The View Beyond The Foundation Window

Where was I last night?  Actually I had to run out and pick up a couple of things, and by the time that was over I was back at the apartment somewhere around seven-thirty.  After I got back onto the computer and started working . . . nothing was really coming.  It’s interesting how that happens, you know.  Eleven hundred words the night before, less than four hundred last night.

But since I was asked, “Who is Kerry gonna speak with at lunch?” it’s only fair I show you.  And Kerry is a mess right now.  He is Mr. Mopie Sadsack right now, because his sweetie is off in Bulgaria–probably walking up after whatever magic The Foundation slipped into her Readjustment Mixture works its magic and got her on the proper local time–and he doesn’t even feel like eating, which is a first for him.  However, someone comes a callin’:

 

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

It hasn’t even been three hours— Kerry poked the Italian sausage on the right side of his plate. And I’ve gotta stay here for like another nine hours—or ten—maybe longer . . .

“Now here’s a young man with something on his mind.” Kerry looked up from his plate to find Professor Sladen standing across the table from him. She regarded him with a studied eye. “Ah, he is conscious, and not in some self-imposed trance.”

He chuckled as he set his fork to the side. “Hi, Professor Sladen.”

Erywin waved dismissively at him. “Oh, please: school’s out for the year. You can called me Erywin.”

“I don’t know if I can get used to calling you all by your first names.”

“’You all’?”

“You know: instructors.”

“Well–” She placed her hands upon her hips. “You have no problem addressing Wednesday by her first name—what does she have that I haven’t got?” She chuckled as his face turned a bright red. “May I join you?”

Kerry calmed himself and nodded. “Please do . . . Erywin.”

 

All this calling instructors by their given name and stuff–really, it’s going to drive a kid crazy.  And what has she comes to talk about?  I’ll have to write that tonight.

It’s interesting that now that the novel is moving towards the end of Act Two and a few truths are going to emerge, not just with Kerry but with Annie as well.  And in Act Three we finally get out of the school and wander about the land beyond the walls.  I was asked recently about the world beyond the walls of Salem and what it was like, and my answer was simple:  it’s the world of 2011 as we knew it–because we are in 2014, and we’re looking back–and there isn’t much of a change other than one discovers during this story that there’s a shadow organization that spans the entire globe and not only gathers children from all over the world, but brings them to a school that no one can see save for those known as The Aware.

I mean, take a look.  There’s the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning (SIGEL) right in the middle of the picture, just to the north of Gloucester and to the east of Rockport.

It's right there.  Don't you see it?

It’s right there. Don’t you see it?

I see it, because I know the layout in my head, but that huge green area in the middle of Cape Ann, where one would find a large forest and quarries and even the remains of Dogtown, there is instead a huge, walled school that normal people live next to and have no idea exist.  That’s where your smoke and mirrors and magic all come into play, convincing everyone that all is right in the world and there’s nothing to worry about, because should you wander into that area, everything you think you’re gonna find you will.

Annie and Kerry get to venture into the old world–well, old to Kerry; Annie’s always been used to living in her Foundation World while dealing with the Other World–and they’ll travel into Salem, maybe even by train.  I can’t tell you what they’re doing there, because spoilers and River would come after me, but it’s not something anyone would probably believe at this point.  Needless to day, being outside in the world is going to have an affect on both my kids.

And Annie will be haunted by one of her deepest fears right in front of this statue in Salem.  Probably because Samantha Stevens has that effect on young witches.

And Annie will be haunted by one of her deepest fears right in front of this statue in Salem. Probably because Samantha Stevens has that effect on young witches.

The later stories (yes, there are more stories) get out into the real world even more, and if I ever get the second novel written you’ll see Kerry out and about, though the third, forth, and fifth novels would actually see them outside the walls of Salem a lot more.  Right now they’re innocent A Levels and I can’t let them leave the safety of the school.

Which is why Kerry’s already been in a coma.  Because safety.

