Getting Off Of the Swing of Things

Try as I may today, I’m simply having the damnedest time trying to get my writing stuff down pat.  Just slow going everywhere–probably due in part to being tired after a somewhat restless sleep due to coughing through the night.  And when this happens, trying to get the pretty words to come out pretty–well, it ain’t pretty.

This doesn’t mean I’m just playing around doing nothing.  Nope, I’m playing around doing something.  Whenever I’m feeling as if I can’t really get a scene out the way I want, I start imagining trips that I’ll never take, but that are likely to be something my kids will go on one day.

"Really, I'm hard at work!"

“Really, I’m hard at work!”

I’ve been doing this for a while, but in the last week my mind has been drifting to the future.  There is an event in their lives when Annie and Kerry decide to take the summer and go bumming around Europe, which for them means brooming it from city-to-city and staying in some nice hotels, mostly in the two and three star range.  This is something that I’ve had in my mind for about four and a half years now, and while I’ve written of it before, I’ve not really mentioned a lot of details.  That’s because it’s something I want to write about, you know?  And if I talk, then there’s no need to write.

But of late I’ve started wondering, “What about side trips?”  I mean, when you have a way of jetting about the country that you have control over, and it doesn’t actually cost you money to operate–unless you consider your needing to eat fuel for the broom–then you can saddle up and get to flying, pard.  There was also something I figured out during my original layout of the trip, and that was my Lovey Dovey couple was missing Venice–and there was no way in hell Annie was missing Venice.  Nuh, uh.  She’d have to Dark Witch some fools if they thought she was gonna miss that city.

So I changed up the time line of that trip, and that’s where I started wondering about side trips.  ‘Cause when you have a lot of energy, and you have, let me check, three-and-a-half days to kill there, you may want to take a day and go out elsewhere.

Which is what I started playing with this morning.  Here’s what I have:

Up into the mountains we go, yeah?

Up into the mountains we go, yeah?

Believe it or not there are four stopping points on that trip of five hundred and seventy kilometers, which can be covered–even without judicious hot piloting–in about three-and-a-half hours if you fly it non-stop and maintain an air speed of about one hundred mph/one hundred sixty kph.  And since the kids can totally open it up on the flat stretches away from the mountains, they only need about three hours of flying.

Now two of the stops are Kerry’s and two are Annie’s, and one of those stops is probably down there in Verona, ’cause, you know, it’s one of those stops a young couple in love should make.  I mean, what sort of shenanigans could they get up to?  Maybe Annie would like to find a balcony upon which to stand so Kerry can see what soft light breaks through yonder window?

Oh, and while laying this out I kept jamming out to the follow tune:  Time is Tight, by Booker T. & The MGs.

All the while I’m laying out the above map I’ve imagining the flying montage from the movie in my mind, watching them cutting down the valleys with the Italian Alps around them, popping through a pass, and at the end having them roaring down Lago di Garda before making the sweeping, high speed turn to the east and aim off towards Verona to get a little food, a little romance, and maybe just off some dude’s who look at them wrong.  Never can tell.

When I’m not feeling the words I fall back on the images, ’cause in time they lead to data, and that leads to a plot, and that eventually leads to a story.  There’s a story in Venice for my kids, and this side trip is part of that story.

Now that I have it out of the way, it’s a good bet I can get back to the current one this afternoon.

If I don’t get distracted, that is.

In the Mountains of Breifing

Yesterday was a crazy day full of work and emotions.  I managed to get through both okay, but still–there were a lot of things I could have done without that happened anyway–but you know, that’s life, and there ain’t shit one can do about that.

Now, there was writing last night.  I can even prove that last statement–

There are words in the word count. I must have started.

There are words in the word count. I must have started.

But there was writing, there were pictures, there were updates to the time line . . . I was all over the place.  Lots of research and map building–and the map building is what I’m getting to first.

Yesterday I was also playing around in Google Earth with my “little” race course, because using Google Earth you can get three-dimensional views of areas, and one of the things I learned is that you can actually lay out directions and see them overlaid on those dimensional views.  Which is what I did yesterday.

The middle of Maine in all its 3D glory.

The middle of Maine in all its 3D glory.

That view there is pretty much all of the course as I laid it out yesterday, and as if you can see by the indicated in the middle bottom, it’s about a third of the length of the course.  But you have the Start/Finish on the left, and the last turn combo on the right, and a bunch of hills in the upper middle and right.  It looks like a lot, and seems a bit difficult.  Well, it is a lot, but difficult?  Nope.  We’re getting to that before we get to the writing.

Picking up where I left off above, we start getting into some of the hard stuff–kinda.  This is the lead up to the climb into the big peaks, and the one thing that’s nice is that it’s sort of level.

This . . . looks easy.

This . . . looks easy.

All the racers have to do is climb about one hundred and twenty meters and make a nice, easy, breezy left hand into the combo called Ready, Steady, Go.  Why that?  Well, Ready lets you get your speed up, Steady lets you build up your nerve as you swing into a hard right hander, and Go is just that–you have a straight, wide open, kilometers and a half/one mile, clear as hell path ahead of you.  Oh, and a 300 meter/1000 foot drop off as you blow out of Steady.  The lake and land below Go is a full thousand feet lower than the course, and as you come out of Steady there’s nothing but air below you.

