Into Thin Air: Are We There Yet?

Well, after cranking out eleven hundred words at Panera last night, this scene–which I never thought was going to be that long in the first place–was finished, just a few words over forty-seven hundred words.  I said the same thing about that last scene, and look how that turned out.  Also I had to make some changes from yesterday–

See, in the excerpt yesterday, Kerry asked about air at three thousand meters, and he was told by Vicky not to worry.  Then, while I was at work, I starting thinking about how Kerry’s been through the Sierra Nevada mountains, which is above three thousand meters in a lot of places–and then I remembered this:

I made it there in under less than half an hour--

I made it there in under less than half an hour–

I’ve not only stood near that sign, but above it as well, so I’ve stood at twelve thousand feet, or three thousand, six hundred, and fifty-seven meters–a bit more than to when my kids are flying.  Kerry wouldn’t ask about the air:  he’d know.

Loorea would probably know as well, since there are twelve hundred meter high peaks just to the south of her.  Sure, she’s only three hundred meters above sea level, but she knows about the mountains around Book Book, which only has tennis courts and a post office–

Book Book Tennis Courts:  the height of civilization.

Book Book Tennis Courts: the height of civilization.

I ended up giving the line to Kalindi, who stated she lives only about eighty meters above sea level.  And it reads like this:

 

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

Kalindi called out to Vicky. “Nightwitch, we gonna be okay on air?”

She looked back over her shoulder, grinning. “Like I told you, we’re good: there’s more than enough at three thousand meters to keep you from passing out—just ask Emma. She’s probably been to a few peaks and passes back home where she’s been above that height. Not to mention, once the pressure starts dropping too much, an enchantment keeps a bubble of air around the saddle so you don’t pass out.” She turned her attention back to the gray ahead. “We’re going to be on-station for less than ten minutes. It’ll be fine.”

 

And in the end, in the next edit, I may just pull that line out–though I’m sure some reader will ask, “But what about air?”  Someone will ask, just as the other day people wanted to know who this McCartney guy was who sang with Kanye West.  Wasn’t he in a band called Wings a long time ago?

We saw yesterday that the kids were hitting some mircobursts on their way to their point in the sky.  It didn’t allow Kerry to get off at least one line from Aliens–which I’m probably gonna have to fix–and it wasn’t setting anyone at ease.  For example–

 

But another microburst hit a moment later, and this one threw the entire formation up and to the right before forcing to drop almost fifty meters in about a second. Kerry held on as his heart clutched slightly, but a couple of fliers let loose with grunts or gasps as they fought to stay in position as they continued climbing. Just as they were pushed hard to the right Loorea called out the altitude. “Twenty-four hundred.”

“Seven hundred to go.” Annie rolled her shoulders and reset herself. “It’s like walking from The Pentagram to the Witch House.”

“You would know about that.” Emma’s words came out soft and tight.

Annie looked over to Kerry, but addressed the girl behind her. “I would know that, Selene; I’ve walked it enough.”

Kerry almost laughed out loud. “Passing twenty-five fifty. Six hundred to go—we’ve all done that.”

 

Great save there, kid:  don’t want Annie and Emma throwing shade at each other at twenty-five hundred meters, do ya?  But then what does he do?  Well . . .

 

A vicious updraft hit them: Kerry watch his altimeter spin up almost one hundred and fifty meters before another burst struck them from the left and above, knocking them back almost a hundred meters. This time a few incoherent sounds passed Kerry’s lips as he brought the PAV back to his control. He did a quick glance to his left: Annie was right where she should be, but Daudi had slipped back about four meters. He didn’t seem like he was in a hurt to reform the line.

Kerry turned back to look at him, even though he knew he shouldn’t. “You okay, Luangwa?”

“Yes, I’m . . .” He shook his head. “How much more is this going to happen?”

“Yeah—” Emma coughed twice as she tried to clear her throat. “It’s starting to get a little scary.”

Kerry turned back and checked his HUD and saw he was once more climbing smoothly to their final station. “Hey, guys . . .” He shifted his eyes towards Annie without letting the HUD completely out of his sight. “This is just wind. I’ve fought and been chased by a monster that wanted to kill and eat me—” He chuckled. “I’ll let you know if we run into something scary.”

