Bringing the Madness Once More

Well, that didn’t take long . . .

When it comes to saying, “I’m not gonna work on something and finished it today,” I’m probably lying by butt off.  I said I wasn’t going to do the Red Line in full right away, but . . . well, I had time on my hands and a program in front of me, so I figured, what the hell?

I at least have the route laid out in its glory, though there are a few areas I need to smooth out because when you’re working in three dimensions you can do that.  That will be this week.

So here it is, from a couple of different views.  First, from the south:

What you might see if you were camped out over Gloucester.

What you might see if you were camped out over Gloucester.

And then from the northwest:

Only because I don't see the school like this often.

Only because I don’t see the school like this often.

And one view from due east that shows the grid and how high some of the turns are.

Like, really high.

Like, really high.

Each gird box is one hundred meters on each side, or three hundred and twenty-eight feet.  So besides K1 (in the middle) going up a thousand meters, you have Plateau, (on the right north of the Observatory) at just over three hundred meters, Corkscrew (the climb and circles half-way between the Pentagram in the center and the far left) at four hundred, and The Point all the way to the left going up five hundred meters before diving towards the ground.

I view my tracks a lot like those used in Formula 1.  The Green Line is a lot like Monza in Italy:  fast with just enough curves and chicanes to keep you from crashing and burning too hard.  The Blue Line is like Spa Francorchamps:  big and fast, but a bit more technically challenging.  The Red Line is like the Nürburgring Nordschleife, demanding as hell with all the curves, though I’m not sure what this makes Mount Katahdin–though the races do call the later The White Hell . . .

By the way, the top part of Corkscrew is how high Kerry went the first time he checked out on an Espinoza with Vicky.  As for the Mile High flight, Annie and Kerry when just over three times higher than K1.  They was way up there.

And there was writing!  Like right here:

 

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

Annie danced past the foot of her bed on the way to her dresser and Little Talks began playing on the music stream she’d selected from her room’s computer terminal. She’d already hung up her uniform; all that remained was to put up her shoes, pull out her blue slippers, close up the dresser, and wait, knowing she wouldn’t need to wait long.

She checked her appearance in the full-length mirror. Makeup off, hair combed right, touch of gloss, and nails a lovely light blue thanks to the time spell she’d practiced over the summer that allowed her to do her feet and hands property in about forty five minutes instead of three hours it would take if she allowed the several layers of coatings and polish to dry naturally. Annie examined her fingertips carefully once last time before skipping over to the computer terminal to check the time.

Twenty-one forty-five. Just as she shut off the music there was a knock on the door. A huge grin appeared as she grabbed her robe off the bed. Punctual as always.

 

If it’s Friday night, it must be time for the Midnight Madness.  And this is the first of the year, so one must look their best, right?  Once again we have Dancing Annie, listening to music on the computer terminal set up in her room–and, yes, they were there last year, but we never really discussed them.  She doesn’t have a laptop, however:  more like a device that lets her get into the school network cloud, so she is connected to messages and the whatnot.

And here she is checking out her nails again.  It was established last year she likes doing her nails, so she’s got them ready once more.  Probably for someone special . . .

 

Annie flung open the door: Kerry stood in the corridor, wearing his gray pajamas, black slippers, and dark gray robe. The moment he saw his soul mate on the other side of the door he pretended to adjust a bow tie before cocking his head slight to one side and greeting her using a soft, fake, English accent. “Hello, Sweetie.”

Annie slipped on her robe and commanded her lights off as she stepped into the corridor, closing the door behind her. “Hello, my love.” She slid her arms around Kerry and gave him a tender kiss. “Miss me?”

“Any time I’m away I miss you.” He sidestepped and held out his arm for her to take. “Shall we go?”

“We shall.” She took his arm and walked with him towards the staircase. “I didn’t think this week would feel so long.”

 

It’s not been mentioned before–well, just a little maybe–but Kerry and Annie pretty much greet each other from time-to-time like The Doctor and River Song, and given that they’re both messing around with time spells . . .  Kerry was actually pantomiming the Eleventh Doctor adjusting his bow tie, something he did when he first saw Annie in her flight gear their first day in Beginning Flight.

