One Program to Bind it All

NaNoWriMo is three and a half weeks away, and for sure people are either in the process of getting ready, or wondering what the hell they should do for their project.  Many are wondering how they should write up their novel:  do it by hand?  On a typewriter?  Word?  Or are there other unexplored options for the budding writer?

There’s a metric ton of software out there, but I’ve written three NaNo novels and two Camp stories on one particular program:  Scrivener.  If you know me you’ll probably have heard me mention it once or twice.  Probably.

Scrivener was developed by Literature and Latte for Mac OS.  People raved about it enough that in 2011 a Windows version was developed, and while the two versions are not identical–the Mac version has a few more bells and whistles than the Windows version–both are more than capable of lending a writer a far better portal into their literary world.

Let’s get this out of the way:  Scrivener isn’t a simple word processing program.  There are probably a few programs that do a better job of letting someone put words into a computer.  Scrivener is a project management system.  It’s designed to allow for the development of a novel, to set it up as the writer sees fit, to allow them to keep track of research and access web pages from inside the program, and then compile your work in any format you desire.  It’s like a one-stop shop for novelists:  there’s no need to run around the Internet at the last minute searching for the perfect dragon’s name.

Assuming, of course, that you like to do research for you stories.  Otherwise you’ll still run out looking for that dragon’s name.

Let me use my own project, The Foundation Chronicles:  A For Advanced, to show off some of the abilities.  I use the novel because, at the moment, it’s up over a quarter of a million words, and if there is ever a story that I researched the hell out of, it’s this one.  Let’s look it over–

First up there’s the Binder.  This acts just as you’d image a physical binder would work:  you set up folders, assign tabs to them, and use it to organize your story so it makes sense.  Just like a physical binder you cna move things around, delete things, and add things that help make the story more manageable.  This is what it looks like closed:

Cute little thing, isn't it?

Cute little thing, isn’t it?

Here it doesn’t look like much.  I have my novel tab at the very top, my title page–that green thing that says The Foundation Chronicles–my copyright page, and my table of contents for Act One, though I don’t have it labeled here, but I showed you how to make one in this post.  The card saying “Measurements and Scaling” came from a suggestion from a friend that since I’m using the Metric system and Universal Time throughout the novel, I should tell people how each works.  That card was added on 3/30/2014, and last modified on 5/28/2014.  I know this because Scrivener tells me so.

Just like a physical binder I can open up my virtual one, and what do I see once that happens?

I got more story than I got display.

I got more story than I got display.

It’s easy to see my folder layout here:  I have the whole binder as my novel:  in the physical world that would be the hard binder itself.  Then I break it down to Acts, and within acts I have Parts, inside those I have Chapters, and each chapter is made up of two more more Scenes.  As you can also see, Scenes can be added to Scenes, which would make them Sub-scenes, I suppose.  The sub-scenes were added as I went along:  they all related to something going on in the main scene, so I decided to keep it all together rather than spread it down the binder.

Are there other ways to look at the binder?  Glad you wanted me to ask that question . .

In the body of Scrivener one can use three different methods of seeing their story and accessing those parts they want to write or edit.  First up, and the one I used to use all the time, is the Corkboard.  This presents your story in the same way as it would if you had everything written down on notecards and had them pinned to a corkboard at home.

Act One, nice and neat.

Act One, nice and neat.

You’ll only see what is highlighted.  If you want to see the detail beyond this, it’s just like Inception:  you must go deeper–

Down a level, still just as neat.

Down a level, still just as neat.

And deeper . . .

I could go deeper, but I didn't bring my totem.

I could go deeper, but I didn’t bring my totem.

Inside the cards at the chapter level is the story proper, what you’re actually writing–

See?  I wasn't lying.

See? I wasn’t lying.

Corkboards within Corkeboards–is there an easier way to see this?  Sure:  you go into Outline Mode:

Again, more story than I've got display.

Again, more story than I’ve got display.

These days I use Outline all the time, because you can tell the program what information you want to see for each section of your story–and as you can see I like to watch a lot of things.  And what does all this mean?

I’ll tell you in the next post installment.  Promise.

Beneath the Big Blue Bubble

Out of the preparations and into the waiting . . . that’s how things go in my world.  Out in my fictional world, kids are flying around watching the walls, others are on the ground, waiting for a moment they hope doesn’t come when they are required to rush out into battle and vanquish the foes who have come once again to ravage their school.

Then there are those back at the Great Hall, sitting and waiting for something they hope never comes, or readying their forces to fix those who are in need of fixing.

Last night it felt like I was off in a dozen different directions, helping someone here, helping someone there, all the while sort of wallowing in my own concerns about what I need to do with my story and my life.  Writing is a bit like triage in that you look at what you’ve got before you that needs writing, and take that which will do the most good.  When I heard people say, “I have all these ideas coming at me constantly, how do I deal with them?” it’s been discussed before, Bunkie, that you need to learn to concentrate on the work at hand and write down your initial ideas somewhere else, but the simplest thing to say now it, triage:  you do triage on your head.  Write down the idea you want and move on.  Or get meds so you can stop getting distracted by the voices in your head.  But that’s another story.

Last night I started Chapter Twenty-One.  As I may have pointed out it was a bit slow going because I was also helping out others online–including a friend who was looking up an arrest record, and I helped them find what they sought.  Hey, just like The Foundation, I know how to make my way around The Pond ’cause my Google-fu is not pig dung.  I have my stations set up, I have my portals in place–no, a woman named Chell didn’t help set those up, but you will hear that name mentioned at some point–and now people are resting . . .

About those people.  I needed names.  Most I already had, because I’m crazy mad when it comes to getting things set up, but there were two people I needed to add.  And once added, I needed to look up where they lived and decide what coven they called home.  Once more I jump to the Scrivener Name Generator, and since I know just about where I want my two characters to live, I generate names somewhat based on those locals and throw it all into the notes.  About fifteen minutes later I’m ready to rock.

You can't tell the people who are there to help you without a scorecard, you know.

You can’t tell the people who are there to help you without a scorecard, you know.

I think this is one of the first times I’ve put “Nurse” Coraline down as the School Doctor.  Which she is, really, but she got so used to people calling her nurse when she was interning as a healer while a student she just hung onto the handle.  Not  to mention that her return to school came not long after she’d graduated . . .

