Seeing Your Way Down the Time Lines

Today it’s a different kind of video because I’m taking you to a place you’ve heard of, but rarely seen:

My time lines.

So get ready for a nearly hour-long trip through the world I created.  Enjoy.

 

How to Train Your Dragon

Today I’m bringing you an instructional video, something I don’t do often–in fact, I don’t know that I have done this before.  But I’ve wanted to do this for a while and I felt that this lazy Sunday was a good day to set up my first for the blog.

I’m going to show everyone how I write using Dragon Voice Recognition software.  This is a long video–a little over forty-seven minutes–but in that time you’ll get an idea how this software works and you’ll see me write the first few hundred words of my newest scene.

I hope you enjoy.

The First Madness: Final Requests

It’s’ a nice though cold morning in the Burg and I’ve spent a lot more time playing with my new mic/headset that I needed.  The reason being I thought I’d be able to use it in a noisy environment to “write” while out.  However, while I confirmed that the mic works, the background noise is just too great and nothing but gibberish comes out.  So no go there.  Note: I finally figured out what was wrong and it involved adding the headset mic to my Dragon profile and then muting the laptop mic.  I’ll test this out again next week and see if it works.

However, I do look as if I could work a customer support desk.

However, I do look as if I could work a customer support desk.

So, end of Chapter Nine.  It’s about time we get into that because it’s been around a while and it’s time to move on to Chapter Ten because I’m 6,600 word ahead of your and I’ll be over seven thousand by the time I go to bed tonight.  But we have the newest B Levels getting ask to race for the Coven of the Horned God, and you gotta be wondering what they’re gonna say?

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Both B Levels once more stared at each other across the coffee table, but this time it was Nancy who asked the question. “Does this mean you want us to try out for the positions?”

“No.” Annie chuckled lightly, her gaze shifting from left to right. “What Kerry is saying is that the physicians are yours: all you have to say is yes.”

He nodded. “It’s pretty much the same thing that happened to me when I was put on the B Team last year.”

Neither Soroushi and Nancy said anything for nearly ten seconds, though they both appeared deep in thought. Soroushi then spoke in a quiet tone. “I’ll be able to race wearing my hijab?”

Kerry tilted his head to one side. “You fly with it on now, don’t you?”

The Iranian girl nodded. “Sure, of course. I just wrap it tight and put my helmet on over it.”

“Same thing here.” A grin began to slowly spread across his face. “Only when you’re racing you wear a crash helmet instead of a leather flying helmet. But it’s the same concept.” He once again cocked his head to the side but leaned towards her this time. “You’re not the first student who race covered, trust me.”

 

There have been many Muslim girls who’ve attended Salem and a few of them have flowed wearing a Hijab.  Deanna was one of them, and there’s another Soroushi–Soroushi Amouzegar, a Blodeuwedd E Level also from Iran and who participated in the 2o13 Mount Katahdin Cross Country Race–who races covered.  So this is nothing new:  accommodations are usually met for everyone wherever possible.  And this here reminds me that I’ll need to update the racing rosters soon.  Like maybe today.

Now that everything is squared with Nancy and Soroushi, what’s the word?

 

“If that’s the case—” She turned to Nancy and shrugged. “I’m in. What about you?”

The Inuit girl laughed. “Yeah, I’m in, too. I mean, gotta keep Team Amazons together, right?”

“Of course we do.” Soroushi turned to Kerry. “What do we do now?”

“Not much, really.” He nodded over his left shoulder. “Professor Semplen is sitting over there, so I’d just tell him that you’ve accepted the offer and you want to be on the B Team. After that—” He shrugged. “You can come back here and enjoy more deserving with us if you want.”

Nancy’s eyes widened in surprise. “You mean it?”

Annie turned toward the girl on her left. “We ordered enough banitsa for us all, so would be a shame to leave it go to waste.”

Kerry nodded. “I’m sure Penny and Alex and their boyfriends are going to come over soon, so if you two may want to come over and hang out with us if you are going to get involved in racing.”

