Soufflé Girl Under the Stars

It’s taken me a bit to get going this morning, but going I am.  It’s a beautiful morning in The Burg, and I wish I’d brought my mobile with me so I could have snapped a quick picture before entering the Panera.  That’s for another time, then, because I know there will be many more lovely sunrises to come, and I’ll enjoy them all.

At the moment I’m finishing my soufflé, having my coffee, and listening to Genesis performing a show from 1977.  It’s a tomato and feta cheese soufflé, one of my favorites, which sort of makes me Soufflé Girl, though I have none of the murderous Dalek inclinations my namesake had.  But I’m a bit impossible, so it’s very likely that she’s my kin somewhere in time and space.  Everyone needs a kin, you know?  That way they are never alone.

There were so many things going on last night.  While I’m normally consumed by distractions, during Writing Time I was working on finishing Chapter Seven, I was chatting with someone new online last night, and the Breaking Bad marathon was playing on the TV a couple of meters away.  I wrote about seven hundred and fifty words, managed to have a great conversation, and caught the Season Two episodes Seven-Thirty-Seven and Down, completing my viewing of the four episodes that foreshadow the major event taking place at the very end of that season.  (The other two episodes were Over and ABQ.)

What was written?  Take a gander for yourself, and remember it’s all first draft, so you’re seeing it as I wrote it:

 

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

Back inside the dome Harpreet let them to cabinets in the back. She opened a door and revealed dozens of large parchments suspended on hangers. “These are the school’s star charts.” She selected one and removed the hanger from its support, then carried to a large work table. “The school’s first astronomer was Astria Blomqvist—

“Try to imagine the time. It was the end of the Seventieth Century. The heliocentric model had been in place for about one hundred and fifty years. Astria was a pagan, a witch, and a lover of the skies. When she came here and helped found the school and her coven, and she decided to make it her mission to transfer her love of the sky to the girls living here.

“She not only taught spells and cooking and botany, but she also brought students to the Astria Portal twice a week to talk about the stars, about the planets, about what we knew then. She worked hard to extend that knowledge—hence these . . .”

She waved her hand over the chart on the work table. “Astria worked on these for decades. She started on these in the 1690’s, and it took her twenty years to finish. She drew the sky when she was here, and during the summer she’d travel to other parts of the world—the equator, the southern hemisphere—to see and draw the sky there.

“And when the next school year started, she’d bring her charts to class and have the students use them, to see the starts as she saw them. And when she died . . .” She turned to the cabinet behind her. “She left them to the school, for future generations to use.”

Harpreet turned to Annie and Kerry. “I am of Cernunnos, just as you are. It is the coven founded by Astria Blomqvist, so we feel her whenever we enter the tower. This charts . . .” She lightly ran her fingers over the one on the table. “This is your legacy.”

 

So Tuesday is over, and it’s time for Wednesday–no, not the instructor, the actual day–and that means Formulistic Magic, and that means it’s Erywin’s time to shine.  Though “shine” probably isn’t the proper word for what she does–“Keep everyone on their toes with the impending possibility of something insane happening” is probably a far better description.  Her’s will be a fairly meaty chapter, and you’re going to see that dropping an F Bomb in front of the children isn’t that big of a deal for her.

Yeah, she’d my kind of woman.

Under the Milky Way

Yes, The Church will likely get upset with me if they know I just ripped off the title of one of their songs, but I’m willing to take that chance.  Besides, it’s a great song with some fantastic ebow playing:  one should give it a listen, eh?

I didn’t write a lot last night:  close to seven hundred words.  But it was enough.  My word count for the story, as it sits right now, is 86,666.  Ooooooh, my story is going to burn in Hell, I suppose.  Ah, well:  it’ll be entertaining to some.  But this makes it the second longest thing I’ve ever written, and I’m still going.

In fact, here is all the wordy blather in it’s unedited, first draft glory, so if you find some errors, don’t be too shocked.

