The Future Without Shades

First off, Happy Flight 19 Day!  If you’re not sure what that is, pick up Close Encounters of the Third Kind and watch the opening where the sun came out at night to sing.  You can also read about them here.  Just remember:  anyone can get lost on a dark and stormy night, especially us writers and post World War II fliers.

Second, if you were expecting to see another excerpt today, sorry to disappoint you.  I got home last night pretty much burned out and not feeling good, and since I had something else to work on, I got into that for more than a few hours.  By the time I got around to my writing time I couldn’t really get the scene started, and the hundred or so words I did write seemed pretty weak.  So I’ll recharge as best I can today and start on it tonight, because things are gonna get said in this scene, and a few more secrets will pop out.

"And then Kerry loses it and kills his whole family!"  "Really?"  "Do I look like I'd lie?"

“And then Kerry loses it and admits the real reason he’s going to the hospital all the time!” “Really?” “Do I look like I’d lie?”

And that last part brings up the third part here, the telling of secrets.  If you’ve been following the comment sections for the last couple of months, you’ll see I’ve been engaged in a conversation with one of my readers over this novel–in particular, there’s been a whole lot of questions about Annie’s and Kerry’s relationship.  Some of the questions have made me thing, some have made me smile, some have made me sad, and some I’ve laughed out loud after reading them.  But there seems to be one answer that I inevitably come back to almost every day:

“I can’t answer that because it hasn’t happened yet, and if I did, I’d give things away.”

That’s really one of the hardest things I have going for me in this series, because I have pretty much meta-plotted out a lot of the story for like–well, actually, decades.  It’s one of the reasons I have a time line that goes out beyond a hundred years of their lives, because I needed to know how they lived, how their friends around them lived, and eventually how they all died.  I’m like that because I’m a bit strange, right?  I mean, who knows their characters to death–and beyond?

Along the way over the last three years I’ve let slip a few things here and there.  We know Kerry will come out as a witch at the end of his B Levels.  We know that Annie and Kerry end up in the middle of Russia in the middle of the night and see an aurora–I actually had two blog posts on that.  Back in December of 2011 I first mentioned The Polar Express, a trip Kerry goes on for a weekend, and I left clues here and there that Emma is his wingmate on that flight.  All the way back in March of this year I wrote about an event where Annie and Kerry will be tested during their C Levels, and they’ll leave the school and head to the land of Walker Chow and hope they don’t end up the same way.  I’ve even mentioned, in sort of an off-hand way, that Annie and Kerry tour Europe one summer while they’re between levels.

That’s just a little of what’s a huge story–

Oh, and I mentioned I know what happens to them after they die.  Yeah, I even went there.

I’ve sometimes had to become a bit of an unreliable narrator so that I don’t give anything major away, and some of the things I have mentioned are painted in real broad strokes–I mean, okay, the kids go on a summer tour of Europe.  But what else do you know?  Not much, really.  I know it all, however, and sometimes I really want to spill it–but I can’t.

I have tons of notes and all my time lines, and a couple of months because I actually left written instructions on where all that stuff goes if something should . . . well, we know what I’m going to say.  Some lucky person gets the legacy of all this unfinished work, and what they do with it–if anything–is up to them.  They’ll get a huge first novel and then a lot of information on what could have been, and if they want they could give it all a go and write all that stuff out.

Or probably not.  I mean, I could easily have a good fifteen years ahead of me, writing full-time, getting all the story out.  Assuming it ever got published and read.

The future is there, and even though it’s bright I don’t need shades to see it.  All I gotta do is start up my computer, look over a few things, an instantly be transported to a world of my own creation.

I do wonder, sometimes, if someone else I want to show around will ever go there with me . . .

Travels of a Crocheting Groupie

Over the years I’ve done some strange posts.  I’ve written about a variety of things, most of them revolving around writing, but sometimes I go places and do things that are interesting to others.  And there have been times when I’ve reveled things about myself that have surprised and sometimes shocked people.

This post . . . it’s a little of everything.  A tail of travel to exotic movie locations, a look at things on a long journey, and a bit of strange, personal information about me.

So, let’s get to the full disclosure:

I am a crocheting groupie.

I’ve been a member of a group on Facebook, HodgePodge Crocheting, for as long at the group has been around.  Why, you ask?  Do you crochet?  No, I am not a hooker, which is what we call someone who does.  Then why are you there?  Because my bestest friend, Tanya, owns the group, and she included me in the group when she put it together.  In fact, there are only three other people who joined before me, and the owner of the group is one, so there.

For the longest time I was a private groupie, because I wasn’t out as a woman yet, and the thousands of people in the group–yes, that’s true, we’re over three thousand strong–weren’t aware of my status as a transwoman.  But one day I jumped in on a question about gender identity in young kids, and that was it:  I was off and running.

These days I’m the Memestress and Keeper of Helena, our own Drama Llama, one of the Lorekeepers of TARDIS Knowledge, and a member in good standing.  I’ve also been promising to show off our groupie tee shirt . . .

See, a while back we sold tee shirts to our members, one with the group logo and the wording that proclaimed that we were proud HodgePodge Groupies.  Many members have already shown theirs, and I was getting questions about when I was going to show mine.  The answers were always the same:  I’m going to show it soon, and I’m going to do it at a famous movie location.

A couple of weeks ago, it was time to get to some picture taking.

To get to where I needed to go was gonna take some time, so I headed out early, pretty much as the sun was coming up, and began driving west:

Look:  mountains ahead!

Look: mountains ahead!

As you can see the Pennsylvania Turnpike is curving up into the mountains.  Just behind that “Blue Mountain” sign is the first of four tunnels I needed to traverse.  There are two just on the other side of the sign, then another about ten miles beyond that, and then further to the west, the Allegheny Tunnel, which is the longest on the turnpike.

Now, what do I do when I’m out driving for long periods of time?  Wouldn’t you know it, I shot a video!  First off, it’s not the car moving, it’s the camera:  I was holding it in my right hand while I drove with my left, and kept the vehical on cruise control.  The music is loud because that’s usually how I keep it when I’m driving.  Don’t try this at home, kids:  I’m a professional.  And at about forty-four seconds you’ll probably notice some caterwauling which is me doing my best to sing.

My best isn’t that good.

Beyond that is Sideling Hill–a place I visited last year–and this place:  Breezewood, home of a lot of places to stop and eat, as well as Gateway to the Abandoned Turnpike.

You should see this place at night--I have.

You should see this place at night–I have.

I needed to get a bit of breakfast and some coffee, and since I was running just a little ahead of schedule, it was a good place to relax and decompress.  Because I had a long ways to go to get to my first stop . . .

Right here, just south of Pittsburgh.

I heard the shopping here was a little "dead".

I heard the shopping here was a little “dead”.

I know more than a few of you are saying or thinking, “Cassie, why’d you drive half way across the state to visit a shopping mall?”  Because this isn’t just any shopping mall:  this is a famous movie location.  Monroeville Mall was the location for the filming of the original Dawn of the Dead, the second of the original George Romero zombie movies, released in 1978.  Filming took place from ten PM until 6 AM; at which point the mall Muzak came on and since no one knew how to switch it off, that was a wrap.

Since I was in the area I thought, hey, stop in and look around.  See if any of the undead are still around . . .

Zombies?

Zombies?

Yoo hoo?  You around?

Yoo hoo? You around?

Calling all Walkers.

Calling all Walkers.

