Speeding Through on Darkened Thoughts

As some may have noticed I was back on the air last last night, this after a long trip back through the wilds of the Midwest and into the Near East, the later of which was done in straight-up darkness.  Not that I’m not used to driving from the Ohio border to The Burg in darkness, but . . .

At least it wasn’t raining like hell as it did one time when I returned and the road was so black I couldn’t really tell where the pavement ended and the shoulder started.  Though there were a ton of notices up about deer being in the highway–as well as a few of said remains to let me know the notices weren’t joking.

So this means the only writing I did yesterday was the morning post–though I did take a great picture before leaving home.

It was Wednesday, so I wore pink, because on Wednesdays . . .

It was Wednesday, so I wore pink, because on Wednesdays . . .

An interesting point about driving long distances now:  I can’t work out scenes in my head the way I used to do them.  There was a time when I’d get behind the wheel, roll on the power, and about ten minutes into the trip I’d start working out plots and points and stuff like that.  But now:  it seems like about an hour into the trip I’m looking for ways to keep my mind off the fact I’m gonna be on the road for half a day, and I start wandering in my own head.

However, I did work out–for the most part–a new scene that comes after the one I’m in how, and how that scene affects something in scene after.  I mean, I didn’t work it all out:  I’ll do more when I’m walking home from work, but for right now I have the basics laid down and I know how it’s going to proceed, although this means I need to make up some more shit because I have something in the next scene that you may have seen before.

That said, I’ll get to finishing my “Say Goodbye to the Polar Expressers of 2013”, maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow.  I had like four hours of sleep last night and I’ve had to deal with a lot of crazy already this morning, so I feel I’m going to be on the verge of a major crash out by seven tonight.  But I will do my best, I really will.  Because I have people waiting.

This last four or five days have really been a bit of a step away from writing, and I’ve felt like I needed the break.  Not that I don’t want to get back into the novel and finish it, but the stress of the last few months was taking a toll.  Now, I can do my best to concentrate on writing, because everything is done and there weren’t any hiccups along way.  All is totally copacetic as they say.

So, back to the grind of torturing my kids for a few more months–

I think I’m good with that part.

Ready on the Green: At the Post

It may be late, but it’s coming.  Wanna know why?  Well, you’re gonna!

See, I didn’t write yesterday.  Why?  I was on the road for almost six hours because I met with friends up in Rockford, IL, and in the best of times that’s a two-and-a-half hour drive for me.

Even Google Maps tell me so.

Even Google Maps tell me so.

Going up wasn’t that bad; traffic was pretty normal for the western burbs of Chicago.  Coming back, however, I had to deal with the end results of three accidents, and the last one forced me to make a quick detour off the interstate and down a highway which I know I’d traveled maybe thirty years before.  Needless to say, that and having to pick up dinner at the end of the day added more time than I’d anticipated for the trip home.

At least I was dressed comfortably.

At least I was dressed comfortably.

Even once home I had to make noted for my recap of Episode 3 of Humans, so by the time I was done with all that, I was tired and didn’t feel like writing.

So what did I do?  Wrote this morning.  Seven hundred and fourteen words worth of wrote.  Since you’ve been waiting, I’ll give it all.

 

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

Kerry stood next to his hovering Class 2 as the large service lift rose from The Diamond’s lower lever hanger, lifting him and the team to the infield section of the ground floor of the track. He wore his helmet, though the front was raised so his face was visible, otherwise he was ready to race.

He looked up into the stands where nearly the entire school body sat among the cavernous structure. He understood how The Foundation built for the future, but it was strange to see a little more than one hundred people sitting in a space designed to hold fifty times that number. He also felt a little sadness because the space represented the potential the school had hoped to achieve by now, but could not.

The lift locked into place and the command was given to the flier to mount their PAVs. Kerry liked the Class 2s; they superficially resembled the Class 1s, but only because they had a long frame and a seat in front of the processor. There the similarities ended and the Class 2’s uniqueness took over. The processor was about twenty percent larger and more streamlined. The saddle had a small back to prevent the pilot from sliding off during periods of high acceleration. At the front were canards about fifteen centimeters below the frame, there to allow more maneuverability at high speed. And rather than control the PAV by applying pressure directly to the frame, there was a set of handlebars with grips that were used to control the PAV.

For the same reason a Class 1 was called a “broom”, the Class 2 was nicknamed “the Speeder Bike” due to its resemblance of the device from the Star Wars universe. As Kerry mounted his PAV, he chuckled as he pondered the irony that they, too, were about to go forth and race in the woods. At least no one will be shooting at me

 

So now when you think of Kerry and the others racing, you’ll have this image in mind–

Stormtroopers and explosive crashes into trees not included.

Stormtroopers and explosive crashes into trees not included.

–‘Cause that’s pretty close to a Class 2, save for the modified single-line Class 1 frame.  Seriously, I’ll have to get into Blender and start designing these suckers.

 

They were given the command to head out to the course, and Kerry followed the team, led by Manco, from the infield towards the oval track. There wouldn’t be a parade lap: they’d head directly to the course out Exit Three. As they reached the track surface he looked up and saw Annie waving to him; she’d picked a seat midway down the backstretch where she could view the holograms showing the race from the various Spy Eyes that would follow and record each heat. Jario sat to her left: he was waving to Penny, who was waving back.

Kerry knew they’d both watch the races in comfort: the seats were not like what one normally found at sporting events, but were large and comfortable, and had small tables to the side upon which one could place they snacks and drinks. The first time Kerry sat in one, he felt he was about to see a movie or play instead of a race over one of the school’s courses.

Penny slid in close to Kerry’s left as they passed through the tunnel exit. “You remember the crossover rules?”

