Setting the Baseline: The End Before the Start

It’s cold outside this morning and it’s going to remain like that until next Wednesday when we climbed back up into the 40s F/5sC.  Personally, we should just get cold and stay that way, it is really difficult trying to address when one day the high is going be forty-five in the next day the high is going to be twenty-five.  So far this winter, we’ve actually had more rain and snow.  But this is to be expected with climate change: winter is never going to be what it used to be.

Last night was first night I got into writing about Deanna in class, and she certainly a bit different than we’ve ever seen her before.  In figuring out what she was going say on her first day of class, I came up with something a bit unusual that will be something of revelation when it’s presented.  But that won’t be for a while, as I am still eighty-three hundred words ahead of the excerpt this morning, and likely will be nine thousand words ahead by the time I go to bed tonight.

Speaking of Dragon software–I know I wasn’t but in a way I was–I was contacted yesterday about getting the newest version which is optimized to run on Windows 10.  The version I currently have isn’t, which is probably why every so often Chrome flips out and goes completely black, and it jacks my WebGL so bad that I have to reenable it.  There’s also the possibility I’ll be able to get the upgrade for $99, which is a really good price.  So I’m kinda holding out until I’m contacted again in two weeks and asked if I want to buy.  I can run with what I have, but I certainly would love the upgrade.

"Yeah, easy for you to say, Professor, you never had to worry about getting you iPad taken away because you came out!"

“Getting software for cheap is a whole lot easier that researching hormone levels on the Internet!”

But enough of that: what’s going on with my kids?  They’re finally finishing up the medical examination that takes up the last scene of Chapter Seven.  So let’s see what happens here, because it is time to go–

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Kerry just lay on his back stared at the ceiling. “Yeah, I love making medical history.”

Coraline motioned at him as Annie slid off her bed. “You can sit up now.”

He did as instructed and swung his legs over the edge. He sat there slowly swinging his legs. “When is this going to be over? Any ideas?”

Coraline crossed her arms as Annie moved up alongside her. “It’s just short of six months since that last dream: it could be another six before things happen.”

Kerry let out a low, moaning sigh. “I can’t wait that long; I want to get back to something like normal right now.”

“I’m afraid you don’t have a say in the matter, Red.” Coraline came over and patted his bare shoulder. “If there was something I could do to speed up this process, I would. If it’s any consolation, for the rest of the calendar year you’re where you should be and you’ll be getting the best medical attention you could ever want.”

 

If there ever was a truism it’s that Kerry’s at the best place in the world for being treated when the time comes.  He’s surrounded by people who care for him and Annie will be by his side the whole time.  The best he can hope for is that it happens before he goes home for Yule, but that’s months away and right now it’s time to get back into the grind.  And that brings us to the end–

 

Annie sat next to him and took his hand. “If there’s one good thing about this test, it’s that I get to see you with your shirt off.” She ran her finger over his exposed, glowing medical monitor. “And whenever I see this, I’m reminded that we’re connected in more than one way.”

Kerry peaked at the top of her cami. “I can just barely see your monitor—”

“And that’s all you’re going to barely see, Red.” Coraline set the monitors to offload the information it had gathered to the school’s medical servers. “Otherwise I might have to tranq you.”

He sat upright and kept his hands in his lap. “Wouldn’t want that to happen.”

Coraline threw open the privacy curtain. “Annie, you can go over and change. Kerry, you can put your shirt back on.”

Kerry grabbed his tee shirt. “And then we can go?”

“No, I’m going to draw blood from you both and then you can go.” She nodded toward the far end of the ICU. “I’ll be right back.”

Kerry dress quickly and returned to sitting on the bed. He stared at the floor as he pressed his thumbs together and mumbled quietly. “I really hope this isn’t going to happen every month.”

The privacy curtain across the aisle flew open as Annie stepped out of the bay while pulling her top down over her exposed midriff. “Coraline said the next time she does this is after you transition.” She hopped up on the bed next to Kerry and wrapped herself around his left arm. “Take courage, my love. Before you know it your transition will be here and all this worrying will be out of the way.”

He turned and gave her a tiny kiss on the cheek before resting his head against hers. “It’s one nice thing to look forward to getting out of the way. I just wonder how much else I’m gonna have to worry about before we go home next summer…”

 

It seems like of late Coraline has had some snark to throw out there concerning Kerry and his observations of Annie’s… monitor.  She probably knows that she’s fighting a losing battle against puberty and sexual awareness while being completely aware that earlier in the week Kerry likely managed a good look at Annie’s monitor.  So why fight it?  ‘Cause it’s her hospital, that’s why.  Do the monitor gazing on your own time, kids:  Doc Coraline has a job to do, and if you make her mad she’ll jab you hard when she draws blood.

All the weekend stuff is finally out of the way.  Tomorrow, we get down to class time…

Sorta.

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Setting the Baseline: Marking the Differences

Right here in the front is usually where I tell you how much I wrote the night before.  But there is a lot to say today, because then write anything last night.  Why is that?  Last night I got invited out for a Taco Tuesday gathering, where I met up with a friend who was out with several of her friends, and we sat around and ate tacos and drank adult beverages and generally had a good time.

Me and my friend having a good time.

Me and my friend having a good time.

Because I was out, by the time I arrived home with the head of liquor–but wasn’t really that bad–I knew I wasn’t going to achieve anything meaningful in the writing area, so I didn’t even try.  And the odds are good the next Tuesday I get asked out again, so I might not get any writing in then, either.  This is not a bad thing: considering in the three years I spent in Harrisburg I’ve spent most of that time alone, it’s nice to get out and walk around and hit a few places so that one may have some fun.

