The Essential Essence

When I say, “Oh, this should only go for another few hundred words” and “This will finish up just over five thousand words”–I’m a liar.  Really.  Because while I finally finished the scene that I’ve worked on for, oh, seven days, things went on far longer than I expected–

Like a thousand or so words futher.

Like a thousand or so words further than expected.

Yeah, just over sixty-two hundred words, making this the largest scene in the story.  Like I said, Annie and Deanna get together and they start talking–oi!  These ladies can gab.  And they were about to watch some video together, which brings me to thinking:  I would totally love to write a scene where Deanna and Annie are sitting on some pillows, comfy in the jammies, watching Mean Girls and quoting the movie in Arabic and Bulgarian.  “Wal ha a ma.”  “Prestani da se opitvash da donese sluchi:  toĭ ne shte stane.”  A laugh riot, I’m telling you.

We were going to watch something, yes?  Okay, then:  let’s go to the video:

 

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

It picked up with Deanna—who was off screen—mid-way through her initial greeting. “I’m loath to call myself ‘mistress’ of the discipline as some have; the title infers more than makes me comfortable. Come, let’s sit together.”

Annie watched herself step through the mass of pillows that lay on the floor that day. “Thank you. You’re quite kind.”

The off-screen Deanna’s voice remained calm. “Not at all, Annie.”

The shock that on-screen Annie felt was not only apparent, but watching-Annie felt it hit her once more as her past self spoke. “How did you—?” She listened to Deanna’s explanation where she stated the obvious. “You know how I know your name—and how I know Kerry’s, too.” As she’s never seen him react the first time, Annie couldn’t prevent a smile appearing as Kerry’s head snapped around at the mention of his name. “How?”

There was a hint of amazement in Deanna’s voice. “I love how off-balance he was then.”

Annie nodded. “He was.” She heard Deanna say she’d seen them coming, and the ever-so-logical ginger boy on the screen checked his surroundings. “Do you have monitors in here?”

“It’s a good thing I’m used to questions like that—” Deanna spoke over her voice telling Kerry she’d had a vision.

Annie did chuckle at Kerry’s response after she told him that the seer had a vision. “You mean like precognition?” The chuckled turned into a smile as she hear on-screen Deanna confirm Annie’s answer and ask them to sit. “I told him to have an open mind before we showed up. She listened to him attempting to rationalize Deanna’s claim of knowing how they were arriving. “I’m happy he learned fast.”

“Much better than some of your fellow levelmates.” Deanna regarded her memories of that day. “I had a few students that Friday night who needed some hand holding regarding what they saw that day.”

“There was a point, though . . .“ She heard Kerry say he didn’t believe in precognition.

“You were worried he would be the same way?” Deanna signed. “I wasn’t paying attention to him, for in time he would come around.” She looked over to Annie. “I was watching you.”

“Why?” Annie found the seer’s statement surprising. “You knew I was a Legacy—”

“Yes, I read your report, remember?” Deanna’s chuckle verged on laughter. “I was watching how nervous you were. You did a great job keeping it bottled up inside while keeping it hidden.”

Annie was glad Deanna couldn’t see her face, because she knew the woman next to her would had no problem mistaking her look of surprise. “You’re very perceptive.”

“Well, I wasn’t exactly playing fair.”

Now Annie’s curiosity was peaking. “What do you mean?”

 

I wrote all of the above last night while consulting the first novel, so that the words heard–all of the sentences in italics–and actions seen were accurate.  And just like Annie you’re probably saying, “Okay, what’s the big deal?”  Well, I left off one sentence, which starts this next section, followed by what I started writing this morning–

 

“You’ll see—” Deanna turned back to the display on the ceiling. “Sabrina, restart this video to the point I originally indicated, and replay with the aura recording applied.”

The screen went black. “Ready, Deanna.”

“Play the video.”

The scene played out as before, but the biggest change to Annie was how they appeared on-screen, with the bright glow of normally invisible energy surrounding each of their bodies. “You filmed our auras?”

“Apparently.”

Annie silently damned herself for asking a stupid question. “Do you do this for everyone?”

“Sabrina, hold the video.” Deanna waited three seconds after the command before answering. “No. Just you that day.”

“Why?”

“Something I felt in the vision that told me you were coming. There was a sensation that this meeting was important—more implied than stated—and that seeing your auras was necessary.”

Annie didn’t know what to feel at hearing this revelation. Seeing someone’s aura was considered the same as looking into their mind and emotions, as a skilled reader could know volumes about a witch with just a momentary glance. It was then that something Deanna said only a minute before registered— “You said you were weren’t playing fair. Did you use Aura Sight on us?”

Deanna’s answer came immediately. “Yes. I was watching you the whole time that way.”

“Because you felt it was necessary.’

“I felt it was important.” She commanded Sabrina to start the playback, then pointed at the floating screen. “Watch.”

 

You know, when seers get feelings about their visions, it’s a scary thing.  Nearly all visions are literal things:  you see one, and you try to make sense of what you saw.  When you see something and begin getting hunches about something you should do, that’s when you begin wondering what the hell is going on.

And as Annie points out, you see someone’s aura, you seen into them.  Not only can you tell they’re a witch–which is why they were using enchantments to hide those little tells in their auras that might give them away to Deconstructors–but you can tell what they’re thinking and feeling.  It’s one of the things a witch will do to see if someone is lying, because unless the person they’ve speaking to is really damn good at manipulating their aura, the person asking questions can look at the other person’s aura and instantly tell if they’re bullshitting their ass off.  Which instructors can see auras?  All of them.  They only have to use Aura Sight to view them.

