Another First Day in the Witch House

Let me say I have the best fans in the world, because they care.  Thanks for all the notes of concern yesterday, and yes:  it did hurt, it was painful, and the left side of my face is still a little swollen this morning but it’s looking better.  I expect by Sunday it’ll start looking like normal once more.

I was, however, a bit of a mess.  When I got home I was feeling pretty punk.  I did cut a video for something else yesterday, but after that I was kinda like, eh, let me try and get at my writing.  I did okay, but at one point I had to sit and ice my face for thirty minutes because that made it feel better.

What I am saying is writing was slow.  Six hundred and ninety words last night, and three hundred the night before.  Almost a thousand in two days.  Not my best, but it’s getting better.  The issues I’m having is feeling what I’m writing, because there’s so much happening to me right now I don’t feel the words flowing.  It’s in my head, but it’s not coming out through my actions.

One thing I did accomplish last night was getting my new scenes into place, and getting a few notes set up.  I had to think about one scene in particular because it wasn’t tripping any bells, and then I saw the date and time and that was all of a trigger I needed.  See why I do that?  Every little bit helps.

Now that all my personal stuff is out of the way, let’s get out to the Witch House, where someone was telling the kids they may not become the Mistress of All Things Dark’s, um, Dark Witches . . .

 

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

She walked up to the middle area before the first row of student desks. She slid her hands into the pockets of her jacket and set back on to her heels. “There’s nothing wrong with not being a sorceress. I’m certain there are a few of you who’ve already thought, ‘Screw this, it’s not me’. And that’s fine, because if you are having those thoughts, you’re likely correct. This is not a life for all witches, and there are many instructors here—my partner Erywin among them—who’ll tell you that they weren’t cut out to do what I do, and they’re good with that.

“So I’m going to push you; I’m going to test you.” Helena leaned slightly towards the students seated before her. “By Yule I’ll have a good idea who’s got the best chance of moving into my C Level class. By Beltane I’ll know for sure, and by Graduation Day those people will know.” Her dark eyes scanned the faces staring back her way. “If you haven’t heard from me by that evening, you’ll know you’re not moving up to my next level.”

Helena was ready to tell the rest of the tale she’d planned for this morning. “Because I’m going to push you guys harder than I did last year, I expect there will be times when a few—or many—of you may require help. Therefore I’ve arranged to bring in some minions whenever it’s necessary. In fact, I spoke with them this morning before class began.” She turned to her right and nodded in the direction of the students who where now looking her Helena’s direction. “Annie Kirilova and Kerry Malibey will be my class minions this year: I selected them because of the work they did last year, and due to—”

What?”

 

Before class started–hum . . .  I wonder what that conversation was like?  Or if the kids knew it was coming–

"Why do I have a feeling today is gonna be kinda strange?"  "We're witches, my love.  Every day is strange for us."

“Why do I have a feeling today is gonna be kinda strange?” “We’re witches, my love. Every day is strange for us.”

Forgot about that, didn’t you, Kerry?  Actually there’s a story behind that–it’s just that I didn’t show it to you.

Getting back to the story–you know, exclaiming “What?” in front of Helena is never the best move in the world.  Most of the students there know this, and Helena surely does.  All you’re gonna do is draw attention to yourself, like this . . .

 

The last thing Helena had anticipated was an outburst from one of her students. She even less expected it from a student who’d said almost nothing throughout the entirety of their A Level. “Yes, Mr. Tomasko? You have something you’d like to add to the conversation?”

For a moment Mesha Tomasko didn’t know if he should say he was sorry and simply not say what was on his mind before deciding to speak. “I mean, Professor, it’s not usual for instructors to get help from inside the class . . .” He swallowed while gathering his strength. “I don’t think it’s right.”

Helena appeared puzzled. “You don’t?”

Mesha shook his head. “I don’t think it’s right. We should have . . .”

The sorceress’ eyes narrowed as she surmised what the boy from Poland was going to say. “We should have what, Mr. Tomasko?”

“We should have people who know what they’re doing.”

