The Final Solo: Ready Marker One

The start of a new scene and you know what that means, right?  Only about three hundred or so words were written last night, because whenever I’m starting a scene it seems as if I have a hard time getting going these days.  It’s like, you gotta picture the stuff in your mind, then figure out how you want to get the feeling down so you have a bit of a hook to get people interested.

Not to mention it’s the beginning of the week, and that means I’m tired from the first day of work, and it was cold, and I tried to nap and I couldn’t because I got a hang up call on my mobile just as I was drifting off to sleep.  Not cool, people.  Don’t you know this girl needs her sleep?

Anyway, I did get something done last night, but the real news comes after.  First–

 

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

The timer on Annie’s countdown clock was showing eighteen minutes and twenty-four seconds when her HUD picked up the active pinging from the marker buoy that represented her objective. She slowed by fifty kilometers an hour almost instantly, then when she was two kilometers out she slowed to two hundred and arced towards the marker.

Annie was a bit surprised to discover that her course deviation from the marker was only a little over one hundred meters. She didn’t have a problem maintaining the assigned heading, but after ninety-five kilometers she expected that she might deviate from the marker by half a kilometer and not a fifth of that distance. I know I’m good at this— She spread her arms to the side as she began to brake. There are moments, however, when I’m surprised by my talent.

She lowered her legs and positioned her body until she was almost upright, allowing the additional air pressure to slow her even faster. When she finally came to a complete halt she found herself twenty meters away and fifteen meters above the her objective: a large orange cylinder perhaps three meters in diameter and five meters tall, with four “1” icons placed at ninety degrees angles around the top and bottom segments of the marker.

Annie moved slowly towards the marker as she tried the comms. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Final Solo. We’ve arrived at Marker 1. Awaiting instructions. Over.”

When the comms remained silent for three seconds Annie wondered if there was a possibility they were not only outside the school’s visible detection range, but out of verbal communication range as well. Her concerns were but to rest a few seconds more. “Salem Final Solo, this is Flight Deck. We see you’ve reached the marker on time. Over.”

 

There’s Annie, floating in the air out in the middle of the Gulf of Maine, though “the middle” is a subjective term.  Given there’s no only else around them, it feels like the middle.  Oh, that you know for sure that I have her time right for getting close to the Marker 1 because I did my calculations, and at three hundred kilometers and hour you’ll cover three hundred kilometers in about thirty seconds.  And you know my numbers are right because they are.

The real story is about an event that is coming, and soon.  It’s strange:  while I had this story plotted out before I began writing, I’ve also changed and added a couple of things that weren’t in my original design for my kid’s B Levels.  And it was during my walk home from work, which was a bit chilly and gloomy but not all that bad, that I hit inspiration

No, I don't look like this.  I live in a city, and certainly wouldn't wear heels like that for walking.

No, I don’t look like this. I live in a city, and certainly wouldn’t wear heels like that for walking.

The interesting thing is I was figuring out what to write for this current chapter pertaining to the next scene, and not the one I’m in now.  I do that quite a lot:  work a scene over and over in my head again and again until it feels right.  A lot of times I’m adding things because I feel the scene isn’t “full” enough, and if I don’t actually write down everything in my mind, that’s okay, ’cause I can edit at some point.

It was while I was working out one part of Annie’s test that, during one of her rests, Kerry and she spoke, and I thought up a comment that Kerry would say, because it’s something that he would say.  It was immediately followed by something from Annie, and it was only then that inspiration hit and I went, “Well . . . that would be interesting.”

The that I began contemplating stayed with me last night, and by the time I wrote the above I was also deep into putting my inspiration together into a new scene, one that will take place in the future in place of a similar scene that I was going to write, but that wasn’t nearly as cool.  Because that’s how I roll.

And now that I’m coming up to a rather important moment in this novel, rolling is everything–

Getting Off Of the Swing of Things

Try as I may today, I’m simply having the damnedest time trying to get my writing stuff down pat.  Just slow going everywhere–probably due in part to being tired after a somewhat restless sleep due to coughing through the night.  And when this happens, trying to get the pretty words to come out pretty–well, it ain’t pretty.

This doesn’t mean I’m just playing around doing nothing.  Nope, I’m playing around doing something.  Whenever I’m feeling as if I can’t really get a scene out the way I want, I start imagining trips that I’ll never take, but that are likely to be something my kids will go on one day.

"Really, I'm hard at work!"

“Really, I’m hard at work!”

I’ve been doing this for a while, but in the last week my mind has been drifting to the future.  There is an event in their lives when Annie and Kerry decide to take the summer and go bumming around Europe, which for them means brooming it from city-to-city and staying in some nice hotels, mostly in the two and three star range.  This is something that I’ve had in my mind for about four and a half years now, and while I’ve written of it before, I’ve not really mentioned a lot of details.  That’s because it’s something I want to write about, you know?  And if I talk, then there’s no need to write.

But of late I’ve started wondering, “What about side trips?”  I mean, when you have a way of jetting about the country that you have control over, and it doesn’t actually cost you money to operate–unless you consider your needing to eat fuel for the broom–then you can saddle up and get to flying, pard.  There was also something I figured out during my original layout of the trip, and that was my Lovey Dovey couple was missing Venice–and there was no way in hell Annie was missing Venice.  Nuh, uh.  She’d have to Dark Witch some fools if they thought she was gonna miss that city.

