The Second Second Breakfast Run

All the tails of misery and pain are out of the way, or at least as much as possible for now.  Now it’s back to the regularly scheduled events of the week, which are normally fairly boring and easy going.

That means it’s time to get back to editing and one of my favorite couple of scenes in the book.

The last two days were spent getting into the scene I titled Second Breakfast way back in April, 2014, pretty much as a way of venting some frustration.  This all happened during a discussion with someone close to me who started complaining that two scene earlier, when Kerry first met Ms. Rutherford for breakfast she decided to have something to eat as well, and  they began questioning whether or not she’d had breakfast with the other kids, and if so, how could she eat again so soon?  Personally I felt it was really kind of a ridiculous thing to hang on, but it ended up being forty minutes of back and forth before I finally said I’d change the scene.

(There was also a forty-five minute discussion over the used of the metric system versus the imperial system for measurements throughout the story–her argument was that Americans wouldn’t read the book because they didn’t understand the system, while my argument was that The Foundation couldn’t call themselves a “world wind organization” if they were using a measuring system used in only three countries in the world–and that argument I one simply because it’s my story.  Nener, nener, nener.)

But this is really the first scene where we hear the terms “Legacy” and “Normal” with a Big Freakin’ N, and if you’re playing attention you realize there’s something going on with this Ms. Rutherford woman, and that Annie isn’t quite like the other kids.  And this is the beginning of the first time Annie began making her play for The Kid From Cardiff, and a question was asked:

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

“What are we gonna do if we go out?” All Kerry had with him was £50 he’d hidden away over the last couple of years: there wasn’t any way he could get around London on that amount. “How we suppose to get around or do anything?”

Annie patted the envelope with her left hand. “Ms. Rutherford left prepaid debit cards with £200 on them for each of us to use. No need to worry about money for the day.”

“Oh.” Kerry’s stared off to a far corner of the room as he seemed to consider Annie’s comment.

Seeing the indecision on Kerry’s face, Annie knew the time had come to push the forty-four percent odds towards her favor. She reached out and touched his left hand: Kerry’s head swiveled around to face her. “Would you like to do something? Would you like to go somewhere with me, Kerry?”

 

There’s the question we’ll hear some, oh, three hundred thousand words from now, but here it gets asked three times, and this is also the very first time we see her do something to Kerry she’s never done before:  she touches his hand in a non-handshaking way.  Of course this  makes Kerry nervous, because girls, and this leads to a discussion of why she’s asking Kerry, and why she’s not asking the other two students with them.  Because Annie is a little girl who knows what she wants, even this early in the story.

And we get this right near the end:

 

She realized she’d made Kerry a bit uncomfortable, but there was also the possibility that he was completely focused on her, and if she asked him that question again, there was a good chance his mind wouldn’t wander this time.  “Would you like to do something?  Would you like to go somewhere with me, Kerry?”  She leaned every so slightly towards him.  “I’d rather not spend all day in the hotel, but I’d also rather not wander about London by myself.  I’d like you to join me.”  She sifted in her chair, sitting back while never allowing her gaze to drift from him.  “Please?”

 

That Annie:  such a forceful eleven year old girl.  If one didn’t know any better, one could say she was about to lean in for a kiss, but we know she’d never do that in public.

So much more to go, and the PDAs are already starting.

So much more to go, and the near-PDAs are already starting.

As the next scene is well over five thousand words long it’s likely going to take me a couple of days to edit.  But that’s the one where we get to see them walking around London–

And we know what these kids are like when they are left together on their own.

A Roundabout History

It didn’t take a lot of words:  all together about one hundred and eighty.  There was a bit of deleting, and some moving of things here and there, but after an hour of writing, I managed to finish the scene I’ve worked on for almost a week.  And ended it off this way:

 

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

“You know: we can get our picture taken at one of the most famous departure points of one of the most famous schools in literature—and tomorrow we’re leaving for Amsterdam to get ready to leave for our own strange school.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “Kind of a coincidence, don’t you think?”

