Away and Display

First off, the matter of business is:  how went the torture of the face?  Answer:  not well.  Second time now I started crying, this time about fifteen minutes, maybe twenty minutes in. It wasn’t good, and after that I simply couldn’t relax, and I did a quick laser session, which burned off a few of the remaining dark hairs.  I discussed the situation with the women who does my treatment, and we sort of figured out that (a) I’ve been beating up the same section of my face for three weeks now, and it’s probably causing a lot of the pain, and (b) I’m not getting the numbing cream on right, and that means nothing but pain.  So we’re going to try something different next week, and see how that works.

Also, my Orphan Black tee shirt came yesterday, and Pupok has the story of my transition right there in gray on purple.

Also, my Orphan Black tee shirt came yesterday, and Pupok has the story of my transition right there in gray on purple.

The real burning question–see what I did there?–is, “Did you write?”  Like a good aircraft, I did seven hundred and thirty-seven words, and inched to within fifty thousand before the events of the day caught up to me and I finally went to bed tired as all hell.

In the battle for your novel, 502 words is the same as inches.

In the battle for your novel, 502 words is the same as inches.

Considering how I felt like night, I considered the output to be something of a victory, because I felt ill by the time I returned from the face zapping place.  I really needed to write, even if it wasn’t easy getting the words down.  I really need to get through this chapter and onto the next, even though I know on of the scenes in the next chapter will probably raise some hairs on the backs of some people’s necks.  And that’s good, because writing is suppose to be about pulling out the emotions.  Maybe I could stop putting mine out there all the time.

In our last post Jessica wanted to say something to her students.  Now, after the writer got zapped, she gets her chance.

 

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

Jessica stepped behind Kerry. “This is our newest student: Kerry Malibey, a B Level from Cernunnos.” She watched the exchanges between the other four students, noticing Annie catching her own share of glances. “I know you find that a bit surprising, as the soonest any of you were invited in was at the end of your B Levels or the start of your C Levels, but I have my reasons for inviting Kerry and his girlfriend Annie—” She watched a couple of sets of eyes light up at the mention of Annie an Kerry’s relationship, though one of them wasn’t Fekitoa’s. “—into this class. Allow me to explain . . .

 

Well, of course a kid from their coven isn’t going to be surprised to hear about these two:  by now we’ve figured out that Annie and Kerry are kinda minor celebrities in their own tower.  It’s also interesting to hear Jessica call Annie a girlfriend, because she’s seemed to avoid mentioning the relationship at all, save to give one or the other a bit of crap in class.  The more we get into the year, the more it seems like the staff just accepts that there’s more here than hand holding and a lot of snogging.

What does Jessica have to say?

 

“Kerry is one of the best at transformation crafting I’ve seen, as is Annie—please, join us.” Jessica motioned the girl—who had done as much as possible not to look as if she was an official member of the class—to stand with them. “This is the reason I forwarded the invitation. Now, Annie won’t be in class most of the time: she gave good reasons for not accepting the invitation, and after giving the headmistress and me her reasons, we both agreed with them.” Jessica smiled at the girl. “She’s sort of auditing the class this evening, and while she’ll like not come to many, she’s welcome to join us any time.

“Kerry will stay with us for this year, and, I hope, for more to come. Because he needs to catch up to the rest of us, I’ll spend extra time with him now and then.” She put on her best smile. “Don’t take this as a sign that I’m trying to make him fit in: I assure you, he’ll be right along side you in no time.”

Jessica took a step back from the group, who turned to face her. “Dig out your notes on Invisibility: we’re going to start in on that again, since a few of you were just getting the hang of it at at the end of last year. While you’re reviewing those, I’m going to have a word with Annie and Kerry over in the corner.”

 

Oh, now it’s Invisibility:  the real thing, not just light bending.  Yeah, just what you need to teach to these two–well, to Kerry, and then he’ll run off and teach Annie.  Speaking of which . . .

 

Once they were away from the rest of the group Jessica threw up a privacy spell so they wouldn’t be overheard. She sat against the edge of a table before addressing Annie. “I hope you didn’t think I was putting you on the spot—”

“Not at all, Jessica.” Annie had half-expected Jessica to try and convince her to join the class full-time, and was surprised when she didn’t. “Thank you for not pressuring me to reconsider.”
“Oh, I considered asking you to do just that, but after discussions with Erywin and Helena, I better understand your position.” She nodded in Kerry’s direction. “As you said, in order to be good sorceresses, you have to be able to teach what you know—”

“And this is something that Kerry can certainly learn to teach.” Annie grinned at him. “Isn’t that right, love?”

“As rain.” Kerry hadn’t minded being put on display in front of the other, older students, but something struck him as odd. “You didn’t mention anything about me being a Mimic.”

“I didn’t because I don’t want that to get out—” Jessica shrugged. “At least not yet. Once you’ve been in class a while, and you’ve learned to developed your Transformational Art, people will likely figure it out on their own.” She shifted position to make herself more comfortable. “When it comes to Gifts we’ve found that the knowledge of who has them usually finds its way to the rest of the students in due time—making announcements become unnecessary.”

