Prepping the Course

One of the things that comes from building the world that you can have a little fun creating people, places, and things.  Some of the things I’ve put together for this world go back to 2014 or 2013, and there are some things that go way back beyond that–like to middle or late 2011.  One of those things was the original layout of the school; another was the course of the Polar Express that Kerry would take if and when he decides to try that event in his C Levels.

And then there’s the Mount Katahdin Cross Country race.

I started working on this race back in August, 2011, and there was a reason why I picked this location for the big race–and to show why, I have to go back to about March of that same year to show you something.  Ready?  Here it is:

Yeah, it doesn't look like much now, but just wait.

Yeah, it doesn’t look like much now, but just wait.

That was the original location of the school.  At this time my friend, the original Annie, and I started putting this together as a role play, we needed a place where our little witches could do magic without being bothered but nosy normal people.  I’m not sure how this location actually came to be, but in the retelling of the story, the first Salem school was closer to the town that now bears that name, and at some point around in the late 1600s–1683 to be exact–the witches moved north into Maine and established a new, more remote location just to the west of what is now the Appalachia Trail.

(In the image above the trail actually follows that stream near the lower right point of the black outline, so I’ve sort of drawn over it, which is a mistake on my behalf.  Normally the wall would end before the stream, and the Trail would follow just outside the wall.)

Now, the huge peak to the right is Mount Katahdin, or simply Katahdin, since that’s just about what everyone calls the summit.  And because of the witch’s proximity to this site, every year around the Vernal Equinox they’d have a huge race on their brooms, flying around the area to show the other witches who was the best out there.  Because even if you can do magic, you wanna still have bragging rights about who’s the best on a broom.  People are people, even if they are magical.

When I finally moved the school southward closer to the local from which it takes it name, I kept the course in mind simply because having a bad-ass race far up to the north, where people would continue holding a race that had been run for centuries–it felt like a good idea.  And that’s how we’re at the point in the story we are today.

However . . . stickler that I am, while I have a course, I don’t have a lot of nice names for the various location on the course like one would have for like, you know, a Normal race course.  If you pulled Annie’s dad aside and asked him, “What’s that first left-hand turn after you return to the old section of track?” and right away he’d say, “Blanchimont.”  Because that’s what all the drivers call that section of the course.

The same thing would be true here.  Over the years the fliers would give various sections of the course names, normally turns and memorable straights.  So when Kerry heads in for his pre-race briefing before being turned loose on the track, he’s not gonna hear, “Okay, by turns 1 and 2, you need to watch the drop in the middle,” he’s going to hear something completely different.

That’s what I was doing last night.  I began going over the course and started labeling it.  And guess what?  You get to see what I’ve done so far.  Keep in mind that I haven’t marked the whole course, so what you’re going to see today is like a fifth of the track.  You’ll see what I mean at the end.

Let’s see then what I have in my Scrivener project.  Here’s the first section I put together, and this is how it looks when I’m writing.

My first attempt at boring the hell out of you.

My first attempt at boring the hell out of you.

Notice if you will that I not only have sections names, but I’ve given the elevations.  Because this is a course that is as cross country as it gets, and there’s a lot of going up and down over hills and dales.  So lets get started.

The Start/Finish is 260 meters/850 feet above sea level, and is in deep, dark Maine forest.  The first turn, really a “S” chicane, is called Trout because that’s the name of the stream the course crosses–just as Crossing is named after a nearby Normal location, and South Branch is named after the creek just to the left of the course.  Twelve Cut is named so because it’s the first part of the track to cross twelve hundred feet, and it was named so back in the day before there were metrics, so that name has stuck.  Barrell Around is named after nearby Barrell Ridge, and Twin Peaks because you go between those two peaks.

Here points 9, 10, 11, and 12 are a fast yet technically difficult area because of the elevation changes.  North Climb starts out at 543 meters/1780 feet, heads up to North Pass at 712 meters/2335 feet, or 170 meters higher, and then the fliers shoot right down the other side to Howe Drop–named after the creek there–which bottoms out at 404 meters/1325 feet.  Then you follow the bed at high speed to Cut Side, a climbing right hand turn situation 832 meters/2730 feet above sea level.  So in that area you have a fast, easy climb, then you drop at high speed 300 hundred meters and then climb back up another 400–all of this while probably zipping along somewhere between 250 to 300 kilometers and hour, or 155 to 185 miles per hours.  On a flying mountain bike.

