Easing Into the Additions

Since last time we met there wasn’t a lot of writing going down–unless you count all the note taking I was making for my recap of the pilot of Fear the Walking Dead, which comes out later tonight my time.  No, after writing seventeen hundred words for the novel, and another fifteen hundred words (for notes, mind you) for my recap, I was all storied out.

What I did was look at the novel and think about structure change, because I’m nuts like that.  I see something and I usually want to leave it alone, but just as I did with A For Advanced, I tinkered with it a bit after I had a much better idea of where the novel was going.  So you do reach a point where you can look at layout and structure and think, “Now, this would look much better as a stand-alone . . . something.”

That’s what I did with Chapter Thirteen.  I gave it a look, realized that the first three scenes fit together, and then looked at the last few scenes and realized they really were a completely different beast altogether.  So I did this:

I tinkered, 'cause that's what I do.

I tinkered, ’cause that’s what I do.

The last three scenes of Chapter Thirteen became Chapter Fourteen, meaning Thirteen ended with Kerry flying through the air with the greatest of ease–but unlike Annie, who doesn’t need a broom to fly, his landing wasn’t so great.  That’s where I make a break and put in the new Chapter Fourteen, because it’ll open up with someone we know waking up in Bed #2, Bay #1–I don’t believe I’m giving away too much of a spoiler.  That was where I put the last three scenes of the old chapter–

But now there are four scenes, so what gives, Cassie?  Check the time line in the image and look at the title, and remember what Mea Culpa means, and you may figure out what’s going on.  Let’s just say that scene is needed, and it’ll help draw to a close something that’s going on.  Sort of.  Because nothing ever ends here at Salem.

But this wasn’t the only changing I made.  I went in here, too:

Here being a chapter I talk about but haven't worked upon.

Here being a chapter I talk about but haven’t worked upon.

The now Chapter Sixteen is the still the first chapter of Part Give, and it’s also the Salem Overnight chapter which, up until last night, possessed one scene and nothing more.  No more, I say.  I added three more scenes and finalized a map that goes with this chapters–map, you say?  Yep.  I love maps.  There’s a lot of mapping going on in this chapter, and that’s one of the reasons I have a scene called Planing on PEI, because I always know where my students are.  What’s PEI?  Look it up, you’ll find it rather easily.

With all this work finished I went back and renumbered all the chapters and the chapter title pages, and called it a night.  Because my writing for the day was through.  I’ve said it before:  not all writing is writing.  Sometimes it’s research, sometimes it’s creating characters, and sometimes it’s plotting out your novel by getting your chapters in line with what you’re thinking.

And right now I have a far clearer view of where I’m going.

An Short Yet Annoying Interlude

I know you’re here looking for what a promised I’d have right now, but guess what?  It ain’t here.  And it’s not because I didn’t finish the scene last night, because I totally did.

I even put in other scenes to blabber on about as well.

I even put in other scenes to blabber on about as well.

Yes, I wrote twelve hundred and fifty words exactly last night and put the main Dance Away scene to bed–along with me, because it was close to eleven-thirty when I finally went to sleep.  I showed the rest of the children who are in the notes, what they were wearing, identified them, and then . . . we found out who Annie and Kerry had come as for the dance.  Oh, yeah.  Great times.

However . . . I have a special assignment for this morning, and because it take some time to put together everything with the proper images and accompanying snark, and because I’m supposed to be on the road in, let me check the clock, fifty minutes at six-forty in the AM, I figured I’d work on that post when I return from my travails.

Yes, you get two posts today!  Aren’t you the lucky ones?

In the mean time you can guess away all you like about my kid’s costumes, and you can wonder at whatever I’m implying with the titles of the sub-scenes shown in the image above.  Needless to say, I think the one between Annie and Deanna will likely generate the most comments, because . . . well, they’re talking about love, aren’t they?

But with me you never know what you’re getting:  I say one thing, and in my mind I’m thinking something completely different.  It’s one of the advantages of being the writer:  you are supposed to know what’s going on, and you leave the readers guess right up until the moment when you give them what you want.

