Time Into the Grind

This has started out to be a strange, busy week.  I have a number of things to finish up at work, but none of them really require me to spend more than an hour or so here or there working on them.  I was in a bit of a panic over something that happened to a friend yesterday, and discovered later that it was really nothing.  I’m preparing to head back to Indiana for a week, and dreading the time I’ll spend on the road, and even a little of the time back home, because I know it’ll be full of stress.

And I’m looking at what I have for writing.

I finished up a rather large chapter of Kolor Ijo last night, and I have another to do tonight and another to do in a few days, but the tale of the tape shows there are five chapters–including the one I should do tonight–and about sixteen thousand words ahead of me remaining, and then the pass through this edit is over.  I was fortunate that I’d figured out the mystery ahead of time, because it made things easier when it came to writing it out, and I don’t have any discernible plot holes staring me in the face.  Given the amount of work left, I will finish Kolor Ijo this weekend.  And then come the question–

"Should I call her maybe?"

“Should I call her maybe?”

Uh, no:  not that one.  It’s the one about what comes next.  The one I’m always having.

This is where I need to get disciplined about what to do, because there’s more to writing and, um, writing.  Creating is one thing, but getting that creation out there for people to see is another, and I’m solely lacking in the later.  Since 2011 I’ve only managed to publish three things, and nothing new has gone out in three years.  That wasn’t my real plan when I started on this trip, and getting behind another big project is going to press me further from getting another work out there.  It’s great to be writing, but it’s also great to have people reading your writing.  And plopping down a few coins for the pleasure of doing so.

Hate to say it, but concentrating on writing three stories–a novelette and two novels–in the last two years has pushed everything to the back burner.  And while the urge to get into writing another novel is high, the urge to get something out for people to buy is even higher.  And it’s needed, because I can’t keep working in a vacuum with my writing.

It’s my intention to stick to my schedule as I planed it a few weeks back:  continue editing Kolor Ijo and get it ready for publication.  Now that I have B For Bewitching mostly plotted out, I can start the process of working it out in my head even more, so that when I do begin writing, I’ll know the literary route I must take.  Really, the most difficult thing I’m dealing with now if finding covers for my books, but I’m working on that, trust me–

I’m guessing that if any new writing starts, it’ll come around the first of May.

That gives me a whole month to get organized . . .

Be End of the B

It seems like not too long ago I said I was going to go ahead and start plotting out the next Foundation novel, probably some time in May.  And it wasn’t too long after that when I mentioned on this blog when I mentioned that I’d started said plotting, mostly because I wanted to get started on that.

And now I can tell you I’m finished, most or less, with the major plot out.  This is what happens when you have these things in your head and they want out:  you can’t say no to them.

I have finished Parts Ten and Eleven, and that’s all there is, folks.  One change I made was moving Part Seven to Act Two, so that now Act One is Parts One, Two, and Three, and Acts Two and Three have four parts each.  There are thirty-two chapters, which are ten fewer than the last novel.  Still, after looking at what I did today, I added fourteen scenes to the story, bringing the total, so far, to one hundred and twenty-nine scenes.  I’ll likely add a few more along the way, so I’m guessing the novel will top out around one hundred and thirty-five scenes, which should work out to an estimated two hundred thousand words.  Only about half the last novel, but still . . . it’s a lot of words.

I’m still thinking a quarter of a million is going to be more the real length.

Let’s see what we have.  Here’s Part Ten.

Sort of looks like May is here.

Sort of looks like May is here.

As you may remember, 3 May is Kerry’s birthday, so there are a few scenes dealing with that event, just as there is a chapter dealing with Annie’s birthday.  This is something that will show up in every novel, because if there is one thing these two kids need, it’s birthday time together.  And the scene Tag-a-Long . . . That will be the last time Emma is in a scene, and probably the last time any flying is observed.  And Kisses at My Madness–the time means something, it really does.  And it’s something that’s going to happen in a later novel as well.  It’s even going to become a tradition of sorts between these two . . .

After that we have The Three Bindings, and when I speak about something happening a while back in this novel that changes everything with these kids, this is where they get into details on that.  It’s also where Erywin talks about shenanigans, and Deanna says something to Annie that makes her blush, so it must be good.  I expect Sitting by Sunset to be something short and sweet, and perhaps the moment where the kids are absolutely certain about their future–or at least the future they know they could have.

Then there’s Part Eleven–

It's one more, it's the end!

