Second’s Out

There are moments when one must sit back, take a moment, and say, “Yeah, I did that.”  I did that last night.  With a bit over seven hundred and fifty words put into the system, Act Two of my novel was finished, done, completed.  After almost six months of writing every night and during a few afternoons, the middle third of The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced came to an end.

Out with the old--

Out with the old–

The last scene is a bit of an unusual one, in that neither Annie or Kerry are mentioned–I believe that’s a first–and it’s a set up for entry into Act Three.  It doesn’t tell you much, other than it’s the end of January, 2012, and the headmistress has her own joint on school grounds.

But why don’t you see for yourself?  Enjoy.

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Mathilde exited the Pentagram Wall and made her way slowly down the covered walkway leading to the Instructor’s Residence. She pulled her wrap around her; the weather wasn’t as cold now as it had been earlier in the month, but it was cold enough that outside the confines of the Pentagram Wall she could feel the light, winter wind.

The headmistress wasn’t alone. Walking along with here were Jessica Kishna, Helena Lovecraft, and Erywin Sladen. They were coming from the Saint Brighid’s Day feast and were heading out for a night cap at the Headmistress’ Residence, Rhiannon. It was a tradition she usually shared with three or four of the instructors, and this year her Mistresses of Transformation, Chemical Magic, and All Darkness, decided to take her up on her offer of a sniffer of cognac she’d picked up over Yule Holiday.

They’d walked from the Great Hall in silence; it was only after they’d ventured past Cernunnos Tower and were beyond the Wall that Erywin spoke. “I do miss the days when we used to call this holiday Imbolc.”

“I don’t mind calling it Brighid’s Day.” Helena pulled her long leather jacket tight around her neck before retaking hold of Erywin’s left hand. “Besides, I didn’t know what Imbolc was, or Brighid’s Day, or even if you put the bloody Saint before her name, before coming here.”

“You never heard of them from your mother and father?” Jessica was ambivalent on the naming of the Salem holidays: she enjoyed them all, and often referred to them by the names she’d grown up with as a child in Chicago before coming here as a student.

“Hell, no. My father never talked about the school, and all my mother wanted to do was teach me sorcery.” She laughed. “And my grandmother wasn’t much for the celebrations even when she taught here.”

Mathilde looked over her shoulder. “Your grandmother was teaching here before you were a student, yes?”

“Yeah. She stopped teaching a few years before I showed up.”

“I remember hearing about her when I started.” Erywin began slowly swinging her arm, and Helena relaxed and allowed hers to swing as well. “Scary woman.”

“As if you need to tell me.” Helena looked out over the cold open area between the covered walk and the woods. “I think the feast was rather subdued tonight.”

“I noticed that as well.” Mathilde stepped to her said and waiting until Jessica was alongside. “Why is that?”

“It’s the first school holiday here since the Day of the Dead.” Jessica rubbed her hands together and boosted her metabolism a bit to warm them. “They’re finally starting to remember what happened then, and that some of their friends are no longer with us.” Jessica allowed her voice to soften. “While they are here.”

“I understand completely.” Over Yule Mathilde had played the events of 1 November over and over, wondering if there had been more they could have done to prevent the deaths that had occurred. She’d finally come to the conclusion, two nights before Christmas, that Isis and all the others who’d participated in the defense of the school had done their jobs, and that there were things that couldn’t be anticipated, like having nearly a thousand Abominations hammer at the defense screens. And even then, they’d performed beyond their original specifications . . .

They reached the end of the covered portion of the walkway and turned left onto the path leading to the headmistress’ residence, situated just outside the tree line. An eighty meter hard path led to the entrance, and even taking their time the women covered the distance in a little over a minute.

Mathilde stepped up onto the porch and turned to face her guests as they joined her. “I think you’ll enjoy this cognac; it’s a X.O. that was recommended by a friend—”

“Then I’m sure it’ll be spectacular.”

All four women turned towards the voice that spoke. They all saw a man in a dark, heavy overcoat untangle himself from the shadows gathered at one end of the covered porch. He kept his hands in his pockets as he took a few seconds to graze at each woman. “Sorry for the rather unusual entrance . . .”

Mathilde wasn’t impressed by the gentleman’s entrance, but said nothing. She took two steps away from her companions. “What can we do for you, Mister Gabriel?”

The man got right to the point. “Quite a lot, I hope. The Guardians have question to which we need answers . . .”

