Down On the Deck: Asked and Answered

Yesterday was all about me, but–what about my kids?  Well, they’re around.  In particular Annie, who’s hanging out at the Flight School waiting for Kerry to return.  That’s one of the reasons this is all about Annie right now, because Kerry is somewhere in the air and on his way home.  Annie, however:  she’s back at the school and, believe it or not, hanging with the girls.  Which girls, you ask?  Let’s get right into the action, because I didn’t show you much yesterday.

 

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

The Flight Deck was on the second floor of the Flight School, situated directly over the first floor Briefing Room. Normally it was used during emergencies—it was from here that Holoč Semplen kept track of the fliers on patrol during the Day of the Dead attacks—but today it was being used for its other purpose, which was to monitor student flights beyond the walls. Not every student flying outside the walls was tracked: only those PAVs with active tracking were watched, and the school could only track up to one hundred kilometers from the Great Hall. Continue reading

Not So Ready in the Ready Room

First off, Happy Loving Day, which is the day the Supreme Court of America ruled to disband all anti-miscegenation laws in 1967.  And if you’re old–like me–you’ll probably remember that a lot of the same things said about marriage equality today–like allowing it to happen goes against the religious beliefs of some–were said about mixed race marriages then.  Same cart, different driver, but in the end the destination will be the same.

I’m dragging a little today because I was up at two and fought to get back to sleep between then and about four-thirty.  I haven’t had a night like that in months, and it’s hitting me kinda hard, but I’ll get through it:  I always do.

And now . . . Kerry’s at the Flight School waiting for class to start.  This is right after Annie’s Flight class, so Friday is for flying.  This is also the first time were we see Kerry alone since he left Cardiff, and the first time we see someone else since those days . . .

 

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

Kerry sat in his old seat in the Pilot’s Ready Room and casually dropped his goggles and gloves in the seat to his left. He wasn’t the first—three other students arrived before him—but he was the only one sitting in the front row, something Annie and he did all through A Level Basic Flight.

He adjusted his glasses, something he did less and less these days. Since learning a simply adhesive spell in Wednesday’s class last year, it was rare that his glasses ever slipped these days. He thought it might be due to the quick landing he’d made outside the Hanger followed by the dash up the stairs to the main floor. It wasn’t that Kerry was late: he was actually ten minutes early.

But after the morning he’d had watching Isis and Annie flying about the Aerodrome—and Isis put Annie through a few easy maneuvers that proved she was actually using her gift and not levitating—he was ready to see what his flight class had in store.

After speaking with Nadine in Advanced Spells the other night Kerry had an inkling of what to expect over the school year. She told Annie and him about working on brooms, about learning to fly by instruments only; developing flight plans; being taught how to make minor repairs to a PAV—and, most of all, the three camping flights she took designed to prepare her for—

“Hey, Kerry.” Emma stood to his left, eyeing the seat where his goggles and gloves rested.

 

Guess who?!

 

“Hey, Emma.” He poked his thumb to the empty chair on his right. “Let’s get comfortable.”

“Sure.” A hint of dejection peeked through her demeanor as she settled into the chair. “Saving that for Annie?”

He shook his head. “No.”

“Oh?”

“She’s not taking the class.”

“What?” Emma twisted around in her chair. “Why not?”

“She felt she could learn most of this stuff either from me or from her parents.” He extended his legs and stretched. “Vicky told her she can come if and when she likes, though.”

Emma still appeared puzzled. “So what’s she doing instead?”

Kerry brushed some hair back from his forehead. “She’s probably over at the Black Vault right now.”

“Oh, right—sorcery.” Emma sat back and crossed her legs. “Gotta be the dark witch.” She caught herself, hoping she didn’t say something that would upset Kerry. “Right?”

He nodded slowly, a smile appearing upon his face. “Yep. We both do, as a matter of fact. It’s something we promised each other.” He didn’t bother to mention where that promise had taken place. “I like your new patch.”

 

By now not only do we know that Annie and no one else is always to the left of Kerry, but he knows it as well.  And that move of his–saving the seat to his left–was to prevent a certain wingmate from sitting there.  And she knows it, too:  you can sense it in her body language.  She was really hoping to plop down in that left-hand seat . . .

