Songs of The Foundation

I mentioned just yesterday that I’ve a bit of music in my novel A For Advanced–well, not actual music, but you know what I mean:  it shows up here and there in the form of various songs that play here and there.  That’s because I like music, certain kinds I should say, and the love of music has rubbed off on my characters.  When Kerry says he gets his love of music from his father, he may as well say he’s getting it from me.

The first time there’s any music of note comes in The Keyboard Room scene, where Annie and Kerry visit Professor Ellison to check out all the musical device and discover the school has a ton of famous equipment that they’ve had “donated” to them over the years.  They saw the old organs that were first used at the school, then they got into the more-or-less modern equipment.  Which leads to this:

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

She didn’t expect what the professor did next. He looked Kerry up and down while he tapped his left index finger against the top of the organ. “Tell me—” He pointed at an instrument about three meters away. “Do you know what that is?”

Kerry answered right away. “Mellotron Mark IV.”

“And the one to the left?”

“That’s a Mellotron Mark II.”

“And you know that because . . ?”

Kerry took a few steps back from Professor Ellison. “The Mark IV has had that same sort of case for most of the time it’s been produced. The Mark II . . .” He look over his shoulder, then back. “Two manuals, side-by-side.”

“Correct.” Professor Ellison move slowly towards the instruments. “This Mark II is a bit famous: it originally belonged to the band King Crimson—” He powered up the machine. As soon it was ready, he began playing.

Kerry’s face broke into an enormous smile as the professor held the first chords, then progressed to the second set. “No. You’re kidding.”

Professor Ellison played another ten seconds before stopping. “Oh, yeah. It’s, uh, a gift to the school.”

Though the two males in the room knew this music, Annie certainly didn’t. “What was that you played?”

 

What the professor played was Watcher of the Skies, more precisely the intro:

The intro, which is played on the lowers cords of the Mark II, is so iconic that the Memotron system–which is a modern version of the Mellotron–as well as the modern Mellotrons, offer a “Watcher of the Skies sound package” so you can rock the same sound.

I should point out a bit of history:  the Mellotron they’re playing is known as “The Black Bitch” because it was notoriously prone to breaking down, and apparently Tony Banks of Genesis was ready to set it on fire more than a few times–something that Rick Wakeman of Yes actually did to one of his.  1974 tech was not that best in the world.

After that Ellison plays another short piece:

That’s part of the keyboard bridge to Firth of Fifth, from Selling England by the Pound.  Of course Kerry knows this right away–is it because I do?  It helps that it’s one of my favorite songs.

And when Ellison talks Kerry into showing what he knows, they get into this song, Burning Rope:

They play about a minute of the intro, but I’ll give you a sneak peak of the next novel:  this is Kerry’s performance piece for the 2013 Ostara Show.  He won’t sing, but he’ll play the keyboard parts with a band that can be considered a “house band” of former students that comes in for these shows.  Kerry even managed to get them to use two drummers . . .

The next day, when Annie is at Memory’s End speaking with Deanna, Kerry and Vicky are off flying so the latter can get a feel for what she thinks some of her “promising kids” can handle.  As the tool around Selena’s Meadow, this goes down:

 

She snapped left when they reached the west side of the meadow and made for the Flight School. As she pulled even with the building Vicky didn’t slow, but rather headed into a long, slow left turn that skirted the south tree line. “Yo, Starbuck—”

“Yo, Nightwitch.”

“I’m gonna put on some tunes, but not so loud you can’t hear me. I’m coming around; watch and follow.”

Kerry saw the professor slow, then snap her broom around in a near one-eighty before waving him on. He pulled the nose of his broom around and chased her onto an path he’d never seen before. A few meters inside the tree line and it was obvious this wasn’t a path but an old, unimproved road. They maintained the same pace they’d set on the meadow course, but the big different here was no pylons, no gates—and there were trees a few meters away on both sides.

There was a rhythmic tapping in his ears as the music started. By the second bar he recognized the song: Zoo Station from U2’s Achtung Baby. He smiled while keeping his eyes on Professor Salomon, for he would have never guessed her to be a fan of this kind of music, but since he could see her head bobbing in time to the beat, he realized he’d guessed completely wrong.

Then she lifted the nose of her broom, put on a little speed, and left the road for the sky overhead.

Kerry followed.

 

And this played as they soared into the sky:

For me this was sort of a natural song to play as they flew around the school with Kerry getting a feel for his broom as he let the beat flow around him.  Really, as they flew over The Diamond and then buzzed The Pentagram, shooting between the coven towers and the Great Hall, it’s way too easy to hear the song as a soundtrack to a never-made movie.

Then we come to the Samhain Dance, and there’s music galore played, only one song is ever mentioned:  Kerry’s dedication to Annie.  And while I’ve played it before, it’s never a bad thing to play Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights:

A few days later is the Day of the Dead attack on the school, and while Kerry is in his room early in the morning, he’s listening to a little more Genesis:  this time the instrumental pair Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers . . . and . . . In That Quiet Earth.  There’s actually a bit of symmetry here going back to the previous song, since the song titles come from Chapter 34 of Wuthering Heights, and are the finals words of the story:

 

I sought, and soon discovered, the three headstones on the slope next the moor: the middle one grey, and half buried in the heath; Edgar Linton’s only harmonised by the turf and moss creeping up its foot; Heathcliff’s still bare.

I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.

 

So the song Kerry dedicated to Annie a few nights before related to finding each other, and then on a day that he almost dies–and eventually ends up killing someone–he’s listing to songs taken from a paragraph relating to the removal of evil through death.  Ooh, spooky . . .

There are only two other songs in the novel, but these are probably the most personal for both the kids, because these are the only songs they sing.  First up is Kerry’s Ostara 2012 performance that he did with Nadine, which he also dedicated to Annie.  I’m speaking of the Osaka Sun Mix of Coldplay’s Lovers in Japan, with Kerry on tack piano and additional keyboard, and Nadine on keyboards, synth pad, and drum samplers:

And a month later we get this:

 

“Would you mind if I put on some music?”

“Not at all.” Kerry held his left hand over the remote on the nightstand next to him and levitated it to Annie. “Put on whatever you like.”

Annie plucked the remote out of the air and brought up the cable guide. She found a music channel and brought it up before levitating the remote to a spot next to the television. She stepped back as she listened to the song that was finishing. “Can I turn it up a little?”

Kerry nodded. “Go ahead.”

Annie waved at the television: the sound bar illuminated and went up five point. A new song began, and Annie bounced with joy. “Oh, I love this.” She moved into the open space between the bed and the bathroom and began dancing as she removed her bathrobe and set it on a nearby chair, humming and singing along with the tune the whole time.