Now, point of etiquette.  It’s generally considered bad manners for witches to constantly use Aura Sight to look at another person’s aura while they’re talking to them.  It’s like hooking someone up to a lie detector while you’re having a polite conversation, and witches who constantly do so hoping to call another person out on something are considered assholes of the first order and usually end up getting shunned by the rest of the witch community.  Plus, one witch can use magic to look at the aura of another witch to see if they are using magic–because crafting spells do things to your aura–and if they suspect they’re being watched, well, they’ll just hide their aura and make you go fish.  Because aura hiding is totally something you can do as well–

Oh, and yes:  Guardians know all these little aura tricks.  Which is why trying to find out if Helena is BSing you is an exercise in futility.

Here’s where we get to learn a little about auras:

 

This time Annie paid attention to the glow around Kerry’s and her bodies. Their auras were brilliant and filed with speckles of violet light—both the marks of Aware witches. Kerry’s alternated between an orange-yellow to brownish-orange, while Annie’s flowed from bright pink to orange-yellow to orange-red. “Why does mine have that bright yellow border?”

“That was my tip-off that you had a touch of fear: bright yellow indicates a fear of something—losing control, losing respect—”

Annie looked away from the display for a moment. “Losing someone you love.”

“Exactly.”

“What does the rest mean?”

“The orange-yellow indicates intelligence and confidence, while the bright pink shows affection and love.” Deanna paused to allow Annie to consider what she’d said. “You were looking for answers to what happened over the summer, weren’t you?”

“In a way. I hoped you might . . . see something.” She pointed at Kerry. “What about his?”

“The orange-yellow you know, but in Kerry’s case he was being far more scientific in his assessment of what he was seeing, which is why that color is more vivid for him. As for the brownish-orange . . .” Deanna swallowed loud enough for Annie to hear. “Given the way he was acting, those are his repressed emotions shinning through.”

“Literally.” Annie was astonished by how easily Deanna was able to read their moods and feelings by watching their auras, giving her more reason to learn Aura Sight as soon as possible. “Why have you never shown this to anyone? It doesn’t seem all that startling.”

 

I did a bit of research trying to find an aura interpretation that I liked, and what I eventually found works for me.  I’ll probably even start writing those down as a hand guide to use.  The colors do represent what the kids were feeling at the time:  Kerry was trying to come up for reasons about what he was hearing and seeing–remember, this was the day after their E & A, and his was about as fresh in his mind as it comes–and Annie was looking for something, just as Deanna surmised.

But this isn’t the reason she wanted Annie to see this video–this is:

 

“It’s not.” She pointed at the screen, where Kerry was about to sit next to Annie. “Watch.”

Annie did as instructed. She saw Kerry set down his backpack, move to on-screen Annie’s right, and sit— “I am. What—”

“Sabrina, hold image.” Deanna propped herself up and turned towards Annie. “That’s why I’ve never shown this to anyone.”

The moment on-screen Kerry sat next to on-screen Annie their auras merged and became as one, a combined glow of orange-yellow surrounded by an aural border of emerald green and royal blue. “I don’t understand—”

“The aura of a person is the reading of them essence: your mystical fingerprint, so to speak. It remains yours and is always kept separate from those around you. Even if you’re holding someone in your arms, or laying with them, there is a discernible border that separates yours from theirs.” Deanna rolled over and lay back. “Your auras merged. When I saw it happen that day it took every gram of willpower I possessed not to gasp. It was the most incredible thing I ever witnessed.”

Annie started at the screen. “This doesn’t happen—ever?”

She nodded. “This never happens, even to people who are deeply in love. It’s like your essence merged and became one—” Deanna drummed her fingers against her pillows. “What you’re seeing is impossible. And that’s why I’ve never shown this to anyone . . .” She said nothing more, preferring to leave all further actions implied.

 

Your auras merged.  And when you do something that surprises the School Seer, then you are truly remarkable because you’ve shown someone whose ability is to see things that haven’t happened something they’ve never seen.  Which means that if Deanna was having visions of Annie and Kerry before ever meeting them–and there are indications she was–this was something she never once saw.

I’m not presenting the rest of the scene because . . . well, because thing are said, and I’m not giving anything else away.  At least not until this book is published.  Needless to say Annie learned a big secret about her relationship with her soul mate, and it’s pushed open the door of understanding a little bit.  Not a lot, but enough that people can peek in and begin wondering.

I’ve done enough for today.  I believe my work here is done . . .

Weaving Through the Emotions of the Day

As I stated in yesterday’s post, it was the one month anniversary of my coming out at work, and therefore the anniversary of my going into true full-time living.  And like life itself, yesterday was pretty much an up and down day.

It started out fine, albeit snowy and cold.  A storm rolled through Sunday and there was a lot of stuff on the ground, which made walking into work a bit of a chore.  I don’t mind that; I’ve done it more than a few times in the past.  No, the morning and lunch time were fine.  It was in the afternoon that things fell apart . . .

I was working on a program that I’m going to help demo today, and it wasn’t so much there was an issue with the program as there was an issue with the data–which, to use a technical term, sucks.  I run into this issue all the time–and it doesn’t help that I’ve mentioned it as well, how it seems like nothing really works when I try to test, and sometimes I spend hours attempting to verify if it’s the program that’s acting wonky, or it’s something in the data.

