2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 42,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Come See Me Across the Water

Lookie here:  I’m being interviewed over on the blog of Jeno Marz, a writer from Latvia and author of the Falaha’s Jounery trilogy.  I’ve known Jeno for a couple of years now, and I have to say, this was one of the more interesting blog interviews I’ve ever done.

So come on over and see me!

Blog Hopping the Worldwide Artist Way

Do not panic!  I’m just taking control of programming and bringing you something else for a quick moment.  Trust me:  the followup to the dreams of Annie and Kerry are coming.

No, this is something I haven’t done in a while:  I’m giving a short interview for the Worldwide Artist Blog Hop!  I wouldn’t lie, no I wouldn’t.

I was nominated by the owner of HodgePodge Crochet, my good friend Tanya, and while most of the people she knows are of the crocheting persuasion, she’s also known me for a long time and also knows there’s not a lot of times I’ll say “no” to her, so when she asks if I’ll jump in on this sucker, I’m like, “Wait–you want me to do something?  For you?  I’ll get right on that, Missy!”  I didn’t actually act that way, but I gotta make it sound more exciting than me PMing her back and saying, “No problem.”

Does this housewife look like she'd say no to a good friend?

Beside, does this housewife look like she’d say no to a good friend?

It’s a simple process:  I answer four questions, and then I nominate two other blogers who may or may not accept this challenge.  I can’t get too upset if they say no, because I tend to blow these things off as well, but I’ll give it a shot and see if they go for it, or write nasty things about me in one of their blog posts.

With that in mind, let’s get to the questions, shall we?

 

Why do I do what I do?

I do it because these days I have to.  I’ve mentioned many times on this blog about the struggles I’ve had over the years with becoming a serious writer, and it wasn’t until I took a creative writing course in 2010 that I decided to give it a try and to keep at it.  However, I didn’t have much of a success at it until July 2011, when I was asked to write a story for a possible Halloween anthology.  With a bit of a push–and a lot of editing help–from Tanya (the same one who nominated me for this blog hop), I wrote Kuntilanak, and the rest is kinda history.  Since then I’ve kept at the writing, and next year I’m determined to start a big push to publish, either the self way, or through the “traditional” fashion.

 

How does my work differ from others of it’s genre?

This is one of those crazy, insane questions for which there isn’t any real answer.  I’d say my settings and ideas aren’t all that different from others, but I always try to come up with interesting characters.  In fact, I feel all my stories are character driven, as they are the one who actual make the story work, and keep the reader interested.  If you don’t have interesting characters, you’ll have to throw in a lot of Bayplosions, and I’m not good with those.

 

How does my creative process work?

Holy geez, as my character Kerry would say, I could spend all night talking about this question.  Let me try and keep it below the word count of my current work in progress . . .

Once I get an idea I think about it–a lot.  I might spend a month hammering out things like characters and plot, and as that happens I might begin to make notes about events and characters.

During this point I start actively piloting out the story, usually in Scrivener (my writing software of choice), though I will often check the story’s time line using Aeon Timeline, which is another great piece of software.  If I feel like I need to develop an event or character–either before I start writing, or during the process itself–I’ll jump into Scrapple and start making mind map notes.

By the time I get to writing, I know who my main characters are, who the secondary characters are, what everyone is going to do, who they know, who they like, who they don’t like, and who they’ll change opinions about.  I also know where the story is going, and while I may change a few things along the way–like deleting or adding scenes–I generally don’t have to because I’ve already roughly written the story in my head.  All I gotta do is, you know, put those words into the computer.

 

What am I working on now?

My current work in progress is a name titled The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, a novel I started on 30 October, 2013, a couple of days before that year’s NaNoWriMo, and am still going at strong, having already added nearly another forty-five thousand words since 1 November, 2014.  I know some of you are asking, “You’ve been working on this for over a year?  How big is this novel?”

Big.

Big.

Yes, that says three hundred and thirty-seven thousand, ninety-four words, and I’m maybe seventy thousand words from the end.  Maybe.  I’ve joked that this is my Infinite Jest, and it certainly is as big as any of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, but without the character deaths–which I can change if I get bored . . .

I will finish this story, and it will happen early in the next year, and the fact that I’m going to add fifty thousand words to this by the end of the month means I’m feeling like I could actually add another thirty or forty thousand words in December, so maybe–I’ll finish it before 2015?  Hey, if I can type “The End” by the end of January 2015, I’ll be a happy girl.

 

There you go:  my answers to the four presented questions.  Now, the big question–who do I nominate.  Well, now, here we go–and don’t hate me, ladies, because I’m beautiful; I’m sure you can find all sorts of other reasons.

 

Burgess Taylor, who loves to write with coffee in hand and who feels like a true kindred spirit when it comes to getting those words out–even when she struggles with it, as I have from time to time.

And a friend from Down Under–Rachel Tsoumbakos, who not only writes novels but does some wonderful reviews of current TV shows like American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones.  We sometimes chat about all three shows–more like I leave witty comments on her posts and she witties me back–and more times than not her reviews leaving me smiling.  Just don’t ask her about her nick for Cersei, which means you will . . .