Annie turned her head slightly in his direction. “You would know about fighting scary monsters, soul mate.” She flashed him a quick, huge smile, then turned back to flying.

 

Ouch.  Good thing the air is cold up there, it’ll help with that burn.  No more scary talk after that.  “I was almost eaten–deal with the turbulence, kids.”  Of course, it goes without saying that Emma was almost eaten, too, but someone put their ass on the line to keep that from happening . . .

And as far as that turbulence goes–

 

A few seconds of dead air followed, and Kerry wondered if anyone would speak for the remainder of the flight. That was when Kalindi laughed. “I trust your judgment, Starbuck: you would know if there were monsters around us.” She nodded towards the front of the formation. “Lead us onward.”

“No need to, Toba.” He motioned with his right hand towards the flier in the lead. “Follow Nightwitch: she’s got this.”

Vicky nodded. “You got that right. And if Harpreet was right about the weather today . . .”

The cloud canopy above them began to thin and specks of blue were seen peeking through. A few seconds later, as they cleared twenty-eight hundred meters, the clouds fell away, and the Mile High Flight formation was surrounded by a clean white cloud deck below and nothing but clear blue sky all the way to the horizon.

“She said this would break around twenty-eight hundred.” Vicky let out a whoop. “Did she call that one or not?”

 

It’s like that scene in The Matrix Revolutions where the Lagos breaks through the clouds, only there’s no Sad Keanu here.  And with this in mind, Vicky in a hurry to finish.

 

There was a steady wind from the west-southwest, but the microbursts they’d experienced inside the cloud cover were no more. Kerry kept his eyes locked on his HUD and watched the numbers ticking off as they continued climbing. He had trouble keeping his voice steady as he call out the altitude. “Three thousand.”

“We’re almost there, flight.” Feeling they were free of heavy turbulence, Vicky increased her angle of attack and turned on a little speed, knowing her pilots would do the same. As expected, they continued following her, and accelerated to keep up.

Twenty seconds later Vicky held up her left hand and slowed. She spun around and faced her pilots. He couldn’t help the sigh that escaped. They’re here, all of them. All seven . . . “Check your altimeters and give me a confirmation that it’s correct; I’ll call out your name . . .” Vicky didn’t bother with call signs, not now, not with the Spy Eyes that had followed them up, showing everything to the students back in the Dining Hall, watching everything. “Loorea?”

The dark Australian grinned while looking at her HUD. “Three thousand, one hundred, fifty-five meters.”

“Confirmed. Dariga?”

“Thirty-one hundred fifty-five meters.”

“Confirmed. Emma?”

Kerry listened as each flier called out their altimeter readings, and he did his last, right after Annie read hers. Vicky sat back on her saddle and placed one last call. “Fortress, would you confirm that we are on station?”

Nearly five seconds of silence surrounded the fliers before Isis’ voice came over their comms. “We confirm you are on station, three-one-five-five meters above sea level.” They could hear the joy in the Chief of Security’s voice. “Congratulations, you guys: you just made history.”

Vicky touched the left side of her helmet. “And we’ll make it again this weekend once Takara’s cleared for flight. Mile High Flight out.” She cocked her right fist and gave it a short pump. “You guys did it—just like I said you would.”

 

I never mentioned that they were being followed by Spy Eyes–which are magical camera-like devices–and that this was all being watched back in the Dining Hall by anyone who wanted to sit through this event.  And speaking of the event . . .

 

Kerry raised both arms over his hand and cheered, and even Annie released her broom and started clapping. Knowing he’d never have another chance to feel the same excitement for doing the same thing, he side-slipped his broom alongside Annie’s, slipped his arm around her shoulders, and at ten thousand, three hundred and fifty feet, with white clouds and blue skies as their backdrop, planted a slow, heartfelt kiss upon her lips.

They both ignored the oohs and ahs from the other students, and when they broke about fifteen seconds after they began, Vicky was laughing. “Well, we have another first: the Mile High Kiss. Though I don’t think you two were trying to get into the record books . . .”