Needle is a 70 meters lower than Steady, so you descend a little as you head into it, then you turn right and head into Clench and rocket right down 200 meters into Gully, which is just that:  another creek gully.  Then you hit Sixty Up, make a sixty degree turn to the left, and start climbing . . .

Into this.

Into this.

This isn’t a big section, but it’s hairy, full of fast turns and narrow areas that get fast.  Bump is 230 meters over the turn that gets you there, then you go up another 200 meters and go right over a gap and drop 500 meters.  Flare is called that because you “flare out” your broom–make it level like you’re coming in for a landing–or else you’ll slam into the ground.  High Sweep is a fast turn over some of the most level, regular ground in this are, then you carry a lot of speed up a 120 meter climb to Approach before roaring through the narrow Annis, which is named after a stream.  Then another 200 meter drop, at high speed, before reaching the fast turn Fade Away.  At this point you’re on the final approach to–

The mountains, kids.  Welcome to the mountains.

The mountains, kids. Welcome to the mountains.

Now we get into the highest, most technical, and in some places the fastest part of the course.  Going fast through Cliffside Valley and Basin Squeeze before hitting Harvey, which is named after Harvey Ridge.  Here, at the first right hand turn, you’re at 902 meters, and by the time you’ve gone left and right again, you’re at 1110 meters:  a 200 hundred meter/700 foot climb in a short distance.  Not for the faint of heart.

Now it’s all the way to the top.  4K is named such because the fliers cross 4000 feet, or 1220 meters, for the first time.  And that takes you up to the Hamlin High Dive, the highest part of the course at 1435 meters/4710 feet.  At this point you go right over the edge and hug the mountain until you’re at Basin Ridge, a half a kilometer lower, then around to Campground and Saddle Climb, which follow a trail but do so above the trees–the only point on the race where this is done–and then a jink to the right and up the ridge again to Katahdin Wave, where you can see Mount Katahdin to your left if you’re lucky.  Katahdin Wave is at 1294 meters/4245 feet, and this is the last time on the course the racers are this high.  Then you skirt the flanks of the mountain on Hamlin Thirty-six (3600 feet, hence the name) then over to Klondike (the name of the pond) before reaching Confluence at 779 meters/2555 feet.  You’ve not dropped another half a kick and are ready to climb again.

And how does that section of the course look?  Like this:

As you come in from the back, and up over Harvey.

As you come in from the back, and up over Harvey.

And then:

As you go over, down, and back up once more.

As you go over, down, and back up once more.

I should point out that when I say it’s a five hundred meter, or half a kilometer, drop, I’m talking about dropping almost seventeen hundred feet, or the length of five and a half American football fields, or probably three large stadiums laid end-to-end.  And you’re sailing down and up over this at probably 250 to 300 kilometers and hour, or 155 to 185 miles per hour.  On a flying mountain bike.

And speaking of those kids on their flying mountain bikes, they are finally getting ready for the race.  And we’re seeing it through Kerry’s eyes, because he’s there, he’s early, and he’s . . . well, there.

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry was one of the first racers to enter the Flight School Ready Room. He took his normal seat in the front and set his helmet and gloves in the seat to his left so one no sat there. He didn’t bother looking about the room to see who entered after him: walking in from the locker room he spotted the ones he knew and cared about, acknowledged their presence, and continued towards his seat. Though this was his first time sitting in on this particular pre-race briefing, he wasn’t trying to be too cool for the room: he simply reminded himself that he’d been a member of the Cernunnos Coven A Team for almost the entire season, he’d won three races, and finally managed to gain a podium position for a Red Line race two weeks before—

He wasn’t a rookie. And since he was about to enter the biggest race of his first season, now wasn’t the time to act like one.

A few minutes after he sat Penny and Alex entered and took their seats to his right. They were both aware of his feelings that no one other than Annie sit to his left; Penny even joked on one occasion that it was his Siege Perilous, and anyone other than Annie who sat there would die. About a minute after the girls took their seat Manco entered the room and joined them, sitting on the far side of Alex. Kerry looked down the line and smiled at everyone; Manco looked back and returned the smile, giving him a slight nod before sitting back.

As soon as all fliers were in the room and settled Vicky entered and headed for the central podium. With her was something Kerry had never seen in a pre-race briefing: all the coven leaders—who technically were the leaders of their respective coven race team—as well as Isis and Professor Bashagwani, followed Vicky to the front and took seats on either side of the podium. It was only after seeing all these women and one man situate themselves before the gathered students did Kerry finally feel the enormity of what was coming . . .

Vicky cleared her throat and spent a moment looking over the room before starting. “Good morning, everyone. This is the pre-race briefing for the Mount Katahdin Cross Country race. There’s no need to check to make sure you’re all in the right spot—” She glanced over at Isis. “All of you have checked in with our Director of Security at least a couple of times tonight.

“This race holds a special place in the school’s history. For well over a hundred years—from the first event in 1707 until 1829—this was held on Ostara weekend, and it was seen as a wild, exuberant celebration of the coming spring. Back then the course was different and much larger, but after two hundred years, in 1927, it finally turned into the course we still use today. This is the only race we hold during the regular racing season where all covens are represented on the course at the same time. It’s also the only race where the top ten point, and the only race where certain criteria must be met in order for a team flier to compete.

