Lunchtime Ceridwen Bound

No mean witches today, though last night I was certainly ready to cut a bitch.  The night didn’t start that way:  I was out for a good dinner and a few drinks–I won’t show the picture I took of me holding up a pint of stout because you’ll get the wrong ideas–and then I walked the mile through the city back to my apartment, warm and comfortable in my new winter coat and mukluks.

I even took the time to get a picture before heading in to relax for the night.

I even took the time to get a picture before heading in to relax for the night.

No, it was around eleven PM, about the time I was getting ready for bed, when some moron set off the fire alarm, and the entire building was filled with the sound of Wee-ho, wee-ho, for about twenty-five minutes.  Whenever this happens the elevators lock down and the fire trucks come running, and every single time its discovered that someone was cooking and filled up their apartment with so much smoke that it drifted out into the hallway.  I’m not saying this is due to the moron in question being a little high, but . . . yeah.  They’re always found to be a little high.  Or a lot high.

Needless to say I didn’t get to bed until about midnight, and because this cold is being a pain in the butt, I was tossing and turning most of the evening.  I was so out of it that I didn’t even head out to Panera this morning, choosing to stay home and have coffee and write nearly seven hundred words while going through a selection of tunes–one of which will be the song Annie is going to use as her Samhain dance dedication during her D Levels.  All I will say is that I worked out the scene last night, and it is the damnedest thing I’ve developed for these two.  It’ll also show that my Bulgarian Pop Prince has a real playful sense of humor . . .

Back to the story, already in progress–

Erywin said she was gonna speak with Jessica, and that’s what this scene is all about.  And it takes place a few days after the meeting between the three counselors:

 

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

With morning classes over, all that remained for Jessica was to sweep up her tablet and jaunt over to her office in Ceridwen Cover tower for lunch and to conduct a bit of coven business. While they were always available for problems, it was common for all the coven leaders to take the time during midday to handle any issues that had come up with their students, or with members from other covens.

Jessica didn’t mind this time alone. Instructors were a busy lot, and with today being Tuesday, Jessica had Advanced Transformations after dinner, and that meant being in class until twenty-two tonight. She shrugged it off: it was the life she chose, and after nearly twenty years of instructing at Salem, it was a little too late to complain of her lot in life.

A knock on the door turned her away from her desk. She grinned the moment she saw her visitor. “Well hello, stranger.”

Erywin slid into the Mistress of Transformation’s office. “I know, right? Here I am, just across the courtyard, and I may as well be on the other side of The Pentagram from you.”

“Which you normally are this time of day.” Jessica waved the door closed the moment Erywin was inside. “What brings you to my end of the magical world? Business or pleasure?”

“Oh, a little of both.” Erywin calmly glanced about the room. “You heading over to Ceridwen?”

“Was about to, yeah.”

Erywin held out a hand. “Mind if I tag along?”

Jessica took her hand. “I don’t mind at all.” She jaunted them both to the coven office a second later. The office wasn’t in complete darkness; enchantments checked the room at eleven and if the room was found empty, the lighting was adjusted to a low level to prepare for entry. Jessica released Erywin’s hand, brought the lights to full illumination, and moved towards her desk.

Erywin looked about the room, which was nearly a duplicate of her own office in Mórrígan Coven: about fifty percent larger than her office in Chemistry Hall done up in several shades of dark crimson, which Jessica said suited her far better than yellow, the official coven color. Normally there was a storage room across from the entrance, but Jessica had hers removed years before, leaving her with additional open space with a slight curving wall that she filled with a sofa, a coffee table, and two chairs.

 

Now here comes something I’ve never presented here before . . .  I’ve mentioned, many times, that this story originated out of a role play, and  part of that play required creating the world that eventually became this witching little worlds behind fifteen meter high walls.

One of the things I needed to create were the layouts for the coven towers, just as I’d created the layouts for so much more.  Which means that way back in the summer of 2011 I worked on a design for the five towers that would make up the points of The Pentagram, and be where all my little witches would live while leaning the magical trade.  That means when I describe the coven layout, I know that it’s accurate because I more or less locked it down years before.

So here you go:  the floor plan for the coven tower’s ground floor.

In all its stunning graphic glory.

In all its stunning graphic glory.

Pay no attention to that “Stairs to Dungeon” description, because this was developed back in the day when Salem was just a tad different than today’s incarnation.  Needless to say, if this were Cernunnos Coven, the kids enter and leave by the door on the left if they’re going to the Great Hall, and by the door on the right if they’re headed out for Formulistic Magic or Transformation classes.  And were they to take the door at the bottom, that would let them wall down the inside of the Pentagram Wall towards Åsgårdsreia Coven.

Yes, it's all upside down, but you get the idea.

Yes, it’s all upside down, but you get the idea.

Now you know what the ground floor commons looks like, and you know where that sofa is that Annie and Kerry just happen to sack out on when they’re too tired to walk up the stairs to their dorm rooms.  Yeah, that’s it:  they’re too tired.  I’m going with that.

Erywin’s there for business, and it doesn’t take her long to get to it–

 

Erywin smirked as she pointed at the ensemble. “Anyone getting detention?”

