Laying in the Bed in the Bay: A Final Reckoning

There is so much to show today, I don’t know where to start.  How about at the beginning?  Good idea, Cassie!

Yesterday I sent off two pitches for cover ideas.  I thought I’d share those with you, so that perhaps you can see my thought process, and see what I see as far as images are concerned.  I’ve included the photos I sent as well, because I’m all about imaginary, yeah?

 

Kolor Ijo Ideas:

This takes place in Indonesia, in the city of Makaasar.  Here is a picture of an area that is actually in the novel known as Losari Beach:

Kolor Ijo Makaasar Losari Beach

One of the things I like is the calm in the area, but right beyond, there is bustle and a lot of things unseen.  It’s one of the main themes of the novel.

The characters:

First is Indriani Baskoro, woman, late twenties, Muslim though she is pretty secular.  She’s usually attired in jeans, a pullover of some kind—loose top or tee shirt—and sneakers.  She has a pink backpack that she takes with her nearly everywhere.  She never wears a hijab, because as mentioned she’s pretty laid back with that stuff, as are most Indonesians.  She started out as a paranormal investigator, but now is kind of “freelance” and shows up to look up things and try to solve events.  She is a true believer because of something that happens in the previous story of her adventures, Kuntilanak.  She is missing two fingers and part of her right hand, lost during an investigation on Bali.  Most of the time she’s called Indri.

Second is Kadek Bagus Surya Buana, usually known as Buana.  He’s in his late thirties, about ten years older than Indri, and is a traditional healer from Bali.  As a traditional healer he’s in tune to the supernatural world, and has seen many of the creatures who walk there.  He dresses casually:  loose flowing top and trousers with sandals.  Sometimes he wears a wide-brim hat if he’s out during the day.  He carries as keris, which is a traditional knife used for protection from things living and otherwise.  Follow this link for more information.

Kolor Ijo is Indonesian for “Green Underpants Demon.”  No, really.  It comes from an event that happened around Jakarta in 2005, and is a known hoax—this is something that Buana even mentions early on in the novel.  One of the images I see would have Indri and Buana standing here at Losari Beach looking down one of the streets of Makaasar, where one can see traffic and people stretching off into the distance, but at the same time there are, just viewed on the side streets, ominous shadows with a tint of green to them.  I should point out that neither character would wear green in this scene, because they’re standing close to the ocean, and the Queen of the Sea would come up and snatch them away to their death for doing such a thing—particularly Indri, as the Queen hates beautiful women in green.  (That last is actually a true Indonesian legend.)  The characters never touch; there isn’t anything romantic between them.  They both work to find a solution to the supernatural problem, and whatever romance is in their lives is with others.

That’s what I’m looking at right now.  Feel free to send me your own ideas.

 

And now the second:

 

Foundation Chronicles: A For Advanced Act One Idea

So, this is what I have as an idea for this series. First, allow me to introduce the characters–

The girl is Annie Kirilova. She’s eleven, five foot tall, a Bulgarian Caucasian with a touch of Romani blood. She has wavy chestnut colored hair that falls just below her shoulder, and eyes are hazel and piercing. She is confident most of the time; the only time that confidence fails is when she fears failure in front of others. She is refined and intelligent, but not haughty, though many will see her that way: in the novel I’m writing now, she knows she’s seen as something of an “Ice Princess”, cold and aloof. Annie’s facial appearance is based somewhat upon actress Jodelle Ferland.

The boy is Kerry Malibey. He’s also eleven, five foot tall, Caucasian with an exceptional light complexion due to having an Irish-American mother and a Welsh father. He has short, slightly curly red hair, bright green eyes, freckles, and wears rectangular pewter-colored wire rim glasses. He goes almost everywhere with his backpack, and most of the time you’ll find his tablet computer inside. He’s bright as hell, cleaver, but socially awkward. This means he has trouble making friends, but for some reason he bonds with Annie quickly.

There you have it: my main characters that I’d like to see on the cover. If you need more input, just ask.

The scene I have in mind is when they first arrive at the school. I modeled the school in Blender, so I have a good visual idea of how I see it. There is a huge building in the center of a star-like wall: this is call the Great Hall. The wall around the building is known as The Pentagram, because as mentioned it’s in the shape of a five-pointed star. The main entrance to The Pentagram is known as Founder’s Gate, a large archway built through the thick Pentagram Walls. The pathway from Founder’s Gate to the Great Hall is about two football fields long–yes, it’s a big place. On either side of the pathway is the Pentagram Garden, which is full of flowers, bushes, shrubs, and trees.

I see Annie and Kerry standing inside Founder’s Gate with ten students in the distance positioned around an adult. This is important: Kerry is always on Annie’s right, and she on his left. This is something that should happen in all the covers. Here, they should be looking around, both in three-quarter profile, like they’re looking back and towards each other. Kerry is wearing jeans, a dark-wine colored hoodie, and his backpack. One hand, probably his left, is hooked in the shoulder strap. He could even look a bit amazed because he’d never seen anything like this.

Annie is looking to her right, doing the same as Kerry, but she’s aware of the school’s existence, and so her amazement is not as great. She’s wearing jeans as well, and a nice, long-sleeve pullover. If she’s wearing earrings, they are either small gold loops or similar colored studs. No rings, bracelets, or necklaces. She also has a small leather purse, slung cross body, probably on her left side, but it may have moved around to the front.

It’s night time and there’s a misting rain. The school is surrounded by darkness and any lighting here is low and possesses a blueish tint. Nothing is direct; all light is indirect, and doesn’t seem to come from anywhere, though there are plenty of shadows.

A For Advanced Act One Cover Idea

The title of this novel is The Foundation Chronicle: A For Advanced on the top, Act One: Meetings in the Beginning at the bottom. My name can come below the bottom title. The font for the bottom title doesn’t need to be a huge font: just enough so it’s seen. But I don’t need to tell you this.

If you have any questions, just ask.

 

There you have it:  my ideas for the first two covers.  And if you’re asking, “Do you know what you want for the last two covers?” the answer is, yes, I do.  In fact, I have two ideas for the last cover, so there are five ideas for four covers.  Always have a Plan B, kids.  The upshot here is, my artist may have her own ideas, so we can work together and come up with something that is good for me and her.

Then there is writing . . . as if the above isn’t enough.