 

Okay, there it is.  Hope you had fun, and believe me when I say there’s another post coming.

Would I lie?

 

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 . . .

That Which I Left Behind

If you come here looking for more of the novel today, nope, won’t find it.  There was some, but not a lot.  Why?

Sickness.  For the most part.

I did as I am want to do; blog in the morning and head for work, though sometimes those lines get blurred just a little.  But if you’ve been following me for the last few days you’ll know I’ve not been feeling one hundred percent, or even close to seventy or eighty.  It’s been like a low-level “blah” that had taken over, and it was messing me up something bad.  A few headaches, some dizziness, and a bit of nausea.

It was the last that really hit me yesterday morning, and I was unable to work through it as I have over the last couple of days.  So it was a quick walk to the bathroom to, um, purge, you might say, and then back to my desk.  I repeated that about ten minutes later, and once back at my desk I was about to pen an email to my manager telling him I was leaving for the day when he strolled in and I told him in person.

"I have to leave for the day; I don't feel well.  PS:  sorry about the bathroom."

“I have to leave for the day; I don’t feel well. PS: sorry about the bathroom.”

After a slow walk home I crashed and slept for about an hour, hour and a half.  I think it was more than an hour, but I’m not really certain because my head was kinda spinning a little by the time I made it through the door.

The thing is upon waking up I felt fine.  My head wasn’t spinning, my stomach had settled down, and I could actually wear my glasses without feeling like my head was spinning out of control.  In short, I seemed much better, and told my friends this amazing fact.  With this I changed my clothing and went out to pick up a few groceries, then decided much later to do an early dinner, with my computer, and get in some writing.

See?  Pretty much better.

See? Much better because I’m doing what I always do.

The writing wasn’t there, however.  I knew what I wanted to write, but I couldn’t get my head around it.  I’d written twelve hundred words the night before, and a lot of times when I do that I can’t find the focus to do the wording.  I manged just a little over four hundred, but when I realized more wasn’t coming without some teeth pulling, I shut it down, just as William Gibson suggested.

I realize today that I will be incredibly busy over the next week.  I have a novel for my book club to finish, a letter or two to write, and a few other things planed.  Next Friday I do my shot in the morning because I have labs in the afternoon, and the next shot after that I’m going to do a little video for.  I’m also planing on doing another video reading, probably within the next couple of weeks.

And the novel; don’t forget the novel.

This is all going somewhere.  I just wish I knew where.

 

Return of the Last Week

Does that seem cryptic?  Like, oh, god, what sort of “Last Week” are you describing?  Hummm, maybe a little cryptic, but that because I come from a different time and place, not unlike a certain traveler who was on over the weekend.

A week from today is Labor Day, or as some people think of it, the traditional marking of the end of summer.  After that day women aren’t supposed to wear white shoes, men are suppose to stop wearing shorts, and everyone’s suppose to adapt to the idea that fall is here and winter’s around the corner.  It was also, in some places the start of the school year, and depending on the calendar, school either started today, or it started next Tuesday.

That simply isn’t the case any longer.  Today we start school like the first week of August, people don’t much give a damn about what they wear well into fall (something I’ve noticed as I’ve adapted my change in clothing and watched how other women to the same), and winter is now a meme to tell people to brace themselves for some life-changing shit.

And my head was chopped off a few years or over a decade ago, so totally not a spoiler.

And his head was chopped off a few years or over a decade ago, depending on the medium of your choice, so totally not a spoiler.

So we are in the last week of summer.  It’s here, and soon it’ll be Friday, and summer is going . . . well, it’s not going anywhere.  Fall doesn’t officially come for almost another month, and looking ahead for the weeks to come, I doubt that we’re going to see fall-like weather soon.  Which is good, because I don’t have all my winter clothes together yet.  I can get through fall okay, but winter–it’s gonna be a tough one in The Burg.

The only true season I ever used to pay attention to was summer, and that was because I grew up in a house with no air conditioning until about 1970, and so summer was as time of dread.  It was hot and sweaty and miserable, and I couldn’t wait for cooler weather so I could sleep and enjoy going outside without enduring the sensation that I was melting.

The summer’s been mild this year, and where it was super sweltering I’ve manage to stay out of the direct rays and stay comfortable.  Winter is suppose to be a total pain in the ass this year, and that only bothers me in the sense that it’s necessary to go out and share the road with hundreds of drivers who lose their minds whenever there’s the smallest amount of snow on the ground.

However, it’s not the weather going away that I’ll think about this year.  The summer was one of dramatic change for me, and in this last week I meet with my therapist and talk about all the stuff that’s happened in the month since I last saw her.  I’m sure they’ll be a lot of discussion about what’s going to happen at work this winter, and not a few mentions of my emotional state over the month of August.

And then we can talk about what’s coming in the fall.

