Changes Amid the Darkness

It’s a late morning for me, with a lot of slow writing last night and this morning.  I’ve been taking my time with the current scene, probably because the words aren’t flowing from me as they once did.  Seven hundred fifty words written yesterday; four hundred twenty this morning.  After burning up the pages for a while, I’m still getting out the plot, just not the way I have since–how long have I been working on this?

Wow.  I started on B For Bewitching on 11 April, 2015.  Today is 2 August, 2015.  According to the date calculator on the Time and Date website, tomorrow will mark one hundred and fifteen days since I started working on this novel, which means I’ve been writing, with just a couple of days off, for three months and three weeks:

Numbers never lie--well, almost.

Numbers never lie–well, almost.

If I calculate my word count right, by tomorrow I’ll have averaged eight hundred and eighty-seven words a day, which isn’t a bad average when I consider I’m mostly doing this in the evening after work, and finding the time on the weekend, when I’m not running around getting things done.

Just keep writing, as they say.  Just keep writing.

Last night I sat down and did something I’ve mentioned a couple of times during the last few blog posts:  I separated Chapter Ten into two chapters, and then began renumbering the old chapters.  It took some time, and I still have to do the chapters in Act Three, but now that it’s done the segregation makes sense.  Racing is in one chapter, dancing is in another.  All is right in my Bewitching World . . .

It also looks prettier.  Sort of.

It also looks prettier. Sort of.

I did this a few time with A For Advanced, and I sometimes find myself wondering why I put myself through this craziness.  The answer is simple:  because I’m always trying to do what I think is right.  I think about how this will look if and when published, and part of my mind is saying, “You know your readers will like it when things are formatted correctly.”  So you pull things apart and set them up correctly.

It’s easy to do when you have project management software.  Of course you then have to go through and change numbers and that sort of thing, but it’s something you do.  Laying things out four months ago is when I created the road map, but it’s only once I began the journey that I started seeing the route.  And I figure the route is gonna change some more as time goes on, so it if does, I just keep making changes where they are needed.

I’ll finish up Samhain today and start on the next chapter, which is pretty much Annie-centric.  You know how I say you don’t want to make Annie mad?  Well, you’ll see what happens when that happens.  In the meantime it’s nighttime in the Pentagram Garden, and a couple of kids are about the finish a discussion that Annie started some hours before–

They've been here before, and believe it when I say they'll be her during a few more Samhains.

They’ve been here before, and believe it when I say they’ll be her during a few more Samhains.

We’ll see where their route goes, that much I know.

Life in Three Acts

I know what you’re thinking:  what, no writing again?  Yeah, that’s been happening of late as I’ve really been in the middle of some intense socializing for the first time in months.  Actually, it’s been kinda the perfect storm of interaction of late, with my trip back to Indiana, meeting people there, then doing things on this end–yep, that actually leaves a few holes in the writing schedule.  But I’ve needed the interaction for a while, and it’s helping me recharge a little.  Actually, I was a bit weepy for the most part yesterday, and getting together with someone for dinner helped bring me out of that funk.

It was either that or spend all my time crying while writing.

But this is a good time to get into something else that’s important to writing, or at least to my writing.  And that’s to answer the question, “Why do you lay things out the way you lay them out?”  Besides the answer, “Because I’m strange,” it’s really due in part to helping me keep action organized in a format that’s fairly well-known to writers around the world.

First off, let’s speak of something known as three act structure.  This is probably one of the most basic of all writing tools that’s used in so many stories that once you start getting heavy into reading the works of others, you’ll recognize it immediately.  Stephen King employed it to good use in most of his novels, particularly with The Stand and IT, and Joss Whedon has used this in both his Avenger movies.

The set up is easy:  the story is broken into three acts, often known as the Setup, the Confrontation and the Resolution.  The Setup is mostly exposition, where the story is set up, the character met, backgrounds laid out, and so on.  The Confrontation is just that:  the challenges are met and things start getting a little dicey.  The last act is the Resolution, where everything is tidied up and the hero–or heroes–walk off into the sunset victorious–or in a case of a couple of kids separated by the continent of Europe, they go home and get sad.

I had this structure in my last night, A For Advanced, because, really, it helped determine how I should sell the book when I sell the book.

I have the same thing in the current novel, 'cause why get rid of a good thing?

I have the same thing in the current novel, ’cause why get rid of a good thing?

The first time I used the three act structure was Kolor Ijo.  My characters meet in the first act and find out what’s happening.  In act two things ramp up, and in act three the move in together and take on the big bad.  That worked well enough that I decided to keep it for The Foundation Chronicles novels, while at the same time divided the story up even further.

In these two novels, acts are broken into parts that are basically a collection of interrelated things.  Let’s look below:

Hey, looks like there's a dance going on.

Hey, looks like there’s a dance going on.

Part Four, Under Pressure, deals with events in Annie’s and Kerry’s lives that affect them in different ways.  Those events becomes chapters, which contain the telling of those events.  Samhain Festivities is an event that’s good for Annie and Kerry together.  The Manor Called is something that affects Annie, and From Queens to Dreams affects Kerry.  The last, Restricted Dreamspace, is something that again affects them both, and sends Annie off asking questions.

