Behind Door Number Two

Believe it or not, I went in and finished up Chapter Two last night.

Three down, forty-one to go.

Three down, forty-one to go.

I didn’t intend to finish it last night, but once I was through with Kerry’s Evaluation I decided to jump into the final scene because it was short–at least compared to the others I edited–and it was was a good ending point be finish up the chapter.  Which I did.

Now, as I did with Annie’s I’m not showing any of Kerry’s E and A.  I shouldn’t say any, for as yesterday I offered an excerpt that revolved around a certain school adviser, I’m doing the same here.  And this particular passage is probably one of those in the book that give me a lot of emotional heartache:


(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)


His eyes snapped towards the adviser as she spoke. “It’s fine that you remember you time here, all the good times and even a few of the bad. It’s even okay to miss this place. But I want you to remember something else—”

“What’s that?”

“This chapter of your life is over; has been for some time. It was written, and now—” She pretended to kiss her fingers, then opened them as if she were releasing the kiss. “It finished and a new chapter came along.

“When The Foundation came for you last week, that started another chapter, with Annie and you in London and Amsterdam, and with the trip here. The moment you came through Founder’s Gate and walked in here, that chapter ended and this one started—and as soon as you walk out of here, this ends and another begins.” She smiled brightly, her eyes reflecting her pleasure. “And what happens then? You couldn’t guess in a thousand years.

“It’s okay to remember the past, but you can’t keep dwelling upon those old moments.” Her eyes softened as if they were now misting over. “You have to keep writing new chapters.”


When I wrote that the first time I cried.  When I edited it the first couple of times I cried.  And last night, while doing the revision, I had to stop and take a break because I was crying again.  The reason is simple:  there are chapters in my life that I’ve closed but not forgotten, and even though I do my best not to dwell on them, they hurt me again and again if I give them any thought.  In so many ways I’m just like Kerry:  a person who was damaged at an early age and who hung on to events that gave me the most happiness.  Unlike Kerry, I never had an Annie to help with those new chapters, so the happiness has been few and far between, making those old chapters even more precious.

And I’m crying again.  Time to move on–

The last scene of Chapter Two shows the aftermath of their E and As, and we get to see how well they handled their respective ordeals:


Isis turned the instant Annie emerged from her room.

She rushed over to her for Annie was pale and stood slightly bent at the waist, neither of which were good. Isis held her by the shoulders and moved her to a nearby chair before kneeling beside her. “Hey, hey—” She slowly lifted her chin, turning her face towards her. There was a slight sheen of sweat across Annie’s face and she was having trouble focusing. While it was obvious she wasn’t at her best, Isis had to ask the question. “How you doing, Annie?”

Her reply was not weak, but her voice was soft. “I’m fine.”

“Are you?”

She closed her eyes. “I’m just a little dizzy—” She folded her hands around her middle. “I don’t feel good.”

Isis had actually thought a few moments before that she was going to make it through the evening without having to take someone to the hospital, but that wouldn’t happen now.  “Okay, as soon as Kerry is out—”

Her words were interrupted by the slamming of the door behind her and Kerry’s sobbing. He pressed himself into the wall and fought to control the tears pouring from his eyes, managing several deep breaths in the process.

Isis leaned in close to Annie. “I want you to put your head between your knees and stay like that; I gotta check on Kerry.” She moved Annie into position without a word of complaint, then hurried to the boy. “Hey, hey—” She touched Kerry’s arm. “You okay, Kerry?”

He sniffed back tears and snot before taking a deep breath and blowing it out slowly. He wiped his face with the sleeve of his hoodie. “I’m okay.”

Isis felt him shaking, and his breath was still ragged. “You sure?”

“Yeah.” He nodded quickly, forcing himself into a steady composure. “Yeah, I’m okay. I’m okay now.”


Yes, Ms. Isis, we’re fine after being traumatized by your school “adviser”:  thanks loads!  Both kids had to dig deep and admit things they either didn’t want to, or were afraid to say, but hey, a special school has special admission requirements, and maybe sticking your kid in the hospital for the night is part of that price for a free education of the strangest type.  And it’s only going to get stranger from here on out.

