Paths of Pain and Glory

Hey, now, I’m coming to you from Indiana, back in the old Red State Homestead, and working on my post in the confines of my comfortable library.

This was moments after I started playing Steve Winwood's "Valery" last night before working on the novel.  The party had started--

This was moments after I started playing Steve Winwood’s “Valerie” last night before working on the novel. The party had started–

The drive home wasn’t that bad, at least until I hit Indiana, and then it was like one hundred and twenty miles of near heavy traffic the whole way, with idiot drivers and truckers who don’t mind blocking both lanes and slowing traffic the hell up.  If I’d had my War Wagon, I’d have left bodies in my wake.

Simpler times in eastern Ohio, before I know of the hell that awaited.

Simpler times in eastern Ohio, before I knew of the hell that awaited.

Believe it or not, I wrote last night.  I finished the current scene, and came near the totals I’ve done the last few nights.  It’s taken me four days to do this scene, but my numbers show my slow yet steady progress:

Words 07/07/2015: 435
Words 07/08/2015: 652
Words 07/09/2015: 670
Words 07/10/2015: 615

Of course, as soon as I saved this mess off, I crashed hard for the night.  I consider myself lucky to have finished the scene.

What is happening now that Penny wanted to speak with Kerry?  Well . . .

 

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

Kerry glanced to Annie; she gave him a quick nod. He headed up the stairs with Annie beside him, feeling a tremendous amount of trepidation. I think I know what this is about— It didn’t take long to reach the top of the stairs where Penny was waiting. “What’s up?”

“Come on.” She turned and headed off, with Annie and Kerry behind her. She reached the hospital entrance and pushed open the door, holding it for her guest. “He’s here.”

Professor Semplen was standing in the waiting room when Annie and Kerry entered. “How are you, Kerry?”

“I’m—okay.” Seeing the professor only increased his hunch about the summoning.

Annie stepped inside and let the door swing shut behind her. “Hello, Professor.”

“Hello, Annie.” Holoč gave both students a faint smile before he turned to Kerry. “We need to speak.”

“That’s what Penny said.”

“Yes . . .” The professor turned to the girl on his left. “You want to tell them?”

“Sure, Professor.” She exhaled hard, looking tired. “The boys went out early for practice—”

Kerry looked slightly puzzled. “The boys?”

“Manco, Darius, and Hasan from the A Team. They were out running the Green and Blue Lines, trying to get in some practice time before breakfast. They were on the Blue Line and . . .” Penny shrugged. “About twenty minutes ago Hasan lost it going through Helter Skelter and crashed and burned.”

Annie didn’t seem surprised by this news. “Was he hurt bad?”

Holoč answered her question. “Broke his right leg; we were just back there speaking to him.” He touched the frames of his glasses as if he was unsure if he wanted to adjust them. “Coraline’s marked him as ineligible to race today.” He paused once more, this time setting is glasses back further on his nose. “I’m moving you up to the A Team today, Kerry. I need you to fill out Hasan’s slot.”

 

It should come as no surprised that this was the lead up to moving to the A Team.  But first, before we get to that–

I talk about Helter Skelter a lot.  As you are aware I’ve named spots on my various race courses just as, on real courses, drivers have names for various spots.  Helter Skelter is one of the most technical, and difficult, turns on the Blue Line, and made even trickier due to the changes in elevation.

See, that’s one of the things that come into play when you’re dealing in three dimensions.  The Green Line stays close to the ground, but the Blue Line starts getting people into the air, and up their the only thing to limit your speed is the need to hit certain elevation gates–otherwise, how do you know where the course is actually located?

Helter Skelter comes off of Skyway, which is sort of the West End of the Blue Line:  a long, slightly curving area where one can pour on the speed–and since Skyway is fifty meters, or one hundred and sixty-five feet, above the ground, that means you can get a lot of speed.

The fliers approach the first part of the turn on a slight left-hand turn, then begin to descend just a little before they switch back to the right.  And I do mean switch back:  the turn is about a one hundred and sixty degree turn–while descending.  The fliers keep losing altitude until they are right over the trees, and then make another switch back turn to the left while dropping into a space in the trees.  And just as soon as they’re close to the ground, they make a ninety degree turn to the right and shoot up out of the trees.

So when you get to the bottom you go back to the top of the slide, then you turn and you go for a ride . . . ergo, Helter Skelter.  Here’s what it looks like with the course highlighted for better viewing:

From up here, not so bad.