All-in-all, it’s not been a bad summer,

Maybe I need to get out and enjoy what their is of my new life in the fall.

message

Changing seasons, changing gender appearance–pretty much the same, don’t you think?  It can still make for a good hike on a nice day.

 

Here I Am, Speaking Wise Stuff

Today I’m doing something I haven’t done in long time:  I’m speaking on another blog!  Yes, I did a guest post over at My Write Side and I am giving Wednesday Writers Wisdom–which you can probably take or leave.

You’ll find me here on this link, so come on over and share the love, and see what I have to say.

I'm even having coffee.  Come join me.

I’m even having coffee. Come join me.

Time Spells Be Time

Things have almost gotten back to normal here at Casa Indiana.  Spent a lot of time running around yesterday, and even managed to get the writing in after Orphan Black showed.  But this morning was a nice time for me, because I did something I haven’t in a long time:  I lay in bed with the window open and listened to the rain falling.  I’ve written about doing this before, but this morning was the first time I’ve experienced this sensation in over a year.  Living in a city you almost never open your windows at night, not if you want to sleep.  And there’s no soft patter of rain on stone and grass when you live twelve stories above the street.

Nope.  You get stuff like this when you can, and I might not get it again for a year.  Or more.

And this morning I realized that, with all the years I’ve worked on this blog, I’ve spoken of my library, my private writing space, that I’ve never really shown it.  Not to friends, not to enemies, not to various passersby who might be curious about what’s going on inside my hovel.  So, here:  a panorama of my library of two thousand plus books.  Mind the mess:

You have to kind of step back and take in the whole mess . . .

You have to kind of step back and take in the whole mess . . .

And just so they don’t feel left out, here is my last book case of nothing but role playing games that hides behind the door . . .

For a while I may have kept White Wolf afloat in the 1990's--

For a while I helped keep White Wolf afloat in the 1990’s–

So that be that, people.  My writing space in The Burg isn’t quite as cluttered and messy, but then when I’m there I don’t have my favorite books right at hand, allowing me to look up quotes or passages when the urge strikes me.  Of all the things I leave behind, this is one of the things I miss the most.

But enough of that:  on with what’s important, right?  Like writing.

Ha!

I’d promised one person that I would finish the scene in the spell cell last night, and I kept my promise.  It took about five hundred and sixty words, but I put the cap on that scene in more ways than one.  And since I had a little energy left over after that–I was feeling sleep coming on in a big way, because I was still catching up from my Friday adventure–I started the next scene.

Since I’m in a good mood, and since I expect to do a little running around today before finishing this next scene, I though, what the hell, let me show you what I wrote last night, pretty much as it would look in the book.  The first paragraph I wrote a few days ago:  the next five paragraphs were written Friday night before collapsing.  The rest was written last night after I watched my beloved Clone Club.

Without further ado . . .

 

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

Kerry turned to Annie, his head slightly cocked to one side, and spoke with an over-enunciated English accent. “My dear, you are speaking to Mr. Timey Wimey. Trust me: if I can’t do it, it’s can’t be done.” He straightened up and shook his head a couple of time. “With that said . . .”

One of the problems with making charcoal the old fashion way was the time involved: even a small batch like they were going to make could take ten to twelve hours to prepare properly. That was why Kerry thought about using a time spell—they could speed up the process instead of having to watch wood slowly burn for half a day.

He realized the easiest way to do this was to set up a spell field where a minute outside the field would equal an hour inside the field. The hardest thing about doing this was how to create a field where minutes outside meant hours inside. Though he’d come up with an idea for that . . .

He imagined the field like a large analog clock face, with the numbers and the hash marks in between. In this vision he saw the numbers—the hours representation—vanish, leaving only the hash marks—the minutes representation. Then he replaced each hash mark with a number, all the way to sixty at the stop of the clock—each minute now turned to an hour.

With the visualization firmly in place, now all that was required was energy and willpower.

He brought the components together, imagining the oblate sphere he was about to create being slightly larger than the ball of cold fire and the wood it would soon rest upon and burn, a light grey mass of twisting, convulsing power. Kerry held out his left hand, pointing two fingers at the floating cold fire and felt the magic course down his arm and outward towards the glowing blue ball.

The grey sphere appeared around the cold fire, making it shimmer strangely. Kerry could only think of one reason why—

Annie noticed the effect as well. “I think you managed the effect.” She reached for the new sphere, almost touching the surface. “It’s flickering—”

“—Because one second out here is one minute in there.” Kerry hurried over to where his computer and phone were left. “Now to do a proof of concept.” He punched up something on his tablet before handing it to Annie. “Need just a second here . . .” He pulled hand grabber he’d taken from the greenhouse from his backpack and unfolded it before using it to hold his phone. He turned and approached their assembled spell work. “I’ve got a stopwatch program up on that—” Kerry pointed at the table Annie held, “—and I’m going to start the stopwatch app on my phone, and hold it inside the field.”

Annie nodded: they’d gone over this part earlier in the week, and once more in the library here. “And when I reach a minute, you’ll remove your phone and check the time.”