End of Act Two

And there you have it:  the cliffhanger that takes us into Act Three?  And who are the Guardians?  They’ve been referenced a few times in the story, particularly where Helena is concerned since she’s still one, more or less.  They are the intelligence and dark operatives of The Foundation, very unlike the Protectors, who are like The Foundation police, and the Marshals, who you haven’t met yet, who act as The Foundation’s Special Military Op arm, and are extremely scary.  When they get turned loose, all hell is probably breaking out somewhere in the world.

Since Mathilde knows this Gabriel character by sight, that means he’s been to the school a few times.  Mr. Gabriel also continues my practice of using members of the group Genesis as side characters in my story–you’ve already met Mr. Mayhew and you know Ms. Rutherford, and if there is a third novel Mr. Gabriel will be replaced by . . . well, if you know the band history, you’ll guess the name of that character.  The only name that won’t get used is Tony Banks, since it was already stated he, the real person, lectured at the school.

Now beings Act Three . . .

In with the new.

In with the new.

 

Now starts some rather secretive stuff, some payback, a lot of end-of-the-year sadness . . . and we’ll finally learn about Annie’s and Kerry’s relationship–well, you’ll learn about it, I already know what it is.

I just gotta get there and write about what happens.

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/7:  888

NaNo Total Word Count:  14,771

Out of the Home and Back Into Class

Right now it’s raining like hell here in The Burg, so much so that there’s the look of flooded Armageddon out there.  And I have to walk in this stuff.  Oi.  Time to get out the heavy coat again, because it’s in the low sixties out there, and it’s gonna feel chilly.

But that’s not really important, because I did it, I really, really did it.  Act One is rewritten.  All the stuff I set out to do five weeks ago is accomplished.  I finished up with this, something I’ve never shown before:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie hugged him tight. “I’ve never been this happy either, Kerry. I wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t come.” She pulled away so she could wipe his tears from his cheek. “I love you; I do.”

“I know you do.” He smiled and looked away for a moment, then kissed her on the cheek. “I know I love you, too. It’s just . . . I’m not used knowing what it’s like—but I like how it’s starting to feel. And I don’t want it to ever end.”

“Good.” She leaned in and quick kissed him on the lips, feeling his happiness flow into her. “Because you’re going to feel my love every day.”

She stepped back and looked at her surroundings for a second before turning back to Kerry. There was so much she wanted to tell him: what she’d discussed at Memory’s End, how she almost didn’t come to Salem, how tortured she felt because he didn’t remember her from their dreams, and how she felt because they still weren’t seeing each other there now.

But she also wanted to tell him how she felt flying with him today, how wonderful it was being alone in the sky and sailing along at a leisurely pace, loving that he never tried to get her to push her abilities. As he’d told her, it was like bike riding in the sky—and she knew what his old bicycle meant to him.

You make me happy, Kerry. She tilted her head to one said and imagined her name next to his in the special book up in her room. I don’t know why you don’t remember me, or why you find it as difficult to love me as I love you—but I don’t care. I have you now, and I will live with that joy forever.

Annie held out her right hand. “Come on, love. Let’s go home.”

Kerry wordlessly took her hand and quietly walked beside her to the place they would share for the next six years—

They went home.

End of Act One

"See ya!"

“See ya!”

Then decided I was going to take a break and–nah!  Are you kidding?  I went right back into the last new chapter I started:

"Well hello again!"

“Well hello again!”

And showed Wednesday and her frustrated students a week later:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“Why is this so hard?” Felisa Ledesma nearly threw up her hands before mumbling something in Spanish. “This isn’t fair.”

The second week of class, and the mantra that Wednesday Douglas knew was coming had arrived: It’s too hard; I don’t get how I’m suppose to do magic; I can’t visualize what I’m suppose to do. And the oldest but best of the lot: This isn’t fair.

Wednesday knew it wasn’t easy for Normal kids to get the basics down right away. Magic was a lot of “Do or Do Not” work: either you could bring Visualization, Energy, and Willpower together and make it all work without much difficulty, or you were going to spend some time struggling. Not that if you were good with magic you weren’t going to struggle now and then, but if a student couldn’t develop a good grasp of the VEW triumvirate, and do it quickly, they weren’t going to much of a witch.

I can only show them to the door and open it for them. Wednesday returned Felisa’s frown with a smile. It’s up to them to step through and make themselves at home in the world of magic.