Helena’s gaze shifted to the student who answered her question, for it wasn’t Mesha Tomasko, but rather Dongsun Jeon, who was sitting near the middle of the class. Unlike Mesha, Jeon hadn’t the easiest of times during A Level Sorcery, and had only managed average marks in five of his seven proficiency levels. It hadn’t been enough to keep him out of this year’s class, but another year like would be enough, as far as the Head Sorceress was concerned, to keep him out of next year’s class. “What exactly does that mean, Jeon?” A strange look began settling across her features. “Do you think we need different help?”

Jeon slowly looked about the room, then fixed his gaze upon the students being questioned—who, for their part, were looking straight ahead instead of facing their accuser. “There’s a reason you get minions from the upper levels—”

Helena folded her arms across her torso and rested her right hand against her chin. “Please, enlighten me.”

 

Yes, by all means, enlighten Helena, because she lives for these moments when students find it necessary to explain her actions to her.

It goes about as well as you’d expect, and then some.

 

The young man continued onward. “We should have people who know how to do these things. I mean—” He motioned towards where Annie and Kerry sat. “Yeah, Kirilova and Malibey are good, but . . .” Jeon looked towards the floor as he shrugged. “I don’t know: I guess I’m not sure they can help.”

“Really.” Helena’s tone turned as dark as her black eyes. “Are you saying in your own special way that I’m mistaken in my choices?”

Jeon wasn’t about to say anything derogatory about his instructor’s choices, at least not directly. “I’d just feel better with someone from C or D Levels.”

It was Helena’s turn to shrug. “You’ll get the assistants I want, and not the ones that you think you should get.” She turned to her left and began her pacing again, intending to use the time to clam herself. “Everything will be fine.”

She chuckled and was about to finish her opening comments when a loud whisper reverberated throughout the room. “We got no choice; she totally kisses their asses.”

 

Well, there’s someone who isn’t trying to get on the instructor’s side!  Snidely commenting aloud that your instructor is kissing the asses of a couple of her students, and saying it so she hears you, is never a smart move.  It’s even dumber when you remember that, only a year before, she shocked a kid into a near-coma just because she was trying to get a reaction out of his girlfriend.

Who is this person who revels in dumbassery?

 

Helena spun around just in time to catch Lisa Glissandi leaning away from her covenmate Jeon, trying to appear as if nothing of importance happened. She eyed the girl hard. “You have something to say, Glissandi?”

Lisa snorted and nearly turned up her nose. “Nothing you’re interested in hearing, Professor.”

In that moment Helena considered tossing the Åsgårdsreian student out of the class, but decided she needed to not be the bitch here—at least not yet. She showed the classroom her back as she walked towards the very front of the room. “All right: show of hands. Who here has heard of the Shadow Ribbons spell?” She raised her hand as she turned around. “Put ‘em up.”

Only a few students raised their hands. Helena smirked. “Five out of twenty-seven: better than I expected.” She lowered her hand as she moved to the next question. “Of you five, who has done a successful crafting of this spell? Keep your hands up if you have.” She didn’t need to look to know three of those hands would drop . . .

She pointed at the two students whose hands were still raised. “Annie; Kerry—” She motioned them forward with a few flicks of her fingers. “Get up here–now.”

 

Get up there, kids, because Helena’s gonna make a point!  Which I should get to tonight after my shot and before Apollo 13 comes on.  It’s girl time, but I need to finish this scene.  I really do.

Oh, and tomorrow–something special!  Perhaps.  We’ll see.  But I’ll have something to say for sure.

The Coming of the Chestnut Girl

First off, I am coming to you from the Real Home, the ancestral estate in Northwest Indiana.  I made it in one piece and actually pulled into the garage exactly twelve hours after pulling out of the garage in The Burg to start my trip home.  And I only nearly fell asleep at the wheel once, about ninety minutes out from my destination.  That woke me up enough that I was able to get home in one piece.

And here I am this morning, no makeup, my library behind me featuring to the right of my head my three Pat Cadigan novel.

And here I am this morning, no makeup, part of my library behind me featuring to the right of my head my three Pat Cadigan novels.

The other news concerns the current scene.  The last time I made the six hundred and thirty-five mile journey between where I work and where I live, I was so tired that I couldn’t write a word.  Yesterday, however . . . I started out the scene during my second rest stop and managed three hundred and twenty-two words.  Last night, though it took me about three hours, I managed just over twenty-four hundred words, finished off the scene, and brought this part of the story to a conclusion.  Then I headed off to bed and slept straight through for close to eight hours of sleep.

