The Run Up to the Start

Last night was Get My Images For Recap Night so that I can write said recap tonight, and I was breaking my brain for most of the evening thinking about the last chapter of Part Three of C For Continuing.  Because that’s the way I am:  I get fixated on these things and continue working them in my head until it sort of drives me nuts.  Which is also called “Being a Writer”, so I suppose it’s normal.

I’ve been kicking around a few scenes for the last couple of days, mostly when I have a free moment at work when I can sit and daydream for about five minutes.  But a few scenes don’t equate something coherent, and that’s what I needed.

It was about the time I was getting my last few images together that it hit me:  how about a week of classes?  I did that in the first novel, but not really so much in the last.  I mean, I did, but there wasn’t a lot of showing going on, just meeting and telling.  This time I wanted to not only get into a week of classes, but a week of their special classes, which means I’m going to do something almost never done before–

A lot of things, actually.

What does the chapter look like, then?  Like–

C For Continueing Chapter Nine

This.

All of the classes here are advanced, with the exception of one, and we’ll get to that in a moment.  There’s also two things here that haven’t been seen, one for obvious reasons, and another because I didn’t show it in the last novel.  So it’s time to show them here.

First up is Welcome to the Superlab.  I’ve mentioned that there is a chemical superlab over in the Tesla Center, and Advanced Formulistic Magic is gonna start cookin’ over there once in a while.  The chances are they’re not gonna go full Heisenberg and start cranking out magical meth, but they are gonna mix up something.  And this means I gotta start doing my research on how the lab is set up and what can they make.  Besides drugs.

The next day is a twofor.  First To Walk in Darkness, which is Annie and Helena together for their Tuesday night training.  Annie’s gonna learn a new spell, and it’s one that’s a little tricky to do, even for good sorceresses.  The second is Size Matters, and this Kerry in Advanced Transformation Crafting at the same time that Annie is getting her instruction.  Maybe we’ll get to see Jessica turn someone into a potted plant.

The next scene is Time Wise, and this is in Wednesday’s class, and you can probably guess what they’re working on.  I’ve got to work up some protocols for Wends to follow, because she’s a safe little witch except for those times she’s trying to kill people who make her mad.

Curtain Pulling hasn’t been shown before–oh, wait:  it has.  Sorta.  This is Deanna with the kids doing some special astral stuff, and we’ll get to see a little more of Deanna’s style of instruction, which is probably sweet and gentle–or maybe not.  Maybe she’ll just whack the kids with an astral stick until they get good.

And finally, Testing Kali.  If you figure out that the first date in this chapter falls on a Monday, then you can see this is Sunday, and this is time for Advanced Self Defense.  Kali, aka Arnis, aka Eskrima.  Ever see any of the Jason Bourne movies?  If you have, Kali is the martial arts form Bourne uses, and it’s considered one of the best in the world, employing the idea that minimal effort is required to take down your opponent with either empty handed or with weapons–or even both.  I actually want to show off the kids abilities this novel, and . . . they’ll get that chance.

Tonight if I have time I’ll start working on the trailer, but that’s my goal for Wednesday and Thursday, because I for sure want to have it up and ready to go on Saturday morning.  I have a lot to do and not a lot of time in which to do this.

But, hey:  I like a challenge.

The New Plot

So, the plotting has begun.  Not a lot so far, unless you consider six chapters not a lot.

Yeah, let me start beating myself up here.

Yeah, let me start beating myself up here.

Then again, I feel like I should have more but I got involved in taking a nap and finishing up my binging of Breaking Bad, and, oh, yeah, I needed about an hour to chill my shit after my latest Sense8 recap received a comment from one of the creators/writers/producers of that show.  You know, pretty much a normal Saturday night–

So let’s see what I have laid out so far for C For Continuation, shall we?

Chapter One is pretty much straight forward, and it contains something I’ve yet to do:  there’s a flashback.  Looking at the dates and times of the first two scenes it’s pretty easy to tell where the flashback occurs, and you may be able to figure out how it’s coming into play.  Also, looking at the times, this is almost all an Annie chapter, because it seems like most of this is happening somewhere in the mountains of Bulgaria.

C For Continuing Chapter One

Chapter Two consists of summer get together, and one big surprise that you’ll have to see.  To save you the looking up, Rendlesham Forest is Kerry’s meeting with Penny, and The Great Gates of Kiev is Annie’s meeting with Alex.  I can tell you right now, these will be fun scenes to write when I get to them.

C For Continuing Chapter Two

Chapter Three is the winding down of the Summer of 2013, and there are going to be a couple of surprises here.  The dates of the last two scenes should be to let you know they happen about a week and a half before the kids leave for staging in Paris before heading off to school.

C For Continuing Chapter Three

That’s Part One out of the way; onward to Part Two.  Chapter Four will likely be a short chapters, perhaps the shortest of the novel.  It’s probably the tightest packed for time as well, because about a half hour passed from the beginning of the first scene to the end of the third.  Short, sweet, and about as to the point as I can get in this story.

