Through the Door of Imagination

Coming to the end of my scene last night–and I should mention, the end of Chapter Sixteen as well–I wrote this final paragraph:

 

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

Erywin sat staring at the empty chair across from her, fingers tapping against both arm rests. “There’s something we, the instructors, say—” She slowly turned her head so she was looking at both children. “—that pertains to both teaching and counseling, Annie. ‘We can show you the door; we can even hold it open for you. But you have to be willing to step through to see what’s on the other side’.” Erywin rose, straightening her pajamas. “She insisted there isn’t anything on the other side, and that’s as far as I can take her.” She respectfully bowed her head. “Have a good evening, children.”

 

I use the symbolism of a door a lot in this novel.  Passing through one door to another and finding something incredible waiting.  This was the end of Kerry’s Evaluation and Assessment:

 

He nodded slowly. “Okay, Doc.” He looked for the exit. “How do I get out of here?”

The doctor nodded at something behind him. “Go out the patio doors.”

Kerry turned and started walked towards them. After three steps he stopped and turned. “There really isn’t a patio out there.”

“There is if you want one.” She gave him a knowing look. “You’re going to find out that around here vision and willpower—and knowing how to apply them correctly—go a long ways towards making things you want happen.” Again she nodded toward the doors. “Go on, Kerry. Enjoy what’s waiting on the other side.”

 

Kerry did, and slipped right down into the rabbit hole.  Annie did much the same for hers:  she walked through one door, found she had to walk through another to meet with her adviser–and ended up telling a multi-millenniums old creature that she could stuff it, she was there at school for her reasons and her reasons only, and to hell with everything else.  What did she get for her troubles?  Shown to another door which should have lead to a nice, comfy bed–which in a way it did, where she said something to a certain doctor/nurse, and that led to questions and answers and reveals and . . . well, the start of something great.

Annie did the same thing to Kerry in London.  When she suggested he come with her on a walking tour of London, she didn’t say, “Pack your shit, Welsh Boy, we’re going out.”  No, she asked, “Would you like to do something? Would you like to go somewhere with me, Kerry?”  She showed him the door, but in the end, he had to decide to walk through and investigate the wonders she was about to show him.

Writing a story, a novelette, a novella, a novel–when you start they’re all like standing before door, wondering what you should do.  The door is the idea, but what is on the other side–that’s your imagination.  What you’re going to find on the other side . . .

Hey, you gotta open it first.

Hey, you gotta open it first.

What you’ll find is a room full of jumble.  Plots, characters, scenes–they are everywhere.  It’s the way things are.  Stories are a messy thing, there’s stuff all over the place.  But if you work that idea enough, if you think about your characters and where you want them to go, what you want them to do, what sort of adventures they’ll have–in time, you’ll tidy up that room, get things in order, and eventually produce something.

Or as Dwayne Johnson might put it:

 

When you walk up to opportunity’s door, don’t knock.  Kick that bitch in, smile, and introduce yourself.

 

And then start moving things about and getting that story in shape.

I’m always thinking about my stories.  If not the one I’m on, then the next.  Though this time is different:  I’m eight months into writing, 201,101 words into the story, and I might have another six, seven, eight months of writing ahead of me.  I’m going to make a push to knock off twenty thousand more words by the end of July and get extremely close to the end of Act Two–and then I’m gonna start editing another novel, because publishing, that’s why.

I think all the time about my stories, my characters, where I want them.  It’s a non-stop thing.  Once I’m through that door I have to stay and get things done.  That’s why you get a little crazy writing, because you want out of that room, but you can’t leave until you finish.

But not everyone is like me, wanting to write grand, sweeping novels.  Some people are really good with short stories.  The process is the same, the time frame is a lot different.  And keep in mind, there’s writing, and there’s editing.  Writing starts the story; editing builds upon that foundation, allows you to correct what isn’t right.  No story is perfect on the first draft:  I know this all to well.  Keep polishing.  Make it pretty.  In time, you’ll get it there.

Your stories are waiting on the other side of a door.  I’ve shown you that door–

It’s up to you to go on through.

Walking with Witchy Poo

Today already feels like a bit of a grind.  The fire alarm went off in my complex at three AM, and I’ve been trying to wake up from a perpetual doze since everything quieted down an hour later.  It’s never a good thing to start the week with your head in a fog after a few hours of sleep.  I’ll manage, but I’ll be a wreck tonight.

Eventual it was time to crawl out of bed, get ready, and walk across town to my job.  Yes, walk.  I live about three-quarters of a mile from my office, so rather than drive in, I walk it.  It’s good exercise, and a great time to be alone with your thoughts.  And since there aren’t a lot of people out and about at six-thirty in The Burg, you can work out scenes aloud if you are of a mind–

Which I usually am.

