Out of the Home and Back Into Class

Right now it’s raining like hell here in The Burg, so much so that there’s the look of flooded Armageddon out there.  And I have to walk in this stuff.  Oi.  Time to get out the heavy coat again, because it’s in the low sixties out there, and it’s gonna feel chilly.

But that’s not really important, because I did it, I really, really did it.  Act One is rewritten.  All the stuff I set out to do five weeks ago is accomplished.  I finished up with this, something I’ve never shown before:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie hugged him tight. “I’ve never been this happy either, Kerry. I wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t come.” She pulled away so she could wipe his tears from his cheek. “I love you; I do.”

“I know you do.” He smiled and looked away for a moment, then kissed her on the cheek. “I know I love you, too. It’s just . . . I’m not used knowing what it’s like—but I like how it’s starting to feel. And I don’t want it to ever end.”

“Good.” She leaned in and quick kissed him on the lips, feeling his happiness flow into her. “Because you’re going to feel my love every day.”

She stepped back and looked at her surroundings for a second before turning back to Kerry. There was so much she wanted to tell him: what she’d discussed at Memory’s End, how she almost didn’t come to Salem, how tortured she felt because he didn’t remember her from their dreams, and how she felt because they still weren’t seeing each other there now.

But she also wanted to tell him how she felt flying with him today, how wonderful it was being alone in the sky and sailing along at a leisurely pace, loving that he never tried to get her to push her abilities. As he’d told her, it was like bike riding in the sky—and she knew what his old bicycle meant to him.

You make me happy, Kerry. She tilted her head to one said and imagined her name next to his in the special book up in her room. I don’t know why you don’t remember me, or why you find it as difficult to love me as I love you—but I don’t care. I have you now, and I will live with that joy forever.

Annie held out her right hand. “Come on, love. Let’s go home.”

Kerry wordlessly took her hand and quietly walked beside her to the place they would share for the next six years—

They went home.

End of Act One

"See ya!"

“See ya!”

Then decided I was going to take a break and–nah!  Are you kidding?  I went right back into the last new chapter I started:

"Well hello again!"

“Well hello again!”

And showed Wednesday and her frustrated students a week later:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“Why is this so hard?” Felisa Ledesma nearly threw up her hands before mumbling something in Spanish. “This isn’t fair.”

The second week of class, and the mantra that Wednesday Douglas knew was coming had arrived: It’s too hard; I don’t get how I’m suppose to do magic; I can’t visualize what I’m suppose to do. And the oldest but best of the lot: This isn’t fair.

Wednesday knew it wasn’t easy for Normal kids to get the basics down right away. Magic was a lot of “Do or Do Not” work: either you could bring Visualization, Energy, and Willpower together and make it all work without much difficulty, or you were going to spend some time struggling. Not that if you were good with magic you weren’t going to struggle now and then, but if a student couldn’t develop a good grasp of the VEW triumvirate, and do it quickly, they weren’t going to much of a witch.

I can only show them to the door and open it for them. Wednesday returned Felisa’s frown with a smile. It’s up to them to step through and make themselves at home in the world of magic.

 

It’s not fair that I can’t turn Bobby into a frog yet; magic is hard!  Oh, and somebodies were getting accused of cheating, which is sort of where I left that chapter–

No, actually, I left my kids in the Spells House library, with Annie trying to explain a certain magical concept to Kerry before he starts marching down the wrong path to witchdom.  No way Annie’s gonna let him do that, no sir.

Just for the sake of having to know, I checked the word count on Act One when I was finished messing with it.  I’d cut out scenes, but I’d also added a few things here and there to clarify the new stuff.  And the final word count was . . .

149,700.

Before I began the rewrites the total word count had been 140,290, so how in the hell did I end up adding a short story to this already huge sucker?  Oi, again.  Also, I added almost a thousand words to the new scene last night, while chatting with a friend, because yeah, that’s how I am.

Oh, well:  I get this sucker published, no one can say they aren’t getting their money’s worth . . .

The Editing Muse

There was no editing last night.  None.  Nada.  Absolutely zero.  And I’m certain my story feels badly about the whole thing.

"We miss you!"

“We missed you!”