Since it's fall, all the girls who love fall will be here trying to get their pumpkin spiced candles.

Since it’s fall, all the girls who love fall will be here trying to get their pumpkin spiced candles when they’re undead.

The mall has changed a great deal since 1978:  new stores, new look, probably even a layout change here and there–though the food court still looked pretty funky, so I gotta wonder if there’s been many updates there.  Since I didn’t see any zombies, I bought a pair of boots and a pair of flats.  Because . . . shopping.

Here we have Dawn of the Bitchy Resting Face.

Here we have Dawn of the Bitchy Resting Face.

But this isn’t where I really wanted to show myself wearing my groupie tee shirt.  I said I was doing it at a famous movie location, and I knew just the place.  Because before you can have a Dawn, you need a Night . . .

Night of the Living Dead wasn’t just a genre changer, it was a genre maker.  Before this movie zombies were some drugged-out losers controlled by a bokor.  Everything that we know and love about zombies started with this moving, and while many have added to the mythos, without this little film you wouldn’t today have a guy on TV running around drilling zombies with a crossbow, a woman lopping off heads with a katana, another guy running around yelling “Coral!” and a woman who wants you to just look at the flowers.

Romero started the zombie apocalypse with a virus brought back from space (just like Robert Kirkman would lie about a few decades later when he pitched The Walking Dead and said the zombies were begin created by aliens) and before you knew it, the dead were crawling around looking to add to their numbers and fill their bellies at the same time.  He didn’t have a lot of money for filming, and he pretty much had to just shoot wherever he could–like an hour up the road from Pittsburgh in Evans City.

All of the shooting took place outside a house that is no longer standing, and inside a house right inside town that is still there.  But George needed some place special for the opening shots, which would involve–what we didn’t know at the time–the first attack by a zombie on a living person in cinematic history.

Where would you do that?  Where do you think?

"I need dead people.  Where's a good place to find them?"

“I need dead people. Where’s a good place to find them?”

Welcome to the Evans City Cemetery, and that sign in the above photo was in the movie.  This is it:  Ground Zero for Zombie History, because up the winding road and at the top of the hill is where George filmed Barbara and her douchey brother Johnny visiting their father’s grave before Johnny stupidly joins the ranks of the undead.

Here’s the small chapel in front of which Johnny and Barbara stopped:

It looks a lot better when it's not in black and white.

It looks a lot better when it’s not in black and white.

Here’s the lucky couple paying their respects:

Johnny can't even remove his driving gloves.

Johnny still being a douche, however.

And the site today:

Much better in color.

Much better in color.

And then Mister Don’t Say the Zed Word shows up and Barbara trying to escape from the horror:

Run, Barbara, Run!

Run, Barbara, Run!

And almost forty-five years later, Cassidy is trying to do a Barbara.

Zombies?  Are you there?  This is Cassidy.  Come and get me.

Zombies? Are you there? This is Cassidy. Come at me, bros.

Famous movie locations:  since a lot of my friends, Tanya among them, are huge Walking Dead fans, where better to show off my HodgePodge Groupie tee shirt than the site of the first cinematic zombie attack.  And am I worried I’ll be attacked by the undead?  No.  Not only because it’s a bright, sunny day, but . . .

Back off, Walker dudes:  I got my hooks.

Back off, Walker dudes: I got my hooks.

And I bought a big one just in case things get serious:

I'd be about a million times more bad ass if I had a katana.  And I was a bad ass woman who knew how to use it.

I’d be about a million times more bad ass if I had a katana. And I was a bad ass woman who knew how to use it.

I even managed to get my get my favorite traveling companion in one shot, my trusty CR-V with almost 150,000 miles on the odometer.

 

A girl and her car can't be seperated.

A girl and her car can’t be separated.

So there you have it:  travels to Zombieland, with stop-offs for breakfast on the way out:

Good morning!

Good morning!

And a stop for pumpkin spice latte on the way back:

Here

Good afternoon.

All that took place two weeks ago, on a Sunday, the 14th of September.  But I wasn’t quiet done . . .

See, today–the day of this post–is my friend Tanya’s birthday, and one of the things I wanted to do was wish her a happy birthday in a special way.  Because she’s . . . well, she’s a friend like no other, and you do lovely things for those friends.  I had intended to film a message for her while I was snapping pictures back in Evans City, but then realized, “Nope, I’m in the zombie graveyard, I need a better place.”  Which brings me a little closer to home:  near my apartment, down in Riverside Park right by the river.

So, without further ado, my birthday greeting.

And there you have it:  the travels of a crocheting groupie out to show off her tee shirt to not only her friends in her group, but to her friends on this blog . . . and most importantly, to try and make today a special day for my friend and, in many ways, my creative muse.

Until next year . . .

Killer of Dreams

Writing is a hard business.  Not just the publishing end of it, but getting down in front of the computer or your typewriter, or even your paper, and you gotta put those words down, one after another, and you keep doing it until you finish the damn thing.  Start, write, finish.  That’s the deal.

Sometimes, however, that becomes easier said than done.  Things wear at you; things tear you down.  We all know stories about authors who are just one step away of completely losing they minds–or, in the case of a few, having lost it completely and they decided to write though the madness.

That’s how I’ve felt for a while; that I was writing though some madness that wouldn’t leave me alone.  It just gnawed at me like a beast picking you apart slowly but surely.

And last week it nearly won.

I had a hard time of things last Friday, and was pretty much at my wit’s end for more than a few things.  It was a tough time, and if not for the help of a lot of friends who came to my aid, I might still be rolling through that madness.

I haven’t forgotten what happened, and I’m truly moving ahead to make things better.  But last night . . . I had some thoughts I had to get out.  Thoughts that weren’t going to stay quite any longer.

I’ve been playing with video a lot of late, and getting some of the things I’ve said uploaded to a YouTube account.  I’ve had fun it with, because it’s a different medium and there’s things that come out on video that you can’t hide unless you’re a very good actor.  I’m not a very good actor; when it comes to my emotions, things tend to come spilling out these days, because hormones jack with you like you wouldn’t believe.

I put a twelve minute video together last night, after the television and computer were off, and talked a little about the state of mind I’ve labored under for a while.  It’s a hard video; there’s a lot of feeling in my voice, there’s true feelings coming out, and more than a few tears come out.  I don’t mind that last, because tears are good.  They mean I can’t hold back, and given how things keep welling up inside these days, I don’t want to keep them in.  I gotta let them out.

Jim Butcher was the one who, a few years ago, said giving up on writing is the same as killing your dreams, and there are no truer words spoken.  I mention that in the video, and you can see how it makes me feel to think about doing just that.  It’s a thing I’ve done before, and I know others have as well.  I’m a firm believer these days that dreams should never die, because without your dreams, what do you have left?

Watch if you like, but be warned:  it’s pretty raw.  That’s how stream of thought is–it’s real, and it just comes at you.

Like life.

But if it helps other writers out there articulate what they also feel from time-to-time, then I’ve done something good.

That’s what really counts.

From the Space and Time to the Sensuality

First there will be some geek talk, and then I’m Bringing Back Sexy in an open and honest way.  If you don’t want the sexy, read the two paragraphs after this one and bid the page Audios!  No harm, no foul, and You Have Been Warned.

Onward.