And have fun I did.

So, what does come next?  Well, the kids are still back in the hospital, in this excerpt gets us into a section that I had to do some crazy research on: you’ll see that coming up real soon.  In the meantime, let’s get this examination started–

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Kerry was in position on the bed in about twenty seconds; thirty seconds later Annie returned to the bay and as she was getting on the bed to Kerry’s right Coraline waived the security curtain close and activated the equipment over each. The doctor stood between the beds, held her arms out, and formed the glowing orange enchantment she used with her medical scanning equipment. She walks slowly from the foot of both beds all the way to the headboard, only the activating her enchantment after she allowed the glow to linger on the foreheads of each child for about five seconds.

As soon as she discontinued crafting Coraline begin checking the instruments, starting with Annie’s. She scrolled through the data for about ten seconds before speaking. “Hum. Not only is her nothing wrong with you, young lady, but you are disgustingly healthy.” She began examining Kerry’s instruments, scrolling through the data as she had done with Annie’s. “And you’re just as healthy as your SO.”

Kerry turned his head towards the school’s doctor. “You didn’t say there wasn’t anything wrong with me.”

“That’s because there isn’t anything wrong with you—not really.” Coraline gave him a sly wink. “There is, however, an area where your information is a little more wrong than Annie.”

“Where?”

 

At this point, if Kerry really needs to ask, “Where am I different than Annie?” one could say that is not really paying attention.  I mean, you know why you’re there, Kerry, and you have to know why Coraline is checking you out, so where do you think you’re different?

Remember, Kerry is still a little bit of a Captain Clueless when it comes to some things, and while his last question may actually be a bit rhetorical, it does make them look as if he’s not really sure what’s going on.  Then again, perhaps he generally is curious, but his method of asking is deemed a little strange.

Still, do you want Coraline to tell you what’s happening to you by asking questions?  Because this is how you get Coraline to tell you what’s happening to you!  And she does:

 

“Your hormone counts.” Coraline turned to Annie’s monitor. “Her estrogens and testosterone readings are right where they should be. Her combined estrogens are 33.7 nanograms per decaliter, right near the high end, and her testosterone is 3.9 nanograms per decaliter, which is on the low-end of the range.” Coraline tapped her monitor off and turned towards Kerry. “So what’s happening to you isn’t affecting her at all, at least not through your link.

“Now, when we look at your hormonal numbers it’s a slightly different picture. Your testosterone count 463.7 nanograms per decaliters, which is right in the middle of the range for a boy your age.”

“Why is her estrogen so much lower than my testosterone?” Kerry’s brow scrunched up. “Doesn’t seem right.”

Coraline stood by the edge of Kerry’s bed and looked down upon him. “First, when I described her estrogens count, what I’m really describing his account of three different estrogens in her body: it isn’t just something called estrogen. And second, that witches brew of hormones Annie has coursing through her veins is a hell of a lot more potent than your testosterone. It’s one of the reasons boys at your age generally just have to deal with just anger issues, while girls Annie’s age are dealing with a huge range of emotional variables—all because of the way our estrogens affect us. And speaking of estrogens, your count is 8.4 nanograms per decaliter, which is way above where it should be.”

Kerry kept his face as neutral as possible. He didn’t want Coraline think he was worried or, worse, scared. “What should it be?”

“Less than 2.5 nanograms per decaliter, so right now your body is producing about three and a half times more than it should.” Coraline leaned against the edge of Annie’s bed as his soul mate turned so she could see him. “Last couple of weeks have you felt more moody than normal?”

 

Kerry more moody than normal over the last couple of weeks?  Say it isn’t so!  And we finally learn that part of the reason for his crazy emotional swings has been due to a change in his hormones.

"Just wait until you aren't you but you really are you, only just a different you!"

“Kerry, have you noticed a tendency to crave chocolate and a desire to walk in the rain?  Have you cued up Love, Actually and watched it on your computer in the last few days?”

Let me tell you, researching that whole hormonal range thing was a complete pain in the butt.  Mostly because it was extremely easy to find the testosterone levels in girls and boys Annie’s and Kerry’s age far easier than it was to find the estrogens levels for the same.  And once I found the estrogens level for kids their age, I had to hunt down a couple of other sources to determine whether or not they were accurate.

You’ll also notice that Coraline is giving the readings in nanograms per decaliter, which is a fairly common measurement.  However, most the readings I found online gave the hormonal measurements in picograms per milliliter, which means I had to find a calculator to help me do conversions, though they are actually pretty easy to do: if you want to convert ng/dL (nanograms per decaliter) to pg/mL (picograms per milliliter), just move the decimal one position to the right.  That would change Kerry’s testosterone reading from 463.7  ng/dL to 4637 pg/mL.  See how easy that is?

By the way, if you wonder why Coraline keeps saying “estrogens”, it’s because she’s measuring all the different types of estrogen hormones in Annie’s body.  There’s actually three different kinds: estrone, estradiol, and estriol.  Estradiol is the main one, and it’s what I inject every two weeks.  The other two tend to come into play when someone is pregnant, but they are also still in the body.  I will likely do a little bit more research on this in the future, since this is a first draft and I can always change it up.

Once again, about an hour and a half to two hours of research was spent just getting all those numbers together for that section of the excerpt above.  And now you probably know more about hormones than you ever wanted to know–particularly the fact that girls have a far lower hormonal count than boys while going through puberty, and yet seem to be affected so much differently and more powerfully.  Like Coraline says, girls have a witches brew flowing through their veins, which is why you don’t want to mess with them.

