The Midnight Window: Plans of Future Past

It’s been a good morning, though I could have done with a bit more sleep.  Hey, you can’t always get what you want, right?  Since it’s a long weekend I can nap whenever I feel it’s necessary.  Until then, I just keep plugging words into the right places.

Rocking out to Domino as I go about my day.

Rocking out to Domino as I go about said plugging.

Chapter Thirty-four is finished due to plugging in one thousand and twenty-five words to the chapter.

Right here's the proof--more or less.

Right here’s the proof–more or less.

Now all that remains is Chapter Thirty-five and four scenes, maybe six thousand words total, two of which will be “The End.”  One more scene in the Sea Sprite Inn–which may or may not be needed, I’ve yet to decide–one on the plane, one at the airport in Berlin, and the final one at Kerry’s house.  I’m actually considering moving the first scene of Chapter Thirty-five to the plane simply because there’s something I want to do, and having everyone at the plane makes that thing happen easier, so that may be what happens.  As soon as I start writing, I’ll know.

If that is the case this could be the last scene at the Sea Sprite.  And remember that thing that Annie wanted to discuss?  Well . . .

 

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

Kerry crossed the room and sat on the bed as Annie asked. He watched her as she went over to her bag on the luggage stand, opened the bag, and unzipped one of the compartments. Her body shielded what she was removing, but upon turning it was easy enough to see, for she was holding a large book bound in a plain white cover. She floated the book in his direction and waited until it was nearly in front of him before she moved towards the bed.

He kept his eyes focused on the book as it came to a stop before him. “Is this what I think it is?”

 

Yes, Kerry:  it’s exactly what you think is it.  And is there a reason this book is coming out?  Sure there is, and Annie’s going to tell you–

 

Annie didn’t answer the question: rather, she began speaking as she climbed on to the bed. “The Sunday after your birthday I wrote to my mother and asked if she’d ever shown her wedding book to Papa, and if it was common for wives to do so after they were married. A few days later she wrote back and told me that, yes, she had shown her book to Papa—

“My mother and father were married 20 June, 1997. My mother wanted to be married near the first day of summer because it’s considered an auspicious moment when one marries at anytime on or close to a solstice point. They graduated in 1994, did their Real Live Experience the following year, and were invited in for a year of the school’s Continuing Educational Program before leaving in ‘96. Since that counted as two years of college, they then went off to Uni in the fall and finished another year while Mama planed for their marriage. They finished Uni the next year and graduated right before they celebrated their first anniversary.

“After that they settled to Pamporovo full-time and built the main house; it was finished in October, and they were all moved in before winter hit.” A sheepish look came over Annie’s face. “That’s where I was conceived.”

Kerry touched Annie’s hand. “Right around Christmas, if my math is right.”

She nodded. “Mama told me that it likely, um, happened right at Christmas. She told me she was trying to start a family, and conceiving a child at that time—”

“Is considered auspicious?”

“Obviously: look how I turned out.” After they both giggled Annie continued. “So on their next anniversary Mama was pregnant with me, and that would be their last one with just them together. Papa treated her to a spa treatment at one of the hotels in town, then they jaunted into Sofia, saw a movie, and had a romantic dinner. She wrote that it was one of her best days ever.

“After they returned home they visited what was going to become my nursery before heading off to bed. She wrote that they didn’t go to bed right away: she pulled out her book and showed it to Papa, showing him everything she’d planed from the time she was a little girl until even a few days before the wedding. That was—” Annie blushed slightly. “That was when she picked out names for her children.”

“She knew what she wanted.” Kerry squeezed Annie’s hand once more. “Like mother, like daughter.”

“Um, hum.”

“Was your name in the book?”

“She told me I was at the top of the girl’s list.” She chuckled softly. “She said she told Papa that as they were starting a family, and she didn’t believe they would ever not be a couple, she saw no harm in sharing those memories with him. She also wrote that while it isn’t that common for wives to do this, once you know you’re in a relationship that will last forever, there’s no harm.”

 

Now you know so much more about Annie’s family:  their schooling, their marriage, and the, um, “special Christmas” they had in 1998.  Just think of all the times now Annie will be down in the family room, look over at the door leading to her parent’s bedroom, and thing, “Yep.  That’s where I was made.”  Not that she probably didn’t know.  Then again, her mother has probably known for at least three years that Annie had the lake house built for one reason in mind, and she sort of shakes her head whenever she looks up towards the loft.  And now that she’s met Kerry . . . probably a bit of face palming now and then.

It’s a given that I know when Annie’s parents were married, because–

I have a time line for everything.

I have a time line for everything.

And if you notice there’s an end date on their marriage:  15 November, 2126.  That means, according to the calculation determined by Aeon Timeline 2, they remain married 129 years, 4 months, 3 weeks, and 5 days.  When we talk about the longevity of witches, there’s a prime example right there.  And you can guess their marriage ends because one of both of them die, which means both of them are over a hundred and forty when one of them passes beyond The Veil.

Now, as far as their school time together–

I have it right here.

I have it right here.