From up here, not so bad.

From here, however--

From here, however, not so easy.

And what students standing on the roof of the History Building see.

And what students standing on the roof of the History Building see.

Since Annie’s dad drives in Formula 1, he’d likely call this a chicane and refer to it as a “passing opportunity.”  The students are likely to refer to it as “terrifying”, and they know there’s little room for error in this section.  Yes, there are safety enchantments in place to keep students from crashing head-on into trees, but it’s still possible for a racer to screw up and hurt themselves bad.

And the Class 2 PAVs are a lot faster and far more nimble than the Class 1 brooms, which means an enterprising pilot can try and tempt fate by negotiating this portion of the course with higher speeds and snap turns.  Sometimes this results in gain positions; sometimes it results in broken bones.

Let’s move on–

Kerry’s worried:  not about moving up, but about pissing someone off–

 

This was what he’d half expected to hear, and the news came with some reservations. “Are you sure Madhushri or Victoria wouldn’t be better suited?” He wasn’t trying to talk himself out of the spot; he simply wanted to know for sure that moving up wasn’t going to cause trouble with others in the coven, particularly with his two B Team members who were also of higher levels.

“No, not at all.” Holoč shook his head. “Madhushri only agreed to be on the B Team to fill out the roster, and Victoria’s not nearly as good as you: in two races she’s only pointed once, and that was for sixth. In the same two races you’ve had one podium and missed another by a second . . .” He looked down for a moment, then raised his head nodding. “No, Kerry: I haven’t made any mistakes.”

 

When you have that kind of record it’s easy to see why you moved up.  Even if it is only two races.  Sometimes that’s all it takes.  There is a wrinkle, however:

 

Penny cleared her throat. “There is one thing . . .”

Kerry half-turned so he didn’t release Annie’s hands. “What?”

“You’re going to have to run your B Team races as well.”

Holoč nodded. “If you don’t run them, we’ll have to forfeit. You know the rules.”

“Yeah: you have to start with three racers.” He’d gone over the racing rules whenever possible, and it was necessary to begin a race with all your team members, or suffer a Coven Team penalty of fifteen seconds for every missing flier. While the A Team could usually make up that in the Coven Standings, the B Team, with only three members, couldn’t. And with this being the Samhain event, with each team doing three races, no one wants to suffer that sort of hit on their standings.

Annie was concerned with one thing. “Two races in the morning and three in the afternoon: that’s a lot to ask of Kerry.”

“I know it is, and I’m sorry, but I don’t want the B Team to lose position in the standings.” Holoč laid a hand on Kerry’s shoulder. “Here’s what we’ll do: the moment you’re finished with your last race, come to the team ready room in the Diamond. You remember where it’s located?”

“Yeah, I remember.” Each A Team had their own ready room so they could prep for races, and the B Team members were invited there the first day of team orientation. It reminded him a great deal of the ready room in the Flight School, save there were fewer chairs, and come of them were able to recline so pilots could relax between races, or lay still if they were waiting for medical attention. “We’re over by Exit Two.”

“That’s right. Come there and you can lay down on one of the recliners and take a nap. If you need help with that, I can ask Coraline to get something to you. When the team meets for lunch in the Dining Hall, you can either join us, or I’ll have lunch sent down.” Holoč turned to Annie, who was now looking less apprehensive. “It’s not usually allowed, but if Kerry decides to eat in the ready room, you can join him.”

“If he decides to do that—” Annie latched onto Kerry’s arm. “—I’d love to join him. Thank you, Professor.”

 

Holoč is gonna wear that boy out if he’s not careful, and he’s trying to minimize that effect–hence the “Come in and get a nap” thing before the afternoon festivities.  It’s a real calculated risk on the professor’s part, and he knows it–but he also knows that Kerry’s young, he’ll have plenty of energy reserves, and there’ll likely be a huge adrenaline outpouring once the green lights flash and the race is underway.  Which can be a plus or minus . . .

Only thing left to do is get breakfast, but after leaving the hospital Annie has something else in mind:

 

“I told you.” Upon reaching the ground floor she pulled him under the first floor overhang and eased him back into the shadowy landing leading to the lower levels. “I don’t want you to be nervous; you’re doing to do great.” Annie kissed him slowly, letting him fall into the comfort of her embrace. “Tonight, when we arrive at the dance, you’ll be the proudest boy there.”