It’s one more, it’s the end!

The two chapters deal with two days.  Chapter Thirty-One deals with the departure from the school and the night Annie and Kerry spend before flying back to Europe, while Chapter Thirty-Two deals with the flight back, the arrival in Germany, and Kerry’s return home.  Annie’s last scene is the penultimate scene–which translate as “Goodbye For Now”–but she’s going to do something before leaving that will be far different than how she acted in Amsterdam when she said goodbye to her soul mate.

As you can see by the notes on the right side of the screen–said notes attached to the scene After Breakfast Jaunt–I’ve figured out the time in four different cities in four different time zones.  That’s how when I get to the penultimate scene I know the time in all four of the locations selected.  I’ll have to show you how I do that one day.

That’s it, she’s finished.  As I said, I’ll probably add a few more scenes in time, maybe as I write, but for now this is the layout for the next big project.

And I’m already thinking about that . . .

Two to Three in Five

For the first time in three week I ventured out to Panera on a Wednesday night, because I’m over my funk–well, a bit, anyway–and I needed to get out and do something.  That “something”, of course, being writing, or whatever comes close to that.  Since I’d edited about five thousand words the night before, I figured it was time to get back into B For Bewitching and start laying out a chapter or two–

Or maybe more?

By the time I was done I’d finished up one act and started another, and did something else that’s just as important to the story.  So . . . wanna see?  Of course you do:  that’s why you’re here.

First off, let’s start with the end of Act Two:

As advertised, it is surely the end.

As advertised, it is surely the end.

Three chapters, eleven scenes, though at least two of those scenes will have sub-scenes once I get into the writing of them.  I may add those before I start writing, I may wait until the words flow, but I’m certain they’ll appear.  By a rough count there is at least twenty-five thousand words that go go into just three three chapters, though who really knows, right?  Really, I’m gonna work hard to keep it under two hundred thousand words this time, I promise.

It might not look like it, but there are a couple of classroom scenes here, and Time For Death may be the most telling.  Guess what, kids?  Time for the Mistress of All Things Dark to start showing you why you’re in Sorcery.  In fact, Helena’s first words to the class will be, “Today I’m going to show you how to kill someone.”  Unspeakable Curses, my ass:  she’s gonna lay it all out for her students, and she’ll even have a way of showing the class how it’s done–alone with a couple of current students who’ve had a bit of experience in the field showing off their stuff.  No extra points for guess their names . . .

As Seen in Cardiff is being deliberately vague, because I like vague.  I was called a tease yesterday, and yep, I am.  There is a lot happening in this novel that’s a direct tease:  in fact, I don’t even get into something truly important in the life of my kids until Chapter Seventeen, and that will get jerked around until a ways into Act Three.

Speaking of which . . .

Not as nice or neat, but I'm getting there.

Not as nice or neat, but it’s getting there.

First off, ignore anything from Chapter Twenty-Two on down.  I imported A For Advanced so I could use that layout for this novel, and that’s why you see total word counts on some of these chapters.  Once I get down there and start adding things, those counts will vanish.

Chapter Twenty is a big setup for something to come.  It’s also the second time in the story we get to see our Favorite French Headmistress, who finally gets a scene of her own.  Don’t worry, Mathilde will show up a few more times in the novel, but unlike the first novel, she isn’t seen as much here.  Why?  Because she’s not a big part of this story.  The next novel, however . . .

Chapter Twenty-One, Night Flight, is already shaping up to be one of those chapters I’m really looking forward to writing, and in here is a scene that, if I can write it out as I see it in my head, is going to become one of my favorites.  Really, I want to start writing this now, but I can’t because . . . stuff.  And things . . .

Then there’s Chapter Twenty-Two, Mount Katahdin, and I haven’t laid that out yet, but it’s likely I will tonight.  Remember I once mentioned that there is a huge cross country race, three hundred kilometers in length, held every year around this location?  This is it:  this is the race.  And since I’ve already laid out a few hints about someone’s involvement in racing, you can probably figure out what’s going to happen.  This is going to be one of the most difficult chapters for me to write, because I want it to be exciting without being boring, and that’s not always easy to do.