Where does this all get us in the end?  It gets us right here:

 

Kerry didn’t even need to get that much thought. “Yeah, since like the beginning of August. It seemed like sometimes I get depressed and start, you know, crying over nothing.”

“Beginning of August would make sense.” Coraline began tapping something on Kerry’s monitor. “But the third week of July there was a four day period where your estrogens count jumped from 2.1 to 2.9. I was beginning to think it was gonna start jumping higher and after about a week of that the transition would occur.” She tapped one last thing on the monitor and stepped back. “That didn’t happen, but you’re telling me a couple of weeks later you started feeling the effects of the estrogens in your system. Hence the moodiness.”

Once Annie realized that Coraline was likely done with her she sat up on the bed, crossing her legs in the lotus position. “You think there’s going to be a point where once the estrogens count reaches a certain point he’ll transition?”

Coraline shrugged. “It’s possible, but this is all uncharted territory to us: that’s why it’s important that we monitored Kerry as closely as possible. We’ve never been able to observe this lead up in any of the other people who had this Gift, so everything we’re seeing is happening for the first time.” She reached over and patted Kerry’s hand. “Gonna be a lot of people studying this for years to come.”

 

The conclusion to take away from this is that Kerry’s body is going through some strange stuff at the moment and that possibility that he’s gonna be something of an emotional mess in the coming weeks is a possibility.  Which is to say we may see a return to A Level Kerry, but who knows?  So many strange things going on these days.

Maybe those will finish up tomorrow…

Setting the Baseline: Growing Over the Summer

It’s Tuesday, and that means the New Year’s holiday is over.  And that means once more getting up at five in the morning, writing the blog, and getting ready for work.  It still gonna be a short work week, but having two three day–well, three and a half day–holidays in a row is a real hard to put behind us. That’s one of things I don’t like about the end of the year: you have all this time off, and then you go right back to work.  No using in or anything like that, just get to it.

And here I am already trying to figure out what I’m going to wear this morning.  The struggle is real.

I added up my numbers from Friday through yesterday and figured out that I wrote four thousand, three hundred, and thirty words total.  If you doing the math that’s just a little over a thousand a day, and it’s been a while since I’ve had a thousand day average like that.  Though I think it’s the same thing when I first got my Dragon software, so maybe I’m just spacing out a little.  But it is kind of nice to add up your numbers and realize you are back to doing close to or just over a thousand words are every day and it doesn’t feel like a struggle.  Because when you feel as if you have to force the words out of you, that’s when writing stops being fun.

Except that as writers we all go through that period of time where does feel like a struggle, then you going to do that with you have voice actuated writing software or not.  I mean, there’s times when I feel like that still and when I do, I just turn off Dragon and sit down and watch a little TV.  But don’t think I’m wasting my time: over the holidays I’ve been zipping through the first couple of seasons of Justified, and anytime you’re dealing with characters and plot lines created by Elmore Leonard, I consider it a learning experience.

Speaking of experience, what’s going on in the hospital?

We’ve seen that Helena didn’t get her legs grown–or should I say, she didn’t get them grown all the way back?

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Helena smirked. “That was the plan, but the reality is they were only able to grow so much. When you’re dealing with a massive reconstruction like growing two legs, things don’t always go according to plan, even when you are using magic and technology.”

“It has to do with all that dark energy she’s got running through her system.” Coraline didn’t take her eyes off the monitor as she spoke. “Apparently when you’re a bad ass sorceress like Helena, the regrowth tanks have to be recalibrated so they aren’t detecting all that internal dark energy as abnormalities in the body.”

“It kept mucking things up the first time I went in.” Helena stretched out her right leg flexing the muscle in her thigh. “So I had to go home while they recalibrated the regrowth tank for my body. That was why I had to go back a second time, so they could continue growing everything from the bottom of my thighs down to the top of my calves.” She tapped her hands on her kneecaps. “It didn’t get everything grown, but I bloody well got knees again. First time in twelve years.”

 

It seems that magic and technology are not always a perfect thing, and sometimes your body doesn’t do exactly what the doctor thinks is going to be allowed.  Of course Helena went to a place that deals with Guardians, but the equipment just wasn’t prepared for the total amount of dark energy that she has residing in her body.  This is why it was hinted at the beginning of this novel that she had to make two trips to the hospital over the summer, with the end result being she got all her thighs and her knees back and should get her calves, ankles, and feet back the next time she goes in.

I’m sure this’ll make the kids wonder if whenever they’re having a medical procedure, things are constantly getting adjusted for them as well.  Probably not yet: neither of them are quite the Sorceress From Hell that Helena is, but give it time.  It may not be long before Coraline has them coming into the hospital at the start of the school year so she can recalibrate her equipment just in case they need a little something regrown.

This is the first time that it’s hinted that having all this dark energy in your body can throw stuff off.  Maybe other witches consensus in the sorceress after they’ve been around a while, and it’s what makes them nervous.  We’ll see.  At least my kids don’t have to worry about dating outside their own magical group–and given that Erywin is about as non-sorceress as you get, being associated with her Dark Witch doesn’t seem to bother her at all.

Now that Coraline is finished with Helena, she moves on to my kids–but only after one final Helena update:

 

Annie stepped into the bay so she could lean over and grasp Helena’s hand. “I’m so happy for you. I’m glad at least this much is complete.”