Jessica moved to a nearby chair, and invited Annie and Kerry to join her. “I want to bring up one thing, Kerry—something that wasn’t actually covered last year because, well, there wasn’t a need. But now that you’re about to take the leap into some major transformation magic, it’s time to make you aware of lay ahead.” She slowly crossed her legs, letting the wonder of what she would say next grow. “It’s no secret that people are afraid of sorcery, and with good reason—” She eyed Annie for a few seconds. “But you both already have first hand knowledge of that reason, so there’s no need to tell you something you already know. But have you ever noticed how skittish people get around witches who are the mistresses and masters of transformation magic?”

 

Yes, Jessica, we have, but what do you mean?  Oh, you’re not telling us until tomorrow?  Well, that’s not very nice!

The one thing to get from this is the public shout outs Jessica gave to both kids.  Now is the time when they are being touted, and not only is it going to show with people in their own level, it’s gonna show up with others.  Jessica isn’t one to hand out complements, but this is an advanced class, and we’ve seen those are a whole different mixture around this place.  One of the reasons Kerry likes it at school is that it’s the only place where he’s recognized for his skills, and not treated like a “strange kid.”  And Jessica is giving him and Annie high praise–something she’s not known for doing.

Tomorrow we’ll find out for sure what Jessica’s going to say–and maybe even get into the next scene as well.

Loss and Change

Some down time and a bit of interesting music is the thing that’s needed to get people back on track.  It helped with me a bit last night, though I still had a few distractions last night, which seems to be a theme with me of late . . .

"Now, Annie's going to throw her arms around--is that a cloud outside my window?"

“Now, Annie’s going to throw her arms around–is that a cloud outside my window?”

More like, “Is that Micheal Clarke Duncan on my television?”  Yes, it was The Green Mile time, and there are so many people I would rather be gone than Micheal.  But as some punk kid out of The Bronx once said, only the good die young.

At the same time I was writing and listening to a lot of ELO, because why not?  I needed to get writing, even if I stumbled about finding the right words.  I do that now, taking my time, stumbling so I don’t have to go back and do a lot of rewrites.  It’s a slow way to get things done, but it keeps me from going back and redoing a lot of stuff later.  Considering the size of this series, I don’t need to do a lot of rewriting.

It took me just under two hundred and eighty words to finish the scene in Astria Portal, but I got it done.  And the results are below:

 

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

“Yes, it is.” He slipped his arms around Annie’s waist. “You know, I missed this place.”

“You did?” She relaxed in Kerry’s arms. “Why?”

“Because of the kiss we shared here the first time.” He half turned Annie so she was leaning against him. “It was the first one that I felt like I should give—” Kerry rested his head against hers. “That first night on the bench I said I thought something was reminding me to give you a kiss—”

She nodded slowly. “Yes, you mentioned that a few days ago.”

“But when we were here, that first time, after you told me about your parents coming here, I just—” Kerry held Annie tight. “I so wanted to kiss you.”

“And—” Annie sighed. “To tell me something else.”

“Yes.” He stepped around to face her, his eyes locked on hers. He kissed her slowly in the soft blue light of his cold fire, holding the kiss for well on to five seconds. The few seconds after Kerry broke the kiss he touched her lips with his left index finger. “You are lovely.”

Even though she knew his statement was coming, Annie felt the same way as she had that night almost a year ago: light headed and weak, her legs and arms vibrating like they were about to cease functioning at any moment. “Oh, Kerry . . .” She pressed herself against him and felt his arms hold her in place. “You do this to me.”

Kerry twisted a few strands of her hair around his fingers. “You’re not gonna, you know—like last time?”

“Faint?” Annie shook her head. “Not this time. But all the other times—here, at the Samhain dance, out at Lake Lovecraft when you finally remembered everything and said you would never leave me . . . She closed her eyes an lay against her soul mate. “I don’t lose control with other students, with instructors, even with my parents. You are the only one who makes me feel this weak.”

She took a moment to stand, holding his hands in each of hers. Annie knew exactly what this looked like: as if they were preparing to say their vows. “When we stopped her last year, it was with the hope that by telling you what my parents did here, I could get you to remember what we had before you sealed me away in your mind. It didn’t, but it brought out something different in you, something that had an effect upon me that I never expected . . .

“I used to think of this tower as the place where my parent came to kiss and let their own romance develop, but I don’t think that any more—” She turned to face the ball of cold fire keeping them bathed in cool, blue light. “This is our tower; this is where our romance, our love, developed in ways I never imagined. This is where I learned how deep your feelings for me could run. This is where I learned how you could affect my feelings . . .”

Annie squeezed Kerry’s hand as she drew him to her. “This is where I learned that, with you, I could lose control.”

 

Annie prides herself in staying in control.  Yes, she’s lost it a couple of times–*cough*Lisa*cough*–and every time she does she almost get into trouble.  So when she told Kerry she doesn’t lose it with students, well . . . he diplomatically didn’t mention some of her worst moments there.

With Kerry, however–he’s making her swoon.  Yes, that’s the term:  swoon.  The first time it happened Annie was down in the dirt; the second time she held on to Kerry for dear life, ’cause passing out while everyone’s standing around you watching you dance is usually considered bad form.

This is Annie, and there’s only one person who make her swoon.  And a swoony Annie is a happy Annie.