And lastly I have scenes, and this seems to be the place where a lot of people look at me and go, “Huh?”  Since I think of my story in somewhat cinematic terms, a scene, to me, is a segment of a chapter relating to a particular event, like one would see in a movie or television show.  Let’s go back to the first Avengers movie.  You start out with the Tesseract acting up and Nick Fury coming to see what the hell is happening; that’s a scene.  Loki appears, gets his meat puppets, and scoots with the loot; that’s a scene.  There’s the chase out of the facility as everyone finished packing their shit and leaving before it all blows up and Loki vanishes with the goods; that’s a scene, and the end of a chapter.

I do the same above.  Kerry finds out he’s on the A Team–scene.  The A Team meets–scene.  They start the race–scene.  They end the race–scene.  Off to the dance and meet the other students–scene.  While Kerry dances, Annie talks–scene.  It’s all part of the festivities, and if I wanted to I could break those up between the Samhain Races and the Samhain Dance, and I may do just that when I get home.  This is why I like Scrivener, because it allows me that freedom, and given that I transition sharply from the race to the dance, it’s possible they could be two separate chapters.

That’s how I do thing, but more importantly, why I do it that way.  It also helps me keep things neat and organized, even if it looks like a huge mess.  Then again, this is what I used project management software to write my novels.

It helps keep the insanity to a minimum.

The Samhain Dance: Stump the Geeks

Well, that was interesting . . .

Last night, I mean.  Not so much today, but last night, it just seems to go on and on, and it was hard getting into the swing of writing, probably because I’m looking things up as I go.  You’d think I’d know to have these things laid out ahead of time before I start, right?

But I still got it going, and I ended up with just about the same totals I’ve had the prior two nights:

 

Words 07/21/2015: 724
Words 07/22/2015: 895
Words 07/23/2015: 794

 

That’s what you have to call consistency.  I have a feeling I’ll hit close to nine hundred or so tonight, because I’m envisioning ending the scene tonight, then starting this post late in the evening so it will auto-post in the morning, because–believe it or not–I have to be on the road by about six forty-five in the AM tomorrow.  Why?  You’ll probably find out Sunday.

As for the eight hundred words that follow–do they advance the plot?  Nope.  A little information is given, but it’s a big of character building.  I love character building.  And as the title points out, there’s some stumpin’ going on . . .

 

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

Alex smiled before looking over her shoulder to snort. “At least you were good racer on your side.”

“Yeah, well . . .” Nadine looked about for her racing team mates. “I race clean ‘cause I don’t want to fly off a broom at a couple of hundred kilometers an hour.”

“Neither do I.” Penny shrugged. “I only got pissy with people on my own team today. Though . . .” Her eyes fell upon a mass of red hair a dozen meters away. “I was about to kick one ginger girl’s ass today.”

Annie looked in the same direction as everyone else, where Emma stood speaking with a few of the Mórrígan warriors who would soon venture forth to do battle with the Åsgårdsreia shield maidens. She glanced at Kerry, who stood showing no emotion. After their discussion while returning from The Diamond he’d not said a word about her or the races, his only mention of the event had been to promise Annie that he’d not go on about the events of the Mórrígan race, or let them bother him. He’s put it behind him—one way in which he’s not like my father . . .

“Who is she suppose to be?” Jairo scratched his head. “Kerry, you seemed to know these things—”

He did know who she was. “She’s Ginny Weasley.”

“I thought she was Hermione?”

“Nope. Hair’s straight for one, and—” Kerry pointed in her direction. “That’s a Gryffindor quidditch uniform she’s got on. Hermione didn’t play quidditch.”

Penny stared at the floor, shaking her head. “You gotta be kidding. How lame.”

 

Man, feel the Emma hate.  And given how the other racers as Salem feel about the magical sport of quidditch–which is to say, they think it’s laughable–it’s not an easy time tonight.  Plus–a witch pretending to be a witch?  M’kay.

"I'm a witch, and I fly a broom, too!  Watch me throw a block."

“I’m a witch, and I fly a broom, too! Watch me throw a block.”

Emma may be in for a hard time on the course, is all I’m gonna say . . .

However, someone comes along to help out a little on her behalf, and to answer some questions:

 

“Now, now.” Erywin joined the group. She wore a long, bright robe and a dark cloak, and sandals. She carried a spear in her left hand, and her arms and legs were covered in runic tattoos. The group parted as she stepped alongside Jessica. “Miss Neilson can’t be held responsible for her costume, for it’s my understanding she came up with it on her own rather than asking for ideas—” She nodded towards Kerry. “—as she had last year.”

Kerry remained quiet, not wanting to get drawn into the discussion. Alex had other ideas, however. “Professor, may I—”

“Erywin, please.” She slowly shook her head. “I left the professor title in my room for the evening.”

“Erywin, then. Did you do anything about how she raced today?”

Penny spoke up. “Yeah, she pulled some heinous shite out on the course today.”

“I spoke with her.” Nadine put her hands on her hips while her dragon friend flapped its wings once before hunkering down. “I’m team captain, and it’s my duty to let a team member know if their actions during a race were warranted.”

That wasn’t good enough for Penny. “And if she doesn’t listen to you?”