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

The red lights flashed twice as the platform locked into place. Harpreet stepped away from the students and walked towards the opening in the dome. “We have arrived.” She stepped onto the tower’s outer ledge. “Come, please—” She motioned for the children to join her. “Look upon the night sky with me.”

Several of the students mumbled amongst themselves as they stepped outside onto the broad, circular ledge. Some looked up into the sky; others took a moment to look around at the campus to the south and to the world beyond the school walls to the north and east. It was easy to see the few homes north of the wall, Rockport to the east and southeast, and the small state park situated in the northeast corner of Cape Ann. Since arriving the only parts of the Normal world—as they were coming to call it—were spied either from the clock tower—which few had climbed—or from the top of the outer wall, which many students—Annie and Kerry among them—had walked.

From a mile away The Pentagram and the Great Hall didn’t look as large, yet still looked impressive. Up here he saw, for the first time, just how large the core of the school was, and how far apart everything was. From the ground, next to everything, everything seemed enormous, but up here, one was able to get a true sense of scale.

“Kerry.” Annie tapped him on the arm. “Look how clear the sky is tonight.”

Kerry finally looked up and took in the sky. When living in California it was impossible to see the sky, even on a clear night, without some light pollution; it Cardiff one never saw the stars unless the entire city was blacked out.

Here the sky was a deep black, as if they were looking straight into outer space without any light spoiling the view, and the stars were blazing bright, as he’d imagined they would appear if you were standing in the middle of nowhere, or in the middle of the ocean. But it shouldn’t bee this way. Salem was twenty kilometers away, and Boston another ten kilometers beyond there. The sky should have been washed out to the south and east, and the sky to the north should have suffered from the lights of communities situated along the north coast to New Hampshire. It wasn’t: it was as black and clear as the sky to the east and south.

He turned to Annie. “There’s no light pollution.”

She didn’t need to ask what he meant, as living in Europe she was aware of how difficult it was to see the stars at night depending upon where you lived. Even at home in the Bulgarian mountains the lights of Pamporovo lent a slight, bright fog to the otherwise dark skies. “I see that. It’s so . . .”

“Dark.”

“And bright.”

The Japanese boy, Koyanagi Jiro, noticed the same thing. “How is the sky so dark? There isn’t any light from the cities.”

Harpreet nodded towards the sky, a playful smile growing upon her face. “We filter out the ambient light surrounding us using a combination of magic and technology. What that leaves is a view of the sky as it was when the school was built and our first astronomer taught her first classes.” She headed back toward the dome opening. “Come inside: there is something I want to show you.”

 

Astronomy class has begun.  I’ll get over eight-seven thousand words tonight, and maybe even eighty-eight if I’m not too distracted by the Breaking Bad marathon.  I’ll reach ninety thousand easy before the end of the year.

Things are actually pretty good.

 

In the Stark White Moonlight

Well, then:  that was an interesting bit of work.

Last night I was looking for something to do, something that would let me polish up my so I wouldn’t have to do any more work on the back end when Writing Time came.  What was there to do, you ask?  How about looking at the sky?

It was something I came up with at work yesterday while I was looking for something to do there.  I have a few scenes in the story that take place close to sunrise, after sunrise, around sunset, and in the middle of the night.  Sure, you’ll say, “It was getting dark,” or “It was dark,” and yeah, I know those parts, but I wanted to see.  Therefore, in order to see, I had to go look . . .

I’ve mentioned before that Sky View Cafe is a bit like a time machine:  you can see what the sky was like anywhere in the word at a particular time.  (We won’t get into how the sky only sees the past anyway, that’s another story–)  If you know your locations and you know your dates and times, you can set up your view and imagine what happened under that particular firmament.  I knew my locations and my dates and time, so plug and play, right?

Yes and no.  When there’s no good way to get an image save for a print screen that is then cropped and saved, you have a bit of time on you hands waiting.  That’s what I had:  get the view, image it, crop the image, set it up in a text card in Scrivener, save it, link it to the scene in question.  I only had a couple of dozen to do, so it was make it work time, and after a couple of hours I was finished.

