The Opening Morning

After cranking out one of my largest recaps ever–which you can find here if you’re interested–I got into editing one of my biggest scenes so far:  just about forty-seven hundred words long.  Yes, nothing like getting into editing something big after writing something big.

At least it looks as if I'm about half-way through this part of the novel.

At least it looks as if I’m about half-way through this part of the novel.

The Fishbowl is really our first look at both the school and the dynamic between these two, fully together for the first time.  Why do I say that?  Because they are in the door, and from here on out their acts truly define who they are, and the only people who can screw up this ride are them.  Right now it’s all on their shoulders, and for one of them, they are about to discover just what sort of rabbit hole they’ve fallen into.

One of the best parts of this scene is having Kerry get through is first morning routine–and thinking how bad it was that he had a huge bathroom all to himself with no one telling him to hurry up–and feeling that something was just a bubble off:

 

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

There was something nagging at Kerry, however, and that was the way he felt. Yesterday had been a long day with getting up at seven in the morning Amsterdam time, and by the time he’d finally lay down to sleep in the tower it was close to twenty-three hours local time. Working out the time differences before he went to bed he discovered that he’d been up twenty-two hours. Sure, he’d slept for five hours on the plane, but that wouldn’t be enough to off-set the jet lag he should still feel right this moment. Kerry figured last night that he’d probably pop awake at two or three in the morning and stay awake the rest of the day—

But that didn’t happen. He slept through the night and woke up right before his alarm was set to go at six-thirty. And after his morning ritual and a shower he felt even better, not the least bit tired.

But I shouldn’t feel that way. He stepped on to the stairs, turning to his right this time to descend the staircase opposite the one they used last night. I should fell pretty nasty. I should feel like it’s early afternoon and I’ve slept all morning and I’m dragging all over the place

“Good morning, Kerry.”

Annie was waiting in mezzanine commons and jumped to her feet the moment Kerry came into view. After days of seeing her in a skirt, leggings, and black flats, it was a surprising change to see her in jeans, a nice tee shirt, and sneakers. She’d pinned her hair back with barrettes so she wouldn’t need to bush it from her face as she’d often done in London and Amsterdam.

Kerry stepped into the mezzanine area, his eyes drifting to the main commons below. For the first time since entering the school he saw people other than the kids with whom he’d traveled. A couple of girls were talking by the fireplace, and a boy stepped off the stairs and on to the ground floor before heading across the room towards the entrance they’d used last night. He turned to Annie with a smile. “Good morning, Annie. Did you sleep well?”

“I slept wonderfully.” She skipped over to him. “How about you? Sleep well?”

“Yeah, I did.” He didn’t tell her of his concerns because besides wondering why he didn’t feel crummy, he was also collecting data based upon a few things he’d already seen, all with the intention of developing a hypothesis— “It was so quiet last night. You can’t hear any sound at all.”

“I know.” She giggled. “But I’m used to that in the mountains. It’s not like that in the city, is it?”

He shook his head. “No, not at all. There’s always some kind of sound.” He nodded towards the stairs. “You wanna head for breakfast?”

She straightened. “I thought you’d never ask.” They took the stairs to the ground floor, then turned and headed out of the tower, making their way to the Pentagram Garden.

 

I considered having Annie hold out her hand for Kerry to take at this point, but just as I did the first time I passed on that action?  Because Annie’s waiting for something here, and that’s an escort to breakfast.  She’s waiting for Kerry to make that move least she worry she’ll frighten him away.  Kissing in private is one thing, but holding hands in public is another.  Give it time, for a certain couple hasn’t quite jelled yet.

Back into editing tonight after I stop off for dinner, ’cause I’m in a better mood today, and I feel the need for a burger with wine.

And then I’ll get the kids breakfast.

Goaling on a Monday Afternoon

Well, yes:  I know it’s not Monday but rather Tuesday morning.  Early Tuesday morning after a night of rain and fog that calmed down just enough for The Burg to set off fireworks about nine PM last night.  Today it’s going to be 85 F/30 C and muggy, and I’ve spent some part of the morning trying to figure out what I’m going to wear to work today.