I’m looking forward to writing that next scene, because it’s one that’s come to me over the course of the last week, and what would the school year be without Annie and Deanna having a heart-to-heart.  Actually, they have a couple of heart-to-hearts, because Deanna likes to listen, and Annie . . . give her the chance and she loves to talk.  And it must be something about which she can’t talk to Kerry about.

It must be serious.

It’s six on the nose and I’m ending the post now.  I’ll see you all later in the evening.

Play nice, kids.

The Pain of the Past and the Future of Uncertainty 

Today is a rough day.  Today is the day after my latest electrolysis treatment, and let me tell ya, it was a wild one.

I made it through:  I made it through the full two hours and I didn’t cry, though I twitched and squirmed and even hissed and shook a little.  But I finished, I paid, and I made it home–

Though it does look a bit like a tornado tore across my face.

Though it does look a bit like a tornado tore across my face.

The women who does my work said she couldn’t believe how much she accomplished, and I believe it, because I was there.  And don’t be fooled by that smug look:  I was really out of it right there.  I didn’t do much writing because it was hard keeping my head in the game.  I managed three hundred words right on the dot, with the last one being, “What?”  That coming from a student who just sort of burst out.  In Sorcery class.  In front of Helena.  It won’t go well.

But–out of it.  Right.  I was out of it, and spent about a half hour in front of the television icing my face.  I was so out of it that when I started changing for work this morning, I realized I’d put on my pajama bottoms backwards, and had slept in them that way.  But I’m much better now.  Sort of.  It’s just a good thing it was cool outside, ’cause the walk in would have been brutal otherwise.

However, the walk in did allow me to think–and I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.  The last few days I’ve been thinking a lot about Annie and Kerry and their future together–don’t worry, it’s not bad.  It’s just filling in a few blanks that I’ve had, and fleshing out some areas that I knew of, but I wanted to get better.  I’ve actually started taking note for this stuff, because I have too many things to remember, and it’s starting to spill out.

Like this morning.  Yes, I’m looking through things prior to writing, and I pull up the story and all of a sudden I’m thinking, “Hey, you know, I want to add too scenes, but . . . where to put them?”  Then I’m looking around the scenes and I hit one chapter and think, “What he hell was this about again?”  Because I hadn’t written down anything to remind me what was happening at that point.  So I had to pull up my time line for the story, because I knew it would have some information, and sure enough, it told me what I needed to remember.  I wrote down those notes with the promise of fleshing it out a little more, because the actions in one scene set up something that’s going to happen in a later scene.

As for those new scenes–

I'm looking at you, future chapters.

I’m looking at you, future chapters.

I think one of the new scenes is gonna happen in Chapter Twelve, and will be the first one.  It makes sense because I know what happens in From Green to Dream, and setting up the lead-in with a conversation between the two people in the new scene would fit there well.  As for the other new scene–it just came to me where it should go.  Because it makes sense.

So . . . get through this day, heal up, feel better, write more.

Make notes.

Should I leave myself a note to do that last?

Walking Through the Long Stay

Yesterday was one of those good and not so good days.  It was good because I went to a makeup party and hung out with some great women and had a lot of fun.  It was not so good ’cause I had to drive to Silver Springs, MD, which is just north of DC, which meant I needed to drive I-83 to 695 to 95 to 495, which can otherwise be known as Vehicular Hell.  The traffic is always moving, but it’s heavy all the way through Baltimore and Washington, and you can’t let up concentration for most of the route.  I was fine going in, but by the time I made the trek home I was already tired, and keeping my mind on the road proved to be a lot of work, so by the time I stumbled back into The Burg I was fairly exhausted.

Also, the moment I turned on the main light in my apartment–which is like my only light in my apartment–the bulb blew and I had nary a spare, so I had to run out and pick up a new one.  That meant it was at least another half hour before I could relax and watch the last episode of Mad Men, where it appears Don Draper’a navel gazing may have led to the creation of the most memorable TV ad that didn’t involve Barry Manilow.

