Life in Three Acts

I know what you’re thinking:  what, no writing again?  Yeah, that’s been happening of late as I’ve really been in the middle of some intense socializing for the first time in months.  Actually, it’s been kinda the perfect storm of interaction of late, with my trip back to Indiana, meeting people there, then doing things on this end–yep, that actually leaves a few holes in the writing schedule.  But I’ve needed the interaction for a while, and it’s helping me recharge a little.  Actually, I was a bit weepy for the most part yesterday, and getting together with someone for dinner helped bring me out of that funk.

It was either that or spend all my time crying while writing.

But this is a good time to get into something else that’s important to writing, or at least to my writing.  And that’s to answer the question, “Why do you lay things out the way you lay them out?”  Besides the answer, “Because I’m strange,” it’s really due in part to helping me keep action organized in a format that’s fairly well-known to writers around the world.

First off, let’s speak of something known as three act structure.  This is probably one of the most basic of all writing tools that’s used in so many stories that once you start getting heavy into reading the works of others, you’ll recognize it immediately.  Stephen King employed it to good use in most of his novels, particularly with The Stand and IT, and Joss Whedon has used this in both his Avenger movies.

The set up is easy:  the story is broken into three acts, often known as the Setup, the Confrontation and the Resolution.  The Setup is mostly exposition, where the story is set up, the character met, backgrounds laid out, and so on.  The Confrontation is just that:  the challenges are met and things start getting a little dicey.  The last act is the Resolution, where everything is tidied up and the hero–or heroes–walk off into the sunset victorious–or in a case of a couple of kids separated by the continent of Europe, they go home and get sad.

I had this structure in my last night, A For Advanced, because, really, it helped determine how I should sell the book when I sell the book.

I have the same thing in the current novel, 'cause why get rid of a good thing?

I have the same thing in the current novel, ’cause why get rid of a good thing?

The first time I used the three act structure was Kolor Ijo.  My characters meet in the first act and find out what’s happening.  In act two things ramp up, and in act three the move in together and take on the big bad.  That worked well enough that I decided to keep it for The Foundation Chronicles novels, while at the same time divided the story up even further.

In these two novels, acts are broken into parts that are basically a collection of interrelated things.  Let’s look below:

Hey, looks like there's a dance going on.

Hey, looks like there’s a dance going on.

Part Four, Under Pressure, deals with events in Annie’s and Kerry’s lives that affect them in different ways.  Those events becomes chapters, which contain the telling of those events.  Samhain Festivities is an event that’s good for Annie and Kerry together.  The Manor Called is something that affects Annie, and From Queens to Dreams affects Kerry.  The last, Restricted Dreamspace, is something that again affects them both, and sends Annie off asking questions.

And lastly I have scenes, and this seems to be the place where a lot of people look at me and go, “Huh?”  Since I think of my story in somewhat cinematic terms, a scene, to me, is a segment of a chapter relating to a particular event, like one would see in a movie or television show.  Let’s go back to the first Avengers movie.  You start out with the Tesseract acting up and Nick Fury coming to see what the hell is happening; that’s a scene.  Loki appears, gets his meat puppets, and scoots with the loot; that’s a scene.  There’s the chase out of the facility as everyone finished packing their shit and leaving before it all blows up and Loki vanishes with the goods; that’s a scene, and the end of a chapter.

I do the same above.  Kerry finds out he’s on the A Team–scene.  The A Team meets–scene.  They start the race–scene.  They end the race–scene.  Off to the dance and meet the other students–scene.  While Kerry dances, Annie talks–scene.  It’s all part of the festivities, and if I wanted to I could break those up between the Samhain Races and the Samhain Dance, and I may do just that when I get home.  This is why I like Scrivener, because it allows me that freedom, and given that I transition sharply from the race to the dance, it’s possible they could be two separate chapters.

That’s how I do thing, but more importantly, why I do it that way.  It also helps me keep things neat and organized, even if it looks like a huge mess.  Then again, this is what I used project management software to write my novels.

It helps keep the insanity to a minimum.

Climbing Up Under Sideling Hill

As indicated yesterday I was out on “special assignment.”  This is a little different than just road tripping, and it usually means I went somewhere to do some investigating.  My destination this time was a location I’ve visited before:  the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike, just east of Breezewood, PA, and a place I blogged about almost two years ago in my post On The Road to Nowhere. That time I went alone, but this time I was with a friend.