Kerry shook his head. “That was the farthest thing from my mind.”

Annie rested her head against Kerry’s shoulder. “I certainly wasn’t thinking about that.”

“Well, Athena and Starbuck, now that you’ve had your moment—” Vicky adjusted her goggles. “—we have a little more flying ahead of us.” She placed her right hand on her broom frame. “Follow me while we go through these basic maneuvers; we shouldn’t be here more than five minutes.” She spun around and placed the fliers on her six. “Okay? Let’s begin . . .”

 

Kerry, dude, you totally kissed her.  In front of people and the instructor.  And on camera.  And, not to mention, right in front of your friend who wanted to set herself up as Soul Mate #2.  Definitely not happening now.

Now all that’s left of this chapter is hanging out somewhere alone, watching the bonfires burn at night, and comment on teachers and students dancing naked–

Oh, did I mention the naked dancing?

Out of the Home and Back Into Class

Right now it’s raining like hell here in The Burg, so much so that there’s the look of flooded Armageddon out there.  And I have to walk in this stuff.  Oi.  Time to get out the heavy coat again, because it’s in the low sixties out there, and it’s gonna feel chilly.

But that’s not really important, because I did it, I really, really did it.  Act One is rewritten.  All the stuff I set out to do five weeks ago is accomplished.  I finished up with this, something I’ve never shown before:

 

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

Annie hugged him tight. “I’ve never been this happy either, Kerry. I wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t come.” She pulled away so she could wipe his tears from his cheek. “I love you; I do.”

“I know you do.” He smiled and looked away for a moment, then kissed her on the cheek. “I know I love you, too. It’s just . . . I’m not used knowing what it’s like—but I like how it’s starting to feel. And I don’t want it to ever end.”

“Good.” She leaned in and quick kissed him on the lips, feeling his happiness flow into her. “Because you’re going to feel my love every day.”

She stepped back and looked at her surroundings for a second before turning back to Kerry. There was so much she wanted to tell him: what she’d discussed at Memory’s End, how she almost didn’t come to Salem, how tortured she felt because he didn’t remember her from their dreams, and how she felt because they still weren’t seeing each other there now.

But she also wanted to tell him how she felt flying with him today, how wonderful it was being alone in the sky and sailing along at a leisurely pace, loving that he never tried to get her to push her abilities. As he’d told her, it was like bike riding in the sky—and she knew what his old bicycle meant to him.

You make me happy, Kerry. She tilted her head to one said and imagined her name next to his in the special book up in her room. I don’t know why you don’t remember me, or why you find it as difficult to love me as I love you—but I don’t care. I have you now, and I will live with that joy forever.

Annie held out her right hand. “Come on, love. Let’s go home.”

Kerry wordlessly took her hand and quietly walked beside her to the place they would share for the next six years—

They went home.

End of Act One

"See ya!"

“See ya!”

Then decided I was going to take a break and–nah!  Are you kidding?  I went right back into the last new chapter I started:

"Well hello again!"

“Well hello again!”

And showed Wednesday and her frustrated students a week later:

 

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

“Why is this so hard?” Felisa Ledesma nearly threw up her hands before mumbling something in Spanish. “This isn’t fair.”

The second week of class, and the mantra that Wednesday Douglas knew was coming had arrived: It’s too hard; I don’t get how I’m suppose to do magic; I can’t visualize what I’m suppose to do. And the oldest but best of the lot: This isn’t fair.

Wednesday knew it wasn’t easy for Normal kids to get the basics down right away. Magic was a lot of “Do or Do Not” work: either you could bring Visualization, Energy, and Willpower together and make it all work without much difficulty, or you were going to spend some time struggling. Not that if you were good with magic you weren’t going to struggle now and then, but if a student couldn’t develop a good grasp of the VEW triumvirate, and do it quickly, they weren’t going to much of a witch.

I can only show them to the door and open it for them. Wednesday returned Felisa’s frown with a smile. It’s up to them to step through and make themselves at home in the world of magic.