 

And what is that criteria?  You’ll find out tomorrow after I write it up.  A couple of interesting notes:  first, Manco is there, so four of the five Cernunnos A Team is present.  Two, Penny is calling the spot to Kerry’s left the Siege Perilous, and I wonder if he could just curse the seat so people who aren’t Annie die if they sit there?  That would be interesting, though it’d probably get him kicked out of school and into Cloudland.  And three, we know Kerry now has three wins and he managed to get on the podium of a Red Line race two weeks before, so even though he’s twelve, he’s moving up in his abilities fast.

So, tonight:  drop off some packages, have some dinner, and finish laying out my course before writing some more.

Man, I have so many things ahead of me.  Just like Kerry . . .

Lunchtime Ceridwen Bound

No mean witches today, though last night I was certainly ready to cut a bitch.  The night didn’t start that way:  I was out for a good dinner and a few drinks–I won’t show the picture I took of me holding up a pint of stout because you’ll get the wrong ideas–and then I walked the mile through the city back to my apartment, warm and comfortable in my new winter coat and mukluks.

I even took the time to get a picture before heading in to relax for the night.

I even took the time to get a picture before heading in to relax for the night.

No, it was around eleven PM, about the time I was getting ready for bed, when some moron set off the fire alarm, and the entire building was filled with the sound of Wee-ho, wee-ho, for about twenty-five minutes.  Whenever this happens the elevators lock down and the fire trucks come running, and every single time its discovered that someone was cooking and filled up their apartment with so much smoke that it drifted out into the hallway.  I’m not saying this is due to the moron in question being a little high, but . . . yeah.  They’re always found to be a little high.  Or a lot high.

Needless to say I didn’t get to bed until about midnight, and because this cold is being a pain in the butt, I was tossing and turning most of the evening.  I was so out of it that I didn’t even head out to Panera this morning, choosing to stay home and have coffee and write nearly seven hundred words while going through a selection of tunes–one of which will be the song Annie is going to use as her Samhain dance dedication during her D Levels.  All I will say is that I worked out the scene last night, and it is the damnedest thing I’ve developed for these two.  It’ll also show that my Bulgarian Pop Prince has a real playful sense of humor . . .

Back to the story, already in progress–

Erywin said she was gonna speak with Jessica, and that’s what this scene is all about.  And it takes place a few days after the meeting between the three counselors:

 

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

With morning classes over, all that remained for Jessica was to sweep up her tablet and jaunt over to her office in Ceridwen Cover tower for lunch and to conduct a bit of coven business. While they were always available for problems, it was common for all the coven leaders to take the time during midday to handle any issues that had come up with their students, or with members from other covens.

Jessica didn’t mind this time alone. Instructors were a busy lot, and with today being Tuesday, Jessica had Advanced Transformations after dinner, and that meant being in class until twenty-two tonight. She shrugged it off: it was the life she chose, and after nearly twenty years of instructing at Salem, it was a little too late to complain of her lot in life.

A knock on the door turned her away from her desk. She grinned the moment she saw her visitor. “Well hello, stranger.”

Erywin slid into the Mistress of Transformation’s office. “I know, right? Here I am, just across the courtyard, and I may as well be on the other side of The Pentagram from you.”

“Which you normally are this time of day.” Jessica waved the door closed the moment Erywin was inside. “What brings you to my end of the magical world? Business or pleasure?”

“Oh, a little of both.” Erywin calmly glanced about the room. “You heading over to Ceridwen?”

“Was about to, yeah.”

Erywin held out a hand. “Mind if I tag along?”

Jessica took her hand. “I don’t mind at all.” She jaunted them both to the coven office a second later. The office wasn’t in complete darkness; enchantments checked the room at eleven and if the room was found empty, the lighting was adjusted to a low level to prepare for entry. Jessica released Erywin’s hand, brought the lights to full illumination, and moved towards her desk.

Erywin looked about the room, which was nearly a duplicate of her own office in Mórrígan Coven: about fifty percent larger than her office in Chemistry Hall done up in several shades of dark crimson, which Jessica said suited her far better than yellow, the official coven color. Normally there was a storage room across from the entrance, but Jessica had hers removed years before, leaving her with additional open space with a slight curving wall that she filled with a sofa, a coffee table, and two chairs.

 

Now here comes something I’ve never presented here before . . .  I’ve mentioned, many times, that this story originated out of a role play, and  part of that play required creating the world that eventually became this witching little worlds behind fifteen meter high walls.

One of the things I needed to create were the layouts for the coven towers, just as I’d created the layouts for so much more.  Which means that way back in the summer of 2011 I worked on a design for the five towers that would make up the points of The Pentagram, and be where all my little witches would live while leaning the magical trade.  That means when I describe the coven layout, I know that it’s accurate because I more or less locked it down years before.

So here you go:  the floor plan for the coven tower’s ground floor.

In all its stunning graphic glory.

In all its stunning graphic glory.

Pay no attention to that “Stairs to Dungeon” description, because this was developed back in the day when Salem was just a tad different than today’s incarnation.  Needless to say, if this were Cernunnos Coven, the kids enter and leave by the door on the left if they’re going to the Great Hall, and by the door on the right if they’re headed out for Formulistic Magic or Transformation classes.  And were they to take the door at the bottom, that would let them wall down the inside of the Pentagram Wall towards Åsgårdsreia Coven.

Yes, it's all upside down, but you get the idea.

Yes, it’s all upside down, but you get the idea.