I finished yesterday’s scene, and it’s okay, but not my best writing.  I felt distracted most of the night, even with the music pumping, because, well, things.  You know?  But we find out a lot more now that Kerry is in bed for a while–

 

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

Kerry looked up at the ceiling and noticed for the first time the lights were on in the ward. “What time is it?”

Annie gave his fingers a light squeeze. “It’s a little after nineteen.”

“I was out for five hours.” He swallowed slowly, thinking it would help avoid pain. It did. “Wow.”

“You were out longer than that after the Day of the Dead.” Coraline checked the instruments over his head. “You adjusted to the treatment quicker this time—”

“Because I’m probably used to it.” He flexed his fingers under Annie’s. “I missed dinner.”

“I’m having some teleshko vareno brought up in a little while.”

“And I wouldn’t worry about eating, either—” Coraline chuckled as she stepped back from the bed. “Nurses Aid Annie will see to it you won’t go hungry.”

Kerry smiled weakly. “She’s done that before.”

Shush, you.” Annie never took her eyes from Kerry, her love emanating from them. “I told you we’d have that after the race.”

“I just didn’t think it was going to be this late after the race.”

 

Annie even tells Kerry to shush when he’s hurt, and there’s not only a little of the banter going on between her Coraline, but Annie can take some good-natured ribbing from an adult.

 

“The team came by to see how you were doing—” Once again Annie scooted her chair closer towards the head of his bed. “Even the boys came. You were out, of course . . .” She looked down the length of the bed as if she expected to see Kerry suddenly well and healed. “Penny and Alex said they’d be back later with Jairo—”

“And Kahoku, too?” Kahoku Sayasone, a C Level from Blodeuwedd, was the boy Alex dated since near the end of the last school year, and he’d become a fixture in the gathering of the Party of Five.

 

And now we know who Alex’s boyfriend is:  a boy from Laos.  Trust me, Kahoku is from there–I’ve ever got his home town written down somewhere . . .

 

“Yes, he’s going to stop by as well.”

Kerry closed his eyes for a moment, not because he was tired, but because he wanted the chance to get his thoughts around the next question, and the ones that would likely follow. “How’s Emma?”

“As bad as you.” Coraline stood near the foot of Kerry’s bed. “She broke both arms and a leg as well as her jaw. She also has a hairline fracture in her skull, which means I may hold her overnight tomorrow, too. I’ll see how she’s doing when I release you.”

“When is that gonna be?” Even though Coraline indicated he was responding to treatment faster than he had a year ago after his Day of the Dead crash, he didn’t believe for a moment he’d be released in the morning.

“I’m going to keep you at least twenty-four hours.” Coraline checked something below the level of where he lay. “I’m concerned about that concussion, just like I’m worried about Emma’s skull. Best not to take chances.”

 

If you’re wondering why Kerry is hurt so much worse here–but was knocked out longer the first time–it might have been due to having less protection the first time throwing a huge shock on his body–the safety enchantments in his normal flight gear is minimal compared to his racing gear, and even though the speeds were great in this latest accident, there was really more protection.  You can probably guess that without those enchantments in place, both Emma and Kerry would be dead.

He has other questions as well . . .

 

“She’s right.” Annie barely touched his left arm. “You need to get well, my love.”

“No disagreement from me.” He closed his eyes again. “Why did she do it?”

“Do what?”

“Block me like that at the end?”

“No one knows.”

“Why not?” Kerry found it strange she hadn’t said anything about the crash.

“Because she’s still unconscious.” Coraline looked down once more. “The chances are good she won’t wake up until sometime after midnight—excuse me—” She quickly left the bay, closing the curtain behind her.

 

Yeah, this is your first time to crash like this, Emma, so you get to stay knocked out longer–just as Kerry did the first time.

 

Annie continued gazing in the direction of the departed doctor. “Erywin was by to see how you were doing—” She turned back toward Kerry. “So was Holoč and Vicky. They wanted to make sure you were recovering.”

He smiled. “That was nice. I wish I’d been awake.”

Annie drew a slow breath. “Erywin’s not happy.”

“What do you mean?”

“What she means is Erywin’s pissed.” Coraline returned with a collection bag for Kerry’s catheter. “She told me not to clear Emma for flying this week because she’s sitting her down for one race.” She quickly swapped out the bags and dropped the full one in a biohazard container. “Erywin’s also gonna ream her out when she wakes up—”

“Because of the crash.”

“It’s more than that, my love.” Annie stretched her shoulders, pressing them forward. “Emma had been warned twice during the race about her blocking, and Erywin told us that if the race had gone another lap she was going to sit her down.”

“Wow.” It was rare to pull a racer from the course and sit them down, but Kerry remembered what Nadine had told Annie and him that morning, that Emma had received warnings before this about the same thing. “I can see why Erywin got mad—”

And while Erywin may not have the temper of her partner, you never want to piss her off.  Also–

 

“There’s something else: after everyone finished she was penalized five seconds. She dropped from second to seventh.”

“She didn’t even point?”

“No. And it moved Manco up into sixth.” Annie slowly smiled. “Cernonnus went from being scored first, third, and forth to securing all the podium positions as well as scoring sixth.”

Coraline cleared her throat. “Not only that, but Åsgårdsreia had a good heat and is now a point behind Mórrígan, and . . .” She nodded at Annie. “You should tell him.”

“Ceridwen had a horrible heat—we moved into third in the coven standings.”

Kerry laughed despite the pain. “Really?”

“Yes. Sweeping the podium ended up pushing us three points ahead.”

“Congratulations.” Coraline patted his right leg, the only limb he had that wasn’t broken. “Your second win, and you helped you helped move your coven into third.”

“Also . . “ Annie seemed almost embarrassed to speak. “It’s the first time Mórrígan hasn’t scored a podium position in a two-team heat since 1986.”

Coraline nodded. “I think that upsets Erywin the most.” She picked up the biohazard container with Kerry discarded urine bag. “Your soup is here, by the way. Want me to wheel it down?”

Annie nodded politely. “Yes, please.”

Kerry watched Coraline leave the bay. “Is she going to let you sleep here tonight?”

“What do you think?” Annie beamed. “There’s no way she could keep me away, my love. She’s in a good mood tonight: she said we could even have a little Madness party here if we didn’t get loud.”

“Nice.” He wished he could touch Annie, and hated not having the use of his arms. “You’re gonna have to sleep in the other bed tonight, you know.”

