Madness Among the Blanks

There is a strange part of me that doesn’t ever shut down when I’m away from a story.  All the time my mind is going on about what’s going to happen, when it will happen, and how it should happen.  And even though I have things plotted out in my story and I know the path upon which it walk, it doesn’t take much for it to find another branch upon which to follow.

I’ve discussed adding one scene already to the dialog, and last night, while writing, I kept getting distracted by another scene that has been nagging at me for a couple of days.  I’ve already thought about two scenes to add to the novel, and figured out where they would go, and now I have another that, well, came into mind simply because of something else I wrote a few days earlier.  I even went so far as to do a few other things related to that scene, because I wanted to see how it played out, and . . . yeah.  I think I will write it.

The question is, where to put it?

I have a pretty good idea where it goes, only because I do have the novel laid out, and timelines constructed.  It’s simply a matter of plugging in the scenes and getting the dates and times right.  And maybe renumbering chapters–something I did a couple of times in the last novel when inspiration struck and I wanted to get it right.

This is actually a good sign, that even after having written, as of last night, sixty-two thousand, three hundred words, I’m still watching the novel evolve.  I’ve said before, while I plot out thing, that’s by no means how I’m going to write it, and if something comes to me that makes sense, then put it in.  Just as I removed a couple of scenes from the last novel because they didn’t make any sense, so there was no point in writing them.

Speaking of scenes . . . last night was a short one, almost seventeen hundred words total, and it would seem as if not a lot happens, but it’s the kids reconnecting on an event they love.  And having something else pop in . . .

 

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

As was the norm Annie and Kerry heard the sounds emanating from the Dinning Hall before they reached the door. Inside the party had always started: Annie estimated about three-quarters of the students were already here, all of them in their pajamas, all of them spread around the front half of the Dinning Hall, sitting in chairs, spread out on sofas and love seats, stretched across beds and, in one case, one girl was bouncing on a bed as high as possible while her laughing friends looked on.

They slowly made their way across the room as Annie eyed the instructors and staff sitting at the front of the hall. Helena and Erywin were together on a love seat, holding hands while they spoke with Jessica and Ramona. Deanna and Trevor were also sitting together on a love seat, speaking with Adric and Tristyn, while a couple of seats over Wednesday and Isis were stretched out on a sofa while speaking with Coraline and Holoč, apparently having decided that there was no further point in keeping their relationship a secret from the student body.

Kerry was the first to see the spot where they’d sat all the last school year during every Madness. “No one’s in our spot.”

“I didn’t think anyone would be sitting there.” Over the summer Annie had wondered why no one ever sat at “their” spot until after they’d taken over the sofa and gotten comfortable. Deanna confided before they left for the year that whenever they didn’t attend the Madness the seats remained empty, as if people were unaware the location was unavailable.

She didn’t have an answer for this puzzle, but there was enough here concerning them that didn’t make sense that having one more item on the list didn’t seem important . . .

 

No, not important at all.  Is there a reason for that?  Hummmm . . . maybe?  I’m not talking.

Now that they’re in the Madness, there’s only one thing left to do–

Write the next scene and get them out?

Write the next scene and get them out?

And then we can get out of the first week and move on to the real fun.

Slipping Past Penultimate

The day off saw a lot of working getting done.  More than I expected, actually, but because there wasn’t a whole lot of other things to do yesterday, it was writing time.  This last weekend has been a good one for it, honestly.

Because of this good weekend, my time is quickly drawing to an end.

The penultimate scene of Act One is probably the shortest one of the book so far.  It’s a story of the aftermath of a few hours of flying together, of what they saw and how it felt.  There’s a snippet where, after buzzing The Pentagram a couple of times, Annie and Kerry touch down in the garden and walk into the Dining Hall in their flight clothes with their PAVs slung over their shoulders.  It’s a nice little touch because the place would be about three-quarters full, and the rest of the students would recognize them as A Levels who are apparently out flying–on their own.  Not something that happens very much, and it’s designed to show that (a), they are doing really well their first week, and (b), they aren’t there to show off, they’re there to eat.

Then it was into the last scene, and there’s a short talk between Helena and Erywin about people being . . . concerned.  Why?  This conversation is taking place just after midnight Saturday, which means it’s the first moments of Sunday.  School started on Monday, 5 September.  Do the math, see the date, and hear Helena talk about how she’s fine, and that people shouldn’t think she’s a sammie short of a picnic and about cold fire the school to the bedrock.  They also talk about something Helena gave Annie–besides a promise not to electrocute her boyfriend again–and then we find the lovey-dovey couple fast asleep.

