Fall and the Dreamland Express

It is the First of September, the day that people who are supposed to track these sorts of things say is pretty much the day fall begins.  Never mind that here in The Burg today and the next two days are gonna see temps get up above ninety Fahrenheit, it’s fall, which means I need to get into my jeans, slip on my Ugg boots, and go sip a pumpkin spiced latte and get a selfie while standing in leaves next to pumpkins.

I've got the boots ready, as you can see.

I’ve got the boots ready, as you can see.

Today is also post number one thousand, six hundred, and in one hundred and fifty days I will reach post one thousand, seven hundred and fifty; that will occur on Friday, January 29, 2016, or one day short of two years after post one thousand, titled Millennium, was written. Continue reading

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 . . .

From Under the Covers

Yes, yes, I know:  you were expecting to find something here concerning Annie’s and Kerry’s breakfast, and whether or not Annie was gonna burn down the Great Hall to get back at Emma.  Sorry, I’m so, so sorry, but I didn’t.  First, I went out for drinks with a woman from the office.  Second, we both got a tinsy blasted and were well on our way to being “The Hammered Chicks at the Bar,” which wouldn’t have bothered us in the least as we were joking with the bartender–who made the best Cosmos–and throwing shade at some of the people around us.  (My friend’s best remark, concerning an obvious state intern dressed to the nines and looking like she needed a good meal:  “Of course the bitch ordered a salad.”  Oh, and a couple of dudes to my right kept looking like they wanted to hit on us.)  Third, by the time I got home it was seven-thirty, and I really didn’t feel like I was gonna get anything done, because I had business to do.

Which leads us to Forth via a short roundabout.

The last thing I published was Her Demonic Majesty back in May, 2012.  Since then I’ve written a hell of a lot–by my own estimation, of the six full stories and one finished story written, eight hundred and fifty thousand words–not one of those things has come to light.  I’m just a novelette short of a million words in three years, and nothing is out.  When you think about it, that’s pretty damn sad.

Lately–well, for months, really–I’ve been on the kick of saying that I would publish, but I need a good cover.  And really, you do, otherwise you end up on Lousy Book Covers and people shame your ass because, as some point, a writer looked at the work in front of them and thought, “Yeah, it’s not getting better than this.”  And I seriously don’t want that.

But I’ve been in a real “Shit or Get Off the Pot” moment, where it’s either time to walk away and admit you aren’t doing anything but literary masturbation, or you are totally serious about getting your work out.  Which is why there was a Forth last night:

I’m having book covers made.

I contacted Desi’s Art Deigns and spoke with Desi herself.  I told her what I was looking for, and she quoted a price of $200 per custom cover, with a ten percent discount if it’s part of a series.  When we finished, I told her I would get my ideas to her and that by sometime next week I’d pay her, up front, for her work.

So what am I getting?  A dark, urban horror cover for Kolor Ijo, for one.  This was my NaNoWriMo 2012 entry, and I’ve wanted it published for some time, so why not soon?  Desi told me that she could have real fun with this, as dark urban horror is pretty sweet.  I’m coming up with ideas for it, and will start making notes on those ideas.

Notice, however, I’m using a lot of plurals–“Covers”; “ideas”; “series”.  Just how many covers did you buy, Cassidy?  Four.  One of Kolor Ijo, and three for . . . you know what’s coming next.

I’m going to edit and publish The Foundation Chronicles:  A For Advanced.

I mean, I spent fifteen months of my life working on that book, so what the hell?  Is it seeing the light of day or what?  So I will stick to my original plan of publishing the first book by act, which are all over a hundred thousand words.  I already have an idea for the Act One cover:

Only less sparse.

Only less sparse.

It would come as Annie and Kerry are walking through Founder’s Gate for the first time.  They both stop in the archway and look around:  Kerry to his left, Annie to her right.  This way you get them both in three-quarter profile.  Kerry will have on his hoodie and backpack, and you’ll see his green eyes through his rectangular putter-gray glasses, while Annie will have her nice purse slung across her body over a nice jacket, her long, full chestnut hair exposing enough of her face that you can see her hazel eyes.  There is the garden on either side of the long walkway, and Isis and the rest of the European/African A Levels are about half way down the lane, while in the distance is the Great Hall, shrouded in darkness and mist, all indirectly lit.

I have my ideas for the Act Two and Three covers as well, but I’m not going into that now.  Be it that the covers are coming, which means I will edit and publish, probably throughout much of next year.  Because now I’ll have to publish–

After all, I’ll have covers.

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?