So I changed up the time line of that trip, and that’s where I started wondering about side trips.  ‘Cause when you have a lot of energy, and you have, let me check, three-and-a-half days to kill there, you may want to take a day and go out elsewhere.

Which is what I started playing with this morning.  Here’s what I have:

Up into the mountains we go, yeah?

Up into the mountains we go, yeah?

Believe it or not there are four stopping points on that trip of five hundred and seventy kilometers, which can be covered–even without judicious hot piloting–in about three-and-a-half hours if you fly it non-stop and maintain an air speed of about one hundred mph/one hundred sixty kph.  And since the kids can totally open it up on the flat stretches away from the mountains, they only need about three hours of flying.

Now two of the stops are Kerry’s and two are Annie’s, and one of those stops is probably down there in Verona, ’cause, you know, it’s one of those stops a young couple in love should make.  I mean, what sort of shenanigans could they get up to?  Maybe Annie would like to find a balcony upon which to stand so Kerry can see what soft light breaks through yonder window?

Oh, and while laying this out I kept jamming out to the follow tune:  Time is Tight, by Booker T. & The MGs.

All the while I’m laying out the above map I’ve imagining the flying montage from the movie in my mind, watching them cutting down the valleys with the Italian Alps around them, popping through a pass, and at the end having them roaring down Lago di Garda before making the sweeping, high speed turn to the east and aim off towards Verona to get a little food, a little romance, and maybe just off some dude’s who look at them wrong.  Never can tell.

When I’m not feeling the words I fall back on the images, ’cause in time they lead to data, and that leads to a plot, and that eventually leads to a story.  There’s a story in Venice for my kids, and this side trip is part of that story.

Now that I have it out of the way, it’s a good bet I can get back to the current one this afternoon.

If I don’t get distracted, that is.

The Inevitable Answers: On the Tip Of Your Tongue

All together a little over seventeen hundred words were written, and I’m now just about eighty-five hundred words short of two hundred seventy-five thousand words.  Inching ever so closer to three hundred, which is right about where I expect this sucker to end.

But that’s the future, this is the present, and at the moment we’re back in the library and talking about mirrors.  As they relate to dreams.  And what do you know . . .

 

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

Erywin handled the question. “It’s an event in your dream—in this particular dream—designed to show you, once and for all, what’s actually happening.”

This did nothing to clear up his original question. “And what is happening?”

“From what we understand, you’ve been involved in adjuration—”

“What?”

“It means to make an earnest, solemn appeal.”

Deanna joined the conversation. “Based upon what you’re already told us, isn’t that exactly what this dream girl has done? Since the very first dream?”

Kerry only needed a few seconds to remember the events in his dreams and understand what Erywin and Deanna were saying. “Yeah, that’s what she’s doing. But, what’s a mirror got to do with this dream?”

 

Now you know a new word:  adjuration, which is “To make an earnest, solemn appeal.”  Near the end of the next chapter you’ll learn why this is given this name, but for now not much is being said.

This mirror thing, though?  Yeah, they’re down on this:

 

“You told Coraline this morning that the girl reached the top of the stairs, paused, then turned right.” Deanna leaned slightly forward. “Yes?”

He sniffed once and wiped his nose. “Yes.”

Deanna gave herself just a moment pause before asking the next question. “Did she do that again when the dream happened this time?”

Kerry stared down at a point near the instructor’s feet. “Yeah.”

It’s a good thing Kerry’s looking in our direction so he can’t see that stare— Deanna expected Annie to give him a strange look, and she half expected her to speak after this next question. “How?”

His brow tightened. “What do you mean?”

“My love—” Annie lay a hand on Kerry’s left arm. “You weren’t on the landing. How did you see her?”

A puzzled look came over Kerry’s face. “I guess I . . .” He shrugged before turning to Annie. “It’s a dream; things like that happen.”

“Kerry—” Deanna’s tone was soft and reassuring. “Everything you’re told us about these dreams seem to have a literal action: at no time have you mentioning things happening where you weren’t present.” She took a quick breath, wondering how he’d answer the next question. “What’s on the landing wall facing the stairs?”

For a few seconds it appeared he might not answer before chuckling. “Oh, yeah: there’s a mirror.” He turned to Annie. “Mom put it there because it’s supposed to be good for the feng shui—”

Annie looked at him gravely. “Kerry.”

He turned back to the instructors; when he spoke a hint of nervousness crept into his voice. “It’s supposed to keep all the bad energy coming through the front door from getting upstairs and . . .” He stopped once he realized no one in the room was interested in hearing about a physiognomy practice his mother picked up while they were living in California.

“There is a way you could have seen the girl turning to the right, Kerry.” Deanna wrapped her hands around her knee. “If you were unaware of your point of view, and you didn’t realize you were looking in a mirror, then it would seem as if the person were turning in the opposite direction.” She held up her hand when it appeared Annie was about to speak. “You suspect this, don’t you?”

 

First, Annie gives Kerry the stink eye because she saw what happened with the girl, and knows he wasn’t there watching her.  Second, it took me about five minutes to figure out the word “physiognomy”, because research, you know?  And third–there’s a mirror on the landing?

