The Calm Before the Light: Talking the Panic

I come to you feeling all down and lowly this morning because the cold that I thought I’d completely shook back in January, and that I’d miss even though all these people in my office are sick, has done its damnedest to creep back into my life.  The last couple of days I’ve had to deal with a scratchy throat, stuffy nose, and a general feeling of blah all the time, and it hasn’t made writing any easier for me.

"I'll get right to dropping Kerry into the Pit of Hell just as soon as my head stops spinning."

“I’ll get right to dropping Kerry into the Pit of Hell just as soon as my head stops spinning.”

And even though it’s 40 F/4 C right this moments, in a few hours it’ll be 77 F/25 C, which means one can’t dress too warm or you’ll overheat by the early afternoon, and that won’t help at all when it comes to getting better.

Which is why my legs are bare, because of course they are.

Which is why my legs are bare, because of course they are.

At least I have pink on, because it’s Wednesday, and on Wednesday . . .  You know the rest.

What this all means is that pretty much the moment I hit five hundred words last night I stopped and saved and then sat down for some American Crime Story, because my mind wasn’t on getting Kerry’s story out, it was on getting some medication and warm fluids in my body.

Though I did get the party started, the one that came after Kerry’s big revile.  And as you might expect, there’s one person who has a little trouble believing his comment . . .

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

“What do you mean the girl is you?” The puzzled tone in Annie’s voice extended to her face. “She can’t be you.”

Kerry scratched the inside of his right ear. “She is me. She’s not just some girl who’s like you, a person different from me. She’s . . .” He glanced down and away, unable to meet Annie’s confused gaze. “Me.”

Annie quietly regarded Kerry for several seconds. “You’ve said you’ve spoken with her—”

“I have.”

“If that’s true, then she—”

Kerry straightened and turned towards her, tucking his leg under the other much like Annie did a minute before. “Darling—” He took both her hand in his. “Remember the dream I had the night we came back from Yule holiday?”

She stiffened slightly. “I do.”

“And you were tossed out by the girl when you tried to get into my dreamspace?”

Annie’s jaw tightened as the memory returned. “How could I forget?”

“Annie . . .” Kerry kept a grip on her hands as he slowly closed his eyes for a moment. “That wasn’t her.”

Nearly five seconds passed before Annie grasped the full meaning of Kerry’s statement. “That was you?”

“Yeah.” He allowed his shoulders to slump a bit as he explained. “The was a dream before that, the one when you first dreamwalked me and tried to get into my space—”

“I remember that, too.” She turned her body so she was sitting comfortably once more so she could move closer to him. “I could hear you.”

“It was probably a good thing I didn’t know you were there.” He swallowed hard, finding it difficult to speak. “That was the first time she told me about what was going to happen, how we were—”  Kerry shrugged. “She said we we were going to be the same, which meant nothing to me. And then, after what felt like maybe another five minutes of talking, we, um . . .” His face grew red. “We switched.”

This time Deanna—who was sit standing around the sofa with the headmistress and the other women—spoke. “You switched?”

“Switched bodies. She was me and I was—her.” Kerry rolled his eyes. “And then you showed up and I panicked and—” He sheepishly rubbed his forehead. “I didn’t know I could toss you out like that.”

 

Of one of the mysteries set up here, it was how Annie got the bum rush from Kerry’s dreamspace, and who this bitch was that was doing the rushing.  Well, that weren’t no girl, pal–it was your soul mate.  Who was a girl in their dream.  ‘Cause they switched?  Yeah, they did.  And once Annie gets past that point in the narrative, she asks what is probably the most important question so far:

 

Annie didn’t doubt a single word told by her soul mate, but now that he was so clear about the matter, there was a loose end that required explanation. “Why didn’t you tell us any of this before?”

“I wanted to but I couldn’t.” Kerry looked up at the Phoenix, who was standing just beyond end table behind Annie. “What did you do to me?”

The spirit seemed surprised. “What did I do?”

Yes. You started this with my E and A.”

“Really?” The Phoenix examined the nails of her right hand. “Perhaps you’d like to tell everyone how you first met this special girl.”

“My love.” Annie lightly rubbed the back of his left hand. “I’d like to know how this happened.”

Erywin nodded. “So would I.”

 

You gotta hate all-powerful spirits who just stand then, checking their nails, while they pull a Joker on you.  “Me?  I didn’t do anything.”  Though in this case she may not be the guilty party . . .