I started the next scene, almost twenty-four hours later in the story, and the open of the scene tells you everything you need to know–

 

Unlike the Advanced Formulistic Magic lab, the Advanced Transformation class met in a warm, comfortable room found in the southwest corner of the Transformation Center’s lower level. Kerry learned of the location during lunch, when Professor Kishna approached Annie and him and told him about that evening’s class. She mentioned that she liked having class there because there were a small number of students, they didn’t require a lot of room, and being in that second of the lower levels make it easier to control who had access to the room.

The one thing Kerry took away from the conversation was that, above all, Jessica liked keeping things private.

 

Jessica is a private person:  there’s not a lot known about her, because she doesn’t say much.  She just looks mean and transforms, and when students piss her off she changes them–true story, and something you may get to see in future scenes.

Her newest students show with someone in tow–

 

“They’re from Cerdwen.” Jessica made a face as if she found admitting that information distasteful. “Are you joining us tonight, Annie?”

“Yes and no.” She’d thought hard about appearing tonight, for after telling the professor last year that she wanted to learn advanced transformation magic from Kerry, she wondered if showing up tonight could lead Jessica to think she should try to get Annie to reconsider. “I wanted to see how the first class goes, but at the same time I want to stick to my original plan of having Kerry teach me what he’s learned.” She took Kerry’s hand. “He needs to do that if he’s to be my Dark Witch.”

Jessica nodded, unwilling to comment at this time on Annie’s decision. “Well, you’re welcome to come at any time, just so you know. You’re even allowed to participate, if you like.”

Annie grinned her approval. “Thank you, Professor.”

“Speaking of that—” Kerry slightly bowed his head and spoke in a lower tone. “How should we, um—”

Jessica knew what Kerry was going to ask: they’d already attended enough advanced classes to know how they were conducted. “You can address me by my given name—” She gave Kerry an amused glare. “Unless that makes you uncomfortable.”

He shook his head. “No, not at all . . . Jessica.” Kerry smiled, satisfied he’d actually managed to speak the name. “Thanks.”

“Yes, thank you, Jessica.” Though she knew Kerry liked the transformation instructor, Annie was also aware that he was somewhat intimidated by her. She knew Jessica was far more strict than the majority of instructors and that played up her authoritative side during class, but Annie also remembered all the times when Jessica would complement Kerry and she for not only completing a lesson, but often doing more than expected.

When it came to intimidating instructors, she knew of someone who far better fit that description.

 

Yes, Annie does know a far more intimidating instructor, though it’s true that neither Jessica or Helena have squared off against each other for any reasons.  Too much respect there, I suppose, to get into a throw-down with the Mistress of All Things Dark.  Also, Jessica’s the most senior Coven Leader after Erywin, so maybe she doesn’t want to blow that image of being a respected elder.

Then again, it is known she transformed into a large, viscous animal and mauled a former Headmaster to death, so, you know, her rep is pretty secure.

Annie being there–that’s to satisfy her curiosity.  Or is it?  Won’t say at this point, but she’s there now, and as she states, that won’t always be the case.  This will be the first time these two have classes apart, though, again, that won’t always happen.  What do I mean?  Just wait.

In the end I was just short of nine hundred and fifty words written.  Not bad for a few distractions while looking for the right words.  Tonight, after work, it’s Face Zapping Time, so expect there to be some pictures of a swollen face tomorrow.

And some more writing.  I promise.

Tugging the Post-Apocalyptic Heartstrings

Fridays and Sundays are quickly becoming the “Take the Night Off Writing” days, because that’s what happened yesterday:  damn near no writing at all.  Oh, sure, I tried, I really did, but I made it like two hundred words past where I was the last time, and just skated on by with the work.  Some of this is due to watching movies on those nights, because I need to get my mind on other things once in a while, and I need that.

"What other things?  There's writing, and your characters, and sex, and . . . oh, those things."

“What other things? There’s writing, and your characters, and sex, and . . . oh, those things.”

Though normally I’m thinking about sex for my characters, so don’t judge me.

Yesterday, since I’m all by myself and there’s nothing to do, I went to the movies to see Mad Max:  Fury Road.  This was the first movies I’ve seen in the theaters since seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, which gives you an idea of how often I get out to movies–it’s like one time a year if you’re keeping track.  Now, full disclosure:  I am a big Mad Max fan.  I had the first two movies on bootleg video tapes, which meant the first one was without the dubbed voices (when Mad Max was first shown here in the US all the dialog, even Mel Gibson’s, was dubbed to get rid of the Australian accents).  I’ve even seen the one and only “Lost Version” of Mad Max 2, aka The Road Warrior, presented on NBC, which included a lot of added scenes as well as the infamously changed opening and closing narration, redone by someone with a bad US Southern accent.

I’ve also looked up a few spots where filming has occurred, in the instance that I ever get Down Under I can head for Broken Hill and check out some locations.

Since everything in Austratalia is trying to kill you, I fully expect to find this waiting for me at Mundi Mundi.

Since everything in Australia is trying to kill you, I fully expect to find this waiting for me at Mundi Mundi.  G’day, mate!

So I went to the movie expecting to be entertained.  I also expected to be blown away, ’cause I’m a sucker for fast cars and explosions.

I didn’t expect to almost start crying when the movie ended.

