Testing the Pressure

Today has been all kinds of crazy.  Actually, the entire weekend was like that, but today is peak crazy.

And it’s of my own doing.

Saturday and Sunday–when I wasn’t shooting video and editing video and, oh, writing a bit and meeting with friends–I was studying for the test I need to pass in order to become WFTDA certified.  (WFTDA means Woman’s Flat Track Derby Association, in case you were wondering.)  I thought it was going to be easy to get through, seeing as how it’s possible to generate fake tests with sample questions that will show you how you did at the end.  You can even look at a sample test of 50 questions as well as the answer key if you want to see if you’re really going to do well.

About Friday night I was telling my coach and another derby player that I thought I was being pretty chill about the whole test thing and that there was nothing to worry about–

You know, I seem to spend a lot of time lying to myself.

I went to bed last night a bit concerned that I might not be as up on the rules as I thought, as I was always missing the pass line on the fake tests I was taking, and by this morning I was feeling the stress that, yeah, I might struggle tonight during the test.  I told someone at work about how I hadn’t thought I was gonna get stressed out over my test, and she was like, “Given how you stress out on everything in derby, why did you believe this test would be any different?”

And the answer to that is I like lying to myself.

As of right now I’m not a nervous and strung out as I was, but there’s still a little trepidation.  I’ll get through tonight, though, and if I don’t pass the test, I’ll take it again next week.  Or this Wednesday.  Or this Sunday before the bout.  Whatever I’m allowed.

I’m so close.  Really, it’s just now starting to hit me that in another few weeks–maybe even this week–I could end up certified and have a derby name and start working towards playing for real next season.  It wasn’t hitting me much last week even though I was aware.  Now, I’m feeling it.  I’m feeling the bit of pressure that comes with this sort of thing and it’s a bit uncomfortable.

But it’s not unbearable.

I take the test in about four hours.

One way or another, I got this.

How Super Was My Lab: Let’s All Look

And here you thought you were gonna get an author’s interview…

I spoke with the author last night and she decided that since she can’t actually start her Facebook giveaway until Friday, she wanted me to run the interview that morning.  Being the understanding person I am I said okay, so you’ll see that interview in a couple of days on 3 March.

In the meantime I arrived at work in my latest dress–

Gotta greet the new month in new hotness.

Gotta greet the new month in new hotness.

And I’m ready to take you into the superlab–


(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)


Annie had seen pictures of the super lab of being inside was another matter. She hadn’t realized it, but given the height of the ceiling she figured they were actually in the sub level and that the entire of the lab cut through into the lower level above. It wasn’t necessary to guess why the additional space was needed: pipes and HAVC conduits covered most of the ceiling.

She recognized at least a half-dozen chemical reactors, two condensers, two cookers, and in the far corner of the room three distillation columns. Her now trained eye saw that the system was set up for batch processing, there she spotted a couple of control panels which told her that it was possible the lab could be switched over for continuous processing if necessary. There were safety stations every ten meters and next to every station was an emergency vent button that could be used to clear the room of noxious and toxic fumes in seconds.

There were two powered exoskeletons stationed between the supply entrance and the personnel airlock which she guessed were used for moving around chemical containers inside the lab. To her right, about eight meters away, was a safety cage where the two hundred liter barrels of chemicals were stored, and off to her left was an open door that she assumed led to a locker room and a rest area.


There’s a lot of big words there and even bigger amounts of equipment:

Sort of like this without the witches.

Sort of like this without the witches.

But trust me, it’s put together in a way that’s gonna allow these kids to make a whole lot of mixtures that are designed to do good things for a body.  You might say they’re magical…



Annie was standing in an area which was unknown even to her parents. As they had once mentioned, they both took three years of Formulistic Magic before electing to move on to other studies in their D Levels. Her father specialized in classes revolving around magic as applied to mechanical technology in the Tesla Center, and her mother’s pharmaceutical research was performed at another location, as the school didn’t have a proper superlab when they were here nearly twenty years ago. One day when they came to visit she would make certain her parents saw this laboratory, for while it wasn’t in her nature to boast, she felt a certain pride in being the first Kirilovi to enter this room.

Erywin positioned herself in front of a large chemical reactor and clapped her hands. “Here we are: the Tesla Center chemical superlab. We will hold class here once a month and everyone in this class will be required to perform at least three assignments during this school year. As we have done over in the Chemistry Center you will work in pairs— though, as in the case with our F Levels, they will work together as the trio for now. When you are working on assignments in here they will be done at times when we would normally be holding lectures in the Chemistry Center—” Erywin turned slightly to her right and something caught her eye. “Kerry, what are you doing?”

Annie’s soul mate and climbed atop a rolling safety ladder and appeared to be looking over the contents of an open chemical reactor. He turned slowly back toward the rest of the class with a huge grin on his face as he shouted out his reply. “Yo, Gatorade me, bitch.”


Annie is fairly proud that by entering the lab she’s actually doing something that her parents didn’t do when they were students–though I’m gonna say the odds are good neither of her parents killed a couple of Deconstructors when they were students, so she’s got that on them, too.

But, you know, leave it to Kerry to just have to let his inner Heisenberg out and come up with a completely different idea of why they’re there.  And where does he get the idea to yell out the need for an electrolyte replenishing refreshment?  From here:

Yes, Kerry just has to go all Jessie Pinkman the first chance he gets.  Fortunately for him Erywin knows the source material and has a sense of humor:


Though Erywin rolled her eyes Annie noticed that she covered her mouth for a few seconds, probably to hide the smile on her face from the rest of the class. “Kerry.” She motioned at the boy. “Come down from there, please.” He stepped down from the safety letter an approach both Erywin and Annie, who were now standing close together. She lay a hand on Kerry’s shoulder. “If possible, can we have less of you pretending that this is something more than a chemical superlab? After all, if Isis suspects someone was here trying to cook meth, she’s going to become exceptionally upset.”

He shook his head slowly. “I won’t do that again.” He cast a quick glance to his left and gave Annie a wink.

