All Over the Place

I said I would have a video on Sunday, and I am a woman of her word.  And here it is. Enjoy.

And if you want to see the route I walked yesterday, here that is.

A View From Afar: The Watching

As you’re reading this it is highly likely that I am either somewhere on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., or I’m in the city and on my way to the Washington Monument.  Yes, I’m back in the capital getting ready to do my part for the March For Science, and if you have any sort of connection to my Facebook page, you’ll notice that my profile picture is changed to that of Science, Princess Bubblegum’s favorite rat.

Because I’m all about Science.

What you’re reading is the last few hundred words of Part Three of Act One.  And this is the last excerpt you’ll get for a couple of days.  Sunday I’ll be sending you another video, and the odds are pretty good that Monday you get a video as well.  Because I’m all about the videos right now.  Also, and allow me to catch up on some writing and perhaps put fifteen hundred or two thousand words between me and these excerpts.  It’s hard to say.  All I know is, I’m going to keep writing.  Because I have to.

But here, at the end of this last part, we have Deanna doing a little sneaking around.  And why is she doing that?  Because her something she wants to see.  And she wants to see because it’s a special day…

 

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

 

Deanna positioned herself behind the tree and look to the north, where the largest open space on the shore of Lake Lovecraft was situated. The sun was setting but Magic Hour was nearing and everything was taking on a shadowless demeanor. It wasn’t for this reason that she was able to see the two figures standing almost sixty meters away. Since she didn’t want to move closer, she used a bid transformation magic to give herself telescopic vision, which made it seem as if she was standing maybe twenty meters away.

Even without the telescopic vision she immediately knew who was standing in this open space: it was Annie and Kerry. And there was a simple reason for them being here, for today was Annie’s fourteenth birthday, and as Deanna knew they had done last two years, Kerry brought her here so he could give her a birthday present.

As Kerry faced Annie Deanna thought back to their moments this afternoon in class. She didn’t notice Annie wearing anything new, but she was able to tell from scanning Kerry’s aura that he was anxious, which she took to mean he hadn’t given the present. Though she didn’t have much to go over she managed to drag out class out as much as possible, if for no other reason than to make the setting of the gift giving to be far more perfect. She knew she was being a bit mean, but she was also certain that when the moment came for Annie, it would mean far, far more.

She watched Kerry remove his backpack and reach inside one of the pockets to retrieve something. From here the package didn’t look large, but then she was aware that Kerry had never really given Annie anything large except the leather jacket he presented after her last solo flight the previous school year. Given that the package fit easily in one of Kerry’s hands Deanna assumed it was a small present—

And small presents were often the most intimate.

Annie slowly unwrapped the gift revealing a box, then open that to unveil gift inside. Whatever it was, there was enough of a surprise that Deanna detected her momentary recoil. Kerry partially blocked what happened next, but it appeared he helped remove whatever was inside the box and and presented her the actual gift. Though difficult to see, to Deanna it seemed almost as if Annie raised her left hand for a few seconds, then looked down for a moment before wrapping her arms around Kerry’s shoulders and giving him an appreciative and emotional kiss.

Deanna dropped her telescopic vision and stepped away from the tree before turning to her left and making her way back to the path. Though she couldn’t say, she was certain she knew what Kerry had given her, and not because of any guesses made based upon her observation—

She stopped and closed her eyes she took a slow, calming breath. You’re not supposed to think of these things: you’re supposed to make assumptions based upon what you’ve already seen. You’re not even supposed to be here

“And yet, here I am.” Deanna didn’t worry that she was heard, as the only people close to her were sixty meters away and likely busy kissing. She made her way to the path and turned to the south, then spent a few seconds crafting a Far Sight spell and jaunted to the edge of the path just outside the entrance to the Instructor’s Residence.

She went inside and headed directly up the stairs toward her room so that she could prepare first for dinner and then for the Midnight Madness. Once inside her room she leaned against the closed door and spent nearly ten seconds staring at a spot at the joint the ceiling in the wall.

