Feeling the Flight

I should say that while yesterday’s writing seemed to take forever, it got done.  Mostly because I got back into basics:  put in the earbuds, slipped on some tunes, and held the world at bay.  And it worked:  I wrote just over twelve hundred and fifty words, which brought yesterday’s work to fifteen hundred and seventy total, once you kicked in the stuff I did in the morning.  Not a bad day, even if it felt like I was struggling throughout a lot of the work.

Here we are, getting ready to get into the air, and Annie is feeling . . .

 

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

Annie sat quietly in the Flight School’s Ready Room with Kerry on her right, but her normally composed exterior hid the turmoil going on inside her body. She ate a light breakfast as she was certain a larger one would give her an upset stomach, and given what lay ahead, the last thing she wanted was being sick while hanging in mid-air without a broom . . .

Today was the day she’d been promised: today Isis, Kerry, and herself would venture outside the school walls for the first time. Up until this point she’d flown only in the Aerodrome, but last week, on the day after her birthday, for about five minutes Isis and she exited the Aerodrome through a roof opening designed for PAVs, quickly few to the Diamond, lightly touched down on the room there, then returned to the Aerodrome after a five minutes discussion about the best way to keep one’s self orientated when they were free flying.

Those few minutes dashing from one building to the other and back left Annie wanting so much more. She enjoyed flying on a broom—something she had admitted to Kerry but would be hard pressed to admit to anyone else—but sailing over the treetops with nothing between her and the ground save her Gift and her willpower left her with an impression of being completely unrestrained by gravity—

Save for those moments when she could lose consciousness and control of her Gift, at which point she’d plummet to the ground and die. She shrugged that thought off as soon as she returned to the floor of the Aerodrome and found Kerry waiting for their return, as she reasoned that were either of them to lose consciousness while on a broom, the end result would be the same.

If that were the case, there wasn’t any need to fly with fear.

 

If she’s ever mentioned any fear about falling to Kerry, he’s probably given her some advice about what it feels like to do that, and without any notion of whether or not he was gonna be able to stop before hitting the ground.

And here we find out that Annie has had one quick flight out of the Aerodrome, just to give her a feel for what it’s like to soar like the birds.  There is one thing, however:  is there a way for her to know where she’s going, how fast, how high, all that stuff?  Just like on a PAV?  Glad you asked–

 

It was while the three of them were together that Isis told Annie they were flying outside the school for the next class, and she presented Annie with her Band. Though it looked like a thin silver bracelet that fit sung around her right wrist, as Isis explained it was something Annie didn’t want to be without when she flying. Her Band was the same as the instruments on a PAV, giving her every she’d need to find her way displayed on an HUD, the same as on a broom. A simple double-flick away from the body would turn the Band on, and a double-flick towards the body would turn it off, but once on, she’d only have to request the HUD up verbally or by thought, and unlike a broom HUD, an enchantment would keep her HUD in front of her face so she could see it no matter what direction she was facing.

Before coming out of the locker room she’d nervously practiced using it; within the next twenty minutes she use it in a real-life situation—

 

Annie’s all filled up with jewelry, but her Band isn’t just any pretty piece, though it is designed to fit in with anything else she’s wearing so not to look out of place.  It’s a smart idea, and of course the school would have something to fit the bill.  It’s probably a piece that’s also made on demand, because Flight Gifts are rare, and it’s not like The Foundation is gonna have a bunch of these just laying about.

Vicky and Isis enter, and it’s pretty obvious it’s Isis’ show to run, so she does.  There’s isn’t a lot for her to say . . .

 

The security director set her helmet, gloves, and goggles aside, before activating the wall map. “You know why you’re here: we’re flying for real, and we’re heading outside the walls. Annie, you and I will fly in a side-by-side formation, with you following my lead to go where I indicate. The primary purpose of this flight is to get you used to being in the air, at altitude and speed, for an extended period, and to learn to use your Band.” Isis gave Annie an inquisitive glance. “Questions?”

Annie shook her head once. “No.”

“Good. Kerry—” Isis turned slightly to her left and pointed. “You’re job is to observe and get the feel of being a chase. You’ll be on the same comm line with us, but for the most part there won’t be any communication. You’re not suppose to help out in any way unless instructed by Carrier, who will be monitoring us from the Flight Deck—”

Vicky spoke up. “Today I’ll run the Deck alone; same goes for whenever Isis takes you out on a training flight. But when you start flying solo, Annie, Isis will help out.” She turned back to the Chief of Security. “Continue.”

