Cold Facts Upon the Cold Tower

Though it feels like I wasn’t about to get a lot finished last night, I surprised myself–must as I’d done the night before.  For one, I had to drive out to the local car dealership to have a safety recall performed on my car, then I stayed for an oil and air filter change.  While there I managed to get a couple of hundred words written.

Yeah, the Lady Writer hard at work doing selfies between scribbling.

Yeah, the Lady Writer hard at work doing selfies between scribbling.

After getting out of there I got a quick bite on the road and headed back to the hovel to write seven hundred or so words to get my total to just a little nine hundred twenty-five.  Not a bad time for a scene that I had a lot of trouble starting.

It’s Yule, and that means it’s time to get the kids out of the school and back home to the parental units.  This means Annie and Kerry are getting split up–again!–and they have to do nice holiday things.  For Annie this means hanging with her parents and probably getting, I don’t know, the book Twenty Ways to Kill People Who Piss You Off, while Kerry will probably stay in his room worried his mother is going to ask him if he’s still masturbating before warning him that girls–like The One Who Writes–have ways to drive boys going through puberty crazy.  I don’t know, maybe she’ll ask Kerry if Annie makes a mean milkshake.

But that’s in the future.  Let’s deal with the now–


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

It was just after twenty-one when Annie and Kerry touched down on the viewing platform that ran around the upper level of Observatory Tower. Kerry brought his broom to a light touchdown just inside the open dome, while the free-flying Annie soared over his head before setting down about two meters away. While Kerry placed his broom inside his private Hammerspace, Annie headed for the locker where the blankets and heavy comforters were kept. She returned with two comforters as Kerry finished setting up a two-person recliner where they could look outside.

Annie pulled a couple of small pillowed from her Hammerspace and set them on the recliner before sitting down. Kerry waited for her to settle in and get comfortable before joining her. Together they pulled one of the comforters over them, keeping the other one in reserve in case they grew chilled. After only a minute they were comfortable and warm, pressed shoulder-to-shoulder under their blanket.

Normally the sky over the school was clear because of the enchantment found in the defense screens that bore through the light pollution surrounding Cape Ann. With tomorrow the beginning of Yule Holiday, that enchantment was shut down until student returned to school, so rather than looking up into a totally dark sky, Annie and Kerry saw the lights of Rockport and Gloucester reflecting off the low winter clouds slowly moving in from the Atlantic.

The couple lay under their cover holding hands in silence. Since meeting up in Berlin on 25 August they’d remained together for all but one night and day, and now, almost four months later, they would separate and return home for the holidays. Their mood this time was different: where as the year before Annie faced her return with stoic grimness and Kerry found it almost impossible to keep the depression of being away from his loved one for two weeks, this time they’d exchange a couple of letters over the holidays, and be back in each other’s arms in another two weeks.

Though they didn’t want the separation, it was something they would survive. And the return would be that much sweeter.


So the kids are off to the Observatory:

Remember this place?

Remember this place?

And if you look closely, you’ll see two figures standing out on the Viewing Platform–probably my kids thinking about going up there to hang out for the night.  Which is exactly what these two are gonna do.  It makes you wonder if anyone else ever thinks about heading up to the open dome to hang out, and so far we’ve not seen anyone, but that doesn’t mean one of the reasons the observatory dome is open when nothing is going on is because they know this can be a popular hangout–if you have a way of flying up to the dome.  Which both my kids totally have.

I just realized that I do need to indicate how they’re dressed.  It’s only a little above freezing outside, which means they’re in their winter coats and sweaters and jeans, and in Annie’s case thick socks and boots.  Yeah, can do that tonight.

With them snugly under the comforter, their minds begin to drift and wonder . . .


Annie finally rolled to her left and kissed Kerry’s cheek. “What are you thinking about, my love?”

“You.” He kissed her back, only on the lips instead of the cheek. “My little sarmi at home in the snowy mountains of Bulgaria—” He slid his left arm over her body and held her close to him. “All alone.”

She chuckled. There was something ridiculously romantic about being called a little cabbage roll, though she wondered if anyone but her mother would understand the feeling . . . “I won’t be completely alone: I’ll be with my family.”

“True: you’ll have them.” He stared into her deep, hazel eyes. “I wish I could be there.”

“You could.” Annie adjusted her position so she wasn’t looking at Kerry cross-eyed. “I could ask my parents if you could visit.”

“It’d be too much trouble; I’m not out yet, remember?” He referred to the fact that his existence as a witch remained unknown to his parents. “I think it might be difficult convincing them that your parents want to fly me out of London during the busiest time of the year—” He rubbed his cooling nose against hers. “—just so I can visit a girl to whom I write .”

She giggled. “You do more than write.”

“I know. But they’d wonder what was up if I was only there for a couple of days.”

“Humm.” She tapped the fingers of her right hand against his side. “Well, for one, my father can afford to fly you down because he could—”

“I know.”

“And two—why do you think it’d be only a couple of days?”