I’ve wanted to return here for a while, but my determination returned when I discovered my newest friend, Holly–a women who works in the same division as me and who is new to the Harrisburg area–wanted to see this place she’d never heard of until I’d spoken.  So . . . road trip?  Of course.  We left The Burg about seven AM and zoomed westward to Breezewood, where breakfast was the first order of the day–

Gril's gotta have her coffee before walking The Road.

Girl’s gotta have her coffee before walking The Road.

Holly giving me that,

Holly giving me that, “We’re gonna get murdered” look.

That last was a running joke we had all during our expedition, that somewhere along the line a serial killer was gonna jump us and leave our bodies on the turnpike.  And, truly, we were the only ones there at first:  when we finally arrived at our first stop, we were the only ones around for miles.

Looking east along the road.

Looking east along the road a famous filming location.

It was quiet save for the sound of bugs and birds, and if you don’t believe me–well, this time I did something I hadn’t the last time:  I shot video.  I put on my Hodgepodge Groupie tee shirt and brought my big tripod–I figured a way to bungie it to my backpack so it wouldn’t slide around–and it was time to get on camera and let you see what we were seeing:

As you can hear, it was quiet.  And you can also tell, I hope, that we were having a bit of morbid fun.  I should also point out that I incorrectly said that Laurel Hill Tunnel is being used by Bobby Rahil Racing:  it’s actually used by Chip Ganassi Racing.  My mistake.

After this it was back in the car and up to the west portal of Sideling Hill tunnel.  If you wondered what it used to look like, here it was during construction:

Nice, clean, and pristine.

Nice, clean, and pristine.

And how it looked when it was in use in the 1950s:

You can almost smell the petrochemiclas being burned.

You can almost smell the petrochemicals being burned.

Today, however, it’s a far different deal, given that it’s been left to the environment and elements for almost forty years.

Sideling Hill Tunnel 07252015005

Abandon All Hope–

Sideling Hill Tunnel 07252015006

Ye Who Approach.

And looking west along a famous filming location.

Looking back to the west from whence we walked.

Here I shot another video, and it’s a bit more creepy, because of things like dripping water, echo, and no one else being around for miles.  No, really:  we were the only ones in the area, and would be for at least another half-hour.

As you can see, and hear, we were staying upbeat, and we were actually joking about a lot.  It was also a lot cooler in the shade where we were standing:  by this time, about ten AM, it was already 90 F/32 C outside.

And all that kidding around about going inside the tunnel–yep, we did go inside.  And not just like fifty feet or so:  we went inside–deep under the mountain.

Here's all that running water leaking from the ceiling.

Here’s all that running water leaking from the ceiling.

Here's what lay ahead of us as we went deeper--

Here’s what lay ahead of us as we went deeper–

And the light we were leaving behind.

And the light we were leaving behind.

Holly totally in charge of keeping the way lit and reading all the grafiti.

Holly totally in charge of keeping the way lit and reading all the graffiti.

Eventually we reached a point far enough inside that it was totally creepy dark and dry–and still completely alone.  And this is where I shot the last video.  And if you don’t like dark spaces, or you get claustrophobic imagining being inside a mountain with tons of rock surrounding you, do not watch this next video.  It wasn’t bad for us, but then, we were there in the first place, so how could it be bad?

As indicated at the end of the video, people finally started showing:  it was two couples on bikes riding in from the west.  As they biked past the comments on how they wondered why we were moving so slow.  Well, because we’re on foot?  Yeah, something like that.

Before we left the deep interior of Sideling Hill–if you didn’t watch the video, we walked about fifteen hundred feet, or about four hundred fifty meters inside–we caught a couple of selfies:

Holly working on her Japanese ghost cosplay.

Holly working on her Japanese ghost cosplay.

Me practicing my remake of the Mama music video.

Me practicing my remake of the Mama music video.

And we did a group shot once we were back in the sunlight–

Tunnel Exploring Babes, Yo!

Tunnel Exploring Babes, Yo!

And Holly does her happy dance as we return to the car:

“Yay, we weren’t murdered!”