Now you know what the ground floor commons looks like, and you know where that sofa is that Annie and Kerry just happen to sack out on when they’re too tired to walk up the stairs to their dorm rooms.  Yeah, that’s it:  they’re too tired.  I’m going with that.

Erywin’s there for business, and it doesn’t take her long to get to it–

 

Erywin smirked as she pointed at the ensemble. “Anyone getting detention?”

Jessica sat in the high back leather chair behind her mahogany desk. “No. But the weekend’s coming up and there’s a couple of students inching their way on to my shit list.” It was a well-known fact around the school that the Mistress of Transformation’s idea of detention involved turning students into inanimate objects like chairs, sofas, and statues, and leaving them in her coven office for the weekend. “I might have to swap out the chairs Friday afternoon.” She set her tablet upon her desk and got comfortable. “What’s up?”

Erywin got right into matters. “Advanced Transformation: are you teaching the gender swap spells at the normal time?”

Jessica nodded. “Yes, Tuesday before Ostara, as always. Spend the prior two Tuesday nights working on the spell, then doing the spell that night. Ostara is a time of change and transformation, so those spells are perfect for them.” She turned her head slightly to the right. “Why do you want to know?”

“I was requested to perform due diligence on a student who may have GID.” Erywin slowly sank back into the entirely too comfortable chair. “The student in question is in Advanced Transformation, and those particular spells, well—” A grin slowly appeared. “They could act as a trigger for someone with GID, no?”

“I see how that could happen.” She lightly tossed her head to the left. “Anything you want me to do prior to that particular class?”

Erywin kept her tone light. “No, just conduct things as you always do.”

“So you don’t want me keeping an eye on Kerry?”

 

And BOOM!  Just as Erywin called it:  she’s figured out just who the mystery student is.  Of course I haven’t written that part yet, but I will this afternoon, which means you’ll see the rest of this scene tomorrow morning.  I promise.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get my nose pierced again . . .

Witches Over Salem: the Flight Plan

Here we are, Happy Thanksgiving for all my American friends; can’t wish it for my Canadian friends because theirs was back at the start of the month.  Try not to eat too much, and as for me, I’ll be out on the road in the few hours heading south to a friend’s house.

But off in my fictional world it’s not Thanksgiving, one of the holidays they don’t celebrate–probably because when you only have a few Americans and Canadians at your school, why make a big deal of something only a few might enjoy.  After all, it’s not like the kitchen won’t fix turkey for you, right?

What today in world of my kids is, however, pretty damn important.  What are they up to?  What they are up to is way over your heads . . .,

 

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

Approaching the Danvers River Kerry closely watched for Annie’s hand signals. He’d followed Annie as she made her way along the rail line from Beverly to Salem, and given that their next landmark lay ahead, he knew they were expected to stop and check-in, after which Annie would receive additional instructions.

They reached the river and proceeded onward, jinxing slightly to the right as they flew over the swing-section of rail bridge. They didn’t follow the line exactly: they overflew the North River, keeping close to the shore, and eventually flew over the track and drifted towards the apartment complex parking lot next to Salem Station.

Annie held up her right hand and waved it back and forth, the signal to stop, as she pulled up. Kerry came to a stop about two meters away as she called in. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Solo. We’ve reached the Salem train station and are holding steady at seven hundred meters.” She slowly spun around and faced Kerry. He couldn’t tell if she was smiling under her balaclava, but the twinkle in her eyes was impossible to hide. “What would you like us to do next? Over.”

Kerry had a pretty good idea as to their coming instructions, and Vicky didn’t disappoint. “Time for you guys to take a rest. Hold your current position and altitude; we’ll notify you in ten minute as to whether you should continue to your next landmarks, or if there is a modification to your flight plan. Over.”

“Understood, Flight Deck. We’ll wait for your instructions. Over and out.” Annie slipped her goggles up onto her hood-covered head and rolled her balaclava up until her entire face was visible. “Looks like we’re gonna be here for a bit.” She tugged the fur-lined collar of her hood close around her face and checked out their surroundings. “The city looks a great deal different from up here.”

“Yeah.” Kerry raised his goggles and balaclava as well and glanced to his left and right. “You can certainly see a lot more up here than you can walking down on Essex Street.” He leaned forward over his PAV. “I don’t think I’ve never stopped and looked at Salem from up here.”

“I know I haven’t—” Annie eased a meter closer. “At least not floating like this.”

 

Yes, flying time is here.  The kids mentioned that Annie’s solo flights were coming up, and today, the 25th of January, 2013–as pointed out in the scene the last Friday of this particular January–Annie is flying solo, with her faithful chase Kerry not far behind.  And at the moment, they are in a hover over the Salem train station, a local both kids know well, and wouldn’t you know it, I have a little screen shot of the area–

A little look back at where they've been.

Though here we’re looking back at where they’ve been.

Yep, Beverly is on the other side of the river in the middle of the picture, and directly out of sight below this pic is the station.  I’ve a few more shots, but I’m not wasting them here.  Nope, not yet.

But this is not the whole flight:  oh, no.  Not in the least.