Speaking of flight–

 

“I think it was a lot of what we did today.” He held her hand as they took the stairs to the first floor. “Not to mention with all the advanced classes we’ve got longer days than everyone else.” They strolled through the A Levels’ area, nodding at two girls who were just leaving their rooms. “That’s gonna make all the weeks long.”

“And we have class Sunday morning.” She chuckled as they almost bounced down the stairs leading to the main floor commons. “And if you go out for racing—”

Kerry humphed. “If I get accepted, you mean.”

“If you go out, you’ll get accepted.” She guided him around as they reached the ground floor and turned to their left on their way across the commons to the tower exit leading into the Pentagram Gardens. “You need not fear.” She slid her arm around the crook of his elbow once again. “How were the Class 2’s? I know I asked you to wait until later to talk about it—”

“And this is later.” Kerry hadn’t wanted to talk about his time in Advanced Flight during dinner; he’d wanted to get back to shower and change before heading off to the first Midnight Madness of the new school year. He’d also wanted to hear about Annie’s time up at the Witch House, and find out if she’d picked up anything new. “It was nice. Those things are fast and so responsive.” He held the coven tower door open for Annie. “The handlebars take a bit getting used to, though.”

 

Handlebars?  Let’s look:

 

Annie waved open the wall door leading to the garden beyond. “You need that because of the acceleration and responsiveness.” She’d seen her father on a Class 2, so she knew a bit about them. They had the same main frame as the Class 1s, but the similarities ended there. The saddle had a small back to keep the pilot from slipping backwards and off because, depending on the model, the acceleration was as much as three times greater than the best of the Class 1s. And instead of the pilot maneuvering the PAV by applying pressure directly to the frame, there were a set of handlebars with heavy, padded grips that allowed the pilot more control. “Wait until you fly the Class 3s.”

“Ha.” Kerry slowed to a comfortably stroll under the covered walkway to the Great Hall. “I only get to try those if I make it to the A Team; Class B is as high as the B Team goes.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much—” Annie leaned into his arm. “If you make the B Team, I feel you’ll make the A Team soon after.”

He kissed her on the forehead. “Were you hanging with Deanna this afternoon?”

“I’d never tell.” She took a moment to kiss his hand. “Did you speak with Jario or the girls?”

 

I started thinking I should do some models of the Class 1, 2, and 3 PAVs, because I do know what they look like, and it would probably help to show people what I see in my head.  It’s just a matter of doing the modeling, which I do know how to do by now–I think.

There you have it:  more building of worlds, and more madness until midnight.

Good times, I’m telling you.

A Modeling We Will Go

I didn’t write last night, nor have I done so yet today.  In fact, I had a bad connection at Panera this morning and found it necessary to come home.

Though I did manage to get a picture of my lovely pink nails before leaving.

Though I did manage to get a picture of my lovely pink nails before leaving.

But once back home I was like, “What am I gonna do?  What will I write about?”  That’s the problem with coming up with things to say everyday:  sometimes the well is dry, and you have to wait for it to fill up again.  In a way my blogging is like my writing exercises:  it’s a way to keep my mind sharp, or at least as sharp as I can keep it given my day-to-day routines.

And then I thought, “Hey?  Now’s a good time to build the Red Line.  And get some pictures while you’re doing this.”

Allow me to explain–

Inside the grounds of the School of Salem there are three cross-country courses.  The Green Line you’ve seen–it’s where Kerry and Emma wrecked the one time they decided to “travel at their own rate.”  The Blue Line you’ll see in this new story, and it’s where a lot of action takes place:  there’s even one scene titled Helter Skelter, named after one of the areas of the Blue Line.

But the Red Line . . . it’s been mentioned maybe two times, but I’ve never laid it out.  I’ve had an idea of what it would look like, particularly one section of the course, but I’ve not done the work of setting it up on my three dimensional model of the school–

Until now.

The process for doing so is actually simple at the beginning:  it’s really a case of making a copy of one of the course–in this case the Blue Line–and then doing a paste so I can turn it into the Red Line.  Kinda like this . . .

Here, orange is the new black.

Here, orange is the new black.

In the picture above I’ve already created the Red Line and I’ve started modifying it, building new curves and elevations.  When you’re working in three dimensions, it’s simply a matter of stretching out things here and there by highlighting the curve you’re working with and stretching it out in Edit Mode:

How the Red Line over Selena's Meadow looks from the north--

How the Red Line over Selena’s Meadow looks from the north–

And the same area from the south and above.