Things get a bit interesting.  Jessica, Trevor, Mathilde, and Matthias were all older students when Pavlina and Victor started school, and Maddie and her now-deceased husband were only a year old.  Ramona and Coraline were only a year younger, and Adric and Holoč a couple of year behind them.  We can also see that Harpreet entered Cernunnos Coven the year after Holoč, and you have to wonder if C Level Holoč showed the same welcome to B Level Harpreet when she first arrived on the second floor.  And Isis came on to the first floor of Cernunnos Coven at the same time Pavlina and Victor were doing their only years of the school’s Continuing Education Program, so it’s possible the may have encountered the future Chief of Security for the school while they were essentially graduate students.

In case you’re wondering about the above line colors, they correspond to covens.  Red is Cernunnos; yellow is Ceridwen; sea green is Blodeuwedd; orange is Åsgårdsreia; and blue is Mórrígan.  Yes, Erywin and Helena are covenmates with Maddie, which is likely another reason why Helena was ready to kill her when she found out she was a Guardian mole.

Now, why is Annie showing Kerry her book?  There is an excellent reason for this:

 

She gentle lay her left hand upon the cover of the unopened levitating book. “As I see it, my love, we’ve been married for thirteen years, and I believe we’ll be together for the rest of our lives.” She slipped her right hand out of Kerry’s and set it over his chest where the personal medical monitor set. “Like you pointed out, we’re joined in more ways than one, and I have no fear you’ll ever take up with someone else.”

He placed his hand over her chest as well. “I wouldn’t leave, ever.”

Annie nodded once as she and Kerry set their hands back to their laps. “In five years we’ll be eighteen—well, you will: I’ll be eighteen in a little over four, but . . .” She retook his left hand in hers. “By then we’ll have graduated from school and have finished our Real Life Experience, and if we’re asked back for CEP studies, I want us to return as a married couple.

“I want to show you everything I’ve dreamed about and planed for the last seven year. I want you to see my sketches, my dress designs, the first drawings I made of the lake house—”

“And the names of our children?” A broad grin spread across Kerry’s face.

“I don’t have those—yet.” Annie’s face broke out with a smile as well. “Also, I want a June wedding: like my mother, I want to be married as close to the solstice as possible; I want the moment to be auspicious for us as well.

“But there’s another reason I’m doing this: there are some things in which I want you to have a hand as well. I told you about the rings I’ve designed, and I want you to see them so—” She rested her head against his shoulder momentarily “—you can have your input. While the things in her are my plans and dreams, there are a few items for which you should have some say” She turned a coy look in his direction. “It’s only fair.”

Kerry felt his eyes misting over again and he put a stop to it right away: he didn’t want tears to fall into Annie’s most prized book. “I’m honored you trust me with this.”

“If I can’t trust my husband, who can I trust? Come, my love—” Her eyes twinkled in the darkness as she flipped the book open. “We have a wedding to plan.”

 

“We have a wedding to plan.”  And right there, Annie is letting her soul mate know there’s no more screwing around:  in five year’s time there’s gonna be wedding bells, and they’re gonna ring in June.  She’s always got her eyes on the prize, and the prize involves getting hitched to the Ginger Hair Boy.  Though you have to wonder if she starts putting names in the baby section if she’ll tell Kerry, or if she’ll ask for suggestions.  Or if she’ll say something like, “My love, we need to pick to baby names,” and wait for him to ask why.

Yeah, I think that’s the end of the Sea Sprite until next year, because anything else in that building is anticlimactic after that last statement.

Don’t worry:  they’ll be back next year . . .

Playing Out the Course

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

“You don’t mean to the south?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I was surprised she figured it out.”

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

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

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

“Be my guest.”

“Why haven’t you used them yet?”

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

“Why not east?”

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

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

Vicky stared back looking unconcerned. “Yes?”

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Emma pipped up. “We won’t.”

Kerry nodded several times. “Promise.”

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

And it’s a big route:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s gonna freak some people.”

“For real.”

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

 

If you want to see what that looks like–

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

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

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

 

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

She nodded back. “We can turn it on.”

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

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

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

“It’s gonna be dark on that last six.

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

“Chasing the sun—”

“If we do it right—”

She nodded “We could—”

He nodded back. “Totally.”

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

 

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

So what are they saying?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Erywin got the hint. “Which we might miss—

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

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

I won’t.”

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

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

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

“Again, how much time you need?”

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

Just like Salem Overnight is doing.

Travelogues and Time Lines

I know I said I was going to edit last night, but . . . I got off on a side track.  I know:  me?  Off on a side track?  Heavens forbid!

But that’s what happened.  I started thinking about one thing, then I flipped off to another, and before you know it I started working on this blasted future time line for my kids which started taking up nearly all my evening time.  As I’ve been told already, “You can’t leave those kids alone, can’t you?”

I would appear I can’t.

I found myself drawn back into working out this time line, because it’s something I need to finish now that I’ve started.  I get like that at times when I find myself unable to concentrate on what I should be doing, and end up doing something I want to do.  And this thing, this map and plan, are something I’ve wanted to do for a while.  So, in order to get my mind off things, I’m in it.  The editing won’t suffer, but I can’t do that every right, right?

Where am I now?  Well, how about here?