 

 

For the last few days I’ve found myself in some rather interesting conversations.  Naturally, because of my geeky nature, and those of others I know, we’ve chatting up a lot of Doctor Who this week because it’s time to come up with another Doctor, and for us who are into this sort of thing, we like to talk about it.  It also helps that BBCA has been running shows all week, so that gives us the opportunity to re-watch episodes that we’ve already seen a dozen times, and snark on about what we like and what we don’t like.

"Seriously, she thinks Rose is the best?  I'm gonna have to set this bitch straight, won't I?"

“Seriously, she thinks Rose is the best companion? I’m gonna have to set this bitch straight:  that’s what The Internet is for!”

It’s been a lot of fun chatting this stuff up, particularly since I consider myself to not only be an expert on the show–because I’m old and from Chicago, which was one of the only places that used to air the show in North America in the 1970’s and 1980’s–and because I’ve personally turned a few people onto the show over the years and made them nearly as geeky as me.  Nearly, I say.  That means when the lowdown on trivia is needed, and information is required for aspect that elude others, I’m the Go To Girl for All of Time and Space.  Just call me Idris, because I may as well travel around like that.

It’s a lovely diversion, but it’s not the only one . . .

‘Cause now comes Sexy Time.  You want more?  Come on in.

 

You ready?  Let’s go, let’s go.

 

. . .

 

. . .

 

. . .

 

There’s another conversation I’ve been falling into as well, and that’s something we, in the one group I’m in–are calling our “Sex Education Talk.”  Though “sex education is really a bit of a misnomer:  it’s more like the ladies getting together and talking about kinky-ass sex–in some cases actual kinky ass sex.  It’s really been all over the place, particularly in the area of toys, which seem to get used a lot.  I don’t have a problem with toys, or lotions, or wearing articles of clothing to help ramp up the passion and sensuality, or just the out-and-out Let’s Get Down and Bang This Gong feeling that’s gonna hit in any second now.  Particularly this last, because if they’re one thing I love, it’s sexy clothing or night gowns, or even a bit of fetish wear if you can find some that (a) fits and (b) doesn’t feel like you’re encased in something unyielding.  Unless that’s exactly what you want . . .

"Hi, honey.  Guess what's for dinner?  Tacos!  You better say yes if you know what's good for you--"

“Hi, honey. Guess what’s for dinner? Tacos! You better say ‘I’m so hungry’ if you know what’s good for you–“

It’s refreshing to sit and read some of the things my lady friends have experienced, some of the wildness they’ve gotten into, and some of the advice they have for those who may be less experienced in this area.  Because if there’s one thing we’re not open about is sex.  Particularly these days, when you have buttheads running for public offices who say watching women walk around topless will lead to men becoming gay.  Dude:  projection is a total bitch.  You should do something about that.

I haven’t said much about sex in the group simply because most of what I know these days ends up on the printed page.  Sure, I’ve written erotica, most of which is pretty strange, and probably goes well beyond anything my friends would ever consider–unless it is their total kink to turn into a human-like centaur with the fully functioning genitals of both genders, and then have a couple of women get down on them.  Then they’re right up there in my ballpark, ’cause that’s how my mind works.

I am happy to know sexy is alive and well with all kinds of people, but I’m also a little saddened because it’s not something I experience.  Intimacy is something I haven’t known in some time, and likely isn’t in the cards for some time to come.  That’s kinda of choice, and it’s . . . well, complicated, just like time travel.  The reasons for it I won’t divulge, but needless to say depression played a part there, a singular lack of love played another part–and these days I’m so uncomfortable with my body that it’s difficult for me to think about getting intimate with myself.

I’ve had the “sex talk” with my HRT doctor.  We’ve discussed the changes I’m going through, which is really nothing short of Puberty Mk 2.  My doctor is also trans, so she’s been through the same thing I’m going through, and had some advice for “exploring,” if we wish to call it that.  My reactions are decidedly feminine these days; stimulation starts in different places within the body than where they happened before.  There are physical reactions now that were never present in the past, and with continuing hormone treatment those reactions will become more pronounced and intense.

I did reassure my doctor that I wasn’t about to go running around town looking to score because that’s never been my style.  I’ve always been tentative about meeting other people face-to-face, and I’ve always been uncomfortable about my body and putting it on display for others.  Even more so now, because with the physical changes I’m also experiencing the insecurity that comes with those changes.

While I would love to get a sexy night gown and feel good about myself, I’m afraid I wouldn’t, just because it’s hard for me to feel that way.

This is my idea of sexy night gowns, though my sack of potatoes body wouldn't look nearly as nice in this one.

This is my idea of sexy night gowns, though my sack of potatoes body wouldn’t look nearly as nice.  Also, I’ll do without the Hello Kitty slippers as well.

It’s taking time to get to the place where I’ll be as comfortable talking about vibrating rings and beads and schoolgirl outfits as my friends–though I really sort of see myself as the domineering Headmistress in the corset dress wearing her shiny black boots, so watch out, girls.  That doesn’t mean I can’t write about it, and I have developed some good ideas that could turn into short, hot stories.  And once I’m though with this monster of a novel I could just do that–

Or maybe I should jump in and write about a woman who spends so much time in a sexy crocheted body suit that she just can’t find the time to take it off–

Hey, you should hear some of my other ideas.

Where the Wild Feels Are

A funny thing happened on the way to the hormone treatment . . .

Let’s back that up just a little bit, because most of this happened long before I started hormones, long before I started writing.  Actually, it started when I was a kid.  I was what you’d say, “emotional.”  That’s what parents say when you cry a lot.  And I used to cry a lot.  Like all the time.  Stub my toe?  I’d cry.  Didn’t like what I was wearing?  I’d cry.  Weather changed?  I’d cry.  Though I loved the rain.  I loved to take walks in the rain, because it was so relaxing . . .

There are some who’d read that and say, “Wow!  Sounds just like a girl.”  Duh.  You’re catching on, aren’t you?  Yeah, that was one of those things, back when I was about seven or eight, when I realized that, in the immortal words of Micheal Jackson, I’m not like the other boys.  It used to drive my parents nuts.  My father hatted it, and my mother–well, she didn’t like it, either, and used to yell at me all the time to stop “acting like a girl.”  And, hey:  it worked!  Oh, wait . . .

The upside of all this marvelous treatment was a lot of depression and teaching myself to keep my emotions locked down.  Because one never knew when I might just bust loose with a laugh or a sob or a smile or a cry.  This was the sort of hell I went through in high school, and then later on in adult life.

I got to the point where I was “emotionally unavailable,” which is another way of saying I just shut everything down.  And because of that, I was always pairing up with people who were either the same way–or, as a person once pointed out, a lot like my mother in that they were critical of everything I did.  I was not good with relationship; I was not good with telling people how I felt.  To a certain extent I’m still like that in that I’m a private person–says the blogger spilling this all out at six-thirty AM.

About 2011 this all started changing.  Why?  Because I decided to start talking about my “secret” and I finally came out to a friend.  And they didn’t run away.  Another thing was happening then:  I was getting in touch with my emotions once again, which was a double-edge sword, because while it’s easy to talk of love and happiness, you can also fall into the pit next door which is sadness and pain.  But it’s all worth it, because, in the end, you’re feeling again.  You’re not some semi-dead hunk of flesh sitting in front of a computer waiting for the end to arrive sooner than later.  You’re alive; you’re writing again.

That’s really what opened up my writing:  being able to feel.  You can only pretend to write about people in relationships with other people for so long and not feel what that’s like before you understand that what’s coming out of you are words devoid of passion.  They are dead, just like the person writing them.