Lastly I did this:

I have a list of names--

I have a list of names–

Long ago, back in October of 2013, I figured out all my A Levels attending the 2011/2012 Salem school year.  I not only figured out their names, but where they were from, and the coven into which they were placed.  Well, if I’m going to go forward with the novel, there has to be some attrition, and it was Triage Time last night.  Alica was already a given:  she vanished after the first night at school.  Everyone else who is italicized and has a big “(A)” after their coven name is also gone, and a close examination shows that fifty percent of Ms. Rutherford’s 2011 London Collection is no longer attending Salem.  A sad state of affairs, but Maddie did tell everyone the first day of class that by the time graduation rolls around, about half the people in the room will be gone.  Looks like it’s headed that way.

There you have it:  more fun, more madness, more happiness and sorrow.  And the best is yet to come.

It’s shaping up to be an interesting school year.

Imagining Through the Holidays

I’m at a difficult point for laying out this story, because I feel like I want to terminate what I’m working on now for Act Two and back load four or five parts into Act Three.  Which would be strange because Acts One and Two have consisted of three parts each, and I don’t want to make it feel as if Act Three is so much bigger than the others.

However, this is just planning, not the actual novel.  I have to keep reminding myself that I did some major chances to A For Advanced after I started writing, including introducing the Three Act Structure, and moving/adding/removing parts, chapters, and scenes around as I went.  I think I was several months into writing the first novel before I was confident I had it as I wanted it, and even then, most of the Kansas City chapter was modified not more than a few days before I started writing.

What do I have as of last night?  This:

More of the same, only different.

More of the same, only different.

Chapters Fifteen and Sixteen are all about the holidays, and they could expand as I think about those times more.  Chapter Fifteen is all about the kids being home, which we already know they are because of the preceding chapter.  As I have it now, there are two discussions between the kids and their mothers, and then . . . well, it would seem that I may have the kids getting together in their dreams.

I was going over the “discussions” between Annie and Kerry and their mothers, and I came up with a sort of dynamic between them.  It would seem that Annie’s mom has reasons up her sleeve for why she does some of the things she does with her daughter, and Kerry’s mom–well, that one is a little trickier to work out, because, deep down, I feel Kerry’s mom isn’t really conscious of why she does some of the stuff she does to her son, she just does them.  The thing is, I know why she has such a conflict with Kerry, and I can’t talk about it in this novel–or even the next.  It’s something that won’t come out until Kerry’s ready for his D Levels, at which point it should make sense.  Should.

Then they come back, and Goodnight Vienna is something of a trick for me, because Kerry returns to Salem with Annie, and there is a possibility that Annie’s father will be there to see her off.  Which means–does he get to finally meet the Boy of His Daughter’s Dreams?  Or do I save that?  I’m in a bit of a conflict here, and letting them meet sets up a scene much latter in life–not this book, nope, sorry, but in another–that would really press home something that Papa suspects.

And then something happens, because you don’t have a scene titled Telling Annie unless there was something to tell.  I worked that scene out last night, and it hurts, it really does.  Not for the reasons you may think, but . . . it does.  Gotta go with me on this one.

Now to decide what to do tonight, because I’m way behind on my editing . . .

The Fiction Through Their Eyes

There was so much going on yesterday, and only a small part of  it was plotting out B For Bewitching, but I did start laying out Act Two with the first chapter of the first part found within.  I also found myself going over my time line in Aeon and making a few tweaks here and there, because as I gave the story more consideration, the changes put in place made sense in the overall flow of the story.

Here is what I’ve worked up so far:

Four scenes, no waiting--well, you have to wait for me to write them.

Four scenes, no waiting–well, you have to wait for me to write them.

If you check the scene titles, it pretty much gives away something that was discussed a little at the end of the last novel, but you’ll keep that mum, right?  Actually, by showing you what I’m creating and plotting, I’ve given away two important points that were discussed at the end of the last novel, but I’m certain you were over a mind that I wasn’t going to let that go nowhere.

An interesting thing came up yesterday as well.  I was commenting that while putting this story together I was worried I might not have enough for Annie to do, and I was going over the story again and again to make certain this wasn’t going to be an All Kerry, All the Time story.  I probably worried about that because Chapter One of the novel is told entirely from his point of view–actually, it has to be told that way–and you don’t start getting Annie Vision until they take their Anniversary Trip to the Brandenburg Gate.  (Actually Annie comes in before that, but I won’t tell you where.)