 

This first solo flight was easy: leave the school and headed directly for Wingaersheek Point, then turn and head for the intersection of Martin and Main in Essex. From there head southwest, overfly Gordon College on the way to the Beverly Station, then turn south and go to the Salem Station. After the last station they make a slightly southward turn towards the House of the Seven Gables—a location close to where they stayed at the Sea Sprite Inn—then turn to the northwest, head to the Old Hospital Point and going out over the Darvers River on their way to Plum Cove. At the cove they would make their way back to the school, stopping at the Manchester Station and the Blackburn Circle rotary just outside Gloucester before flying back into the confines of the Salem School and touching down outside the Flight School.

Since I’m pointing out all these spots that Annie has to hit on her tour of Lovecraft Country, you would probably think, “I’ll bet Cassie has a map.”  And . . .

You wouldn't be wrong.

You wouldn’t be wrong.

I actually made this map about a year ago–probably more than a year ago, but that’s date quibbling.  Whenever I have my kids out doing stuff like this I map it, because if you wanna know the distance and points of interest, you gotta have a map.  And for Annie flying around on her own, I for sure know where she’s going and where she’s been.

I should point out at this time they are all up in their cold weather gear like what Kerry wore on his overnight flight.  And we have a good reason for that–

 

On their way out of the Flight School Kerry saw Annie’s excitement. She wasn’t the least bit nervous: her confidence was good, she knew the surrounding territories, and she held no doubts she could remain airborne the whole time and find each of the objectives. Most importantly this was her first trip flying outside the school walls without supervision from Isis, and they were both aware her solo flight schedules were being advanced nearly a month because both Isis and Vicky were confident she could perform the light without difficulty.

As they lifted off from Selena’s Meadow the sky was clear and the sun bright. Kerry set up a few meters behind Annie and let her lead the way, as this was her flight, her mission to complete. As they approached Annisquam thy both noticed the cold, and Kerry remarked it was something they were going to have to deal with all day. The screen temperature at the Flight School was -9 C, but the thirty kilometer wind drove the chill down to -18 C. Now they were flying along at right around a hundred kilometers an hour, and that meant having a constant wind child of around -35 C—and when they weren’t flying they’d be at rest in the air, and the slightly stronger winds at altitude would keep the wind chill around a constant -20 Celsius.

That was Annie’s next question. “How are you handling the cold?” Her grin stretched wide. “You should be used to this by now.”

 

Just so you know, -9 C is 15 F, -18 C is -1 F, -20 C is -4 F, and -35 C is -30 F.  In other words it’s damn cold, but given Annie’s demeanor she seems in good spirits.  I mean, she’s free-flying for her first time on her own–the girl’s first mission, so to speak–and her only companion is her soul mate.  It really doesn’t get much better for her, though maybe she’s even happier making zombie heads explode around Lisa.  We’ll see on that.

Don’t know how much writing I’ll do today, but I’m sure I can do a little writing tomorrow and get it out to you.  After all, it’s not like I’m going shopping or anything . . .

Playing Out the Course

I know, I’m late again, but what the hell, right?  There are reasons because I’ve been writing like crazy this morning–like fifteen hundred and fifty words worth of writing.

The scene is finished, and it’s become–due to the writing this weekend–the second longest scene in the novel.  And in writing this much I’ve bought the novel to within about seventeen hundred words of one hundred and fifty thousand words.  Really, it’s been a great weekend after weeks of feeling like I didn’t want to write a thing.  So it’s been a relief to get that writing groove back.

And to make this chapter the longest in the part so far.

And, in the process, to make this chapter the longest in the novel with just a few hundred more words

This finishes up what ended with Vicky and Erywin seeing Emma and Kerry abut to get on their brooms and ride.  Where were they going?  That’s easy to answer . . .

 

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

Emma spoke for them. “We’re going up to check on the weather to the south.”

“You don’t mean to the south?”

“The only stuff to the east of us is Newfoundland and the Atlantic.” She tossed her head in Kerry’s direction. “That’s what my navigator says.”

“What can I say?” He held up his hands and shrugged. “I’m good with maps.”

“That you are.” Vicky pointed towards the group of students warming themselves around the fires. “Don’t feel like hanging with the others?”

Kerry shook his head. “Franky’s still mad.”

“He’s throwin’ shade our way—” Emma mounted her broom. “Beside, we already had our hot chocolate.”

“Yep.” Kerry slipped his leg over this broom. “We’re regenerated.” He wink at Erywin. “Good for another life.”

Erywin looked upward as she slowly shook her head. “Where are you going.”

Kerry pointed to the sky over his head. “Straight up.”

“About eight hundred to a thousand meters.” Emma flipped her hood up and tightened it around her face. “That should give us a good view.”

“Sounds good.” Vicky tapped her wrist. “Five minutes, no more.”

Emma nodded. “Got it.” She waited for Kerry to finish getting his gear in place, then they shot straight up into the together.

Vicky and Erywin followed their path upward. “Yeah, looks about a klick to me.” Vicky checked the contents of her much. “Should finish this before they get back.”

“Or get a refill.” Erywin took a long sip from hers. “Emma loves using the radar function to check the weather.”

“I was surprised she figured it out.”

“I’m not.” Erywin softened her tone slightly. “They working together okay?”

“You’ve seen them this trip. They’re doing well.” Vicky quickly glanced upward. “Setting her down for a weekend after that crash was a good idea.”

“She needed it: her ego was getting the best of her.” Erywin finished her hot chocolate and shook out her mug. “I’m going to ask a stupid question—”

“Be my guest.”