At least Annie wants to hear about how this all went down, so when I get home tonight, and I hope I’m able to get my head together, because tonight Kerry finally talks about the first time he met the Carrot Girl–

Death End Kids

I discovered that yesterday was my seventh anniversary with Word Press, that this blog has been registered with them for that long.  Sure, I’ve only been writing on it for almost five, but still–back when blogging was a big deal, here I was.  Always nice to know.

The evening was a nightmare, however.  It was hard to crank out the close to six hundred words I did eventually write, because I was coughing up a storm.  The cold is still lingering, though it seems to have lessened this morning, but last night I couldn’t go five minutes without coughing.  It was like there was fluid in my chest, only it wouldn’t come out.  Got so bad at one point I started gagging, and that’s never fun.

However . . . I did seem to get a good night’s sleep, so that helps.  But writing was miserable.

This was almost totally me, except I wasn't laying in bed, and she's not hacking up a lung.

This was almost totally me, except I wasn’t laying in bed, and she’s not hacking up a lung.

And I was emotional as hell, too.  I cried a lot during the afternoon at work, and once home I was watching Pacific Rim (yes, I know, I’ve seen it enough, right?) and every time Mako Mori came n I started crying.  Every.  Damn.  Time.  Even when she does her total Anime Girl “For My Family!” attack, which is probably my favorite scene, I was crying.  I couldn’t win last night, I’m telling you.

Cold to the left of me, feelings to the right, here I am, getting my ass kicked by both.

Cold to the left of me, feelings to the right, here I am, getting my ass kicked by both.

But!  I did get the conversation between Kerry and Helena going, and it’s starting to turn interesting . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

“I can understand that.” She shut off her monitor and pushed it aside. “It’s a common feeling for those who’ve entered the Guardian fold: we deal in dead and it’s natural that we want to know how we are affect by death.” She cocked her head to the left. “Am I correct?”

“Kinda . . .” Kerry continued looking down and away from the sorcery instructor. “I just didn’t know if I should ask. I was, you know—” He shrugged.

Given that Helena was well versed in the various fears reported by the one closest to him, she found him easy to read. “You were worried I might think less of you.”

He nodded. “Yes.”

“I don’t, and there’s a reason: as well as being intelligent, you’re also curious as hell about everything. People like that—people like us—” Helena pointed back and forth across her desk. “—we want answers to everything. And we keep looking until we get them.”

“I was worried that you might think—” Kerry finally raised his head and began looking directly at Helena. “—that I was scared or something.”

She moved to calm him. “I know you’re not scared, Kerry. You faced death three times before you were twelve, and you came back for more.” Helena chuckled while shaking her head. “I’m not the only one who thinks that. You know I get all my information second hand . . .”

Kerry smirked as he squirmed in his chair. “I sort of figured that.” His left brow shot upward. “She tells you stuff like I’m not afraid of death?”

“Not exactly in those terms, but . . .” It was Helena’s turn to smirk. “You know if she thought you weren’t cut out to do Guardian work, she’d have told you before telling me.”

 

If there’s one thing we know about Annie, it’s that she’s honest.  And if she ever thought Kerry wasn’t cutting it, she’d let him know.  She probably wouldn’t be all nice about it, too.  It would probably be like, “You need to stop this,” and they’d move on from there.  Because of their agreement to teach others–because Guarding training ideas, yo–Kerry has to be the same way with Annie, and you can bet she’s probably told him a few times, “You need to be tougher with me.”  Yes, Annie would tell him that if a fear of death was getting in the way of him being a good Dark Witch, he should get the hell out of the business.  And he would, because if he screws up, the person that might end up dying due to his screw up could be Annie, and he’d never forgive himself for that.

 

He didn’t require Helena to elaborate: when it came to her training him in the ways of sorcery, when he didn’t meet her standards Annie was quick to tell him what he was doing wrong, just as he did with her regarding transformation magic. And just as he did when he reported Annie’s progress to Jessica, Annie was required to report his progress to Helena, and he knew ahead of time if she was going to pass along something that was critical of his performance. As she was always quick to point out, a failure to do something correctly while in the field could mean never getting another chance to do it right.

For the first time since walking into the room Kerry felt at ease. “I’m glad you don’t think I’m here because I’m scared of, you know . . .” He spent a moment staring off to his left before looking at Helena to say the last word of his statement. “Dying.”

“Speaking of that—” Helena wanted to get the conversation away from Kerry’s insecurities and back on the path they’d begun originally. “You wanted to know about my dying, yeah?”

“Well, you don’t have to.” He was back to being embarrassed by his reason for coming. “It can’t be something that you feel comfortable discussing.”

