Randomly Building a World Class Class

I often talk about how writing isn’t always just writing.  Often there’s a great deal of research for just simply things, as I’ve discussed before.  Sometimes you gotta figure out where people are walking around a city.  Sometime you need to investigate hotels and other points of interest.  Sometimes you need to figure out flights from city to city.

Sometimes you just gotta build a class.

I’m starting Chapter Six now, and this and Chapter Seven go over events in the first week of school.  Here’s the scenes for Chapter Six:

Five scenes, no waiting.

Five scenes, no waiting.

Now, if you know my school, you’ll see that three take place in classes, two of which are the new advanced classes.  Astria Porta is another of those “kissing scenes,” and we have to read it, and After Class Request–well, you can probably figured that out if you know classes starts on Monday, and that’s a few days later.  As stated, two of these scenes take place in the advanced classes–the first scene should make that obvious as hell–but while walking home over the last few days, the question kept coming up:  who’s in these classes?

Well . . . I had to do something about that.  Let’s look at Advanced Formulistic Magic . . .

Right off the bat I knew I’d have one student in the class who was an F Level, and I decided I wanted them to come from a North African country.  I picked Libya, because why the hell not.  With her–yes, the girls still well outnumber the boys–graduating at the end of year, that meant she’d head off on a year of her Real Life Experience, then she’d leave for college.  She wants to go to a school with a great engineering program, so I found a link for the top engineering colleges in the world, figure out she’d go to a school in Europe, looked up the schools there, found one, found the undergrad and graduate programs offered, and figured out what this young lady was going to do for the next few years of her life.

That was the easy part.

Besides this mystery girl and Annie and Kerry, I needed . . . hum . . . five more students to show up for class.  The question became one of where do their come from–

So I got out my dice.

Not really.  As I’ve pointed out I have a dice rolling program.  Why do I have one of those?  It’s a hold over from my gaming days, where dice are used to generate random outcomes for your characters.  Like, did I knock down a door?  Did I drive the car at high speed correctly?  Did I shoot the bad guy in the head?  You know, fun stuff.

The splash screen looks like this:

Bunch of electronic dice, no waiting.

Bunch of electronic dice, no waiting.

You may ask yourself, “What’s the D4 crap?  And D8?”  More gaming stuff, so let me tell you.  D stands for dice, and the number that follows indicates the sides to that dice.  So a D4 has four sides, a D8 is eight-sided, a D6 you know and love from your crap shooting days, a D20 is the dice of choice of D&D geeks, and a D100 is usually two ten sided dice of different colors–one for your ten count, the other for your ones count–used to generate a percentage.  I say “usually”, because I have seen a one hundred sided die, which pretty much looked like a golf ball with numbers painted in each of the divots.  Thing was hell to read, let me tell you.

So the break down went like this:  as there are six continents from which students can arrive, I used a D6 to figure out where their country was located, with the intention of ignoring Antarctica because non of the students at Salem are magical penguins.  Right off the bat I rolled Australia, but since it’s part of the world known as Oceania, I looked for countries in that area, using different kinds of dice to narrow down the search until I found a place the student called home.

Do that enough and you have the homes of five students.  I figured on two of these kids being D Levels and three being E Levels, then I used a D10 to figure out their coven–a roll of 1 or 2 was Åsgårdsreia, 3 or 4 was Blodeuwedd, and so on–before using another D10 to figure out their gender.  Since it’s about four girls to one boy, a roll of 1 to 8 on a D10 meant a girl, a 9 or 10 was a boy.  Once I’d narrowed down gender and country, I brought up Scrivener’s Name Generator, began plugging in nationalities, and before you know it I had my people.

Welcome the 2012/2013 Class of Advanced Formulistic Magic.

Bunch of students who'll one day be making your world a better place.

Bunch of students who’ll one day be making your world a better place.

Nesreen’s college of choice will be Delft University in Delft, The Netherlands, situated between Den Haag and Rotterdam, and you can see she’s going to get a Bachelors of Science in Molecular Science & Technology, and a Masters in NanoScience, both of which are actual courses at Delft.  The Euro kids have finally edged out the African kids, but you never know who Erywin might bring into the class next year.

When I rolled up the Czech Republic, I knew the family name of the kid would be Zelenka, meaning one day he’ll probably end up in the Pegasus Dwarf Galaxy looking for Atlantis, which is an in-joke of mine–but wait!  Remember Professor Semplen, the Coven Leader of Cernunnos and also a citizen of the Czech Republic, tried out his Bulgarian on Annie when they first met, and here we have another person from there–and a covenmate as well–and what do you think he’s gonna try?  That conversation is at the bottom of my notes, with Honza first speaking to Annie in Czech, and then her replying in the same before he and she switched over to a snippet of Bulgarian, and you will see this in the scene.