That's a lot of moving around for two 14 year olds.

That’s a lot of moving around for two 14 year old kids.

So far the stops are Rome, Florence, Milan, darling, Nice, Barcelona, and lastly Lyon.  That’s where I ended, with them arriving in Lyon, where they’ll take a short jaunt to the west to visit Deanna before heading on to Paris.  It’s all flying until they get to the stretch between Barcelona and Lyon, where I put them on a train running from Barcelona to Montpelier, France, where they pick up the TGV that takes them into Lyon.  Why go that way?  Because Kerry wants to ride the TGV, and Annie’s curious about what it’s like as well.  The fortunate part there is I’ve done that same route:  stayed in Barcelona for a few days, then traveled by train to Lyon and Paris.  So here I speak from a point of some experience.

Using the map as a guide, I’ve managed to work out my time line in better detail . . .

With cute names, too!

With cute names, too!

The bar at the bottom of the screen tells me I’m about a third of the way through the trip, but I know from experience that Paris is going to be a long stay, because the kids love Paris.  In their history they stayed there before heading off to their C Levels, and a fun time was had by all.  It was also the first time Annie and Kerry actually got to hang with a few of their covenmates outside the school, which made parts of the experience even better.  So it’s a fair bet I’ll have them there for a week to enjoy the city, and . . . well, something else happens, too.  Something important.

One last thing I got into yesterday was putting down, on the above time line, what hotels they’re using.  And just to let you know, these kids aren’t roughing it–Annie has money, remember?  Now, while they aren’t going five star all the way, they’re for sure not staying in any hostels.  Can you see these two staying in a dorm?  I can’t either.  It’s fortunate that the places they’re staying have a Foundation connection, otherwise someone might think it a bit strange that two kids dressed in leather pants and bomber jackets come in with nothing but backpacks and confirm their already paid reservation–

And yes:  they do get a discount when they show their Student IDs.

Into the End at the Beginning

Yesterday was a busy day for me, as some of you may have noticed.  Two posts, a few videos–I did one that I posed in a group of the snowfall here in Harrisburg that was freaking everyone out–and then the late night videos I did on makeup.  I did a lot of editing.  I watched movies.  I listened to music.  I even started working on a segment of Annie’s an Kerr’s life that, in retrospect, needs to be changed, because given things that have happened to them in their A Levels, and things that will happen to them in the future, there are incidents in their lives that make no sense.

Today is Science Fiction Sunday on TCM, with Forbidden Planet starting at eleven, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind finishing up at eight, with a 2001 and 2010 interlude in-between, so I expect to spend most of the day watching that.  Three of those four movies are among my favorites, and these days I don’t get to see 2001 as much as I would like.  I have, however, watched the trailer the British Film Institute put out last year when they did a special release of 2001 on 28 November, 2014, and it’s a thing of beauty that always brings a tear to my eye.  Seeing it on a computer does not do it justice:  it needs to be seen on a huge screen with the sound system cranked all the way up.  And having seen this movie in theaters three times, I know what that’s like.

Today I answer another reader question, and this time it’s from Kim Jameson, another of my HodgePodge Crochet friends who knows the difference between a hook and a needle.  Her questions are a little like the one I answered yesterday, but at the same time they’re much different.

 

Do you plan your story and build a world ahead of time? Do you know the ending before you begin? How do you pick character names?

 

I’ll tackle the first one first, because it’s–first?  Actually it’s an easy one to answer, because I pretty much sorta answered it yesterday–

I am what is known in the writing business as a plotter, which means I figure out the story ahead of time before one word goes into the story.  I do that for a novel that’s gonna run a couple of hundred thousand words, and a story that will run ten thousand.  I do that so I don’t get lost about a third of the way in, thinking, “What do I do now?” and start thinking about the next story I could screw up the same way.  (Trust me, I’ve encountered this phenomenon more than a few times from other writers.)

And for really big stories, like A For Advanced, when you’re dealing with incredible events happening to a couple of kids who aren’t expecting anything out of the ordinary–beyond the extra-ordinary that’s already happening to them–one wants to make sure that you aren’t setting yourself up with unnecessary plot holes to fall through by winging the damn thing as you go along.  The entirety of the recollection of the dreams between Annie and Kerry, and getting Kerry to remember them, could have been screwed up completely if I didn’t know where they had been, and where they were going, story-wise, with the matter being further complicated by stretching the story out over a quarter of a million words.  Write that on the fly?  Not a chance.

And building a world ahead of time?  With A For Advanced I had to know as much about the World of The Foundation before I started writing about the events at Salem.  I knew the cities where The Foundation ran their business, the headquarter locations of the Protectors and Marshals and Guardians, and where every school The Foundation ran was placed and what they were named.  During the Day of the Dead attack, when Isis starts talking about schools she can no longer contact, though the names were mentioned that one time, they exist in a file, ready to be pulled up if I need that school, or another like it, in a future story.  When we are discussing a world-spanning organization that spends all its time hiding in plain sight, you better know where those hiding places are.