“Yep. Green under to Blue; Blue over to Green.” He sat up and rolled his shoulders as they emerged into the light. “I won’t forget.”

“I know; I just wanted to make sure you remembered.”

“And remember to watch the transition from Blue to Green—” Alex pulled into position on his right. “Every thought the pop-over is supposed to act like a chicane to Green Line, it doesn’t make you slow much; you’ll carry a great speed from Diamond Lane to Rockport.”

“You’ll carry a hell of a lot more speed into Graves—” Penny checked her helmet, as if reassuring herself that it was in place. “The first time I raced Blue to Green I almost crashed there because I wasn’t paying attention.”

“From The Sweep to Graves it’s as long as West End through Sunset Boulevard, and just as fast.” Alex looked over and smiled. “Don’t worry: we are sure you’ll do well.”

“Thanks, guys.” He closed his eyes for just a moment as they approached the start-finish line. “I won’t let anyone down.”

“Run your race and everything will be fine.” Penny slapped down her face front and flipped up the visor. “See you at the end.”

 

The area Alex is describing is the following:

Just follow the squiggly yellow line.

Just follow the squiggly yellow line.

When they say “Pop-over,” Alex means the course rises up over the Green/Blue crossover so fliers never run into each other–which would probably see one of the racers die if that ever happened.  It’s meant to slow up the racers on their way to the Green Line, but once you know how to navigate that chicane properly, one figures out how to take it without losing much speed, which leads to one heading into the Graves turn a lot faster than the B Team racers gets when running juts the Green Line.

It’s almost time to get this party started.  The racers are just about ready–

Are you?

Once More Westward Bound

For once you’re getting me without much to say and not a lot to offer.  It’s almost five forty-five here in The Burg, and the sun is coming up, it looks like a nice day, I’ve got music going in my earbuds, and I’ve just finished a small tub of yogurt for breakfast.

What’s the reason for this?  I’m back on the road in a few hours.

Yes, once again I’m making my westerly trek to Indiana, and this time, rather than come to you from a service plaza in eastern Ohio, I’m still at home in my pajama bottom and cami top, almost all the way packed and ready to go.  I just need to get dressed, do my face, grab my bags, and head for the car.  Then get on the road and spend eleven hours heading back to the Midwest.

And finish this post, too.

I look exactly like this, even though this picture is nine hours old.  Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey.

I look exactly like this right now, writing this post, even though this picture is nine hours old. Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey.

Now, this doesn’t mean I didn’t write:  I did manage another six hundred and seventy words last night, but it was tough writing due to my head being somewhere else.  What I hope to do is get on the road in the next ninety minutes, arrive back in Indiana somewhere between seven and eight PM, relax, have a little something to eat, then finish the last few hundred words of the scene before going to bed.  This is the first scene I’ve done in a while where I’m just squirting out the words, a few hundred at a time, and it’s slow going getting to seventeen hundred and fifty words, which is where the scene sits right now.  But I am getting here.

One of the things I need to do tomorrow is renumber the rest of the chapters and start adding in scenes I know are needed.  I looked over the novel last night before I got to writing, making a few notes here and there for the future chapters, and I begin seeing where things need adding.  And the Samhain Chapter is one of those.  I guess this means I finally know what I’m doing with this story, ’cause–believe it or not–I don’t always have everything thought out.  Like I said, I plot it out in a meta data sort of way, but that is by no means a guaranty that I have everything figured out.  Like in the last novel with Kansas City:  I was figuring out things days, or hours, before I wrote.  It’s how I am.

The end is almost here, and at the rate I’m going, I believe I’ll be down to the car right about seven AM, which is six back in the ‘Ol Homestead.  I hope for good driving all the way home, but I have a feeling about three hours after I’m into my trip I’m look a little like this–

Otherwise known as "I'm driving through Pittsburgh."

Otherwise known as “I’m driving through Pittsburgh.”

I’ll have excerpts for you tomorrow.  I promise.

Would I lie?

Along the Scenic Dreamways

Trying morning today because stupid computer is being a pain in the butt, but I may have tamed the beast.  Maybe.  I’ll find out in a bit, I guess, but it’s likely it’ll keep frustrating me for another hour or so.

This was so unlike yesterday, which was nice and sunny and warranted getting out of the apartment and doing a little shopping.  The shopping part sucked a lot when it came to finding shoes, as none of these damn stores carry anything in an woman’s 11 wide, so I’m pretty much wasting my time going in there to look.  Note to DSW:  you lost out on about a hundred dollars of sales yesterday because you continue to think everyone has a narrow foot.  Get with the times, loser.

But the trip out to Lancaster was fantastic, and it was the first time in a long time I was flying down the road with the windows down–

And I actually had hair for the wind to blow through.

And I actually had hair for the wind to blow through.

'It's a town full of losers, I'm pulling out of here to win."  Now all I gotta do is find my Mary.

‘It’s a town full of losers, I’m pulling out of here to win.” Now all I gotta do is find my Mary.

I should point out that those pictures above were taken with a mobile phone while I was traveling  at 70 mph/110 kph, while traveling in a straight line with no one near me.  Don’t try that at home, kids, unless you’re professional.  Like me.

I also managed to catch the first episode of Season 3 of Orphan Black, which was amazing as always, and made me feel sad for some of the seestras.  Why do they torture my poor clone girls?  Oh, wait:  I do that to my characters, too.

Speaking of which . . . I wrote.  I ended up producing fifteen hundred and fifty words, and finished the dream scene I’d started the other day.  Remember how I said I’d likely end up with ten thousand words written after the first week?

Yes, I believe I said I'd do that.

Yes, I believe I said I’d do that.

I believe I left my kids in a hotel room in dreamland, and . . . well, let’s see what happened next.

