The Hot and the Maybe New

As I expected I’m on a three-hour delay this morning, which means I’ve frittered away about two hours of morning before getting around to writing this post.  I seem to be doing that a lot of late, probably because I need the downtime.

Oh, and I was out in the snowstorm yesterday. Why?  To go have beer, that’s why.  How did I get there?  I walked.

Walked down one road to get there–

 

And down another to get home.

 

Because I’m nuts sometimes.

Yes, I spent hours walking around in a snowstorm on deserted streets for two glasses of beer, a hard cider, and a great sandwich at the Yellow Bird Café.  Because maybe I just didn’t want to sit in the apartment all day long.

This doesn’t mean I didn’t write any yesterday: I did.  In fact, I did manage to get in my thousand words and nearly made it eleven hundred.  But I had reached the point where he didn’t need to go on any longer and I left it at that.  I managed to do it all while struggling to keep my eyes open.

Seriously, I should get a cookie or something for my efforts.

The good news is I’m almost 5800 words upon the excerpts at this point. The bad news is I’m starting excerpts on the scene before the one in which I’m working, which means I need to write faster and harder to get them done.  That means I need to get at least five hundred words out of the way tonight just to keep up.  Such is the life of a writer showing their wares.

After spending some time in the Witch House it’s time to go over to the other side of the Salem campus and see what’s going on in the Transformation Center.  Which means were about to look in on the other half of Team Lovey Dovey.

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

As was usual inside the Transformation Center, the temperature inside the classroom was just a touch on the warm side—at least it was to Kerry’s liking. It was always like this for any transformation class, because after two years he knew Jessica always liked to keep her classrooms slightly warm. She did this, he was aware, because she wanted to keep everyone just a bit uncomfortable. She’d said several times in the past she did this because of students could concentrate in less-than-perfect conditions, they’d be able to craft transformation magic anywhere in the real world.

After two years, however, Kerry realized there was another reason for this forced discomfort: a student who was good in transformation magic would find it possible to change their metabolism just enough that they could ignore the slightly stifling classroom. This was especially true for any students in the Advanced Transformation class, which was the reason why, when looking around the room, none of the other four students with him seemed to give any outward appearance that they appeared bothered.

Kerry knew he wasn’t bothered, for he had figured out how to ignore the heat near the and of his A Levels and taught Annie how to craft the same spells before leaving Salem for the first time. While he still couldn’t ignore the effects of extreme cold or extreme heat—much like the temps found during winter and summer—he could easily ignore a two or three degree change in temperature.

 

This was something that popped up in the A Level novel and while it was on touched in the B Level novel, it was there.  It’s always there. Jessica likes to keep everyone uncomfortable: we know this.  She likes to “test” people, much in the same way Helena was testing Annie at the same time Kerry’s thinking about how he’s gotten around being hot and uncomfortable in Transformation class.  This Salem school sure does a hell of a lot of testing for a place that doesn’t hand out grades.

And just as we saw in Advanced Formulistic Magic, we get a rundown of the students in class.  And just like in that class there appears to be something on Kerry’s mind–

 

Annie wasn’t in class tonight—she told him that Helena wanted to see her in the Witch House and he’d have to show her what he learned Friday afternoon—which meant there were only the four other students from last year’s class. Kaisa Božic, the E Level from Åsgårdsreia, told everyone in the first class that Jessica was interested in bringing into more students but might not do so until October. Jordana Sauceda, the El Salvadoran girl from Ceridwen, told everyone then that she hoped to see a couple of new students coming to class before she graduated, which happened at the end of this school year.

Kerry wanted to see new students and hoped they were B or C Levels, for like in nearly all the rest of his advanced classes, he was the youngest student. The only class where this was not true was in Advanced Spells, where they started out the year with two new B Levels. Upon seeing them enter the room, Kerry remembered looking to his left at Annie and sharing a smile, for in this one class they were no longer the “new kids”.

The quiet of the classroom was broken as the door flew open and Jessica strode confidently into the room, wearing a light, bright blue blouse, blue jeans, and red flats. “Good evening, everyone.” She flipped her right hand upward and the classroom door closed with a slam. “I apologize that I’m a few minutes late, but there were two last-minute detentions I needed to assign and I didn’t want to leave those for any longer than necessary.” She scanned the room, looking from student to student. “I hope you all understand.”