Do they all come to me at once?  No, not really.  I had the world built in October, 2013, before I started writing, but bits and pieces came to me as I went along.  The CDC as a Foundation location didn’t come to me until probably March or April of 2014, and that happened because I was thinking of using it in one of the future novels.  But it seemed perfect, and so it was used.  Now to see if any of the real underground bunkers I mentioned get used.  The show The 100 use Mount Weather as a location, so it’s not like it’s something new.

Do I know the ending before I begin a story?  Yes, pretty much.  Maybe I don’t have it locked down one hundred percent, but I know how a story will end before one word goes down.  That actually comes from something Issac Asimov once said:

 

Know your ending, I say, or the river of your story may finally sink into the desert sands and never reach the sea.

 

Since Issac wrote about everything and anything with fascinating clarity and intelligence, and did it hundreds of times throughout his life, I tend to believe he knew what he was doing when it came to the written word.  And I’ve seen this one happen many times before as well, where a writer who’s just pantsing the hell along (“Pantsing” is the term for a writer not knowing the story, but rather writing as it comes to them, like “I’m writing by the seat of my pants”) when, suddenly, they’re like, “Where the hell did my story go?  How the hell am I gonna finish this sucker?”  It’s fin and dandy to be a character in a Bob Seger song and just roll me away, but there exists the real possibility that because you have no real destination in mind your ass is gonna end up stranded in the middle of nowhere ’cause you ran outta gas, and then where you gonna be, bitch?

"This is as good a place as any to get lost and end up having buzzards stripping the drying flesh from my dead ass."

“This is as good a place as any to get lost and end up with buzzards stripping the drying flesh from my dead ass.”

And that last question:  how do I pick my character names?  That’s easy:  I just roll names around until I come up with something I like.  I might find a first name and think about last names to plug in, or a last and then look for a first, but that’s sort of it right there.  I may latch onto a famous name–Lovecraft was one that I used in A For Advanced, which I used for both a Founder of Salem and for Helena’s family name.  It was the same with Erywin’s family name, which was taken from the then recently deceased actress Elizabeth Sladen–or I may just pull out one that sounds good–Kerry’s family name is like that; it simply sounded right to me–but there’s nothing elaborate in the selection process.  Once I know it’s right, then it’s right.

There you are, a little more of that which makes me a writer unveiled for you.  And if you have any questions you want me to answer, have a go and post one.  You never know what I might say if I pick yours.

That Thing You’re Not Supposed to Do

Last night, after my nap, I wondered what I should do.  It was the first time in over a year and a half–really longer than that, if I get honest with myself–that I haven’t had to think about my kids.  Or sit and write about them.  Or do both:  sit and write.  It’s been a bit of a weight off my shoulder–

And at the same time I’m a bit lost about what to do next.

Or at least I was.  I started working on that, because I’m always working.  But first, what I did that puts a lie to that first paragraph.

Because I get bored, and because I start looking for things to do when I’m bored, I started playing with a few things on the computer.  And by “playing”, I mean I began making plans.  For, you ask?  Why, the next Foundation novel, what else?  I’ve wondered when and if I would get it done, but I will more than likely start on it sometime . . . soon.  Maybe during the summer, maybe as my opening shot in Camp NaNo July, which I have gone through successfully twice now.  (For the record I always blow off the April camp, because I need a rest.)

The first thing I did was fix up my Scrivener projects.  I’ve always had my first novel on Salem, The Scouring, embedded inside the A For Advanced project, and I felt that needed to change.  Last night I broke them apart and gave them their own places to stay, then renamed A For Advanced so that it would better fit in with the names for the novels.  Then saved it all off to the external hard drives and I was good to go.

Then came Aeon Timeline, because if there is going to be a next novel, it needs stuff filled in.  When I put the basic time line together, most of the layout for the next novel revolved around Kerry, because SPOILERS! a major event happens in his life during his B Levels.  Not that something big didn’t happen to him during his A Levels, but most of what I laid out dealt with the circumstances of this event.

I know how that works for Annie as well, and speaking of Annie, it’s a different time for her.  You do find out why she doesn’t have a computer, and if she gets one, or even a phone.  You start to go through her flight training.  And based on something I came up with last night, you finally get to see what happened when someone is called out and it’s time to take the Magical Fight to the Mat.  (Hint:  Annie does the calling, but it doesn’t go the way she expects.)

If I want to do this right, I need to start plotting out events as they happen.  I know what Annie gets for her thirteenth birthday (Teenage Witch, watch out!), but I don’t know what Kerry gets for his.  I know what Kerry plays as Ostara, and I know that Annie wants to work on her paintings and drawings.  I also know that, for the first time, Annie starts feeling something that Kerry has felt for a long time, and they bring up the subject together.

I added another arc in Aeon Timelines:  Book Events.  What’s that?  It’s the time frame covered by the story, in case I was wondering the actual frame for the stories.  That will be important for the coming novels, because the opening of the stories take place before school–and with a couple of novels, cover a lot of the summer before school even starts.  (The D Level novel will do this and more.)

So now I have this on my time line:

I said I wasn't going to do anything, but . . . I lied.

I said I wasn’t going to do anything, but . . . I lied.