The Waiting is the Hardest Parts, and it’s also time for talking.

I’ll see about getting to that tonight.

Early Morning Lockdown

Interesting morning, it is.  I didn’t have a good time going out last night, which sort of translated into laying in bed for a while wondering if I should get out of bed or not.  Of course, the “Or not” option wasn’t going to happen, because I got stuff to do today–you know, things?  That meant hauling butt out of bed whether I wanted that or not.

Now yesterday was pretty much a non-writing day.  Why?  See stuff/things above and you’ll know why.  Not to mention I went out last night with a few people, and while it was nice to get out of the house, the night ended in tears–literally–and led somewhat to the reason why I was having such a hard time getting out of bed this morning.

(By the way, if you want to know one of the ways to piss me off, always refer to me in the third person when you’re speaking to me.  “So what does Cassidy like to do?  What does Cassidy enjoy?”  Unless you’re writing my biography, use a goddamn “you” when speaking, okay.  Also, knowing a certain percentage of my readers and fans are smart asses, I’m also waiting for the “What does Cassidy–” posts to show up in the comments.  Never let it be said I don’t know what’s coming when I put something out there.)

So what’s a girl to do when faced with this kind of morning.

Write.

Before getting to this post I decided to write the next scene, the one with Isis locked up in her Security Center, preparing to close down The Pentagram.  Isis is very serious about her work, and while some may wonder why Wednesday is there–trust me, that’ll come out in time.  For now she’s just observing . . .

Because I’m in a good mood–now–here’s the entire six hundred words on the nose scene without any edits other than those made during the writing.  So if you see anything that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry:  I’ll fix it later.  But if you’re wondering, this is actually how my first drafts look when I’ve finished, and this particular one took me a little over an hour to write.

 

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

Wednesday sat quietly with her legs crossed, tapping her nails against the work space counter where she sat while watching Isis and her crew finalize their preparations for sealing The Pentagram. Suhaila was checking on the final server connections to let them know if someone from the outside was trying to access their network, and Tamera and Isis were running through the checklist of everything needed to “green the board”, ensuring people were in their proper locations before sealing off the center of the school.

Isis turned away from Tamera’s computer console and motioned the holographic projection of the school before her. She spun it so she had a full overview of the school. “We have everyone on the grid?”

Tamera check something on her display. “Everyone is accounted for. Staff and instructors in violet, students in yellow, and the badguys will show as red.”

Wednesday stretched her legs, keeping her eyes focused on the tops her well worn Doc Martin boots. “If they’re dumb enough to show.”

“I’m expected them to put in an appearance.” Isis slid the display around, seeing the collection of people at the Observatory, at Gwydion Manor and The Witch House, down at the Flight School, and lastly, gathered in the coven towers and a various locations throughout the Great Hall. “Deconstructors are nothing if not predictable.”

Wednesday nodded slowly as she crossed her legs. “Maybe we’ll get lucky this time.”

“You know I don’t believe in luck, Wends.” She turned her gaze up towards the ceiling. “Holly, everything okay in Sanctuary?”

The voice of the third member of the security staff was heard clearly throughout the room. “Door is locked and sealed. The Headmistress is secure.”

“Got it.” Isis turned and addressed the other two women in the Security Center. “Okay, we’re ready to lock this sucker down.” She checked the time in the corner of the holo display. “Seal it up.”

Tamera and Suhaila touched icons on their displays, activating the enchantments designed to shield the whole of The Pentagram from the rest of the school. Isis watch on the holo display as a light blue bubble extended from the outside of the Pentagram walls, rose over the towers, and sealed at a mid-point directly over the Great Hall.

Tamera checked her display. “Pentagram sealed at 07:45:04.”

Isis never took her eyes off the bubble in her display “Let the log show Level Two Security protocols enacted, all ancillary defense groups are in place, and that The Pentagram is sealed.” She turned to Suhaila. “Start the clock.”

Wednesday watched the counter used to determine the amount of time the school spent under “Heightened Security Protocols” begin its count-up. “And so it begins.”

“Yep.” Isis moved the holo display off to one side. “I’m hoping this doesn’t last a long time, but something tells me it’s gonna be at least twelve hours before I stop that clock.”

“That’s a long time to stay locked up in those towers.” Wednesday got up from her chair and stood next to Isis. “Students are gonna get stressed with little to do and only limited snacks coming in from the kitchen every few hours.” She gave her head a slight shake. “They won’t be happy.”

Isis snorted. “They’ll be a hellova lot unhappier if we let the Deconstructors get in here.” She cast a sideways glance at the little witch. “Wanna ask Deanna how much fun that was?”

Wednesday stared up at her taller friend. “No need—” She focused on the same blue bubble Isis was watching. “I remember that shit all too well.”

 

The scene where Isis told the Headmistress she was locking down The Pentagram in twenty minutes ended at 7:25, so when she says twenty minutes, you better know she’s gonna keep her word.

Check my timeline:  I keep to my word, too.

Check my timeline: I keep to my word, too.  This is why I have them . . .

So there we are:  my work here–and my writing–is done.

Should I go shopping?  Hum . . .

Bringing ‘Round the Warnings

I’m writing again and not doing that video thing this time–which was, honestly, fun, but very time consuming.  If and when I do another, I’ll have to plan things out a little better.

Here it is, new month and all, yeah?  Just like in my novel, it’s a new month:  1 November, 2011.  And just changing that date caused more trouble than I’d imagined, because there are later scenes in this part that are supposed to take place close to sunset, and me–checking the historical data for that period of time, naturally–discovered that just by moving the date back on week, the time of sunset changed by just over an hour.  That meant I needed to change up my time line in Scrivener and Aeon to get everything right–and you know what?  It’s even better:  the weather will alternate between cloudy and clear, and it’s even chillier.

"So was this what it looked like when you were out there?" "Yeah.  Only there was a lot more screaming--" "Smack!" "Oouh!" "That's not even funny, Kerry."

“So was this what it looked like when you were out there?”
“Yeah. Only there was a lot more screaming–“
Smack!”
Oouh!”
“That’s not even funny, Kerry.”

