Welcome to the Underworld

After noon came and went yesterday I had to head and do a few things, and came down with a serve case of motion sickness.  This has happened to me a few times in the past couple of weeks, and it’s been a real pain in the butt.  Yesterday was particularly bad, but I think part of it started of with me having a bad case of the caffeine shakes when I left the shop.  Since I’ve stopped drinking coffee at work, I believe two cups is quickly becoming my limit for coffee ingestion.  Can’t have that these days.

I ended up taking a long nap in a cool room, and felt better, but I really didn’t have much in the way of writing chops in me at that point, not to mention that last night was recap night, and I needed to save my fingers for the sixteen hundred words I was gonna type in an hour–for reals.  But there are other creative endeavors one can get up to as well, one of which–as I mentioned in the comments in yesterday’s post–is that I’m going to work on my “movie trailer” for this novel, much like I worked on one for A For Advanced, and . . . I’m doing one for the C Level novel.  Yes, I’m gonna tease the hell out of that book, and let me just say, there is gonna be some stuff in it.


But the biggest thing I did last night was finish the lower levels of Cernunnos Coven, and I now know what they look like.  So let me show that off–

A common bit of information, first.  Both of these levels are 3.2 meters high, or 10.5 feet.  It’s high for a reason:  that the height of the walls beyond the coven towers, and it keeps the students from feeling claustrophobia when they’re below ground.  Claustrophobic witches are panicky witches, and you don’t want that.

So, lower level first:

Here it is in all its underground glory.

Here it is in all its underground glory.

Just so you have your orientation, the path going off to the left is lower level wall passage to Åsgårdsreia Coven, and the one at the top leads to Ceridwen Coven.  That means the big fireplace on the level above is directly along the right-hand wall.  As you can see, the lower levels is full of storage areas, and several of the rooms here are used for things like informal gatherings and meetings:  it’s down in the lower levels of Mórrígan Coven that Erywin holds her LGBTAIQ support meetings.

The most important section of this level, however, is in the central-left section of the tower, near the east exit:

It looks much better this way.

It looks much better this way.

In the slightly-top-of-center of the photo are the stairs going up to the ground floor and down to the sublevels.  Below that is the kitchen where students can go and make their own food if they so like.  Pantry, refrigerator/freeze, oven, stove, sink, dishwasher:  it’s all there.  Of course the stuff is all magical, and there’s an area where your plates of finished delicacies are jaunted to whatever floor you so choose, much like it’s done in the Dinning Hall.  It’s either that or having students walk up several flights of stairs with food and drink, and that’s never a good thing.

And there on the left, with the black table and gray sofa, is a certain private lab that a couple of kids I know have.  No one’s there right now, however:  they must be off snogging in another part of the school.

Last but not least is the sublevel:

Diggin' deeper into the dirt.

Diggin’ deeper into the dirt.

This area is pretty bare, and doesn’t have nearly as many rooms at the level above.  That’s because the center of the level is taken up by the coven “storm cellar”, the fortified section of the coven where students go when there’s a Level Three Security Protocol instituted, much as Isis did when the outer defense screens of the school were breached during the Day of the Dead attacks.  When that goes into place everyone heads down the stairs and right across the hall to the double doors leading to the room, and the joint is sealed and locked.  And in the instance there’s a Level Four Security Protocol set into place, they have a way of getting out of this room and proceeding to a large room below the Great Hall where they are just one step ahead of evacuating the school for safer parts unknown.  Which hasn’t ever happened, but it’s there just in case.

There you have it:  all the stuff below ground that you now know and see.  As some wit once said, from here, the only place to go is up . . .

The Trip Through Part Four

I spent a lot of time going over the novel yesterday, between bouts of being hungry and feeling like I was going to loose my lunch.  Couldn’t figure out if I was coming down with a cold again, or if it was something I ate, but for most of the afternoon I felt queasy and ended up sleeping in front of the TV for about an hour.

But in the process I put three chapters out of the way in Part Four, and . . . I’ll get to that in a bit.

Here is what I have:

It's shapping up quite nicely.

It’s shaping up quite nicely.

There’s a lot there, but then again, there isn’t.  This covers maybe four, possibly five, events in the story, it seems like there isn’t a lot going on there.  Until I start thinking that with all those scenes, each probably being between fifteen hundred and two thousand words each, there’s twenty to twenty-five thousand words in those chapters.  Which means if I’m worrying about the novel being short, I shouldn’t worry.