 

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

“Obviously.” Annie swung her legs to the floor, stood, and made her way to the red curtains on Kerry’s side of the room. She spread the curtains, exposing the balcony beyond the closed French doors. “Look out here.” She opened the doors and stepped out on to the open space beyond the bedroom.

The balcony was large enough for two people to sit close using one of the small chairs set in the far corners. The space between allowed that same couple to stand close together—something that Annie and Kerry were used to doing. The both leaned upon the railing and examined their surroundings.

They were on the second floor of their hotel; there was another floor above them. Their balcony overlooked a large, enclosed courtyard mostly covered in shadow at the moment. The courtyard was empty, as were all the remaining balconies for the other rooms. All of the balcony doors were closed and the curtains drawn.

They were the only ones here; the only ones present within their private universe.

 

Most of the time they are alone, but like a lot of dreams, they also get instances where they are in a crowd with other people.  Not this time, however.  And there’s something else–

 

Annie looked up to the cloudless, slate gray sky. “This feels like we’re in Europe.”

“I think so, too.” Kerry laid his hand over Annie’s. “It’s the way this place looks. It doesn’t seem like it’s in England, though—” He looked to the girl at his left. “Probably mainland.”

“I agree.” She twisted her right hand around and grasped Kerry’s. “It’s lovely, wherever we are.”

“It does feel like a real place—” He smiled. “Doesn’t it?”

“It does. It also feels—”

“Like it’s not a real dream?”

“Yes.”

Kerry searched his memory for any mention of instances where more than one person shared a dream vision. The books he’d read all thought his A Levels were thorough, but given that after his own experiences with dream visions, he’d gone over those chapters again before returning the books to the library . . .

He looked around as he sighed. “This is not happened before.” He looked over his shoulder into the room. “But you’re right: it feels more like something that’s going to happen to us instead of the last couple of dreams.”

Annie turned around, leaning against the railing as she peered into the room. “We should leave the room and see if there’s anything there.”

 

We know they’ve had the same vision, but they weren’t in it together at the same time–which may have been a bit strange if they had, and . . . we won’t go there.  Oh, and as an aside:  one day I will explain what Kerry’s first vision means, and why they had the same vision months apart.  Because I always figure those things out.

Eventually they leave the room, but what they find isn’t what they expect . . .

 

“Thank you.” She headed straight for the door with Kerry close behind. She designed an image in her mind of walking through the door and out onto the south deck of her lake house, a place Kerry had yet to see in their dreams. She opened the door, but rather than finding a hallway—or the deck she visualized—there was a sunny, tree-lined yard beyond. She stepped through the door and into the yard, walking about four meters before she stopped to examined their surroundings. “This was not what I wanted—or what I expected.”

Kerry began walking around in circles, looking at everything. “What did you want?”

“The deck of my lake house.”

“I don’t see a lake—” He pointed from where they’d just entered this area. “—and given what you’ve told me, I don’t think this is your house.”

Annie turned and gave a slight gasp when she saw the house. “No, it’s not, but . . . I know this place.” She turned to Kerry. “It’s my grandparent’s house in France.”

Kerry well remembered Annie describing her time this house, located outside the town of Pocancy, in the Champagne region. She’d told him about her time there during a lull in their Guardian field operation, as well as telling him of another dream of hers . . . “This is pretty nice. I like the yard.”

“I love having trees around a house.” She did a slow pirouette, taking in the grounds. “I haven’t thought about this in some time.”

 

Some of us remember the discussion about the house in France, which sort of morphed into a discussion about Annie wanting to live there one day–and not by herself.  As they walk through their dreamscape out to the dreamroad, the conversation turns back to that discussion, and the implications of what it means, and Kerry has to state the obvious . . .

 

Kerry noticed the use of the plural right away. “So this is where our house will be after we marry?”

Annie glanced out of the corner of her eye. “No: this is where we’ll make our home.” They stopped a couple of meters short of the road, with the gray, sunless sky beaming down on them. “Do you remember what else I said to you when we were on our field operation?”

There were a number of things Kerry recalled discussing while they were in Kansas City, but given their location, and Annie’s references, it wasn’t difficult to understand what she wanted him to remember. “What we talked about in our dream.”

“Yes. What we discussed outside your house in California.” She turned to him, never letting go of his hand. “You’ve lived in two houses, but you’ve never had a home.” She glanced at the ground for a moment. “That’s not completely true: you’ve had one near home—”

He was curious about this last statement. “Where?”

 

Yeah, where Annie?

 

“At the school—at Salem.” She slipped closer. “Do you know why? Because there you find love.” Annie held Kerry’s hand tight. “There is Vicky and Wednesday; there is Deanna and Coraline; there is Erywin and Helena.” She pressed herself against Kerry. “And I am there, above them all: your soul mate, the one who loves you most.

“I told you in our dream that a home is made of love, which is why you’ve never had a home. You have lived in California and you live in Cardiff, and while you have had some love in your live, you’ve never found in where you live. Your parents say they love you, but they don’t show it, they don’t offer the affection you require.

“I know this because I’ve been with you almost as long as they, and I know your wants, your dreams, your desires.” She kissed him, holding it for what seemed like forever. “We will marry—” Annie pressed her fingers against Kerry’s lips. “I know we are not supposed to speak of this, but here we are allowed to dream, are we not?

“We will marry, and we have a home. Maybe here, maybe in America, maybe in Bulgaria. I don’t care, as long as we are together. We will make that our home, because we will find love there. And we will say that to each other, every day, as I said I would do to you—and as I know you do for me.” She told both of his hands in hers and pressed them between their bodies. “Even when I can’t hear the words, I know you say them.”

He nodded slowly. “Every morning, and every evening. From now—”

“—Until the day you die?”