And the same area from the south and above.

It’s a bit time consuming, but it’s also a lot of fun, because you’re using your imagination to get things right.  Like one of the areas I’m working on now . . .

Though it’s not been mentioned yet, one of the most fearsome sections of the Red Line is a “curve” known as K1.  It’s not really a curve as much as it’s a summit, and it’s called K1 because this portion of the track tops out exactly one kilometer over the Great Hall.  What does that look like?  Let me get my handy measuring stick, which is exactly scaled to one thousand meters–

Yeah, pretty much a kilometer.

Yeah, pretty much a kilometer.

And since I can change the view of the model, it looks like this from the side:

Looks a lot higher from here.

Looks a lot higher from here.

As you can see my Red Line is only about a third of the way to the top of K1, so I have a bit more modeling ahead of me.  Unless . . .

Ah, that's more like it.

Ah, that’s more like it.

There you have it:  a little of what I do when I’m in the mood and I need to get my world into even better shape.  I probably won’t spend all day working on this, but part of the morning, and maybe in the afternoon, and a little here and there over the week.  Before you know it, I’ll have another course laid out–

That’ll make four, right?  I think I’ll be finished by then.

Back to the Beginning of the Beginning

How did I start writing my current work in progress, The Foundation Chronicles?  It started with designing buildings.

The main characters in the story, Kerry and Annie, were originally created for an online role play.  I made Kerry, and a good friend of mine created Annie.  We played these characters for a few months, but with most good things the role play came to an end and the characters were shelved.  In the process of building the game there was a great deal of material the two of us developed, both characters and world-wise–

However, I was always pushed to show the buildings, to show the grounds, the show the towers.  My partner in crime kept after me to make maps and building layouts, and being that I was the sort of person who loved doing that kind of thing, I obliged.

It was from there that the Salem Institute of Greater Learning and Education was built.  It was from there that we named our covens, and the buildings, and figured out where everything went.  It was a great learning experience for that fantastic summer of 2011.

Over the next two years I thought a great deal about writing about these character’s adventures.  Even while working on other projects, the story of Annie and Kerry was never far from my mind.  Kerry I knew, but Annie was always a problem for me, because I wanted to get her right, and she wasn’t my creation, at least not at the beginning.  So it took a lot of thinking to get where I wanted to be with her, and I probably tortured myself for a year thinking about her motivations, her feelings, what she wanted the most.

So after I’d finished publishing Her Demonic Majesty in May of 2013, I decided it was time to tackle the tales of Salem.  I didn’t want to start right in on Annie and Kerry, but rather I wanted to do something else that would help build The Foundation World, but at the same time introduce a number of characters that would end up in their world.  I decided that for Camp NaNo, July 2013, I’d write The Foundation Chronicles:  The Scouring, a story of a traumatic event that occurred just before the end of the Twentieth Century.

While speaking to Annie’s creator about the upcoming story, we started talking about Annie’s Lake House.  This is an important location, a place that plays in a lot of scenes not only in my current book, but will have a place in the hearts of both children in their future.  And I wanted to see what it looked like, inside and out.

So it was time to get into the software and design.  I used a program that would allow me to make floor layouts and then show the building in three dimensions.  I could even place furniture inside and imagine the scenes that hadn’t been written yet.

The building that launched a couple of hundred thousand words.

The house that launched a couple of hundred thousand words.

And there it all was, the house that little spoiled Annie pestered her father to build.  With living room and dining table and kitchen, a library and a private bedroom, and the loft guest area overlooking the ground floor below.  And the wall of windows facing to the south, keeping the house illuminated from morning to nightfall.

I showed it to Annie’s creator and she loved it, even going so far as to say it was perfect.  To hear those words made me feel wonderful, and empowered me to prepare to get my world ready–

Because if I was going to write the story I wanted to work, I needed to build something else:  my Great Hall.  I knew it in my mind, I saw it in my imagination, so it became necessary to lay out with floor plans that would display it as I’d displayed Annie’s Lake House.

I wasn’t able to created it fully, because my computer couldn’t handle all the rendering needed.  But I did most of it, and . . . it was so worth while.

Because if you're going for "Great", you best go all the way.

Because if you’re going for “Great”, you best go all the way.