Yesterday it was something in the data.  And it was driving me beyond frustrated.

"Why do you do this to me?  Why do you hate me so?"

“Why do you do this to me? Why do you hate me so?”

Here’s something else to consider:  last Friday afternoon was Shot Day, which I do every other week.  I do my injection and get the estrogen into my body.  It’s usually a few days later before I start feeling moody and emotional, so if I do a shot late Friday, it normally starts hitting me about . . . Monday afternoon.  And that’s when I really started to feel like I was loosing it hard . . .

By the time I left work I was a semi-angry, emotional mess.  Then I have a mile-long walk ahead of me, which allows time to think about things and stuff, and the stuff and things that were on my mind weren’t good.  Nope, not at all.  Which means by the time I’d reached the front of the capitol building I was pretty much on the verge of tears, and I fought off the urge to let it all out for about three blocks–

And that urge ended as soon as I was inside my apartment.

I got dinner going, and as the computer was coming up I broke down.  It was a pretty epic meltdown, one that I haven’t actually had in a while.  It’s the kind that involve a lot of tears and even a little screaming, and it went on for about ten minutes straight.  It was straight-up nasty, and I wasn’t feeling all that well once I had the computer up and I was still a mess–

And then I found a message waiting for me.

I don’t want to say that there’s someone I know out there in Internet Land who has a connection to me, but when their first post is, “How are you feeling?” and a little while later in the conversation you’re told that they felt you calling and that they needed to check in on you–yeah, something’s there, and that something helped me feel better.  Upside to this all is I was far better an hour later, and by the time I went off to bed, while I might not have been feeling one hundred percent, I was better than I when I’d first walked through the apartment door.

I even managed a bit of editing last night–maybe three thousand words.

All in all, not a bad day for a massive roller coaster ride.

The Long Evening of Silent Dreams

Yesterday was pretty much one of the best I’ve had in a long time.  Had a good day on the blog, with probably my biggest days ever.  Managed to get through work and was pretty productive in the process.  Had a fairly light dinner which did wake me up in the middle of the night with gas.

I wrote almost nothing, however.

It was really a combination of emotions and my body telling me I needed a break.  The last couple of days, between my novel and blog posts, I’ve written about forty-five hundred words, and when you add that into the normal mix of, you know, working, it adds up to a lot going on, mentally speaking.  I don’t get much of a physical workout typing, but it does put the strain on the brain.

And then I looked at my over all word counts–

First I looked at Act Two and was like, okay . . .

First I looked at Act Two and was like, okay . . .

But then . . .

I looked at the whole manuscript, and was like, "Holy shit."

I looked at the whole manuscript, and was like, “Holy shit.”

Eight months now I’ve been hard at work, with a month and a half of that to do edits and rewrites.  This has really become my second job, writing this novel, and I haven’t spent this much time on a single work since–well, since my first novel which ended up taking twenty years to finish.  I do promise I’ll finish this one in a lot shorter period of time.

But now I have to start thinking like a real writer; I need to start getting things published.  I haven’t put out any new work since last May, and the thinking is starting to go like, “Maybe what I need to do is pick out a couple of things that I can get out to readers so they can look them over, offer suggestions for edits, and then find someone to do covers.  Because the shit in my “Stories to Edit” folder aren’t doing anything but collecting electronic dust there.

So my thinking is, after Act Two is in the bag I’ll pull out a couple of things and start getting them ready.  I can think of two novels that could go up, and maybe even one rather dirty little story as well–under another name, of course.  But there’s more to writing than just writing–it’s just fan fiction that doesn’t see the light of day if I don’t get it out there.  Yeah?

I’ve also got to consider if, by the end of the year, if I want to start putting this novel out by acts.  Say, Act One out by the first of the year; then Act Two in March, and then Act Three . . . well, by next summer I should have finished Act Three.  And it would be a great way to get interest in the story releasing it that way.  I hope.

Last night was also a good night for crying.  That was another reason I couldn’t write anything:  lots of emotional distress.  Really, getting flippy is not a good way to spend the evening.  You look at something, you smile, then a minute later you’re gasping for air you’re so crying so hard.  And ten minutes later you’re back to laughing, or at least smiling over a random thought.

Tonight I’ll be back into the new scene, which I really do want to finish.  And the one after that should be short and sweet.  I need to get to my Witch House by this weekend–

Which reminds me:  I have to think of something else to write as well.

Does it never end?

The Slumbering Afterglow

Though I didn’t write in quick bursts yesterday, I wrote a lot.  Well, maybe not a lot:  after all, there were a lot of things going on, one of which was getting an infection in my left thumb cleared up.  Do you know what it’s like to take the part of your thumb that’s sort of swollen with an infection and bang it again the space bar every time you need a space between words?  It hurts–a lot.  But all better now, so I can continue my insanity.

(I know you’re thinking, “Why didn’t you just stop writing, Cassie?”  Don’t bother:  you already know the answer.)

I didn’t think I’d written much, since I seemed to peck along due to a number of things.  One was the thumb, the other was thinking over a couple of others scenes that I want to do, and another was . . . well, lets call it feelings, cause they were there when I was writing this part.

And since I’m in a good mood this morning, you get to see all of it–just about nine hundred and fifty words.  It starts up right when the excerpt I published yesterday ended.  And if you didn’t read that–for shame, for shame.

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie brushed a few strands of hair from her face. “I’m glad I asked you out.”

Kerry blushed once again. “Um . . .”