Kerry took a slight breath, ready to say the truth he’d held inside for many months now. “Until the day one of us dies.” He pressed his head against her shoulder. “That’s my promise.”

Annie held him against her. “I’ll hold you to that, love.”

 

Annie is not scared that talking about The Big M might be jinxing them in some way.  She doesn’t care;  she’s twelve, she’s a witch, she’s a hell of a sorceress who’s already racked up a body count, and she wants to give Kerry the love and affection tell him his parent are incapable of giving.  It’s likely she understands this last because she’s heard Kerry speak of it enough that it’s become as much a part of here as it is him.

And Kerry is right there, promising to tell his Sweetie that he loves her every day . . . until one of them die.  Yeah, a few people are going to read that line and say, “That could be tomorrow!” and start clutching pearls.  He’s also twelve, just a quarter year into that age, hanging out in a dream with a girl he’s known most of his life, and while he admitted last year that it’s possible they could die at any time, he’s now pushing that thought aside.  After all, Kerry’s been in the “I’ve cheated death” position three time in the last year, so he’s also developing that feeling kids his age get where they think nothing is going to happen to them.

Besides, His Dark Witch is gonna teach him to get those Morte spells up to speed while he teaches her to be a shapeshifter.  These kids got life by the ass right now–

Then again, if anyone believes that, they’re likely in the market to buy a bridge.

Towards the Future Unseen

Guess where I am?

Tell me you've never seen this place before.

Tell me you’ve never seen this place before.

Maybe you need another clue?

How's it looking now?

How’s it looking now?

It’s the Mahoning Valley Service Plaza on the eastern most portion of the Ohio Turnpike as you’re heading west–and that means one thing:  I’m driving back to Indiana.  Biggest different this time is that I arrived here about four-fifteen in the morning, which is why there’s no one here.

Which is probably why I look the way I do in this picture.

Which is probably why I look the way I do in this picture.

It’s also a safe bet that if it’s four in the morning, or there about, and it usually takes me four hours to drive from The Burg to this point in my journey westward, then I’ve not gotten much sleep.  And you’d be right:  I went to bed about nine-thirty PM, couldn’t fall asleep, said the hell with it, and took off.  So here I am, running with the shadows of the night, but no one is holding my hand, so I don’t feel all right.  But I will make it home, trust me.  I will.

It’s strange to be out on the road like this, but then I love traveling at night.  All ready I’ve been through light rain, fog, and even a little snow, before everything turned dry and cold here this side of the mountains.  I expect it to stay around freezing all the way back to Gay Hating State Indiana (with the new state motto, “Religious Bigotry R Us”), and if my calculations are correct, I should arrive back home between ten and eleven AM local time.  That will allow me to take a nap and maybe even crawl off to bed early tonight, but I’ll make no promises.

The one thing I’m pretty sure I won’t do is write.  I didn’t last night, and I’m usually burned out after the six hundred mile drive to want to do much of anything but rest, though I have been know to carry on conversations with people who want to talk writing, as I did last year on this same trip last year.  Though that happened on the way back to The Burg, so we’ll see if that happens again this year.

By the way I am wearing my Mary Janes with the three inch heels as I drive home, because that’s the way I roll, baby.

See?  Totally wearing heels.

See? Totally wearing heels.

There’s one other bit of news I should lay on people.  Because I have nothing better to do as a writer than, um, write, I’ve decided to set a date for when I will begin working on my next new novel–which, if you haven’t figured out by now, is the continuation of my last novel about the Witchy School at Salem, otherwise known as The Foundation Chronicles:  A For Advanced.  This next book is B For Bewitching, and if you check my blog page you’d see this:

Countdown, baby!

Countdown, baby!

Yes, I’m starting on 3 May because of reasons, that’s why.  But I will start, and I will see about having the first novel edited and the separate acts published, and all will be cool and beautiful.  Or so I hope.  At least I’m sure this new novel won’t be anywhere near as big as the first novel.

Almost sure . . .

Outrunning a Sunset of Feelings

After a long day of getting up, blogging, packing, and driving, I’m finally back at Casa Burg, aka my Harrisburg home away from home.  Unlike when I left The Burg a week before, I kept caffeinated where necessary, and alternated between working out scenes with my characters, and playing music real loud.

And having a Butterbeer Frappachino, only because someone said I had to try it.  Well, she didn't say, "Try it," but you know what I mean.

And having a Butterbeer Frappuccino, only because someone said I had to try it. Well, she didn’t say, “You have to try it,” but you know what I mean.

One of those magic moments I had on the return home was watching the sky turn a deep blue before setting into black not long after passing through the Allegheny Tunnel.  I was playing REM’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi at a comfortable but you-can-feel-the-music volume, and there were certain songs that simply hit me a certain way.  I’d had that happen a couple of times on these trips to and from The Burg to The Vall, but they usually hit me hardest when I’m zipping along a twisting turnpike at seventy miles per hour, or one hundred and twelve kilometers per hour, which makes it sounds like I’m on a road course.

The coming of the night brought out some unusual feelings for me.  Feelings for others, feelings about my work, feelings about others close to me.  There was a lot of crazy shit bouncing about in my head for most of the trip, but during that three hour run through the mountains and the tunnels, I think I was as close to epiphany-grade thinking as I’ve ever gotten.

One of the scenes I played with on the way back is something that happens in this novel, right near the end as one of the last scenes in the book.  In fact, I can say with certainty it’s not the penultimate scene, but the one before that, whatever “Two Scenes Before the Last” is called.  (I looked it up, of course, and that is called the antepenultimate or propenultimate scene.  You can thank me anytime.)  It’s when Annie and Kerry return to Amsterdam after leaving school, and being reunited with . . . in Annie’s case her mother picks her up, and in Kerry’s Ms. Rutherford comes to collect him.  One has family, one doesn’t.  One can talk about being a witch all they like to their witch of a mother–and I mean that in a good witch way–and one can’t say a word about what really happened the past year at the strange, hidden school in the middle of Cape Ann.