Now comes the next part:

Still with me?  Good.

Still with me? Good.

Point 1 is Point 12 from the last map, so you have a point of reference.  You go up and over the ridge and then skirt along the mountain on East Terrace, located 648 meters/2125 feet up.  This leads to another hard left, East Slide (670 meters/2200 feet) which then drops hard and fast to Ford, 200 meters/950 feet lower.  Wading follows another creek bed and starts at 488 meters/1600 feet, and continues to Tip Over, at 985 meters/3230 feet and then on to Pogy (488 meters/1600 feet) and Notch Bottom (370 meters/1215 feet).  Though you go up for 500 meters and then back down for just over 600 meters, this is a flat-out section, where hitting 450 kph/280 mph isn’t out of the question and is usually the norm.

Now you have a nice little chicane section in 9, 10, 11, and 12.  First is Squeeze Through at 451 meters/1480 feet, and then a left turn and up 90 meters to Climbing Water at 544 meters/1785 feet, which leads to a right and then a left, climbing all the while, to Tiny Tip, 850 meters/2790 feet up, making for a 400 hundred meter, or quarter of a mile, climb from points 9 to 11.  Then we dive down into Hard Right, which is exactly what that is, at 610 meters/2000 feet.  If you go straight at Hard Right first you hit the safety enchantments, and then you hit trees and rocks, and while you probably wouldn’t hit the later, the inertia you lose when you hit the barrier isn’t going to leave a flier feeling one hundred percent.  Like they say, the enchantments are there to keep you from getting killed, not injured.

And there you have what I have so far.  And how much of the course is that?

Just this much.

Just this much.

Everything inside the black is covered:  like I said, about a fifth of the track.  That means I need to get the rest of the track in place, and then write about what’s happening in the briefing as well, and that all happens tonight.

Man, do I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Playing Out the Course

I know, I’m late again, but what the hell, right?  There are reasons because I’ve been writing like crazy this morning–like fifteen hundred and fifty words worth of writing.

The scene is finished, and it’s become–due to the writing this weekend–the second longest scene in the novel.  And in writing this much I’ve bought the novel to within about seventeen hundred words of one hundred and fifty thousand words.  Really, it’s been a great weekend after weeks of feeling like I didn’t want to write a thing.  So it’s been a relief to get that writing groove back.

And to make this chapter the longest in the part so far.

And, in the process, to make this chapter the longest in the novel with just a few hundred more words

This finishes up what ended with Vicky and Erywin seeing Emma and Kerry abut to get on their brooms and ride.  Where were they going?  That’s easy to answer . . .

 

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

Emma spoke for them. “We’re going up to check on the weather to the south.”

“You don’t mean to the south?”

“The only stuff to the east of us is Newfoundland and the Atlantic.” She tossed her head in Kerry’s direction. “That’s what my navigator says.”

“What can I say?” He held up his hands and shrugged. “I’m good with maps.”

“That you are.” Vicky pointed towards the group of students warming themselves around the fires. “Don’t feel like hanging with the others?”

Kerry shook his head. “Franky’s still mad.”

“He’s throwin’ shade our way—” Emma mounted her broom. “Beside, we already had our hot chocolate.”

“Yep.” Kerry slipped his leg over this broom. “We’re regenerated.” He wink at Erywin. “Good for another life.”

Erywin looked upward as she slowly shook her head. “Where are you going.”

Kerry pointed to the sky over his head. “Straight up.”

“About eight hundred to a thousand meters.” Emma flipped her hood up and tightened it around her face. “That should give us a good view.”

“Sounds good.” Vicky tapped her wrist. “Five minutes, no more.”

Emma nodded. “Got it.” She waited for Kerry to finish getting his gear in place, then they shot straight up into the together.

Vicky and Erywin followed their path upward. “Yeah, looks about a klick to me.” Vicky checked the contents of her much. “Should finish this before they get back.”

“Or get a refill.” Erywin took a long sip from hers. “Emma loves using the radar function to check the weather.”

“I was surprised she figured it out.”