As soon as the couple stepped back Erywin continued addressing the class. “As I was saying before being interrupted, this year you are required to perform three assignments. The objective of these assignments is to create a successful mixture in bulk. Most of what you’ll create will be of pharmaceutical grade purity, so it is not only important that you may be required to create three hundred liters of a particular mixture, but it will be necessary to ensure that the entire batch is equal to or greater than a specified purity.” She held up her right finger to emphasize the point. “If a small portion of the test sample falls several percentage points below purity, that means your entire mixture has fallen below a specific purity level and you will be required to either take a hit to your proficiencies for that assignment, or start over.

“The whole idea behind working in the superlab is to gain an understanding of what is required in these exceptionally large batch processes. Many of you will not go on to a future that involves Formulistic Magic, but it is necessary for you to gain an understanding of the protocols and procedures required for this sort of work were you to advance into the various chemical engineering fields.” She smiled as she looked around the room. “And for those of you will be moving up a level next year, you get to do it all again.”

Erywin let everyone down to the north end of the lab; it was not only the entrance to a personal break area, but along the wall were several work cubicles. “Each of you have an assigned workspace where you can keep track of your progress as well as use a computer terminal to look up information related to your assigned. You will use these cubicles as a team and they will remain yours throughout this level year.” She clapped her hands. “Find your cubical; the sooner you do, the sooner we can get to making magic.”


This is not an easy class and these are not going to be easy assignments.  Here a simply screw up could see a few hundred liters of mixture getting poured down the drain while your proficiencies take a massive hit–yeah, the superlab is no joke.  Not only does your magic gotta be on fleek, but being just a few steps off in your protocols will jack you hard.  But I’m certain Annie and Kerry will do okay–

But we are not finished with the lab.  Oh, not quiet yet–

Future Epiphanies Are Us

Saturday afternoon, right?  You know what that means?  It means a long video today with a lot of talk about magic and a few characters we know and love.  Enjoy.

The Calm Before the Spells

No phone banking last night:  I needed some downtime as I was tired as hell and was in need of recharging.  So it was a little pizza, a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad, a quick doze-off in the recliner, and by the time seven-thirty–or nineteen-thirty for my kids and most of the rest of the world–rolled around I was feeling much better.

Tonight is going to be interesting as I have a shoe shipment hitting the apartment tonight and I’ll be picking up a designer dress at Lane Bryant on Saturday.  I’m also going to try a new styling group–Dia&Co–just to see how they are and if they have some interesting ideas about how to dress me.  Total fashion chick, I am.

Now, what about writing?  What about Annie and Deanna?  What about lunch and Annie speaking Bulgarian?  Well…


(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)


“After a few months at school I sometimes forget as well—blagodarya.” She waited as the server poured a glass for them before walking away. “Just so you know the food here is halal so everything should be permissible.” Annie tapped her fingers against her glass. “I know you’ve said that you don’t practice your faith as strongly as you once did, but didn’t know if you had any dietary restrictions so…” She tossed her head to one side as she raised her eyebrows with a slight grin. “I thought it best to be safe.”

“Well, thank you.” Deanna took a sip of water, realizing in that moment she was rather thirsty. “That’s one of the things I like about you: you’re considerate.” She fidgeted with her rolled-up napkin. “Actually I still eat halal out of habit more than anything else, but I do enjoy doing that. I’ll also eat kosher if necessary and if I don’t have any choices I’ll eat what’s available.” She did the same head tilt as Annie. “It’s permitted.”

“I understand.”

“Have you eaten here?”

Annie nodded. “Yes. My parents come here at least twice a year; I was here with them in June.” She leaned over the table. “You must try the kebabs. They’re delicious.”

The server took that moment to ask for their drink order. Annie ordered tea and Deanna decided on Turkish coffee. As soon as he was gone Deanna continued with Annie’s thought. “As it is I’m partial to kebabs, so I think I’ll give it a try.” She pushed aside the menu and folded her hands across her lap. “So, how goes your summer holiday?”


When developing Deanna I had to consider various aspects of her Muslim faith and how much of each still applied to her.  I mean, she’s a witch and her family seems good with that, and while she doesn’t wear a hajib any longer she does tend to keep her style of dress rather modest.  (I didn’t point it out but should put a line in there about how she’s in jeans, a tee, and sneakers, which is something you don’t see her wearing much at school.)  I figured I’d keep her dietary requirements in place as it seemed like something she’d stick with no matter what and Annie figured the same, which is why she picked a Turkish restaurant that serves halal food.  And yes:  I did my research and the one I picked out does have halal food, so neener neener.

And now we get to the most loaded question of all:

"You want to know about my summer holiday?  Can't we just enjoy the food?"

“You want to know about my summer holiday? Can’t we just enjoy the food?”

No, Annie:  we have to know all your feels.  And so…


This was the first question Annie expected to be asked so she was ready with a reply. “It’s been good for me. I’d relaxed; I’ve met with friends; I’ve gotten out with Mama.” She flashed her smile across the table. “It’s better than last summer, I’m sure.”

Deanna was about to say something then thought better of it. She looked towards the street as she whispered out of the corner of her mouth. “Foundation?”

Annie knew what Deanna wanted to know. There were several restaurants around the world that were much like the Sea Sprite Inn: they were owned by people associated with

The Foundation, which meant their establishments had sections covered by enchantments that allowed The Aware to speak freely without fear of being overheard by Normals. She shook her head. “No.”

“Good.” As Deanna turned away from the window she ran her right hand upwards through her long dark hair, finishing the move with a relaxed wave. As she reached for her water she settled back. “There.”

“What did you do?”

“Put up a light privacy barrier.” She took a quick sip. “It won’t muffle our words, but anyone sitting nearby would think we’re having a quiet conversation: everything will sound soft and difficult to discern.” Deanna glanced at the empty tables next to them. “We don’t have to worry about that right now.”


Since there are a lot more Normal run businesses out there than there are those with connections to The Foundation, it’s not always a guaranty that witchy types can just chat up the latest news about magic and Deconstructors and pain in the ass students at the local witch school.  And that’s when you have to know how to throw up a privacy screen that isn’t pitch black like the ones in the hospital, ’cause that would sort of give away the game, you know?

