Schedules to Keep, and Classes to Take Before They Sleep

Here we are, back again with most wordage, because last night I did write, and write a lot–well, eleven hundred words, so that’s a lot for me.  Tonight, probably not as much, because The Third Man is on at 8 PM and I don’t miss that movie, but Saturday I’ll write again.  And again.  And again.

A nice little benchmark was reached last night as well:  the novel went over fifty thousand words.

Fifty and change, but who's really keeping track.

Fifty and change, but who’s really keeping track.

Now, since I do keep track of these things, the novel passed forty thousand words on 14 May, which is–let me do the math–fourteen days before 28 May.  That means I wrote ten thousand or so words in two weeks, or five thousand a week, which is a number I’m pretty steady with.  And if you can keep that up for a year, then you finish with a quarter of a million word novel.  Which is what this should become in time.  Yes, I’m nuts.

Where did we leave off?  With Jessica asking about scary things about people who do transformation magic.  And what do my kids say?  Well . . .

 

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

Kerry was unable to say that he’d noticed this simply because he was only around magic while at school, and didn’t get to see it full time, but Annie was able to comment. “I’ve not only noticed, but I’ve heard stories from my grandparents about Bulgarian shapeshifters.”

“Do you know when they were born?”

“All of them were born in the early 1920s, I believe.”

Jessica brushed her hair back over her shoulders. “Did they go to school here?”

“Yes, they did, save for my mother’s father: he attended a school outside Varna.” Annie half turned towards Kerry as she spoke, getting back on point. “They used to tell me about witches pretending to be vǎrkolak, who would go around frightening and even killing people—”

The word Annie used was something Kerry had never heard before. “What’s that?”

“What’s what?”

“That word: vǎra—”

“Vǎrkolak. It’s a kind of werewolf which is also like a vampire in that it’s supposed to be undead.” She chuckled. “A great number of the stories from our area about the undead and werewolves are actually about witches who were experts with transformation magic.” Annie faced Kerry. “If you hadn’t figured it out, nearly every folk story about strange creatures came about because of transformation magic.”

 

That little bit of research took me about fifteen minutes of looking around, because I wanted to make sure I got the name right.  And as far as Annie’s family tree is concerned–yes, I know exactly when her grandparents on both sides of the family were born.  But yes:  Bulgaria has undead werewolves.  Let that sink in for a bit.

Now that Kerry knows this bit of information–see what having a Bulgarian girlfriend does for you?–he can return to Jessica’s original question–

 

He nodded slowly while his smile grew. “Yeah, I kind of figured that.” He also figured this was the point Jessica was making. “Is that what you meant? About people being scared of people who can do that stuff?”

Jessica nodded. “That’s part of it.” She rested her elbows on her thighs as she leaned forward. “People are always scared by those things that don’t appear normal—and that’s not found just in the Normal community. Even people who are used to seeing unusual things every day are put off by people like me.” She rubbed her fingertips together. “Do you remember the first day of Transformation class last year when I changed into Mystique?”

It was a moment that Kerry remembered well. “Yes. That was pretty great.”

“Thank you: it took me a while to figure out how to do her.” Jessica lowered her voice slightly, even though there wasn’t anyone else in the room who could hear them. “Did you notice the faces of some of the students in the room.”

“Not really: I was—”

“I did.” Once again Annie had the answer Jessica sought. “A lot of the students were shocked.”

Kerry half-shrugged. “That’s to be expected; it’s one thing to see that in a movie, and another to see it in real life.”

“My point exactly, Kerry. I dare say it was the first strange magic everyone in that class saw after arriving at school, and it unnerved a few.” Jessica chuckled darkly. “Didn’t bother you, though.”

“Naw. I mean—” He switched his gaze from Jessica to Annie and back to the instructor. “I’m used to reading about that stuff, so I thought it was sort of cool.”