I’m sure you do, pumpkin, but mommy had other things to do last night.  Like drive to Silver Springs, MD, and hang out with an author friend I’ve know for a long time, but never met, Dana Myles.  We walked, we ate, we chatting–you know, doing things that normal people do.  It was fun, and it’s something I should get out and do more often.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t think about my story.  Oh, no.  We talked about it.  A lot.  Dana wanted to hear all about my story, and I was ready to tell her–

But I was also thinking about something else on the ride down, which was a nice, long one because someone decided to take out a lot of guard railing in Baltimore, leaving me stranded in a five mile long backup for almost an hour.  I thought about editing.

Yesterday’s posted elicited a few comments on editing, and the consensus seems that editing is the suck.  Most writers I know hate editing.  Even though they know they need it, when their story tries to send them to editing, they say no, no, no.  I was the same way; I dreaded getting into editing mode.  Such a pain in the ass–

Well . . . not really.

One thing I’ve learned over the last couple of years is that editing isn’t a necessary evil, it’s just necessary.  Because no matter what you do to get your story off the ground, no matter what you do to make certain it’s going to become a good story, there’s always something . . . off.

A lot of my feelings on the matter of getting your first draft perfect match what I wrote back in late January of this year:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry didn’t look at Professor Ellison as he mumbled a reply. “I don’t . . . I’m not sure I’d be any good.”

“I can understand that.” Ellison now moved a little closer, relaxing to keep his body language neutral. “Are you worried you’re gonna suck?”

Annie almost laughed; Kerry looked up a bit surprised by the question. “A little.”

“That’s okay, you know—” The professor leaned against the machine closest to Kerry, but he kept the boy the center of his attention. “As a creative person you have permission to suck—particularly if it’s your first time trying something. Writing, painting, drawing, playing: the first time you try any of these things you’re probably going to suck—and that’s okay.”

“I’d rather not suck in front of a bunch of people.”

“No one does, but even the best do now and then. And between now and and the weekend after the 21st of March, you’ve got about five months to practice and get better.” He decided to try another approach. “You know who never sucks?”

Kerry almost said “Professionals,” then caught himself because he knew of numerous examples where they had. “No. Who?”

“The people who never take a shot. The ones who are sitting in the audience going on about how people suck, how you suck, all the while sitting there running off their mouths.” He let himself relax, so as to put Kerry at ease. “I can get you a good tutor. I know just the perfect one for you, too.” He stepped away from the synthesizer and stood before the boy. “What do you think? Wanna be one of the few A Levels who gets up and shows everyone what you got?”

You are allowed to suck, but it’s a good idea to keep the sucking to a minimum.  That’s why Professor Ellison wants to get a tutor for Kerry–because there is sucking, and then there’s “That’s one hell of a train wreck, fella,” sucking.  It’s one of the reasons I spend so much time setting up my novels before the first word goes on the page, because far too many times I’ve seen people put up a post about how they’re seventy thousand words into their story, and it’s a complete hot mess and can’t be rescued–

That’s train wreck level sucking, and I stay away.  I always try to figure out my story well ahead of time, so I get rid of the plot holes and the such.  One of the reasons I time line things out the way I do is because I don’t want to mess that stuff up.  Like I pointed out last night, there are events that happened to Annie and Kerry in Part Three of Act One that never get resolved until about Chapter Twenty-Eight of Act Three.  There’s something that happens to Kerry in Part Three of Act One that doesn’t get resoled until the third book.  There are things that I just have to know, because . . .

I’m like that.

And yet, no matter how good you are with a story, there are times you get something wrong–something that is way, way the opposite of right, and then your story–more likely a beta reader who hates what you’ve done with a character–turns and comes at you like an unstoppable creature who has you tied up in the bathroom, and is hell-bent on forcing you to return to the story and rewrite things so they become right!

"You have her crying--crying?  No, no:  you will go back and you will fix her!  I look serious, do I not?  Then, when you are finished, we have Jell-o with lots of sugar--"

“You have her crying–crying? No, no: you will go back and you will fix her! I look serious, do I not? Then, when you are finished, and all is correct, we’ll have Jell-O with lots of sugar–“

There’s a muse you do not fuck with.

You do it because, as a writer, you have to get it right.  You’re allowed some sucking on that first draft:  there’s no excuse after that.  That’s why I edit.  And guess what?

I actually kinda like it.

Inside the Blue Event Horizon

Today I make the Walk of Shame back to work, past the point where I crashed and burned on Friday afternoon.  The arms are better, but the right side still hurts, and the head is a bit woozy from the sleep medication I took last night.  I’ll make it through the day, however, ’cause that’s what I’m suppose to do, right?