But first, we have to meet another of this cast of characters . . . probably tomorrow.

Yeah, for sure tomorrow.

Behind Door Number One

First off, before I get started, I gotta do a little pumping of fists and a bit of boasting.  Over on the other blog to which I contribute, The Snarking Dead, the person who got me into the recapping game, Rachel, put up her recap for the season finale of Game of Thrones, The Winds of Winter, on Monday my time.  It started getting hits, slowly at first, before taking off like wildfire consuming a bunch of religious fanatics, and up to this point, about forty-eight hours later–well, here:


Numbers don't lie.

Numbers don’t lie.

Since that’s a bit hard to read unless you open it in a new window and enlarge, it’s 13,845 hits for that particular post.  So I tip the cap I’d wear if I could find one to fit my big head to my co-conspirator in snark, for that is remarkable, and the sort of numbers I’d love to have one day.  Just gotta keep snarking.

But not today.  Today we’re getting into Evaluations and Assessments.

Last night I got into editing Annie’s evaluation, and there was a bit of rewriting going on there, mostly because right now, two and a half years after writing the scenes, I have a better focus on what is going on there, and that allowed me to narrow it down to the basics.  Even so, sixty-eight words were added to the event, so nothing suffered.

What did happen was we got to see the facade that Annie keeps up for everyone at this point crack a little as a certain naughty person pushes her buttons like Annie were a game controller.  And shall I say it:  that particular “person” is rather nasty towards her.  She cuts Annie no slack, and gets her to admit things that she’s never said aloud to anyone.  Which is what evaluations and assessments are about:  pushing the kids to admit things that they don’t like to admit exist.

I’m not reposing the conversation, for as I was reminded yesterday some things should remain a mystery.  By Annie’s own words a year and a half later in her own time line, she say that she yelled at her “adviser”, and that’s for damn sure.  But then her adviser was a bit of a pain in the ass as well as being a massively haughty bitch.  All I’ll show is that, at one point, she tells Annie with whom she’s dealing, and she’s not the least bit modest about talking herself up:


(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

“Oh, please. Don’t try to tell me what’s right and wrong: I alone make those decisions.” She slipped closer to Annie, though she was never close enough for her to reach out and grab. “The Foundation has no control over me, and they know it. I am The Benefactor and Savior of Salem. I am The Protector of the Institution, and as such I do as I please.” She shook her head. “No, young lady, I am not bound by your rules, so don’t ever try to judge me using them.

I decide who comes and who goes. You were picked by The Foundation to come here—so what?  It’s entirely up to me who spends the next six years of their life behind these walls, not some human institution that didn’t even exist when I began watching over this school. I am not only the life of every student who enters this domain, and I am their death and their rebirth.” She shrugged. “Why do you think I have this name?”


Yeah, what name is that, Phee?  No one can say that Annie didn’t have a wonderful time, and she’ll be the first to say she didn’t, because at the end of this little event she didn’t come away feeling that well.

But never mind that:  Kerry’s up next, and we sorta know how much fun his will be.

One traumatized child down, another to go.

One traumatized child down, one to go.

I’ll be doing that tonight.

The Home By the Sea

It’s funny, but we’ve already had a “home by the sea” scene, for which I’ll likely have to edit out lyrics as I’m sure I can’t afford to pay the copyright holders of the song for permission to reprint them in a novel, but this is really the part of the novel where the kids get to see Salem in the gloom and darkness for the first time.  So that must mean I was editing, yeah?

Most assuredly.

Though it took a while to get there, for I stopped off for dinner and a drink before heading home to watch a little television and relax.  I had the most delicious shepherd’s pie which I also consumed with a tasty adult beverage–

Maybe even two.

Maybe even two.

–after which I spoke with the hostess for a bit until it got busy and I hit the bricks back to the casa.  Watched three episodes of Breaking Bad then got out the story and began the trip back in time to what was, I believe, the middle of NaNo 2013 when I wrote these scenes.

Oh, and music:  yes, I had it going.  One of my biggest songs in rotation was The Killing Moon by Echo & The Bunnymen, but if people know this song at all it’s because it was the opening title crawl song for the movie Donnie Darko.  So here you are, a little something to get you in the writing mood.