“I don’t talk about this with everyone—but I don’t mind talking about this with certain people.” She set a smile on her face so that he couldn’t guess at her current thoughts. I’m not about to tell him that I had this same conversation with Annie months ago

 

Now, then, two things.  One, Helena has talked about dying before, and that someone was Annie.  Not a bit surprised there:  she probably asked.  Why?  Because Annie is also curious.  And two, Annie never told Kerry about this conversation.  Not surprising there, either:  you can imagine there are plenty of conversations Annie has with Helena that ever get back to Kerry.  He knows those two have Girl’s Talk, and he doesn’t ask about the conversations.  Now he’s having one of his own.

I guess we’re going to find out how Helena died . . .

Flu Bound and Down

The last twenty-four hours have been my own special hell.  By the time I rolled out of Panera yesterday I was feeling sorta okay, but after paying a bill and having lunch, I knew I was sinking fast.  I figured it was a cold, so yesterday afternoon I bundled up, took some medication, and relaxed.

By six PM I knew the truth:  I had the flu.

I was tired; I couldn’t concentrate that well; I hurt all over, particularly in my joints.  I wasn’t running a fever–or if I was, I didn’t realize it–but I was coughing a lot.  Sometimes it was a dry cough, sometimes a lot of stuff from my chest would come up.

It has been hard to do anything, but I’m doing it.  I was out already this morning to pick up some food, things I could eat that would make me feel better.  I had oatmeal with blueberries and honey, with a little yogurt on the side.  Later I’ll have tea and more yogurt.  Light, healthy things that will help get my flu out of my system by helping my immune system.

Oh, and I’m doing laundry, because I have nothing clean, and the sooner I get this done, then I can get back into my pajamas and relax.

I’m trying to write, but it’s slow going.  I can only work about fifty to hundred words at a time, then I have to go sit or lay down for about thirty, forty minutes, because it hurts to look at the screen, it hurts to sit on this little writing chair, and whenever I start coughing my head hurts.

This sucks very hard.

I wrote last night, but over the course of four hours I only managed five hundred and sixty words.  I know:  stupid.  I should have just relaxed.  At the same time my mind was working, and I couldn’t shut it down, so I had to get up and write.  I consider it a victory, because I did create something that was actually worthwhile.  Had to do it, just like I’m blogging today.  I should be resting, but I’m crazy.

And then I didn’t sleep that well, but when I did, I was dreaming of running from zombies and figuring out how to make maps showing infestation locations using Photoshop.  Yeah, it wasn’t fun, and I blame Zombie Lori, because I want to see her come back and eat Rick’s face, and it’s probably not going to happen . . .

"Carl isn't in the house--have you see him?  Shit, I mean--arrrhuggreehug!"

“Have you seen Carl?  He isn’t in the house!  Shit, I mean–arrrhuggreehug!”

Today I rest.  I’ll probably get well enough tomorrow to be able to head into work.  That’s always the suck, because your weekend is completely in the toilet and there is nothing you can do, but come Monday you have your energy back, just enough that you can make it through the day in a semi-coherent mode.  That’ll be me:  semi-coherent, making a show of the situation.  But I probably will feel better tomorrow.

Then I can get back into my life.

Cold Posturing

The last year has seen me getting sick a lot more than I’d been in the four years before that.  When you’re not in contact with people day after day, you avoid those viruses that will bring you low.  When you get back to the work force, however, you find those little bastards have been waiting for you with a glee in their non-existent eyes . . .

I’ve had at least three colds since getting back to work, and the worst was over last summer, when I had a respiratory infection that decided to stick around for two months.  I had trouble breathing, I had trouble sleep, I had trouble just getting through the day.  It wasn’t in any way fun, and for a while I thought I was going to lose my mind because I was suffering from extreme exhaustion.

Near the end of January I caught something that started to lay me low before I kicked it back.  Then, a week later, it tried making a comeback, and I manged to beat on it a little more even though I ended up having to take a day off.  I thought I was over that . . . until yesterday.

Early in the morning I felt the sore throat coming on.  Before I left for home I felt the fever coming.  By the time I was home from work I was burning; I don’t know what my temp was, but I was up there.  I hurt all over, my sense of time passage was way off . . . yep, fever was on, and all I could do was med up and hope for the best.

I didn’t sleep much last night, and though I feel a little better, I’m sweating like mad and suffering chills off and on.  My head is very wibbly-wobbly, and I’m certain I’m going to need a nap before the day it out.  Maybe I’ll even need to run to the store to pick up some medication, because I’m almost out.