A favorite question to ask is, “Where do you get your ideas?”  I think it was Robert Silverberg who said he had a service in Schenectady, New York, who mailed him new ideas every Tuesday, but I could be wrong.  That’s a good comeback, though, because ideas generally just come to people.  Something hits you, and there you have it:  idea.

While walking across The Burg I was thinking out a scene between one of my main characters and the school’s flying, levitation, and teleportation instructor.  In the mater of a few blocks I established that one, the current batch of A Level students don’t seem all that interested in flying PAVs; two, that a couple of A Levels appeared the day before asking if they could fly; and three, managed to establish that the instructor is Jewish.  The last I already knew, but the other two came to me . . . Oh, and also established that the instructor likes metric, because screw that goofy Imperial system.

But then it was time to talk about different Class 1 PAVs, and I needed names.  Easy enough:  just like cars, name them after people who developed them.  So you have Covington Trainers, and Espinoza 6000s, and the Higoshi Rally–

Lastly, about the time I was standing in front of the Capitol, came the Wilhelmina A’s through D’s.

Who was Wilhelmina?  A student from the 1960’s whose mother was a practicing Wican before her little girl–who was also a witch–went off to school to become a real real witch.  Then she discovered science, figured out how to work both together, and went on to greater glory.  But while she loved flying she hated the training brooms, so during her E Levels she built the prototype of the Wilhelmina A in Practical Science and Magic class.  Because she could.

No one at school called her Wilhelmina, however:  it was too much of a mouth full.  Because of her background–and because kids be kids–her nickname was Witchy Poo.  Which is what everyone calls her brooms.  Which is why my instructors says, “This is a good broom:  it’s a Witchy Poo B.”

Just like that, I had my scene in ten minutes time.

And added just a little more realism to my world.

The Far and the Near

My jaunt into The Black has reached one milestone:  last night I finished creating the main system–aka, The Core–for The ‘Verse, which I’ve been working on here and there since Saturday.  Lots of things to put into this sucker, and even spending an hour or two at night means you only get to add a couple of planets and their moons.  Or a protostar and its planets and their moons–yes, there are stars within stars here, and it makes for one of the most impossible systems I’ve ever seen.

The more I build the more I look at this and shake my head.  It’s such an out there system, but hey:  it’s suppose to be considered canon these days, and who am I to argue with a bunch of Browncoats?  Though I’m sure at some point I’ll probably write about how all the core planets exist outside the habitable zones–the “Goldielocks Zones” we sometime say–and the most massive of the stars is in orbit around all the other smaller stars.  I don’t even want to try and calculate those parameters.  I know there’s one article I want to write that’s based in part on this system, and that’s something I think just might pop up this weekend.  If I’m not shopping, that is.

Then I was into the mind mapping for a while.  I love the Scapple program:  it has certainly become one I want to get when it comes out of beta.  I love the flow, I love how you can put notes wherever you like, and links them not only to one thought, but to many if that is your choice.  I’ve found a few bugs, but it’s beta, remember?  There are suppose to be bug, and they get corrected before the program goes live.  Or so one hopes, yeah?

The one thing I don’t like is how I’m using it.  I reached a point last night where I realized the story I’m playing with works, but I’m flowcharting, not throwing out ideas and seeing if they stick.  Tonight I’m going to “play” with it, do some character sketching, see how that plays out.  I need to think out some characters, and there are a couple I can use to “create them” with the program.  ‘Cause they ain’t gonna build themselves, you know?

That’s the fun when it comes to new software:  you test it, and in doing so you test yourself.  You look for things you could do, and you go there and do them.  You follow new paths, you try new things.  I’m great at thinking things through in an analytical sense, but I need to be a little more spontaneous, more of a throw things out there and see what sticks sort of person when it comes to the craft.  Then from that point, I can build.  I can make things that are incredible, that are inspiring, that feel real.

Just like the gift I sent someone last night, something that, I hope, will give their kids many hours of entertainment, and at the same time get their imaginations a-growin’.  Get them to thinking and dreaming at the same time.

Everyone needs to dream, and have fun while it’s happening.

 

Lady What’s Tomorrow

The tent with the fire over on the Camp NaNo page says there are two days and fifteen hours left before the mid-summer insanity begins.  Said insanity being writing, but why should July be any different for me?  I’m always doing that, though this latest stretch of three weeks without actually writing anything new is one of the longest I’ve gone in a while.

As for my own story, the first two floors of my Great Hall are complete.  It’s a thing of beauty, with it’s old class rooms and dorms and storage areas, the library and its archives, the private rooms and collection areas–and the bathrooms.  At this moment it’s a real place for me, not just something I dreamed up.  I still have a third and a fourth floor to add, but they won’t take up much space.  I may get those in place today, or maybe tomorrow.  But I will get them.