So many things to do today:  work, maybe having someone come into my apartment to look at my A/C, which shut off about 5:30 PM (or 17:30 as the people at my Salem school would say), and then decided to come back on about four hours later, return some glasses frames I was trying on over the weekend . . . oh, that was fun.  The one frame I like, I was told I look a little like a soccer mom when I wear them with my hair pinned back.  And here I thought I was going to be sexy.

I spent the afternoon rewriting, however.  I found what I was looking for in the scene I described yesterday, and this happened:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

She stood frozen as Kerry almost kissed her on the cheek, then pulled away at the last moment. Annie said nothing, was unable to say anything, for her mind remained enchanted by the three words he’d spoken moments before. She didn’t know why he hesitated, why he pulled back with his face etched in confusion, why he touched her face once more and then said something before turning and heading for the stairs.

The shadowy tower turned darker as Annie’s mind began spinning. She couldn’t move and she her chest constricted as the air grew thick and oppressive. She drew in a small breath and forced herself to mutter the one word that filled her thoughts—

“Kerry.”

She pitched over backwards into dust of a hundred years.

Kerry had only reached the stairs when he heard Annie call his name weakly, and turned just in time to see her go over backwards onto the ground, her feet bouncing up in the air as she landed hard on her back. “Oh, holy geez.” He ran over and knelt beside her.

Annie was awake, but dazed.  “Kerry?”

“Yeah, I’m here.  What happened?”

Things were slowly coming back into focus: she sensed Kerry kneeling next to her, though he seemed little more than another shadow in the darkness. “I’m . . .” She blinked twice. “I just fainted.”

“You fainted? Are you okay?”

How could she explain that question? I am okay, and I’m not. I wanted something from you, and I received more. I wanted to feel loved: what I felt went beyond that. The only thing she could tell Kerry was a truth that he’d understand. “I’m okay.” She offered her hand. “Help me up?”

He helped Annie to her feet and brushed at her clothing. “You really scared me.”

 

Poor Annie:  she gets so excited.  And all for a cuddle and a peck on the cheek.  Maybe they’ll come dancing . . .

And then it was on to other scenes in other chapters, and I fixed up Annie and Kerry pretty much to where they should be.  I also removed a few things that weren’t needed, or were redundant, and things were added:  mostly in the Astria Portal scene, but in other places as well.  And my notes are in place.

The No Crying Zone is only found on Foundation property and planes.  They'd make a fortune flying people around.

The No Crying Zone is only found on Foundation property and planes. They’d make a fortune if they ever went commercial.

I’m in the event horizon of creativity, and these rewrites are nearly over.  Maybe by the end of the week I can start getting my kids into some new mischief.

It’s not like I haven’t been waiting to do so.

Figuring Out That Loving Feeling

This is about as late a going as I get on the blog.  Here it is, 9:30 AM, and I’m just penning my first words.  It’s been a tough weekend, full of hurt and strange feelings.

One of the strangest happened last night.  I’ve been rewriting one of the scenes that I felt was in need of rewriting, something I call Astria Portal because, well, that’s where it takes place.  As stated, it’s the older part of the school that still remains untouched, and in 2011 it remains embedded in what remains of the original north outer wall.

"Set right up, see the 322 year old ruin.  Ever school should have one."

“Set right up, see the 322 year old ruin. Ever school should have one.”

Now it’s easy to find it, and it’s easy to see what the environment is like, because one can go back in time and view the sky at particular dates and times, and one can even get fancy and take a snapshot of the sky at the time and have it sitting in your document so you have a reference.

I don't have a TARDIS, but I have software, and that's almost as good.  Except when you gotta get rid of Daleks--

I don’t have a TARDIS, but I have software, and that’s almost as good. Except when you gotta get rid of Daleks, then it’s a pain.

I have the setting, and I have a bit of the history, and it’s all laid out for the reader . . .

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

They were walking up a slight incline, with the path straightening as they neared a small rise. In the gathering twilight Kerry noticed a structure ahead—something large and familiar. As they reached the top of this ridge, the object came into clear, sharp focus: it was a tower embedded within a long, tall wall, both covered by vines.

They stopped and gazed upon the structures only twenty meters away. Kerry was the one with the questions this time. “What is that?”