“Thank you. Our flight is going to be pretty simple.” She turned to the board and pulled up a map of the local area. “We’ll fly out from here, skirt Anniquan and overfly Farm Point on the way to Choate Island. From there we’ll continue until we reach this garden and nursery center just south of Ipswich, where we’ll start turning towards the south.” Her finger traced a long, wide arc until it reached a point over one of the small communities north of the city of Salem. “When we reach the Hamilton/Wenhan train station, we’ll head east, meet up with State Highway 128 and follow that to Gloucester. Once we’re over the Addison Gilbert Hospital, we’ll turn towards the school, head for the Flight School, and touch down.”

She turned back to the children, bushing her hands as if to remove dust. “Total distance covered will be between forty-five and fifty kilometers; as for time, we’ll take our time and stop to go over a few points along the way, so I don’t expect us to be out more than a couple of hours. Any questions?”

“No.” Annie smiled. “Not now.”

“That’s what I thought.” Isis zipped up her jacket and grabbed the rest of her gear. “Let’s get airborne.”

 

All of those points are real–

Because I have a map.  You knew I had a map.

Because I have a map. You knew I had a map.

–and if you check out the course above you’ll find all the points of reference Isis pointed out.  It’s a simple thing for them, a learning experience for both kids.  And that lesson is about to start . . .

 

Annie was immediately on her feet, zipping her jacket, gathering up her flight accessories and following Isis from the room, with Kerry right behind her. The excitement that had hit her the second she’d gotten out of bed was now peaking, and with great effort she pushed it down, for the last thing she wanted was to find herself unable to free fly because she was unable to control her emotions—

They walked out of the hanger on to the edge of Selena’ Meadow. All three fliers finished dressing, snapping their helmets and goggles into place before slipping on their gloves. Isis turned to Kerry. “Saddle up, Starbuck.”

“Rodger.” Twenty seconds later he was on his broom hovering a meter off the ground, awaiting instructions.

Annie gave her gloves one final tug. “What’s your call sign, Isis?”

Isis broke into a wide grin. “Sekhmet.”

“I’d have thought you’d get tagged with Hathor.” Kerry set his goggles in place. “I mean, you’re named after the goddess of health and marriage, so it’s not a stretch.”

“That was actually my first call sign.” Isis rolled her arms to set her jacket upon her shoulders. “After The Scouring it was changed because of the part I played in helping remove the Deconstructors from the school.” She relaxed and took a couple of deep breaths of the cool air. “Hathor was known as the goddess who welcomed the dead into the next life, but Sekhmet was the one who sent them to her. The later name seemed more fitting.” She slipped her goggles down over her eyes. “You ready to roll, Athena?”

 

Sekhmet was the Egyptian goddess of just about all the bad shit you never wanted to encounter in your life, which is, in a way, what Isis is for the school, as we’ve already seen.  And since I’ve said on more than one occasion that Isis and Wednesday played a part in saving the school, I should maybe run that scene, just to show you what they did.  Maybe tomorrow.  But leave it to Kerry, Mr. Clueless Geek, to know about Sekhmet.  I wonder if he knows about how Ra really turned Hathor into Sekhmet, and had to get ‘Ol Sekky drunk on her ass in order to change her back.  Hum . . . probably not yet.

With all this said, Isis knows it’s time to get the party started–

 

“I’m ready, Sekhmet.” She twitched her right wrist twice to activate her Band, then brought up the HUD. It floated about a half meter in front of her eyes. “Everything’s working properly.”

“Just want I want to hear.” She looked around to see if there was anyone around: the field was clear. “Get your light bending in place and we’ll take off.” She tapped the side of her helmet as the kids began to vanish from sight. “Carrier, we’re ready to take off.”

Vicky’s voice came though clear. “Rodger, Sekhmet. I’ve got all three of you on active tracking.”

“Rodger.” She spoke softly over the comm, knowing Annie and Kerry, now invisible, would hear her. “Athena, Starbuck: lift off and go straight up to three hundred meters. As soon as we’re above the Flight School, rotate your spells so we can see each other, but we’re flying under UFP.”