"Okay, now write down all the things you've just spent $300 on and then say you have nothing to wear."

“Okay, now write down all the things you’ve just spent $300 on and then say you have nothing to wear.”

But I don’t . . .

Though I did a lot of editing in the morning, I didn’t exactly do anything last night.  I did go to lunch and get a little boozy as there was nothing else going on and I didn’t feel like sitting around the house, but that tends to have a negative effect on my productivity as I need to fall into a nap later on–which I did like clock work.

The later late afternoon had me staying in–it started raining lightly about 3 PM and continued well into the night–so I started prep work.  Part of my mind was engaged in going over Episode 1 of Sense8 again, mostly so I could get screen captures for the recap I’ll write tonight, and part of it thought about laying out chapters for C For Continuing, for 16 July is coming up fast–like a week and a half fast.  But no pressure, right?

Suddenly I’m feeling it all over again:  pressure.  The pressure to produce is coming on strong, and I’m feeling deadlines once more where none had existed for a few weeks.  It’s always nice to take a break and get away from the grind, but the truth is for creative people you always feel the pull to do something.  You always feel like you should have a deadline, even thought you hate the damn things with a passion.  It’s a strange symbiosis, but it’s there.  And it isn’t going away.

I find I hate deadlines, but at the same time they’re needed, for you need to have those fixed points in time to get you off your ass and into work mode.  I have two recaps to write this week, and two more for each of the next five weeks.  I chose to do that and I set the deadlines for when it’s supposed to get done.  I set goals yesterday for Act One of A For Advanced, and while they are doable goals, right away I started getting that sensation that said, “Maybe I shouldn’t have don’t that.”  But if you don’t, you’re really getting nowhere.  You’re just writing along sort of spinning your wheels in the creative mud.

You gotta produce, and you gotta get it out there so it’s seen.  Otherwise, it’s sort of like masturbation without climaxing:  all kinds of fun until you’re pissed off that there wasn’t a payoff.

I’ve done a lot in the writing area:  now it’s time to get serious about the publishing area.

Even when I don’t like those deadlines, I know they are there to help.

The Writing In the Book

Today is 4 July in the US, or as I like to call it, “Americans Drinking and Blowing Shit Up Day,” because that’s something we do well.  And I’m certain before the day is over there will be plenty of “fireworks accidents” to report, because there always are.  But I’m not here for that, not today.

I’ve finished editing Chapter Four, finally getting the kids into their coven for the first time.

You can't see it, but they're getting ready for bed as we speak.

You can’t see it, but they’re getting ready for bed as we speak.

It’s interesting to note that up to this point I’ve edited 71,580 words, and there remains 93,840 words.  Once I’m through Chapter Five I’ll be more than half way finished, so I’ll actually take about a month to revise and edit half of Act One, leaving me to believe I’ll finish the revision by the middle of August.  Given that I’ll start C For Continuing in a week and half, I figure to finish the edit on Act One by 1 September.  And should I have my covers finished and in hand by then, I don’t see a reason why I can publish Act One by the middle of October–just in time for Halloween!  If I’m lucky I’ll also be about half-way through editing Act Two by then, and maybe press for publication by January, 2017.

Plans are coming together her, folks.

I did change around a lot of things with this scene, and there were one hundred and thirty-six words added, which is a lot.  This was due in part as a need to clarify things better, because I found some stuff a little on the iffy side when it came to giving a good description of what was happening.  But I also made a bigger change, one that you may say is me nitpicking only because I can.

Now, we all know Annie comes from a country where English is her second language, and when she’s home she always speaks Bulgarian.  If these novels were ever turned into movies I would insist that Annie and her parents be played by native Bulgarian speakers, and that all the parts back in Pamporovo be spoken in Bulgarian with subtitles shown.  Why?  Because why not?

We’ve seen her speak Bulgarian, too:  she does it a few times throughout the novel, and even does so in the scene newly edited today:

 

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

As they climbed the stone stairs—which had only a low railing to keep one from pitching off towards the floor below—Annie stepped alongside her new coven leader. “Excuse me, Professor?”

“Yes?”

“If I may ask, where are you from?” She offered a polished smile. “Your accent sounds Eastern European.”

