Writing at the Speed of Imagination

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

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

 

What are your top three reasons for using Scrivener?

 

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

 

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

 

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

Looks kinda cute, doesn't it?

Looks kinda cute, doesn’t it?

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

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

Welcome back, 2012 NaNoWriMo story!

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

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

Now, maybe you recognize this work . . .

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Everything.

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

I seem to have an interest in aircraft . . .

I seem to have an interest in aircraft . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Into the End at the Beginning

Yesterday was a busy day for me, as some of you may have noticed.  Two posts, a few videos–I did one that I posed in a group of the snowfall here in Harrisburg that was freaking everyone out–and then the late night videos I did on makeup.  I did a lot of editing.  I watched movies.  I listened to music.  I even started working on a segment of Annie’s an Kerr’s life that, in retrospect, needs to be changed, because given things that have happened to them in their A Levels, and things that will happen to them in the future, there are incidents in their lives that make no sense.

Today is Science Fiction Sunday on TCM, with Forbidden Planet starting at eleven, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind finishing up at eight, with a 2001 and 2010 interlude in-between, so I expect to spend most of the day watching that.  Three of those four movies are among my favorites, and these days I don’t get to see 2001 as much as I would like.  I have, however, watched the trailer the British Film Institute put out last year when they did a special release of 2001 on 28 November, 2014, and it’s a thing of beauty that always brings a tear to my eye.  Seeing it on a computer does not do it justice:  it needs to be seen on a huge screen with the sound system cranked all the way up.  And having seen this movie in theaters three times, I know what that’s like.

Today I answer another reader question, and this time it’s from Kim Jameson, another of my HodgePodge Crochet friends who knows the difference between a hook and a needle.  Her questions are a little like the one I answered yesterday, but at the same time they’re much different.

 

Do you plan your story and build a world ahead of time? Do you know the ending before you begin? How do you pick character names?

 

I’ll tackle the first one first, because it’s–first?  Actually it’s an easy one to answer, because I pretty much sorta answered it yesterday–

I am what is known in the writing business as a plotter, which means I figure out the story ahead of time before one word goes into the story.  I do that for a novel that’s gonna run a couple of hundred thousand words, and a story that will run ten thousand.  I do that so I don’t get lost about a third of the way in, thinking, “What do I do now?” and start thinking about the next story I could screw up the same way.  (Trust me, I’ve encountered this phenomenon more than a few times from other writers.)

And for really big stories, like A For Advanced, when you’re dealing with incredible events happening to a couple of kids who aren’t expecting anything out of the ordinary–beyond the extra-ordinary that’s already happening to them–one wants to make sure that you aren’t setting yourself up with unnecessary plot holes to fall through by winging the damn thing as you go along.  The entirety of the recollection of the dreams between Annie and Kerry, and getting Kerry to remember them, could have been screwed up completely if I didn’t know where they had been, and where they were going, story-wise, with the matter being further complicated by stretching the story out over a quarter of a million words.  Write that on the fly?  Not a chance.

And building a world ahead of time?  With A For Advanced I had to know as much about the World of The Foundation before I started writing about the events at Salem.  I knew the cities where The Foundation ran their business, the headquarter locations of the Protectors and Marshals and Guardians, and where every school The Foundation ran was placed and what they were named.  During the Day of the Dead attack, when Isis starts talking about schools she can no longer contact, though the names were mentioned that one time, they exist in a file, ready to be pulled up if I need that school, or another like it, in a future story.  When we are discussing a world-spanning organization that spends all its time hiding in plain sight, you better know where those hiding places are.

Do they all come to me at once?  No, not really.  I had the world built in October, 2013, before I started writing, but bits and pieces came to me as I went along.  The CDC as a Foundation location didn’t come to me until probably March or April of 2014, and that happened because I was thinking of using it in one of the future novels.  But it seemed perfect, and so it was used.  Now to see if any of the real underground bunkers I mentioned get used.  The show The 100 use Mount Weather as a location, so it’s not like it’s something new.

Do I know the ending before I begin a story?  Yes, pretty much.  Maybe I don’t have it locked down one hundred percent, but I know how a story will end before one word goes down.  That actually comes from something Issac Asimov once said:

 

Know your ending, I say, or the river of your story may finally sink into the desert sands and never reach the sea.