By the way, Pour Rencontrer à Paris means “To Meet in Paris,” which is what my kids are doing.

C For Continuing Chapter Four

Chapter Five has the kids doing a little roaming around in The City of Light.  The first scene is going to see a new Party of Five in Paris, and they’ll have lunch in a cafe where I had lunch in 2006–no, really.  The third scene does not have anything to do with a Woody Allen movie of the same name, so don’t expect any time traveling.  But scene two:  oh, you can expect some tears there, all for reasons that will become apparent when I finally write that scene.

C For Continuing Chapter Five

Chapter Six has the kids leaving Paris and returning to Salem.  À Plus Tard Paris means, “See you later, Paris,” because–spoilers!–this won’t be the last time Annie and Kerry visit Paris together.  Not when this is Annie’s favorite city in the whole world, at least according to her.  The second scene will answer a question brought up in A For Advanced, and I’ll likely show a little of the background stuff that goes on when Foundation people are scamming their way through Normal society.  And the last scene of this chapter is pretty self-explanatory:  the kids finally make it back to the school–they are, so to speak, home.

As I have indicated I’m playing off events already laid out in Aeon Timeline, and this newest version is coming in handy due to the programs flexibility.  I particularly like that I can now expand events without having to enter the Inspector, which is now used for editing the events.

See what I can see?  And I'm not even a Seer.

See what I can see? And I’m not even a Seer.

And one interesting thing here is that Penny is almost exactly a year older than Annie, with her birthday coming not much after Annie’s.  Well, maybe not that interesting, but it’s something I pick up on right away when looking at these new timeline events.  We also know the school has been around away, but I didn’t bother with a creation date for Paris, because if you don’t already know it’s older than hell, you need to get into your history.

What’s up for today?  Well, I meet someone for lunch, then I begin adding more chapters and scenes.  I likely won’t finish plotting this out by tomorrow, but come this Saturday I’ll have the majority of it in place.  And since I already know how this novel ends I can begin writing before putting in the last scene.

Like with most of my trips, I know my destination.  And I will arrive there safely.

Tried Or Tried Not

Not much in the way of editing happened during the night as after the events of the morning–coffee followed by brunch with three beers–I was in a lazy mood that compelled me to binge on Breaking Bad until the end of the Season 4 episode Problem Dog.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t do something useful–

While I was out getting nice and relaxed–

As you can see it was a nice day and I was feeling great.

As you can see it was a nice day and I was feeling great.

–and as I enjoyed the outside environment I was checking my updates on my phone, which means I’m now just as annoying as all those other people who do so.  One of these updates came from my long-time reader, blogger renxkyoko, and she had something to tell me:

 

‘By the way,cassie, since you’re editing….. I guess you missed this… ” Are you tried ?” to ” Are you TIRED “?’

 

Yeah, I did miss that.  One of the reasons for missing that is because I have a slight case of dyslexia that causes me to transpose letter a lot of times, and even when I read things as one word, sometimes I’m actually reading it wrong.  This sucks when I’m writing as well, because I should know my tried from my tired, but I tend to blow it most of the time.

So I made a note to check the manuscript to fix this when I returned home, so after getting back to the apartment about two PM, that’s exactly want I did.

Though some probably thought I should wait at this point--

Though some probably thought I should wait at this point–

Scrivener has an easy search function:  you can type in a word in the box next to the Inspector button in the upper right of the program and Scrivener shows you every place where that word existed.

Just like I'm doing here.

Just like I’m doing here.

Now, the above image is done after I cleaned up the document, because–see that list of scenes on the left?  When I did this the first time that list was three times as long.  That’s a lot of trieds, let me tell you.

I used the find and replace option to locate the occurrences of tried, and one of the things Scrivener does is highlight said word no matter how many you have in a text box, which is what my scenes are.  Here’s what it looks like in the first scene on this list:

Yellow means it's identified, orange means that's the occurrence you're currently examining.

Yellow means it’s identified and it turns orange when you’re currently examining that particular occurrence.

When I went through this I saw a hug number of trieds:  “Kerry tried–”  “Annie tried–”  “He tried–”  “She tried–”  Holy shit, you know?  Way too many occurrences of the word, not to mention it’s so freaking passive a phrase that it drove me crazy.

With the trieds identified I set out to make them far more active voice, because you shouldn’t be trying, you should be doing.  What’s the thing that old grumpy green muppet from a swamp planet says?

Yeah, that's the one.

Yeah, that’s the phase.

If the characters are trying they aren’t doing.  “Kerry tried not to look at Annie–”  No, he should either look away or look towards her.  “Annie tried to craft her spell–”  No, Annie succeeds or fails while crafting magic.  “Emma tried to get Kerry’s attention–”  Well, yeah, she’ll try, but she should have waved or call his name or throw her arms around him, though she shouldn’t take that last action in Annie’s presence if it’s her intention to keep her blood inside her body.