I’ll need to do this for Kerry’s Advanced Transformation class as well, and maybe I’ll do the same for his Advanced Flight One–that will be easy, as I already know who all the B Levels are–and for Annie and Kerry’s Advanced Self Defense Class.  I may even do that today, since it’s not like I have a hell of a lot to do other than write.

Now you see some of the fun things I do just to make my world fell like a real world . . .

Time Enough For Myself

You know that whole think I said yesterday about doing some writing?  Um . . . yeah.  Didn’t happen.  I was out of the apartment by nine in the morning, and didn’t return until thirteen hours later.  That’s ten PM, or twenty-two hours if you’re flying by Salem time.  The good thing is only three of that was spent on the road, so it was ten hours of hanging out and spending money.

Oh, yes:  there was money spent.  But it was for a good time.

I got to hang out with someone I know from Facebook.  She lives southeast of Baltimore, and we hung out, with her husband and kid, at a nearby mall.  It was a good time.  Got a Panera lobster roll (do no recommend it; I love their stuff, but this was kinda nasty), she bought shoes (on my recommendations), we tried on a bought clothes (I got two skirts, a casual dress, and a sun dress).  Oh, and we got our nails done, but it was a really shitty job:  one of my toes was clipped and bleed, the side of my left foot seems to have lost skin, and I feel like I cheated on my regular manicurist.

If you ever wondered what I look like getting a mani/pedi, there's no need to wonder any more.

If you ever wondered what I look like getting a mani/pedi, you can stop.

It was a great time, and a good way to help someone spend Mother’s Day.  I even got a “Happy Mother’s Day,” because I look like a mother?  I am and I ain’t:  that’s a tough one to get around, and I don’t try.  One could say that since I’ve never blasted a kid out from nether reasons I’m not, but I’ve helped raise my daughter and been there for her when it was needed, so–maybe?  Not for me to say.

I didn’t think much about my other kids, however.  Well, I did a little, but my mind was off somewhere else for most of the day yesterday.  I’m back to thinking about them a lot these days, but I’m going over so much that I’ve already went over, that I’m looking for insights into new scenes.  Now that I have a better sense of what’s happening in the B Levels–from a personal perspective for them, that is–ideas are popping into my head, and I’m thinking over the good and the bad, keeping what I like and discarding all the rest–or at least moving the old aside and keeping it somewhere close in case I like it for something else.

I did wake up this morning with an almost clear picture of what happens in the next scene after the one which I’m currently writing, the one titled Remembering Memory.  Annie wants to visit Deanna, ’cause she was the first person they saw on the first day of school as A Levels, so why not again?  Do you think they’ll have a quiet discussion over tea?  It’s quite possible that’s exactly what’s going to happen.  If this morning is any indication, I knew right where that vision is going . . .

I hope to get a few hundred words written tonight–after I have more electrolysis done this evening.  From the sublime to the masochistic, wouldn’t you say?  Anyway, if I don’t write just something to night, I think I’ll go nuts.

And it helps get my mind off the fact that my face is on fire.

Mimsy Were The School Returns

Today is going to be a full day, with a lot of travel and meetings and even a little shopping.  I was supposed to do things yesterday–and I did, only not a lot of the things I wanted to do.  Life does that to you sometimes, and yesterday was one of those times.

Today I’m home, having put my shower and breakfast behind me, and I’m working on this post as I drink my coffee. In about ninety minutes I’ll start getting ready, which really means I’ll finish my daily routine, dress, and prepare my makeup.  After that it’s at least ninety minutes behind the wheel to go meet a friend.  A lot of time spent getting to and fro, but it’s all worth it, I assure you.  And getting out and about is a great thing.

Believe it or not, I actually wrote last night, and after putting thirteen hundred words behind me in the morning one would think I was finished for the day.  Well . . . I gotta make up for Fridays, so I started on Chapter Five and got my kids back in the Pond.  I’ve also made notes about what they’re going to do in some of the upcoming scene, and the theme of “We’re Different” pops up all over the place.  It’s already started with them and the other members of the Party of Five, with their relaxed moods and public displays of affection.  Yes, the kissiest of couples is back, and they’ll never let those prying eyes bother them.  After all, the whole school has seen them kiss on streaming video at thirty-three hundred meters, and that scene can be recalled for anyone to watch.  Oh, and there’s also in the Hall of Remembrance, too, for that, so just wait until the parents come calling to the school on Ostara.  Particularly Annie’s father:  “Anelie, what is this?”  “Nothing, Papa:  just Kerry and I kissing during the Mile High Flight.”  Yeah, Papa, just your daughter kissing, no biggie.  Ask any student:  they’ve all seen it before.

Yesterday, however, while driving a around, I started my old routine of working out scenes in my head and by “talking out” the dialog, and the one I was keying on the most was the last scene of Act One, which comes just before the Samhain Dance.  That last scene will more or less set the tone for the rest of the story, which isn’t a bad thing once you realize I’ll probably be sixty thousand or more words into the novel by that time.  (Probably more–probably.)  I was also working out a scene for Annie that comes in Act Two, and if you’ve ever asked yourself, “I wonder what a pissed-off Annie looks like?” you’ll find out.  It’s another of those scene that makes me wish I could draw, ’cause I would do this up right now if it were possible.