There you go, Kerry:  giving things away and being smart mouthed with your girlfriend.  You should know better.

This next part, Part Seven, is basically going to be my version of 24, only with a lot less torture and fewer moles infiltrating a secret government agency.  All of the action takes place within a twenty-four hour time frame, so this is going to be a long day for the people of my school.  Six chapters, but they shouldn’t be long chapters.  I hope.

Anyway, it was time to go–

See?  Already to start.

See? Already to start.

–and get this party started.  I did that by having someone making a grand entrance:

 

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

Isis flung open doors of the West Entrance, and was through the West Transept and circling around in The Rotunda to land on the first floor balcony outside the Security Center before they had a chance to close. She could have teleported from outside the Instructor’s Residence to here, but given how little time she found to actually fly these days, any time she could take to the air was a good one for her—even if it was only four hundred meters and less that twenty seconds airborne.

 

Isis Mosman, Director of Security, and a former student Gifted with Flight.  It’s not levitation she’s doing:  think of it more like what some of the Marvel superheroes do when they fly–they just up and go.  And she wasn’t even exposed to Terrigen Mist.

Her people are there–well, two-thirds of them.  Let’s see then:

 

Holly McPhie and Suhaila Ogata were monitoring the consoles this morning: Isis’ second-in-command, Tamera Berube, wouldn’t arrive on the grounds for another thirty minutes. Both women looked up as Isis entered wearing her red flannel pajamas and matching slipper, but Suhaila, the shift supervisor, was the one to address her. “Sorry to get you out of bed, Chief.”

“Don’t be: I’m paid to get up at strange hours.” She hovered over Suhaila’s work station. “What’s up?”

She brought up a browser and began retrieving information. “Eighteen minutes ago we received a message from ECMI that they were having problems with their outer screens.”

“Let me see it.” ECMI was the Edinburgh Center for Magical Instruction, one of the two larger “Secondary Schools” that The Foundation ran to handle students that were almost good enough to met Salem standards—but not quite. Isis knew the place well: she’d worked with their IT people on an overhaul of their system back in 2004, and had developed a good relationship with a few of folks there.

 

That’s the first mention of the two “smaller” schools that exist outside Salem.  If there was time for a history lesson–and there is just a little–you’d find that Edinburgh was a lot like Salem:  a school for witches hidden in the woods just south of the city.  It’s all bought up by The Foundation now, and has joined their network.  In time you’ll see the other “smaller” school mentioned, but not just yet.

A message comes in and looks normal; seems people are tap, tap, tapping on the outer screens of the school.  Sure there are defenses because . . . well, you’ll see.  But then a second one comes in, probably sent by The Control Voice . . .

 

To all stations on this network:

Security reports that we may have experience a minor intrusion. They indicate there was a minor fluctuation against the outer defense screen at nine sixteen local time, and that there is evidence that an intrusion may have occurred. They are currently pursuing the matter and expect to issue a verbal report momentarily.

Please stand by . . .

 

When you’re told to “stand by” it’s probably not a good thing.  Isis figures this out when she reads the third message–which I’m not showing–and gets her fears more or less confirmed.

 

Isis reread the message once just to make certain she was correct in the initial belief, then checked the domain name as suggested. “They sent this out on the open network?” She shook her head. “This is bullshit.”

“That’s why we woke you up.” Suhaila turned off the holo display. “We haven’t been able to contact ECMI since that last message. They’re in the dark.”

 

You’re going to hear the expression, “in the dark,” more than a few times in this part.  You’ll also get a gleaming of some of the facilities I’ve put together for The Foundation.  ECMI is just one:  many others will be mentioned.  And you’re starting to see that even though we’re dealing with witches and people who may have superpowers, communications ain’t being handled by owls, and the schools are sitting behind some pretty good defenses.  How good?  You’ll see.

Just sit back and enjoy what’s probably going to be the next month of this day.

It’s gonna be fun.

Out of the Dance and Into the Time

I have officially put the Samhain Dance behind me.  It is all done, completed, fin, whatever you want to call it.  Not only that, but I’ve finished Chapter Eighteen as well as Part Six.  It’s all history, baby.  Allow us to rejoice.

You were a good time.  A lot of crazy went down in this fictional October.

You were a good experience. A lot of crazy went down in this fictional October.

I checked my stats as well and found that Act Two is about seventy-one thousand two hundred words long, and the entire novel is two hundred and twenty-one thousand nine hundred words.  In short, I’m inching right up there towards a quarter of a million, and sometime during the next part–maybe the next chapter–I’m going to hit that milestone.

And speaking of the next part–here it is . . .

You give me a rumbly in my tumbly, and not in a good way.

You give me a rumbly in my tumbly, and not in a good way.

Part Seven:  The Big Time.  This is probably one of the most plotted out, most well timed parts of my novel, only because a lot is going to happen–and most of it won’t be good.  It’s so worked out that it has its own timeline within my main timeline–

There's a reason I keep calling it the Big Time, you know.

There’s a reason I keep calling it The Big Time, you know.

I left the kids walking towards their tower, hand-in-hand, thinking bout getting tucked into bed–mostly Kerry getting the tucking–and Annie wondering why something in his past ’caused him to have such a horrible case of déjà vu, which in the World of the Aware can be a little worse than watching a black cat walk by and saying, “Whoa.”  It can give you headaches; it can land you in the hospital; it could even kill you.  That’s because there’s something you want to remember, but can’t, and the can’t part is trying to drive you a little crazy.

And crazy in this world isn’t good.

And this will be behind them, because come Tuesday, their time, everything goes nuts.  I’ve written about this before, how I set it up, and now it’s time to get into it.  Frankly, it scares the hell out of me a little, because I’ve thought about this moment for well over a year, and I know everything that’s suppose to happen to all the player, what’s going to happen before, during, and after, and it’s an important part of the book because it’s meant to show how the school protects itself, how the students are allowed to put themselves in harm’s way to help out–and what happens when things go sideways and take a turn for the worse.

And it’s an intimidated piece, going back and forth between people and events.  A lot of it may seem boring at times, but it’s meant to be that way:  this isn’t going to be a full-on attack from the word go.  It’s gonna take time to work out–

Just like my novel.

