Two and a Half Times a Thousand

This wasn’t supposed to happen for a few weeks, but given that I’ve been putting out as many as four posts a day in the last couple of weeks, it was inevitable that the date was gonna get pushed up.

What am I talking about?  This right here.  Post number two thousand, five hundred, or 2,500 if you prefer.  All in the raw.

Normally I do something special for these posts and I’d actually promised that for this post, but it’s not like I planned anything.  Not like when post 1,000 came up almost three and a half years ago at the end of January, 2014.  There’s a lot that’s happened since that post came out–some of which I’m about to go over.

For one, I didn’t exist.  At least not this way:

Well, hello there!

As much as I spoke of transitioning–or how little I did at that time, which was more the case–I hadn’t actually, really, truly begun the process to actually become Cassidy.  I was working in Harrisburg and was considering walking the walk, but it wasn’t until two months later, 30 March, 2014, that I actually started going out in public.  And it wasn’t until almost another two months later, on my birthday, 2014, by that I actually showed what I looked like:

Remember this crazy bitch?

When people say, “You’re changed,” in this case, I have.  I’m still somewhat surprised when I see pictures of myself back then and realize just how far I’ve really come.

Also, when I took that last picture, I’d learned only a week or so before that my contract with the state–sorry, Commonwealth–of Pennsylvania had been extended another years, so I’d continue living in Harrisburg at least until the middle of 2015.  That was two years ago, and it looks as if I’m here to stay until the “Commonwealth” decides to get ride of me.  Which I hope isn’t for a while ’cause I love living in Harrisburg.  It took 55 years to get here, but I’m finally sorta living the life I was meant to live.

And then there’s the writing.  Anyone remember what I was doing right before post 1,000?  That’s easy to check:

 

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

 

The dining tables and chair were gone, replaced by large, comfortable reading chairs, love seats, sofas, and even—yes, there were even a few huge beds capable of holding a half dozen students easily, as a couple already were. Scattered around the hall were a few large carpets covered in throw pillows that reminded Kerry of the classroom in Memory’s End where they met with Professor Arrakis. The light was down in the hall, but there were small, brighter spots here and there coming from floor lamps set alongside a few of the large chairs and love seats.

As they entered the hall Kerry took in the relaxed but excited environment.  With each chair, sofa, or bed there was at least one table where one could set snacks, drinks, and various forms of entertainment.  Three girls to his right, sitting on a sofa and an easy chair, were playing cards on a coffee table made of a dark wood.  Another boy was sitting in one of the large chairs reading, a drink sitting upon the end table to his right.  The bed with the six girls had high, narrow tables at what he guessed was the head and the foot of the bed, and while they talked they were also munching on snacks kept in bowls on both tables.

Something caught Kerry’s eye: a group of five kids, three boys and two girls, sitting on the floor around a low, circular table. One of the boys had his tablet at his right and a cardboard screen in front of them, while the students had sheets of paper and dice laid out before them. “Hey, those guys over there are—”

“Oh, look.” Annie tugged on Kerry’s arm and pulled him along.  “There’s the perfect spot.”  She dragged towards a sofa located near the center of the hall, one facing the east wall. It wasn’t alone: there was also a table at each end of the sofa, an easy chair facing north and south, and a low coffee table in the middle of it all. Kerry was surprised no one was already sitting there—then again, there were maybe seventy people in the room and it looked as if there were plenty of empty places remaining.

 

That was the last excerpt I published before I hit post 1,000–it was actually post 998 if you need to know, and you can read it all here.  Yeah, it was the end of the first week of school at the Salem Institute of Greater Learning and Education, better known to all students and readers alike as the School of Salem, and a couple of little witches were off to enjoy the school-wide pajama party known as the Midnight Madness.  Back then I was about 125,000 words into the first novel and it would be another year before that experience came to an end.

And since then?  Well, my kids also made it out of their B Levels and are now about 170,000 words into their C Levels after a little more than ten months of writing.  Yes, it’s true:  I’m writing a bit slower than I did on the last two novels.  At the same time I’ve been busy–

First working on a political campaign:

Back when I believed in better days.

Then I got into protest:

First with all the ladies–

 

Then in support of immigrants and Muslims.

 

And once more with the Science Types.

 

All that political stuff, meeting and marching, takes up time, and I only have so much of that to spread around in a day.  It’s a trend that’s going to continue for a while, no matter what.