There sure is.  How do I know.  Because I told you a mirror was on there.  Let’s look at a passage from the discussion Kerry had with his mother about his wet dream, with the line in question in bold:

 

Louise sat silently for several seconds before she hissed out her reply. “You’re excused.”

Kerry bolted from his chair and trotted towards the stairs, running up to the first floor. He paused for a second at the top of the landing, checking his red face in the large mirror his mother mounted there to “help the feng shui of the home” before turning left and nearly running into his bedroom, and shutting and locking the door behind him.

 

There you are:  proof in the novel from only about two hundred and fifty thousand words back!  Though it’s in a slightly edited form because editing, right?  But this is why I plot, because just like in the first novel, I do something that’s going to come back about a quarter of a million words later and become relevant.  The mirror has been there all the time; the trick was remembering the sucker.  Kerry didn’t:  now he does.  And so it seems, something else is coming to mind . . .

 

After nearly five seconds, when it became apparent Kerry wasn’t about to answer Deanna’s question, Erywin stepped in and asked the question everyone expected. “You know who she is, don’t you?”

He looked to his friend with some pain in his eyes. “You seem to know what’s going on, Erywin: why don’t you just tell me.”

She brushed away some hair and sighed. “Believe it or not, I can’t—we can’t. Sometimes there are rules that need obeying, and our research indicates that this is something that is all on you.” Erywin shook her head. “I’m not even certain what would happen if we did tell you what we know.

“Kerry, we’re not trying to put you on the spot. But it seems what’s happening now occurs in phases, and in order to move out of this phase and into the end phase—” She held her hands up as she pressed herself back into your chair. “You have to say it: you have to say her name.”

He looked away from everyone, lowering his head so that all he could see was a spot on the floor. It was only after ten seconds of shoulder-slumping silence that he felt a hand on his an a voice whispering to him. “Moyata polovinka.”

He turned to Annie and gave her a sad smile. “My edin i samo lyubov.”

Annie leaned in close. “You know this girl?” He nodded slowly. “Then just say her name.” She turned her hand around and slipped her palm against his. “It’ll be all right, I promise.”

Kerry held Annie’s hand tightly. He sighed a couple of times and sniffed back the last of his runny nose before exhaling slowly. “She’s—” He gulped hard once as he half-closed his eyes.  “She’s, um . . .” This time he closed his eyes tight as he sucked breath through clenched teeth. “She’s . . . Damnit.” Tears began flowing from his eyes once again. “I can’t say it.” Kerry started panting as he looked down the line of women seated across from him. “It’s like it’s right there on the tip of my tongue and I want to say the name but something won’t let me.” His breath came in ragged sobs as he hunched over and stared down at his knees. “I don’t know why this is happening.”

A comforting hand gently patted his shoulder from behind as a soothing voice spoke to his concerns. “I think I can answer that question—”

 

Wait:  who is answering what question?

"Who is tap-tapping on my shoulder?"

“Who is tap-tapping on my shoulder?”

Whomever it is, they see that Kerry’s having a lot of trouble spitting out this name.  Here we also see there are rules in magic–no, must resist using A League of Their Own meme here–and those rules don’t allow any of the women, who appear to be in the known, to tell Kerry what’s happening in his head.

But before that happens, will the mystery guest sign in please?

Wandering the Side Streets of the Mind

If you’ve come hoping to find more racing today, hope for more tomorrow.  Something happened to me last night known as “getting way, way sidetracked,” and I only managed a few hundred more words beyond the last two hundred and forty you saw after the confused witch picture.  It’s something that happens, right?

"Yeah, easy for you to say, Professor, you never had to worry about getting you iPad taken away because you came out!"

“I could just walk away from this ridiculous conversation–wait?  Who am I kidding?  This is the Internet!”

You know it does.

But this gets me thinking, as I have been the last few days while there’s a lot of down time due to Elsa not letting it go on the east coast.  And I’m thinking, I need to get to time lining again.  Why, you ask?  Because I have major things that exist only in my head, but not down on “the line”, so to speak.

If I should say so myself, my time lines are a bit famous, but more importantly they’ve helped me stay on track with my stories.  Since I’m aware of when the big changes in my kid’s lives are coming, I can set up the story to meet those points and write into and past them.  For the most part I do know everything–

And I do mean everything.

And I do mean everything.

And sometimes I have to set up stuff in the past just so I can write about it at some point in the gigantic novels . . .

Like, "When was stuff built?  When did people die?"  You know:  important stuff.

Like, “When was stuff built? When did people die?” You know: important stuff.

Of late I’ve been thinking about four events that happen in my kid’s future, and other than a “notion” of what needs to be written due to things like maps and notes scribbled here and there, I have no real layout for those events.  Three need to be laid out with a certain amount of precision due to them happening over a short period of time, and the other one . . . well, it’s done more just for fun only because it marks a fun event in Annie’s and Kerry’s life, and I want to get it, you know, right.

There is another however that’s a whole lot different in that is sort of falls out of the purvey of these time lines of which I speak, only because it sort of exists, but doesn’t.   Call it Schrödinger’s Timeline:  it exists and doesn’t, both at the same time, and they are only real only in how you look at them.

Putting these today help me stretch my imagination, which at this point could use a little stretching.  I ran into this when working on the last novel:  you spend so much time immersed in this one story that you don’t have time for others, and given that you know what’s coming, it sort of shuts down the brain a little to keep it from working the way it should.  In short, unless you have something else working on your brain while you’re working the brain, the brain starts to get stunted by all the single-mindedness going on.  Which is probably why you find your job so boring:  it’s the same thing over and over, and the brain just gives up after a while.