“Yes?”

“I’ve never had a girl tell me they, um—” He tried not to look at Annie. “That they asked me out.”

“Really.” She took a long sip of her Lemon Aid. “Does it feel as if I’ve asked you out on a date?”

“I guess.” Kerry seemed ready to sink into this tee shirt, and appeared to want to do a dozen other things besides answer these questions. “I’ve never been asked out on a date, so I wouldn’t know.”

“You mean asked out by a girl?”

“Well, yeah: that, too.” He finally managed to get his fidgeting under control. “I’m just happy you asked me along. You’ve been—” The deep blush grew bright. “You’ve been really nice to me.”

“Why wouldn’t I?” It was easy for Annie to be nice to Kerry, though he didn’t know this, or why. “You don’t complain, which is one good thing about you. And you can hold a conversation, which is another.”

He nodded, as a slight grin began to form. “Thanks.”

She rested her cheek against her hands as she leaned towards him. “I’ll bet all your friends say the same about you.”

The blush and the semi-grin vanished as Kerry’s face went slack. He was facing Annie, but he wasn’t looking at her. “I . . .” His lips tightened as his gaze began darting from place to place.

“Kerry?” Annie knew something was wrong, but she wasn’t sure what had just happened. “What is it?”

His voice sounded very small. “I don’t have any friends.”

Uh, oh. She was aware that Kerry was a solitary person, but she didn’t realize he was friendless. I never asked . . . “I’m sure that’s not true—”

“It is true.” He bit his lower lip to prevent it from quivering. “Never had any in California, and for sure don’t have any in Cardiff. That’s why no one ever asks me to do anything, or if I want to do something.” He took a deep breath as the fight to keep his lip from quivering was lost. “Not even my parents; they never ask me if I want to do anything.” He looked out the window as a tear trickled down his cheek. “No one cares about me.”

Her expression never changed as Annie’s heart shattered. She’d heard sadness before, but never anything like the despair she’d just felt emanating from Kerry. “That isn’t true—”

It is.” The trickle had become a stream, and his words barely escaped his tightening throat. “I don’t have any friends at school. My parents think I’m some weird kid who sits in his room and reads and does stuff on his computer and listens to music, and that’s it. If it wasn’t for The Foundation paying for me to go to school, they wouldn’t have cared if I wanted to go or not. No one cares about me; no one loves me.” He set his glasses aside and covered his eyes. “No one at all.”

Annie felt her own growing sadness as Kerry broke down. She wasn’t sadden by his actions: she was saddened by his statement, “No one loves me”. She wanted to leap across the table and hold and tell him the truth, tell him what she knew, what she felt—

And if you do, then what? Will he believe you? He doesn’t know you. He’ll think you’re crazy, that you’re playing with him, and that will only make him more upset—and it will be your fault.

“Don’t say that, Kerry.” Annie keep her voice low and her tone full of caring. “I know there is someone out there who cares for you, who loves you: I know it. And if you think hard . . .” The corners of her mouth turned upward slightly. “I know you’ll see them. I know you know them.”

The tears stopped; Kerry sniffed several times, trying to clear his nose. He never once looked at him, instead keeping his face in profile. “My grandparents.” He raised his voice a little as he finally turned towards Annie. “They do; they love me. I know it.”

She nodded slowly. “See? I knew you’d find someone.” She maintained the slight grin so Kerry wouldn’t see what she was feeling—

“Yeah.” He wiped his eyes with the back of his arm. “You’re right.” He picked up a napkin and dabbed at his face. “I didn’t mean to do that, it’s just . . .”

“You get emotional at times?”

“Yeah. Can’t help it when that happens.” He laid the napkin next to his plate and put on his glasses. “My parents hate it. My dad says it’s because I’m ‘not strong’, whatever that’s suppose to mean. My mom . . . she just says, ‘You cry like a girl’.”

“That’s not a very nice thing to say.” She sat up, her eyes clear and sharp. “And it’s also not true. I don’t cry, and I’m a girl. So there.”

Kerry chuckled. “You don’t cry?”

She shook her head, her eyes half closed. “No. Not at all. My mother once told me it wasn’t natural.”

“Ah.” He waved his hand as if not concerned. “What do our parents know, huh?”

Annie watched him turn away from the window and refocus upon her. “Are you okay now?”

He took a deep breath. “Yeah.” His head slowly tilted to one side. “Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to go and spoil the day.”

“You didn’t.” The smile that formed was meant to be warm and comforting. “And there’s still a lot left.”

Kerry looked like he was going to pick up his phone and check something. “There is?”

“Yes. We don’t have to be back to the hotel for another four hours.” She leaned her chin upon her joined fists. “There are still things to see.”

 

There are always things to see, Young Annie.  And you will, trust me.  You will.

This was a difficult part for me to write, at least from an emotional standpoint.  I’ve said a lot of the things that Kerry said at one time of another, many of them when I was his age.  And the things his parents said to him–yeah, I’ve heard them as well.  And he had better grandparents than mine, who were a bunch of racist assholes and drunks.  At least he has something better than me.

And then–then–when I get to the “No one loves me part” and Annie’s feeling her heart break (for reasons I know, but you don’t) . . . well, I’m listening to music, and it’s a live version of the final two compositions off Wind and Wuthering, … In That Quite Earth and Afterglow, the final stanza of Afterglow comes up:

 

And I would search everywhere
Just to hear your call,
And walk upon stranger roads than this one
In a world I used to know before.
For now I’ve lost everything,
I give to you my soul.
The meaning of all that I believed before
Escapes me in this world of none,
I miss you more.