The kids are finally at Salem, but they’re getting the nickel tour of the joint by Isis, who has been put in charge of kids for now.  Nearly all of this part of the novel–three scenes–take place in front of the Great Hall, and in the same structure’s atrium and lower level.

Right here, so to speak.

Right here, so to speak.

You can even see the people I modeled to give a feeling of perspective for everything.  The first scene is where things start opening up to the feeling that things aren’t Normal:



(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

“While I’m certain all of you have questions about the school, they’ll have to wait until later. I will, however, give you a quick rundown on your new surroundings.” Isis indicated the space around them. “This is Founder’s Gate; that large tree just outside is Founder’s Tree, where the original pact to build the school was bound.”

She pointed to the inner walls of the archway. “The archway is set inside protective walls that form a five-sided star: we call this The Pentagram for obvious reason. You’ll notice doors on either side of us.” She pointed to both. “The walls are hollow and allow students to move between the towers—”

The girl from Portugal, Jacira, spoke up. “Towers?”

Isis nodded. “Towers. They sit at each point of the star.” She waited for more questions: when none came, she continued. “Inside the walls are the Pentagram Garden, and situated in the middle of the garden . . .” She turned and pointed to the building behind her. “The Great Hall. The administrative, educational, and social center of Salem. Offices, dining hall, hospital, library meeting areas: it’s all there.” She didn’t wait for questions. “Come. We have plenty ahead of us.”


Yeah, kids, you have towers here.  Notice, though, that Isis doesn’t mention that they’ll live there.  Kerry, however, notices something else:


When the students appeared to be halfway to the doors ahead, Kerry stopped and looked back towards Founder’s Gate. Annie stopped as well. “What are you looking at?”
He judged the distance as best he could. “You could probably fit a football pitch on this path.”

Annie nodded. She quickened her pace to catch up with the student pack. “That’s likely. It’s incredible, isn’t it?”

Kerry had other words to describe the scene. “This shouldn’t be here.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I’ve looked at Cape Ann on Google Maps, and there’s nothing like this here. It’s impossible to have something this big sitting out where everyone can see it and it seems like no one does.”

She shook her head. “The wall we drove though would keep people from seeing this.”

“But you couldn’t hide it from above: it would be visible on the satellite view of Google Maps. And people flying into Boston would see this without a problem.”

There were many things Annie could have said to Kerry to set his mind at ease but it wasn’t time to do that, not yet. She also wasn’t ready to let him know that there were so many things about the school that weren’t a mystery for her—

She told him the only thing that might placate him. “You’re over thinking things. I’m sure there’s a perfect explanation for why you haven’t seen this on your maps.” She turned her smiling hazel eyes towards him. “I’d just wait until someone can answer those questions.”


These were both sections that were rewritten slightly so that the flow of conversation was better:  it wasn’t bad before, but I smoothed it out just a touch.  And Kerry feels a little more concerned about the fact that he’s checked his maps and there’s nothing here, man, nothing.  This was how Kerry was at first:  the logical mind told him what wasn’t while his eyes–and sometimes Annie–showed him what was.  That changed over time, but here, you see it full force.

And in the next section we run into three things for the first time–or, at least, we hear them spoken:


Though she wasn’t tired, Annie was eager to get to her new room. From what her mother told her, though, there was something that they needed to get out of the way, first— “When do we get to our rooms?”

The smile Isis had maintained for most of this tour slipped slightly. “After evaluation and assessment.”

Those were the words she’d waited to hear: evaluation and assessment. As with all else pertaining to the school her parents hadn’t said a great deal about that experience, and while they hadn’t made it seem like something unpleasant, their unwillingness to discuss theirs in detail hadn’t left Annie feeling comfortable about what awaited.

Another student wanted to know more. “What’s that?”

Isis was happy to explain. “Every student who comes into Salem as an A Level—a new student—meets with an adviser. They’re asked to speak about themselves, and during the conversation the adviser makes a determination about the coven the student will—”

“Coven?” Collin finally broke out of whatever slumber he’d entered ever since leaving the plane.

The director took the interruption in stride. “Yes. Coven.”

“Like—for witches?”