Annie lifted her feet off the ground and felt herself hovering. “Rodger, Sekhmet.” She climbed straight up slowly, and as soon as she saw the edge of the the Flight School she flipped the spell so no one on the ground could see her. Now that everyone was flying using Unseen Flight Protocols, Isis and Kerry popped into view, rising into the sky with her.

She watched the altimeter on her HUD until she neared two hundred ninety meters; at that point she slowed her assent and stopped completely at three hundred. Annie’s heart was pounding as she looked around. She been this high before—and higher—on a broom, but right now there was nothing under her but air, trees, and ground. She took a deep breath before noticing Kerry sitting about three meters way, grinning and giving her a thumbs-up sign. She returned the smile and the gesture before spinning around and finding Isis. “I’m . . . here.”

Isis knew exactly what the girl was feeling, because she remembered the first time she’d climbed into the air with only her Gift and willpower to keep her in the sky. “You feel up to flying? You’re not dizzy or too giddy or any shit like that?”

Annie laughed. “I feel great.”

“Which is what I thought.” Isis pointed at both kids. “Annie, I want you three meters on my right; Kerry, I want you four meters behind Annie. I’m the flight pilot here, so follow my instructions and lead. Got it?” Both fliers acknowledged her command. “Okay, then: follow me.”

 

And gets them up in the air.

Annie be flyin'; haters be  . . . well, not knowing yet.

Annie be flyin'; haters be . . . well, not knowing yet.

She’s about as free as a girl can get.

I wonder if she knows Kerry looking at her butt the whole time?

Additions In the Afterthoughts

It’s a bright start to the Summer Solstice here in The Burg, though this morning the humidity was so high when I arrived at my morning breakfast location that the windows were wet with moisture.  It was a strange sight, let me tell you, and one I haven’t seen in some time.  It’s going to be warm and a bit cloudy today, and there may be more rain, though nothing like the downpours we had last night.

There has been a bit of writing–some of it last night after the season finale of Orphan Black, and some this morning.  Since there isn’t a lot to do today, I’ll likely get to writing more this afternoon and evening, at least enough to finish up this scene in which I’m currently involved.  It’s a big day for someone to go flying, and right before I started in on this post I left the scene with Isis getting ready to laying out the plan for Annie’s Friday Morning class, which involves leaving the confines of not only the Aerodrome, but the school itself.

They'll probably fly past Annisquam Lighthouse--no mermaids hanging out today, I'm afraid.

They’ll probably fly past Annisquam Lighthouse.  No mermaids hanging out today, except for those flying overhead.

I’ve hinted over the last few posts that I’ve felt there are additions to this novel that need to be made, and after I finished working on my scene I’ve sat and given the matter some thought.  I’d actually come up with the scenes in question about two weeks ago, so it hasn’t been as if I’ve needed to put a whole lot of thought into what was going to happen as much as it’s when.

The new chapter covers the first overnight camping trip that the Advanced Flight 1 class takes outside the school.  None of this pitching tents somewhere in the woods on the grounds–nope.  The kids are gonna mount up and head off into the gathering darkness of December, proceed to their campsite, and set up their tents.  Wingmates camp together, which means–yes, the flight team of Neilson and Malibey will share a tent.  Don’t worry:  they’ll have their own cots and sleeping bags, and I’m sure Vicky and her minion will be close by to keep an eye . . . anything.

The thing I needed to see was set up this chapter in Scrivener.  That’s not a difficult thing to do:  it’s simply a matter of adding a folder, typing up some metadata, and throwing together a few scenes.  But you know me; I gotta have a bit more information.  Like when does this take place.

It was pretty simple, actually.  Since I know the chapter before ends on the afternoon of 8 December–which is a Saturday–and that the kids are going to leave for Yule Holiday on 21 December–which is a Friday–that leaves only a time period over which the overnight trip can occur:  the night of Thursday, 13 December, with a return on Friday, 14 December.  I can also check that information from Scrivener because I have a link to the Time and Date website, which has all sorts of handy calendar information.

When you absolutly, positivily, need to know a date, just split the screen and bring up the right website.

When you absolutely, positively, need to know a date, just split the screen and bring up the right website.