It’s times like this I hate my Sight. Deanna headed to her bed and flopped down on her belly. I know so much about so many and I hate that I can’t warn them of what lay ahead

She rolled onto her side and lay there with her thoughts, much as she had done and she was a student. I hope you enjoy your gift, Annie, and all the happiness it brings you today. And I hope Kerry is also happy that you are so extraordinarily pleased with what he has given you.

For it maybe the last bit of happiness you both share for a while

 

I debated for a long time whether or not to show Annie’s birthday gifting up close and personal as I had before. In the end, I thought I would view it from a different perspective, one outside them.  And Deanna is a good one for that, because it could be several reasons why she’s there.  I mean, it’s not like any of the instructors don’t know that on Friday, 27 September, 2013, Annie turns 14.  And when that happens, Kerry takes her out to the north shore of Lake Lovecraft and gives her a gift.

As strange as it may seem there is a reason I didn’t want the interaction to focus on Kerry giving Annie a gift and having Annie’s reaction to that gift. Rather, I wanted someone to see it from afar.  That’s not to say you won’t get a chance to discover her reaction, it just means you’re not going to see it now.

Yeah, I’m being sneaky that way.

And speaking of sneaky, just wait until you get your next excerpt–

A View From Afar: The Arrival

So it’s that time again: it’s time to say goodbye to a chapter while at the same time saying hello to another.  That’s right, today we reached the last excerpt from Chapter Eleven, while at the same time I managed to start Chapter Twelve last night.  In fact, here’s what it looks like:

Yeah, just look at it, will ya?

That image was taken before he began writing, so you have to trust me when I say there are almost five hundred and fifty words and at first scene now.  Now, if you look at the chapter title–which is over there in the upper right-hand corner–and then look at the scene titles, it’s pretty easy to figure out what’s going on here.  This likely won’t be a long chapter, but there are going to be some interesting things going on.

And speaking of interesting things–which we were–here we get the last scene of Chapter Eleven.  And it starts off with someone we haven’t seen in this chapter–

 

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

 

Deanna Arrakis tidied up the few things lying about in her office and prepared to leave Memory’s End for the day and the week. Normally she was already back in her coven office at this point, but since she’d begun her special classes with Annie and Kerry on Friday afternoons, she’d begun handling all coven business on late Friday mornings—something she discovered the witches of Åsgårdsreia Coven preferred.

She had released Annie and Kerry twenty-five minutes earlier. They’d spent a rather exhaustive afternoon not only going over the specifics of Astral Projection, but today marked the first time or two students attempted to project. She wasn’t surprised that they failed, for they had both experienced difficulty learning how to Dreamwalk and she had expected they would face a similar frustration with Astral Projection.

She was also unsurprised by their frustration. By now Annie and Kerry were used to picking up magic rather easily, though Deanna’s investigations proved that while they might learn advanced magic quicker, it wasn’t always learned on the first attempt. During our first class she’d worn them both against expecting to develop their Astral Disciplines quickly, and while they had listened they apparently had not heard her words properly.

She gave them another warning that what they were learning in this class could come to them slowly, while at the same time she thought this would push them both, particularly Annie, to explore these disciplines on their own. While she had given them another warning against such an endeavor, Deanna didn’t need Sight to understand that she was very likely speaking upon deaf ears.

She walked out of her office, closing the door behind her, and headed for the main entrance. Memory’s End was deserted as usual, which didn’t bother her in the least. Divination was a difficult magical talent, one that couldn’t be learned unless one already had some sight, and the only time this building had more than a handful of students was when she taught any class concerning Astral Disciplines. From Deanna’s perspective, she would rather spend her time with a handful of students she knew would master these disciplines then wasted with students who wouldn’t develop even the most rudimentary understanding of the magic involved.

That was one of the reasons why she enjoyed her special class with Annie and Kerry: she preferred quality over quantity.

Outside it was still clear with the temperatures hovering around 18 C. Gone were the overcast skies that greeted the morning and the windy conditions that heads lasted from just before lunch until perhaps an hour before. It had become such a nice afternoon that she decided to walk back to the Instructor’s Residents rather than jaunt—

Though she needed to take a slight detour first.