 

As a kid from a Normal background who is also a big geek, Kerry has a lot of pop culture knowledge, and he’s already joked about people with “mutant powers” at the school.  As Jessica is about to point out, much of that may be the reason for his competency in transformation magic–and his feelings about the “coolness” of this crafting leads her to the main point of this discussion–

 

One of the reasons why he’s likely drawn to transformation magic in the first place. Jessica nodded slowly. “There is a downside to this magic for the person who does the crafting, however. I know you read a great deal: have you ever read All My Sins Remembered?”

He slipped back into his thoughts for a moment. “No. Who’s it by?”

“Joe Haldeman.”

“The guy who wrote The Forever War?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. Nope, never read it.”

Jessica found this news a bit surprising, but she didn’t bring Annie and him here to discuss his reading habits. “It’s about someone who works for a galactic organization as a spy, and they spend the majority of their time living as other people then they go out on missions.” A scowl appeared for only a moment. “Having to live as other people and do—things—takes a psychological toll on the main character . . .” She didn’t want to give away the ending in case Kerry decided to read the novel, so she went ahead with the real reason for this talk. “I know the Guardians are interested in you both—”

Annie sighed. “Who doesn’t know this?”

 

At this point Annie’s probably wondering how secret their secret mission was.  Actually . . . pretty secret.

 

“My guess is nearly all the students, and I’m certain a few of them managed to put the clues together. It was impossible not to notice you both meeting privately with Helena and Erywin, and then the four of you vanishing for a weekend . . .” Jessica’s face took on the icy composure she usually maintained during class. “It doesn’t matter: the expressions on your faces are enough to know that you know. And now that you’re both Gifted—” She clicked her tongue twice. “Those gifts are going to come in handy.

“Here’s what I really wanted to bring up: Kerry, the Guardians not only want sorceresses, but anyone with excellent transformation crafting is desired as well. And with you being a Mimic, you’ll likely find them interested in making you an Infiltrator—” Jessica saw the changed come over both children. “—and given the way your expressions changed, it’s obvious you understand what I mean.

“If that’s what they want for you—and for Annie, too, if she proves as good with transformation magic as you—then you’ll find yourself like the character in Sins: always going out on mission having to live someone else’s life. And this is one of the things that scares people who can’t do transformation crafting: how is it possible to change so much and still be yourself?

“And the answer to that is: sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you do lose track of yourself, and it puts a psychological strain on your mind.” Jessica’s expression turned towards one of sadness. “I won’t lie: some excellent transformists have gone insane because they became lost in the people and things they portrayed, and it’s a fear we all run into now and then.”

Her sigh was long and felt as if it were felt with sorrow. “You’re both good kids, and I don’t ever want to see bad things happen to you, so I will give you this little bit of advice: never lose sight of who you are—hold on to your identity.” Jessica finally cracked a smile. “I don’t like to use cartoon philosophy to describe such an important matter, but it works in this instance.”

She reached out and took Annie and Kerry’s hands. “Hold onto your identity and remember who you are, because there’s no one else like you two, and I’d hate like hell to lose either of you.” She gave them both a soft, slight shake. “I’ll show you how to do that the best I can. I promise: I won’t let you get lost.”

 

Yes, children, take the advice of Elastigirl and make sure you keep your identity–though I don’t believe you’ll need to wear masks or anything like that.  This is more in line with Helena’s beliefs that a good sorceress keeps their wits about them, because the chances are they’ve found themselves in the middle of some deep shit, and they need to stay alive.  In Jessica’s case, she’s saying you need to remember who you are when you’re out there pretending to be someone else, because it’s easy to lose your mind.

And now we see another word come up:  Infiltrator.  Since it’s related to the Guardians, we can sorta guess that it has to do with sneaking into places while looking like someone who belongs there.  Or, you know, something even more devious. But being able to look like anyone you want–and being great sorceresses–makes these kids even more valuable to the Guardians.  It’s now a question of whether or not that’s a good thing.  Hummm . . . we’ll see.

