The View Beyond The Foundation Window

Where was I last night?  Actually I had to run out and pick up a couple of things, and by the time that was over I was back at the apartment somewhere around seven-thirty.  After I got back onto the computer and started working . . . nothing was really coming.  It’s interesting how that happens, you know.  Eleven hundred words the night before, less than four hundred last night.

But since I was asked, “Who is Kerry gonna speak with at lunch?” it’s only fair I show you.  And Kerry is a mess right now.  He is Mr. Mopie Sadsack right now, because his sweetie is off in Bulgaria–probably walking up after whatever magic The Foundation slipped into her Readjustment Mixture works its magic and got her on the proper local time–and he doesn’t even feel like eating, which is a first for him.  However, someone comes a callin’:


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

It hasn’t even been three hours— Kerry poked the Italian sausage on the right side of his plate. And I’ve gotta stay here for like another nine hours—or ten—maybe longer . . .

“Now here’s a young man with something on his mind.” Kerry looked up from his plate to find Professor Sladen standing across the table from him. She regarded him with a studied eye. “Ah, he is conscious, and not in some self-imposed trance.”

He chuckled as he set his fork to the side. “Hi, Professor Sladen.”

Erywin waved dismissively at him. “Oh, please: school’s out for the year. You can called me Erywin.”

“I don’t know if I can get used to calling you all by your first names.”

“’You all’?”

“You know: instructors.”

“Well–” She placed her hands upon her hips. “You have no problem addressing Wednesday by her first name—what does she have that I haven’t got?” She chuckled as his face turned a bright red. “May I join you?”

Kerry calmed himself and nodded. “Please do . . . Erywin.”


All this calling instructors by their given name and stuff–really, it’s going to drive a kid crazy.  And what has she comes to talk about?  I’ll have to write that tonight.

It’s interesting that now that the novel is moving towards the end of Act Two and a few truths are going to emerge, not just with Kerry but with Annie as well.  And in Act Three we finally get out of the school and wander about the land beyond the walls.  I was asked recently about the world beyond the walls of Salem and what it was like, and my answer was simple:  it’s the world of 2011 as we knew it–because we are in 2014, and we’re looking back–and there isn’t much of a change other than one discovers during this story that there’s a shadow organization that spans the entire globe and not only gathers children from all over the world, but brings them to a school that no one can see save for those known as The Aware.

I mean, take a look.  There’s the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning (SIGEL) right in the middle of the picture, just to the north of Gloucester and to the east of Rockport.

It's right there.  Don't you see it?

It’s right there. Don’t you see it?

I see it, because I know the layout in my head, but that huge green area in the middle of Cape Ann, where one would find a large forest and quarries and even the remains of Dogtown, there is instead a huge, walled school that normal people live next to and have no idea exist.  That’s where your smoke and mirrors and magic all come into play, convincing everyone that all is right in the world and there’s nothing to worry about, because should you wander into that area, everything you think you’re gonna find you will.

Annie and Kerry get to venture into the old world–well, old to Kerry; Annie’s always been used to living in her Foundation World while dealing with the Other World–and they’ll travel into Salem, maybe even by train.  I can’t tell you what they’re doing there, because spoilers and River would come after me, but it’s not something anyone would probably believe at this point.  Needless to day, being outside in the world is going to have an affect on both my kids.

And Annie will be haunted by one of her deepest fears right in front of this statue in Salem.  Probably because Samantha Stevens has that effect on young witches.

And Annie will be haunted by one of her deepest fears right in front of this statue in Salem. Probably because Samantha Stevens has that effect on young witches.

The later stories (yes, there are more stories) get out into the real world even more, and if I ever get the second novel written you’ll see Kerry out and about, though the third, forth, and fifth novels would actually see them outside the walls of Salem a lot more.  Right now they’re innocent A Levels and I can’t let them leave the safety of the school.

Which is why Kerry’s already been in a coma.  Because safety.

The Sun On the Trail

So far this morning I’ve woken at four AM, drove through the darkness to arrive at my local Panera for a breakfast sandwich and coffee, and spent ten minutes helping someone get the wireless card in their computer running.  Yes, I’m off and running, and it’s not even seven AM.

Now I have the earphones in and I’m listening to City to City, and Baker Street is playing and the day feels good.  Never mind the fact that my right eye was bothering me again last night, making it difficult to do anything because my left eye was the only one that wasn’t all clouded up with junk and burning.  Still, I worked on, because that’s how it goes, right?  You work thought it, even if it means you feel like lying down and doing nothing but moan.