Kerry stayed about a step behind Annie as he didn’t want Helena to think he was staring at her legs. “Are you going to return so you can finish regrowing them?”

Helena sat up and placed her hands behind her so she could lean on them a bit. “I was told to wait two years before going back for the rest of the rebuild, which means I likely won’t get back until late June, 2015. Until then—” She jabbed the thumb in Coraline’s direction. “I’ll be using these prosthetics this as soon as the old doc there is finished getting all calibration information set her computers.”

“And if something goes wrong with one of these while you’re here, I’d have a hell of a time fixing it if I didn’t have an original set of parameters to work from.” Coraline deactivated the machine she was using to gather information from Helena’s prosthetic. “And now that I’ve got them both registered, get this one back on so that you can get back to doing whatever it is evil sorceresses like you do your day off.”

“I was planning to nip in town and pick up some eye of newt. I’ve some curses I have to cast on some lesbian hating morons. I may even pick up a cauldron as well.” She winked that the kids before smiling at Coraline. “Don’t tell Erywin I used the C Word.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” She reattached the prosthetic and activated the sealing enchantment. “There you go. Now, I have to look after my next patient. You shouldn’t have any problems dressing.”

Helena slid off the bed and stood without problem. “I can take it from here.” She nodded that Annie and Kerry. “See you two later.”

Annie nodded. “Take care, Helena.”

 

It’s funny to see Helena tell the kids not to tell her SO that she said cauldron because she doesn’t want to face her wrath.  You can almost see Erywin giving Helena the stink eyes and saying, “You said you were going to buy a cauldron?  You think that’s funny?”  That’s one witch who doesn’t like stereotyping.

Finally we can get to the kids–

 

“Okay, you two. Down here.” Coraline let them to the first day on the right after stepping out of the lift area—which just happened to be Bay #1. As soon as everyone was inside she sealed the privacy curtain. “Speaking of getting calibrations…” She nodded toward Kerry. “I want to get a baseline reading off of you—and you too, Annie. We’re gonna do that now.”

Though Kerry had expected Coraline wanted to see both of them concerning his transition, he’d hold the wouldn’t be any medical processes involved. “We did a baseline exam before I left for the summer. Why do you need to do another?”

“Because things have changed since we did that last baseline—like, you didn’t transition though your body has continued to develop.” Coraline put on the stern appearance she reserved for patients who seemed unwilling to cooperate. “Since you are still you, I want to get a new baseline so I can compared both to the old one and one we’ll take at the time of your transition.”

Kerry understood this was going to be done regardless of how much complaining he did. “Okay. What we have to do?”

Coraline turned to Annie. “Do you have a cami under your shirt?”

She shook her head. “Just a bra.”

“Right.” Coraline pointed across the aisle. “There’s a cami laying on the bed. Remove your top and bra and come back with the cami on.”

As Annie hurried across the aisle Coraline turned back to Kerry. “Okay, young man. Remove that shirt, get on the bed, and lay on your back.”

 

Gotta love that bedside:  “Since you are still you I want to see how you look before you aren’t you.”  Nowhere else are you going to have to deal with this when you see your doctor.

"Just wait until you aren't you but you really are you, only just a different you!"

“Just wait until you aren’t you but you really are you, only just a different you!”

Yeah, never a dull moments at Salem Witch Hospital General.  Also, why doesn’t Coraline walk around with a stethoscope around her neck?  Maybe because she doesn’t need to remind anyone she’s a doctor?

Tomorrow we see a little more of my mad research skills at work and discover something interesting about the kids…

Setting the Baseline: I See ICU

Well, it’s been a quiet morning here at the house, but now it’s time to get to the blog post.  In getting to the blog post means getting to the next excerpt, which means getting to the end of the last chapter.  And it’s about time on that, too, because I’m continuing to move ahead to the next chapter even though I didn’t write much last night.  Lazy time at the beginning of the year, I know.

So now we’re headed off to the hospital and it probably doesn’t take a genius to figure out why they’re going there–

"There's no way I'm gonna win this battle, is there?"

“Because Coraline wants to–see if I’m eating right?”

Yeah, Kerry.  It’s all about your diet.

So let’s see what’s going down in the hospital–or as Kerry calls it, “My second home away from home.”

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Nurse Bianca Gaillard heard the main doors for the entrance to Salem’s hospital open just as she was about to step out of the first floor ward. Since she was aware of both appointments this early Saturday morning, and the first appointment had arrived thirty minutes earlier, it only reason that the second appointment of the morning it arrived.

She stopped in the passage between the ward in the doctor’s office and looked into the waiting room. She was correct: the other appointments for this morning it arrived. She glided into the waiting room and put on her best friendly nurse’s smile. “Punctual as always, I see.”

Kerry returned the smile while his arm remained wrapped around Annie’s waist. “We always do our best, Nurse Bianca.”

Annie didn’t attempt to move where she was leaning into Kerry shoulder. “How are you doing, Nurse Bianca?”

“I’m doing quite well. It’s good to see you both again. Did you have a nice holiday?”

Kerry glanced down at the floor though the smile remained on his face. “It was—eventful.”

Annie nodded. “Mine was somewhat eventful as well.” She finally slipped out of Kerry’s grasp and took hold of his hand. “Is Doctor Gallagher around?”

“She’s in ICU but she left instructions for you to come right up as soon as you arrived.” Nurse Bianca took a half step backwards and pointed toward the south end of the ward.

“You know how to operate the lift, don’t you, Annie?”

“I believe so.” She turned on Kerry’s arm. “Come along, my love.”