Don’t take this to mean I’m going to start writing tomorrow.  There is planing afoot, but that’s it:  nothing more.  Tomorrow I’ll talk about what I really have planed next.

And speaking of planning:  I need five topics to write about next week, which means it’s time for Reader Input!  So if there’s something you’d like me to write about, leave a comment in the, um, comment area and if I select your idea, you’ll get a byline as the originator of the post as well.

Give it your best shot.

The Pounded Road

The evening wasn’t the right time to try and get things done:  I was pretty much out of it by the time I returned from work, and most of the time my brain was only dimly responding to stimuli.  I did listen to the Shrine Auditorium recording of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway while looking over notes, but the music sort of washed over me and left me calm, rather than bringing me inspiration.

You have nights like that.  Sometimes it’s best to lie back and take it as it comes to you, because to force the situation is to invite trouble.

But during the day there was a lot going on in my head.  Not just from fixing programs and the like, because that was going on–including a last minute fix that came to me about five minutes before I was to leave the office–but I do have moments of downtime, like . . . when I head off to the bathroom.  I always use the handicap/unisex washroom because it’s large, and there only room for one, so I’m alone with my thoughts, and there’s never any need of worry that people are going to freak if they hear me talking through lines in the other stall.

After all, some of the things I’m discussing with myself can be . . . scary.

And I also use the single bathroom to minimize the stench of decomposing flesh.  Damn those scary ideas.

And I also use the single bathroom to minimize the stench of decomposing flesh. Damn those scary ideas.

I managed to work out scenes that I knew needed rewriting in Act One.  The first one was suggested, and it made sense:  it’s when Annie is getting ready to head off to school and her father is in her room saying goodbye–but there is no mention of a certain boy that the whole family knows about because Darling Daughter has been dreaming about this kid for close to ten years.  And no father is going to mention this fact to his daughter?  Nope, nope, nope.

Then I was given a quick primer in Bulgarian family names and their gender suffixes by Jeno Marz, a fellow writer who knows a lot more about that sort of stuff than me.  I made some notes so when I came home I could look this up as well and make changes where needed, and sure enough:  the information had been there, I just didn’t bother checking.  Damn.  My research creed is straight in the crapper now.  But a huge thanks to Jeno, because getting it right is half the battle.

(This also makes me realize that Annie’s middle name is completely wrong, and that she also needed a patronymic, which I added–and which a certain smart-ass school sorceress will use without asking if she could use it.  Bad Mistress of All Darkness.)

Most importantly I removed a scene from the novel, because it’s not needed.  If you’re going to show and not tell, then when my kids are sitting in a dinner in Russel Square having lunch, a recapping of what they’d done would be far better than just telling people.  That’s another rewrite that’s needed.

But what about that new scene you said you were going to add, Cassie?  Well . . .

As the Magic 8 Ball says, “Ask again later.”  Like tomorrow.  See you then.

Chunneling Through the Storm

Today has been a bit of a disappointment.  First, I run over to Panera for my morning coffee and blogging.  I get everything I need and, boo–the Panera page won’t go past the log-in.  It was really a shame, too, ’cause I’m totally in Allison Mode, which means I have my thermal top on under my turtleneck sweater, and my little gold hoop earrings, and I could almost pull off the “I’m a horny, pissy soccer mom who’s also a clone” look.  Oh, well:  can’t have it all.

Then I get back to the apartment and I discover that a pair of boots I must have didn’t get shipped.  Why?  Maybe because the story doesn’t know how to keep track of their inventory on their web page, and they lead you to believe they have said boots when they don’t.  Bummer.  They were so cute, I gotta have them.  Which means I now have to hunt for another pair that’s probably going to cost me an arm and a leg in the process.

Oi, such a bad morning.  Lets hope the rest of the day is filled with much mirth.  Or at least some happiness.

The story.  Oh, yes, the story.  They’re out of history class, and there was a mention of them attending algebra right after.  Now it’s onto flight school, but there’s one hell of a storm blowing around outside–which is actually different from the weather for that day and time, but I changed it because–well, I wanted the storm.  I have my reasons.  That’s all you need to know.

Anyway:  Chunnel.  So named because when the tunnel was opened on the same day the first breakthrough happened at the English Channel Tunnel, which was 30 October, 1990.  It’s the biggest and longest tunnel at the school, and people started calling it The Chunnel about the same time the thing was opened.

It keeps the students linked to all thing south of The Pentagram.  Chunnel AboveSee here:  when you look south, you see The Pentagram and the Old Classes to the left, the science centers, the Hanger, and the Aerodrome in the lower middle, the Flight School in the upper middle, and all the way to the right The Diamond.  From Founder’s Gate at the south end of the Pentagram Wall to the Flight School is about a kilometer hike over uneven ground.  And it’s raining hard.  Not a lot of fun to walk at the moment.

What are students to do?  Go underground.

Here’s The Chunnel is all its glory, running from Chunnel Belowthe Transformation Passage straight to The Diamond.  One thousand, eight hundred sixty meters long, twelve meters wide, seven meters high.  For those of you not digging metrics that’s six thousand, one hundred feet–or 1.15 miles–almost forty feet wide, and twenty-three feet high.  Everything is connected, so all the students have to do is hit the cut-off tunnel from The Great Hall’s lower levels to the Chunnel, hang a left about six hundred meters along, and trundle over to the Flight School.