What happened?  What did Annie and Kerry talk about?  I did considering posting recipes  for wild duck, but I know I’d get killed if I did that.  That said, let’s get into the scene.

 

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

As he spoke the last word of his tale Kerry winced and touched the side of his forehead. Both actions bothered Annie, for she assumed the worse: his déjà vu was back, and would likely affect him more than it had ever before. His description of his dream showed that some part of him remembered her and the first time he read to her under his tree in their shared dream—but there was something else mentioned, something that almost made Annie gasp.

She was worried that if Kerry was that close to the memories of his dreams, the déjà vu would not only try and prevent him from speaking, but could cause him actual harm. She eyed his broom; she thought it might be necessary to fly it to the hospital so she could summon a nurse—

Kerry shook his head and mumbled just under his breath. “Moyata polovinka.”

Annie had kept her distance while Kerry related his story, but the moment he spoke she was alongside him. “Are you all right?” She touched his head. “What’s wrong?”

“Just my head—” He shook it slowly. “I don’t know; must be the weather playing with my sinuses.”

Annie saw his eyes, saw they weren’t glazed, saw he was in control of himself. This hadn’t happened before, and when she considered what he’d said—he’d literally summoned his mate as a form of willpower—she believed Kerry was doing something he’d never tried before:

He’s fighting the déjà vu. The rune dream triggered something and he’s fighting . . . She almost gasped again. Is he trying to remember?

She ran her fingers through his hair. “With the weather changing so fast, it’s possible.” She ran her fingers down his cheek and then to his arm. Given all that he’d said, given what was happening at the moment—and given what may lay ahead, Annie knew there was only one question she could ask:

“Kerry, who’s the Chestnut Girl?”

 

Yeah, Kerry:  enough of the teasing.  Who’s this Chestnut Girl?  We want to know before a John Gault-style campaign starts at the school.

 

“When I was younger—I mean like three or four—I used to have these dreams of a girl who’d come and visit.” Kerry remained conversational and didn’t appear to suffer any sudden twitches or pains. “I don’t mean like she’d visit me at home: she’d show up in stuff that I was dreaming about and we’d do stuff—play mostly, but I can remember talking as well.

“We never went by names, though there was something she used to call me—” Annie whispered under her breath as Kerry spoke the words aloud. “The Ginger Hair Boy. Since I didn’t know her name, after a while I started calling her The Chestnut Girl, because that’s how her hair looked to me.”

“A chestnut color?” Annie brushed her hazel hair back off her shoulders, wondering if Kerry would notice.

“Yes. I mean, I was probably five when I started calling her that, what did I know?” He shrugged, then turned his head as if something had poked him.

 

Now we know:  she was a girl in his dreams.  Not only there, but Annie wants to know about something else:

 

“What was this tree of yours?” Annie found it a little difficult not to ask these questions before being led.

“There was this tree—couple of trees, really, but this one in particular—where I used to go and sit and read, because I was tired of sitting in the house alone.” A puzzled look appeared on his face as he explained. “My parents used to leave me alone the summer after I turned six so they could both work. My grandparents didn’t live that far away, so if I needed something I’d called them and they’d show up.”

“Why didn’t they just watch you?”

“Don’t know; never figured that one out. Anyway, after a while I got tired of being in the house by myself, so since I knew the code to open the garage door I’d walk to this tree with a book and sit there and read.

“There was one time when I feel asleep—at least I think I was asleep, though it didn’t feel that way—”

Annie felt him rambling, trying to move into this memory. “I know exactly what you mean; the dream is so lucid it feels real.”

“Yeah. That’s how this was. I was sitting there and she shows up and wants me to read to her. I mean, it was kind of weird, but at the same time—”

Something in his tone caught Annie’s attention. “Yes? What was it?”

He looked at the ground for a second. “It was kinda romantic. I was sitting there, she was cuddled against my left shoulder, and she held the book and turned the pages while I read. It was . . .” A bright blush spread across his face. “Sweet.”

Annie nodded in agreement, but inside she was barely containing her excitement. In the hospital I was on his right shoulder—but he remember how it happened in the dream. He’s remembering. “I does sound sweet.” She stepped up and took his hand. “And romantic.”