This is why I get so goofy with dates and times in my scenes, because there are instances when it’s quite necessary to know if something you’re working into a story is going to fit into that story.  In this case, the scene fits, and all I need do now is check the weather for that day along the route they’ll fly–which I already know–so I’ll know what sort of conditions they’ll face along the way.  I also need to rename chapters today, ’cause, you know, everything is off right now.

Oh, and Kerry’s going to do something interesting during the flight.  You just gotta trust me on that one.

Madness Among the Blanks

There is a strange part of me that doesn’t ever shut down when I’m away from a story.  All the time my mind is going on about what’s going to happen, when it will happen, and how it should happen.  And even though I have things plotted out in my story and I know the path upon which it walk, it doesn’t take much for it to find another branch upon which to follow.

I’ve discussed adding one scene already to the dialog, and last night, while writing, I kept getting distracted by another scene that has been nagging at me for a couple of days.  I’ve already thought about two scenes to add to the novel, and figured out where they would go, and now I have another that, well, came into mind simply because of something else I wrote a few days earlier.  I even went so far as to do a few other things related to that scene, because I wanted to see how it played out, and . . . yeah.  I think I will write it.

The question is, where to put it?

I have a pretty good idea where it goes, only because I do have the novel laid out, and timelines constructed.  It’s simply a matter of plugging in the scenes and getting the dates and times right.  And maybe renumbering chapters–something I did a couple of times in the last novel when inspiration struck and I wanted to get it right.

This is actually a good sign, that even after having written, as of last night, sixty-two thousand, three hundred words, I’m still watching the novel evolve.  I’ve said before, while I plot out thing, that’s by no means how I’m going to write it, and if something comes to me that makes sense, then put it in.  Just as I removed a couple of scenes from the last novel because they didn’t make any sense, so there was no point in writing them.

Speaking of scenes . . . last night was a short one, almost seventeen hundred words total, and it would seem as if not a lot happens, but it’s the kids reconnecting on an event they love.  And having something else pop in . . .

 

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

As was the norm Annie and Kerry heard the sounds emanating from the Dinning Hall before they reached the door. Inside the party had always started: Annie estimated about three-quarters of the students were already here, all of them in their pajamas, all of them spread around the front half of the Dinning Hall, sitting in chairs, spread out on sofas and love seats, stretched across beds and, in one case, one girl was bouncing on a bed as high as possible while her laughing friends looked on.

They slowly made their way across the room as Annie eyed the instructors and staff sitting at the front of the hall. Helena and Erywin were together on a love seat, holding hands while they spoke with Jessica and Ramona. Deanna and Trevor were also sitting together on a love seat, speaking with Adric and Tristyn, while a couple of seats over Wednesday and Isis were stretched out on a sofa while speaking with Coraline and Holoč, apparently having decided that there was no further point in keeping their relationship a secret from the student body.

Kerry was the first to see the spot where they’d sat all the last school year during every Madness. “No one’s in our spot.”

“I didn’t think anyone would be sitting there.” Over the summer Annie had wondered why no one ever sat at “their” spot until after they’d taken over the sofa and gotten comfortable. Deanna confided before they left for the year that whenever they didn’t attend the Madness the seats remained empty, as if people were unaware the location was unavailable.

She didn’t have an answer for this puzzle, but there was enough here concerning them that didn’t make sense that having one more item on the list didn’t seem important . . .

 

No, not important at all.  Is there a reason for that?  Hummmm . . . maybe?  I’m not talking.

Now that they’re in the Madness, there’s only one thing left to do–

Write the next scene and get them out?

Write the next scene and get them out?

And then we can get out of the first week and move on to the real fun.

A Modeling We Will Go

I didn’t write last night, nor have I done so yet today.  In fact, I had a bad connection at Panera this morning and found it necessary to come home.

Though I did manage to get a picture of my lovely pink nails before leaving.

Though I did manage to get a picture of my lovely pink nails before leaving.

But once back home I was like, “What am I gonna do?  What will I write about?”  That’s the problem with coming up with things to say everyday:  sometimes the well is dry, and you have to wait for it to fill up again.  In a way my blogging is like my writing exercises:  it’s a way to keep my mind sharp, or at least as sharp as I can keep it given my day-to-day routines.