I spent a good hour going through the manuscript finding all the “tried” stuff and rewrote it so it was either do or do not.  There was no trying, it was all doing.  And that’s from my writing the first draft that way, but there wasn’t an excuse for leaving it in during the revision.  Now it’s out and I’ve made a note of keeping an eye on that stuff, since I’m certain I’ll find it in B For Bewitching as well.

There are other ways the Scrivener search function works besides just looking or words and phrases.  For example:

A For Advanced Search Setup

You can search for titles, for labels (what’s first draft, what’s revision, and so on), and most importantly, keywords.  I can assign those to scenes and then used that information to search back through the document to figure out where something is when I need to reference it for a future scene.  For example, if I want to know the scenes that have to do with school evaluations, I assign “Evaluation” as a keyword, then tell the search function to look for keywords, and–

Just like that, there they are!

Just like that, there they are!

This is an easy one, and I could have just as easily said to look for that word in the title.  But as I go on there are a lot of different words to set up:  “Dreams”; “Visions”; “Sorcery”; “Morte”; “Birthdays”; “Presents”.  It’s all there.  Then if I’m in my C Level novel and I need to know about a present Kerry gave Annie and see the background on that, I pull up the A and B Level novel and keyword search for those scenes.  So rather than keep all this crap in my head and then have a good idea where to look for things when needed, I just search for keywords.

See?  Even though it was a bit of a boozy afternoon, that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn something.  All I needed to do was a little . . . searching.

And not to try, but to do.

The Meet So Long Ago

A lot of things were done yesterday after I finished putting out yesterday’s post.  Number one among them was getting a little too toasted at Sunday brunch.  What’s this, you say?

Yep.  After leaving the coffee shop I stopped at a local restaurant for brunch, decided to have a nice meal of steak and eggs, and then figured on having a beer with that meal.  For my drink selection I picked a stout called Dragon’s Milk.  One might believe that sounds as dangerous, and they are right.

Mother of Dragon's Milk at your service.

Mother of Dragon’s Milk at your service.

Oh, did I mention that it’s eleven percent alcohol?  Probably slipped my mind, as did much else after lunch, which saw me having a second Dragon’s Milk.  Yeah, I was pretty messy after strolling out of that joint, and it was a good thing I only need walk about five blocks to get home.

When I arrived I decided to lay around a while before getting into a little work on the computer and a whole lot of hydrating.  Oh, and I almost screwed up the first draft of B For Bewitching as I was preparing the Table of Contents for a beta reader.  And by “screwed up” I mean I nearly trashed the manuscript when I got a little carried away and ended up dumping the majority of the story under one chapter.  After a couple of panicked moments I went to the backup–which Scrivener makes automatically–and restored everything to its original condition.

It was only after I watched Moneyball and streamed the pilot of The Americans, which I must point out I’d never seen and which had another of those cold openings that tell you little but that I enjoy greatly, that I got back into the editing.  And this brings me to a special section of the story, because this is the first face-to-face between a couple that will, for the next three quarter of a million words, spend a lot of time with their faces pressed against each other.  Yes, this was the “first” meeting of the Lovey Dovey Couple, although we know better, yeah?

I ended up rewriting most of this, as well as chopping out fifty-seven words in the process.  You can see the changes right away, where I did the job of hacking up the first two paragraphs:

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015, by Cassidy Frazee)

From the moment he’d left the hotel and headed south down Baker Street—humming that song because it was necessary—he found himself on a short walking tour of London, armed with his Nokia phone, his backpack, and the few wits he possessed.

One thing he’d not taken into consideration, and that was no matter how close one hundred meters seemed on the Google Maps screen, it was a lot further on foot. Like the trip to the tailors: the map showed it to be about four hundred meters of straight line travel, or about four-fifty once one started cutting around blocks. That converted to about a quarter of a mile, and that didn’t seem far at all.

 

That was the old; below it the new:

 

From the moment he left the hotel and headed south down Baker Street—humming that song because it was necessary—Kerry found himself walking the streets of London, a city he’d never been in alone, armed only with his mobile, his backpack, and his wits.

One thing he didn’t take into consideration, however, was that no matter how short one hundred meters appeared on Google Maps, it was a lot further on foot. Like his trip to the tailors: the map showed it to be about four hundred meters of straight line travel, or about four-fifty once one started cutting around blocks. On the screen it didn’t seem far at all—

 

Right off the back you can see the first paragraph was rearranged, while the second was altered and shortened.  A lot of stuff ended up like that before I was over, though some of it was more subtle.  Take, for example, their first introduction.  Here’s the before:

 

“Uh, huh.” Kerry though that perhaps the girl would maybe smile, but no, she continued her quiet examination of him standing before her. She slowly crossed her legs. “And what of your accent? You’re not from the UK, either.”

“No, you’re right.” He stopped casting glances at his feet and looked directly at the girl. “I was born in the U.S.—California, actually—but a couple of years ago my family moved to Cardiff . . .”