(Music and Lyrics by Anthony Banks)

 

And that was about the time I needed to sit out on the balcony and get over a good cry of my own.

Really, though:  was I thinking it was Annie trying to pull Kerry back into something that she knows but he doesn’t?  Or was Kerry feeling something that he knew once but has now forgotten.  Or was I pining away for something I dearly want, but can likely never have?

Yes.

What this means is this long stretch of writing, this scene now over five thousand words, is just about finished.  Just add a few things tonight, hack and slash it into place, and I can call it revised.

No, really, it's really near the end.  Really!

No, really, it’s really near the end. Really!

And when this is finished–

I can move on to other scene and drive myself crazy.You

The Zen of Artful Crying

During editing last night I was tripping through the part of my novel that I have to say contains some of my favorite passages.  Nothing major, just little scenes that get the characters into their new home after a strange situation, and allow them time to grow.  And to allow some interesting things to slip out.  Such as . . .

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

Does your doctor do a glowy-hand thing with you before talking about crazy spirits?

Does your doctor do a glowy-hand thing with you before talking about crazy spirits?  I thought not.

But there’s a line right in the middle of the above passage that I like a lot:  “Hey, Red.” Coraline’s soothing, caring tone, drew Kerry’s attention back to her. “Nothing to be ashamed of—we all need a good cry now and then.”  And that’s one truth about Kerry:  he cries.  A lot.  Oh, it hasn’t actually happened yet–well, okay, it has.  He cries in the middle of his E and A–actually has two near-meltdowns–and is crying when he returns to Isis and Annie, and there’s a moment coming up . . .

But you get the idea.  Some might say that for an eleven year old boy he cries far more than he should.  He admits at one point that he last cried just as summer was starting, and that he hadn’t since arriving at school.  And in the course of his tenure at Salem, he’ll lose it more than a few times each year.

Annie cries as well–oh, boy, does she–but people would say, “Hey, that’s all right:  she’s a girl.”  Yeah:  she’s a girl.  A girl who as the story progresses could leave your rapidly cooling body in a bloody heap in the middle of any floor of her choosing, and would do so with little to no emotional response to wasting your ass.  Probably because she didn’t like you saying, “She’s a girl.”

I used to get that a lot.  I cried a lot as a kid, and I’d get the, “You need to toughen up!  You act like a girl!”  Well . . . yeah.  Sorry to disappoint you there, parental units, but your kid is a mental and emotional mess, so the tears are gonna flow–and insulting me with gender stereotypes isn’t going to help.  It wasn’t until I was into therapy like four decades later that I came to the realization that (1) it’s okay to be in touch with your emotions and if you gotta cry, let that fly, and (2) yeah, I’m also a big girl, so deal with that.

Kerry is, quite frankly, a mess as a kid.  He’s smart.  He doesn’t care for sports save for a few things here and there.  At home he feels unwanted and unloved, and emotionally he shut down over the summer of 2011–in part because of his home life, in part because of something else.  Coming to school forces him to confront issues he’d rather forget, and those issues make him open up to the world once more.

Particularly when this happens:

Yes, when a girl tells you she's your soul mate, you must do the kissing parts, Kerry.

When a girl tells you she’s your soul mate, you must do the kissing parts, Kerry.  You can’t say no.

He’s a clumsy kid who doesn’t know what girls are like and whose first kiss doesn’t end in jubilation jumping up and down with some fist pumping.  It ends with a smile and a softly spoken “Wow,” because he’s never been to this point before, and what else is there to say but “Wow”?

I like him and I like Annie, and I enjoy the dynamic they share, because as smart and as powerful as they both are, they’re still kids who probably won’t know the best ways to handle the situations they’ll encounter.  Which means a lot of doing things that feel right, but are probably not the right thing to do.  Like, you know, putting your life in danger by flying along a race course at extremely high speed because it’s fun, and you’re just racin’.

Don’t know how much I edited last night, but it was fun.  I got the kids in their fishbowl:  now to return to the dawning realizations and clean them up.

Cleaning up the realization that your a witch is not the same as a clean up in asile five.

Cleaning up the realization that your a witch is not the same as a clean up in Aisle Five.  It’s messier.

 

 

The Desolation of Desires

It is safe to say that I am now, almost, just about, completely, “back”.  Though the cold made it hurt to walk home yesterday–and by “hurt”, I mean my lungs felt like they were on fire–and I probably ate more than was necessary, I had a fairly good night’s sleep, and feel decent this morning.  Now all that remains is this annoying, persistent fluid in the upper chest, which I know from past experience will linger for weeks, if not longer.

I’m back on the writing game, however.  Not only did I get back into the work in progress, but I ended up editing a piece for someone who sorta threw it at me and said, “Hey, need this by tomorrow, can you look it over?”  Sure, why not?  Isn’t that why I’m here?

The great news for me, however, was cranking out nearly a thousand words on the story.  After two days of very low production–only about a thousand total in that period–and then taking a day off because writing hurt, it really hurt, things felt sort of smooth once more getting right back in.  Which is good, because what I’m writing isn’t that easy.

In fact, this is a part of the story I’ve dreaded writing for a while.

This is where Annie comes clean to one of the instructors, telling her all the reasons why she’s there at the school, while going on in great detail about how she’s sometimes not the nicest little girl in the world, and that there have been occasions where she’d been labeled a selfish little shit.  In short, there are times when she’s a mean little girl without benefit of a curl, and she knows it.

