Mornings With the Seer: The Reason For Calling

Before I get into anything important, I have discovered something wonderful about software on my computer.  Now, I have almost everything in place–I still need to get a licence for Aeon Timeline, but that’s something I have marked to do after I get my nails done this morning–and I pulled up Sweet Home 3D because I wanted to check out something.

Now, one of the things that has bothered me about the program on my old machine was an inability to draw curved walls.  It wasn’t a huge issue, but it prevented me from doing a three dimensional layout of the coven towers.  With the new system comes new software, and I wondered if that ability was there now.  I discovered that, yeah, I could draw curved lines but that they wouldn’t show up in the rendered view because they weren’t walls.  However, there was a very particular way to draw those curves and create a circle, so I wondered:  could I do the same drawing walls?

And the answer was yes.  I most certainly could.

And they look really good.

And they look really good.

This means I can not only create layouts of the covens, but I can fix my rendering of the library of the Great Hall and give it the gigantic curved northern wall it’s supposed to have.  I know this will sort of cut into writing, but it’s gonna be fun.

And I still managed writing, with seven hundred words of goodness today.  We’re in Deanna’s office at Åsgårdsreia Tower, and it doesn’t look all that strange–

 

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

The inside of Deanna’s coven office wasn’t much different from Professor Semplen’s office in their own coven. Unlike the stark demeanor of her office in Memory’s End, there was a sofa at one side of room, several chairs in the middle, and a simple desk to the right of the entrance. There were a few potted plants set in a couple of corners, and a small table between Deanna’s desk and the far wall upon which set everything needed to make tea.

Annie took in the room, spending a few seconds giving it an appraisal. “Nothing like your other office.”

“Not at all.” Deanna backed up slowly as she waved the door shut behind the children. “I was informed that I needed to keep this room ‘official’ in apparent, whatever that means.” She turned and headed towards her desk. “I have to conduct coven business here, and I gather the Headmistress felt doing so while seated on pillows wasn’t the way for that to happen.” Before she sat she indicated the two chairs in place across from here. “Please, won’t you sit?”

Deanna waited until both children were comfortable before she took her seat. “You’re probably wondering why I asked you out here this morning—”

 

Yeah, we are wondering about that, Deanna.  She’s really stating the obvious, like maybe she isn’t ready to get to the real reasons?  Well, her guest are feeling a little the same way:

 

“That thought has crossed our minds.” Annie put on her best smile.

“I intend to put your thoughts at ease, then.” Deanna returned the smile. “I want you to know that this isn’t regarding a disciplinary matter: if it were, Holoč would be in front of you, not me.”

“We didn’t think it was anything like that.” Kerry shook his head. “If it was something we did wrong, we probably would have been stopped before leaving for breakfast.”

“Quite true.” Deanna set here arms upon the desk and leaned forward. “I apologize for all the mystery, but I felt it best if we spoke where we had the most privacy, and this office is remarkably secure.”

Now Annie’s interest was higher than before. Why does she want us to speak from within a secure location? What does she have to say? She decided she couldn’t wait any longer. “Now that we’re here . . .”

“Yes, of course.” Deanna sat back in her chair and regarded the students carefully. “Before I begin with the real reason, I have to ask a question, and I hope you don’t feel this is too forward, but it’s necessary. Have you had intercourse?”

 

Just get right to it, Deanna:  are you two kids doing the deed yet?  And if there is anyone who would know about these two and their proclivities, it’s Deanna.  Keep in mind she was the one who warned Coraline to get to Kerry’s hospital bay in the aftermath of the Day of the Dead, because she flashed on a vision of them being discovered by the Headmistress–but the real reason for that was because she felt Annie needed to be there that night.  Does that mean she saw Kerry talking about his Chestnut Girl?  Or was there something else?

And Deanna admitted she watched both kids play out, more or less, their wedding night vision as well as the one they had at the start of their B Levels–one that is about to get mentioned.  But who knows what else Deanna’s seen?  After the overnight stay at the Sea Sprite Inn she told Erywin that the kids were both still virgins, which means she had to see something, and that has to be hell on her.  I mean, you gotta feel a little sorry for Deanna if part of her life entails flashing on her student’s sex lives, because some of these kids are her friends.

The implication here is that she may have seen this happening, but it was as a future event and now she has to check to see if it hasn’t happened already.  Either way, it sucks that the question comes up.  At least the kids have an answer:

 

Annie and Kerry sat in silence for a few seconds before turning to each other, as if to confirm they’d just heard the same thing. Kerry turned a waring glance towards Deanna. “You mean, like that, um—”

“I mean have you had intercourse?” Deanna allowed a slight grin to play upon her face. “Or, as I’m sure you were about to say, ‘That sex’.”

Annie cleared her throat. “No, we haven’t had intercourse. As I’ve said on a few occasions, we’re not ready for that step.”