 

Since Issac wrote about everything and anything with fascinating clarity and intelligence, and did it hundreds of times throughout his life, I tend to believe he knew what he was doing when it came to the written word.  And I’ve seen this one happen many times before as well, where a writer who’s just pantsing the hell along (“Pantsing” is the term for a writer not knowing the story, but rather writing as it comes to them, like “I’m writing by the seat of my pants”) when, suddenly, they’re like, “Where the hell did my story go?  How the hell am I gonna finish this sucker?”  It’s fin and dandy to be a character in a Bob Seger song and just roll me away, but there exists the real possibility that because you have no real destination in mind your ass is gonna end up stranded in the middle of nowhere ’cause you ran outta gas, and then where you gonna be, bitch?

"This is as good a place as any to get lost and end up having buzzards stripping the drying flesh from my dead ass."

“This is as good a place as any to get lost and end up with buzzards stripping the drying flesh from my dead ass.”

And that last question:  how do I pick my character names?  That’s easy:  I just roll names around until I come up with something I like.  I might find a first name and think about last names to plug in, or a last and then look for a first, but that’s sort of it right there.  I may latch onto a famous name–Lovecraft was one that I used in A For Advanced, which I used for both a Founder of Salem and for Helena’s family name.  It was the same with Erywin’s family name, which was taken from the then recently deceased actress Elizabeth Sladen–or I may just pull out one that sounds good–Kerry’s family name is like that; it simply sounded right to me–but there’s nothing elaborate in the selection process.  Once I know it’s right, then it’s right.

There you are, a little more of that which makes me a writer unveiled for you.  And if you have any questions you want me to answer, have a go and post one.  You never know what I might say if I pick yours.

Building These Dark Satanic Mills

This has been an interesting morning so far, mostly because I’ve know what I wanted to write about since before crawling out of bed, and with coffee in hand I’ve been getting myself worked up towards said writing of post by tuning into the Brain Salad Surgery, more specifically track one of this recording, which is Jerusalem.  In case you’re not aware of that song, it was originally a poem written by William Blake in 1804, and later turned into a song by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916.  And when you’re recording one of the seminal albums of the 1970s, why not open with your own version of an English hymn?

It’s from this song that the expression “Chariot of Fire” comes, and I’m certain you’ve all heard that one at some point, usually with Vangelis playing in the background.  It’s also where I get the title of today’s post, which has nothing to do with darkness, mills, or even Satan.  No, it has to do with a reader question, and this comes from one of my Facebook Hodgepodge Crochet buddies, Debbie Wisely, who asked the following:

 

Do you have characters in mind and then build a story around them or do you have a story in mind first and fit your characters to the story? How do you pick what city/state or country they reside in? Do you write or type the original work?

 

This is sort of a crazy question, and I’m going to answer the last question first, because it’s the easiest.  No, I don’t write by hand:  I type everything,  If I didn’t type I’d still be working on my first novel from over twenty years ago, because my handwriting is Teh Sux.  I can also type a lot faster than I can write by hand, and given I can’t spell worth a damn, or that I’m always making mistake when I’m writing, I’d be lucky to churn out a few hundred handwritten words a day.  So typing it is.  There you have it.

As for the other two–oh, boy.  Those are good.  So let’s talk about one of  my other novels that some of you might remember me writing, but which hasn’t seen the light of day.

I’m talkin’ Suggestive Amusements.

This was written from 31 December, 2012, to 26 March, 2013, while I was in the process of doing something before publishing Her Demonic Majesty.  I blogged about the writing of this novel back in the day, and I remember the finishing of the novel was memorable because of a dream I had when it was all over, a dream I can still remember today–but that’s not why we’re here, yeah?

How did this start?  Well, I had time on my hands because I’d just finished NaNoWriMo 2012, which I’d won by writing Kolor Ijo.  I was thinking of things to do, and if you want to know how I got this story going, it was with a vision of two people, a man and a woman, sitting in a living room.  The man was on a computer writing, and the woman was on a sofa looking at the guy while she was crocheting.  Seriously.  That’s the genesis of Suggestive Amusements:  guy writing, woman crocheting.

But who were they?  They guy writing–that’s pretty simple.  Or is it?  There’s more to his story, sure, there has to be, just like how at that time there was more to my story.  I drew on my own experience as a programmer/writer and sorta made the male character in question the same kind of people, only single, untroubled by gender issues, and a huge-ass slacker.  There you have him:  Keith.