Why can’t Annie do this?  What makes you think she can’t?


Annie examined the air to her left trying to make out the effects of the spell. “I don’t see anything.”

“You won’t—and that’s the idea. Wouldn’t do for Normals to see a change in the air.” Deanna grinned. “You don’t have to worry: the server won’t notice a thing when he walks through the effect.”

“Nice. I wonder why we haven’t learned this yet.”

“Wednesday started teaching you privacy screens last year, yes?”

“Right right the end of the last level.”

“She’ll probably start showing you how to refine this art this level. Heads up—” The server returned with their drinks and took their lunch order. The moment he was out of the area Deann returned to her prior question. “Have you worked on any spells?”


So now we discover that Annie does know how to throw up a privacy curtain but it’s probably one of those black ones, and if Annie knows this then so does Kerry, which means he’s probably got one over his door and walls so he can blast music and jam out.

And speaking of loaded questions:  “Have you worked on any spells?”  Hahahahaha!  Oh, you’re funny, Deanna.  Really, what do you think she’s going to say?

Upping the Lunchtime Experience.

First off, I must apologize because I did something wrong yesterday.  See…  I made a mistake.  I was discussing the money Annie was given for lunch and shopping and made this statement:


“And in case you’re wondering €500 is equal to $563.   That’s a pretty good afternoon.”


And that is a good afternoon as I can imagine a whole lot of thirteen year old girls who would have lost it if their mom’s handed them that much money.

But see, when I did that conversion I forgot:  I was using yesterday’s conversion rates for a transaction that happened on 7 August, 2013.  And now you know why I keep track of dates because I can look up just about anything for that time and get thing right once more.

Just a few minutes ago I looked up the exchange rate for Euro to US Dollars for 7 August, 2013 and got the true rate.  And now I can say that the €500 Annie had for her little trip was, at the time, equal to:


And just so you know my figures are correct, there’s a screen shot with the pertinent line pointed out:

I wouldn't lie to you. Much.

I wouldn’t lie to you. Much.

The only thing that could have made this better would have been if Annie checked her mother’s computer and said, “Mama, the exchange rate will give me a few more U.S. Dollars tomorrow, could we go shopping then?”  Not that it matters as they aren’t in the U.S., but I does make you wonder if before Annie heads back to school Mom and Dad made sure she gets the best exchange rates before they give her a fist full of dollars to take with her.

Now, on with the novel…

Writing last night:  level good.  Only I realize I need a new chair for writing.  My position is all wrong and I’m making a lot of mistakes because I don’t hold my hands right.  So a new chair this week or next:  it’s needed bad.

But it was a good run.  Nowhere near what I have in the other chapters–

But I'm just getting warmed up.

But I’m just getting warmed up.

And just like that it’s time for lunch again.  So…  shall we?


(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)


An older gentleman stood behind a well-warn wooden counter and began eyeing Annie the moment she entered the vestibule and continued right up to the moment she stood before him. He glanced towards the door to see if anyone else was following before turning his attention back to her. “May I help you, young miss?”

“I have a reservation for two at eleven.” Annie showed no hesitation or nervousness. “It’s under the name ‘Annie Kirilova’.”

The gentleman checked his POS system. “Yes, I see. And you are?”

Annie’s nostrils flared just a little. “Annie Kirilova.” She rested her hand against one of the zippers of her Alma BB purse. “Would you like to see my identification?”

The man noticed the determination in this girl’s eyes and decided not to challenge her. “That won’t be necessary. As it is—” He scanned his terminal once more. “Your guest is here.” He waved over a younger man, obviously a server. “Please take this young lady to this table.”

The server checked the POS screen then turned to Annie. “Follow me, please.”

“Certainly.” She cast a glance at the man behind the counter, thanking him, before following her server up the flight of stairs to the dining area. She knew this restaurant well from having dined here with her parents on several occasions, and was aware that at this time on a weekday the lunch crowd was manageable. Even so, she’d reserved a table two weeks after after receiving an invitation to dine for she didn’t want there to be any mishap.

They approached a table overlooking the overlooking the street below and Annie saw that her guess was indeed waiting for her—


It’s always been implied that Annie is a bit of a princess because she comes from a family with money and she acknowledges that, yeah, her parents are rich, she’s kinda rich, and it’s something she lives with.  And when she was dining with Alex she made the comment that she doesn’t like to talk about certain things ’cause it makes her come off like a little rich girl.

But here, with the “And you are?” comment, you see just the slightest indication that you will take her seriously or she might just go ballistic on you.  That little flair of her nostrils was her “No, you didn’t” moment, like she couldn’t believe that the guy behind the counter should have instantly realized that the thirteen year old girl standing before him was the one who made the reservation–even though she said she did.  She was probably bitch facing him to death at that point and if she’d been in a particularly shitty mood she would have just whipped out her ID and went, “See?  I am who I am.”  Don’t mess with Annie:  you will rue the day.  Rue, I say!

Now it’s time to meet the person for whom Annie has made a lunchtime reservation for them to meet.  And will the mystery guest sign in please!


Deanna Arrakis considered standing but figured it would be better to do so after the server departed: she didn’t want to keep the young man waited for them any longer than necessary. Also, it allowed her to watch Annie stride through the dining room full of confidence. She looks as if she’s back at school: then again, it’s times like this where she learned to develop that demeanor

The server stopped and turned so he was facing Deanna as she indicated the chair across from her. “Tuk ste, mlada gospozhitse. Vashiyat sŭrvŭr shte bŭde s vas skoro.”

Annie gave him a smile as she gave him a tiny nod. “Blagodarya.” She motioned towards the table. “Neka imame garafa s voda, molya?”

The server gave a quick, curt nod. “Razbira se.”

“Blagodarya ti mnogo.” Finally here, Annie faced her guest as her smile brightened. “Deanna.”

The instructor finally left her chair and went to her young friend. “Annie.” They hugged each other for several seconds before retaking their seats. “It’s so interesting hearing you speak Bulgarian. I sometimes forget it’s your native language.”


