magic that you couldn’t hide something as simple as a nose piercing? I tend to believe that less than anything else I’m hearing.”

Kerry grunted softly before letting out a low laugh. “I’m still trying to believe I’d actually have pierced ears.”

Annie and Deanna chuckled together with Annie responding to the comment. “Girls usually have their ears pierced by the time they’re teenagers. I had mine done when I was eight. In your case you’re starting a little late.”

Kerry wrapped his arms around his chest. “Probably. That isn’t any stranger than the idea they’d let us wear earrings for something like that.”

Deanna caught the slight nod from Annie and felt it necessary to inquire. “What do you mean, Kerry? Who would let you wear earrings?”

 

Not only is Kerry out as a girl with this special girl, but by this time she’s comfortable enough to get her ears pierced and mimic Annie with a little nose bob of her own.  Annie’s comments about Kerry catching up to her by getting her ears pierced late due to–let’s say “circumstances”–may give one reason to believe that she’ll likely push to get that done as soon as Kerry becomes used to walking around in the new body.  Or not.  But you have to imagine that Annie will play an important part in getting Kerry acclimated to all the girl stuff she’ll need to know.

Now the question was left hanging as to “who” let them hang on to their jewelry in this vision, and there is an answer:

 

Once more Annie stepped in and answered the question as she glanced at Kerry. “The Guardians.”

He rocked slightly with his arms still wrapped around him. “Wherever we were, we weren’t there because we wanted to be there.”

Annie looked at Deanna. “We were there on a field operation. I couldn’t tell you where we were or why we were there, but it definitely felt as if we were working for The Guardians.”

Deanna sat quietly as she gathering her thoughts. “You’re positive of this, both of you?”

Both answered in unison. “Yes.”

The instructor squared his shoulders. “It’s always possible—”

“Shouldn’t we tell them?”

Of the two Deanna suspected that Annie would be the one to ask this question. “You can’t do that, Annie.”

Kerry released the hold on his chest but began fidgeting. “You can’t just do nothing about this.”

“That is exactly what you going to do about this.” Deanna responded with a bit of an edge in her voice. “Kerry, you’ve read all these books on sight and vision–and you’re aware of this as well, Annie. You can go send off a message to The Guardians telling them you suspect something’s going to happen in the future that’s going to require your presence. In a sense you’re trying to set up the outcome of the vision—”

“But I feel we should say something.” Though she wasn’t fidgeting like her boyfriend, it wasn’t difficult to mistake the agitation in Annie’s eyes. “We can’t just let this go.”

“And were not going to let it go. In a situation like this I’ll send the information off to the Prognosticators Division and let them figure it out. That standard procedure.” Deanna pointed a warning finger at both children. “But you are to do nothing. You don’t tell Helena about this, you don’t and try contacting San Francisco on your own—and you do not try to analyze this vision in an attempt to somehow prepare yourself for what you think may be coming.”

Kerry finally glanced up at Deanna. “But—”

The seer shook her head. “No but, Kerry.”

Annie’s jaw tightened. “Still, though—”

For the first time in the three years of having these meetings the smile vanished from Deanna space and her voice rose slightly. “And no still, either.” She closed her eyes and calmed herself. “I know you want to do the right thing, but saying and doing nothing is the right thing. This is one of the things were going to learn in class, and it’s one of the hardest lessons we learn, that by trying to affect the outcome of a vision we may make it happen—and it’s possible it could even have more disastrous results.” The smile returned to Deanna’s face. “Please, you have to trust me.”

Annie and Kerry exchanged looks before Annie finally nodded. “You are the expert in this matter, so we will defer to your knowledge and your wishes.”

Deanna immediately picked up on Kerry’s hesitancy to agree with Annie. “Kerry?”

He finally nodded. “I agree with Annie: I defer to your knowledge.” He glanced at Annie once more. “However—”

Deanna fought hard not to sigh. “Yes?”

“Would it hurt if I just kinda do some research on this?”

“We won’t say anything.” Annie brushed a few strands of hair away from her face. “But would we compromise the vision if we were to at least get an idea where we were?”