 

Now, just to leave you with a little something after your reading, one of the above three paragraphs was rewritten extensively just before I’d made this post.  Can you guess which one?  Can you?  Then say it!  Say It Again!  LOUDER!

Yeah, this is what happens when I get a three-hour delay before going in the work…

The Final Definition of Darkness

Well, here I am, nice and warm at home.  Right now Harrisburg is buried under more than a few inches of snow, and while I don’t have an actual figure, just looking outside tells me it’s enough to keep people in.

 

What I saw this morning.

 

Here, too.

Yes, the pictures are correct: I was up at 5 o’clock this morning, my normal time, and I’ve been taking care of business ever since.  I didn’t take care of much business last night as I was at a Planned Parenthood rally and a press conference, both of which kept me out until 8 PM.  Once again, I’m being a bad activist girl getting out and doing things besides writing. I should be able to do some of that today, though around noon I’m actually going to go out and go to a blizzard party at our local microbrewery. Which means I’m a completely different kind of bad girl there…

Don’t worry, I will get some writing in tonight–or this afternoon–or whenever.  But it will get done.

In the meantime, were going to end the scene with Annie and Isis going over Blend With Shadows, were any answers the last question put to her by the Chief of Security–

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

For a moment Annie thought she was being given a trick question, but quickly brushed that notion aside when she realized Isis would never do something like that. This is another test. I suppose Helena meant she wasn’t going to give me any more tests, but she said nothing about Isis… A few moments later the answer came and Annie was surprised she hadn’t seen it initially. “You can walk through the wall.”

Isis’ smile was bright in the darkness of the room. “Correct. You could walk on either side of the shadow at its base, which is essentially the same thing as walking outside or inside the shadow. Or you could walk along the top of the shadow, which is essentially the same thing as creating a large Shadow Ribbon and moving along the shadow as if it were a floor.

“Or, you could walk inside the shadow. Just like you can create a pocket space within a few millimeters of the surface of the shadow, you can learn to walk within those few millimeters and be completely undetectable to the people around you. And unlike Shadow Cage, you’re completely cognizant of the world around you, because the shadow is translucent from your point of view.” The security chief appeared pleased with herself. “It’s really a marvelous feeling. It’s even more marvelous when you realize that because you exist within the insubstantialness of a shadow, you yourself are also insubstantial. That means someone can walk right through you and never know they’ve done so.”

Annie grimaced at the idea that someone could pass straight through her while she was inside a shadow even though she was a physical being. It was then she was struck by another thought— “It’s almost like being an astral being existing within the Physical Realm.”

Isis grinned as she pointed a finger at Annie. “Yep. Now you’re catching on. The reality is you treat the shadow almost as if it is a version of the Astral Realm existing within the Physical Realm. When you think of it in that manner, the concept of being able to move through the shadow unseen becomes even easier.”

Treating a shadow as if it were part of the Astral Realm—with Deanna preparing to teach Kerry and I how to walk about in that same realm. It can’t be a coincidence. But Annie didn’t have time to wonder about possible coincidences: Isis was explaining how this difficult spell could be visualized, and Annie could see herself using it within her mind’s eye.

She forced herself to keep her hands at her side as she felt the excitement of mastering this new magic swell inside. “When do we begin?”

The mischievous sparkle they had entered Isis’ eye when she first began to discuss the spell with Annie returned. “We can begin anytime you’re ready.”

This time Annie did bounce on the balls of her feet. “I’m ready now.”

Isis motioned to the shadows she had previously stepped from. “Then get ready to step into my other office…”

 

There you have it: Annie is starting to visualize how Isis performs this magic, and as we know by now visualization is one-third the process of crafting a spell.  And if there’s one thing we know Annie excels at, it’s crafting spells.  Just what we need: a little Bulgarian sorceress who can fly into a shadow and vanish.  It’s a good thing she’s not a snoopy ass girl, or her enemies would be living in fear.

“No, you have nothing to fear from me. It’s not like I’ll hear it when you call me a stuck-up bitch like you did last night…”

Yeah, safe to say that once others in the school find out Annie can do this should become an even scarier girl–of course, this is assuming she’ll learn how to master the spell, but who are we kidding?  Annie’s like a little bulldog when it comes to magic.