Annie’s moving up in the world:  now she has instructors and coven leaders coming to her country to have lunch with her.  Sure, Kerry had a coven leader show up on his doorstep, but did they have lunch?  Not yet.

One of things I deliberately did there in the above section is change the POV to Deanna so you could “hear” Annie speaking and let you know that in all the parts leading up to Deanna’s observation the Bulgarian Girl is really speaking Bulgarian.  It’s only that I have to write in English so you can read.  Natually I know what they are saying–

And with this guide you do as well.

And with this guide you do as well.

–and one of the things I’ve been doing the last couple of nights is practicing Annie saying “Blagodarya” in a voice I’m sure is like hers.  I’ll have to do that for you soon on video.

The real question here is:  why does Deanna want to meet?  For a friendly chat?  You know, I’m certain that’s the reason–

Oh so certain.

Luncheon to Luncheon

When I wrote yesterday that I didn’t do a lot of writing on Sunday that was true in one sense:  I didn’t get a lot in the word bank that night ’cause of reasons.  But as I’ve mentioned before not all writing is “writing”, if you know what I mean.  Sometimes you gotta sit and look at things and figure out where you want your scene to take place, and if there’s something else you want your character doing after that.

And that was how I spent about ninety minute:  looking up stuff for the excerpt below.  The majority of what I researched went into the first paragraph, but you know how that is with the whole research thing:  sometimes only a little is needed out of a lot of looking up.

What is said in that paragraph?  And what does it have to do with Annie?  All this:


(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)


Annie stared down ul. Yuri Venelin as her mother paid the cab driver that had brought them from the Sofia airport to the city. The residential street was crowed with parked cars while the sidewalks were empty—all save for the corner behind her, where ul. Yuri Venelin intersected ul. Lyuben Karavelov. The trees lining the street were full of leaves that blocked her view of the Vasil Levski stadium a couple of hundred meters away.

She closed her eyes and looked towards the sky and felt warm light on her face. The sky was clear and temperatures were approaching 30 Celsius. No jacket or leggings needed today: a v-neck tee, black skater skirt, and sandals were all she needed and wanted. Summer wasn’t ready to vanish from Sofia—

But for Annie, only three weeks remained before she vanished from Bulgaria for almost the remainder of 2013. Only three weeks remained before she was reunited with Kerry for the rest of the year and they returned home…

“What are you dreaming about?”

Annie turned to her mother who was looking at her with a half-grin on her face and a curious look in her eye. “Just thinking about how nice it is, Mama.”

“Um, hum.” She patted her daughter on the shoulder as they walked the short distance towards Annie’s destination. “How long do you think your lunch will take?”

“I don’t imagine long.” She walked as slow as possible because she was certain her mother had a few things to say and the remaining distance was about a dozen meters. “Maybe two hours at the most.” Annie stopped just short of her destination. “Are you coming to get me?”

“I wasn’t planing on it: I had a different idea…” Pavlina Kirilova removed her mobile phone from her purse and handed it to Annie. “When you’re finished, or about to finish up, text my work mobile and let me know. The number’s in the contacts; you’ll see it.” She adjusted her purse upon her shoulder. “You still want to go to Paradise Center, yes?”

“Yes.” Annie had told her mother before leaving for Sofia that she wanted to stop at the large shopping center and pick up a few items before returning to Pamporovo.

“Okay. After you text me hail a cab and take it to the mall: I’ll meet you at the main entrance.” She eyed Annie’s purse. “I know you have enough for cab fare.”

Annie remained expressionless though she so wanted to raise a brow. Her mother had given her €500 before leaving the house, so she was fully aware that Annie had plenty for a cab. “I do, Mama.”

“Well, then—” She kissed her daughter on the cheek. “You have a good time, Nini. I’ll wait for your text.”

Annie felt the rush of heat in her cheeks as she always did whenever her mother used her nickname in public. “Okay, Mama.”

“I’ll see you in a bit.” Pavlina stepped back a few meters into the entrance of a courtyard and slowly made herself invisible, followed a few seconds after she vanished from sight by the slight pop of her jaunt.

Annie slipped her mother’s mobile into her purse, checked her hair to make sure to was okay, and strode confidently into the restaurant.


Here’s that Annie out having a lunch and shopping date.  Only the shopping is with her mother:  which means the lunch is with someone else.  Who is this mystery guest who’s come all the way to Bulgaria?

Let’s take a look at the areas.  This is where Annie is at the start of the scene:

Though she isn't standing in the middle of the road.

Though she isn’t standing in the middle of the road.

There is a restaurant in this view, though you have to know where to look to find it.  And it had to be a particular restaurant for–reasons.  You’ll see.  That took a while to figure out in of itself, but that’s what comes of research.

And then we have the shopping mall:

Take Me Down to the Paradise... Center?

Take Me Down to the Paradise… Center?

Paradise Center is not only the largest shopping mall in Sofia, it’s the largest in Bulgaria and the Balken States.  There are a lot of high-end stores here, making it the sort of place the wife and daughter of a Formula One driver with lots of money would shop if, you know, they didn’t have the ability to jaunt off to Paris and shop there.  And it’s only six kilometers from where Annie is having lunch, so taking a cab there isn’t a huge deal. And we know Annie knows how to hail a cab.

An interesting line in the excerpt is the remark about money:  Annie thought it was strange that since her mother had given her the money she felt it necessary to remind her daughter that she had enough for a cab ride.  The thing I find interesting is that Pavlina hands Annie five hundred Euro and doesn’t worry if too much.  Sure, there will be shopping after, but…  it would have been a cold day in hell before I handed $500 to my thirteen year old daughter and said, “This should be enough for lunch and shopping–yes?”  And Annie probably didn’t bat an eye:  “Yes, that will do, Mama,” and stuffed it in her wallet.  The Rich:  it’s a different way of life.

And in case you’re wondering €500 is equal to $563.   That’s a pretty good afternoon.

Now all that’s needed is for the lunch date to show up.  I wonder who it could be?