But there are private matters here.  I talk about dancing and racing, fighting and injury, dreaming and looking for connections.  What about school work?  Bah.  This isn’t about being in the class, though that will come up–I’ve got something after the start of the year for sorcery class, it’s just a matter of knowing when it’s going to happen.  Which I’ll have in my time line sometime tonight.

Here it’s all about the relationship, and some of the things related to the school.  School work is work, and I want to avoid getting bogged down in that here.  It was a bit necessary in the first novel, because it helped to introduce the instructors, and give people an idea about how the classes work.  But now that people have that information, there’s isn’t a need to go into it once again.  You know the players, and you know how things are gonna go.  It’s a matter of moving the relationship along.

Which brings me to another item:  the holidays.  And . . .

Did you think I'd forget this?

Did you think I’d forget this?

I managed to get into the next part and the next chapter, and it deals with the kids heading home for the holidays.  And if you look at my synopses metadata, you can figure out that Annie and Kerry leave the school and head to Vienna together, then split up and head for their own homes.  A big change of pace from last year, which means that Kerry won’t have to hang out all day in the Great Hall and be placed in a position where he’ll have to curse someone again.  Last year Annie’s mother jaunted into Vienna to pick up her daughter–is Dad gonna be there this time as well?

It goes without saying that Chapter Fifteen will deal with the kids at home.  It won’t be a long chapter, but you’ll see a dynamic between the kids and their moms.  Yes, there will be a conversation between Kerry and his mom, and you’ll discover something interesting about her–and Annie will find out that her mom is working hard on something with her as well.  Curiouser and curiouser, as the saying goes.

Writing at the Speed of Imagination

After a slow start to the day I’ve come back to a point where I am actually thinking straight, almost like a real person.  It’s wonderful that I’m not crashing out right about now.

Today I’m going to answer another reader’s question and this one is from Christy Birmingham, who I’ve followed for sometime as well.  Her question is simple:


What are your top three reasons for using Scrivener?


That’s an interesting question, because I’m not certain I can answer it sufficiently.  You see, there are so many different reasons why I use it, but let me see if I can break this down to something that makes sense.


One:  I can organize everything from the shortest story to the longest novel however I like.


Let me show you a few things.  First up is, believe it or not, the only real short story I’ve ever written, The Relocater, which clocks in at fifty-eight hundred words.  I wrote it in September, 2013, over the course of five nights, just to prove to myself that I could write a short story.

Looks kinda cute, doesn't it?

Looks kinda cute, doesn’t it?

There isn’t much to organize here, and Scrivener even has a short story template that allows you to just rip off some quick stories when you’re in the mood.  In this case I wanted quick and dirty, and that’s what I got.

Now, here is the novel I’m currently editing, Kolor Ijo:

Welcome back, 2012 NaNoWriMo story!

Welcome back, my friend, to the show that never ends.

When I laid out this novel I’d used Scrivener for about fifteen months, so I had a better grasp of how I wanted to set up my novel.  You can see that here I’m setting things up in parts, and that each text file is really a chapter.  And since most are short and separated in action from each other, I can get away with having it neatly laid out this way.

Now, maybe you recognize this work . . .

Every time I think I'm finished, you pull me back in.

Every time I think I’m finished, you pull me back in.

This is, right here, the most advanced layout I’ve ever done, which is for, naturally, The Foundation Chronicles:  A For Advanced.  And I should mention that the layout I have today is not the one with which I started.  When I began writing this in October, 2013, there were parts, there were chapters, there were scenes–but there were no acts.  It was only after I was close to finishing what is now Act One that I realized this story was gonna be huge, and trying to release it as one large tome might not be a good idea.  Therefore, I added the acts, began moving Parts into those Acts, and everything followed.  And that’s one of the things I love about the program.  However I want to set up my story, however I want to lay out my research, however I want to link to information from internal and external sources, I can.  It’s all up to you.  It’s even possible-though I haven’t tried it yet–to build your own template so these setups are available when you go to create a new project.  Like I’ll need with I write that B Level novel.


Two:  Write in one simple format, compile it into anything.


As a word processor Scrivener is simple:  it’s just text files where you can set margins, font styles, and font sizes.  You can so most everything that you can do in, say, MS Word, though for some functions you need to be hooked up to the Internet to get them to work, but who isn’t these days?  (And those functions are really needed to get the story written–I know; I’ve done that.)

But where the program really shines is in the area of how your final product look.  The Compile function is the formatting system of the program, and it makes it possible to just write lines of information in each text box, and by setting definitions in the Compile pop-up box, you can make the output look any way that makes you happy.

So many options, so little time to play with this stuff.

So many options, so little time to play with this stuff.