I’m likely going to start working on this stuff over the next few weeks as I do my best to bring this current chapter to an end.  The results of my mind exercises won’t be seen for a while–

At least not by you guys.

Transforming the Imagined Past

 

Out of November and into December, and from here on out it’s a countdown to the end of 2015.  It’s also congratulations to all those who won NaNoWriMo 2015, and for those who didn’t, there’s always next year.  As for me, I reached 175,000 words on 1 November, and as of last night I’d written a total of 194,444 words, and as right around twenty thousand words a month is my average, I’m good with what I did, particularly when I remember there have been four or five days–like last night–where my output was not all that great.

I began a new chapter which means starting a new scene, and when it comes to starting one I usually spend a lot of time staring at the blank Scrivener text file wondering what the hell to put down on the sheet.  This is one of those scenes that, believe it or not, I plotted out oh so long ago, and I was really damned about what was going to happen in here.  Every so often that happens because these ideas come to me while I’m plotting things out, and then comes a point six months later where I reach a scene, and the first thought in my head is, “What the hell is gonna happen here?”  Because I don’t know.

See, I don’t always have the story written in my head before I write it down.

So while Taken 2 played in the background, and I had a pretty good loop of Tom Waits’ Hold On rolling in my earbuds, I tried to figure out how to start this scene.  Staring and listening and wondering–and that’s when it hits me.  See, during the day, while I was at work, I figured out what would happen in this scene.  I even played out some of it when I had a moment to myself, so the general ideas behind the scene–and the next two after that, I should point out–were now known.  Still, it’s hard to get the ball rolling–

So why not roll it with a look back?

This scene takes place in Transformation class, which means we’re now in Jessica’s World, and it’s the end of January, 2013, and she’s dealing with students who are back into the grind and maybe not having an easy time of things because of a certain deadline that’s coming down the line.  Which gives me ideas about her, and as I look at the page it becomes clear:  why not have a little of her backstory play out along with that of the school?

And that’s how I managed the following three hundred and ninety words for the start of the scene:

 

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

A month into the new calendar year and Professor Jessica Kishna was keenly aware of the stress many of her students were under. Sorcery class wasn’t the only one where a student’s performance over the next year was going to determine if they continued on with that particular line of magical training: Erywin was also turning up the pressure on her students, making her determinations on who was going to move on to C Level Formulistic Magic, who of that group she might consider for her advanced class, and who she would pass over, and while Wednesday always taught for levels of standard spells, it was during her C Levels classes that she offered additional work for those students who, while not necessarily up to the levels of those students in her Advanced Spells class, showed enough exceptional talent to warrant specific, and sometimes personal, consideration.

With January coming to an end nearly all the B Levels were realizing their return home and the subsequent unveiling to their parents as witches was not that far off in the future, and that was a another level of stress Jessica knew they didn’t need, but couldn’t easily remove. She remembered her own time so clearly: returning to Chicago on the afternoon of 1 June, 1984, and dreading every second of the car ride from O’Hare Airport to her home in The Island neighborhood between the South Austin community and Cicero. Then there was the walk up to the house that seemed to take forever before sitting down in the living room with her parents and two siblings, an older brother and younger sister. Before telling her family the truth about what she did at school, Jessica though she might actually faint from the building anxiety—

And few, if any of her current students, possessed the same control she had at their age. She wasn’t It was no wonder that about a third of her class found it difficult to concentrate, and transformation spells required tremendous concentration. There was a flip side to that equation, and it was that witches who became experts in transformation magic generally found themselves in situations where they were required to perform spells under all various levels of pressure, and now was as good a time to learn how to temper their reaction to this pressure as any . . .

 

There you have a little of Jessica’s backstory, including the real area of Chicago where she grew up.  If you look up The Island you’ll find it exactly where I said it’s located, just south of the Eisenhower Expressway and the CTA Blue Line.  The date is correct, too, because students filed out of school on that date in 1984, and as Jessica started her A Levels in 1982, she’d leave as a B Level on the date in this scene.

And while students might be under a lot of stress, she’s right:  there are more than a few who might find themselves doing magic under far more stressful situations that having to deal with their witchy coming out:

"Yeah, easy for you to say, Professor, you never had to worry about getting you iPad taken away because you came out!"

“Yeah, easy for you to say, Professor, you never had to worry about getting you iPad taken away because you came out!”

And speaking of those students who have done magic under far more stressful situations . . . two of them are in her class in this scene.

Which means I’ve done my job getting things set up.  Now to get them on stage–

The Fiction Through Their Eyes

There was so much going on yesterday, and only a small part of  it was plotting out B For Bewitching, but I did start laying out Act Two with the first chapter of the first part found within.  I also found myself going over my time line in Aeon and making a few tweaks here and there, because as I gave the story more consideration, the changes put in place made sense in the overall flow of the story.

Here is what I’ve worked up so far:

Four scenes, no waiting--well, you have to wait for me to write them.

Four scenes, no waiting–well, you have to wait for me to write them.