I should point out that we tried to make our way over to Ray’s Hill Tunnel, but the only area with close access also seemed to be protected but paranoid hillbillies who may or may not have been up to nefarious things, and the feeling was we should just get the hell out and come back to the other tunnel when it was cooler and we could stand a mile and a half walk.

As it was we still had a nice walk:  1.9 miles, or 3.06 kilometers.

As it was we still had a nice walk: 1.9 miles, or 3.06 kilometers.

On the way back to The Burg we stopped at Sideling Hill service plaza and changed into more comfortable clothes–aka skirts and jumpers–and sped back home to grab lunch before we began hangry–hungry and angry.  There we dined on pretty fine Italian food, and grabbed another picture together because why not?

Also, there were a few adult beverages going down--

Also, there were a few adult beverages going down–

--because that's what you do when you walk out of the Mines of Moria.

–because that’s what you do after you walk out of the Mines of Moria.

There we are:  another successful adventure, and one shared with another person who said she enjoyed herself immensely.

Now . . . what can I do next?

An Short Yet Annoying Interlude

I know you’re here looking for what a promised I’d have right now, but guess what?  It ain’t here.  And it’s not because I didn’t finish the scene last night, because I totally did.

I even put in other scenes to blabber on about as well.

I even put in other scenes to blabber on about as well.

Yes, I wrote twelve hundred and fifty words exactly last night and put the main Dance Away scene to bed–along with me, because it was close to eleven-thirty when I finally went to sleep.  I showed the rest of the children who are in the notes, what they were wearing, identified them, and then . . . we found out who Annie and Kerry had come as for the dance.  Oh, yeah.  Great times.

However . . . I have a special assignment for this morning, and because it take some time to put together everything with the proper images and accompanying snark, and because I’m supposed to be on the road in, let me check the clock, fifty minutes at six-forty in the AM, I figured I’d work on that post when I return from my travails.

Yes, you get two posts today!  Aren’t you the lucky ones?

In the mean time you can guess away all you like about my kid’s costumes, and you can wonder at whatever I’m implying with the titles of the sub-scenes shown in the image above.  Needless to say, I think the one between Annie and Deanna will likely generate the most comments, because . . . well, they’re talking about love, aren’t they?

But with me you never know what you’re getting:  I say one thing, and in my mind I’m thinking something completely different.  It’s one of the advantages of being the writer:  you are supposed to know what’s going on, and you leave the readers guess right up until the moment when you give them what you want.

I’m looking forward to writing that next scene, because it’s one that’s come to me over the course of the last week, and what would the school year be without Annie and Deanna having a heart-to-heart.  Actually, they have a couple of heart-to-hearts, because Deanna likes to listen, and Annie . . . give her the chance and she loves to talk.  And it must be something about which she can’t talk to Kerry about.

It must be serious.

It’s six on the nose and I’m ending the post now.  I’ll see you all later in the evening.

Play nice, kids.

The Samhain Dance: Stump the Geeks

Well, that was interesting . . .

Last night, I mean.  Not so much today, but last night, it just seems to go on and on, and it was hard getting into the swing of writing, probably because I’m looking things up as I go.  You’d think I’d know to have these things laid out ahead of time before I start, right?

But I still got it going, and I ended up with just about the same totals I’ve had the prior two nights:

 

Words 07/21/2015: 724
Words 07/22/2015: 895
Words 07/23/2015: 794

 

That’s what you have to call consistency.  I have a feeling I’ll hit close to nine hundred or so tonight, because I’m envisioning ending the scene tonight, then starting this post late in the evening so it will auto-post in the morning, because–believe it or not–I have to be on the road by about six forty-five in the AM tomorrow.  Why?  You’ll probably find out Sunday.

As for the eight hundred words that follow–do they advance the plot?  Nope.  A little information is given, but it’s a big of character building.  I love character building.  And as the title points out, there’s some stumpin’ going on . . .

 

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

Alex smiled before looking over her shoulder to snort. “At least you were good racer on your side.”

“Yeah, well . . .” Nadine looked about for her racing team mates. “I race clean ‘cause I don’t want to fly off a broom at a couple of hundred kilometers an hour.”