There will also be added scenes.  A couple came to mind last night, and as I pointed out with the first novel, though I have most everything plotted out, that doesn’t mean I won’t add and cut where necessary.  More than likely I’ll add:  just as the late night scene on the second floor was needed, I’ll need other scenes to build their characters.  ‘Cause I’m all about the characterization.

Time to get ready.  Time to think about what comes next in the story.  Time to ready myself to get to forty thousand words here soon.

It's all happening here, at the School.  Won't you come along?

It’s all happening here, at the School. Won’t you come along?

Party of Ruminations

Busy, busy, and yes, busy.  After chillin’ like a villain last night–as mentioned before, Touch of Evil was on, and that’s one of those movies I never miss, if for no other reason it’s a beautiful movie to watch to see how one can put a movie together–I started hitting the scene after trading some major Game of Thrones snark with a friend who reviews the episodes.

And hit it I did–hard.

As seems to be the norm for Saturday mornings, I wrote just shy of thirteen hundred words to complete the scene, bring it in at just about eighteen hundred and forty words, and finish the novel currently a few words short of thirty-five thousand words–like seven words short.  I know this because Scrivener tells me so, and it never tries to lie to me.  Almost never.

This is the scene where school hasn’t yet started, but the kids are laying out on the second floor, enjoying snacks and drinks from Valenzuela, and listening to music via Kerry’s tablet.  It’s late and they’re waiting for tomorrow to come as well as the new A Levels.  It looks like the B Levels are fitting right into the groove of being returning students.  Well, there are some differences . . .

 

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

As the song changed to something slow and soft, Annie leaned back so she could look up into Kerry’s face. “It’s not like being home, is it?”

He brushed her hair. “What do you mean, Sweetie? This is home—remember?”

She kissed his cheek.  “I certainly do.”

Alex wiggled her eyebrows at Penny, who had given up trying to hide her smile. Earlier Annie overheard the girls warning Jairo earlier that their “Lovey Dovey” reputation was not only intact, it had grown since the end of the last school year. There was also mention of them having a “private dinner” during their stay in Berlin, and that they still looked “joined together”. Annie told Kerry that she took this as a complement, and believe if this was the worse their new friends thought of them, they wouldn’t have any problems through the coming school year.

 

Annie and Kerry:  Making Their Covenmates Uncomfortable with Public Displays of Affection Since 2011.  And if we’ve seen anything, it’s that these two are even more loving than they were in the last year.  Why shouldn’t they?  They are in full remembrance of their past, they suffered through a summer of limited contact save for their letters and one notable instance, and they are hooking up in their dreams again–though you can imagine the “Hey, we found ourselves in a dream bed in our birthday suits!” dream is gonna get back to the Seer of Dreams at this joint at some point–

As for the C Levels who don’t want to see this, the easiest way to get beyond this is to–talk about magic!

 

Alex’s gaze shifted from one floating cold fire sphere to another. “It’s amazing seeing those up there.” She turned to the cuddling B Levels. “Who taught you to do that, Annie?”

Annie saw no point for false modesty. “I taught myself—” She glanced up at Kerry. “Last year.”

Alex voice beheld her feelings. “What? You’re kidding.”

“No. I did it for a project Kerry and I worked on.”

Alex shook her head slowly. “Tse yak—nemozhlyvo.” She lay back, sipping down the last of her merengadas. “I would so love if you could show me how to do those spells.”

Annie didn’t want to commit to helping. “Cold fire is a C Level spell, so I’m sure you’ll get it this year.”

Penny chuckled. “She tried it at the end of last year and almost set herself on fire.”

Alex shot a glance at her dormmate. “Zamovkny.” She nodded at Annie. “I’ll let you know how I do.”

 

Annie already has one kid to teach–her one and only soul mate–so the last thing she wants to do is start offering pointers to the girl who is supposed to learn cold fire this year.  Oh, and once again, the Ukrainian girl is speaking . . . Ukrainian.  These kids and their mumbling in different languages, it makes for a far different environment, don’t you think?  First Alex says, “That’s like–impossible,” which we know isn’t true, since Annie made it possible, and the second time she says, “Shut up!” just like a normal teenage girl would say.  ‘Cause no matter how much magic these witches know, they’re still teenagers, and they’re gonna act like them.  So just like shut up, ‘kay?

Now that they are at school, it’s time to ask another question–

 

Penny had another subject she’d held on to since Tuesday in Berlin. “So, you going out for the race team, Kerry?”

Like his soul mate, Kerry didn’t see a reason for hiding his intentions. “Yes.”

“That’ll be great. We could use you.”

He chucked. “If I make the team.”

“You’ll make it.” Penny sat up and leaned over her crossed legs. “Right now we have two open slots on the A Team, and Alex and I heard rumors . . .” She lowered her voice slightly. “Risto may leave the team.”