“Why’s that?” He fell back against the wall happy and content. Though the news brought about a nervousness he’d knew would one day come, it vanished in the aftermath of his soul mate’s kiss. “Because of the races?”

“That and . . .” Annie giggled as she rested her head against his shoulder. “You’ll be with me, my love.”

“Oh, well—” He kissed her forehead and held her tight. “That always makes me proud.”

 

That Annie:  she’s so modest.  And Kerry knows it, too.  And loves her for it.  Then again, she’s his tasty little cabbage roll, so why wouldn’t he be proud to have her call him her soul mate?

The setup is complete.  All that remains is a little orientation before getting to the point of ladies and gentlemen starting their, um, engines?

For sure something will be revved up.

Bringing the Madness Once More

Well, that didn’t take long . . .

When it comes to saying, “I’m not gonna work on something and finished it today,” I’m probably lying by butt off.  I said I wasn’t going to do the Red Line in full right away, but . . . well, I had time on my hands and a program in front of me, so I figured, what the hell?

I at least have the route laid out in its glory, though there are a few areas I need to smooth out because when you’re working in three dimensions you can do that.  That will be this week.

So here it is, from a couple of different views.  First, from the south:

What you might see if you were camped out over Gloucester.

What you might see if you were camped out over Gloucester.

And then from the northwest:

Only because I don't see the school like this often.

Only because I don’t see the school like this often.

And one view from due east that shows the grid and how high some of the turns are.

Like, really high.

Like, really high.

Each gird box is one hundred meters on each side, or three hundred and twenty-eight feet.  So besides K1 (in the middle) going up a thousand meters, you have Plateau, (on the right north of the Observatory) at just over three hundred meters, Corkscrew (the climb and circles half-way between the Pentagram in the center and the far left) at four hundred, and The Point all the way to the left going up five hundred meters before diving towards the ground.

I view my tracks a lot like those used in Formula 1.  The Green Line is a lot like Monza in Italy:  fast with just enough curves and chicanes to keep you from crashing and burning too hard.  The Blue Line is like Spa Francorchamps:  big and fast, but a bit more technically challenging.  The Red Line is like the Nürburgring Nordschleife, demanding as hell with all the curves, though I’m not sure what this makes Mount Katahdin–though the races do call the later The White Hell . . .

By the way, the top part of Corkscrew is how high Kerry went the first time he checked out on an Espinoza with Vicky.  As for the Mile High flight, Annie and Kerry when just over three times higher than K1.  They was way up there.

And there was writing!  Like right here:

 

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

Annie danced past the foot of her bed on the way to her dresser and Little Talks began playing on the music stream she’d selected from her room’s computer terminal. She’d already hung up her uniform; all that remained was to put up her shoes, pull out her blue slippers, close up the dresser, and wait, knowing she wouldn’t need to wait long.

She checked her appearance in the full-length mirror. Makeup off, hair combed right, touch of gloss, and nails a lovely light blue thanks to the time spell she’d practiced over the summer that allowed her to do her feet and hands property in about forty five minutes instead of three hours it would take if she allowed the several layers of coatings and polish to dry naturally. Annie examined her fingertips carefully once last time before skipping over to the computer terminal to check the time.

Twenty-one forty-five. Just as she shut off the music there was a knock on the door. A huge grin appeared as she grabbed her robe off the bed. Punctual as always.

 

If it’s Friday night, it must be time for the Midnight Madness.  And this is the first of the year, so one must look their best, right?  Once again we have Dancing Annie, listening to music on the computer terminal set up in her room–and, yes, they were there last year, but we never really discussed them.  She doesn’t have a laptop, however:  more like a device that lets her get into the school network cloud, so she is connected to messages and the whatnot.

And here she is checking out her nails again.  It was established last year she likes doing her nails, so she’s got them ready once more.  Probably for someone special . . .

 

Annie flung open the door: Kerry stood in the corridor, wearing his gray pajamas, black slippers, and dark gray robe. The moment he saw his soul mate on the other side of the door he pretended to adjust a bow tie before cocking his head slight to one side and greeting her using a soft, fake, English accent. “Hello, Sweetie.”

Annie slipped on her robe and commanded her lights off as she stepped into the corridor, closing the door behind her. “Hello, my love.” She slid her arms around Kerry and gave him a tender kiss. “Miss me?”