Funstyles of the Young and Witchy

Here we are once more on the trip to Kiev and while the chicken jokes are in short supply, we’re getting a chance to see Annie let her hair down and relaxing with someone her age.  Kerry never seems to change that much when he’s away from Annie, but Annie gets to be more open and friendly when she’s away from school and/or her parents, which is how she is most of the time when it’s just Kerry and her out.

So how is the sushi setting with the East Euro Girls?


(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)


Alex didn’t wait to finish her roll before speaking. “So it’s like the sushi in Tokyo?”

“I wouldn’t know—” Annie shrugged. “I’ve only has sushi in Osaka and Kyoto.” They exchanged stares across the table before both laughed. She set her chopsticks aside. “I hate to talk about that stuff: I always come off like a little rich girl.”

“If you didn’t want to look like a rich girl you should have left that purse at home.” Alex chuckled as Annie wrapped one hand around her Louis Vuitton bag. She sipped some tea so to wash down the last of her roll. “Don’t worry about how you appear; I don’t mind. And you’re lucky to have gone to those places. I’ll get there one day: Japan’s one of the places I want to visit when I do my Real Life Experience.”

“I want to go there as well.” Annie held her tea cup in both hands. “I want to visit the countryside and stay in ryokans the whole time.”

“What’s a ryokan?”

“It’s a type of inn. It’s all traditionally Japanese: you wear yukatas—it’s like a kimono—sit on the floor to eat and sleep on a futon.”

“Sounds like fun.” Alex ate another roll but waited until she swallowed before speaking. “You going to do that before your RLE?”

Annie stared off into the distance. “I’d like that.”

“You want to do that with Kerry?”

“Naturally.” Annie picked up he chopsticks and reviewed the food that remained. “We should order more.” She motioned at Alex. “Get what you want: I trust you.”

A wicked smile appeared on the blond girl’s hair. “They make a non-alcoholic mojito here: it’s Sprite, limes, and mint mixed together. We should get a pitcher and then tell everyone when we go back to school that we were drinking mojitos before we went shopping.”

Even though it seemed a bit silly on the surface, Annie knew there were times when it was necessary to break out of seriousness that usually surrounded their lives and have fun.  “Why not? Penny and Kerry did something fun while they were together last week, we should, too.”


I learned all about ryokans back in the mid-90s when I was kinda seeing a Japanese woman and became interested in visiting the country and getting out into the countryside.  These are a popular way of getting into the Japanese way of life, though if you really want to get down and dirty in that respect, try a minshuku, which is the equivalent of a Japanese family bed and breakfast where you are pretty much living with the family:  think of if as an AirBnB with the owners still there.  Now we gotta wonder what Annie looks like walking around in a kimono, though I think she’d probably be cuter dressing up with the Harajuku Kawaii Lolita set.

It is true:  Annie is, deep down, a little rich girl and she can’t hide that.  She’s in nice clothes and carrying a Louis Vuitton purse, so it’s difficult not to see her as someone who’s used to having nice things in her life.  And she’s worldly, something impressed upon me by the Original Annie back in the days of the first Foundation novel.  What this means is that she’s a bit of a princess, sure, but that doesn’t prevent her from enjoying hanging with people less well off than her.  Given that Annie’s not one for dealing with bullshit she probably wouldn’t want to hang with other people from her financial demographic ’cause they’re simply no fun at all.

But wait:  the girls are gonna have virgin mojitos?  Sure.  Because it’s fun.  Like Alex says, when they return to school in about seven weeks they can tell their friends, “When Annie and I went to lunch we had mojitos with our sushi,” because when you’re thirteen and fourteen it’s all about having fun.

And when you're twenty-one and twenty-two it's all about getting hammered and doing questionable things.

And when you’re twenty-one and twenty-two it’s all about getting hammered and doing things some may consider questionable.

And this makes me want to have a mojito with dinner tonight because why the hell not?

Now that we know the girls want silly fun, what is this about Penny and Kerry?  Well…


“Great.” Alex gave the order for a dozen more rolls and the virgin mojitos to their hostess, then waited for her to leave before speaking with Annie. “What did they do?”

She ran her finger around the rim of her tea cup. “They had lunch in the village of Snape.”

Alex needed a few second to digest this information. “Wait: is that like the Harry Potter Snape?”

Annie nodded. “The same. He wrote and said it was like ten kilometers north of where they were hiking—”

“They went hiking?”

“Yes. Kerry said they talked while they walked and then headed north to this village and had lunch. He said the character in the books was named after the town and he wanted to be able to tell people at school that they were there.” She took a final sip of her cooling tea. “So, you see: silliness. We can do the same.”

“Sure can.” She grew silent as their pitcher of drinks arrived and she poured them both a glass. “Is he gonna take you there?”

“He said he will—if not next month, then next summer.” Annie raised her glass and reached across the table toward Alex. “To having a good day.”

Alex clinked her glass against Annie’s.  “To a good day.” She then downed about a third of the drink before setting it aside. “Can I ask something?”


So, a little left over from the last scene.  When I was looking at the whole “Walking around in the Rendlesham Forest” thing I started looking at a few things beyond that area, and lo and behold, I found a little village–

Right around ten kilometers away, just like Annie said.

Right around ten kilometers away, just like Annie said.

I found the village of Snape.  No, really.

Just look at all the Snape stuff.  They can't be lying.

Just look at all the Snape stuff. They can’t be lying.

Some rather easy looking shows that this tiny burg in the east of England is the one whose name was used by another writer who likes witches for one of her main characters, a rather dark and gloomy character with greasy hair who is an expert in, um, potions and dark magic.  And into this two come two witches, both great fliers, both great with, um, “mixtures”, and one of them great with that ol’ dark sorcery stuff, and they sit down for a lunch at the Golden Key Inn and probably laughing about how there were now witches in Snape, likely leading Kerry to do at least one really bad Alan Rickman imitation.  Because it’s all about fun and that’s how he rolls.