Kerry gets introduced to Mama, there is pleasant small talk, and then it’s time for the Annie Family to hit the road.  Annie and Kerry say their finally goodbyes for the year in front of the adults, and then handle the emotional impact in their own way . . .

Annie internalizes most everything except with the right people.  Mama is not the “right people,” and the last thing she’d ever talk about with her is how walking away from Kerry is making her feel.  It’s been a strange, hard, first year, and leaving her Ginger-haired Boy behind is tearing her up inside.  She won’t show it, though.  She’ll get home, great her father, have dinner, and go to her lake house where she’ll sadly reflect her loss.

Kerry’s not like that.  Before coming to school he’d kept his emotions shut down, and only on certain occasions for a certain someone would he actually reveal what he felt.  But not anymore.  In the last few days of school he’s discovered that love and pain go hand-in-hand, and watching the person you’ve been attached to for more than nine months walk off complete in the knowledge that when you wake up tomorrow morning she won’t be there to greet you, to share meals with you, to walk hand-in-hand with you–

He loses it in the airport.  Major crying jag, has to hold on to Ms. Rutherford because he needs that human touch, and she helps calm him, gives him words of encouragement, and helps clean him up because she doesn’t want his parents to see him that way, distraught over having to “spend the summer without his special love.”

And what happens after that?

You know, one day I will get around to writing those last two scenes . . .

Living to Write Another Day

Well, that was an interesting day yesterday.  I managed my early morning post, bid everyone a good day, finished my coffee–and almost didn’t make it to put up this post.

About forty-five minutes after leaving the rest stop I started getting tired–extremely tired.  As in, “I’m Falling Asleep at the Wheel” tired.  As in, “I’m Gonna Wreck This Sucker Any Minute Now” tired.  I know I dozed off at least twice and pulled myself out of my stupor so I wouldn’t do something exciting like zip off the road at 120 kilometers per hours (75 miles per hour, but flipping it up to kilometers makes it sound like I was racing) and do a couple of barrel rolls before coming to a messy stop.

I made it to the next rest stop and snapped this picture:

I'm awake.  Almost.  Sorta.  Kinda.  What's awake?

I’m awake. Almost. Sorta. Kinda . . . what’s awake?

What I hold in my hand is a large Panera extra dark roast with two espresso shots jacking that caffeine level to eleven.  Seriously, I was about as out of it right there as I’ve ever been, and I’ve survived moments where I’ve blacked out for minutes at a time with no recollection of what happened, usually a club or behind the wheel of another car while in the middle of nowhere.  This was nearly one of those same moments, only thirty-five years down the time stream.  I can’t even get my barrettes in straight.

I spent nearly ninety minutes getting wired and awake before trying to drive again–because, let’s face it, there was no way in hell I was dying in Ohio.  Hell, no.  I’ll barely accept death in Indiana, and they only way I’ll check out in Ohio is if i’m trying to steal the SR-71 down at the Air Force Museum while being chased by security guards with high-powered weapons.  That’s the way to go.  Crashing and burning on the Ohio Toll Road?  Not even in the top one thousand ways I wanna shuck this mortal coil.

But I made it home, due in large part to the two hours of rage driving I experience coming through Indiana.  For some reason I keep missing the “Speed limit is 70, but you can drive 67 in the left lane, not a problem” signs that must be set up somewhere, because there were a whole lot of assholes on the toll road driving exactly that way.  One day I’m going to wield a gigantic Road Warrior-style metal brace to the front of my vehicle and start pushing people off the road when they do that, because . . . well, because it’ll make me feel better.

I finally ended up collapsing about 9:30 PM, but not after I wrote two hundred and twenty-two words in my current scene.  No, really:  I started writing, and ended up nearly falling asleep at the computer.  Reading over what I’d written I’m surprised it isn’t five paragraphs of utter gibberish.  I only made it about half way through the last paragraph, however, before my brain began shutting down, but I’m pretty sure I still know what I was going to say.  In fact, I know exactly what I’m going to write–

I’m just glad I’m here so I don’t leave Kerry hanging in the lurch with his spell . . .

A Long Drive to a Short Flight

Yesterday was my first day away from the computer in a long time.  And by away from the computer, I mean I wasn’t even in the apartment.  I got in the car and drove a long ways to the east, then after figuring out where I was, it was a long drive back to the west.  There was a lot of driving, a lot of different weather–at one point it was raining while the sun was shinning–and generally it was nice to do something besides sit in front of a screen and type away at things.  Or play games.  Which are sometimes the same thing.

I did learn something, however, and it’s this:  all these little town in eastern Pennsylvania are antique magnets, and people from Jersey and New York and Maryland were all over the place.  There was something in the back of my mind that reminded me of this–probably about the time I was wondering why there was so damn much traffic around.  I once worked for an antique dealer, and it wasn’t a great experience:  there is so much crap that’s pawned off as “special items”, not to mention my manager was this religious freak who hated me because, well, I didn’t see eye-to-eye with him on anything, but who used to steal furniture from the store and sell it on the side for his own financial gain.  One day I just went to lunch and never returned, a decision I never regretted.  (I actually did that with three jobs, so don’t trust me with big projects around lunch time.)

The only writing I managed was editing a short scene, one where I ended up removing about forty words from a paragraph because it switched the direction of the point of view.  There’s one more scene I want to look over in that area, then I need to do rewrites on three more scenes in Act One–

Then I can get back to the business of writing new material.  Which is bumming me out, quite frankly.