“What?” Having followed the team last year, Kerry knew the tall Finnish boy by name. “Why?”

“Those two wrecks he had last year messed with his mind—”

Alex cut into the conversation. “And he had a bad one right at the end of the year before, too.”

Penny nodded. “Yeah. We heard yesterday that with him getting set to graduate this year, he doesn’t want to have the responsibility of being team captain and worrying about spending time in the hospital.” She pushed back into some pillows. “I can’t say I blame him.”

“But if he leaves—” Now Alex was sitting up. “That’ll mean the whole B Team moves up and we’ll need to fill those slots.”

Penny finished the thought. “We’ve got sixteen people in the coven, and with six of them on the teams that means there are only ten people who could fill those slots. If you went out, I’d guaranty you’d get one.”

There was something in Penny’s tone that made Kerry question the finality of her statement. “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure—” She pointed back and forth between Alex and her. “We’re sure. We know how well you did in Basic Flight; you moved up to a 4500 the first weekend; you flew observation during Day of the Dead; you’ve already had kinda one flying accident—”

“And you handled yourself well during the Mile High Flight.” Alex chuckled while shooting a look at Annie. “Quite well.”

 

Someone must have wished she’d gotten a Mile High Kiss–

Now, I’ve named a name in the coven race team, and spoken about A and B Teams, but you have to know I’ve done a lot more than that.  Yeah, I have.  For example, I figured out who was on the team last year, and that means I currently know who’s on the team this year.  That looks something like this . . .

See, you do need a score card.

See, you do need a score card.

There you have former and current members, with five students in the A Team and three in the B, which is the reserves used when the members in the A Team are unable to fly.  Humm . . . looks like the Horned God demands some boys on this team–and this is going to come up much later in the story, trust me.  You also see the Levels of the students racing, and where they’re from.  As the oldest member of the current team, Risto should end up becoming captain, but . . . we’ll see, right?

Oh, and you know who’s trying out for the Mórrígan Coven Team.  Do I really need to say her name?

So out of ten student who can try out–and I’ll get to that in a moment–we know of one.  What about the other?

 

Penny chuckled. “I can tell you that just about everyone who did the Mile High Flight could get on a team if they try out.” She turned to the girl in his arms. “Annie, are you going out?”

She didn’t hesitate giving her answer. “No.”

“Why not?”

“I’m not a racer. I enjoy flying for fun—going out on long flights and watching the scenery go by while listening to music.” Her smile was bright in the dim blue light. “Kerry’s the competitive one.” She leaned back and gently caressed his right cheek. “And there should only be one racer in the family, don’t you think?”

Kerry cooed. “You’re right as always.”

And uncomfortable silence fell over the C Levels upon seeing and hearing the short moment of affection between their B Level companions. Annie noticed Jairo squirming uncomfortably, and she believed it was her statement which caused him acute embarrassment. They’ve never heard us speak like this to each other. Even while in Berlin I saved these terms of endearment for our private moments. She kept the laugh she felt coming on deep inside. If they want us to be a part of floor, they’ll need to get used to us.

 

I was asked a few days back when might we see Annie and Kerry calling each other “husband and wife,” even if it’s in a joking way, because kids going steady are like that some times.  Here’s Annie, for the first time, making a comment about “Only one racer in the family, right?” and Kerry’s going along with her–and it’s making the other kids on the floor really uncomfortable.  Why?  Could it be because they can hear their voices and see their faces and notice their body language, and realize right then and there that they’re not kidding around?  Umm, yep.  Pretty much.  And Annie’s thinking, “Time for you to get used to us, kids.”  Yeah, it’s going to be an interesting year.

Now, about those A Levels . . .

 

Right then Annie noticed five green lights appear above the door leading to the staircase: four were to her left, one to the right. Kerry noticed them as well, commenting immediately. “What are those lights for?”

Jairo caught them right away. “It’s to let us know the new A Levels are in their rooms.” He shook his head. “Damn—only five?”

Penny sighed. “I was hoping for more considering thirty-seven came in this year.”

“Yeah, every coven should have gotten at least seven people.” Alex muttered softly. “Damn Phoenix hates us. Durnyy dukh.”

Annie wasn’t going to comment on the fairness of getting only five new students, for it was impossible to fathom the reasons behind The Phoenix’s decisions. “Four new girls—”

Kerry finished her statement. “And a new boy.”

Jairo nodded. “You figured that out, huh?”

Kerry pointed to the light configuration. “Four on the side with the girl’s rooms, one on the boy’s side—” He smirked. “Pretty easy to figure out.”

 

First off, “Durnyy dukh” means “stupid spirit,” and they are damning their luck at only getting five new kids.  So now that the A Levels are here, what do the final counts look like?

Like, um, this.

Like, um, this.