Needless to say, I didn’t write last night.  Couldn’t write was more like it; the head was all over the place and my fingers were comfortably numb–so much so it was hard for me to even feel the keyboard.  It was all for the best, because there was no way I was going to do anything that would have made sense.  Not to mention when I’m feverish my sense of time passage goes right to hell, and I probably would have thought I’d been writing for an hour when the reality would have been more like ten minutes.

I wrote stoned a couple of times, and while it seems a good idea at the time, what come out on the other end was pure, unfettered crap.  Nothing I’d typed made any sense, and it was at that point that I decided that while I might be able to write with a bit of a buzz on, no way I was going to producing any kind of work I’d be proud of when I was too far gone to be unsure I could walk a straight line.

It’s like that when I’m extremely sick.  The body and mind are telling you to stop whatever the hell it is you want to do, and just rest.  So I rested.

Today is another day.  Lets see if I can get back into my work–

And not feel guilty about not writing due to being incapacitated.

Ill-Well in Writerland

It would seem the sickness has come to Helltown, aka, my own little neck of the world.  And I don’t mean sick like what I had last year about this time, but sick as in I feel the fever coming on, and not in a Bruce Springsteen sort of way.

It was like this for most of yesterday; the chills, the stuffy nose, the warm ears that are always a precursor to coming down with a fever.  I medicated and even liquored up a bit last night, hoping to stop this sucker in it’s tracks.  And I thought I had it licked–

Ah, but these viruses, they are crafty, they are.  They will stick with you, and haunt your butt until you think they’re gone, that they’ve pulled up stakes and headed for the hinterlands.  And then, WHAM!  They have you, bwah hahahaha!

It plays hell with the writing gig, let me tell you.  It’s already hard to concentrate, and now you need medication to help hold it down, and if that doesn’t make you spacier, then if you decided to have a margarita, or two, hoping it will do something for you at the same time–ha! You foolish person, you’re going  to find yourself on the low spark of high heeled boys rather quickly.

Though I was doing this last night . . .

It was hard to type, and at one point I actually nodded off at the keyboard while thinking.  Still, I managed four hundred sixty-five words, which isn’t a great shake by any means, but it’s wordage.  And it’s almost five hundred words closer to the end than if I hadn’t written anything.

I know what you’re thinking:  why?  If you’re not feeling good, oh Little Cassie, why are you writing?  Why are you trying to think and work on a story?  Are you trying to impress us?

I’ll impress you when I put the stuff out there to read.  As for the rest . . .

Writing while sick is a pain, and a huge crap shoot.  When you’re falling asleep and feeling like you’ve been beaten half to death by Mjölnir, one could think that trying to do something worth while is a fool’s journey.  Nothing good will come of it.

Unless . . .

Maybe years ago I read something by Stephen King.  I know, that’s like saying, “One day I drove down this road,” but hang with me.  He mentioned that one day, in the early 1980’s, he’d come down with the flu, and he was in very bad shape; he may have mentioned that he felt as if he were hallucinating at times, and I know that feeling.  He has just picked up one of those new word processors (this is the early 1980’s, remember), and he starts playing with it, knowing he can’t write anything, but thinks he can get a feel for the machine.

So he’s typing some words, and then deleting them.  And typing strings of works, and reworking them, and deleting them.  In that moment it hits him:  What if I typed in my wife’s name and hit delete?  Would she vanish?

That story became The Word Processor, which was published in the January 1983 issue of Playboy (which I read, because I did read Playboy for the articles before I worked there), and was later published in one of his short story collections.

See?  A cold is no reason to stay away from your craft.  If nothing else, you can work on other things.

Though typing, “I so want Christina Hendricks’ body,” and hitting Enter doesn’t seem to be doing anything.  Maybe if I try it again . . .

 

The Fallacy of the Commonplace

After a week of living through one of the worst colds I’ve known in a long time, I seem to be back to “normal”.  Of course, today I head back into the office, and I’m likely to walk out of there with sniffles and various illnesses, so by this evening I’ll know for sure if I’m really over what I had.

I still have an infection in my right ear, ’cause there is this incessant ringing there, and everything sounds muffled.  I’ll put a warm cloth on that this afternoon once I’m home; perhaps that will help.

At least I can get back to my writing . . .

I’m the first to say that after finishing the edit on Echoes, I had no idea what to do next.  Oh, I know:  I have a couple of things I could get into, but I feel as if I’m not ready to go there.  It’s like my mind is just–locked up, or something.  The creativity button, or whatever I need to push to get things going, isn’t working very well.

