Starting the Day the Birthday Way

Before we get into the writing–which I actually did this time, no TV watching unless you count that I had Braveheart, one of the most historically inaccurate movie ever made, on in the background, and then there was some Breaking Bad on after that, but that’s all good–there is some important news.

I’m out at work.

By that I mean I finally went to my manager and told them, “Look, outside of this environment I’m a woman, and I can’t keep pretending I’m not one here, so . . . let’s fix this.”  And they said yes, they’ll work with HR on this matter, and I hope, in about a month, I can start doing all that, “It’s five-thirty, I gotta start working on my face,” stuff that women love doing so much while I prepare for my day at the office.

On the up side, there's always coffee.

On the up side, there’s always coffee.

That makes 12 January, 2015, another milestone day in my life.  Remember:  it’s not just a gender adjustment, it’s an adventure.

On the writing side, another milestone of sorts.  At one time I was worried that Act Three might not make it to a six-figure word count, that it was gonna fall short of the other acts in the novel.  Well, nope, my fears are unfounded, because . . .

Gaze upon my wordiness, ye mighty, and despair.

Gaze upon my wordiness, ye mighty, and despair.

Without realizing it I headed over the ninety thousand mark last night, and I’m about twenty-two hundred words of going over the four hundred thousand mark–meaning I’ll probably hit that point in the next scene.  That makes me believe that by the time I get into Chapter Forty-One I’ll be over one hundred thousand for this act, though were I to write another ten or eleven thousand words for this chapter, I’ll clear that easily.  And since the next scene has Annie and Kerry returning to the scene of an event that sort of helped shape Kerry’s life, Annie will have a few things to say, and that means . . . words.

The point of this scene is another birthday:  Kerry’s.  The lad finally turns twelve, and he’s caught up with all the other kids in his level.  It’s true:  his is the last of the A Level birthdays, though his isn’t the last one in the school.  Without mentioning it in the last few scenes, by virtue of his birthday being so late in the school year, he became the second youngest student to student to complete the Mile High Flight.

So how does this special day begin?  Like this:

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry checked his email first thing after returning from his morning shower. Though he half expected nothing, the message from his parents was there in the Inbox. It was short, wishing him a good day and saying they were looking forward to his return in a month. He deleted the message as soon as he was finished and went on to the next: an auto message from the Headmistress’ office wishing him a good day and reminding him that he was not only allowed a choice of special selections for dinner, but that between twenty and twenty-one hours he and a guest could enjoy a slice of a cake of his choice.

He was surprised to see the last part of the message, for when he’d joined Annie for her birthday cake, she’d not mentioned whether or not she was told she could bring a guest. As Kerry hadn’t sat in with anyone else during their birthday celebrations, he didn’t know if they were allowed a guest as well. He had to figure that everyone was allowed at least one guest, and maybe, in the case of people who weren’t seeing anyone, they could bring along two or three people.

I’m glad I’m with Annie. He powered down his computer and finished dressing in his uniform before slipping the device into his backpack. If I were by myself I’d probably not go and sit in the Dining Hall at night alone . . .

 

If anyone were to go back and look at Kerry as he was back before Annie’s birthday, you’d find a sad-sack kid who more than likely wouldn’t have fit in at Salem at all being chased by some ginger girl from Colorado who’d think their hair color would look fantastic on their kids.  In short, he’d be a mess, and an unhappy one at that.

And speaking of Annie–

 

He grabbed his backpack and hurried towards the door. Annie was on the other side, a wide grin on her face as she stepped to one side to allow Kerry access to the hallway. She said nothing until the door to his room was closed; she threw her arms around his shoulders and whispered in his ear. “Happy Birthday, my love.” She kissed him slowly and with tremendous love, much like he’d done with her two days before. The moment she broke the kiss she straightened his jacket. “Mozhe da imate dnes naĭ-izumitelna rozhden den, sŭprugŭt mi da bŭde.”