Annie nodded slowly. “Yes, that is rather remarkable.” She sipped the last of the Lemon Aid—not so much to quench her thirst but to hide the smile that had begun to form . . . Oh, Kerry: if only I could tell you about how strange things are at our new school.

 

Oh, Annie, you little minx.  You could tell him, but you’d probably have to leave his body in an alley somewhere afterwords, right?  No, she’s not like that.  Not at all.

Five thousand, two hundred and sixty-three words, which turned two scenes that were about three thousand words total into one scene about eighty percent bigger.  But a lot gets done in this scene, and I feel it’s far better than what had come before.  And I am finished–

See the little hash marks at the bottom?  That means "I'm Finished!"

See the little hash marks at the bottom? That means “I’m Finished!”

This time around.  Later comes the edits and the additional grief, but for now–done.

It’s also a little strange for me as a writer as well, because today is an important day in the history of my make-believe school.  Really, tomorrow is when all the hell breaks loose, but the 29th of April is when the school suffered a massacre during the last full school year of the 20th Century.  Instructors and students died–a lot of them pretty horribly–and when it was all over a few of the people who are in my current story did what they could back then to hold everything together and keep the school from falling apart.  After all, when thirty-plus students and a good portion of your staff and instructors die at the hands of crazy infiltrators, it tends to make the returning student body feel like maybe they should find another place to practice their mad skills.

Come for the Magic, Leave in a bodybag because someone ripped your heart from your chest.

Come for the Magic, Leave in a Body Bag because a bad person ripped your heart from your chest.

Interesting story, and one I have to fix up and publish.  Also the first one where I had to deal with a nutty beta reader who would not read past the third page because it was “slow”, and told me to remove the first two parts (which she didn’t read) while at the same time refusing to read the third part until I made the changes she demanded.  Um . . . yeah.  I’ll get right on that, because I’m all about dancing to the tune of crazy readers.

Maybe I could find a way to send them off to my school for a weekend . . .

Break Down in Russel Square

Hacking and Slashing (now there’s a term I haven’t used in a while) was hot and heavy last night.  I finally had my kids off their feet, out of the Tube, and into the restaurant, and the cutting and adding of words was underway.  By the time I finished for the evening, I had no idea what I’d written.  That’s because with all the deleting that was underway my total words written check was way off.  There are ways to figure this out, however–like copying the area you were working in and pasting it to another text form.  That way you discover you wrote and edited nine hundred and six words.  Easy as Pi, right?

With all my old scenes deleted–goodbye, you first draft messes–my corkboard looks like this now:

All my scenes lined up, sorta neat because they never go anywhere.

All my scenes lined up, sorta neat because they never go anywhere.

 

While my outline shows me where my word counts are:

The numbers keep going up.

The numbers keep going up.

The word count for my current scene is just under three thousand, but that’ll change.  Then I have to rewrite the trip through the Chunnel, which takes on an air of confusion for Kerry due to things happening in this current scene, and then I can move on and rewrite a few other things–

Then I can get back to Act Two.  Maybe.

So what did my kids do last night?  A little of this:

 

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

A light rain was falling upon Russel Square when Annie and Kerry stepped from the Underground station and made their away across the street to the Pret a Manger cafe. The place was busy but not overwhelmed with people, so they found a table and ordered food. Since the lunch rush was coming to an end their orders were ready in under ten minutes. Kerry’s was first: a club sandwich with avocado and a mango smoothie. Annie’s came moments later: a chicken salad and a Lemon Aid. She returned to their table to find Kerry’s computer unpacked and powered up.

“What are you doing?” She sat across from him, twisting her neck to see if she could follow what he was doing with his phone.

He didn’t look up. “Bluetoothing the pictures over to the hard drive; I wanna make sure I get all the pictures we took.” He tapped tapped something on his phone. “This way I have plenty of room for more, and everything’s saved.” He lay the phone next to the computer. “That should finish in a few minutes.”