“Cardiff?” The girl spoke the word with a heavy whisper.

“Yeah.” Kerry was pretty sure he hadn’t misspoken the name of his adopted home. “I’ve been there a couple of year.”

Silence returned, and it seemed to Kerry as if the shadows around the girl had almost thickened. She set her book aside and slowly stood. “I’m sorry; I’ve been so rude.” She stepped out of the shadow and for the first time Kerry saw her in better light. She held out her right hand. “Annie Kirilova.”

“Kerry Malibey.” He hesitated before shaking her hand lightly. It was the first time he’d shook hands with a girl his age. He’d shook hands with women before—like with Ms. Rutherford at the house—but he’d never done this with a girl, and it made him feel sort of funny inside.

 

And now the after:

 

“Uh, huh.” She didn’t take her eyes off him as she slowly crossed her legs. “And what of your accent? You’re not from the UK, either.”

“No, I’m not.” He stopped casting glances at his feet and looked directly at the girl. “I was born in the U.S.—California, actually—but a few years ago my family moved to Cardiff—”

“Cardiff?” The girl spoke the word in a heavy whisper.

“Yeah.” Kerry was pretty sure he hadn’t misspoken the name of his adopted home. “I’ve lived there since 2008.”

Silence fell over them as if the shadows around the girl reached out and grew thick around them both. She set her book aside and slowly stood. “I’m sorry; I’ve been so rude.” She stepped out of the shadow, and for the first time Kerry saw her in better light. She held out her right hand. “Annie Kirilova.”

“Kerry Malibey.” He hesitated before shaking her hand. It was the first time he’d shook hands with a girl his age. He’d shook hands with women before—like with Ms. Rutherford at the house—but he’d never done this with a girl, and it made him feel lightly funny inside.

 

You feel funny around a girl, Kerry?  You better get used to that.

Throughout most of the intro there were a lot of necessary words, so those were removed or rewritten.  The best thing, though, is that I get to reread this stuff that I wrote almost three years ago, and realize that it wasn’t bad; in fact, it was pretty good.  It only needed a little polish to make it better.

And there's a bit more polishing to do before my kids get to school.

And there’s a bit more polishing to do before my kids get to school.

Revising the Beginning

What happened last night?  Editing happened, okay?  No, seriously, a lot of editing happened.

I finally went back to the well and brought up A For Advanced and decided that, yeah, now’s the time to start getting this ready.  There’s a lot to edit and revise, and at the start it looks like a daunting task.

But, as with everything else, you start at the beginning.

But, as with everything else, you start at the beginning.

This time I went and reread everything, taking my time through the scene.  I had to edit out bad spelling and punctuation, but at the same time I wanted to fix the scene, make it flow better.  I’ve learned a few things in two and a half years since starting this novel, and I know it wasn’t sterling when it went down on paper, or what passes for that today.

Now, for what comes next I employed Scrivener’s Snapshot function, which is just what you think it is:  you capture an image of a section of your story and the program hold that in the instance you want to go back to it for some reason.  You can then cut and paste out parts if you get a little delete happy, or just roll back all the words and start over again.  This is one of the reasons I cut my novel into scenes:  that allows me to capture small chunks of the story, rather than a huge hunk at one time.

What I’m presenting today is the very beginning of the story, which is where you always go when you’re doing an edit–at least it’s that way for me.  First I’ll show you the story as it’s sat, more or less, since the start of NaNoWriMo 2013, which is when this scene was written.  So here we go–

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015, by Cassidy Frazee)

The mountains were bright under the morning sun, though the light had yet reached many of the surrounding valley floors. Within the hour every valley in and around Pamporovo, Bulgaria, would bathe in sunshine, but for now most were enveloped in quiet shadows.

In one valley lay a small lake, the surface smooth and unmoving, still in possession of a layer of light mist from the prior evening. The eastern shoreline brushed up against the heavily wooded valley side, but everywhere else the lake was surrounded by low, rolling hills marked by a few bare spots of erosion, and meadows covered in short grass. Here no trees had taken root—

Save for one spot opposite the eastern valley walls. A lone tree stood upon a slight bend in the shoreline, making it even more distinctive. It was impossible to tell the tree type: even a close scrutiny didn’t reveal its secrets. It looked out of place—and yet, based upon it’s height and the spread of the branches, it was obvious it had been there for decades.

Stranger was the color of the leaves. They were a bright yellow, as if they were dusted with saffron—an unusual color, for the other trees on the opposite bank were a uniform green with a sprinkle of brown, and nary a spot of yellow anywhere. The coloration wasn’t due to the coming of fall—it was late August and the trees wouldn’t begin changing for another two months. It was possible that the tree itself sprouted yellow leaves, but if one had visited the tree the day before, they may have seen the leaves a bright red—and the day before that a light green.

The leaves changed color, but they didn’t change with the seasons . . .