“Any time I’m away I miss you.” He sidestepped and held out his arm for her to take. “Shall we go?”

“We shall.” She took his arm and walked with him towards the staircase. “I didn’t think this week would feel so long.”

 

It’s not been mentioned before–well, just a little maybe–but Kerry and Annie pretty much greet each other from time-to-time like The Doctor and River Song, and given that they’re both messing around with time spells . . .  Kerry was actually pantomiming the Eleventh Doctor adjusting his bow tie, something he did when he first saw Annie in her flight gear their first day in Beginning Flight.

Speaking of flight–

 

“I think it was a lot of what we did today.” He held her hand as they took the stairs to the first floor. “Not to mention with all the advanced classes we’ve got longer days than everyone else.” They strolled through the A Levels’ area, nodding at two girls who were just leaving their rooms. “That’s gonna make all the weeks long.”

“And we have class Sunday morning.” She chuckled as they almost bounced down the stairs leading to the main floor commons. “And if you go out for racing—”

Kerry humphed. “If I get accepted, you mean.”

“If you go out, you’ll get accepted.” She guided him around as they reached the ground floor and turned to their left on their way across the commons to the tower exit leading into the Pentagram Gardens. “You need not fear.” She slid her arm around the crook of his elbow once again. “How were the Class 2’s? I know I asked you to wait until later to talk about it—”

“And this is later.” Kerry hadn’t wanted to talk about his time in Advanced Flight during dinner; he’d wanted to get back to shower and change before heading off to the first Midnight Madness of the new school year. He’d also wanted to hear about Annie’s time up at the Witch House, and find out if she’d picked up anything new. “It was nice. Those things are fast and so responsive.” He held the coven tower door open for Annie. “The handlebars take a bit getting used to, though.”

 

Handlebars?  Let’s look:

 

Annie waved open the wall door leading to the garden beyond. “You need that because of the acceleration and responsiveness.” She’d seen her father on a Class 2, so she knew a bit about them. They had the same main frame as the Class 1s, but the similarities ended there. The saddle had a small back to keep the pilot from slipping backwards and off because, depending on the model, the acceleration was as much as three times greater than the best of the Class 1s. And instead of the pilot maneuvering the PAV by applying pressure directly to the frame, there were a set of handlebars with heavy, padded grips that allowed the pilot more control. “Wait until you fly the Class 3s.”

“Ha.” Kerry slowed to a comfortably stroll under the covered walkway to the Great Hall. “I only get to try those if I make it to the A Team; Class B is as high as the B Team goes.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much—” Annie leaned into his arm. “If you make the B Team, I feel you’ll make the A Team soon after.”

He kissed her on the forehead. “Were you hanging with Deanna this afternoon?”

“I’d never tell.” She took a moment to kiss his hand. “Did you speak with Jario or the girls?”

 

I started thinking I should do some models of the Class 1, 2, and 3 PAVs, because I do know what they look like, and it would probably help to show people what I see in my head.  It’s just a matter of doing the modeling, which I do know how to do by now–I think.

There you have it:  more building of worlds, and more madness until midnight.

Good times, I’m telling you.

A Modeling We Will Go

I didn’t write last night, nor have I done so yet today.  In fact, I had a bad connection at Panera this morning and found it necessary to come home.

Though I did manage to get a picture of my lovely pink nails before leaving.

Though I did manage to get a picture of my lovely pink nails before leaving.

But once back home I was like, “What am I gonna do?  What will I write about?”  That’s the problem with coming up with things to say everyday:  sometimes the well is dry, and you have to wait for it to fill up again.  In a way my blogging is like my writing exercises:  it’s a way to keep my mind sharp, or at least as sharp as I can keep it given my day-to-day routines.

And then I thought, “Hey?  Now’s a good time to build the Red Line.  And get some pictures while you’re doing this.”

Allow me to explain–

Inside the grounds of the School of Salem there are three cross-country courses.  The Green Line you’ve seen–it’s where Kerry and Emma wrecked the one time they decided to “travel at their own rate.”  The Blue Line you’ll see in this new story, and it’s where a lot of action takes place:  there’s even one scene titled Helter Skelter, named after one of the areas of the Blue Line.

But the Red Line . . . it’s been mentioned maybe two times, but I’ve never laid it out.  I’ve had an idea of what it would look like, particularly one section of the course, but I’ve not done the work of setting it up on my three dimensional model of the school–

Until now.