If you check the scene titles, it pretty much gives away something that was discussed a little at the end of the last novel, but you’ll keep that mum, right?  Actually, by showing you what I’m creating and plotting, I’ve given away two important points that were discussed at the end of the last novel, but I’m certain you were over a mind that I wasn’t going to let that go nowhere.

An interesting thing came up yesterday as well.  I was commenting that while putting this story together I was worried I might not have enough for Annie to do, and I was going over the story again and again to make certain this wasn’t going to be an All Kerry, All the Time story.  I probably worried about that because Chapter One of the novel is told entirely from his point of view–actually, it has to be told that way–and you don’t start getting Annie Vision until they take their Anniversary Trip to the Brandenburg Gate.  (Actually Annie comes in before that, but I won’t tell you where.)

Then I started looking over what I’ve set up, and realized that once I get out of the first three chapters–Part One–a lot of the story will end up being told from Annie’s point of view.  One chapter to come will be told from Annie’s point of view all the way down the line, because it really is all about her–and you’ll see why you should Never Mess With Annie.  And there are two, actually three–no, wait, four–extremely important scenes dealing with Kerry that are told from Annie’s point of view, because that’s the way it has to be.

I’ve noticed that when it comes to my kids, Kerry is my intellectual center, and Annie is my emotional one.  That’s not to say that Kerry isn’t emotional–we know he is–or that Annie isn’t intelligent, but I’ve established that Kerry thinks things out while Annie feels them.  You’ll see that change as Kerry begins leaning on those emotions more, and Annie shows she can be a pretty crafty girl, but it’s taking a bit of time to get there, so I’ll stick for a while with Kerry over-thinking things, and Annie feeling the hell out of everything.

It’s not so much that I find things for Annie to do:  she’s part of the story, a big part, and really, without her Kerry is sort of empty character–and, no, a certain ginger girl from Colorado isn’t going to fill him up.  Though their kids would have hair that would give the Weasley’s a run for their money . . .

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.

Setting the Strange to Sense

The creative process is a fickle beast.  There are times when you want to do something, and you can’t bring yourself to put down word one in the computer or on paper or whatever it is you use for your medium.  And there are other times you get into your grove and start writing, and before long you sit back and realize that if you ever show other people what you just creative, they’re going to imagine you the most disturbed person who’s ever lived.

"What . . . the hell . . . did I just . . . That's not possible!"

“What . . . the hell . . . did I just . . . That’s not possible!”

And there are times when you set out to write something, and when it comes time to write you can’t, because you realize that what you want to write simply makes no sense.  You can’t start writing because you have no idea why you want to say.

That’s what happened to me yesterday.

It’s like this:  the planning process for this novel has been a long one.  I pretty much thought about doing this story for almost two years, and actually began putting this story together in June, July, and August of 2013.  That was when I took some old designs I had of the Salem School grounds and began building the current grounds as a three-dimensional map in Blender, as well as designing some of the buildings using other construction programs.

Remember this?

Remember this?

Building the school was really the catalyst I need to get serious about writing this current novel, and from there all other things flowed.  Once I knew where everything was, I could sit and plot out the novel, which I did starting in September, 2013, and finished up the following month.

A lot has been said about how I’ve plotted out the novel in it’s entirety before setting down the first word.  There’s a bit of a risk doing that, because you don’t know if what you’re plotting will actually work for certain, and you have no idea how long it’s going to take you to get to the later parts of the novels.  When you hit those later spots the possibility exists that you’re going to see something you laid out over a year before, and the first thing that comes to mind is, “Huh?”

That’s what happened yesterday.

I finished up the two scenes with Kerry’s birthday and his meeting of the minds with Annie over what it means to be a sorceress and a Guardian.  There were two scenes following in Chapter Thirty-Nine, but when I looked at the meta data for the scene–the little notation that tells me what the scene is about–I looked at it and when “Huh?”  Because when I saw the scene that followed, I realized that much of what would be discussed in the scene I was suppose to write last night would get covered again–and I liked the scene that would follow, titled Graduation Picnic, much better.

You keep looking at it and you know if you write anything out you’re just wasting your time, because in the end the scene won’t work.  I’ve been lucky in that my plotting has been very right on, but this was a case where something obviously isn’t going to go, so why bother?

That meant that instead of writing I needed to figure out what to do instead.  Surprisingly, it took me a while to figure it out, because I was tired and the brain wasn’t working right.  But when the solution hit me, it made oh-so perfect sense.  There was a scene in Chapter Forty-One that I knew I’d use, and as I thought things out last night, I saw that it made more sense to move it into Chapter Forty and make it the scene following Graduation Picnic.  Then, in Chapter Forty-One, I saw that I did need a scene that would explain an event happening to Annie and Kerry, and it would fit in as the last scene of that chapter.

Which leads me with this:

Behold the Last Days of Salem.

Behold the Last Days of Salem.

You will notice that, yes, I jump right from the beginning of May to the end, because this story is about my kids and not so much about them finishing their classes.  27 May is the last Sunday at the school.  The scene that was moved, Last Madness, takes place on Friday, 25 May, and the following Friday is the time when everyone goes home–as is seen in the scene Goodbye for Now.  That means not only these last five scenes with “To Do” in the Status area are about their departure, but the next part and the two chapters located there all involve their last few days together.  Three chapters to get through two days:  yeah, that seems about right.