Beneath the branches a young girl with wavy chestnut hair that rested lightly upon her shoulders stood. She was dressed in a light summer blouse and jeans and sneakers, making her indistinguishable from any other eleven year old girl currently living in and around Pamporovo. She stood facing the lake, her eyes fixed upon a point somewhere across the water, her arms locked across her chest. It seemed as if she were deep in thought, staring off into space so that her mind was free from distractions. She didn’t move, nor give any indication she was aware of her surroundings.

Her expression betrayed her emotions, though. She slowly blinked as she stared across the lake with lips slightly pursed while in the cool morning shadows of her unusual tree. Mist drifted off the lake and over her, making the skin on her arms dimple. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to finally enjoy this almost-perfect morning.

The girl was about to check the time on the small wristwatch she wore when a voice called to her. “Annie!” She turned slowly; she knew the voice, and why they were looking for her—

She spotted the woman standing on the porch of a small house forty meters away. The woman waved her right arm in the air as she called once again. “Annie!”

Awareness dawned upon young girl. “Yes, Mama?”

“It’s almost ten o’clock.” This time she waved for the girl to come to the porch. “It’s getting close to the time to leave.”

Anelie Kirilova—or, as her mother, father, and the rest of her extended family called her, Annie—knew her mother was right. She knew it was nearly time to leave; she’d known this for over an hour. In another twenty, thirty minutes she’d leave this all behind and not see it again until it was all covered with Christmas snow . . .

She brushed a strand of hair from her face as she walked toward the house. “Coming, Mama.”

 

It’s not bad, but it’s not up to my current standards.  I found a few misspelled words–more like using a past tense here and there than anything else–but it doesn’t flow nicely to me.  I mean, I was straight-up writing, and the idea was to get the words out there and move on.  That means when I went through it last night I start rewriting and getting lines so they felt right.

Here’s how it changed:

 

Though many of the surrounding mountains reflected the bright morning sunshine, there were still valleys that remained untouched. Within the hour, however, every valley in and around the resort of Pamporovo, Bulgaria, would lay bathed in light, but for now most remained enveloped within quiet shadows.

In one valley west of town lay a small lake. The surface was smooth and still and remained in possession of a layer of light mist from the prior evening. The eastern shoreline brushed up against the heavily wooded valley side, while elsewhere the lake was surrounded by low, rolling hills marked by a few bare spots of erosion and, to the north, a small meadows covered in short grass. Nowhere in these areas had trees taken root—

Save for one spot along the northwest shore. A lone tree stood upon a slight crook in the shoreline, making the tree even more distinctive. It was impossible to tell the species: not even a close scrutiny revealed secrets. It seemed out of place—and yet, based upon its height and the spread of the branches, it was obvious the tree had been there for decades.

Stranger yet were the color of the leaves. They were a bright yellow, as if were dusted with saffron—an unusual color, for the trees on the opposite bank were a uniform green with a sprinkle of brown, and there was nary a hint of yellow anywhere. The coloration wasn’t due to the coming of fall—it was late August and the trees wouldn’t begin changing for another two months. It was possible that the tree itself sprouted yellow leaves, but if one had visited the tree the day before, they may have seen the leaves a bright red—and the day before that a light green.

For while the leaves changed color they didn’t change with the seasons.

Beneath the branches stood a young girl with wavy chestnut hair that rested lightly upon her shoulders. She wore a light summer blouse and jeans and sneakers, all of which made her no different the other eleven year old girl living in and around Pamporovo. She stood facing the lake, her arms locked across her chest while her eyes lay fixed upon a point somewhere across the water. Her mind was free from distractions while staring off into space: she didn’t move, nor give any indication she was aware of her surroundings.

Her expression appeared to betray her emotions, however, as she slowly blinked while staring across the lake. Her lips slightly pursed for a moment, then a portion of the morning mist drifted up and over the shore, surrounding her for a moment. She closed her eyes as the skin on her arms dimpled, so that she could, for a few moments, finally enjoy this almost-perfect morning.

The girl was about to check the time on the small wristwatch she wore when a distant voice called out. “Annie!” She turned slowly: she knew the voice, and knew why they were here looking for her—

She spotted the woman standing on the porch of a small yet modern-looking house forty meters away. The woman waved her right arm in the air as she called once again. “Annie!”

The young girl finally broke her silence. “Yes, Mama?”

“It’s almost ten.” This time she waved for the girl to come to the porch. “It’s getting close to the time to leave.”

Anelie Kirilova—or, as her mother, father, and the rest of her extended family called her, Annie—knew her mother was right. She knew it was nearly time to leave; she’d known this for over an hour. In another twenty minutes she’d leave her home in the mountains and not see it again until all lay covered by Christmas snow . . .

She brushed a strand of hair from her face as she began walking toward the house. “Coming, Mama.”

 

There you go:  my venture back into editing and revision.  And if you follow my author’s page on Facebook, you’ll see the true dope laid down:  “Began Revising Act One in preparation for publication.”  It’s time, kids:  you need to get out on the stage.