“Why haven’t you used them yet?”

Vicky finished the last of her drink and flipped the last few drops away onto the frozen ground. “You know what Vanessa Williams says, don’t you?”

Erywin gave the flight instructor a pained smirk. “I’m afraid I’m not up on her catalog.”

“You should be.” Vicky quickly glanced upward once more. “Follow my lead, okay?” She waited as Emma and Kerry dropped below the tree line and gently slowed to a hover before approaching. “So what’s the story, morning glories?”

 

There you go:  it’s all about the weather and playing with the broom’s radar systems to look for fronts and such.  And what did they find?

 

Emma threw back the hood of her parka and stripped off her heavy cap and flight helmet before answering. “Weather to the south and southwest looks clear: we saw nothing out of the ordinary on the radar.”

Kerry was putting his heavy cap on as he stood next to his broom. “We got out at least a hundred kilometers; we can always take another sighting when we get further south.”

Vicky keep her pleasure from showing on her face. “Assuming we’re heading that way.”

“Don’t see any other way.” Kerry shrugged. “Though we could be going west from here—”

“Why not east?”

“Like Emma said, nothing to the east of us but Newfoundland and ocean.”

Emma stuck her hands in her pockets. “Of course—”

Vicky stared back looking unconcerned. “Yes?”

“It would be nice if we knew where we were going from here.”

“We’ve already covered a thousand kilometers—” Kerry pulled his arms across his torso and squeezed himself to stretch. “I’d like to know how much more we have to go.”

 

First off, that “We got out at least a hundred kilometers” is a completely legitimate statement:  I found a “Distance to Horizon” calculator, and if you’re a thousand meters up, you can see about one hundred and twelve kilometers.  Research!

And now Emma wants to know where they’re going.  And you know if she wants to know, Kerry does, too.  They probably even spoke about it when they were checking the advanced weather–

 

Vicky couldn’t help be be impressed. “You’ve been keeping track of our courses?”

“Sure.” He turn on a lop-sided grin. “All good navigators would.”

“And you are a good navigator.” Vicky slowly turned towards Erywin. “You think it’d be cheating if I mentioned where the rest of our checkpoints are?”

Erywin saw what Vicky was doing, and fully understood what she’d meant when she said to follow her lead. “Well . . .” She turned an appraising eye upon the two students. “I mean, as long as they don’t say anything to the others—”

Emma pipped up. “We won’t.”

Kerry nodded several times. “Promise.”

“Well, then—” She turned back to her eager pupils. “I don’t see the harm.” Vicky pulled her tablet from Hammerspace and clicked off their remaining checkpoints. “From here it’s the ferry terminal at Wood Islands, then the airport outside Trenton; main highway intersection at Aspen; Point of the Beach at Liscomb Island; Port of Sheet Harbor; the Canadian Naval Maintenance Facility at Halifax; Cape D’or Lighthouse and Advocate Harbor; West Side Docks in Saint John; Yarmouth Harbor and then . . .” She slipped the tablet back into her magical storage space. “Home. Rockport and the school.”

 

Not much, huh?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But now . . . it’s been hinted how well Emma and Kerry work together.  Guess what?  Here’s how that works:

 

The two children exchanged glances, then Kerry turned to his broom and pulled up a holographic map of the area on his tablet while Emma moved to his right to help. Vicky and Erywin moved closer and Kerry began moving the map about, looking for reference points. He touched two spots on map. “We got Halifax and Saint John—”

Emma half turned her head towards Kerry. “Isn’t St. John in Newfoundland?”

“That’s St. John’s.” He quickly slid the map to the east to show his wingmate. “Different city. What we want is in New Brunswick—” He shifted the map to the west, centered on St. John, and zoomed in. “There’s the West End Docks, and here—” He pushed the map so they were now over Halifax. “There’s the naval station.”

 

Keep in mind these maps are marked–which is how he’s finding the Canadian Naval Station–and Kerry has an excellent grasp of geography:  it’s obvious in the way he knew there were two cities that were almost St. John.  And Emma doesn’t get upset when she’s corrected:  since Kerry is the navigator of the team, and it’s because she’s aware he knows his maps.  At times, though, she even helps out:

 

“Sounds good.” Emma looked at the map as Kerry expanded the display. “There’s Trenton, just north of Glasgow.”

“Got it.” He zoomed in on Trenton, Nova Scotia. “And there’s the airport. Which means—” He move the display a bit to the north. “There’s Wood Islands, and there’s the ferry terminal.” He tapped the map in both places, marking the checkpoint. “Now for an island.”

Emma pointed at the map. “There’s a bunch on the southeast coast of Nova Scotia.” He moved the display along the Atlantic Coast of the Canadian province and began scanning. He spotted a familiar name. “There’s the town of Liscomb—”

“And Liscomb Island is right next to it.” He zoomed the map. “And Point of the Beach—there.” He marked the map and zoomed out. “Aspen has to be between the two . . .” He tapped the edge of the display twice to zoom inward just a bit and found the small town of Aspen about thirty kilometers to the north of the island. “There’s that, and now . . .” He shifted the map to the west looking for a point between Halifax and St. John, and found it almost instantly. “Advocate Harbor and the lighthouse.” He moved the display eastward once more and fount the Port of Sheet Harbor after thirty seconds.

Emma gave a satisfied sigh. “Now for Yarmouth.”