It’s an intimidating part of my novel, but then again, so is a quarter of a million word story.  And after I get though this, I’m that much closer to closing out Act Two, which is something I never thought I’d say.

And then I can get on to Act Three and more intimidating stuff . . .

Finding Your Way Into First Night

When I’m putting together a scene I usually spend a lot of time figuring things out, looking at locations, getting a feel for the environment and characters.  Sometimes it takes days; sometimes weeks.

For the scene I started last night, I think I’ve spent maybe eight hours.

As I was writing about putting Kerry in the hospital, and the scene that comes after–which I’m not talking about, nuh, huh–I began feeling that something was missing.  What was missing was the sense that the way Annie left Kerry in his hospital bed, which right for that time, didn’t mesh with what came later.  So–how to fix that?

Easy:  add another scene.

Even though this story is plotted out to the max, that doesn’t mean things won’t pop up from time to time that either don’t make much sense and should be removed, or at the least, moved, or that something more is required.  In this case more was needed, and I obliged.  Because novels are a living work in progress, and sometimes you gotta fill in that work just a little more than it already is.

This is how we start.

 

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

Kerry was alone in the ward bay, the curtain cutting off Beds #1 and #2 from the ward corridor pulled three-quarter closed and open only near the wall on the other side of Bed #1. He sat quietly in his bed, his back and head raised so he could read—or, in his case, attempt to read. He’d spent the last twenty-five minutes since Annie’s departure trying to read, but he found it difficult. It wasn’t that he was dealing with distractions: rather, he found it difficult to concentrate due to his aching head.

The medication he was given was doing wonders to keep the pain at bay, but there were still small things that refused to leave him alone. If he turned his head too fast, it would start to spin. His right ankle was starting to itch constantly. And he found it bothersome to sit in the same position with his lightly wrapped knee locked in the same position, unable to move centimeter in any direction. It drove Kerry a little nuts to have to leave his left leg like that all day, through dinner, and now into the night before heading into lights out.

 

I have been in a similar situation, though not with broken limbs and a torn up knee.  I once damaged my neck in an accident and ended up in constant traction for two weeks, after which I needed to wear a neck brace for nine months.  I know all about lying there and being unable to do anything for hours on end–in fact, I couldn’t use the bathroom for the first two days, and couldn’t shower for the first week.  And when I was allowed to do either, I had a nurse standing right next to me the whole time.  Not a lot of fun, let me tell you.

But that situation changes quickly.

 

“Hi.”

Kerry looked up from his tablet: Annie was standing in the space between the curtain and the wall, dressed in her light blue flannel pajamas and her light robe. Her hands were at her side, and for the first time since he’d been admitted to the ward, she was smiling. “Hi.”

Annie walked in and pointed at the tablet. “What are you doing?”

He started the power down sequence and laid it across his lap. “I was reading.”

She chuckled softly. “What are you reading?”

Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman. I’ve had it for a while, but . . .” He shrugged. “Just never found the time to start. Though I might try tonight.” Seeing that the tablet was off, Kerry slipped it into a holder on the right side of the bed. “I didn’t get very far.”

Annie stood close to him on his right, examining his bandaged head. “Concussion bothering you?”

“A little, yeah.” He didn’t want to mention that he’d thought about their time together only a few moments earlier. “It’s, um, past visiting hours.”

 

Of course it’s past visiting hours:  do you think a little think like rules bothers Annie?

I’ve run though this scene many times on my walk back and forth from work, which is really a good time to be alone with my thoughts and work out what’s going on with my characters.  I know why Annie’s there, I know what she’s going to say, and I’ve already had her say some of it.  I know how Kerry will respond, and how he’ll confide in Annie with something.

And I know how the scene ends, which is going to lay some heavy moves upon my red haired boy, because Annie’s gonna say something that’ll likely rock him to the core–no, not that.  Get your minds out of the gutter.

It’s First Night for them both.  That means something to me, something the reader will find out in time.  And second night is set up as well.  Just look below:

Over by der by da tower, in da garden.  You know?

Over by der by da tower, in da garden. You know?  That’s how we’d say it in Chicago.

And the Third Night is quickly approaching as well.  It’s in Part Seven.

That’s coming soon enough.

The Baby Snakes

Can’t say this morning hasn’t been productive, because it sort of has.  I’ve just spent the last twenty minutes or so doing a read-through of one of my parts, and as much as I hate to say it, reading the scene out loud had me catching parts of the story that didn’t seem right.  So I made a few changes here and there and . . . hey, if you’re not writing, you’re doing something that’s about writing, right?

"I'm always amazed . . . that I actually wrote this crap."

“I’m always amazed . . . that I actually wrote this crap.”

But there was writing last night.  A lot of writing:  one thousand, one hundred and forty-nine words by the time I called it beddy-bye.  A nice run not spoiled by loading up with carbs and being tired throughout the day, which is something I’m going to try today as well, because I want to crank out another thousand if I can tonight

So what do witches do once their advanced class is over and they need to chill?  Wednesday knows . . .

 

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

“Same here.” Pang stared at the table in the middle as if expecting something to appear at any moment. He looked up at Wednesday. “It usually doesn’t take this long—”

Eight plates with grilled cheese sandwiches popped into existence, with eight slight steaming mugs of apple cider next of them. Wednesday giggled. “You were saying?”

Nadine grabbed a half of her sandwich off her plate immediately. “They had to make two more servings, dude.” She nodded across the table. “Ain’t you paying attention?”

Kerry hesitated before reach for the plate in front of him. He felt Annie stiffen for a moment, making him wonder if she didn’t like being singled out for attention. He tried to lighten the mood. “Grilled cheese?”

“Perfect for an after class snack.” Wednesday reached for her cider. “There’s a chemical released when making grilled cheese that has been shown to reduce stress, and hot cider helps make you drowsy. An hour from now you’ll crawl into bed and drift right off to sleep.” She took a short but loud sip. “Given you’re likely still a bit hyped up over class, you’ll both need this.”

Annie cleared her throat. “You’re probably right, Pro—I mean, Wednesday.” She looked around as she chuckled. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Pang was almost finished devouring half his sandwich. “I just started this level and I’m still catching myself calling her ‘Professor’.”