And as you can see, Cernunnos is the loser once again, while every one else came out way ahead.  Now, I knew Cernunnos would get five, but how did I figure out the others?  Did I just pick and choose?  Nope.  I rolled some dice on my computer.

Really.  Back when I was gaming I used my computer for said role playing.  Gaming of this nature require dice, and let me tell you, while some gamers love carrying around like fifty dice in a bag–something I have done–I got tired of it pretty fast.  So I bought a dice program for my computer, and used that to first figure out how many students would go where.  Assigning a value to each remaining coven, I used a D8 to see who would get nine students, and then a D6 to determine who would get seven.  Once that was determined, the remaining two got eight students, and all was well at the School of Salem.

Really--never leave home without your dice.

Really–never leave home without your dice.

There’s only one last thing to do now–

 

There was a slight smile on Penny’s face, but her tone indicated something completely different. “Yeah, I guess.” She stood and stretched. “And with that, kids, I’m ready for bed.” She prodded Alex with her bare foot. “How about you, zhopka? Ready?”

Pfft. I am always ready, cyka.” Alex waved to everyone sitting. “Good night, and see you at breakfast.”

They all said their good nights, and as the girls were heading into their room Jairo stood. “I should do the same. Got a lot to do tomorrow.” He nodded at the still-seated couple. “Good night.”

Kerry waived with his right hand. “’Night, Jairo.”

Annie nodded back. “Good night, Jairo. See you tomorrow.”

“See you.”

As soon as they were alone Annie rolled off Kerry and settled to his right, facing him. “You should turn down the music.”

Kerry summoned the tablet from where it had remained stuck to the wall so he could lower the volume before setting it aside. “There. Far more intimate.”

“Yes—” Annie lay her right arm over her soul mate and kissed him. “It’s more comfortable like this.”

“Almost comfortable enough to fall asleep.”

But do they?  Ha!  Not telling.  And the last thing here, to show that Penny and Alex are good friends–Penny calls Alex “Little Butt” and Alex calls her “Bitch.”  Not quiet the same as “Love” and “Sweetie,” but then these two . . . well, you’ll find out about them.

We’ll see if I get the Headmistress on stage tonight.  She’s about due to put in an appearance . . .

The Seeing of the Scene

If by now you haven’t caught on, I write.  It’s not my day job–I have one of those where I go into an office and do things and stuff and come home at the end of the day–but it’s one I’ve been doing for a while; just about four years come this September.  It is my dream to do this full time, but unless I get the damn books out there for people to read, that will never happen.

If you’ve followed me from the start, you’ll also notice that my writing style has changed considerably.  There is a different flow to it these days, far more than when I published my first stories two and three years back.  The way I write has changed a great deal, too:  probably because I spend so much time now waltzing through these new worlds which now have become old worlds due to my having lived in them for right around two years now–three years if you count the times I’d think all this over while driving back and forth to Indianapolis during the summer of 2012.

Lately, however, the writing has turned into . . . well, I have become heavily involved in a task known as “getting it right.”  Particularly with this new story, getting each scene started has become a complete pain finding the right words, the right setting, the right mood.  Example One is below.  This is the start of the newest scene in my current novel.

 

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

The evening had reached the point where the coven tower lights would flash three times to indicate the lights were going out in a minute, but on the second floor of Cernunnos Coven there wasn’t a need for lights out, for the lights had been out for nearly an hour while the students used alternate light sources as they relaxed in comfort in the open space outside their rooms.

Penny, Alex, and Jairo had gathered pillows from the ground floor storage and set them out in a circle. Penny and Alex used various spells and enchantments arrange a few of the pillows so they could lay back against them, while Jario prepared local snacks and cool drinks in the small kitchen in the lower level.

While the C Levels were busy, the B Levels did their part to make for a relaxing evening.

Since they’d need light, Annie created several small spheres of cold fire and levitated them overhead. Kerry took musical suggestions from everyone, set them up on his tablet, then set it against the wall between the entrances to the bathrooms, then crafted a spell so the speakers would project the sound around them, making it seem as if they were surrounded by music.

In the blue light of cold fire the five B and C Levels sat listening to music, snacking on tequeños and golfeados while drinking merengadas, and enjoying their company.

 

That’s just two hundred and thirty-five words–and that took me forever to write.  Or close to forty minutes, if my internal guessing is correct.  Now, I will admit to about five minutes of research looking up snacks and beverages from Venezuela, which constitutes the last line of the excerpt, but the rest of it was all me sitting in front of the laptop trying to figure out what I want to say.  Particularly that first paragraph:  that little gem probably took a good fifteen minutes of my life to figure out.

"Lights?  Lighting?  Should they just grab a student from another coven and use them as a bonfire?"

“Lights? Lighting? Should they just grab a student from another coven and use them as a bonfire?”

Don’t ask Annie about that last; she’s got a couple of students in mind.