And then I thought, “Hey?  Now’s a good time to build the Red Line.  And get some pictures while you’re doing this.”

Allow me to explain–

Inside the grounds of the School of Salem there are three cross-country courses.  The Green Line you’ve seen–it’s where Kerry and Emma wrecked the one time they decided to “travel at their own rate.”  The Blue Line you’ll see in this new story, and it’s where a lot of action takes place:  there’s even one scene titled Helter Skelter, named after one of the areas of the Blue Line.

But the Red Line . . . it’s been mentioned maybe two times, but I’ve never laid it out.  I’ve had an idea of what it would look like, particularly one section of the course, but I’ve not done the work of setting it up on my three dimensional model of the school–

Until now.

The process for doing so is actually simple at the beginning:  it’s really a case of making a copy of one of the course–in this case the Blue Line–and then doing a paste so I can turn it into the Red Line.  Kinda like this . . .

Here, orange is the new black.

Here, orange is the new black.

In the picture above I’ve already created the Red Line and I’ve started modifying it, building new curves and elevations.  When you’re working in three dimensions, it’s simply a matter of stretching out things here and there by highlighting the curve you’re working with and stretching it out in Edit Mode:

How the Red Line over Selena's Meadow looks from the north--

How the Red Line over Selena’s Meadow looks from the north–

And the same area from the south and above.

And the same area from the south and above.

It’s a bit time consuming, but it’s also a lot of fun, because you’re using your imagination to get things right.  Like one of the areas I’m working on now . . .

Though it’s not been mentioned yet, one of the most fearsome sections of the Red Line is a “curve” known as K1.  It’s not really a curve as much as it’s a summit, and it’s called K1 because this portion of the track tops out exactly one kilometer over the Great Hall.  What does that look like?  Let me get my handy measuring stick, which is exactly scaled to one thousand meters–

Yeah, pretty much a kilometer.

Yeah, pretty much a kilometer.

And since I can change the view of the model, it looks like this from the side:

Looks a lot higher from here.

Looks a lot higher from here.

As you can see my Red Line is only about a third of the way to the top of K1, so I have a bit more modeling ahead of me.  Unless . . .

Ah, that's more like it.

Ah, that’s more like it.

There you have it:  a little of what I do when I’m in the mood and I need to get my world into even better shape.  I probably won’t spend all day working on this, but part of the morning, and maybe in the afternoon, and a little here and there over the week.  Before you know it, I’ll have another course laid out–

That’ll make four, right?  I think I’ll be finished by then.

Another First Day in the Witch House

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

What?”

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Helena appeared puzzled. “You don’t?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Who is this person who revels in dumbassery?

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

To the Head of the Class

When I set out to write these stories of Annie and Kerry, I knew one of the challenges was figuring out what kind of classes they were going to attend.  Developing the school was easy:  getting the classes together–all the classes, mind you–was a pain in the butt.

When one is world building one must stick to their rules, because if you don’t you end up having some strange things pop up in your stories–like, say, handing over a time machine to a student so they can go to two different classes at the same time, mostly because you need to use their time machine as a Class Three Deus ex machina to work out your story at the end.  I don’t have any of that in my stories:  the rule I have is that the Peter Capaldi version of The Doctor shows up in the TARDIS and he’s not in a pleasant mood . . .

"Let's go back and kill that bastard Vold--what?  You want a time machine just so you can go to class?  No, no, that's brilliant, Missy.  Just fuckin' brilliant."

“Let’s go back and kill that bastard Voldi–what? You want a time machine just so you can go to class? No, nothing wrong with that.  I mean, that’s brilliant, Missy. Simply fuckin’ brilliant.”

He never really learned to put his Malcolm Tucker side away, it seems.

Getting the classes together hasn’t been an easy thing.  You have a limited number of instructors to teach all the classes, and if someone should die The Foundation dips into their pool from the other schools and hurries someone over to take up duties as quickly as possible, ’cause the last thing you want are a bunch of bored witches hanging around class looking for something to do.  Busy witches are happy witches, or at least that’s something the headmistress wants to believe.  Actually she knows that’s BS, but since Salem prides itself as the best school in the system, they don’t want their kids sitting around with nothing to do for too long, and getting right back into teaching is a good way to get the kid’s minds off of the reason why they have a new instructor.