Most of the time I’ll compile into PDF format to look for errors and to send to beta readers, because you can’t change the stuff in that format–well, you can, but I have to trust my beta readers.  When I’m ready to send something up for self-publishing, I’ll compile the document to a Word .doc and run it through various checks as it’s converted into an epublishing format–

Which Scrivener will actually do for you.  .Epub and .Mobi are the two epiblishing formats supported by Scrivener, and if I remember correctly, Amazon will allow you to upload .mobi to Kindle Direct.  And those options on the left of the popup window?  Those are you selection and formatting options.  It’s actually possible to take plain, unaltered text an set your margins, fonts, and sizes in there, and have a ball getting your final product ready for whatever you like.  I haven’t explored all that because, well, it would take away from my writing.

And speaking of writing, the most important reason I use Scrivener:


Three:  It keeps everything I need for the story right in front of me.


Scrivener is not a word processing program:  it’s a project management program.  That’s why, when you go to create something new, you’re not creating a story or a short or a novel, you’re creating a project.  And into that project goes–


Here’s something I’ve not shown much:  the research section for A For Advanced.

I seem to have an interest in aircraft . . .

I seem to have an interest in aircraft . . .

All that stuff on the left are things I slipped into the binder almost a year and a half ago, and some of the information I’ve kept updated, or even changed, as I went along with the story.  After all, the Spell List was being updated and added to constantly, because I’d come up with new things as I wrote.  But all the world building I did in October, 2013–it’s there.  Everything.  And up above I have information on students and who’s in every coven, and the levels and . . . you get the idea.

Now, in the picture above, there are four entries that look like little globes.  Those are interactive webpages that you can set up inside the project–you know, some of those functions that you need an Internet connection for?  Here’s what that looks like:

I seem to recall looking for these schedules back in 2013--

I seem to recall looking for these schedules back in 2013–

And the website is completely functional, so while I’m working on a scene, if I really needed to know the time for the train from Rockport–which, if you remember, is the end of the train line on Cape Ann and not that far from the school’s main gate–to Salem, it’s right here.  That was why I set this page up:  so I would have access to these schedules if they were needed.  And they will be–maybe.

The great thing is when it comes time to set up a project for B For Bewitching, I have an option to import another Scrivener project, so I’ll just zip all of this into that new project, delete what I don’t need, and keep the rest.  There you have it:  all my research is available for the new novel, with a little fuss as possible.

That’s pretty much it:  three main reasons why I use Scrivener.  There are a lot more, but those three are the biggest reasons.

And with reasons like those, I don’t really need any others.

Writing, Thoughts, New Plotting, and Time

Last night was about writing, but it didn’t involve much writing.  There wasn’t any writing at all, if you must know.

There are times when one has to make certain that their story is in good shape and the area ahead not only makes sense, but isn’t full of potholes and landmines.  And of all the parts of my story, the Kansas City trip was the foggiest because it was put together a long time ago–probably started thinking about it in detail in mid-September, 2013, and initially plotted it out in started time lining and getting it into Scrivener a month later–and I was only meta sketching it at the time.  I figured in the next few months I’d get some more detail behind it as I gave it more thought . . .

Little did I know it would be almost fourteen months before I’d get to this point.

So, with Helena and Erywin safely under the covers, and Annie and Kerry in bed and in their dream, it was time to figure out what was really going to happen over the next couple of days.  But at the same time, there was unfinished business concerning the earlier dreams that Annie and Kerry had.  After all, they were a thing in the story now and I wanted to know they were in the right places.  For them, that is.

So I started getting down to business.  And the first thing I did after eating last night was download the newest version of Aeon Timeline–which was easier said that done, because the connection at Panera kept dropping on me.  It took me three tries to get it onto my computer, but get it there I did.

And with that in place, I started figuring things out–

As you can see, it went in like a dream.  I know . . .

As you can see, it went in like a dream. I know . . .

Everything from the middle of the screen and on to the right was done a long time ago:  over a year back if I remember correctly.  All the stuff to the left, however, is brand new.  There is one dream missing–their first one–but they were pretty young at the time and it probably involved a lot of “Hi.  How you doing?” toddler stuff.  But as far as the main stuff talked about in the novel so far, that’s it.  I know when the things happened, and I have an idea what they talked about or did.  As you can see, there’s a good sized gap in there–a little over a year and a half–where not a lot happens, but you can assume it involved . . . kissing.

With the story almost complete I can actually show the full A Level time line that I developed and used for the story.  Ready?  Here you go:

In all its stunning glory.

In all its stunning glory.