Annie knew the answer. “Astria Portal.”

“What’s that?”

“The first astronomy tower.” She gave Kerry a knowing look. “My parents told me about this.” She pointed at the structure. “It was built in 1689, and ended up becoming the home of one of the founders, Astria Blomqvist.” She looked about the darkened forest. “This was all built before the cover towers, before The Pentagram.”

“That’s why it looks like our towers.”

“It was used as the model. My parents told me all the covens were based upon this.”

As they approached the tower Kerry looked to his left and right, seeing the attached wall disappear into the forest. “This looks like the outer wall.”

“At one time it was. When the school first decided to put up an outer wall, this was the northern exit.”

Kerry nodded. “Hence Astria Portal.”

“Yes.”

The path passed through the center of the tower: the doors that had existed on the inside and outside of the wall were no longer used, which allowed for direct, unobstructed passage through the structure. The base was much like the base of the Cernunnos Coven tower—large and open, as if it had once been a commons. There were two stairs ascending to a small mezzanine, and onward to the floor above.

Kerry looked around, trying to imagine what it may have looked like over three hundred years ago. “This place doesn’t look as if it’s been touched in a long time.”

“My parents told me this is the oldest part of the school that hasn’t been remodeled.” Annie slowly turned as she gazed up at point somewhere high on the wall. “They never used it for anything but astronomy classes, and after they built a new tower about a hundred years later, they never used this for anything but storage.”

The age of the tower became all too evident for Kerry after hearing Annie’s explanation. “I need to read up on this place.”

“Not now, I hope.”

He chuckled as he turned toward Annie. “I know better than to start looking up things right this moment.” Kerry approached her. “Did you hear about this before you came here?”

“Yes, I did.” Annie drew Kerry closer to one of the stairs. “My parents—particularly my mama—told me about this place.” She began leading him up the stairs.

 

You go up those stairs, kid, you’re gonna be in trouble.  Who am I kidding?  I wrote him going up the stairs; it’s not like Kerry has any will of his own.

The thing is, I was going along fine, even managing to get this part written:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie pulled Kerry to the middle of the mezzanine. As dark as it was getting outside it was starting to feel even darker here. Just like the coven towers, the only opening here were the open door frames, which meant where they were standing, several meters above the opening, the darkness closed in and enveloped them.

Kerry squeezed Annie’s hands as they stood close together, her face appearing to shine through the shadows. “Why did she tell you about this place?”

“Because . . .” She took Kerry’s left hand and held it to her chest. “It was special to her.” She leaned closer to the one person she thought of almost non-stop, day and night. “This is where she and my father had their first kiss.” She half-closed her eyes as she smiled. “I thought it might be good idea to carry on a family tradition.”

“You do?” Since Kerry had kissed Annie Thursday night, there had been a lot of hand holding and a bit of hugging, and even a peck on the cheek or two, but they’d yet to have another kiss-on-the-lips moment.

But the gloom of the ancient tower, and the way Annie’s face shined in this magnificent darkness, it reminded Kerry of something: a image of a place he’d visited long before. But where? He wasn’t much of a traveler, but since arrived he’d find his thoughts tugging at the back of his mind, working hard to remind him that . . .

And that was what he didn’t understand.

Right now he didn’t ‘cause Annie looked so . . . Cute? Pretty? No, she was more than that—

He stood almost nose-to-nose with Annie, which wasn’t difficult as they were literally the same height. “I’m happy your mother told you about coming here.” He touched her right arm, running his hand slowly towards her shoulder. “Because I get to be here with you.”

Annie felt her breath coming in short bursts. “And I’m here with you.”

His fingers glided over her shoulder and lightly brushed her cheek. “You are lovely.” He brushed her upper lip. “I’m really so lucky.”

 

And then I hit the feelings wall.

I know what Annie was feeling at that point–it’s impossible not to know.  But I was damned if I could get the words to flow.  I couldn’t pull them out.  It was Struggle City, and I didn’t like the sensation.

There were a lot of issues at play.  Maybe it was due to it being late.  Maybe it was due to coming down off a vodka martini I’d drank earlier in the evening, and which hit me hard.  Maybe it was due to feeling bad throughout the day.  Maybe it was my mood, which found me a little down after a pretty good evening, and if there was one thing I didn’t need to feel when Annie was about to experience a most fantastic emotion , it was down.