Now that we know what Annie is doing on this September Tuesday night, why don’t we pop over to Advanced Transformations and see what Kerry’s doing.  Something big, I’m sure…

‘The Walking Dead,’ Season 7, Episode 13: “Bury Me Here”

Believe it or not, melons are just as life changing as zombies–

The Snarking Dead TV Recaps

AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' Season 7, Episode 13, Bury Me Here, 11 Melons [Image via Gene Page/AMC] Welcome to an episode of The Walking Dead written by showrunner Scott Gimple that isn’t actually the worst thing ever.

CF:  I have to agree; I was surprised that this episode was not as bad as I had heard it was going to be.

Here’s what went down in Episode 13 (entitled “Bury Me Here”) of Season 7 of AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Now the Kingdom has a dozen melons to deliver to the Saviors in this week’s episode of The Walking Dead. Which doesn’t actually seem like a lot in my honest opinion, but then, thanks to Richard (Karl Makinen) pinching a melon to create conflict between the Kingdom and the Saviors, things get even more ridiculous with a drop being made of One. Single. Melon.

Seriously. You can’t make this shit up. In a world where gas is running out…

View original post 1,569 more words

The Definition of Shadows

Thousand word day–yes, I had it.  I had a lot to do yesterday but writing over a thousand words was one of the things on my get it done list.  I also thought about the physics of time spells in the Normal world, which made my head hurt, but someone’s gotta think about that.

Speaking of spells Isis is about to start her talk about Those Shadows, and it’s time to bend your brain just a little…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie stepped back from Isis and spoke with confidence. “I’ve not read much on the spell, though from what I have read, it seems there’s a bit of confusion as to whether or not it’s a variation of the Light Bending spell.”

Isis’ eyebrows shot upward for just a second. “Why did it seems like there’s confusion?”

“Some of the people writing on the matter believe that Blend with Shadows couldn’t be the same as Light Bending because the lack of light made that task impossible.”

“So you agree with the concept that darkness is nothing more than the absence of light, and that shadow is nothing more than those areas where light is unable to penetrate fully.”

Annie took a moment to scratch at the corner of her mouth with her right index finger nail. “I know what Normal science says, but you and I both know that Normal science is often at odds with Aware magic and superscience.” She nodded her head slightly to the right. “Knowing what I know of The Art and spell crafting, and having a working knowledge of Shadow Ribbons, I’m certain there’s more to shadows than a simple lack of light.”

A smile appeared on Isis’ face. “Right you are. As you know from your understanding of Shadow Ribbons, a shadow is insubstantial and has substance simultaneously: it’s simply a matter of being able to craft the spell so that one can make the best of both.” Isis slipped into a moment of thought. “You haven’t gotten to the spell yet, but do you understand the concept behind Shadow Cage?”

Annie gave a quick nod. “Yes. The concept seems similar to Hammerspace in that you create a hidden pocket within the shadow.”

“That’s correct. You’re actually creating a bubble of space within an area that may be only a few centimeters deep. Like you say: the concept is very similar to that of Hammerspace and that you’re creating a pocket storage area pretty much out of nothing.

“Blend with Shadows is a little different in that you’re not creating a pocket within the shadows, but rather—” Isis searched her memory for a few seconds. “Imagine a sheer wall thirty meters high yet only about five centimeters thick. Now imagine you had not learned Levitation or Adhesion, yet you’ve decided you want to walk the length of the wall, which is a couple of hundred meters long.” Isis eyed Annie hard. “How could you walk from one end of the wall to the other?”

There were only two possible solutions that Annie saw to this problem. “You can either walk along the base of the wall, or you could carefully walk along the top of the wall.

Isis nodded. “Those are the two most obvious solutions. But you missed the third: what is it?”

 

This is one of those scenes where I really had to figure out what is actually happening in magic and how it’s being visualized.  It’s what I did in the Transformation class and I’m now doing with Advanced Spells–and this is one of the reasons writing goes slow at times.  ‘Cause making this stuff isn’t always easy.

This should finish up tomorrow, which means I’ll still be five or six thousand words ahead of you, and then–

Oh, wait:  I’m gonna be under snow tomorrow.  Should have plenty of time to write.

Ground Rules For the Darkness

Here I am, once again, doing the blogging thing after a Saturday of political fun and going to the movies.  The political stuff was interesting, though there was one dude who decided that all our talk of women’s abortion rights was leaving him feeling a bit “excluded”, which I took to mean he didn’t want to hear about it.  In the movie going stuff involved to meeting a friend for a quick dinner at a Japanese noodle restaurant and then watching Hidden Features at an old theater next door.