“Already figured that out.” He pushed the map display to his right until they were looking at the western coast of Nova Scotia. “Right there.” He marked the point. “About as west as you can get before you run out of land. Which means . . .” He sketched a line to the southwest until he encountered a well-known point of land. “Rockport. And our home by the sea just to the west.” He quickly connected the marked points on the map, creating a line from their current location back to the school. “There’s it is: that’s the route.”

 

And it’s a big route:

 

Neither child spoke while Emma spent a few seconds examining the course. “How long?”

Kerry made several quick measurements between points. “One thousand sixty-six kilometers.”

Emma glanced at her instructors before turning to Kerry. “That’s as much as we’ve flown today.”

He nodded. “Yep. Lots of miles to fly before we sleep.”

“And there’s the stretch—” She pointed at the last leg going from Yarmouth to Rockport.

Kerry measured the distance. “About three hundred and eighty-five kilometers, all over the Gulf of Maine.”

“That’s gonna freak some people.”

“For real.”

“That’s gonna take a lot of time.” Emma gazed skyward. “We’ve already been flying seven hours—and it’s gonna get dark in a couple of hours.”

 

If you want to see what that looks like–

Don't bother asking:  you know I have it all ready to go.

Don’t bother asking: you know I have it all ready to go.

From PEI to Cape Ann, there it is.  And Emma’s aware of the changing conditions, and that it won’t be long before they’re flying in darkness once more.  That only seems to get the mental gears working harder, however . . .

 

“True, but—” Kerry measured the two legs before the final leg home. “From Advocate to home is six hundred and fifty kilometers. So it’s about four hundred kilometers from here to there. And once we reach Advocate Harbor—” He traced the course. “Zoom, bang, confirm; zoom, bang, confirm; zoom—Boom.” He nodded at Emma. “Home.”

She nodded back. “We can turn it on.”

“We can do the same here—” He pointed out the stretch between Liscomb Island and Halifax. “One quick stop, then power on.”

“Yeah, right.” She began concentrating on the course. “We could do the first four hundred in under seventy-five—”

“And the same for the last six-fifty.”

“It’s gonna be dark on that last six.

“Maybe not.” He pointed at the long final stretch over the ocean. “We’ll be heading west—”

“Chasing the sun—”

“If we do it right—”

She nodded “We could—”

He nodded back. “Totally.”

Vicky was content to listen to them work out the flight in the verbal shorthand she’d seen them used before. Now it was her turn to speak. “So what are you guys saying?”

 

And this is how they work together:  they get on the same wavelength and they get to where they don’t need to say everything, because they’re so sure they know the other is thinking the same thing that they just cut each other off because there’s no need for complete sentences.  That’s called teamwork, and they have it.

So what are they saying?

 

Vicky was content to listen to them work out the flight in the verbal shorthand she’d seen them used before. Now it was her turn to speak. “So what are you guys saying?”

Emma turned to Vicky. “Based on this course, we could run it in two and a half hours.” She took a short, deep breath. “What time is it?”

Kerry was looking at his display. “It’s almost fifteen twenty-five local, fourteen twenty-five back home.”

Emma nodded before giving her final analysis to Vicky. “If we’re brooms up at fifteen hours, Salem time, we—” She shifted her eyes towards Kerry, letting Vicky know she was indicating their team. “—could be home by seventeen-thirty.”

“That’s a bold statement.” Vicky turned to Kerry. “You agree with that?”

“I do.” He looked towards his wingmate. “Emma’s got her numbers right.”

“Though to do it, we’re gonna have to move fast.” Emma shrugged. “Based on what we’ve seen, that could freak some people out and they might not want to keep up.”

“You’ve seen how it works: your flight, your rules.” She slowly turned to Erywin. “Though some of those points we’ll have to hit in the dark—”

Erywin got the hint. “Which we might miss—

Kerry cut off the instructor. “We won’t.”

Vicky glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. “You could miss your—”

I won’t.”

Given the determination she heard in Kerry’s voice, Vicky decided not to push that point. She stepped up to examine his course in more detail. “How much time would you need to work this up?”

He looked over the map almost lovingly. “The course is there; all I’d need to do is figure out the headings—”

Emma moved next to him, while continuing to look at Vicky. “And once Kerry gives me the individual distances I can work out time-to-target.”

“Again, how much time you need?”

The wingmates exchange a momentary glance, then they both nodded. Emma answered. “Fifteen minutes.”

 

Annie is sure of her magic, and Kerry knows his navigation.  When either says they can do something, believe them.  Needless to say, they are ready to rock, and all they need is a blessing.

 

Vicky had already made up her mind minutes before, so a decision wasn’t difficult. “Do it—go.” She took Erywin’s arm and led her away from the team members and towards the rest of the party. “See what I mean?”

“I do now.” She matched step with Vicky. “So what did Vanessa Williams say?”

Vicky half-grinned. “Save the best for last.” She stepped into the area where the other students sat warming up. She gave them a few seconds to hush before making her announcement. “All right, listen up. Make the most of your rest because flight instruction begins at fourteen forty-five, and we will be brooms up at fifteen hours.” She clasped her hands and nodded back over her shoulder. “Team Myfanwy’s got the ball: they’re talking us home.”

 

And that is about as definitive as it gets:  “These kids are taking us home.”  Of course no one else knows how long the way home is . . .