Still, I had a great time and got to wear my orange skirt for the first time:

As one can see, I don't take great pictures in my apartment.

As one can see, I don’t take great pictures in my apartment.

I was at least comfortable as I drove.  As well as cool and comfortable.

Needless to say, I didn’t write a word yesterday.  I couldn’t even give much thought to scenes because the mind was on the road, and when it wasn’t it’d turned to stone.  I usually pride myself in being able to through some story ideas together, or even work out dialog and scenes, while I’m out on the road, but not yesterday.  Nope, a whole lot of nope.

It’s not that it’s needed.  I have a great idea of where this novel is going, and I know what needs to be said.  The next scene is gift testing . . .

Happens right here, in the building on the left.  we haven't been down here much.

Happens right here, in the building on the left. we haven’t been down here much.

And I’ll recount a little about what the kids went through for that.  It’s not much of a relaxing “Before school starts” weekend, but that’s how things go down.  As the scene that comes after this next will explain, Annie and Kerry are starting to realize that their B Levels are probably going to be a bit ass busting, between the advanced classes, getting called up for minion duty, and whatever else might come their way.  Oh, and that vision will get a little bit of discussion:  after all, why wouldn’t it?

Ah, my kids are growing up so quickly.  Which may not be a good thing.

Back to writing tonight.  Because I can only be so lazy for so long.

The Seeing of the Scene

If by now you haven’t caught on, I write.  It’s not my day job–I have one of those where I go into an office and do things and stuff and come home at the end of the day–but it’s one I’ve been doing for a while; just about four years come this September.  It is my dream to do this full time, but unless I get the damn books out there for people to read, that will never happen.

If you’ve followed me from the start, you’ll also notice that my writing style has changed considerably.  There is a different flow to it these days, far more than when I published my first stories two and three years back.  The way I write has changed a great deal, too:  probably because I spend so much time now waltzing through these new worlds which now have become old worlds due to my having lived in them for right around two years now–three years if you count the times I’d think all this over while driving back and forth to Indianapolis during the summer of 2012.

Lately, however, the writing has turned into . . . well, I have become heavily involved in a task known as “getting it right.”  Particularly with this new story, getting each scene started has become a complete pain finding the right words, the right setting, the right mood.  Example One is below.  This is the start of the newest scene in my current novel.

 

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

The evening had reached the point where the coven tower lights would flash three times to indicate the lights were going out in a minute, but on the second floor of Cernunnos Coven there wasn’t a need for lights out, for the lights had been out for nearly an hour while the students used alternate light sources as they relaxed in comfort in the open space outside their rooms.

Penny, Alex, and Jairo had gathered pillows from the ground floor storage and set them out in a circle. Penny and Alex used various spells and enchantments arrange a few of the pillows so they could lay back against them, while Jario prepared local snacks and cool drinks in the small kitchen in the lower level.

While the C Levels were busy, the B Levels did their part to make for a relaxing evening.

Since they’d need light, Annie created several small spheres of cold fire and levitated them overhead. Kerry took musical suggestions from everyone, set them up on his tablet, then set it against the wall between the entrances to the bathrooms, then crafted a spell so the speakers would project the sound around them, making it seem as if they were surrounded by music.

In the blue light of cold fire the five B and C Levels sat listening to music, snacking on tequeños and golfeados while drinking merengadas, and enjoying their company.

 

That’s just two hundred and thirty-five words–and that took me forever to write.  Or close to forty minutes, if my internal guessing is correct.  Now, I will admit to about five minutes of research looking up snacks and beverages from Venezuela, which constitutes the last line of the excerpt, but the rest of it was all me sitting in front of the laptop trying to figure out what I want to say.  Particularly that first paragraph:  that little gem probably took a good fifteen minutes of my life to figure out.