“Then I step in.” Erywin lay her spear across her chest. “And if I have to step in, someone’s gonna get their arse ripped open.”

“Yeah—” Kerry chuckled. “Don’t mess with Boudica.”

Erywin’s arms slipped to her side. “How did you know?”

Annie decided to answer, because she’d figured out the answer almost as soon as she saw the instructor. “Celtic warrior queen often associated with the goddess Mórrígan, which happens to be—” She set the tip of her left index finger under her chin. “Your coven, I believe?”

Kerry slipped an arm around Annie and tilted his head towards his left. “What she said.”

 

It’s bad enough getting outed by Kerry, but when Annie is owning you–well, it’s not good.

Who was Boudica?  Only one of the most bad ass queens who lived.  A member of the British Iceni tribe, the Romans made the mistake of taking her kingdom when her husband died, flogging her, raping her daughter and her, and then calling in their loads.  At that point she said, “You wanna know what my business is?  Killing is my business–and business is good,” and proceed to burn Roman shit down.  By the time she died on at The Battle of Watling Street–either by taking poison, from a cold, or killed in battle, depending on who’s telling the story–seventy to eighty thousand people were killed, and her army sacked and burned three settlements, including Londinium, and ended Roman rule in the south of England for about four hundred years.

A Disney Princess she wasn’t.

"Don't hate me because I'm beautiful; hate me because I'm about to hang your ass from a cross."

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful; hate me because I’m about to nail your ass to a cross.”

But wait!  Time for another coven leader to put in an appearance–

 

“Maybe I’ll have better luck.” Deanna slipped up behind Erywin before stepping around her. Her costume was an elaborate warrior’s suit of armor, with dark leggings and undershirt worn under form-fitting armor across her torso and hips. She had gauntlets on both wrists, and her flat boots were fitted with guards that protected her knees. She carried a sword in a scabbard across her back, and held a small shield in her left hand.

“Well.” Annie’s eyebrows shot upward. “Quite a difference from last year.”

“My students have been after me to try something different.” The seer cocked her head to the right as she glanced towards Kerry. “Well?”

He stood silently for about three seconds before a smile began to form upon his face. “You gotta try harder, Lady Sif.”

Deanna shifted her eyes to her right to take in her fellow coven leaders. “He’s good.”

Jessica nodded. “Good thing he’s with us.”

“Good thing they’re both with us.” Erywin nodded towards Deanna while speaking to Kerry. “How did you know?”

“The look of the armor and the sheath on the back is right out of the movie. Plus Sif is a shield maiden, and . . .” He nodded towards Annie—

—Who immediately picked up on the clue. “Aren’t all shield maidens found in Åsgårdsreia Coven?”

Kerry nodded. “You guys—I’m on a roll. What can I say?”

“Maybe I can stop that roll.”

 

And Annie tips it in again!  But, yes:  Deanna showing up as another Marvel character, Lady Sif of Asgard, who I do not hide my admiration for, even if she is a fictional character.  The outfit does fit with her coven’s rep–because Åsgårdsreia Coven is the home of the Shield Maidens–and it’s also a modest outfit, which is keeping in what Deanna likes to wear–

"Read your fortune?  Run you through?  Makes no different to me."

“See your future? Run you through? Could be both are one and the same.”

But who is coming to break up the Lovey Dovey Couple’s streak?  Ha!  I know, but you don’t, at least not until tomorrow.  And we still don’t know what they’re wearing, do we?

Looking at the list, and . . . nope.  Still being a cliffhanger Nazi.

Looking at the list, and . . . nope.  Looks like I’m still a cliffhanger Nazi.

The Samhain Dance: Of Costumes and Congratulations

This installment was one of those I didn’t think was going to come off last night.  Why?  Because I didn’t start writing until about nine-thirty, due to the fact I was involved in a video chat with someone I know, and we were discussing dieting options.  It went on longer than I imagined, but hey, those thing happen.  I’m going to be jammed up a bit this coming weekend, and thing will turn hectic on the writing front.

But I’ll still be here.  Somehow.

Oh, and I finally shaved my head last night.  Now my wig stays right to my head with no moving around.  It’s something I’ve meant to do for a while, and now it’s done.  And, no:  there won’t be pictures.  Well, maybe a video . . .

Now the other people are starting to show up in the story, and that means you’ll start seeing costumes, of which I have a list because that’s how I roll.  Shall we begin, then?

 

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

They looked up in time as Nadine approached wearing a black and yellow-gold jumpsuit. Her red hair was layered around her shoulders, and something that looked like a small purple dragon sat upon her shoulder. “I was wondering when you’d show—” She stopped and gave both Annie and Kerry a careful examination. “Interesting outfits.”

“Thanks.” Kerry gave the “I could say the same thing—Kitty.” He looked up at the creature sitting on Nadine’s shoulder. “How you doing, Lockheed?”

Nadine chuckled at the dragon spoke using a combination of tweets, whistles, and chortles. “He says hi.”

Annie found herself impressed by Nadine’s outfit—and the dragon on her shoulder, which she figured was a homunculus. “Who are you supposed to be?”

Nadine looked to Kerry. “You want to tell her?”