Then I started looking over what I’ve set up, and realized that once I get out of the first three chapters–Part One–a lot of the story will end up being told from Annie’s point of view.  One chapter to come will be told from Annie’s point of view all the way down the line, because it really is all about her–and you’ll see why you should Never Mess With Annie.  And there are two, actually three–no, wait, four–extremely important scenes dealing with Kerry that are told from Annie’s point of view, because that’s the way it has to be.

I’ve noticed that when it comes to my kids, Kerry is my intellectual center, and Annie is my emotional one.  That’s not to say that Kerry isn’t emotional–we know he is–or that Annie isn’t intelligent, but I’ve established that Kerry thinks things out while Annie feels them.  You’ll see that change as Kerry begins leaning on those emotions more, and Annie shows she can be a pretty crafty girl, but it’s taking a bit of time to get there, so I’ll stick for a while with Kerry over-thinking things, and Annie feeling the hell out of everything.

It’s not so much that I find things for Annie to do:  she’s part of the story, a big part, and really, without her Kerry is sort of empty character–and, no, a certain ginger girl from Colorado isn’t going to fill him up.  Though their kids would have hair that would give the Weasley’s a run for their money . . .

It’s Been One Month–

The time has gone by pretty quickly, but today makes one month since coming out at work.  It really makes a lot of things, ’cause February kept me kinda busy–

I came out; I finished a novel; I finished up editing another project; I started editing one of my old novels.  I successfully fought off a cold that was trying to take me down last Friday.  I’ve answered personal question and done at least five videos.  That’s a busy schedule when it comes to the artistic endeavors; so what about work?

Um . . .

"I thought at least there would be one day when people would run screming when they saw me."

“I thought at least there would be one day when people would run screaming when they saw me.”

Work be work, mon.  The first week people came ’round to see me, to speak with me, to congratulate me on doing something brave, and I took it all in stride and with a smile on my face.  I’ve had exactly one negative comment, and I shut that down pretty quickly, but everyone else has accepted me to the point where now, I’m just another woman in the workforce.

Which is how I want it.  I was probably the most surprised to discover that my coming out was the biggest non-event, and the fear that manifested a month ago about coming into work as myself quickly evaporated as I settled in and did what I always did.  Now, tomorrow, I’m giving a program presentation, and I’m probably going to break in some new shoes because I’ll need something to keep me awake.  Or maybe go with something comfortable, because I’ll be thinking about how much my feet hurt most of that morning.

So a month down and more to come.  This week I mark eight months on HRT, and it’s hard to believe that in another four months I’ll be a full year on hormones.  I should meet up with a friend this weekend, so maybe some kind of celebration is in order.  And for when I hit the big one year mark, I really need to do something.  No problems, though:  I have four months to think about what that might be.

I’ve cut down on my writing.  Most of it is due to editing, but a lot of it is due to being tired.  Sixteen months on a single project is a long time, and I’ve not fully recharged from the event.  Yet, I really miss my kids.  I miss bringing out their world.  At the same time I feel like I can’t write about them, at least now right now.  I don’t know why I’m feeling this way, but I am.  But there are ideas coming up for the next novel, and I’ve been drawn to the urge to start up a Scrivener project and start plotting out things.  It’s not gonna be as big as the last novel, but even if it goes one hundred thousand words, that’s still a lot to write down.

Things are normal.  It’s been a month out at work and almost a month done on the novel.  The longest I’ve gone without doing any new writing is about a month, but . . . maybe I can hold out a little longer this time.

After all, I still have other things to do.

Writing at the Speed of Imagination

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

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

 

What are your top three reasons for using Scrivener?

 

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

 

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

 

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

Looks kinda cute, doesn't it?

Looks kinda cute, doesn’t it?

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

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

Welcome back, 2012 NaNoWriMo story!

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

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

Now, maybe you recognize this work . . .

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Everything.

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

I seem to have an interest in aircraft . . .

I seem to have an interest in aircraft . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That Thing You’re Not Supposed to Do

Last night, after my nap, I wondered what I should do.  It was the first time in over a year and a half–really longer than that, if I get honest with myself–that I haven’t had to think about my kids.  Or sit and write about them.  Or do both:  sit and write.  It’s been a bit of a weight off my shoulder–

And at the same time I’m a bit lost about what to do next.

Or at least I was.  I started working on that, because I’m always working.  But first, what I did that puts a lie to that first paragraph.