Jessica sat in the high back leather chair behind her mahogany desk. “No. But the weekend’s coming up and there’s a couple of students inching their way on to my shit list.” It was a well-known fact around the school that the Mistress of Transformation’s idea of detention involved turning students into inanimate objects like chairs, sofas, and statues, and leaving them in her coven office for the weekend. “I might have to swap out the chairs Friday afternoon.” She set her tablet upon her desk and got comfortable. “What’s up?”

Erywin got right into matters. “Advanced Transformation: are you teaching the gender swap spells at the normal time?”

Jessica nodded. “Yes, Tuesday before Ostara, as always. Spend the prior two Tuesday nights working on the spell, then doing the spell that night. Ostara is a time of change and transformation, so those spells are perfect for them.” She turned her head slightly to the right. “Why do you want to know?”

“I was requested to perform due diligence on a student who may have GID.” Erywin slowly sank back into the entirely too comfortable chair. “The student in question is in Advanced Transformation, and those particular spells, well—” A grin slowly appeared. “They could act as a trigger for someone with GID, no?”

“I see how that could happen.” She lightly tossed her head to the left. “Anything you want me to do prior to that particular class?”

Erywin kept her tone light. “No, just conduct things as you always do.”

“So you don’t want me keeping an eye on Kerry?”

 

And BOOM!  Just as Erywin called it:  she’s figured out just who the mystery student is.  Of course I haven’t written that part yet, but I will this afternoon, which means you’ll see the rest of this scene tomorrow morning.  I promise.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get my nose pierced again . . .

A Samhain Coming

Welcome to Act Two!  Yes, it’s true:  I started last night.  Not in a big way, but the ball is rolling.

Before I start I should tell you I went out last night and had dinner to celebrate one year of hormone replacement therapy, and enjoyed a beverage at the same time.

As you can see, it's not a Frappuccino.

As you can see, it’s not a Frappuccino.

That’s a year down and a year to go, but I only need see my doctor three more times before she’s finished with me.  In fact, I’ll see her the Monday after I return from my little side trip to Indiana next week, then not again until January, and then not again until next July.  After that I’m considered a “graduate” of Transition University, I believe, and all that remains from that point on is surgery.

Let’s talk about the story, however.

It’s Samhain, as I mention in the novel.  Actually, it’s the Samhain celebration, because the real Samhain isn’t for a few days.  We already know there’s a costume dance in the evening, an bonfires down in the meadow, but the biggest event going on that day is the racing.  It’s one of the few times when all five covens get a chance to run wild in the streets and go at each other as much as possible.

As I’d mentioned, there was a bit of set up work I needed to finished, and that involved getting the Cernunnos Race team finished, and laying out how the competition would work out.  That took a few hundred words and a bit of brain power, but I got it finished.

Can't tell your covens without a scorecard.

Can’t tell your covens without a scorecard.

What I have here is my binder on the left, the scene next to that on the right, my racing grid layout to the right of the scene, and on the very right my notes on the scene.  You see both the A and B Teams, and if they seem a little boy heavy, you’re not wrong:  in this world Cernunnos is the one coven that fields more boys than girls.  Must be that horned god thing going on .

You can see the gird I’ve laid out, with five heats total.  Most of the time the teams are running in head-to-head heats, until you get to Heat 4, and then they throw three teams on the course at once and let them race it out.  The Blackbirds of Mórrígan are the current leaders in the coven standing, so they sit out the first heat and then race one-on-one against another coven, finally getting the last race of the day.

The idea with setting up an example was to ensure that every coven got three races:  that way points aren’t all over the place, and a coven can’t say that they were screwed.  It is true that the teams who’ll get the best point advantage are the top two:  the three who race in Heat 4 have to fight harder to get a similar allocation–more teams, same number of positions for points–so they get screwed just a little.

And the scoring system used for normal racing is the same as the one used by Formula One during the years 1991 to 2002:

1st: 10
2nd: 6
3rd: 4
4th: 3
5th: 2
6th: 1

The only actual change in the scoring is during Heat 4–or whenever there are more than two covens on the course–and that’s when they use the Formula One scoring system used from 2003 to 2009:

1st: 10
2nd: 8
3rd: 6
4th: 5
5th: 4
6th: 3
7th: 2
8th: 1

There you go:  my racing setup.  It’s all set, just like the novel–

To do and not to do:  that is the question.

To do and not to do: that is the question.

That said, I look at Chapter Ten and realized I need to add two more scenes . . .

That Which is Known and Unknown

A funny thing happened on the way to finishing up my writing last night–I was reading.  That’s not really that funny, but it points out that research can sometime mean going back and finding new . . . things.

I was reading over some scenes from the last novel, a scene that I knew pretty well, or at least thought I did.  It’s a good scene, explained more than I remembered–and then I saw it.  A single line, maybe eight or night words–but the moment I read it I thought, “Well, damn:  I’m going to need to change that.”

Why, you may ask?  Because it was something stated that will affect a scene I haven’t written yet, and the moment I saw what I had written, it hit me that I’d have to, at the very least, modify the line to allow something that would be said in, oh, maybe another thirty thousand or so words.  So I need to do a little rectoning–not much, just change the line a bit–but since that novel isn’t out, no harm, no foul.

Though I also found two other students who I hadn’t accounted for, and I had to do a little retconing on one of them so they’d fit in with my attendance these days.  Look, I’m only a half a million words away from where I started two years ago, give me a break.