I just has this conversation yesterday with one of my readers, who obviously is dreamwalking me or something, because this is one of the things that’s been going around in my head for a while–if Annie and Kerry could hook up during Yule Holiday, would they?  As Annie indicates, it’s not a problem for Papa to look as if he’s flying the boy down for the holiday–if he wanted to, he could probably ask the F1 team to bring him down on the company jet, which they could if they wanted to make it look like Kerry was traveling Normal Style.  In reality he’d just jaunt right to the house, and leave the jet to fly off to wherever.

So, yeah, I’ve thought about this for a while.  And Kerry, ever the realist, has as well–


The revelation that Annie would invite him to stay in Bulgaria for more than a few days surprised him. He knew she was used to getting what she wanted, but convincing her parents to let a boy they had only heard about second-hand was something he didn’t think she could manage. Besides . . . “Even if you got your parents to agree, I think my would say no.”

“Not even if you told them your girlfriend is rich?” Annie began grinning manically. “Or at least is the member of well to do family?”

“I thought you didn’t like to tell people you or you’re family has money?”

“I wouldn’t tell your parents—” She barely touched his cheek. “You would.”

Kerry considered the possibility for about five second. “While a tempting officer . . .” He shook his head. “I can’t do it, Darling.”

“Why not, my love?”

“My parents . . . I know them, and while throwing money around got them to send me to school, the moment I start mentioning money and a ‘rich girlfriend’, they’re gonna wanna know more about you and your family, and—” He slowly rubbed her back and sadly gazed back into her darkening face. “I still gotta keep the witch thing hidden for now.”

She wanted to argue that he was wrong, but in a moment Annie saw what Kerry was doing: He’s protecting my family and me. It’s not that he wants to be miserable, that’s that he doesn’t want us in trouble with The Foundation. She pressed her face against his. “I understand, my love. You’re being selfless.”

“I wish I wasn’t—” He brushed his lips against her cheeks. “I’d rather be with you.”

“Yes, well—” She pulled her head back revealing a huge smile. “One day you’ll visit for the holiday. One day soon. I promise.”


Kerry’s already anticipating problems with nosy parents, and he’s also likely wondered if Annie’s parent really would want him on the homestead for the holidays.  He could just see them now:  “So Kerry’s here for a couple of days–oh, the rest of the week?  And where is he going to stay?  The lake house?  Your house, one you sneak off to all the time, Annie?”  In all seriousness, now that Annie has kind of admitted she likes sleeping next to Kerry, how long before Annie gets tired of sleeping in her bed in the main house and wanders down to the lake house to see if Kerry is in any need of cuddling?

Not long, me thinks.

Let’s also face it:  Kerry’s parents are a bit dickish, and they’d want to speak with Annie’s folks and know more about them, and start wondering why they live up in the mountains away from everyone else, and why they built a house for their nine year old daughter, and what are their daughter’s intentions for their son, and . . . it would likely get messy, because they’d just be super pains in the asses for everyone.

As much as it pains Kerry, he knows getting away for the holidays isn’t something that going to happen in the next week.  However, that doesn’t mean they can’t talk about those occasions–and what they’re going to do for the current holiday.

I mean, there's plenty of room to do all that.

I mean, there’s plenty of room to do all that.

And this is when you’re going to find out some interesting, fun facts about Kerry’s Little Sarmi . . .

Down On the Deck: Response Gambit

Let me get all the happy news out of the way first.  I did, indeed, pass one hundred fifty thousand words last night.  Writing started out slowly because I seemed to have trouble getting focused–part of that may have been due to having the movie Elysium on in the background and not listening to music–but I ended with eight hundred and sixty-eight words total before the end appeared.  But I got there in the fastest sprint to ten thousand that I’ve had in a long time:  only eight days this time.

Eight days and then off to sleep, actually.

Eight days and then off to sleep, actually.

So there we are:  one of the big milestones I expected has arrived, and it’s got me wondering again if I’m going to finish this novel around the two hundred fifty thousand word mark.  Answer right now seem to be “no”, but you never know.  I’m thinking I should add another fifty thousand to that total–maybe?  Could be?  Should be?

So what is going on now?  Take a look:



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

Alex look as if she were considering pushing for an answer when popped up out of her chair. “Hey, they’re here.”

On the edge of the display were four bright blue dots moving rapidly towards the image of Cape Ann in the middle of the hologram. Annie stepped next to Penny. “Why only four?”

“We’re only seeing those brooms with active tracking—that means Vicky, Erywin, Nadine, and Riv right now.” She leaned forward, scrutinizing the images. “Damn, they’re really moving.”


Now, it was already stated in the excerpt yesterday about the active tracking, and Penny’s stating something that obviously wasn’t either known to Annie, or she may have been under the assumption that all brooms were being tracked.


Alex reached in and tapped the area above the dots. “Svyate der´mo.” Her eyes widened as she read the numbers. “Speed five-seventy-five kph: altitude thirteen hundred.”

Penny gasped as if she’d been slapped. “Meters?”


“Nearly everyone’s flying Espinozas.” Annie was torn between being impressed and shocked. “Five-seventy-five is over the maximum speed for those.”

“For unmodified ones, yeah—”

Alex stepped around the display. “None of the Espinozas at the school are unmodified. Vicky tricked them out so they’ll hit six hundred easy.”