Now you have a pretty good idea how I’m going to spend my summer.

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.

Changes Amid the Darkness

It’s a late morning for me, with a lot of slow writing last night and this morning.  I’ve been taking my time with the current scene, probably because the words aren’t flowing from me as they once did.  Seven hundred fifty words written yesterday; four hundred twenty this morning.  After burning up the pages for a while, I’m still getting out the plot, just not the way I have since–how long have I been working on this?

Wow.  I started on B For Bewitching on 11 April, 2015.  Today is 2 August, 2015.  According to the date calculator on the Time and Date website, tomorrow will mark one hundred and fifteen days since I started working on this novel, which means I’ve been writing, with just a couple of days off, for three months and three weeks:

Numbers never lie--well, almost.

Numbers never lie–well, almost.

If I calculate my word count right, by tomorrow I’ll have averaged eight hundred and eighty-seven words a day, which isn’t a bad average when I consider I’m mostly doing this in the evening after work, and finding the time on the weekend, when I’m not running around getting things done.

Just keep writing, as they say.  Just keep writing.

Last night I sat down and did something I’ve mentioned a couple of times during the last few blog posts:  I separated Chapter Ten into two chapters, and then began renumbering the old chapters.  It took some time, and I still have to do the chapters in Act Three, but now that it’s done the segregation makes sense.  Racing is in one chapter, dancing is in another.  All is right in my Bewitching World . . .

It also looks prettier.  Sort of.

It also looks prettier. Sort of.

I did this a few time with A For Advanced, and I sometimes find myself wondering why I put myself through this craziness.  The answer is simple:  because I’m always trying to do what I think is right.  I think about how this will look if and when published, and part of my mind is saying, “You know your readers will like it when things are formatted correctly.”  So you pull things apart and set them up correctly.

It’s easy to do when you have project management software.  Of course you then have to go through and change numbers and that sort of thing, but it’s something you do.  Laying things out four months ago is when I created the road map, but it’s only once I began the journey that I started seeing the route.  And I figure the route is gonna change some more as time goes on, so it if does, I just keep making changes where they are needed.

I’ll finish up Samhain today and start on the next chapter, which is pretty much Annie-centric.  You know how I say you don’t want to make Annie mad?  Well, you’ll see what happens when that happens.  In the meantime it’s nighttime in the Pentagram Garden, and a couple of kids are about the finish a discussion that Annie started some hours before–

They've been here before, and believe it when I say they'll be her during a few more Samhains.

They’ve been here before, and believe it when I say they’ll be her during a few more Samhains.

We’ll see where their route goes, that much I know.

Life in Three Acts

I know what you’re thinking:  what, no writing again?  Yeah, that’s been happening of late as I’ve really been in the middle of some intense socializing for the first time in months.  Actually, it’s been kinda the perfect storm of interaction of late, with my trip back to Indiana, meeting people there, then doing things on this end–yep, that actually leaves a few holes in the writing schedule.  But I’ve needed the interaction for a while, and it’s helping me recharge a little.  Actually, I was a bit weepy for the most part yesterday, and getting together with someone for dinner helped bring me out of that funk.

It was either that or spend all my time crying while writing.

But this is a good time to get into something else that’s important to writing, or at least to my writing.  And that’s to answer the question, “Why do you lay things out the way you lay them out?”  Besides the answer, “Because I’m strange,” it’s really due in part to helping me keep action organized in a format that’s fairly well-known to writers around the world.

First off, let’s speak of something known as three act structure.  This is probably one of the most basic of all writing tools that’s used in so many stories that once you start getting heavy into reading the works of others, you’ll recognize it immediately.  Stephen King employed it to good use in most of his novels, particularly with The Stand and IT, and Joss Whedon has used this in both his Avenger movies.

The set up is easy:  the story is broken into three acts, often known as the Setup, the Confrontation and the Resolution.  The Setup is mostly exposition, where the story is set up, the character met, backgrounds laid out, and so on.  The Confrontation is just that:  the challenges are met and things start getting a little dicey.  The last act is the Resolution, where everything is tidied up and the hero–or heroes–walk off into the sunset victorious–or in a case of a couple of kids separated by the continent of Europe, they go home and get sad.

I had this structure in my last night, A For Advanced, because, really, it helped determine how I should sell the book when I sell the book.

I have the same thing in the current novel, 'cause why get rid of a good thing?

I have the same thing in the current novel, ’cause why get rid of a good thing?

The first time I used the three act structure was Kolor Ijo.  My characters meet in the first act and find out what’s happening.  In act two things ramp up, and in act three the move in together and take on the big bad.  That worked well enough that I decided to keep it for The Foundation Chronicles novels, while at the same time divided the story up even further.

In these two novels, acts are broken into parts that are basically a collection of interrelated things.  Let’s look below:

Hey, looks like there's a dance going on.

Hey, looks like there’s a dance going on.