I’ve had people tell me that they love the romance developing between Annie and Kerry.  I’ve already said it’s a grand one, and it’s one that will build in time.  Last night I was thinking of a scene for Act Three, and while I realized that some people who’d read it would think, “Are you crazy to say this?” I don’t think it’s strange at all.  It’s sweet, it’s touching–and at the same time, it’s torturing a person who is deeply in love.  Because it’s what happens sometimes.  And why are they tortured?  Because they’re afraid they’re pulling someone all the way into their love in a way they might not want.

That's the problem with knowing people in supernatural stories:  you put someone in your heart, and before you know it, you're afraid they don't want to be there.

That’s the problem with love in supernatural stories: you put someone in your heart, and before you know it, you’re afraid they don’t want to be there.

I’ve come to realize over the last week or so that my emotional responses are changing again.  They’re not going away:  oh, no.  They’re dialing up; they’re getting more intense.  They’re also becoming what I might call a bit more personal and even maternal.  The one thing I have noticed, and it’s something I confirmed through research–my stress levels are not defined by my job or by money:  they’re defined by my relationships.  Or lack there of if you wanna put it that way.  But the thing that make me the most loopy these days is love.  I do feel it:  for my characters and for myself.  You can blame it on the demon lady hormones taking over my body.

My therapist says I’m tortured–probably just like a certain person in a monster of a novel I’m writing.  I’m not as bad as that, but I will admit to crying before falling asleep, and crying as I was getting up?  Why?  Because I love someone.  They mean the world to me.  They are the person I would die for if the zombies were coming and she needed saving.

But they are not with me, not at the moment.

Will that happen?

You have to wait and see.  You never know what will happen tomorrow.

But I believe you already!

Don’t worry:  I believe you.

Through the Door of Imagination

Coming to the end of my scene last night–and I should mention, the end of Chapter Sixteen as well–I wrote this final paragraph:

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Erywin sat staring at the empty chair across from her, fingers tapping against both arm rests. “There’s something we, the instructors, say—” She slowly turned her head so she was looking at both children. “—that pertains to both teaching and counseling, Annie. ‘We can show you the door; we can even hold it open for you. But you have to be willing to step through to see what’s on the other side’.” Erywin rose, straightening her pajamas. “She insisted there isn’t anything on the other side, and that’s as far as I can take her.” She respectfully bowed her head. “Have a good evening, children.”

 

I use the symbolism of a door a lot in this novel.  Passing through one door to another and finding something incredible waiting.  This was the end of Kerry’s Evaluation and Assessment:

 

He nodded slowly. “Okay, Doc.” He looked for the exit. “How do I get out of here?”

The doctor nodded at something behind him. “Go out the patio doors.”

Kerry turned and started walked towards them. After three steps he stopped and turned. “There really isn’t a patio out there.”

“There is if you want one.” She gave him a knowing look. “You’re going to find out that around here vision and willpower—and knowing how to apply them correctly—go a long ways towards making things you want happen.” Again she nodded toward the doors. “Go on, Kerry. Enjoy what’s waiting on the other side.”

 

Kerry did, and slipped right down into the rabbit hole.  Annie did much the same for hers:  she walked through one door, found she had to walk through another to meet with her adviser–and ended up telling a multi-millenniums old creature that she could stuff it, she was there at school for her reasons and her reasons only, and to hell with everything else.  What did she get for her troubles?  Shown to another door which should have lead to a nice, comfy bed–which in a way it did, where she said something to a certain doctor/nurse, and that led to questions and answers and reveals and . . . well, the start of something great.

Annie did the same thing to Kerry in London.  When she suggested he come with her on a walking tour of London, she didn’t say, “Pack your shit, Welsh Boy, we’re going out.”  No, she asked, “Would you like to do something? Would you like to go somewhere with me, Kerry?”  She showed him the door, but in the end, he had to decide to walk through and investigate the wonders she was about to show him.

Writing a story, a novelette, a novella, a novel–when you start they’re all like standing before door, wondering what you should do.  The door is the idea, but what is on the other side–that’s your imagination.  What you’re going to find on the other side . . .

Hey, you gotta open it first.

Hey, you gotta open it first.

What you’ll find is a room full of jumble.  Plots, characters, scenes–they are everywhere.  It’s the way things are.  Stories are a messy thing, there’s stuff all over the place.  But if you work that idea enough, if you think about your characters and where you want them to go, what you want them to do, what sort of adventures they’ll have–in time, you’ll tidy up that room, get things in order, and eventually produce something.

Or as Dwayne Johnson might put it:

 

When you walk up to opportunity’s door, don’t knock.  Kick that bitch in, smile, and introduce yourself.

 

And then start moving things about and getting that story in shape.

I’m always thinking about my stories.  If not the one I’m on, then the next.  Though this time is different:  I’m eight months into writing, 201,101 words into the story, and I might have another six, seven, eight months of writing ahead of me.  I’m going to make a push to knock off twenty thousand more words by the end of July and get extremely close to the end of Act Two–and then I’m gonna start editing another novel, because publishing, that’s why.

I think all the time about my stories, my characters, where I want them.  It’s a non-stop thing.  Once I’m through that door I have to stay and get things done.  That’s why you get a little crazy writing, because you want out of that room, but you can’t leave until you finish.

But not everyone is like me, wanting to write grand, sweeping novels.  Some people are really good with short stories.  The process is the same, the time frame is a lot different.  And keep in mind, there’s writing, and there’s editing.  Writing starts the story; editing builds upon that foundation, allows you to correct what isn’t right.  No story is perfect on the first draft:  I know this all to well.  Keep polishing.  Make it pretty.  In time, you’ll get it there.

Your stories are waiting on the other side of a door.  I’ve shown you that door–

It’s up to you to go on through.

Outrunning a Sunset of Feelings

After a long day of getting up, blogging, packing, and driving, I’m finally back at Casa Burg, aka my Harrisburg home away from home.  Unlike when I left The Burg a week before, I kept caffeinated where necessary, and alternated between working out scenes with my characters, and playing music real loud.

And having a Butterbeer Frappachino, only because someone said I had to try it.  Well, she didn't say, "Try it," but you know what I mean.

And having a Butterbeer Frappuccino, only because someone said I had to try it. Well, she didn’t say, “You have to try it,” but you know what I mean.

One of those magic moments I had on the return home was watching the sky turn a deep blue before setting into black not long after passing through the Allegheny Tunnel.  I was playing REM’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi at a comfortable but you-can-feel-the-music volume, and there were certain songs that simply hit me a certain way.  I’d had that happen a couple of times on these trips to and from The Burg to The Vall, but they usually hit me hardest when I’m zipping along a twisting turnpike at seventy miles per hour, or one hundred and twelve kilometers per hour, which makes it sounds like I’m on a road course.

The coming of the night brought out some unusual feelings for me.  Feelings for others, feelings about my work, feelings about others close to me.  There was a lot of crazy shit bouncing about in my head for most of the trip, but during that three hour run through the mountains and the tunnels, I think I was as close to epiphany-grade thinking as I’ve ever gotten.