As the song segued into the chorus Annie faced Kerry and sang along. “Hey I just met you/And this is crazy/But here’s my number/So call me maybe.” She performed a quick spin and pointed at him. “It’s hard to look/Right at you baby/But here’s my number/So call me maybe.” She laughed as she sprinted and leapt at the bad, turning in mid-air so that when she landed, she fell backwards against Kerry’s right side. She pushed herself straight back into the space between his right arm and torso and got comfortable. “Are you gonna call me?”

I think we know this song:  the question is, will Kerry call?

Somehow I don’t see Annie letting all the other boys chase her, though–or Kerry not throwing death spells at them . . .

The very last song I know they played came from, once more, the album Wind and Wuthering, and was played as Annie and Kerry flew away from the school on their way to Pearl Hill State Park the day of Salem graduations.  Though not mentioned by name, the song is the first track of the album, the song The Eleventh Earl of Mar:

And that’s it for our A Level tunes.  Which means it’s time to look to the future . . .

For the next novel and the future I have songs jumping around in my head.  There’s one scene in the next novel where this next song will fit in with a scene–I just have to figure out how to get it into the story.  Trust me, I’ll get it in there.  The song in question is–don’t laugh–The Rain, the Park, and Other Things, by the Cowsills:

Give me time, though:  I’m certain I’ll get more songs into the B Mix as I go along . . .

Now, we already know what Kerry will play at Ostara 2013, but what about Ostara 2014?  Oh, yeah:  I’m already thinking about that–or I should say, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, maybe three years.  Where as the first time he played and sang, and the second time he played with a band but didn’t sing, in this performance he’ll sing but be backed up by the house band.  And Annie will right there in the front row, sitting with Helena and Erywin, as this song is performed.  Why have I thought about this scene so much?  Because . . . wait, you thought I was going to tell you?  Ah, hahahaha!  I had you going for a moment.

Anyway, the song is Distant Sun, originally performed by Helena’s fellow Kiwis, Crowded House:

The last two songs that I know actually get played happen in the period I’ve called Annie and Kerry’s Euro Broom Tour.  Actually, the first song comes during a period just before that tour starts, and happens with Kerry flying through the mountains early in the morning with just his broom, his computer, and his thoughts to keep him company.  Oh, yeah, and Jesus and Mary Chain blasting out of his Foundation-modified computer speakers:

And the last comes as Annie and Kerry say their farewells, and as they fly away Kerry slams this into the system as they fly off away from the rising sun:

There you have it:  some of the music which makes my world go ’round, and as I write the next novel I’ll probably have more music come into play.  The thing I really need to work on is the Soundtrack of Annie’s Life, because she has some music in here soul as well, and there are a couple of scenes where she needs some of her own tunes to shine.

Maybe it’s time to hire a musical consultant.

Count the Ways to Count the Story

With NaNo right around the corner–less than two weeks to go now–one of the key points that comes up again and again is, “How do I track my word count?”  It’s an important thing with NaNo, because you gotta run that 1,667 words a day count every day, or you’ll fall behind quickly.  The reality it, however, that when you write you usually have a need to know about how much you’re writing every day, and how big your story is becoming–or how many more words you need to write to turn a novelette into a novella.

Keeping track of your word count in easy in Scrivener, and there is a great deal of flexibility when it come to knowing the counts of scenes, chapters, parts, and even the whole novel. I do that to track my current novel, and I’ve used it with all my other works.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

The easiest way to keep track of your progress come from using your Project Targets.  This is done from the menu, using Project>Project Target, or by selecting Ctrl-,.  I show these all the time on my screen shots, and here is my current view.

I know, it feels like I'm bragging.

I know, it feels like I’m bragging.

Project Targets allow you to set the size of your story–the Manuscript Target–and how much you want to write while Scrivener is running–the Session Target.  Something to keep in mind here:  a session is the time that Scrivener is up and running.  If you bring the program up, type in 800 words, then close it and bring it up again later, the session bar resets:  it doesn’t track what you type in a day.

You can see that the pop-up window allows you to define your targets for both the full manuscript and how much you want to write.  Now, there is a bit of a cheat with the Manuscript Target:  notice the check box, “Documents Included in Compile Only”?  Yeah, that’s an important item.

Let’s first look at this screen, which is of one of my chapters in the recently concluded Part Seven:

I don't miss you, you monster.

I don’t miss you, you monster.

Over on the right you’ll see the column, “Include in Compile.”  Compile is the function that Scrivener uses to take all the stuff I have on the screen in front of me and turns it into a document of your choosing.  Such as–

I take all of Part Seven--

I take all of Part Seven–

Press the “Compile” button . . .

To 149 pages of awesome.

And turn it into 149 pages of awesome.

Whatever you have ticked off as “Include in Compile” will be converted into whatever you like by Scrivener.  It’s a great way to not only control what you print and create, but track your wordage.

But if you’ll notice, that’s a check box under your Manuscript Target.  With my story I have everything in Act Two–the part of my novel I’m currently developing–checked for Include in Compile, but everything in Act One is turned off.  Why?  Because I want to check my progress for Act Two only.  However, if I uncheck that box–

Now it really feels like bragging--

Now it really feels like bragging–

Everything in the manuscript–see the very top left of the Binder–is included.  And you can see how my progress bar jumped from the orange of Act Two–which is only about half way to the three hundred thousand total of the manuscript–to the bright green of “I’m almost to the end.”  Numbers and colors help you visualize where you are in the writing process.

You can see that even better when you are tracking the progress of your document.  Let’s look at the last scene I completed and check out the lower right hand corner of the screen.

Right down here.  See?

Right down here. See?

Click on that little dot and you’ll get another pop-up that allows you to set the total wordage for the document you’re working upon at the moment.

Three thousand seems like a good number.

Three thousand seems like a good number.

Hit Ok and you’ll see the following pop up at the bottom of your screen:

Look--new stuff!

Look–new stuff!

That first number–the 2,152–that number id always there–just look at the picture above.  Now you have your target number to the right of what you’ve written, and there is a progress bar next to the button, which is now red to indicate you haven’t reached your goal.  Once you do, that dot turns green:  trust me, it does.

This is also a great thing for keeping track of your progress if you’re bring up Scrivener and closing it several times during a day.  You can either keep everything in one document that you’re working on for the day, or adjust the target number as you go from document to document.  Easy Peasy.

Last of all, we can look at our Project Statistics, which you can find on the menu under Project>Project Statistics, or by selecting Ctrl-..  Scrivener will give you a snapshot of your identified manuscript–using your Compile and how you set up things under your Option tab–and what you may have selected in your Binder.  Here I’m identifying Act Two as the manuscript, and I’ve selected Part Eight.  So I bring up my stats, and . . .