But now she’s running on a bit of fear because of things that happened the night before in the Midnight Madness, and this fear is a big foreign to her, because in the past, whatever Annie wanted, Annie got.  Case in point is that when she was eight she forced her father to build her a house on the shores of the lake on their rather expansive property.  Why?  Because she had a dream, that’s why.  And she was also pissed at her dad for another reason, so–build me a house, daddy.

No trained squirrels for this girl, no sir.

The problem she faces is simple:  in the past, whenever she wanted something, the only obstacle to her getting it were her parents, and she’d wear them down no matter what.  It wasn’t like the object of her desire was going to tell her to take a hike–lake house and sitting rooms and books on sorcery aren’t known for being all the disagreeing.

This time, the object of her desire can say no.  It hasn’t, so far, but . . . there’s always that chance.  And within that chance lay the fear she now feels.

Annie's Fear, Next 200 Miles.

Annie’s Fear, Next 200 Miles.

It’s not a pleasant scene to write, because it becomes necessary to cast a character in an unsavory light.  But then, that’s one of Annie’s flaws:  she knows she is selfish from time to time.  It’s just that, in her world, it’s never been a problem.

But if you think this scene is hard for me to write, just wait until I get to the professor’s observations.  Oh, boy . . .

Between the Lines

This morning starts out early like so many others on a Saturday:  sitting in Panera, my breakfast finished and drinking my coffee.  It’s almost seven AM and I’ve been awake since four-thirty.  I have a bill to pay today, and I’m thinking of heading down to a local hair salon and getting my hair cut and my eyebrows shaped a bit.  Tomorrow I need to do the laundry ’cause I haven’t many things that are clean.  I also believe I’m developing a cold, because there’s been a strange tickling in my chest, one that started late last night and it bothering me this morning.

Not an auspicious start to the weekend, particularly if I want to go out tonight, which I am still debating.

Why am I debating this?  Because I may want to stay in an write.

"Yeah, I could ship this Allison/Cosima story as is, but it really needs a three-way with zombie Helena to make it rock."

“I could ship this Allison/Cosima story as is, but it totally needs a three-way with zombie Helena to make it rock.  Yeah, seestra.”

I reached out to a few online friends I have and caught up on chat for a few hours.  I needed that because I was in serious need of decompression.  I’m back to not sleeping well and dealing with long days at work, then writing at night, which is working on my head in strange ways.

Believe it or not, this novel is taking one hell of a toll on that fragile shell I refer to as my emotions.  I’ll have to force myself to start writing, which is sometimes due to be tired, but other times it’s because I know, in my head, where I’m going with the scene, and I’m diggin’ the fact that I might find the conclusion of the scene a little heart rendering.  A few times I’ve had to stop and work out a full-on crying jag, and more often than not I’m on the verge of tears when I crawl under the covers.

The Crazy Tale of Annie and Kerry brings up way too many bad memories, and the scene I’m in now is going to bring about a phrase I haven’t heard in some time, and I know that’s going to lead to something I don’t really want again, but it’s coming, I know it is, and one just lets it happen if you wanna get the story out.

Did I think this would happen?  Yeah, probably a little.  There are some intense feeling between these characters, and my feelings about them are just as strong.  Crazy world, this writing.  Sometimes you get caught up in these young, mind-swirling desires, and if you aren’t careful you find yourself falling in and getting dragged to the bottom of the emotional ocean, just as surely as if you fall into the Corryvreckan Maelstrom.

As I’ve started before, some writers have said you’re only at your best when you’re uncomfortable about what you’re writing.  You’re putting yourself out there, pushing yourself to go places that one normally avoids.  That’s how I feel at the moment as I’m wrapping up this first act:  there are things being said that make me uncomfortable, because they bring back memories I’d prefer remain quiet and sleeping.  Won’t happen, because I woke them up some time back–

And they’re gonna stay awake until such time this novel is completed.

Yeah . . . fun year ahead, I can tell.

Undone Transformation

Well, then, interesting morning I’m having.  It’s cold, but not that cold–not the Vortex crap that’s hitting the middle of the country.  Oh, sure, it’s six degrees outside, but I can walk three-quarters of a mile in it.  Like I did yesterday.  And the day before, when there was ice on the ground and the walkway in front of the Capitol decided to do a Tonya Harding on my right knee.  Why me?  Why?  Why?

Last night was a mess.  I started out with such high hopes of getting something done–and then turned into an emotional basket case.  I suffered a complete emotional breakdown over something that occurred back in May of last year, but someone has decided to go all passive-aggressive on me and find a million ways to call me a bitch without, you know, calling me a bitch.  I had a good fifteen minute crying jag over it, which is something I haven’t had in a long time, and while it was good to get all that out of the way, it completely ruined my mood for writing.

Emotions are good for writing.  You can feel them in your words as you bring them forth, and if you’ve gotten them right you can sense the feedback as they take shape on the page.  I’ve had a couple of stories where I was crying my eyes out as I finished the last few paragraphs, because what I was writing affected me that way.

But this was an external and personal situation, and when those hammer you it can screw up your process terribly.  Normally I just shake that stuff off–normally.  Last night I couldn’t.  Or, I should say, I was starting to shake it off when I received a phone call from someone who wanted to know the whys and wherefores of a charge on an American Express card.  I’ll go so far as to say that it seems like the only time they contact me is to talk about money, or bills, or bills and money, and if there’s something I don’t need it’s that bullshit.