It’s quiet, it’s fairly warm, there’s romantic low lighting, and most of all, it’s dry.  You can’t even hear the storm raging overhead because you’re under a several meters of granite.  Along the way two more characters will put in an appearance, and then we get to . . .

Are they going to fly in this weather?

You never know.

 

Dawning Through the Night

Believe it or not, last night was the first time in over a month for me to actually get out of the house and go hang somewhere other than home.  Yes, I stay at home and hang in front of the computer all the time–well, not literally hang, because I’m not a bat, or even Hank McCoy.  But I’m always here, working on something, playing a game when I’m bored, or looking for Ugg boots and getting pissed because, one, they are so expensive, and two, they make nothing in my size.

It was dark and windy.  The south winds were blowing all day, keeping it warm enough to let people walk about in long sleeve shirts and leave the windows open in homes and cars.  The moon is almost at the new phase, so it was plenty dark driving along the back roads.

But I didn’t think of scenes, or of characters, or what I should do next.  There wasn’t any need.

I’ve busted past both my goals for my NaNo novel, Kolor Ijo.  Thursday saw me brush past twenty-five thousand words, so I am half-way to the goal of “winning”.  Yesterday, before blowing out of the house to go visit someone, I just squeezed over the thirty thousand mark, which gets me half-way to what I think will be the word count for the finished story.

Except I’m not certain if sixty thousand is the end.  I know I might need another thousand words to finish this current chapter, which is the thirteenth chapter of the novel.  I’ve laid out twenty-six chapters, so now I’m edging up the count, and may be looking at a total of about sixty-two and change.

And the next chapter is going to be a bit wordy as well.

I’m not complaining.  If I get over sixty-five thousand words, or even get up to seventy, then the better chance the novel has of seeing publication, since most houses won’t consider anything below sixty thousand to be worth their while.  So onward today.  I need to finish up an in-story interview, then . . . fight!  Yeah, it’s that time in the story to have a throwdown with the supernatural.  How does it turn out?  Well, I do have Part Three to write, so it’s not that bad–

Or is it?

Why didn’t I think about things as I drove through the night, as I have done so many times in the past?  It’s likely because I don’t need that at the moment.  I know where this story is going, and I know where many of my other stories are headed, so I don’t need to go all head cannon there.

It’s as I told a friend last night:  at this point I know I can write, and I can polish, and I can produce a good story.  What I need is to sell . . .

Notice, that’s not the same as “exposure”.  I have exposure for the most part.  What I need is for that exposure to turn into dollars.  I need to get publishing in to the forefront, and as The Good Doctor said, keep sending out those manuscripts, and not let them get cozy on my hard drive.  Exposure is no longer needed; it’s time to kick out the jams and get that name known to the right people.

I will “win” NaNo, but the novel won’t be finished in November.  I may complete the first draft, but it’s not finished.  There are other stories to write after that, and thing to edit.

I didn’t need to speak in the voice of my characters last night–

Because I know I need to speak for myself so I can start the next phase of my life.

Getting to the Future Without the Past

One day, sixteen hours until NaNo gets going, and people are starting to feel the pressure.  Or, I believe they are, because the comments are beginning to come fast and furious, asking things like, “What are you going to do?” or, “Do you have names for your characters?”  It’s all fun and games until you actually have to start writing, is that it?

Some people are jumping about with ideas that are coming from nowhere.  A few of these ideas are dealing with something often called “Future History”, and involve a lot of “what ifs?” that can’t be answered easily.  In particular, some of the ideas deal with things happening three thousand or more years down the line, which means you’re going to have to do some major research, and head scratching, if you want to come up with an idea that doesn’t suck sour air.

But that doesn’t stop some people.  That doesn’t stop them from taking what we have “now”, and saying something like, “Hey, what if everyone started dropping bombs on everyone?”  (Place pinkie in corner of mouth.)  “But–three thousand years from now!”  Oh, yeah:  that’s going to work.  Just take what we have now and dress everyone like an extra from “Logan’s Run”.  I mean, that’s how it’s done, right?

Wrong.

To put it bluntly, creating future history is a bitch.  I’ve done a bit with another set of stories, and I’m dreaming up one now. And while I can say that I’ve done a bit of homework so that my worlds seem realistic, I can’t say with any certainty that they’d hold up as anything but fantasy.  But I’ve at least given my world some thought, and I’ve tried to make it fit into the realm of possible.

Far too many people, however, begin pulling ideas out of their asses, and putting a different outfit on a well-worn idea won’t make it look any different.  If it’s a bad or ill-conceived idea at the start, it’s going to be a bad one in the end, and no amount of editing short of a rewrite is going to fix your story.

There is nothing wrong with this–if this is what you want to write.  Hey, some people enjoy writing things that don’t make sense.  And this is not to say that I’m completely correct.  One can take historical stories like The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, and use that for inspiration for your future world.  The Project Rho site has a very good write-up on the development of future history, and this is something one should read again and again if you’re going to try setting your space opera off in the future.