“Oh, it is. I’m from the Czech Republic.”

“Ah.” They reached a small landing where the overhang met the staircase. “Do you speak Bulgarian?”

His eyes twinkled as he nodded. “Malko. Govorite li Chekhiya?”

She shook her head. “Ne, az se strakhuvam che ne.”

“That’s quite all right.” He patted Annie on the shoulder. “It’s always nice to have an even somewhat native speaker around.”

“Your Bulgarian is very good.”

“Maybe now I can get in some practice.”

“Ah, hem.” Alica stood with her arms crossed. “The tour?”

 

When they’re speaking I always try write out the words in English-style letters for better understanding.  But there’s something Annie does in this scene, as well as doing it in an earlier scene.  And that’s write.  And how would she write?  Well . . . like a Bulgarian.

 

She returned to the bed and picked up the white-covered album she’d brought from home, the same one she’d looked through last night.  She opened it to the same page she’d viewed yesterday, then flipped to the very next page.  Annie pulled out a pen and scribbled today’s date at the stop of the page.  Below that she wrote a short, simple sentence in Bulgarian:  Пристигнах в Салем тази вечер.  The pen hovered over the page before she followed that with another sentence:  И най-накрая целунат от джинджифил коса момче.

 

The Bulgarian alphabet is actually the oldest Slavic script in Europe, and the Glagolitic alphabet, devised by Saints Cyril and Methodius in the 850s, was slowly replaced by the Cyrillic script near the beginning of the 10th Century.  So when Annie writes, she’s gonna write in Cyrillic, which is why everything looks a little strange above.

And what is she saying?

Something like this.

Something like this.

Fortunately she doesn’t write a lot, but I think it behooves me to keep her alphabet correct.  It’s really a little thing, but if there’s something it’ll do, it’s keep a certain husband to be from figuring out when she’s writing down something like, “Kerry keeps leaving his dirty underwear laying around!  What a butthead!”  Though we’ve seen him working on speaking Bulgarian, so how much longer before he starts trying to read and write?

Now on to Orientation Day, where we learn for the Fishbowl for the first time, and while there’s not writing, there is a bit of seeing . . .

Rendezvous Within The Dark Mist

This has turned out to be something of a strange morning.  For one, I woke up at three-thirty, and as it is now ten-forty, I’ve been awake for just over seven hours, which I’m certain is going to come back to bite me at some point this afternoon.  However, I did get some gifts this morning as part of an exchange I was in, and at five this morning I was recording the opening of the package and the unveiling of the gifts.  Not only did I get a copy of The Martian, but I picked up a new hand-made bracelet:

That actually fits.

That actually fits.

And a geeky pair of swirling earring.

Here seen with coffee.

Here seen with coffee.

I also launched into a half-hour crying jag–again!–and for a while I felt like crawling back into bed and not bothering with my normal Sunday morning trip to the local coffee shop.

Which you can see didn't happen.

Which you can see didn’t happen.

And interesting thing I’m noticed, however:  since I’ve pretty much stopped drinking coffee–something I started about six weeks back–after a couple of cups of coffee my stomach is doing flip-flops and my head is twisting about something fierce.  In other words, my tolerance to caffeine is not what I was just a few months ago, and the chances are good I’m gonna have to switch to tea for my morning fix, as even two cups of Panera coffee yesterday left me with some unease.

At least this isn’t keeping me from editing.

Today I made my way through three thousand words, and they are probably some of the most important words in Act One of A For Advanced.  But before I got there I spent last night editing up about fifteen hundred words dealing with Coraline giving Kerry his examination, and during that event the following exchange happened:

 

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

“Sure.” He didn’t get why Nurse Coraline seemed all excited because he didn’t think what they did last night was all that strange. “Like I said, it was something she wanted to do, and I went with to, you know, keep her company.”

“Keep her company—” By now Coraline found it difficult to keep the smile she’d felt coming on a few seconds early from bursting out. “And you did this because you’re her friend.”

“Well, I mean . . .” Kerry found it impossible to ignore Coraline’s imperious grin. “What?”