Annie finally leaned in and kissed Kerry lightly upon the lips. “Such are the sacrifices one must make for their champions . . .”

 

So a lot accomplished last night.  Tonight I’m going to try and put together the idea for the second Foundation cover, and maybe even the ones I have for the third.  Most of all, I’d say I got a lot done yesterday.  Quite a lot done . . .

The Normalcy Over Lovecraft Country

Today I did my best to come up with a H. P. Lovecraft-inspired title, because today’s scene talks a little about that particular gentleman’s work.  Not a lot, more of a general feel.  But the strangeness is sort of a point in the scene, and how it leads somewhere else.

This is all Kerry’s scene, more or less.  It’s all about observations, about what you see and what it’s doing to you.  Kerry spent nearly all of the last book looking for himself and his memories, and once they were found, he reverted back to the kid he sort of is deep down inside:  intelligent and caring, but awkward at the same time.  Except around certain people, as you’ll see.

 

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

It was about the time he was flying six hundred meters over Pingree School on the leg leading to the Hamilton/Wenham MBTA station that Kerry realized how much fun he was having. Within the confines of the walls of the School of Salem it was possible to fly around without giving thought to where he was, or where he was going, because when one was restricted to fifteen square kilometers, it was possible to fly around without a plan.

Outside the walls it was as completely different story. For one, you couldn’t fly anywhere without logging a flight plan with the Fight School. After that, it was necessary to get approval from Vicky and Isis, both for the plan and for permission to fly alone, or with other people. Kerry knew five fliers from last year’s Basic Flight who were denied permission to fly outside the school because they hadn’t perfected their light bending skills, and couldn’t use Unseen Flight Protocols during daylight hours. When flying in a school group using UFP was easy, because Vicky would enchant your broom if you couldn’t make yourself unseen, but once out on your own it was Bend Light or Stay Home.

Using UFP was never a problem for Annie and him. They were doing it now, and Isis had even mentioned that because they were light benders Annie’s Flight education would get fast tracked because she could venture out beyond the school and take her solo flights a year early.

Right now they were flying without a plan—or, he thought, Isis and Annie were flying on a plan, and all he had to do was follow and watch. He kept an eye on his HUD to see if Annie’s altitude was bouncing, because it was one of his duties as a chase pilot to monitor things like Annie speed, altitude, course, and her personal condition.

That last was an important point, and it was during Advanced Flight 1 a couple of weeks before that Vicky pulled him aside and reinforced the notion that when he flew with Annie during her solo flights, his most important job was to watch for any indications that she was growing tired and/or disoriented . . .

Isis’ voice pulled him back to reality. “Okay, Overflight, we’re going to descend to four hundred meters. Athena, keep an eye on your altimeter. Starbuck, you still with us?”

Kerry waved in case one of both fliers in front were watching him in their rear view mirrors. “Totally hanging with you, Sekhmet.” He followed them lower as they approached South Hamilton and the train station. He saw Annie wave her right hand, letting him know they were slowing, and reduced speed as they leveled out just a touch over four hundred meters.

 

Here’s the area they’re traveling–

Welcome to the scene of the crime, so to speak.

Welcome to the scene of the crime, so to speak.

Just a short stretch, almost two and a half miles, or about four kilometers.  And he’s just hanging back there, watching, enjoying, and thinking . . .

 

He figured out what was going to happen: Isis was bringing the group—call sign Salem Overflight—to a dead stop over the train station so she could speak with Annie and impart a bit more wisdom. Kerry didn’t mind: during the previous moments he sat back and enjoyed the sights. And now that the overcast they’d started with almost an hour earlier was vanishing, the view was becoming spectacular.

Not only did he like flying outside the walls, but as he’d once told Annie there was something incredible about flying over Lovecraft Country. If he concentrated hard enough, he could imagine the land below to co-exist with the stories he’d grown up reading. Such was his knowledge that, at this moment, they should be sitting almost directly over the Miskatonic River, and their course from here would, in that alternate world, have them following the river until they were on the outskirts of Arkham.

For a moment he figured it would be interesting to overfly a modern-day Arkham and the Miskatonic University—and then he remembered the moment eleven months ago when he faced off against a creature right out of a Lovecraft story in order to save a wingmate’s life, and how that incident nearly killed him. On second thought, running into Deep Oneseven if I do know magicwouldn’t be so much interesting as terrifying

 

Lovecraft Country has come up before in the first novel:  Kerry mentioned it, and so did Helena, because with the last name of Lovecraft people either believe her to be related to one of the school founders, or to the writer.

Lovecraft Country is a real thing:  it’s the New England the ‘ol H. P. wrote about in his horror stories, and his biggest additions–besides monsters that would drive you insane before you died–were towns and rivers that don’t exist in that area.  The towns of Arkham and Innsmouth are two such towns, and if that first name sounds real familiar to people who know geek culture, it’s because it’s the location of the Arkham Asylum, which appeared in a couple of Lovecraft’s stories, and later became immortalized as the easiest place to bust out of if you’re a villain in the Batman Universe.  It’s also based upon a real location in that particular area of the world, and believe it or not, you’ll see it later in the novel.

Come for the beautiful scenery, stay because you were eaten by a monster.

Come for the beautiful scenery, stay because you were eaten by a monster.

Arkham was also the home, as Kerry pointed out, of Miskatonic University, the home of one of the best preserved copies of original Necronomicon, or the best known book that never existed.  The book that tells all the secrets Man Was Not Meant To Know, and which will drive you literally insane as you read it.  The book doesn’t exist in The Foundation World, either, because Lovecraft is a writer there as well, so there’s no way such a tome would exist at Salem.  No, really . . . well, maybe.  You’ll find out someday.

Anyway, it’s about this time, while Kerry’s chillin’ in mid-air, that someone starts pestering him–

 

“Starbuck, this is Carrier. Switch over to private. Over.”

Vicky’s voice was tiny in his right ear, that way so he wouldn’t become distracted by Vicky if Isis and Annie were also speaking. He double-tapped a point directly above his right ear, which would set the Overflight conversation to a soft hear-only, allowing him to speak privately with Vicky. “I’m here, Carrier. Go ahead. Over.”

Carrier’s question was right to the point. “How are they looking?”

“Well . . .” He sat upright on the saddle. “Sekhmet looks like she’s been doing this awhile, so she’s pretty good. Over.”