Kerry chuckled as they walked towards the stairs. “What did you say?”

“Something you’ll hear every birthday—” Her eyes twinkled as she glanced in his direction. “For the rest of your life.”

“Just like you telling me you love me?”

“Exactly.” She was nearly skipping down the stairs as they headed into the Commons. “I only wish we didn’t have class today.”

“You can’t expect the school to shut down for us.” He took Annie’s hand the moment they reached the ground floor. “At least the weather is a little better than what we had on Beltane.”

“Only a little rain in the morning—” Annie moved quickly for the door and held it for Kerry. “My turn to be nice to you.”

“You’re always nice to me.” He walked through into the Pentagram Wall passage, but before he could open to the door leading into the garden, Annie waved it open with a Movement spell. “Hey.”

“You need to be fast around me today, moyata polovinka.” She skipped out into the garden walkway, matching Kerry’s smile with hers. “I love seeing you happy this early in the morning.”

“My last year as a tween; the last A Level to turn twelve—” He took her hand and gave it a nice, loving squeeze. “And I’m in the most wonderful relationship at school with someone I’ve loved for years. Those are four of the best reasons in the world to be happy.”

 

Look at that Annie, opening doors with magic.  And there’s she’s trotting out the “my mate” line again, one we haven’t seen her or Kerry say since they returned from Yule.  And she’s rolling out another line, one that she says he’ll hear for the rest of his life–and let’s hope he doesn’t break his neck at the end of the day.  She already told him that she’d tell him she loved him for the rest of his life, she’s gonna lay this on him.  And what did she actually?  “May you have a most wonderful birthday today, my husband to be.”  Though, in time, the “to be” part will probably go away . . .

I know:  Annie’s bringing up the future, she’s gonna jinx this relationship.  At the same time, as I see this scene, both of them are probably the happiest they’ve been the whole school year.  I can imagine the smile etched on Annie’s face as she magically opens doors for Kerry, and the happiness on his face and the bounce in his step as they walk through the Garden on the way to the Great Hall.  Notice, too:  of the reasons to be happy, Annie takes up fifty percent of them–and there’s no mention of his family.  It’s almost all about Annie.

She brings him joy.  And that’s good right now–

‘Cause he’s gonna need that later.

The Windswept Silence

Late night for me, because I was out and about visiting, taking in pizza and movies, and staying up a lot later than I would normally.  In fact, when I realized the time, I hadn’t realized the time.  That’s how the evening went.

I was right about yesterday:  I didn’t get a lot of writing done.  About three hundred and sixty words, that was it, but it was the initial description of my other main female character for my novel, and that was what I needed to move on to the next part of Chapter Five.

But, once more, I got my motor running to go somewhere, and while going there and back, my mind was on a lot of things.  My Muse was on my mind; my story was on my mind; stories I haven’t written were on my mind.  It was all there, roaming about, getting down in my memories and making it known that I wasn’t going to forget anything.

Most of what I thought about were scenes from a story that hasn’t been written, but has been on my mind of late.  It has to do with having to do a duty that is both exciting and frightening, and once they’ve begun, the characters in question are presented with–call it an alternate reality of their lives.  Those the two characters have been together a long time, things happened in their past that pulled them away from people who they’d fallen for very hard.  And times and events and people being what they are, the characters were never able to reconcile these relationships, and therefore became somewhat haunted by the dreams of what could have been.

Each is given the opportunity to enjoy time with the “one who got away,” because, as one character is told, “You’ve always deserved to be happy.  Even if you are happy now, it is not the happiness you wanted.  You deserve to be with your one true soul mate; you deserve to be happy, even if for a little while.”  The character in question finds they are unable to disagree, because, deep down, they have always wanted that particular happiness–and even if they question how they are achieving the moment, they don’t care . . .

But, being me, you know they’ll end up in some kind of misery by the end of the story.  Actually they end up in some rather strange stuff at the end, but that’s also me . . .