Hasumati spoke for the first time since leaving class. “This is my third year and it took me a year and a half to get out of that habit.”

Kerry turned to Annie, who was looking also looking at him. “We’ll do our best not to slip up.”

 

Yes, don’t call the Little Witch “Professor” too many times, or she might turn you into a newt.  Actually, that’s Jessica who does that–and has.  Check her terrarium the next time you’re in class . . .

It’s one of the nice perks of being “advanced” that you get to sorta break the rules.  It’s late at night and everyone’s suppose to be in bed, save for a few people up to the Observatory getting in some ‘scope time.  But those people are probably advanced kids as well, and they’re in what’s considered class time anyway.  No, this is, “Hey, lets go have a quick bite and bullshit for a while before heading off to bed, ’cause we can!” time, and it’s something that the Kids in the Fishbowl haven’t seen.  Until now.

Though when they do see it, they find out they have a couple of cool nicknames.  Yeah, who doesn’t want those . . .

 

Pang reached for his cider. “You guys sure did great tonight.”

Annie shook her head, her eyes focusing on the table. “I didn’t think were were that great.”

“Are you kidding? You both levitated on your fourth try.” Pang leaned back, carefully crossing his legs. “The first two classes I couldn’t do anything: every spell I tried was a fizzle.”

“I was the same way.” Rivânia pulled hair from the corner of her mouth. “The first month I was in class I managed only one spell.”

“Yeah, but you guys don’t know who you’re dealing with here . . .” Nadine smiled as she leaned forward, her elbows against her knees and the mug of cider between her hands. “These are The Baby Snakes, guys—” She pointed at Annie, then Kerry, both whom appeared confused. “Athena and Starbuck. I was telling you about them, Riv.”

Rivânia paused for just a moment to let the information sink in, then . . . “Oh. These are the two? The ones checked out on Espinozas?”

“Yeah: them and Emma in my coven. The other girl off the Trainers is on a Witchy Poo.” She smiled across the table at the now-blushing A Levels. “I forgot to mention—I’m one of Vicky’s minions. You probably never noticed me ‘cause I keep my hair tucked up under my helmet.”

Kerry knew the question to ask. “What’s your call sign?”

Nadine beamed. “I’m Scarlet Witch.”

“But of course you are.” Kerry tore into half his sandwich in three bites. “You race?”

“Yeah; I’m a Blackbird.” Nadine pointed to Rivânia. “Riv’s a Hunter.” She examined Kerry and Annie. “You both going out for racing next year?”

Annie was quick to answer. “I probably won’t, no.” She glanced at Kerry, who didn’t register any emotion. “I wouldn’t make a good racer.”

“I didn’t say anything, Sweetie.” He reached over and rubbed her hand. “It’s cool.”

“Wait . . .” Serafena stated into her mug, her eyes unfocused. “Sweetie?  Oh . . . You’re the Lovey Dovey Couple.”

Annie and Kerry winced. They’d heard the expression many times among their own level, but this was the first time to hear it used by students from upper levels. Annie placed her left hand against her head. “Who told you this?”

“From A Levels in my coven.” Serafena looked up from her mug and shifted her gaze between the two students. “There is a boy, he was the first I heard speaking to the other in your level—”

Kerry cocked his head forward. “Is he from the Philippines?”

“Yes, I think so.”

His eyes narrowed as he turned to Annie. “It’s Fidele, just like we thought.”

“Yes.” Annie brushed her hair away from her face as she slowly shook her head. “Why did he do that?”

“Who knows?” Kerry couldn’t fathom why people would start saying like that; it wasn’t like Annie and he were bothering anyone, and it wasn’t really any of their business. “Eh, nothing we can do about it now.”

Wednesday—who’d sat quietly while this conversation went on—finally let her view be known. “If nothing else, you’ve developed a reputation—and to do that in your first month here is something of an accomplishment.”

“Yeah—” Nadine spoke between the final bites of her grilled cheese. “Would you rather be known as a couple of mopey losers without a clue?”

 

No, but it’s a toss-up between Lovey Dovey Couple and The Baby Snakes.  Though The Baby Snakes does have a charm to it, and can come off as being pretty bad ass . . .

"I in no way resemble a Frank Zappa song!"

“I in no way resemble a Frank Zappa song!”

One of the things that does come up from that is Annie’s reluctance to fly and race.  There are reasons for it, and they will pop out real soon–in like another two chapters.  Actually, coming up in the next part, but only after some sorcery comes down the pike and our Baby Snakes sort of get tossed in the black magic pit and show their stuff.  It’s going to be . . . well, I was thinking about it on the way to work, and . . .

Won't be long before we finally get to see what happens in The Witch House.

Won’t be long before we finally get to see what happens inside The Witch House.

You’re just going to have to wait.

 

The Spells Her Destination

Here’s a tip for anyone listening:  if you know you’re going to get your blood pressure taken, do not drink a double espresso that morning, even if you do it like four hours earlier.  Did that yesterday before driving off to have a consultation with my HRT doctor, and she was about ready to order an EKG.  Lessons learned, I guess.

That little event kept me out of the house most of the day, and once I did return to The Burg it was a matter of eating and watching some television before getting into the Orphan Black season finale.  That meant watching some old Star Trek TNG, and coming up with another one of those things that didn’t come to mind years ago, but hit me as a really important plot point:  whenever any of this alien races that still used money to get around the galaxy demanded payments from Star Fleet personal to get something/go somewhere, what the hell did the Federation people pay with?  They didn’t have money!  Did they pay with toenail clippings?  Cat litter?  Sexual favors?  It never really bothered me in the past, but these days it’s obvious as hell a huge plot hole.  Everyone in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants had to know the Federation didn’t deal in currency any longer, so why demand payments from their people?  In the end they were gonna get stiffed.

It was only after Orphan Black finished that I finally found the third wind I needed to get into the story.  But not before I discovered something with Scrivener–pretty colors!  I mean, most of the time my display looks like this:

Pretty simply, right?

Pretty simply, right?

But then I discovered I could color the folders . . .

This is looking a bit more interesting.

This is looking a bit more interesting.

Then I started coloring the binder–

Ooh, where did this come from?

Ooh, where did this come from?

Or, if I want, I could color the folders and pull that over into my outline!