Will O’ the Witches

Before I get started, I would be remiss not to remind people to pop over and visit Zen Pencils.  I’ve posted a couple of Gavin Aung Than’s strips before, but this week was his tribute to the passing of Nelson Mandela, and I thought it necessary to post something inspirational this morning, because who doesn’t need it from time to time?  And last week’s post, a quote from Professor Brené Brown, is another worth giving a read.  In fact, the whole site is worth marking and reading every week.

Last night, however–ah, it was back to school night.  Well, my school, anyway.  It’s a new day down on Cape Ann, and the sun is shinning, the wind has died down, and the rain is over.  Time for my little witch to get on stage:

 

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

Tuesday morning was bright and sunny. Yesterday’s storm lasted until about seventeen, then blew itself out leaving behind fallen tree branches and lots of muddy puddles of water. The grounds crew was out cleaning the branches, and the water would dry up in a couple of days.

From Wednesday Douglas’ point of view, the sunny day reflected her feeling that today would become something to remember.

As the students filed into the Number One Lecture Room, she looked over the students, watching their body language, seeing which of them looked in her direction—and which of those gaze turned strange when they realized she was the instructor. By now, the beginning of her sixth year as the Mistress of Magic, Wednesday was used to that look. It was understandable: when she was a student, none of her instructors looked like her.

Wednesday had celebrated her twenty-fifth birthday this last June, and of the three staff members under thirty—Isis Mossman, Deanna Arrakis, and her—she was the youngest. She’d missed becoming the first teenage instructor since 1847 by less than three months, and spent her first three years instructing students who’s started at the school year she’d graduated.

It wasn’t unusual for students to confuse her for a covenmate and not an instructor. Wednesday was short—one hundred and fifty-seven centimeters, or five foot, two inches—and petite. Since instructors were allowed to dress as they liked, she often showed up to teach class much as she had when she attended. Today she wore a comfortable top and a short skirt with black leggings that perfectly matched her black ankle boots. Her long, wavy hair was pinned back to show her large hoop earrings, and her silver Celtic knot necklace matched the cuff bracelets on each wrist.

Wednesday didn’t care if there were people in The Foundation educational council who felt she was too young to be an instructor. If she wasn’t good, she wouldn’t be here. It was that simple.

Though sometimes she found it necessary to remind these people how she’d earned her right to teach at Salem . . .

 

How did she earn that right?  You’ll have to wait until I publish the prequel to this story.  Here’s a tip:  never leave this woman alone in a dusty room.

Little Wednesday is going to play important in my story, and in the lives of my two main characters.  That’s coming up in the second episode of the first book–yes, I know.  It’s like a movie, isn’t it?  Anyway, she does something that sets the kids on a new path, and she’s an all around nice person.  She’s already begun talking about magic as an extension of willpower, and she’ll give her views on wands and show you what happens when you say disparaging things about her during her lecture.  And she has a test laid out for the kids–really, not the sort of thing you’d expect kids to do for their first spell casting.

I never had an instructor like her.

Then again, neither have my kids.

The Weather Last Today

The first day of Camp NaNo is history.  I did my midnight writing, and my day writing . . . I did a lot of writing and modeling and reading yesterday.  This last first day of July seemed like I did nothing but work.

But it was good work.

So one chapter, or scene, or whatever you want to call it, down and in the story.  Twenty-seven hundred words were entered before it was all over, and it’s a good start.  The first chapters saw a meeting between one of the instructors and the headmaster of the school; today I write about a couple of students, or three . . . or is it four?  Anyway you’ll see these people, who will be young girls, who will be out standing in the–

Hey, good question.  What’s the weather like?

I ran into this problem yesterday when I was writing up a scene.  I was describing something that was dark, and how the exterior light could affect the shadows even more, and I began thinking, “I wonder what the weather was like?”  Oh, sure, I could, you know, make it up, because that’s what writers do.  There lay the rub, however:  my school is rooted in a real place, and the story takes place at a certain moment in time.  So what was the weather like then?