All this means it was nine-thirty before I could get to where I wanted to write.  I didn’t get much out–finally count was only four hundred and fifty-five words.  I tried for five hundred, but it wasn’t there.  Like all the good feelings I could have used last night, the ability to sling the story wasn’t possible.  After getting a thousand or more words a day for the last week or so, I had to admit the writing fairies were not looking out for me, because it was highly likely they were sitting in a bar somewhere close getting hammered instead of heading into the cold and helping out us poor, struggling writers.

Tonight I’ll have to try harder.  I sound like Dora the Explorer there:  “Can you say ‘try harder’?  Say it!  Say it again!  LOUDER!”  Enough.  Anyone can come up with excuses for why you couldn’t; I need to work through that and say why I could.

Hey, it’s Wednesday.  If I get through this next scene, I can do something naughty.

Plummeting Towards Your Life

Do you have the soundtrack of your writing from last night, Cassie?  Why, I most certainly do.  Sure, I threw in a few individual songs before I really got started, but the real stuff was Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and At War With the Mystics, both by The Flaming Lips.  Just the sort of stuff needed for some heavy writing, yeah?

One evaluation down, another in the process.  I had trouble getting started for one reason or another last night.  I feel the need to get out and do something besides sit, but it’s hard to do these days.  I’ve got two jobs going on, and that takes up a lot of my time.  Seriously, once NaNo is out of the way–or maybe even before that–I’m going to set up some free time and find something to do.  I miss my little side trips off to places around The Burg, and I need more of that.  Otherwise you fall into the rut, and once you’re in the rut, you have a hell of a time getting out.

Writing, however:  oh, I think I was on it last night once I got into my prose.  For the first couple of hundred words there didn’t seem to be much happening, but then I just sorta burst out and got things done.  For the first time in a while I was clicking with the music, and by the time I took a break at the end of Yoshimi–which is forty-seven minutes long, by the way–I had nine hundred and fifty words down.  That’s a pretty good run for me.  I let my back get better for about thirty-five minutes, then put on the second record and started writing once more.  Fifty-five minute later I’d written another thousand words–not bad at all, if I may say.

Tonight, however:  I know I have a scene coming up that’s going to be emotional.  I know it because I’ve thought about it many times, and I’m about to jump right into the heavy stuff based upon where I left off in the scene.  Gotta find some happy music, you know?  Or at least something that’s going to drive me to write straight through the hard stuff, because it’s a good scene, and I want to do it right.  I know I’ll do it right:  it’s just a question of how many tears I have to fight through to get there?

I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’ve hit stretches in books where the tears flowed freely as I wrote, and I know it’ll happen again.  It’s not because I’ve done something bad to a character, but because I’m touching on something inside my own life when I’m writing a scene, and it can hurt.  But you do it because–hey, writing!  That’s what you want, to have you’re feeling out there on the page for all to see.  You need it, you want it, you have it.

That’s why you’re a writer.  Not because you got voices in your head–because, if you do, you wanna go with meds–but because you want everyone to see all those hurts you have.  You open up your heart and you let it drip out onto the paper.

And in the end you call it a story and move on to the next one.

Lots of fun, isn’t it?

Daily word count:  1,950.  Total word count:  33,277.

Bring Down the Sadness

Just as a week ago I’d finished the draft on Replacements, last night saw me finishing the draft on Echoes.  Last chapter, a few words added, a couple of things edited . . . ta-da!  Final Draft is in the bag.  Now all that’s required is one more pass, another good polish, a book cover, and it’s ready to take its place next to Banging the Cheer Squad, which is one of the tomes that appears on my Smashwords front page.  (There’s even an interesting first sentence:  “Gretchen thought she was the only cheerleader who had been turned into a gangbang slut.”  Definitely not my high school.)

The last chapter has always made me cry–my story Echoes, that is, not the one about slutty cheerleaders.  I wrote it last year, starting it almost about this time, and it was a reflection of something that I was feeling at the time.  I wanted to get everything down inside words I’d remember, everything that I felt would convey how I felt then, and I think–I think–I got it right.  It was the first real story I wrote that touched my emotional side, and it’s really one of the first stories that isn’t just words, but possesses feelings as well.

Which is why the ending makes me sad, because the feelings are still there.  Probably will be forever.

The thing about Echoes, though, is that if I couldn’t have finished it, I’d have never been able to write the ending to Transporting.  The later was delving into some deep, emotional waters as well, and as I’ve stated in other, older posts, in order to finish the story, I needed to get into some feelings I couldn’t access.  I’d always been a touch unemotional, and it showed in my writing.  I could plot and do prose, but there was something missing.

It’s a fact of life that sometimes your writing is going to make you cry.  Can’t be helped, because when you, the writer, goes over a piece, no matter how long before it was written, you’re going to remember when that writing happen, where it happens, and maybe even what you were feeling when you wrote those particular words.  That’s assuming you aren’t Scriptomatic 3000, which was something I think Dan Aykroyd called himself when he was developing scripts.

If you’re just hammering away at your stories, getting the words down one after the other, and you’re not putting yourself into them, then maybe you won’t feeling anything when you’re editing them later.  I think that will show up in the story, however, because as many of you know, when you’re reading another author’s work, you see things in your head, see the characters a certain way, and the emotions that trickle out are pretty much a combination of yours mixed with those of the writer.  But if the writer didn’t put any of themselves into their work, the reads may just feel that.