Though now, with the rendering required to produce the 3D version of my structure, my poor computer is working overtime to give me something I can’t view as well as before.  But no matter:  I’m able to get it built, and I can always shut down a lot of other things in order to see what I’m creating.

The thing that has happened as I build the structure is that I’m also building history.  There are a great many empty rooms in this building:  the majority of the first floor is sealed off, the doors locked and the rooms dusty.  Why is this?  Why have such a huge, unused building in the middle of this school?

There is a history building in my head.  It’s been there for a while; in fact, I know how the school started, and who laid the foundation.  I’ve known a little of the early history of the building, and now that I’m seeing it appear, brick by virtual brick, the history is becoming far more clear.

As with the characters, the buildings have their history.  They have a presence, and it helps to actually bring it out and write it down.  Which is what I’ll do, either today or tomorrow.  Since I already have a timeline started for my characters, why not add the school to that document as well?  Then when I need to see when a particular event occurred, and who may have had a hand in it, then I know where to go.

I’ll also write it down inside my Scrivener project, so it’ll be there as well when writing time comes.

All this work has made me happy.  No, really, it has.  It’s freeing to allow your mind to break loose and find things that have been hidden, or even repressed, for a while, and to get them out and make them real.  Even if there are things I never use in any of the stories that would revolve around this school, I know their story, and they have become a part of me forever.

It’s only a matter of time before I pass this feeling to others.

The Girl With the Traveling Jones

Kassidy 2533

Almost wide awake here, just like the blog.  I’ve even been busy, as you may or may not be able to see.  One of Google Searches that came to this blog the other day was “Cassidy in Gallifreyan,” and since I do have a Gallifreyan translator, I thought I’d help out that said person.  So, Google Searcher, if you’re out there still, here you are:  Cassidy as those pesky Gallifreyans might write it.  Enjoy.

Normally I’m talking about my writing and my stories and the such right about now. I can’t do that today because I didn’t write last night.  No, I actually watched TV.  I know, bad girl.  But it was worth while, because I was watching the original version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” the one made in Sweden with Noomi Rapace.  I’ve heard about it but never seen it, and since it was on the Sundance Channel, I thought I should catch it.  (The whole trilogy was on last night, but no way in hell was I staying up until 4:15 in the morning to watch all three movies.)

I’ve never been one for mysteries, so I’ve not enjoyed a lot of writing by a lot of authors.  In reality I don’t have many friends who read them, but then, I don’t have many friend who read, period.  I’ve never read The Millennium Trilogy, and probably won’t.  But I wanted to see the movie, because–well, because I did.  So I took the night off and watched and enjoyed, and didn’t feel the least bit guilty about not writing.

I do a strange thing, however.  Since the movie is filmed in Sweden, there is a lot of scenery that I’ve never seen.  There is the estate, and the island where the family lived, and there was one shot of a bridge that I’d love to find on a map.  I want to find these places on a map and imagine I’m there.  And since Google Maps can easily put you on a spot these days, a lot of times I’m hitting the maps to find these same locations within hours of watch a movie–or, in this instance, I was hitting it this morning.

I’ve always had an interest in maps.  I started reading them when I was young, and I was probably one of the first eight year olds who got excited when they found their first Rand McNally Atlas.  I’ve always been able to take a map and look at a location, and imagine myself at that place.  I’m not always good at that–pictures of the same place do help with putting your mind in the local–but even now, nearly fifty years after combing through my first map, I’m still looking at places on a map and forming a picture in my mind of what I’d feel if I were standing in the same spot.

Twenty years from now, if I’m still around, it’s likely I’ll be doing the same thing.  I can’t always travel to these places, but as long as it’s on a map, I can imagine the landscape.  I can put myself in those places and build a story from there.  I’m doing that now with my fantasy story, and I’m building another world based off a location I found on Google Maps.  It’s what I do, and have done for decades.

Someone should pay me for this; I’m very good, you know.

 

The Hall of the Mountain Queen

Yesterday, Friday, was a lazy day.  I wasn’t exactly busy, but at the same time I wasn’t eager to do anything.  Like writing–

I work on this blog every day.  I’ve had people tell me that this isn’t real writing, but then again, if it’s not, what is it?  I’m of the opinion that if you write, it doesn’t matter what you write, it’s still writing.  I forget who said it–may have been Stephen King–but he said something along the lines of, “If you don’t have ideas coming to you, or you’re finding it difficult to write about anything, start typing out things.  Songs you like, your grocery list, names of places you want to visit.  Keep typing, and eventually you’ll find get through your block and write.”

That’s why I blog.  If I keep writing, every day, then when it comes time to do something I need to write–like a story–then it’s not a problem:  I’ll sit right down and get to writing.  You’re working on the skill, developing it further, and it will eventually show in your other work.