I managed to finish my school layout last night.  This is something I started back before my Camp Salem AboveNaNo story started, and it was also something I’d need for the novel that follows.  What you see to your right is the school grounds from the air:  all the buildings, all the towers and walls, all the roads and trails, even a couple of lakes and springs and a large meadow.  There are even a few things that, if you squint, you’ll see, like trees, covered stairs leading below, and a couple of graves.  Yes, I said graves, because we have dead people hanging out at this joint.  I know every point on this map, because I’ve pretty much lived with this place for a couple of years.  Some might say I’ve lived in it, but what do they know?

But do I stop at what you can see?  No.  Because there’s always more to the picture than you can see . . .

I also designed the tunnel and basement system that runs under the school.  Salem BelowIt only makes sense:  this place is right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, and during the winter you’re gonna get snow and cold and even a Storm of the Century every so often.  When that happens you don’t want your kiddies walking a half mile through ankle-deep snow to their next class–ergo, tunnels.  And basements where dangerous experiments are held, or where control rooms are set up, or where you have a lot of storage because you never know when you’ll need something.

There are only a couple of features that need adding, but I can get to that later.  The Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning is complete.  All that remains is the writing of its tales.

Speaking of tales, I set up the Scrivener project for the short story I’m going to write.  I’m going to start on that today at some point, and I do promise it’ll be a short story–which is why I used the short story template for my project.  This isn’t going to be dragged out:  it’s going to be quick and to the point.  The story is really more about how one character takes to having to do “official” things, and it’s meant to be something of a character-building bridge than anything else.  No great ideas will be developed; no terrors quelled; no threats extinguished.  Just fun.

At some point this morning I’m going to head up north and get pictures of the Appalachia Trail.  I discovered it’s about twenty minutes north of me, so I’ll drive to the point where it crosses the river and walk across.  That way I can say I hiked the Trail.

Maybe I should bring my survival gear.  You never know what dangers are lying in wait for me . . .



The second chapter of Couples Dance is down and done–as much as it’s going to be for now.  I’m certain there’ll be another pass though when this is over, but for now I’m pretty happy.  Sort of happy.  Kind of happy.

Yeah, I’ll take what I have.  Right now it feels good.

The first four chapters are really pretty small as far as the story as a whole is concerned.  Each is between fifteen and eighteen hundred words, so I’ve got a short story to start setting up things for the strangeness to come.  It’s the chapters that come after, that are eight thousand and six thousand, and ever one that’s nine thousand words, that are going to take some time.  Those are the ones that will require a day, or more, to get cleaned up and somewhat rewritten.  Seeing as how I have ten chapters to do, I’m guessing since a few chapters will require multiple days to edit, I could have another two weeks of work ahead.

On this story.  No word on what’s coming next.

Well, I do know what’s coming next, and that work is coming along, at least visually.  My three-dimensional layout for my school is getting bigger and bigger each day, and as I get better at this modeling thing, I can always make better trees and forests, and my building can start to look more like buildings and not some gray blocks on a green surface.  It’s fun to do, to build this thing that has lived in the bowels of my memory for some time, but damn, does it take up time.  You can write, or you can make things relating to writing.  This is definitely the “Make things relating to writing” part, because I’m not writing when I’m working on this landscape.

At least Blender doesn’t kill my system like a few other modeling program have.  Though once I get a few thousand trees laid out, I may need to go to a bigger system.

In a way this school has become another character in my story.  Not that I don’t have a few already:  there is, as they say, a cast of dozens waiting to walk upon the stage and have their say.  Most will be small players; some are going to set up shop and be around for most of the stories about my kids.  But as I lay out this place known as the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning, I see how it’s turning into more than a place where teachers get up and go through their daily routines, and the kids look for places to hide and make mischief when they’re not studying their butts off.

The school has become something organic.  It is more than a collection of buildings and grounds; it’s a tangible thing.  I am building its personality as surely as if I were making characters notes in a file.

People ask, “What do you do to get to know your characters?”  That’s an easy question to answer:

You do whatever is necessary to turn them into living, breathing creatures.

Even when they’re made of dirt, wood, and stone.

There and Back to the Big House

Oh, did you notice this is coming out late?  These things happen at times, trust me.  The delay is due to getting up at five AM, driving one hundred miles for a thirty minute interview, then driving home.  A little lunch later, as well as the fixing of a screen door has kept me off the computer for about two hours, and then–

Here we are.

It’s so far made for a long, tiring day, but at least I don’t have to cook tonight, because I’ve done enough of that for the last two days.  Kick back tonight, maybe pizza tomorrow.

Right now, we’re talking Great Hall.