I’ve said, time and again, that your characters are the most important part of the story:  if they are no more than cardboard cutouts, then it’ll show throughout your story.  Now, I had read over the last few weeks how surprised people were at the strong characterization of people in the movies, particularly Charlize Theron’s character, Imperator Furiosa.  (And that’s FuriOsa, not FurioSAR.  Hermione wants you to get it right.)  The people making these statements were correct, but there seemed to be so much more to them . . . there was depth.  There was a lot lying below the surface of most of the characters, and during the course of two hours it all bubbled out.

Tom Hardy’s Max went through a number of changes during the movie, even though he’s given so little to say.  He doesn’t need words; it’s done with looks, with body language, and late, with the tone of his voice.  (And before people start pointing out that Tom’s dialog was cut down to give the focus of the movie over to the women, in Mad Max 2 Mel Gibson has sixteen lines, and two of them are, “I only came for the gasoline.”  Yeah, people living in the Outback after the end of the world usually don’t have much to say.)  The one thing you do get about Tom’s Max is that he is truly mad, and he’s yet to come to grips with his madness.  Like many of us with mental illness we learn to cope, and this Max copes by just staying the hell out in the middle of nowhere and staying away from people, ’cause he might do someone harm otherwise.

At the end of the movie I was almost crying because I’d been sucked into the spectacle.  I found characters that I liked and wanted to know more about, and found their struggle to reach the end worthy and believable.  But then I’ve found this with a lot of action movies made outside the US:  you get sucked into the story, either because the characters are compelling (Hard Boiled and La Femme Nikita instantly come to mind) or you get drawn into action that is both real and over the top (The Raid and The Raid:  Redemption cover this one nicely).  Action movies here, on the other hand, seem to be designed to sell toys, and if you want anything serious, well, you’ve not come to the right place.

Which is why every time I see the latest Baytacular, where gigantic toy robots that you’re going to buy off Amazon later get into a battle that ends up killing millions of people for whom you give zero shits, Act 5, Scene 5, of Macbeth comes to mind:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

 

If there is one thing I never want to do, it’s create a story that signifies nothing.  And our characters are everything.

Without them, we have nothing upon which to care.

Portals To and Fro

Happy Towel Day, and you best keep it handy because you never know when the Earth is about to be demolished to make way for a hyperspace exchange, right?  Mine’s actually out in the car, because after I’ve finished my writing day at Panera–my current location–I’ll take the computer home and head out to see Mad Max:  Fury Road, because I like to see my action movies done right–Hollywood could learn a few things from these flicks,but no, we’d rather show you stupid toy robot movies–and with a big shot of estrogen.  Also, I have nothing else to do today, so I may as well see a movie that I’ve waited to see for a while.

I’ll throw this out here, because why not, but I was hit on this morning, right around six twenty-five AM.  I’ just sitting here, getting ready to listen to music, when a guy comes up, tells me he’s seen me in here a few times, and wants me to know I look nice today.  I thank him and then sort of wonder how I should feel about that, because it did seem a touch on the skeevy side, but what do I know?  I did have one person on-line tell me it’s an indication of my brightness–

Like a supernova:  a burnt-out star that's exploding.  Um, yay?

Like a supernova: a burnt-out star that’s exploding. Um, yay?

But so much for today–what abut yesterday?

Much of the writing from yesterday you’ve already seen:  it was part of the excerpt from The Lovey Dovey Couple’s Adventures in Advanced Chemistry.  About six hundred and fifty words was written in the morning before the post, and yesterday I manage another six hundred sixty for the next scene.  I might have written more, but BBCA was showing a Battlestar Galactica Miniseries and Season One marathon, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that, so I had, just had, to divide my attention between the two.  Since both my kids carry the call signs of characters from that television series, you know I’m gonna get down with watching, particularly since that season was so damn good.  Oh, and if you can tell me the in-joke found in one of the episodes that ties back to the anime Bubblegum Crises, I’ll let you guest post here.  Don’t take too long, though . . . start the clock!

Oh, and I finally tried on the sundress I bought a couple of weeks ago, ’cause it was getting warm in the apartment and I wanted to see how it felt–

As you can see, I'm ready for Wednesday.

As you can see, I’m ready for Wednesday.

But writing, right?  It’s coming.

We’re back to the kissing stuff now, because this story is really about kissing and things like that.  What about the magic?  Replace “magic” with “televisions”, and you’ll realize most of the time no one talks about the TVs because, well, they’re part of the background.  So far we’ve seen one class, and they weren’t doing anything but playing at getting antiquated.  It’s really not until about midway through the next chapter that you see any actual instruction, and not until the chapter after that you see what’s really going on inside a classroom.

It’s all about the kissing–and so where does that take us today?

 

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

The sun wouldn’t set for another half hour, making the sky semi-bright and the shadows long. Annie was used to seeing this part of the school at this time of day—or much later—because Kerry and she were on the path leading to the Observatory, where their Astrophysics One was set to begin in forty-five minutes.

As they did so many times last year, they walked along the north path that led from the Memory’s End to the Firing Line and the Observatory. The midway point of the walk passed through the last remaining portion of the old North Wall and the ancient observatory, Astria Portal. It was here that the school witches first began seeing the sky in a different way; where Astria Blomqvist, one of the Founders and the first leader of Cernunnos Coven, created her maps of the constellations; and it was here she spent the last few decades of her life prior to her disappearance and death, making her the only one of the Founders not interned in some fashion on the school grounds. All that remained for remembrance was her coven, her sky maps, and the centuries-old tower that bore her name.