“Yeah, I hear that. And what about your other flier? Over.”

“Athena looks good, too.” He lifted his goggles and squinted at both women speaking to each other as they hovered five meters away. “She’s had a couple of issues with keeping altitude, but nothing major. Over.”

“That’s to be expected. It’s easier to maintain altitude when you’re on a broom, because of your orientation.” There was a nearly five second pause, and Kerry wondered if Vicky was going to pass the conversation to him when she continued. “But she looks good? Endurance-wise, I mean. Over.”

It had been stressed many times that Kerry be honest in his appraisals of Annie’s status and condition, and Vicky assured him that lying wouldn’t protect Annie, but hurt her in the long run. “Her endurance is great: I haven’t seen anything that indicates she’s struggling staying airborne.” He lifted his goggles away from his face. “Everything I’ve so far tells me she’s got this, Carrier.” He crossed his arms and smiled. “Over.”

Kerry expected Carrier to tell him to carry on and give him an over and out, but he got something completely different. “You’re really proud of her, aren’t you, Kerry?”

“You’re breaking protocol, Carrier.” His chuckle turned into a laugh. “Isis is gonna be mad if she finds out.”

“I set flight protocol, not her.” Vicky laughed right along with her student. “I’ll ground her if she doesn’t like how I do things.”

“Well, there is that.”

A loud sigh came over the comm. “You gonna answer my question? Over.”

“I’ll answer: you know I’m proud of her.” He watched Annie as he spoke. “Not only is she an incredible witch and sorceress, but she’s able to do this as well as pilot a broom.” He imaged his face softening as he began thinking of all the things that he loved about her. “And there’s all the ways she’s helped me out, before and after starting school.” He started rocking slowly upon his seat. “She’s done a lot to make me who I am. That’s quite a lot to love.”

“Love.” The tapping of her nails against a counter was clearly audible over the comm. “That’s the first time I’ve heard you say that word aloud.”

“I’ve said it before—”

“Not in front of me.”

Kerry nodded slowly to himself. “You’re probably right. Or if I had, I didn’t mean it like I, you know—”

“Just meant how it was just said?”

“Yeah.”

“I get what you mean, Starbuck.” Vicky’s voice became softer, as if she weren’t alone. “A couple of years ago I’ll bet you never counted that this would be your life.”

He looked down. “You mean sitting on the modern version of a witch’s broom four hundred meters above a town in eastern Massachusetts?”

“That’s one thing, yeah. You know what I mean: this wasn’t the sort of life you expected by the time you were twelve—right?”

 

Like Kerry, Vicky comes from a Normal background.  She’s been married, divorced, remarried, and has two kids.  And suddenly she starts bringing up things . . .

 

It took Kerry a few seconds to fully understand what Vicky meant, because it was easy to forget, unless reminded, that some of the instructors came from beginnings much like his. “You speaking from experience, Nightwitch?”

“Oh, hell yes. I turned eleven in November, 1980, and a couple of months later, right after the new year started, The Foundation comes and tells my parent they were paying for me to go to an exclusive school out on the east coast.” Kerry could almost see her shaking her head. “They couldn’t wait to get me on that plane heading to Boston.”

“My parents were sort of the same way—they heard ‘free education’ and that was all they needed to hear.” Kerry turned and looked off in the direction of the Atlantic and Cape Ann. “I mean, about a minute after I read the material I was given—”

“Which was bull.”

“But it was the right bull . . . After I read that, there was no way I wanted to go back to Normal school.”

“I didn’t know what I wanted. I wasn’t worldly at all, and I figured I’d go the same route as my older sister: find a nice Jewish boy, eventually get married and have kids.”

“I didn’t know you had a sister.” Kerry always loved discovering new things about the people around him.

“Yeah: seven years older than me. While I was planing to go to school, she was planing to go to the same college as her boyfriend.” She sighed long and low. “That’s what she always talked about back then: get a degree in business admin, get married, maybe open a small so she could set her own hours and be close to home.” There was a single chortle from her end. “I’ll tell you what, though: I headed out east with this idea that I was heading for one of those exclusive boarding schools you saw on TV and in the movies, and that notion did a one-eighty and departed quickly the moment I saw those outer gates.”

“Yeah—” Kerry laughed. “Was a bit like heading into Jurassic Park, wasn’t it?”

“That was ten years before my time; it was more like King Kong to me.” There was a sharp intake of breath. “By the time I walked through Founder’s Gate I was like, ‘Oy vey, what have you gotten yourself into?’”

Her reaction brought back some of his own feeling upon walking up to the Great Hall. “I know what you mean. But everything turned out okay for you, didn’t it?”

“Oh, yeah, but it took about a month before I got it together and started dealing with this whole ‘You’re a witch’ thing.” Kerry heard her breathing slow on the other end of the comm. “It became the new normal for me; I imagine it became the same thing for you.”

 

“The new normal.”  That’s a theme in this book:  what is and isn’t normal.  One of the themes of Lovecraft’s stories was that while everything looked normal, but nothing really was:  there was always something just beyond the edge of knowledge that would scare the shit out of people if they ever learned of its existence.  The whole of the School of Salem is like that:  image the people living just outside the walls who think they live next to a forest preserve, and what they’d do if they actually knew of what lay beyond those high walls they can’t see.

It’s right here that Kerry thinks about his “new normal” and tells Vicky what’s on his mind . . .

 

It was Kerry’s moment to sigh as he considered Vicky’s statement. There were moments after arriving at Salem when he’d believed much the same way as her, while at the same time he had an advantage that others didn’t have . . . “You know—”

“Yes?”

“Six years ago I was having a dream where I read to a girl. I knew the girl—I’d seen her before—but I’d never really done anything with her, and after that moment I really wanted to know as much about her as possible. I didn’t see her as much as I wanted, but I always looked for her.

“Four years ago she came back to my dreams and she lifted me out of what was turning into the worst moments of my life. She made me feel good; she make me smile. We told each other our names that night, and I found out that she wasn’t just a dream, she was a real person who was able to prove her existence.

“Three years ago we meet again in a dream and I told her I loved her, that I’d loved her for a while, and I found out she’d loved me even longer. A few months after that she told me that she was a witch, and I accepted it like I’d done everything else up to that point.”