It was difficult for Annie to keep from chuckling: he always seemed so serious when it came to his technological toys. She wanted to talk about something else . . . “You said you’d been to London once before?”

 

Yeah, bluetooth those pictures, Kerry, and free up some space on your phone.  You never know how many more you’re gotta get with that little octopus hangin’ on to you.  This is where I wish I could draw, because there were some great photos they good that I could include.

As if I didn’t have enough to work with at the moment.

Anatomy of a Rebuild

With the new scene out of the way, the time had come to start tearing up an old scene:  lunch at the Pret á Manger outside the Russel Square tube station in London at 13:17, or 1:17 PM for you not on Universal Time.  Since I know some people will ask, “How do you know there’s a Pret á Manger outside the Russel Square tube station?” because just like Johnny Cash, I’ve been everywhere, man:

Resturaunt on the left, tube station on the right.  You're welcome.

Restaurant on the left, tube station on the right. You’re welcome.

Now, getting in and tearing things up isn’t always pretty.  I could have just copied the scene off and put it aside with, “Don’t Touch Until Ready to Delete,” but I didn’t want to do that because it just gets in the way eventually.  The easiest thing to do here is use the Scrivener ability to take a snapshot of your document.  The snapshot is nothing more than a saved copy of your scene/chapter/whatever at the time it was taken.  The nice thing about the snapshot function is that you can take as many as you like, and “roll them back” into the original any time you like.  Or delete them if you think they serve no other purpose in your writing life.

It doesn't really have the same impact without Ringo singing in the background.

It doesn’t really have the same impact without Ringo singing in the background.

I knew where my kids were going this time, but I now needed to make some notes concerning stations and the such.  Because I’m nutty like that, you know?  For this scene I’d already went into the Document References and attached a link to the map of the London Underground that I’d imported into Scrivener, so I split the screen and pulled it up so I could make sure I get some of the stations right–which came in handy later, because you’ll see why.

This is how you get around with a map--and a bit of imagination.

This is how you get around with a map–and a bit of imagination.

Now that I knew my stations more or less, I brought up the document notes–and the London Journey Planer website that I’d also embedded in a note card in Scrivener, and started looking at the route I’d taken.  There were a few points on the trip where I wanted the kids to walk, so I plugged in a few stations, knowing that walking is something they do in London, and the website keeps track of that.

Yes

Yes, you can walk this route in ten minutes if you’re healthy–and training for the next Olympics.

You can see my notes on the right as to where the kids are going, what stations they’re arriving at/leaving from, and in this shot I’m figuring out if they can walk from the London Eye to Big Ben tower–and since Westminster Station is right across the street from there, and this Journey Results tell me I can probably walk it in ten minutes if I push it, then, yes:  it’s very doable for a couple of eleven year old kids.

One of the things I left off of here, and didn’t realize it until I was writing, was the place that Kerry hinted at going.  So I popped up Google Maps, got the location, then looked for nearby tube stations that would take them to Russel Square.  Found it–probably because I’d actually almost used it before–and added that note in as well, saying they’d summoned a cab–or a dragon, hard to say which–and taken it to the place Kerry wanted to see.

Lastly it was time to skim and see where new stuff needed to get added, and old stuff that didn’t make sense needed to come out.  One of those things that came out was a few comments about Collin and Alicia and why they weren’t invited, but since Annie had made those comments in the prior scene they didn’t need to be here as well.

I made a few comment markers in the story and highlighted them so I’d know where I should put my new stuff and where I might need to edit the old.

Just like some of us used to do in school--when we did that study thing.

Just like some of us used to do in school–when we did that study thing.

With all that out of the way–about an hour’s work or so, not counting getting the maps and stuff a few days ago–it was time to write.  And in that empty space between the two orange comments, I wrote.  I had Annie taking Kerry around London; nothing major, just out to London Bridge, then down the Thames to the London Eye, then over the river to Big Ben and St. John’s Park and a look at Buckingham Palace . . . a nice little walking tour where kids could talk and take pictures–and at a couple of points in the narrative, Annie managed to get a little touchy-feely with her newest traveling companion.  That girl–whatever is on her mind?