 

It’s not fair that I can’t turn Bobby into a frog yet; magic is hard!  Oh, and somebodies were getting accused of cheating, which is sort of where I left that chapter–

No, actually, I left my kids in the Spells House library, with Annie trying to explain a certain magical concept to Kerry before he starts marching down the wrong path to witchdom.  No way Annie’s gonna let him do that, no sir.

Just for the sake of having to know, I checked the word count on Act One when I was finished messing with it.  I’d cut out scenes, but I’d also added a few things here and there to clarify the new stuff.  And the final word count was . . .

149,700.

Before I began the rewrites the total word count had been 140,290, so how in the hell did I end up adding a short story to this already huge sucker?  Oi, again.  Also, I added almost a thousand words to the new scene last night, while chatting with a friend, because yeah, that’s how I am.

Oh, well:  I get this sucker published, no one can say they aren’t getting their money’s worth . . .

Act Two of Act One

As I mentioned a couple of weeks back, when you have time on your hands and you’re looking for something to do, you might end up, oh, I don’t know, editing a whole lot of words because you don’t want to do it later?  It wasn’t enough that I was editing someone else’s novel, but I decided that I was time to get into my own.  I mean, time be time, right?

So, in the period of just under two weeks, I put my just under one hundred and forty thousand word novel through a first pass edit.  I fixed words; I rewrote passages that were wrong; I deleted words that weren’t needed; I add those that were.  And what do I have?

Nice and shiny, it is.  Oh, yes:  it is.

Nice and shiny, it is. Oh, yes.

Act One is a First Pass Finish, and “They went home” is probably as good a close as I’ve done.  And now I’m about to get the kids into some insanity, so that’s going to keep me busy for a while–

In fact, I may start on that insanity tomorrow.  Maybe today.  Maybe today.  But right now I’m so ready to write I’m about to flip out.  Not that I haven’t done that before, but this is a good flip out.  Particularly after I worked up one of the scenes in my head yesterday, and when I realized it was going perfect lead-in for a few scenes that follow, I had to pat myself on the back and say, “You rock when it comes to this shit, Cassie.”

What does the story look like now?  Cleaner.  I did a good read of manuscript and caught things that were missing, and removed words and phrases that were redundant.  But I also added a few things.  How much?  Well, the First Draft was 139,375 words; the Revised Draft First Pass is 140,290 words–a net addition of nine hundred and fifteen words.  Not bad, really, particularly if it makes things better.

What will happen now is I’ll remove Act One from Compile status and set up Act Two that way, so Scrivener will track the word count for all the new material.  I say with all my heart that I don’t want to write another one hundred forty thousand words for this part, but I’m pretty certain it’s gonna top one hundred thousand without a problem.  Transporting is two hundred forty-five thousand words, and I see myself getting damn close to that total by the time I get to the end of Act Two, where I’ll type something along the lines of, “Good evening, Headmistress; ladies.  May we have a word?”  See?  You already know how Act Two is going to end, which means I’m in a good mood, since I almost never give away anything.

It’s a happy day around here because I’m ready to get into the three or four month slog for the second act of my novel, where Annie and Kerry are gonna learn things about their abilities, and both will find themselves in some incredibly deep caca at a couple of points in the upcoming school year.  There will be blood and more than a few trips to the hospital.

It’s gonna be glorious.  I can’t wait.

"There's nothing I like more than torturing my characters!  Yay!"

“There’s nothing I love more than putting my characters though hell! Yay!”

Firmly Upon the Upward Path

Here we are, the penultimate weekend.  As of last night I had only ten thousand words remaining in my edit of Her Demonic Majesty, and given that I have a whole lot of nothing ahead of me today, that means that by the time I return her tomorrow, I’ll have but one chapter remaining, or I’ll awaken feeling bright and shiny, and there will be nothing left but to compile the story into a Word document and created the Table of Contents.

Either way, I finish the edit and format within the next thirty-six hours.

That means next week is filled with fun and frivolity.  I know I’m going to be interviewed, but it’s going to be an interview the likes of which many of you have never seen.  I’m thinking up a book giveaway, But I want it to be something different–which means I’m not sure how I’ll do it, but I’m investigating means.  I had considered asking people to guess what color I look best wearing, but one person would walk away with everything then . . .