Both the B Level girls look at each other and nodded then got to their feet. Nancy turned towards the sofa. “Thank you, Annie and Kerry. This is some really good news and you guys are really nice to us.”

“That’s so true.” Soroushi did a quick adjustment on her hijab. “We’ll be back in a bit; I really like those banitsa.” She winked at Annie before grabbing Nancy by the arm and heading off to speak with their coven leader.

 

All the players here are happy and we have more banitsa lovers in the works.  It’s also possible that more people are gonna join Annie and Kerry’s little circle of friends, and maybe

 

The opening bars of Alex Clare’s Too Close began playing in the background as Annie snuggled against Kerry. “You enjoyed every moment of that.”

“What? Telling them they could be on the B Team?” Kerry’s features twisted around into a bit of a smile before finally breaking into a wide grin. “Yeah, I like telling them. It’s sort of like when Penny told me last year: she said it was kind of crazy to watch my face when I was first told I was going to be on the B Team and then later when I moved up to the A Team.” He closed his eyes and rested his head against Annie. “It was a big deal for me and I suppose it’s a big deal for them.”

“I could tell it’s still important tonight.” She began gently touching Kerry’s thigh. “I suspect one day you’ll be team captain.”

“No, I don’t think so. For one, Penny or Alex would get the position before me and I think either of them are far better at managing a team that me.” His voice dropped down into a near whisper. “For sure a lot better than Manco. And two, I don’t really want the position. I like racing, but there are other things I’d like to command and none of them are here at school.”

Annie didn’t need to ask about what Kerry was interested in command: it was obvious he had his sights set on doing something with the Guardians. But she suspected there was a third option that he wasn’t discussing: Kerry seemed more comfortable working with authority rather than being the authority. He would probably love working with either Penny or Alex if they were team captain, but he would likely hate being in the position of having to make the tough calls. At least that’s true now: it could change in the next few years.

She twisted her body slightly that she can stretch out her legs along the edge of the sofa and rest with her head against Kerry’s shoulder. We’ll leave all those decisions for the future; tonight we relax and enjoy the Madness.”

He turned his head enough to whisper in Annie’s ear. “And maybe do that thing you are talking about later?”

She twisted around and gave his lips soft kiss. “That, my love? I don’t think we should ever have to ask if we are interested in that…”

 

So you can get into the mood there at the end, this is the song that starts playing as I head into the end of the scene:

So there we have it: Nancy and Soroushi has joined the Salem race team’s, which now makes me wonder if I need to go back and change the name of the other Soroushi who raced last year.  Probably not, because it shouldn’t be that unusual to up with being a school where people are going to have the same names.  I imagine the same thing happens with students were from like India, Japan, Korea, or just about any country.  So having two girls from Iran with the same name shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

It’s interesting to see that any doesn’t believe at this point now that Kerry would make a good team captain. It’s not unusual though, because she teaches him sorcery and knows as much about him as anyone else does.  She has to know his strengths and weaknesses, and right now she imagines that one of his weaknesses is that he’s really not in a position to lead other people.  But as she points out that could all change in a couple of years, so will keep an eye on that.  I mean, the reality is Kerry’s a lot stronger than he appears, but if he doesn’t feel he could be a team captain now, it’s likely he wouldn’t do well if thrown into that position.  Right now he’s content to follow; given another year so and he might be ready to lead.

Now, what did Kerry mean when he said we could do anything you talked about later?  Damn, these kids should get a room–oh wait: that’s what they’re trying to get!  Hormones, people: the gonna take over these kids.

Though they are definitely not going to do it in the next chapter…

Arts and Music: Seeing and Hearing

Here we are at the penultimate day of the year, and as of this moment I’m about twenty-seven hundred words from one hundred thousand.  Getting that amount in the next two days is doable, so I’m gonna have to get with it if I want to hit my mark.

Now, I’m about to get technical–yeah, I know, some of you don’t like that.  You want magic and morte spells and kissing and possible love triangles, but given that one of my characters is an esteem nerd of the highest caliber and can chat the lingo when needed, there are times when the story is gonna get down with the techspeak.  And this is one of those times.