The last two days I’ve been running about in Blender designing.  I should say, “Building,” because what I wanted to do is taking the build I’d made for my current story, and sort of see what it would look like if you turned into a three dimensional model.  I know, that’s being a bit obsessive about something that isn’t real, that’s just a part of my imagination.

There is a point to all this, however:  having a designed floor plan allowed me to figure out where some of the action in the building occurred.  I know there are those who may feel that’s a little too much work to put into a project, that it’s getting down into the metadata a little too much, but screw them.  It’s my story, and it’s one I want to publish one day, so I put work into my background.  Hey, it’s either this or spend twenty years on some fan fiction that will never see the light of day, right?

Originally I started with what you see on the right:  a building Main Hall 518layout rendered in 3D that showed as much of the inside as I could dream up.  I still have this, and the information came in handy when I started writing about battles and running and flying going on inside.  Visualizing these things came about from working with someone else, and I’m thankful that I listened to them on this matter.  (As for the rest, I’m still working on that . . .)

But I wanted to see more.  I wanted to see the area around the Pentagram, I wanted to feel the size, the enormity of the area.  It’s a big school:  everything here feels enormous, or is at least should.  Therefore I need to model the outside and the grounds, and I couldn’t do it in the program I used for the floor plan.

So off to Blender, and . . . Pentagram SoutheastBehold!

It’s not much to look at unrendered, but that’s what I’m building.  I have the Pentagram walls, the Coven Towers, the Clock Tower, the covered walkways, the older South Part of the Hall, the transepts, and the newer, more modern looking Library with the curving windowed wall that I couldn’t do the proper way in my floor plan program.  I figured out the scaling for this monster so that it’s not taking up a whole lot of virtual space, and it leaves open the possibility of modeling some of the other buildings.

If you want to get a feeling for scale, look at this:  Pentagram Main Gateit’s the main gate of the school going through the fifty foot high and eighteen foot thick walls.  And there, standing in the arch, those little sticks?  Those are two students, each five foot tall, catching sight, for the first time, of the main entrance some two hundred feet away.

With the story almost finished, I’m ready to move onto the next project.  But come November, when I may or may not do NaNo again, I’ll start in on another novel, and that novel will build off the little novel I wrote this month of July.

Maybe, in four months time, I’ll have even more to see.



Digging in the Dirt

Tunnels.  I be digging tunnels.

While working on my story yesterday, I remembered the tunnels that are all under the school I created.  In the story one of these is mentioned as a scene takes place there–a semi-argument between three instructors that will eventually lead to a climax within the next chapter I’m writing.

I’ve a layout of my environment.  I’ve even looked at the area in some detail on Google Maps (the school is really there, but you can’t see it, ’cause . . .), so when I write about a building on the grounds, I see it in my mind because I’ve placed it on a physical spot on a map.  Call it a visualization trick learned from years of gaming–or from having someone tell me, “I gotta see the inside of this tower to know it!” which lend me to start drawing–but it’s a trick that helps a hell of a lot.

However, the area is subject to seasonal changes in weather.  It’s hot in the summer, wet in the spring and fall, and snowy during the winter.  It’s also right on the ocean, so you have the occasional storm blowing in from the Atlantic.  Hence, the tunnels.  ‘Cause if you want to get around in the worst weather, go underground.

But the tunnels are good for other things beside walking from class to class when the weather sucks, and you don’t feel like getting drenched because the building where your next class is held is a half-mile away.  There are plenty of things to discover in the tunnels:  passages that seem to lead nowhere; passages that are restricted; unused and hidden rooms . . . oh, there’s plenty of things down below the ground beside people going from here to there.  Most of which will pop up in the next story . . .

What was bugging me yesterday, though, was not having a layout for those tunnels.  I wanted to see them.  I wanted to know how the kids and instructors made their way around in the basement world.  And, for an upcoming chapter, I had to chase someone in a large basement, and figure out how another person was able to make it from where they were first caught doing bad thing, to where they were going to have their final confrontation.

Ergo, tunnel maps.  You gotta have them.  Well, I do.

Now, many hours later, I have everything I need.  I see every building linked together.  I see which building have underground storage, and of those, which have a lot of underground space.  I see the spaces that will get used when I get to my novel in November.

This morning I had a short chat with someone who follows me.  One of the things they said was they were amazed by the architectural detail I put into my stories.  I’ve done this before for other stories, yeah, but never to the level I’ve done for this story.  For this story it’s as if I’ve had a Muse nagging me to get all the little details right, and even if those details aren’t seen, I need them, because the story needs them.

As usual, my Muse is right.

She’ll be the first to tell you that, too.