For the less metrically inclined, six hundred kilometers per hour is right at three hundred seventy-five miles an hour, so five seventy-five works out to three hundred fifty-six and a half miles an hour.  Remember when Emma worried that others wouldn’t be able to keep up?  This is why:  right now they’re on those flying mountain bikes traveling along at just over three hundred and fifty miles and hour four thousand, two hundred, and sixty-four feet up.  That’s eight-tenths of a mile if you’re keeping track.  And you can bet Annie is . . .


Annie stepped a little to her right so she could see the flight in the display. “They’re up so high.”

“It’s ‘cause it’s been dark a while; whatever team’s in the lead was probably chancing the last bit of light before the sun set.” Penny slipped an bud into her ear activated the enchantment. “Let’s find out who’s bringin’ the flight home.” She lightly tapped her ear three times so the response would broadcast to everyone and spoke in her clear, clipped English tones. “Salem Overnight, this is the Flight Deck. We have you in the bubble: lead team, please sound off. Over.”

While the girl’s voice was clear, the slipstream around flight was clearly discernible over the speakers. “Flight Deck, this is Team Myfanwy on lead, pilot speaking. We’re coming straight in. Over.”

“Roger, Myfanwy, we have you as Overnight lead; transferring call sign to you. Please stand by.” Penny pointed at Alex. “Check their course.”

Annie knew what Alex would find. “Kerry’s navigating; they’ll come in right on course.”

“She’s right.” Alex crafted a line from their point of entry into the bubble to their present position, then drew it forward towards Cape Ann. “They’re gonna hit Rockport head on and then right to the meadow.”

“Where are they coming from?” Annie hadn’t noticed the position of the flight before, but now noticed they were approaching from the ocean.

Alex expanded the display so it took up most of New England and parts of Canada, then backtracked the course. “I’d say Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.” She checked the calculated distance. “Three hundred and eight-four kilometers from there to Rockport.”

“Wait, what?” Penny touched the comm. “Overnight, this is Flight Deck. How long have you maintained your present speed? Over.”

Kerry’s voice rang out clear. “For just over three hundred kilometers. Over.”

Penny and Alex exchanged looks. “Overnight, do you have a reading on your current wind chill?”

There was a long pause before Emma spoke. “Low, Fight Deck. Over.”

“Roger, Overnight.” Penny tapped her comm off before speaking. “Alex, contact the hospital, tell whomever you get we’re probably going to need some warming blankets down here: it looks like we got a Narjinary Gambit going.”

This was an expression Anne had never heard before, but given how grave the other girls appeared, she didn’t think it was good. “What’s a Narjinary Gambit?”


First, Penny could probably work flight control duties at Heathrow right now the way she’s handing the incoming flight.  Second, Annie was right on when she said with Kerry one-half of the lead team, because she’s already talked up how he loves that.  Third, they’s been in the air at there current speed for just over a half-hour, if you’ve done the calculations as I have.  Which brings us to four:  The Narjinary Gambit.  And what is that?


“Something that happened during the Polar Express back in 2005.” Penny turned towards Annie. “One team—Indu Narjinary and Zhanna Mirokhin—got dropped in the middle of Labrador, Canada. After they determined where they were, they calculated they were sixteen hundred kilometers from the school. So, rather than fly back at a normal speed, they figured if they got their speed up to five hundred kph, they’d be home by late Friday afternoon and they wouldn’t have to camp out.

“So they ate as much of their rations as possible to calorie up, set course for the school, and flew for ninety minutes at five hundred kilometers per hour. They touched down, warmed up for a couple of hours, then struck out again—”

“Only their course was off and they missed the school by about thirty kilometers.” Alex stood up from in front of the display she’d used to contact the hospital. “By the time they figure out their mistake they were past Providence, Rhode Island, and spent another ninety minutes getting back.” She turned to Penny. “Hospitals coming down with warming blankets.”

“Great.” Penny finished the story. “You fly that fast in this weather, you’re hitting wind chills of minus forty to fifty Celsius, and while we got great arctic winter gear, even with magic you’re still gonna get a good case of frostbite and hypothermia after a few hours. That was what happened with Narjinary and Mirokhin: they came down with hypothermia on the first leg, didn’t warm up enough, and started having mental lapses during their second leg.”

“They received special recognition for being the team to complete the Express the fastest from over a thousand kilometers out—” Alex grinned. “—but the way Vicky tells the story, she wasn’t at all happy.”

“Not to mention they spent Friday through Saturday night in the hospital recovering.” Penny nodded towards the display. “They’re probably hitting below minus fifty right now; they’re gonna need warming when they land.”


Remember how I’ve spoke about meta-plotting everything out but when something comes to me, I get it in?  Well, this is one of those things. The Narjinary Gambit didn’t exist until two days ago, and it came about because of . . . thinking about future scenes.  See, there are reasons why people do things and reasons why they don’t, and one of the things that came up was, “Well, if I can zip along at five hundred kilometers per hours, and I’m dropped off some fifteen hundred kilometers from the school during The Polar Express, what’s going to keep me from just opening up the broom and getting home as quick as possible?”  And that’s easy to ask now, because back before the 1990s the gear being used in The Polar Express normally wouldn’t allow for a lot of fast zipping because frostbite and hypothermia would put you down fast.