“It was.”

 

And, yes:  if you’re wondering, I deliberately busted up Kerry’s left side so when that same scene played out in the aftermath of the Day of the Dead, things would set up differently.  That way, when Kerry began to talk about this moment in his life, he’d get the scene right as he remembered, and this is the clue to Annie that he is remembering.  Plotting:  strange things happen.  And you’ve seen nothing yet, really, because there are more questions, and Kerry has more answers . . .

 

“It’s okay, love. There’s still plenty of time . . .” She lightly rubbed his right arm. “Did you ever see her after those readings?”

“That’s funny; she started showing up again after I moved to Cardiff.” He kept from looking at Annie, and it wasn’t long before she caught the telltale sniff of his tears. “I hated moving; I hated Cardiff. Mostly I hated leaving things behind, things that meant a lot to me. I was a mess that first week in Wales; I didn’t want to do anything. I stayed in my room all the time and didn’t care if I got over jet lag—not that my parents cared. All they’d say is I’d ‘get over it’.

“The first time I got used to sleeping on the normal time she showed up—my Chestnut Girl—”

“Yours?”

“I know.” He finally raised his head, showing Annie his tear-stained cheeks. “I got to where I thought of her as, you know . . .” He looked away for a second. “Being with me.”

Annie chuckled, knowing how close to the truth he was. “The girl of your dreams.”

“I know, it’s silly.” His face began drawing long. “You probably think I’m horrible, going on about this dream girl.”

“No, I’m not.” She held Kerry’s hand. “What happened that time in Cardiff with her?”

He perked up a little as he told the story. “She shows up, and it’s pretty obvious I’m upset—even in a dream she knows this. She asked what was bothering me, and I told her about the move and having to leave things behind, especially my bike, and how I’m hatting being in Cardiff. And she looks at me and says—”

Still holding his hand, Annie gazed into the tree line as she spoke the words that Kerry was going to say. “Would you like to do something? Would you like to go somewhere with me?”

Kerry smile and broke into a slight laugh. “Yeah, that’s what she said.” He squeezed Annie’s hand. “I remember you said something like that in London.”

 

And that last line of Annie’s brings me to this–

Note to self:  make sure you use this quote a year from now.

Note to self: make sure you use this quote six months from now.

The bottom part was first drafted during last year’s NaNoWriMo, and then edited in April of 2014, and during the edit I made sure I left a note reminding me to use that quote again.  That’s how I roll, people:  keep thinking ahead, ’cause you know the scene you’re on now will get written, and this is a good connection.  Also, I did my edit based around what I would write, so wibbly wobbly timey whimmy for real.

And what happened after he met up with her feeling all sad and depressed?

 

Rather than correct him Annie urged him on. “What happened after she asked you?”

“I said yes, and like—” He chuckled again. “Magic, there were a couple of mountain bikes next to use, and the landscape around us was—it reminded me of the Napa area in California, all hills and long stretches of fields. She asked me if I wanted to go bike riding, and we went off and road for what seemed like days.”

Annie held her breathing in check as she remembered the moment, remembered the things that happened, the words that were spoken—and what was said at the end before the dream ended. A moment that changed my life . . . “Now I know what that girl said at the end when she mentioned a bike ride.”

The smile on Kerry’s face was by far one of the brightest he’d ever sported. “It was perfect. Never got tired, never got sweaty, never too hot—just riding and talking and enjoying each other’s company. My mother told me in the morning I looked the happiest I’d been in almost a year.”

 

It made Kerry happy, and it did something to Annie as well.  (And you can ask what, but la la la, I have my fingers in my ears, I can’t hear your pleas . . .)

There is a question that goes back to the very end of Kerry’s dream, and Annie isn’t about to let it go.

 

Annie decided the moment was now: she had to follow up the rune girl’s statement and see if he remembered everything. “What did the girl in your rune dream mean when she said, ‘Look how that turned out’.”

For the first time in a stretch Kerry closed his eyes and winced, and as he did his hand clamped around Annie’s. She didn’t yelp from the quick pain: instead she sought to pull him back to his recollections. “It’s okay if you tell me, Kerry. I don’t mind, really. I mean . . .” She swallowed and hoped Kerry didn’t see the lie appear upon her face. “You’re talking about a dream girl, right?”