Because I get bored, and because I start looking for things to do when I’m bored, I started playing with a few things on the computer.  And by “playing”, I mean I began making plans.  For, you ask?  Why, the next Foundation novel, what else?  I’ve wondered when and if I would get it done, but I will more than likely start on it sometime . . . soon.  Maybe during the summer, maybe as my opening shot in Camp NaNo July, which I have gone through successfully twice now.  (For the record I always blow off the April camp, because I need a rest.)

The first thing I did was fix up my Scrivener projects.  I’ve always had my first novel on Salem, The Scouring, embedded inside the A For Advanced project, and I felt that needed to change.  Last night I broke them apart and gave them their own places to stay, then renamed A For Advanced so that it would better fit in with the names for the novels.  Then saved it all off to the external hard drives and I was good to go.

Then came Aeon Timeline, because if there is going to be a next novel, it needs stuff filled in.  When I put the basic time line together, most of the layout for the next novel revolved around Kerry, because SPOILERS! a major event happens in his life during his B Levels.  Not that something big didn’t happen to him during his A Levels, but most of what I laid out dealt with the circumstances of this event.

I know how that works for Annie as well, and speaking of Annie, it’s a different time for her.  You do find out why she doesn’t have a computer, and if she gets one, or even a phone.  You start to go through her flight training.  And based on something I came up with last night, you finally get to see what happened when someone is called out and it’s time to take the Magical Fight to the Mat.  (Hint:  Annie does the calling, but it doesn’t go the way she expects.)

If I want to do this right, I need to start plotting out events as they happen.  I know what Annie gets for her thirteenth birthday (Teenage Witch, watch out!), but I don’t know what Kerry gets for his.  I know what Kerry plays as Ostara, and I know that Annie wants to work on her paintings and drawings.  I also know that, for the first time, Annie starts feeling something that Kerry has felt for a long time, and they bring up the subject together.

I added another arc in Aeon Timelines:  Book Events.  What’s that?  It’s the time frame covered by the story, in case I was wondering the actual frame for the stories.  That will be important for the coming novels, because the opening of the stories take place before school–and with a couple of novels, cover a lot of the summer before school even starts.  (The D Level novel will do this and more.)

So now I have this on my time line:

I said I wasn't going to do anything, but . . . I lied.

I said I wasn’t going to do anything, but . . . I lied.

Don’t take this to mean I’m going to start writing tomorrow.  There is planing afoot, but that’s it:  nothing more.  Tomorrow I’ll talk about what I really have planed next.

And speaking of planning:  I need five topics to write about next week, which means it’s time for Reader Input!  So if there’s something you’d like me to write about, leave a comment in the, um, comment area and if I select your idea, you’ll get a byline as the originator of the post as well.

Give it your best shot.

Setting the Strange to Sense

The creative process is a fickle beast.  There are times when you want to do something, and you can’t bring yourself to put down word one in the computer or on paper or whatever it is you use for your medium.  And there are other times you get into your grove and start writing, and before long you sit back and realize that if you ever show other people what you just creative, they’re going to imagine you the most disturbed person who’s ever lived.

"What . . . the hell . . . did I just . . . That's not possible!"

“What . . . the hell . . . did I just . . . That’s not possible!”

And there are times when you set out to write something, and when it comes time to write you can’t, because you realize that what you want to write simply makes no sense.  You can’t start writing because you have no idea why you want to say.

That’s what happened to me yesterday.

It’s like this:  the planning process for this novel has been a long one.  I pretty much thought about doing this story for almost two years, and actually began putting this story together in June, July, and August of 2013.  That was when I took some old designs I had of the Salem School grounds and began building the current grounds as a three-dimensional map in Blender, as well as designing some of the buildings using other construction programs.

Remember this?

Remember this?

Building the school was really the catalyst I need to get serious about writing this current novel, and from there all other things flowed.  Once I knew where everything was, I could sit and plot out the novel, which I did starting in September, 2013, and finished up the following month.

A lot has been said about how I’ve plotted out the novel in it’s entirety before setting down the first word.  There’s a bit of a risk doing that, because you don’t know if what you’re plotting will actually work for certain, and you have no idea how long it’s going to take you to get to the later parts of the novels.  When you hit those later spots the possibility exists that you’re going to see something you laid out over a year before, and the first thing that comes to mind is, “Huh?”

That’s what happened yesterday.