But with the new gear you can withstand colder temps, or so the reasoning goes.  These two girls decided to put that reasoning to the test, and almost flew out over the Atlantic in the process because mistakes.

See?  Mistakes.

This is what a near-fatal mistake looks like.

That’s the route I worked out, and you can see–to the far right is there first camp where they were set down; the next dot to the left of that is where they figured out their course; the dot in the middle is where they stopped half-way; the dot at the far left is where they realized they screwed up; and the final dot is the school.  If they hadn’t realized they were way off course and well beyond the school, they’d have sailed right out over the Atlantic, where they probably would have succumbed to hypothermia and crashed into the ocean.

If you’re interested, -50 C is just about -60 F, and if you don’t think that’s cold, go outside the next time the wind chill is like -10 F/-24 C, get on your thermals and your best coat, mittens, and hat, and just stand in the open for about five minutes.  Once you come back inside where it’s nice and warm, imagine it being another fifty F/twenty-five C colder, and then imagine you’re on a bike a quarter of a mile up above the ground moving along at something like 250 mph/400 kph.

Yeah.  You don’t get to make a lot of mistakes under those conditions.

Needless to say I didn’t finish the scene last night.  Tonight?  Yeah, I think I will.  I’m sure I will.

Or not.

Either way, I’ll be here tomorrow, because it’s thirty days hath September, and the witch month is upon us . . .

Fear the Walking Dead, Season 1, Episode 5: “Cobalt”

Originally posted on Rachel Tsoumbakos:

FTWD Ep 5 Strand and Nick

Desperate people facing desperate times . . .

We open on “The Facility”, the one where Griselda and Nick were taken. It looks like a lot of big dog pens set up to hold animals, only in this case the animals are people the military has . . . That’s never made clear. We know there are wounded there, the sick and the ill and probably the dying, but the first guy we meed, Strand, he’d a sharp-dressed guy talking a line of shit a mile wide to—Doug! The military did pick him up, and Strand is laying the line on him, that the world is over, things are gonna change, and insurance ain’t gonna help out. He plays Doug, asking to see a picture of her, then mind fucks him by saying she’s good looking enough that she’ll find a guy who’ll take good care of her. His is…

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Fifteen Thirty Over

Today is sort of a strange day.  I’m feeling weird this morning, probably because I stayed shut up in the apartment all weekend and did little more than sleep and write.  There is a good side to that last, and it’s that I wrote well over five thousand words during this stint, and that means I’ll hit one hundred and fifty thousand tonight or tomorrow, because I’m only one thousand, one hundred and five words from that mark.

It all really depends on how I feel after I do my recap tonight.

Yesterday, however, I found something, though “found” is a relative term because it’s not like it ever went away.  What I found was my one hundredth post titled Centennial, and I’m actually pretty amazed by it, because, well, I was keeping track of posts then?  That sounds a little retentive, yeah?

I’ve been spending a little time at night going over some of the stuff I wrote way back in the days when I first started blogging, and believe me when I say it wasn’t pretty.  Mostly because I was kinda lost in my own life, and I had little idea about what I wanted to do, both with my writing and my life.  If you can believe it, I was a mess, and I’d just gone through one of the worst summers of my life, in terms of what it did to me emotionally and mentally.  I had very little to look forward to at that point, save for one thing:


And for some strange, nefarious reason, I decided to begin blogging–

"No, this will be easy, I'll just write about whatever come to mind. That should work for the first week--"

“No, this will be easy, I’ll just write about whatever come to mind. That should cover the first week–“

And it just went from there.  Mostly I wrote about writing–big surprise!  Actually I started writing about writing because, truly, I felt it would keep me writing.  In a way it did:  at the end of August I started in on a story that would eventually becoming Kuntilanak, and I began blogging about the experience of writing the story, getting it edited, and eventually publishing the damn thing.

Also, all this blogging led me to decide to continue writing, and from there I spent the month of October getting ready for my first NaNoWriMo, the one that produced the only novel I’ve published–so far.  And because I had the blog, I used that as an outlet to show people what I was doing, how I was doing it, and when I reached November, I wrote about how much I was writing.  Sort of like Inception without the BLLLUUURRRRRRR every few minutes.

Today is post one thousand, six hundred and sixty, hence the post title, and a little calculating shows that Friday, 2 September, 2016, will be post two thousand–assuming I don’t miss a day somewhere in that mix.  It’s almost a year off in the future so I can’t really think much about the date, because no one know what and where we’ll be at that point.

I do know this much:  if I’ve blogging, I’m still writing.  And probably blogging about writing.  Probably writing about my kids.  Let’s hope the first novel is published by then, the second is done, and thinking about the third–

Because there are still a lot of stories to tell.

Grasping Beyond the Gaspé

This has been one crazy morning.  So much has happened:  tax calculations, writing, coffee, writing, listening to music, writing, getting dressed and going to the post office, writing . .