Part Four, Under Pressure, deals with events in Annie’s and Kerry’s lives that affect them in different ways.  Those events becomes chapters, which contain the telling of those events.  Samhain Festivities is an event that’s good for Annie and Kerry together.  The Manor Called is something that affects Annie, and From Queens to Dreams affects Kerry.  The last, Restricted Dreamspace, is something that again affects them both, and sends Annie off asking questions.

And lastly I have scenes, and this seems to be the place where a lot of people look at me and go, “Huh?”  Since I think of my story in somewhat cinematic terms, a scene, to me, is a segment of a chapter relating to a particular event, like one would see in a movie or television show.  Let’s go back to the first Avengers movie.  You start out with the Tesseract acting up and Nick Fury coming to see what the hell is happening; that’s a scene.  Loki appears, gets his meat puppets, and scoots with the loot; that’s a scene.  There’s the chase out of the facility as everyone finished packing their shit and leaving before it all blows up and Loki vanishes with the goods; that’s a scene, and the end of a chapter.

I do the same above.  Kerry finds out he’s on the A Team–scene.  The A Team meets–scene.  They start the race–scene.  They end the race–scene.  Off to the dance and meet the other students–scene.  While Kerry dances, Annie talks–scene.  It’s all part of the festivities, and if I wanted to I could break those up between the Samhain Races and the Samhain Dance, and I may do just that when I get home.  This is why I like Scrivener, because it allows me that freedom, and given that I transition sharply from the race to the dance, it’s possible they could be two separate chapters.

That’s how I do thing, but more importantly, why I do it that way.  It also helps me keep things neat and organized, even if it looks like a huge mess.  Then again, this is what I used project management software to write my novels.

It helps keep the insanity to a minimum.

A Samhain Coming

Welcome to Act Two!  Yes, it’s true:  I started last night.  Not in a big way, but the ball is rolling.

Before I start I should tell you I went out last night and had dinner to celebrate one year of hormone replacement therapy, and enjoyed a beverage at the same time.

As you can see, it's not a Frappuccino.

As you can see, it’s not a Frappuccino.

That’s a year down and a year to go, but I only need see my doctor three more times before she’s finished with me.  In fact, I’ll see her the Monday after I return from my little side trip to Indiana next week, then not again until January, and then not again until next July.  After that I’m considered a “graduate” of Transition University, I believe, and all that remains from that point on is surgery.

Let’s talk about the story, however.

It’s Samhain, as I mention in the novel.  Actually, it’s the Samhain celebration, because the real Samhain isn’t for a few days.  We already know there’s a costume dance in the evening, an bonfires down in the meadow, but the biggest event going on that day is the racing.  It’s one of the few times when all five covens get a chance to run wild in the streets and go at each other as much as possible.

As I’d mentioned, there was a bit of set up work I needed to finished, and that involved getting the Cernunnos Race team finished, and laying out how the competition would work out.  That took a few hundred words and a bit of brain power, but I got it finished.

Can't tell your covens without a scorecard.

Can’t tell your covens without a scorecard.

What I have here is my binder on the left, the scene next to that on the right, my racing grid layout to the right of the scene, and on the very right my notes on the scene.  You see both the A and B Teams, and if they seem a little boy heavy, you’re not wrong:  in this world Cernunnos is the one coven that fields more boys than girls.  Must be that horned god thing going on .

You can see the gird I’ve laid out, with five heats total.  Most of the time the teams are running in head-to-head heats, until you get to Heat 4, and then they throw three teams on the course at once and let them race it out.  The Blackbirds of Mórrígan are the current leaders in the coven standing, so they sit out the first heat and then race one-on-one against another coven, finally getting the last race of the day.

The idea with setting up an example was to ensure that every coven got three races:  that way points aren’t all over the place, and a coven can’t say that they were screwed.  It is true that the teams who’ll get the best point advantage are the top two:  the three who race in Heat 4 have to fight harder to get a similar allocation–more teams, same number of positions for points–so they get screwed just a little.

And the scoring system used for normal racing is the same as the one used by Formula One during the years 1991 to 2002:

1st: 10
2nd: 6
3rd: 4
4th: 3
5th: 2
6th: 1

The only actual change in the scoring is during Heat 4–or whenever there are more than two covens on the course–and that’s when they use the Formula One scoring system used from 2003 to 2009:

1st: 10
2nd: 8
3rd: 6
4th: 5
5th: 4
6th: 3
7th: 2
8th: 1

There you go:  my racing setup.  It’s all set, just like the novel–

To do and not to do:  that is the question.

To do and not to do: that is the question.

That said, I look at Chapter Ten and realized I need to add two more scenes . . .

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?

Imaginary Journeys Past and Future

Back to work for a short time yesterday before heading out to get labs and dinner after almost twenty-four hours of fasting–a certainty that I’m back in The Burg and getting into my normal routine once more.  This also means that I’m back to the plotting and  planning and whatnot, and you’re right if you said I was up to something last night.