I finished up the two scenes with Kerry’s birthday and his meeting of the minds with Annie over what it means to be a sorceress and a Guardian.  There were two scenes following in Chapter Thirty-Nine, but when I looked at the meta data for the scene–the little notation that tells me what the scene is about–I looked at it and when “Huh?”  Because when I saw the scene that followed, I realized that much of what would be discussed in the scene I was suppose to write last night would get covered again–and I liked the scene that would follow, titled Graduation Picnic, much better.

You keep looking at it and you know if you write anything out you’re just wasting your time, because in the end the scene won’t work.  I’ve been lucky in that my plotting has been very right on, but this was a case where something obviously isn’t going to go, so why bother?

That meant that instead of writing I needed to figure out what to do instead.  Surprisingly, it took me a while to figure it out, because I was tired and the brain wasn’t working right.  But when the solution hit me, it made oh-so perfect sense.  There was a scene in Chapter Forty-One that I knew I’d use, and as I thought things out last night, I saw that it made more sense to move it into Chapter Forty and make it the scene following Graduation Picnic.  Then, in Chapter Forty-One, I saw that I did need a scene that would explain an event happening to Annie and Kerry, and it would fit in as the last scene of that chapter.

Which leads me with this:

Behold the Last Days of Salem.

Behold the Last Days of Salem.

You will notice that, yes, I jump right from the beginning of May to the end, because this story is about my kids and not so much about them finishing their classes.  27 May is the last Sunday at the school.  The scene that was moved, Last Madness, takes place on Friday, 25 May, and the following Friday is the time when everyone goes home–as is seen in the scene Goodbye for Now.  That means not only these last five scenes with “To Do” in the Status area are about their departure, but the next part and the two chapters located there all involve their last few days together.  Three chapters to get through two days:  yeah, that seems about right.

After I return from my doctor’s tonight I’ll start in on the next scene.  It’s gonna start getting sad from here on out, and I’ll do my best not to cry as I write.

It won’t be easy, though . . .

Writing, Thoughts, New Plotting, and Time

Last night was about writing, but it didn’t involve much writing.  There wasn’t any writing at all, if you must know.

There are times when one has to make certain that their story is in good shape and the area ahead not only makes sense, but isn’t full of potholes and landmines.  And of all the parts of my story, the Kansas City trip was the foggiest because it was put together a long time ago–probably started thinking about it in detail in mid-September, 2013, and initially plotted it out in started time lining and getting it into Scrivener a month later–and I was only meta sketching it at the time.  I figured in the next few months I’d get some more detail behind it as I gave it more thought . . .

Little did I know it would be almost fourteen months before I’d get to this point.

So, with Helena and Erywin safely under the covers, and Annie and Kerry in bed and in their dream, it was time to figure out what was really going to happen over the next couple of days.  But at the same time, there was unfinished business concerning the earlier dreams that Annie and Kerry had.  After all, they were a thing in the story now and I wanted to know they were in the right places.  For them, that is.

So I started getting down to business.  And the first thing I did after eating last night was download the newest version of Aeon Timeline–which was easier said that done, because the connection at Panera kept dropping on me.  It took me three tries to get it onto my computer, but get it there I did.

And with that in place, I started figuring things out–

As you can see, it went in like a dream.  I know . . .

As you can see, it went in like a dream. I know . . .

Everything from the middle of the screen and on to the right was done a long time ago:  over a year back if I remember correctly.  All the stuff to the left, however, is brand new.  There is one dream missing–their first one–but they were pretty young at the time and it probably involved a lot of “Hi.  How you doing?” toddler stuff.  But as far as the main stuff talked about in the novel so far, that’s it.  I know when the things happened, and I have an idea what they talked about or did.  As you can see, there’s a good sized gap in there–a little over a year and a half–where not a lot happens, but you can assume it involved . . . kissing.

With the story almost complete I can actually show the full A Level time line that I developed and used for the story.  Ready?  Here you go:

In all its stunning glory.

In all its stunning glory.

One thing to point out here is that those areas marked “The Big Time” and “Kansas City” take you to other time lines, which makes this less crowded.  Also, I’m not showing individual things that happened to either kid, so “Annie’s Story” and “Kerry’s Story” bring up additional information.  Needless to say, once I laid out the story in Scrivener, I went back here to verify that everything worked out, and if I didn’t, I modified the line here until it did, and then changed the Scrivener layout.  Seems like a lot of work, but when you’re 365,000 words into a story, you’ll be glad you had this proofing behind you.

And speaking of Scrivener . . .