That’s where I left it, because I didn’t want to push the next few hundred words.  That’s for tonight.  That’s something I can save so I will have time to watch what’s getting written and get it right.  I know what’s going to be said:  I just want to say it right.  I’m almost at the end of the path:  I don’t want to make any missteps at this point.

"Why is there a signpost up ahead?  I have a bad feeling about this."

“Why is there a signpost up ahead? I have a bad feeling about this.”

There’s a strange sort of endorphin high starting to take over now that I know the end is close.  I’ve felt this before:  you feel relaxed and content and stress doesn’t seem to beat you down any more.  It’s all good and well, like the body is finally purging all the bad stuff that has accumulated during the writing of a piece.

Now all that remains is the “The End”.  But this isn’t The End, it’s “End of Act One”, and there’s a lot more to come.  A lot more.  There will be one story written this year, but it’s gonna be this story, and it’ll be huge.

That the future.  Right now, I have a present that needs dealing.

And then I can put my kids to bed.

Ah, and Sleepy Hollow Rewrites

First off, a great thank you to all who sympathized with me over my computer issues from Monday evening.  Though I have replied personally to some, the fact is my hard drive I thought was having a problem wasn’t, and everything checked out nicely.  There were no errors, I was able to remove the corrupted document, and writing was back to normal last night.  Hurrah!

"I smacked you down, evil disk error!  Now, where was I?"

“I smacked you down, evil disk error! Now, back to the madness.”

All is cool, and with coolness comes writing.  Speaking of writing . . .

Friday is finished, but that doesn’t mean I’ll post a Rebecca Black video to drive you all crazy.  (Though she did do another tune called Saturday, and since I have one more day of school to write about . . .)  It means all I have left is one chapter, maybe six scenes, maybe twelve thousand words, and that’s it, that’s Wrap Time.  And if the word count is correct, I’ll end up just short of one hundred and forty thousand words.  Not bad for the first third of a novel.

I’m insane writing this much–entire Harry Potter novels weren’t this big.  But it’s the story, and I’m sticking with it.  I’m certain that once I have everything set up and described in the first book, any and all others that come afterwards will be far shorter.  If I can write like that.  I usually can, but I’ve a whole hell of a lot of people to get onto the stage to show around.  And I introduced the last character with a speaking part in the book–the librarian, Mr. Parkman–so no more characters showing up in this act.  Won’t see any new characters until Act Two, and that’s a promise.

So I finished up the scene with a touch over a thousand words, then updated my PAV list, because there will be some flying in the next chapter and I need additional models to throw around–one of them being the Witchy Poo, but that only does a walk on–and then . . . then I went back and reread a part I’ve been meaning to reread for a while–

Kerry’s Evaluation and Assessment.

Is there a reason I wanted to go back to that?  Yeah.  Something that happens in that E&A actually shows up in Act Three of this story, and in a way it’s connected to something that happens in the next Foundation novel–what?  You thought I wasn’t planning ahead?  Silly you.

As I had time I went back and reread, and edited as I went along.  There were a few things that needed cleaning, including one phrase at the end of the scene that made no sense in hell whatsoever.  That does happen from time-to-time with first drafts–

"No, he doesn't magically make an AK-47 appear and then blows away the adviser away.  It's a P-90.  Remember, he's a Stargate fan."

“No, he doesn’t magically make an AK-47 appear and then blows away the adviser away. It’s a P-90. Remember, he’s a Stargate fan.”

There wasn’t a lot of things I needed to edit.  There were a few misspellings, and a couple of things out of place–originally I had Kerry and Doctor Grey, the adviser, sitting in chairs facing each other, but in the edit I put a table between them, because that made sense, particularly for what follows.  I changed a couple of things around, and revised something he told the adviser because, in the Midnight Madness, he tells the same story to Annie, only with a bit more detail and a lot more crying.

Therefore, I have a new editing status.  When it’s not a work in progress, when it’s not a first draft, it’s a revised draft.  And since I may go through and edit more than once, it’s a revised draft first pass.  And it is the first to get my little seal of approval.

"I remember when you were just a work in progress."

“I remember when you were just a work in progress.”