Most of the evening was taken up getting the last of the tour of Europe I’m sending my kids on in their future finished.  It wasn’t hard, believe me, because there were only three other cities to visit, with a stopover in Brno for a quick early lunch and a fast dart around the track before heading off to Vienna.

Who do you think won that race?  Wanna take bets?

Who do you think won that race? Wanna take bets?

It was a good thing I decided to plan out this trip, because it showed me where I could expand the stay overs to allow them their fifty days on the road.  It also allowed me to figure out where they were going to stay while roaming about Europe, and looking up hotels and imagining them waking up to see a Paris side street, or the historical square of Prague, or the blue Danube flowing past, was part of the entertainment that comes from putting stuff like this together.

Which is how I go from this--

Which is how I go from this–

To this.

To this.

And you should see the Junior Suites at the Hotel de L’Europe.  Oi.  Those kids got taste.

What does the whole trip look like?  A bit like this:

All through Europe, there and back again.

All through Europe, there and back again.

One of the last legs of this journey has them flying from Budapest to Sofia while following the course of the Danube for most of the way.  They end up spending about four hours in the air, their longest leg after the first.  Like with some of the other cities, staying in Sofia allows Annie the chance to show Kerry around the city and the country beyond.  It’ll also be a little comforting to her, to spend a few days in her home country before heading off for that lake house not far from her parent’s house.

And what happens after they arrive there?  I know what happens, but you’ll have to wait until I write the D Level novel to find out what goes down.  I’m just not telling you, at least not now.  All you need to know right now is that Kerry somehow ends up at Annie’s home in Pamporovo, he’s got his Espinoza, and he’s not afraid to use it.

But before I can get to D, I gotta get through B . . .

I checked my blog this morning and notice the countdown timer has changed–

I'm into days now!

I’m into days now!

Thirty days to go, and I wonder if when it gets down to less than a day if it’ll go to hours.  Doesn’t matter:  the time is set and it’s a go.  I will try to, at the least, finish the first scene, and perhaps the second and third as well.  The first scene starts off with Kerry back home, and then it goes from . . . there.  What happens next?

You’ll see in a month.

After the Turnpike Shuffle

Here I am, more or less safe and sound, back in the old homestead of Indiana.  Let me tell you, it was a wild ride yesterday.

As I may have indicated I started out from Harrisburg about midnight, so by about five in the morning, after only about, oh, no sleep in almost twenty-four hours, I was completely out of it.  I ended up stopping at the service plaza after the one where I posted yesterday’s blog entry, used the bathroom, and slept in the car for a little over an hour.  Outside.  In the cold.  Wrapped up in my jacket.  I’ve done worse, trust me.

Lack of sleep was probably one of the reasons I seemed to get through western Ohio pretty fast, because I wasn’t paying attention to anything but the road before me.  But I made it back to Valparaiso with almost no gas in the car, managed to get unpacked, and napped for almost another hour before taking my shot.

And got the picture in my HRT folder just so I can see how I keep changing.

And got the picture in my HRT folder just so I can see how I keep changing.

I was exhausted though, and was asleep by nine-thirty at night here, or ten-thirty back home, and only woke up once to use the bathroom before crawling out of bed at a little after seven in the morning, or eight back in The Burg.  That’s a good rest for me–

Oh, I should mention, I edited last night.

Really, would you expect anything less?

Really, would you expect anything less?

I did chapters Twenty-Two and Twenty-Three, and started falling asleep as I looked over Chapter Twenty-Four, the penultimate chapter.  It’s because of that last–the falling asleep part–that I decided to call it a night and slink off to bed.

(Just a bit of trivia now:  while Chapter Twenty-Four, the next to last chapter, is known as the penultimate chapter, Chapter Twenty-Three is known as the antepenultimate chapter, Chapter Twenty-Two is the preantepenultimate chapter, and Chapter Twenty-One is the propreantepenultimate chapter.  The Coda is the ultimate chapter, naturally.  Now go forth and amuse your friends.)

I’m happy with how the edit has gone, and I’ll likely do another fast pass through the story before getting to the final draft.  It’s clean, and being as short as it is–just under seventy thousand words–I can give it a read-through in about two weeks.  Bit I will feel far more comfortable with on more pass through the story before I decide it’s ready to upload to Smashwords and ready for publication.

Today I do laundry and a few other things, and I finish Kolor Ijo for sure.  It’s almost ready, and I think it’s a good addition to my tiny catalog of publications.  I’m thinking more about B For Bewitching, and I know I’ll work on the Annie and Kerry Euro Trip time line some, probably this afternoon, because I’m itching to do that.

Oh, and another picture:

Behold the horror of morning without makeup!

Behold the horror of morning without makeup!

Yeah, just to show people I’m alive, I snapped this about forty minutes ago, after a bushed my teeth and shaved.  (Yes, I still do that–bummer.)  No makeup, nothing used to bring out my face, and I’m still in my pajamas.  This is how I look while I’m typing this line . . .

Hope I didn’t scar you with that image.  Haha!