Deanna glanced back and forth between her soon-to-be students for a couple of seconds before giving her answer. “Astamae li.”

The moment the Arabic phrase was said Annie’s and Kerry’s eyes closed as they both slumped slightly. Deanna waited nearly ten seconds before being certain they weren’t about to come out of their trance. She gripped her hands together in her lap and looked towards the floor, deep in contemplation. I didn’t want to do this, but it was necessary. They would understand if I told them everything I knew, but if I did that would I be invalidating the other visions? I can’t take that chance.

She looked up with cold determination in her eyes. “When the time is right you’ll remember this moment. I hope, when that happens, you’ll find it in your hearts to forgive me…”

 

Okay…  several things here:

The kids have been around long enough to figure out that what they’re “seeing” is a Guardian Field Op, and if it is it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.  All we know is that it seems to be in a somewhat urban area, it’s cold, it’s dark, and there aren’t a lot of people around.  Should be interesting.

Now we know of the Prognosticators Division where all visions go, or at least it’s something of a given that Deanna sends some their way.  Which makes you wonder if those other visions Annie and Kerry have had ended up with them as well.  And where are they located?  Not telling.

There there’s that last thing that Deanna did–and what exactly did she do?  Obviously she put the kids into a trance so she can–what?  Futz with their memories of this vision?  Probably.  Has she done this before?  I’m not telling.  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Now that all the seeing is out of the way, it’s time to move on to another instructor the kids are gonna have for the first time–and a bit of technogeek talk.

C Level Seeing: Seeing the Future of the Future

Happy Boxing Day to everyone.  Today’s the day you’re supposed to hand out presents to people like mail carriers and your in-house servants, so if you have either of those few best get on it.  Since I don’t have either I don’t need to worry too much, though an in-house servant would be nice from time to time.  But I can always dream.

This is probably been one of the busiest Christmas holidays I’ve ever been in.  I started Friday I staying up twenty-three hours straight, then went out Christmas Eve evening for a party.

I even have evidence that I wasn't home.

I even have evidence that I wasn’t home.

What was unusual about the Christmas Eve party was that I appeared to be the one person who wasn’t part of the close gathering of friends, which was kind of cool in a way.  I should also point out that the host of the party–well, the husband of the husband/wife through the party–had one whole room of nothing but Funko! Pop figurines:

The Game of Throne collection.

The Game of Throne collection.

 

And this one was In My Eyes.

And this one was In My Eyes.

It was quite a time but I had to bail at 11 PM due to exhaustion and anxiety.  Still, a great time was had.

Then yesterday I was out for Christmas, invited over by the manager of one of the restaurants I frequent.  He prepared a small spread for a small group of us and made sure we had wine.

And a nice tree.

And a nice tree.

Oh, plenty of wine.

Third glass here.

Third glass here.

And Ava got dressed up for the occasion wearing a flouncy skirt because it’s not something I can actually wear to work:

All dressed up and with presents!

All dressed up and with presents!

That’s been my weekend.  And I hope yours has been just as good.  But now, how are my kids doing?

It was Saturday that I published the vision Annie and Kerry had, and if you haven’t read it I would do so by clicking on this link before you get into the excerpt below.  I don’t often do that, but in this case I think it’s important.  And it will become obvious once you read the first few lines at the start of this excerpt–

Which begins now:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

He was once more evasive for a few seconds. “I was looking across a room and…” He spent a moment wetting his lips. “There was a mirror.”

Annie touched his hand and gave it a squeeze. “He—”

Let me say it.” He finally looked up and made eye contact with Deanna. “I saw myself, but…” He glanced off to the right before regaining eye contact. “It wasn’t actually me. It was her.”

“Really.” Deanna turned to Annie. “You saw, um, him that way?”

“I saw her that way.” Annie turned to Kerry. “I knew before I even looked at you or heard you speak. It was as if I could feel it in my mind the whole time.”

Deanna knew she couldn’t ask the correct answers if she didn’t know what questions to ask. “Tell me everything that happened: don’t leave out any details.”