“Neither do I.” Penny shrugged. “I only got pissy with people on my own team today. Though . . .” Her eyes fell upon a mass of red hair a dozen meters away. “I was about to kick one ginger girl’s ass today.”

Annie looked in the same direction as everyone else, where Emma stood speaking with a few of the Mórrígan warriors who would soon venture forth to do battle with the Åsgårdsreia shield maidens. She glanced at Kerry, who stood showing no emotion. After their discussion while returning from The Diamond he’d not said a word about her or the races, his only mention of the event had been to promise Annie that he’d not go on about the events of the Mórrígan race, or let them bother him. He’s put it behind him—one way in which he’s not like my father . . .

“Who is she suppose to be?” Jairo scratched his head. “Kerry, you seemed to know these things—”

He did know who she was. “She’s Ginny Weasley.”

“I thought she was Hermione?”

“Nope. Hair’s straight for one, and—” Kerry pointed in her direction. “That’s a Gryffindor quidditch uniform she’s got on. Hermione didn’t play quidditch.”

Penny stared at the floor, shaking her head. “You gotta be kidding. How lame.”

 

Man, feel the Emma hate.  And given how the other racers as Salem feel about the magical sport of quidditch–which is to say, they think it’s laughable–it’s not an easy time tonight.  Plus–a witch pretending to be a witch?  M’kay.

"I'm a witch, and I fly a broom, too!  Watch me throw a block."

“I’m a witch, and I fly a broom, too! Watch me throw a block.”

Emma may be in for a hard time on the course, is all I’m gonna say . . .

However, someone comes along to help out a little on her behalf, and to answer some questions:

 

“Now, now.” Erywin joined the group. She wore a long, bright robe and a dark cloak, and sandals. She carried a spear in her left hand, and her arms and legs were covered in runic tattoos. The group parted as she stepped alongside Jessica. “Miss Neilson can’t be held responsible for her costume, for it’s my understanding she came up with it on her own rather than asking for ideas—” She nodded towards Kerry. “—as she had last year.”

Kerry remained quiet, not wanting to get drawn into the discussion. Alex had other ideas, however. “Professor, may I—”

“Erywin, please.” She slowly shook her head. “I left the professor title in my room for the evening.”

“Erywin, then. Did you do anything about how she raced today?”

Penny spoke up. “Yeah, she pulled some heinous shite out on the course today.”

“I spoke with her.” Nadine put her hands on her hips while her dragon friend flapped its wings once before hunkering down. “I’m team captain, and it’s my duty to let a team member know if their actions during a race were warranted.”

That wasn’t good enough for Penny. “And if she doesn’t listen to you?”

“Then I step in.” Erywin lay her spear across her chest. “And if I have to step in, someone’s gonna get their arse ripped open.”

“Yeah—” Kerry chuckled. “Don’t mess with Boudica.”

Erywin’s arms slipped to her side. “How did you know?”

Annie decided to answer, because she’d figured out the answer almost as soon as she saw the instructor. “Celtic warrior queen often associated with the goddess Mórrígan, which happens to be—” She set the tip of her left index finger under her chin. “Your coven, I believe?”

Kerry slipped an arm around Annie and tilted his head towards his left. “What she said.”

 

It’s bad enough getting outed by Kerry, but when Annie is owning you–well, it’s not good.

Who was Boudica?  Only one of the most bad ass queens who lived.  A member of the British Iceni tribe, the Romans made the mistake of taking her kingdom when her husband died, flogging her, raping her daughter and her, and then calling in their loads.  At that point she said, “You wanna know what my business is?  Killing is my business–and business is good,” and proceed to burn Roman shit down.  By the time she died on at The Battle of Watling Street–either by taking poison, from a cold, or killed in battle, depending on who’s telling the story–seventy to eighty thousand people were killed, and her army sacked and burned three settlements, including Londinium, and ended Roman rule in the south of England for about four hundred years.

A Disney Princess she wasn’t.

"Don't hate me because I'm beautiful; hate me because I'm about to hang your ass from a cross."

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful; hate me because I’m about to nail your ass to a cross.”

But wait!  Time for another coven leader to put in an appearance–

 

“Maybe I’ll have better luck.” Deanna slipped up behind Erywin before stepping around her. Her costume was an elaborate warrior’s suit of armor, with dark leggings and undershirt worn under form-fitting armor across her torso and hips. She had gauntlets on both wrists, and her flat boots were fitted with guards that protected her knees. She carried a sword in a scabbard across her back, and held a small shield in her left hand.