The process for doing so is actually simple at the beginning:  it’s really a case of making a copy of one of the course–in this case the Blue Line–and then doing a paste so I can turn it into the Red Line.  Kinda like this . . .

Here, orange is the new black.

Here, orange is the new black.

In the picture above I’ve already created the Red Line and I’ve started modifying it, building new curves and elevations.  When you’re working in three dimensions, it’s simply a matter of stretching out things here and there by highlighting the curve you’re working with and stretching it out in Edit Mode:

How the Red Line over Selena's Meadow looks from the north--

How the Red Line over Selena’s Meadow looks from the north–

And the same area from the south and above.

And the same area from the south and above.

It’s a bit time consuming, but it’s also a lot of fun, because you’re using your imagination to get things right.  Like one of the areas I’m working on now . . .

Though it’s not been mentioned yet, one of the most fearsome sections of the Red Line is a “curve” known as K1.  It’s not really a curve as much as it’s a summit, and it’s called K1 because this portion of the track tops out exactly one kilometer over the Great Hall.  What does that look like?  Let me get my handy measuring stick, which is exactly scaled to one thousand meters–

Yeah, pretty much a kilometer.

Yeah, pretty much a kilometer.

And since I can change the view of the model, it looks like this from the side:

Looks a lot higher from here.

Looks a lot higher from here.

As you can see my Red Line is only about a third of the way to the top of K1, so I have a bit more modeling ahead of me.  Unless . . .

Ah, that's more like it.

Ah, that’s more like it.

There you have it:  a little of what I do when I’m in the mood and I need to get my world into even better shape.  I probably won’t spend all day working on this, but part of the morning, and maybe in the afternoon, and a little here and there over the week.  Before you know it, I’ll have another course laid out–

That’ll make four, right?  I think I’ll be finished by then.

I Sting the Body Electric

I surely hope Ray Bradbury forgives me for the horribly punish titles, but I’m rolling that way this morning.

Last night was another of the “I Pay a Nice Lady to Torture Me” evenings, which is to mean a electrolysis session.  The good news is the work is becoming a little simpler since there are fewer hairs.  The bad new is with there being fewer hairs, it makes it harder to get at the ones that remain, even after going almost two full days without shaving.  Oh, and it hurts:  I believe I’ve mentioned that.

Still, while we didn’t cover as much area as last time, a lot was accomplished, and I bore through the pain, even though I stopped a few times to apply a topical, because I was gripping my grounding bar hard enough to cause my hand to go numb.

Just keep reminding myself, "To be beautiful is painful."

Just keep reminding myself, “To be beautiful is painful.”

Oh, and you may notice, after you finish cringing at the close-up of my damaged face, my new doo.  To get a better look at it, I snapped this picture in the universal bathroom about six hours earlier:

It doesn't show as much of my big forehead as the last one.

It doesn’t show as much of my big forehead as the last one.

Though I still look like I’m grimacing in pain or something.  Probably because of the program I’ve been working on.  As it was Wednesday yesterday, I have on a somewhat pink top and pink lip stain, because on Wednesdays we wear pink, ladies.  Right?

Believe it or not, when I got home I actually wrote.  Total count was four hundred and thirty-eight words, but it was a start to the next scene, and . . . I designed Kerry’s new flight patch.  As Vicky pointed out the year before, once out of Basic Flight your flight patch is changed so people can tell you’re not a noob anymore, and all the kids still flying have had their patch changed to reflect something more in line with their call sign.  Annie is Athena, so her’s is sort of easy, as is Emma’s, who is Selene.  Kerry on the other hand . . . all I’ll say is, it’s a good thing Vicky’s a bit of a geek, ’cause she’ll have done him right.  I mean, I have give some thought to what she’d design . . .

Something else worth mentioning:  I labeled the Blue Line with names for the segments of the course.  Because race courses are like that, and you want to have cool names for those places.  Like one section of the course that gets it’s own scene:  Helter Skelter.  And being that I have it figured out on a three dimensional map, I know how that section of the course looks:

From above--

From above–

And from the Pentagram Wall.

And from the Pentagram Wall.

Now all I have to do is lay out the Red Line–and more importantly remember how to create these bendable lines in Blender–label the sucker, and I’m done with that.  And I will have to lay out the Red Line because . . . reasons.

It’s that time to say goodbye again.

Let’s hope it a day that sees the swelling go down . . .