I also laid out the next two chapters–which, story-wise, is the next two days.  Funny how that works out:  three chapters in three days.  If only I could write that fast.  It now looks like this:

So much better I have to pat myself on the back.

So much better I have to pat myself on the back.

Nine scenes.  A couple of them are pretty short, most, I think, are gonna be between one thousand and fifteen hundred words, and I dare say a couple there will pop up over two thousand.  If I use twelve hundred words as an average, then there’s almost eleven thousand words to add for these two chapters alone.  And with Act Three currently sitting near fifty-seven thousand five hundred words, this is going to take the story up closer to seventy thousand words.  Which means by the time I finish this part the story will end up somewhere between seventy and seventy-five thousand words.

Looking at this, and looking at what I have ahead, this leads me to believe that Act Three is going to come out at right around one hundred thousand words, which will make it a third shorter than the first two acts.  Oh, my dear:  how can I handle that?  Can’t complain, because I figured Act Three would be the shortest part of the story, but still:  one hundred thousands words as a stand alone novel is a pretty good deal.

With all this said, tonight I get back into the writing.  If I manage to somehow do a scene a day, then this finishes up before the end of the year, and I can write and complete Chapter Thirty-Eight before the end of the year.  There are still several chapters to go, but having looked at them and knowing what goes in there–it looks as if this novel will finally see “The End” written around the end of January, 2015.

Now I have to figure out how I’m gonna celebrate that moment . . .

The Road From Sadness Leads to Vienna

Wednesday night is Panera “Eat and Write” night, and while I didn’t write as much as I thought I might–if you call almost eleven hundred words “not as much” a bad thing, that is–I finished a scene and made up my mind about something else I wanted to do with the story.

First off, the scene:

It really is time for Annie and Kerry to split up and say goodbye.  It’s 16 December, and they aren’t expected to return to the school until 2 January, 2012, and those are a lot of days to be apart in Young Lover’s Time.  While there’s time Annie sits Kerry down on “their bench” so she can give him some parting advice . . .

 

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

Annie and Kerry sat in silence for nearly a minute. Annie suspected that he was waiting for her to make an opening, possibly out of fear that he would stumble through what he wanted to say. She knew how to get the conversation started. “Kerry, I want you to promise something.”

He started laughing. “The last time I promised you something, I ended up in the hospital.”

Annie rolled her eyes. “This time it’ll be different.”

“I know.” He looked down for a moment before he again looked Annie in the eyes. “What would you like?”

“I want you to promise you won’t show your sadness the entire time we’re apart.” She laid her right hand upon his left and began making slow circles. It’s one thing to be sad; neither of us will enjoy this separation. But please don’t mope, and please don’t pout. Most of all, please don’t break down and crying, particularly in front of your family. I wouldn’t want them to see you that way.”

She took both of Kerry’s hands and held them. “I’m going to miss you; I’ll think of you every day, and wish you a good night when I go to bed—”

“So will I.”

“I know. But this is our holiday as well, and we should enjoy the time with our families. Let’s not spoil it for them.” She slightly lowered her head as the eyebrows rose slightly. “Okay?”

Kerry was about to agree when he picked up on something; a slight waver in Annie’s voice, a tiny different in her body language, the way her fingers seemed to tremble a little against his hand. “You’re sad already, aren’t you?”

Annie slowly closed her eyes an softly grunted. “You know my moods.”

“I should; I’ve been around you almost constantly for the last four months.”

 

“Yeah, honey:  if possible, can you keep the crying to a minimum?”  It also says something for Kerry that he can pick up on Annie’s feelings after a few short months–or has it been longer?  I’m not saying, not yet.  Mysteries, remember?

 

She nodded a couple of times. “Yes, I’m sad to be leaving you. I know you aren’t leaving until tonight, and I would love to stay with you—”

“I promise.” He turned his hands over and pressed his palms into Annie’s. “I’ll keep my sadness private. And I’ll think of you every day, too.”

“I know you will.” She leaned in and kissed Kerry, hold the kiss for many long seconds. “I love you, Kerry.”

“I love you, Annie.” He allowed his eyes to focus on Annie’s locket. “You really are wearing that for your parents to see.”

“I said I would.” She held the locket between the fingers of her right hand. “My father won’t know that I didn’t leave for school with it, but my mother . . .” She looked at Kerry and smiled. “She’ll know different.”

“You’ll tell her where it came from?”

“I will.”