For Annie, this structure meant so much more.

 

Since I actually know the history of Astria Blomqvist–what?  You didn’t think I did?  Ah, hahahaha!–one day it’ll show up in one of the novels.  Which one?  Hard to say, but I know it’ll get discussed.  It reminds me that I need to have the kids visit all the other locations where the Founders are either buried or remembered, ’cause nothing says “Thanks for the School” like keeping a few three hundred year old bodies buried on the property.

This was an important place for Annie, because in the first novel she mentioned that her parents used to come to this place to snog.  Like parents like daughter, huh?  Now, this place is a ruin, and when it comes to three hundred year old ruins, no one bothers putting in lighting.  Which means you gotta bring your own . . .

 

They were half way up the staircase to the mezzanine when Annie tugged Kerry to a stop. “Here’s your chance.”

“Yes.” He chucked as he slowly raised his left hand. “You sure you don’t want to get on my right side?”

Annie shook her head. “That’s for the other girls.” She motioned him onward. “Go ahead: you can do this.”

 

It only took about four hundred and seventy-five thousand words, but this is the first time Annie admits that she knows she’s the only girl who ever stands to Kerry’s left, and that his right side is  reserved for everyone else.  Coraline was the first to bring it up to Kerry, and now Annie is telling him she knows.

Actually the first person to point this out was Emma, when she and Kerry were talking while taking a rest at the Observatory–call sign Laputa–during the Day of the Dead.  She must have been paying a lot of attention to him for some reason . . .

What is Kerry trying to do?  This:

 

“I can—” After about five seconds of concentration a tiny blue ball appeared hovering over his upturned palm. It expanded until it was it was twenty centimeters across, filling most of the empty tower with a soft glow. He turned to Annie and finished his comment. “—do this.”

“You most certainly can.” She looked towards the ceiling. “Now, put it in place.”

Kerry levitated the ball of cold fire about three meters over his head as they climbed the rest of the way to the former mezzanine commons, then pushed it out over the open below. “There, how’s that?”

Annie patted him on the arm before wrapping herself around it and leaning into his shoulder. “I never doubted the levitation—” She stared at the ball floating in mid-air. “But I only stared showing you the cold fire spell back in May, and we’ve only had a couple of chances to practice it a few times Friday and yesterday.”

He kissed her lightly on the lips. “I have a good teacher.” He stared at the floating ball as well. “When we practiced yesterday it just seemed to gel, you know?”

“I do.” She’d experienced moments like that as well, when a spell’s crafting simply came to her and she knew it would work. More than a few of those moments came during Advanced Spells last year . . .

She moved around until she was facing Kerry. “Here we are again.”

“Yes, it is.” He slipped his arms around Annie’s waist. “You know, I missed this place.”

 

Annie taught herself Cold Fire from a book, and we saw her using it to light up the second floor during the B and C Level Get Together the night the A Levels arrived, and now we see Kerry not only using it the same way, but admitting that he learned the spell from Annie.  According to my spell list Cold Fire is something that the kids here don’t start learning until they’re C Levels, but Annie was already teaching it to Kerry before they were out of their A Levels.  No question this is why they’re in the advanced classes . . .

I’m slowly inching towards fifty thousand words, and if I had to guess, that milestone is likely to happen not in the next scene, but the one after–

Always a good time to ask for something after class.

Always a good time to ask for something after class.

But I really want to get to the last scene in this chapter because . . . well, you’ll see.

Probably later in the week at the rate I’m going.

Their New Chemical Romance

My computer, aka The Beast, has been a pain in the butt this morning, deciding to run hot and cold, fast and slow, and at one point I had to reboot the sucker because of program load issues.  It’s almost like it’s telling me to take it easy today . . .

Pretty much me then and now.

Pretty much me then and now.

You are not the boss of me, evil old computer.  I’ll write on you as much as I like.  Just let me, you know, do that.  Thanks.  Onward.

Chapter Seven has become a thing–well, it’s started, is what I mean.  With the first scene out of the way, I’m about three thousand words from rolling over to fifty thousand, and that will likely happen during the quick chapter on the advanced transformation class.  This first scene took a little bit of work–slow, writing work–because when I have to start describing things and feelings and all that, it seems to drag.  Just like when I write action:  it may seem fast and furious, but not when you have to sit and figure it all out.  Nope, nope, nope.  Who said writing was a lot of fun?

I did mention that Erywin was the first to set up a special program for advanced students at the school, and that the advanced lab is used by no one else but advanced students.  Just like The Black Vault her pretty girl keeps safe, Erywin feels you only get to the top when it’s earned, and while everyone else has super great facilities–compared to what you’d find in a Normal chemistry class, the Salem equipment is the top o’ the pop–they don’t get their own special lab.

Of course, guess who gets to join this afternoon delight?

 

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

Annie entered the room, followed closely by Kerry. Both were still in their school uniforms; as with the other advanced classes street clothes were the norm, but Erywin was also aware that they had Astrophysics One right after dinner, and she supposed they figured it would be too much trouble to change back into their uniforms for Harpreet’s evening class.

“Welcome.” Erywin headed over to greet her newest students. “I figured you’d show about now.”

Annie clutched her hands. “We’re nothing if not punctual.”

Kerry took up position beside his girlfriend. “We hate being the last ones to show. Right, Sweetie?”