This was the penultimate scene of the chapters, and now it’s back to the school, where the next scene becomes Annie-centric because I’m heading back to the school–

Just like Salem Overnight is doing.

Easing Into the Additions

Since last time we met there wasn’t a lot of writing going down–unless you count all the note taking I was making for my recap of the pilot of Fear the Walking Dead, which comes out later tonight my time.  No, after writing seventeen hundred words for the novel, and another fifteen hundred words (for notes, mind you) for my recap, I was all storied out.

What I did was look at the novel and think about structure change, because I’m nuts like that.  I see something and I usually want to leave it alone, but just as I did with A For Advanced, I tinkered with it a bit after I had a much better idea of where the novel was going.  So you do reach a point where you can look at layout and structure and think, “Now, this would look much better as a stand-alone . . . something.”

That’s what I did with Chapter Thirteen.  I gave it a look, realized that the first three scenes fit together, and then looked at the last few scenes and realized they really were a completely different beast altogether.  So I did this:

I tinkered, 'cause that's what I do.

I tinkered, ’cause that’s what I do.

The last three scenes of Chapter Thirteen became Chapter Fourteen, meaning Thirteen ended with Kerry flying through the air with the greatest of ease–but unlike Annie, who doesn’t need a broom to fly, his landing wasn’t so great.  That’s where I make a break and put in the new Chapter Fourteen, because it’ll open up with someone we know waking up in Bed #2, Bay #1–I don’t believe I’m giving away too much of a spoiler.  That was where I put the last three scenes of the old chapter–

But now there are four scenes, so what gives, Cassie?  Check the time line in the image and look at the title, and remember what Mea Culpa means, and you may figure out what’s going on.  Let’s just say that scene is needed, and it’ll help draw to a close something that’s going on.  Sort of.  Because nothing ever ends here at Salem.

But this wasn’t the only changing I made.  I went in here, too:

Here being a chapter I talk about but haven't worked upon.

Here being a chapter I talk about but haven’t worked upon.

The now Chapter Sixteen is the still the first chapter of Part Give, and it’s also the Salem Overnight chapter which, up until last night, possessed one scene and nothing more.  No more, I say.  I added three more scenes and finalized a map that goes with this chapters–map, you say?  Yep.  I love maps.  There’s a lot of mapping going on in this chapter, and that’s one of the reasons I have a scene called Planing on PEI, because I always know where my students are.  What’s PEI?  Look it up, you’ll find it rather easily.

With all this work finished I went back and renumbered all the chapters and the chapter title pages, and called it a night.  Because my writing for the day was through.  I’ve said it before:  not all writing is writing.  Sometimes it’s research, sometimes it’s creating characters, and sometimes it’s plotting out your novel by getting your chapters in line with what you’re thinking.

And right now I have a far clearer view of where I’m going.

I Sting the Body Electric

I surely hope Ray Bradbury forgives me for the horribly punish titles, but I’m rolling that way this morning.

Last night was another of the “I Pay a Nice Lady to Torture Me” evenings, which is to mean a electrolysis session.  The good news is the work is becoming a little simpler since there are fewer hairs.  The bad new is with there being fewer hairs, it makes it harder to get at the ones that remain, even after going almost two full days without shaving.  Oh, and it hurts:  I believe I’ve mentioned that.

Still, while we didn’t cover as much area as last time, a lot was accomplished, and I bore through the pain, even though I stopped a few times to apply a topical, because I was gripping my grounding bar hard enough to cause my hand to go numb.

Just keep reminding myself, "To be beautiful is painful."

Just keep reminding myself, “To be beautiful is painful.”

Oh, and you may notice, after you finish cringing at the close-up of my damaged face, my new doo.  To get a better look at it, I snapped this picture in the universal bathroom about six hours earlier:

It doesn't show as much of my big forehead as the last one.

It doesn’t show as much of my big forehead as the last one.

Though I still look like I’m grimacing in pain or something.  Probably because of the program I’ve been working on.  As it was Wednesday yesterday, I have on a somewhat pink top and pink lip stain, because on Wednesdays we wear pink, ladies.  Right?

Believe it or not, when I got home I actually wrote.  Total count was four hundred and thirty-eight words, but it was a start to the next scene, and . . . I designed Kerry’s new flight patch.  As Vicky pointed out the year before, once out of Basic Flight your flight patch is changed so people can tell you’re not a noob anymore, and all the kids still flying have had their patch changed to reflect something more in line with their call sign.  Annie is Athena, so her’s is sort of easy, as is Emma’s, who is Selene.  Kerry on the other hand . . . all I’ll say is, it’s a good thing Vicky’s a bit of a geek, ’cause she’ll have done him right.  I mean, I have give some thought to what she’d design . . .

Something else worth mentioning:  I labeled the Blue Line with names for the segments of the course.  Because race courses are like that, and you want to have cool names for those places.  Like one section of the course that gets it’s own scene:  Helter Skelter.  And being that I have it figured out on a three dimensional map, I know how that section of the course looks:

From above--

From above–

And from the Pentagram Wall.

And from the Pentagram Wall.

Now all I have to do is lay out the Red Line–and more importantly remember how to create these bendable lines in Blender–label the sucker, and I’m done with that.  And I will have to lay out the Red Line because . . . reasons.

It’s that time to say goodbye again.

Let’s hope it a day that sees the swelling go down . . .