Act Two seems quite the page turner.

Act Two seems quite the page turner.

Just so you know, I have my pages set up on my Option tab as three hundred and fifty words per page, so that’s how Scrivener figures that my Act Two is 370 pages long once you figure in the page breaks for Act, Part, and Chapter headings.  Not quite A Dance With Dragons, but I’m getting there–with fewer deaths, too.

There you have it:  so many ways to watch your counts.  Now all you gotta do is write.

Travels of a Crocheting Groupie

Over the years I’ve done some strange posts.  I’ve written about a variety of things, most of them revolving around writing, but sometimes I go places and do things that are interesting to others.  And there have been times when I’ve reveled things about myself that have surprised and sometimes shocked people.

This post . . . it’s a little of everything.  A tail of travel to exotic movie locations, a look at things on a long journey, and a bit of strange, personal information about me.

So, let’s get to the full disclosure:

I am a crocheting groupie.

I’ve been a member of a group on Facebook, HodgePodge Crocheting, for as long at the group has been around.  Why, you ask?  Do you crochet?  No, I am not a hooker, which is what we call someone who does.  Then why are you there?  Because my bestest friend, Tanya, owns the group, and she included me in the group when she put it together.  In fact, there are only three other people who joined before me, and the owner of the group is one, so there.

For the longest time I was a private groupie, because I wasn’t out as a woman yet, and the thousands of people in the group–yes, that’s true, we’re over three thousand strong–weren’t aware of my status as a transwoman.  But one day I jumped in on a question about gender identity in young kids, and that was it:  I was off and running.

These days I’m the Memestress and Keeper of Helena, our own Drama Llama, one of the Lorekeepers of TARDIS Knowledge, and a member in good standing.  I’ve also been promising to show off our groupie tee shirt . . .

See, a while back we sold tee shirts to our members, one with the group logo and the wording that proclaimed that we were proud HodgePodge Groupies.  Many members have already shown theirs, and I was getting questions about when I was going to show mine.  The answers were always the same:  I’m going to show it soon, and I’m going to do it at a famous movie location.

A couple of weeks ago, it was time to get to some picture taking.

To get to where I needed to go was gonna take some time, so I headed out early, pretty much as the sun was coming up, and began driving west:

Look:  mountains ahead!

Look: mountains ahead!

As you can see the Pennsylvania Turnpike is curving up into the mountains.  Just behind that “Blue Mountain” sign is the first of four tunnels I needed to traverse.  There are two just on the other side of the sign, then another about ten miles beyond that, and then further to the west, the Allegheny Tunnel, which is the longest on the turnpike.

Now, what do I do when I’m out driving for long periods of time?  Wouldn’t you know it, I shot a video!  First off, it’s not the car moving, it’s the camera:  I was holding it in my right hand while I drove with my left, and kept the vehical on cruise control.  The music is loud because that’s usually how I keep it when I’m driving.  Don’t try this at home, kids:  I’m a professional.  And at about forty-four seconds you’ll probably notice some caterwauling which is me doing my best to sing.

My best isn’t that good.

Beyond that is Sideling Hill–a place I visited last year–and this place:  Breezewood, home of a lot of places to stop and eat, as well as Gateway to the Abandoned Turnpike.

You should see this place at night--I have.

You should see this place at night–I have.

I needed to get a bit of breakfast and some coffee, and since I was running just a little ahead of schedule, it was a good place to relax and decompress.  Because I had a long ways to go to get to my first stop . . .

Right here, just south of Pittsburgh.

I heard the shopping here was a little "dead".

I heard the shopping here was a little “dead”.

I know more than a few of you are saying or thinking, “Cassie, why’d you drive half way across the state to visit a shopping mall?”  Because this isn’t just any shopping mall:  this is a famous movie location.  Monroeville Mall was the location for the filming of the original Dawn of the Dead, the second of the original George Romero zombie movies, released in 1978.  Filming took place from ten PM until 6 AM; at which point the mall Muzak came on and since no one knew how to switch it off, that was a wrap.

Since I was in the area I thought, hey, stop in and look around.  See if any of the undead are still around . . .

Zombies?

Zombies?

Yoo hoo?  You around?

Yoo hoo? You around?

Calling all Walkers.

Calling all Walkers.

Since it's fall, all the girls who love fall will be here trying to get their pumpkin spiced candles.

Since it’s fall, all the girls who love fall will be here trying to get their pumpkin spiced candles when they’re undead.

The mall has changed a great deal since 1978:  new stores, new look, probably even a layout change here and there–though the food court still looked pretty funky, so I gotta wonder if there’s been many updates there.  Since I didn’t see any zombies, I bought a pair of boots and a pair of flats.  Because . . . shopping.

Here we have Dawn of the Bitchy Resting Face.

Here we have Dawn of the Bitchy Resting Face.

But this isn’t where I really wanted to show myself wearing my groupie tee shirt.  I said I was doing it at a famous movie location, and I knew just the place.  Because before you can have a Dawn, you need a Night . . .

Night of the Living Dead wasn’t just a genre changer, it was a genre maker.  Before this movie zombies were some drugged-out losers controlled by a bokor.  Everything that we know and love about zombies started with this moving, and while many have added to the mythos, without this little film you wouldn’t today have a guy on TV running around drilling zombies with a crossbow, a woman lopping off heads with a katana, another guy running around yelling “Coral!” and a woman who wants you to just look at the flowers.

Romero started the zombie apocalypse with a virus brought back from space (just like Robert Kirkman would lie about a few decades later when he pitched The Walking Dead and said the zombies were begin created by aliens) and before you knew it, the dead were crawling around looking to add to their numbers and fill their bellies at the same time.  He didn’t have a lot of money for filming, and he pretty much had to just shoot wherever he could–like an hour up the road from Pittsburgh in Evans City.

All of the shooting took place outside a house that is no longer standing, and inside a house right inside town that is still there.  But George needed some place special for the opening shots, which would involve–what we didn’t know at the time–the first attack by a zombie on a living person in cinematic history.

Where would you do that?  Where do you think?

"I need dead people.  Where's a good place to find them?"

“I need dead people. Where’s a good place to find them?”

Welcome to the Evans City Cemetery, and that sign in the above photo was in the movie.  This is it:  Ground Zero for Zombie History, because up the winding road and at the top of the hill is where George filmed Barbara and her douchey brother Johnny visiting their father’s grave before Johnny stupidly joins the ranks of the undead.

Here’s the small chapel in front of which Johnny and Barbara stopped:

It looks a lot better when it's not in black and white.

It looks a lot better when it’s not in black and white.

Here’s the lucky couple paying their respects:

Johnny can't even remove his driving gloves.

Johnny still being a douche, however.