In the meantime, I’ve delved back into Her Demonic Majesty for one last polish.  And man:  am I glad.  I’ve run it through a couple of passes already, and I know I’ve caught a lot of things, but this time around I’m really looked to get it rewritten the way I want–

Only a chapter and a half in and I’ve done the rewriting.

Don’t take this to mean it’s a bad book, or that I’m totally tearing it the hell up because it’s totally sucko.  On the contrary:  I’m making it better.

There was a comment made on Facebook the other day–oh, there’s something new, right?  It really started in jest, I know.  Someone was making a comment about their NaNo Novel, and they said something like, “I didn’t plot it out and it’s the best; next!”  I joked back, “I did plot out my NaNo Novel, and it’s the best!  Next!”

As the Internet abhors any semblance of mock happiness, some wag posted back, “Who says it’s the best?”  Oh, sure:  the ultimate slam.  Your stuff is the best?  Prove it!

I’ll tell you who thinks it’s the best–

Me.

That’s something I wouldn’t have said over a year ago.  I couldn’t bring myself to say anything good about my work.  I would give you every reason why it was going to fail, or why it was going suck harder than the proverbial hooker with a mile-long garden hose.

These days, I can step back and look at a work with a fairly critical eye.  I might feel that finding a home for it is going to be hard, because it might be out there a bit, but I don’t the story sucks because of that.  No, it might need a little editing, but the story does not suck.

I can tell when it is starting to suck–

When I dismiss it from my head.

Because if I don’t feel like I should think about it any more than necessary, then it’s not worth doing.  But if the ideas are still there; if I’m getting something I just can’t shake, then I know it will see the light of day.

Which reminds me . . . on the drive here yesterday I thought up a new way of doing magical fireballs.

Wait until Annie hears about this.

Thunderstorm Interludes

I can understand Thor being happy his movie made a butt-load of cash over the weekend, but that doesn’t give him a right to keep me awake most of the night.

The weather around my Real Home has been crazy most of the weekend, but since about 5 PM Sunday afternoon, we kept getting thunder.  Not a lot, but it was becoming a very constant thing.  When I finally headed off to bed with eyes swollen from sneezing, sometime around 11 PM, the thunder was still there, off and on, like background music that the people down the street were playing in their back yard, and that you’d catch when the wind was right.

Then right at 12:30 AM, it just kicked it hard.  Thunder, lightening, and lots and lots of rain.  Enough to get me out of bed and having me checking the time (I always do that), then wandering off to the bathroom before finding my way back to a fitful sleep.

It was like that until I finally said, “Screw it,” and crawled downstairs for coffee at 5:20 AM.  Fall asleep, dream a little, wake up when the night time outside the bedroom window lit up like a Tesla Coil.  Real pain in the butt.

This whole weekend was a pain in the butt.  I’m coming up on being sick for almost a week, and I’m that point in the illness where I feel like I’m getting over it, then it comes back and reminds me that I’m wrong.  Saturday was weakness; yesterday was a whole lot of sneezing and coughing–and eyes swollen and sore.  This morning I thought, “Hey, this might be just about over,” then I was hit with massive sneezing.  Damn you, cold.  Damn you to hell.

I haven’t been able to do much writing at all.  I finished Echoes, and then . . . really, nothing.  As I just told someone on Facebook, since I haven’t been writing I’ve been going a little nuts, and last night I pulled out Her Demonic Majesty, and began doing the last pass polish on it.  I only made it through the first third of the first chapter, but I needed to do something . . . I needed to look at some words and get into a story.

And I ended up rewriting more than a few parts of the section of the chapter.  I haven’t actually looked at it in months, and as I read it, I was shaking my head.  No, no, no.  Parts of it felt very clumsy.  So it got a make over–one of the better, I hope.

Getting this last edit in will become my current project.  I have lots of notes to make for a couple of stories, and as much as I’d like to start on something new, I’m not there yet.  Research, baby:  that’s what I do.  So I still have that to do before I can really get into those stories.

But Majesty . . . I’ve been sitting on that for a while, and it’s time to finish it up.  Time to look for publishers.  Time to get it out there.  There’s no point in letting it collect electronic dust.

Maybe getting sick and taking a little time off is a good thing.  Because it’s given me time to think, and to suffer.  Well, the suffering I can do without, but thinking–always a good thing.

Just need to channel that into something that’s going to be good further down the line.