If you haven’t figured it out, there’s been a lot of writing.  In fact, last night and this morning have proven to be the most productive session I’ve had in a long time.  How much?  Eleven hundred and twenty-three last night, and one thousand, nine hundred, and twenty-two this morning.  And believe it or not, I haven’t finished the scene:  it’s still going, though I’m much closer to the end than the beginning.  And I may finish that up tonight–it’s hard to say.  This is how it is when you hit a writing groove.  And keeping Eminem’s Go To Sleep on repeat helps keep the juice going as well.

A huge chunk of last night’s scene had to do with the camp breaking down and heading out into the cold gray overcast yonder.  And believe it or not, this scene has become one of the most heavily researched scenes I’ve done since sending my kids off to Kansas City.  I mean, I’ve looked at tents, sleeping bags, cots, backpacks, what to wear as arctic gear, mapping the route, checking the historical weather for the area at the time . . . and lastly, it came to me a couple of days a good that I had no idea what the wind chill, but that’s because I wasn’t sure how fast my kids were averaging on their flights.

Which is why my notes now look like this:


Camp Baxter to Fish River Lake to Allagash to north shore Beau Lake (US side): Team Zanzibar 139.5 km 27 F/-3 C, overcast, flight wind chill 3 F/-16 C, 07:00 start, 130 kph/65 minutes, 08:05 end

Rest 08:05 to 08:30


Yeah, that’s how I roll:  like a crazy bitch who has to know everything.  But as you’ll see nearly all of this came into play in the scene.  Let’s head back to what I’d like to wake up, get going, and then break camp–


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

Wake up came at five and the students found something waiting for them far different than their normal mornings in the towers. There weren’t any showers and the toilets were outside, in the cold, behind privacy curtains. They also had to dress in cold, cramped quarters, which led to a lot of issues and grumbling. Vicky expected this: a majority of the students had never camped out, and picking early winter for their first time out made the kids far more uncomfortable than normal.

Rivânia and Nadine began setting up the fires while it was still dark, and unlike when they were setting up camp, they accepted Kerry’s help in getting them going. In less than a minute they had eight fires warming the camp, for unlike normal camp fires these floats mere centimeters off the ground and didn’t require normal fuel to burn.

Vicky kept a close eye on the teams when it came to preparing breakfast. She’d pressed home the concept of division of labor when it came to camp set up, cooking, cleaning, and camp take down. She was pleased to see most of the groups did just as she’d taught, and she hoped that in their future expeditions would see this lesson continue.

She pushed them hard to eat, clean, and began tearing down and packing, for she wanted everyone ready to go brooms up at seven. There was a bottleneck getting the backpacks filled as Vicky and Erywin needed to help Rivânia and Nadine with their Compress spells. When she saw Kerry started to craft Compress on Emma and his gear she wondered if she should say something, but when she saw Nadine warn her off by shaking her head, she knew there wasn’t any need to worry.

They left Camp Baxter on-time and headed north with Team Zanzibar leading the flight. This was her plan for the day: various teams would get the opportunity to direct the whole flight to preselected locations. The only rules here was that each time had to figure out their course ahead of time and determine best speed to reach their objectives. It was also necessary for them to figure out how long it would take to reach objective, so when the lead team told Vicky they’d arrived, she could use her flight systems to determine if they were indeed where they were supposed to be, or if the lead flight had missed the mark.


You see Team Zanzibar’s flight schedule above, and you can follow it on the map I set out the other day.  I won’t bore you with everything, but here’s what they might see if they were on the ground–

Here’s the point close to Allagash, Maine, where they would turn north and head north to Beau Lake:

At least it's blue sky in this picture, and not cold, slate gray like they'll see.

At least it’s blue sky in this picture, and not cold, slate gray like they’ll see.

Then we hand off to the next team:


Beau Lake to Pohenegamook, Quebec, to north short Lac Pohenegamook to Aeroport de Rimouski: Team Picante 153.15 km * 32 F/0 C, wind 16 kph, light snow, flight wind chill 11 F/-11 C, 08:30 start, 125 kph/75 minutes, 09:45 end

Rest 09:45 to 10:10


They are the first team to lead the group into Canada, and therefore they’re crossing from one country to another–

And they're going right up that shore there.  Did you bring your passports, eh?

And they’re going right up that shore there. Did you bring your passports, eh?

Team Picante (and this word is Spanish for spicy, meant to reflect the foods one might find in the countries of the team members) runs into a little trouble, as well as something else–


They were only ten minutes along on their way to their next objective, the airport outside Rimouski, Quebec, when they ran into something Vicki expected to find before the morning was over: snow. The temperatures were actually three degrees warmer than what they’d flow through in Maine, but the snow and overcast skies lowered nearly everyone’s spirits. By the time they landed in a small plot of woods outside Rimouski, most of her students seemed miserably and grumpy.


Snow!  Wonderful Snow!  You knew it was going to happen eventually, and while the students have flow in snow before, they’ve only done it on marked paths inside the school walls.  And being out in a lot of it, in the air, and flying fast has freaked a few people out.  And now we’re going to throw another level of crazy on top of that:


She ordered a short rest and put Team Sulaco on the next leg. Mesha and Daudi were another pair of great fliers, and her instructions to them were to fly fast and stay focused. They didn’t disappoint: they went brooms up at ten-ten and crossed a sixty kilometer stretch of the St. Lawrence River in ten minutes. This was the first time the students had flown over any large body of water, and Vicky and Erywin were on a private channel mentioning the students who seemed uneasy flying over deep water through snow-filled air at three hundred kilometers and hour.