It was one of the reasons I didn’t head off to Panera this morning as I usually do.  I needed to change things up, because what happened last night was a sensation I didn’t much care for.

Today, however, I’ve had time to mull over the part, and I’ve even spent a lot of time rolling about doing other things just so I could get my mind right on the matter.  I will get this scene written and move on to other scenes in need of similar rewriting.

Writers.

We are a strange bunch.

Returning to the Scene of the Kiss

Out of the hospital, and into The Pentagram Gardens.  That would make a good title for a television show, you know?  Though I’m certain there are more than a few fools out there who are gonna believe there are satanic forces at work, more than likely found right next to the hydrangea.

But I love my gardens, all protected by the fifteen meter high walls and the towers at the five points.  Lotta space in there to walk around and do things and hide out if one were of a mind.  And there are places to sit and relax, breath the scented air and wonder how the staff keeps everything so nice.

With magic, right?  But you knew that.

So, back there last night with my editing, and my kids are out of the hospital, full of happy-juice, and things have been said between the Head Nurse and Kerry, so naturally Mr. Clueless is running about a thousand different things around in his head, wondering what the hell is going on.  With that going on he invites Annie out to the garden, which is all misty and drizzly and dark, and it’s there that this goes down:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Feeling chilly as she cooled down from her run, Annie wrapped her arms around her body. She was looking over the opposite wall—the walk way wasn’t completely enclosed and the walls were less than a meter high—when Kerry wrapped his arm over her shoulders and pulled her into his hoodie-clad torso. “Here, this should help.”

She pushed herself into the warmth of his body. The medication Coraline gave her was designed to make her feel better, but the sense of serene contentment taking hold or Annie in that moment had little to do with the medication. “Thank you, Kerry. This feels so nice.”

“I’m glad.” He breathed in the cool, fresh air, of the nearby Atlantic. “I like this, the chill and the mist.”

“You do?”

“Yeah. It’s a bit like how I remember mornings in California.”

“It’s like this in the mountains, too.” She took a deep breath and let the cool, damp air calm her further. “May I ask something?”

“Sure.”

“You’ve been quiet since we left the hospital.” Annie didn’t sit up or pull away as she spoke. “Is something bothering you?”

Kerry didn’t answer right away, and Annie wondered if he was having trouble finding the right answer. When he finally spoke, his words seemed like they were coming from far away. “Coraline came back and checked me out to make sure I was okay. After that we talked, and . . .” He drew a sharp breath through his nose, which he sighed out slowly. “She told me something.”

What? What did she say? Annie felt a touch of panic rising, for there were so many things that Nurse Coraline could have told him. She could have talked about the school, or The Foundation . . . She put those thoughts aside immediately. No, she wouldn’t have mentioned those things, because she can’t, not yet. This was something else. “What did she say?”

“She said . . .” He turned his head so that his face was brushing up against Annie’s hair and he was sort of looking at her. “She said you were in love with me.”

Oh . . .” She pulled back a bit so she could see Kerry’s face. “She said that?”

He nodded slowly, his face blank. “Yeah.”

Annie’s eyes locked with Kerry’s and held his gaze. “Yes, I am.” She slid back under his arm and returned to where she was safe and warm.

There was complete silence for what seemed like a long time, but Annie knew couldn’t be more than a minute or two. She felt little tremors forming within Kerry’s body each time he shifted position, felt his breathing speed up and slow. She sensed the trepidation building within him due to what she’d just said, and she was struck by the notion that what she’d said rendered him mute with fear.

Kerry shifted slightly while doing his best not to move Annie from her warm cocoon. “Do you mean that?”

She nearly chuckled, because after the sincerity of her words, how could he not now know her true intentions? “Yes, I mean it.” Once more she tilted her head so she could see his face. “I wouldn’t have said that if I wasn’t serious. You should know that about me by now, Kerry.” She settled back in and waited for his response—likely proceeded by another protracted silence. Annie hadn’t given her statement any thought, and she felt her own rising agitation as she pushed away her fear. She closed her eyes and drove all negative thoughts from her mind. It’s going to be okay. It will. It

“How long?” Kerry’s voice was clear and there was nary a tremor or waver as he spoke.