Speaking of breaks, Kerry’s up, and it looks like something’s happening–

 

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

“Hello, Annie; Kerry.”

Professor Semplen approached the table, appearing relaxed and friendly. Annie hadn’t seen much of him since their time in Berlin, though he did stop by and wish her an happy birthday as he had the year before. She through they could were missing each other—save during his class—because Kerry’s and her schedule was so different from the rest of the B Levels. “Hello, Professor.”

Kerry set his hand in his lap. “Hello, Professor.”

“I hope I’m not interrupting—” Professor Semplen approached the table and stood opposite his covenmates for a few seconds. “May I join you for a moment?”

The children exchanged glances before Kerry nodded. “Please, have a seat.”

The professor chose the chair across from Kerry. “I won’t stay long: I just wanted to catch you before you headed to the Flight School. I saw your name on the tryout sheet for today.”

 

Kerry and racing sign-up sheets.  Annie had a few thoughts on that, and all along she’s said he’s going to do it, so why act like he’s not?  Because he’s Kerry, that’s why.  But here he’s got this coven leader–and I should mentioned, one of the coven racing managers and the head of their coven team–coming to him, so it much be something important, right?

 

Kerry didn’t appear nervous or self-conscious about the question, though. “Yeah, I signed up for the seventeen-fifteen slot so I can get down to The Diamond after class.” He set his elbows against the table top and leaned forward. “Should I come down earlier?”

“Actually . . .” Professor Semplen shook his head. “You don’t need to come down at all.”

Kerry went from appearing concerned to looking worried. “Is—is there something wrong? What’s going on?”

Sitting where she was between them, Annie easily read Kerry’s and Professor Semplen’s expressions and body language. She saw the answer before Kerry because she was a bystander. “Kerry . . . I think the professor is saying you don’t need to try out for the team.”

Kerry stared at his girlfriend for about three seconds before the her statement made sense. He slowly turned to his coven leader. “Is that true, Professor?”

Professor Semplen adjusted his glasses. “Only four people signed up for try-outs, and I’d already decided that you were going to get one of the B Team slots.” He shrugged. “Based upon everything we’ve seen from last year, and everything you’ve done, I’ve no doubt you’ll do well.”

“But I’ve never competed before—”

“No? What about the test races you were in on the Green Line and The Diamond? What about your accident last October?” The professor looked away for a moment. “What about the flying you did during the Day of the Dead?”

As Kerry was about to respond to the professor’s questions, Annie spoke to him instead. “This has been on your mind for a while, and the closer you get to the moment of proving yourself, the more you feel you’re not going to do well.” Her grin turned into a near smirk. “Once you wrapped your mind around magic you never had a problem. And you won’t have a problem with racing. Do you know what my father says?”

The fact that Annie was bringing up her father told Kerry all he needed to know about what she was going to say. “What?”

“Don’t worry about racing: just race.” She reached over and lightly touched his arm. “Professor Semplen is right: he doesn’t need to see you try out, my love. The moment the track lights turn green, you’ll know what to do.”

 

Annie never brings up her father unless it’s important, and here she’s quoting him to put his mind at ease.  But she’s known all along that he’d make the team–and given there are so few people in their coven to try out for those three slots, and Kerry is one of the best up and coming fliers, that it was ridiculous to believe he wouldn’t.  So after that all that remains is to tell him to show up Sunday to get fitted for his racing gear and get checked out on a Class 2–which he already has–and be ready to race in two weeks–

If he were on the A Team he's probably start next Saturday.  I know because . . . I know.

If he were on the A Team he’s probably start next Saturday. I know because . . . I know.

All that remains now is for Annie and Kerry to have a small, quiet moment together . . .

 

Once Professor Semplen was out of hearing range, Annie moved her chair closer to Kerry so that she didn’t have lean in order to touch his arm. “Well . . .”

Kerry looked down, full well knowing what was coming. “Yes?”

“Do I get to say I told you so?”

He lifted her hand from his arm. “Sweetie—” He kissed her hand tenderly. “You’ve been telling me that since I said I may go out.”

Annie chuckled. “You know I’m always right, my love.”

He laughed along with her. “I know, Sweetie. You’d think I’d get that by now.”

 

. . . and bring about the end of the chapter.

End of the chapter?  Yep.  Sure is.

End of the chapter? Yep. Sure is.

Now on to nine, and we’re going see some crazy here, because you can probably guess what Dark Witch Instruction is about–or maybe not.  You’ll just have to tune in and hope I write after my face burning tonight.

All Accounted For

A long, somewhat useless weekend, and now it’s back to the grind and the start of June, which means it feels like I didn’t do a lot, and compared to some weekends, I didn’t.  But, strangely, I got a lot done.

I did spend several hours getting my coven numbers and attendance in order, because I’m strange that way.  It wasn’t enough to make sure I had the right numbers in each tower, but I did a bit of cross-checking to make certain I had the right numbers in each level.  Remember how I said I like to keep my books balanced?  Yeah, that’s what I was doing, making sure I didn’t have an extra slip in there somewhere.