After I return from my doctor’s tonight I’ll start in on the next scene.  It’s gonna start getting sad from here on out, and I’ll do my best not to cry as I write.

It won’t be easy, though . . .

Writing, Thoughts, New Plotting, and Time

Last night was about writing, but it didn’t involve much writing.  There wasn’t any writing at all, if you must know.

There are times when one has to make certain that their story is in good shape and the area ahead not only makes sense, but isn’t full of potholes and landmines.  And of all the parts of my story, the Kansas City trip was the foggiest because it was put together a long time ago–probably started thinking about it in detail in mid-September, 2013, and initially plotted it out in started time lining and getting it into Scrivener a month later–and I was only meta sketching it at the time.  I figured in the next few months I’d get some more detail behind it as I gave it more thought . . .

Little did I know it would be almost fourteen months before I’d get to this point.

So, with Helena and Erywin safely under the covers, and Annie and Kerry in bed and in their dream, it was time to figure out what was really going to happen over the next couple of days.  But at the same time, there was unfinished business concerning the earlier dreams that Annie and Kerry had.  After all, they were a thing in the story now and I wanted to know they were in the right places.  For them, that is.

So I started getting down to business.  And the first thing I did after eating last night was download the newest version of Aeon Timeline–which was easier said that done, because the connection at Panera kept dropping on me.  It took me three tries to get it onto my computer, but get it there I did.

And with that in place, I started figuring things out–

As you can see, it went in like a dream.  I know . . .

As you can see, it went in like a dream. I know . . .

Everything from the middle of the screen and on to the right was done a long time ago:  over a year back if I remember correctly.  All the stuff to the left, however, is brand new.  There is one dream missing–their first one–but they were pretty young at the time and it probably involved a lot of “Hi.  How you doing?” toddler stuff.  But as far as the main stuff talked about in the novel so far, that’s it.  I know when the things happened, and I have an idea what they talked about or did.  As you can see, there’s a good sized gap in there–a little over a year and a half–where not a lot happens, but you can assume it involved . . . kissing.

With the story almost complete I can actually show the full A Level time line that I developed and used for the story.  Ready?  Here you go:

In all its stunning glory.

In all its stunning glory.

One thing to point out here is that those areas marked “The Big Time” and “Kansas City” take you to other time lines, which makes this less crowded.  Also, I’m not showing individual things that happened to either kid, so “Annie’s Story” and “Kerry’s Story” bring up additional information.  Needless to say, once I laid out the story in Scrivener, I went back here to verify that everything worked out, and if I didn’t, I modified the line here until it did, and then changed the Scrivener layout.  Seems like a lot of work, but when you’re 365,000 words into a story, you’ll be glad you had this proofing behind you.

And speaking of Scrivener . . .

I also laid out the next two chapters–which, story-wise, is the next two days.  Funny how that works out:  three chapters in three days.  If only I could write that fast.  It now looks like this:

So much better I have to pat myself on the back.

So much better I have to pat myself on the back.

Nine scenes.  A couple of them are pretty short, most, I think, are gonna be between one thousand and fifteen hundred words, and I dare say a couple there will pop up over two thousand.  If I use twelve hundred words as an average, then there’s almost eleven thousand words to add for these two chapters alone.  And with Act Three currently sitting near fifty-seven thousand five hundred words, this is going to take the story up closer to seventy thousand words.  Which means by the time I finish this part the story will end up somewhere between seventy and seventy-five thousand words.

Looking at this, and looking at what I have ahead, this leads me to believe that Act Three is going to come out at right around one hundred thousand words, which will make it a third shorter than the first two acts.  Oh, my dear:  how can I handle that?  Can’t complain, because I figured Act Three would be the shortest part of the story, but still:  one hundred thousands words as a stand alone novel is a pretty good deal.

With all this said, tonight I get back into the writing.  If I manage to somehow do a scene a day, then this finishes up before the end of the year, and I can write and complete Chapter Thirty-Eight before the end of the year.  There are still several chapters to go, but having looked at them and knowing what goes in there–it looks as if this novel will finally see “The End” written around the end of January, 2015.

Now I have to figure out how I’m gonna celebrate that moment . . .

Witches in the Kitchen

Since a couple of people asked this question yesterday in the comments of my last post–yes, I do sleep, but not very well.  Even if I take something to help me sleep, I’m usually up a couple of times during the night.  Just like last night:  was up at three, used the bathroom, lay in bed trying tot fall back asleep, finally did about four, then woke up at six-twenty . . . and that’s when I hit the ground, did the minimum prep getting ready, and out the door to Panera, where I’m writing this at seven-o-five.

Such is my life:  blog in the morning, work during the day (if during the week) or run around doing things (if it’s the weekend), then work on writing during the evening hours.  Read a little, watch a little television (which will happen every Saturday night as soon as Orphan Black returns with my beloved Clone Club), and keep thinking writing.  Just like last night . . .

I was working on time lines once more, and I’m pretty much at the point where I have five novels worth of material metaploted out.  I have more plotted out for my kid’s lives, yes, but this is all about their school years, and the crap they get into.  No getting chased by some evil dude wanting to take over the world:  nope, it’s much more.  And in some cases, much worse.

Then again there are light moments I see that are fun for my kids, taking them out of the stress that is the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning.  You can only spend so much time inside a three hundred and fifty year old edifice before you need a break–

And that comes right about . . . here.