Annie extracted herself from Kerry’s arm again, then slid a little to her left so she could shift her whole body. She needed to face him, to let him see her. “For a long time, Kerry. From . . .” No, she couldn’t tell him the whole truth yet since he still didn’t seem to know who she was. Being too honest and forthright might, could, possibly, devastate him. “I know this is hard for you to believe, and it probably won’t make any sense, but I’ve loved you from before we met in London. From long before that.” She softened her gaze and slowly rolled her shoulders. “It’s true, though: I love you.” She leaned her head against her right shoulder. “I should have said something sooner—”

“I’m glad you didn’t.” Kerry chuckled at his own lame attempt at humor. “I, um . . . probably would have freaked.”

“I didn’t know Coraline would say something—” Annie wondered if the medicine she was given was preventing her from being upset with the school doctor, then pushed the though aside and set it in the bin with the other collected horrid thoughts. I was going to tell him this weekend, but it’s better this is out now. “I didn’t know she knew.”

Kerry shrugged. “Yeah, well, I guess as I was telling her about our last week together, and our dinner and walk last night, she managed to put everything together.” He shrugged. “More than I could do.” He shifted his body and slid his left leg under his right so he could face Annie. “That’s why you looked at her so strangely when you came into the waiting room.”

She needed a few seconds to remember what happened. Annie saw the scene, with her walking into the waiting room, asking if Kerry was okay, and then Nurse Coraline . . . “Oh, I see what you mean. When she hugged you.” Her lips tightened while her eyes grew dark. “Now I understand.”

“Understand what?””

“She wanted to see . . .” She didn’t want to explain that since Coraline knew Annie was in love with Kerry, she was provoking a response. “It’s not important. Just know that I know what she did.”

Annie watched Kerry’s eyes, and even in the dim light she saw something happening behind them. She’d seen him do this as well: he was thinking, processing, going over things in him mind. He was weighting to pros and cons of their last few minutes of conversation.

But she was also watching his body language, and that said far more than his eyes. “You’re not running.”

“What?” He snapped away from his thoughts and turned his attention back to Annie.

“You’re not running. You’re not fidgeting.” She took a chance with her next statement. “You’re not frightened of me, of what I’ve told you.”

Kerry’s calm gaze never wavered. “No, I’m not.”

Annie slid a few centimeters closer, testing his personal space. “Why?”

“I’ve just . . . I’ve never had anyone tell me they liked me before.”

“I didn’t say I liked you—”

“I know . . .” He nodded, his eyes slightly closed. “I never had anyone tell me that, either.”

“Anyone?”

He slowly drew in a breath and spoke in a low voice. “I’ve never had a girl say that to me.” He turned away from Annie and returned to a normal sitting position, his hands folded in his lap, his eyes fixed straight ahead.

For the first time Annie felt something like panic, though if she was right about the medication given to her, she could cut off a finger and not get too worked up, so it wasn’t physical fear she felt, it was all in her mind. Did I scare him this time? Or drive him away?

That was when she heard his sniffle and saw him reach up and wipe at his eyes. The psychosomatic fear was instantly replaced with real concern. “Kerry?”

His voice broke between sobs. “Yeah?”

“Are you all right?” No longer concerned if she was invading his private space she slid close and leaned against him. She laid her hand upon his. “What’s wrong?”

He slowly turned towards her, his tear-streaked face clearly visible in the misting dark. “This is a new chapter for me.”

“What?”

“Something I can still remember from my evaluation.” He sniffed hard and wiped his face with his right sleeve. “I was told that when I walked through the gate coming in here I’d finished a chapter, and the second I walked out the door I’d start another, and that . . .” He sniffed again as he regained control. “Once back in the hall, things were going to happen that I couldn’t imagined in a thousand year.” Kerry laughed through a hacking cough. “No kidding.  I never expected this.”

Annie slid her hand off and slowly slipped it under his left hand. She pressed their palms together before curling her fingers into his. “You’re fine, then?”

His nods were quick and exaggerated. He closed his fingers over hers and gave them a squeeze. “I’m okay now. It’s just . . .” He glanced down as their fingers locked around their hands. “Does this mean you’re like my girlfriend?”

She resisted laughing. Kerry was so—unsure of himself. She was unsure as well, because he didn’t seem to have the same connection to her that she remembered with him, and that complicated things . . .