Reminds me a little of an acid trip I took in 1978.

Reminds me a little of an acid trip I took in 1978!

For those of you with Scrivener, play with F5, F6, F7 (this affects the cards on the Corkboard), and F8, and you’ll see the same thing I’m showing you here.  Have fun!

About the writing . . . as I said I would do, I finished the scene.  It ended up taking a little over an hour, but I chewed it up like a cat with a catnip mouse.  I just had to finished the sucker, because–well, there was a urgent feeling that completion was necessary.  In the process of getting this written, I came up with this little moment on the spell floor . . .

 

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

“The thing is . . .” Annie thought he was pressing harder against her forehead, even though she didn’t feel an increase in pressure. “I listened to what you said, and if I’m good, it’s because of what you’ve done for me. It’s all because of you.” He tilted his head a little so it seemed as if they were facing each other. “That’s why I have faith in you.”

“You have faith in . . . me?” Kerry’s confession caught Annie by surprise. She’d never heard anyone say that her actions made them better—and she suspected that Kerry wasn’t used to having anyone show enough interest in him to want to make improvements in him. And he probably found it incredibly difficult to tell me that . . .

“I have faith in . . . faith.” He smiled. “’It isn’t necessary to something to believe in. It’s only necessary to believe that somewhere there’s something worthy of belief’. That’s from The Stars My Destination—” He lightly touched Annie’s chin with his left index finger. “You’re the something that’s worthy of my belief.”

 

For those of you who aren’t aware, The Stars My Destination is probably one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written, and even if you’re not a fan of the genre you should still read it, because it can stand beside anything one might consider “literary”.  And in case you can’t find the novel to buy, the Internet Archive actually has the scanned issues of Galaxy Magazine from October, 1956, November, 1956, December, 1956, and January, 1957, which were the issues where the novel was serialized in four parts.  You won’t be disappointed.

That little snippet, however . . . that’s another of Kerry’s breakthroughs in terms of dealing with this whole girlfriend/soul mate thing.  He find Annie worthy of his belief; she’s important to him in ways that makes him feel she’s sort of the center of his universe.  He knows, he believes, that she a point upon which he anchor himself–his center, so to speak.  After all, he’s already told her that she’s made him a better person, and how many eleven year old boys would ever tell that to a girl they’ve only known a month?

There’s more going on here than you can image, though, and I know this.  You don’t.  Not yet.

One day . . . yeah, you’ll find out what’s happening.

You can believe in that.

Mondays With Wednesday in the Proof

Last night was probably the one night when I wrote next to nothing and still managed to get a lot done.  How’s that, you say?  Well . . .

First off, I finished the prior scene, The Private Lab, which meant writing about two hundred words and bringing it to a short yet satisfying conclusion.  With that out of the way there were things I need to set up for the next scene–you know . . . what I’m going to say, right?  What I needed was a list of the five students who are in Wednesday’s Advanced Spells class.  Like I’d said elsewhere, I had two, I needed three more.

So, I set about getting them using the Scrivener Name Generator, and here they are.

Not a lot, but Wends goes for quality over quantity.

Not a lot, but Wends goes for quality over quantity.

Since Scrivener has a place to put notes for scenes and parts and chapters, I just threw them in on the side there, along with their coven and where they live.  They are:

 

Nadine Woodley—C Level, Coven Mórrígan (Albuquerque, NM)  (Already had her)

Chung Hee Pang—C Level, Coven Ceridwen (Inchon, South Korea)

Rivânia Suassuna—D Level, Coven Åsgårdsreia (Melo, Uruguay)  (Already had her)

Serafena Macrinus—D Level, Coven Blodeuwedd (Catanzaro, Italy)

Hasumati Choudhury—E Level, Coven Blodeuwedd (Lakshmipur, Bangladesh)

 

Pang is, right now, the only boy, and started class at the beginning of this year.  In fact, all the students on this list started this class at the beginning of their C Levels, with the exception of Nadine, who was moved into this class in late March of her B Levels, which means it happened earlier in 2011.  This is what Annie and Kerry are walking into in the next scenes, and being a year or two younger than the youngest students in the room will make them stand out a little.

Nadine and Rivânia are also members of their respective coven racing teams, which will come into some prominence if there’s ever a second book.  As it is, you’ll see Nadine pop up in a couple of other places in this story.

One of the things I was checking last night was my scene breaks.  I used “####” at the end of a scene as a break mark in the story.  It sort of tells the reader that they’re moving from one scene in the chapter to another.  I had some goofy stuff happen when I started on Act Two, so I figured I’d check everything out before I got too deep into the next part.  And since you can tell Scrivener which parts you want to compile and convert rather easily, I just selected all of Part Four so I could look at both chapters.

Compiling so easy you can almost do it with your eyes closed.

Compiling so easy you can almost do it with your eyes closed.

I transformed the writing into a pdf, because that makes a good proof for the story.  You can even pull it into a Kindle if you want to read it that way.

I’m going through it, and naturally i start reading.  This is like reading an ebook, so you mind sort of shifts gears; you block out all the notes and the binder and the status stuff Scrivener has, and you simply read.  And right off the bat, I see errors.  Nothing huge, but still:  the eye picks them out right away.  Right then I had a flash of inspiration:  I edit the novels of my friend Katherine Gilraine this way (and you’ll find the first one here), so why can’t I do the same?

And I started rolling through one of the scenes and found things that could stand a bit of a fix.

It beats getting out the pen, and it's less messy, too.

It beats getting out the pen, and it’s less messy, too.

I know of people who order proofs of their novels and start marking everything up, and since I’m used to going through proofs this way, it only makes sense that if I can generate a proof of my story–either scenes, chapters, parts, or even entire acts–in less than a minute, why not do this and work my edits this way?

After all, anything that gives you an edge when it comes to getting your work right is a good thing, yeah?

A Roadmap For Your Private Wonderland

I really coulda, shoulda, woulda finished the first scene of Part Five, Chapter Fifteen last night, but I didn’t?  Why?  I was crashing hard by the time I made it just past a thousand words for the evening.  I had perhaps a few hundred more words to go before finishing the scene, but when your head is in danger of falling onto the keyboard, you recognize your limitations and stop what you’re doing.