One of the scenes I played with on the way back is something that happens in this novel, right near the end as one of the last scenes in the book.  In fact, I can say with certainty it’s not the penultimate scene, but the one before that, whatever “Two Scenes Before the Last” is called.  (I looked it up, of course, and that is called the antepenultimate or propenultimate scene.  You can thank me anytime.)  It’s when Annie and Kerry return to Amsterdam after leaving school, and being reunited with . . . in Annie’s case her mother picks her up, and in Kerry’s Ms. Rutherford comes to collect him.  One has family, one doesn’t.  One can talk about being a witch all they like to their witch of a mother–and I mean that in a good witch way–and one can’t say a word about what really happened the past year at the strange, hidden school in the middle of Cape Ann.

Kerry gets introduced to Mama, there is pleasant small talk, and then it’s time for the Annie Family to hit the road.  Annie and Kerry say their finally goodbyes for the year in front of the adults, and then handle the emotional impact in their own way . . .

Annie internalizes most everything except with the right people.  Mama is not the “right people,” and the last thing she’d ever talk about with her is how walking away from Kerry is making her feel.  It’s been a strange, hard, first year, and leaving her Ginger-haired Boy behind is tearing her up inside.  She won’t show it, though.  She’ll get home, great her father, have dinner, and go to her lake house where she’ll sadly reflect her loss.

Kerry’s not like that.  Before coming to school he’d kept his emotions shut down, and only on certain occasions for a certain someone would he actually reveal what he felt.  But not anymore.  In the last few days of school he’s discovered that love and pain go hand-in-hand, and watching the person you’ve been attached to for more than nine months walk off complete in the knowledge that when you wake up tomorrow morning she won’t be there to greet you, to share meals with you, to walk hand-in-hand with you–

He loses it in the airport.  Major crying jag, has to hold on to Ms. Rutherford because he needs that human touch, and she helps calm him, gives him words of encouragement, and helps clean him up because she doesn’t want his parents to see him that way, distraught over having to “spend the summer without his special love.”

And what happens after that?

You know, one day I will get around to writing those last two scenes . . .

The Future Through the Past Today

Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday, which was the main reasons why I returned home last Friday.  I’d told her I’d be her to help her celebrate, and true to my word, I did.  I also watched a mammoth get its ass set on fire, which had its moments, believe me.

All they needed was for someone to quip, “Have fun storming the Wall!”

With all this happening yesterday, there wasn’t a lot of writing–which means I did manage about six hundred words at some point after 9 PM local time.  It wasn’t much, just Wednesday ratting out the kids with the video footage of what was happening down in Spell Cell #3 earlier that afternoon.  Though “ratting” is probably a little too harsh–Wednesday’s really not that sort of person.  After all, she did tell someone about that time she killed the school’s sorceress . . .

 

(This excerpt and next from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

A video began playing on Mathilde’s display. “What am I seeing?”

“This took place earlier today—Spell Cell #3. Had a couple of students request a fire cell because they said they were going to try a fire spell.” Wednesday glanced over to the headmistress. “Emphasis on ‘try’.”

“Why do you say that?”

On the video two students entered the spell cell. “Keep an eye on them: you’ll see.”

Mathilde closely watched the students—a girl and a boy—bring in two totes before unloading books and electronic gear. “Who are they?”

“Annie Kirilova and Kerry Malibey.”

The headmistress recognized the name right away. “Our Cernunnos A Levels? The ones the instructors are talking about?”

Wednesday nodded. “One and the same.” She punched the fast forward. “They’re putting wood in the fire pit, save for . . .” She returned the playback to normal, and pointed to one piece of wood set against the wall. “That one.”

“I see.” Mathilde leaned her right elbow on the armrest of her rather comfortable chair and stroked her cheek with her index finger. “And the reason for that?”

“Watch.”

 

Yes, watch the magic, because that’s what’s happening.  That and what I ended the scene with . . .

 

Mathilde spun her chair to face Wednesday. “What project are they working on?”

“Holoč’s first part of the school year project. They decided they wanted to make charcoal?”

“And did they?”

“Yep.” Wednesday sped up the display, which showed the two children standing close together. “Not much to see here—”

“What are they doing?”

I was hoping I didn’t have to answer this one. “They’re hugging, maybe kissing.”

 

Kids, you’re so busted!  Not only are you on video snuggling, but the Headmistress is seeing this.  Wends, so not cool.  Then again, Miss Mathilde has probably seen them vanish under the comforters during the Midnight Madness, so is she really surprised?  Probably not.

Never fear, though, because there’s a method to Wednesday’s madness, and it’s coming out in another scene that’s coming up.  I’ll get there by the end of the week.  I think.  I feel I’ll finish this scene today, or at least I’ll put a big push on to get it done today.  After all, I don’t have that much to do . . .

But yesterday was also time for reflection, all because of a song.  See, yesterday I was playing a bit of Elton John on the computer, and Rocket Man was one that hit the repeat more than once.  That got me to thinking, because there was a novel I wrote–which is still unpublished, of course, story of my life–where that song came into play.  What novel am I talking about?  The first novel I ever started:  Transporting.  The one that took me twenty years to finish.

278,000 words of fun.  You gotta start somewhere, right?

278,000 words of fun. You gotta start somewhere, right?

The scene in question was one I wrote probably way back in 1990, maybe 1991.  Maybe.  It’s all so fuzzy, really.  I suppose I could pull up the original documents . . . which tell me nothing, because when I moved the original documents to my off-line drive in 2005, the creation dates were changed.  So I’m stilling with 1991 or so, because why not?

Rereading the scene in question I realized how much I’d missed these characters.  The moment I started reading I remembered everything about it, even though I haven’t looked at this particular scene in maybe three years.  But there it was, all coming back as I reabsorbed the words.

The scene is simple.  One of my time traveling people, Audrey, is back in time and on another planet trying to help the civilization there.  She’s in her private air/space ship Liberator, flying along with one of the residents of the planet, Callia, and the ship’s AI/Avatar, Maggie.  Since Liberator can fly through air or space, Audrey decides to take them up into orbit and let Callia see what her home looks like from a few hundred kilometers up.

That’s what this scene is about:  taking someone up and showing them secrets that no one else know, because Callia’s planet has only known air travel for a few decades, and space flight is something a bit off in their future.  Audrey is giving her a special experience, one that she alludes to she doesn’t feel is all that special to her anymore.

Because I’m in a good mood today, I’ll share it with you.  Keep in mind that Audrey, who is not from the 32nd Century, which is where she lives throughout the story, but was actually from the period of 1950’s to the 1980’s–when she was found and, ahem, taken–swears a great deal.  I make no apologies for the frequent f-bombs; if it’s any consolation, Audrey doesn’t, either.

Here you are.  Enjoy.  It’s allowed, you know.

 

(Excerpt from Transporting, copyright 1992, 2012, by Cassidy Frazee)

After a couple of minutes Liberator appeared to level out. The ground was still above the ship, but Callia could see it was far, far away. She understood the concepts of orbital mechanics, and so realized they must now be in orbit, falling around her planet. A slight tinge of excitement ripped through her body as she understood that she, of all people on her planet, had become the first people to ever see their home this way. She pulled herself up into a kneeling position, gazing outside, watching the surface of her planet rush by. She wasn’t aware the engines were off, the music had stopped, and Audrey was standing behind her, silent, letting her enjoy the moment.

When she thought the moment was right, Audrey said in a quiet voice, “Pretty fuckin’ awesome, huh?”

“It is incredible, yes,” Callia half-whispered back.

“You want me to get pictures?”

Callia turned, her face a mask of excitement. “You can do . . .” She realized how ignorant her question seemed. “Damn. That’s foolish of me.”