 

It’s not fair that I can’t turn Bobby into a frog yet; magic is hard!  Oh, and somebodies were getting accused of cheating, which is sort of where I left that chapter–

No, actually, I left my kids in the Spells House library, with Annie trying to explain a certain magical concept to Kerry before he starts marching down the wrong path to witchdom.  No way Annie’s gonna let him do that, no sir.

Just for the sake of having to know, I checked the word count on Act One when I was finished messing with it.  I’d cut out scenes, but I’d also added a few things here and there to clarify the new stuff.  And the final word count was . . .

149,700.

Before I began the rewrites the total word count had been 140,290, so how in the hell did I end up adding a short story to this already huge sucker?  Oi, again.  Also, I added almost a thousand words to the new scene last night, while chatting with a friend, because yeah, that’s how I am.

Oh, well:  I get this sucker published, no one can say they aren’t getting their money’s worth . . .

Rebuilding Off the Beta

First order of business:  I made it back to The Burg, and it was a real adventure.  I started out in cool but cloudy conditions, then it got windy, then it started to rain–and right around Cleveland it started snowing.  Hard.  Real hard, like you could only see a few cars lengths in front of you and one lane was clear hard.  Then I made it east of the Cuyahoga River and it turned to rain.  Then I made it to Pittsburg and it turned to harder rain, and by the time I rolled through the Allegheny Tunnel with Brian May blasting the guitar solo from Brighton Rock, it was fog, spray, and hard, hard rain all the way.  One good thing was very few people heading east, because I didn’t have to deal with idiots.  And I had some new old tunes, so that helped the time pass.

Still, it was a nearly twelve hour trip, with an hour or so at a rest stop in Ohio because I needed to eat and decompress, and I chatted a little with people I know.  I needed that, because heading through the mountains the rain was hard enough to cause ponding on the PennPike.  I didn’t stop to ask if it was Amy Ponding . . .

Thank you.  I’m here all week.

Once I make it home a little after eleven PM (or should I say 23:00?), I start up my computer and slip into my jammies, and what do I do?  I find one of my beta readers on line, and we start talking about my novel.  But of course, because after driving twelve hours through some climate hell, what else would a writer do?  Go to bed?  Surely you jest!

But it was a great chat, and we covered one chapter that had mistakes–I seem to slip “the” in a bit where it’s not needed, like saying “the her bedroom”, which is likely my way of starting out impersonal and then making the object personal–but more importantly, discussing a line that has bothered me since I first wrote it, because it makes the character in question seem like a bitch, which is not my intention at all for the character.  My beta reader picked up on it right away, and we both agreed that it was something that needed changing–so now there is a note in the scene that reminds me to look this over at some point in the future.

See?  When I say I make a note about not making someone a bitch, I mean it.

See? When I say I make a note about not making someone a bitch, I mean it.

More feedback will come–probably when I’m more awake and not having just drove through a flood that could be surprising as hell when blasting out of a tunnel at . . . fifty-five.  Yeah, that’s how fast I was driving.  Me drive like a manic when it’s raining like hell?  Not a chance!

But there will be feedback, and discussions, and since this is a long-term project, there will be lots of work before this is published.  Because this time I want to get it right.  However, the fantasy porn I can probably shoot out their like no one’s business, right?

Act Two is set up, at least for the first two parts, which now have part and chapter cards.  The word count is reset, and I’ve determined what’s going to get counted, which includes the title cards, and that’s why you see a number in the total word count.

A clean document ready to get sullied by my thoughts and ideas.  Poor kids:  they deserve better.

A clean document about to be sullied by my thoughts and ideas. My poor kids: they deserve better.

Am I ready for this?  About as ready as I’m gonna get, which is to say bring on the stress and doubt and craziness that comes with writing a story.  Particularly a long novel that is going to take me most of a year to finish a first draft.  But I’m the one who signed up for this, and I will see it through to the end.  As Neil Gaiman says, “Write.  Write every day.  Finish what you write.”

I started this mess, and I’m damned if I’m not going to give my kids a great ending.

Second Leg of the Triathlon

This is what’s waiting for me:

It doesn't look like much, but . . . yeah, it is.

It doesn’t look like much, but . . . yeah, it is.

I began looking over Act Two in detail yesterday, full of the realization that come Monday night I’m going to sit down at this computer and start writing again–just like Liz Parker, only without the trauma that comes from dating a kid from another planet.  (Though now I wonder if Liz Ortecho wrote as well . . .)