There is one other thing about getting your feelings onto the page:  it means you’re will to open yourself up to things you may not like to remember, or feel, or even admit ever happened.  It’s not a pleasant thing to do–I know, I’ve done it.  There are a lot of things in my life that I wish hadn’t happened, and would like to forget completely.  But when you’re writing . . . damn it, those feelings just seem to pop up, you know?

All that remains are the covers, and a little polish . . .

I’m almost there with the new stories.  Here’s hoping people like them.

 

Ripples Upon the Pond

Travel Day today, and this is my first Friday in The Undisclosed Location in a few weeks.  The last couple I’ve been at The Real Home, seeing doctors and dealing with lab work, and a tree, lets not forget a tree.  So this will be my first drive home on a Friday in a while, and I’m hoping all the idiots are off the roads.

I was almost in three near collisions in the course of ten minutes yesterday, the best one happening because the on interstate we were one begins to split into two, and a guy in front of me, he decides, “Oh, I want to be in the lane to my left–the one that’s all backed up.  I think now is a good time to come to a complete stop!”  Which he almost did.  He forces his way into the other lane, and as I drive by–he’s on a mobile the whole time.  Yes, I wanted to stop, drag him out of his car, and beat him like an old rug.

If I can get out of work even ten minutes early, that’s ten minutes I don’t have to deal with people on the roads.  Crossing my fingers the trip home is good.

I managed a bit of writing:  just over thirteen hundred words.  Meredith and Albert, sitting by a pond, reminding each other why they’re so friendless.  Even though there were a lot of words, it wasn’t easy to write.  I actually went back and added a paragraph at one point, because I forgot to say something, and it needed to be said at that point.  That’s why we have computers with word processing programs; to allow us that luxury.  Back in the day of typewriters, I’ve had had to write that on another page and insert it in the stack.  No, I don’t miss those days.

Some of the dialog sounds bumbling, and it’s suppose to be.  It’s not an easy scene to write, because both characters are, in reality, pretty lonely in their own ways.  I can relate to that, believe me.  So as I have them both sitting on a bench on the shore of a pond, staring out at something on the other side, speaking in low voices so they aren’t overheard, I can feel how alone they both are.

I was speaking with someone late last night, and I told her that this story has been whacking me pretty hard.  There is a way too much of me in Albert, and so when he feels like a person in the wrong place and time, alone in the middle of a crowd, I know exactly what he’s feeling.

See, this is how writers are.  They can become emotionally bound by their stories, and it pulls and tugs at them as much as it does their characters.  I’ve never had a story take this long to write, because every turn feels like I’m tip-toeing through a minefield.  What strange thing am I gonna have to make the characters say next?

Lets get home today, relax a little, then get back into the story tonight–

I feel an admonishing coming on.  I truly do.

Twisting Perceptions

The last couple of days seem to have hit me in a particularly strange way.  Actually, this whole week has.  It has become one long, drawn out, seeming like a never ending ride on the Wonka Boat, with that maniac bastard spouting spoken word rhyme the entire way.

If you can’t tell, I want this week over in a very bad way.  Like . . . yesterday.

Part of it is this story.  Diners is hitting me a lot like Echoes did; it is resisting me in a lot of ways.  I don’t want to say, “Oh, I’ve got writer’s block!”, but it’s starting to feel like something along those lines–

Which isn’t actually true.  I’m rolling though this post pretty well, though it seems like, these days, I’m not able to go more than one or two words before I misspell something, and I have to stop, return, and fix it.  That is getting to be one annoying son of a bitch, and it’s one of the reasons I was never able to write until word processors came out.  Word processors with auto-correct that doesn’t replace “pattern” with “penis”.

All the nice things in life.

But for all the excitement I had for restarting Diners at the Memory’s End, it’s as if the moment I’m in it–bam!  It wants me to be somewhere else.  Now, Echoes I got:  there was a lot of emotion behind what I was writing, and it was tearing me up.  This?

Well, I think I know.

As I once said on the pages of the blog, most of my stories are about relationships.  Even the science fictiony ones are like that.  There’s a guy, there’s a girl–or there are two girls, or even three girls.  But anyway you look at it, there’s some kind of relationship there.

Diners is a bit about taking one of those relationships, and twisting it apart.  Just a little, but it’s there.  And it’s going to hurt one of the people in the story, and hurt them in a very bad way.

One of the curses of being a writer is that you have to show this to your readers.  So you have to think about it, and you have to figure out the words that are needed to convey those feelings into images.  In order to do that, I’ve got to spend a lot of time inside the heads of my characters, and after a while, even though they are pretty nice people, you get into some mind spaces you’d rather not go–

Like your own.

I think that’s why I’m finding myself distracted a lot these days.  My own head is a mass of spider webs any more, and while I’m driving my characters crazy with personal stuff, I’m doing the same thing to myself.  Not that I’m fooling around, or anything, but damn–there is a ton of shit that appears to be ready to reshape my life these days, and a couple of days ago I had a bit of a mini-meltdown because I was starting to feel “overwhelmed” by everything.  Maybe it’s time to go The Elvis Route, and fly out to Vegas to pick up a few thousand Quaaludes because I need to decompress, or perhaps some recreational Dilaudid is in order; just a quick skin pop and kick back with a few hours of Farscape to occupy the time.

Only a few days ago I said change was coming, and you can’t believe just how true that statement has become.  It only takes time to get there.

I wish the hell it would get here and stop driving me nuts.