He leaned forward, gripping the frame of his broom. “In the last year I forgot Annie, then met her in person. We came to school together and I found out I’m a witch and sorceress She helped me, I helped her, and I fell in love with her all over again. I’ve helped in the defense of the school; I’ve fought a monster; I’ve saved people. But most of all—” His face broke into a wide grin. “—I kissed Annie two miles up while everyone at school watched.”

Vicky was smiled, too, though there was no one to see. “You’re proudest moment, huh?”

“One of them. The point is—” He set his elbow against his thigh and rested his chin in his hand. “My normal had changed a long time before I ever got to Salem, and it’s all because of Annie and our experiences. Even though I didn’t remember her there was some memory that was keeping me from freaking out . . .” He saw Annie looking his way and he smiled. “She helped make this my normal.”

Isis’ voice radiated soft and low from the left side of Kerry’s helmet. “You still with us, Starbuck?”

 

Yes, he is, and they Overflight progresses from there.

It’s rather strange how Kerry relates his feelings to Vicky, how easily he speaks with her and Erywin as if they were his equals, and not instructors.  Given the right moments, he doesn’t mind opening up to them, and there’s no way one could imagine him having the same conversation above with his mother.  Even if mom did know he was a witch, given the lack of affection in that household, he could never open up to is mother or father.  At his point it seems impossible.

But there’s more in his works.  Deep down inside Kerry understood that the strangeness around him meant something.  It’s not everyday that someone meets a girl in their dreams, finds out they’re real, finds out they visit at least once or twice a week, falls in love with said girl and discovers she loves him, too, and then, when all that goes by, learns that she’s a witch.  He’s never given any indication that he found any of this strange and unusual, whereas most boy would probably have run off screaming that they were going nuts.  “I’m still here; I haven’t run off,” is something Kerry told Annie a couple of times, and it was true all through their dream relation before they met.

Kerry’s always taken the strangeness around him for granted.  Is it because he has been and is in love with Annie that he doesn’t mind the strangeness?

Or has he always been one of those humans who say what Lay Beyond without going insane?

Along the Old Paths Newly Beaten

First, let’s get this out of the way:  Kolor Ijo is finished as far as the edit of the first draft is concerned.  It’s a done deal.  See?

Done deals are done.

Done deals are done.

So now it’s onto finding a cover and doing another edit pass–which should go quickly–and getting it published.  Sometime this summer, for sure, but it’s gonna get done.  I promise that.

Now that I have this story out of the way, I can say I enjoyed revisiting these two characters, and the supernatural world of Indonesia, and . . . I do want to do it again.  Maybe the next story in this series could be next year’s April NaNo Camp novel.  We’ll see, but I want to go here again.

However, there’s something standing in the way, and that’s only about a month away from fruition . . .

Yesterday afternoon I got back into working on my time line for the Big Euro Tour my kids go on that won’t be talked about for a few more novels.  Yes, I plan years in advance, but that’s how I am–crazy, right?  Right.

The last time I showed the time line I was in Lyon, so where in the world are my kids now?

Technically they exist only in my mind, but we'll assume they're in Eastern Europe.

Technically they exist only in my mind, but we’ll assume they’re in Eastern Europe.

As you can see they made it to Paris, then moved eastward to Bruges, Amsterdam, Burg–which is south of Munich–and then Prague.  If you’ve never heard of Bruges, it’s in Belgium–as the time line points out–and it’s a wonderful old town that at one time was a seaport–even though it’s now eighteen miles from the English Channel–and has a four hundred year old brewery, which makes it one of the oldest in Europe.  It’s about an hour from Brussels by train, so if you happen to be in that neck of the woods, give it a visit.  Also, the movie, In Bruges, was filmed there, so if you want a quick look at the city between scenes of people being killed, give it a gander.

There’s also a mark there which says they’re Seeing the Seer, and that’s a little side trip out of Lyon to fly south so Annie and Kerry can visit Deanna.  Where is she?

Unlike Waldo, she's easy to find.

Unlike Waldo, she’s easy to find.

The entirety of the journey follows the Rhine River to Montélimar, which is a little over one hundred and forty kilometers south of Lyon.  I put in her a secluded chateau, which I hope the people now living there won’t mind, but it’s the sort of place where I can see Deanna living.  And just so you know, they’ll visit a couple of other instructors as well during their trip.

It’s funny, but all the places Annie and Kerry are staying from Barcelona to Bruges are the same places I stayed when I traveled the same route in 2006.  Only I went the whole way by train, and didn’t make any side trips on high tech brooms.  It only makes sense that I would fall back on something I know, however, and looking at those same locations on Google Maps brought back some interesting memories–including one that involved a dream someone had of the same hotel room I stayed in while in Paris, only they were staying with, um, me.  Yeah, it was freaky.

When they get to Amsterdam they stay in a pretty swanky place and spend a few days laying about and decompressing before heading to the south of Germany for a few days.  They check into the Hotel de L’Europe and get a suite that most of us can only dream about getting, which means it’s probably good to be a witch living in The Foundation’s graces, because I don’t know many fourteen year olds–as they’ll be by that time–who can just walk in off the streets and say, “Hey, we’re here to check in,” and no one bats an eye.  It’s something that will come up in a later conversation when Annie and Kerry at chatting with one of their instructors.

On the way out of Amsterdam and heading for the forests of Bavaria they buzz the John Frost Bridge in Arnhem–

Otherwise known a "A Bridge Too Far," and one I have personally stood upon--

Otherwise known as “A Bridge Too Far,” and one I have personally stood upon.

–and continue onto Burg, which isn’t far from the German Alps.  The reason they stay there?  Not saying.  You’ll find out later.

While going over the trip I realized that there was a serious exclusion:  there weren’t any stop-offs in Bulgaria.  Now, Annie knows Bulgaria, and if there’s one place she has visited more than a few times it’s Sofia, so . . . why isn’t she taking Kerry there for a little look-see?  In my mind I can see them talking this over, probably in Amsterdam, and deciding that rather than fly from Budapest to Bucharest, they’d fly to Sofia instead and Annie could spend a few days showing Kerry around.  This would involve them flying down a significant part of the Danube River (Kerry will likely dig out the soundtrack from 2001 to play the waltz as they set off) on their way to the capital of Bulgaria.  After that last stop they’ll head back to Pamporovo and Annie’s home, bringing their trip to an end on 31 July as they promised her parents.