And she caught herself before she said something mean about Annie.  She doesn’t know she’s cursed, but she also doesn’t want to make Kerry upset.  After all, if you have to depend on your wingmate when you’re up in the air, and you’ve been talking shit about his girlfriend, will you really trust him?

Anyway, back to patches.

 

Emma glanced down by reflex, just making out her new flight patch: that of a witch on a broom flying across the shadow of a crescent moon with the constellation of Leo over her back. Her call sign was emblazoned across the top of the patch, white letters against the blue background used to represent Mórrígan Coven. “Oh, yeah. I had to ask what it meant, ‘cause I wasn’t sure about all the stuff.”

Kerry didn’t wait for his wingmate to explain. “Selene is the goddess of the moon, which you knew. She’s usually associated with the crescent moon and was often seen in paintings and drawings with constellations—of which you have both.” He examined the outline of the stars. “That’s Leo, which I think is seen in April, which is—” He grinned. “—your birthday month.” He chuckled in a low town. “Hence Selene.”

Emma’s mouth dropped open. “How do you know all that crap?” She started laughing. “I mean, I like looking at stars—”

“And you didn’t notice any special ones when we took astronomy last year?”

She thought about his statement for a moment, then tapped her forehead. “Oh, yeah: Harpreet pointed out Leo right around my birthday last year. Don’t know why I didn’t remember that.”

“Well, you were thinking about your birthday.”

“And speaking of that—” Emma crossed her arms and tried her best at a hurt pout. “You never did say where you went that night. You vanished right after Sorcery class and when you came back—”

“I told you what happened.” Kerry sat back with and crossed his arms, only he smiled and appeared relaxed. “I had to go to New York for testing, and I fell down and cracked my head when I was about to leave.” He’d told that particular story to Emma twice last year, and had hoped she wouldn’t ask again. “It’s that simple.”

 

It’s already come up a couple of times about Annie and Kerry’s Excellent Adventure, and how teachers and students believe the cover story is probably a load of crap.  Emma obviously doesn’t believe it, and the fact that they cut out on her birthday–19 April is Emma’s birthday, exactly two weeks before Kerry’s–means she remembers it even more.

So now we’ve seen her patch, which is pretty classical for a goddess.  For Kerry . . . um, it’s a bit more creative:

 

“Uh, huh.” Figuring she wasn’t going to get a better answer than the one she’d heard a few times already, she went back to the subject of flight patches. She pointed at Kerry’s jacket. “What’s yours suppose to mean?”

Kerry had spent several minutes examining the patch when he saw it for the first time, and spent a couple of minutes explaining the meaning to Annie. Of all the new B Level flight patches he’d seen, his was likely the most complex. “Well, this here—” He pointed to the pilot on the broom in the lower left corner of the circle. “—is supposed to be me. And these other points—” He pointed to the dark hurricane, then the bright cloud of gas behind that, and the strange looking planet behind the cloud, and the planet Earth at the far end of the string. “This is the Maelstrom, then the Ionian Nebula, then original Earth in front of our Earth.” He pointed to his call sign in the circular margin. “And here I am against Cernunnos green.” He grinned broadly. “Simple, huh?”

Emma shook her head slowly. “Again, how do you know that? And what does it all mean?”

“Well, it helps if you’re a geek.” He chuckled. “And it helps if your instructor is a big of a geek, too—”

 

It also helps if the author has access to the Battlestar Galactica wiki and was able to look up a few things based upon the “life” of the character upon which Kerry’s call sign is based.  Actually, I knew those things, but I had to check the name of one location in particular . . . yes, I’m a geek.

And so is someone else–

 

“I heard that, Kerry.” Victoria Salomon, the school’s flight and jaunt instructor, made her way up the center aisle towards the podium in the front center of the Ready Room. “And, yes: being a bit of a geek helps when you have to come up with a bunch of call signs that mean something to the pop culture sensibilities of my A Levels.” She turned to the two fliers, addressing the red head with the longest hair.  “How you doing today, Emma?”