One thing to point out here is that those areas marked “The Big Time” and “Kansas City” take you to other time lines, which makes this less crowded.  Also, I’m not showing individual things that happened to either kid, so “Annie’s Story” and “Kerry’s Story” bring up additional information.  Needless to say, once I laid out the story in Scrivener, I went back here to verify that everything worked out, and if I didn’t, I modified the line here until it did, and then changed the Scrivener layout.  Seems like a lot of work, but when you’re 365,000 words into a story, you’ll be glad you had this proofing behind you.

And speaking of Scrivener . . .

I also laid out the next two chapters–which, story-wise, is the next two days.  Funny how that works out:  three chapters in three days.  If only I could write that fast.  It now looks like this:

So much better I have to pat myself on the back.

So much better I have to pat myself on the back.

Nine scenes.  A couple of them are pretty short, most, I think, are gonna be between one thousand and fifteen hundred words, and I dare say a couple there will pop up over two thousand.  If I use twelve hundred words as an average, then there’s almost eleven thousand words to add for these two chapters alone.  And with Act Three currently sitting near fifty-seven thousand five hundred words, this is going to take the story up closer to seventy thousand words.  Which means by the time I finish this part the story will end up somewhere between seventy and seventy-five thousand words.

Looking at this, and looking at what I have ahead, this leads me to believe that Act Three is going to come out at right around one hundred thousand words, which will make it a third shorter than the first two acts.  Oh, my dear:  how can I handle that?  Can’t complain, because I figured Act Three would be the shortest part of the story, but still:  one hundred thousands words as a stand alone novel is a pretty good deal.

With all this said, tonight I get back into the writing.  If I manage to somehow do a scene a day, then this finishes up before the end of the year, and I can write and complete Chapter Thirty-Eight before the end of the year.  There are still several chapters to go, but having looked at them and knowing what goes in there–it looks as if this novel will finally see “The End” written around the end of January, 2015.

Now I have to figure out how I’m gonna celebrate that moment . . .

Layout Lowdown

It has begun.  Besides all the other stuff I did yesterday–and it was a lot–I started laying out my next novel.  I know I should have managed more, but I didn’t because I was busy chatting with people.  Sue me.

But the novel is getting laid out.  And the moment I started laying things down, I figured this is either going to have a huge number of chapters, or it’s going to be a monster.  Or both.  That has been known to happen with me.

I’m using a format that I adopted last year for my first novel, which is to break everything into parts, then break that down into chapters, then set up scenes within each chapter.  In the past I’ve written chapter by chapter, all one big thing, even if there were difference scenes.  This time I’m going scene by scene, which was how I did it when I wrote the lead-in novel for this novel during July Camp NaNo.

As you can Layout Stating 01see on the right I’ve my title page finished–though still not sold on the title, but I’m not sweating that–and I have two parts laid out with the third to comes.  Looking down the binder on the left, one notices the chapters inside each part, and the scene cards laid out.  You can also see my Camp Novel, The Scouring, right above The Magic Fishbowl, and somewhere below that is a folder labeled Book Two.  One project:  many stories.  That was my intention when I decided to write about this world, that I’d keep all the stories here in one place.  Now, if I need to go looking for something that happened years before, I know where it’s located.

When I get Layout Starting 02into each chapter I find my scenes looking like the ones I have here.  These are all nice and neat, without any metadata written upon each card.  Then again, the chapter tells me when it is, and the title of each scene tells me where I’m at, so the metadata is actually in place.  Those are my writing prompts, and with a little more information I know exactly what needs to be said.  More or less:  the mind is tricky, and by the end of the day my kids go from discovering magic to setting up their own meth lab and start cooking.  Not saying it would happen, but . . .

In getting Layout Starting 03this post together I discover one of the reasons I love Scrivener so much.  I decided to change the name of one of the scenes as I set up my pictures, and that made is necessary to find out the name of the regional transportation group in the Boston area.  Quick Google Search and I find it’s the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, or MBTA.  Now, I’ve used their website before, but since there’s always a chance I’m going to need it again–because, hey, my kids need to get around–I decided to set up a card with the interactive website feature, and–ta da!  Now when I want to get around the Boston area, I just go split screen, pull this up, and start plugging numbers.  Never know when I’ll want to send the kids off to Innsmouth–I mean, Ipswich.  Innsmouth isn’t a real place–or is it?

I’m not going to finish this all this weekend, but it’s started, and I’ll finish before I know it.  This won’t get dragged out to the end of the month–oh, no.  Another week and I should have this feline in the proverbial loose container.  But I see the end.

And right behind it is the beginning.  Yeah, that’s how it goes . . .