Which means the new map looks like this:

Hey, routes are easy to change, don't you know?

Hey, routes are easy to change, don’t you know?

As it is in the time line they only have fifteen more days of sightseeing, and four of those days are spent flying, though since Sofia is on the other side of the mountains from Annie’s home, they can leave the capital after lunch and be back at her place in time for dinner.

There you have it:  all the work I’m doing for something that I may not write about for years to come, if I ever do get around to writing about it.  I hope this happens, though, because it would be the start of the D Level novel, and so much stuff happens during their D Levels–

Things, too.

You knew I’d say that.

After the Turnpike Shuffle

Here I am, more or less safe and sound, back in the old homestead of Indiana.  Let me tell you, it was a wild ride yesterday.

As I may have indicated I started out from Harrisburg about midnight, so by about five in the morning, after only about, oh, no sleep in almost twenty-four hours, I was completely out of it.  I ended up stopping at the service plaza after the one where I posted yesterday’s blog entry, used the bathroom, and slept in the car for a little over an hour.  Outside.  In the cold.  Wrapped up in my jacket.  I’ve done worse, trust me.

Lack of sleep was probably one of the reasons I seemed to get through western Ohio pretty fast, because I wasn’t paying attention to anything but the road before me.  But I made it back to Valparaiso with almost no gas in the car, managed to get unpacked, and napped for almost another hour before taking my shot.

And got the picture in my HRT folder just so I can see how I keep changing.

And got the picture in my HRT folder just so I can see how I keep changing.

I was exhausted though, and was asleep by nine-thirty at night here, or ten-thirty back home, and only woke up once to use the bathroom before crawling out of bed at a little after seven in the morning, or eight back in The Burg.  That’s a good rest for me–

Oh, I should mention, I edited last night.

Really, would you expect anything less?

Really, would you expect anything less?

I did chapters Twenty-Two and Twenty-Three, and started falling asleep as I looked over Chapter Twenty-Four, the penultimate chapter.  It’s because of that last–the falling asleep part–that I decided to call it a night and slink off to bed.

(Just a bit of trivia now:  while Chapter Twenty-Four, the next to last chapter, is known as the penultimate chapter, Chapter Twenty-Three is known as the antepenultimate chapter, Chapter Twenty-Two is the preantepenultimate chapter, and Chapter Twenty-One is the propreantepenultimate chapter.  The Coda is the ultimate chapter, naturally.  Now go forth and amuse your friends.)

I’m happy with how the edit has gone, and I’ll likely do another fast pass through the story before getting to the final draft.  It’s clean, and being as short as it is–just under seventy thousand words–I can give it a read-through in about two weeks.  Bit I will feel far more comfortable with on more pass through the story before I decide it’s ready to upload to Smashwords and ready for publication.

Today I do laundry and a few other things, and I finish Kolor Ijo for sure.  It’s almost ready, and I think it’s a good addition to my tiny catalog of publications.  I’m thinking more about B For Bewitching, and I know I’ll work on the Annie and Kerry Euro Trip time line some, probably this afternoon, because I’m itching to do that.

Oh, and another picture:

Behold the horror of morning without makeup!

Behold the horror of morning without makeup!

Yeah, just to show people I’m alive, I snapped this about forty minutes ago, after a bushed my teeth and shaved.  (Yes, I still do that–bummer.)  No makeup, nothing used to bring out my face, and I’m still in my pajamas.  This is how I look while I’m typing this line . . .

Hope I didn’t scar you with that image.  Haha!

Admiring the Prior Creation

There was a moment during last night’s editing of Kolor Ijo that had me going, “Hum, really?  I did that?”  And it had nothing to do with clumsy sentence structure, of which a few I discovered during the night.  It had to do with discovering that I’d actually done a great job setting up a mystery–

Allow me to explain.

First off, I’m not good with riddles and mysteries.  Riddles have always set up a mind block in me of some kind, and I usually have no idea what they are, or mean.  I mean, there’s often no point of reference for them, so unless you’re Edward E. Nigma, they seem difficult, if not impossible, to solve.

And mysteries are never good with me.  I can usually see the solution coming a mile a way, or I’m spending too much time trying to figure out how the particular conclusion was reached an I remained puzzled.  This is one of the reasons I don’t mind spoilers in a book, show, or movie, because a lot of time I’m watching how someone–the writer and director in most cases–got from A to Z without tripping over their own feet.  I’ll usually have to go back and reread or watch something to determine if I enjoyed what I’d seen, or if I’d realized that what was before me made no sense.  (I had that happen with a recent re-watching of the movie, The Avengers.  Didn’t make much sense on the second time around.)

But what I’d done in Kolor Ijo was set up a mystery.  I had to, because the events that lead to Part Three are all dependent on things that happen twenty years before, and as I was going through the story last night, I could remember how I’d spent time sinking down into the story and looking up some history on Indonesia to be able to get to that particular point in the novel.  And after I did so, I felt pretty pleased with myself.

I didn't look quite as happy as this, but I was almost there.

I didn’t look quite as happy as this, but I was almost there.

Last night wasn’t the best of nights, what with crying and my toilet deciding it was going to spray water around my bathroom with a little help from me–that last part is true, don’t ask.  But while I was in my little editing zone, I felt a confident and, yes, pleasure, that all those years ago–well, almost three–I was able to set up a background event that, in the long term, made sense.  And I remember now that this story was one of the reasons I started looking into time line software, because I was probably thinking at the time, “This would be a lot easier to lay out if I could actually see what happened in the past.”

That’s carried into today, because I’m setting up little hints and clues to future events in my current set of novels.  Or, if not that, I’m throwing things out there that may seem like I’m just blowing them off, but that will be resolved somewhere down the line.  Maybe in few chapters, maybe in a few novels.

Believe me, though:  I will get back to them, because I know they are there.

From Makassar to Massachusetts

Though there hasn’t been much comment on the subject of late, I’m three chapters into the edit of Part Two of Kolor Ijo.  Really, truly, I am, because I actually worked on two chapters last night.

See?  A manuscript!  It does exist.

See? A manuscript! It does exist.

I was surprised that editing went so quickly last night.  Well, I shouldn’t say quickly:  I finished up Chapter Seven, then polished off Chapters Eight and Nine before settling in for the night, watching a little television, and going to bed.  Actually, I didn’t get heavily into editing until after watching Planet of the Apes, so that means I spent about an hour before that movie came on, and two after, going through about four thousand words.