You’ll see in a few future scenes that when instructors are needed elsewhere at the school, they’ll usually schedule lab time for their kids, and send a minion or two over to keep an eye on things.  And since no one really gets sick here–the last thing Coraline worries about is someone coming down with a cold, ’cause that doesn’t happen unless her little witches are coming back from an extended stay in the Normal world–there’s no need to have a pool of substitutes ready to step in an teach.  If they really have to get a substitute, they get someone in-house to teach.  Just keep it all in the family, so to speak.

Now, about advanced classes . . .

Full disclosure here:  I didn’t come up with the original concept.  The real person upon whom Annie is based was the one who thought up the idea that in a school full of people who could do amazing things, you’d find people in said school who could be even more amazing.  It made sense, so I took her idea and expanded upon the basic premise.  Which is why you have a group of advanced classes, and that the only way you’ll get into those classes is if the instructors of said classes see that you’ve moving well beyond what the rest of the kids in your level are doing, and you need a challenge.

Let’s look at the classes as I have them laid out for the first two years.

Remember this sucker?

Remember this?

Busy witches, happy witches, and for your first two years you stay plenty busy.  There are no advanced classes for the A Levels–well, there aren’t supposed to be:  it was already stated that moving Annie and Kerry into Advanced Spells as A Levels was something that she’d said she’d never do, and Jessica came right out and told her Advanced Transformation class that while a few of them came in as C Levels, there were reasons why she was bringing these two B Levels in . . .

The advanced classes I have set up so far as as such:

Not a lot of advanced students, to be honest.

Not a lot of advanced students, as you see.

The reality about Advanced Flight One is that it’s a carry-over from the A Level’s Basic Flight class:  if Vicky thinks you are good enough to move on, she’ll invite you in.  And if she thinks you’re good enough to move on to Advanced Flight Two during your C Levels, you get moved up.  There are no more flight classes after that:  anything you learn from that point, you learn on your own.  And as seen, if you’re invited in, you don’t have to attend, but that doesn’t mean you’re cut out–Annie’s listed as “Auditing on Demand,” which means she can come in if and when she feels like it, and you’ll see Annie has the same deal going with Vicky’s class.  The only reason she’s not in AF1 is because she’s a casual flyer, something she stated in one of the scenes in this novel.  She’ll leave the navigating and all that to Kerry.  Besides, one of the things you learn in AF1 is PAV Maintenance, and Annie probably already knows how to take care of a broom . . .

The only advanced class for the B Levels not on this list is Advanced Self Defense, and I need to work out the roster for that class.  Needless to say only a few A Levels moved up to that class, and you already know who two of those people are.  Ramona Chai does the same thing Vicky does:  she advances people from the A Level Basic Self Defense class, and they stay with her as long as they like.  It’s no great secret that a lot of people who stick with her through their E and F Levels usually end up working for the Protectors, and a few even go on to work with the Guardians.  The great thing about Professor Chai’s advanced classes is that you’re involved in “practical applications” with homunculi, but even more so than was seen in The Walking Tests scene where my kids laid waste to a bunch of mindless zombies.  At some point in this novel you’ll get to see a “meat puppet”, and find out just how they fit into self defense training.

What’s left after this?  A few things that you only get into after you start taking classes that are offered from the C Levels and up.  There’s Advanced Spirit Studies after Basic Spirit Studies, there’s Advanced Astral Training after Basic Understanding of the Astral Realm, and there are two advanced classes that are offered at Salem and one other school and nowhere else:  Demonology and Necromancy.  What is listed on the class title is what you get;  Demonology is all about the summoning and binding of demons–yes, kiddies, they do exist–and how to kick their asses should it become necessary.  And Necromancy is all about going out and finding the astral essence of people who’ve been dead for a while, whose essence has likely passed beyond The Veil, and bringing said essence back and dumping it into a body.  Necromancers are a dime a gross of a baker’s dozen and are, as you might guess, usually a bit scary to be around.  But if you absolutely, positively, need to bring back a crossed-over spirit, they’re the ones to do the job . . . usually at a Resurrection Center.  Like the CDC.  Where Annie and Kerry were sent . . .

There you have it:  a little more of my madness.  Hey, I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy making this stuff.

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 . . .