Sixty clicks is thirty-seven miles, and that’s a pretty good chunk of water to cross.  Up around that part of the river there aren’t any bridges, not only because of the width but the depth:  around that area it can be over a hundred meters deep, and that’s usually a lot deeper than set up piers for the bridges.

So first they streak north:

Get ready to say hello to The Great White North.

Get ready to say hello to The Great White North.

Then they hit the north shore, fly east for a while, and head back south:

Kinda like this only with more snow.

Kinda like this only with more snow.

Only this time they travel about one hundred kilometers over the river.

Which at this point sort of does look like the ocean.

Which at this point sort of does look like the ocean.

And after a rest we find out why she’s upset with some pissy little witches:


She picked Team Manga for the next leg, and this left her slightly concerned because Franky and Jiro, while good fliers, weren’t her best. However, they wouldn’t become better if they didn’t give them the opportunities to improve. This was that chance: if they performed this leg correctly they would leave Quebec behind and move on to their next Canadian province.

First they have to leave the Gaspé Peninsula behind.

The doubt that Franky and Jiro were not going to do as well as Vicky hoped came as they were departing as Jiro called out a different departure speed than he’d given during the preflight briefing. Vicky corrected him, and he returned a curt acknowledgment that she was correct. The temperature and weather conditions remained the same from the last two legs, and she heard Franky bitching to Jiro about how they should have taken a longer break due to the cold. Vicky rolled her eyes at Erywin, who was also listening in on the conversation, and she shook her head in disbelief.

The probably came as they approached the town of Murdochville, one of the only towns found in the interior of the Gaspé Peninsula. As they approached the sky resort on the east side of town the flight slowed enough for Vicky to get a position fix and to get visual proof that they did reach their checkpoint. She expected a nearly forty degree course change to the left towards their next objective, Fontenelle, but instead, Team Manga adjust their course nearly forty degrees to the right and southward and began to gather speed—

Three kilometers into their new course Emma and Kerry used the group channel to tell everyone that they were going the wrong way.


Just want you want to hear–those two telling you you’re doing it wrong.  “Hey, missed a turn!”  And Kerry’s probably made a few off-hand comments about how Annie psudo-kicked his girlfriend Lisa’s ass–though it’s hard to say if they’re really dating or, you know, just DTF like Lisa once said.

Things go from bad to ugly:


She was aware there wasn’t any love lost between the two teams. Vicky was aware of some animosity between Franky and Kerry, and Jiro and Emma had clashed on a couple of past occasions when she openly corrected Jiro’s flight calculations. Vicky was about to admonish Emma and Kerry privately for calling out the lead team when Franky chose that moment to remind them to shut up, that they knew what they were doing—

That’s when Vicky stepped in, and it became clearly obvious they didn’t know what they were doing. She brought the team to a halt in mid-air ask asked to see their course layout, and Franky—who was his team’s navigator—immediately because defensive and reiterated that they were on the correct heading. This back and forth went on for almost another thirty seconds before Vicky lost her temper and told Franky to show her their flight plan or she was going to jaunt him and Jiro back to the school and leave them locked in her office until she returned to the school with the rest of the flight.

The relented and she saw that instead of heading for Fontenelle they were heading due south to Bonaventure before turning southeast towards the next checkpoint. The total distance covered would have become slightly shorter, but she instantly saw the biggest difference in this different route, and the more she analyzed their flight plan, the more furious she became because it was apparently this wasn’t a simple navigation error, not when they’d mentioned Fontenelle and Gaspé during their flight briefing . . .

She ordered a new heading and told them to get moving. When Franky began complaining that he’d been unfairly singled out for a simple navigation error, Vicky shot a warning finger his way and told him to shut up or she was going to knock him on his ass the moment they landed. Though all the students knew Vicky wasn’t as inclined to physical violence as some instructors at Salem, they were also aware that she didn’t suffer fools, and few wanted to test her wrath.


Vicky does have a bit of a temper, but you really gotta push her buttons before it shows.  Franky somehow seems to know where those buttons are, and got her pissed.  So they leave Murdochville–

The scene of the crime, so to speak.

The scene of the crime, so to speak.

Take a rest outside Fontenelle, and then she hands the flight over to Team Azso, who flies them almost three hundred and forty kilometers to Prince Edward Island, which means traveling over one hundred and seventy-five kilometers of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which is the same as sailing over the ocean.

Coming into PEI from over the Ocean, yo.

Coming in to PEI from over the Ocean, yo.

And we go back to where we were, with Vicky and Erywin off their brooms and stretch, and Erywin handing Vicky a mug of hot chocolate before they chat some more on how Franky is on the shit list bad, how B Levels are kinda moody anyway because they have figured out that even though they’re special people, they’re still in school, and talk about their families a little–mostly Vicky’s family, who the reader learns her parents found out about Vicky being a witch before she left her A Levels.