I’ve been working on getting characterization right, which means I’m away from the new stuff.  But with what I’m doing in Act One, things will change in Act Two, and it’s a good thing I was only two thousand words into that first chapter, ’cause this will help with what happens to my kids later.

Speaking of that, right before going to bed I figured out a scene that explains how the school isn’t all Big Brother all the time with each and every person within the walls of the Salem School For Magically Gifted Children, which gives that place in Salem Center, New York, more than a run for its money.  It will be reveled that it’s possible to track the moments of people just about anywhere inside the walls of the school, so why doesn’t everyone get all paranoid that Director Isis is sitting up in her command bunker keeping a list of who’s naughty and who’s nice?

Because the computer system–which may or may not be run by an AI that may or may not have been a person at one time–doesn’t let anyone see stuff unless the school is locked down at and above a a certain security protocol level.  It keeps track of where everyone is, but it won’t let anyone, not even the Director of Security, see this information.  Then after a day or so the back information is erased, so no one can say they need to check up on Serena and Kensa over in Ceridwen Tower because someone’s spreading rumors that they aren’t sleeping in separate beds.  Nah, not going to happen–

Unless someone dies.  Then the computer sends an alert to the security center and someone goes an investigates, while the computer dumps everything for the last twenty-four hours to a secure folder so Isis and her Security Minions can make sure there was no foul play involved.  Or if foul play was involved, she can bust the perp and hand them over to The Foundation police.

This all comes up during an investigation of some shady shit at the school during my kid’s F Levels, and it brings up concerns about something that happened a couple of years before and questions about why something wasn’t investigated then.  This doesn’t set right with my kids, and being that they’ve kinda gotten to where you don’t wanna mess with them by that time–yeah, sixteen and seventeen year olds with great power, booyah–they devise a plan . . .

To do what?  Well, I figured that out on the walk into work.  Gaming the system is easy if you’re willing to take risks.

In the process of putting all this security stuff together, it made me realize the level of warding that has to be in place around the living areas of The Pentagram, because once the older students–and by older, I mean like fourteen to seventeen–start learning things like Far Sight and Astral Walking and Teleportation, or start building enchanted supertech that going to give the x-ray vision and the such, one realizes that the school has to spend a lot of time pressing home the ethics of why spying on that girl you’re crushing on while she sleeps is really some bad, twisted Twilight shit, and you should put your magical abilities to better use.  Otherwise you’re turning loose on society a bunch of kids that can not only go wherever they feel like going, but could also make you forget they were ever there.  Or kill you with them mind.  Guess it depends on their mood.

"Seriously, you're telling me no one at Hogwarts ever used magic to watch Herminoe get ready for bed?  No one?  Right . . ."

“Seriously, you’re telling me no one at Hogwarts ever used magic to spy on Hermione while she was getting ready for bed? No one? Not even Ron? Right . . .”

Fast Lane to the Hinterland

There nothing like driving into Chicago at six-thirty in the morning with a cloudless sky above you, a lot of tall building before you, traffic filled with crazy people around you, and an old Japanese anime soundtrack blasting from your stereo.  It puts you in a certain frame of mine–unfortunately, for me, it was sort of the, “Why the hell am I doing this shit?” frame, and please don’t tell me it’s to pay the bills.

Still, there was a certain feeling while I was on the road.  I do love driving, if for no other reason that I can be alone with my thoughts, even if I’m accompanied by loud music.  When I used to make the weekly trek from and to The Undisclosed Location, I had two and a half hours to drive at 80 MPH, yell at drivers that wouldn’t get out of my way, and think out plot lines, scenes, and character development.

I thought a little about what I’m working on right now, which is editing and formatting Replacements so I can publish the work.  I’m getting this out of the way so when my covers arrive–that’s right, I was told I’m getting three covers for the low price of $200, and I can keep them or do some swapping, maybe using one of Smashwords and another on Amazon–I can then see about getting a cover for Replacements while I do a final edit and format on Her Demonic Majesty so I can get it online where it can take its place next to werewolf porn and a series about an eighteen year-old virgin who gets laid in about thirty stories–which means she must have regenerative abilities.

This morning I spoke with a friend about a story I’d submitted to a publishing house last May, and have heard nothing in return after they requested, and received, the full manuscript.  I’d mentioned that I’d sent two follow ups to the publishing house requesting an update on my novel, with none forthcoming from their end.  My friend’s comment was short and to the point:  “Fuck ’em, publish it yourself.”  This has pretty much been my attitude as well, since I’m getting antsy to find out what’s going on with that particular story.  If you want it, fine:  if you don’t want it, fine as well.  Just let me know, ‘kay?

This seems to be a common occurrence these days, where people send things out and sometimes never hear a thing back.  Or maybe it’s jut me:  maybe I’m stuck on this one with a lost in the aether and constantly waiting for it to return from the hinterlands.  Though I’m coming up on a year with it being out, so it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what I’m going to do with the story–

I’ll fix it up and I’ll publish it.

There’s no guaranty I’ll make any sales if I do this, but then there was no guaranty I’d make any sales by selling it, either.  Just as once I pay a couple of hundred scoots for a book cover there’s no guaranty I’ll get any sales from Her Demonic Majesty.  I do know this, however:

It will be out–and, with the right cover, it will be noticed.

The question then becomes:  by whom?

Reaching for the Safety Net

The cold is here.  I’ve been up since about 3:30 with the chilled and slight fever, and the body feels as if someone has been hitting me, over and over, with a pool cue.  Good times not, I can attest.