And the title of the post?  Kerry spent the first part of his life in Sleepy Hollow, California.  Yes, it does exist, and there are no headless horsemen living there.  Yes, the town where his grandparents live, Marrionwood, is a real location, and the towns are pretty much right next to each other.  And if anyone ever asks him, he could tell you that he once rode his bike down to one of the neighbor’s houses, some guy that lived about five miles away if you were willing to head over the hills.

Sure, he never actually got into Skywalker Ranch, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have pictures.

Penultimate Madness

Number nine, number nine, number nine.  That’s what you get when you bring together the numbers for the post.  Don’t know if it means anything, but there it is in all its glory.

This look nothing like the picau ar y maen I ordered--

This looks nothing like the picau ar y maen I ordered–

Last night I inched over the line into one hundred nineteen thousand words, which adds another nine to this party.  I do mean inch, too:  I think my final word total was 119,007.  I had what I was looking for, but I semi distracted myself looking up marvelous pastry confections cooked in Ireland and Wales.  Didn’t find any in Ireland, but found some for Wales, and that was added to my “Things Kids Talk About When They’re Sitting on a Sofa in the Middle of a Big, Dark Room” list.

Plus, I ended the new scene in a spot that, if I’d gone on, I’d have broken my chain of thought for the scene, and when I’d come back to it tonight I’d probably screw something up in the continuation.  I believe it was Chuck Wendig who said when you’re writing end your time with your characters on something of a cliffhanger moment, so when you sit back down at your story, you’ll see that, you’ll wonder what’s next, and the creative juices get flowing again.  When I see that point in my story, I stop and recharge–

But it’s not as if I don’t know where the story is headed.  I know what comes next, I know what Annie and Kerry say next, and I know who I’m introducing in the story next.  Yes, at nearly one hundred and twenty words into the story, I’m bringing in another character.  And why not?  I’ve already had something like twenty characters speak, so throw in one more.

And just because I’m a bit nuts, the people who have so far had speaking part are:  Annie, Annie’s mom, Annie’s dad, Mr. Mayhew, Kerry’s mom, Kerry’s dad, Kerry, Ms. Rutherford, Collin, Alica, Headmistress Laventure, Deanna, Erywin, Helena, Adric, Isis, Coraline, Madeline, Victoria, Wednesday, Harpreet, Emma, Jessica, Holoč, Bianca, Gretchen, Ramona, Matthias, and finally Una.  Forgive me–twenty-nine speakers.  Now I bring in number thirty–this is a party, people, so let’s rock!

I’ll finish up the current scene by this weekend.  I have something I need to work on tonight, so even if I do get to the novel, I won’t write much.  Maybe I will put in a few hundred words to get it where it’s suppose to be, but if not, there it always Thursday and Friday evenings.  Then just one more chapter and a bit of fanfare, for Act One will be in the books, so to speak.  When?  Maybe another ten days, maybe less, maybe more.  But this project should come to an end within the next two weeks.

I keep saying that, but this project won’t end for a long time.  I know this, and I keep telling myself this, but a part of me cringes whenever I figure out just how much I have left to write.  By the end of May I’ll have spent almost a year prepping and writing, and if I’m lucky I’ll be about half way into Act Two by then.

Oi.  Why do I do these things to myself?

Views from the Madness

The wind chill is seven below so I will bundle up for the walk to work.  There’s nothing like a walk in numbing cold to sorta wake you up and get you to where you want to spend the rest of the day under the covers.

Just like my kids at school.

The pajama party is starting and my kids are in the hall.  Everything is light and entertaining.  It’s probably better to show than to tell:

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

The dining tables and chair were gone, replaced by large, comfortable reading chairs, love seats, sofas, and even—yes, there were even a few huge beds capable of holding a half dozen students easily, as a couple already were. Scattered around the hall were a few large carpets covered in throw pillows that reminded Kerry of the classroom in Memory’s End where they met with Professor Arrakis. The light was down in the hall, but there were small, brighter spots here and there—floor lamps that were set alongside a few of the large chairs and love seats.

As they entered the hall Kerry took in the relaxed but excited environment.  With each chair, sofa, or bed there was at least one table where one could set snacks, drinks, and various forms of entertainment.  Three girls to his right, sitting on a sofa and an easy chair, were playing cards on a coffee table made of a dark wood.  Another boy was sitting in one of the large chairs reading, a drink sitting upon the end table to his right.  The bed with the six girls had high, narrow tables at what he guessed was the head and the foot of the bed, and while they talked they were also munching on snacks kept in bowls on both tables.