He kept his eyes closed as he spoke through clenched teeth. “Right—” He placed the back of his left hand upon his forehead and grunted as he did before—

Annie thought he was going to lose his connection to the memories, to his dreams—to their dreams. She pulled him close so she could whisper. “Please tell me, Kerry. I know it hurts, but you were told it would hurt. You were told it would—” Then she remembered what Deanna told her on the sofa during the Samhain dance: If you try to force these issues, they’ll never turn out satisfactorily, and you don’t want that. And she couldn’t have that . . .

“Kerry.” She continued whispering, but changed her tone from one of desperation to compassion. “Tell the story if you can. If not I’ll understand. I’ll always understand—” She kissed his tortured forehead. “I’ll always love you no matter what.”

 

For the first time there’s something Annie wants, and . . . she lets it go.  She decides if it’s gonna hurt Kerry to the point where something extremely bad could happen, she doesn’t want it.  She decides that not knowing is better than harming her soul mate.

And for that, something wonderful happens . . .

 

The pain continued for several more seconds before Kerry slowly dropped to his knees, then sat back—but he didn’t appear to be in pain any longer. “My ninth birthday—” He turned himself so he was facing Lake Lovecraft in the slowly vanishing light. “It was almost a full year that I’d been in Cardiff—and it seemed like once a week, sometimes twice a week, she’d be there in my dreams.”

Annie sat down on his left. “Your Chestnut Girl.”

“Yep. And that night I knew she’d show up. I just knew it.” Kerry stared off into the distance as he spoke. “She did. As soon as I fell into my dream, she was there, looking . . .” He slowly shook his head. “Beautiful as always.”

“What happened?” Annie slid closer, but resisted taking his hand.

“She asked me what I wanted to do—I’d told her some times before when my birthday was—and I told her I wanted to go bike riding. And we did, just like that first time I was able to sleep in Cardiff. And when we were ready to take a break—” Kerry motioned to the area around them. “We went up on this small hill, maybe like twelve or fifteen meters above one road, and sat there about two-thirds of the way up.”

He drew up his knees and hugged them as if he needed something to comfort. “We’d been talking through most of the dream, and it wasn’t like some of the things we’d talked about before: we’d started getting more personal as time went on—”

Annie hugged her knees, too. “Almost like a real person.”

“She—” He didn’t look anywhere but straight ahead. “Was. She was real. A real person with real emotions. I felt them, ‘cause she was always nice to me.” He buried his chin into his knees. “I wasn’t to her.”

 

Leave it to Kerry to beat himself up over what he thought was a dream–and then finally admit, he may have know that his Chestnut Girl was real.  And Annie helps him remember the one thing he’s kept hidden for so long . . .

 

It was in that moment Annie knew what to do, because she remembered this moment, and remembered where it led. She lay her hand lightly upon his left arm. “What’s on your mind, Kerry? You’ve been quiet since we climbed up here.”

“Just—things.” He looked down over his knees at his feet.

In that second Annie felt the way she had that night of the Day of the Dead, when she and Kerry were reliving their first dream at his tree. They were still on the north shore of Lake Lovecraft, but at the same time she could see the hillside around them, the countryside around them, the road below, their bikes propped against a low tree . . . We’re here. He’s remembering. He knows this.

She rubbed his arm. “What sort of things?” She pulled away at that moment as she didn’t want to scare him by being too personal.

“Just, you know—” He turned his head and smiled at her.

Annie smiled back as coyly as she could. “No, I don’t know. Tell me.”

“Well . . .”

“It’s okay if you tell me.” She slapped at him playfully. “Please tell me.”

“Okay.” He half-turned his head away so he wouldn’t have to look at him. “I’ve been thinking about the time we spend together, and . . .” He rested his head against his arm.

She chuckled. “Come on; it’s not fair you having secrets.”

He went back to not looking in her direction. “I think you’re a nice person.”

“Oh?” She slide perhaps two centimeters closer. “I’m really that nice?”

“Well, you’re better than that.” He sighed. “I like you.”

Annie raised her right eyebrow. “You do?”

“Yeah.”