When I finished I’d had my best night in a while.  The count said 1,063, but that didn’t take into consideration the one hundred and thirteen words I’d cut before I started, so the final count was far closer to twelve hundred words.  And that’s just the start.

There’s more to come tonight.  Much more . . .

Fear For Your Lives

Despite the promises that I’d get a lot done yesterday, very little was actuated.  Call it holiday blase or whatever, but the writing spirit wasn’t there.  Also, the two rather hefty pints I had for lunch probably didn’t go much good for the mood, either.

But, hey:  can’t have every day being a writing day.

Thing is, when I look at my notes for the current scene I’m in, I realize that I can probably wrap up the whole thing in a day or two.  If I really jammed it out tonight, and I do it for sure, because all that remains it (a) having Annie tell Kerry there is no way in flippin’ hell she’s asking the other two monsters if they wanna see the city, (b) she answers his question about why she’s asking him to run around the city with her, and (c) asking the question for the third time and getting an answer.  Easily peasily, as Pinkie Pie says.  (Who, some quick research show, shares a birthday with me.  Um . . . okay.)

Annie is trying to get what she wants, which is something she does a lot.  That was something my beta reader told me about her:  she’s a leader, not a follower, and she does things.  She wants to go out, and she’s gonna drag this kid along no matter what.  Well, if he says “no” she’ll probably get steamed and then go after him in another way, but–yeah, Kerry’s hitting the town with her, like it or not, and that’s that.

"Aren't we supposed to be walking through London?"  "Pretend for a moment we're not in a stock photo, Kerry."

“Aren’t we supposed to be walking through London?” “Pretend for a moment we’re not in a stock photo, Kerry.”

In the original version of this scene Annie was the passive one and Kerry was Mr. Take Charge.  Someone who’d only been to London once was about to drag around a girl who’d been all over the world–yeah, that didn’t seem right.  Particularly after it’d been pointed out to me.  Now the feeling seems a little different, a little better–

I’m still afraid of Annie, though.

I wrote her wrong in the start–or, as I was told, it felt like I wrote around her.  She had no personality, no feeling.  As she points out in this new scene she’s been all over the world, but that didn’t come across the first time.  Now it’s better, but there is still the feeling, when I enter the scene, that I’m still afraid of her.

Or, maybe, I’m getting her too right, and that starting bringing on memories that I’d rather keep repressed right now.

Makes any sense?  No?  That’s the way writing is at times:  the writing knows what they hell they’re rambling on about, and the read is left to wonder why.  Needless to say, I’m becoming less afraid of Annie and more willing to write her as she should be–just as I’m doing with Kerry.  The juxtaposition of personalities is happening, and it’s forcing me to go slow with my scenes and get their out the way they should.

But with all things slow and steady, in time you reach the end.

Usually in once piece . . .

Out of the Fire, Into the Dance

Not much writing wise got accomplished last night–and yet, there was.  It was a weird, raining night (not dark and stormy, mind you) and I had to door to my balcony open and my fleece jacket on while I did my nails and thought about writing scenes.  I kept walking from the computer to the balcony, where I would take in the night air–and the noise of the street twelve stories below–while I let my nails dry.  It’s a great way to think and let you mind work on ideas–

I worked on a story.  Only it wasn’t my current work in progress.  I was thinking along the lines of erotica, because I’ve reread some of the stuff I did years back and I’m interesting in publishing it under another name and seeing if this generates any cash.  Be my luck that I’ll end up selling big and I’ll spend the rest of my life writing all sorts of strange stuff for the masses to wank to.

But I believe Gore Vidal started out this way, so there are worse paths to follow.

I also spoke with a friend who read a few of those stories–I’d sent them her way Thursday night–and she told me she’d had a difficult time sleeping because, well, I apparently brought back sexy.  She’s also an illustrator, and she let me know she had a few ideas about a couple of the scenes, and she wanted to work up a few preliminary sketches to show.  I let her know that if I liked them I’d commission a few more for the story, and use them when I publish–which, honestly, I now feel is a bigger possibility that it was a few months before.