 

So here we have Kerry standing around with his arm wrapped around Annie like he’s an octopus and she’s some tasty morsel.  This is happened a couple of times already in this novel, and it’s a growing indication that there moving beyond the hand holding.  I mean, if you going to do public displays of affection, don’t hide it.  Not that these two ever did.  But when you got your arm locked around the waist of your girlfriend, it truly says, “This one is mine.”

Now that were passed the Gatekeeper, what does the Keymaster have to say?

 

Kerry chuckled as they walked past Nurse Bianca. “Nurse Annie’s got this.” They quickly left behind the smiling AP nurse and were soon at the far end of the regular ward and entering the Commons area. It was here that the bathrooms as well as a large table and chairs for eating were located, but beyond these was the simple levitation lift that went from the lower level morgue to the large private area occupying the third floor.

Annie saw the open area shimmer as the lift enchantment detected their approach. The air seems to solidify for second as they stepped on what appeared to be a simple gray floor. She turned to her left as a control panel materialized. “Second floor, please: activate.” The moment later they began rising slowly.

Kerry had only been on the lift a couple of times but this was the first time he’d taken it without either a nurse or Coraline with him. He glanced over at Annie. “I take it this thing is keyed to your voice?”

“I was given access last year.”

“So why did Bianca make show of asking if you knew how to operate it?”

Annie gave Kerry’s hand a squeeze as she leaned her head against his shoulder. “We have to keep up appearances in case other students had walked in, my love. Coraline would like for people to not know I have this sort of access to the hospital, least they find something else to complain about.” The list stopped in the second floor Commons area. She gave Kerry’s hand a gentle tug. “Let’s go find the good doctor.”

“The good Doctor is down here.” Coraline leaned out of a bay at the far end of the ICU. “Come on down, I’m just finishing up here.”

They made their way to the far end of the ICU: Kerry decided to make their presence known before they stepped into sight. “I hope were not—”

The ICU bay was much like the bays on the first floor ward: there were two beds with a space between them, with equipment fastened to the wall above each bed. The big difference here lay in the equipment, which was designed to monitor patient more closely as well as deal with life-threatening injuries.

There was another difference as well: Coraline wasn’t alone. She stood near a bank of equipment on the right side of the bay as she ran her sensor spell over a prosthetic leg. And on the right bed sat the owner of the prosthetic leg: Head Sorceress Helena Lovecraft, dressed in a hospital gown in seeming completely unconcerned that she was being seen with only her right prosthetic leg attached.

She looked up into the concerned faces of two of her favorite students. “We shouldn’t be much longer; maybe another five minutes, max.”

Though by now both Annie and Kerry were aware that Helena possessed prosthetic legs, this was the first time they had seen her without one or both attached. There was something, however, that Annie remembered right away… “I thought you had your legs regrown over the summer?”

 

We heard that Helena was going in to get her legs back.  We also heard that there were some issues about it over the summer.  And now it appears that she didn’t get them back–or did she?  Either way, as stated in the above excerpt, this is the first time the kids have ever seen Helena with one of her prosthetics removed.  Though neither one of them seemed that shocked, since they know that she lost her legs some years before.  I’m sure they both realize this is something that could also happen to them: after all, a Guardian’s life isn’t going to always be a pleasant one.

Must be why they get paid the big bucks…

The Lead Up to Two Thousand

There are a few things going on today, some of which are personal and some that aren’t.  Let’s talk about those things that aren’t personal–  I began the revision on Chapter Four and managed my way through the first scene and about a third of the way through the second.  Given that the second scene is over thirty-eight hundred words, I likely edited and rewrote about two thousand words.

And rewrite I did:  sections of both were changed either a little or a lot.  The opening paragraph of the second scene is a good example, and this is where another character we know quite well by now is introduced for the first time.  So this is how that looked in the last draft:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

She’d started closing things down for the night when Coraline Gallagher received Isis’ call that she was finally getting visitors. It wasn’t anything serious: nothing more than “a couple of shook up kids” in need of a quick exam. She knew just how “shook up” children could get after their E and A, like the girl two years ago who told Coraline she felt a little tired, then vomited and collapsed on the floor. She kept all her options ready, and wasn’t about to take anything for granted.

 

And how it looks now:

 

She’d begun closing down for the night when Doctor Coraline Gallagher received Isis’ call that she visitors were on their way:  nothing more than “a couple of shook up kids” in need of a quick exam.  Coraline knew just how “shook up” children could become due to their E and A—she’d seen everything from crying shakes, vomiting and convulsions, and even a few who showed signed of physical trauma—so she kept all her options open.

 

Hello there, Coraline!  The moment she steps out on to the stage, and right off the bat one of the biggest changes I made was to address her by her real title:  Doctor Gallagher.  And we go from hearing about one girl throwing up and passing out to cry, vomiting, convulsions, and students coming out of E and As looking is if they were in a fight.  And isn’t long after that we see her getting all doctor like with the kids and the beginnings of their relationship:

 

Coraline caught Kerry’s stare and immediately put it out of mind as she was used to that kind of attention from both the boys and the girls. “Isis told me you were coming—okay, I got her.” She took Annie’s arm and gently eased her into the nearest chair. She addressed her in the most soothing “I know what I’m doing” doctor’s voice she knew while Kerry took the seat on Annie’s right. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

Annie hesitated answering so Kerry did it for her. “She said she was dizzy and that she felt sick to her stomach.”

Keeping her eyes affixed upon Annie Coraline addressed her again. “Was this after your E and A?”