"Lights?  Lighting?  Should they just grab a student from another coven and use them as a bonfire?"

“Lights? Lighting? Should they just grab a student from another coven and use them as a bonfire?”

Don’t ask Annie about that last; she’s got a couple of students in mind.

It’s been like that since starting this novel.  Getting the scene started usually takes a bit of work, but once it’s going, it’s off and running.  Tonight might not be that case, since I’ve got a butt-load of things to do when I get home, but then again, since most of that revolves around laundry, I can write while waiting for things to get clean.  At least try and get it finished before Touch of Evil comes on tonight, because that’s one of those movies I don’t like to miss.

There’s nothing wrong with getting it right up front.  I know most people who have cut their teeth on NaNoWriMo say, “Write first, then edit later.”  To paraphrase Col. Tom Parker, “That’s good enough for you, but what about me?”  Not that I haven’t worked on a major edit:  I did it last year about this time on the Parts One and Two of A For Advanced.  But I like to avoid that if possible, because . . . well, just because.  Really, too:  I’m laying out the scenes in a far different way than the last novel.  The kids are back on familiar ground, so there’s no need for a lot of oohing and aahing.  They know the drill, just like when they boarded the plane, and there isn’t much of a need to get back into that–save for the moments like the one above, where my kids are truly in The Pond and becoming part of the student body.

I’ve noticed this popping up more and more.  Some of it is likely due to distractions around me, and the mind is looking to focus on something else instead of the task at hand.  Writers need to write, but they also need stimulation, and I’ve tried to put that into my life so I don’t keep turning back to a cycle of work, eat, write, sleep again.  That way leads to burn out, and I’ve fought with that for too long now.  I give into burn out now, and it’s going to be a while before I recover from that.

And there is so much story ahead to tell . . .

Let the Day Begin

If you’re expecting writing here of a novel nature, expect it tomorrow, for today I have a face only a mother would love.  Um . . . strike that.  I’d probably get Kerry’s mom, and she’d laugh at me and ask how many girls I know.

This is your face--or your upper lip--on electrolysis.

This is your face–or your upper lip–on electrolysis.

Not only is there swelling today, but last night my head was spinning around a bit by the time I got home.  I did the ice and ibuprofen last night to combat the spinning and swelling, but as you can see, the later is still around.

"You shouldn't knock it; you look good."

“You shouldn’t knock it; you look good.”

Thanks . . . I think.

It’s going to be like this for a few more weeks, for sure.  I’m guessing that by the middle of June the facial hair will have vanished completely, and by July I’ll have my face back in more or less one good piece.  Right now it’s a lot of pain to go through once a week, but . . . it’s needed.  It’s necessary.  And I won’t have to shave anymore, so there’s that.

Now, did I write?  Yep.  Made it past four hundred words before stopping because my mind just wasn’t into it.  The spirit was willing, but trying to plot together something through a slight haze of pain was a bit too much.  Actually, since there’s a half hour drive between my apartment and the place where I get electricity zapped into my face, I could think out points while I’m in the car.  And what did I come up with?

One, I figured out the new C Level the kids will met.  You get a paragraph on him in this new scene, and how he’s acting when he first meets Annie and Kerry.  He was sound asleep when the Euroflight came in, which is why no one saw him in the last scene.

I also came up with an elegant solution to the question:  what happens with the new kids after they do their E and A?  I mean, the school doesn’t want them to see magic before Orientation Day–Annie makes a comment to Kerry about this in the current scene on which I’m working–so how does a school full of returning witches keep that from happening?  Well, you’ll find out, because Helena will explain it to Annie and Kerry when they speak.  It’s really very simple, once you give it thought.

I also added a new scene, which will pop in after the one I’m working on now.  I’m calling the new scene Party of Five, which is a play on the term I was using for Annie and Kerry palling around with Penny and Alex, The Gang of Four.  Since there is a new guy on the second floor, this scene shows them hanging out on the night before Orientation Day–or Getting Reacquainted Day for the returning students.  Yes, that’s right:  there are only five people in the B and C Levels at Cernunnos Coven, out of, right now, sixteen kids total.  That is not a lot of witches:  in fact, you find out in a later post that Cernunnos actually has trouble fielding a race team because of low numbers.  Let’s hope they get a good group of A Levels this year.