“Well.” Annie’s eyebrows shot upward. “Quite a difference from last year.”

“My students have been after me to try something different.” The seer cocked her head to the right as she glanced towards Kerry. “Well?”

He stood silently for about three seconds before a smile began to form upon his face. “You gotta try harder, Lady Sif.”

Deanna shifted her eyes to her right to take in her fellow coven leaders. “He’s good.”

Jessica nodded. “Good thing he’s with us.”

“Good thing they’re both with us.” Erywin nodded towards Deanna while speaking to Kerry. “How did you know?”

“The look of the armor and the sheath on the back is right out of the movie. Plus Sif is a shield maiden, and . . .” He nodded towards Annie—

—Who immediately picked up on the clue. “Aren’t all shield maidens found in Åsgårdsreia Coven?”

Kerry nodded. “You guys—I’m on a roll. What can I say?”

“Maybe I can stop that roll.”

 

And Annie tips it in again!  But, yes:  Deanna showing up as another Marvel character, Lady Sif of Asgard, who I do not hide my admiration for, even if she is a fictional character.  The outfit does fit with her coven’s rep–because Åsgårdsreia Coven is the home of the Shield Maidens–and it’s also a modest outfit, which is keeping in what Deanna likes to wear–

"Read your fortune?  Run you through?  Makes no different to me."

“See your future? Run you through? Could be both are one and the same.”

But who is coming to break up the Lovey Dovey Couple’s streak?  Ha!  I know, but you don’t, at least not until tomorrow.  And we still don’t know what they’re wearing, do we?

Looking at the list, and . . . nope.  Still being a cliffhanger Nazi.

Looking at the list, and . . . nope.  Looks like I’m still a cliffhanger Nazi.

Come Down in Race Time

Even though I was home, it was travel time yesterday, because I was off to my HRT doctor for my one year check-up.  To get there I have to drive two hours into New Jersey, which isn’t a bad drive in of itself if you ignore the idiots around Allentown, where we are not living.

The news was good:  nothing abnormal has shown up in my labs; my lungs were clear; my heart was good; my blood pressure was the lowest it’s been (120/68); and the girls are growing.  My weight shot up a bit, but I can manage that with diet and exercise.  So, because I am a “graduate in good standing”–meaning I haven’t abused my hormone regiment and my health is good–my doctor wrote me a year-long script for my testosterone suppressant, and I have a new scripts for my estrogen which I can renew once, which means I’m good on that for a year.

Naturally, when I left the office I was all smiles . . .

Happy girl; happy face.

Happy girl; happy face.

I do labs again in December, but unless they are totally nuts, I only need to do them annually.  And my doctors visits are, for now, every six to eight months.  I don’t go back until February now.  It’s a good time.

I was almost eight hours on the road, and once back I had to write my Humans recap for this last episode–it was a good one filed with bad android sex–but I still got into the novel because I wanted to finish the scene, and five hundred forty-six words later, I did.  (If you’re keeping score, that’s also ten thousand, five hundred words for the chapter, and ninety-three thousand, four hundred for the novel.)

We left off with talk of Emma, but someone is a little tired of that . . .

 

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

Annie didn’t want to speak of Emma any longer. “Don’t let her get to you tonight. I want you to remember—”

He held Annie’s hand tight. “Yes?”

“You pointed in every race you were in today: not just on the A Team, but your two races on the B Team. You had two podiums on the B Team, and one was the win against Åsgårdsreia. And in your second A Team race you had a second—against Mórrígan.” Annie brought them both to a stop again, and she drew in several deep breaths before continuing. “If you hadn’t been blocked so many times in that last race, you would have finished fourth, maybe third, and Cernunnos would have likely won the Battle Royale.” Her last breath came slow, and when she exhaled her eyes burned. “I hate what she did to you, and I hate what that did to us.”

 

There you have it:  on the B Team Kerry had a win and a third (not mentioned, but that’s what it was), and on the A Team side he had a second, a fourth, and a sixth.  And the emphases on Mórrígan is Annie’s way of saying, “You placed second against the best.”  Since I have the results for that race figured out, it’s also evident that Kerry was the only member of his team to hit the podium against the best team in the school.  There will be some mention about that . . .