As for writing…  In the last couple of years I’ve branched out into writing TV recaps as well, because why not?  It’s not like I have anything else going on, right?  In the last two years I’ve started down that road and it does keep me busy, so much so that sometimes I’m writing more recaps than novel.  Sure, it seems like something that is kind of a pain in the butt for people who are following my writing, but it’s something that I enjoy doing and will likely continue doing for a while more.  Also, exposure–something that could kill me just like on the south flank of Everest, but what the hey?  Gotta take that chance.

Am I ever gonna publish?  Who the hell knows?  Sometimes I even wonder if I’ll get anywhere, but I keep trying.  It never hurts to try and the payoff can be rewarding.

Am I gonna keep blogging?  You know, it seems like every few months I feel like I’m about to kick this sucker away and give it up.  Biggest reason for that is this feeling that I don’t have much to say anymore.  Call it burn out, call it depression, call it for dinner if you like, but that feeling is there.  And yet…  every time I want to walk away I get pulled right back in, just like a certain mafia Don who wanted to quit the biz.  I’m told that I’m doing things that people notice, and while I’m sometimes damned to see what those things are, I’ll trust others to keep me honest.  ‘Cause when you’re too close to the action, you often can’t see the whole picture.

Future then?  Keep on swimming and keep on writing.  Because at this point I don’t know what else to do.  If I didn’t put words to computer paper I’d likely become more feeble and ignorant than I am now, and I don’t need that.  Most of all I can’t quit because that’s killing a dream, and I’ve already had so many dreams die that I can do that to one more.

That leads here, which is where I usually have a quote from Doctor Who, because I’ve done that the last few “special posts” I’ve put up, and it seems like a good thing to do now.  And both quotes go back to what I just said about killing dreams.  We need our dreams, even if we know they will never come to fruition, because when you least expect it, they do come true.  That happened with my move to Harrisburg and my transition:  I never expected the outcome that I live through today, because, as my best friend once told me, how do you know what’s coming tomorrow.  So:

 

“I am and always will be the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes and dreamer of improbable dreams. The wheels are in motion. Done.”  Doctor Who, The Almost People.

 

Keep it real, but at the same time never give up that your hopes and dreams are going to fade before you.  Always hold close to your heart and mind that tomorrow is the day when it all changes for the better and you finally see that dream come true.

At the same time:

 

“Be strong. Even if it breaks your heart.”  Doctor Who, Dark Water.

 

Shit is always gonna keep piling up and there are times when it feels like you’re gonna take that leap over the balcony because you can’t take it anymore.  By now, I know heartbreak, so this is a no-brainer.  It’s not always easy to be strong, but no one else is going to be strong for you, so it falls to each of up to say to hell with it and continue moving on.

Maybe for another thousand blogs posts.

You can never tell.

Up On the Coming

This is one of those “I don’t know what to do for a post today, so here’s hoping I can pull something out of my butt today” posts, which I don’t have often, but which do come every so often.

I’m thinking here–really I am.

And then it hit me:  why not talk about what happened yesterday–

What did happen yesterday?  Glad you asked.  See, I’m a busy person:  I’ve got this novel going on, and I do TV recaps–of which I need to do two this weekend–and I’m ten scenes into this mermaid story that I’m about a day behind on, so I need to catch up on that.  Needless to say, I’ve got a lot going on in my life even though I bitch a lot about nothing going on.

Now, Reny–my long time reader who reads just about everything–had some confusing questions for me.  See, I have a Penny in my Foundations novels–Penny Rigman, who lives in England–and Penny the 9 year old mermaid in my mermaid story, and Reny was maybe a little confused that both girls were the same.  I had to point out that, no, they aren’t, it’s different universes, and the kicker of them all, Albuquerque Penny–the mermaid–is nine and white, while Salem Penny is a teenager and black.

What was her response?  “I didn’t know Salem Penny was black.”

I had to think about that for a minute, because I was certain when I introduced Alex and her in Berlin I’d mentioned she was black.  And I did–in a roundabout way.  When I first introduced Penny I mentioned that both her parents were from Barbados, which has a population that’s about 95% black.  I checked a few other places and nope, it seems like I never bring up her ethnicity again.  Because why?  It’s really not that big of a deal considering at school the majority of the kids are people of color.

And then…  I remembered Hermione.