Kerry answered again. “Yeah. We both came—”

Coraline Extended her right arm and held her index fingers about ten centimeters from Kerry’s face. “Red—” She then placed the finger across her lips as she smiled at him over her gesture. “Shhh.” Then it was back to the now-grinning Annie. “Are you a little better now?”

Annie blinked a couple of times. “My head is better, but my stomach is still . . .” She laid her hands across her lower abdomen.

“Got it.” Coraline knelt down, getting eye level with both guests. “What’s your name?”

“Annie.”

She turned to her silenced one on her right. “And you, Red?”

“Kerry.”

“Right, then—” She stood and straightened her smock. “I’m gonna take Annie into the ward and give her a quick check up. You—” She smiled down at Kerry. “Just relax. I’ll be back in a bit.”

 

She got playful with them even then, and odds were she didn’t act that way with every student.  And it’s after she takes Annie back for a quick checkup–one that involves a little non-normal routines–Coraline begins noticing something about this girl with chestnut hair–

 

Coraline tapped the display three times. “I’m gonna set the timer for fifteen minutes, and you are to do nothing while it’s counting down. If you want to close your eyes, go ahead: I won’t hold it against you if you fall asleep.” She returned Annie’s weak smile. “When the timer goes off I’ll come back to check on you, but I do not want you getting up until I give you the okay.” She smiled as she patted Annie on the arm. “You got it?”

“Yes, Nurse Coraline.” Before Coraline could start start the timer Annie stopped her with a question. “Are you going to check Kerry, too?”

This caught Coraline a little by surprise. She’d planed on doing just that, but hadn’t expected Annie to make a request. “Do you think he needs checking?”

“I think . . .” Annie closed her eyes for a moment, relaxing as the medicine started acting. “When he came out of his E and A he was breathing hard and crying.”

Coraline gave Annie a knowing look. “I’ll make sure he’s okay.”

“And—” Annie glanced up at the monitor next to her bed. “If you want to use a device like you used on me, it’s okay.”

“Oh, really?” She was always careful not to spring the tech on the first night unless she was dealing with a Legacy or it was an emergency. And from what she understood there was only one Legacy this year, which meant the boy in the waiting room must be a Normal. “You sure about that?”

“He’s smart, he’s clever, and I don’t think he’ll be shocked.” Annie gulped slowly. “I’m certain he’s starting to think things around here are different, though I haven’t been able to tell him the truth.” She closed her eyes for a second, appearing slightly crestfallen. “Orders, you know.”

Coraline knew there were Normals who didn’t freak when the realized the truth about this place—I was one of them, I should know—but there was something else going on here . . . “You’re worried about him, aren’t you?”

Annie nodded. “Yes. I want him to be good.”

Coraline closely watched Annie’s eyes and saw the glimmer she suspected she’d see there. This time she gave Annie’s hand a tender squeeze. “Okay, then: I’ll make sure he’s good.” She reached up and activated the timer. “Clock’s ticking. Back in fifteen.”

 

There’s as glimmer in Annie’s eyes–I wonder what that means?  Coraline is something of a romantic, so it isn’t hard for her to spot the signs in other.  Particularly eleven year old girls with glimmering hazel eyes.  Maybe others don’t see it, but this doctor does.  And as we discover later, Nurse Soon To Be Doctor Coraline sees so much.

Now that the editing is out of the way, let’s speak of something else–

You may or may not have looked on the main page since last night, but if you have you may have noticed a new addition to the sidebars.  And what is that addition?

Um . . . this?

Um . . . this?

Yeah, there’s a little countdown timer there, and it’s to announce that, yes, I will take up the craziness once more and likely spend the better of the next year and a half writing the next novel, C For Continuing.  I know I shouldn’t do this, but I’m feeling the urge to get started again, and if I don’t set a time to do something I’ll never get it going.

There’s also another reason.  See, this point is number 1,980, which means there are twenty post to go before hitting number 2,000.  And since I like to do something nice for my milestones, I figure why not publish the first excerpts from the new novel through the post?  This will mean that I won’t be reblogging my Sense8 recaps as they happen as it would mess up the counting, so I’ll figure out something else there–maybe like a mass reblog dump the day of the 2,000th post.

So between now and then I need to set up the project and begin plotting things out, which I can do as I already have most everything time lined out.  There’s something else I have to do, and that’s write up the “trailer” for the next novel, and I’m shooting to have that ready to go on the 16th.  That will be the day I start writing the novel, and it will also be the day I put out the trailer.  You’ll have to wait three days to see the excerpt, because special post, yo.

Now, I will continued editing A For Advanced, and this means I’ll set aside time to edit like a thousand or two thousand words, and then also set aside time to write between five hundred and a thousand words as well.  It’s a daunting task, but it’s also a possible one.  Besides, I need a little kick in the butt, because I’ve gotten too complacent of late, and it’s time to get to work.

After all, I have stories to tell.

A Certain Day in May: Salem Surprises

Well, today has been a strange morning, because, for the first time since making my way to The Burg, I didn’t set my alarm.  That means I woke up about a half-hour later than normal, and that means I couldn’t make coffee and there was little else I could do before the need to get ready for work took over.

"Do I have to go into work?  Can I just lay around and do nothing like I do on the weekends?"

“Do I have to go into work? Can I just lay around and do nothing like I do on the weekends?”

Now, I did get to writing last night, and managed a decent amount before I had to stop all that and gather my notes for Orphan Black, which was a bit of a chore in that so much was happening so fast that it was all I could do to keep up.  But I at least learned an Allisonisum:  if you’re a scientist and a lesbian, you never let anything go.  This girl is rather snarky.