And then this happens:


Erywin broke into laughter. “Touché.” Her expression turned serious as she looked off away from the rest of the children. “Here now, what’s all this?”

“What?” Vicky followed Erywin’s gaze and saw Emma and Kerry standing about ten meters away from the rest of the group and appearing ready to mount their brooms. “What they hell are they doing?”

“Maybe we should find out.” Erywin began walking towards them with Vicky soon matching her stride. She called out as soon as they were a few meters away. “Oi, you lot.”

Kerry spun around and grinned. “Oi, you. What’s up?”

Vicky nodded towards the hovering brooms. “I was about to ask you two the same.”


Where are they going?  Hum . . . flying, perhaps?  Maybe I’ll get around to writing that tonight–


Lunch Time in the Maritimes

You know how they say “It was an interesting night?”  Well, my night was interesting.  Really, far more interesting that I could have imagined.

See, I’m just settling in to do some writing when, all of a sudden, I start getting PMed about gifts that are supposed to be going to people.  I’ve helped organize a gift exchange on Facebook, and suddenly last night I’m getting asked about it–right about the time I’m about two hundred words into this scene.

So I have to start tracking down people and numbers, and before you know it, I’m like thirty minutes into getting nowhere.  It was very crazy and very frustrating, let me tell you, and nearly another forty-five minutes went by before I had everything straightened out.

That meant I didn’t have but maybe an hour to churn out what I wanted to write, and that also means I didn’t get as far into my process as I wanted.

However . . . I still managed seven hundred and ninety words.  I consider that an accomplishment.  I had wanted to get closer to twelve hundred, but I can try for that tonight

Now, where are we?  Well, somewhere in Canada.  And people aren’t too happy . . .


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

Vicky drifted in for a landing among the sparse trees, gently issuing orders to the members of the flight as they found clear spots to land. She felt her toes touch ground, but she leaned out over the control frame of her Higoshi Rally G and gathered her thoughts. She waited until she’d managed a few deep breaths and cleared her thoughts before speaking. “Thank you, Team Azso, for bringing us here. You’re relieved of command.”

She swung her leg over the frame but remained resting against the saddle. “Okay, everyone, we’re gonna rest for a bit. We’ll get a fire going, but stick with cold rations for now.” She heard the grumbling over the comms but gave them no mind. If they want to roll on the big express through the north, they better get used to some hard shit. “You’ll get plenty of lead time before we take off again. That is all.”

While her minions approached with their brooms in hand, Vicky pushed back here hood, pulled off her helmet, and shook out her hair. She sighed out her stress at she pointed at her lead girl. “Riv, you and Nadine get a couple of fires going before someone decides to try craft a fire spell and sets the goddamn woods on fire.”

“You got it, Vicky.” Rivânia tapped her Advanced Spells classmate on the arm and nodded in the direction of the rest of the students. They dropped their packs near Vicky and slipped their own brooms into Hammerspace as they walked off.

“You look as if you’re enjoying yourself.” Erywin walked over with her hands in her jacket pockets and her heavy ski cap securely upon her head instead of over her flight helmet, the way they were wore while flying.


Now, we haven’t seen much of Vicky throughout the novels.  She was one of the first instructors we met, and she did help Annie out by both saving her ass and getting her straightened out on how to handle herself the next time someone stuffed Kerry into a wall.  Most of the time she seems upbeat and cheerful:  here, she’s down and not handling the situation well.  Even Jewish Witches Sing the Blues?  It kinda seems that way–


“Oh, immensely. I’ll bet you’re happy to be here.”

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world, which is why I always come with you on these overnights.” She pulled her hands from her pockets, removed her mittens and gloves, and flexed her fingers. “Though I don’t recall the last couple of levels being this difficult.”

“No shit.” Vicky rolled her eyes. “I had to resist the urge on the way here to dump a couple of pissy little witches in the drink while the opportunity presented itself.” She cast a sideways glance towards the fires that were building in a nearby clearing. “Seriously, I can do Electrify; I’ll just give them an electric bolt in the back and—” She smirked at Erywin. “You think Mathilde would believe me if I told her they fell off in the middle of flight?”


Remember all those stories we heard about how instructors talk about other students?  This is part of that, though this isn’t along the lines of, “Oh, aren’t those two kids really cute the way they hold hands and stuff?”  No, this is more murder-face time and Vicky is not a happy witch.  And why is that?  Well . . .


“Somehow . . . no.” She chuckled as she turned towards the collection of students pulling cold rations from their backpacks. “I take it you have taught the little darlings basic navigation?.”

The flight instructor nodded. “You wouldn’t think so with a few of them, though.” She shook her head. “It’s not like when we did Advanced Flight. Back then you had to learn the maps and know how to physically determine your course with with your flight calculator—”

“Oh, I agree. I still have mine.” Erywin smiled thinking about the circular plastic calculator that she used for figuring out course, distance, and time when she was a student. “But nowadays these kids can pull out a phone and punch up a GPS app—or even use their HUD to find that information.