And the site today:

Much better in color.

Much better in color.

And then Mister Don’t Say the Zed Word shows up and Barbara trying to escape from the horror:

Run, Barbara, Run!

Run, Barbara, Run!

And almost forty-five years later, Cassidy is trying to do a Barbara.

Zombies?  Are you there?  This is Cassidy.  Come and get me.

Zombies? Are you there? This is Cassidy. Come at me, bros.

Famous movie locations:  since a lot of my friends, Tanya among them, are huge Walking Dead fans, where better to show off my HodgePodge Groupie tee shirt than the site of the first cinematic zombie attack.  And am I worried I’ll be attacked by the undead?  No.  Not only because it’s a bright, sunny day, but . . .

Back off, Walker dudes:  I got my hooks.

Back off, Walker dudes: I got my hooks.

And I bought a big one just in case things get serious:

I'd be about a million times more bad ass if I had a katana.  And I was a bad ass woman who knew how to use it.

I’d be about a million times more bad ass if I had a katana. And I was a bad ass woman who knew how to use it.

I even managed to get my get my favorite traveling companion in one shot, my trusty CR-V with almost 150,000 miles on the odometer.

 

A girl and her car can't be seperated.

A girl and her car can’t be separated.

So there you have it:  travels to Zombieland, with stop-offs for breakfast on the way out:

Good morning!

Good morning!

And a stop for pumpkin spice latte on the way back:

Here

Good afternoon.

All that took place two weeks ago, on a Sunday, the 14th of September.  But I wasn’t quiet done . . .

See, today–the day of this post–is my friend Tanya’s birthday, and one of the things I wanted to do was wish her a happy birthday in a special way.  Because she’s . . . well, she’s a friend like no other, and you do lovely things for those friends.  I had intended to film a message for her while I was snapping pictures back in Evans City, but then realized, “Nope, I’m in the zombie graveyard, I need a better place.”  Which brings me a little closer to home:  near my apartment, down in Riverside Park right by the river.

So, without further ado, my birthday greeting.

And there you have it:  the travels of a crocheting groupie out to show off her tee shirt to not only her friends in her group, but to her friends on this blog . . . and most importantly, to try and make today a special day for my friend and, in many ways, my creative muse.

Until next year . . .

Never Say Never Say Never Again

As you may have guessed, I’m riffing on a James Bond movie title.  And why am I doing this?  Because once again I’ve been saying there’s something I’m not going to do, but in the end I turn around and–well, it seems like I’m doing said not doing thing.

Allow me to explain.

NaNo is coming up.  If you write, and you spend any amount of time on the Internet, you know this, because about now is where everyone who writer–well, everyone who isn’t pretty much making a living off their writing, that is–begins talking about what they’re going to do during NaNoWriMo 2014.  It’s what all the cool kids do, doncha know?

You can tell she's a writer simply by the strategically placed bowl of fruit . . .

You can tell she’s a writer preping for NaNo simply by the strategically placed bowl of fruit . . .

Now, I’ve participated in three NaNoWriMos and two Camp NaNos, and I’ve had fun.  More or less.  See, NaNo is a huge lark for some people:  you get down and write, and when it’s over you file away the story and move on to something else.  For some people it’s a struggle, like pushing a huge stone up a hill, only you don’t know what kind of stone, and you’re not sure of the name of the hill, so you’re having to stop and ask questions of others along the way.

And for some, you get to the end of the month with this huge document in front of you, and you think, “You know, maybe I should edit and publish this sucker . . .”

I’ve done this last one once, and I plan on doing it again . . . once I get this monster of a Last NaNoWriMo story out of the way.

Yes, I see you.  Stop that gloating, right now!

Yes, I see you. Stop that gloating right now!

As I’ve said before, I’ve not given NaNo any thought because I’ve always writing anyway.  Of late it seems like I’m taking a night off here and there, but I’m keeping it going.  Slow but steady as they say.

Then, the other night, a friend asks if there’s anyone going to do NaNo this year, because her son wants to do it, and she’s thinking about doing it, and oh, man, it’s like dangling a big carrot in front of me, because when someone says, “Hey, anyone wanna WRITE?” I kinda want to join in the fun.  Also, she was the one who kinda sorta got me to do Camp this year, and even though I lowballed by total (I only did twenty thousand words), it still gave me a goal to shoot towards.

And since I find it hard to say “No” to this person . . .

Yeah, I’m probably going to do NaNo.  But what am I writing?  The same novel I started for last year’s NaNo.

Now hold up there, ’cause don’t start in with the “But you can’t do that!” because it’s already been done:  Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus was written over the course to two NaNos, so if she can do it, so can I.  The way I see it, I can set a goal of sixty or sixty-five thousand words–as I did last time–and do what I can to take a good bite out of Act Three of the novel.  I’m hoping to be almost finished with Act Two by the end of November, so using NaNo to write out close to seventy thousand words–if that is even possible–would go a long ways towards finishing the project.

And since I’ve already planed and plotted everything, it’s just down to the writing, isn’t it?

Oh, wicked NaNo and the friends I have who like to dangle literary carrots before my eyes.  I keep trying to walk away–

You keep pulling me back.

A Different Kind of Magic

There are times when you need to step away from your confines and move out into the public, because it’s necessary to remind yourself that, yes, there is one out there.  Which was the point of getting out yesterday–because it was there.

I did a drive down from The Burg to one of the easternmost points of the State of Maryland.  In fact, the person I was with and I headed over into Delaware for a little shopping, making that my first visit to that state.  But I was out on the road early, heading south at 6:30 AM, the live recording of The Wall in Berlin blasting from the car stereo.  It was such that just as I was heading north up I-95 out of Baltimore that Comfortably Numb came on, and the combination of the sun shinning, the light traffic, and the sensation of being all wrapped up in my little warm cocoon produced one of those moments that you don’t forget soon, or ever.

And remember the talk that I was getting a makeover?  Yeah, I had some work done on my eyes, and tried a new shade of lipstick.  I also combined that with the first wig I ever owned, and it brought about a radical change in my appearance?  How radical?

Don't mind me; I'm just showing off my pretty face.

Don’t mind the Lady Writer; I’m just showing off my pretty face.

Yeah, pink nails and eyes, and it’s really a good look for me.  The smile helps as well:  I was having such a good time yesterday that smiling came easy.  A few of my friends even pointed out that I appeared “radiant”, and for the first time I saw that in this and another picture.  As for the people who mentioned that I looked a bit like a suburban soccer mom:  I do, and I don’t mind one bit.  It’s better that I look like millions of other women and not someone trying to relive their twenties.  That would be the disco era for me–well, I do have some platform sandals . . .