Who’s the woman then?  Ah, well, that’s easy:  she’s there to inspire him.  She’s . . . I know!  She’s a muse, a real muse, like thousands of years old, creature without a real beginning, being that’s there to bring you inspiration muse.  That’s Erin.  Not her real name, of course, just like her sister’s name–Talia, who you get to meet in the story–isn’t her real name.  but do you want to call them by the Greek names by which they’re remembered?  Nope, it’s too much of a mouthful.  So Erin it is.

Something else was needed, however.  I mean, come on, we know what’s needed:  a love triangle!  I need another woman, and she shall be called Elektra, because I like the name.  And since we’re dealing with these ancient muses who are known mostly through Greek Mythology, why not stay with that Grecian naming motif?  So there you are, Elektra.

With this novel–with most of my novels–I have the characters in place first.  I get to know them, who they are, what they need, what they’re looking for, and once I know that I start building the story around them.  I have the basic idea of what’s going on with the characters, so it’s now a matter of building the plot–

But as the second part of the question indicates, how do I know where the story takes place?

And the answer there is whatever strikes my fancy.  In this case I wanted a place that I knew something about, but not a great deal.  And that place was Las Vegas, because what hit me was, “I’ve never written about the desert area, and just about all the stories of Vegas revolve around casinos, gamblers, the mob, and Nic Cage drinking himself to death with help from a friendly whore.  Why not build a fantasy there?”

That’s how Las Vegas and the areas surrounding the city became the setting for the novel.  But wait!  While writing the story, I started to think about Elektra’s backstory, and realized she was like a lot of people in the city, she came from somewhere else, and she blew into town with a lot of baggage.  After a lot of thought and consultation with Google Maps, I decided that Elektra was a New Mexican woman from the Alamogordo, a place known as “The Friendliest Place On Earth” and the home of a whole lot of giant ants.  And in that process of knowing where she was from–and trust me, I knew–I set up an adventure for her, traveling from one end of New Mexico to another, before eventually heading into Arizona and onward into Nevada and my main setting.

I came about all these places because I just felt it was right.  I knew, because by that point I knew my characters, that this is where they were from, and why they were here.  I do this with everything:  when I’m setting up places for my characters I start looking at maps and I wonder, “Where would these people live?  Where would they work?  Why are they here?”  And little by little I start putting it together until my thoughts reach a critical mass and it becomes real.  Just like I did with my current story:  why did the Salem Institute for Greater Education and Learning end up where it did?  Because it is supposed to be there.  I know this because I know this.

And now you know how I usually start putting my stories together.  Maybe not the same way every time, but close enough that if you wanted to know how I get the writing party started, you now know.

And I leave you with sunlight breaking through to the dark Satanic mills, because the alternative was giant ants, and no one wants that.

And I leave you with sunlight breaking through to the dark Satanic mills, because the alternative was giant ants, and no one wants that.

One last thing, however:  while I was working on Suggestive Amusements, a slight break in the action occurred in the 1 March, 2013 post titled The Sofa by the Hearth.  And there you’ll find mention that I was missing a couple of characters from my life, and I was thinking about an event that happened to them every weekend, and, well, maybe it was time I started writing about them–something I’d start doing in earnest eight months later.

That was truly the moment, almost two years ago, that I’d decided to begin work on their story.

If I’d only known then how that was going to turn out . . .

Blog Hopping the Worldwide Artist Way

Do not panic!  I’m just taking control of programming and bringing you something else for a quick moment.  Trust me:  the followup to the dreams of Annie and Kerry are coming.

No, this is something I haven’t done in a while:  I’m giving a short interview for the Worldwide Artist Blog Hop!  I wouldn’t lie, no I wouldn’t.

I was nominated by the owner of HodgePodge Crochet, my good friend Tanya, and while most of the people she knows are of the crocheting persuasion, she’s also known me for a long time and also knows there’s not a lot of times I’ll say “no” to her, so when she asks if I’ll jump in on this sucker, I’m like, “Wait–you want me to do something?  For you?  I’ll get right on that, Missy!”  I didn’t actually act that way, but I gotta make it sound more exciting than me PMing her back and saying, “No problem.”

Does this housewife look like she'd say no to a good friend?

Beside, does this housewife look like she’d say no to a good friend?

It’s a simple process:  I answer four questions, and then I nominate two other blogers who may or may not accept this challenge.  I can’t get too upset if they say no, because I tend to blow these things off as well, but I’ll give it a shot and see if they go for it, or write nasty things about me in one of their blog posts.