Yep, right there.  No, you see--right there.

Yep, right there. No, look closer–it’s right there.

There is a little blue line there near the middle of the display that says, “Annie Spends Yule with Kerry,” and that’s exactly what it means.  This is during their D Level Yule holiday.  Annie’s fifteen, Kerry fourteen, and they’ve begun to . . . let’s say assert themselves when it comes to their relationship.  They can both teleport long distances, so there’s no keeping them apart at this point–after all, when the boyfriend can jaunt to his girlfriend’s lake house in a matter of a second, and she can visit him in Cardiff any time she is of a mind, what can parents do?  Keep them locked in a cage?  Nope, nope, nope.  Doesn’t work that way, folks.  Not with kids like these.

Since I’m in a good mood, I thought I’d share a scene that I’ve had in my head the last couple of days.  Like I said, I’m always thinking, always dreaming, and this sort of stuff is the end result.  I have nothing written down, and frankly I’ve never sketched my scenes for anyone before writing them down, but since it’s going to be a while before I get to this scene, I thought I’d let you see the sort of things I come up with when I’m letting the imagination run free.

Sit back and enjoy.

 

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

It’s Boxing Day.  Kerry’s up because he knows Annie’s on GMT +2 time, so while it’s seven AM in Cardiff, he’s aware she’s probably been up since before five AM her time, and the only reason she hasn’t shown yet is because she didn’t want to disturb Kerry’s parents.

Kerry’s phone gets a message:  “Coming”.  He tells his parent to clear out of the front lounge; a few seconds later Annie and her parent teleport in.  Both sets of parents have met by now, and this holiday was agreed upon right before the school year began.  Though his parent don’t know, Kerry knows Annie was the one who teleported her family in from Bulgaria.  He takes her bag while Annie’s parents are asked in for coffee, to which they agree.

That’s when Kerry asks if his parents want breakfast.  His mom is like, “I can’t start that now,” and he’s like, “No, Mom:  we got this.”  While the parents chill in the family room overlooking the back yard, Annie and Kerry head for the kitchen.

Kerry shows Annie where everything is, but before they get started Kerry brings his tablet down from his bedroom.  That’s easy to do:  he uses inanimate transformation magic to make the ceiling/floor and walls permeable, then he levitates the tablet into his hands.  He sticks it to the wall and pulls up a playlist, and selects And You and I by Yes.

Kerry throws open the cabinet doors as Steve Howe finishes tuning his guitar and says, “Okay”.  He pulls out dishes and plates and leaves them hovering in the air.  He asked Annie to dice an onion and scallions while he removes four eggs and the milk.  Everything is levitating in the air:  at no point does either child touch a plate or a tool.  Kerry cracks the eggs into a bowl and pours in the milk, then uses a simple spell to whisk the mixture.  Annie levitates an onion into a bowl and imagines it segmenting into tiny diced segments; a couple of seconds later it’s done, and she splits the skin and sends it to the bin.  At nearly the same time she’s using a spell to slice the scallions into small pieces.  It’s not a problem for her, as she’s known how to multitask spells for a couple of years, and has leaned how to do as many as eight difference spells in a matter of seconds.

By this time Kerry’s parents are watching from the open doorway into the kitchen, amazed.  Even the Kirilovas have never seen Annie like this and watch in silence as they see the children work.  Kerry asks Annie to set up a pan and a skillet; she pulls them out from the cabinets, but she doesn’t bother setting them on the burners.  She levitates them over the stove, locks them into place, and sets two tiny globes of cold fire under them, adjusting them so that only the bottoms of the utensils are affected.  As they’ve cooked before at school she sets the temperature to sixty-five Celsius.

And the keyboard bridge to the song comes up and Wakeman’s mellotron swells, Kerry moves as if he’s conducting.  The eggs go into the skillet, and Annie sets the onions and scallions in with them.  With a wave of his hand he floats a can of beans from out of the pantry and sets them before Annie–she smiles and makes a comment about “UK breakfasts”, then upends the can over the pan and uses transformation magic to make one end of the can become insubstantial.  The beans fall into the pan and begin cooking while the scrambled eggs do the same.

By this time both kids are moving around the kitchen almost like they’re dancing, with Kerry singing while he cooks.  All the empty mixing bowls are off to the side, hovering in place.  He says they need a package of sausages, and Annie removes them from the freezer.  As she levitates them towards the stove she uses a spell to thaw them, so in the few seconds of travel they are unfrozen and ready for the skillet.

The song ends and Annie makes a remark about needing to hear something a bit more upbeat.  Kerry knows her musical taste are different from hers and even enjoys a majority of her selections.  She uses her far sight to see the tablet from across the kitchen, and finds a stream with something more contemporary (which will almost be now, since this is happening on December, 2014) with a good beat.  As the song starts Kerry transfers the scrambled eggs to a plate and throws a spell around them, slowing the passage of time so one minute in the kitchen is only one second on the plate.  That way the eggs will remain nice and hot.

The sausage go into the skillet and the package into the bin.  By this time the kids are more or less dancing around the kitchen, singing and smiling.  Kerry’s parents tell Annie’s parents they’ve never seen him this happy, and her parent agree that Annie seems to not only be just as happy, but in her own element with magic.