Stop worrying about that now; it will change. “Oh, Kerry—” She closed her eyes and laid her head against his shoulder. “I’m more than your girlfriend.” Tell him the truth, don’t be afraid. “I’m your soul mate.” She rested, now as content as she had when they’d left the hospital. Even with the misty chill around them, she felt warm and secure. “I’ll always be with you.”

 

Welcome to your new school, kid.  You’ll learn history, English, math, science, a little–well a lot–of magic, get instruction in how to fly and defend yourself . . . oh, and it comes with a girlfriend for life!  Enjoy your stay!

There’s a little more to add to the scene after the, well, you know, the kissing part comes, and then this is done, rewritten, moved up to a second polished draft–

It's pretty and shinny and it's ready to move on to new terrors!

It’s pretty and shinny and it’s ready to move on to fresh new hells!

Then I can dive further on into Chapter Three, rewrite what needs it there, and then–

Hey, I have these scene rolling about in my head, and it just doesn’t want to go away . . .

The Recreation of the Clueless

Before getting into Fargo–which I am loving, by the way, and just waiting for the insanity to crank all the way up in the next couple of episodes–I headed back into a couple of scenes, one short and one almost thirty-five hundred worlds long.  The first scene ended up losing a couple of paragraphs along the way, while the second–

Well, that’s another story.

The hospital scene is one of my favorites, because it takes everything that’s happened up to this point and turns it around.  Though with how the novel has restructured itself, it’s a little more obvious about what’s going on with Annie’s efforts to do something, and Kerry is more this sad, little mope who doesn’t get out much.

And clueless as all hell.  As you can see in his retelling of the day before in Amsterdam:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“You go with the other kids?” She knew the answer already, but Coraline wanted to hear if from him.

Kerry shook his head. “No. It was just Annie and me—” He giggled. “The Great Explorers, out on their own.”

“I see.” She didn’t allow her face to show what she was thinking. “What museums did you visit?”

“The Van Gogh and Rembrandt museums. I really loved the Rembrandt museum: The Night Watch was my favorite painting.” Kerry’s face brightened. “It was so big.”

“Oh, I know.” Coraline slowly rubbed the palms of her hands together. “I’ve been there, too, and that’s one of my favorite paintings as well.” Now to ask the real question— “Was that your idea, going there?”

He cast his gaze away from Coraline for a second. “Nah.” Kerry looked up, but didn’t look directly at Coraline; he appeared to focus on something across the waiting room, something she knew was out of sight on a bed behind a curtain in a darkened ward. “Annie knew about all these places, and since I’d never seen them, I went with.”

Coraline watched Kerry closely. He didn’t seem the least embarrassed by his revelations, and she understood why he looked across the room to Annie: he was remembering those events and was using her as a focus. “That was nice of her, Kerry. And it was nice of you to agree to go with her.”

“Well, you know . . .” He looked away once more, this time with a sheepish grin upon his face. “She’s a friend, and she really wanted me to see things with her in London, so when she asked if I wanted to go with her in Amsterdam—sure, I wanted to go.” Again the far off stare remembering events of the last few days. “I mean, it was great, just the two of us out there—”

“I’m sure it was wonderful.”

”Yeah.” Kerry’s face relaxed, his eyes turned once more towards the ward. “Oh, yeah, and we went walking along a couple of canals last night.”

Coraline leaned a little to her right as her voice fell into a soft, pleasant tone. “Was they her idea, too?”

“Walking by the canal?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, sure. We didn’t eat in the hotel last night—Annie and I went to a cafe a few block away so we didn’t have to deal with everyone at dinner—”

“That was her idea, too, I bet.”

“Yeah. When we were done with dinner, Annie asked if I wanted to go and walk along the canals instead of going right back to the hotel, and I was like, sure.”

Whoa; getting asked to dinner and a walk along the canals. “How long were you out?”

“Um . . . maybe couple of hours.”

Oh, hell: there’s no doubt now. “Annie asked you to dinner, and when it was over invited you on a walk along the canals for a couple of hours.”

“Sure.” He didn’t get why Nurse Coraline was getting all excited; he didn’t think what they did last night was all that strange. “It was something she wanted to do, so I went with to, you know, talk, keep her company—that sort of thing.”

“Keep her company—” By now Coraline found it difficult to keep the smile she’d felt coming on a few seconds early from bursting out. “And you did this because you’re her friend.”

“Yeah, I mean . . .” Kerry found it impossible to ignore Coraline’s imperious grin. “What?”