The last scene in Kerry’s Birthday chapter sees him and Annie back at the school.  And it seems as if he’s in a good mood because of how dinner went–

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Though the temperatures were only a few degrees above freezing, Kerry found he didn’t need more than his heavy robe to keep the cold at bay, and the thick set of wool sock he wore with his slippers kept his feet sufficiently warm. It didn’t matter that much: the sky was clear and dark, the wind still, and the one person he needed was walking along side.

Midnight was nearly here, and it was almost time to say goodnight to both Annie and his first day as a teenager.

The dinner at Turner’s Seafood was an incredible affair. Besides Annie and he, Helena was there with Erywin, Wednesday was there with Isis, and Coraline was there with her boyfriend, Gregory Everheart, whom they’ve met here a year earlier. They were both surprised to see Deanna and Trevor join them, as they weren’t “out” officially as a couple at school, but both children knew better.

They conversed for about forty minute after sitting down, enjoying their appetizers and drinks, though while everyone else enjoyed a glass or two of wine, Annie and Kerry had to suffice with sparkling apple cider. They continued speaking through dinner, enjoying their dishes and company, all the way into desert. The moment Kerry worried about came as soon as a small cake with chocolate frosting and five candles arranged in the familiar pentagram shape was brought to the table, and after sitting through another rendition of “Happy Birthday” Coraline and Kerry blew out the candles and looked at each other as if they were glad they wouldn’t need to do this again for another year.

The moment that was the most surprising came while Erywin was cutting up the cake and handing around slices. It was while he was passing a slice to Coraline that Gregory Everheart learned close and asked a question of the doctor of the School of Salem . . .

 

So, Annie and Kerry hanging with the power couples at school:  Helena and Erywin as well as Isis and Wednesday, who are finally stepping out.  Coraline’s there with her boyfriend–who was mentioned in the first novel during the kid’s time as the Sea Sprite Inn–and finally we have Deanna and Trevor stepping out together.  Everyone at the table a witch save one, and that’s Gregory, who is about as Normal as they come.

However, what is this thing he asks?  Well . . .

 

They were nearly to the covered section of the walkway leading to Cernunnos Tower when Annie leaned against Kerry’s arm and sighed. He was rather certain he knew what brought about his soul mate’s sound of happiness. “Something on your mind, Sweetie?”

“Oh, I was thinking once again—” She brought him to a stop so she could lean her head against shoulder. “It’s rather romantic getting engaged on your birthday, don’t you agree?”

“I do” He kissed Annie’s forehead. “And given how much of a romantic Coraline is, she thought so as well.” Kerry remembered how quickly the news spread around the Midnight Madness moments after Coraline entered the room and took her place with the rest of the instructors, and it wasn’t long before perhaps a their of the girls in the Dining Hall came up and asked if they could see her ring. They joined those students as they had been asked before returning to the school not to say anything to anyone, and pretend they weren’t aware of the event. “She certainly enjoyed showing off her ring tonight.”

“Of course she did: a girl is supposed to get engaged once in her life and turn it into an event.”

“Is that how it’ll be with you?”

“You’ll find out when you propose to me and we’re engaged.” Annie slowly pulled Kerry towards their bench. “Come, my love: let’s sit.”

 

And there you have it:  Coraline got engaged, which means she’ll one day go from being Doctor Coraline Gallagher to Doctor Coraline Everheart.  And she had fun showing off her new rock at the Midnight Madness, so it’s obvious she’s happy as hell.

This brings up another question and that is:  how the hell does Coraline go about breaking the news to her soon-to-be new husband that there’s something that makes her just a little different from all the other girls–

"Lesson One:  Bewitched is not a good example of our marriage."

“Lesson One: Bewitched is not a good example of how our marriage is gonna go.”

Needless to say, that’s gonna get covered her a little in the next part of this scene.  For now just know:  it’s something that Coraline will need to do, and it’s something Vicky and Jessica have done as well, and it’s something that Isis’ father did.  It happens that witches marry Normals, because there are a lot more of them than there are of the Aware, so make it work, guys.

So will Annie want to show up her ring when she gets engaged?  It sounds like she will.

Only question that remains now is the when.

Prelude to Dreamland: The Moments Prior

First off, I want to thank WordPress for not feeding their hamsters last night, ’cause it’s only been recently that I’ve been able to log in today.  You gotta keep those critters fed, or they just lay down on the job and tell you to go screw yourself.  Free up the sunflower seeds, will ya?

The scene is finished.  It took just over a thousand words, and pumped the scene up to over thirty-six hundred words, but it’s over and done.

It's all so done, believe me.

It’s all so done, believe me.

Everything’s in place and the kids are in bed–both of those statements are literal in every sense.  And we get a peek at some twinsy stuff–

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie sat up in bed with her feet folded under her in the lotus position. She wore her pajama top but they were unbuttoned to mid-way down her torso, and she held them open with her hands pressed against her breasts so Kerry could see her own glowing monitor. “See? Just like you.”

“Nice.” Kerry chuckled. “We totally have an Iron Man thing going on. I could be Tony Stark, and you could be Pepper Potts.”

Annie began buttoning her top. “Who’s that?”

“Pepper started as Tony’s assistant, then sort of took over running the company. She even got her own powered armor suit at one point, too.”

Coraline softly chuckled as she wait for Annie to finish. “Correct me if I’m wrong, Mr. All Knowing Geek Boy, but wasn’t Pepper a ginger?”