Annie asks if she should set the table:  Kerry shows her where the plates and silverware are.  She points to the overhead cabinet and six plates float out.  She walks over to the connecting doorway between the kitchen and dining room, the plates following.  She positions them on the table, then wills forks and knives from the drawer and places them next to the settings.  Kerry finishes with the sausages and sets them on another plate floating next to the eggs.  The beans go into a bowl, and Annie–who is now standing behind Kerry–kills the cold fire.  Kerry permeates not only the wall between the kitchen and dinning rooms, but the fixtures and the server in the dining room as well; Annie takes possession of the three plates and bowls of food and majestically walks straight through the wall while Kerry places all the dirty utensils into the sink, transforms the surfaces so they are completely frictionless, then sets them for a good soak.  Kerry follows Annie through the wall, then sets everything back so it’s as solid as it was.

Annie sets the food upon the server and turns to Kerry, who turns to her.  The parents are standing in the archway between the family and dining rooms.  Kerry thrown an arm around Annie’s shoulders; they’re both beaming.  Look at the amused and amazed parents, he says, “That’s how you do breakfast . . .”  He turns to Annie for a second, and then they both finish the sentence.  ” . . . with witches in the kitchen.”

 

At this point you have to wonder if Kerry’s parents have lost control of their bowels in abject fear of what their son has become, ’cause after seeing that little display you’ve got to be down with your kid being able to make things float around the room and walk through walls like it’s no big thang, or you end up running from the house screaming, “Witch!  Burn the witch!”  Which would be a bad thing, ’cause The Foundation would frown on the parents of one of their star pupils outting their kid like that.  He could also turn them into newts, but need worry to worry:  they’ll get better.

But the best part of all of this is that Kerry is . . .

Naw.  You’re gonna have to wait until I write this to discover that part.

B Level Anxieties

Editing:  it’s a way of life.  Well, not really, but if you want to hone your skill as a writer, you need to know this trick; you need to know how to cut and correct–and even add–where necessary.  Now, when it comes to cutting my own work–hey, I’m still learning.

This is not an easy thing to learn.

But edit I did, and I’m just about half-way through my friend’s novel as of this morning.  Tonight I’ll pass that line and then it’s downhill all the way.  As I see it, I’ll finish up before I make the trek back to Northwest Indiana next Friday, and that’ll leave me free to do my biz there and relax.

Did I say relax?  I meant I’ll probably maybe possibly start writing again.

I know I said I wouldn’t start on Act Two until I returned to The Burg, that I wouldn’t put word to electronic paper before 31 March, but it’s simply too hard to stay away from my story.  I’m doing all this outlining and thinking and character building, and after a while the whole, “I’m just sitting and enjoying my down time” thing isn’t working for me.  It is nice, but like last night, I found myself getting a little bored once the editing is out of the way and Me Time has arrived.

That’s because there isn’t a lot of time for me anymore.  It’s all about my characters.

And that brought me back to time lining.  Yes, I love doing this because I love seeing how things are laid out along a path upon which one can start putting a story together.  You know the quote “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”?  A story is the same way:  you have an idea about where you want to go, but you have to start that journey by getting one foot in front of the other and easing on down the road.

Time lines are the same for me.  I know pretty much where I’m going–I just have to lay out the map and see where to walk.  And ever since I was a kid I was good at reading maps.

Which brings me to Annie and Kerry’s B Levels.  It’s an interesting time in their lives–but mostly it’s an interesting time in Kerry’s life.  He starts out bored as hell because he’s home, his parents aren’t showing an interest in his schooling–not that he can really talk about it all that much, because there is something of a gag order on Normal kids to otnay alktay aboutway earninglay agicmay.  His parents still think of Kerry as this kinda strange kid that popped out of Mom’s vagina one day, and since then they’ve become stuck with him, not really knowing why he is so quiet and introverted, while he wonders why it always feels like his parents are shunning him simply for being alive.

Then he gets a visit.  You can see it, all the way over on the left:

I'm sure he might have liked a visit from someone bringing him money or hugs, but you take what you get, right?

I’m sure he might have liked a visit from someone bringing him money or hugs, but you take what you get, right?

His favorite lesbian couple from Salem come calling, which isn’t that hard for them to do because (a) they actually live in England, so it’s not that far to travel, and (b) Helena can teleport, so who cares if they’re coming from Bath or the middle of the Australian Outback?  Will it and ye shall Jaunt.

So they come, they talk, they hear his tales of woe, and they tell him to keep a stiff upper lip because it’s the UK and they’ve already had tea for lunch.  Then some days later his parents finally talk about his school, and want to know about his friends–and the parents see an unusual pattern in his friend zones.

And that night is when he starts having dreams . . . dreams about a girl that he thinks he knows, but isn’t sure because he just can’t place where he’s seen her.  And those dreams keep comings–in fact, they happen a couple of times when Annie’s right next to him, um, sleeping.  Yeah, that does happen, but get your mind out of the gutter because it’s not like that.

After editing tonight I’m going to play with this some more because there are things I want to add here, and it means I won’t have to do all this crazy plotting when it comes time to write this story.  Oh, and while doing this I ended up with a great scenes where three of the instructors and the head nurse all sort of figure out what’s going on–though mostly it’s Erywin who does the figuring, because her lesbian spidey senses start tingling madly–

You never ignore lesbian spidey senses.  Never.