She couldn’t keep her silence, keep what she believed the truth from this boy any longer. “Kerry, when a young lady asks you out to dinner, and once that dinner is over she follows it up by asking if you’d like to go for an early evening stroll along the Amsterdam canals—” She shook her head as her smile spread across her face. “She’s not asking you out as a friend.”

Kerry was utterly confused by Coraline’s last comment. “I don’t get it: what do you mean?”

She kept her chuckle soft and low so it didn’t carry beyond the waiting room. “You really don’t have a clue, do you, Red?”

“About what?”

 

Yeah, whatever do you mean, Coraline?  That’s really the first good look at Captain Clueless as he navigate the waters through which the female types sail, and he’s quickly learning he doesn’t have any ideas where he’s going.  But Coraline sure knows about these waters, as she’s lived upon them for some time, and it wasn’t difficult for her to notice the signals coming fro a certain Chestnut Girl–said signals confirmed by Kerry’s Tales of Amsterdam.  Makes you wonder if Coraline ever asked a boy to walk with her along the Salem oceanfront at some point.

This leads up to a sitting upon one of the most famous benches at the School of Salem, and where a certain feeling is reviled for the first time:

 

“It’s like this in the mountains, too.” She took a deep breath and let the cool, damp air calm her further. “May I ask something?”

“Sure.”

“You’ve not said much since leaving the hospital.” Annie didn’t sit up or pull away as she spoke. “Is something bothering you?”

Kerry didn’t answer right away and Annie wondered if he was having trouble wondering how to answer. When he finally spoke his words seemed like they were coming from far away. “Coraline came back and checked me out to make sure I was okay. After that we talked, and . . .” He drew a sharp breath through his nose which he sighed out slowly. “She told me something.”

What? What did she say? Annie felt a touch of panic rising for there were so many things that Nurse Coraline could have said. She could have talked about the school, or The Foundation. She put those thoughts aside immediately. No, she wouldn’t have mentioned those things, because she can’t, not yet. This was something else. “What did she say?”

“She said . . .” He turned his head so that his face was brushing up against Annie’s hair as he looked her way. “She said you were in love with me.”

“Oh.” She pulled back a bit so she could see Kerry’s face. “She said that?”

He nodded slowly, his face blank. “Yeah.”

Annie’s eyes locked with Kerry’s and held his gaze. “Yes, I am.” She slid back under his arm and returned to where she was safe and warm.

 

Leave it to Annie to just drop a truth bomb like it’s no big deal.  “Oh, she told you that?  It’s true.  Now let me snuggle–”  Annie doesn’t mess around as we now know, and when she want her feelings known they are known.  She let Kerry know just a week before she wanted him to go sightseeing with her, and now, she’s letting him know she harbors feelings for him.  Deep feelings that involve not just the L Word but, mentioned for the first time, the S Word.

And they end the moment preparing for their future:

 

At that moment a woman’s voice seemed to come from everywhere around them. “Attention, all newly arriving students. Please report to The Rotunda immediately.”

Kerry was off the bench and on his feet. “I guess this is it.”

Annie stood beside him. “Yes. Time for us to head off to the towers.”

“Probably.” He hesitated for a moment before holding out his left hand, which Annie took and held tight. They exited the protection of the covered walkway and headed towards the Great Hall as fast as their medicated excitement allowed.

 

All that’s left now is to walk back through the darkness and discover what awaits.

Hint:  it's not the light at the end of this burgeoning relationship tunnel.

Hint: it’s not the light at the end of this burgeoning relationship tunnel.

But you knew that–

The Lead Up to Two Thousand

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

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

 

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

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

 

And how it looks now:

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Annie.”

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

“Kerry.”

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Um . . . this?

Um . . . this?

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

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

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

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

After all, I have stories to tell.

Behind Door Number Two

Believe it or not, I went in and finished up Chapter Two last night.

Three down, forty-one to go.

Three down, forty-one to go.

I didn’t intend to finish it last night, but once I was through with Kerry’s Evaluation I decided to jump into the final scene because it was short–at least compared to the others I edited–and it was was a good ending point be finish up the chapter.  Which I did.