“You like me a little?”

“Not really; I mean—” Kerry stumbled over his words. “I like you more than a little.”

“How much?” Annie didn’t bother hiding her smile. “What’s more than a little?”

Kerry raised his head off his arm and returned to looking straight ahead. “What I mean—” His voice was ragged with emotion. “I like you a lot more than I probably should.”

As she did that night, Annie reached across his body and touched Kerry’s left hand. “What do you mean?”

A pause, two seconds, five passed—then Kerry turn his body so he was able to look at Annie without turning just his head. His face was the most expressive she’d ever seen. “Annie, I love you. I’ve loved you for a long time—”

In that moment the dream spell dropped, and both were back on the shore, both sitting in the growing twilight, but Kerry was still turned towards the smiling Annie, finishing his statement. “—and I don’t know that I could ever be without you.”

A dawning awareness overtook him concerning what had just happened, but Annie wasn’t about to let the moment end that way—for she had her own part to play. “That’s okay, Kerry—” Her smile was as warm as it had been when she finally admitted her love to Kerry in the same dream. “I’ve loved you for a long time now, too.”

 

What has Annie wanted from Kerry all this time?  She wanted him to remember that, for almost three years now, that Kerry knew she was real, that they’d known each other most of their lives, and that he’d loved her for a couple of years before they met up at school.  It may not seem like much to you, but to Annie–oh, it meant the world.

And even brought this moment of comfort:

 

He reached out and grabbed her hand. “Annie?”

“Kerry?”

He tried to speak, but gasped once, twice, then almost fell into her. “It’s you.”

“Yes, it is.”

“It’s really you.” Tears began streaming down his face.

Annie pulled him closer to him. “Kerry, what’s wrong?”

“How could I not know?” He wrapped his arms around her. “How? Why didn’t I know it was you?” He hugged her, sobbing. “Why didn’t I know you were my Chestnut Girl?”

She held him in her arms, patted his back, rubbed his head, anything she could think of to console him. “It doesn’t matter, Kerry.” Annie buried her face into the shoulder of her sobbing soul mate. “It doesn’t matter, because you know. You know now.” She hugged him tight and never wanted to let go. “You know now.”

Seventy-six hundred words just to get through a bunch of dreams and hear, "You know now."

Seventy-six hundred words just to get through a bunch of dreams and hear, “You know now.”

There you are:  all the dreams told and the secrets more or less exposed.  Yes, there is something else following, and it should wrap this up nicely.  In fact, I may be able to write the next scene and the last one today.  I might actually finish them tonight.

Which is good, because the sooner I do, the quicker I can go back to torturing my kids some more.

 

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/22:  2,741

NaNo Total Word Count:  42,360

Inside the Blue Event Horizon

Today I make the Walk of Shame back to work, past the point where I crashed and burned on Friday afternoon.  The arms are better, but the right side still hurts, and the head is a bit woozy from the sleep medication I took last night.  I’ll make it through the day, however, ’cause that’s what I’m suppose to do, right?

So many things to do today:  work, maybe having someone come into my apartment to look at my A/C, which shut off about 5:30 PM (or 17:30 as the people at my Salem school would say), and then decided to come back on about four hours later, return some glasses frames I was trying on over the weekend . . . oh, that was fun.  The one frame I like, I was told I look a little like a soccer mom when I wear them with my hair pinned back.  And here I thought I was going to be sexy.

I spent the afternoon rewriting, however.  I found what I was looking for in the scene I described yesterday, and this happened:

 

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

She stood frozen as Kerry almost kissed her on the cheek, then pulled away at the last moment. Annie said nothing, was unable to say anything, for her mind remained enchanted by the three words he’d spoken moments before. She didn’t know why he hesitated, why he pulled back with his face etched in confusion, why he touched her face once more and then said something before turning and heading for the stairs.

The shadowy tower turned darker as Annie’s mind began spinning. She couldn’t move and she her chest constricted as the air grew thick and oppressive. She drew in a small breath and forced herself to mutter the one word that filled her thoughts—

“Kerry.”

She pitched over backwards into dust of a hundred years.

Kerry had only reached the stairs when he heard Annie call his name weakly, and turned just in time to see her go over backwards onto the ground, her feet bouncing up in the air as she landed hard on her back. “Oh, holy geez.” He ran over and knelt beside her.