Light As a Feather, Changed and Now Bored

It’s almost forty-two thousand words into my new novel, and still not one day of class.  So much set up, so much to do even though I feel like I’ve done it already.  It’s one of those things playing at my mind, that I want to get into this story . . . and then I realize, I am in the story.  This is needed.  And I’m writing it, slowly but surely.

So let’s get going.  In the story is 1 September, and a year before Annie and Kerry were walking into this joint.  Today . . . they’re doing something different:

 

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

After the jaunt Annie slowly stumbled in through the south entrance of the Sloan Powers Center, escorted by one of the students who studied there. One of the girls who helped Vicky during Annie’s testing walked alongside: she wasn’t actively helping, but was rather there in case Annie needed any assistance.

Annie wasn’t completely worn out, but she felt the strain of the last two hours.

Doing magic required expending personal energy to extract magical energy: it was the trade-off that witches incurred in order to craft their art. Usually the person energy expended wasn’t close to the energy retrieved, but as with any physical activity, after a while the witch in question will grow tired—even more so if there is continual crafting.

None of the crafting she’d done over the last year required using a lot of physical effort; her most strenuous class from her A Level was Advanced Spells, and two hours of crafting there ended up being no more difficult than taking a long walk from The Pentagram to the Observatory. This time, however, she’d found herself crafting almost non-stop for two hours, and while she wasn’t exhausted, the experience had certainly tired her. Instead of the experienced feeling like a walk to the Observatory, Annie felt more as if she’d jogged there.

And she knew if she felt tired . . .

 

I’ve not talked much about the thing in the south part of the school, and for good reason:  there isn’t much there.  See below:

The Pentagram and all points south.

The Pentagram and all points south.

You can see The Pentagram and Great Hall, the Spell Center on the left, and the Transformation Hall, the Chemistry Building, and the Instructor’s Residence on the right.  In this image “above” those are the Tesla Science Center and the Sloan Powers Center, and slightly above them in a short, long building known as the Hanger.  Above the Hanger is the Aerodrome, and almost due left of that is the Flight School, sitting on the edge of the light green area that is Selena’s Meadow.

In the upper left we have The Diamond, the racing stadium that can also be used for training.  All the way at top center is the South Wall and Gloucester Bend of the Green Line, and beyond that the town of Gloucester.  Beyond that is a lot of forest, and the remains of what was once known as Dogtown.  Over in the lower right, where that portion of wall and a tower sit, is the area where Emma and Kerry crashed down during the Day of the Dead attack.

I should point out that the Hanger is on its third incarnation.  The first one was built in the 1930s; that was later taken down in 1971 and replaced with a structure that looks quite like the one standing today.  The second incarnation was blown up by Maddie’s husband in 2000, during the Scouring.

It’s in the Hanger that Annie was doing her Gifts testing–which is what is happening in this scene–and Kerry is doing his in the Sloan Center.  The Tesla building looks like a T, and the Sloan Center is to the right, shaped like a U.  That’s where the action is taking place, and this is a part of the school–a small part–that has not been seen yet, because this area is for the Gifted and the Mad Scientists who are also witches, but are more technowitches and “mutants” than anything else.  They need the love, too.

Speaking of love . . .

 

The girl stopped next to a door and opened it about half-way. “You can wait in here. The professors will be with you as soon as they’ve finished examining your results.”

“Thank you.” Annie nodded at the girl as she pushed the door open the rest of the way and walked into the room beyond. Its wasn’t large: there was a table and a few chairs to her right, and a few large chairs—much like the ones in their Pilot’s Briefing Room in the Flight School—only these reclined.

One close to the table was fully reclined: the person in the chair, who wore loose light blue lounging pants and a gray tee shirt just like hers, looked up and slowly waved. “Hey—” Kerry pointed to the chair to his left. “Come sit.”

“I will.” She sat in the chair and marveled at its comfort, recognizing it was likely enchanted to feel this way. She reclined so she could seen Kerry without having to twist around. “This is nice.”

“It is.” He slid his hand behind his head. “Where did they take you?”

“Over to the Hanger.” The Hanger was one of three structures on school grounds where air craft could be stored and tested, though its main purpose was so students from the Tesla Science Center had a place to work on their projects. “Vicky and three students did the testing.”

“What did they have you doing?” Kerry stretched as he tried to stifle a yawn.

“A lot of levitating.” Annie stared at the ceiling as she recounted her experience. “I’d levitate something, then I’d levitate myself; then a few other things, then myself; then more things, on and on.” She rolled over so she was facing Kerry. “Then they had me stay in the air for about an hour while I levitated dozens of objects.” Annie stretched her right arm out towards the top of the chair and lay her head down. “What did you do?”