“Yeah.” He held his finger over the start button on his phone’s stop watch. “Ready?”

“Yes.”

“And . . . go.” Kerry immediately press his button and thrust the phone inside the field. He didn’t ask for updates: he knew as soon as the stop watch on the table reached a minute on his table, Annie would call—

Now.”

Kerry pulled the gripping back and hit the stop button on his app the moment the phone was completely clear of the time field. He stared at the screen for almost five seconds without saying a word, then turned the display for Annie to read—

She, too, stared at the screen for a few second—only because she couldn’t believe what it told her. “Fifty-nine minutes, twenty-four seconds.”

Kerry found it hard to stop grinning. “Yeah.” He gave a short fist pump. “Yeah. That’s right about where I want it.”

“Oh, that’s great.” Annie set Kerry’s tablet aside, then went over an hugged him. “That’s close enough to be perfect.”

“Means a twelve hour burn will take about fifteen minutes.” He wrapped both arms around his sweetie. “We did it.” He kissed her cheek. “We really did it.”

Annie looked at the bucket. “We’ve almost done it—” She barely moved her right hand and more water flowed from the container and formed a thick plug, half as long as the first container, and with a wide cap. It was formed in a matter of seconds with Kerry’s help; Annie froze it with little more than a stare.

She waved her hand and the plug sank towards the top of the encasement, pushing the time accelerated cold fire inside. It stopped upon making contact with the wood: Annie figured it was beginning to burn and char.

Annie leaned her head into Kerry’s shoulder. “And now we’re finished.”

“Except for the wood to burn with what little oxygen there is in the encasement, getting nice and charred while that plug pushes the fire down to burn what’s below.” He held her tight. “Should take about . . . fifteen minutes.”

She looked around the room. “Do we wait here? There’s no place to sit.”

Kerry slowly rocked back and forth. “I’m good right here.”

Annie nuzzled Kerry’s face and neck with her cheek. “I am too, love. I am too.”

####

The moment Wednesday heard the fire alarm sound she teleported from her office to the top of the stairs leading to the lower levels, then hurried down the steps. She was in a hurry not just because there was a fire in one of the spell cells, but because it was Spell Cell #3, the one in use by Kirilova and Malibey. I should have sent someone down there to be with them. Wednesday turned right at the bottom of the stairs and sprinted towards the cell. The enchantments will protect them for now.

Upon reaching Spell Cell #3, Wednesday’s worry turned to puzzlement. The light indicating an active fire was slowly flashing, but the indicator next to the door showing the presence of active enchantments was dark. The puzzlement slowly turned to bother, because she knew it was impossible for the fire alarm to go off while the enchantments that threw status spells on anyone inside before draining the fire of energy remained inactive. She knew this because she’d created the enchantments inside the cell.

Since the active enchantment light wasn’t on, that meant the fire door was unlocked. Which means I have no idea what I’ve going to find on the other side. Wednesday threw the door open with a flick of her wrist and stepped inside—

Kirilova and Malibey were wearing work gloves while loading what appeared to be charred wood into a couple of large canvas totes. They looked up as Wednesday stopped about a meter from them. She looked about the room before locking her gaze upon them. “What’s going on here?”

 

So there I left it with Wednesday coming in after what she perceives as an emergency, and finds the kids–loading wood?  No, nothing out of the ordinary there . . .

I’ll do what I can this afternoon and evening, but I’m going to try and finish the current scene.  Then . . . that’s when things change for my kids in a big way.  You’ll see.

Trust me:  I'm getting to that scene.  Slowly.  I must be stuck in one of Kerry's time spells.

Trust me: I’m getting to that scene. Slowly. I must be stuck in one of Kerry’s time spells.

Saying Goodbye to the Death Test

The great thing about blogging is that it becomes, more or less, a historical document for the blogger.  If you keep at your craft, if you’re writing every day, talking about things that may feel important to you, then you can head back whenever the mood strikes and see how you were feeling, say, two years ago on a certain date.  Rereading your entry may trigger a memory of that time, be it good or bad, or you may just scratch your head and think, “What the hell was a yammering about?”

Or, as in the case of the past week, I can see the progress of something I’m writing, know when I began and when I finished.  Usually I’ll talk about a novel I’m working on or publishing–that last hasn’t happened in a while, I need to get cracking on that–but this week, starting last Monday, I’ve discussed a scene I’m working on for Act Two of my current novel–

I should say, “Was working on,” for last night I finished the sucker.  Another thousand words in the bucket, and i finally brought to an end the longest single scene I’ve written for my story.  I’ve had a few scenes creep over five thousand words, and the scene I wrote for my Flight School ran just over ten thousand words, but that one was broken into three individual segments, and the largest single scene in that group was fifty-eight hundred words.

No, I wanted to get this one down as a single, individual scene, and by the time I placed the last word on the last sentence, I was inching close to seven thousand, four hundred words, which meant I was scooting out of short story territory and getting ready to cross the border into Novelette Land.