She jaunted from Memory’s End to a point just outside the shaft known as Dolvan’s Stairs, named due to its proximity to the Dolvan Pavilion. Though she’s used Far Sight to ensue she didn’t jaunt on to someone—which would be a disaster—she’d known the Westerly Path, as it was called, was going to be deserted. Not only didn’t many walk this way to the structures north of Memory’s End, but it was almost Friday dinner and all the school’s students would be on their way to the Dining Hall—

Well, almost all students.

She looked up and down the path to once again ensure she was alone, then Deanna turned right and began walking slowly north. In less than a minute she was standing next to the Dolvan Pavilion where she paused before looking around once more. Absolutely certain she was alone, she turned right and stepped off the path, making her way among the trees and foliage.

She didn’t have to go far to reach her destination, for only a few meters from the path was the shoreline of Lake Lovecraft. As a student she often visited Dolvan Pavilion and gazed eastward through the thinned foliage while thinking about the past events of the day and what lay ahead; today she was here to witness something else. Something that she felt was about to occur, something that required her to remain unseen.

 

There you have it: Deanna Arrakis being all stealthy and sneaky and stuff, roaming around the shores of Lake Lovecraft.  With her parents we are presented with a question: what would bring her out to Lake Lovecraft to witness something that requires her to remain unseen?  Well, if you’ve read the other two books, you probably have a good idea about what is going to happen next.

If not, I guess I’ll have to show you tomorrow.

Talk of the Town: All the Investment

Well, that was an interesting night.  I got my back fixed but I did not get a Unicorn Frappuccino because the Camp Hill Starbucks are run by asses and didn’t have enough ingredients stocked.  So no magical comments for you guys, and if you don’t have one ready for me tonight when I return, you are gonna be toast here tomorrow.

This after all the running around I did last night, I returned home about fifteen minutes before a bus captain webinar I logged into for this Saturday’s trip to D.C. for the March For Science.  Yes, I’ll be in Washington doing the captain of the bus thing again, but this weekend won’t be a big as the last time I was down about that way.  The last number I saw was an estimated 100,000 showing, which is still pretty respectable.  Hey, I’ll be making my voice heard–and I’m not getting paid.  Trust me.

One thing I did manage was to lay out Chapter Twelve.  And if I’m even luckier I’ll start the next scene.  If I do I’ll show you the scene titles so you can have a laugh…

Speaking of laughs–that’s something Helena isn’t doing.  And as we end the scene Ramona is more or less with the head sorceress:

 

 

 

 

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

 

Helena was about to say something when Ramona interrupted. “Did you notice Isis playing around with her tablet throughout the test?”

“As a matter fact, I did.” Helena removed her arm from the back of the chair and folded her hands together in her lap as she leaned forward. “You think she was streaming the test?”

“The only reasons she would’ve kept checking her tablet is one, she wanted to make certain her firewall in place and no one was hacking the signal; two, she’d want to make certain the bit rate didn’t fall too low.” Helena glanced up at a point on the wall above Ramona’s head. “And three, she would’ve also been watching the Marionette streams.”

There wasn’t anything in Ramona’s logic that Helena saw as incorrect. Given the large number of Spy Eyes in the room, she’d already accepted the possibility that San Francisco wasn’t just recording but live streaming as well. And given the way the homunculus acted—particularly during the third phase—it wasn’t difficult to believe there were puppet operators working the other end.

“All that makes sense.” Helena leaned sideways against the arm of her chair and sighed. “When that test started it was a little after five in San Francisco; that means they were getting people in place at four this morning.” She shook her head. “That’s a hell of a lot of preparation for a four minute test.”

 

Yeah, when your zombies are working together to take out one person, you can bet there are live people on the other end pulling those puppet strings.  What Helena says is also true:  a lot of prep work when into this test, and it seems as if San Francisco was, pardon the pun, pulling a lot of strings.  This is not normal procedure and it leaves both women wondering what it all means…

 

Ramona nodded. “That’s what I thought. That’s also why I thought this wasn’t approved by Gabriel: I don’t think he’d of had the audacity to invite people out that early in the morning to view this test live.” She, too, leaned against the arm of her chair. “You think you can find out who was involved in setting up this test?”