Kerry blushed furiously as Annie examined his face. “Given how red his cheeks are—” She gave him a wild, friendly smile as she slid off the hospital bed. “That must be true.”

“Um, hum.” Coraline stuffed her hands in the pockets of her jacket and stared at the floor. “Maybe a new nickname is in order.”

“Huh?” Kerry’s eyes widened in shock. “No. No way.”

“Well, it’s only for when—” She glanced his way as she touched her long ginger locks. “You know:  you and I have a similar style.”

“You are not calling me Pepper.” He shook his hands to emphasize the point. “No way that’s happening.”

 

But, Kerry:  there’s quite a few women in comics and various geek lore that are gingers.  You know at that moment he was probably running down a list of characters from comics, TV, and movies, who are gingers and fit in with his geek creed.  I know there would be at least two that would spring to mind instantly . . .

He did get to see Annie’s medical monitor, and now they are glowing together.  This is another time I’d love to be able to draw, cause a picture of them together, with Kerry maybe wearing a tank top and Annie in a cami, showing the tops of their monitors peeking out of their clothing, would be a cute picture.

Since Coraline isn’t a truly mean person as well as being the school’s doctor, she knows how to handle the possibility of a Kerry meltdown:

 

“Come here.” Coraline wrapped an arm around the boy and gave him a hug. “I’m just messin’ with you, Kerry. I’d never actually do that.” She patted his shoulder as she released him. “I promise: no nicknames like that unless you’re cool with the idea.”

He allowed himself a moment to calm down and think clearly. “Okay. No problem.” He turned to Annie and then to Coraline. “It’s just—I mean—”

“It’s all going to be new.” Annie slipped her arms around his shoulders and gave him a warm hug. “I know it’ll take time before you’ll get used to being—” She stopped short of saying the last two words.

“A girl?” He sighed. “At least I have time to get ready for that.”

“And speaking of time, it’s twenty-two thirty-five.” She nodded towards the lift. “I need to get you down to the bay so you can get to bed. Gretchen’s gonna start flashin’ the light on us in a bit if we don’t.”

They returned to the first floor and walked to Bay #1 in silence. She set the privacy curtain in place before speaking. “I’ve left out a couple of mixtures that you’ve used before. They won’t knock you out, but they will help clear your mind and let you drift off to sleep. It won’t interfere with your REM functions, so you shouldn’t have problems dream, Kerry.”

He nodded slowly. “You think I’m gonna have that dream tonight?”

“What do you think?”

“Yeah.” His sign was inaudible. “It’s gonna happen.”

“And just let it happen.” Coraline patted his shoulder once more. “You know what to expect.” She turned to Annie. “You have any questions?”

“No.” She stood next to Kerry, taking his hand. “I’ll contact Nurse Gretchen if there’s a problem.”

“Good girl.” Coraline turned before opening the curtain. “Don’t be surprised if I wake you up at three-thirty to see if everything went as planed: we’re jaunting off to Paris at four for the meeting, and they may want to know if you made it through the last phase.”

Kerry scratched the back of his left hand. “Okay.”

A moment of silence passed between everyone before Coraline opened the curtain. “Well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.” She stepped into the corridor and smiled back at the couple. “Good night, and sweet dreams.” She waved the curtain shut, sealing the bay off from rest of the hospital.

 

So, meltdowns averted, medication supplied, and kids left to get to bed.  All that’s left are a few words and some serious dreaming.

 

Annie to Kerry, her eyes soft and not looking a little sleepy. “I think it would do well for us both to get to sleep.”

“That’s a good idea.” He appeared unsure about something, however. “I’m still a little worried about what could happen if I change at home. What if it happens right before I get up and I head out of the room before that thirty minute alarm goes off?”

“You need to do self-examination before you get out of bed. I saw how you’ll look after you transition—” Annie held up Kerry’s hands. “Her fingers are long and slender, so look here before leaving your room. Also—” She touched his head. “She has long, curly hair: you don’t. Feel your hair and if it’s touching the sides of your face—” She touched his cheeks. “—the you’ll know you transitioned. Then all you have to do is stay in your room until Coraline comes for you.”

“I’ll start doing that.” His shoulders slumped as he tried pushing aside the memories of this long day. “I’m ready to get to sleep.”

“I am, too.” Annie pointed to the small cups with the relaxation mixtures. “Do you want one?”

“Yes, please.” He took the cup from Annie. “I’m wound up just enough that I’d probably toss and turn for a while.”

“And we don’t want that.” She touched her cup to her soul mate’s. “Sweet dreams?”

“Why not?” He drank his mixture at the same time as Annie and set his cup on the nightstand next to hers. Kerry pulled back the comforter and walked to the right side of the bed as Annie crawled under covers. He joined her seconds later, getting comfortable under the blankets before rolling over on his right side to face his sweetie. “You’re gonna be here when I wake up, right?”

“I’m not going anywhere.” She leaned in and kissed him. “Now or later.”

“Thanks.” He kissed her back. “I love you, Annie.”

“I love you, too, Kerry.” She glanced up at the ceiling. “Lights off.” Annie rolled around and pressed back into him as he draped his left arm over her torso. “I’ll be dreaming of you.”

He chuckled in her ear as he slowly drifted off. “I’ll be looking for you.”

 

And there they go, just like a married couple, Annie snuggled back into Kerry while he lays an arm over her like he won’t ever let her go.  And the most important dream of Kerry’s life is about to happen.

I wonder if we’re gonna see what will happen there?

As Coraline would ask, “What do you think?”