He should his head. “I think I already did.”

Nadine turned her eyes upwards. “Yeah, you did.” She smiled at Annie. “I’m Kitty Pryde, and this—” She held up a gloved hand for the purple dragon to rub its face against. “—is Lockheed. He’s my best bud—aren’t you, dude?” The dragon spoke in the same gibberish language as before, seeming pleased and content.

Kerry filled in the blanks for Annie, figuring that she had no idea what they were saying. “Kitty’s a mutant—one of the X Men—just like the character Nadine played last year. You know how Wednesday’s call sign is Shadowcat ‘cause she can do phasing magic?”

“Yes.”

“Well—” He motioned towards Nadine. “Meet the real Shadowcat.”

 

Nadine seems to have a thing for playing comic book mutants, which probably means she reads comic books.  As Kerry stated, Kitty can phase through any material–walk through walls, if you will, just like Wednesday has shown she can do.  As for the creature on her shoulder . . . yeah, Lockheed, an alien who becomes Kitty’s best friend and companion, and who actually begins drinking heavily in one comic when it looks as if Kitty has died–which if you know the Marvel universe is almost always a load of bullshit.

A mutant girl and her dragon are never parted.

A mutant girl and her alien dragon are never parted.

His existence at the party will get mentioned, though it seems Annie is on the right track . . .

Now someone else shows up–

 

“Yeah, only I can’t do the same stuff Wednesday does, at least not yet.” Nadine shrugged. “I should start getting that this year.”

Annie looked forward to the day she would learn Phasing. Her mother once told her that she’d learned enough to be able to push small object through walls, but she’d always been too worried about something going wrong if she’d tried moving through a wall herself. “I hope Wednesday starts showing how that works; I’m eager to try.”

“Oh, I figured you would.” Nadine looked them both over once again. “Who are you supposed to be?”

“I was wondering that myself.” Jessica walked over dressed in a light, flowing white gown modified to allow her the use of her eight arms, four on each side of her torso. “I have to say I like the hair. Who did them?”

Annie pushed her aqua hair back from her shoulders. “Kerry did his, I did mine.” She reached over and mussed his now-bright blond locks. “This was one of the first things he taught me.”

“I see.” Jessica took a step closer to the couple. “Did you do something to your noses?”

“Thinned them out just a touch.” Kerry took in his Advanced Transformation instructor’s costume. “Are you Tou Mu?”

Jessica straighted a touch. “I’m impressed. Most people have guessed Kali.”

“Kali had four arms, not eight. And you’ve a star in one hand and the sun in another. Plus—” His hand moved up and down, as if he were tracing something upon Jessica. “Outfit’s all wrong for Kali, but not for a Chinese deity.”

Nadine looked down while shaking her head. “How do you know this stuff?”

“Learned it from a role playing game first, and then read more after that.” He shrugged. “Isn’t that what you did?”

“Kinda.” Nadine chewed her lower lip for a few seconds. “Comics with me, then started reading stuff on the Internet.”

Annie tugged at Kerry’s jacket sleeve. “Here they come.”

 

Jessica with eight arms–neat trick, but when you’re the Mistress of Transformation, anything is possible.  And Kerry is right:  you can learn about these things from role playing games, ’cause that’s where I first heard of Tou Mu, and then I went and looked her up.  By the way, Jessica didn’t change her complexion this year, so she’s straight-up dark Chinese deity.

She also doesn't look as if she came off a woodcarving.

She also doesn’t look as if she came off a woodcarving.

But now, there’s someone else.  Who is this “they” Annie speaks of coming?

 

“I see.” He raised his right hand in greeting. “Greetings, floor mates.”

Penny waved back. “Hail to you—” She stuffed her hands in the pockets of her black leather jacket. “Strange costumed creatures.” She turned to Jairo on her left. “You figure them out yet?”

“Are you kidding?” His shrug was almost hidden in the folds of his World War II military coat. “Bad enough they got that secret lab in the lower levels to work on their stuff.”

Annie giggled. “Can’t be much of a secret if you know where it’s at.” She smiled as she nodded in Alex’s direction. “You must be Rose, yes?” She already knew Penny was dressed as the Ninth Doctor from the show Doctor Who, and that Jairo had come as Jack Harkness from both Doctor Who and Torchwood. She’d gotten enough clues from Kerry to figure out Alex was dressed as one of the Doctor’s Companions.

Alex tugged on her Union Jack tee shirt. “Of course; just don’t ask me to speak in English accent.”

“You don’t want to hear it.” Penny shook her head. “It’s horrible.”

“I only have to pretend to be English girl—” She ran her fingers through her bangs. “At least I have proper hair.”

Kerry leaned towards Annie. “And it’s not even peroxided.”

Alex stuck out her tongue. “Which means I’m better than English girl.”

Oi.” Penny rolled her eyes before the three students moved closer to Jessica, Nadine, and their covermates. She faced Nadine. “By the way, I didn’t get the chance before, but congratulations on your win.”

“Thanks.” Nadine’s win came during Stage Two when Mórrígan raced against Cernunnos. “And congratulations on your two seconds.” She shook Penny’s hand before shaking Alex’s. “And a third, fourth, and fifth for you.” She shifted glances between all three of the Cernunnos fliers. “All of you; that was some racing out there today.”