“Minor transformations—” Kerry rolled towards Annie. “Trying to change things like hair, eyes, lips, complexion, then trying to copy the same things from two other students.” He rolled his eyes upwards. “One of them was a girl, and Jessica had me trying to mimic her hands and feet.”

Annie perked up. “Did you?”

“Twice.” Kerry shrugged. “Though I did her fingers first . . .” He flexed his right hand. “It sort of hurt ‘cause her hands were smaller.”

Annie held her left hand towards Kerry. “That tends to happen.”

He reached out with his right and touched her extended fingers. “I’ve noticed.”

 

Poor babies hanging out in nice easy chairs while wearing yoga gear.  It’s hard out there for a witch, I tell ya.  But I’ll get into the writing tonight, perhaps finish this scene and move to the next.

I really want to get into the classes.  I think.

Tea and Visions

Let’s get to the personal stuff right away, shall we?  First off, the friends I spent time with last Sunday drove up and met me for a few hours in The Burg–and they brought me something . . .

This is the face of evil, I tell you.  Evil.

This is the face of evil, I tell you. Evil.

I’d pretty much came from work so I didn’t change, and this is one of my nicer tops.  As you can see, I was given a nice little pink box.  And what was inside the box?  A hand-made necklace and a note asking if I’d be my friend’s maid of honor.  Of course I said yes . . .

I was also told I do have other expressions besides Resting Bitch Face.

I was also told I do have other expressions besides Resting Bitch Face.

So I’m wearing that into work today.  Nice, nice, nice!  Tomorrow nails, and Sunday I’m going to a makeup party.  A girl never has enough time in her life . . .

Oh, I also wrote.  I wrote . . . well, more than the night before.  In fact the scene is just short of thirty-one hundred words, which makes it a big scene, and it’s something I should finish tonight.  “Should” being the operative word.  I’ve seen that plan fall through more than once, but I’m confident I should finish tonight.  Should.

As a few people guessed, when Deanna and the Kids (that’s gonna be my next band name, by the way) speak of “tea”, they mean “visions”.  Hence today’s title.  Deanna does talk the kids into trying her little trance-inducing experiment from the year before again, and they’re both game.  Sorry, Ren, but Annie just can’t hear you:  lalalala, I’ve got fingers in my ears!  She wants to see what happens, too, and so there aren’t any questions–we’ll save those for the end–here’s the majority of the scene as written:

 

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

“Don’t worry.” Deanna let her hand hover over the water kettle, crafting a spell to heat the water. “When the door close the note outside switched to indicate I am in conference—” She filled two infusers with loose-leaf tea and dropped them into cups. “—so there isn’t any need to worry we’ll be interrupted.” She crafted a spell over the cups, mumbling something softly as she set the enchantment in place. “There.”

Kerry watched with interest as Deanna created the trance spells before bringing the cups to Annie and him. While it seemed so many of the witches at Salem crafted their art the same way, there were enough variations among the staff that it reminded him there was more than one way to—as Wednesday had said more than a few times last year—Make Your Art Real.

He smiled as Deanna handed him his cup. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” She passed the other to Annie. “Let me get the water.” She returned with the kettle and two spoons, which she handed over right away. “Just like last time, let me pour the water, and once that’s done, look into your cup as you start stirring. Don’t worry about the infuser getting in the way—”

Annie looked up. “Why not?”

“Because it won’t.”

Kerry coughed. “Do we really need that?”

“Yes. Because if everything goes right, you may need something to drink when this is over.” Deanna chuckled softly. “Are you ready?”

“Yes.” Annie barely heard Kerry’s response as she kept her eyes locked upon the center of her cup. She waited for Deanna to stop pouring, then started stirring, noticing out of the corner of her eye Kerry doing the same. She didn’t hurry, for there was nothing to do but allow trance to come over her—if it really were going to happen this time . . .

Your eyes are locked up the darkening sky, clear and growing darker. The sun had set off to her left some fifteen minutes earlier, but there’s still considerable light here, two thousand meters up.

You don’t know the stars the way Kerry does, but there are a few you recognize on sight. Polaris is nearly straight ahead, and the Summer Triangle is easy to make out now that it’d getting dark in the east. The moon is setting with the sun, and once the sky is dark there won’t be anything but the stars—

Which are being drowned out by the city ahead. Your destination—both your destination. You glance to your right and there’s Kerry upon his Espinoza, five meters away and keeping pace, the collar of his flying jacket turned up against the chill of the high air. You wait until he’s finished with whatever he was checking on his tablet before getting his attention. “How much longer, honey?”