Annie and Kerry spent about five minutes describing everything they saw, heard, and felt. Once they had given their observations Deanna knew where to begin with her probing. “Kerry, did anything feel out of the norm for you? Concerning the dreams you were having last year, you said the first few times her and you swapped you felt somewhat disoriented, but that went away.” She gripped her hands together in her lap as she leaned a slight bit forward. “Was there any disorientation, or wasn’t that present?”

Kerry gave his head a slight shake. “Everything felt normal, like I was born in that that body. I didn’t ever notice anything strange about me.”

Annie tilted her head to one side. “So you didn’t even notice it when you brushed your hair back?”

He seemed confused. “I did?”

“Yes, when you pushed back your hood. Right after that the first thing you did was push her hair back so wasn’t creeping into your face.”

“I never noticed it.”

“You wouldn’t have noticed it if it was a reflexive action.” Deanna ran a finger over her right cheek. “Hum. If it didn’t cause you to question what you were doing, that would mean you had been a girl long enough not to notice.” Her eyes shifted from Kerry to Annie. “Do you have any feel for when this may have happened?”

 

Again it’s another shared vision between Annie and Kerry, but as we discover Kerry wasn’t quite “himself”.  Yes, Kerry’s running around someplace cold and dark as Girl Kerry, and it’s happening at a point in the future where not only doesn’t he feel there’s anything strange about being like her, but Annie seems completely unconcerned about it as well.

Based on some of the actions which occurred, it leads Annie and Deanna to think that Kerry had become acclimated to his female side.  Although this leads to some while guessing about the exact when–

 

Both children shrugged before Annie answered. “I didn’t feel that old.”

Kerry let out a loud sigh. “I think it was before we were married.”

Both Deanna and Annie was staring at him, with Annie asking the important question. “How can you be certain?”

“When we had a vision last year, we were able to tell we were a bit older than we are now, but this time it didn’t feel like we were a lot older.” He shrugged. “To me it felt like I was just a few years older. Also…” Kerry chuckled as he looked at Annie. “You had a nose piercing.”

What?” Annie’s eyes grew wide with surprise. “I did?”

“Yeah.” He touched the right side of her nose. “Right there.”

Deanna gave an almost imperceptible shrugged. “Just because she had a nose piercing doesn’t mean it happen before your wedding.”

“I know, but…”  Kerry glanced down and sighed. “She had it when I had the vision of our wedding night.”

Annie almost recoiled. “You never mentioned that.”

“I figured it wasn’t important. Besides, I didn’t want to say anything: I was afraid if I did you might not do it.” He glanced at Deanna. “Not every vision comes true, right?”

Deanna nodded. “That’s true.”

Annie was more interested in this new development. “What color was it?”

A faint smile played on Kerry’s face. “It was a sapphire.”

“My birthstone.” Annie glanced on the floor for second then chuckled. “That would explain your nose piercing.”

 

So now there is a couple of other bits of information.  One, Annie has a sapphire nose piercing–and Kerry reveals for the first time that it was something she had when they got married.  Kerry also seems convinced that the vision happened before they were married, though all that really appears to be is a feeling: Deanna and Annie are still not so sure, and the fact that Annie had gotten her nose piercing before they were married isn’t really compelling evidence that the vision happens before they were married.

And then comes the other news: Girl Kerry obviously has a nose piercing of her own!  Yeah, these kids are full of surprises–

With more of them coming tomorrow.

A Walk in the Park: The Magic Show

Two year ago tonight my kids were putting on a magic show…

Wide Awake But Dreaming

Happy whatever you are or aren’t celebrating today, for there are so many things that are and aren’t happening that it’s impossible to cover them all.  As I pointed out yesterday, Christmas Eve was once celebrated as Mōdraniht, which was a night when all the women got together and had a nice little fertility celebration for the coming year.  And today was considered part of the Wild Hunt, when Odin and the boys would go out and kill all the draugr that had collected during the year.  Draugr were undead, so yeah, it was a Walking Dead Holiday, and you needed to stay inside least you got mistaken for a Walker–which means Carl would totally have gotten smoked since Lori couldn’t keep him in the house . . .

But it’s April in my story, and in the last two days I’ve written just over two thousand words to finish up this current…

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