I guess tomorrow is when we find out what Alex wants, huh?  I mean, that would make sense…

Straight Outta the Golden Gate

Hey, look!  It’s time to go back to the Ukraine, ain’t it?  Yep, sure is.  I’m not going to say much up here in the front ’cause I’m gonna do a lot of talking in the middle and that’ll give you enough to read as is.  So, when Annie asks, “That’s the Golden Gate?” you know Alex will have a reply–


(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)


“Yes.” Alex waved an arm at the immense structure. “The last Great Gate of Kiev. You can thank the Russians for this: they built it for the city’s fifteen-hundredth anniversary, though everyone then and now says it looks nothing like the original gate—” She shrugged as she lowered her voice. “I guess the only way we’d know what it really looks like is to get a witch out her and have them Postcog the area. It’s the only way we’d know for sure.”

“That’s true.” What Annie knew of Postcogntion was limited to what she’d already read at home and at school. She knew Deanna taught the basics of the skill though she’d heard her say once before that she wasn’t as skilled at seeing into the past as she was the future. Annie figured that, like Demonology an Necromancy, if a student showed promise with Postcognition Foundation personnel from outside the school came in to help develop their talent.
She tapped her friend lightly on the arm. “Let’s talk about this over lunch.”

Alex nodded. “Good idea. It’s down this way.”


Now for an annoying historical interlude:

What Alex says about the Golden Gate is true:  it was part of the city’s fortifications going back to at least before the 11th Century and perhaps a few centuries before that.  The truth is no one really knows because stuff like construction records were pretty sketchy at that time.  By the 1800’s the Golden Gate didn’t exist in much of anything but ruins, but in the early 1980’s the Soviet Union decided Kiev needed a nice present for their 1500th anniversary and rebuilt the Golden Gate in it’s present form.  Just about everyone who knows a little history say the current look is all wrong and at the time this gate went up various historians were telling the Russians this, but in 1982 one did not tell the Old Soviet Union “Nyet!”, it told you–often with a trip to a gulag in Siberia.

But the Golden Gate became world famous when it more or less became one of the moments of the suite Pictures at an Exhibition, written by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky in 1874.  The suite was composed in honor of Mussorgsky’s friend, artist Viktor Hartmann, who passed away in 1873 at the age of 39.  Mussorgsky imagined the suite as representing the feelings one would have as they walked through an art gallery viewing Hartmann’s work, and the musical movements were based upon certain paintings of Hartann’s–one of which was that of a gate designed as a monument for Tsar Alexander II.  That movement, the last of the suite, was The Great Gate of Kiev.  And that’s the gate in the image below:

Not the Golden Gate, but the real Great Gate.

Not the Golden Gate, but the real Great Gate.

Though Pictures at an Exhibition was originally written for the piano it didn’t take long for it to be adapted for the orchestra, and the version below, conducted by Maurice Ravel, is considered by many to be best interpretation of the suite.  Since we’re dealing with The Great Gate of Kiev here we’ll stick to that movement, which tends to bring down the house every time:


Now, the above piece actually starts out with the penultimate movement, Baba Yaga’s Hut on Hen’s Legs, and doesn’t get into The Great Gates of Kiev until around 3:20 in the video.  There’s a reasons for that…

Because my first exposure to Pictures at an Exhibition was only classical if you consider rock to be both classical and progressive.  Not long after I started driving–believe it or not I received my licence on 1 April, 1974, and the world has never been the same–a friend gave me an 8-track tap telling me, “This is some of the freak music you like to listen to,” which was a label I was given at the time–Listener of Freak Music–because out of nearly everyone in my school I was one of the few who listened to FM radio.  It was 1974, okay?  People were just not ready to break with Top 40 AM…

Anyway, I popped the tape in my player and drove around that night being amazed ’cause this was a recording of Pictures at an Exhibition as arranged by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and performed at the Newcastle City Hall in North East England on 26 March, 1971.  Not only did I become a fan of the group then, but it also made me go to the library and seek out the original source material and start getting introduced to actual classical music.

Pictures at an Exhibition has remained a favorite of mine all these years and I’ve even managed to hear it performed live by ELP on three different occasions.  The selection below, taken from their album of the performance, covers the same two movements as the classical piece above, which allows you to hear how three guys on keyboards, drums, and bass made this score their own.

Now that the music’s out of the way we can get to lunch, and wouldn’t you know it:  the girls aren’t going that far…


They quickly left the park and the enormous gate behind as they crossed the street. Alex, walking on Annie’s left, nodded her head towards the road. “That used to be moat in case you were wondering about the name.”

“I figured when I saw it was Yaroslaviv Val that it had something to do with fortifications, particularly with the gate here.” Annie glanced at the park. “I supposed the wall ran along the other side.”

“It didn’t surround the whole city, but there was a wall over there.” As they walked beyond the western boundaries of the park street took a slight dogleg to the right where Alex pointed to a set of stairs. “There’s the place: I told you it wasn’t far.”

Annie examined the name of the restaurant—Eurasia—as well as some of the placards advertising the wears. “They have sushi?”

“Sure. Yakatori and sashimi, too.” Alex looked down and away for a moment. “It’s not all that fancy, but the food’s good.”

Annie nodded. “That’s all that matters.”

A strange tone took hold in Alex’s voice. “If you’d rather—”

“Alex.” Annie turned toward the girl as she flashed a comforting smile. “I didn’t come here to be impressed: I came here to hang out with you. This is fine.” She nodded towards the entrance. “Let’s go inside.”

The Eurasia was styled much like a modern sushi restaurant. They found a small booth near the bar and given that the place had just opened and was nearly empty they were waited almost immediately. The girls order a combination of nigiri sushi and several rolls to start as well as hot tea for both.

Once they food arrived they began eating immediately. Annie found the food prepared nicely and to have a fantastic flavor. She swallowed her second smoked salmon roll and wiped her lips. “This is tasty.”


Did you really think Annie wouldn’t like sushi?  That’s not as surprising as Alex liking it, but then Alex seems to be full of surprises–the biggest one here being that she’s a little worried the fare won’t be to Annie’s liking.  Even though Annie and Kerry mentioned their luncheons in London, they probably never said where they were meeting and the rest of the Party of Six may have figured that when they were alone, The Lovey Dovey Couple liked them so fine dining.

Alex had no idea this is just a lateral move from a fast food joint in Russel Square.

Alex had no idea this is just a lateral move from a fast food joint in Russel Square.