“I’m doing fine, Profe—”

“Vicky, Emma.” Vicky’s grin was friendly and infectious. “You’ve earned the right to address me by my given name. It’s the way we do things in the advanced classes.” She flicked her eyes in Kerry’s direction. “Ain’t that right, Starbuck?”

He nodded and grinned back. “That’s right, Nightwitch.”

Vicky did a quick head count of the people in the Ready Room, then clapped her hands. “All right, pilots.” She sidestepped behind the podium. “I see it’s thirteen, and that means we got things to discuss . . .”

 

Kerry’s so used to talking to the instructors using their first names, and Emma–who has already said she find it hard to do–is still stumbling.  And we do see, again, that the gingers are paired up.  Is that because no one wants to be their friends?

Right now I’m about seven hundred words away from breaking sixty thousand total–

So if I write tonight I can make it.  If I write.  Which I probably will.

So if I write tonight I can make it. If I write. Which I probably will.

Sixty thousand plus for two acts?  Not bad at all.

Actions For Better and Not Worse

The weekend is over, and I have to say, I’m actually a bit glad to see that happen.  While there was a lot going on, not all of it was good, and yesterday was sort of a blah day punctuated with writing in the morning and writing late at night.

Yes, after writing six hundred words in the morning, I turned around and wrote almost another six hundred words before heading off to bed.  Chapter Twenty is close to being finished, and that will likely happen tonight, maybe after another thousand or so words.  In five days I’ve written forty-seven hundred words for the chapter, which has even surprised me, because my mind is telling me that nothing is happening, that I’m sort of slacking off.  But that’s how I roll.

I also found one of those interesting things that I do once in a while:  I’ll get the look of the scene wrong.  What do I mean?  Go back to when Kerry was in his dorm and discovered the sky was red.  Local time it was about six AM, which is no big deal.  Except . . . I didn’t really check to see what time the sun came up around that area, and that’s an important thing, because one of the lines in the scene indicates that Kerry see the sun behind a cloud–

So a quick check of the historical weather for Cape Ann–really Beverly, MA, which is just north of Salem and about fifteen miles west of the school–and I discover that the actual sunrise doesn’t take play for about an hour after that.  Another quick check, this time with Sky View Cafe, and I see that it’ll start getting light out over the Atlantic at six AM, but no sunrise.  So it became necessary to do a quick adjustment to make sure Kerry didn’t see the sun–and if you can see that red barrier in the sky before it’s completely light, it’s even spookier.  You’ll also find out why you can see that in the scene on which I’m working . . .

Oh, and the reason the time for the sunset changed so dramatically by moving the attack up a week?  Daylight Savings Time.  The Foundation should do something about that.

Out to Flight School, then, where Kerry is getting ready to do battle–or at least do something that involves flying.

 

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

Kerry stepped off the stairs and into the Flight School’s hanger, his helmet in one pocket of his leather flying jacket, and his goggles in the other. There were maybe a dozen students milling about, all of them dressed the same way, in flying leathers with their coven symbol on their jackets. Some had their PAVs in hand and were walking out the large open hanger door were most of the students were milling about waiting for instructions. A few were pulling their PAVs out of the various cabinets. Everyone was carrying a Class 1 PAV; Kerry figure they were probably easier to use for whatever they were going to do for . . . the duration of the emergency, as he heard one person say.

He found Emma standing off to one side, dressed like everyone else. She waved the moment she spotted him. “Hey, wingmate.”

“Hey.” Professor Salomon told them as soon at everyone teleported to the Flight School that she was paring them together, as it was likely the other pilots would have a problem with them as a wingmate. Kerry didn’t have a problem with that, and nether did Emma: she was ecstatic that they’d spend the day flying together.

 

Yes, that old axiom that no one with experience will fly with the new kids because they might do something that would get them killed, so better to keep them together and let them die together.  Of course, the other axiom is if they live, then they’re worthy to fly with the big kids next time.

Assuming they live.

While Emma may be full of joy and happiness about getting some seat time in, Kerry’s a little more of a realist.  That’s his MO, really:  he doesn’t always look at things and think the experience is going to be wonderfu–

 

Kerry wasn’t so certain it was going to be that great an experience, but he’d made his choice, and there wasn’t any chance to turn back. He heard while changing into his flight suit that The Pentagram was sealed at seven forty-five, and until the security level was dropped, there wasn’t any chance of getting back inside. He was here, for better or worse—

Just like when you get married.