Once I knew my numbers were right, it was a matter of finding each of my students a home, and then giving them a name.  Both those are somewhat daunting tasks, because you have to find something legitimate for each country.  You start roaming all over the world and before you know it, your wandering eyes finds strange and interesting things . . .

Like that blue divet in the upper left hand corer of the island.  That's the resulted of the biggest boom the US ever set off, and it helped get Godzilla made.

Like that blue divot in the upper left hand corer of the island. That’s the resulted of the biggest boom the US ever set off, and it helped get Godzilla made.

I’m always finding stuff like that.  But I don’t want to wander again, so let’s get back on track.

I felt I needed to fill out my covens, because if for no other reason I can look at them and pull in characters are needed to fill out the stories where needed.  As I also did with the B Levels, as the novel progress I know who moved up to the next level, and who didn’t, so for the next book, when it comes time to figure out who the new A Levels are, I’ll know.  I’ll know who to move into advanced classes and put into race teams, if needed.  When Annie and Kerry become C Levels and take over the duties of welcoming the new B Levels to the second floor, I’ll know who those students are.

And since their coven is the smallest, I filed them out first.

Yeah, the kids are all here, and they're all right.

Yeah, the kids are all here, and they’re all right.

Here are all my Snakey kids, ready to hit the ground running.  A few interesting things popped up.  One, in five of the six levels , there’s only one boy.  The girls outnumber the boys, but only by the thinnest amount, unlike the populations of the other covens.  Demographically they’re from all over:  three are from North America, four are from South America, six are from Europe, three are from Africa, three are from Asia, and two can be considered part of Oceania.

In time I’ll fill out the other covens; probably sooner than one would expect.  I know which one is next:  it’s the East Point of the Pentagram, because I gotta balance out the West Point, right?

As for the actual writing of the novel . . . just under five hundred words, which is a better Sunday than I’ve done of late.  It’s a continuation of Wednesday wanting to ask the kids a question, and getting to that question.

 

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

Wednesday waited for the kids to sit, lightly tugging at the heme of her sweater while she watched them get comfortable. She stood about two meter in front of them: she figured it would be the best way to keep their attention. “I don’t know if you’ve heard, but a few instructors are considering using you a minions once in a while.”

“We’ve heard.” Annie tasted the last of her grilled cheese and cider as she cleared her throat. “We spoke with Deanna last Friday, and she told us.”

“I figured that would happen: she was there at the dinner when the subject came up, and I knew you visited her first thing on Get Reacquainted Day.” Wednesday lightly rubbed her upper lip. “I’d like to ask you to come and help me in my class.”

Kerry exchanged glanced with Annie: they’d already discussed the minion situation, and believed Wednesday would be one of the first to ask. “We can help—” He chuckled softly. “But we’ll need to get out of history and math if you want us to help with the A Levels.”

Wednesday rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet. “I don’t imagined I’d have difficultly getting Maddie and Adric to let you skip class for the day, as long as it didn’t become a regular thing.” She referred to Professors Palmescoff and Lewiston, who taught the B Level History and Advanced Math courses occurring at the same time as Wednesday’s A Level Basic Spell Casting. “But I had another class in mind—”

Annie moved closer to Kerry, warming herself against the encroaching chill in the air. “Which one?” She figured the A Level class was the one of choice: after all, they knew all the simple spells, though perhaps Wednesday wanted them to help out the C Levels, too . . .

Wednesday looked down for just a few seconds before speaking. “I was thinking the B Level Spells class.” The silence that followed stretched on for nearly five seconds before she threw open her hands. “Well?”

“You really want us to help out . . .” Kerry swallowed while coming up with the right expression. “Our old class?”

Annie almost snorted. “It’s not really our old class. We’ll never go there.”

“Unless you come and be my minions.” Wednesday stopped rocking left and right now that she was past the point of asking her question. “The question I have is: are you gonna feel strange helping out people who you see in other classes every day?”

 

Here’s the kicker:  when it comes to minions instructors always get them from the upper levels.  Every once in a while they’ll ask one or two students to help out with a lab or exercise, as Helena did in A Level Sorcery when she was teaching the kids to throw up shields and had Annie and Kerry toss some light Air Hammers at them, but it’s a rare thing for an instructor to pull in someone from an advanced class and have them do minion duty for kids in their own level.

I’ll finish this scene tonight, because I’m looking forward to getting into the next scene and closing out the chapter.  After this we get wingmates back together, and you will believe a girl can fly.

At Home Among the Witches

Of late I’ve been on something of a roll, and not the kind upon which you place butter.  I’ve cruised through Chapter Four, writing–and finishing–the third scene last night, which means I’ve written about fifty-five hundred words over the weekend.  I’ve also pushed the novel to a point just short of thirty thousand words, and considering last night was the twenty-third day of which I’ve worked on this novel, that means I’ve averaging about thirteen hundred words a day.  Again, not NaNo pacing, but it’s up there, and I’m happy.

So are my kids:  happy, but tired.  It’s two in the morning, and they’ve finally stumbled back home–if you can call a jaunt from Logan International Airport in Boston to the school “stumbled”, then yeah, they did.  And just like the last novel, it took a few thousand words to get my kids here.  And a lot of other kids as well . . .