Make Believe Faces in Make Believe Places

When I was first designing my Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning–under a different name, mind you–I had maps drawn and things labeled.  I had a location in the middle of Maine for the school, towns that the students could visit, and interesting things that could be done in and around the area–which, to be honest, was pretty much all wilderness.

During the process of transplanting my Salem school into another world, I started thinking, “Having it in Maine makes no sense.  But where can I put it so it’s close to Salem?”  Fortunately for me Goggle Maps exist, and I found the perfect place:  the middle of Cape Ann, a small island where the town of Gloucester is located.  I could come up with all sorts of interesting ways to keep the school hidden–after all, what’s the point of writing about a huge, world-encompassing organization if they can’t hide a large group of buildings in plain sight?–and, if I set my mind to it, I could make the school bigger.  Much bigger.

That’s where I got into Blender and began doing a little three dimensional modeling.  I came up with a whole new layout for the school, while keeping the central area–The Pentagram, the Coven Towers, and the Great Hall–all right where they belonged.  So I started thinking big–really big.  And a whole new school was created out of the old.

It's real enough--you just have to look hard and think of it that way.

It’s real enough–you just have to look hard and think of it that way.

Constructing a model of the school and the tunnels that run under the school took weeks.  In actuality, I probably tweaked this model for a few months–in fact, the labels you see in the picture above were put there last month, and this included labels I put on one of the cross-country race tracks–the Green Line–so when people say, “He lost it in the Northwest Passage”, I know where it’s at.

How big is the school  The Great Hall is 175 meters from the north end of the library to the main entrance at the south.  That’s 574 feet if you don’t do the whole metric thing.  That means The Pentagram is much larger–each of the walls between the towers are between 220 meters (722 feet) to 240 meters (787 feet).  And yet when you look at this structure, it fits nicely inside the walls.  From the north Polar Tower to the southern wall next the Gloucester Entrance it’s about 5.5 kilometers (or 3.4 miles), and a good part of the school is about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) across.  Like I said, it’s a big place with room to move.

Now that I had a place, I was almost ready to start writing the pre-novel, The Scouring.  I just needed to do a little modifying of some of the characters . . .

All of the characters were developed around a starting 2011 time frame, but a lot of them were teaching back in the year 2000, the time of The Scouring.  Not only there, but a few of the current teachers in the work in progress were students.  So you know what was needed?  Time lines.

Ask and you shall have to make your own.

Ask and you shall have to make your own.

As you can see, I know that Erywin, Jessica, Madeline, and Ramona were teaching in 2000, and that Isis, Deanna, and Wednesday–who work at the school in the current novel–were students then.  I also see that Coraline came in as the school doctor on 30 April, 2000–the day after the time of the Scouring.  This is where a time line comes in handy:  it lets you know what people did went, particularly if you’re working on multiple story arcs.  And you also see just about when all the main characters–and a few side characters–were students.  The nice thing here is that Aeon Timeline allows you to export part or all of a time line as an image, and then you can insert that image into a Scrivener file.  So if you don’t want to have two programs up at the same time, just bring in your time line and view it when you feel it’s needed.

Now, one last thing, and it’s about my characters.  I’m an old role playing gamer and GM, or Game Master.  I love making characters, and I like to make them as real as I can.  When I started putting the characters for these stories together, I not only did a little bit of history on each, but I assigned a “face” to them, something that, when I’m first starting out with the character development, I get an idea of how they looked.  Sometimes–like I did for Her Demonic Majesty–the faces are of people whose pictures I just find.  And then there are times, like with the character in The Foundation Chronicles, that they sort of become celebrities in their own right.

Here are the people I picked for each of my characters for The Scouring, and I’ll show you were I altered them.

Instructors:

Jessica Kishna, Mistress of Transformation.  She came from a picture I found of an African-American runway model, with a big helping of the wonderful Angela Basset.

Ramona Chai, Self Defense and Weapons.  Ziyi Zhang.

Matthias Ellison, Music and Arts Director.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Madeline Palmescoff, History.  Mary-Louise Parker.

Erywin Sladen, Formulistic Magic.  Joanna Lumley.

Students:

Isis Mossman.  Chloë Sevigny, but with changes.  Since it was stated in The Scouring that her mother was Egyptian, that meant altering her features and complexion slightly.