With that in mind, let’s get to the questions, shall we?

 

Why do I do what I do?

I do it because these days I have to.  I’ve mentioned many times on this blog about the struggles I’ve had over the years with becoming a serious writer, and it wasn’t until I took a creative writing course in 2010 that I decided to give it a try and to keep at it.  However, I didn’t have much of a success at it until July 2011, when I was asked to write a story for a possible Halloween anthology.  With a bit of a push–and a lot of editing help–from Tanya (the same one who nominated me for this blog hop), I wrote Kuntilanak, and the rest is kinda history.  Since then I’ve kept at the writing, and next year I’m determined to start a big push to publish, either the self way, or through the “traditional” fashion.

 

How does my work differ from others of it’s genre?

This is one of those crazy, insane questions for which there isn’t any real answer.  I’d say my settings and ideas aren’t all that different from others, but I always try to come up with interesting characters.  In fact, I feel all my stories are character driven, as they are the one who actual make the story work, and keep the reader interested.  If you don’t have interesting characters, you’ll have to throw in a lot of Bayplosions, and I’m not good with those.

 

How does my creative process work?

Holy geez, as my character Kerry would say, I could spend all night talking about this question.  Let me try and keep it below the word count of my current work in progress . . .

Once I get an idea I think about it–a lot.  I might spend a month hammering out things like characters and plot, and as that happens I might begin to make notes about events and characters.

During this point I start actively piloting out the story, usually in Scrivener (my writing software of choice), though I will often check the story’s time line using Aeon Timeline, which is another great piece of software.  If I feel like I need to develop an event or character–either before I start writing, or during the process itself–I’ll jump into Scrapple and start making mind map notes.

By the time I get to writing, I know who my main characters are, who the secondary characters are, what everyone is going to do, who they know, who they like, who they don’t like, and who they’ll change opinions about.  I also know where the story is going, and while I may change a few things along the way–like deleting or adding scenes–I generally don’t have to because I’ve already roughly written the story in my head.  All I gotta do is, you know, put those words into the computer.

 

What am I working on now?

My current work in progress is a name titled The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, a novel I started on 30 October, 2013, a couple of days before that year’s NaNoWriMo, and am still going at strong, having already added nearly another forty-five thousand words since 1 November, 2014.  I know some of you are asking, “You’ve been working on this for over a year?  How big is this novel?”

Big.

Big.

Yes, that says three hundred and thirty-seven thousand, ninety-four words, and I’m maybe seventy thousand words from the end.  Maybe.  I’ve joked that this is my Infinite Jest, and it certainly is as big as any of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, but without the character deaths–which I can change if I get bored . . .

I will finish this story, and it will happen early in the next year, and the fact that I’m going to add fifty thousand words to this by the end of the month means I’m feeling like I could actually add another thirty or forty thousand words in December, so maybe–I’ll finish it before 2015?  Hey, if I can type “The End” by the end of January 2015, I’ll be a happy girl.

 

There you go:  my answers to the four presented questions.  Now, the big question–who do I nominate.  Well, now, here we go–and don’t hate me, ladies, because I’m beautiful; I’m sure you can find all sorts of other reasons.

 

Burgess Taylor, who loves to write with coffee in hand and who feels like a true kindred spirit when it comes to getting those words out–even when she struggles with it, as I have from time to time.

And a friend from Down Under–Rachel Tsoumbakos, who not only writes novels but does some wonderful reviews of current TV shows like American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones.  We sometimes chat about all three shows–more like I leave witty comments on her posts and she witties me back–and more times than not her reviews leaving me smiling.  Just don’t ask her about her nick for Cersei, which means you will . . .

 

Okay, there it is.  Hope you had fun, and believe me when I say there’s another post coming.

Would I lie?

 

Our People in Paris: the Meetup

NaNo wordage was met last night, and then some, but due to . . . shall we say, issues, occurring, I didn’t finish the scene.  And I know some people reading this right now are probably reaching for their hair going, “Cassie!  You promised!”

 

"Seriously?  You're pulling this crap?"

“Seriously? You’re pulling this crap?”

Sue me, sunshine, because sometimes there are things well beyond your control.  But I managed my NaNo count, and the scene is close to an end, and I will probably flow into the next scene tomorrow.  Either way, Act Two will finish this weekend at the latest.