In the mean time, Annie and Kerry will relax this Thursday night–

Sort of like this, only in a dimly lit tower while sitting on pillow.  But totally the same.

Sort of like this, only in a dimly lit tower while sitting on pillow. But totally the same.  Except Annie would be on the other side . . .

Because that’s what witches do when they’re together at home.

Das Finden der Berliner U-Bahn

Excused the poorly translated title today, but this is where I’m going.  And I need it today, believe me, after getting a bit of sticker shock yesterday from having my car worked on, and then getting into a rather epic editing session where I put away three chapters of Kolor Ijo, tuning up seventy-five hundred words and finishing off Part Two in the process.

But yesterday, my mind was mostly with my kids.

I’m back trying to work out the details of the next novel in my head and on the computer, and it’s usually coming at times when I should be doing other things, but dammit, those kids won’t leave me alone now.  They get that way, because they want to see the light of day again, damned witchy brats.

So I’m running the outline around in my head, and remembering things that came up when I laid out stuff the first time in Aeon Timeline.  Keep in mind that the first time I did a layout of this next novel, I had a bit of an overview:  there wasn’t nearly the same level of detail, so I’m in the process of laying that out.  And one of those areas that I’m laying out is where Annie and Kerry meet up while waiting to fly back to Boston and return to Salem.  It’s going to be a city in Europe, naturally, but where?

Well . . .

Achtung, baby

Achtung, baby.

Right there, in lovely Berlin.  It’s where all the B Levels–who are still pretending to not be witches and act like they’re regular students–and some of the C, D, E, and F Levels hang out before departing for America.  You may say, “Why not just jaunt them over?” and that’s true:  I could do that.  And I will do that when the kids are no longer pretending not to be witches.  But right now the long con is still on, so let’s pretend they’re going to a school for gifted children, one which isn’t in Upstate New York and has a SR-71 hidden under the basketball court.  No, the school they’re going to doesn’t need a Blackbird:  the kids are dangerous enough on their own.

One of the scenes I’m considering takes place near the Brandenburg Gate, which is one of the more well known sights in the city.  Annie and Kerry will visit it the night of 27 August, which, if you’re score at home, is the anniversary of their meeting in public for the first time.  This is also the day they both arrive in Berlin, so much fun and merriment will occur–or at the least they’ll get out for a quite dinner together.

This means I’m looking at public transportation in the city, preferably using their subway/train system.  If you zoom in on the city, you’ll start picking out stations.  And if you click on those stations . . .

You get a station name!

You get a station name!

But notice something else:  you see colored lines on the map.  Those colored lines are the actual underground routes, and this is a feature that Google Maps does for you in nearly every city.  So if I need a quick and dirty map of the city’s rail system, I find a station way out in the middle of nowhere–

Sorry, Hönow, but it had to be you.

Sorry, Hönow, but it had to be you.

–and once this lights up the routes, you have a quick and dirty map.

Which means I now have an interactive way of seeing what's close to what stations I need for my story.

Which means I now have an interactive way of seeing what’s close to what stations I need for my story.

Also, if you get a pop-up for a station, and you click on “More”, you’ll find the schedule for that station–

Which is most helpful only if you know what you're reading.

Which is most helpful only if you know what you’re reading.

Though you can always go off and look at the website and get that information there.

Wow, how first decade 21st Century this is.

Wow, how first decade 21st Century this is.

But this is a start for something that may end up as a paragraph or two in the scene with them outside the gate.  This is all stuff that ran through my head yesterday, and now you see some of the process I use just to get the background I need for setting up a scene.  It may seem just a little crazy–

But, hey:  that’s how my mind works.

You might even say it takes my breath away . . .