 

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

The professors stayed behind to finish checking everyone in while the students filed out of the station. Those going to Mórrígan and Åsgårdsreia headed east and north across the Great Hall’s Rotunda; those going to Blodeuwedd and Ceridwen turned right out of the center and headed down the West Hall towards the Atrium and then outside to Founder’s Gate and the Pentagram Walls . . .

“Come on, Sweetie.” Annie felt her right hand being taken in Kerry’s left before they began walking towards the West Transept Entrance. Towards the covered walkway leading to Cernunnos Coven tower. Leading to their new rooms.

Leading back to their place they now thought of as home.

Off to the tower with you, kids!  And they do.  The new Gang of Four reach good ‘ol Cernunnos Tower, and Penny and Alex head up to their room, leaving the Lovey Doveys to look around the ground floor commons before heading up to their new digs.  They pass through the first floor and pause for a moment before their old rooms, before meeting up again on the far end where something–a spiral staircase leading upward–awaits:

They stepped into the stairwell and headed up to the second floor.

The layout of the second and third floors—the B and C Levels on the second, the D and E Levels above—were slightly different. For one, this staircase connected the second and third floors to the first floor; there wasn’t another staircase at the other end, which meant the only other way off these floors was by jaunting. The separation of the girls from the boys also remained the same, but since students entered the floor from the northeast instead of the southwest, the girls rooms were now on the right and the boys’ on the left. Lastly, the C Level rooms were in the half of the tower next to the staircase; that required the B Levels to walk to the other side of the tower to reach their rooms.

Annie veered to the hallway on the right and headed to the far side of the tower. She noticed a slight change in the wall shading, which she took to mean they had moved passed the C Level rooms and had entered the B Level section. Second door on her right she found her name plaque, the same one that had appeared next to her room at some time during Orientation Day. It had been modified since moving:

Anelie Kirilova — B Level

“Here I am.” She turned and snuggled into Kerry’s waiting arms. “You need to sleep.”

“So do you, dear.” Kerry held her loosely.

“Then we should get to bed.”

“Yes, Dear.” He gave her a soft kiss. “Good night, Annie. I love you.”

She gave him a final hug, the same way they had every night during their A Levels. “Leka nosht, Kerry. I az te obicham.” She watched him walk down the corridor and vanish around the turn before she opened the door and entered her room.

Good think Annie and Kerry’s names are close to what everyone calls them:  it would suck if they were known as “Pookie and Loser” and someone had to come look for them.  That’s where last names come in handy.  But they are in the big time now, out of The Bowl and into The Pond for sure–though given their advanced status in their own level, maybe they’ve moved on over into a small lake . . .

Fortunately Annie gets reacquainted with her new digs quickly–

It was almost identical to her last room. The study table was immediately to the right of the door, and her bed’s headboard was positioned against the right wall. Her dresser and chest of drawers were across from the foot of her bed, and her dressing table was to the right of the dresser. There was a large open area between her bed and the far wall where she’d find additional beds and dressers if she’d had a dormmate.

The view out her window was nearly identical. She still overlooked the Garden, the covered walkway to the Great Hall, the Great Hall itself, and Åsgårdsreia Coven tower. The main difference was now sitting four and a half meters higher than her old room, and that gave her a different perspective of her surroundings.

She faced her bed and examined the painting over the head of the bed, the one she’d made for the last Ostara celebration: Baby Snakes at Laputa. She had wanted to bring this home and hang it in her lake house bedroom—But if I did that, I’d have to bring it back for this school year. She resolved to do another painting for Ostara this year: all she needed was inspiration.

But that wouldn’t come tonight. All that awaited was her bed and a few hours of sleep. She pulled back the covers, removed her slippers, crawled onto the bed, and slipped under the comforter. As she rested her head against the pillow she felt sleep rushing towards her—

She was back at Salem. In her room. In her bed. With Kerry close by on the other side of the tower.

She was finally home.

And I'm almost finished with another chapter.

And I’m almost finished with another chapter.

There they are, sounds asleep–well, I’m guessing Kerry’s out as well, he was pretty much dead on his feet, too.

On the school timeline the new student begin arriving while the returning students are all in place.  In the next scene we’ll catch a quick look at the last C Level to take up residence on the second floor–a boy from South America who was sound asleep when the returning Euro Group came in–and I may add one more scene to this chapter–or should I add it to the next?  I’m considering it as I get more into the book and see where I can add scenes to flesh out the world and give my kids more room to grow.

Not to mention that since they’re thinking of Salem as “their home”, they should make themselves right at, don’t you think?

School’s about to start again.

Time to get crazy.

The Last Days in the Big B

Right now I know there are a few of you going, “Damn, Cassie, you’re taking your time gettin’ this post out.”  That’s because you haven’t seen what I’ve done up to this point.  You didn’t see me at six-thirty writing in the current scene, doing my research as I went along, and three hours later writing a little over twenty-two hundred words and finishing the opening scene to Part Two, Chapter Four.

Yeah, you didn’t see that.

Nor did you see this:  how my desktop looks when I'm working on a scene.  With notes and music.

Nor did you see this: how my desktop looks when I’m working on a scene. With notes and music.

Sure, I also managed a touch over five hundred words last night, too, but also more important, I figured out just how many people I’ve got for next year–

At my school you do need a scorecard.

At my school you do need a scorecard.