Annie was awake, but dazed.  “Kerry?”

“Yeah, I’m here.  What happened?”

Things were slowly coming back into focus: she sensed Kerry kneeling next to her, though he seemed little more than another shadow in the darkness. “I’m . . .” She blinked twice. “I just fainted.”

“You fainted? Are you okay?”

How could she explain that question? I am okay, and I’m not. I wanted something from you, and I received more. I wanted to feel loved: what I felt went beyond that. The only thing she could tell Kerry was a truth that he’d understand. “I’m okay.” She offered her hand. “Help me up?”

He helped Annie to her feet and brushed at her clothing. “You really scared me.”

 

Poor Annie:  she gets so excited.  And all for a cuddle and a peck on the cheek.  Maybe they’ll come dancing . . .

And then it was on to other scenes in other chapters, and I fixed up Annie and Kerry pretty much to where they should be.  I also removed a few things that weren’t needed, or were redundant, and things were added:  mostly in the Astria Portal scene, but in other places as well.  And my notes are in place.

The No Crying Zone is only found on Foundation property and planes.  They'd make a fortune flying people around.

The No Crying Zone is only found on Foundation property and planes. They’d make a fortune if they ever went commercial.

I’m in the event horizon of creativity, and these rewrites are nearly over.  Maybe by the end of the week I can start getting my kids into some new mischief.

It’s not like I haven’t been waiting to do so.

To Map, Perchance to Plot

Let’s met Annie.  Say hi to her–

"Hi, Annie!"

“Hi, Annie!”

When I was working towards understand Kerry’s far, far, better half, I started throwing around what I knew about her, and began format that knowledge into the world I was creating.  This is where Scapple, the mind mapping program created by the same people who make Scrivener, came in handy, because I could make notes and interconnect them to other notes, work them around and get an idea about where I was going with the character.

I’ve seen where others have also used Scapple to work out plots for their stories.  I’ve played with this a little in that area, but I’ve yet to work out a story where my notes and ideas would find themselves interconnected in such a way that a coherent tale springs forth.  Though there are a couple of scenes I’m considering working out this way . . .

On to the current work in progress.  When I prepared to start the novel, I did so–as I usually do–with two things in mind:  I needed a title, and I needed an ending.  The idea of the title I got from Harlan Ellison, who commented on more than a few occasions that he couldn’t write until there was a title on the page.  Now, my titles may change as I get deeper into a story–that happened a few times with The Foundation Chronicles:  A for Advanced–but I always have a title.  And the ending idea comes from Issac Asimov, who was quoted saying that it was necessary to know how his story finished so he’d know how to get there.

I knew how I wanted to start the story.  There would be a prologue with two scenes:  the first would have Annie standing next to a tree near her lake house, and the second would be The Foundation people convincing the parents of a sullen and likely depressed Kerry that he was getting a free ride to a school for special students outside Salem, Massachusetts, and that he should pack his bags because he was leaving for London in a couple of hours if he said yes.

The last two scenes would mirror the intro:  the first scene would show Kerry returning from school, somewhat depressed because he’s parted from someone special to him, and now it’s time to go back to his old, “Normal” life, while the second scenes would show Annie standing next to a tree near her lake house, equally sad from saying goodbye to her “Ginger Haired Boy”, and having to face the summer without him.

With that in mind, it was time to start plotting.

Since I was working in parts, chapters, and scenes, I decided to work in Scrivener through Outline Mode, because as folders and text files were added, and metadata added, it was a simple matter to move things around when and where needed, and lay out dates and times as needed.  As the Prologue and Chapter One were almost all Annie and Kerry there wasn’t much of a need to keep track of other characters, because the one who did walk onto the written stage didn’t require a great deal of attention.

Carefully taking my kids on the trip of their lives, one scene at a time.

Carefully taking my kids on the trip of their lives, one scene at a time.

It was easy to plot things out like this, but keep in mind this is a small section of the story.  There’s a lot more in the next two acts–which were added about half way through writing the first act.  This is something that’s nice about Scrivener:  you need to add or move something around, you do.