But what happened last night?  Well, there was a meeting, but before that was a nervous Kerry . . .

 

 All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry had pretty much stopped shaking by the time he reached the Main Conference Room across from the Headmistress’ Office. He’d found a message waiting on his school email account that he was to report there by ten, and that the meeting with the person from Paris would end before lunch. Nothing more was stated, which didn’t leave him feeling at ease.

Even though she wasn’t asked, Kerry brought Annie along. He wasn’t at all sure about what he was going to hear, or what was going to happen, but he wanted her next to him no matter what. He was afraid she was going to be asked to leave once they arrived, but he was intend to argue for her to be there.

After all, he had nothing to hide: he hoped the people from Paris didn’t, either.

They showed up in the antechamber that separated the Headmistress’ Office from the Main Conference room. Kerry found someone familiar waiting. “Ms. Rutherford—what are you doing here?”

“Hello, Kerry.” She gave him a quick smile, then turned to Annie. “Hello, Annie. It’s nice to see you again.”

“Nice to see you, Ms. Rutherford. And congratulations on being Kerry’s Intermediary.” Annie found it a bit unusual that this particular woman was here; Kerry had told her about the new part she was playing, but it didn’t explain why she was here now.

“Thank you, Annie.” Ms. Rutherford looked over both children. “I don’t recall anyone but you being invited, Kerry.”

“I know, but . . .” He held Anni’s hand tight and gave it a squeeze. “I want her to be here—I think she should be here.”

“Very well, then.” Ms. Rutherford pushed open the door to the conference room. “Shall we go in?”

 

So is Ms. Rutherford there to calm someone?  To reassure?  What’s going on?  And she’s not from Paris, either:  we know that.  But we find out who is from Paris, and why she’s there.

 

The room was large, but at the moment the only things inside were a long table and seven high backed chairs. The Headmistress stood at one end of the table, and next to here stood a tall dark haired woman with a dusty complexion. No one else was present. Ms Rutherford led Annie and Kerry over for introductions. “Kerry, Annie, this is Ms. Yalpat. Nuray, this is Kerry Malibey and his . . .” A slight grin spread across Ms Rutherford’s face. “. . . girlfriend, Annie Kirilova.”

“Pleased to meet you both.” For a moment it seemed as if she were going to shake Kerry’s hand. “You’re the one who brought me here, yes?”

“Um . . .” He wasn’t sure if he should answer the question or not.

“It’s okay, Kerry.” Ms. Yalpat chuckled and waved away his concern. “It was meant to be rhetorical. Come, let’s sit.”

Kerry waited for Annie to sit before he picked the seat to her right. Ms. Rutherford and Ms. Yalpat sat on the other side of the table, with Ms. Yalpat sitting across from Annie and Ms. Rutherford across from Kerry. The Headmistress selected to sit in the chair at the head of the table. The moment she was settled she looked about the room. “I think we can start now, even if it is a little early.”

“A little early gets me back into Paris in time to freshen up before dinner.” She turned her attention to Kerry. “As you’ve surmised, I’m here before of the search that was conducted on Aisling Callaghan. As you may have also surmised, Aisling is indeed in our data base—but what you couldn’t have known is that we’ve been waiting a long time for someone to look for her name.

 

And once the preamble is out of the way, Ms. Yalpat gets into the history:

 

“Aisling was a witch, as you may have guessed. She was born 20 April, 1807, in the area where you grandfather searched for her. Callaghan isn’t her actual family name: it was originally Whelan. Nor was Aisling her given name, but seeing as how she was shadowed into the Normal world, none of that matters, do it?

“Aisling was discovered just after she turned seven—”

Annie looked at Kerry and spoke in a “Almost the same age at which you were noted.”

“What?” This was the first time he’d heard concerning the first time he’d come to The Foundation’s attention.

“It’s not important, Kerry.” Ms. Yalpat shot Annie a disturbing look before continuing. “What is important is that Aisling was moved in with a family in Liverpool that knew something of magic, and it was there she was allowed to perform magic and perfect her Craft before going to school.”

“There were families that knew magic?” It wasn’t a surprise there were witches in England at that time, but Kerry imagined they’d keep quiet about what the could do. Except if the people before The Foundation were involved in this, then they had to know about these people . . .

“Of course, Kerry. In fact, the family Aisling lived with were rather good at it. The father had studied with a coven in Belgium, and the mother—” Ms. Yalpat chuckled. “How do you think we came to know of the famous School of Salem?”