For the first time tonight the slight pause that came after Collin’s followup didn’t feel like it was there to allow the kids time to absorb another information dump. “Yes. Like for witches.” Isis sensed something come over the children. She’d given the speech many times before—twice already today—and each time the word “coven” was spoken, there was the inevitable question if the expression had something to do with witches.

She watched each child closely, looking for sign that one of them wasn’t surprised by what had just transpired, and she momentarily caught the eyes of a girl who asked about their rooms. I should have known she’s the Legacy— “You’ll learn more about this tomorrow. But for now—”

Isis placed her hands before her and held her tablet snugly against her body. “The advisers are waiting.” She turned on her heel to her left. “Come with me, please.”


Evaluation and assessment; coven; and, of course, the W Word, witches.  It’s also the first time we see that Annie is recognized for what she, and it’s even money that Isis probably used another kind of vision to tell Annie was witch raised as well.

And last but not least, it’s time for the kids to meet their “advisers”, and there was a small matter of punctuation changed here at the end that, to me, made a world of difference:


The echo of the closed door faded away. Isis lowered her tablet to her side as she walked towards the stairs. “Well, best for last, hum?” Annie and Kerry stood together, silent in their apprehension. Isis turned and chuckled, trying to lighten the mood. “Okay, well, you know what to do.” She nodded towards the door on her left. “Anelie Kirilova: Room One.” She pointed to the door opposite. “Kerrigan Malibey: Room Two.”

Kerry turned to Annie. “Anelie?”

She managed a tiny smile. “Kerrigan.”


He started to turn away when Isis stopped him. “Sorry, you can’t go in there with the backpack.” She held out her hand. “I’ll hold on to it for you.”

Kerry wasn’t eager to leave his things behind. “I’ve got my tablet in there.”

“And I’m the Director of Security.” She winked. “If you can’t trust me, who can you trust?”

“True that.” He slipped it off and handed it over.

She held it by one of the shoulder straps. “Do you have a phone?”

“It’s in the bag.”

“Okay.” She gave it a hoist. “I’ll see you get this back. Don’t worry.” She nodded once again. “You can go.”

Kerry walked to his door, but turned around before going in; he found Annie standing outside hers looking back at him. He turned away and closed his eyes; Annie did the same simultaneously.

They opened their respective doors and entered their rooms.


I’m really debating if I should post any of the evaluations in the coming days, and the answer to my own question is “Not likely”.  I mean, I want to keep some mystory, and if you’ve stuck through to the end of the B Level book, you know about Kerry’s.

But what is this change I alluded to earlier?  It’s right here:


“Well, best for last, hum?” Annie and Kerry stood together, silent in their apprehension. She chuckled, trying to lighten the mood. “Okay, well, you know what to do.” She nodded towards the door on her left. “Anelie Kirilova: Room One.” She pointed to the door opposite. “Kerrigan Malibey: Room Two.”

Kerry turned to Annie. “Anelie?”

She raised her eyebrows and managed a tiny smile. “Kerrigan?”



I first had Isis change position–which isn’t that important, but was needed–and then I removed the question mark from the end of Annie’s uttering of Kerry’s name.  Why?  Because you know why, and this is another little clue that something’s going on between these two that maybe doesn’t have anything to do with school.

And in another quarter of a million words you may find out what that is . . .

Tried Or Tried Not

Not much in the way of editing happened during the night as after the events of the morning–coffee followed by brunch with three beers–I was in a lazy mood that compelled me to binge on Breaking Bad until the end of the Season 4 episode Problem Dog.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t do something useful–

While I was out getting nice and relaxed–

As you can see it was a nice day and I was feeling great.

As you can see it was a nice day and I was feeling great.

–and as I enjoyed the outside environment I was checking my updates on my phone, which means I’m now just as annoying as all those other people who do so.  One of these updates came from my long-time reader, blogger renxkyoko, and she had something to tell me:


‘By the way,cassie, since you’re editing….. I guess you missed this… ” Are you tried ?” to ” Are you TIRED “?’


Yeah, I did miss that.  One of the reasons for missing that is because I have a slight case of dyslexia that causes me to transpose letter a lot of times, and even when I read things as one word, sometimes I’m actually reading it wrong.  This sucks when I’m writing as well, because I should know my tried from my tired, but I tend to blow it most of the time.