So hang on…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie and Kerry followed the professor the short distance down the corridor to the famous Keyboard Room, were nearly all of the schools usable keyboards were kept. Matthias headed inside and headed down one of the aisles, finally stopping before group of instruments that looked nearly brand-new. “At the end of the last school year I put in orders for some of the newest equipment from both Korg and Roland. These came in at the beginning of August.”

He lay his hand across one of them matte black keyboards. “This is a Korg KROME workstation. I managed to pick up five of these: one 88 key version and two each of the 73 and 61 key versions. It has a very nice action, lots of processing power, and you can use the MIDI function to upload and download sounds as you need them.” He turned to Kerry. “For your performance what do you want to use and how?”

Kerry had his answer ready to go. “I want to use two keyboards. I’ll use the bottom one as a piano/synthesizer and the top one as an organ/synthesizer.” He looked at Annie and smiled. “Really simple set up, you know?”

Annie was half laughing as she turned toward Matthias. “I’ve heard about this several times, including once when we were in Paris.”

“He interrupted your time while you were alone with this?” Matthias shook his head. “He must be serious, then.” He ran his fingers over the KROME workstation. “This is a good machine, but it’s not quite the top-of-the-line. However, I would suggest using the 73 key version as your organ/synthesizer: it would be perfect in that role.”

Kerry appeared satisfied. “That works for me. So what do I use for the piano?”

Matthias took three steps to the right and touched another matte black keyboard with wood finish on the sides. “This: the Korg KRONOS. This is the successor to the OASYS and improves have upon that workstation significantly. This is basically everything that Korg wanted to do with the OASYS that they couldn’t because they lacked the technology at the time.

“This is DAW ready, has MIDI inputs and outputs, and allows you to select a nine different engines, including three analog modelers and one of the best piano engines in electronic keyboards today.” Matthias activated the machine and began pressing icons as soon as the display panel was active. “How’s your playing?”

 

This section above is the result of about two weeks of off-and-on research trying to not only figure out what sort of systems would be profiled for Kerry’s pleasure, but what all this stuff means.  I mean, I went through different sites and watched videos, and once I’d figured out what I wanted to see, I had to check if they were actually available in the fall of 2013.  All for about four hundred words within the story.  Believe me when I say I care to get things right, kiddies.

Now, what does all that stuff mean?  Let’s go through it:

Keyboard Workstation is a particular kind of keyboard with the processing power to allow you to take pre-generated sounds and modify them, usually as MIDI files, for later playback.  You can even used a keyboard workstation to layer different digital samples together for a combination of sounds that are later used either in a recording or a live performance.

Kerry is using two workstations.  The first is the 73 key Korg KROME, which is a nice system that is affordable (about $1,000) to anyone serious about performing.

At least Kerry is getting his keyboard for free.

At least Kerry is getting his keyboard for free.

There is actually another Korg keyboard similar to the KROME called the KROSS, which is considered a more mobile system (that means it’s lighter) good for live performances.  Start doing your research and you discover there are a lot of “KROME verses KROSS” discussions out there, and while they don’t usually get too heated, you quickly see this becoming the “Star Trek/Star Wars” debate for the keyboard players.

As for his main keyboard, Kerry’s going with the 88 key Korg KRONOS:

A lot of keyboard sweetness right here.

A lot of keyboard sweetness right here.

This is considered one of the top workstations today, the successor–as pointed out by Professor Ellison–to the Korg OASYS (pronounced “Oasis”, because if you sound out the acronym it’s O-A-SYS.  OASYS actually stands for Open Architecture SYnthesis Studio), which showed up in the mid-2000s and was replaced after four years due to advances in technology.  The reality is the KRONOS is what Korg wanted the OASYS to be, but they didn’t have all the needed technology until about eight years later.  It’s more expensive (about $3,500) but a lot more powerful than the KROME, and has one of the best piano engines in the world.  And “engine” is something I’ll touch on below…

Action is how the keys feel.  The KRONOS feels like you’re playing an actual piano due to the weighted keys, while the KROME feels a bit more like playing an organ, and this is the main reason for Professor Ellison’s suggestion on setup and usage.