 

And that’s how we knew of the the Salem school, ’cause witches hooked up with those groups who were on their way to becoming The Foundation, and talked about what they learned.  For historical sake, The Foundation didn’t buy the Salem School until the 1870’s, about two hundred years after it was founded.  History!

And Kerry learns, the hard way, how Greatty Grandma Aisling could go to Oxford and not get tared and feathered by all the dudes there:

 

“Aisling learned her Craft, and eventually attended school at Edinburgh, which we now know as ECMI. Aisling graduated from there and then went on to attend school in Oxford—”

“How did she manage that?” Kerry was still puzzled about how she and other women could go to an all-male college and never have a problem. “No one noticed there women going to class?”

“Kerry—” Ms. Yalpat crossed her arms on the table top as she leaned over them. “You saw the Abominations breach the Salem defenses, did you not?”

He nodded slowly. “Yeah.”

“Did you hear of hear of any the major news organizations in the Normal world reporting on the attack on Salem?”

“Um, no.”

“Your parents work for the BBC; did they hear anything from their news organization about the attack?”

“No.”

“Well, then . . .” Ms. Yalpat’s eyes sparkled. “If magic can be used to cover as large an event as the Day of the Dead Attack, it should be rather easy to enchant women with Glamore spells so they aren’t noticed, don’t you think?”

“Of course.” Annie turned to Kerry. “I didn’t think of that, either.”

“Neither did I.” They were just getting into using Glamore in Advanced Spells, and everyone was finding it a little tricky to work because you had to visualize an image you wanted to project for others to see, and getting the image right was hard, especially when you couldn’t see the image from the outside. “That would make everything easier.”

 

Glamore, bitches:  it works.  Most people would look at that as a fae spell, and I’m not saying if there are fae or not.  There were fae in Torchwood, and they were mean little suckers.

There’s something else that comes up in conversation as well:

 

“All that changed when Deheune came along . . .” Ms Yalpat’s demeanor changed. “She’s the one that we’ve kept hidden.”

This was a name Kerry hadn’t heard yet. “Who’s Deheune?”

“She was Aisling’s first born, and almost as good a witch as her mother.”

“I thought the first kid born was Gwendolyn?”

“That was the history that was created; she was born five years later. Deheune would have been your great-great-great-great aunt—had she lived.”

 

So there wasn’t another witch, but . . . what happened to her?  Well, I said in the scene, but I’ve not said it here.  Needless to say, she didn’t found a witch line, and if The Foundation kept her hidden from Kerry’s family, something happened to her.  In the scene Kerry discovered he’s the first of his family to hear of this aunt that never was.

There’s something else, too–

 

“It’s likely. Aisling watched her children, and grandchildren, for signs they might develop Awareness, but by the time your great-grandmother Paulette was born she’s pretty much given up hope of ever seeing another witch in the family.”

“Wait a minute . . .” He sat back and held out his hands as if pushing something away. “I’ve seen my grandpa’s charts, and Grandma Paulette was born in 1904; Grandma Aisling died in 1903—”

“No, Kerry: Aisling vanished from sight in 1903.”

“What?”

Annie stiffened slightly: she knew what was coming, and she was afraid Kerry wasn’t ready to hear what was coming next. He doesn’t know about how long we can live . . . “Kerry—”

He turned to his left. “Yes?”

“Remember how I’ve told you to keep an open mind from time-to-time?”

“Yeah.”

“This is one of those times.” She nodded at Ms. Yalpat. “Continue, please.”

 

This is going to come up in the next scene:  age, and how long witches live.  As you see below, Aisling had a long life . . .

 

“Yeah. Um . . . when did Aisling die?”

Ms. Yalpat finally pulled the tablet in front of her. “8 June, 1950. Her son Randal passed on almost two years later.”

Kerry took several deep breaths as he consider everything he’d been told. “Okay, yeah. I mean . . .” He didn’t know how to put his thoughts into words. “I can’t tell my grandfather about this, can I?”

“No, not yet. We’ll send you an electronic copy for this, and in a couple of days we’ll courier over hard copies of everything.” Ms. Yalpat shook her head. “But you wouldn’t be able to come out with this information until at least after your B Levels are complete, and maybe . . .” She spread her hands. “Maybe even a little longer.”

“I understand.” Kerry turned to Annie, then looked down the table to the Headmistress before turning back to Ms. Yalpat. “Is that all?”