Helena shrugged. “Doubt it. While I’ve done my fair share of work for SOP, I’m in a completely different division. That means that some of the inner manifestations to go along with an SOP test are kept hidden from me.”

“You have any contacts who might be able to looking to those inner workings?”

“I have a few, but…” Helena rubbed her hands together as she considered the matter. “While those contacts don’t mind helping me out in a pinch with something they also see is bullshit, they’ll likely balk when I start asking them organizational questions—particularly who is doing and what at a continental headquarters.”

While Ramona knew nothing of the internal workings of the Guardians, she could see members of a super-secretive organization being just a secretive when it came to revealing their table of organization. “I guess we’ll find out who’s running things there eventually.”

Helena smirked. “Eventually.”

“So what do you think this means for those two?”

Helena pressed a fingertip against her right cheek as she contemplated this new reality. “It means someone has taken a rather exuberant interest in our couple.”

Ramona was quick to notice the deep frown crossing Helena’s face. “What’s wrong?”

The sorceress gave a deep sigh. “I’m somewhat torn.”

“By?”

She stared off into a corner of the room so that she didn’t have to look across the desk. “I don’t know if I should be excited, pleased, or terrified at that prospect.”

 

You know, when Helena is worried, everyone should worry.  You should worry more when she doesn’t know how she should feel, though, ’cause that’s always bad.  The take away here is the Guardians are upping their game on my kids and since we know they’re getting a mission, you can expect said missions won’t be anything like Kansas City.

And yes:  you will find out what’s going on behind the scene and those questions will be answered in this novel.  Act Two:  don’t miss it.

With that done, it’s time to move on to one of the moments that my kids get to share together…

Talk of the Town: Not Who You Think

It took a few weeks, but I reached another milestone last night: I finished Part Three in the novel.  It didn’t take a lot–just a little over eight hundred words–but that was enough with the scene the bed, finish the chapter, and set the part aside.

All those First Drafts looking nice and pretty.

This means it’s time to move on to Part Four, which means I’m into the last part of Act One. It also means I’m into the first of the chapters, Chapter Twelve, that need to be laid out now.  Chapter Eleven was the last chapter in the book which I plotted out, and now it’s necessary to move on ahead and start laying out scenes.  Tonight I’m likely going to do that for Chapters Twelve and Thirteen and perhaps lay down a few scenes for the remaining three chapters of Part Four.

Yeah, I got some work ahead of me. But it’s not like I don’t know what’s coming…

Speaking of that–not knowing what’s coming, that is–let’s move a little further along in our conversation between Ramona and Helena and see what they make of the Great Musical Zombie Killing:

 

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

 

“How do you think I felt when Isis braced me last night?” Ramona leaned forward in her chair. “And then this morning she tells me additional things, like it’s a Do or Die test and there’s going to be music played. I didn’t understand that at all.”

Helena snorted. “And what was with the music? Who the hell picked that song?”

“I assume someone in San Francisco. I mean, if anyone wants to know what sort of music Kerry likes, all they need to do is go out to his YouTube account and take a look at his playlists. It’s all public, so it’s not like anyone would need to go out there snooping about in secret.”

Helena rubbed her eyes as she considered Ramona’s remarks. “It’s goddamn stupid, if you ask me. I’ve never seen a test conducted that way.” She tilted her head back and let herself go slightly limp. “Gabriel must’ve been tripping bear balls when he put this test together.”

Ramona stared across her desk at Helena for about five seconds before she shook her head. “That test was not authorized by Mr. Gabriel.”