He almost stopped walking towards Emma, because he hadn’t any idea why that thought popped into his head. He hoped she hadn’t seen anything strange come over him . . .

“You okay?” Emma cocked her head slightly to one side.

She did see something. “I’m fine. You been here long?”

“Just a couple of minutes.” She pointed at a student wearing Cernunnos jacket. “I saw him handing out brooms to a couple of people; we’ll probably need to do the same.”

Kerry nodded in the student’s direction. “Bet do it, then.” He smiled and tapped Emma on the left shoulder. “Let’s do this.”

 

And there it is:  the first indication that something’s tap-tap-tapping away at Kerry’s mind.  Even he’s thinking, “Why did that come up?”  By the time this day is over–and since this part of the novel is pretty much a full twenty-four and few more hours after that–a lot of things will happen that he’ll have to wrap his mind around.

In the meantime, someone needs brooms.

 

“We need our equipment.” He pointed between Emma and himself. “Can you help us?”

The older student shrugged. “I think we have all the Covingtons locked up—”

“Espinoza 4500.”

Niles did a double take. “What?”

“Espinoza 4500.” Kerry raised his voice so there wasn’t any chance his words were misunderstood. “That’s what I fly.”

“Me, too.” Emma raised her normally sot-spoken voice. “I want one as well.”

Maybe three seconds of silence passed between the trio, then Niles laughed aloud. “Yeah, right. You guys think you can handle a 4500 all day because you’re the Baby Snakes?”

“Actually, I’m a Baby Snake—” He indicated Emma. “She’s more of a Baby Bird—I think.” He sighed loudly before staring at Niles. “Two Espinoza 4500s—”

Emma hardened her tone. “Please.”

 

And there’s where I left off, with the Baby Whatevers looking for something to fly, and a fellow covenmate of Kerry’s giving him crap.  Don’t worry:  they’ll get their equipment.  I wouldn’t have brought them this far just to leave them behind.  And it’s a beautiful morning . . .

It looks pretty now, but don't worry:  the screaming comes later.

It looks pretty now, but don’t worry: the screaming comes later.

Between the Holographic Pylons

There were are:  Chapter Six is in the books.  It wasn’t easy at all, let me tell you.  Oh, the writing wasn’t that bad.  It was actually pretty enjoyable.  But I was a mess.  Really, it wasn’t a pretty sight.

Yesterday was one of those days where I didn’t know if I was going to fly or cry.  Lots of strange things rolling about in my head, and it’s hard enough for me to keep track of this stuff on a normal day, so you might have some inkling of what was happening.

By the time I was home I was pissed off at myself.  There are things I need to see to, things that need to be done–but that’s not for you to hear.  Just to know that I have them and they are being considered.

So it sort of went like write, listen to good music, have a drink, write, go out and have a cry, write, listen to more music, and finally, finish the chapter.  Yay!

They flew.  They went out into a terrible storm and got pelted with rain and wind, and they flew.  Some didn’t do so well.  Some flew into the forest around their meadow, some crashed into the mud.  But they headed around a big meadow, Selena’s Meadow, turning between holographic pylons in the air, all the while set up in a special configuration:

 

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

Professor Salomon picked four students to fly alone at the front and back of both groups; two pilots would act as leaders, and two would keep an eye on the formation and notify the professor of people who’d crash, and those who were falling back. The first student was the Japanese girl, Sutou Takara, who’d been given the call sign “Mothra”. The second student was an American, Emmalynne Neilson, a red haired girl who’d flown right after Kerry, and who’d been given the call sign “Selene”.

Annie almost gasped when the last two students picked were Kerry and her. She was even more shocked when Takara and she were picked to be, respectively, Group One and Group Two leaders, while Kerry would be the spotter for Group One, and Emmalynne the spotter for Group Two.

They moved into position and were given their instructors about speed and spacing before the professor switched over to a private channel and told the four of them not to worry, take it nice and easy, just keep your eyes open and remain aware.