“Actually, Kerry . . .” Ms. Yalpat shook her head. “That’s not the reason we’re here.”

 

And why are they there?  Only I know!  Sorry, I had to throw that in.  But I will write this tonight, and you’ll learn of it tomorrow–I promise!  I really do.

You gotta trust me on this one . . .

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/2:  2,043

NaNo Total Word Count:  11,070

The View Beyond The Foundation Window

Where was I last night?  Actually I had to run out and pick up a couple of things, and by the time that was over I was back at the apartment somewhere around seven-thirty.  After I got back onto the computer and started working . . . nothing was really coming.  It’s interesting how that happens, you know.  Eleven hundred words the night before, less than four hundred last night.

But since I was asked, “Who is Kerry gonna speak with at lunch?” it’s only fair I show you.  And Kerry is a mess right now.  He is Mr. Mopie Sadsack right now, because his sweetie is off in Bulgaria–probably walking up after whatever magic The Foundation slipped into her Readjustment Mixture works its magic and got her on the proper local time–and he doesn’t even feel like eating, which is a first for him.  However, someone comes a callin':

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

It hasn’t even been three hours— Kerry poked the Italian sausage on the right side of his plate. And I’ve gotta stay here for like another nine hours—or ten—maybe longer . . .

“Now here’s a young man with something on his mind.” Kerry looked up from his plate to find Professor Sladen standing across the table from him. She regarded him with a studied eye. “Ah, he is conscious, and not in some self-imposed trance.”

He chuckled as he set his fork to the side. “Hi, Professor Sladen.”

Erywin waved dismissively at him. “Oh, please: school’s out for the year. You can called me Erywin.”

“I don’t know if I can get used to calling you all by your first names.”

“’You all’?”

“You know: instructors.”

“Well–” She placed her hands upon her hips. “You have no problem addressing Wednesday by her first name—what does she have that I haven’t got?” She chuckled as his face turned a bright red. “May I join you?”

Kerry calmed himself and nodded. “Please do . . . Erywin.”

 

All this calling instructors by their given name and stuff–really, it’s going to drive a kid crazy.  And what has she comes to talk about?  I’ll have to write that tonight.

It’s interesting that now that the novel is moving towards the end of Act Two and a few truths are going to emerge, not just with Kerry but with Annie as well.  And in Act Three we finally get out of the school and wander about the land beyond the walls.  I was asked recently about the world beyond the walls of Salem and what it was like, and my answer was simple:  it’s the world of 2011 as we knew it–because we are in 2014, and we’re looking back–and there isn’t much of a change other than one discovers during this story that there’s a shadow organization that spans the entire globe and not only gathers children from all over the world, but brings them to a school that no one can see save for those known as The Aware.

I mean, take a look.  There’s the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning (SIGEL) right in the middle of the picture, just to the north of Gloucester and to the east of Rockport.

It's right there.  Don't you see it?

It’s right there. Don’t you see it?

I see it, because I know the layout in my head, but that huge green area in the middle of Cape Ann, where one would find a large forest and quarries and even the remains of Dogtown, there is instead a huge, walled school that normal people live next to and have no idea exist.  That’s where your smoke and mirrors and magic all come into play, convincing everyone that all is right in the world and there’s nothing to worry about, because should you wander into that area, everything you think you’re gonna find you will.

Annie and Kerry get to venture into the old world–well, old to Kerry; Annie’s always been used to living in her Foundation World while dealing with the Other World–and they’ll travel into Salem, maybe even by train.  I can’t tell you what they’re doing there, because spoilers and River would come after me, but it’s not something anyone would probably believe at this point.  Needless to day, being outside in the world is going to have an affect on both my kids.

And Annie will be haunted by one of her deepest fears right in front of this statue in Salem.  Probably because Samantha Stevens has that effect on young witches.

And Annie will be haunted by one of her deepest fears right in front of this statue in Salem. Probably because Samantha Stevens has that effect on young witches.

The later stories (yes, there are more stories) get out into the real world even more, and if I ever get the second novel written you’ll see Kerry out and about, though the third, forth, and fifth novels would actually see them outside the walls of Salem a lot more.  Right now they’re innocent A Levels and I can’t let them leave the safety of the school.

Which is why Kerry’s already been in a coma.  Because safety.