Today is another travel day, however–I’m heading back to The Burg in about four hours–and I’ll have ample opportunity to finish up at one of my two stops along the way.  Maybe after I finish the scene I can work up the names of the five students who are suppose to be in the Advance Spells class using the Name Generator in Scrivener.  I know two of the students; I need three more.

That’s a great feature in Scrivener, and the newest release–just out a few weeks ago–has a time saving feature that will save your life if you write ebooks:  Scrivener has made it easy to create a table of contents.

I’ve had to create table of contents for two books, one of them a novel, and it is the one thing that I’ve truly, truly hated.  Now, you don’t have to throw a table of contents into your ebook, but if you are a writer who comes up with insanely long stories–slowly raising hand, I am–having to build the links by hand could turn into an enormous pain in the ass–as it was when I built one for Her Demonic Majesty, and spent nearly a day and a half getting it right.

How easy is it to build a table of contents in Scrivener?  Being that I’m a nice girl, I’m gonna show you.

Lets start out with a quick look at my binder.  To start out you need to set up a file, probably up in the front after your copyright notation, that your readers will find right away.

Right up there under the Big Red Book.

Right up there under the Big Red Book.

Nothing fancy in there:  keep the margins, the font, and the spacing the same as the rest of scenes.

Since I’d like a lot of scenes for my example, I’ll table up Act One, because if there ever was nightmare fuel for a writer, it’s dreaming about having to build the table of contents for that one hundred and fifty thousand word monstrosity.

Whatever gave you the idea there was a lot here?

Whatever gave you the idea there was a lot here?

Given how many scenes you have in your story, you can either start building from your binder on the left, or from outline view in the middle of the screen.  What you need to do here is open up all your folders:  Acts, Parts, Chapters, Scenes under Scenes–you have to be able to select everything you’re going to use to created your Table of Contents, because programs are funny in that they do exactly what you tell them to do, and if you select an unopened folder, then that location is all you’ll get in the ToC.

Right now I have every folder in Act One of my story open.  What I do now is highlight the first item I’m going to select for my Table of Contents:

Act One seems like a good place to start.

Act One seems like a good place to start.

And then, with a bit of magic almost worthy of my students, scroll down to the last entry you want to put into your Table of Contents, hold down the Shift Key, and use your mouse to highlight that last entry.  Everything in-between gets selected.

Yes, I really did want all that.

Yes, I really did want all that.

While you have it all highlighted, go up to your menu.  Select Edit > Copy Special > Copy Documents as Scrivener Links.  With that little act you’ve just saved yourself about five hours of misery–or at least I have.

Really, it's just like magic.  Or something close to that.

Really, it’s just like magic. Or something close to that.

What do I do next.  Go into the text file I’m going to use as my Table of Contents.  Open it–

Table empty--

Table empty–

And now Paste what you copied.

Table Full.

Table Full.

Now, you’ll see there are a few things in the table that appear to be duplicates.  This is because I’ve also selected folders along with text files:  remember, you’ll grab everything when you do this copy.  So how do I know what I want to keep and what I want to delete?  Simple:  click on the link.

I certanly don't want this--

I certainly don’t want this–

As you can see I clicked the first Act One, and what I got was the folder itself, showing me the filed under.  Scrivener automatically went into split screen mode when I clicked, so no need to do that yourself.

Since that first link isn’t the title page, I’ll click the second one:

Yeah, this is more like it.

Yeah, this is more like it.

Since I don’t need that first Act One, I can simply delete it out of my table.  And since I set up my story in an Act, Part, Chapter, Scene format, I’ll know that the first of every duplicate is a folder, and I can delete them.

There, all nice and clean.

There, all nice and clean.

If you’ve ever wondered why I put a title on every scene I write, it’s for two reasons.  One, it’s metadata giving me a hint as to what happens in the scene, and two–it’s there to help build my table of contents.  Which Scrivener has done for me.  And I know the links work because I can click on them and the program takes me to where I want to go.

It's almost like getting a Special Invitation.

It’s almost like getting a Special Invitation.

The last thing to do is, if you are of a mind, is to pretty up your Table of Contents by indenting your entries.  I usually set them a quarter of an inch inward based upon what they are:  part, chapter, scene.  You can even indent the subscenes if you want to roll that way.

There we are, all nice and neat.

There we are, much prettier, don’t you think?

The great thing is I can leave this Act One information in place, and add Act Two later.  Or, since I intend on splitting the novel into three separate stories as ebooks, I can set up individual Table of Contents for each act/book, and then combine them later when I decide to release this monster as one novel for people who just wanna read it all in one place.  After all, that’s the nice thing about ebooks:  one novel or three combined, it all looks the same on your reader.

But getting from place to place in that incredible wonderland you created is a lot easier if you have a good roadmap.

To See the Almost Invisible Girl

The mind has been crazy of late, and by “crazy”, I mean I’ve been on a bit of a roller coaster.  The day wasn’t bad, but my emotions were all over the place, and at one point I thought I might have to hop on the phone and call the hot line that I keep in my contacts.  Which one?  That one.  The one you don’t ever want to go to.

It never got to that because I started writing.  I don’t want to say I was saved by writing, but it was doing a damn good job on me.  And I picked up right where I left off, with Jessica commanding her class, discussing with her eager young mind their assignment, and what they were using for their spell:

 

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

She pointed at several of the work cubicles as she walked past. “Today you’re going to attempt to transform the air as I did and render the items in the container you have have in a similar state.” She reached into one cubical and picked up a plexiglass box that contained three white mice. “The assignment is to turn each of these creatures invisible. I will considering anyone turning one invisible a minor success, while rendering all three invisible will make me look upon you with great admiration.”

She lifted the box over her head and turned from left to right slowly. “Though I know some of you are fearful of loosing control of your spell and killing your test subjects, but you needn’t worry. There are not real mice: they are simulacra, or simulated animals. They look like real mice: they move, they breath, they see and hear, they even bite if you give them the chance. You’ll encounter these in many of our tests, as you will encounter homunculi in your self defense class. Fitz, Adric, and Ramona cook these up for us, so we can work on our magic without fear of killing an animal—or another human.