In figuring out the attendance for this school year I took the number from the year before, figure out who didn’t make the cut and who graduated, and checked my above totals with the totals at the bottom.  Believe it or not, this consumed about an hour of my time, because I kept forgetting that people had graduated and my numbers weren’t matching.  Really driving me nuts.

But this covered a couple of days of stuff–and, you know, things–and not only that, but we get the see the kids being, well, kinda kids.  Not only that, but if you look at my notes above, you’ll see they’re no longer alone . . .

 

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

Tuesday morning found them sitting in the hotel restaurant, having breakfast and discussing their itinerary for the day. They were going over the route they would take to their first destination when Annie felt the presence of others standing close behind. They turned and were asked by two girls if they were really going to the Olympic Stadium—

That was how they met Penelope Rigman and Alexandria Chorney, who preferred to be known as Penny and Alex.

They were covenmates, C Levels students who they both knew by reputation due to their presence on the coven’s Racing B Team. Annie and Kerry had only encountered them in limited fashion when they’d helped out on occasions as Vicky’s minions during Beginning Flight class. The rest of the time they were in their own classes and resided on the second floor, where the B and C Levels were housed.

Penny lived outside Canterbury, England. While her parents were born in the UK, both sides of her family were from Barbados, and on the train ride out to the stadium she joked that her father’s family knew Rihanna’s family. She was slightly distressed because over the summer she’d experienced a growth spurt, and she’d went from one hundred fifty-seven to one hundred sixty-seven centimeters, and she was worried this was going to affect her performance on the track. Annie, who stood one hundred fifty-five centimeters—the same as Kerry—wondered if she would ever be that tall; given that both her parents were close to one hundred and eighty centimeters, it was highly possible.

Alex hailed from Dubno, Ukraine, and her family lineage covered most of the old Soviet Empire, with grandparents from Russia, Estonia, and Kazakhstan, and her father from Azerbaijan. She said the greatest mystery in her family was not how the members of her family came together, but how she was the only one with blond hair. She had an growing interest in sorcery, and in a moment when they were alone while touring the Olympic grounds, she asked Annie if she could find a moment now and then to give her some tutoring, as it had been common knowledge among the B Levels of the coven about her skills. This was the first time Annie was aware that anyone in the coven had taken notice of her skills with sorcery, and that it had been a subject of conversation with some of the upper covenmates. Until that point she figured all anyone in the coven knew was that Kerry and she were the Lovey-Dovey Couple and the Mile High Kissers.

"Ukranian girl with blond hairs?  Does she have pet scorpion?"

“Ukrainian girl with blond hairs? Does she have pet scorpion?”

Sorry, you have her confused with another blond Ukrainian.

Penny and Alex are going to be recurring characters through the next few novels, and seeing as how they’ll be sharing a floor with Annie and Kerry–the B and C Levels are on the same floor, as pointed out above–they’ll pop in here and there, mostly over there if you must know.  Also, notice:  more girls for Kerry to make friends.  I’m sure his mother will be pleased.

In my notes you’ll see the Imperial measurements for the kids as well, and you’ll notice that Annie and Kerry are, well, short.  Don’t worry, that’s gonna change over the course of this novel and the next, but they’re still twelve, though in just a month Annie becomes a teenager and all hell will likely break loose because hormones, I guess.  Will it become an issue?  Hard to say, but if they have any more shared dreams like their last one at the Mystery Hotel, Coraline might just have to sit their butts down and have another chat with them.

So what did this Gang of Four do?  Well . . .

 

They visited the Olympic Stadium and grounds; they took a cab to nearby Spandau and visited the citadel before having lunch. The took the train back towards the city and spent time at Schloss Charlottenburg, before heading over the the eastern section of the city and visiting the DDR Museum. They returned to the hotel after their visit to the two hundred and three meter high observation gallery at the Berliner Fernsehturm, mostly due to Annie telling their traveling companions Kerry and she were going to dinner that night, and they needed a nap and a chance to clean up before then.

It wasn’t until she was in the hotel car with Kerry that she told him they were returning to the Fernsehturm and the revolving restaurant the floor above the observation deck they’d visited that afternoon. It was there, for most of the evening, they dined and chatted alone for the first time since breakfast. Annie admitted that as much as she’d enjoyed hanging out with the two girls, it was quiet moments like this the cherished, and she couldn’t wait until the time they could be together all the time. Kerry agreed, and as the western section of the city came into view, they clicked their glasses of soda together in a toast to their future.

 

All these people sitting in what I presume is a somewhat nice place to eat, and here you have a couple of kids strolling past the queue and being escorted to a window table–’cause you can bet Annie used either Foundation or family connections to get a good reservation–and spending the evening eating and enjoying their company . . . really, it’s a romantic scene.

Yeah, I'd say really romantic.

Yeah, I’d say real romantic.

But now what about going home?  I got that covered, too:

 

Wednesday would prove to be a crazy day, for they would stay in Berlin until that evening, then leave the hotel near twenty-three hours for what Penny, Alex, and several other returning students, called the Midnight Mile High Madness. While they picnicked in the Grunewald forest they discussed the trip home: since they were leaving the city near midnight and returning to the school not long after two in the morning, nearly all the students dressed in their night clothes for the ride to the airport and the flight home. As Penny explained, since they were going to have everyone get on Salem time during the flight—or to use her phrase: “We adjust on the bus”—and everyone was going to be super tired by their time they reached their towers, what was the point of changing? “Best to get comfy in your PJs and make a party of the trip while we can.”