This is where Weather Underground comes into play.

I don’t remember when I first stumbled upon the Weather Underground site.  I know I was looking up something about the history of weather for a particular area, and during my used of the Google (which more people should use, trust me), the site popped up.  I figured out how to find the weather for a particular region, looked it up, and went away happy.

I can never just look up something once, however.

Mostly what I use the site for is history.  I want to know what weather was like on a particular day somewhere in the world.  Or I want to look up a hurricane.  Or I want to see maps.  But I have it in my bookmarks, because I love this sort of stuff.

That said, when I was writing my scene yesterday, I wanted to talk about how the light from outside affected a particular place in my Great Hall.  I started to write about that very thing, and the stopped because I didn’t really know what the light from outside was like?  Was it bright?  Dim?  Non-existent?  I knew the time was around noon, but I didn’t know the outside conditions.

Of to Weather Underground to look up the weather on Cape Ann for a particular date in the year 2000.  Went to history, plugged in the dates, and . . . there it was.  Not only did I have an overview, but an hour-by-hour condition table.  After that, all I had to do was look for my closest time, compare it to when my scene was taking place, and extrapolate.

I needed old weather just so I could write up a couple of paragraphs of story.

Yeah, I like to go there.

 

One Line, Two Line, Blue Line, Green Line

World building is a wonderful thing, because you never know where it’s going to take you.

If there is one thing I love about developing intricate stories, it’s world building.  For my unpublished Transporter series, I created some fourteen hundred years of history to play in, and began thinking about how I got from Point A to Point Z.  For Her Demonic Majesty I kept my action local to Chicago, but I imagined it as part of a huge conurbation known as The Pentagram, and it became necessary to build some terminology and rules around magic in the world.  Lately I’ve dug into building viable world around other stars, and then integrating them into stories–such as what I did in Diners at the Memory’s End, where I built a system around a K Class star so I could have an interesting couple of paragraphs in the story.

I’m getting into some world building for a story, something revolving around a couple of characters another person and I created for a game a long while back.  I’m trying to pull them out of one universe and put them into another, and it’s involving a bit of brain work, because I’m having to change everything.  Not that changing everything is a bad thing, because I get rid of a universe that essentially turned your characters into a form of fan fiction, and I put these characters into a world that they own.

I’m all about owning.

One of the things I have is an idea where my kids from Europe–where the two main characters are from–fly over to Boston, where they’ll attend a private school somewhere close.  So, they fly out of somewhere in Europe and head to Logan Airport, after which . . .

That brought up the question:  how do I move a gaggle of kids from Logan Airport to some super private school out on Cape Ann?  Well, there are buses that could do the job, and originally I thought about that, but then I started using the Google Maps on Logan and–what’s that?  It’s a train station!

See, I wanted to get my kidlettes to Salem, and from there I could take them by bus to Cape Ann, because trains are cool, no?  Sure.  Only one problem:  the train outside the never goes to Salem.  It stops at a rail-head about ten miles north, far short of the Witch Capital.

See, though, this is the age of the Internet, and all one has to do is Google “How to get from Logan Airport to Salem by train,” and you’re catapulted into a world where answers are there for the taking.  Like the one that said you have to take the subway from the Airport over to the Government Center, then catch the line to North Station, and from there you’re on your way.

One MBTA subway map later, and I see they’re right:  take the Blue Line to the Green Line, and from there you’re off to the train station, and from there you’re off to Salem . . .

So now I had my kids on the way to Salem, where I was going to put them on buses for the trip out to Cape Ann.  So I’m looking at the area on Google Maps using satellite view, and–what’s this?  This line cutting through the woods?  Why, it’s a train track.  So back to the MBTA site and after a quick check of the train schedules–yep, there’s a commuter train that head out to the cape.

Which gives me other ideas . . .

Not only do I love world building, but did I mention I love the Internet?

It can take me to so many places I’ve never been, all so I can others along.