So I made a note to check the manuscript to fix this when I returned home, so after getting back to the apartment about two PM, that’s exactly want I did.

Though some probably thought I should wait at this point--

Though some probably thought I should wait at this point–

Scrivener has an easy search function:  you can type in a word in the box next to the Inspector button in the upper right of the program and Scrivener shows you every place where that word existed.

Just like I'm doing here.

Just like I’m doing here.

Now, the above image is done after I cleaned up the document, because–see that list of scenes on the left?  When I did this the first time that list was three times as long.  That’s a lot of trieds, let me tell you.

I used the find and replace option to locate the occurrences of tried, and one of the things Scrivener does is highlight said word no matter how many you have in a text box, which is what my scenes are.  Here’s what it looks like in the first scene on this list:

Yellow means it's identified, orange means that's the occurrence you're currently examining.

Yellow means it’s identified and it turns orange when you’re currently examining that particular occurrence.

When I went through this I saw a hug number of trieds:  “Kerry tried–”  “Annie tried–”  “He tried–”  “She tried–”  Holy shit, you know?  Way too many occurrences of the word, not to mention it’s so freaking passive a phrase that it drove me crazy.

With the trieds identified I set out to make them far more active voice, because you shouldn’t be trying, you should be doing.  What’s the thing that old grumpy green muppet from a swamp planet says?

Yeah, that's the one.

Yeah, that’s the phase.

If the characters are trying they aren’t doing.  “Kerry tried not to look at Annie–”  No, he should either look away or look towards her.  “Annie tried to craft her spell–”  No, Annie succeeds or fails while crafting magic.  “Emma tried to get Kerry’s attention–”  Well, yeah, she’ll try, but she should have waved or call his name or throw her arms around him, though she shouldn’t take that last action in Annie’s presence if it’s her intention to keep her blood inside her body.

I spent a good hour going through the manuscript finding all the “tried” stuff and rewrote it so it was either do or do not.  There was no trying, it was all doing.  And that’s from my writing the first draft that way, but there wasn’t an excuse for leaving it in during the revision.  Now it’s out and I’ve made a note of keeping an eye on that stuff, since I’m certain I’ll find it in B For Bewitching as well.

There are other ways the Scrivener search function works besides just looking or words and phrases.  For example:

A For Advanced Search Setup

You can search for titles, for labels (what’s first draft, what’s revision, and so on), and most importantly, keywords.  I can assign those to scenes and then used that information to search back through the document to figure out where something is when I need to reference it for a future scene.  For example, if I want to know the scenes that have to do with school evaluations, I assign “Evaluation” as a keyword, then tell the search function to look for keywords, and–

Just like that, there they are!

Just like that, there they are!

This is an easy one, and I could have just as easily said to look for that word in the title.  But as I go on there are a lot of different words to set up:  “Dreams”; “Visions”; “Sorcery”; “Morte”; “Birthdays”; “Presents”.  It’s all there.  Then if I’m in my C Level novel and I need to know about a present Kerry gave Annie and see the background on that, I pull up the A and B Level novel and keyword search for those scenes.  So rather than keep all this crap in my head and then have a good idea where to look for things when needed, I just search for keywords.

See?  Even though it was a bit of a boozy afternoon, that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn something.  All I needed to do was a little . . . searching.

And not to try, but to do.

Game of Thrones, Season 6 Finale, Episode 10 Recap, “The Winds Of Winter”

Last night’s finale was hot episode–in a lot more ways than one!

The Snarking Dead TV Recaps

So if you thought the death of Ramsay Bolton in Episode 9 was all the wish fulfillment you were going to get in this season of Game of Thrones, think again. HBO decided to dish out treats all over Westeros in its Season 6 finale.

Here’s my recap of what went down in the Season 6 finale, Episode 10 (entitled “The Winds of Winter”) of HBO’s Game of Thrones Season 6.