 

First, we now know that Kerry has a bunch of public playlist on a YouTube account–which makes him sound just like a certain author we all know.  Well, it is cheaper than paying for Pandora or Spotify, though one day Kerry likely will start doing that.  (As to whether or not Annie has Pandora and/or Spotify, I think we already know the answer to that question.)  Second, this is the first time we’ve also heard Helena use an expression like “tripping bear balls”, which is an unusual thing for her to say, but not completely out of the question.  It also makes me wonder if she is somehow related to Cheryl Tunt…

Lastly, though, we see that Helena is just too close to the problem and can’t see something that Ramona picks out immediately: that a person she’s had dealings with in the past concerning Guardian affairs didn’t do something she thinks he did.  And Ramona’s reasoning?

 

Helena sat up long enough to recross her legs and throw her left arm over the back of her chair. “What do you mean?”

“I mean it doesn’t seem like his style.” She tapped her index finger against the tip of her nose several times as she thought. “I’ve only had to deal with the gentleman a couple of times, but everything I’ve seen leads me to believe that he would never authorize a test like the one we had this morning. His style is classical, while the one we saw today—” She gave a quick shrug. “Totally modern pop.” Ramona lay her right hand on her desk and tapped it for a few moments. “Did you recognize any of the names on the emails you received?”

That was an easy question to answer as there was only one name on Helena’s email. “I recognized the name on my email right away: I’ve been dealing with her for six years.”

“There’s been three or four people I’ve had to deal with in the last six years and only one of their names popped up among the three I saw on the email they sent me regarding additional requirements for the test.” Ramona gave her head another shake and tapped her fingers on the desk once more. “Between that and the conduct of today’s test, I don’t think I’m entirely off base when I say I’m not sure the old guard is still in place in San Francisco.”

Though Helena wasn’t ready to agree with all of Ramona’s assessment, her comments concerning Mr. Gabriel and how it seemed unlikely he would’ve authorized the test they witnessed today did ring true. Though Helena didn’t work directly for SOP—she was actually a member of Field Operations Division, or FOD, which some wags in the Guardians said was the acronym for “Forced on Operation and Died”—she had plenty of opportunities to cross from one department to another, and had had more or less a cordial relationship with Gabriel for little more than a decade.

This meant she knew something of the way he conducted himself, as well as the way he conducted business as the director of San Francisco SOP, and Ramona was right: there was no way he would’ve authorized today’s test. His idea of a test would’ve been far more traditional—possibly more homunculus on the test area at once as well as a shorter time period in which to achieve goals. But he would’ve never set this up as a Do or Die operation, nor would he have allowed music to be played—at least not the music they heard today.

Helena was about to say something when Ramona interrupted. “Did you notice Isis playing around with her tablet throughout the test?”

 

Once you establish yourself as having a particular style, it’s easy to notice when that style changes.  With most of these witches, style change doesn’t come about easily, so something drastic occurs one can assume that someone new is calling the shots.  That’s what Ramona noticed right away, probably because while she’s had dealings with the Guardians, they’ve been limited.  This would make any change in procedures stand out rather dramatically.

And for the first time we find out which section of the Guardians Helena works for: Field Operations Division.  She stated before that she’s done work for SOP, but they are not the boss of her–at least not directly.  Because of her injuries we know FOD doesn’t put Helen out in the field as much as in the past, and when she does go out it’s usually in a supervisory capacity.  Which may or may not be all right with Helena, but there’s little she can do to buck her bosses at this point.  Besides, like it or not she’s collecting a paycheck from both the school and the Guardians, so why complain?  And, being at the school as she is, she’s usually the first to see new talent. Like, you know, a couple of kids who arrived at Salem two years ago–

With these questions out of the way close again quickly on the end of this conversation…

Talk of the Town: What Was That BS?

Yesterday was not what I would call a good day.  Though, in a way, it was a good day–perhaps it was really not that good of a night.  I had a lot to do during the day, and believe it or not, I got it done. Even I was surprised.  But then I started thinking about something… And that set off the triggers, and for a significant part of the evening I was nothing but a slimy, blubbering mess.

Also, I discovered I need to buy a corkscrew.  Bummer.

