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 . . .