Defending the Pentagram

Writing has become a deliberate, detailed issue of late with me.  So many things to monitor, to track; so many people and names to remember.  At this point in my story I have had at least a dozen characters speak, and at least a half dozen of them are major characters.  It’s the way I wanted the story, so if there’s anyone to blame for this mess, it is I.  Put it all on my shoulders, I’ll hump that sucker down the hill, ’cause I can handle the stress.

But, anyway:  the story.  The big battle is nearing the end, and I have a few more people who need to die, a few more characters that need to breathe their last and shuck this mortal coil in as nasty a way as possible.  Then comes the cool-downs, the affirmations, the set up for the November NaNo Novel.

Until then, my Salem Girls (and a few boys, least of all one who’s going out in a big way) are gonna defend the Pentagram.

The Pentagram gets talked up a lot in this story, and will show Pentagram Closeupup a bit in the next novel, too.  What is it?  You can see for yourself in the picture on the right.  This is the center of my school, Sigel–the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning–and it’s where all the super kiddies spend their time in study, eating, relaxing, going to the hospital (yeah, that’s going to be important in the next novel), participating in extra-curricular activity (both approved and unproved by the school–there’s lots of empty and hidden rooms above and below ground)and living.

It’s really more of a pentagon, but when one goes all the way back to the founding of this place–which I have, because I’m lovin’ my time lines–it’s makes sense as to why the women who build this place called it the Pentagram.  Which also played a role in the naming of the towers–those things at each point–and calling them covens.

We’re talkin’ real old school here.

As I’ve pointed out before, the Great Hall is about the size of a modern football stadium.  The walk along the gray pathway heading from the hall southward (south is at the bottom) is a little over three hundred feet, and each segment of wall between the towers is around seven hundred fifty feet.  It’s a big place.  It wasn’t when I first designed it, but I wanted it to be an imposing place, so just like Pacific Rim, I went big instead of going extinct.

Not that people aren’t dying at the moment.  Hey, that’s what combat’s all about.  An now the students are getting in on the action, and just like with the instructors, there are good students, and there are bad ones.  And the bad ones–well, it’s not going to end well for them.  They’re probably going to get something a lot worse than detention by the time it’s all over.

The story is coming to an end.  It’s closing in on forty thousand, and may top forty-five thousand before it’s all over.  With a few revisions I might just get it to fifty, but that’s for another time.

Right now I gotta look up joule output; I got a building to blow up.

All the Troubles I’ve Created

Everything is moving forward.  The Scouring zoomed past the eighteen thousand word point last night, more or less.  I say that, because though I use the word “zoom”, it was more like a stumble over the line to get there.  My focus was crap yesterday for some reason, and most of the day was spent adding a few hundred words here, another hundred there.

But as I’ve said before, you keep adding up those words over the course of a few hours, eventually you’ll get a couple of thousand written, which I did before heading off to bed.  Just a shade over two thousand, mind you, but I still made it.

Since I’m all about bringing the enjoyment of how I write my Into the Attackstories, and since I’m all about bringing the pain to others, I did a screen shot of my Scrivener layout last night . . . and there it is!

This was the first time I did a split screen and wrote on the top while watching the word count build up on the bottom while I had the part in Outline mode.  And the fun part is, you do see the numbers for the Word Count move as you type, edit, and delete.  For some reason I enjoyed writing this way last night; call me crazy, but then most do.  I think it has more to do now with where I’m at, but where I’m going.  And as the Status Column goes from “To Do” to “Work in Progress” to “First Draft”, I’ll feel a greater sense of accomplishment.

The going was slow because of a few distractions yesterday–who doesn’t have them, I know–but there’s also that feeling of pending disaster whenever I have to start working on pending disasters.  Killing Time is coming to the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning, and I’m laying the ground work.

I’ve had this situation happen before:  it’s like the shakes coming on after a long night of drinking and drying out the moment I have to get in there and start writing some disturbing stuff.  I have three pretty clear death scenes in my head, and when I start thinking about putting those things into my computer–I don’t know.  It’s not that I mind killing off my characters; I think it has most to do with how it’s going to read for other.

I had this same thing happen back when I was writing Couples Dance last year.  I started getting the Butterfly Fear (that feeling you get in your tummy when it feels like there’s a million mad butterflies trying to break free) when it was time to write some of the most bizarre sex scenes–and if I’m saying “bizarre sex scene”, then you know it was strange.

The thing is, I powered through it, and wrote out the strangeness, and the world didn’t implode.  Once more, my mind was playing tricks on me, which is something it totally enjoys doing, and which I should ignore more often.

There will be writing today.  More than likely it’ll happen this afternoon, but I’ll get it in, and get it done, and by this time tomorrow I should have over twenty thousand words in the story bank.

Where I never have to worry about making a withdrawal.