She leaned into him. “As always, my love.” She straightened and smiled. “How are you today . . . Erywin.”

“Oh, I’m fine.” She felt Annie’s hesitation due to not knowing if the familiarity they had not only in Wednesday’s class, but on their mission during the last school year, was the same here. “And you don’t have to worry: just like the other advanced classes, we’re on a first-name basis here.” Erywin examined the student’s jackets. “How do you like the new accouterments?” She touched the left lapel of Annie’s jacket. “Bit of an improvement, eh?”

Kerry spoke while Annie beamed. “It’s a bit of an improvement over last year, that’s for sure.” In place of the single green star that indicated they were A Levels were now two green stars, one placed over the other. “I noticed the C Levels on our floor have three in a triangle.”

“Yes, and in your D Levels they’ll form a diamond.” Erywin pointed across the room where she’d had two lab stations placed together. “That’s your set-up over there. Go ahead and take a seat.”

 

And just so you know, the E Levels’ stars form a pentagram, and the F Levels’ form a Seal of Solomon, both of which are powerful symbols.  I actually laid out pictures of this one–you back there, stop laughing!–so I should dig them out . . .

Oh, look.

Oh, look.

There you go:  green star markers for my kids.

During their set up time at their lab station–which is the only one set up for two people, go figure–they get a visitor and learn something . . .

 

“No, they aren’t.” They turned to find a slim, older student in a dark green dress standing behind them. She bushed her brown hair back from her face. “I suppose Erywin wants you to work together—probably due to your reputation.” She nodded towards them. “I’m Nesreen Shalhoub.”

Annie nodded back. “Annie Kirilova.”

“Kerry Malibey.” He began grinning. “Though you probably knew that if you know us by reputation.”

“Sorry about that.” She appeared almost embarrassed to speak. “I’m from Blodeuwedd; last year we used to hear about you all the time from Fidele and Collin—

“Collin talked about us?” Kerry was a little surprised to hear this. Annie and he figured Fidele Diaz, their levelmate from the Philippines, was the one who began calling them the “Lovely Dovey Couple”, but this was the first time either of them heard mention of Collin McCarty, the boy from Eire, discussing them as well.

“A great deal.” The girl nodded twice. “It seemed to be one of their main subjects of conversation in the commons.”

“Maybe that’s the real reason Collin didn’t return.” Annie smirked sideways at Kerry before questioning Nesreen. “How long have you been in this class?”

 

There’s that Lovey Dovey Couple crap that follows them around like a personal demon.  And keep that meme out there, Annie, that Collin didn’t return because he didn’t want to face your wrath, ’cause like Helena said, nothing like having a bad ass rep while you’re in school to keep the losers from bothering you.  Gee, I wonder what they were saying?  Obviously, if a then E Level heard their BS, that means a whole lot of the rest of the coven did as well.

Speaking of meeting new people–

 

“It was one of the reasons The Foundation wanted to get involved in magic, to find out how it could be used for scientific and technical applications.” Erywin turned and brought her companion forward. “Oh, and this is Honza Zelenka, one of your covenmates from the floor above you.”

“I’m an E Level.” He shook Kerry’s hand, then Annie’s. ”I heard Nesreen speaking; she’s not the only one who’s heard of you.” He looked at Annie. “Mluvíte Česky?”

She tilted her head slightly to the right and shrugged. “Ne moc dobře. Jak je váš Bulgarian?”

Honza twisted his right hand back and forth. “Tova ne e losho. Ne razbiram mnogo ot shans da go govori, vse pak.”

Annie half-turned her head to the left. “Tova e dobre za nyakoĭ, koĭto ne go govori chesto.” She turned to the smiling Kerry, who was used to hearing his sweetheart speak in her normal language. “I’ll tell you later.”

“Preferably after class.” Erywin say that all her students were present. “All right—” She waved the door shut. “Find your seats and we’ll get started.”

 

Now wait for the first Welsh student to show up, and Kerry will have his hands full–particularly since he’s not a native speaker.  Also, what is Kerry hearing Annie say besides, “I love you”?  We know that Annie switches over to Bulgarian when she swears, so he can probably tell through the tone of her voice when she’s muttering sweet Bulgarian nothings in his ear, and she’s ready to rip off someone’s head.

After introductions and a promise that Erywin’s gonna visit everyone, she gets with the kids to tell them how things work in this class:

 

“All right, you two.” Erywin set her elbows against the stations and leaned forward. “We do things a little differently here, but then you already knew that. The biggest in this class is that we involve ourselves in month-long projects, so what we start today you aren’t expect to complete until the last Monday in September—which means you have four classes to turn in your completed project.”

She had their attention, so having them understand the new world they’d entered was going to be easy. “We’re all about creating here. The idea is to teach you to create, to develop the formulas for your mixtures from scratch, based upon what you’ve already learned—”

“That’s a lot different from what we did last year.” While Kerry didn’t appear worried, his voice carried a hint of concern.

Annie felt the same way, but she also knew another truth. “But we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t felt we couldn’t do this, dear.” She lightly touched his hand. “Yes?”

He nodded. “Yeah.”

Erywin turned to Kerry: while Annie carried her own doubt now and then, he was the one who sometimes found himself falling into traps his mind laid. “Do you remember the very first mixture you created last year?”