It’s been like that since starting this novel.  Getting the scene started usually takes a bit of work, but once it’s going, it’s off and running.  Tonight might not be that case, since I’ve got a butt-load of things to do when I get home, but then again, since most of that revolves around laundry, I can write while waiting for things to get clean.  At least try and get it finished before Touch of Evil comes on tonight, because that’s one of those movies I don’t like to miss.

There’s nothing wrong with getting it right up front.  I know most people who have cut their teeth on NaNoWriMo say, “Write first, then edit later.”  To paraphrase Col. Tom Parker, “That’s good enough for you, but what about me?”  Not that I haven’t worked on a major edit:  I did it last year about this time on the Parts One and Two of A For Advanced.  But I like to avoid that if possible, because . . . well, just because.  Really, too:  I’m laying out the scenes in a far different way than the last novel.  The kids are back on familiar ground, so there’s no need for a lot of oohing and aahing.  They know the drill, just like when they boarded the plane, and there isn’t much of a need to get back into that–save for the moments like the one above, where my kids are truly in The Pond and becoming part of the student body.

I’ve noticed this popping up more and more.  Some of it is likely due to distractions around me, and the mind is looking to focus on something else instead of the task at hand.  Writers need to write, but they also need stimulation, and I’ve tried to put that into my life so I don’t keep turning back to a cycle of work, eat, write, sleep again.  That way leads to burn out, and I’ve fought with that for too long now.  I give into burn out now, and it’s going to be a while before I recover from that.

And there is so much story ahead to tell . . .

At Home With the Malibeys, the Start of Dinner

I swear I’m not trying to rush into this story, but I spent most of the afternoon and evening working on this part–well, most of the afternoon was spent trying to futz around with the new Google Maps to make out a “fake route” for Kerry, because once I see a shiny toy like that, I have to make it mine.  While it would seem there are bugs to get ironed out in the new Google Maps to make the itinerary you’ll see below, it likely is coming.

I wrote almost fifteen hundred words over the course of several hours, because I wanted to get into this part of the story.  We didn’t get to see much of Kerry’s home life in the last novel, but this time we’re starting off with a little slice, and they’ll be more to come when we get into Yule holiday.  But right now in the story it’s two weeks before Kerry lights out of Cardiff, and the family has sat down for dinner . . .

 

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

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were the days that Kerry’s mother Louise went into work at the BBC, usually commuting with his father, Davyn. Not only was Kerry left alone on those days, but the evening dinner usually consisted of take way, mostly Indian and Chinese, though fish and chips and kababs also made their appearance, and once in a while buggers and pizza would grace the dinner table.

Tonight dinner didn’t arrive until just after nineteen hours, due to traffic and a delay at the restaurant. Kerry’s parents picked up fish and chips, and while this has always been one of his favorites, since having the fish and chips at the school, the Cardiff fare simply wasn’t as good. He never let on, however, because he didn’t want to have a discussion about why the Salem food was so much better.

After all, when it’s made by artificial people using magical means, it was hard for Normals to match the results.

The seating was always the same: Davyn sat at one end of the table with his back to the family room, while Louise sat across from him with her back to the main lounge. Kerry sat between them, facing the wall separating the dining room from the kitchen, with his father to his left and his mother to his right. Even when they lived in California they ate in the same configuration when they all ate together. It was only during this summer home, after spending nine months at school with Annie that Kerry understood what Coraline told him that night he went to the hospital after his vision: all the girls save Annie sit on his right.

Even his mother.

 

That last part . . . there will be an answer, of sorts, as to why Annie is always to Kerry’s left, and he to her right.  Just give me another couple of hundred thousand words to get there, will ya?

 

His parents spent almost ten minutes going over their events of the day before Louise finally got around to checking up on her son. “How was your day, Kerry? Did you do anything interesting?”

Kerry actually had something interesting happen, something he’d expected for a few weeks. “My travel package came today.”

“What’s that?” His father barely looked up from his chips.

“My travel package for school arrived.” Kerry rubbed his hands against his thighs. “You know: tickets and itinerary. All the stuff I need to get to the staging point for returning students.”

“Oh.” Davyn finally turned towards Kerry, wiping his hands clean. “It’s time for you to return already?”

“Yeah, Dad.” Kerry tried not to sound sullen when he answered. “I told you about this last Thursday.”

“Hum.” His father shook his head. “It must have slipped my mind.”

“Where are you, um, staging this year, dear?” Louise barely remembered Kerry mentioning this last week, but didn’t want her son to think they were completely uninterested.

“Berlin.”

“Berlin? In Germany?”

“One and the same.” He fought hard to keep from rolling his eyes. Mom’s smarter than that: she’s trying to make conversation so Dad doesn’t look like he doesn’t care . . .

Vaguely remembering that last year Kerry stayed in London for a few days before heading to Amsterdam, she decided to see if he was doing the same this year. “How are your plans for this year? Staying in London again?”