During the two hour drive two and from Maryland and The Burg, I did think about my story.  I thought about a lot of things, and for anyone reading this that happened to be on the I-695/I-83 junction and saw some crazy blond in a CR-V singing as loud as she could, bobbing her head and doing a lot of arm motions like she was performing–that was me listening to Paradise by the Dashboard Light.  Yeah, I do that sometimes when I’m in the car.

The upshot of all this is after making it home, after checking updates and loading pictures and the like, after saying hi to people I hadn’t seen online all day–I tried to write and found myself just too damn pooped to do more than start the next scene and produce about two hundred words.  I was tired, sure, but the subject had to do with the death of people at my fictional school, and the mind simple didn’t want to wrap around that nastiness.

It had been a good day filled with life.

I’ll leave the talk of death for later.

Killer of Dreams

Writing is a hard business.  Not just the publishing end of it, but getting down in front of the computer or your typewriter, or even your paper, and you gotta put those words down, one after another, and you keep doing it until you finish the damn thing.  Start, write, finish.  That’s the deal.

Sometimes, however, that becomes easier said than done.  Things wear at you; things tear you down.  We all know stories about authors who are just one step away of completely losing they minds–or, in the case of a few, having lost it completely and they decided to write though the madness.

That’s how I’ve felt for a while; that I was writing though some madness that wouldn’t leave me alone.  It just gnawed at me like a beast picking you apart slowly but surely.

And last week it nearly won.

I had a hard time of things last Friday, and was pretty much at my wit’s end for more than a few things.  It was a tough time, and if not for the help of a lot of friends who came to my aid, I might still be rolling through that madness.

I haven’t forgotten what happened, and I’m truly moving ahead to make things better.  But last night . . . I had some thoughts I had to get out.  Thoughts that weren’t going to stay quite any longer.

I’ve been playing with video a lot of late, and getting some of the things I’ve said uploaded to a YouTube account.  I’ve had fun it with, because it’s a different medium and there’s things that come out on video that you can’t hide unless you’re a very good actor.  I’m not a very good actor; when it comes to my emotions, things tend to come spilling out these days, because hormones jack with you like you wouldn’t believe.

I put a twelve minute video together last night, after the television and computer were off, and talked a little about the state of mind I’ve labored under for a while.  It’s a hard video; there’s a lot of feeling in my voice, there’s true feelings coming out, and more than a few tears come out.  I don’t mind that last, because tears are good.  They mean I can’t hold back, and given how things keep welling up inside these days, I don’t want to keep them in.  I gotta let them out.

Jim Butcher was the one who, a few years ago, said giving up on writing is the same as killing your dreams, and there are no truer words spoken.  I mention that in the video, and you can see how it makes me feel to think about doing just that.  It’s a thing I’ve done before, and I know others have as well.  I’m a firm believer these days that dreams should never die, because without your dreams, what do you have left?

Watch if you like, but be warned:  it’s pretty raw.  That’s how stream of thought is–it’s real, and it just comes at you.

Like life.

But if it helps other writers out there articulate what they also feel from time-to-time, then I’ve done something good.

That’s what really counts.

The Visions of the Road Ahead

You know it’s going to be a long day when I’m drinking coffee in the afternoon.

Working on a program and being up about four-thirty AM that morning put a thump on my head, and by one in the afternoon I was getting a cuppa, because I knew I was going to crash and burn if I didn’t.  I made it through the afternoon, and I did so with a plan . . .

When I got home I waited for traffic to die down a little–I usually finish my walk from work by four-thirty PM, so it’s still rush hour out there–then I went out for a little shopping.  I picked up a few things I needed, then headed over back across the river to the West Bank–as I’ve heard people at work call it–and hit my favorite Panera.  I picked up a flatbread, some soup, and a smoothie.  Oh, and I fired up my computer and pulled up something writing related, because if you aren’t writing you’re thinking about something writing related, yeah?

I got out my Idea File.

I said yesterday that I needed to start getting serious not just on writing, but on publishing.  If you’re not publishing, you’re writing for yourself, and while that’s cool, I don’t have a problem with others doing that, it’s not what I’m doing.  As a friend of mine posted on her wall the other day, “Some people dream of success, others make it happen.”  Shit, dudes, that’s more true than you can imagine.  If I wanna get those stories out there, they ain’t gonna publish themselves, are they?  Just like my characters aren’t writing the story when I’m sleeping, otherwise my current novel would be finished . . .

But going through the Idea File was more than just deciding what to publish–I had to do something else . . .

The File in all its messy glory.

The File in all its messy glory.

I added a few statuses to the file.  First, I have “Won’t Do”, and that’s pretty self-explanatory.  There are some stories that, while the ideas are, or I should say were, great, I’m probably never going to write that particular tale.  As I read somewhere the other day, being a writer sometimes means having to let go of the past, because you’re beyond that.  On the Out was an idea I actually worked up through the 1990’s as a trilogy, and I really liked it–I even wrote about fifteen thousand words for it.  But it’s dead.  I’m never going there.  I take that back:  I won’t say never, but I don’t think the story would be that good if I wrote the sucker.

And the other two–simply couldn’t do them.  Lorelei’s Lessons actually goes back to the summer of 2011, and I also wrote a few thousand words of that.  But I didn’t feel what I was producing touched me, and I’ve never went back to it.  Which is probably for the best.

So, what did I plan?  Here it is:

Don't look so shocked there's actually something there!

Don’t look so shocked there’s actually something there!

Sometime after I get Act Two almost finished I’m going to start editing Kolor Ijo, which was my 2012 NaNoWriMo novel, and the followup to my story Kuntilanak.  Yes–a sequel!  It’s a good novel, a good story with good characters, taking place in Indonesia, a place few people really know.  My plan is to get it done with editing and a cover and have it ready by the end of the year.  Maybe like by the first of December, so all those people looking to blow money on gifts will send a few bucks my way.

Fantasies in Harmonie will come out in March the following year, and it’ll be under a different name ’cause it’s dirty.  As in like there’s a lot of crazy sexy stuff going on.  I gotta come up with a good, sexy, mistressy sort of author name for this stuff, because I do have a few strange erotica tales floating about.  Just ask the people who’ve read them . . .

And last, Suggestive Amusements.  I wrote that damn thing the summer of 2012, before writing Kolor Ijo, when I was doing time in Indianapolis and I truly thought I was going to lose my mind.  I like the story, I like the characters, and I want it out.  It’s as good a story as anything I’ve written, and a change of pace from the other two on the list.

There’s one other status I put up in my file:  “Next”.  As in, “What should I write after this monster I have now is done?”  I’m going for Northern Lights.  This means I can start thinking about the characters and locations and other important stuff like, you know, plot.  That’s my plan, because I would love to write a horror story about three women roaming around Alaska.  I mean, what could go wrong?