“Yes.” He gazed at the surface of the counter as he thought about that class. “The petrification removal mixture.”

“That’s correct. Out of thirty-two student only three managed to produce it correctly. And only two decided to make it using the more complex alternate formula.” Erywin chuckled. “Listen to your significant other: you’re here not only because I believe you can do the work, but because you’ve proven me correct.

“What I want you to remember is you aren’t only here to learn, you’re here to think. You didn’t come to Salem to take tests and memorize data; you’re here to develop your mind into a first-class instrument. That’s what we do in this class—we get you to thinking.” She lightly tapped them both on the forehead, eliciting smiles. “It’s the thinkers who are gonna run this world, not the test takers. And I know which ones you’re becoming.”

 

In this world there are doers and thinkers, and the thinkers are gonna win every time, ’cause they’re outside the box lookin’ in, and that gives them all the advantages.  It seems like this is some pretty heavy shit for a couple of twelve year old kids to get into, but there’s something you, the reader, will discover in–um, I think two novels from now–that explains this.  Magic is tied into imagination, but the ability to use it also ties back to intelligence, and while some of these witches might seem dumb, it’s because they’re still kids.  Give them a few years to mature and get their wits about them–

It’s already been shown that can be the different between life and a hard death.

Randomly Building a World Class Class

I often talk about how writing isn’t always just writing.  Often there’s a great deal of research for just simply things, as I’ve discussed before.  Sometimes you gotta figure out where people are walking around a city.  Sometime you need to investigate hotels and other points of interest.  Sometimes you need to figure out flights from city to city.

Sometimes you just gotta build a class.

I’m starting Chapter Six now, and this and Chapter Seven go over events in the first week of school.  Here’s the scenes for Chapter Six:

Five scenes, no waiting.

Five scenes, no waiting.

Now, if you know my school, you’ll see that three take place in classes, two of which are the new advanced classes.  Astria Porta is another of those “kissing scenes,” and we have to read it, and After Class Request–well, you can probably figured that out if you know classes starts on Monday, and that’s a few days later.  As stated, two of these scenes take place in the advanced classes–the first scene should make that obvious as hell–but while walking home over the last few days, the question kept coming up:  who’s in these classes?

Well . . . I had to do something about that.  Let’s look at Advanced Formulistic Magic . . .

Right off the bat I knew I’d have one student in the class who was an F Level, and I decided I wanted them to come from a North African country.  I picked Libya, because why the hell not.  With her–yes, the girls still well outnumber the boys–graduating at the end of year, that meant she’d head off on a year of her Real Life Experience, then she’d leave for college.  She wants to go to a school with a great engineering program, so I found a link for the top engineering colleges in the world, figure out she’d go to a school in Europe, looked up the schools there, found one, found the undergrad and graduate programs offered, and figured out what this young lady was going to do for the next few years of her life.

That was the easy part.

Besides this mystery girl and Annie and Kerry, I needed . . . hum . . . five more students to show up for class.  The question became one of where do their come from–

So I got out my dice.

Not really.  As I’ve pointed out I have a dice rolling program.  Why do I have one of those?  It’s a hold over from my gaming days, where dice are used to generate random outcomes for your characters.  Like, did I knock down a door?  Did I drive the car at high speed correctly?  Did I shoot the bad guy in the head?  You know, fun stuff.

The splash screen looks like this:

Bunch of electronic dice, no waiting.

Bunch of electronic dice, no waiting.

You may ask yourself, “What’s the D4 crap?  And D8?”  More gaming stuff, so let me tell you.  D stands for dice, and the number that follows indicates the sides to that dice.  So a D4 has four sides, a D8 is eight-sided, a D6 you know and love from your crap shooting days, a D20 is the dice of choice of D&D geeks, and a D100 is usually two ten sided dice of different colors–one for your ten count, the other for your ones count–used to generate a percentage.  I say “usually”, because I have seen a one hundred sided die, which pretty much looked like a golf ball with numbers painted in each of the divots.  Thing was hell to read, let me tell you.

So the break down went like this:  as there are six continents from which students can arrive, I used a D6 to figure out where their country was located, with the intention of ignoring Antarctica because non of the students at Salem are magical penguins.  Right off the bat I rolled Australia, but since it’s part of the world known as Oceania, I looked for countries in that area, using different kinds of dice to narrow down the search until I found a place the student called home.

Do that enough and you have the homes of five students.  I figured on two of these kids being D Levels and three being E Levels, then I used a D10 to figure out their coven–a roll of 1 or 2 was Åsgårdsreia, 3 or 4 was Blodeuwedd, and so on–before using another D10 to figure out their gender.  Since it’s about four girls to one boy, a roll of 1 to 8 on a D10 meant a girl, a 9 or 10 was a boy.  Once I’d narrowed down gender and country, I brought up Scrivener’s Name Generator, began plugging in nationalities, and before you know it I had my people.

Welcome the 2012/2013 Class of Advanced Formulistic Magic.

Bunch of students who'll one day be making your world a better place.

Bunch of students who’ll one day be making your world a better place.

Nesreen’s college of choice will be Delft University in Delft, The Netherlands, situated between Den Haag and Rotterdam, and you can see she’s going to get a Bachelors of Science in Molecular Science & Technology, and a Masters in NanoScience, both of which are actual courses at Delft.  The Euro kids have finally edged out the African kids, but you never know who Erywin might bring into the class next year.