The interesting thing I find is that I’m overly excited.  Worried, yeah; I’m always worried that something will show up wrong in the story, that it’s not going to sell, that it’ll be rejected after all my hard work.  But that happens, you know.  My friend Jo Custer said yesterday that she was told that the movie she’s trying to Kickstart into existence is “filthy”.  Many jokes were made of this comment, not the least was that someone should tell Lars Von Trier there’s a new bitch in town.  Though if you want to get into Lars Von Trier territory, you need a leading lady to come up and spit on you every morning and tell you what a horrible person you are, because she knows she’ll be spending the afternoon her standing naked in a mountain stream masturbating while being yelled at to “Look natural!”

We creative times, we do our own thing.  We love praise, but be usually get criticized to hell and gone.  As I’ve said many times, the non-creative out there don’t get us.  Yes, they want to be entertained by us, but they don’t get what we do, and why.  If you’re like some of the people I know, their notion usually boils down to, “You wanna make money.”  Well, yes, dude:  I would like to make money.  I’d like to make enough money to do this full time.  There isn’t a one of us who wouldn’t love to spend their days crafting stories or making movies or producing pretty pictures.  And I’m not talking talking making mad J. K. Rollinbucks cash here, either.  If I was making fifty thousand a year writing, I’d be home all the time writing.

Why do we suffer the pangs of criticism,  though?  I think part of it comes from the un-creative being unable to build their own works, but damned if they don’t know what a good work should look like.  There are things out there that are broken, that is true, and creative works that are totally Teh Suk.  But the hate does seem to come at everyone and everything, and it’s almost impossible to avoid.

The trick comes from deciding if the criticism is of the good kind . . . and if you can learn from it.

As for the other kind . . .

Write your own stories, then get back to me.

In Perago Est Hic

Writing is not for the faint of heart.  Sure, you can keep a diary and spill your guts to yourself every day, and hope that no one ever reads it and discovers that you spent a lot of time talking about sex and even giving your genitals a name.  This happened in one of the most famous diaries to be published, although in the original version all that stuff was cut out–about thirty percent in total.

It’s a long. torturous journey that doesn’t always end well.  It’s entirely possible that you’ll spend months, maybe years, working on a story that you need to tell, only to see it rejected by publisher after publisher.  It’s enough to drive you mad, and there have been instances where people have simply given up for a while, or for good, or, in the case of the guy who wrote A Confederacy of Dunces, he killed himself, and it took his mother another eight years to see the book published.

One can find a lot of pain in writing.  It pulls at you, it frustrates you, it takes so much of your time.  It’s exhausting, because most writers are working a regular job, and a lot of times when you have your work in progress before you, it’s about nine o’clock at night, and you’ve been up since four AM, and you only have about ninety minutes to get said what you want to say.  It’s sometimes more of a job than it seems, because maybe times you don’t want to write; you want to call it a night and play games all night, and let your brain become mulch for the vegetables.

Then again, when you reach the end of your story, one that you’ve worked on for weeks or months–or even years–you feel such satisfaction.  You’ve finished a task and you realize what you’ve created, and it’s suddenly like all the emotions you’ve poured onto each page comes back and hugs you hard . . . and you know you’ve done something good.

Yesterday I finished Suggestive Amusements.  Last chapter, a few thousand words to write, I wrote during the afternoon and into the evening, and somewhere past nine PM I wrote “The End”, and it was all good.  As I neared the end, the emotions began manifesting as something real, and I was both sad and ecstatic.  The ending, particularly the last few hundred words, brought forth the tears, but at the same time I was happy the story was finished.

The novel was a chore at time.  It was a tremendous undertaking.  It caused a bit of soul searching, and even came close to beating me about enough that I needed to step away a few nights and just enjoy life.  There were moments when I wondered if I would ever finish the story–or is what I was writing was worth finishing.

Now is the time to publish.  Now’s the time to get one of my novels formatted for Smashwords and Amazon, and get a good cover made.  Then edit another story, and get it published.  Then . . .

Write the next tale.

It’s what I do.