Annie and Kerry both saw the wisdom in that point of view, and saw no reason not to join in the festivities. After all, they’d looked forward to this event all summer, so they reasoned—why not make it memorable?

 

Adjust on the Bus:  truer words one can’t live by.  And as I point out . . .

 

The festivities began a little after twenty-two hours as the returning European, African, and Western Asian students gathered in the lobby with the luggage in tow. All were in their pajamas save for Shadha Kanaan—who was from Oman—who wore an abaya instead. Annie and Kerry mingled with students that had already made this trip with them. Mesha and Gavino, and Jacira were there representing Europe, as were Shauntia and Daudi, representing Africa. The trio of Western Asian girls–Shadha, Elisha, and Dariga—hung out together while making sure to chat with everyone else. Joining them were eight new C Level, and two D Levels who’d decided to fly back with everyone else because they didn’t want to spend the night and tomorrow morning in Berlin before jaunting back to the school.

The last student to come down before the instructor chaperons was Anna Laskar: as she lived in Magdeburg, Germany, the didn’t arrive at the hotel until late Tuesday afternoon, and appeared to remain in her room when she wasn’t with her Åsgårdsreia covenmates. Though she spoke with the other students, she left one with the impression that she guarded every word that left her mouth.

 

You can just imagine the stares from other people with twenty-one kids from various places around the world gathering in one spot, and being all chatty and stuff and looking like they’re enjoy all the late night activities–with no one else any the wiser that more than a few of these kids could probably blow up the lobby of the hotel with the wave of their hand.  And none of the other students know about what went on during that little side trip my kids took to Middle America back in April, which would probably have even the D Levels keeping their distance if they were aware.

But that doesn’t keep anyone from enjoying the trip out . . .

 

At twenty-two thirty Professors Semplen and Grünbach appeared—not wearing pajamas—and began marshaling the twenty-one students and their gear onto the bus that would take them to the airport. Unlike when they departed from Amsterdam, the mood aboard the bus was festive, with plenty of talking and laughing. Kerry had Annie program a short selection of songs to play on his tablet, and as they bus pulled away from the Crowne Plaza the instructors anticipated what was coming: they threw up a privacy screen between them and the students as the first notes of Aracde Fire’s Keep the Car Running filled the compartment. Everyone did their best singing, and even Kerry, who didn’t know the song, joined in on the chorus while hugging Annie tight.

Unlike the year before the bus drove onto the airport tarmac and pulled up close to a 767 parked near Tegel’s Terminal C. By this time everyone was eager to board and get underway, and it was difficult for everyone to keep their exuberance in check. Boarding went smoothly, and Annie and Kerry pretended to carry their luggage up the gangway stairs, using simple levitation spells to make it look as if they were lifting the bags from stair to stair.

 

And in case you were wondering what they were listening to as they pulled away from the hotel . . .

I don’t disappoint.

The important moment to take from this short scene is not the party atmosphere of the kids taking the bus to the airport, it’s that Kerry let Annie use his computer.  He didn’t let that sucker out of his sight in the first novel, but here he is, handing it over and letting Annie set up a music stream for everyone to jam out on as they head for their new ride.  May as well break out the engagement rings now, kids.

They get to the plane–a 767, like the one they took back to Europe after they finished their A Levels–and they sit up front like last time as well.  As they’re getting settled Annie makes an observation:

 

“I hope we’ll get this to ourselves, like the last time.” She sat and got comfortable as Kerry did the same to her right. “Did you notice the moon tonight?”

“Yeah—it’s almost full.”

“Just like when we came home.” She placed her hand in Kerry’s as the memory of gazing upon the nearly-full moon through the bay window of their room at the Sea Sprite Inn was one that wouldn’t leave either child. “I think it has an auspicious meaning.”

“I’m sure Deanna would say as much.” Kerry wondered what the school Seer would say about this coincidence, but decided now was not the time to get into that discussion.

 

Really, it’s just the luck of orbital mechanics, but the fact they returned from school on a near full moon, and now their going back on one–well, Deanna might think there’s a meaning behind that, or maybe she’d say, “Hey, moon goes ’round, kids.  That’s all it is.”  Maybe.  Maybe not.  We’ll see, I guess.

I got them around the city, I got them out so they could enjoy time together, and now they’re back on the plane.  Let’s just play the whole final section out . . .

 

They didn’t need to wait long. About ten minutes after they found their seats they heard the outside door close and lock. Less than a minute passed before the flight captain’s voice floated through the cabin. “This is your captain. The gangway has been pushed back and the main cabin door has been shut. We’ll get a push back here momentarily and should be rolling out shortly after that. Tegel Flight Control has given us priority takeoff clearance, so we should be airborne shortly. Please fasten your seat belts, sit back, and enjoy the flight.”

Kerry gave the cabin a quick examination, as if to ensure that they were the only ones here. “They aren’t wasting any time getting underway.”

“They have nothing to hide now.” Annie set her empty glass aside for the attendant to gather. “Everyone knows what awaits at the end of the flight.” She shrugged and smiled. “Why pretend?”