Something caught Kerry’s eye: a group of five kids, three boys and two girls, sitting on the floor around a low, circular table. One of the boys had his tablet at his right and a cardboard screen in front of them, and all the students had sheets of paper and dice laid out before them. “Hey, those guys over there are—”

“Oh, look.” Annie tugged on Kerry’s arm and pulled him along.  “There’s the perfect spot.”  She dragged towards a sofa located near the center of the hall, one facing the east wall. It wasn’t alone: there was also a table at each end of the sofa, an easy chair facing north and south, and a low coffee table in the middle of it all. Kerry was surprised no one was already sitting there—then again, there were maybe seventy people in the room, and it looked as if there were plenty of empty places remaining.

Magical girls spending the evening chatting about other kids, doing their nails, and thinking about demons they gotta smite.

Magical girls spending the evening chatting about other kids, doing their nails, and going on about demons they gotta smite some day.  Cats and sushi not included.

All and all an enjoyable, fun evening.  A bunch of magical kids relaxing in what may or may not be the moonlight–let me check the sky for that day . . . yep.  Almost a full moon–blowing off the first week of classes and doing things that Normal kids do at these shindigs.

Now, as for my kid–well, it’s a new experience for them, but one of them knows a little about what’s going on, and the other doesn’t care, he’s just happy to be where he’s at, because it’s not home.  It’s also with someone who’s at least once said that she loves him, and when you’re an emotionally withdrawn kids who has spent a lot of time on his own and being alone, it’s a heady thing with which to deal.

That’s also part of the story, and part of the Madness.  These kids grow up fast, a lot faster than Normals on the outside, and it’s not out of the question to say that some of them will face life or death situations before they are out of their early teens.

When you got that sort of heavy hanging over your head–not that they know this yet–it’s no wonder the school gives them to chance to kick back and let their hair hang down.

After all:  Witch Hard, so Party Hard.

That also works if you’re a mutant or a mad scientist, too.  This school is nothing if not equal for everyone . . .

Acts of the Madness

Back home it’s Indiana Blizzard Time:  here isn’t cold, but nothing near that bad.  Tomorrow, though, we get wind chill out the butt, so that’ll make the walk into work all the more interesting.  Though back home it’ll drop to twenty below zero, so I’m not complaining.

So Nice, So Neat.

So Nice, So Neat.

Home stretch time on the novel.  Not only did I whip out one scene last night–short and sweet, just under thirteen hundred words that sets up what’s coming next–but I also organized my novel into what I feel is the final format.  In the picture I’ve placed here for all to see, I’m showing what the current act looks like, with parts and chapters and scenes laid out in Scrivener Outline Mode, but looking in the binder to the left one can see the other parts laid out in the other acts.  Yep, she’s looking good.  I even managed to get everything named the way it should be named.

I’ve had more issues getting this thing laid out and sections named than I’ve had with any other book, but then, I’ve never written anything this big and complicated before in one sitting.  When I look at the other acts and realize there’s probably a quarter of a million more words waiting to get written, this is a long-term project, and may end up being the only original material I write this year.

What did I write about last night?  The Midnight Madness.  What is that, you say?  At my school, every Friday and Saturday night the school lets all the students who want to join come to the main dining area and hang out with their fellow classmates.  The one main requirement is that they have to come in appropriate sleepwear.  Once there they sit around and play games, read, have snacks and refreshments, or just spend the night talking with friends until sometime after midnight.

It’s a school-approved pajama party, and everyone’s invited.

Does this mean that some couples are off in shadowed corners locking lips and sucking face?  They’re teenagers:  what do you think?

When you think about it, when you have a few hundred advanced and intelligent kids locked up in one spot, and all of them are either witches, gifted (they got crazy mutant powers, yo), or budding mad scientists, you gotta give them the chance to get out of their coven towers and relax.  And some of these kids occupy all three spots on that Vern Diagram, which means they’re really burning the candle at three ends, and they probably need to drink fluids, munch on sandwiches and pastries, and play a few card games to unwind.

Only when you’re losing a game of Magic at Salem, you flip that table with your mind.

There you have it.  Kids unwinding, author unwinding.  Lucky for them their weekend is just starting, and I’m having to get back into the week.  At least it’s not twenty below zero outside, but rather a tolerable cold.

Makes the walk to work feel like less of an impending doom.