 

So now their covenmates appear, and they look like they’re right out of An Empty Child:

And if you don't think Kerry won't say the trademark expression from this episode, you don't know me.

And if you don’t think Kerry won’t say the trademark expression from this episode, you don’t know me.

Also, for the first time we see someone crossplaying, as they say in the biz, ’cause Penny is being Penny, and she certainly wasn’t changed into a skinny white dude like Chris in the Middle in the above image.  Nope, she’s just being her awesome self playing a character neither her gender or ethnicity because she can.

So there we have nine hundred words of the scene continued, and that was enough to push the story over ninety-five thousand words.  And it allowed me to mark off people on my costume list:

Can't tell the characters without a--you know the rest.

Can’t tell the characters without a–you know the rest.

That’s the list of everyone who’ll be seen and/or mentioned, and they all have costumes.  I had to stretch my brain just a little to find something for everyone, and I have to say I did a good job.

Notice, though, that you still haven’t seen what Annie and Kerry are wearing.  Oh, sure, there are hints, but nothing for sure.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll show you.  Maybe.

Back On the Blue: Southward Bound and Done

Here I am, up early and getting the post out before I have to hit the road for The Burg in a few hours.  An so I wouldn’t have to rush around this morning doing a lot of different things while trying to get this out, I wrote last night–a lot.

First off, I did manage ninety thousand words without a problem–

As you can see.

As you can see.

But that was just the beginning.  See, I didn’t want to leave this scene hanging while I spent ten hours on the road, so I decided I’d finish it.  Which meant that no matter how much time it took, I would.  And . . . I did.

It took two thousand and sixty-eight words, but it is done.  This scene is finished–just like Kerry’s first A Team race.

It wasn’t easy to write, and there was a lot of looking at stuff I made up and imagining the Lad From Cardiff as he zip through the various check points on the ground and in the air with a little blond Ukrainian hot on his butt, and I even had to do a little math here and there as well because science and magic do work together at times.

Speaking of that math, it starts right away:

 

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

The turn coming up was one of the easiest on the Blue Line, and yet still one of the hardest. Observatory Bend was a two hundred and ten degree carousel turn three hundred by three hundred meters long and across. It was a lot of room to make a turn, but most racers tried to take the turn at as high a speed as possible, and with those high speeds came high g forces. In a couple of practice runs Kerry had taken the turn on his Class 1 at two hundred twenty kilometers and ran up a force of two and a half gravities, but now, racing on the Class 2s with Alex a matter of meters behind him, two hundred kilometers and hour wouldn’t be enough: he’d need more speed . . .

He slowed just enough to keep from overshooting, but still held on to more than three hundred an hour as he hunkered over the handlebars and held on. The g meter in the upper left of the HUD showed the gravities building: two Gs, three, four . . . Three hundred meters into the turn, and with five hundred to go, Kerry held the turn while pulling five gravities of centripetal acceleration. His vision was turning gray; his shoulders, ribs, and hips hurt, alleviated only slightly by enchantments in his racing uniform; his wrists felt like they were about to snap away. Worst of all, even with protection, his genitals alternated between being pushed into the saddle and being crushed by a torso suddenly five times heavier. His first two times around Observatory Bend weren’t nearly this bad, due to his speed being slower because he wasn’t racing

He held the turn for almost eight seconds, then straightened the PAV, managing to catch his breath so he could accelerate through the fast turn to the right that once more led him back the Observatory Tower and on to Skyway. This stretch was only a third of the length of the Green Line’s West End, but Kerry was sixty meters above the ground and well clear of the trees, and the kilometer long stretch allowed for a quick seven or eight second sprint into the one turn that scared the hell out of everyone. Kerry entered the sweeping left hander at end of Skyway, popped his speed breaks, and set up for the most feared turn on the Blue Line . . .

 

Those g forces and the time down Skyway–how did I know them?  I have online calculators bookmarked for when I need to figure something out.  Figuring out the amount of force Kerry and the others pulled.  I did know how large the turn was because I measured it:

 

I used the three hundred meter stick.

I used the three hundred meter stick.

Then I went to my calculator and plugs in the numbers:

Ignore that red mark, it knows not what it says.

Ignore that red mark, it knows not what it says.

So I know that Kerry pulled five gs through that turn.  And since I can find the circumference of a circle, and I figure out from the angular velocity that he would cover the distance I have in about the time I indicted.  Just for the record, Kerry and Alex were going about one hundred and ninety through that turn, which is about what a stock car does going through Turns One and Two at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  Should turn these kids loose on those dudes . . .

As for the trip down Skyway, I used another calculator:

Once you know how long and how fast, the rest is easy.

Once you know how long and how fast, the rest is easy.

So in figuring out an average speed for four hundred fifty kilometers per hours, Kerry would cover that kilometers in around eight seconds.  I didn’t even figure out the g forces here, but they’d be pretty good, too, probably two or three every time they accelerated and braked.

And speaking of breaking . . .