Daw is Digital Audio Workstation, which is the standard for recording these days.  It’s often a computer tied into a keyboard workstation upon which composing is done and downloaded as a digital file.  There are a whole lot of programs out there, some of which are open-source designed to run on any computer, which means just about anyone can begin composing and recording anywhere.

Engines are the keyboard’s built-in software used to process the sound samples and allow them to be reproduced when the keys are pressed–or as we’d say in the business, “triggering an effect”.  (Least you get too confused, triggering an effect means that when you press a key something happens.  In a work processing program on a laptop computer, pressing the key marked “C” makes the character c, while pressing the middle-C key on the KRONOS produced a middle-C sound as sampled.  Both are examples of triggering an effect.)  One of the KRONOS engines allows you to emulate just about any kind of piano in the world, and since the keyboard is a workstation you can change those sounds up however you like.

Analog Modeling is used in some of those engines:  that’s a fancy way of saying you can take a clean, digital sample and run it through various filters to make it sounds like a warm and fuzzy analog synthesizer sound.

And yesterday Kerry said something about Splitting the Keyboard, which is something you can do on both these machines.  The software in the keyboard can segment the keyboard so you can play one set of sounds with your left hand while playing something else with the right, or so something like add cellos to your lower register keys while you play piano with both hands.  If you watch video of Roger Hodgson, formerly of Supertramp, playing the opening bars to Hide in Your Shell, you’ll see a good example of splitting the keyboard, as he plays a combo piano/electric piano sound with his left hand while playing a combo organ/synthesizer sound with his right.

So now that I’ve gotten ALL THAT out of the way, it appears Kerry is interested.  The question is:  does he feel like giving the keyboards a spin right now?

 

Kerry made a back and forth motion with his right hand. “I suspect I’m rusty. I didn’t feel like playing a lot over the summer.”

Matthias glanced at him. “I think that’s gonna change as soon as you play this.” He stepped away from the keyboard. “Give it a go.”

Kerry gave Annie’s hand a squeeze and then stepped up in front of the workstation. He surveyed the control panel before seeing that the display was set for piano. He ran through the intro of his A Level performance, Lovers in Japan. He not only felt how the keyboard reacted much like the P255, but that it had an even richer sound than that piano. He stopped after close to a minute of effortless playing. “Wow. This is incredible.”

Annie moved up alongside. “You should have seen your face.”

He slowly turned toward her. “What do you mean?”

“You looked fabulously pleased while you played. It was like seeing you back on stage for a moment, though you seemed far more satisfied with what you were doing this time.”

“That is certainly true.” Matthias stood just beyond the the right edge of the KRONOS. “Care to satisfy my curiosity?”

Kerry stepped back away from the workstation stood alongside Annie while facing Matthias. “What do you have in mind, Professor?”

“I want see how rusty you actually are.” He nodded toward the keyboard. “Play the intro to Firth of Fifth. I know you practiced it last year because you told me.”

Kerry’s eyebrows shot upward for second. “Yeah, but I haven’t played it since then. That’s been over a year.”

“It’s not like I’m asking you to play it at 9/8 tempo.” The instructor chuckled. “Come on, dude. You know you want to give it a shot.”

 

All I can say is you gotta love it when one of your instructors calls you “dude”.

 

“I…”

Kerry was about to hesitate again when Annie whispered in his ear. “I would like to hear you play.”

He touched the left side of his forehead to her right forehead and spoke in a low voice. “That’s what you said to me the first time we came here.”

“And you were hesitating then about playing Ostara.” Annie twisted her head around so she could see his eyes. “Professor Ellison is right: you want to do it and you know you can do it.”

Annie stepped back as Kerry turned to face the keyboard. She said nothing, for she didn’t want to do anything that would affect his concentration. Like Professor Ellison she waited for Kerry to remove the doubt from his mind and play.

She watched as he let his hands hover over the keys. She noticed the imperceptible motion of his fingers and knew what was happening based upon the few times she’d sat in on a few of his rehearsals: he was imagining playing the first few notes and his hands were reacting appropriately.