“I’m not.” Erywin softened her tone slightly. “They working together okay?”

“You’ve seen them this trip. They’re doing well.” Vicky quickly glanced upward. “Setting her down for a weekend after that crash was a good idea.”

“She needed it: her ego was getting the best of her.” Erywin finished her hot chocolate and shook out her mug. “I’m going to ask a stupid question—”

“Be my guest.”

“Why haven’t you used them yet?”

Vicky finished the last of her drink and flipped the last few drops away onto the frozen ground. “You know what Vanessa Williams says, don’t you?”

Erywin gave the flight instructor a pained smirk. “I’m afraid I’m not up on her catalog.”

“You should be.” Vicky quickly glanced upward once more. “Follow my lead, okay?” She waited as Emma and Kerry dropped below the tree line and gently slowed to a hover before approaching. “So what’s the story, morning glories?”

 

There you go:  it’s all about the weather and playing with the broom’s radar systems to look for fronts and such.  And what did they find?

 

Emma threw back the hood of her parka and stripped off her heavy cap and flight helmet before answering. “Weather to the south and southwest looks clear: we saw nothing out of the ordinary on the radar.”

Kerry was putting his heavy cap on as he stood next to his broom. “We got out at least a hundred kilometers; we can always take another sighting when we get further south.”

Vicky keep her pleasure from showing on her face. “Assuming we’re heading that way.”

“Don’t see any other way.” Kerry shrugged. “Though we could be going west from here—”

“Why not east?”

“Like Emma said, nothing to the east of us but Newfoundland and ocean.”

Emma stuck her hands in her pockets. “Of course—”

Vicky stared back looking unconcerned. “Yes?”

“It would be nice if we knew where we were going from here.”

“We’ve already covered a thousand kilometers—” Kerry pulled his arms across his torso and squeezed himself to stretch. “I’d like to know how much more we have to go.”

 

First off, that “We got out at least a hundred kilometers” is a completely legitimate statement:  I found a “Distance to Horizon” calculator, and if you’re a thousand meters up, you can see about one hundred and twelve kilometers.  Research!

And now Emma wants to know where they’re going.  And you know if she wants to know, Kerry does, too.  They probably even spoke about it when they were checking the advanced weather–

 

Vicky couldn’t help be be impressed. “You’ve been keeping track of our courses?”

“Sure.” He turn on a lop-sided grin. “All good navigators would.”

“And you are a good navigator.” Vicky slowly turned towards Erywin. “You think it’d be cheating if I mentioned where the rest of our checkpoints are?”

Erywin saw what Vicky was doing, and fully understood what she’d meant when she said to follow her lead. “Well . . .” She turned an appraising eye upon the two students. “I mean, as long as they don’t say anything to the others—”

Emma pipped up. “We won’t.”

Kerry nodded several times. “Promise.”

“Well, then—” She turned back to her eager pupils. “I don’t see the harm.” Vicky pulled her tablet from Hammerspace and clicked off their remaining checkpoints. “From here it’s the ferry terminal at Wood Islands, then the airport outside Trenton; main highway intersection at Aspen; Point of the Beach at Liscomb Island; Port of Sheet Harbor; the Canadian Naval Maintenance Facility at Halifax; Cape D’or Lighthouse and Advocate Harbor; West Side Docks in Saint John; Yarmouth Harbor and then . . .” She slipped the tablet back into her magical storage space. “Home. Rockport and the school.”

 

Not much, huh?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But now . . . it’s been hinted how well Emma and Kerry work together.  Guess what?  Here’s how that works:

 

The two children exchanged glances, then Kerry turned to his broom and pulled up a holographic map of the area on his tablet while Emma moved to his right to help. Vicky and Erywin moved closer and Kerry began moving the map about, looking for reference points. He touched two spots on map. “We got Halifax and Saint John—”

Emma half turned her head towards Kerry. “Isn’t St. John in Newfoundland?”

“That’s St. John’s.” He quickly slid the map to the east to show his wingmate. “Different city. What we want is in New Brunswick—” He shifted the map to the west, centered on St. John, and zoomed in. “There’s the West End Docks, and here—” He pushed the map so they were now over Halifax. “There’s the naval station.”