“What? Forgot where you’re at and what I can do?” Audrey laughed. “Hey, it’s okay. You’re entitled to it.”

Callia bit her lower lip and turned back to the view outside. “You’re far too kind to me, Audrey,” she said with a great deal of reverence.

Audrey shrugged. “Naw, not really. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be here.”

“Anyway . . .” Callia nodded, then turned back to her alien friend. “Thank you, regardless. This is something I’ll remember forever.”

Audrey really didn’t know what to say. To her, this sort of thing had become commonplace. Sure the first couple of times . . . it was a total gas. Now it was like driving to work: Been there, done that, seen it. Callia’s innocence and glee caused something to well up inside Audrey. She didn’t think she was going to get maudlin, but . . . it had been a long time since she’d done anything that had made someone this happy.

At least, she felt, not since the holidays.

“Yeah, a real Kodak moment.” She realized there was something else she could offer Callia. “Would you like to try free fall?”

Callia turned away from the window for just a moment. “How’s that again?”

“You know: weightlessness?” Audrey started making hand gestures of something floating in the air before her. “Like floating on air?”

“I understand some of the theories behind space flight,” said Callia. “I just thought—”

“You didn’t want to ask me about it?”

“I figured you’d likely have to turn off your systems and make the whole cabin . . . weightless.”

Audrey shook her head. “Ah, no way. On some other loser’s ship, maybe. But not mine.” She raised one eyebrow. “Wanna give it a shot?”

Callia’s face lit up with anticipation. “Yes, of course.” Her smile was blinding. “I’d love to try it.”

Audrey moved back from the front window, positioning herself to the side of her main seating area. “I think from here to the window would be a good zone,” she said. “Maggie, you wanna give us some help?”

Maggie appeared, rising out of the floor like Venus from the sea, only Maggie was wearing a simple long dress and sandals rather than being naked. “I know what you want,” she told Audrey. “How else can I be of assistance?”

“You think you can step in and help Callia keep her orientation?” asked Audrey.

Callia looked puzzled. “Won’t Maggie be affected by lack of gravity as well?”

Maggie stepped closer to Callia. “I’m the ship,” she said, smiling broadly. “Remember? I can’t float about. It’s impossible.”

“How awful,” said Callia.

“Yes, but there are many other advantages,” said Maggie. She put her hands on Callia’s shoulders as if to steady her. “Such as what I’m offering you now.”

“What?” Before Callia could react Maggie started lifting her slowly off the ground. A few seconds passed before Callia understood that Maggie had altered the conditions in this section of the ship so weightlessness was possible.

Maggie positioned Callia so she was perpendicular to the floor, then slowly moved her closer to the window. Hand rails appeared in the wall, allowing Callia something with which to situate herself on her own. “Comfortable?” asked Maggie.

Callia nodded. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Some people don’t adjust well at first: Space Adaptation Syndrome, it’s called.” Maggie decided that detailing the symptoms—swelling of the mucus membranes, dizziness, nausea—was not in order. As Callia seemed to be adapting quite will, Maggie thought it best not to put any ideas in the girl’s head. “But you’re coming along very nicely.” Maggie released Callia and gave her a tiny push towards the forward window.

The lights dimmed in the main cabin. Callia didn’t know if it was Audrey or Maggie who’d dimmed them, but it didn’t matter. The view just outside the window became even more brilliant as the planet below them passed into darkness—or was it them who were passing?—and the lights of the cities began to glow through the thin cloud cover. Callia held on to the railings for a moment, then let go and allowed herself to float free, her eyes locked upon the tableau below.

Music was playing throughout the ship once more, but as before Callia didn’t understand what was being said. Audrey was singing again, and Callia could pick out some of the chorus: something about it being a long, long time, and the touchdown bringing her around to find that she’s not the man she was back home—that was all very strange.

Callia was glad Audrey wasn’t a male, because only another woman would understand what Callia was feeling this very moment, understand that she wanted to see what one future was like, to be able to experience it, and then, when everything was prefect, to be left alone with her thoughts and emotions.

She performed a slow roll, stopping with little difficulty. She sighed softly and wiped away the globs of tears that had formed around her eyes. She mumbled a thanks to Audrey, knowing she’d never hear her words. Whatever the girl could do for her people, whatever the future might bring . . . it all paled compared to what Callia was living this very moment.

For these were the memories one was fortunate enough to take with them to their grave.

Flashing Between Both Sides Now

Once in a while you need to go back and look back on what you used to do.  Sometimes you want to see what you were doing a couple of years ago and find out if things are getting better, have gotten better, or if they’ve slipped off the shelf and fallen right into the crapper.

It’s been a strange two years for me.  At that time I had just finished a novel and was trying to edit it so I could publish it one day–that day being almost a year later–I’d written a novella, I was working on another novella, and I was thinking about working on another short novel.  Also, I was working my first contract job after having done nothing for just over three years, and the experience was a bit unsettling because my place of employment wasn’t the greatest in the world and it was leaving me bummed like few things did.

At the same time, today, two years ago, I had my first meeting with my therapist, and started on the road I am today to becoming more like I should.  And I’m still writing.  Not publishing anything, no.  Not at the moment, because I have to rethink how I do that.  But writing, yes.

Always Be Writing, or you get no coffee.

Like this:

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

How do I work this, then? Do what Annie said: think of you making it turn. In order to do that— Professor Douglas told them she didn’t want them using foci, but was one making a motion with their hands a foci? He’d seen Annie flip her fingers and hands when working her spell, and if the professor didn’t say anything to her . . .

 

You go there, boy.  And always listen to your girlfriend.

The funny thing is, during that time, two years gone now, I’d written maybe sixty thousand words between the first of the year and the middle of May while working–and here I am, having written about eighty thousand words between the first of December and the middle of May while working.  Is that good?  Is it better?  Honestly, I’m not sure.  Volume doesn’t mean quality, it just means you’re spending a lot of time in front of the computer typing.

Like this:

 

He pointed his left index finger at his spindle and visualized how it might appear were he to place his finger upon the object and turn it around. But I don’t have to touch it, I only have to imagine I’m touching it. With the image firmly in his mind, Kerry felt the tingling at the back of neck telling him he’d once more tapped into that mystical power source that witches used to alter all around them.

All that remained was one little thing.

 

And that little thing is–what?  We’ll get to that in a moment.

Two years from now, if I am still alive, I will have seen pictures beamed back from Pluto, which will be pretty cool, planet or not.  I’ll probably still be on-line, hearing all sorts of crazy shit, most of it BS that can be refuted with a simple Google search, but where’s the fun in that?

I’ll also be writing.  Always Be Writing, or . . . you know how it goes, right?  In the meantime . . .

 

Kerry slowly circled his finger to the left, and the spindle matched his movements. He performed three circles to the left, stopped, then repeated the motion, circling his finger three times to the right before bringing the spindle to a complete stop.

He looked up at the student progress board and saw his name flashing green.

Wednesday walked over, a pleased look upon her face. “Well, Kerry, I’d say you got that one down. And you did it in nearly the same amount of time as Annie.” Her eyes shifted to the person on his left. “And I believe there was something you were going to do?”

Kerry touched Annie’s arm, his fingers light upon her wrist. “You can do it. I know you can.”

Annie nodded slowly as she focused on the spindle. She raised her hand and slowly curled back two of her fingers. “Yes, love—” She smiled as the spindle smoothly rose ten centimeters from the table surface. “I know you know I can.”