But Annie is a little pissed, it would seem–

 

Though he could be clueless, Kerry found it easy to understand Annie’s words. “You don’t like what happened to our coven.”

“No, I don’t. I just—” She looked away for a moment. “I never imagined I’d feel this way about racing. Then again, I never imagined I’d have a soul mate racing on the A Team.”

Kerry shrugged. “Just for today.”

“Oh, really?” Annie hugged Kerry, laughing softly. “You scored three out of three races, which is something Hasan hadn’t done since starting on the A Team. And don’t say you were lucky: the Samhain races are hard, and it was even harder for you because you ran five races.”

“Emma ran four—”

Annie clutched Kerry, pressing herself into him. “I don’t want to hear about Emma.” The submerged anger in Annie’s voice leaked out. “She had her second in the Battle Royale and an eighth in the last round. She didn’t do what you did, so stop making it sound like she’s somehow your equal—she isn’t.”

 

This is really the first time Annie has come across as even a little upset when there’s mention of the Soul Mate Stealing Bitch From Boulder, and she knows Kerry is trying to be nice, but dammit!  She wants him to remember what he did, because it was great.  Screw that Mile High Bitch, dude–

You're gonna make Annie angry; you don't want to do that--

You’re gonna make Annie angry; you don’t want to do that–

It does sound a bit like Annie wanted to bounce out of the stands and give Emma a good slapping.  I’d say some girl better not come over during the dance and ask if she can dance with Annie’s boyfriend.  It might not turn out as she expects.

Annie just wants the best for Kerry, and she’s trying to tell him–

 

Though their conversations about his wingmate were always cordial, Kerry imagined that perhaps Annie harbored some animosity over what Emma tried last Yule, and his thoughts were now made real. “I’m sorry. I just—”

“—Can’t see how good you are?” Annie took one step back, holding Kerry’s hands in each of hers. “You get too close and all you see are flaws, but I see how you really are. I see the wonderful witch, the serious sorceress, and now the amazing racer. I see them all, my love; it’s impossible not to see this.”

She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and kissed him—not lightly like before, but with more strength, more passion, more love. Everything she felt flowed from her to him in that kiss, and the light headedness they’d spoken over before began to creep in and fog her mind. “Hold me, dear. Hold me tight.”

Kerry got his hands around Annie’s waist and pressed her against him. “I have you, Sweetie. Don’t worry.”

“I never do when I’m in your arms.” She chuckled as the faintness began to slowly subside. “My mother—”

Kerry lightly stroked her hair. “What about her?”

“She told me I’d fall in love with a racer.” She tilted her head back and kissed his cheek. “I shouldn’t have doubted her.”

Kerry kissed her back. “How could you have known?”

“Because I’m my mother’s daughter.” Annie tapped her finger against Kerry’s lips. “How could I not have known?”

 

It’s over:  all the racing is, for now, finished.  Now on to the dance.

It’s time to make the costumes.

Friends and Comparisons

Sundays are becoming not so much a day of rest for me–though I did get a nap in after I went and had my nails done and had something to eat–because I started in on my after-race scene with Annie and Kerry that ran eleven hundred and fifty words, and I stat down and compiled my notes on Humans, and that ran another nine hundred words.  In other words, lots of words.

The novel worked out in two steps, with five hundred words written in the morning, and the rest written after I woke up from my nap.  It’s really a short scene, and I’ll likely finish it off tonight after I do my show recap, which usually takes a couple of hours of writing.

So what is this about?  It’s about results–or, in some cases, regretting the ones you had:

 

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

With the races over Annie was surprised to hear Kerry say he wanted to walk the nearly two kilometers back to The Pentagram rather than hop on their brooms and be back in the garden in about a minute. His explanation of mater-of-fact and to the point: he’d spent all day either laying down or sitting on a broom, and it was time he got on his feet and walked around for a while.

The weather was still excellent, with just a touch of overcast, and the temps remained at fifteen as it had for most of the day, so Annie agreed that a walk back through the forest would be both relaxing and not a little romantic.