And that’s the actual location when the girls are enjoying their sushi right now–

As they prepare to talk about stuff–and things…

Hidden Knowledge Around the World

We are about to embark on a three-day weekend here in the U.S., the “last of summer” as they like to say, and the last one until Thanksgiving.  I’m ready for it even though I’m working a voter registration drive tomorrow at big festival happening along the riverfront tomorrow.  Yes, I’m still doing that, and yes:  I’ll try to get pictures.

Yesterday, however…  stuff to do.  First I got a nail repaired.  It had cracked about half-way across just past my fingertip and had been that way for a couple of days.  So at least my nails are now strong enough that even if they are damaged they don’t go completely to hell.  Then I had dinner and since it was getting nice in the afternoon I went up to the rooftop of my favorite restaurant, the Capitol Gastropub, and had fish and chips with a couple of glasses of wine.

There's always time for wine.

There’s always time for wine.

Then I came home and watched the first two episodes of The Kettering Incident, which has run down in Australia and is now starting up here on Amazon Prime.  It’s getting reviewed over on The Snarking Dead by Rachel, and it is strange.  As one person said, “It’s Stranger Things for adults,” and after seeing the start of the program it has that vibe, though it’s building a lot slower.  Which is fine with me ’cause I like that sort of stuff.

Most importantly, there’s writing.  I also put a new playlist together of 80s music, but that came before the writing.  And since we’re on the subject of UFO–’cause that’s part of what The Kettering Incident is about–we may as well see how Penny and Kerry have solved the Rendlesham Forest sighting:


(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)


“Sure.” He gave the airfield one last look, then snapped a picture with his phone before rejoining Penny.

They’d covered about fifteen meters when she leaned to her left towards him. “Thanks for getting that: my mom will want to see this. What’s the next spot we’re supposed to visit?”

“That would be—” Kerry checked his phone. “Point 2 is where they started going into the forest looking for the lights.” He stuffed his phone back inside his flight jacket. “Shouldn’t take us long to get there.”

“Probably not.” Penny looked to see if anyone was following them before speaking. “You think those guys back then really saw something?”

Kerry gave a quick nod. “I think they saw something, but I doubt it was a flying saucer.”

“You’re probably right.” She nodded once as she picked up her stride. “It was probably some tossers from ECMI fooling around with a Class 4 PAV and they decided to head down here and play with the Yanks.” ECMI was the acronym used by anyone speaking of the Edinburgh Center for Magical Instruction, only a few hundred kilometers to the north.

“That would be my guess.” Kerry laughed once. “With the school closed for Yule they could have went on the grounds, took the PAV, shot down here in about twenty minute, screwed around and got everyone spooked, then bounced.”

Penny chuckled. “Given security was a bit shite back then they’d be out and back in the pen without anyone every knowing they were there and gone.”

“More than likely.” He spent a moment checking the woods to his right. “That sounds a lot more likely than aliens from another world.”

“Doesn’t mean The Foundation doesn’t have info on aliens.” She waited about five seconds before changing the subject. “How’s things at home?”

He’d been expecting this question ever since meeting Penny for breakfast and suspected that as soon as they were alone out on the path she’d ask. “It’s okay.”

She was well aware of Kerry’s habit of answering everything with an affirmative declaration, but she decided to be nice and not call him on it, at least not yet. “How are you’re parents treating you?”

A long sigh trickled out. “They’re acting the way they always act: like I’m not there.” He glanced over and saw the disapproving stare Penny was sending his way. “What?”

“You’re lying out your arse.” She shook her head. “Come on, mate: be honest with me. That’s why we’re out here—” Penny stopped the stare and gave him a soft, friendly smile. “Ain’t it?”

Kerry stared down at the ground as they walked. “Yeah, it is.” He raised his head and looked about for a few moments before speaking. “My parents… they ignore me like they usually do, but this time it’s like they’re pissed off at me, too. I can feel it, you know?”


Now we have one of Kerry’s friends calling him out on his bullshit.  Sorry Kerry, but you’re a big witch now and you have to stop with the “I’m okay” when everyone knows you’re not.  Annie was really the first one to call him out, back when he was beating himself up on a race and tried to make it sound like he wasn’t worthy of winning because everyone else on the course is better-and Annie had enough and told him he didn’t lose because he’s bad, he lost because The Bolder Ginger is a bitch and knew she could race dirty with Kerry ’cause he’d never retaliate.  And she was right and Kerry knew it.

However, he’s slow to change…

One last thing:  above I refer to ECMI as the acronym used for Edinburgh Center for Magical Instruction, which is otherwise known as Edinburgh, which happens to be the first school founded by what was The Foundation then to study magic.  (Yes, Salem is just over a hundred years older, but it was founded by witches who later sold the school to The Foundation.)  Over the course of two novels and change–mostly in the first novel–other schools were mentioned.  Edinburgh and Valparaiso, Chile, make up the “Big Three” of The Foundation educational system, of which there almost two dozen schools:

Which are all listed right here.

Which are all listed right here.

That little list right there took me about eight hours of research to put together and it was one of the things I did back in October, 2013, when I was gearing up to start A For Advanced during NaNoWriMo, and I even went so far as to mark down where the sites are located.  Maybe one of these days I’ll do a post on that because I think it’d be interesting to show you the locations of all the schools.

Until then, you’ll have to put up with just one school–

E = Dreams, Mon Amour

Well, as I hoped, Chapter One is done.  Took another nine hundred words to get to this point, but finished it is with nearly fifteen thousand words written in a month.

Done for the One, To Do for the Two.

Done for the One, To Do for the Two.

I know I’m a little behind my normal goal of twenty thousand words a month, but given all the other stuff I’ve written in the last month I’d consider what I’ve produced a good start.  And I finally feel as if I’m getting comfortable with the story and not stumbling around trying to find the right words.

As you can see things are going to get interesting in Chapter Two.  In my video yesterday I said this is all about meetings, and that’s exactly what you’ll see:  meetings.  At the moment, however, there is only one meeting that is of interest, and Kerry’s figured out where they are–


(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie looked surprised. “You know this place?”