Now, as I did with Annie’s I’m not showing any of Kerry’s E and A.  I shouldn’t say any, for as yesterday I offered an excerpt that revolved around a certain school adviser, I’m doing the same here.  And this particular passage is probably one of those in the book that give me a lot of emotional heartache:

 

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

“Kerry.”

His eyes snapped towards the adviser as she spoke. “It’s fine that you remember you time here, all the good times and even a few of the bad. It’s even okay to miss this place. But I want you to remember something else—”

“What’s that?”

“This chapter of your life is over; has been for some time. It was written, and now—” She pretended to kiss her fingers, then opened them as if she were releasing the kiss. “It finished and a new chapter came along.

“When The Foundation came for you last week, that started another chapter, with Annie and you in London and Amsterdam, and with the trip here. The moment you came through Founder’s Gate and walked in here, that chapter ended and this one started—and as soon as you walk out of here, this ends and another begins.” She smiled brightly, her eyes reflecting her pleasure. “And what happens then? You couldn’t guess in a thousand years.

“It’s okay to remember the past, but you can’t keep dwelling upon those old moments.” Her eyes softened as if they were now misting over. “You have to keep writing new chapters.”

 

When I wrote that the first time I cried.  When I edited it the first couple of times I cried.  And last night, while doing the revision, I had to stop and take a break because I was crying again.  The reason is simple:  there are chapters in my life that I’ve closed but not forgotten, and even though I do my best not to dwell on them, they hurt me again and again if I give them any thought.  In so many ways I’m just like Kerry:  a person who was damaged at an early age and who hung on to events that gave me the most happiness.  Unlike Kerry, I never had an Annie to help with those new chapters, so the happiness has been few and far between, making those old chapters even more precious.

And I’m crying again.  Time to move on–

The last scene of Chapter Two shows the aftermath of their E and As, and we get to see how well they handled their respective ordeals:

 

Isis turned the instant Annie emerged from her room.

She rushed over to her for Annie was pale and stood slightly bent at the waist, neither of which were good. Isis held her by the shoulders and moved her to a nearby chair before kneeling beside her. “Hey, hey—” She slowly lifted her chin, turning her face towards her. There was a slight sheen of sweat across Annie’s face and she was having trouble focusing. While it was obvious she wasn’t at her best, Isis had to ask the question. “How you doing, Annie?”

Her reply was not weak, but her voice was soft. “I’m fine.”

“Are you?”

She closed her eyes. “I’m just a little dizzy—” She folded her hands around her middle. “I don’t feel good.”

Isis had actually thought a few moments before that she was going to make it through the evening without having to take someone to the hospital, but that wouldn’t happen now.  “Okay, as soon as Kerry is out—”

Her words were interrupted by the slamming of the door behind her and Kerry’s sobbing. He pressed himself into the wall and fought to control the tears pouring from his eyes, managing several deep breaths in the process.

Isis leaned in close to Annie. “I want you to put your head between your knees and stay like that; I gotta check on Kerry.” She moved Annie into position without a word of complaint, then hurried to the boy. “Hey, hey—” She touched Kerry’s arm. “You okay, Kerry?”

He sniffed back tears and snot before taking a deep breath and blowing it out slowly. He wiped his face with the sleeve of his hoodie. “I’m okay.”

Isis felt him shaking, and his breath was still ragged. “You sure?”

“Yeah.” He nodded quickly, forcing himself into a steady composure. “Yeah, I’m okay. I’m okay now.”

 

Yes, Ms. Isis, we’re fine after being traumatized by your school “adviser”:  thanks loads!  Both kids had to dig deep and admit things they either didn’t want to, or were afraid to say, but hey, a special school has special admission requirements, and maybe sticking your kid in the hospital for the night is part of that price for a free education of the strangest type.  And it’s only going to get stranger from here on out.

But first, we have to meet another of this cast of characters . . . probably tomorrow.

Yeah, for sure tomorrow.

The Home By the Sea

It’s funny, but we’ve already had a “home by the sea” scene, for which I’ll likely have to edit out lyrics as I’m sure I can’t afford to pay the copyright holders of the song for permission to reprint them in a novel, but this is really the part of the novel where the kids get to see Salem in the gloom and darkness for the first time.  So that must mean I was editing, yeah?