“It is possible to destroy these simulacra, but their aren’t going to suffer, nor will they end up a bloody mess on your work counter. When a simulacrum is destroyed, it dissolves into a gray film that’s easy to wipe away—” She handed the container back to the student. “Though that film will tell me all I need to know about your efforts to perform the spell.”

 

Homunculi:  keep those in mind.  You’ll see them in the next chapter.  As for the mice simulacra–I wouldn’t worry about them too much.

"Do I look like a simulation to you, lady?"

“Do I look like a simulation to you, lady?”

Have some cheese before you dissolve away into nothing.

It was a good run at the scene, with the worlds flowing out effortlessly.  The night before was horrible, but that was due to distractions.  This time is was me and my kids and their story, nothing else.  Not even the bad thoughts I’d had earlier.  They were no longer seen, just like this:

 

There was a soft gasp from his left; Kerry recognized the voice as Annie’s. “Did you see that?” He turned to his left—

Annie was there, only she now looked like Patchwork Annie. She was visible in parts: a little of the upright right side of her head, some of her lower left arm and part of the hand, some of her waist, a little of both thighs. And even these parts that were visible didn’t come across as solid—Kerry imagined trying to see her through translucent glass painted to look like the classroom. She’s tried making herself invisible, like the professor showed us. He giggled as he reached out and touched her unseen right arm. “You are there.” He gave it a light squeeze. “This is really good.”

 

That Annie:  she only shows these things to one person.  Kerry tends to do the same thing, though . . .

If it hadn’t been that I was watching Fargo last night–which was a scary and heartbreaking episode–I’d have finished the scene.  I’ll do that tonight, then start the last scene of the chapter, which is going to extremely heartwarming, and then it’s on to the next chapter, which is not only going to be fun, but it’s going to change the path my kids are walking.

They be rollin', haters be hatin'.

They be rollin’, haters be hatin’.

Twelve hundred words last night.  Not a bad total for something you weren’t suppose to see.

Entering the Land of the Invisible

Back into the swing once more, after laying low, more or less.  I ended up with this Sunday night:

 

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

Once they were out of earshot Coraline leaned close to Erywin. “You really going to take that boy’s money?”

“Oh, please.” Erywin’s chuckle almost became a laugh. “I’m a witch, not a bitch. I’d feel horrible taking his money and then keeping it for this gesture.”

Coraline had a similar feeling. It wasn’t that Kerry was embarrassed to ask for help; she sensed, and saw in his aura, that he was afraid he wouldn’t have anything for Annie. “So what will you—or I—do when we give him the gift?”

“Take his money, so he doesn’t feel guilty about being given the gift, and then find a way to give it back to him.” Erywin shrugged. “Parents are always sending money to their children . . .”

“That’s one way.” Coraline laughed. “Or the old ‘monetary prize for outstanding achievements’ hand-back.” She stopped and turned, looking back at Kerry, who’d just been rejoined by Annie. “He went for our suggestion rather easily.”

“As well as our other suggestion.”

“Oh, yeah.” Coraline crossed her arms. “Why is that? Because he didn’t have any ideas, and figured we know ‘what girls like’?”

“Oh, it’s more than that.” Erywin didn’t take her eyes away from the young couple. “I am of the belief that deep down inside young Kerry a romantic lies dormant in his heart, and it only needs a bit of a push to come out.” She patted the young doctor on her arm. “I believe we’ve started pushing.”

 

Nice and sweet, and something’s a brewing.  That crazy Kerry, probably going to do something silly, otherwise why bring in a couple of female teachers and ask them for something–and offering money, too!  One must wait, must they not?

That was Sunday night, however, where I put down nearly a thousand words.  Monday night–well, I was a bit tired, and I’d had a pint, or two, at dinner on my way home, so I had to let that wear off.  When it was all said and done I eventually launched into the next scene . . .

 

“True invisibility is nearly impossible to achieve.” Jessica Kishna strode slowly across the front of the classroom, closely watching her gaggle of work cubical situated students. “If one is a true expert in the field of transformation, they can render their body invisible—and they can even modify themselves so they can actually eat and see in that condition.” She showed the class one of her now-well known smirks. “Most so-called experts, however, either died of starvation or dehydration, or went mad from blindness, before attaining that level. Which is probably a good thing . . .

“The good news for today is that none of you will go mad—from blindness. As for you going mad trying to accomplish today’s spell—” She shrugged, noticing the strained looks of some of the students. “Only time will tell.”

“There are many ways to render something invisible. Normal Stealth technology has shown the world that the proper materials, the correct angles, and the right paint will make any object invisible to electromagnetic detection. But we’re going well beyond that—at least that is my hope.”

Jessica slowly walked the aisles between the work cubicles as she spoke. She knew it made the students nervous to have her scrutinizing them while she lectured and, more importantly, while they worked their magic. She didn’t care: she wanted them nervous and jumpy. She knew this caused most students to make mistakes, and a few had completely blown simple spells. Not like the one she gave them the first day of class—spells far easier . . .

“The simplest form of invisibility is camouflage. If one can blend in with their surroundings, then one is more or less rendered invisible. In the Normal world this is performed with clothing and articles used to further enhance said blending.” She paused at the end of the aisle, forcing everyone to turn and look in her direction. “In our world, there’s a far better way—”

Jessica seemed to fade as the background pressed around her from both sides and below. In less that five seconds she’d vanished from the sight of everyone in the classroom. “Right now none of you should be able to see me. Does anyone know why?”

Two hands went up instantly, each belonging to the students she suspected would know how she’d worked this magic. Do I go with what is likely Normal scientific understanding, or with the Legacy who likely knows something about the spell? How about this time— “Annie, tell the class, please.”

 

Sure, you two, be show offs.  That’ll get you no where in the long run.  Invisibility, huh?  And not a cloak in sight–save what you create.  And don’t worry:  they’ll learn how to do that.

There’s always someone at school wants to dress up as fictional characters at Halloween, you know.

Get this scene out of the way and two more scenes–probably three more in all reality–remain for this chapter.  Then I get into some good stuff.  But that’s probably not coming until after Memorial Day weekend.  In the meantime, we have . . .

Can you see me now?

Can you see me now?

This.  And some time line stuff I worked on as well, but I’m not ready to show that.

Only because it’s depression.