  • So let’s get that whole big secret between Cersei (Lena Headey) and Qyburn (Anton Lesser) out in the open, huh? Turns out the Mad King really did have a stash of wildfire hidden under King’s Landing. And that stash is so huge I’m not really sure why it was a rumor and not a known fact. So suddenly a whole…

View original post 1,151 more words

Completing the First Part

Here I am, back to the writing thing, though I have to say I’m starting to love doing a video for the blog, and I’m thinking this could become a regular thing.  Maybe like something I throw together on a Saturday morning.  We’ll see.

But the writing–sorry, I mean editing.  Part One of A For Advanced is complete, and it’s a happy time, let me tell you.  I’m down to the Little Amps coffee house with my regular table next to the entrance, and I was going through the last scene of Chapter Two with lots of eagerness and enthusiasm.

The rarely seen editing table that I employ Sunday mornings.

The rarely seen editing table that I employ Sunday mornings.

I should also point out that the above picture was taken with my phone–as is the one below–and then I simply bluetoothed it over to the laptop for upload here.  Suddenly I’ve discovered all this technology that’s been missing from my life, and I am so happy I have it now.

Here's the other picture.  See how happy I am?

Here’s the other picture. See how happy I am?

And I’ve been jamming along with my Song of the Day, which has been in heavy rotation this morning:  It’s My Life by Talk Talk.  Gotta love those 80s synth beats.

But what of the editing, Cassie?  Well, since you asked–

Chapter Two is a whole lot of travel to America, and this last scene deals with the kids finally arriving in Massachusetts and riding the rails to their final destination.  It’s a fun scene and one that’s loaded up with mystery, mostly because no one knows what await them at the end–not even Annie, who’s heard little about the actual school itself from her parents.

And as usual, there are a few in-jokes in the story . . .


(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Thirty minutes later the students were standing on a small train platform a few blocks from the center of the real town of Salem watching they train they’d ridden from Boston depart the station. There was no school and no special train waiting, only a slightly chilly night air and a light rain greeted them in the gathering darkness. The weather wasn’t a bother for Annie as she’d worn a long sleeve top during the flight, and Kerry removed a dark red hoodie from his backpack and pulled it on over his tee shirt. Most of the other kids threw on light jackets or sweatshirts to fight off the cool breeze drifting in from the Atlantic.

Three minutes after arriving at the Salem station, another train approached from the south. It slowed before pulling to a stop in front of them. Collin was the first to ask what most were thinking. “What’s this?”

The short blond woman in the long skirt—Kerry thought of her that way since none of the adults had introduced themselves—eagerly answered. “This is our transportation to the school.”

“You’re kidding.” Collin’s skepticism seemed well founded. The “transportation” consisted of a small engine and a single passenger car no different than the one they’d rode from Boston. There was no markings to distinguish the train as being unusual other than a few “Special Charter” signs near the car doors.

The woman popped up the handle on her roll-on bag. “What were you expecting, The Hogwarts Express? That’s fiction, lad—” She waved an arm at the train car. “This is reality.” She turned to the group of somewhat disappointed children. “Come along, kiddies.”


The remark about a “special train” comes from earlier in the scene, when many of the students remarked they were taking “The Salem Express” to the new school, when instead they got on a MBTA commuter train out of Boston’s North Station.  Yes, they got their own car, but still, way to buzzkill the fantasy.

And “The short blond woman in the long skirt” is Erywin, in case you were wondering–she of the smart mouth and a desire to smack any student who says she teaches potions.  Of course we don’t learn that until later . . .

This is also the first time when Kerry begins suspecting something strange is afoot, and we more or less hear the catchphrase for him throughout the novel:


She turned her attention back to Kerry, who was looking about the car. “What is it?”

He didn’t say anything for a few seconds, then leaned over so he could speak to her without being overheard. “Are you tried?”


“Not at all?”

“I feel a little tired from all the activity, but otherwise I’m fine.” Kerry sat back and said nothing, but that wasn’t going to do for Annie: he suspected something and she wanted to hear his thoughts. “Why do you ask?”

Again he lowered his voice so he wasn’t overheard. “Is your home on the same time as Paris?”

It was a strange question to ask, but rather than ask why he wanted to know Annie answered truthfully. “We’re an hour ahead of Paris.”

“Okay. So you’re two hours ahead of Cardiff.”