After leaving The Diamond Kerry said as they walked hand-in-hand through the forest. She imagined he was re-running the races through his mind, examining what he did right and criticizing what he felt he did wrong. He’s always his harshest critic—he’s like me in that sense. But she didn’t want him to concentrate on what wasn’t: she wanted him to celebrate what was. “You’re thinking again, my love.”

Kerry looked down while chuckling. “I’m always thinking.”

“But this time you’re thinking about what you did—” She wrapped herself around his arm. “You’re thinking about your supposed mistakes, and not about your accomplishments.” Annie turned a sideways glance his way. “Aren’t you?”

He continued looking down for a few more seconds as a smile began to slowly form. “That last race—”

I knew it. “Yes?”

“I screwed up on two spots on the Green Line.” Again he shook his head. “Can you believe that?”

“You’re not going to run a perfect race every time.” She slowed their pace just a bit. “And it was your fifth race of the day; that will wear you out.”

“Yeah, but . . .” He sighed as he finally looked at her. “I shouldn’t have screwed up on the Green Line.”

 

Kerry loves to beat up on himself, because that’s the way he acts.  Annie is always sportive–as he is of her–but this time, while supporting, she says something she’s never said before . . .

 

Annie rolled her eyes. “You sound like Papa.”

Kerry’s eyes widened as her words sunk in. “Sweetie, do you know—?”

“—What I said?” Annie pulled them to a stop. “I just—”

“—Compared me to your father.” Kerry kept from laughing, but he couldn’t keep the smile from his face. “Anelie Kirilova . . .”

Ohhh.” She covered her eyes and chortled. “Mama would be laughing right now if she’d heard me say that.”

“Did she say you’d do that?”

“Not actually, but—” Annie had told Kerry about her conversation last Yule with her mother, who had hinted that Kerry was in many ways like Annie’s father. “She’s have found the comment amusing.”

Now that her statement was out in the open, Kerry was even curious about what was on Annie mind. “Why did you say that?”

“That you remind me of my father?”

“Yes.”

She tossed her head to one side. “Papa tends to ignore any of the good that happens to him during any of his races, and agonizes over all the issues and problems he’d experience. And you’re doing the same, my love: you’re obsessing on the worst of your races today, and completely ignoring all the success you’ve had.” She shook her head. “I can see why it would turn Mama somewhat mental.”

Mental?” Kerry chuckled once again. Based upon what Annie had said about her mother, he could imagine a number of moods for her, but “mental” wasn’t one of those. “Am I driving you mental?”

Annie held her right left thumb and index finger about a centimeter apart. “Perhaps . . . a little.” She giggled before quickly kissing on the lips. “Come on: we need to get to dinner.”

 

You can bet Annie heard her mother’s voice saying, “You fell in love with a racer,” as she was told back last Yule–a conversation Annie eventually relayed to Kerry.  But it’s one thing to talk about that, and then another to turn around and tell the boy you love something you probably told yourself you’d never do–

"I don't think you're anything like my father, Kerry.  For one, he's tall and has dark hair, and your a short ginger who'll everyone will come to hate--wait, I mean . . ."

“I don’t think you’re anything like my father, Kerry. For one, he’s tall and has dark hair, and your a short ginger who’ll everyone will come to hate–wait, I mean . . .”

At least Kerry takes it all in stride and laughs it off, because he knows it’s just a slip of Annie’s tongue, and she’s really telling him something else, which is he shouldn’t be hard on himself.  And really, she saw something happen during the race that makes her go into Please Do This For Me Mode–

 

Humph.” She swung their arms back and forth as they walked. “Promise me one thing tonight.”

“Anything, Sweetie.”

“Do not let Emma go on about your race together—or the fact that she placed better than you.”

There wasn’t any need for elaboration, because Kerry knew exactly what Annie was asking. During the Stage Two heat between Mórrígan and Cernunnos one of the Mórrígan fliers crashed coming out of The Sweep on the last lap and not only did not finish the race, but she was unable to race in the Stage Four heat—also known as the Battle Royale—between Mórrígan, Cernunnos, and Blodeuwedd. Since the rules allowed for a member of the B Team take the place of an injured flier—as Kerry had done—Emma was brought up to fill out the roster.