After that they were legs up and underway with the professor in the lead.

 

Yeah, I gave a Japanese girl the call sign for a gigantic moth.  So?

No “Lay your broom on the ground and say ‘Up'” crap here.  They got their basic check out in the hanger, they flew nice and slow in formation three meters off the ground, and they had leaders and spotters to keep people in line and report when someone failed.  That’s how I like my flight schools, nice and ordered.  Just wait until they start racing.

Tonight it’s Wednesday.  No, not the day:  the instructor.  My littlest witch, Wednesday, is gonna show my student how to will work.

It’s going to be fantastic.

Flying in the Safe Zones

I didn’t believe I was going to write last night.  The moment I came home I ran out again, because I had . . . things.  You know, I’m working on things, and I had to go out.  So here, a week before Christmas, I’m out in rush hour traffic doing . . . things.

Of course one of the interstates here was messed up because somewhere there was an accident, and when there’s an accident here, it’s almost impossible to squeeze by because the roads are so narrow.  So I went to get something to eat, and by the time that was over I was able to make my way home by taking the long way.  Even the long way at The Burg isn’t that long, because this isn’t that big of a place.  Made it home, did something to my thing, and there I was, seven o’clock, and I’m tired.

But writing was needed.

And so I wrote.  And wrote.  I got Annie off her broom and Kerry on his, and after a few wobbles he was able to start out on his paces.  Now all I need is to finish the last scene–which isn’t going to be anywhere near as long as I originally imagined it, ’cause I’ve edited it in my head–and then it’s time to bring my little witch on stage and have her tell the kids if you’re using a wand to do magic, you’re a bit of a loser.  No, really:  she does.  Tough crowd, I’m telling you.

The scene I finished last night is the longest I’ve written for the book.  I was just short of six thousand words, and so far the scenes at the Flight School have run nine thousand.  By the time I finish the last scene I’ll have ten thousand easy for just learning to fly, and the first day of the first week is over.  Then it’s Tuesday with Wednesday, and later some astronomy.  As for now, however, I have my kids flying–well, hovering in a hangar, going through basic control, and the next scene . . . yeah, into the storm to get your wings.

The thing that surprised me the most is I wrote nearly sixteen hundred words.  That’s something I haven’t done in a bit, not since NaNo.  But when I got to where I thought I should stop, I didn’t want to stop.  I needed to finish, so I keep going until I reached the end.  Pure and simple.

My Tuesday writing for my Tuesday classes may just inch me over eighty thousand words.  If not, it’ll get me close.  It’s easy to see right now that I’ll cruse through ninety thousand before this “week of school” is over, and by the time I have my kids resting on the shores of Lake Lovecraft, looking up into the warm September sky, I’ll be over one hundred thousand words for a story for the first time in about twenty years.

All that’s left after that point is to keep going and write more.

It’s not like I don’t have anything to say.

All Quiet in the Ready Room

A funny thing happened yesterday:  I left work early to take care of some business, I stopped to have a nice dinner, the first in a few weeks, and then I came home kinda buzzed from a couple of beers and started writing.  It was early for me, maybe five-thirty, but I got right into the word making.

I felt pretty relaxed, too, though that could have been the booze talking.  Or it could be I’m in a good part of the story and having fun.

I’m in the ready room at my flight school, and I’ve thirty-two students dressed like tiny World War II pilots, all pretty much wondering what the hell they’ve gotten themselves into.  The instructor is trying to set their minds at easy by–well, I’ll let her tell you:

 

“My name is Victoria Salomon, though most people call me Vicky, with a ‘y’. I’m a graduate of this school and a member of Bloeddewedd Coven. I’m forty-two and I have a birthday coming up in a couple of months. I’m on my second marriage, and I have two children, a boy and a girl—one from each husband. I don’t expect any more of either.” There were a few chuckles from the children, which was more than she expected: normally they were afraid to do anything with that comment but stare.

“I grew up in Portland, Oregon. In case anyone is interested . . .” She reached inside her thermal top and revealed the Star of David pendent on the chain around her neck. “My parents were Jewish, and I was raised in the faith. I still consider myself a practicing Jew, though I’m far from Orthodox, or even Reform. Which is to say, if you need to get in touch with me on a Friday night I can be found, and I’ve even been known to enjoy bacon now and then.