I had building all created:  I had my Atrium and Rotunda, the Library, the Security Center and the Instructor’s and Headmistress’ Offices.  There was the Clock Tower and the Transepts, the Hospital and the Dining Hall.  It took me about a week of work, but when I looked at this building, I saw my Great Hall.

I was just about ready to write.  Except–

I needed a school.

Racin’ on the Rock

With all the things that I’ve meant to do for my upcoming novel, there has been one that I’d performed:  I’d not laid out the race course found within the confines of the school–

Race course?  Allow me to explain.

One of “sports” my school allows is racing.  This isn’t something done on dirt bikes or off-road dune buggies, or even late model stock cars.  No, at SIGEL, racing–at least for the A Levels–is done on Class 1 PAVs with an unrestricted top end of one hundred thirty miles per hour and an operational ceiling of about five thousand meters.  They’re based upon a design that was used for hundreds of years before The Foundation came along, which is why even with the superspace transmitters and pop-up HUDs, they looks a lot like a witch’s broom.  Of course there are other types of PAVs, or Personal Aerial Vehicles.  A Class 2 looks a bit like a levitating jet ski, and a Class 3 is a lot like an Akira bike that is even street legal.  And there are other classes that go higher and faster, but that’s neither here nor there . . .

They’re used to learning basic flying, but they’re also used for racing.  And if you’re going to race, you need a place to mix is up.  There’s a rather nice, enclosed bullpen known as The Diamond, which can be configured for all kinds of three dimensional oval events:  after all, if you can move freely along the z-axis, why restrict yourself to the x and y ones?

But there’s also an outdoor course that one can race along, and that was what I’ve been missing for some time.  Sure, I kept telling myself, “I need to do that course,” but I’d never get around to the building.  Mostly because I didn’t know how I should make it.  Draw it?  Map it?  Model it?

In the end it was a simple decision:  all you need is an unbroken line that goes around in a circle.  Nothing fancy, just a course line.  Because, in my head, I know what’s there.

Blender is was, then, because it’s easy to take a circle and stretch Course Layoutit out and made it go where you want it to go.  It takes time to get it things worked out just as you might like, but in the end, if you know what you want, you’ll get it right–just like I did in the picture at right.

The line the runs along the wall is the course.  Not sure of the total length, but given that the campus is a mile across at the widest point, and about two and and a half miles between the north to south walls, I’d say I have something along the lines of a flying Spa-Francorchamps.  And while there are “safety features” along the course that will keep kids from slamming into trees and the wall at high speed, that doesn’t mean one can’t get hurt enough to find themselves on the way to the hospital.  Hey, you gotta fly it like you stole it, right?

You can see the route.  The start-finish is down by The Diamond–at the five o’clock position–with the course going counter-clockwise.  Heading up the long, sweeping start and a couple of easy turns before hitting The Main Twist, then a straight run to the Sunrise Glides, through the Lake Gate and into the Esses, a left at the Polar Turn, then another left onto the Cove Straight before hitting the fast, sweeping left hand turn, Sunset Boulevard, leading into the hairpin Base Drop.  Through the woods to the right-then-left hand Goose Tail, then onto the Gloucester Sweep.  A slight straight before hitting the Diamond Chicane, then you reach the start-finish–and do it again.

Congratulations.  You just finished a lap on my new course.

I hope it sounds as good when my characters are crashing and burning.

 

There and Back to the Big House

Oh, did you notice this is coming out late?  These things happen at times, trust me.  The delay is due to getting up at five AM, driving one hundred miles for a thirty minute interview, then driving home.  A little lunch later, as well as the fixing of a screen door has kept me off the computer for about two hours, and then–

Here we are.

It’s so far made for a long, tiring day, but at least I don’t have to cook tonight, because I’ve done enough of that for the last two days.  Kick back tonight, maybe pizza tomorrow.

Right now, we’re talking Great Hall.

The last two days I’ve been running about in Blender designing.  I should say, “Building,” because what I wanted to do is taking the build I’d made for my current story, and sort of see what it would look like if you turned into a three dimensional model.  I know, that’s being a bit obsessive about something that isn’t real, that’s just a part of my imagination.

There is a point to all this, however:  having a designed floor plan allowed me to figure out where some of the action in the building occurred.  I know there are those who may feel that’s a little too much work to put into a project, that it’s getting down into the metadata a little too much, but screw them.  It’s my story, and it’s one I want to publish one day, so I put work into my background.  Hey, it’s either this or spend twenty years on some fan fiction that will never see the light of day, right?