They’d both run great races, even though it was this race that Kerry felt he’d not done his best and was obsessing over before Annie mentioned the said obsessing. He’d finished sixth while Emma crossed the finish line in forth, and it was her finish that allowed Mórrígan to finish the heat in a points tie with Cernunnos, and for them to go on to win overall because of their first place podium finish over Alex’s second place finish. During the after-heat celebration Emma had pointed at Kerry and cut loose with a big cheer, as if to let him know in their first A Team race together she’d bested him . . .

Kerry smiled at Annie. “I promise I won’t let her bother me. If she tries to bring it up, I’ll tell her it was a good race and leave it at that.”

“Good.” She smiled back. “And if that don’t work, let her know I’ll curse her.”

“Just glare at her and I think she’ll get the message.”

“I will.” Annie grew quiet for a moment. “You know Emma was the reason you finished sixth.”

“Well—”

“She threw three blocks at you: the reason you think you ‘screwed up’ on the Green Line was because you didn’t anticipate her doing that. And the last she threw was as you were going into Helter Skelter.” Annie exhaled hard. “You lost two positions there, and it was the last lap. She also threw a block on Penny in South Side: I thought Penny was going to walk over and slap her after the race.”

“She almost did.” Kerry had pulled the fuming girl aside and said that since the race was over and the results were final, they should just let it go— “I let her know she could get another chance against Emma if she ever done another A Team race.”

 

It sounds like Emma wasn’t being a good races, she was being a greedy racing, and it also sounds like she was rubbing it in a little.  Bad Wingmate, and it’s a good thing Kerry didn’t let Penny come over and disqualify you for the last race.  But other things will come out in the remainder of this conversation, after which I can get into the dance itself.  Which should be fun–

Should be.

Back and Back and Back to The Burg

Forgive me for ripping off the title of a Farscape episode–notable as the first “Black Tee Shirt” episode–but since they kinda of ripped off their episode title from Back to the Future, I don’t feel bad for doing a little creative editing.

But as you may have guessed from the title, I’m back in Pennsylvania, and back to The Burg–not to be confused with The Burgh, over by der on the West Side of the State–and here I’ll remain until 7 November, when I return to Indiana because I got a date in court on the 9th.  So basically three and a half months to prepare myself for one of the most important moments of my life.

Meanwhile, since I was on the road from nine-thirty AM EDT until eight-thirty PM EDT, there wasn’t a lot of writing going on.  A lot of thinking, yeah, but not a lot of writing.  In fact, a lot of my thinking involved the race layout, the finishes, and how the points were getting laid out.  Which means about nine-thirty or so I was figuring all that out.  And since I don’t think I’ll spoil too much–because the next scene will describe some of this–here’s how the Samhain races played out.

It only took about fifty miles to get all this right in my head.

It only took about fifty miles to get all this right in my head.

So Mórrígan has a great day, Ceridwen is a surprise second (Åsgårdsreia is usually the second best coven team), and Cernunnos–who usually languish near the bottom with Blodeuwedd is a welcomed third.  You can probably guess that those italicized finishes are Kerry’s, but what about that one in bold?  You’ll find out . . .

I find I don’t do as much “story thinking” when I drive these days, because I’ve pretty much thought it all out months ago.  At least until such a time that I have to come up with something else in the story, and then it’s “run those plot lines over and over in your head again” time, most of which I do while walking to and from work these days.  Since I have to drive to New Jersey to see my doctor tomorrow, I’ll probably go over an upcoming scene in my head if I get the chance.  The upcoming scenes aren’t going to change on me that much, and even when I believe I have them all thought out, I’m usually surprised to find I can’t capture everything in my head perfectly.  No surprise there:  getting it down right is never an easy thing.

Now the goal is to finish this chapter, get into the next–which is gonna be Annie heavy–and go for one hundred thousand words.  I’m already near ninety-two thousand, so lets give it another week, shall we?

I just realized something:  I’ll be traveling in November, and that’s during NaNoWriMo.  Do I try it again this year?  Hummm . . . well, I did it in 2013 and 2014, and both times I jaunted to and from The Burg to Indiana, so why should this time be any different?  After all, when I’m not busy getting all the stuff done related to my name change, I can always be writing.

And stop somewhere for a smoothie now and then.

And stop somewhere for a smoothie now and then.