Kerry sat back and stretched. “That’s a ways off in the future. Maybe until we get married.”

Deanna’s right eyebrow shot upward. “Maybe?”

“We did have that other vision at the beginning of the school year that showed—” He chuckled. “You know: you were there.”

“Yes, I was.” Deanna rested her hands against her stomach, interlacing her fingers. “So you believe it’s possible your shared vision may not come true?”

“Anything is possible with visions.” Annie gave a grin that almost made her appear embarrassed. “You’ve taught us that.”

“And I’m glad to see you’re paying attention.” Deanna took a moment for the mood in the room to return to something close to normal before moving on. “Have either of you done any study on your astral binding?”

This time Kerry was the one to answer. “No, we—” He chuckled nervously. “We haven’t had time for that.”

Annie took a moment to look Kerry’s way before adding a bit more information. “We’re also a little uncertain about what we could study.”

“I see.” Deanna took a deep breath as she prepared to wade into the reason they were in her office. “So you’re unaware of the three bindings?”

“This is the first time I’ve heard the expression.” Annie leaned slightly forward. “What is that?”

 

Wait:  the three bindings?  What the hell is that?

"Oh, no!  She's asking the sex question!  And this binding stuff--is that like being tied up?  I won't like that."

“It’s bad enough she’s asking these sex question! Now this binding stuff–is that like being tied up? I won’t like that.”

As someone might say, The Queen of Cliffhangers is gonna leave you until tomorrow to discover what those are, because I do have places to go and nails to do this morning–

And I can’t do those if I’m here telling you this stuff.

Writing at the Speed of Imagination

After a slow start to the day I’ve come back to a point where I am actually thinking straight, almost like a real person.  It’s wonderful that I’m not crashing out right about now.

Today I’m going to answer another reader’s question and this one is from Christy Birmingham, who I’ve followed for sometime as well.  Her question is simple:

 

What are your top three reasons for using Scrivener?

 

That’s an interesting question, because I’m not certain I can answer it sufficiently.  You see, there are so many different reasons why I use it, but let me see if I can break this down to something that makes sense.

 

One:  I can organize everything from the shortest story to the longest novel however I like.

 

Let me show you a few things.  First up is, believe it or not, the only real short story I’ve ever written, The Relocater, which clocks in at fifty-eight hundred words.  I wrote it in September, 2013, over the course of five nights, just to prove to myself that I could write a short story.

Looks kinda cute, doesn't it?

Looks kinda cute, doesn’t it?

There isn’t much to organize here, and Scrivener even has a short story template that allows you to just rip off some quick stories when you’re in the mood.  In this case I wanted quick and dirty, and that’s what I got.

Now, here is the novel I’m currently editing, Kolor Ijo:

Welcome back, 2012 NaNoWriMo story!

Welcome back, my friend, to the show that never ends.

When I laid out this novel I’d used Scrivener for about fifteen months, so I had a better grasp of how I wanted to set up my novel.  You can see that here I’m setting things up in parts, and that each text file is really a chapter.  And since most are short and separated in action from each other, I can get away with having it neatly laid out this way.

Now, maybe you recognize this work . . .

Every time I think I'm finished, you pull me back in.

Every time I think I’m finished, you pull me back in.

This is, right here, the most advanced layout I’ve ever done, which is for, naturally, The Foundation Chronicles:  A For Advanced.  And I should mention that the layout I have today is not the one with which I started.  When I began writing this in October, 2013, there were parts, there were chapters, there were scenes–but there were no acts.  It was only after I was close to finishing what is now Act One that I realized this story was gonna be huge, and trying to release it as one large tome might not be a good idea.  Therefore, I added the acts, began moving Parts into those Acts, and everything followed.  And that’s one of the things I love about the program.  However I want to set up my story, however I want to lay out my research, however I want to link to information from internal and external sources, I can.  It’s all up to you.  It’s even possible-though I haven’t tried it yet–to build your own template so these setups are available when you go to create a new project.  Like I’ll need with I write that B Level novel.

 

Two:  Write in one simple format, compile it into anything.

 

As a word processor Scrivener is simple:  it’s just text files where you can set margins, font styles, and font sizes.  You can so most everything that you can do in, say, MS Word, though for some functions you need to be hooked up to the Internet to get them to work, but who isn’t these days?  (And those functions are really needed to get the story written–I know; I’ve done that.)

But where the program really shines is in the area of how your final product look.  The Compile function is the formatting system of the program, and it makes it possible to just write lines of information in each text box, and by setting definitions in the Compile pop-up box, you can make the output look any way that makes you happy.

So many options, so little time to play with this stuff.

So many options, so little time to play with this stuff.