One thing I didn’t put here:  I could always publish the various acts of The Foundation Chronicles–A for Advanced, as I’m going along.  That could always come out when you least expect it . . .

There’s my plan, and I’m doing my damnedest to stick to it.  Time to tell the world–

Cassie’s got some stories to sell.

Cleaning Out the Fridge

If you follow this blog then you know a few things about me.  I’m a writer; I’m a little bit nuts; and I’m a geek.  These days I don’t know how large of a geek that would be, due to all the brolash that has come up in the last few years about who is “fake” (usually women) and who isn’t (usually the bros makin’ up the rules).  Needless to say my creed is good, and while I might not be able to tell someone exact issue and page for whatever comic one might use as a litmus test for pureness, I know I could come back with my own set of questions that would put them right down on their ass.

As such, many of my friends are geeks in various areas, and many of them were watching closely when the cast pictures for the new Star Wars film was released.  And the thing that a majority of them noticed right away:  one new female actor, one male actor who is black, and a whole lotta white light sabers flashin’ around.  Oh, and Andy Serkis to likely motion capture an alien meant to represent whatever racial stereotype the movie is inadvertently mocking, cause yeah, gotta go there.

At this point it’s difficult to say that if you’re doing any sort of story within a “universe”–which, admittedly, is a pretty big place–it’s not going to be easy to explain away why one doesn’t have more women in their stories, or don’t have more people of color wandering about.  Particularly in geek entertainment, where even in the middle of the second decade of the 21st Century, a large number of stories have women for one of various reasons:  to act as the romantic interests for the male characters, to come off as a bit of fan service for the bros, or to get Fridged and lead one of the male characters into their huge moment of angst.  Naturally, the first two reasons are not mutually exclusive from the last, which allows one to hit the trifecta if you’re really wanting to go in that direction.

I was telling a friend the other day that I had someone looking over my current work in progress, and they had a couple of comments.  The first was, “You have a lot of women.”  And the second was, “And a lot of the characters aren’t Caucasian.”  I asked them if that was a good or bad thing, and the response was, “Well, there are a lot of women in the story . . .”  And that’s true:  it’s pointed out that, in The Foundation, it’s a Lady’s World, with the women outnumbering the men about three-to-one.  At the school the ratios are even higher:  in the student body the girls outnumber the boys about four-to-one (something that Kerry points out to another student), and as far as staff and instructors go . . . never mind:  The Queens Conquer–and have.

As they say, lets look at the cards–literally:

You can't tell who's going to lay into you in class without a score card.

You can’t tell who’s going to lay into you in class without a cheat sheet.

These are just my instructors–the situation is different with the staff.  Three out of four positions are held by women, and the director of security is half-Egyptian.  And all of the support staff are female–you don’t see them, but I do.

But running across my instructors, we have five men in that group.  Fitzsimon Spratt is a black man from Jamaica and Shuthelah Kady is from Turkey.  Holoč Semplen is the lone white male coven leader from the Czech Republic.  And Mathias and Adric are white guys from Canada and England, there for comic relief–just kidding.

Going across Deanna is Iraqi; Harpreet Bashagwani is Indian; Ramona Chai is Chinese.  I haven’t yet worked out Wednesdays full history, but it’s pretty much a given she’s a white girl from New Mexico.  Jessica is black; Helena is half-white, half-Māori.  Maddy, Vicky, and Erywin are white; Polly Grünbach is half-white, half-Moroccan, Inyx Armanjani is from Azerbaijan, and Tristyn Julin is a black woman from South Africa.

Of the five coven leaders four are women; two are white, one is Iraqi, one is black.  One is an Atheist, one is Muslim, two are Wiccans.  One is divorced, one is widowed.  One has never been married, and one is a lesbian in a relationship with another instructor that’s lasted thirty years.  Out of my instructors and staff five are gay/lesbian (sorry:  no bi or trans–yet), and all of them are in relationships–two of the couples are right there in the school, though you haven’t seen the second one yet.

I decided when I started this that if I’m going to represent the world, I had to represent.  I had to bring in people from everywhere, and try and make things as representative as possible.  In time these names will change, new people will arrive–maybe the school will even get more guys.  But I will try and keep a world view; I’ll try and keep things representative.

‘Cause, this being the 21st Century an all, you gotta know there’s a whole universe out there in which to play.  And it’s a very diverse place.

A Roundabout History

It didn’t take a lot of words:  all together about one hundred and eighty.  There was a bit of deleting, and some moving of things here and there, but after an hour of writing, I managed to finish the scene I’ve worked on for almost a week.  And ended it off this way:

 

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

“You know: we can get our picture taken at one of the most famous departure points of one of the most famous schools in literature—and tomorrow we’re leaving for Amsterdam to get ready to leave for our own strange school.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “Kind of a coincidence, don’t you think?”

Annie nodded slowly. “Yes, that is rather remarkable.” She sipped the last of the Lemon Aid—not so much to quench her thirst but to hide the smile that had begun to form . . . Oh, Kerry: if only I could tell you about how strange things are at our new school.

 

Oh, Annie, you little minx.  You could tell him, but you’d probably have to leave his body in an alley somewhere afterwords, right?  No, she’s not like that.  Not at all.

Five thousand, two hundred and sixty-three words, which turned two scenes that were about three thousand words total into one scene about eighty percent bigger.  But a lot gets done in this scene, and I feel it’s far better than what had come before.  And I am finished–

See the little hash marks at the bottom?  That means "I'm Finished!"

See the little hash marks at the bottom? That means “I’m Finished!”

This time around.  Later comes the edits and the additional grief, but for now–done.

It’s also a little strange for me as a writer as well, because today is an important day in the history of my make-believe school.  Really, tomorrow is when all the hell breaks loose, but the 29th of April is when the school suffered a massacre during the last full school year of the 20th Century.  Instructors and students died–a lot of them pretty horribly–and when it was all over a few of the people who are in my current story did what they could back then to hold everything together and keep the school from falling apart.  After all, when thirty-plus students and a good portion of your staff and instructors die at the hands of crazy infiltrators, it tends to make the returning student body feel like maybe they should find another place to practice their mad skills.

Come for the Magic, Leave in a bodybag because someone ripped your heart from your chest.

Come for the Magic, Leave in a Body Bag because a bad person ripped your heart from your chest.

Interesting story, and one I have to fix up and publish.  Also the first one where I had to deal with a nutty beta reader who would not read past the third page because it was “slow”, and told me to remove the first two parts (which she didn’t read) while at the same time refusing to read the third part until I made the changes she demanded.  Um . . . yeah.  I’ll get right on that, because I’m all about dancing to the tune of crazy readers.