I’ve thought a lot about happiness where it comes to my characters.  It’s easy to say that we all need to be happy, that we should have that one, great love that would make our lives complete.  It doesn’t always happen:  that’s pretty obvious when you look at the general human condition.  It’s not always possible, but we try.  And if we can’t try, we dream and fantasize.

Some of us take those dreams and fantasies and turn them into the stuff prose is made from, and then bleed upon our pages for the entertainment of others.

Because our silence is always the loudest.

The Day Maker

It’s not often that I walk into work and discover my day has been made.

The night was pretty normal.  Started on the penultimate chapter of Diners at the Memory’s End, and managed to get about six hundred words in before sleep started calling.  I’ve been hitting the mattress about 10:30, or there about, and last night was no different.

Last night I did dream, and I could remember most of it.  A damn silly thing it was, too, because the majority of it dealt with me losing a shopping cart–or having it taken, I can’t be certain–and then being bitched at by people over it.  In particular, one person wanted to know if my wallet was safe, if all my cards were okay, and that I should call all the companies and make certain no one was using the numbers.  The whole damn thing was like that, and it seemed like no matter where I went, I was being “reminded” about losing the cart and checking my cards.

As you might imagine, waking up was something of a strange occurrence.  With dreams like that, it makes you question what you’re doing, and what’s going to come at you through the rest of the day.  And Fridays are long days for me, since I have to head back to The Real Home after work at The Hole is finished.

Once into work I did what I usually do:  bring up the computer, launch all my programs, and open my mail.  That’s where I saw it:

The thing that made my day.

It’s not a lot; some might say it’s nothing.  But to me it was fantastic.

I was invited to a lunch, and the invitation came from someone outside my area.

Oh, sure, that sounds like a whole lot of nothing.  But if you knew what it’s like here, how there seems to be a complete lack of care for how I’m doing, then getting something like this is a big deal to me.  It’s almost an affirmation that someone here does think about me, and not about just how I’m doing on my projects.

In many ways writing is like this job.  You do so much of it in silence, in solitude, alone with only your thoughts.  You work on your stories, you create, you edit, you polish, you throw it out there for all to see.

Sure, you have your writing friends, you have a little group of people who ask you how things are coming with your novel or story, if you’ve finished it, or you’ve completed your edit, whether you’ve sold it or self-published.

There is something a writer desires, however.  It’s when they’re completed from an unexpected source.  It’s when, from out of the blue, an unexpected source asks you if they can read your manuscript, they read it, and they fall in love with it.

It’s that moment of serendipity when you realize someone cares about your craft beyond mundane things like, “How many books have you sold?”.

Little slices of time, such as these, are what making getting up in the morning exciting.

Now . . . can I have more, please?

Through the Shadows

Finally, finally . . . I pushed through yesterday.  “Pushed through what?” you say.  That is a good questions.

For some reason yesterday was a whole bunch of feeling like there was nothing happening.  It wasn’t quiet The Zombie Walk, where everything seems to pass by while you’re in this daze; no, it was more like things weren’t interesting.  That things were on hold.  I was there to watch things unfold around me, and not much else.

But I broke up the routine a bit going home.  I stopped off for dinner–though I shouldn’t have eaten what I did, because I felt totally bloated afterwards–then did something else last night that got me out of The Undisclosed Location.  It didn’t have me out for a long time, but it was out.  It was something a little different, and it was good.

When I got back to the casa, I ended up chatting with a couple of people that I hadn’t seen in a while.  While I was doing that, I hit YouTube and started playing song that, in some cases, I hadn’t heard in a while.  A couple of the songs brought back memories that I also hasn’t shared in a while, and that actually brought a smile to my face.

And then it came time to write.