Kerry shook his head. “Nope. Ms. Rutherford is coming here early on the twenty-seventh, and we’re taking a car to Cardiff Central, then the train into Paddington, a car from there to Liverpool Station, the train from there out to Stansted Airport, and from there I fly to Berlin.” He nibbled at a piece of fish. “Gonna make for a long day.”

 

That is the route as I worked it out.  It looks like this:

 

Car from home to Cardiff Cental
Train from Cardiff Central to Paddington
Car from Paddington to Liverpool
Train from Liverpool to Stansted Airport
Flight from Stansted Airport to Berlin Tegel Airport
Car from Berlin Tegel Airport to Crowne Plaza Berlin–City Ctr Nurnberger

 

There you have it.  You can probably figure out how he’s really going to travel, but for the sake of continuing to fool the parents, that’s what his itinerary says and what the tickets show.

Oh, and you can almost see the air quotes around “staging” when Louise says the word.

 

His father nodded. “Certainly sounds that way. Wouldn’t it be easier for you to leave for school from London?”

“Probably, but that’s not how The Foundation does thing. Berlin is the staging area for all the returning students from Europe, Western Asia, and most of Africa. Last year they staged out of Madrid, and, I think, next year we stage out of Paris.” He didn’t want to say he’d heard that from Annie during their last dream together.

Louise snorted as she played with her food. “Still doesn’t sound efficient.”

“Apparently it works, though. Gives The Foundation time to gather everyone up, and lets the students have some time in a different city every year.”

“Do you know which cities they visit?” When Kerry had returned home after school in early June, Davyn seemed primarily concerned with how The Foundation was able to ship students back and forth to various parts of the world. Kerry figured he was getting a feel for the sort of costs that were run up transporting kids every year.

Kerry nodded. “Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, Rome, and Berlin. Last year the returning students were in Madrid, Berlin this year, next year Paris. Then I think . . .” He searched for something Annie had mentioned off-hand during their last dream. “We go to Rome and then back to Amsterdam. I remember hearing something about you always end up your last staging year in the city where you started.” Assuming you don’t start jaunting off to Salem by that time.

 

I’ve run through, in my mind, of course, all the cities that the Foundation is currently using for staging, and I even worked out the line.  A couple of things here, though:  once again, we are working with five points–like in a pentagram–and three of these cities are the locations for the main headquarters for The Foundation.  The Protectors headquarters (they are like The Foundation police) is located in Berlin, the Guardians headquarters (we know these guys) is located in Amsterdam, and the main Foundation headquarters is located in Paris.  How ironic that Annie and Kerry started out in the main city of the people they did a field operation for a half-year later.  One might imagine something dark and nefarious about that, but no:  it just happened to be in the schedule for the A Levels.

Now that travel is out of the way, the parental units try to do the small talk thing with the young don’t-know-he’s-a-witch-yet person:

 

Silence returned to the dinner table for almost a minute as everyone caught up on the food before them. Louise once more broke the silence. “You seem happy about going back.”

Kerry wasn’t going to try and hide his joy. “I am.”

“You were never like this when you were returning to school here—”

“That’s because it was the Cardiff schools, Mom.” Kerry tried to keep his tone as snide-free as possible, but given his hatred for time in the Cardiff school system, he wasn’t completely successful.

Davyn thought he’d try to lighten the mood by changing the subject. “I guess you’re looking forward to seeing your friends again.”

“Yeah.” Thinking about the people he knew who’d return to school with him lightened his mood considerably. “It’ll be great seeing them again.”

His father placed his folded arms on the table and leaned against them. “Who are some of your friends?”

“Well, there’s Nadine, and there’s Emma—” He blushed slightly as he grinned. “And Annie.”

His mother addressed her husband. “You know, the girl who writes all the time?”

 

Remember The Girl Who Writes, because it’s gonna make for some problems in a bit . . .

 

“Yes, that one.” Davyn turned back to his son. “Anyone else?”

Kerry didn’t have to think about that one. “A few of the instructors, also.”

“They have names?”

“Sure. There’s Erywin and Helena—you met them, Mom—and there’s Deanna and Wednesday, and Vicky.” He considered the others he knew. “There’s also Professor Kishna and Professor Semplen, but I don’t knew them well enough to call them by their given names.”

Louise eyed her son hard. “I was going to ask about that.”

“Yeah, some of the instructors want you to address them by their given names when you’re in private—” He realized he was missing someone. “Oh, and there’s Coraline—she’s the school doctor—and Trevor, our librarian and archivist.”

“I see.” Louise set her right knuckles against the bottom of her chin. “Those first three, though: those are classmates?”

“Yes, they are. Annie and Emma are in my level, and Nadine is an older—”

“Don’t you have any classmate friends who are boys?”

 

And leave it to Louise Malibey, mother of Kerry, to find a button to push.  “What?  Don’t you hang out with any boys?”  Yeah, push that button–push it!

So here we are–

Looking more like something I'd do for NaNoWriMo right now.

Looking more like something I’d do for NaNoWriMo right now.