That’s the hope.  As another writer said–the name escapes me at the moment–if after a year or two, your writing hasn’t improved, you haven’t started to take chances with your work, then you’re not growing.  You’re not trying to improve, you’re just sort of marking time.

This is my little mountain hall, my blog.  I have another, but I’ve been really lazy about going there, and I should do something about that.  But this one, the one I’ve stuck with for a little over two years, is my fortress.  I have my followers, and you’re all very good to me.  A few of you even know me beyond this blog, which is both strange and crazy when I think about it.

I try to think of how I look, sitting in my mountain hall, upon my throne, waiting for my subjects to appear.  I could say I’m like the Lady Death of Blogging, but that could be a bit scary, don’t you think?  Or am I sitting here in my Witchblade armor, pretty much naked, my body all bent and twisted like I’m constructed out of Rob Liefeld’s best imagination?  Maybe I’m more Jean Grey-like, ready to eat a planet on a moment’s notice.  Naw, not that:  she’s been dead for eight years, though she’ll probably come back to life one of these days–again.

Whatever it is, I’m here, in control of my works and words, and doing both as much as is possible.

I had a couple of people tell me that I’m an inspiration, because I work at this craft every day, and I never seem to give up.  It’s not easy–the working part, not the inspiration.  I do this because I want to do this, and I want to do it every day for the rest of my life.  It’s my dream, you know?  But I find it easy to want to give up.  I find it easy to walk away, sometimes forever.  Quitting is easy–

Writing is hard.

This is post seven hundred and fifty, and in another eight or nine months I’ll have a cool thousand to my name.  Sometime in early 2014 I’ll sit down and come up with a cool name for post number one thousand, and recollect.  Maybe I’ll even have some good news to tell you about a novel I’ve just published.

Until then, feel free to hang about the fortress.

The Mountain Queen is always in.

 

Mindmelding Elements

Made it through a good day yesterday, one of the better I’ve had in a while, and today–well, that’s another story.  I’ll get through all the “The Forth Be With You” crap and probably remind more than a few people that my 4th of May involved hearing about four college students being shot to death.  Yeah, Yoda can bite my ass.

Where to go now, dear Cassidy?  How is your new project coming along?  Glad you asked–

Yesterday also dealt with the upcoming story, because I was talking a few ideas to some people, and though I’ve joked about how I’m going to just “write smut” so I can make a quick buck or two, I still want this to be a good story.  I can’t help it:  even my erotica has to be about more than just fucking.  I’m strange that way.Cabin Overview

For example, when I’m talking about the cabin where my story will take place, I bring up a cabin.  What does my cabin look like?  Gander to the right, if you will . . .  I was speaking with Annie (yes, she was around!) and we discussed how sometimes you have to see something in order to describe it.  I’ll admit, I never used to be that way, but when it comes to buildings and apartments and the like, there are times when I need to know how everything is laid out.

I created the interior using Sweet Home 3D, which is a fantastic open source modeling program (check them out, download, and drop them a few bucks for the effort).  I only needed a few simple templates to show me how everything is suppose to look, and with the split screen I can design and get a 3D look at everything in real time.  (One of the great things I liked was as I moved objects onto the design screen, I’d see them moving around in the 3D screen, and if I adjusted then in modeling, they’d adjust in 3D.  It’s like moving furniture in your house, only you’re doing it on a computer with a lot less back strain.)

So now I have a good idea what things sort of look like, so when the action gets hot and heavy, and I need to knock things over because of way too much Sexy happening, I’ll know where the knockage occurs, and how it’s going to break.

It’s not only the look of the story I want right, but I started wondering, late last night, if my mental flow is going the right direction.  So I brought up FreeMind and began mapping out my ideas into something logical.  This is another open source program I use from time to time, when I need to “think” about how I want a scene–or, in this case, a story–to flow.  It’s another great tool if you feel yourself stuck on something and you want to shake your mind loose . . .Mind Map Cabin

I have my thoughts and ideas collected here, as you can see.  I know how to read the flow of the picture to the right, and there are arrows to show me where I need to go from one set of ideas to another.  I’m not finished laying it out all–after all, I was working on this until about eleven-thirty last night, and the eyes were starting to burn a little–but I’ll have it all worked out and into Scrivener by this afternoon.

There was a point last night when two questions came to mind:  one, am I spending way too much time developing a story that’s suppose to be a short (for me), quick, tale of fantasy screwing?  Finally, two:  is there enough hot sex going down?  I mean, yeah, I do erotica, but I also write about characters, and knowing why you wanna get laid is just as important to me as getting there.

Ah, well, perhaps I’m over-thinking this story.  Then again, it is my story–

I can do that if I want to, you know.