'Tis but a little thing to write self-contained novelettes inside your novel.  Everyone should do it.

‘Tis but a little thing to write self-contained novelettes inside your novel. Everyone should do it.

Sunday through Friday, I cranked out the scene.  I know this because I’ve blogged about “The Death Test”–or as I labeled the scene, The Walking Tests–because . . . well, not sure.  I think I loved the progressing of what was happening with the scene, and it’s also sort of indicative of the kind of insanity that can pop up at my school in terms of a “lesson” or “test”.  Go ahead and levitate all the feathers you want–after a month in my joint you’ll be given a big stick and told to bash some zombies in the head.

"You think it's fun letting you smack me around with that bokken?  I mean, 'Snarl, arrg'."

“You think I enjoy you smacking me around with that bokken? I mean, ‘Snarl’.  Am I getting paid for this?”

What happened after the kids lost their lunch?  Why . . .

 

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

Annie didn’t want to see the students behind her. After all they’d done, after the battle Kerry and she had just fought, losing her breakfast in front of everyone took away her pride in their accomplishment. We successfully completed our test, and this is what everyone will remember . . .

“Hey.”

She felt a forehead gently rest upon hers, and an arm lightly wrapped around her shoulder. Annie looked up without raising her head and found Kerry’s gore-smeared face there, his lovely green eyes looking back at her through blood-flecked glasses. “We make a pretty good couple, don’t you think, Sweetie?”

Annie raised her head while keeping it pressed to Kerry’s. “We do, my love—we do.” She turned them so she could place her arm around his back, and in doing so they ended up, arm-around-body, head-to-head, facing their fellow level mates.

She scanned the faces turned towards them. Annie saw so many emotions: disgust and revulsion she understood given the tableau they set upon the mat. Some looks of awe, some of hate—she understood those as well: a few of their level mates would find what they did incredible, and a few would detest them for passing.

There were a few students, however, staring back them with unabashed fear, and Annie completely understood that emotion. These are Normal kids who are still getting the hang of magic—and Kerry and I used our magic in a way they’ve only seen in movies.

And it’s left them unsettled.

Kerry must have seen the same looks and felt the same unease. “I think we scared some of them.”

Annie turned her head just enough to make eye contact. “Good.”

 

As Helena will tell Annie much later, getting a reputation as someone not to trifle with usually keeps you out of trouble.  Blasting zombie homunculi with magic is usually one of those things that’ll keep the other kids from teasing you, because homunculi, human, who gives a shit, you both go down easy like lemonade on a hot summer day.

And nothing say love like hugging your sweetie in front of thirty other kids while you’re both covered in gore.  Did you ever do that, Glenn, huh?  No.  Move on . . .

But how did things get to this point?  What sort of sick, crazy instructor does this sort of stuff?  Well . . .

 

Professor Chai stepped forward. “I agree. Let me clean your glasses, Kerry.” He handed them over without question, and she began working a spell upon them will speaking to the children. “You both did wonderfully. And I was pleased to see you take my advice about playing to your strengths—”

Annie wanted to know more. “What were they, Professor?”

“For one, you—” She nodded towards Annie. “As a Legacy you have an intimate knowledge of magic, and what it can do. You may not know all the spells, or how they work, but you’re aware of the many concepts that bind them together—and you used that to help you both when it was needed.

“And Kerry: you’re learning how to build upon Annie’s knowledge, and you used that to both you’re advantages as well. Plus—” She handed the glasses back to Kerry. “Knowing your opponents and their weaknesses certainly helped your efforts to disable them.”

Now Kerry’s curiosity was peaking. “Professor . . . did you know I knew about those things? Did someone tell you something?”

Professor Chai seemed bemused by the question. “If you’re asking, ‘Did I deliberately modify today’s test to help you due to the advice of a certain seer?’, the answer is no. If, however, the question is, ‘Did I deliberately modify the test based upon something I overheard during last Friday’s Midnight Madness, and thought it could make up for a your lack of coven mates?’, the answer is perhaps.” She laced her fingers together and set her hands before her. “How’s that?”

Kerry was trying hard to remember what she may have overheard, and nearly pushed the thought aside when . . . “Oh. You heard that?”

Annie turned in her chair towards Kerry. “What did she hear?”

Kerry slowly turn in his chair towards Annie. “Last Friday, Emma stopped by and was asking if I had any ideas for costumes for Halloween. I told her I had a couple, and one of the ones I mentioned was from the comic—”

“I don’t remember her stopping by.”

Kerry tilted his head to one side. “She came over when you were in the bathroom—”

Annie’s eyes narrowed just enough to make Kerry a bit nervous. “Oh. I see.”

 

A girl came over to see you, Kerry, while your soul mate was in the bathroom, and you suddenly remember that happening a week later.  You’re lucky you mentioned this after she saved your butt from being eaten by the fake undead.  Don’t worry:  Annie usually doesn’t continue thinking about things like that for long–

Usually.