–Eleven and a half thousand words into the new story, and only a little over a week is gone.  Not a bad pace, if I should say so myself.  It’s likely I won’t get much done tonight, however, as I’m off to get my face zapped again after work.  But I do wanna jump back into this scene, and into the next.  They are important.

Oh, and do you recall Annie telling Kerry in their last dream that there wasn’t any love in his house?

Yeah, remember that . . .

Talking on the Town

There is this thing called “Real Life” that gets in the way of what writers do for either a living or for free.  That was pretty much me yesterday, as I spent most of my time out on the road until about seven PM, at which point I was completely out of it in terms of having creative juice left to stir.

First off, I walked into work in a pair of shoes I shouldn’t have.  This means I was in pain by the time I got there, because of really large blisters on my heels.  Which I popped at work, which came back as I walked home.  Which means by the time I treated them at the apartment before heading off for my appointment means I was in a lot of pain and having trouble walking.  Like I am this morning.  They’re sort and tender and . . . yeah, you get the idea.

But I have good news on the medical front.  My prolactin count has peaked–that’s one of the new hormones I’ve got stored inside my body–so no need for an MRI, my blood pressure was down about twenty points, and “the girls”, as the doctor calls them, are still growing and firming up nicely.  It’s good news all around.

The drive out to see my doctor is long; the drive back, longer.  Which means by the time I reached The Burg I was pretty burned out as far as getting anything done was concerned, and I didn’t get into the novel until after eight PM.  Closer to eight-thirty, actually.  I didn’t feel much like writing, but I wanted to keep going as I’ve been going because, well, writing.  You want to get back into that grove, that rhythm, that pops up when you’re starting a project.  You get to writing, not making excusing.

I managed a little over five hundred and eighty words, and here they are:  my kids back together again.

 

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

After lunch the urge existed to find things to do, but as Annie said, “We have plenty of time in the future to sightsee—I’d rather be with you.” That was what happened: they left the Pret a Manger and headed to Russell Square park and wandered about there for a while before returning to the tube station and taking the Underground to Lancaster Gate, across Bayswater Road from Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

They headed over to the Kensington Gardens side of the park and walked hand-in-hand. They walked south past the Italian Gardens and along the west side of the Long Water. They stopped at the Peter Pan statue and lingered there for close to twenty minute nearly alone. The cool, rainy weather kept people indoors, and there were few pedestrians to cast wondering glances at the young couple walking close together, their hands intertwined.

They deviated for the lake’s shore and headed inland, standing for a while inside the Queen’s Temple when a light rain began to fall. Kerry finally chose this moment to ask Annie about how she ended up coming to London for Lunch.

“She visited Sunday.” Annie leaned against the wall catty-corner from where Kerry stood. “My mother and her spoke for about two hours while I was out at the Lake House; Helena made a point of insisting they speak alone.” She set her hands behind her back and shook her head. “I should have realized she was planning something.”

“I watched your dad race Sunday.” Kerry had streamed the British Grand Prix from Silverstone that day.

“Yes, he came in fifth. I watched it later after he returned home.”

Kerry couldn’t imagine Annie sitting with her father watching a race, but he had no reason to believe she’d lie. “You think your mom and Helena were talking about lunch the other day?”

“I’m not sure. Mama said they talked about what I’ve done in sorcery and some of the thing Helena planed for our B Level, but that was probably just a small part of what they discussed.”

Kerry thought that was likely true as well. He couldn’t see why Helena would discuss sorcery with Annie’s mother and not have her present as well; it was completely unlike her. “I take it she showed up today?”

“Yes, right after lunch. She spoke with my mother for a few minutes, then came up to my room and said she was taking me to lunch, and told me I didn’t need to change my clothes, because where we were going the weather was similar, and that she’d return later.” She repositioned her hands before her. “So I only nibbled until she returned.”

He nodded. “Was your dad there?”

“Yes, he was.” Annie grinned. “He knows Helena by reputation, and was cordial to her. I think having three sorceresses in the house made him nervous.”

He almost laughed thinking about her father—whom he’d never met—trying to remain casual while Helena and Annie’s mother chatted before Annie joined them. He has to know just how great a sorceress she is by now. “Hope he wasn’t too scared.”

She looked down at the ground for a moment. “He survived the experience.” Annie reached out and took Kerry’s hand. “It’s turned to mist; I want to walk.” He followed, a large grin stretched across his face, as he loved walking in cool mist as well.

And he liked it even better walking along with Annie.

 

I should mention that I also spent about half an hour looking though Google Maps and checking out Underground routes just to get those first three paragraphs right.  I could have spent less time, I admit, but I was tired, and it was a nice diversion to keep the mind semi-sharp.  And I like maps.

And I snapped this right before I went to bed.  Resting Bitch Face is all you can muster after a long day.

And I snapped this right before I went to bed. Resting Bitch Face is all you can muster after a long day and you’re not wearing makeup.

What will today be like?  I’ll find out soon enough.

So will my kids.