“If you say so.” Now she had to know where his questioning was going. “Why do you want to know?”

“I know we’re on Eastern Time here—that’s five hours behind London and Cardiff, and seven hours behind the time at your home.” His demeanor turned grave. “You should feel like it’s close to three in the morning, and I should feel like it’s about one.” He nodded towards the girls from Turkey and Oman. “Those two should feel like the sun’s coming up tomorrow.” He shook his head. “But everyone’s acting like they probably should for eight PM here–or twenty hours where you’re from.”  He smiled sheepishly.  “Slipped back into American time counting there.”

Oh, he is always so clever. She’d taken trips with her parents to Japan and Australia, and the reasons for everyone falling asleep right after eating wasn’t difficult to fathom. Still, Annie couldn’t tell Kerry what she knew about why no one was falling asleep because of their individual time differences— “Everyone is probably excited; that’s why no one’s sleepy right now.”

Kerry didn’t like Annie’s answer, but didn’t have anything better to offer. “Maybe.” He sat back and sighed. “I’m probably over-thinking this.”

“Yes, you are.” She giggled as she lightly tapped the side of his head. “Put your mind on hold and enjoy the ride.” He laughed and took her advice, riding in silence for some time after that.


Yes, that Kerry is such a clever boy–and he’s only going to become more cleaver over time.  And in time we’ll know how it is Annie knows all about his cleverness.

Most of all we come to the end of the scene, and in a way it’s the end of one journey and the start of another, and that trip starts under the leadership of someone we come to know somewhat well in this novel and the next:


A woman standing a few meters from the bus waited while everyone filed off the bus. She was dressed in formal business attire: dark red skirt and jacket and a white blouse that seemed to glow in the darkness. This woman reminded Kerry of Ms. Rutherford, and though this woman wasn’t black he saw that she appeared to be of mixed ethnicity.

She approached the French woman the moment everyone was off the bus and addressed the French woman, speaking English with an Americanized accent. “Welcome back, Headmistress.” She nodded to the other adults. “Good to see you all.”

Mathilde relaxed for the first time since Amsterdam. “It’s good to be back.”

The new woman deftly adjusted her stylish red horn rimed glasses. “May I see the attendance?” She held up the tablet she carried in her right hand; Mathilde checked something on hers, then tapped the tablets together. The new woman examined her display before nodding. “That’s it then.”

“All students are accounted for?”

“Yes, Headmistress.”

“Thank you.” She glanced at the other adults, the turned and addressed the new woman. “If you don’t mind, we’d like to freshen up.”

“Go on: I’ve got this now.” The woman waited for the headmistress and the others to walk up a paved path and vanish before address the students. “You can leave your luggage here; I’ll see to it that it gets back to you a soon as we getting the housing sorted out.” She took a step back. “Follow me, please.”

They turned onto the same path used by the others. It headed up an slight incline that wasn’t difficult to walk. It was what lay at the end of the path that drew everyone’s attention: there was another large wall and another huge, open archway. To the left of the archway an immense tree stood maybe ten meters from the wall, and through the archway a building was just visible in the darkness and mist, one that felt rather than appeared massive and old.

The children followed the woman into the archway. In the middle she stopped and turned to face them, framing herself so the colossal building was positioned perfectly behind her. She allowed the children a moment to take in their surroundings before addressing them. “My name is Isis Mossman, and I’m the Director of Security. On behalf of Headmistress Laventure, the staff, and the instructors, it is an honor to introduce you girls and boys to your new home-away-from-home.

“Welcome to Salem.”


There you have it:  “Welcome to Salem.”  The kids are more or less standing in the front door–

And who knows what comes next?  Well, I do, for one.

And who knows what comes next? Well, I do, for one.

The night is still young.  There are actually two more chapters ahead before this night comes to an end and Annie and Kerry began to take stock of their new home–

And  Kerry discovers just how deep this rabbit hole into which he’s fallen goes.

An Amsterdam Reading

Well, this is something you probably didn’t expect, but today you get not one, but two videos!  And this one here, it’s special in that I do another reading.  And this one is a little long, but I think you’ll like it.

Get ready to fly with me . . .