With everything over, it remains for Geek Boy to put the coda on results of their test:

 

“Thank you, Professor.” Annie pushed her messy hair back from her face as Thebe took hold of her right wrist.

Kerry stood and sheepishly grinned. “I’ll see you in a bit.”

Annie’s radiant smile shone through the drying gore. “Yes, you will.” She vanished with a pop as the nurse teleported them both to the hospital.

Professor Chai tapped Kerry on the shoulder. “You can go shower. You clothes should be here by the time you’re finished.”

“Okay, Professor.” He watched the diminutive instructor saunter on to the mat and begin clearing it of the mess Annie and he made. He glanced over at the remaining students in the room, some of whom were still looking in his direction. He turned back to the spot where Annie had stood less than a minute before—

If only I could tell someone outside school that my girlfriend and I survived a mini zombie apocalypse. He shook his head and grinned. And it was kind of fun . . .

 

It’s a hell of a lot better than a video game, that’s for sure.

The next scene awaits, and I’m certain that Thirty Days Hath September is gonna be shorter than The Walking Tests.  Though, who knows?  The Martian Chronicles was actually a collection of short stories with a similar theme that were bound together and turned into a short novel.

If it worked for Bradbury, maybe it’ll work for this act as well.

Millennium

Here is it, the one and only, my 1000th post.  After nearly three straight years of coming here to share, with my audience and followers, my almost-innermost thoughts, I have reached a most impressive goal.

"It's all darkness and misery, leading to a lonely, pointless death."

“What is the point?  In the end it’s all darkness and misery, leading to a lonely, pointless death.”

Thanks, Frank.  I knew I could count on you to bring the good times to the party.

At least there are others who feel differently . . .

"I already knew your inner thoughts and secrets--your passwords were easy to break, even with the childish encryption you used."

“I already knew your inner thoughts and secrets–your passwords were easy to break, even with the encryption.  You are a sad, foolish girl.”

Ray of sunshine you are, Lisbeth.  Don’t you have a large Swedish corporation to take down?

What started me down this strange path?  Well, to be honest, writing.  Not writing a blog, however.  No, not at all.  When I first started this sucker I was going in fits and starts, and my postings were uneven.  I had nothing to say, I just posted things here and wondered if anyone would read them.  And frankly, I gave very few shits if anyone did.

What started me working hard on the blog was when I was writing my novella Kuntilanak.  I wanted to get into the habit of writing, and it wasn’t just enough to work on the story, because I was afraid I would–as I had done many times before–just give up somewhere along the line.

Then came the brilliant idea:  what if I talked about writing my story by writing on my blog?  It’s simple:  I work on the story in the morning, do a little editing in the afternoon, and at some point in between I’d set up a post detailing my writing exploits.  Not exactly the greatest idea in the world, but it kept me writing my story–and it’s kept me writing my blog.

And how much have I kept writing.  I went back and looked, and found that the last day I didn’t post an entry was 24 March, 2012, a couple of months short of two years ago.  However, there were two posts on 23 March because of something that kept me from posting on the 24th.  So it’s not really a missed day, just a day where I posted the day before.  The last day where nothing was written:  8 September, 2011.  Which, if you’re following the details of current work in progress, is the actual day Kerry is shocked so badly by the Queen of Sorcery, Helena Lovecraft, that he ends up spending the night in the hospital.

Coincidence?  You tell me.

So much has changed since that summer of 2011.  Since then I’ve been through three jobs, and I’ve moved for two of them.  I still suffer from depression, but not nearly as much as back in 2010 and 2011.  I cry more, but that’s because I feel more, I’m not cut off from my emotions any longer.  I finally came to grips with my gender dysphoria, began seeing a therapist and came out, and now spend a reasonable portion of my life as female (as opposed to Life in Technicolor, but you can blame Coldplay for that).

Most of all I write.  I write stories, and I write on my blog.  I’ve sold one story and self-published two.  My sales are crap, but I’m keeping at it.  2014 is the year I start sending more things out, because I’ve got a slush pile and a half waiting, and it’s time to move that monster.  Talk is cheap, and I got bills to pay.

Yesterday and today I looked over my posts and my stats, and decided to list my ten biggest posts in the history of this blog.  We  aren’t talking huge numbers here, and with the exception of one time when I was sort of damned with faint praise by someone who said, “You only get about forty hits a day?  I thought you were huge.  I get more than that,” I’m happy with my few thousand followers who literally come from everywhere on the planet.

Behold my Global Empire!

Behold my Global Empire!

Since I’ve always wanted to do this, allow me to offer up my own top ten.

 

Top Ten Posts of All Time:

10. If I Go the Plane Way, 8 November, 2013.  140 views.

This was about a set of scenes I was working one during the last NaNo, and how I used Scrivener to layer additional scenes under existing scenes.

 

9.   The End Beginning Again, 5 January, 2014.  144 views.

This was about my idea file, and how something I’d thought about using for an old story in the file was considered for a much later story I wanted to write.  This is the only post from 2014 to make my top ten.