“True that.” The engines started up and the plane began moving slowly forward as the attendant gathered their glasses and locked the closet door where they’d stored their luggage. Kerry set his hand upon the armrest between Annie and his chairs and held her hand in his, the same as they’d done on their last flight today, and as they had when they’d departed Amsterdam on their first flight to Salem. He remembered how nervous he’d been about the flight, because flying upped his anxiety levels and made it difficult for him to relax. During takeoff from Schiphol Airport he’d reached out and held Annie’s hand more out of nervousness than affection, because of an unnatural fear of crashing. If only I’d known then what I know now. He smiled at his sweetie as he gave her hand a tender squeeze. No way would we have crashed on that flight, nor will it happen this time, either

The captain spoke to the main cabins again. “This is the captain. We are next in line for takeoff. Will all attendants please take their positions and prepare for departure. Thank you.”

Annie and Kerry sat in silence as the engines maintained the same low drone while the plane turned left, straightened, and slowed to a stop. A few seconds later the pitch of the engines dropped away to almost nothing—

Kerry knew this moment perfectly. “Here we go.” Annie held his hand tightly as the engines were throttled wide open and they began hurtling down the runway. The plane shook and vibrated as it picked up speed:  twenty seconds later the nose rose and the 767 lifted into the air.

Turning to his left as soon as the landing gear retracted and locked into place, Kerry looked out the windows to the bright lights of Berlin beyond. “Auf Wiedersehen, Berlin.” He waved with his free hand. “It was fun.”

Annie waved with her left hand, saying her goodbyes with far less formal German. “Tschau, Berlin.” She turned to Kerry. “And it was fun. The most fun I’ve had there.”

He leaned over and kissed Annie’s cheek. “I hope we can do it again.”

“We will: I promise.”

Kerry didn’t take his eyes off his soul mate. “This is it, Sweetie: we’re going home.”

Annie felt something beyond words radiate from deep within her heart, for after the discussion in their last dream she knew the true meaning of his statement. “Yes, my love—” She settled against Kerry’s shoulder. “We’re going home.”

 

That's it, Kids.  Next stop:  home.

That’s it, Kids. Next stop: home.

Next scene they should be at school–

Really . . . don’t you know me by now?

Dipping a Toe Into the Week of Hell

First off, Happy Ostara to you all.  It’s finally spring, and Ostara is a celebration of spring.  The name is taken from the goddess Ēostre, which is her old English name, and when you look closely at said name, you’ll see it looks a lot like the word Easter, which is another way of saying, “Hey, you pagan Pagans, we’re ripping off another one of your holidays for our own religion–kthxbai!”  Funny how that all worked out.

At the school in my story, they get down to business and call those holidays by the names as they were once known, though there are changes allowed:  for example, the Samhain Dance looks a lot like a Halloween ball what with all the costumes, because even Legacy kids like to dress up, go out, and have fun.  It’s just when those kids are riding around on witch’s brooms, well, it’s not an act.

And at my school's Sanhaim dance, the transformation experts are real busy--you think it's easy making people over into zombies?

And at my school’s Sanhaim dance, the transformation experts are real busy–you think it’s easy making people over into real zombies and cat people?

Right now, in my story, my kid’s coven is preparing to the Ostara Talent Performance, where anyone who wants to take a chance at sucking can get up on stage and suck if they like–or be absolutely brilliant if they’ve worked out.  I’ve written about this “Taking your shot at sucking” thing already, and it’s the scene in my novel where Kerry more or less gets roped into agreeing to do his thing on stage–which could very well suck.  But then, Annie and his coven, Cernunnos, help put it on, so why not get up in front of hundreds of people and their parents and give it a shot, right?

What’s the worst that could happen?  The kids will throw fireballs at you?

I finished editing my friend’s novel, so it’s back to her and she’s happy.  It also frees me up to get into my editing, and tonight I’m getting into Week One of school in my novel.  And . . . it’s a scary thing, because it’s a huge part of what I’ve written so far.

"I am the one who guided you this far, all you know, and all you feel--"  Gee, thanks Guild Vocal!

“I am the one who guided you this far/all you know, and all you feel–” Gee, thanks Guild Vocal!

That number on the Part Three line tells me there are seventy-seven thousand , four hundred and some change words in awaiting me, and I’m not going to lie, I won’t get through all that in the next week and a half before I start writing anew on 31 March.  Then again, I look at what I’ve already accomplished, and when you run the numbers, one hundred forty thousand minus seventy-seven thousand equals a hell of a lot I’ve already edited in the last four days.  And that means with a few days off and nothing to do, I might just get . . . some of this first week of school hell . . . out of the way.

And the parts that were just edited–I loved the work, and I loved the story.  I’ve not changed anything save add something here and there.  And I had to check a time line just to be sure that when Professor Lovecraft told Annie something about here parents–“They were F Levels when I taught my first year–“–and sure enough, the time line backed me up–well, backed her up.

The Week of Hell awaits in more ways than one.  But there is a real possibility I can get a first pass edit finished on Act One before I start Act Two.  That would make things a lot easier, because while I could edit a chapter a night when I start Act Two, that will cut into my writing time–

And I am so looking forward to getting back into telling this story.  There’s such . . . fun ahead.