 

Helter Skelter was, according to nearly everyone who raced the Blue Line, the most technical turn, the most difficult turn, the most hated turn, and the most feared turn—usually all four at the same time. Kerry brought his PAV to as slow a speed as possible before yanking on the hand grips hard to pull himself through the one hundred and fifty degree turn to his right, then shot downward towards the tree tops. He skimmed the tops, spotting his entry into the trees by way of the three elevation gates placed in an slight opening in the forest. In the middle of the gates he forced the speeder around to the left through one hundred and forty degrees and shot downward at an angle towards a gate sitting a few meters above the floor. This was the entry for the last turn, taken at ground level, an easier one hundred degree turn to the right, through a gate, and straight off into the woods in nearly a straight line for six hundred meters before heading back into the sky.

While entering the last turn he felt Alex right behind him. He didn’t bother to look in his rear view: she was there, probably a meter or two off his tail. He didn’t give her any passing opportunities—he stayed close to the inside of each gate on each turn—and she didn’t force the issue. The second turn was where Hasan lost control, crashed into the barriers, and fell to the ground breaking his leg, so both racers were acutely aware of the dangers. Only the most foolish took unnecessary chances here, and neither Kerry or Alex were foolish.

 

Technical turns like these are always a pain in the butt, because you have to do them right and quick.  Screw up either, and you’re gonna lose positions, or you’re gonna break a limb.  These kids don’t want that:  they’re in line to do something good.  So Kerry doesn’t rush it, and Alex doesn’t push the matter.

Though going through Residence and into Aerodrome–

This big turn in the sky here.

This big turn in the sky here.

–Kerry understands that Alex is drafting him to either shake him up or hang with him until the last kilometer of the course, when she’s going to try and pass him either on the South Side Slide or The Sweep and run hard for the finish line.

That would be this section here, about two kilometers total.

That would be this section here, about two kilometers total.

And how did that turn out?

 

They were both through Back Path and heading into the slight rise that led to Van der Kroff Heights before they turned left and held as much speed as they could through long, descending right-left that was South Side Slide for the final run through The Sweep and into Diamond Lane. This was Kerry’s big moment. He’d heard nothing of either of the two pilots in front of him DNFing, nor had he passed anyone in trouble. If he could hold off Alex he’d finished third in his first A Team race and end up with a podium. He topped Van der Kroff Heights with his thoughts on how to protect his advantage, then jetted through the turn at almost four hundred kilometers an hour, and slammed downward through South Side Slide with Alex right behind him.

They were kicking up dirt and debris as they leveled out next to the Groundkeeper South structure, keeping most of the speed he’d possessed leaving Van der Kroff Heights. Kerry knew he could get through The Sweep at this speed, and that he could hold the turn for the three or four seconds needed. It was going to hurt: he’d easily pull five and a half gees, and his boy bits were going to take a thrashing, but at the end lay a third place finish, and the gain was worth the pain.

Kerry set up on the far outside of the turn and held there before starting his entry to The Sweep. He began his turn, staying as close to the outside safety enchantment as possible, and held on. The weight piled on and his vision began to gray once more. He stopped watching the g meter when it passed five and a half, and he felt like he was pulling six, maybe seven. The only good thing was with him being on the outside like this, Alex couldn’t get around him—

Half way through the turn Alex’s speeder came around on the inside, maybe a meter from Kerry, carrying just enough extra speed that she was able to come out of the turn ahead and slide up in front as they sprinted towards the finish.

What the—? He ignored the pain in his body and set off after Alex, getting in behind and drafting her as she’d done him. They hit four fifty, five hundred, six hundred kilometers an hour, with Kerry less than a PAV length off her processor. This was over in the next five seconds, and Kerry had one chance to pull ahead: out of the short dog leg leading up to the last three hundred meters he caught as much of the draft he could, snap slid to his left, and pushed the speeder ahead, hoping the combination of physics, magic, and willpower would help enough . . .

Alex reached the finish line a half a speeder length ahead of Kerry to finish third.

 

No podium for Annie’s Racing Soul Mate, but he’s happy he had a good finish and a clean race from Alex.  After they slow down they meet up with Penny and Kerry asks his questions–

 

He found her waiting with Penny, who hovered about ten meters from the start-finish. Kerry pulled along side and gave Alex a thumbs up before raising his helmet front. “Congratulations. That was great.”

Alex and Penny both had their helmet fronts up. “Thank you. And congratulations to you as well. Forth and points the first time out—” She laughed through the huge smile on her face. “Much better than my first time.”

He leaned forward and addressed Penny. “Did you get second?”

I think so—” She nodded towards The Diamond. “The results will be finalized once we’re inside.”

As they flew slowly towards Exit Three Kerry turned to Alex. “That was a sweet move at the end. How did you do that?”

“It wasn’t magic, if you were wondering.” Alex moved around on her seat, relieving his own tenderness. “Girls can take higher g forces; it’s because how we are made—”

A broad smile spread across Penny’s face. “And we don’t have to worry about squashing our lady parts on high speed turns.”

Kerry laughed. “Yeah, you have an advantage on me there.”

“I knew I could pull more speed through that turn than you—” Alex sighed as if she couldn’t believe her own luck. “It was just a question of whether I could hold the turn and not hit you.”

They entered the exit tunnel. “You proved you could. Great race, both of you.”