Last night was the first in a very long time that I didn’t write.  I didn’t even bring up Scrivener, which I will do even if I’m not feeling good, because there is always the inclination to write something.  That’s how dead I was feeling last night:  no energy last night at all.

It was a good night to just play with things, to try and think my way out of situations in stories, or figure out where some stuff might go if I were to follow other story lines.

Still, the brain didn’t want to function.  I would get into a thought, then lose my track at some point, and be completely lost. Then I would start over . . .

It feels as if my mind has lost all it’s forward drive.  Part of this comes from an argument I had with someone on Sunday, an discussion that allowed the other person to suck energy from me like a sponge sucks up water.  It was something I shouldn’t have done, because said person has always had the ability to suck energy.  We learn by our mistakes, right?  I could play this cold at their feet, too, but that would be pushing things too far–unless, of course, they did some work on Captain Trips a few decades before.

I learned a while back not to dwell on things that don’t bring me peace, that don’t allow me to grow as a person.  Where my writing is concerned I usually blow off comments, because, as I’ve mentioned before, non-creative people don’t get us.  We’re viewed as something almost freakish, driven to do things that others see as frivolous, or worse, time wasting.

We need something to fall back on now and then.  Some people turn to friends; others turn to reading; others go off and do something that still allows them to engage their brains while slipping away from the things that maybe be bringing them down in just the slightest way.

I used to go out at night and drive when I needed to get away.  I’d roll down the windows and get on a highway at eleven o’clock at night, and start driving, just me and the stars, and what few cars were on the highway with me.  I’d drive and I’d think.  Sometimes it was about stories, sometimes it was about other things in my life.  Sometimes I’d let my fantasies play out in my head, let them run wild like kittens looking for food.

Even when things were at their worse, it was always a good time to get out and do some night roaming.  It was my safety net, my way of decompressing.

I don’t get out that much any more.  The only driving I do these days is to and from work these days, with an occasional midnight drive.  I miss being out on the road late at night–

Doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the night.

The Great Hype Fright

Last night was my first midnight drive in a very long time–from before I was laid off from The Hole of Doom.  It was a very cloudy and cool night, which is what you’d expect with the moon waning towards new.

I was tried, and no one traveled with me to work out plots and stories and the like.  The night didn’t feel like one for creative processing, and so my mind was on other things.  And with that, my mind turned back to something I hadn’t thought about in a very long time . . .

The year was 1985, and I was working in South Bend.  I was driving sixty-five miles to get to work, and for have the year the company was in the eastern time zone, which mean it was a hour ahead of me.  I had a woman for a boss (first time for that) who was a very good boss, and there was a strange collection of people working in IT.

There was Mr. Super Patriot, who had done his time in the Air Force, was Republican to the core, and talked about all the guns he owned.  There was PC Guy who was some kind of fundamentalist dude who believed in six thousand year old Earths and Noah’s Ark.  And there was, lastly, The King of Bullshit.

The King was a consultant, some guy in his 50’s who knew everything, knew everyone, and who would always argue you down with the phrase, “I could tell you what I know about this, but I can’t, ’cause it’s secret.”  Yes, the mantra of every person who’s ever done work in, or for, the government, and though they know The Secrets of the Universe, they’re unable to do any work short of becoming a consultant in the computer field.  (Come to think of it, I’ve know four people like this.  Hummmm . . .)

One day a group of us was gathered around The King of Bullshit’s cubical, talking about something, I don’t remember the exact conversation after all these years.  It was then he pulled out one of the most incredible statements I’ve ever heard anyone utter as fact:  that there were a dozen astronauts flying around the galaxy in a Bussard Ramjet, exploring “the universe”, and that they’d come back home in five hundred years only about five years older.

For those who didn’t click on the link above–and I know that’s most of you–a Bussard Ramjet is a hypothetical sort of space ship that uses a huge magnetic scoop to gather hydrogen from the interstellar medium, and turn into fuel for its fusion engine.  In a way, it would be like having a car that could scoop petrel out of the air, so you’d never need worry about filling up again.  (It would also make rain showers real interesting, if you know what I mean.)

Only one problem:  the Bussard Ramjet is found only in the realm of fantasy.  We can’t build anything like that, at least not for a few hundred years.  You’ll find them in a lot of Larry Niven’s Known Space stories, and in Poul Anderson’s novel Tau Zero, but you won’t see one in your life time.  Ever.

The problem was I knew this, even then.  This wasn’t an unknown concept for me, and I knew it to be completely fictional.  So I called him on it.  I said that’s impossible, Bussard Ramjets don’t exist, so there are no people flying “through the galaxy,” going where no one has gone before, set to return in five hundred years . . .

The King got very pissed, because none of the other people believed me, they thought for sure he was telling the truth.  He called me out in return, saying he knew this was a fact, that it had launched ten years before, because he’d been at Cape Canaveral when it was launched . . .

I had to call him out again.  The Bussard Ramjet is a huge ship, and it’s not one deigned for flight anywhere save space.  That meant (1) you couldn’t launch it from the surface of any plant, (2) you’d have to build it in space, (3) he was full of shit.  I once more told him that was nuts, that sort of ship is, as a minimum, ten times larger than a Saturn V, and since you couldn’t “secret launch” one of those monsters, one sure as hell wasn’t going to “secret launch” something that was bigger.

At this point The King of Bullshit just affixed me with a pissed-off stare, and told me, “You have no idea what’s going on.  If you knew what I know–”

Right, dude.  What I did know then was if you cut out of work on a Friday afternoon, about one PM, but leave your monitor on so people will think you’re still working, and that you’ve just stepped away from your desk for a moment, you’re gonna get caught and fired–which is what eventually happened to The King of Bullshit.

What is the point of this rant?