Now that I’m through the intro–and believe it when I say that Part One really is an intro–I’m starting to enjoy the editing on the story.  I’ve been cutting stuff out; not a lot, but enough that I’ve probably dropped the word count by over a hundred up to these last chapters.  Last night was the first time I ended up with words added to the count:  fifteen exactly.  Wee hoo!  Better watch out, it could be the start of something bad!

There is a pleasantness in being able to read something that I haven’t see in a while, and that makes it easier for me to take my time, read the passages, and see all the little mistakes that were made–or, as the case was last night, a couple of big mistakes when I found paragraphs that made no sense at all and needed some massive fixing.  That’s the idea of an edit–to find stuff like that and get it right.

So it’s coming along nicely.  I plan to get through the next chapter tonight, and this is one of the longer chapters–as you can see from the image above, I started getting a bit wordy in this part of the story, which is normal for me.  At the rate I’m proceeding, I feel I’ll have the first pass edit finished in a couple of weeks, and then I’ll probably send it out for beta reading while doing another edit.  If I can find a cover for cheap, I’ll likely go ahead with my plans to self-publish the book in June.  Or maybe I should just bite the bullet and start sending it out to some of the local horror houses.

Speaking of novels . . .

I’ve been bothered by the lack of my kids in my life of late.  While I haven’t been thinking much about A For Advanced, yesterday did trigger a lot of thoughts about Annie and Kerry.  As much as writing a four hundred thousand plus word novel was a total pain in the ass, I realize that I do want to tell what happens to them, and that their first level was just the beginning.  There’s a whole lot more ahead–not just their school years, but stuff that happens after.

Therefore, I reached a decision last night.  In May, probably the first weekend in the month, which happens to be 1 and 2 May, I’m going to set up a project and stay laying out the novel.  If I stick to my normal process, about the time Salem would be shutting down for the summer, and Annie and Kerry would be on their way home, I’ll likely start writing The Foundation Chronicles:  B For Bewitching.

There.  I said it.

So it is written, so it is done.

Tales of Writing For Tanya

Here I am, once again, with questions about writing, and I saved some of the best–and longest–for last, all from my friend Tanya, she of the video I released just the other day.  If there is anyone who knows me as a writer it’s her, because she’s been with me from the start of when I began writing once again.  That means she also knows what questions to ask.

And those questions are:

 

What does your writing process look like? Do you have any writing habits that might be considered strange or unusual? Just how important are names in your books? What is your LEAST favorite part of the whole writing/publishing process? Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder to write than others? Have you always enjoyed writing and if so, what were some of the earliest things you remember putting pen to paper about? Do you tend to write your stories in order or do you skip around?

 

A lot of questions, so let me address them one at a time.

 

What does your writing process look like?

 

I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m going to write, then I start gathering data for my story–if it’s necessary–and once that’s all finished, I plot things out and start writing.  While I’m writing I’m constantly thinking about what’s just around the corner in the story, and I’m working out future scenes in my head as I going through whatever I’m working on currently.  I also do that because with a large enough work–like this last novel–you find that some things didn’t work, some things need more explanation, and sometimes you just gotta add or remove scenes to have the story work.  I try to write every night, and I try to get in between five hundred and a thousand words a night.  Five hundred words doesn’t sound like much, but if you keep at it every day, it adds up.

 

Do you have any writing habits that might be considered strange or unusual?

 

Other that monthly sacrifices to Cthulhu, no.  I enjoy listening to music when I’m writing (as I’m doing right now, listing to a Genesis concert from Zurich, Switzerland, recorded during their Wind and Wuthering tour in 1977), but there aren’t any other unusual habits I have when I’m working on a story.  Though I suppose one could say that once I start a story I dedicate myself to finishing it and not working on or getting sidetracked by other stories that may pop into my head.  If that happens they go into the idea file and I move on.  Remember, kids:  stay focused on what’s before you, and stop with the “But this other story came up and I just had to work on it!”  If that’s the case, then the first story was never meant to be.  And if you get distracted by a third story after you start that second, don’t quit your day job.

 

Just how important are names in your books?

 

They’re important.  As I’ve pointed out in another post, I work on my names until I get them right, and I’ve worked on stories before (Her Demonic Majesty being one) where I had a character and I just had the hardest time writing about that person because I wasn’t diggin’ the name.  But once I know who “they” are, then I’m good to go and I get into them greatly.  Sometimes I get into a character’s name so much that whenever I hear it outside the story, I sort of flash on my character and wonder what they should do next.

 

What is your LEAST favorite part of the whole writing/publishing process?

 

Promotion is, for me, the worse.  That’s because I’m really not good at selling myself, and I always feel like I’m pushing my crap onto other people if I’m trying to get them interested in my stories.  Even though it’s the only way to get any exposure in these days of self publishing, I hate it.  And once you’ve seen another writer spamming every thread they can access with invitations to read their story, you feel like you don’t want to bother people with your requests.  Truly, I suck at this.

 

Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder to write than others?

 

A lot of people would imagine romance scenes are hard to write, but I’m actually go with those–I enjoy writing them, because if handled right, romantic scenes are great for character building.  Just look at Annie and Kerry and see how they grew in their romance.  (And, no, That Girl does not exist here.  Nope.  Not at all.  Move along.)

The scenes I have the most difficulty writing are action scenes, and here’s the reason why.  These days, action has become associated with visual presentations seen on movies and television.  We now have an expectation of how action is suppose to play out, and directors and special effects people know exactly how those are to look.

The only thing is, action on the screen is difficult to play out on the written page.  There are only so many adjectives one can apply to action before you start repeating yourself, or end up looking ridiculous.  And if you watch closely, some action scenes in movies play out forever:  it’s like they slipped into a Whovian Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey ball of stuff, and what should be over in two minutes gone on for twenty.

My action scenes tend to be short and quick, because if you were paying attention, the three main action scenes that were in The Foundation Chronicles:  A For Advanced–Kerry fighting the Abomination; Annie and Kerry against the homunculi in Self Defense class; and the Battle of Link Bridge–went fairly fast.  Well, two of the three, but we’ll get to that . . .  The reason they went fast is either due to some heavy-ass magic flying about–the Link Bridge battle–or one opponent was outclassed by the other–Kerry and the Abomination.  In the second example Kerry quickly came to the conclusion that if he hung around trying to fight this thing he was gonna die, and did what he could to get the creature off Emma and to come after him thinking he could somehow outrun the beast.  In the first example you saw that magic fights were a little like modern day aircraft or submarine battles:  if you get through the defenses and hit, you’ll score a kill.  As I showed, the Link Bridge Battle was over in forty seconds, and most everyone was in bad shape after that little soiree–even the winners needed a quick evac.