 

Keep in mind these maps are marked–which is how he’s finding the Canadian Naval Station–and Kerry has an excellent grasp of geography:  it’s obvious in the way he knew there were two cities that were almost St. John.  And Emma doesn’t get upset when she’s corrected:  since Kerry is the navigator of the team, and it’s because she’s aware he knows his maps.  At times, though, she even helps out:

 

“Sounds good.” Emma looked at the map as Kerry expanded the display. “There’s Trenton, just north of Glasgow.”

“Got it.” He zoomed in on Trenton, Nova Scotia. “And there’s the airport. Which means—” He move the display a bit to the north. “There’s Wood Islands, and there’s the ferry terminal.” He tapped the map in both places, marking the checkpoint. “Now for an island.”

Emma pointed at the map. “There’s a bunch on the southeast coast of Nova Scotia.” He moved the display along the Atlantic Coast of the Canadian province and began scanning. He spotted a familiar name. “There’s the town of Liscomb—”

“And Liscomb Island is right next to it.” He zoomed the map. “And Point of the Beach—there.” He marked the map and zoomed out. “Aspen has to be between the two . . .” He tapped the edge of the display twice to zoom inward just a bit and found the small town of Aspen about thirty kilometers to the north of the island. “There’s that, and now . . .” He shifted the map to the west looking for a point between Halifax and St. John, and found it almost instantly. “Advocate Harbor and the lighthouse.” He moved the display eastward once more and fount the Port of Sheet Harbor after thirty seconds.

Emma gave a satisfied sigh. “Now for Yarmouth.”

“Already figured that out.” He pushed the map display to his right until they were looking at the western coast of Nova Scotia. “Right there.” He marked the point. “About as west as you can get before you run out of land. Which means . . .” He sketched a line to the southwest until he encountered a well-known point of land. “Rockport. And our home by the sea just to the west.” He quickly connected the marked points on the map, creating a line from their current location back to the school. “There’s it is: that’s the route.”

 

And it’s a big route:

 

Neither child spoke while Emma spent a few seconds examining the course. “How long?”

Kerry made several quick measurements between points. “One thousand sixty-six kilometers.”

Emma glanced at her instructors before turning to Kerry. “That’s as much as we’ve flown today.”

He nodded. “Yep. Lots of miles to fly before we sleep.”

“And there’s the stretch—” She pointed at the last leg going from Yarmouth to Rockport.

Kerry measured the distance. “About three hundred and eighty-five kilometers, all over the Gulf of Maine.”

“That’s gonna freak some people.”

“For real.”

“That’s gonna take a lot of time.” Emma gazed skyward. “We’ve already been flying seven hours—and it’s gonna get dark in a couple of hours.”

 

If you want to see what that looks like–

Don't bother asking:  you know I have it all ready to go.

Don’t bother asking: you know I have it all ready to go.

From PEI to Cape Ann, there it is.  And Emma’s aware of the changing conditions, and that it won’t be long before they’re flying in darkness once more.  That only seems to get the mental gears working harder, however . . .

 

“True, but—” Kerry measured the two legs before the final leg home. “From Advocate to home is six hundred and fifty kilometers. So it’s about four hundred kilometers from here to there. And once we reach Advocate Harbor—” He traced the course. “Zoom, bang, confirm; zoom, bang, confirm; zoom—Boom.” He nodded at Emma. “Home.”

She nodded back. “We can turn it on.”

“We can do the same here—” He pointed out the stretch between Liscomb Island and Halifax. “One quick stop, then power on.”

“Yeah, right.” She began concentrating on the course. “We could do the first four hundred in under seventy-five—”

“And the same for the last six-fifty.”

“It’s gonna be dark on that last six.

“Maybe not.” He pointed at the long final stretch over the ocean. “We’ll be heading west—”

“Chasing the sun—”

“If we do it right—”

She nodded “We could—”

He nodded back. “Totally.”

Vicky was content to listen to them work out the flight in the verbal shorthand she’d seen them used before. Now it was her turn to speak. “So what are you guys saying?”

 

And this is how they work together:  they get on the same wavelength and they get to where they don’t need to say everything, because they’re so sure they know the other is thinking the same thing that they just cut each other off because there’s no need for complete sentences.  That’s called teamwork, and they have it.

So what are they saying?