Maybe I could find a way to send them off to my school for a weekend . . .

Frolicking in the Danger Zone

Let’s do the niceties right now and say this post will speak of real things that happened to me.  It may feel like a rant to a lot of people, and there is a high likelihood I’ll upset more than a few of those folk.  But seeing as how it’s been close to a week since the last time that last happened, I may as well close out the week cranking up the irate a bit.  With that in mind, here’s a kitten to put you into a great frame of mind:

It's a Siamese kitten, though, and we know they're sort of evil, so this kitty is probably ready to take you Straight to Hell.

It’s a Siamese kitten, though, and we know they’re sort of evil, so this kitty is setting up to take you Straight to Hell.

With that out of the way, onward.

I spent a lot of time as a kid scared.  Never mind all the crap going on in my head with gender identity issues and just generally being considered a strange kid because I did things in my shitty little town like read–I was scared.  A lot.  I had a very active imagination, and since I read a lot of different things like science fiction and comic books and the occasional horror story where people were being walled up alive or having bad things happen to them because they were screwing around with a monkey’s paw, I’d start imagining things–you know, stuff.

The sort of things that prevented me from being in a dark room with an even slightly cracked closet door because there might be something in there–something that was going to eat me.  I couldn’t stand to look out a window in the dead of night for fear something was going to jump into my line of sight, something I didn’t want to see, something that was going to do me harm.  And this last still happens to me; occasionally I’ll get the feeling that something is out on the balcony getting ready to jump me, and I don’t dare look ’cause I don’t want to see . . .

That stopped me from reading, right?  No.  I didn’t stop me from watching all those funky 1950’s science fiction and horror flicks on TV, either.  If I knew it was going to cause problems, why did I continue to scare the shit out of myself?  Because I had a jones that needed feeding, and learning and being entertains was worth the price of imagining something could jump out of my closet and get me.

I also ran into my share of personal tragedy.  By the time I’d turn ten I’d watch an uncle lose a long battle with lung cancer, and since it seemed like everyone in our extended family either died of cancer or heart disease–and I heard this stuff being talked about all the time–it was a simple matter to know what was happening.  Oh, and my mother was also a nurse, so there were plenty of books around the house with pictures–just in case I needed to know what a cancerous lung looked like.

I lost two close friends before I was out of high school:  one drown and another was involved in a rather horrific auto accident.  A girl I’d dated for a year at the end of high school died a year after we broke up when her sister’s car spun out and flipped over into a drainage ditch.

There was also the occasional suicide popping up from time to time.  When I was about eight a second cousin of my mother’s decided she was going to take her two daughters for a ride, got them into the family sedan, and never left the garage.  There was no way I didn’t know about this because it was all over the Chicago news, print and television, at the time, and my mother didn’t stop talking about it for days.  As for the other suicides–well, they were attempts, and not successful ones at that, otherwise I wouldn’t be here typing this post.  Though I’ve not tried anything like that since the 1990’s, I did voluntarily check myself into a mental heath facility in 2008 for a “Forty-eight Hour Observation Stay”, which is a polite way of saying, “We’ll make sure you’re not given a chance to permanently hurt yourself.”  Actually, it was an interesting experience–I was roomed with a schizophrenic who kept telling the doctors he was okay because he’d found his cure in the Bible, and they could give him any test they wanted to try and prove him wrong, and I was hit on by a couple of women:  one wanted my opinion on whether I thought she’d make a good lesbian and should she castrate her boyfriend before doing so, and another girl kept trying to convince me to have sex with her, telling me, “You’re not that crazy, so it’ll be good ’cause I can trust you.”

Fun times, let me tell ya.

These are all little bits of my life experiences.  No mention of the time a “friend” beat me up because I wouldn’t dance with someone at a club–yeah, that sort of sucked.  But all of this come to mind when I’m writing.  All of this makes up little things that pull at my psyche when I’m dealing with characters.  I don’t think I have an interesting life, but I certainly have one that’s seen it’s fair share of bullshit.

I’m not the only one who’s been there.  A Clockwork Orange was written in three weeks by a highly intoxicated Anthony Burgess, who admitted that a lot of Alex’s story brought back memories of his wife’s rape, and drinking helped get the words out with a minimal amount of pain.  Harlan Ellison wrote in the preface of All the Birds Come Home to Roost of the terror he felt having to write, at an editor’s request, a short scene where the main character describes what his first wife–who was going insane–did that nearly drove him insane, because brought back all the memories of the things his first wife did that nearly drove him insane before she was committed to a facility for a while.  Stephen King mentioned that The Body may have resulted from from him witnessing a childhood friend being hit by a train, but damned if he can remember that happening even though other’s told him it did.

Writers put themselves into their stories, like it or not.  When they write about something horrifying or miserable or just downright cruddy happening to one of their characters, they’re usually pulling upon some well of memories.  They may remember these things clearly, or they may not.  They may not be affected by the retelling of the memories, or they may find themselves overwhelmed as they transfer the story from their mind to the page.  This last has happened to me:  there have been more than a few passages written over the last couple of years where I’ve had to stop and collect myself because the place from where I was pulling my inspiration was far too personal.

At the same time a writer shouldn’t be afraid to put all that shit out there for people to see.  A writer shouldn’t hold back; if you have something terrible to show, show it in all its gory glory.  I went through this when I wrote Couples Dance because of one scene in particular, one that I’ve never actually described–until now.  The scene involved three woman and a man in 1920’s Paris getting high on a combination of wine and drugs, and two of the women decided to pull the third woman into a ménage à trois.  In the process of getting their crazy freak on, the two woman who instigated this party begin dismembering the third woman while continuing to sex her up.  The person reading this account doesn’t know if it’s complete bullshit or not–the person who wrote the entry in his journal can be considered the most unreliable of narrators because he was higher than a kite at the time this all went down–but there’s also a nagging suspicion that it might just be the real deal.

I had trouble writing the scene at first because I thought it was a bit over the top.  And it is–face it:  it’s suppose to be.  Later I had trouble because I understood this craziness was coming out of me, and who wants to admit they can pen this sort of insanity and then head down to Burger King to pick up a Whopper with Cheese and a large Sprite like nothing out of the ordinary just went down.  After a few days I got good with the fact that there is a lot of craziness inside me, and in time it’s all gonna come out.

In the course of my life and work I know I’m going to offend people.  I know I’m going to say things that will piss them off.  But what I say or do won’t be racist–I lived through that shit with my family, and try as they might I abandoned their “If it ain’t White, it ain’t Right” ways.  It won’t be misogynist, because I love women and the more I slide into womanhood the more I understand the privileges they don’t share with men.  I’m damn sure not anti-LGBT–hey, some of my best characters are LGBT, and considering I was hangin’ with my trans support group last night, nah:  no hate there, people.