“Not really, but there’s a river there—” He grinned as her pointed to the bridge on his left. “—and I can see Notre-Dame Cathedral over your shoulder.” The grin turned into a broad smile. “That kinda gives it away.”

Annie took both his hands. “Sometimes I forget that even though you’ve never visited these places you’re still quite worldly.”

“Only because I’ve wanted to visit all these places.”

She pulled him close. “And we shall visit here in a few months.”

He kissed her on the nose. “I can’t wait. Where are we?”

Annie turned and looked towards the huge intersection. “That is the Place Saint Michel. We’re in the Monnaie neighborhood of the 6th arrondissement: the Paris Mint is not far away.” She pointed across the intersection. “If we cross the street we’d enter the 5th arrondissement. And in case you hadn’t realized, this is also the Rive Gauche.”

Kerry nodded. “The Left Bank.”

“You know that as well.”

“Who doesn’t?”

Annie smiled coyly as she retook his hand. “I’d say most of the kids with whom we attend school.”

“Point taken.” He turned and examined the building directly behind him, in particular the corner restaurant. “Le Paradis du Fruit?”


So now we have the location locked down:  the intersection that is Place Saint Michel and you can see the place Kerry metions–

As you can see from the overhead.

As you can see from the overhead.

Kerry’s never been here but he knows his locals and if you see what he sees, you’ll know you’re in Paris:

Or maybe by looking at his point of view you won't.

Or maybe by looking at his point of view you won’t.

You can see the bridge over the Seine on the left, and the twin spires of Notre-Dame Cathedral in the background.  Ten years ago I walked right past this point without ever knowing it was going to end up in a story,  so there’s a sort of strange symmetry going on here, maybe even a bit of a hidden memory.  Doesn’t matter now:  it’s in the story.

And now we can get a better look at where the kids are spending this part of the scene.

Right there at the tables under the trees.  A totally Paris scene for the kids.

Right there at the tables under the trees. A totally Paris scene for the kids.

By the way the title of this post is a play on the title of the novel E=mc2 Mon Amour by Patrick Cauvin, which eventually became the movie A Little Romance.  It’s the story of a young French boy and an equal young American girl who meet in Paris, fall in love, and run off to Venice on a particular adventure.  Given that my novels are about a young Welsh-Irish-American boy and a Bulgarian girl who meet at a school for witches in America and set off on a series of adventures also has an interesting correlation that needs mentioning.  Do you think Kerry knows about the movie and Annie the novel?  What do you think?

So why is Annie attracted to his location?


She led him towards a section of outside tables near the shop. “Mama and I come here once in a while when we want to get away from the house and relax over a salad and smoothie.”

Kerry held the chair while Annie sat before taking the one across from her. “Must be nice.”


“Being able to jaunt off to Paris when you need a break from the home.”

Annie scratched behind her right ear. “We haven’t done it since last August, but yes: it is nice to be able to go anywhere in Europe because there’s only an hour or two difference among the cities—” She pointed a finger across the table. “And the two hour difference is only up by you.”

“I had nothing to do with that.” Kerry chucked then closed his eyes. A few seconds later two glasses filed with colored liquids appeared before them. “There you are: lemon-banana smoothie for you, and strawberry-pomegranate for me.”

Annie gave a slow clap. “Nicely done. You’ve been practicing lucid dreaming.”

He nodded. “Yeah. For a couple of weeks now.” He took a sip of his drink. “Is that what you’re using to make all the sound around us, like we’re really in Paris?”

“I’m not doing that: not intentionally.” She took a sip of her own drink and nodded her approval. “It must be my memory of this place. Even late at night there’s always a lot of traffic, a lot of people out walking.”

Kerry folded his hands and set them on the table. “Have you come here at night with your mother?”

“We have a couple of times when Papa was away.”

He stared across the table to the other side of the Seine River. “Must be nice.”

Even though she was aware Kerry loved hearing about all the places she’d visited, there were times when Annie saw that discussing her travels brought about some personal sadness. He wants to see so many places, and up until now he can only visit them over the Internet. That’s why when we were in London, Amsterdam, and Berlin he wanted to see as much as possible.

She decided now was the time to tell him something she had planed to say for at least a week. “I was going to wait until we were in London this coming Wednesday, but since we’re together now—I’m going to start working on jaunting this year.”


There are a couple of surprises there.  First, Kerry’s getting much better at making things happen in dreams:  as Annie points out he’s been working on his lucid dreaming.  And Annie’s ready to get her jaunt on and once that happens you can bet she’s gonna take the time to know how to get to her favorite places there won’t be any way you can keep this kid at home.  Though jaunting off two thousand kilometers to Paris requires a lot of willpower, as we’ve seen Annie has that.

And is Paris the only place she wants to visit?  Ha!


He snapped his attention back to her. “You are?”

“Yes. I decided I didn’t want to wait until our D Levels for instruction.” She sat back and crossed her legs. “The sooner I can do that, the sooner I can go places on my own.” The right corner of her mouth turned up in a grin. “At least until I come visit someone, after which we can come here for real.”

This news brightened Kerry’s face. “So are we gonna come here before we return to Salem?” They were both aware that Paris was the staging city for all returning students from Europe, Africa, and Western Asia, and he expected that Annie was going to spend most of their free time showing them the sights.

Annie nodded as she picked up her drink. “Of course. I don’t know where we’re going to stay but there’s a Metro station right across the street. I imagine getting here won’t take us more than twenty minutes if we’re staying in the main part of the city.” She smiled across the top of her drink. “It won’t be anything new for us.”

“No, it won’t.” He also sat back and enjoyed his imaginary drink.

Now that she had him in a better mood Annie figure she could ask Kerry the thing that had been on her mind that night. “My love, why did you ask me to time my letters so they arrive on the days when your parents aren’t home?”


Wait, what?  I’m not gonna tell you why Kerry told Annie to time her letter?  You got that right:  you gotta wait until tomorrow for that news.  I know, I’m a bitch, but I’m a good bitch and that’s what matters.

Hey, at least you’ll get all that tomorrow–and maybe even a little more…