 

Vicky was content to listen to them work out the flight in the verbal shorthand she’d seen them used before. Now it was her turn to speak. “So what are you guys saying?”

Emma turned to Vicky. “Based on this course, we could run it in two and a half hours.” She took a short, deep breath. “What time is it?”

Kerry was looking at his display. “It’s almost fifteen twenty-five local, fourteen twenty-five back home.”

Emma nodded before giving her final analysis to Vicky. “If we’re brooms up at fifteen hours, Salem time, we—” She shifted her eyes towards Kerry, letting Vicky know she was indicating their team. “—could be home by seventeen-thirty.”

“That’s a bold statement.” Vicky turned to Kerry. “You agree with that?”

“I do.” He looked towards his wingmate. “Emma’s got her numbers right.”

“Though to do it, we’re gonna have to move fast.” Emma shrugged. “Based on what we’ve seen, that could freak some people out and they might not want to keep up.”

“You’ve seen how it works: your flight, your rules.” She slowly turned to Erywin. “Though some of those points we’ll have to hit in the dark—”

Erywin got the hint. “Which we might miss—

Kerry cut off the instructor. “We won’t.”

Vicky glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. “You could miss your—”

I won’t.”

Given the determination she heard in Kerry’s voice, Vicky decided not to push that point. She stepped up to examine his course in more detail. “How much time would you need to work this up?”

He looked over the map almost lovingly. “The course is there; all I’d need to do is figure out the headings—”

Emma moved next to him, while continuing to look at Vicky. “And once Kerry gives me the individual distances I can work out time-to-target.”

“Again, how much time you need?”

The wingmates exchange a momentary glance, then they both nodded. Emma answered. “Fifteen minutes.”

 

Annie is sure of her magic, and Kerry knows his navigation.  When either says they can do something, believe them.  Needless to say, they are ready to rock, and all they need is a blessing.

 

Vicky had already made up her mind minutes before, so a decision wasn’t difficult. “Do it—go.” She took Erywin’s arm and led her away from the team members and towards the rest of the party. “See what I mean?”

“I do now.” She matched step with Vicky. “So what did Vanessa Williams say?”

Vicky half-grinned. “Save the best for last.” She stepped into the area where the other students sat warming up. She gave them a few seconds to hush before making her announcement. “All right, listen up. Make the most of your rest because flight instruction begins at fourteen forty-five, and we will be brooms up at fifteen hours.” She clasped her hands and nodded back over her shoulder. “Team Myfanwy’s got the ball: they’re talking us home.”

 

And that is about as definitive as it gets:  “These kids are taking us home.”  Of course no one else knows how long the way home is . . .

This was the penultimate scene of the chapters, and now it’s back to the school, where the next scene becomes Annie-centric because I’m heading back to the school–

Just like Salem Overnight is doing.

North to the Passage

I woke up about five AM with The Musical Box running on repeat in my head for some reason.  This is not entirely impossible, because it happens quite often.  Not with this song, but many a morning I’ve opened my eyes to a new kind of way . . . sorry, just had to do that.  I’d much rather open my eyes to someone running their fingers over my arm, but you take what you’re given, and sometimes I’m given what I can handle.  Maybe the arm touching comes later.

Last night I wrote two scenes and started another, and one of the scenes is probably the shortest I’ve written for this novel–just under four hundred words.  Mostly what’s happening is Vicky and Annie are looking for my fast and furious duo, and neither are all that happy about having to hunt these two down.  This is all happening for our ladies back in the Sunrise Bends, while we know Kerry and Emma are way beyond that area, because . . . well, they’re racing, that’s why, and since we’ve already said they’re zipping along at over a hundred miles an hour in one stretch, they’ll outdistance the others in no time.

Lets take a look:

Not only a good shot of Northwest Passage, but you can see the whole school

Not only a good shot of Northwest Passage, but you can see the whole school.

Northwest Passage–which Kerry and Emma are approaching–is the closest turn to the bottom of the above picture.  Sunrise Bends is just off to the upper left of that blue lake-like thing, and that’s pretty much where Vicky and Annie are flying.  This means that K & E aren’t just setting their own pace, they’re burning up the track, and two women a mile away have pretty much figured out that they’re racing–

How do I know they’re a mile away?  I use my own rulers in Blender to figure out distances.  This is how I do it:

Draw quickly, and measure with a big stick.