Something else I used for the first time were document notes.  These came in handy when I was writing about Annie and Kerry’s day trip around London, which was done almost entirely via tube travel.  Notes stay attached to a scene, so once in place they’re always there inside the Inspector (the area on the right) all the time.

Sure, you could make up how you get around London, but it's easier if you do it with notes.

Sure, you could make up how you get around London, but it’s easier if you do it with notes.

Another thing I did on this novel was layer scenes under a top scene.  I used it extensively for the scene “Over the Pond”, where all the action took place on-board a 747, and point of view switched from my kids to some traveling instructors, and back.  The date and time were already set, so here it was just a matter of knowing who was in each sub-scene aboard the plane, and that information was kept in the metadata for each scene.  The great thing with these layered scenes is when you don’t need to see them, you just collapse them under the top lead-in scene and all is right in the world once more.

There's a party in the sky, and you're all--well, you'll get invited in time.

There’s a party in the sky, and you’re all–well, you’ll get invited in time.

One last thing to mention about this layered scenes is that they were added as I wrote.  I did the lead-in scene, then decided I’d write about Annie and Kerry finding their seats, or the instructors talking about Phee–I know who that is–and I’d add the text file, do a copy and paste on the metadata, set the Label and Status, and away I’d write.  Easily Peasily!

And that leads to cross-checking what I’d laid out in Scrivener by seeing if the time lines matched up.  There was always the possibility that something was off, and sure enough, once I started plugging things into Aeon Timeline, there were a few things that didn’t make sense.  Now, this didn’t affect the plot, but in terms of when things happened, it was a good idea for me to see if everything worked.  I didn’t actually need to do this for what became the first act, but this was practice for something that was coming in Act Two, and the practice of laying out this first section of the book helped me understand how I was going to lay out an important set of scenes that required things to happen at certain times, within a certain time frame.  And that would be important to the story . . .

Time be time, mon.  And here be the time for Act One.  Looks so different here, doesn't it?

Time be time, mon. And here be the time for Act One. Looks so different here, doesn’t it?

Storyboard Express

Editing is history.  I managed through many pages of text, did many changes, and sent the manuscript off for review.  That’s done; now, there are things for . . .

It’s time to pull The Foundation Chronicles off the external drive and load it on the laptop, then start laying out the things that need laying out.  No plotting yet, but I need to get the rules right.  What rules, you ask?  Well, let me tell you . . .

The biggest thing I need at the moment is a lexicon.  I did this for Her Demonic Majesty when I needed terms for magic, mages, vampires, their rules bodies, all that stuff.  I wanted it so I’d know how people talk when they spoke about the head of all the magical people, what they call non-magicals, what certain things were called–it comes in handy to know these things ahead of time, rather than waiting until you need to come up with a word and then spending time thinking it all out.  When it came time to do the NaNo Write, I had that all laid out and after a while the terms became second nature.

In my new story magic not only exist, but there abilities that some people just have–one could call them “powers”, others might call them “mutant powers”, others might call them “Super Stuff”.  Whatever, honey, I need to get it all cataloged and categorized, so I don’t stumble about while having a character explain what it is a student just used to blow down a wall.  (And, yes, some will do that.)

Something like this is very important, because it builds the world where your characters live, and makes that world believable to the reader.  It also allows the writer to have some fun with existing tropes, because I just thought of something my chemistry instructor can say to her students–it’s a good thing I developed her into something of a snarky smartass.

Today, however, I think my biggest challenge is to develop the locations of my different, world-wide facilities.  I already have a few laid out in my head–one near Edinburgh, another in Valparaiso, Chile–and the location of particular headquarters–Paris, Amsterdam, London, Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco.  Besides the school there aren’t a lot of these places (I mentioned the number in another story which I can’t access at the moment), and with headquarters we’re probably talking fewer than sixty locations.  These days I can even get a Google Map of the area and paint my address on the screen.

This is something I’ve already given a lot of thought to, but I haven’t, as yet, put it into notes and made it “real”.  With November now six weeks away, it’s time to get cracking on the note taking and the world making.  Given that I’ve probably given this story more thinking time than I’ve given any other story, the world should come into focus quickly, even if there are things I’ll throw into notes that will never see the light of day.

Which means it’s like the real world–but who’s to say my word isn’t real?