Most assuredly.

Though it took a while to get there, for I stopped off for dinner and a drink before heading home to watch a little television and relax.  I had the most delicious shepherd’s pie which I also consumed with a tasty adult beverage–

Maybe even two.

Maybe even two.

–after which I spoke with the hostess for a bit until it got busy and I hit the bricks back to the casa.  Watched three episodes of Breaking Bad then got out the story and began the trip back in time to what was, I believe, the middle of NaNo 2013 when I wrote these scenes.

Oh, and music:  yes, I had it going.  One of my biggest songs in rotation was The Killing Moon by Echo & The Bunnymen, but if people know this song at all it’s because it was the opening title crawl song for the movie Donnie Darko.  So here you are, a little something to get you in the writing mood.

The kids are finally at Salem, but they’re getting the nickel tour of the joint by Isis, who has been put in charge of kids for now.  Nearly all of this part of the novel–three scenes–take place in front of the Great Hall, and in the same structure’s atrium and lower level.

Right here, so to speak.

Right here, so to speak.

You can even see the people I modeled to give a feeling of perspective for everything.  The first scene is where things start opening up to the feeling that things aren’t Normal:

 

 

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

“While I’m certain all of you have questions about the school, they’ll have to wait until later. I will, however, give you a quick rundown on your new surroundings.” Isis indicated the space around them. “This is Founder’s Gate; that large tree just outside is Founder’s Tree, where the original pact to build the school was bound.”

She pointed to the inner walls of the archway. “The archway is set inside protective walls that form a five-sided star: we call this The Pentagram for obvious reason. You’ll notice doors on either side of us.” She pointed to both. “The walls are hollow and allow students to move between the towers—”

The girl from Portugal, Jacira, spoke up. “Towers?”

Isis nodded. “Towers. They sit at each point of the star.” She waited for more questions: when none came, she continued. “Inside the walls are the Pentagram Garden, and situated in the middle of the garden . . .” She turned and pointed to the building behind her. “The Great Hall. The administrative, educational, and social center of Salem. Offices, dining hall, hospital, library meeting areas: it’s all there.” She didn’t wait for questions. “Come. We have plenty ahead of us.”

 

Yeah, kids, you have towers here.  Notice, though, that Isis doesn’t mention that they’ll live there.  Kerry, however, notices something else:

 

When the students appeared to be halfway to the doors ahead, Kerry stopped and looked back towards Founder’s Gate. Annie stopped as well. “What are you looking at?”
He judged the distance as best he could. “You could probably fit a football pitch on this path.”

Annie nodded. She quickened her pace to catch up with the student pack. “That’s likely. It’s incredible, isn’t it?”

Kerry had other words to describe the scene. “This shouldn’t be here.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I’ve looked at Cape Ann on Google Maps, and there’s nothing like this here. It’s impossible to have something this big sitting out where everyone can see it and it seems like no one does.”

She shook her head. “The wall we drove though would keep people from seeing this.”

“But you couldn’t hide it from above: it would be visible on the satellite view of Google Maps. And people flying into Boston would see this without a problem.”

There were many things Annie could have said to Kerry to set his mind at ease but it wasn’t time to do that, not yet. She also wasn’t ready to let him know that there were so many things about the school that weren’t a mystery for her—

She told him the only thing that might placate him. “You’re over thinking things. I’m sure there’s a perfect explanation for why you haven’t seen this on your maps.” She turned her smiling hazel eyes towards him. “I’d just wait until someone can answer those questions.”

 

These were both sections that were rewritten slightly so that the flow of conversation was better:  it wasn’t bad before, but I smoothed it out just a touch.  And Kerry feels a little more concerned about the fact that he’s checked his maps and there’s nothing here, man, nothing.  This was how Kerry was at first:  the logical mind told him what wasn’t while his eyes–and sometimes Annie–showed him what was.  That changed over time, but here, you see it full force.

And in the next section we run into three things for the first time–or, at least, we hear them spoken:

 

Though she wasn’t tired, Annie was eager to get to her new room. From what her mother told her, though, there was something that they needed to get out of the way, first— “When do we get to our rooms?”