Draw quickly, and measure with a big stick.

This is how I do it.  If you look at the tab on the left, you’ll see something labeled “Dimensions:” and right below that “X:” with the number 165m alongside.  When I set things up I did a little scaling, so that number really means 1,650 meters, or 1.65 kilometers.  And as we already know from Kerry, if 165 kilometers an hour is really 100 miles an hour, then 1.65 kilometers is a mile.  From Sunrise Bends to Northwest Passage is right about a mile away as the pissed-off instructor and fuming girlfriend fly.

And with the broom they have, they can fly pretty fast.

I just realized, I should probably draw a Quidditch field inside the school, just to give people a little sense of a scale.  After all, we do know those dimensions, and when we’re talking about flying a hundred miles an hour–or even faster in the upcoming scenes–it’d give people a sense of just how fast things move around this joint.

Now, what’s Vicky doing?

 

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

She thought about speeding through The Narrows and the Essess and hoping she’s catch up to the students as they were approaching Polar Turn. But I’m not going to find them there . . . She suspected that they were somewhere else now, too caught up in where they were doing to pay attention to comm chatter. She wasn’t going to find them sticking to the Green Line—

Vicky pulled hard on her broom and shot a hundred meters into the sky.

She was already facing towards the northwest corner of the school wall, which meant she was facing Northwest Passage, where the Green Line stopped paralleling the north wall and turned to the south. If there was anywhere they could be, Vicky figured they’d either be approaching Northwest Passage, or in it. And if they were in it, they’d likely be going slow enough that she could get them to stop.

She leaned forward, preparing to open up her Espinoza 6000. She gunned it forward, reaching three hundred kilometers an hour just in time to start slowing as she neared the Observatory. But she wasn’t just slowing because she wanted to come to a hover over Northwest Passage: no, she caught something out of the corner if her eye—

Two things, actually, moving at high speed down the West End straight.

Vicky jerked her broom to a quick stop and turned so she could get a better view. Yes, there wasn’t any doubt—and she couldn’t believe that she was seeing this. What the hell are they doing?

She pointed her broom in the direction of the speeding students and headed after them.

 

Well, Vicky, I think we can tell you what they’re doing.  The question is:  what are you going to do?

Meanwhile, back with the female side of Team Soul Mate:

 

By the time she reached the main curve of Sunrise Bends Professor Salomon wasn’t anywhere in sight. Annie was worried, because if she wasn’t visible, that meant Kerry wasn’t visible—which meant he was still flying with Emma—

That girl. Annie was quickly developing a bad feeling about Emma. Not a dislike, but an intense feeling that she was doing something right now that was going to get Kerry in trouble. Or worse, hurt. And if Kerry got hurt, she wouldn’t be happy.

Though right now she didn’t know who was going to make her the most unhappy.

 

This isn’t looking good for Kerry, who’s liable to face the Wrath of Kirilova.  And there’s that girl again.  Good thing these kids are too young to remember 1960’s television.

Only one thing left to do . . .

 

Annie was half way through the bend when she decided she wasn’t going to find Kerry like this, chasing down Professor Salomon. The only way she was going to find him, and convince him to stop whatever he was doing, was to leave the course and head out over the grounds. She was aware she’d probably end up in trouble as well, but there was always the chance she’d find him before the professor did.

It was a slim chance, but she had to try.

She jerked the PAV straight up and found herself just over the tree tops seconds later. She wondered about the best way to find him and decided heading to the other side of the school was the best decision. She could probably catch him heading down West End—

She saw someone flying at high speed from just beyond the Observatory, heading south. It had to be Professor Salomon, and if Annie wasn’t mistaken, she was following West End—

She had to be chasing down Kerry and Emma.

Annie pushed her broom forward, fast, chasing after the professor—

Chasing after Kerry.

 

Yeah, this is going to end . . . well, maybe today, maybe tomorrow.  But the end’s in sight, and no matter what the outcome, there’ll likely be tears shed.

I think the "Two For the Hospital" chapter is something known in writing as "foreshadowing".

If I were a writer, I’d say the “Two For the Hospital” scene is what’s known in the business as “foreshadowing”.