No, if I piss someone off it’s because I don’t give warnings about what’s coming.  I gave one today, and on other occasions I’ve given them as well, telling people if you have easily blown minds you might wanna step off the page and find something else to read.  Most of the time I’ll call things out as I see them, and and if people lose their shit over it–as has happened when I expressed the opinion that if you’re truly convinced that your characters actually write your story, and that they get into arguments over what they want to do, you should acquaint yourself with some high powered meds–then so be it.  I can’t protect every precious snowflake, and I don’t bother trying.

Writers shouldn’t be afraid to throw life out onto the page as raw as it comes.  They shouldn’t hold back.  They shouldn’t censor themselves.  You have to be more real than real; you have to show the nasty without a pretty little gauze curtain between you and the reader.  Be like Rick Grimes and rip out that bad guy’s throat with your teeth, because there are times when you just gotta lay it all out in black and white with red all over.

And should someone come back to you and say, “I’m offended by that!  You didn’t give me a warning it was coming!” then you should introduce them to Mr. Stephen Fry:

 

“It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what?”

[I saw hate in a graveyard — Stephen Fry, The Guardian, 5 June 2005]”  (Article found on link, which details things he discovered while tracing his Jewish ancestry.)

 

I should point out that maybe people are offended by his statement.  Yeah, big surprise.  Could be worse–

I could have found an inspirational quote from Tyler Durden.

Out of the Fire, Into the Dance

Not much writing wise got accomplished last night–and yet, there was.  It was a weird, raining night (not dark and stormy, mind you) and I had to door to my balcony open and my fleece jacket on while I did my nails and thought about writing scenes.  I kept walking from the computer to the balcony, where I would take in the night air–and the noise of the street twelve stories below–while I let my nails dry.  It’s a great way to think and let you mind work on ideas–

I worked on a story.  Only it wasn’t my current work in progress.  I was thinking along the lines of erotica, because I’ve reread some of the stuff I did years back and I’m interesting in publishing it under another name and seeing if this generates any cash.  Be my luck that I’ll end up selling big and I’ll spend the rest of my life writing all sorts of strange stuff for the masses to wank to.

But I believe Gore Vidal started out this way, so there are worse paths to follow.

I also spoke with a friend who read a few of those stories–I’d sent them her way Thursday night–and she told me she’d had a difficult time sleeping because, well, I apparently brought back sexy.  She’s also an illustrator, and she let me know she had a few ideas about a couple of the scenes, and she wanted to work up a few preliminary sketches to show.  I let her know that if I liked them I’d commission a few more for the story, and use them when I publish–which, honestly, I now feel is a bigger possibility that it was a few months before.

Which brings me back to the current work . . . the Great Cassie Novel on Hold.

Today or tomorrow I’m going to go into one of the scenes and rewrite part of it.  If I like what I see, I’ll move on to another scene which needs a rewrite after the previous rewrite didn’t feel right.  If I’m satisfied there, then I’ll move on to the new scene that need recreating, and then rewrite the scene that follows.

I know my focus there now, and I have a better feel for the characters.  I say I may start the rewrite today because I still have things to work out in the character map, and there’s a few things I want to do with Kerry as well.

The rewrite is coming, however, because yesterday was a Dance on a Volcano sort of day, and it was necessary to, as the lyrics say, get out of the night and out of the dark, into the fire and into the fight.  One as to make up their mind if they’re going to continue or just cut and run–and I decided there really isn’t any choice for me.  It’s finish the story in a form that isn’t going to embarrass me, and by that I mean I can live with the characters.  It won’t be an easy struggle, but I’m certain I’ll find my way through the death zone of expectations that didn’t pan out.

"Death zone my ass.  You wanna see a death zone?  Watch what I do with the whole London section."

“Death zone my ass. You wanna see a death zone? Watch what I do with the whole London section.”

The novel will get finished.  That’s all there is to that crap.  Just need to stop being worried and get through what needs to be done.

It’s dance on the volcano or die time.  I know where I want to go.

The Highs and the Highers

Let’s just get this out of the way first thing in the morning:  mind mapping can be a huge amount of fun, but ultimately it can also be an enormous pain in the ass.  You’re trying to organize your thoughts on a page–and I use that term “page” liberally, because inside your computer your page can go on for a very long time.  Don’t believe me?  Look:

No, that's not the remains of a fly I swatted . . .

No, that’s not the remains of a fly I swatted . . .

That’s sixty-six notes I’ve made on a character time line while trying to deconstruct and rebuild this character, with Scapple zoomed out as far as I can take it.  As you can see, I have plenty of room in which to work.

And work I was.

Not as much as this time line would show, but it’s getting there.  I have my head where I want it now, and I’ve narrowed down some of the questions I need to ask.  I’ve also set aside room for Kerry, because in retrospection, he’s wrong, too.  At least in the opening chapters.  Oh, not the prologue:  he’s pretty much spot on there.  The whole London section–it’s wrong.  It’s really wrong.  Kerry has a computer:  who needs to go out?  That’s what Google Streetview is for!

Yeah, need to deconstruct him a little, because if there’s one thing I know about his, it’s that he’s emotional shut away from most everything.  So London . . . rewrite city, baby.  I hope to start getting to that on Sunday.  No really; stop laughing.

I’m actually feeling good about redoing this part.  I figured out a day trip inventory that’s really more to the liking of the kids, and it’s fun to roam all over London on The Maps (that’s what I’ll call it from now on) and see things that I shouldn’t have missed the first time.  But, hey:  first drafts are for your screw ups.  As James Michener once said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”  (Paddy Chayefsky apparently said the same thing, so I’ll let them fight it out over who gets the real credit.)

Something else happened last night as well.  I was chatting up a friend, and we got to talking about some of my work.  It so happened–as writers often do–I spoke about some of my old erotica I’d written some ten years back, and how I was thinking of editing it and putting it out in ebook format to get comfortable among the dino porn and gay cuttlefish transformation stories.  (And if you read this blog regularly, you know those both exist.)

Being in something of a good mood I asked my friend if she wanted to see some of it.  She said yes.  I showed her the stories I had in pdf format with the artwork that had been drawn especially each of the tales.

I'd show you the real artwork, but it'd probably piss someone off, so here's something everyone can agree is completely safe.

I’d show you the real artwork, but it’d probably piss someone off if I did, so here’s something everyone can agree is completely safe.

And what I was told was, “This is really good writing, Cassie.”  Which it really was, even if it was totally fetish smut.  But after a long week of being down, feeling tired, and beating your head again the computer, you know what you, as a writer, needs?

To be told you’re good.

Those really are the magic words.  Try them on a writer friend and see what happens.