“After I graduated from here I got into racing. The Foundation maintains several PAV racing leagues, and that was where I went. I’ve flown three different classes of PAVs in four different leagues over thirteen years. Most of what I did was road courses and cross country rally racing, though I have been on a few of the more well-known race course throughout the world. I’ve won a lot of racing, and I won four championships, including one world championship.” She took a deep breath through her nose. “I’m rather proud of that last one.

“So why am I telling you this? Because I once sat where you’re sitting. And, I’m not a Legacy.” She let a low rumble of thunder pass before continuing. “I wasn’t even a good pilot my first year. If it weren’t for my instructor bending a few rules, and my father buying me a broom and sending me off to a summer camp, who knows if I would have done as well as I did.”

Vicky rested her hands on the podium and relaxed. “Each of you has the same opportunity as me: you’ve never been on a PAV, you’re wondering how you’re going to do it, and you’re nervous as hell.” She was once more interrupted by thunder, which made her turn towards the windows on her left. “You also have to deal with this stuff outside . . .” She shook her head. “It’s enough to want to set you off flying before you get started.” She chuckled, noticing that none of the students joined her. Yeah, nervous bunch here. Better get their minds on something else . . .

 

Did I mention the storm going on outside?  Yeah, I think I have.

There are two sub-scenes for the Flight School, and I’ll probably start on the first one tonight.  This is by far one of my longest section, probably bigger than the plane ride, though I would have to check that.  And I still have the rest of the week to write out.

I have figured out where I’m going to end this part of the story and turn it into it’s own book.  Considering I crossed the seventy thousand word threshold last night, it makes sense to turn the story of their first year at school into something with more than one volume.

I just hope the other books are this long.

Yeah, sure I do.

Prepping the Ready Room

Slow writing again last night, but it seems after I get everything else out of the way, I end up not getting into the story until seven-thirty or eight PM my time.  I suppose I could write longer, but it seems as if my window for getting things done right now is a couple of hours, maybe three at the most.

But it works.  I’m doing a thousand to twelve hundred words a night now.  It’s not a lot, but it’s every day, and that’s after all the crap I’ve had to muck through for the measure of the day.  I don’t consider it a problem:  I considering it making progress.

So, Flight School . . . yeah, that’s where the kids are.  They hiked through the tunnel and under the woods, and now they’re getting dressed and about to get their lecture in the ready room.  I made my introductions with the flight instructor, Professor Victoria Salomon, and introduced the kids in their flying finery.  Which is to say, they aren’t dressed in the school uniform as much as they’re dressed in flying leathers–which I’ll probably describe more in the scene tonight.  There is a reason for the attire–but then, I figured this out long ago.

I was just telling a friend this morning that I stopped just short of sixty-nine thousand words last night, and if I’d bothered to check my total count before signing off for the evening, I probably would have pushed to hit it.  As is it, when I pulled the story up to check on something, I ended up making a few corrections and adding a word here and there, and suddenly I’ve added two dozen words and it’s even closer.  This is going to be a long scene, however:  maybe five thousand words.  Which is why I’m considering ending this part of the novel at the finish of the next chapter.  Then I’ll throw a marker in there, to show where Episode Two starts, and keep on writing.

Every day I think about this and work on it, the more the layout of this story becomes clear.  This is going to be a little like my unpublished novel Transporting, where, because of the size, I separated the first novel into a trilogy.  I’ll likely do the same here with The Foundation Chronicles, which is becoming a chronicle, all right.  It’s a lot of detail about a place that exists in my head, but is so very real to me.

Oh, and tonight, I had out call signs.  My kids are going to be pilots very soon, and like Professor Vicky–call sign Nightwitch–will tell them, while they’re not in the military, it’s easier to keep track of them by their call signs once they’re airborne.  This will come in handy later in the story, because there’ll be call signs all over the place.  You’ll hear about those as well.

I have bill paying to do tonight, so I might not get as much writing in.  Then again, I’m leaving work early, so I catch an early dinner–

Who knows?  I might just get the kids into the hanger this evening.