You remember Hermione?  The witch from Harry Potter who everyone thought was white but ended up being played by a black woman in the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which then led to J. K. Rowling more or less saying, “Well, I never said Hermione was white, did I?” and causing a large segment of that fandom to lose it hard as the arguments over her ethnicity started.

The way I saw it, I was setting up the same problem–

Please.  Hermione doesn’t need that shit again.

Yeah.

Figuring I didn’t need that to happen again, I got into the B Level novel, went to the “Welcome to Berlin” section of the story, and changed Penny’s introduction to say, without a doubt, that her family’s from Barbados and, oh yeah, she’s black.  I also changed something about Alex as well, because once you put about three hundred thousand words between sections you sometimes forget things.  And I didn’t want to do that, either.

That was me last night, fixing stuff in my novels and making certain I get it all right as much as possible.  Because what’s the point if you don’t? Michael Cimino said something like that while filming Heaven’s Gate, though I’m unsure if he was referring to the movie or all the blow everyone was doing.

I know I’m not doing blow, so getting it all right must have something to do with my writing.

It must.

On Beyond the Curtain: Taking Over

A lot of writing has happened this weekend, and a lot more will happen before this day is out.  I’ve already written about six hundred words in two different stories, and later this afternoon–after a movie and dinner–I have one TV recap to write and another to start.  This is likely going to be the busiest writing day in a long time for me.

It’s what I do, right?  Sure it is.

Four days or writing have brought me to about twenty-three hundred words in the current scene, and since we’re near the end of the last one, today you get the last seven hundred and fifty words of that.  And since I’m fairly certain that most of you want to see what happens next, let’s get into the action…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

The flame contracted and shrank until it was approximately the size and shape of a human. Over the course of several seconds limbs and features began to appear as the flame took on a humanoid appearance. After another five seconds it became readily apparent the creature was shaping itself into something that was approximately the shape and size of the two Salem students. A few seconds more was all it needed to change its form—

Annie heard Kerry’s sharp intake of breath the moment The Phoenix—for there was no other creature this could be—finished transforming. For The Phoenix decided it wasn’t going to appear as just any person: it had decided to take on the appearance of Kerry’s soon-to-be female self dressed in a Salem school uniform with Cernunnos coven markings.

The Phoenix straightened her school uniform jacket and gave it a quick tug to set the shoulders before turning to Deanna. “There, much better. Now then, let’s see…” She slowly approached Kerry, who was standing rock still in seemed almost afraid to move. She closed until she was only half a meter from him, at which point she stared up at him for nearly five seconds, never breaking eye contact. She finally began slowly twisting and turning her head from side to side, doing it for another five seconds before speaking. “It’s like looking in a mirror, only… not.”

Kerry drew in a breath and exhaled loudly. “Yeah, thanks for that observation, John Travolta.” Though he appeared in control, the flaring in his aura indicated he was feeling agitated. “You know you can back away just a bit; I’d feel a lot better if you did.”

The Phoenix straightened herself but didn’t step back. “In case you hadn’t noticed, Kerry, the concept of personal space is one with which I’m not that well versed.”

 

For any of those people who have no idea what’s going on in the exchange between The Phoenix and Kerry, here’s your explanation.  What The Phoenix said is a direct quote from the movie Face/Off, the entirely gonzo John Woo movie from 1997 starring Nicolas Cage and John Travolta as a criminal and a FBI agent who exchange faces and, therefore, lives.  The flick is totally bonkers and so far off the rails you’re in a completely different country before you know it, but God dammit if it isn’t a fun movie.  The statement made by The Phoenix is the one John Travolta makes to Nicolas Cage upon their first meeting after switching lives, which is why Kerry responded the way he did.

And why did she do that?  Because if there’s one thing The Phoenix knows how to do, it’s push buttons.  And in the case of the soon-to-be Ginger Hair Girl, she is turning up the discomfort to eleven.  Something the significant other instantly notices–

 

Though aware The Phoenix loved playing psychological mind games, Annie didn’t see the rationale for it now. “Your current form is disturbing him. Why do you have to appear that way?”

“Because I can.” Though she didn’t raise her voice, The Phoenix’s tone let everyone know she wasn’t about to suffer fools gladly. “For someone who’s a particularly smart girl, you certainly ask some stupid questions from time-to-time, Annie. I expect better of you than that.”

Annie changed the line of questioning, as it wasn’t her intention to get into an argument with a creature likely thousands of years old. “Why are you here?”