Penny stretched out her arms as they entered the Diamond and proceeded to the infield. “You helped make it a great race. Imagine if we could have run the whole race that way.”

Alex looked up at the overhead displays, awaiting the official results. “It would be one, two, three.”

 

Yeah, not squishing the lady parts does help a lot when you’re pulling a five g turn–or as they both did at the end, closer to seven or eight.  And the part about women being able to pull higher g forces is true:  the US Air Force did studies on this back in the 1960s.  It’s all about the hips and that uterus that helps prevent blood from pooling in the lower torso during a high speed turn.  Power of the Womb, yo.

And the results do come:

 

The results flashed upon the holographic displays, and the green border indicated their were final. Penny let out a scream. “Second. Hell, yes.” She tapped Alex on the arm. “And you got third.”

“Two podiums.” Alex pointed at the display. “You got forth—”

He finished her statement. “And Manco got sixth.” Kerry began laughing. “We got four of six point positions.”

“And two of the three podiums.”

Penny leapt off her speeder and pulled Alex and Kerry from theirs before binding them up in a huge hug. “Second, third, forth—” She looked up at the screen, then back to her floor mates. “We got a shot at Mórrígan.”

Alex was almost bouncing up and down. “It was a good day to race.”

Kerry looked up into the stands to where Annie was sitting. She was on her feet applauding while looking his way. She kissed her right index and middle fingers and extender her hand in his direction, in the way they’d begun doing to each other over the last year. He kissed the index and middle fingers of his left hand and slowly extended them toward his happy soul mate. “You’re right, guys.” He smiled as he dropped his arm to his side. “It was a good day to race.”

 

And there you have it:  nearly thirty-six hundred words of how Kerry did in his first A Team race.  Actually, more wordage than that, if you count the scene before, but I’m just talking about this part.  And now that Kerry’s through and has his Sweetie waiting for him, I need to get ready and hit the road back to my other Home in the East, which is not to be confused with a Home By the Sea.

Maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll get to write tonight.

A Samhain Coming

Welcome to Act Two!  Yes, it’s true:  I started last night.  Not in a big way, but the ball is rolling.

Before I start I should tell you I went out last night and had dinner to celebrate one year of hormone replacement therapy, and enjoyed a beverage at the same time.

As you can see, it's not a Frappuccino.

As you can see, it’s not a Frappuccino.

That’s a year down and a year to go, but I only need see my doctor three more times before she’s finished with me.  In fact, I’ll see her the Monday after I return from my little side trip to Indiana next week, then not again until January, and then not again until next July.  After that I’m considered a “graduate” of Transition University, I believe, and all that remains from that point on is surgery.

Let’s talk about the story, however.

It’s Samhain, as I mention in the novel.  Actually, it’s the Samhain celebration, because the real Samhain isn’t for a few days.  We already know there’s a costume dance in the evening, an bonfires down in the meadow, but the biggest event going on that day is the racing.  It’s one of the few times when all five covens get a chance to run wild in the streets and go at each other as much as possible.

As I’d mentioned, there was a bit of set up work I needed to finished, and that involved getting the Cernunnos Race team finished, and laying out how the competition would work out.  That took a few hundred words and a bit of brain power, but I got it finished.

Can't tell your covens without a scorecard.

Can’t tell your covens without a scorecard.

What I have here is my binder on the left, the scene next to that on the right, my racing grid layout to the right of the scene, and on the very right my notes on the scene.  You see both the A and B Teams, and if they seem a little boy heavy, you’re not wrong:  in this world Cernunnos is the one coven that fields more boys than girls.  Must be that horned god thing going on .

You can see the gird I’ve laid out, with five heats total.  Most of the time the teams are running in head-to-head heats, until you get to Heat 4, and then they throw three teams on the course at once and let them race it out.  The Blackbirds of Mórrígan are the current leaders in the coven standing, so they sit out the first heat and then race one-on-one against another coven, finally getting the last race of the day.

The idea with setting up an example was to ensure that every coven got three races:  that way points aren’t all over the place, and a coven can’t say that they were screwed.  It is true that the teams who’ll get the best point advantage are the top two:  the three who race in Heat 4 have to fight harder to get a similar allocation–more teams, same number of positions for points–so they get screwed just a little.

And the scoring system used for normal racing is the same as the one used by Formula One during the years 1991 to 2002:

1st: 10
2nd: 6
3rd: 4
4th: 3
5th: 2
6th: 1

The only actual change in the scoring is during Heat 4–or whenever there are more than two covens on the course–and that’s when they use the Formula One scoring system used from 2003 to 2009:

1st: 10
2nd: 8
3rd: 6
4th: 5
5th: 4
6th: 3
7th: 2
8th: 1

There you go:  my racing setup.  It’s all set, just like the novel–

To do and not to do:  that is the question.

To do and not to do: that is the question.

That said, I look at Chapter Ten and realized I need to add two more scenes . . .

That Which is Known and Unknown

A funny thing happened on the way to finishing up my writing last night–I was reading.  That’s not really that funny, but it points out that research can sometime mean going back and finding new . . . things.