 

See?  Even when I’m writing I’m finishing up my scene from last night.

Always Be Writing, folks.  Sure, it’s only three hundred fourteen words I put down this morning, but after a while, it adds up.

That first draft is always the best draft.

That first draft is always the best draft.

By Lovely Lake Lovecraft Once More

So this happened last night:

 

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

“Thank you.” She walked slowly out into the hallway. “I enjoyed our talk as well.” She turned and headed towards the steps leading to the lower level.

Deanna’s eyes unfocused for perhaps a second before she snapped back to reality. “Don’t take the tunnels.”

“What?” Annie spun around quickly. “What’s what?”

“Don’t take the tunnels to The Pentagram. Take the paths.”

“Why?”

“It’s a nice day; you never know what you’ll see on the way.” She nodded towards the main entrance. “Go on.”

She wouldn’t be telling me to take the paths unless she knew something. Annie grinned a little, then turned and headed slowly to the main entrance. Once there she turned, her hand pressed against one of the large doors. “Goodbye . . . Deanna.” Then she slipped outside, the doors closing behind her with a whisper.

Deanna kept her own grin affixed until the door were closed. The moment she was alone in the building her face took on a far more serious demeanor. She stepped back into the middle of her office and closed the door, then slipped deep into thought.

She finally pulled herself back to her surroundings and looked about. “So I was right.” She reached for her table. “I need to speak with Trevor.” Deanna’s eyes narrowed. “He’ll know who to contact.”

 

Damn seers:  they know everything, and tell you nothing.  Sneaky like cats, I tell ya.

The rewrites are, as far as I’m concerned, finished.  Character corrections are completed and there really isn’t anything more to do–save get back into Act Two and start writing.  Except . . . I gotta go through all the last scenes before the end of Act One and check for mistakes.  I also get to reread things:

 

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

Annie returned her gaze to the path. Rather than retracing the route Kerry and she had taken on their first trip to Memory’s End, she took the longer, wider path leading to Gwydion Manor. From there she thought she’d head south to the main Witch House path, or take the path winding around the south and west shore of Lake Lovecraft. Dolvan Pavillion sat upon the west shore, and Annie saw it as a good place to sit and reflect upon what Professor Arrakis and she had discussed. Maybe she would ponder her dreams of the past, and try and imagine what the future would bring—

“Excuse me, Miss?”

Annie heard the voice and looked around, expecting someone to jump out from behind a tree. But that’s Kerry’s voice, and he’s not in the trees . . . She looked up and saw nothing, then turned to her right and saw a shadow slowly moving along the ground behind her.

She twisted around and looked up again—

Kerry was hovering maybe five meters above her, floating around to position himself before Annie. She watched as he dropped nearly to the ground, then rotated about so he was facing her. “Do you have a moment to hear about the horned god of our coven, Cernunnos?” He settled down until he was hovering a meter away, eye-to-eye and grinning wildly. “You’ll want to hear about it now before you sleep in the tower tonight.”

Kerry.” She bounded the short distance to her soul mate, standing to his left.  “Look at you.”

“Yeah.” He took his hands off the broom and lifted his goggles.  “Look at me.”

 

I can see this routine going over well in Boston.  Then again, he can knock on your door with his broom and float away if you don’t want to listen.

Though I managed to delve a little into the last scene, the last one I worked upon in full was Lovely Lake Lovecraft–which, as the resident Dark Witch tells everyone, has nothing to do with her.  Here is the scene in full:

 

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

The sunshine lay warm upon Annie’s face while she squinted up into a sky full of light clouds. After a morning of flying and exploring, she was resting upon her back on the north short of Lake Lovecraft, and the moments Kerry and she had shared played through her memories.

They’d flow over the school grounds at a low, leisurely pace—”bicycle speed” as Kerry said. They found buildings they didn’t know existed—all three of the groundskeeper’s buildings scattered around the grounds, and a long building north of Lake Lovecraft that they’d not walked near, but that Kerry recalled reading that it was known as the Firing Range. They flew over all the science buildings, the Hanger, and the Aerodrome. They found another lake and a small spring, with neither appearing to have a path leading to either. They found courses cut out through the woods that Annie knew were used for racing.

They flew over The Diamond and were astounded by its immenseness. They flew around the Observatory where the dome was open with a few students standing about, taking in the bright noon air and looking at the scenery beyond the walls. They managed a touchdown on the outside deck, much to the surprise of the students and Professor Bashagwani, who was working on the telescope. They stayed long enough to enjoy a small mug of her special hot chocolate before sailing off into the sky once again.

Kerry showed Annie the route Professor Salomon and he took when they buzzed The Pentagram. They did it once, then ten minutes later did it again, only at a speed like the first time Kerry had flown the route with the professor. This time, however, instead of flying past Åsgårdsreia Tower, they circled around and landed inside the Pentagram Garden near Mórrígan Tower before heading into the Great Hall to get lunch.

Annie heard the murmur running through the Dining Hall the moment they both entered wearing their flying gear and carrying their brooms. She watched Kerry the whole time, noticing how confident he appeared, as if how he was dressed and what he was carrying had become a normal part of his life. She saw that he wasn’t strutting about the room, that none of the attention was going to his head. It’s time for lunch, and he’s talking a break from flying—nothing more or less. He’s not about showing off; he only wants us to eat.

At no time in her life did Annie believe she’d share a moment like this with anyone. Her mother told her a few times that her Papa was the flier in the family, that she’d done what was necessary to get through A Level Flying, and that they rarely flew together except during class. Annie was aware she wasn’t much of a flier, either, and after her disastrous first flight, her interest had become less than zero.

But when Kerry asked her to fly with him, she couldn’t say no. His desire to see her fly, and his confidence at her unseen abilities, drove her to show him, her love, that she could meet his expectations. And his confident spilled over onto her being, for she’d never expected to sit upon an Espinoza and have it perform as expected.

Today, she’d piloted her broom as if she’d piloted one for years.

They flew another thirty minutes after lunch before setting down on the northern shore of Lake Lovecraft, unzipping their flight jackets and laying down next to each other upon the grass. Everything seemed so perfect to Annie—or as perfect as anything she’d felt since meeting Kerry two weeks ago. The weather, the company, being together on another adventure: given how the day has begun, she couldn’t ask for a finer interlude.

Yet something nagged her, and she soon understood that there was something she had to tell Kerry . . .

She stared into the sky while moving closer to him. “Can I ask you to do something for me?”

Kerry was lost in his own thoughts, but he heard Annie’s voice clearly. “Sure.”

“If you should ever meet my father . . .” She reached for Kerry’s left hand, holding it tightly against her stomach. “Please don’t tell him about this day.”

He knew the chances were slim that he’d meet Annie’s parents any time soon, but he respected her wish enough not to ask why. “Sure, Sweetie.”

“Thank you, my love.” She held onto his hand, as if she expected to float away without an anchor. “Thank you for everything.”

 

And that’s where I leave them, at a spot at the school where so many feelings will come to them over the course of this year:  a moment of rest, a moment of confession, a moment of remembrance.  But those last two are some time off in the future, both in the book and writing.  Tonight they go home–and I can move on with my kids, in the way they were meant to be seen.

Though there seems to be some confusion about what sort of students they're rousting.

Though there seems to be some confusion about what sort of students we have at this school.

The Editing Muse

There was no editing last night.  None.  Nada.  Absolutely zero.  And I’m certain my story feels badly about the whole thing.