Which brings me back to the current work . . . the Great Cassie Novel on Hold.

Today or tomorrow I’m going to go into one of the scenes and rewrite part of it.  If I like what I see, I’ll move on to another scene which needs a rewrite after the previous rewrite didn’t feel right.  If I’m satisfied there, then I’ll move on to the new scene that need recreating, and then rewrite the scene that follows.

I know my focus there now, and I have a better feel for the characters.  I say I may start the rewrite today because I still have things to work out in the character map, and there’s a few things I want to do with Kerry as well.

The rewrite is coming, however, because yesterday was a Dance on a Volcano sort of day, and it was necessary to, as the lyrics say, get out of the night and out of the dark, into the fire and into the fight.  One as to make up their mind if they’re going to continue or just cut and run–and I decided there really isn’t any choice for me.  It’s finish the story in a form that isn’t going to embarrass me, and by that I mean I can live with the characters.  It won’t be an easy struggle, but I’m certain I’ll find my way through the death zone of expectations that didn’t pan out.

"Death zone my ass.  You wanna see a death zone?  Watch what I do with the whole London section."

“Death zone my ass. You wanna see a death zone? Watch what I do with the whole London section.”

The novel will get finished.  That’s all there is to that crap.  Just need to stop being worried and get through what needs to be done.

It’s dance on the volcano or die time.  I know where I want to go.

Wander Out and Bad Backs

I got the music listing right here, Queen, Queen II, and Shear Heart Attack by Queen.  I almost got into A Night at the Opera, but I thought I’d leave that for tonight.

Sunday didn’t fare any better than Saturday for the writing thing.  If we’re looking at it from the standpoint of total words out, I’m averaging about two thousand a day–probably more like twenty-two hundred a day, but close enough.  Five days in I’m a little over eleven thousand words, so the next goal is a quarter of a way to fifty-four thousand words, which is thirteen thousand, five hundred.  Lets see . . . if I do good tonight, I could hit that.  If not, I’ll be there tomorrow.

The biggest probably I had yesterday was back spasms.  My writing chair isn’t really a writing chair, it’s more a, “You shouldn’t sit at this for more than an hour” kind of chair, and long hours in front of the computer do nothing for my back.  I had to stop and rest a couple of times during the afternoon to let it heal up, but even with that, by eight o’clock I finished.  The back wasn’t willing, and the energy to come up with anything interesting was gone.

But I managed to finish one scene, complete a second, and start a third, so it wasn’t a complete loss.  My kiddies (it sounds better than “My main characters”, and they are eleven year old kids) were given the chance to spend the day doing whatever they wanted.  Two of the kids decided that being turned loose in London wasn’t their bag, so they decided to stay in their rooms and veg before the telly.  My kiddies, however, were on a mission–well, one was, and he sorta, kinda, maybe dragged another along for the ride.  They took the Underground, they walked, they saw, they photographed, they rested here and there–mainly because the boy of the group, while he wants to get out and see things, isn’t keen on his cardio–and at the start of the third scene they’d settled in for a late lunch at a cafe in Russel Square.

Now a little talking, a little chatting, and a little spoken knowledge that both kids are sorta on to what’s happening–no, not in the gist of the overall story, but by what’s happening to them in London.  No, Chapter Two is coming, and that’s more travel, then comes Part Two and Chapters Three, Four, and Five lay it all out–after a little mental torture, of course.  It should, it could, be interesting.

This is the first NaNo where I was working a “normal” job while writing my novel.  That’s not that big of a deal:  I did that through most of 2012, when I was working at The Undisclosed Location.  Right now I get up to blog, then head to work, then come home and write from about six to eight or nine PM.  It’s a living, what can I say?  And until I sell a few novels, it’s what I have to do.

Daily word count:  2084.  Total word count:  11,105.