Deanna Arrakis.  Deanna was difficult because she’s Iraqi, and it took some time to find good pictures of women from Iraq.  Eventually I settled on a combination so that she has a slightly large nose, a strong chin, large brown eyes, black hair, and a slightly tanned complexion.

Wednesday Douglas.  Here I went totally meta, because I literally came up with the actress first.  That actress is . . . Christina Ricci.  And who is Christina known for playing?

"Why am I dressed like someone's going to die?"  "Wait."

“Why am I dressed like someone’s going to die?”  “Wait.”

There you have it:  Wednesday Douglas, who will have a daughter named Tuesday and a granddaughter named Friday.  And who is one of the best little witches to come out of Salem in a long time.  She doesn’t have pigtails, though.  She hates them.  Now you know why.

And lastly, Supporting Characters:

Helena Lovecraft.  She’s a Kiwi, so I wanted a Kiwi as her “face”, which means I picked Lucy Lawless.  she’s gone through a lot of changes, however:  I kept the body and her intense look, made her half-Māori, darkened her hair and complexion, and gave her “black shark’s eyes”.  All and all, I have always loved Helana, and I have her back story with Erywin, her partner and companion, thought out and down pat.  One day Erywin will even tell Kerry about how she met her “pretty girl”.

Coraline Gallagher, the new School “Nurse”.  Coraline is modeled after Christina Hendricks, thought the young character that Wednesday meets is more like Yo-Saf-Bridge from Firefly (with red hair, naturally) and not Joan Holloway from Mad Men, the person Annie and Kerry meet.  This is also why when “Red” meets Coraline–as she likes to call him–for the first time he doesn’t know how to describe her except as “curvy”, which is his way of being polite.  Coraline is a huge romantic and a hell of a fighter–I still have to publish that except of her and Madam Chai going at it–and Kerry doesn’t know it yet, but he and Nurse Coraline share a birthday.  There is a reason for that . . .

Now that we have all that out of the way, tomorrow I can get into outlining a small novel.

The big one comes after that.

The Light at the Bottom of the Observatory Well

Here we are, holiday time, the year almost over, and here I am thinking about what to eat as I prepare for the Doctor Who Christmas special, which I know will probably rip my hearts to shreds.  Yesterday there was talk among a few people about the South Yorkshire “Man of Steel” sculpture getting a £1 million pledge for it’s construction along the M1, and it was proposed that we should instead build a thirty meter sculpture of Brian Blessed dressed as Prince Vultan screaming out lines from Flash Gordon as only Brian could, then imagining people on the motorway freaking out as they hear things like, “Gordon’s alive?” and “Flying blind on a rocket cycle?”, as well as, “Ah, well . . . who wants to live forever?” which is exactly what you want to hear as you’re roaring down the expressway.

Far better expenditure of £1 million if you ask me.

The novel progressed last night.  It headed over the eight-five thousand word mark, which means it’s close to becoming my second longest novel.  Her Demonic Majesty ended up with a final count of eighty-five thousand three hundred fifty words, and as of right now I’m one thousand, one hundred and three words away from beating that count.  I could do it today, because as I’m on my own, what else am I gonna do?

Last night Annie and Kerry made Observatorytheir way to their next class, which happens to be Astronomy at the Observatory.  Where else would it be held?  One of the things I also did last night was label my map so I won’t get confused, and as you can see I have my Observatory marked.  What was it like there?  Here was what I wrote last night for that section of the novel, again without edits:

 

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

It was completely dark by the time Annie and Kerry reached the Observatory. The sixty-five meter tower was the second tallest structure on the Salem campus behind the eighty meter clock tower, though the structure was far newer: this was the fourth school observatory, completed in 1985, and remodeled three times since.

They entered the building at ground level and were immediately surprised by what they found. Annie’s parents never told her about the new tower, and Kerry hadn’t read up on the building, so both expected to enter and find a long flight of stairs awaiting. Instead they found a large, round metal platform with a huge Cassegrain-style telescope located in the middle of the tower, a few instrument stations set up around the outer edge of the platform, and several cabinets around the area behind the telescope and a few work tables on each side. A few students were already here, though estimating the size of the crowd, Kerry knew not everyone was yet here.

As they walked cross a small gangway needed to reach the platform Kerry looked up. The tower was hollow, but he saw at maybe ten, maybe a dozen vertical rails rising up into the shadows above. He noticed the railing around the edge of the huge base and it clicked to him why the telescope was here, and how they were going to get into position for viewing today.