She couldn’t keep her silence, keep what she believed the truth from this boy any longer. “Kerry, when you are first asked to dinner, followed by getting asked if you’d like to go for an early-evening stroll along the Amsterdam canals, and the person doing all this asking is a girl . . .” She shook her head. “She’s wasn’t asking you out as a friend.”

Kerry was utterly confused by Coraline’s last comment. “I don’t get it; what do you mean?”

 

What she means is you’re clueless, dude.

Is there an answer in here?  She keeps asking me out--is this a date?  Again?

Is there an answer in here? Annie keeps asking me out–are those dates? Again?

It all has a different vibe to it now, and it makes me very happy.  I’ve a half-dozen scenes to rewrite, one of the a pretty major one–actually two of them–but once they are out of the way I can say I’ve changed my characterization of my two kids, got them where I think they really should be, and then move on to something else.

Like writing the novel.

‘Cause, you know, the torture has even begun yet.

Harboring Sleep Within the Test

The last couple of days my energy has really been at a low ebb.  Now only has work taken its toll of late, but I’ve not been sleeping well–again.  There can be any number of reasons for being tired–though I think a large part is due to my hormone replacement therapy–but the sleep thing?  Damn, that’s been with me forever.

Now, something interesting came up in a conversation yesterday.  Never mind the umpteenth requests I received to get some sleep–I know I’m tired, you don’t need to tell me I need sleep–but this comment that caught my attention:  “Your novel is keeping you awake.  It’s on your mind all the time, and it won’t let you rest.”

Now there’s a secret that isn’t unknown.  I do get caught up in what I’m writing.  I get caught up in the characters.  Sometimes it driver me a little crazy, but I consider that par for the course.  But keeping me awake?  Well, now, that’s something that hasn’t happened before too many times.

Maybe there is some truth here.  I know I slept well last night, so maybe I’ll finish up this enormous scene tonight before Cosmos comes on.  In the meantime–Kerry asked Annie a question, which was, “Don’t you think we did a lot of goofy crap yesterday, and now . . .”  And now here’s the end of that question . . .

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

After her chat this morning, Annie had more insight into why she was sent off with the others without waiting for Kerry. Not that I can tell him— “I can agree with everything you said, but why do you think today is a test?”

“I just do.” He tapped his fingers on the table for a few seconds. “What time did she tell you she was called in?”

“She didn’t say—just that she’d been called in for a meeting.”

“But you both talked early, and she already had the debit cards. They could have been sent over, but even so, The Foundation would have made those last night. Which mean they knew this was going to happen.” He glanced out the window, something Annie noticed he did quite often. “There was a card for each of us—our names were on them. Someone went through all this trouble last night so we’d get them this morning.”

“And you think Ms. Rutherford planed this?”

“Not her: this Foundation. Though she probably knew about this and the stuff yesterday.” Kerry finished his sandwich and slowly pushed his plate to the side.

If only I could tell him what I know. Annie had heard about these things from her mother a few days before leaving home, and found none of Kerry’s suspicions shocking. She was also fairly aware of why Ms Rutherford was telling her about what she thought the other students would do today . . . “If it is a test—” Annie rested her head against her right hand and twirled her hair. “—I’m glad I passed.”

Kerry looked downward as he grinned. “I don’t know if it’s one we were expected to pass, but I do think Ms. Rutherford is keeping an eye on us.”

Annie didn’t what to hear Kerry go on about different ways The Foundation could follow them—she knew nearly all of them—so she moved the conversation in another direction. “I’m only asking because I’m curious, but . . . would you have left the hotel if I hadn’t asked you out?”

“I . . .” Kerry chuckled, then pursed his lips as he pushed air through them. “I don’t know. Yesterday wasn’t that bad because I didn’t have to go that far, and we were suppose to be doing things for school.” His sigh was loud, even against the background noise. “I’m glad I didn’t stay in the hotel.”

 

It’s not the sort of test you’re expected to pass?  Oh, Kerry, you poor sap, you’re being tested right now.  Only by someone different and for different reasons . . .

Now I should think about the sort of damage one little girl can do with access to a library full of deadly arcane knowledge.

Not that I don’t already know.

"Yes, I could use my shadows to follow Kerry everywhere--technically the shadows are the ones stalking him . . ."

“Draught of Truthful Submission?  That’s much better than a love potion–“