The interesting thing, at least for me, is I looked this section of the story over, and I was like, “Eh, I know what I need to do, so no problem here.”  The biggest thing I’m looking at is figuring out what spells the kids are gonna work on in one of the early scenes, though there’s something coming up in transformation class that’s gonna be fun.

And during this mental walk-through I did something that I rarely do.  It’s right there–see?

You gotta look close--see it yet?

You gotta look close–see it yet?

No, you’re not going to see it, because I’m playing with you.  As of yesterday, there was a scene right before “The Walking Tests”, but the more I looked at that scene, and then looked at what I wanted to do in the chapter, the more I came to the realization that it didn’t fit into the flow of what I really want to say in Chapter Fourteen–particularly since the new first scene sets up something that’s spoken of in the scene, “Preparing the Evidence”, and this helps push along the plot to “Confronting the Students”.  Since there’s a scene in Chapter Thirteen that will do the job just as well, I decided to delete the Chapter Fourteen scene.

This is one of the reasons why I lay everything out before I write, then look everything over again and again.  When I laid out the novel I knew what I wanted to say in that scene, but as you work things out in your head, and you see these scenes three, four, five times before you start writing, it’s a simple matter of knowing if they’re going to fit or not.  I know my novel, I know what’s happening–and I knew after some consideration that scene didn’t fit.  So off to Scene Hell you go, love.  Have fun.

I also thought up a few scenes for the next book–what did you say?  You’ve seen my time lines, you know I’ve thought things out way more in advance of this first novel.  There is more to this story than just Act One, and about the only thing I don’t have all that figured out is what happens during the last year of school for this kids.  Oh, I have a general idea, but nothing down in any sort of detail.

The last thing I have to do today–besides everything else I need to do before heading back to The Burg tomorrow–is print off Parts One and Two for someone who wants to beta read the story.  Since Scrivener lets you determine what you want to print, I’m removing Part Three from the compile options and I’ll have that pdf created before you know it.

If only the weather were better today . . .

Act Two of Act One

As I mentioned a couple of weeks back, when you have time on your hands and you’re looking for something to do, you might end up, oh, I don’t know, editing a whole lot of words because you don’t want to do it later?  It wasn’t enough that I was editing someone else’s novel, but I decided that I was time to get into my own.  I mean, time be time, right?

So, in the period of just under two weeks, I put my just under one hundred and forty thousand word novel through a first pass edit.  I fixed words; I rewrote passages that were wrong; I deleted words that weren’t needed; I add those that were.  And what do I have?

Nice and shiny, it is.  Oh, yes:  it is.

Nice and shiny, it is. Oh, yes.

Act One is a First Pass Finish, and “They went home” is probably as good a close as I’ve done.  And now I’m about to get the kids into some insanity, so that’s going to keep me busy for a while–

In fact, I may start on that insanity tomorrow.  Maybe today.  Maybe today.  But right now I’m so ready to write I’m about to flip out.  Not that I haven’t done that before, but this is a good flip out.  Particularly after I worked up one of the scenes in my head yesterday, and when I realized it was going perfect lead-in for a few scenes that follow, I had to pat myself on the back and say, “You rock when it comes to this shit, Cassie.”

What does the story look like now?  Cleaner.  I did a good read of manuscript and caught things that were missing, and removed words and phrases that were redundant.  But I also added a few things.  How much?  Well, the First Draft was 139,375 words; the Revised Draft First Pass is 140,290 words–a net addition of nine hundred and fifteen words.  Not bad, really, particularly if it makes things better.

What will happen now is I’ll remove Act One from Compile status and set up Act Two that way, so Scrivener will track the word count for all the new material.  I say with all my heart that I don’t want to write another one hundred forty thousand words for this part, but I’m pretty certain it’s gonna top one hundred thousand without a problem.  Transporting is two hundred forty-five thousand words, and I see myself getting damn close to that total by the time I get to the end of Act Two, where I’ll type something along the lines of, “Good evening, Headmistress; ladies.  May we have a word?”  See?  You already know how Act Two is going to end, which means I’m in a good mood, since I almost never give away anything.

It’s a happy day around here because I’m ready to get into the three or four month slog for the second act of my novel, where Annie and Kerry are gonna learn things about their abilities, and both will find themselves in some incredibly deep caca at a couple of points in the upcoming school year.  There will be blood and more than a few trips to the hospital.

It’s gonna be glorious.  I can’t wait.

"There's nothing I like more than torturing my characters!  Yay!"

“There’s nothing I love more than putting my characters though hell! Yay!”