I was reading over some scenes from the last novel, a scene that I knew pretty well, or at least thought I did.  It’s a good scene, explained more than I remembered–and then I saw it.  A single line, maybe eight or night words–but the moment I read it I thought, “Well, damn:  I’m going to need to change that.”

Why, you may ask?  Because it was something stated that will affect a scene I haven’t written yet, and the moment I saw what I had written, it hit me that I’d have to, at the very least, modify the line to allow something that would be said in, oh, maybe another thirty thousand or so words.  So I need to do a little rectoning–not much, just change the line a bit–but since that novel isn’t out, no harm, no foul.

Though I also found two other students who I hadn’t accounted for, and I had to do a little retconing on one of them so they’d fit in with my attendance these days.  Look, I’m only a half a million words away from where I started two years ago, give me a break.

Speaking of breaks, Kerry’s up, and it looks like something’s happening–

 

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

“Hello, Annie; Kerry.”

Professor Semplen approached the table, appearing relaxed and friendly. Annie hadn’t seen much of him since their time in Berlin, though he did stop by and wish her an happy birthday as he had the year before. She through they could were missing each other—save during his class—because Kerry’s and her schedule was so different from the rest of the B Levels. “Hello, Professor.”

Kerry set his hand in his lap. “Hello, Professor.”

“I hope I’m not interrupting—” Professor Semplen approached the table and stood opposite his covenmates for a few seconds. “May I join you for a moment?”

The children exchanged glances before Kerry nodded. “Please, have a seat.”

The professor chose the chair across from Kerry. “I won’t stay long: I just wanted to catch you before you headed to the Flight School. I saw your name on the tryout sheet for today.”

 

Kerry and racing sign-up sheets.  Annie had a few thoughts on that, and all along she’s said he’s going to do it, so why act like he’s not?  Because he’s Kerry, that’s why.  But here he’s got this coven leader–and I should mentioned, one of the coven racing managers and the head of their coven team–coming to him, so it much be something important, right?

 

Kerry didn’t appear nervous or self-conscious about the question, though. “Yeah, I signed up for the seventeen-fifteen slot so I can get down to The Diamond after class.” He set his elbows against the table top and leaned forward. “Should I come down earlier?”

“Actually . . .” Professor Semplen shook his head. “You don’t need to come down at all.”

Kerry went from appearing concerned to looking worried. “Is—is there something wrong? What’s going on?”

Sitting where she was between them, Annie easily read Kerry’s and Professor Semplen’s expressions and body language. She saw the answer before Kerry because she was a bystander. “Kerry . . . I think the professor is saying you don’t need to try out for the team.”

Kerry stared at his girlfriend for about three seconds before the her statement made sense. He slowly turned to his coven leader. “Is that true, Professor?”

Professor Semplen adjusted his glasses. “Only four people signed up for try-outs, and I’d already decided that you were going to get one of the B Team slots.” He shrugged. “Based upon everything we’ve seen from last year, and everything you’ve done, I’ve no doubt you’ll do well.”

“But I’ve never competed before—”

“No? What about the test races you were in on the Green Line and The Diamond? What about your accident last October?” The professor looked away for a moment. “What about the flying you did during the Day of the Dead?”

As Kerry was about to respond to the professor’s questions, Annie spoke to him instead. “This has been on your mind for a while, and the closer you get to the moment of proving yourself, the more you feel you’re not going to do well.” Her grin turned into a near smirk. “Once you wrapped your mind around magic you never had a problem. And you won’t have a problem with racing. Do you know what my father says?”

The fact that Annie was bringing up her father told Kerry all he needed to know about what she was going to say. “What?”

“Don’t worry about racing: just race.” She reached over and lightly touched his arm. “Professor Semplen is right: he doesn’t need to see you try out, my love. The moment the track lights turn green, you’ll know what to do.”

 

Annie never brings up her father unless it’s important, and here she’s quoting him to put his mind at ease.  But she’s known all along that he’d make the team–and given there are so few people in their coven to try out for those three slots, and Kerry is one of the best up and coming fliers, that it was ridiculous to believe he wouldn’t.  So after that all that remains is to tell him to show up Sunday to get fitted for his racing gear and get checked out on a Class 2–which he already has–and be ready to race in two weeks–

If he were on the A Team he's probably start next Saturday.  I know because . . . I know.

If he were on the A Team he’s probably start next Saturday. I know because . . . I know.

All that remains now is for Annie and Kerry to have a small, quiet moment together . . .

 

Once Professor Semplen was out of hearing range, Annie moved her chair closer to Kerry so that she didn’t have lean in order to touch his arm. “Well . . .”

Kerry looked down, full well knowing what was coming. “Yes?”

“Do I get to say I told you so?”

He lifted her hand from his arm. “Sweetie—” He kissed her hand tenderly. “You’ve been telling me that since I said I may go out.”

Annie chuckled. “You know I’m always right, my love.”

He laughed along with her. “I know, Sweetie. You’d think I’d get that by now.”

 

. . . and bring about the end of the chapter.

End of the chapter?  Yep.  Sure is.

End of the chapter? Yep. Sure is.

Now on to nine, and we’re going see some crazy here, because you can probably guess what Dark Witch Instruction is about–or maybe not.  You’ll just have to tune in and hope I write after my face burning tonight.