But if you have no intention of learning anything, and feel you can keep America pretty much as if after several millennia have passed, you’ll probably have your women flying about in bra brassiere space suits, too.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, other than you’ll end up looking like a complete idiot–and people like me will come along and tell you what a doof you appear.

To put it bluntly, science fiction fans are hell.  After Larry Niven’s novel Ringworld was published, engineering students from MIT wrote papers about how his fictional creation was unstable.  Not impossible, mind you:  from an engineering standpoint, the Ringworld was nothing more than a self-supporting suspension bridge, a modified version of a Dyson Ring, which had been discussed in some circles before.  But there was instability inherent in the structure  and it was this instability that led Niven to use this as a major plot point in the sequel, The Ringworld Engineers.  Had this point not been addressed eventually, Niven–who has had a great deal of experience creating future history–would have come off looking like some hack from the 1930’s.

Creating any kind of future or alternate history involves some work.  Maybe you can get away with some basic ideas in a first story, and then expand upon those ideas in later stories.  But even then, you better have your chops down pretty pat, and be ready to defend your position, or you’ll get walked upon with heavy boots.  And not being able to defend your position does not mean running away, then asking other people the same questions, certain that they know as little as you about creating a new world, so they’ll tell you things like, “Oh, America wouldn’t attack first–it’s their policy never to start a first strike”–and you never feel a sense of shame believing this comment, because you believe that in three thousand years not one freakin’ think about the county’s first-strike policies will evar change . . .

Good luck with that story.  I’m certain your hard drive will keep it warm for years to come.

Game of Mind Frell

Dreams are getting really strange, let me tell you.  Maybe it was my mind getting back at me for slamming zombies yesterday; I don’t know.

Lets put it this way:  I found my dream mind taking me to hang out with character from Game of Thrones, only Westeros looked a little like a cross between a far west Chicago suburban development, and a run-down version of downtown Indianapolis.  Everyone was tooling about Maseratis, save for Tyrion Lannister, aka the (P)Imp, who was driving around in a Bugatti Veyron.

As for me, I spend most of my time hangin’ out with The Mother of Dragons, though I never saw the dragons, and some guy by the name of Mars Serpentcraft, who I know isn’t a character in any of the stories, but who looked a lot like Sean Bean.  In the dream I looked a little like Daenerys, only with red hair and no dragons to keep me company–though I do think I was wearing the yoga pants.

What happened, you ask?  Um . . . I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the phases of the moon, the Daughter of Death was giving me tips on skin care and how to kill people, and it seemed like, from time to time, I had to fight off killer bugs that eventually turned into cooked Cornish hens.

Oh, and I had a Lamborghini Murciélago to drive, so at least there was something good happening.  Though my feet seemed to keep slipping off the brake; must have been the heels.

I have no idea where there was coming from, honestly.  I had a long, trying day yesterday, and I believe that my mind may have been revolting against something that could have been, I don’t know, perhaps logic?  It was something strange to go through, and the fact that it was no only vivid, but went on for a very long time, and involved things that I never would suspect–like The Silver Lady and I heading into town to buy drugs, and getting into a fight over the cost, after which we hacked the dealers to death with short swords.  Maybe it was because they kept saying, in falsetto voice, “Where are my dragons?”  That was pissing us both off like no one’s business.  Let me tell you, this is the sort of stuff I couldn’t make up if I wanted.

This all might have come about, too, because I was actually thinking about a story.  No, not my NaNo Novel 2012, but–believe it or not–a story that would happened to the same characters some years after this current story I’m planing.  Yes, that’s right:  I’m thinking about another story for the characters I’m putting into a story now, but this would be something that will happen to them at some point in the future.

Why am I thinking this?  Why am I planing stories that I might not write for years?  Hey, that’s what I do.  I think ahead; I plan; I get ready.  Plot bunnies, my ass:  I keep ideas at ready, so that when I’m ready, I get them down.

I have maybe twenty-five years of writing ahead of me, so why not have stuff to write?

I mean, it’s either that, or going shopping while covered in blood in my dreams.

Sort of Quiet On the Writing Front

Crazy weekends leading to crazy things.  I caught up on sleep, I did a lot of research . . . I wrote my butt off.  Well, not really.  The butt is still there.  But the fingers got a work out.

It’s always the same:  planing, plotting, set up, and even writing a story or two here and there.  Most of the weekend involved getting the NaNo Novel 2012 set up and ready to go come Zero Hero, but I also found time to write the next chapter in my four-part Halloween story I’m doing over on Storytime Trysts.  It’s easy to find my story:  it’s the one with the title no one can pronounce.

I just check the Scrivener file on this story, and right now I’ve a word count of six thousand, four hundred and thirty.  If I write another two thousand words–which isn’t out of the question–I’ll finish up around eighty-four hundred words.  This could end up becoming my shortest story ever, and still not be a “real” short story.  I’ll cut the difference and call it a short story, because who’s going to argue?