What this means is that I’m no longer had of the curve.  The end of this excerpt is about twelve hundred words ahead of where I’m at right now in the story, so unless I get my butt into writing, pretty soon I’m going to hit one of those points where I’m going to be writing just get the excerpt out.  And I don’t want that ’cause that’s even more stressful.

Ah, how did I ever get in a situation?

Now the test is over the recriminations began.  Well, maybe not so much recriminations as a postmortem as to what “that test” was about.  And just as it was at the beginning of this chapter with the first scene, this scene returns the same players, with Annie and Kerry mentioned but not seen.  And it doesn’t take long to get right into the discussion:

 

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

 

It wasn’t long after half past sixteen that Ramona received word that the instructors who spent the afternoon in Boston had returned that she heard the clacking of heavy boot heels in the hallway outside her door. She opened it some forty-five minutes earlier, for she had anticipated a visitor—
And now that visitor was here.

Helena stopped in the open doorway and let out alongside. “Well.” She stepped inside the office and waved the door closed behind her, waiting until it latched before continuing.

“To paraphrase Kerry, what was that bullshit we saw this morning?”

“Quite the spectacle, wasn’t it? I was just going over the video from the test.” Ramona looked down as she chuckled in a low voice. “I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen either of them flustered after a test—or ever, for that matter.”

The right corner of Helena’s mouth curved upward in the smirk. “I think they were caught up in the moment. I know I’ve trained them not to act that way, at least during a stressful situation.”

“They were finished with the test, so I think I can allow them a little slack.”

 

My kids have expressed frustration in the past, but it’s almost always been in the private sector: they rarely shown that frustration publicly.  In the last book Annie get frustrated with Kerry, who was getting frustrated learning Exsanguination, and both experienced some frustration both with family and, um, “frustration”, if you know what I mean.  The closest there’s been a public frustration moment was the first night at Advanced Spells when Annie had trouble doing levitation and we discovered that while she always wanted to be a bad ass sorceress, she hadn’t always kept up on the real simple spells.

But to get so frustrated in the aftermath of a devilishly hard test that you turn and start screaming at your instructor?  Yeah, the kids need to work on that.  Oh, and about what Annie said–

 

Silently Helena admitted that she agreed with Ramona; publicly she’d say nothing. “While we were out I wanted to ask Annie what she said while we were out, but I was afraid she take it the wrong way.”

“She said ‘Who put this fucking test together?’.” This time Ramona’s chuckle was much louder. “I had Sabrina translate the comment.”

Helena raised an eyebrow as a smile slowly formed on her face. “That girl is getting quite a mouth on her.”

“Can’t imagine where she getting that from.”

“Yeah, and you can fuck right off with that shit.” Helena crossed her arms as she looked away for a moment. “Though her question about the test remains valid.”

“I’m wondering about that same thing as well.” Ramona motioned Helena to a chair. “Not only was I surprised by the orders I received, but discovering that Isis had additional orders that she didn’t past either of us wasn’t something I expected.” She shook her head. “It’s not often I have to work with the Guardians, but they’re usually straightforward in their dealings—and when they are being sneaky, you can usually tell.”

The matter of having three different people involved in today’s test, and not seeing information passed from one person to the next, had bothered Helena through most of the afternoon. She had to agree with Ramona’s assessment: it wasn’t unusual for the Guardians to be sneaky, but one could usually tell when that was happening. “I don’t know what the hell this was. I mean, why it wasn’t such a big deal to add on six additional homunculus and then not have you tell me?” She sat back and crossed her legs. “I don’t get it.”

 

First off, we get Annie dropping a F Bomb once more, and this time in Bulgarian.  Being that this is the third novel, she gets one more opportunity to say that particular word again–which means Kerry has a three F Bomb limit as well.  Hey, Patrick O’Brian did something similar, and that means I can as well.  And as far as Ramona’s question about where Annie may be picking that up–yeah, we know Helena’s a good influence for that as well.

Speaking of frustration we start seeing it both with Ramona and Helena.  Neither of them can understand where the Guardians are coming from, particularly Helena, who knows how they operate.  And tomorrow will get into their frustration a little bit more…