A shot from where we sat in the balcony. Be Jelly.

Once again there wasn’t any writing last night, but I’ve made up for that by doing almost six hundred words this morning and will likely do more tonight, bringing the day to thousand word total.  Oh, and if started on the new scene which deals with the time spells Wednesday is going to teach in her Advanced Spells class.

See? Not lying.

In the meantime were back in the Witch House with Isis and Annie having a quaint conversation while Helena looks on.  And the discussion has to do with the spell Blend With Shadows, which Annie wants to learn…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

Isis tipped her right index finger toward the girl. “Right you are on both accounts. Helena approached me last week and asked if I’d help out: she figured in three weeks time I can give you enough of the fundamentals that you’d likely be able to perform the spell on your own without difficulty.” She took a moment to adjust her stylish red glasses and brushed a strand of hair from her face. “The only condition I gave Helena  is I’d like to be out here by twenty forty-five at the latest so I can get back to the residence and spend some time with Wednesday.”

“I don’t have an issue there.” She cast a satisfied glance in Helena’s direction. “I feel three weeks of instruction should be enough time. Is that what you feel as well?”

Helena nodded. “Given how quickly you picked up Shadow Ribbons I don’t see you having an issue with this.” She scratched her forehead just above her left eyebrow. “Of course, it’s entirely up to you as to how comfortable you are with the pace of Isis’ instruction.”

“It shouldn’t be an issue.” Isis shook her head. “Since we’ve worked together before Annie is familiar with how I teach.”

“And since I didn’t have a problem last year, I don’t imagine I’ll have another this year.” Annie smiled broadly as she turned to Helena. “Are you going to observe, or are you going to try to learn the spell as well?”

“Observe only.” Helena hooked her thumbs in the belt loops of her black jeans. “Though I’m adapt with the other spells in the Shadow Disciplines, this Blend with Shadows shit is, quite frankly, spooky as fuck, and that makes it something with which I’d rather not deal.”

Annie was somewhat shocked to hear Helena say she found a certain spell somewhat “spooky”. She was aware the head sorceress knew nearly every Morte spell as well as a dozen other spells that one could use to kill another person, so it was a bit disconcerting to hear her admit there was a spell that made her uncomfortable. “But it doesn’t bother you to be here while we’re practicing, does it?”

“Oh, hell no.” Helena gave her head a quick shake. “I don’t mind watching; I just don’t want to walk in the shadows like you two.” She gave Isis a wave of her hand as she headed toward the table. “She’s all yours. Have fun.”

“Oh, we will.” Isis turned Annie with a mischievous sparkle in her eye. “First off: tell me what you know about Blend with Shadows.”

 

You have to find it interesting that there is a spell that Helena finds “spooky as fuck”.  This is a woman who can kill without a moment’s hesitation, but she’s slightly creeped out by the fact that someone at the school can actually become one with the shadows and move among them without being detected.  Which makes you wonder: if and when Annie learns the spell–and the odds are more “when” than “if”–how Helena’s going to act around her since Annie will be able to do the same shadow blending.  Does this mean there will be times when Annie hides in a shadow at the Witch House so she can sneak up on Helena and yell “Boo!”  Won’t that be a lot of fun?

Then again, I know it Annie’s going to wear as her costume for the Samhain dance, so maybe being able to walk in the shadows will fit perfectly with her character.

Which means right now you’re probably wondering what she’s going wear…

Catching Up on the Magical Small Talk

So last night I was a snowflake–

That’s right:  when I went to my Planned Parenthood dinner I went as a Snowflake Supporter, so I can say that besides being a card carrying member of the ACLU, I’m also a snowflake.  Boom.  Suck it, haters.

The funny thing last night was running into people who are doing some of the same political stuff I’m doing, and even one person who worked with me on the Clinton campaign.  We’re all over the place.  Obviously I’m in good company.

Now, something interesting before getting into the story.  An article was posted on Avclub about rules that writers follow, and after reading the article I realize I violated Elmore Leonard’s rule about never starting a novel where you talk about the weather–I did that twice.  But in the article someone suggested that all novels could be improved if the second line of the book was, “And then the murders began.”

So, just to show you how improved my work is by following this rule, here are the first and second lines of my last three novels:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015, by Cassidy Frazee)

 

The mountains were bright under the morning sun, though the light had yet reached many of the surrounding valley floors. Within the hour every valley in and around Pamporovo, Bulgaria, would bathe in sunshine, but for now most were enveloped in quiet shadows.