 

8.   Time Tunneling, 16 October, 2013.  148 views.

In the run-up to NaNoWriMo 2013 I went into a lot of detail about how I set up my novel, and some of the things I was doing with time lines.  This was the third of my “October Three” where I had fantastic hits for three posts in a row.  Just as I did layers of scenes, this showed how to do layers of timelines within timelines.

 

7.   You Are Now Leaving Silent Hill, 22 September, 2013.  167 views.

My first “Daily Excursion” post after arriving in Harrisburg, PA.  I ran up to Centralia, PA–which was once used as inspiration for the art direction of the movie Silent Hill–walked around, got pictures, and lived to tell the tale.

 

6.   Preparatory School, 14 October, 2013.  207 views.

The first of my “October Three” post, where I show the lay out of what was to be my NaNo 2013  novel, and that is still my current work in progress.

 

5.   Playthings in the Hands of the Arbiters of Decency, 27 February, 2012.  231 views.

This is the only one of my rants that made the top ten.  It was about how PayPal was getting crappy about being used to pay for what it saw as smut, and how it arbitrarily decided to impose rules that screwed over a lot of writers.  Things are much better now, unless you write monster smut . . .

 

4.   Dancing with Demons, 4 November, 2011.  272 views.

The oldest of my top tens, this one puzzles me.  I was four days into my first NaNoWriMo, hard at work on Her Demonic Majesty, and I threw this one up pretty fast.  And for some reasons it has pulled in nearly three hundred hits.  Must be the demons . . .

 

3.   Done Ready, 21 October, 2013.  312 views.

A quick discussion about how I was ready to start NaNo 2013.  I say in this post that I’d finish the first book of The Foundation Chronicles by 31 December.  I think I meant I’d finished my drugs then.

 

2.   Timelines and the Aeon, 15 October, 2013.  644 views.

The middle of my “October Three”, and the biggest by far.  This is where Aeon Timeline ended up on my computer and I told everyone about it.  Apparently a lot of people liked that.

 

1.   Penultimate Daydream, 2 May, 2012.  645 views.

And this is another puzzle.  Why?  Because nothing much is said here.  Well, actually, there is, but it doesn’t make that much sense.  I was sleep deprived, I hated my job, I was almost hallucinating.  It was the day before I turned 55, and the incident I speak off while dining, I did think someone I knew was dining with me.  And then they weren’t, and it killed me.  I’ve always wondered if there was some kind of bot that drove the numbers up.  Not that it maters today.

 

Honorable Mentions:

The Rough Guide to My Alternate Chicago, 12 December, 2011.  120 views.

This was the first post where I really got into talking about the wonders of editing, and though most writers hate it, about this time was when I was starting to love it.  And so I have to post my love.

 

Hail, Scrivener!, 31 July, 2011.  128 views.

The oldest of my posts with more than one hundred views, this is where I started talking about Scrivener, and how much it was helping my writing and my story telling.  What was nice about this post was there was a comment from the Scrivener people, saying they enjoyed the kind words I had for their product.  That was when it first hit me:  there are people out there actually reading this stuff!

 

In looking over some of my old posts I saw likes from people who no longer blog, who have vanished from the face of the Internet, who I wonder about.  Blogging isn’t something you stick with day in and out for years.  I’m probably one of the strange examples, getting up every morning and cranking out my five hundred words, or more, before starting out my day.  And if any of you who used to blog, who I used to see every day, are still out there following me–hey, I miss you guys.  Hope your life is treating you well, because we all need that.

What comes next?  No more special posts for a while, that’s for sure.  If I do another, it’ll come when I reach my 2,500th post, which over four years away.  And that begs the question:

When will I stop blogging?

Because everything comes to an end, doesn’t it?  In four years I’ll be sixty-one, and I can’t say if I’ll still show up here, blogging every day, or if I’ll still continue churning out stories that no one reads.  Or if I’ll even be alive, cause the next eleven hour run back to Northwest Indiana could see me flying off the side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike at high speed into a valley, all the time regretting nothing.

Or perhaps I will have reached my dream of being a full-time writer, and I can be like Chuck and blog to all the word slaves out there (the penmonkeys are his), giving them encouragement and telling them why they shouldn’t stop, because look at me, I made it.

I won’t be quitting any time soon.  I can’t.  I still feel as if I have something to say.  But should it become time to move on and find my wide awake dreams elsewhere, I’ll fall back on this quote–something I heard over Christmas, and something that speaks to me of what can be the finality of change:

 

“Times change and so must I. We all change when you think about it. We’re all different people all through our lives. And that’s ok, that’s good, as long as you keep moving, as long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear. I will always remember when The Doctor was me.”  The Eleventh Doctor, The Time of the Doctor.

I’m not quite as good at The Doctor, but I do remember so much of who I’ve been these last three years.  I remember the people I’ve known, those who’ve been a pain in my ass, and those whose friendship and help I have cherished through the years.

And I remember those who have left their mark on me in such a way that it will never be erased.

A thousand down, and still more to come.  Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine.