Why?  I hear you asking, I know you are.  Or maybe those are the voices in my head, I’m not sure right now . . . Part of it was just to do something last night, but in trying to put certain scenes in my head, it’s not just dialog and how the characters look–I need to see everything.  Location, lightly, weather:  it’s all part of the scene.  I like having that vibe that I know what’s going on, because if I do, there’s a great chance I’ll pass that vibe along to a reader.

That’s the trick:  making the reader feel what you feel.  Passing your images to them.  Taking everything I’ve created and making another person feel that creation.  If I can immerse myself into the world that I’m building, there’s a good chance I’ll pull someone in to join me.  They had better hope they can swim, however, ’cause the water could be deep.

I found a few other interesting things as well.  I’d mis-numbered some of my novel parts–can’t have that–and I had one scene that sort of made me wonder about it, ’cause I wasn’t sure why it was there.  After a few moments of reflection–which means I figured it out this morning walking to work–I knew what it was, and what it meant.  Problem Solved.

One problem eliminated.  Maybe a hundred to go?  We’ll see.

To the Inner Garden of Stone

I have a ton of Italian food right now, and I wonder when I’m going to get to it.

This week I’ve been trying to break up my routine a little, do some different things, and decided to stop off at an Italian restaurant last night before coming home.  They are an old-style “Family Style” place, and they have two sizes for everything:  small, and regular.  The small could have fed my family.  Guess I’ll take the rest home to them on Friday.

Before I got into writing, though, I started thinking about something I wanted to do, which was plot out the orbit of a planet around the start Altair.  This goes back to something in my current story, and my novel Transporting:  the center of government is found on a planet orbiting said star.

But Altair is a huge star:  an A7 V.  If you know your stellar classifications, you’ll know what that code means.  Yes, I realize that it shouldn’t even have planets, if our theories of planetary evolution are correct.  But I’m bending my own rules here a little, because this is a fantasy, and because I like the idea of having a planet with a green sky in orbit around Altair.  And if you know your science fiction, you know there is precedence for such a thing.  So, in reality, I’m just following in the footsteps of those who’ve come before me.  Or I’m ripping them off because I’m lazy.  Hey, whatever works.

So I got that worked out.  Four point six years to make one orbit of the primary, a half a billion kilometers out from Altair.  Working out the calendar for this sucker is gonna be fun, since it’s also a thirty-three hour day.  You either get used to it, or have a psychotic episode.

Then it was writing . . . Part Fifteen started.  Only 519 words, but it was a good start.  Meredith has hunted Albert down after not seeing him for a week–all in the aftermath of their little high orbit tryst–and she’s discovered he’s not quiet the person she though he was.

So it’s time for a little talk.

The place where Albert lives is an arcology, which is really a huge building that holds a small city worth of people.  There are a few of them in the down of New Oxford, but the arcology where Albert and Cytheria live is built inside–and in the case of their home, on the outer edge–a huge, near vertical cliff named Land’s End.  And I do mean huge:  their home is hanging off the side about seventeen hundred meters above the surrounding territory.  While some of it is built into the wall, and along the outside, the majority of the people live inside the rock, all safe and sound.

Where they go to talk is a huge garden, really a park.  It’s huge, a couple of kilometers on each side, though Meredith can’t tell that, because the walls are hidden by holographic projections that make it appear the park is outside.  This is the future, so stuff like this is somewhat simple to pull off.  Hell, they even have sunlight . . .

Meredith has wanted to know about Albert’s life.  Now she’s going to get her chance to learn everything.  This scene was short and sweet in the original story; here, it’s going to be drawn out a little more, and become a little more complete.  For Albert has his own issues about coming back to class . . .

Ah, it’s getting closer to the end, and the story is feeling very better now.  All that hard, personal stuff I had to dig through in the story is behind me, and now . . . it’s a good run to the end.

Now to just get myself in the right frame of mind for NaNo.