The smile Isis had maintained for most of this tour slipped slightly. “After evaluation and assessment.”

Those were the words she’d waited to hear: evaluation and assessment. As with all else pertaining to the school her parents hadn’t said a great deal about that experience, and while they hadn’t made it seem like something unpleasant, their unwillingness to discuss theirs in detail hadn’t left Annie feeling comfortable about what awaited.

Another student wanted to know more. “What’s that?”

Isis was happy to explain. “Every student who comes into Salem as an A Level—a new student—meets with an adviser. They’re asked to speak about themselves, and during the conversation the adviser makes a determination about the coven the student will—”

“Coven?” Collin finally broke out of whatever slumber he’d entered ever since leaving the plane.

The director took the interruption in stride. “Yes. Coven.”

“Like—for witches?”

For the first time tonight the slight pause that came after Collin’s followup didn’t feel like it was there to allow the kids time to absorb another information dump. “Yes. Like for witches.” Isis sensed something come over the children. She’d given the speech many times before—twice already today—and each time the word “coven” was spoken, there was the inevitable question if the expression had something to do with witches.

She watched each child closely, looking for sign that one of them wasn’t surprised by what had just transpired, and she momentarily caught the eyes of a girl who asked about their rooms. I should have known she’s the Legacy— “You’ll learn more about this tomorrow. But for now—”

Isis placed her hands before her and held her tablet snugly against her body. “The advisers are waiting.” She turned on her heel to her left. “Come with me, please.”

 

Evaluation and assessment; coven; and, of course, the W Word, witches.  It’s also the first time we see that Annie is recognized for what she, and it’s even money that Isis probably used another kind of vision to tell Annie was witch raised as well.

And last but not least, it’s time for the kids to meet their “advisers”, and there was a small matter of punctuation changed here at the end that, to me, made a world of difference:

 

The echo of the closed door faded away. Isis lowered her tablet to her side as she walked towards the stairs. “Well, best for last, hum?” Annie and Kerry stood together, silent in their apprehension. Isis turned and chuckled, trying to lighten the mood. “Okay, well, you know what to do.” She nodded towards the door on her left. “Anelie Kirilova: Room One.” She pointed to the door opposite. “Kerrigan Malibey: Room Two.”

Kerry turned to Annie. “Anelie?”

She managed a tiny smile. “Kerrigan.”

“Yeah.”

He started to turn away when Isis stopped him. “Sorry, you can’t go in there with the backpack.” She held out her hand. “I’ll hold on to it for you.”

Kerry wasn’t eager to leave his things behind. “I’ve got my tablet in there.”

“And I’m the Director of Security.” She winked. “If you can’t trust me, who can you trust?”

“True that.” He slipped it off and handed it over.

She held it by one of the shoulder straps. “Do you have a phone?”

“It’s in the bag.”

“Okay.” She gave it a hoist. “I’ll see you get this back. Don’t worry.” She nodded once again. “You can go.”

Kerry walked to his door, but turned around before going in; he found Annie standing outside hers looking back at him. He turned away and closed his eyes; Annie did the same simultaneously.

They opened their respective doors and entered their rooms.

 

I’m really debating if I should post any of the evaluations in the coming days, and the answer to my own question is “Not likely”.  I mean, I want to keep some mystory, and if you’ve stuck through to the end of the B Level book, you know about Kerry’s.

But what is this change I alluded to earlier?  It’s right here:

 

“Well, best for last, hum?” Annie and Kerry stood together, silent in their apprehension. She chuckled, trying to lighten the mood. “Okay, well, you know what to do.” She nodded towards the door on her left. “Anelie Kirilova: Room One.” She pointed to the door opposite. “Kerrigan Malibey: Room Two.”

Kerry turned to Annie. “Anelie?”

She raised her eyebrows and managed a tiny smile. “Kerrigan?”

“Yeah.”

 

I first had Isis change position–which isn’t that important, but was needed–and then I removed the question mark from the end of Annie’s uttering of Kerry’s name.  Why?  Because you know why, and this is another little clue that something’s going on between these two that maybe doesn’t have anything to do with school.

And in another quarter of a million words you may find out what that is . . .