The exception to this rule was Annie and Kerry fighting the homunculi scene–or as I lovingly titled it, The Walking Tests.  That went on for about nine thousand words, due to the set up, the preamble of one coven getting their butts kicked, and after the fight hearing about how the test may have been set up, and our two combatants wandering off to clean up.  The actually battle seemed to take some time, only because there was some butt saving, and some talking, and most talking, and finally–well, once the kids figured out how to dust those loser homunculi walkers, it was over quickly.  If I had to put a timer on the action, I’d say Annie and Kerry were on the mat no more than a couple of minutes at most–and that took four thousand words.

Though I have to admit that scene was one of my favorites to write, even if it did take me almost a week . . .

 

Have you always enjoyed writing and if so, what were some of the earliest things you remember putting pen to paper about?

 

While I like telling stories, I can’t say I’ve always enjoyed writing.  Mostly because, at least in the beginning, one, I have horrible handwriting; two, I can’t spell worth a damn; and three, I couldn’t type.  Once I learned to type I only had Point Two holding me back, and spell checkers help out there greatly.

The first story I remember completing was a horror tale that was really about as amateur as they get, complete with creepy, unknown things going bump in the night, and the overused trope of the author (the story was told in first person point of view) continuing to write as the Horror Outta The Basement came to eat his ass–otherwise known as the Apocalyptic Log with the writing making sure everyone read The Last Entry.

At the time I thought I was doing something great, but now it’s not hard to see it was complete crap.  I really had no idea what I was doing, and I was totally coping the style of a write whose work I enjoyed.  All writers do this (well, almost all), and I learned from that work, because my next two were much better.  The second story I wrote was done with original characters, and involved a trio of time travelers realizing the part they had to play in the assassination attempt on President Reagan in 1981.  It was the first time I worked with original characters who weren’t just there as part of the scenery, and there was the first inkling of a story starting to play out.  (True story:  this was written as an assignment for an adult writing night course I was taking.  The instructor had wanted something along the lines of four to five pages; I turned in twenty-eight.  She made certain to tell the whole class that I’d actually turned in a story, which I found a little embarrassing.)

And my third story was really sort of a fan fiction, as it took place inside a role playing universe that I was running at the time–however, I used all original character (save for two who were really in a position to help drive the plot along), and there was an actual history developed in the course of telling this story, where I was giving background on some of the characters, and even giving them, in the course of the story, motivation for their actions.  It was also my first really cinematic story, as I could see scenes playing out as if I was watching this play out on HBO–and given all the swearing and mayhem that occurred in the story, it would have been perfect for HBO before the coming of the show known as A Song of Breasts and Dragons.

The most important thing about the story, however, was the length:  it was about forty-five thousand words, which means long before I wrote my first novel, this was my first novel, at least according to the guild lines set down by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  And only a few friend ever heard the whole story:  I never posted it on the Internet, I never tried to get it published because I know, as a derivative entity of an existing work with a legitimate copywrite, I couldn’t do anything with the story.  I read it at writer’s meetings, and that was that.

None of these works exist any longer.  They all resided on the hard drive an old computer that eventually went belly up, and were lost to history.  I managed to find a hard copy of almost half of the third story about fifteen years ago (all these things were written in the late 1980s, early 1990s), but even that has vanished.  I could, however, rewrite the third story if I had to, because even to this day I remember it well, because, really, you never forget your first.

 

Do you tend to write your stories in order or do you skip around?

 

And we finally come to the last question, and the crowd goes wild!  Just kidding . . .

I write everything in order, and even I find that a bit strange, because as I have my stories laid out so well, it doesn’t make sense that I start at the beginning, work my way through the middle, and work towards the end, because if I know what’s going into a scene months before I get to it, why not write said scene?  Writing software makes this possible, and with all my scenes for my last novel developed before setting down word one, then why not skip around?  Why not write about what happened to Annie and Kerry in Kansas City long before they go to the Samhain Dance, or why not write the ending–which I knew before I started writing–and then get the kids together?

Because even though I know what’s going to happen before I get to those scenes, I don’t know what’s going to happen until I get there.

Allow me to explain.

When I laid out A For Advanced I knew the kids would go to Kansas City on a field op for the good guys.  And, in a metadata view of the story, I knew certain things would happen there.  What I didn’t know were the details, and I didn’t start working on those until I was about ready to write them.  This was after I had months to think about that adventure, and even when I started writing, I only knew maybe six events in any kind of detail.

Annie and Kerry talking about France outside the school?  Came to me that day before I wrote the scene.  Same with the Dreamspace scene; had that idea the night before because I knew it made sense given what they knew.  The CDC?  Also figured out the day before I wrote the scene, based upon what I knew of the world I’d developed over the last year.  And the Magic Show the kids gave in the park only came about due to knowing what they had already done magically, and want I wanted to bring up in a later scene.

In short, I couldn’t have written any of the Kansas City scenes without knowing what my kids had been through before getting there.  I mean, I could have, but those scenes would have been completely different, and it’s very likely I may have needed to rewrite them completely to fit with what I’d written if I’d decided to work the whole field op out of order.

There are scenes I could write now for later novels because I know them well–and believe it when I say I would love to sometimes, just to write them out.  But I would probably end up rewriting them later, and I hate to do that.  It’s best to get to them in the right order so I know that my kids have advanced the way they’re supposed to advance.

Though if I did write out The Polar Express now it would answer one burning question . . .

"She finally tells us if Kerry nailed that tramp Emma and ends up cheating on Annie, who is just way too good for him!  Yay!"

“She’s finally going to tell us if Kerry nails that horrible tramp Emma and ends up breaking Annie’s heart! Yay!”

Ummm, on second thought, I’ll just keep that information to myself for a few more years.

There you have it:  twenty-five hundred words telling you a bit more about me as a writer.  I hope you found it entertaining.

Because I remembered things that I thought I’d lost.  And that’s a good thing.