When I rolled up the Czech Republic, I knew the family name of the kid would be Zelenka, meaning one day he’ll probably end up in the Pegasus Dwarf Galaxy looking for Atlantis, which is an in-joke of mine–but wait!  Remember Professor Semplen, the Coven Leader of Cernunnos and also a citizen of the Czech Republic, tried out his Bulgarian on Annie when they first met, and here we have another person from there–and a covenmate as well–and what do you think he’s gonna try?  That conversation is at the bottom of my notes, with Honza first speaking to Annie in Czech, and then her replying in the same before he and she switched over to a snippet of Bulgarian, and you will see this in the scene.

I’ll need to do this for Kerry’s Advanced Transformation class as well, and maybe I’ll do the same for his Advanced Flight One–that will be easy, as I already know who all the B Levels are–and for Annie and Kerry’s Advanced Self Defense Class.  I may even do that today, since it’s not like I have a hell of a lot to do other than write.

Now you see some of the fun things I do just to make my world fell like a real world . . .

Through Home to Love and All Points Between

Last night I endured another face zapping, and the results this time were far better than the week before.  It still hurt, but it was manageable and I didn’t start crying like a baby due to two or three other things going on at the same time.  It was a far, far better experience last night–if having electricity shot into your face can ever be considered “better”.

Of course this means I was in a touch of pain by the time I arrived home, and this meant my mind wasn’t on my writing.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t write, but a little over five hundred words was all I managed.  I did that with a flaming face, so I guess I can cut myself some slack.

As far as the scene:  I’ve established that Annie can fly–and as I explained, that means without a broom, so she can kind of zip through the sky like a Bulgarian supergirl–and Kerry is a Mimic, which Jessica will explain to him in a later scene.  We’ve already seen that Kerry’s really good at copying certain things from other people, so you get the idea.

The day is almost over, and I indicate a date for these happenings, finally rooting everything in place.

 

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

Annie and Kerry made their way through the Pentagram Garden, taking their time as they walked up from Founder’s Gate. It was dark and clear, and the lights of the Great Hall and the Pentagram were extinguished to allow the stars in the pitch black to shine down, if only for a little while: the full moon was rising, and would be drowning out the stars in another thirty minutes.

This first Saturday back, 1 September, had been a long day for the couple. Early breakfast, then Gift testing. After that was lunch and a trip down to the Flight School so Annie could check out an Espinoza 3500 to use for the school year and Kerry could get his new locker assignment for Advanced Flying. He decided he’d wait until tomorrow to check out the Class 2 brooms: Vicky told him there wasn’t any hurry, that she’d have three available for running on the Green Line.

They spent the rest of the afternoon flying to various points around the grounds: up to the Witch House and the Observatory, back to Perquat’s Grove for a sit and a chat, then down to the spot where Kerry had hid during the Day of the Dead the year before, the small clearing where she’d asked Kerry if he wanted to be a good sorceress and a Guardian—if he’d be her Dark Witch—and where he’d said yes. After a summer’s wait, after months apart, after she presented him with a long, loving kiss, she asked him the same questions, and after her kissed her as long and loving as she had, his answers remained the same.

 

Annie’s doing a little of her own re-programming here.  After the near-disaster that emanated from this local in the woods–his Day of the Dead hidey-hole–she’s working to turn something negative into a positive.  Is she washing out the decision that nearly killed him to make it something positive for them both?  Magic 8 Ball says, “Could be.”

"That's it, Annie.  Have him think good thoughts about girls with cute accents, and bad thoughts about ginger brats."

“That’s it, Annie. Have him think good thoughts about girls with cute accents, and bad thoughts about ginger hair brats that nearly get him killed.”

From their it’s a lot of quiet, movie-montage walking . . .

 

Then it was dinner and hike out to Sunset Tower to enjoy the coming of night before taking a walk north along the Outer Wall. They didn’t speak much, just held hands and examined the scenery on both sides of the wall. Once they reached the North Wall, they remounted their brooms and flew back to the Pentagram, touching down just outside Founders Gate.

Throughout most of their A Level they spent little time wandering the gardens outside the Great Hall. Annie remembered the last time they’d strolled through here: after the Samhain dance, the first time she’s call him moyata polovinka, and his first experience with real déjà vu. She wasn’t interested in a replay of that even—Annie had more on here mind . . .

She gently tugged on Kerry’s arm. “See what’s ahead?”

There was plenty ahead that Kerry saw, but Annie’s question was more than rhetorical. “The Pentagram Wall; our tower; the walkway . . .” He turned and eyed her hard. “Oh, yeah: our bench.”

She playfully tapped his chest. “Silly. You knew I meant that.”

“You’re not exactly subtle, Sweetie.” He led her towards the covered walkway. “Wanna sit?”

She chuckled. “I thought you’d never ask.”

They walked towards the seat just inside the covered walkway that they considered “theirs”. So much had happened between them on this bench—their goodbyes before leaving school at the end of the year and right before Yule were two of the saddest—

But there were a few others that had brought them great happiness.

 

We sort of know what happiness came forth on that bench, but what’s going to happen now?  I do know that something important will happen here in a few minutes–well, “few” is a relative term when they’re waiting for the writer to get off her butt and write that moment.

I should get to that about the time I’m returning from the store tonight . . .