At this point I have nothing to work one, save the development for NaNo.  Which is a good thing, because I don’t want to work on another project at this point.  I did a lot of little projects last year during NaNoWriMo, and while I’ll continue blogging here during the month of November (because who doesn’t want to see someone describing what it’s like to lose one’s mind as they strive to achieve something mere mortal only dream about), I won’t do anything else.  No stories, no guest blogging, no articles.

Just me and my novel.  And the pain that will likely set up somewhere between my eyes.

I have my goals set.  I know what I’m going to write, more or less.  Now, bring on November!

Right.  I feel my body clench ever time I look at a calendar.

NaNo is not for the faint of heart.  You have to, as Chuck Wendig says so ungentlemanly says, “Get to scribbling, motherfucker.”  I’m feeling that, in order to get this novel done the right way, I’m going to need to cut myself off from most of the Internet.  Just reach out and talk to those parts of The Matrix that will bring me help and hope, and screw everything else that does little more than suck at my brain.

What I need:  Google, Wikipedia, Maps, NaNoWriMo page.  What I don’t need:  Facebook, Facebook, Facebook . . . You hear me?  I should just delete that shit off my computer.  Simply put, social media isn’t all that sociable.  It’s too much of a distraction.

Oh, sure, I might check out the NaNoWriMo group and laugh at the members who spend half the day going, “Hey, who’s sprinting?  I need to write 1,000 words–LETS SPRINT!”  Or, you could, you know, just write.  You know?  Fingers on the keyboard, words appear on the screen?  It’s like magic!

It’s also your job.

Writing, despite what some might say, is work.  It’s a lot of work.  You can take pleasure from it, or you can spend a few minutes every hour cursing the day you decided to listen to the voices inside your head.  But if you think you can write fifty thousand words in thirty days and nights of insanity by spending most of the day believing you’re the Tony Stark of the NaNo world, summoning Jennifer and Black Widow and Crimson Witch to help you get that novel out of your mind and onto the page, you’re never gonna get done.

Plant butt in chair, flip on whatever gets the creative juice flowing, and write, baby, write.

Push that front, ’cause it ain’t gonna push itself.

Living on the Time Line

Many, many things happened on 12 October, 2012—most of which I have no intention of discussing. Let us just say it is another of those life changing moments, the ones that test your fortitude, and force you to see if things are going in the correct direction.

In time I may speak of these things. Highly unlikely, however, because there is little to discuss. Time be time, mon, and once the past has zipped by, there’s nothing you can do to get it back.

And why would you want that, anyway? You can’t meddle in the basic fabric of the universe, can you? Onward, suckers.

I’ve given much thought to NaNo Novel, the 2012 Version. I’ve been doing that since Wednesday, actually, ever since I started blogging about getting the book in shape. I have but two chapters to do for my Halloween story—one which is about half written—and then nothing for November . . . save for The Crazy Train. Save for writing our butts off and hoping, against all hope, that what we produce doesn’t end up sounding like something one would scribble, in crayon, upon the walls of a padded cell. Unless, of course, that’s what you’re trying to write; then you’re doing it right.

I have location, people, creatures that go bump in the night. Now I’m getting the plot together. In thinking about what’s happening in the story, I realized that I would need to know when these events would occur. Normally, I scribble down a few notes in Scrivener, and use those as a guide to figure out what I’m going to write.

At the same time, I have this set up, the events leading to the moment when the main character step upon the stage, and the things that will lead then forward. So, yesterday, I began creating a timeline for my novel. I’m using software called Timeline, which is quick, simple, and easy. Doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but for what I need to do, it gets the job done.

This is the first time I’ve gotten into this level of detail with a story. To give you an idea, below is a screen shot of my timeline as of now:

 

 

 

It might not make sense to you at the moment, but I understand everything that’s happening. You might even notice that I have an event labeled, “Ramadan, 2013”. The story takes place in a country where Islam is the primary faith, and since I’m placing my story in the year 2013, I needed to know when Ramadan would be observed—even though it won’t play any importance in the story beyond a mention to one of the characters. A friend who is familiar with the characters said to me yesterday, “I knew you’d have to know when Ramadan happens in 2013.” Yes, that’s me: Mr. I Need To Know Things That Aren’t Even Used In Your Story.

There actually is a reason I needed to find those dates: if the story took place during the time frame of Ramadan, I’d need to have one of the characters fasting, and certain things would need to be done throughout the day. That would be a major screw up that no writer should have to live down.

Unless you’re the sort of writers who doesn’t give a shit, then it’s okay. I’m not that sort of writer.

Plan for the weekend is to finish the Halloween chapter, and continue building the timeline. Right now, I think Part One may come in about fourteen to eighteen thousand words, and if that’s the case, then a three-part story is going to come in short in terms of “winning” NaNo. Eighteen would get me over the line, but what I’m really shooting for is a sixty thousand words, because when it comes to getting your story published, most houses won’t look at anything under sixty thousand words. Just ask anyone who submitted they manuscript to Harper Voyager.

Do the math, and I need to write two thousand words a night. Not day, because I won’t have much time to write during the day, but night, because that’s then only free time I’ll have. Two thousand a night, about three hours of writing. Maybe four. Maybe I’ll write from 6 PM until 11 PM.

Doesn’t matter.

The novel gets written. Because that’s what writers do.