And then the murders began.

 

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“ . . . Half the summer gone, and another half to go, and I miss you more every day. I can’t wait until the travel packages come, cause that means I’ll only have to wait another two week before I see you again. And then I can be happy once more.

“And then the murders began…

 

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

What bothered Annie Kirilova the most this morning was the weather. She had hoped for a bright sunshine, but what she received instead was light rain and low cloud cover. The rain also left the temperatures hovering in the low teens Celsius, which kept her out of shorts and forced her into leggings to wear with her long, flowing top and black ballet flats.

And then the murders began.

 

As you can see, all three books are drastically improved!  So much so I may leave them that way.  Though…  probably not.  I don’t think Annie wants to read about murders in the Malibey household.  Also, any of your writers out there reading this:  do the same in the comments with your books and I’ll post them.

What she does want, however, is some quality time in the Witch House with the Head Sorceress and the Chief of Security–

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie opened her hand and the baston vanished. “With the testing I’ve encountered this evening I had to wonder if you were going to attack me after I left myself defenseless.”

Isis chuckled. “You, defenseless? Please.” She shook her head. “No way in hell is that true. I know better than that.”

Annie’s right eyebrow arched upward. “The why did you just say you didn’t know I could create a weapon so quickly?”

Isis and Helena exchanged looks for about three seconds before Isis sighed and nodded her head slowly. “I should know better than open my mouth.”

Helena finally stepped away from the table and slowly approached. “I thought you were supposed to be good at keeping secrets?” Helena moved alongside Isis and looked at Annie. “How are you feeling tonight?”

“Are you asking to make conversation?” The right corner of Annie’s mouth curled upward into a grin. “Or is this another test?”

“I’m asking as a friend.” Helena turned toward Isis. “God, what a suspicious little bitch.”

Isis crossed her arms. “Can’t imagine where she would have learned that from.”

“You can piss right off, too.” Helena’s expression softened as a slight smile came to her face when she turned back towards Annie. “No more tests like what you’ve already went through. From this point we get on to serious business. But I would like to know if you’re feeling well.”

 

You can probably imagine that Isis was going to do something to Annie and then tried to blow it off when she was caught before she had a chance.  You know Isis knows just how good Annie is when it cones to sorcery, ’cause it’s her job to know.  Not only is Annie good, but after all the shit she went through to make it up to that room, she figures that anything about to come her way is a test.  Yes, she is a suspicious little bitch. ’cause that’s how her instructor made her.

But there is a soft side to Helena as well…

 

Though Annie was aware that to the school’s general population considered Helena to be an unapproachable bitch with a hair-trigger temper, the two years she had spent in her presence taught her that the head sorceress could be a warm and affable person in the right situations. She has to come across as mean when were in class, for just like here, everything that happens in the classrooms below are part of the test. “I feel great. Though I have to admit I felt a bit of trepidation when I learned I was reporting to the first floor.”

“I wanted to make certain we weren’t bothered by any pain in the arse students.” Helena gazed off to her right for a moment as she spoke. “They don’t normally come out here this time of night, but it would be our luck that tonight was the night someone decided to come out here and look for book they suddenly want to read in the main library.”

“Why not meet in the lower levels then?”

“It was time for a change of venue.” Helena cocked a thumb at the woman to her left. “Besides, I didn’t want her to think we spend all our time under the ground like a bunch of moles.”

By now Annie at figured out why Isis was here, so rather than ask she address the security chief directly. “You’re going to teach me Blend with Shadows, aren’t you?”

Now it was Isis’ turn to grin. “You’re quick on that assumption.”

Annie shrugged. “Not so much, actually. It’s my understanding you’re one of the only people at school, or the only person, who knows the Blend with Shadow spell, and since I’ve expressed an interest in learning the spell, it makes sense that Helena has asked you to come and teach me.” She crossed her arms as she shifted her weight to her left leg. “After all, that’s exactly the same thing you did with me last year once it was discovered I possessed the Flight Gift.”

 

So there we are:  Isis is probably going to instruct Annie in the Blend with Shadow, which means if Annie learns this spell and masters it, she’ll become just a little more dangerous.  Good thing Isis is aware of that–

I wonder when she’ll get her Licence to Kill?