He started playing without saying a word. His fingers touched the keys and music emanated from unseen speakers. Annie wasn’t watching his hands, however: she was watching his face. Whenever he wasn’t certain that what he was going to play was note perfect the tension was reflected through a series of facial tics, frowns, and grimaces. But when he knew the piece he was performing, his face grew relaxed and his hands danced over the instrument.

Right now his fingers dance with great freedom. If Annie had been unaware of Kerry’s statement, she would’ve assumed he’d last performed this piece the day before.

A little over a minute later he slowed the tempo, touched the last few keys, and removed his hands from the keyboard. He took a step back from the instrument and glanced toward Annie. “How was that?”

A smile slowly formed upon her face. “I’m not that familiar with the piece, but it sounded perfect to me.”

“It was perfect.” Matthias stepped up to Kerry and patted him on the shoulder. “Pretty impressive for someone who hasn’t played that piece in over a year.”

 

As for more research, I looked around to see if there was any video of someone performing the same opening.  Fact:  there are a lot of videos of people playing the intro to Firth of Fifth ’cause it’s a good piece to show off your chops, and people love to show those chops.  It only took viewing about a dozen videos before I found this one, which the person in question performed on a Yamaha Clavinova CVP 301 electronic piano, first built in 2004.  Though one person says there’s a small mistake in this performance I’m damned if I can hear it, so I say this is about a perfect as you’re gonna hear it without going to the original recording.

In short, this is pretty much how Kerry would have played that day in the Keyboard Room:

It looks like Kerry has everything he needs–however, there may be just a bit of a problem…

Timeing On a Sunday Afternoon

It’s one-thirty PM, or thirteen-thirty if you happen to attend a certain fictional school I know, and the mimosas didn’t kill me.  Rendered me a little spacey–okay, a lot spacy–but that’s it.  I’m still functional, after a fashion.

Water + Music = Recovery!

Water + Music = Recovery!

When I picked up my new computer a couple of weeks ago the primary goal was to get it set up as quickly as possible so I could get back into my writing, and do it with the tools I’d already learned to use on the old Beast.  Getting Scrivener and Scapple and Blender weren’t that big of a deal:  I had the licence from when I’d picked them up originally, so all I needed to do was download current versions and reapply the licences.  For Sweet Home 3D I pick up a new version, which was needed as well as this one came with lots of content.

But Aeon Timeline was a completely different story.  In the time since buying it originally a new version had come out that changed how it now function, and the dilemma was do I get the old version and work with that, or do I go with the new hotness even though it’s going to run me $50?

The answer was yes and I proceeded to get the new program and pay for the licence.  The question after that became, was it worth it?

The answer is yes.

The basic interface to Aeon Timeline 2 is much the same, yet at the same time it feels so much fuller and, in a way, less crowed and busy.  This is due to taking a few things that were all clumped together and breaking them out either into their own windows, or setting tabs to allow the user to drill down to what they want to work upon.

So new, yet so familiar.

So new, yet so familiar.

When you bring up the program the first time the interface is now a black background with white lettering.  If you don’t like this, you can go to the old standby of a white background with black lettering:

Which is pretty easy on the eyes.

Which is pretty easy on the eyes.

And if you want to get fancy, there are a few backgrounds that allow a little color and text to liven up your time lining drudgery.  Like this one, the Borealis:

Which, for obvious reasons, reminds me of The Polar Express.

Which, for obvious reasons, reminds me of The Polar Express.

As before, adding an event is as simple as clicking somewhere within an existing time and plugging in information.  This function is a window that drops down from the middle-top, and there are a few things here that immediately pop into view, such as Parent, Participants, Observers, and Place.  The last three take the place of another function found in Timeline 1, and Parent–well, we’ll get to that.

Until then I'm teasing you hard.

Until then I’m teasing you hard.

The Inspector–that area that you can pop open on the right hand size of the interface to add information to each event–has been updated considerably.  Where as in Timeline 1 everything was crammed into that widow for one to search out and modify, everything is now set up in separate tabs, allowing the user to concentrated on one particular thing at a time while they’re building up an event.  This making things less confusing when modifying something, as the signal to noise ratio is toned down a great deal.