Originally I started with what you see on the right:  a building Main Hall 518layout rendered in 3D that showed as much of the inside as I could dream up.  I still have this, and the information came in handy when I started writing about battles and running and flying going on inside.  Visualizing these things came about from working with someone else, and I’m thankful that I listened to them on this matter.  (As for the rest, I’m still working on that . . .)

But I wanted to see more.  I wanted to see the area around the Pentagram, I wanted to feel the size, the enormity of the area.  It’s a big school:  everything here feels enormous, or is at least should.  Therefore I need to model the outside and the grounds, and I couldn’t do it in the program I used for the floor plan.

So off to Blender, and . . . Pentagram SoutheastBehold!

It’s not much to look at unrendered, but that’s what I’m building.  I have the Pentagram walls, the Coven Towers, the Clock Tower, the covered walkways, the older South Part of the Hall, the transepts, and the newer, more modern looking Library with the curving windowed wall that I couldn’t do the proper way in my floor plan program.  I figured out the scaling for this monster so that it’s not taking up a whole lot of virtual space, and it leaves open the possibility of modeling some of the other buildings.

If you want to get a feeling for scale, look at this:  Pentagram Main Gateit’s the main gate of the school going through the fifty foot high and eighteen foot thick walls.  And there, standing in the arch, those little sticks?  Those are two students, each five foot tall, catching sight, for the first time, of the main entrance some two hundred feet away.

With the story almost finished, I’m ready to move onto the next project.  But come November, when I may or may not do NaNo again, I’ll start in on another novel, and that novel will build off the little novel I wrote this month of July.

Maybe, in four months time, I’ll have even more to see.

 

 

Call From the Far Stars

No writing last night.  I actually ended up playing with a program that lets you build three dimensional models, since I’m thinking of trying to use stuff like this to do story illustrations.  I’m not an artist, but I could use this to model things that I’ve always wanted to model–like ships that will spend most of their time in space.

That was something I wanted to do a couple of years ago, when I was starting up a role playing game called Diaspora that tried to put a little science back into science fiction.  The game didn’t last very long–a couple of sessions, max–and the setup took longer than the number of sessions played.  There were solar systems, ships, characters . . . all of that lost to time now.  Well, not completely lost, but for the most part it’s all vanished.

The one thing I wanted to do very badly was create a model of the ship that the characters were using.  I didn’t know my modeling tools then–and I still don’t–but I was able to create a diagram of the ship, which is somewhere on my computer, I just have to find it.  Still not the same as seeing a model in three dimensions, but it was okay.

I get drawn to space all the time.  I like games that take place there, and a few of my stories end up going in that direction.  Well, not always space, but other planets and other places.  That’s where my science fiction takes me.  Even when I’m still on Earth, it’s not always the Earth we know.  I mean, you have an imagination, so why stay here when you can hop into the next dimension and have fun there?

When I wasn’t playing with software yesterday, I was thinking of a story.  Yeah, I know:  surprise!  The story is one that’s been bouncing about in my head for a while, one that takes play inside my Transporting universe, and it’s a chance to show people a little about how the government of the future use Cytheria’s and Audrey’s abilities–hey, they still have to work some times–and what they can do when they’re turned loose to go all psycho psychic on people who are trying to kill them.  It can get ugly fast.

But there’s one scene I kept paying in my head . . . they have to meet a ship which is on its way to where they are suppose to go as well, and they have to take a really small, and really fast, message sloop to catch up with the big ship.  When they finally rendezvous with their ride, they’re about 175 light years from home, and maybe 10 light years from the nearest star system.  They’re standing in the open hatch of their sloop, nothing between them and the vacuum save for their skin suits, and they are able to have a few minutes alone in the Deep Black, not losing their minds as people in another universe might, but marveling at the sight of the naked universe.

This is what I try to convey with my writing:  a sense of wonder, and how it’s viewed by my characters.  They don’t realize that their world is marvelous, because to them, it’s what they’ve always known.  But we don’t know that, and seeing the world through their eyes is, in itself, a thing of wonder to behold.

Is this where I’m going?

Maybe it is, because I need to stand and spend some time with the stars as well.