Most of the time I’ll compile into PDF format to look for errors and to send to beta readers, because you can’t change the stuff in that format–well, you can, but I have to trust my beta readers.  When I’m ready to send something up for self-publishing, I’ll compile the document to a Word .doc and run it through various checks as it’s converted into an epublishing format–

Which Scrivener will actually do for you.  .Epub and .Mobi are the two epiblishing formats supported by Scrivener, and if I remember correctly, Amazon will allow you to upload .mobi to Kindle Direct.  And those options on the left of the popup window?  Those are you selection and formatting options.  It’s actually possible to take plain, unaltered text an set your margins, fonts, and sizes in there, and have a ball getting your final product ready for whatever you like.  I haven’t explored all that because, well, it would take away from my writing.

And speaking of writing, the most important reason I use Scrivener:

 

Three:  It keeps everything I need for the story right in front of me.

 

Scrivener is not a word processing program:  it’s a project management program.  That’s why, when you go to create something new, you’re not creating a story or a short or a novel, you’re creating a project.  And into that project goes–

Everything.

Here’s something I’ve not shown much:  the research section for A For Advanced.

I seem to have an interest in aircraft . . .

I seem to have an interest in aircraft . . .

All that stuff on the left are things I slipped into the binder almost a year and a half ago, and some of the information I’ve kept updated, or even changed, as I went along with the story.  After all, the Spell List was being updated and added to constantly, because I’d come up with new things as I wrote.  But all the world building I did in October, 2013–it’s there.  Everything.  And up above I have information on students and who’s in every coven, and the levels and . . . you get the idea.

Now, in the picture above, there are four entries that look like little globes.  Those are interactive webpages that you can set up inside the project–you know, some of those functions that you need an Internet connection for?  Here’s what that looks like:

I seem to recall looking for these schedules back in 2013--

I seem to recall looking for these schedules back in 2013–

And the website is completely functional, so while I’m working on a scene, if I really needed to know the time for the train from Rockport–which, if you remember, is the end of the train line on Cape Ann and not that far from the school’s main gate–to Salem, it’s right here.  That was why I set this page up:  so I would have access to these schedules if they were needed.  And they will be–maybe.

The great thing is when it comes time to set up a project for B For Bewitching, I have an option to import another Scrivener project, so I’ll just zip all of this into that new project, delete what I don’t need, and keep the rest.  There you have it:  all my research is available for the new novel, with a little fuss as possible.

That’s pretty much it:  three main reasons why I use Scrivener.  There are a lot more, but those three are the biggest reasons.

And with reasons like those, I don’t really need any others.

Tools for the Making

I’ve been around software a large part of my life.  I started taking classes in computer programming in 1979, and began writing code for real in 1982.  Most of what I’ve written has ended up on IBM boxes, though I have dabbled in web based applications, including one that took the better part of a year to write because I ended up slinging about fifteen thousand lines of code before it was all over.

Even today I’m coding.  That’s my day job:  playing code monkey for the State of Pennsylvania.  As it is said, it pays the bills, though after thirty years of it I’m ready for something else.  That’s one of the reasons why I write, because I’d like to be able to work on my projects full-time and not have to spend nine to ten hours a day engaged in endeavors that hold very little interest for me.  I also write because I love to tell tales, but I would love it were it to become my full-time job.

Because I’ve found myself so connected to software for so long, I find dealing with it to be somewhat intuitive.  Most writing software seems to follow a pattern for me, and once I get the basics down the more difficult stuff tends to come once I’ve had time to play with things.  I’ll find something that looks interesting and mess around, get a feel for what I can do, and if it works for me I’ll keep it.  If not, I file the information away just in case it is something I can use later.  Most of what’s in a program really falls under a 40/60 rule:  about forty percent of the stuff in a program is gonna be your go-to stuff, and the other sixty percent is there if you find a reason to use it.

Yesterday’s post received a lot of attention.  Probably because of the pretty picture I included with all kinds of time lines and talk of history, but I have received a bit of feedback about the things I’ve done and what I’ve used to get there.  I’ve written about software a bit in the past, and most of the time the responses I’ve gotten are great.  Sure, I’ve gotten a few, “I never plan anything, ur a hack,” comments, but I tend to laugh at those these days, because who needs that negative energy?

"No, I don't need negitivity in my life:  that's what my job is for."

“No, I don’t need negativity about my writing: that’s what my job is for.”

Since I have time, I thought I’d spend a few days talking about my process:  how I set things up, how I get things plotted out, how I try to tie things together to make my story coherent, what I do with the software I use.  I’ve done a little of this from time-to-time, but this would be with a little, or lot, more detail.  And since I’m intimately tied into my current work in progress, it’ll make a good test bed for discussion.

The hope is that someone will see something that I do, and imagine how it might work for them.  As I told someone last night–someone who was like, “Most writers say they just write”–what I do works for me; what you do will work for you.  That doesn’t mean you might not see something that looks like it might work for you and use it, however, so why not throw that out there?

It’s always worth throwing things out there and seeing what happens.