Last night it wasn’t that I didn’t want to write, but damned if my fingers didn’t want to comply.  I was having a lot of trouble typing, having to go back and fix words, and for a while it was driving me crazy.  It’s been like that for a while, and it’s something that doesn’t make me want to really enjoy writing, let me tell ya.

But I went at it.  And though I was getting tired–which probably played a part in why I couldn’t get the fingers to move the way I needed them to move–I ended up with 765 words, and Part Eight of Diners at the Memory’s End edged forward a little more.

I got them through the game; I got them back into the main cabin; I got them ready to watch a dying star.  Now what?

Well, you’ll just have to wait and see, won’t you?

After all the feelings yesterday that I was bogging down and going nowhere fast, that I was burning a candle at way more than both ends, today I feel a lot more refreshed and reinvigorated.  It’s not just the coffee, either:  it’s good, but not that good.  I’ve made way better than this . . .

It’s more the feeling that things are moving forward.  Believe it when I say that something happened yesterday that sort of solidified where I’m going.  While it didn’t seem that way at first, it felt like it after I had a change to review in retrospect.  Part of it is my writing; part of it is just life in general.  Of late it’s felt like there’s been a huge amount of Debbie Downer bullshit hanging around and polluting my aura.  But that only happens if I let it continue.  This morning . . . I got better things to do.

Like it or not, something changed on 25 June, 2012.  Nothing left to do but ride this whirlwind and see where it takes me.

Juggling With One Hand

Every day that passes, I get a better understanding of what it means to be a working writer.  Notice I didn’t say “Writer”, because we all know, there are far too many people who like to say, “Oh, yeah.  I’m working on a novel.  Probably going to finish that any day now–”

Yeah, I know.  I used to be that guy.

This weekend has been pretty much a writing madhouse, however.  Friday afternoon and night, editing out the wazoo.  Then blogging, and editing yesterday.  Then, this morning, I was setting up my story excerpt on another blog, getting it nice and neat.  I have a manuscript I promised I would review for someone.

Right now, I’m writing this.  And later I’ll need to either (A) edit another chapters in Her Demonic Majesty, or (B) continue Part Three of Diners at the Memory’s End.

It’s all up in the air, folks, but I’m having fun.

I’m mentioned before that it seems like the deeper one gets into this craft, the more seemed to pop up.  Just yesterday, someone gave me a link to a publisher’s website.  They are looking for submissions, and one of the genres they’re interested in would be perfect for Her Demonic Majesty.   They want novels in the 80,000 word range, which is even more perfect for Demonic Majesty.

With only two more chapters left in a final draft edit, it’s time to check out the publisher’s submission requirements, and fire up that query letter.  I think I have a shot here.

I can’t put a finger on it, but the last month, when I was feeling like the biggest pile of crap in the world–because I was sick nearly the whole month–a lot more was getting done than I imagined.  I’m feeling something this week . . . it’s confidence.  I know I have no reason for it, but it’s building up.

I do believe that, with a bit more work, I can make this writing thing–the whole Penmonkey Experience, as Chuck Wendig might say–work.  It might actually get to where it will pay the bills and leave a little left over to enjoy life.

I’ve told people before, if I were write full-time, and make 60k, 70k a year, I’d be very happy.  If I made six-figures, I’d be very ecstatic.  If I got an advance that would put me in Stephen King territory, I’m gonna throw on a Vera Wang dress, some stiletto heels, and do a dance under the Picasso in Daley Plaza, Chicago.

Anyway you look at it, I’ll have achieved something I’ve wanted for a very long time.

The other night I was speaking with My Muse–and yes, Sian, she is sexy–and she told me, in so many words, “Don’t look back.”  I can’t these days.  There’s too much going on, too much change that’s ongoing, and right now, looking back isn’t something I can do.  I’ve had a taste of what’s possible, so why piss that away now?

There’s only one way to go these days, and that’s forward.  On until the end of the road.  As a friend likes to day, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”

Time to call up Jenny Everywhere and see what she’s doing for lunch . . .