Count the Ways to Count the Story

With NaNo right around the corner–less than two weeks to go now–one of the key points that comes up again and again is, “How do I track my word count?”  It’s an important thing with NaNo, because you gotta run that 1,667 words a day count every day, or you’ll fall behind quickly.  The reality it, however, that when you write you usually have a need to know about how much you’re writing every day, and how big your story is becoming–or how many more words you need to write to turn a novelette into a novella.

Keeping track of your word count in easy in Scrivener, and there is a great deal of flexibility when it come to knowing the counts of scenes, chapters, parts, and even the whole novel. I do that to track my current novel, and I’ve used it with all my other works.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

The easiest way to keep track of your progress come from using your Project Targets.  This is done from the menu, using Project>Project Target, or by selecting Ctrl-,.  I show these all the time on my screen shots, and here is my current view.

I know, it feels like I'm bragging.

I know, it feels like I’m bragging.

Project Targets allow you to set the size of your story–the Manuscript Target–and how much you want to write while Scrivener is running–the Session Target.  Something to keep in mind here:  a session is the time that Scrivener is up and running.  If you bring the program up, type in 800 words, then close it and bring it up again later, the session bar resets:  it doesn’t track what you type in a day.

You can see that the pop-up window allows you to define your targets for both the full manuscript and how much you want to write.  Now, there is a bit of a cheat with the Manuscript Target:  notice the check box, “Documents Included in Compile Only”?  Yeah, that’s an important item.

Let’s first look at this screen, which is of one of my chapters in the recently concluded Part Seven:

I don't miss you, you monster.

I don’t miss you, you monster.

Over on the right you’ll see the column, “Include in Compile.”  Compile is the function that Scrivener uses to take all the stuff I have on the screen in front of me and turns it into a document of your choosing.  Such as–

I take all of Part Seven--

I take all of Part Seven–

Press the “Compile” button . . .

To 149 pages of awesome.

And turn it into 149 pages of awesome.

Whatever you have ticked off as “Include in Compile” will be converted into whatever you like by Scrivener.  It’s a great way to not only control what you print and create, but track your wordage.

But if you’ll notice, that’s a check box under your Manuscript Target.  With my story I have everything in Act Two–the part of my novel I’m currently developing–checked for Include in Compile, but everything in Act One is turned off.  Why?  Because I want to check my progress for Act Two only.  However, if I uncheck that box–

Now it really feels like bragging--

Now it really feels like bragging–

Everything in the manuscript–see the very top left of the Binder–is included.  And you can see how my progress bar jumped from the orange of Act Two–which is only about half way to the three hundred thousand total of the manuscript–to the bright green of “I’m almost to the end.”  Numbers and colors help you visualize where you are in the writing process.

You can see that even better when you are tracking the progress of your document.  Let’s look at the last scene I completed and check out the lower right hand corner of the screen.

Right down here.  See?

Right down here. See?

Click on that little dot and you’ll get another pop-up that allows you to set the total wordage for the document you’re working upon at the moment.

Three thousand seems like a good number.

Three thousand seems like a good number.

Hit Ok and you’ll see the following pop up at the bottom of your screen:

Look--new stuff!

Look–new stuff!

That first number–the 2,152–that number id always there–just look at the picture above.  Now you have your target number to the right of what you’ve written, and there is a progress bar next to the button, which is now red to indicate you haven’t reached your goal.  Once you do, that dot turns green:  trust me, it does.

This is also a great thing for keeping track of your progress if you’re bring up Scrivener and closing it several times during a day.  You can either keep everything in one document that you’re working on for the day, or adjust the target number as you go from document to document.  Easy Peasy.

Last of all, we can look at our Project Statistics, which you can find on the menu under Project>Project Statistics, or by selecting Ctrl-..  Scrivener will give you a snapshot of your identified manuscript–using your Compile and how you set up things under your Option tab–and what you may have selected in your Binder.  Here I’m identifying Act Two as the manuscript, and I’ve selected Part Eight.  So I bring up my stats, and . . .

Act Two seems quite the page turner.

Act Two seems quite the page turner.

Just so you know, I have my pages set up on my Option tab as three hundred and fifty words per page, so that’s how Scrivener figures that my Act Two is 370 pages long once you figure in the page breaks for Act, Part, and Chapter headings.  Not quite A Dance With Dragons, but I’m getting there–with fewer deaths, too.

There you have it:  so many ways to watch your counts.  Now all you gotta do is write.