There’s a lot of meta data that can now be entered for an event, and in the past if you wanted to see that meta data you needed to open the Inspector.  Not any more.  You can go into your Display Options and decide what you want to see when you “expand” an event, and then all one has to do is hover over said event until a little green arrow pops into view in the upper right hand corner–

That one right there.

That one right there.

And click it so the event expands.

Giving you all this.

Giving you all this.

Here I went crazy with the expanded data.  So now I see what is happening, who is involved, who is watching, where it’s happening, the arc in which this information is found, and, if I like, a nice picture of the area that I can expand into a larger picture window.  If you notice, the time line event also tells me the ages to the people involved, and even the age of the location.  The people and location can be tied to an event for time purposes, allowing you to see how old a person and/or location is in relationship to where the event falls.

So if I want to see how long my kids had been at school at the time the Called Up event occurred, I bring up Manage Entities, find the character in question, and reset their age at the moment they arrived at school:

Seems like you only arrived yesterday, doesn't it, young lady?

Seems like you only arrived yesterday, doesn’t it, young lady?

So when I reexamine the Called Up event, we now discover how long Annie and Kerry were students when they were informed by Helena that The Guardians needed them.

Answer: just a week short of seven months.

Answer: just a week short of seven months.

Man, walk in the door of this joint and before you know it people want you to go off and “observe” bad guys.

Two of the biggest changes are Parents and Dependencies.  Creating Parent Events allow one to set up an entities that occurs over time, yet consists of multiple actions or events within that time period.  One of the easiest to show is from A For Advanced, the first week of school from the first class to the last moment of the second Midnight Madness.

Pretty straight forward as it sits now.

Pretty straight forward as it sits now.

Now lets created a new event called First Week of School and set the time frame for the parent.

B For Bewitching Aeon Timeline 2 First Week of School

And start moving the already established events into the Parent Event:

Until it looks like this.

Until it looks like this.

If you look closely you’ll see a little “+” on that event line, so if you click on that–

There's all my old events.

There’s all my old events.

This helps you manage your events better without having to resort using another time line and linking to that–unless, of course, you have several arcs worth of information you need covered, in which case you may want that other time line.

Dependencies are the other addition to the program, and it’ll come in handy where one has events that not only require a certain amount of time between passages, but are grouped together.  One sets the main event, then when adding additional events after that, the user needs to only specified to what event the new event is tied, and then indicate the time span between those events.  Not only does the program then determine the actual times, but if the first event is change to a new time and/or date, the dependent events follow and are adjusted automatically.

Comes in handy when you want to create the time line for a fast-occurring action scene.

Comes in handy when you want to create the time line for a fast-occurring action scene.

And as I discovered while playing with another time line, if you need to know when an event happening in one time zone is being monitored in another, then event can be made dependent, and times can be adjusted forward and backwards.  So say Helena’s in San Francisco for some reason, and she wants to speak with Kerry in Cardiff and Annie in Pamporovo, you’d set up Helena’s event with San Fran time, then make Kerry’s event 8 hours ahead of Helena’s, and Annie’s 10 hours ahead, and right there you have the events and times without having to do a lot of looking.  And if the user needs to move Helena’s time for any reason, Annie’s and Kerry’s events change time as well.

There you have it:  my new toy.  And while it might not be useful for his latest novel, I’m certain I’ll get some use out of it in the following novels.

It’s just a matter of time.

When Times Slips Away–

Here it is, almost ten in the morning, and all the things I’ve wanted to do I haven’t.  Which means my blog post for the day is coming after I return from brunch, which I’m supposed to show up for in an hour.

The thing is, the reason I haven’t written anything this morning is because I’ve been playing with a new toy.  And, man, have I been having fun.  I can’t talk about it right now, but it will likely be the subject of the next blog post.  The one coming this afternoon, that is.  Assuming I haven’t drank too many mimosas.

I’ll just give you a little peek at what’s coming:

It looks so familiar, yet so different.

It looks so familiar, yet so different.

See you on the other side.