“We should be down in fifteen minutes—” He sits up and points ahead. “Yonder lay our city, Sweetie.”

“Yes, I can see.” You slide-slipped the broom a few meters to the right, getting closer for no other reason that to get closer. “I’m so glad we decided to fly tonight—” You look around at the deep twilight sky. “Though not really dark enough to make it night.”

“It’s dark enough.” Kerry keeps his attention on you, letting his broom more or less fly on its own for a few moments. “Twenty down—”

“Thirty to go: I know.” You adjust your heading a little to the left, and Kerry matches you. Structures you know so well are coming into view as you both approach at high-speed. “Ready to descend?”

“It’s about that time.” Kerry adjusted his goggles and nodded at something ahead. “You wanna go over there first before checking in?”

You can’t keep the smile off your face. “Most certainly.” You begin descending, reaching out as if to push away a stray cloud—

Touching the room door as Kerry holds it for you. “Hello, again.”

He enters and gently latches it shut. “I made certain we got this room.”

You turn and wrap your arms around his shoulders. “I know you did.” The kiss you place upon his lips is more soft and sweet than most. “Because you know I love this room.”

“It’s a good one for me, too.” He helps remove your backpack before he slips off his own. “It’s been a long day.”

“And tomorrow is almost here.” You hold your arms to the side and stretch before shrugging off the stylish black leather flying jacket and hanging it on the back of the door. “Give me your jacket?”

He hands you his jacket before removing your roll-on bag from your backpack’s Hammerspace. “You want to shower before bed?”

“It’s not like we need it. We should be good until tomorrow.” You sit on the edge of the bed as Kerry retrieves his own roll-on bag. “I thought maybe we’d get up breakfast, then come back here and nap before cleaning up and going out.”

He listens and nods. “That’s a good plan. You have anywhere in particular you want to go?”

You shrugged before smiling. “I want to do some shopping—”

“Really?” Kerry looks over his shoulder, mock surprise upon his face. “I had no idea.”

“Silly.” You stick out your tongue before wrapping your hands around your knees. “I want to pick up a couple of nice outfits.”

“This is the place to do that.”

You pause before asking the next question. “Any chance we’ll see her here?”

He slowly turns and leans against the chest of drawers, facing you. “No.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.” He smiles as he crosses his arms. “I told you she wouldn’t.”

“I don’t know—” You twist your head and cock it to one side. “It’s a chance for her to pick up a few nice things—”

“Now who’s being silly?” He comes over and kisses you as soft as you kissed him. “After the day we’ve had, sleep is of the order.” Kerry starts to zip open your luggage. “Which pajamas you want?”

You stand and take a single step towards him. “My love.”

He turns. “Yes.”

You reach for the heme of your tee shirt. “I believe I’d rather wear—” Your words are muffled as you begin pulling your shirt over your head—

“This.” Annie’s shirt was two-thirds of the way up her torso before she realized she was sitting in a classroom in Memory’s End—and that Kerry was facing her, helping her with her top. “Kerry.”

Annie.”

 

Hey now!  You kids, get a room–oh, wait . . .

There you have it:  Annie’s vision.  Last book we saw Kerry’s vision, only because if we’d seen Annie’s–no, we don’t want to go there.  As it was we did see her vision.

Something else happened last night, however.  In the process of getting Annie’s vision completed, the novel crossed the forty thousand word mark.  I know because I checked, and I even found the exact moment . . .

Yes, I keep track of things like exact word that makes my work a novel.  Don't you?

Yes, I keep track of things like exact word that makes my work a novel. Don’t you?

I went back and figured out the Novel Line moment, and put it in my notes to the right.  So I’ve hit novel time again, just three days past a month into writing.  Like I said, I’m almost on NaNo Pace with this story, and that isn’t bad.

At least I’ve got the kids at the school.  What’s the worst that can happen to them now?

Once Upon a Dreamspace Dreary

You wouldn’t know about it to look at it, but the eight hundred plus words I wrote for the latest scene took about two and a half hours.  I was super distractionable last night (is that a word?  Is now) and it seemed as if it were never going to get written—it damn sure wasn’t going to write itself, because my characters are too tired to do it without help, and guess who that is?

Also, after writing the longest scene of the novel, I turned around and wrote the second shortest.  Must be a “I need some time” thing happening there.  But, believe it or not, there is a lot happening in this scene.  It’s not just filler between one event an another:  it’s something more.

Here you go–you get it all.  Enjoy and be puzzled.