There are stories to be written, you know.

Dark and Stormy Write

Right before the alarm went off I was dreaming that I was writing about the strange dream I’d had.  It was full of people looking for things to do, and people pissed off that nothing was getting done–on, and a couple of cable guy who never showed up on time, who would then show up right when you’d just left the house after the appointment “block” was over, and claim you weren’t home–which, of course, you weren’t, because they didn’t show up when they were scheduled.

No one was offering to juice me up, let me tell ya.

I wonder if the reason I had such a weird dream was because I was so entirely not happy with what I wrote last night?

Now, after the excitement Sunday–I do use that term loosely–yesterday was very strange.  I was suppose to meet up with a friend online, and when they did show, they were so busy doing other things in real life that I could have used the two hours I spent waiting for them to write.  But, like a fool I didn’t.  That sort of set me off, and for the rest of the day, and into the evening, it was hard to get the flow back.

But it was a dark and stormy night . . .

But it was a dark and stormy night . . .

Oh, I did write.  But I wasn’t happen with it.  It felt uneven as hell.  I had things I wanted to say, but those things just weren’t there.  What came out seem to stutter, to form with an incomplete voice.  Whatever was coming out didn’t seem like me.

Sure, I was getting distracted, and that’s my own fault, but of late I haven’t felt like listening to music, and that’s been affecting me when it comes to laying down the tunes.  Music has always helped me through some bad times, but these days I feel like I’ve heard it all, and when I try thinking of something new to listen to, I kind of twist my head to one said and thing, “Naw, I don’t want to give that a try.”

The one thing I did do last night was push the story over one hundred ten thousand words.  I didn’t push it that much, but that’s okay:  there is another chance to fight the good fight tonight.  Another chance to sit down at eight PM and get my thousand in before ten.  Maybe even rewrite a little of the mess I did last night, because I was also dreaming that I was very unhappy about having to rewrite something, and that’s very likely a direct reference to what happened with my story, rather than within the story.

So, on 30 January, I will have one thousand blog posts completed.  That’s next Thursday.  The novel won’t be finished–I think there are more that ten thousand words left, though I could be mistaken–but the end for the fire episode will come to a completion soon after.

I have a good idea what comes after both those events are in the slush pile, so to speak.  Something wonderful, you ask?

You’ll have to wait and see.

The Winter of Discontent

Yesterday something popped up on my blog–not my blog, actually, but more a message from WordPress.  It was, “Congratulations!  You registered with us five years ago today.”

I had to think about that, because I was damned if I could remember just when I’d signed up and established my presence here.  I remember when I started blogging–those first, abortive attempts in April of 2011 that I didn’t take very seriously, like damn near everything else in my life back that.  But I hadn’t remembered when I signed up for this space, I had to think . . .

Yeah, that would be right before Christmas 2008, not long after being laid off from a job I’d held for thirteen years.  A job that had been going downhill fast at the point, but because the economy was free falling faster than Gypsy Danger from fifty thousand feet, there weren’t a lot of options when it came to better employment.  So when the end came I took my severance with a smile and more or less told them I was happy to be leaving their shit stain of a job behind.

Sure, I wouldn’t work again for a little over three years, but you have to take the bad with the good.

Why did I sign up?  I don’t remember the exact reasons.  I believed, most likely, that I had something to say, and that I was going to try this fangled thing the kids called “blogging”, ’cause I can write and people are gonna want to hear what I have to say.  Yeah, December 2008.  I had me a blogging area.  I wouldn’t start writing until about . . . let me see . . . yeah, about two and a half years later.

That was probably a good thing, because everything coming out of my mouth back then was filled with remorse.  I was still in therapy, and would remain so through 2009–that was when my insurance ran out and I couldn’t afford to not only see my counselor any more, but I couldn’t afford the medication I was taking.  I will tell you right now, in case anyone is wondering:  mental health coverage is a wonderful thing.  Sometimes the only thing preventing you from jumping off a building is a twenty dollar co-pay on your meds, and if you have that in your life, you should consider yourself lucky.

Why all the gloomy talk?  For one, I had another strange dream–yeah, that’s been happening for some reasons.  I can’t quite put my finger on what happened, but think of it as Glee with time travel.  Like I said, strange.  I have no idea what it meant, but it was there.  The one thing I do remember is that I was told, quite a lot actually, that I needed to get better.  And I spent a large part of the dream alone.

I’ve also thought, for a few weeks now, that my depression has come back.  I’d distracted a lot these days.  I look for things to break up the monotony, and it’s not always there.  When I’m writing, at times it feels like I yank the words out onto the page, that I have trouble typing them, like I don’t want to see them, even though I do.

When I’m not at work I spend all my time alone.  It’s one of the reasons I try to eat out on the weekends, because I do get a bit of peace from being out among the people–even if the majority of them look like scary-ass crackers, like the people I saw yesterday.  You pay your money and you take the ride, right?

Five years registered, half of that writing.

Where am I going to be in five years?

Maybe a time traveling Glee knows.