“That’s an easy question to answer: I just stopped by to see how you’re doing.” She finally stepped away from Kerry and turned to face Deanna, who is not taking a position to Kerry’s right. “Were you hoping to get in and out before I noticed you were here? Is that it?”

“It’s impossible to enter the Astral Realm without you noticing.” The instructor chuckled. “Speaking of asking ridiculous questions—”

The Phoenix shrugged. “I’m allowed ask them. After all, you are in my home. And if I’m not allowed ask ridiculous questions here, where can I ask them?” The spirit turned to her right and appeared to examine Annie and Kerry closely. “And I wouldn’t be much of a host of I didn’t show them around.” She glanced back at Deanna. “I’ll take them from here, Seer.”

 

The other thing The Phoenix doesn’t do well is suffer fools, and she knows both these kids are smart.  Which is why she immediately jumps and Annie’s ass for asking a question for which she likely knows the answer.  I mean, Annie is one of two people we know of who are quite aware of what happened in her E and A, so she knows what kind of psychological mind games the spirit will play.  Therefore, asking why she’s doing something is sort of a futile and not-so-smart question.

And now our favorite guardian and protector wants to take Deanna’s charges off her hands.  Deanna may not be quite down with that, however–

 

Deanna’s jaw tightened as she swallowed. “I think it would be best if I stay with—”

The Phoenix half turned her head in the direction of the instructor and spoke in a low, ominous tone. “I wasn’t asking.”

There was nothing she could say and way of rebuttal: Deanna knew arguing with The Phoenix was futile. Instead, she moved closer to her students and spoke in a friendly, relaxed tone. “I’m going to return to Memory’s End; I’m sure I’ll be summoned when she’s finished.” She reached out and patted them both on their shoulders. “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine: nothing’s going to happen to you. I’ll see you soon.” She took a step back, rose perhaps six meters straight up, then headed back along the same path they had come.

Once The Phoenix was certain they were alone she turned toward her new charges. “Okay, then—” She gave a quick nod and spun around on her heel until she was facing to the south. With a quick wave of her left hand she motioned for Annie and Kerry to follow. “Let’s go for a walk.”

 

The Phoenix is certainly not used to hearing the word “no”, and she certainly is going to take it from a human.  Deanna is smart enough to know that The Phoenix probably won’t hurt the kids, but she still worried just enough to leave a touch of doubt in everyone’s mind.  After all, the Phoenix has been known to bash kids around during their B and A, so why might she not be in the mood to slap Annie and Kerry around a little?

I guess we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see if that happens.

On Beyond the Curtain: A Visitor Calls

Happy Not Mexican Independence Day, where a whole lot of Americans will use this as an excuse to get drunk.  Which they really don’t need—the excuse, that is–but you can write off the guilt a lot easier if you say you got hammered on Don Julio because it was Cinco de Mayo.

Now we come to an interesting point in my novel.  I’ve been teasing for a while the appearance of a certain–character.  Well, it’s about time to stop the teasing.  And before that happens, we need a set up–

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

After passing through the library wall with Deanna’s help, Annie and Kerry floated down from the first floor to the main floor of the Rotunda. Just as they had seen in the library, the physical presence of students walked by and spectral fashion, their auras bright in the strangely pink and maroon hues that outlined the familiar locale. Annie watched one student heading from the North Passage towards the Dining Hall walk by close enough that she could’ve touched her back in the Physical Realm. “What would happen if one of the students walked into us?”

Deanna needed a moment to clear her throat before speaking. “You wouldn’t feel a thing: you can’t physically interact with an individual in the Physical Realm unless you’re exceptionally proficient with certain magics. On the other hand, if a person in the Physical Realm encounters an individual in the Astral Realm, to feel a momentary discomfort; momentary chill will pass to their bodies—”

Kerry picked up on this right away. “Is that like the feeling you get when you’re told someone’s walked on your grave?”

Deanna nodded. “That’s exactly the feeling.”

“I’ve felt that a couple of times.”

Annie affixed him with a stare. “So have I.”

Before Deanna could answer the sibilant voice seemed to come from all around them. “Haven’t you ever wondered how your Foundation has managed to observe you before you came to school?” There was an all encompassing low chuckle. “Seer, I thought you would’ve told them by now.”

Annie glanced at her instructor. “Is that who I think it is?”

 

Yes, it’s exactly who you think it is.  Who else could it be?