"We miss you!"

“We missed you!”

I’m sure you do, pumpkin, but mommy had other things to do last night.  Like drive to Silver Springs, MD, and hang out with an author friend I’ve know for a long time, but never met, Dana Myles.  We walked, we ate, we chatting–you know, doing things that normal people do.  It was fun, and it’s something I should get out and do more often.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t think about my story.  Oh, no.  We talked about it.  A lot.  Dana wanted to hear all about my story, and I was ready to tell her–

But I was also thinking about something else on the ride down, which was a nice, long one because someone decided to take out a lot of guard railing in Baltimore, leaving me stranded in a five mile long backup for almost an hour.  I thought about editing.

Yesterday’s posted elicited a few comments on editing, and the consensus seems that editing is the suck.  Most writers I know hate editing.  Even though they know they need it, when their story tries to send them to editing, they say no, no, no.  I was the same way; I dreaded getting into editing mode.  Such a pain in the ass–

Well . . . not really.

One thing I’ve learned over the last couple of years is that editing isn’t a necessary evil, it’s just necessary.  Because no matter what you do to get your story off the ground, no matter what you do to make certain it’s going to become a good story, there’s always something . . . off.

A lot of my feelings on the matter of getting your first draft perfect match what I wrote back in late January of this year:

 

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

Kerry didn’t look at Professor Ellison as he mumbled a reply. “I don’t . . . I’m not sure I’d be any good.”

“I can understand that.” Ellison now moved a little closer, relaxing to keep his body language neutral. “Are you worried you’re gonna suck?”

Annie almost laughed; Kerry looked up a bit surprised by the question. “A little.”

“That’s okay, you know—” The professor leaned against the machine closest to Kerry, but he kept the boy the center of his attention. “As a creative person you have permission to suck—particularly if it’s your first time trying something. Writing, painting, drawing, playing: the first time you try any of these things you’re probably going to suck—and that’s okay.”

“I’d rather not suck in front of a bunch of people.”

“No one does, but even the best do now and then. And between now and and the weekend after the 21st of March, you’ve got about five months to practice and get better.” He decided to try another approach. “You know who never sucks?”

Kerry almost said “Professionals,” then caught himself because he knew of numerous examples where they had. “No. Who?”

“The people who never take a shot. The ones who are sitting in the audience going on about how people suck, how you suck, all the while sitting there running off their mouths.” He let himself relax, so as to put Kerry at ease. “I can get you a good tutor. I know just the perfect one for you, too.” He stepped away from the synthesizer and stood before the boy. “What do you think? Wanna be one of the few A Levels who gets up and shows everyone what you got?”

You are allowed to suck, but it’s a good idea to keep the sucking to a minimum.  That’s why Professor Ellison wants to get a tutor for Kerry–because there is sucking, and then there’s “That’s one hell of a train wreck, fella,” sucking.  It’s one of the reasons I spend so much time setting up my novels before the first word goes on the page, because far too many times I’ve seen people put up a post about how they’re seventy thousand words into their story, and it’s a complete hot mess and can’t be rescued–

That’s train wreck level sucking, and I stay away.  I always try to figure out my story well ahead of time, so I get rid of the plot holes and the such.  One of the reasons I time line things out the way I do is because I don’t want to mess that stuff up.  Like I pointed out last night, there are events that happened to Annie and Kerry in Part Three of Act One that never get resolved until about Chapter Twenty-Eight of Act Three.  There’s something that happens to Kerry in Part Three of Act One that doesn’t get resoled until the third book.  There are things that I just have to know, because . . .

I’m like that.

And yet, no matter how good you are with a story, there are times you get something wrong–something that is way, way the opposite of right, and then your story–more likely a beta reader who hates what you’ve done with a character–turns and comes at you like an unstoppable creature who has you tied up in the bathroom, and is hell-bent on forcing you to return to the story and rewrite things so they become right!

"You have her crying--crying?  No, no:  you will go back and you will fix her!  I look serious, do I not?  Then, when you are finished, we have Jell-o with lots of sugar--"

“You have her crying–crying? No, no: you will go back and you will fix her! I look serious, do I not? Then, when you are finished, and all is correct, we’ll have Jell-O with lots of sugar–“

There’s a muse you do not fuck with.

You do it because, as a writer, you have to get it right.  You’re allowed some sucking on that first draft:  there’s no excuse after that.  That’s why I edit.  And guess what?

I actually kinda like it.

Begging the Differences

A quite night led to some interesting editing, which is often a lot better than the uninteresting stuff I normally write.  (I’m only quoting some people I know; the rest will tell you . . . hum, I wonder about that.  Never mind.)

I rocketed through the flight and got the kids at the school, inside the Great Hall, and back into their Evaluations and Assessments–or as some people at Salem might call them, screwing with kids to see if you can break them.  It’s a bit of the ‘ol psychological torture, yeah, and depending on the mood of the Great Benefactor and Protector of the Institution–you gotta worry about any spirit that lives in an underground chamber called The Cauldron–she might just flip you off and send you packing, or . . . she might just drive you a little crazy before kicking your ass back into the hallway.

Now comes up one of my favorite scenes in the story, and last night while putting about to get ready for bed, I realized how something important changes in the story based upon how the characters have been altered.  That’s because in the first draft Kerry was sort of the “I wanna explore” sort of person, and it was he who dragged Annie all over London, taking her places he wanted to see.  She never said anything because she was hiding what she really was, and was happy to go along for the ride.  It was only once they arrived in Amsterdam that Annie was like, “Hey, let check this out.”

As I was reminded, however, Annie is really something of a world traveler, and there’s even a scene in the book where she talks about walking around Hong Kong with her mother.  She’s been everywhere, while Kerry has pretty much visit Jack Shite, UK, and little else.  Also, from the first chapter you know Annie is hangin’ with the Normal kids–that’s what The Foundation calls them–so she’s sort of a Changeling pretending to be like them.  Since that was the case, there was no point in hiding her true nature, and since there is a reason for her wanting to spend time with Kerry–reasons that came out in her E&A–it makes sense that she’s the one dragging ‘Ol Ginger Hair Boy around London and Amsterdam.

Therefore, I was thinking, when I get to the upcoming scene, it not only makes Annie’s reasoning for what she was doing far more clear, but it makes Kerry look all the more clueless about his friend’s motives.  He really, totally, completely, ends up looking like he’s been walking about with eyes wide shut and wholly oblivious to what was happening between his new found friend and him.

Which means it should hit him like a much bigger hammer when Nurse Coraline delivers the good news.

It’s really fun to watch the dynamic change between my characters after just a few little personality tweaks.  Some moments will remain where they’re pretty much on even ground–usually about the time magic starts happening–but the way I’m viewing things now, Kerry is back to where he should be:  always pondering just how great his little Dark Witch is, and how he feels she’s so much better than him.

"Kerry, remember when people thought I was only here for you to tell me what to do?"  "That's because the person writing us lost her mind."  "What do you mean 'the person writing us'?  Are you saying we don't do these things on our own?"  "Umm . . ."

“Kerry, remember when people thought I was only here for you to tell me what to do?” “That’s because the person writing us lost her mind.” “What do you mean ‘the person writing us’? Are you saying we don’t do these things on our own?” “Um . . .”

Yeah, kids, if you were telling me to what do, why didn’t you tell me months ago?  I swear–lazy characters . . .