“Yeah, well . . .” Vicky snorted. “They better get their shit together fast, ‘cause if they think this flight is hard, wait until the next when I start turning stuff off in their flight systems.” She finally stood straight, shaking out her arms. “I’m just—I don’t know. I guess I suspected more today.”

Erywin patted Vicky’s shoulder, giving it a light rub. “The bitching and back talk didn’t help at all.”

“You got that right.” Vicky paced once around her broom before saying what was truly bothering her. “You know, I don’t mind when Franky started making the wrong way back at Murdochville, but when he wouldn’t own his mistake and started smarting off to me, I damn near pulled the flight from him and Jiro right then and there.”

Erywin nodded. “And you’ve have been right to do so. I actually thought you were going to fly up along side and smack him—or worse.” She slid her hands back into her pockets. “I’m glad you didn’t.”

“I am, too. It’s just been a long day and I’m really tried of all the pissing and moaning today.” She checked her watch. “And we got a hell of a lot more to go and not much daylight left.” She glanced back over towards the fires and re-ran the events of the day through her head—


So, Mr. Franky Smith of Way The Hell In The Middle of Nowhere Canada was talking back to an instructor after making a mistake?  Say it isn’t so!  He seems to be making a habit of that lately, and Erywin probably would have smacked him had he did that to her.

So what’s going on?  Well, you’re going to get spoilers today, because I’m going to show you a little of what’s going on behind the curtain before I write it.  Here is a little of the writing process before I got into the writing thing . . .

What I did was set up a flight where each team would be given objectives to find and reach, and, it was hoped, do so in a certain amount of time.  So I started setting up legs and figured out which team was gonna run the legs.  In doing so I came up with the grid below:


Camp Baxter: 25 F/-3 C, overcast

Point and Lead Team:

Camp Baxter to Fish River Lake to Allagash to north shore Beau Lake (US side): Team Zanzibar 139.5 km 27 F/-3 C, overcast

Beau Lake to Pohenegamook, Quebec, to north short Lac Pohenegamook to Aeroport de Rimouski: Team Picante 153.15 km * 32 F/0 C, wind 16 kph, light snow

Aeroport de Rimouski to civilian airport Hautervie to Pointe-des-Monts to Mont-Saint-Pierre: Team Sulaco 264.5 km 22 F/-5 C, wind 11 kph, light snow

Mont-Saint-Pierre to Murdochville to Fontenelle: Team Manga 111.8 km * 25 F/-4 C, light winds, light snow

Fontenelle to Gaspe to Pointe-Saint-Pierre to Tignish, PEI, to Charlottetown: Team Azso 338.15 km 36 F/2 C, wind 11 kph, cloudy


Five legs so far, five teams, and the distances covered.  Oh, and local weather conditions for this date in the past, because it always helps to know what sort of shit your pissy little witches are gonna run into.  You can see that as the teams got into Canada and moved north towards the St. Lawrence River valley it started snowing and getting colder.  That part right there took some looking up, but hey–that’s part of the writing deal, yeah?

So what does this look like?  Well . . . would you believe I have a map?

Sure you would.

Sure you would.

That’s everything covered up to this point, and what I’m going to write about next in this scene.  All the students have flown a little over one thousand kiloments, all in the cold, and all in a few hours, you’ll come to find out.  And if you want to know the legs covered, I’ll help you out:  the first leg went from the start at 0 and up to the point just to the left of the name Edmundston.  The second when from there to the point just below the name Mont-Joli.  The third went from there, on the southern banks of the St. Lawrence River north, then east, then back across the river to rest just above Sainte-Anne-des-Monts.  The forth leg–the one where Vicky wanted to zap Franky–went from there to the points just to the east of the 400 mi mark.  And the last leg–so far–went from there south to their current resting point 623 miles, 1003 kilometers, from the start, just outside the city of Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island.  That’s a lot of flying in the cold, and Vicky and Erywin have a bunch of grumbly kids to deal with because of all that.

You wanted to fly with the big spell crafters, witches, and now you’re getting your chance.  How does it feel?

You’ll notice that I’ve not mentioned a team named after a Welsh pteranodon, and there’s a reason for that.  A reasons that I hope to make apparent tomorrow . . .

Fear the Walking Dead, Season 1, Episode 4: “Not Fade Away”

Cassidy Frazee:

The recap is up!

Originally posted on Rachel Tsoumbakos:

Jamie McShane as Lt. Moyers and Cliff Curtis as Travis - Fear The Walking Dead _ Season 1, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC

Welcome to the Occupation.  You’re safe: would we lie?

Nick resting on a pool float and Travis is out jogging like it’s no big deal, and Lou Reed reminds us of what’s going on:

Just a perfect day
Problems all left alone
Weekenders on our own
It’s such fun

But it isn’t, really. The military is present, there’s a patrolled fence, supplies coming in from somewhere, we’re told in voice over it’s been nine days since the power went out, and we can see smoke rising from over a hill, probably something in downtown L.A. still burning. While we watch someone who looks like Carl Grimes enter the neighborhood—and, man, is he really out of the house!—Chris sits on the roof of his house with a video camera and thinks he sees someone signaling in the distance from the “dead zone”, but we know that can’t be true because…

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