Now, coming up it something that took me some time to work out, as there is this conversation between Deanna and The Phoenix, and since we saw them speaking in Arabic in the last novel, guess how they converse in this one?  In the novel I probably wouldn’t translate what they’re saying–or maybe I would and/or should–but here I’m gonna cut you some slack and show you what they’re saying.

That said, it’s time for a little human-on-spirit conversation…

 

A towering orange flame three meters in height appeared at Kerry’s right a few meters away. There was another chuckle before the voice began speaking in an unfamiliar language. “’Araa ‘annak qad qarrarat ‘an takhudh al’atfal lilnnazhat.”  (I see you’ve decided to take the children for a walk.)

Deanna faced the flame while seeming a bit nervous. “Not that it’s any of your concern.”

The voice continued speaking in the unknown language. “Kl ma yahduth huna hu qalbi.”  (Everything that happens here is my concern.)

“Okay, I’ll give you that. Could you at least speak to us in English?”

This time the chuckle was more of a laugh. “Wayunkur lak alqudrat ealaa alttahadduth ‘iilaa shakhs yaerif lghtk?”  (And deny you the ability to speak to someone who knows your language?)

Deanna turned to her students with an exasperated sigh. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to take care of this.” She turned back to the flame and began speaking in the same language. “Baldbt ma tarid?”  (What exactly do you want?)

The flame’s tone seemed to soften. “’Ana gharibat limadha qarrarat ‘ann tajlub lahum fi alana. hal ymkn ‘an antazarata, kama taelamuna.”  (I’m curious as to why you decided to bring them in now. You could’ve waited, you know.)

Deanna tossed her head back toward her students. “Hal haqa? Kunt taerif min hum hadhin?”  (Really? You do know who these two are?)

“’Ana mudrik tamamaan min hum, Albasirat.”  (I’m well aware of who they are, Seer.)  (Note:  In Arabic the word “Seer”, as I’m using it, doesn’t really have meaning, so The Phoenix is actually saying “Visionary”.)

“Thumm taelamun alaintizar mae hdhyn lays khiara.” (Then you know waiting with these two is not an option.)  She snorted. “La takun munfatihatan jidda.”  (Don’t be so obtuse.)

The flame grew in intensity, leaping up maybe another meter as it seemed to lean towards Deanna in a threatening move. “Sawf tafeal jayidaan lilhifaz ealaa alllisan almadani fi fmk, Albasir. lla yanbaghi li ‘an ‘adhkurkum min jmye alnnas ‘an hadhaan hu baladi alealam wa’ant kl dyf. ‘Iidha ‘aradtt dhlk—”  (You would do well to keep a civil tongue in your mouth, Seer. I shouldn’t have to remind you of all people that this is my world and you are all guest. If I so desired—)

“’Ant ln tafeal shiyaa.” (You would do nothing.)  Deanna tone turned belligerent and she grew more animated as her hands began moving about. “’Ana mudrik jayidaan lilssultat alty tahammuluha huna, walakunni ‘aydaan ‘adrak jayidaan ‘annah ‘iidha kunt satafeal shayyanaan balnsbt lana, kan yumkin ‘an yahduth hatta alana. Waqf mae hadhih alttahdidat alssakhifat walttakhawif. ‘Annaha la taemal ealaa li, wa’annaha ln taemal ealaa hdhyn li’annaha la ymkn ‘an nafham kalimatan laenatan nuqul.”   (I’m well aware of the power you hold here, but I am also well aware that if you were going to do something to us, it would have happened by now. Stop with these ridiculous threats and intimidation. It doesn’t work on me and it isn’t going to work on these two since they can’t understand a damn word we’re saying)  She straightened herself and stared up at where one would imagine one would find the face. “Sawf tafeal jayidaan ‘an nafham ‘ann kl ma ‘aquluh hu alhaqiqat.”  (You would do well to understand that everything I am saying is the truth.)

There was a considerable pause as the flames seem to back away from Deanna and turned its attention toward Annie and Kerry. Finally there was a sound similar to that of a chuckle, though it was low and guttural. “You’re right, Seer. So instead of doing nothing, perhaps I should do something…”

 

It’s not often we get to see another instructor speak in their native language, but this will pop up from time-to-time with other instructors as well.  It’s just a matter of finding the right time to bring it on stage.

And now we have all the players here.

All that remains is to see where they go.