He was about to ask another question when school PA system seemed to be, as always, speaking directly to them. “Attention: all students departing for Vienna please report to the public jaunt center. I repeat: all students departing for Vienna please report to the public jaunt center. That is all.”

Kerry stood. “That’s you.”

“Yes, it is.” Annie shouldered her bag and stood as well. She held out her right hand. “One last time this year?”

“One last time this year.” They strolled hand-in-hand to the Great Hall, passed through the West Entrance, and turned towards the first door on the right.

 

“One last time this year.”  If I’d ever had any kind of eleven year old romance, I probably would have lost it at that moment.  Right now I’d settle for any kind of fifty-seven year old romance, but that’s another story.  I also love using the word “jaunt”.  It comes from The Stars My Destination, one of my favorite novels, and was later used by Stephen King for his story, The Jaunt.  It is what it is:  teleporting.  Sure, it’s done with magic, and some people do it on their own without a problem, but if you need to move a few people from place-to-place, sometimes it’s best to confine the magic to a particular spot, and have someone oversee the jaunting . . .

 

Holly approached Annie and Kerry as soon as they were a few steps inside the room. Even through Holly didn’t need to ask which student was traveling, there was protocol to follow. “Departing for Vienna?”

Annie took a step forward. “I am.”

“Name please?”

“Annie Kirilova.”

Holly spun around the tablet she held and presented the screen to Annie. “Place your dominate hand on the display, please.” Annie set her right hand upon the screen: a second later the tablet beeped. Holly checked the readout. “Thank you, Annie. You’ll be on your way in a minute or two.”

“Thank you.” She gently pulled Kerry to one side and held his hands while faced him.

Kerry had nothing but emotions running through him at the moment; it was as if he’d lost the capacity for intelligent discussion. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Say nothing, then.” She pulled herself into her soul mate and rested against him. “We’ll linger in the silence.”

They stayed that way for a little over a minute before Holly made the final announcement. “All students leaving for Vienna please take your luggage and step upon the platform. Everyone else please stay on this side of the yellow line.”

She gave Kerry one final hug. “Until next year, my love.”

Kerry wrapped his arms around Annie and returned the embrace. “Until next year. Have a great Yule.”

“You too. Happy Yule.” She retrieved her roll-on luggage and stepped onto the platform, which was nothing more than a large section of the floor marked out in red and yellow at the east end of the room. She stood in the front so she could see Kerry before jaunting.

He smiled at her, the kissed the index and middle fingers of his left hand before extending them towards her. “Moyata polovinka.”

Annie did the same using her right hand. She broke into a huge smile. “Moyata polovinka.” Her arm was still extended and the smile was upon her face when she and the other students vanished with a soft pop.

 

And there she goes, off to Vienna, and remember her final stance, because that will come up the next time we see Annie–which should be at the start of the next chapter.  Chapter Twenty-Six is Kerry’s chapter, and while he’ll be by himself for the most part, he’s not really alone.  And he’s going to learn some interesting things during that time . . .

Like in the next scene. which I debated writing.  I’d come up with it on Tuesday, and yesterday it was flowing through my head, the conversation I envisioned.  The only problem was, the more I thought about it last night, the more I wondered if it would kill the flow of the story at that point.  But this tale is about characters and what they learn, and how they use that learning experience.  Also, the conversation includes a character who will actually play an important part in Kerry’s life in a few years, and this moment in time would be a good point to set that foundation.

So now Chapter Twenty-Six looks like this:

Sometimes you have to look hard to see the changes.

Sometimes you have to look hard to see the changes.

Where there was a deleted scene, it’s now been moved and has become part of the narrative.  Even after a year, when I thought I had the story laid out the way I wanted it, new things come to mind.

It’s nice how that work.

Count the Ways to Count the Story

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

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

Let’s take a look, shall we?

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

I know, it feels like I'm bragging.

I know, it feels like I’m bragging.

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

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

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

I don't miss you, you monster.

I don’t miss you, you monster.

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

I take all of Part Seven--

I take all of Part Seven–

Press the “Compile” button . . .

To 149 pages of awesome.

And turn it into 149 pages of awesome.

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

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

Now it really feels like bragging--

Now it really feels like bragging–

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

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

Right down here.  See?

Right down here. See?

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

Three thousand seems like a good number.

Three thousand seems like a good number.

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

Look--new stuff!

Look–new stuff!

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

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

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

Act Two seems quite the page turner.

Act Two seems quite the page turner.

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

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