 

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

The second Kerry opened his eyes he recognized the dreamspace Annie and he shared. No matter the location there was always something that made him understand he was in a dream, and that his physical body was sound asleep. Most of the time it was because he was dressed in his pajamas, and he found it necessary to change into more suitable clothing.

Tonight it was easy to well he was in a dream: everything was a uniform gray, much like when he was was in the clouds near the top of Mount Katahdin prior to the Mile High Flight. He felt something solid under his bare feet, but it was hard to say if he were standing inside a structure or not: there was nothing here that gave any indication of shapes or forms near him—

“Hello, Kerry.”

It was a girl’s voice, though none he’d ever heard before—for certain it wasn’t Annie, for even here her faint Bulgarian accent came though. He quickly found the owner of that voice, however: she was standing directly across from him, perhaps eight meters away, slightly shrouded by the grayness. He wasn’t surprised that he’d heard her voice so clearly, for sounds and images came across far differently then they did in real life.

“You’re not Annie.” He didn’t shout, for there wasn’t a need. Just as she’d spoken in a normal voice, Kerry knew she’d hear him perfectly.

The girl took a step towards him. “No, I’m not.”

“You shouldn’t be here.”

Though she wasn’t completely clear yet, Kerry saw her look about. “And yet here I am.” She chuckled softly. “Can’t say why Annie isn’t here, but it’s probably a good thing, don’t you think?”

“I don’t know about that.” The gray spread away from his dreamspace visitor, and Kerry was able to see her clearly. While he couldn’t quite judge her height, he figured she wasn’t much taller than Annie or him. She wore a faded pair of jeans, sneakers, and a V-neck tee shirt. Her hair was shoulder length, curly, and a shade of red almost identical to his. Though he couldn’t make out her facial features well, even from this distance he saw she shared the same pale Irish complexion his mother and he possessed. “I’d rather Annie was here.”

The girl shrugged. “Maybe tomorrow night.”

Kerry finally found the opportunity to ask the question he wanted to ask at the start. “Who are you?”

The girl grinned. “You know who I am.”

“Afraid I don’t.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh, well.” She snapped the fingers of her left hand. “Funny how memory works, isn’t it?” She took another step in his direction. “Don’t worry: in time we’re going to know each other well.”

Something twisted around in Kerry’s head, making him shiver even though there wasn’t any way he could feel a chill. “What do you mean?”

“You’ll see.” She motioned for Kerry. “Come a little closer.”

“Why?”

“Because eventually you’ll want to see me better.” She giggled. “You gotta trust me on that one, Red.”

Kerry took one step closer towards the girl, even though he thought getting closer to her was a bad idea as soon as it was mentioned. “How do you know that?”

“Know what?”

“That nickname.” He slowly took another step towards the strange girl. “Only Coraline uses that nick.”

“Oh, well . . .” When she smiled her teeth were bright against her alabaster skin. “You’ll find there’s a lot about you I know.” She she half-turned her head to the right as she pointed at him. “It’s you that needs to know about me. That’s why we’re finally meeting.”

Taking another step towards the girl made Kerry uneasy, but at the same time the urge to discover who she was and why she was here was a bit frightening. I should be able to make myself leave the space, but things are playing out for some reason. It’s like what happened with Annie and me in the last dream . . . “What’s some important about me getting know about you?”

“Because you need to understand—”

“Understand what?”

“Everything.” It was only after she winked at him that Kerry saw her eyes were as green as his. “You have to know everything.”

He finally forced himself to stop moving towards the girl, which seemed to surprise her. “Stop it.” After the evening he’d just had with his parents at dinner, he’d wanted to spend time with Annie talking and cuddling—not dealing with some dream sphinx. “Stop with the puzzles.”

“Sorry.” She stopped walking as well. “I forgot you’re analytical: you don’t deal with the abstract—at least not until you’ve had a chance to give it some thought.”

“Yeah.” He huffed out a semi-held breath. “Why do you want me to know everything about you.”

“Because . . .” She hooked her thumbs in the pockets of her jeans. “You hold my life in your hands.”

 

“You hold my life in your hands.”  Not like Kerry hasn’t done that already, but this is . . . something different.  How different?  You’ll find out–in time, of course.

So, there is only one scene to go in this chapter . . .

Looks like someone's making a Skype call to America.

Looks like someone’s making a Skype call to America.

And the novel is just over the fifteen thousand word mark.  This next scene may or may not throw it out of novelette size and into novella length, but if not, that will happen by the following scene, of that I’m certain.

And then it’s off to Berlin and a “Welcome to the Next Nine Months” meeting with a certain Chestnut Girl.