For a long time one of my mantras has been, “Don’t believe the hype.”  When someone starts going on about anything with a certain amount of hyperbole, it’s always best to turned a jaundiced eye to their comments.  I’ve done the same thing in the past, but I’ve gotten better about throwing things out there without thinking about where it sits on the Hype Meter.

Hype also works against you at times.  I’m trying to break into the writing business in a full-time way, everyone knows that.  Problem is, breaking into the writing business is a tough thing to do.  It takes a butt-load of work, and the payoff may be very slow in coming.

It also seems that there’s something printed every week that is there to remind us that, not only is it a hard thing to break into, it’s getting harder.  It’s a big, hard, uphill battle, and everything is stacked against you–or so it seems.  It’s like the Hype Machine goes out of its way to knock your ass into the dirt, then stand over you laughing its evil laugh as you grovel.

Not a lot of fun, let me tell you.

So more than a few people just give the hell up, often going out screaming on Facebook that they’ve HAD IT, that they AREN’T WRITING ANYMORE, and that their DREAM IS OVER!  (Or is that “ovar”?  I can never get that one right.)

I’ve said it before:  the only one who kills your dreams is you.  Not that guy over there, not that publisher who gave you stink eye, not The King of Bullshit who knows things, and if only he could tell you . . .

The best way to combat hype is with facts, and when someone gives you shit, hit back with the facts.  And I mean well founded, researched facts, not the sort of facts you’re going to find on Fox “News” any particular minute of the day.  Someone says you suck as a writer?  Get others to read your manuscript, see what they say.  One house rejects you?  Send out the story again.  People don’t like your idea?  Screw them:  it’s yours!  Who asked them anyway?

Hype is never your friend, so you shouldn’t ever let it bother you.  I know that’s not possible, because we’re not automatons, we’re people, and our feelings get twisted by others who have the facts, who know things.  Only thing to do is get into your research, keep working, and keep writing.  If it’s going to happen, it will.

As for The King of Bullshit . . . I’m sure he’d dead by now, as he was in his late fifties back in ’85, and the dude wasn’t in the best of health then.  If he’s not dead, it’s even money he’s some cranky old man missing everything cool while he bitches about all the people who don’t know what he knows.

Here’s one thing I do know, dude.  There’s been a bit of research done on your Ramjet since you told me this story almost thirty years ago, and what did scientist find?  That the Bussard Ramjet is affected by drag caused by the interstellar medium.  (Don’t ever let anyone tell you space is empty, ‘kay?)  That means it has a top speed, which is . . .

Twelve percent the speed of light.

That means in a flat out run to Alpha Centauri, the sorta closest star to us, your ship that’s going to spend five hundred years exploring the galaxy will get there in . . . 36 years, give or take a few months to get up to speed; longer if you decide to slow down and take a look.  I’m pretty good with math, and I know twelve percent the speed of light does not allow relativity to raise its ugly head, so time dilation does not come into play.

I’m not bad with math, so let me see:  if this crew was, say, 35 when they left Earth, that would mean when they get to the closest star they’ll be . . . add six, carry the one . . . at least 71, maybe 72.  Which means when they come back they’ll be . . . add nothing, carry the nothing . . . dead.

Wasn’t it nice of me to share my top secret knowledge with you?

Driving Towards Independence

As one pinned message I saw yesterday states, “Nothing exemplifies the United States like celebrating it’s creation by drinking beer and using explosives.”  No truer words have been spoken, and if there is one thing that is true about the 4th of July, it’s that a large part of the population suddenly becomes like mentally deficient Mythbusters intent on blowing up anything and everything in sight.  One of the main reasons I got out of The Undisclosed Location, since it’s hotter and drying than hell there, and there are fireworks bans all over the place.  One drunk hillbilly + bag full ‘o M80s = burnt-down apartment complex.

Doesn’t matter.  I’ll be on the road again tonight, heading back, while all the bang-bang is ongoing.

So I’m here for the next 12 hours, then back on the highway for 2 1/2 hours, catch some sleep, work for two days, then back up here for the weekend.  Yeah, it’s a lot of driving, but there’s no way I want to be alone any longer than I need be.  I was hoping to work from The Real Home the rest of the week–no such luck.  I can’t push that line any more, it would seem.  Not a problem:  I’ll continue to do your dance for a little while longer.

Last night was the first time in a very long time I couldn’t write at all.  Not because I didn’t want to, but with everything that happened yesterday, by the time 9 PM rolled around for me, I was completely exhausted.  I sat at the computer, with Scrivener up and ready to go–and I couldn’t think.  The brain was stone, the fingers unable to comply.  I knew what I wanted to say, and probably could have finished off Part Nine in no time.

Just couldn’t do it.  I was so out of it, anything that would have come out onto the virtual page would have sucked harder than a Jersey Short marathon hosted by the Real Housewives of New Jersey.  That’s happened a few time in the past, but I’ve always managed to squeak out a few hundred words.

Not last night.

I keep pushing myself to get things out on this story.  Any of the pressure I’m feeling with this story, it’s all from me.  I know I’m the one generating it, and there’s a reason for it:  I want to create something good and worth-while.  I want to create something memorable.  And I want to do create something that’s also going to make me self-sufficient.

This stuff I do for the state–that’s sucker’s work.  I have no feel for it, no passion, no desire to continue.  But it takes up a huge amount of my time, and that means I have to push myself hard to get any writing in.  After I’m through with my blog post today, I’ll get into the story.  Right now it’s a little after 7 AM, so by 8:30, or there abouts, I hope to have Part Nine in the bag, with the start of Part Ten underway.

I gotta do this, because what I’m doing now isn’t sustainable.  Not for the long run.  Not for any sort of run.

Yeah, back on the road again tonight.

It better be the right road, because I deserve a better journey.