A woman with a dark brown complexion stepped away from a panel at the base of the telescope as Annie and Kerry stepped onto the platform. “Ah, children. So very good to see you.” Her accent was sounded somewhat Asian Indian to Kerry, who had come to know a few Indians while living in San Fransisco and Cardiff. “I am Professor Bashagwani, but you may call me Harpreet if you so wish.” She brushed back some of the long back hair that had gotten into her face. “Your names, please?”

“Annie Kirilova.”

“Kerry Malibey.”

Hapreet waved her right hand in the air and a holographic display appeared before her. She scrolled through a list of names until she found theirs. “Ah, yes: my two Cernunnos students.” She closed the fingers of her right hand and the display vanished. “I’m so glad to meet you. Come join your classmates while we wait for the rest of the students.” She turned her back on them and returned to her station.

The walked closer to the students, but Annie saw they were still all in their little groups from their own areas. We haven’t become a class yet; we’re still just people from different areas. She wondered how long it would take before they all saw each other as a group and not a collection of people from around the world.

 

There you are.  Class is about to start, and I someone is going to come up and talk to my kids.  Get ready, Annie:  you’re going to feel a tug on your heart.

Why would she?  Because before they arrived at the Astria PortalObservatory, they stopped at Astria Portal, situated in the old North Wall, and introduced Kerry to an “old family tradition”–said tradition being, as they say in Cardiff, snogging.  Sure, they’re only eleven, but if you don’t think some eleven year olds know a little about snogging these days, you’re not paying attention.

Tonight there will be star gazing and some hot beverage.

And probably a bit of crying.  But that’s another story.

 

Chunneling Through the Storm

Today has been a bit of a disappointment.  First, I run over to Panera for my morning coffee and blogging.  I get everything I need and, boo–the Panera page won’t go past the log-in.  It was really a shame, too, ’cause I’m totally in Allison Mode, which means I have my thermal top on under my turtleneck sweater, and my little gold hoop earrings, and I could almost pull off the “I’m a horny, pissy soccer mom who’s also a clone” look.  Oh, well:  can’t have it all.

Then I get back to the apartment and I discover that a pair of boots I must have didn’t get shipped.  Why?  Maybe because the story doesn’t know how to keep track of their inventory on their web page, and they lead you to believe they have said boots when they don’t.  Bummer.  They were so cute, I gotta have them.  Which means I now have to hunt for another pair that’s probably going to cost me an arm and a leg in the process.

Oi, such a bad morning.  Lets hope the rest of the day is filled with much mirth.  Or at least some happiness.

The story.  Oh, yes, the story.  They’re out of history class, and there was a mention of them attending algebra right after.  Now it’s onto flight school, but there’s one hell of a storm blowing around outside–which is actually different from the weather for that day and time, but I changed it because–well, I wanted the storm.  I have my reasons.  That’s all you need to know.

Anyway:  Chunnel.  So named because when the tunnel was opened on the same day the first breakthrough happened at the English Channel Tunnel, which was 30 October, 1990.  It’s the biggest and longest tunnel at the school, and people started calling it The Chunnel about the same time the thing was opened.

It keeps the students linked to all thing south of The Pentagram.  Chunnel AboveSee here:  when you look south, you see The Pentagram and the Old Classes to the left, the science centers, the Hanger, and the Aerodrome in the lower middle, the Flight School in the upper middle, and all the way to the right The Diamond.  From Founder’s Gate at the south end of the Pentagram Wall to the Flight School is about a kilometer hike over uneven ground.  And it’s raining hard.  Not a lot of fun to walk at the moment.

What are students to do?  Go underground.

Here’s The Chunnel is all its glory, running from Chunnel Belowthe Transformation Passage straight to The Diamond.  One thousand, eight hundred sixty meters long, twelve meters wide, seven meters high.  For those of you not digging metrics that’s six thousand, one hundred feet–or 1.15 miles–almost forty feet wide, and twenty-three feet high.  Everything is connected, so all the students have to do is hit the cut-off tunnel from The Great Hall’s lower levels to the Chunnel, hang a left about six hundred meters along, and trundle over to the Flight School.

It’s quiet, it’s fairly warm, there’s romantic low lighting, and most of all, it’s dry.  You can’t even hear the storm raging overhead because you’re under a several meters of granite.  Along the way two more characters will put in an appearance, and then we get to . . .

Are they going to fly in this weather?

You never know.