One last thing:  yesterday during some discussions in comments the question came up about classes.  Specifically, what classes are the kids taking, and how many are there?  And wouldn’t you know, I have a list:

But then, you knew I had one, right?

But then, you knew I had one, right?

The list on the left is what the kids took during their A Levels, and the list on the right is their current B Level schedules, with all of Annie’s and Kerry’s classes set up in bold.  I’ll speak about this a little more tomorrow, so I’m sort of teasing you with things to come.

Just like I did with the title of this post.

Conversing Round the Rotunda

A lot of strangeness this morning–starting off with waking up at 3:30 AM, laying in bed for ninety minutes before deciding that I needed to get up and do something.  Said something involved finishing up a scene I sort of stumbled through last night, which I mean with all sincerity, because I didn’t have my head in the story last night.  Some of it had to do with watching TCM last night while I made my way through some five hundred words of conversation between Annie and a fellow student from Lesotho, but the truth remains I’ve been tired most of this week, and writing at home is boring the hell out of me.

It’s nice to have a routine.  Writing is my routine; has been for a while.  But the last year, most of which has been spent in hotel rooms and a small apartment, have taken their toll.  I’m finding that changing things up a little here and these gives me more productivity, and that’s something I require at this point, because five hundred or so words a night ain’t cutting it.  Time has come to rev things up.

Really, though, it’s not usual.  Whenever you spend a lot of time working on the same project, doing the same thing over and over, in the same place and location for months, it seems natural that you’ll find a little burnout creeping in from around the bend.  Now if I was only like George R. R. Martin and I could take five or six or seven years to write a novel.

That would assume I’m making money from my novels, first . . .

"Also, I could write some hot, kinky, dragon action.  Just as long as I leave their mom out of it.  Right?  Right?"

“Also, I could write some hot, kinky, dragon action. Just as long as I leave their mom out of it. Right? Right?”

But I wrote this morning.  I managed almost six hundred words this morning, because when there isn’t anything on television to pull you away, and no one on the Internet to distract you, it’s easy to get things done.  I might even be able to snap out another five or six hundred words later today, or maybe even a thousand.  You can’t tell, can you?

Here’s the last part of a three-way conversation between Annie, Nagesa Okoro–the aforementioned student from Lesotho who has two friends out flying the same patrol as Kerry and Emma are flying–and Lisa, she of the Bad Attitude and the Magical Ownage during Sorcery class.  Needless to say, Lisa’s trying to break bad on Annie, and Annie is not digging it in the least . . .

 

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

“I’m surprised you’re not out with Kerry.” Lisa looked over her right shoulder. ‘Then again, he’s gotta flyin’ partner—” She turned back to Annie. “Ain’t he?”

Annie slowed her breathing so as not to lose her temper. “Emma’s with him, yes. They volunteered together.”

“An ahm sure they’re havin’ a great time.” Lisa rubbed her hands together slowly. “Is that why you’re doin’ triage? ‘Cause if anythin’ happens, you’ll be here when he’s brought in?” The smirk returned as she looked around the Rotunda. “Those guys flyin’ around by the wall, they’re gonna be the first to get hit if there’s trouble—”

Nagesa laid a hand on Annie’s; she sensed the girl was about to explode. She turned on Lisa. “You are not helping with this talk; you are trying to upset us.” She twitched her head to the left. “You should rest—this may be a long day.”

For a moment Lisa didn’t appearer willing to take Nagesa’s advice, then shrugged. “Yeah, you’re probably right.” She waved at Annie. “See ya ‘round.”

Annie waited for Lisa to head up the stairs to the First Floor before speaking. “Thank you.”

Nagesa removed her hand from Annie’s. “I sensed you were about to say things that would have resulted in an argument—”

“Or worse.” Annie set her hands in her lap.

“Or worse.” Nagesa rocked her knees back and forth. “We do not need that sort of negativity here. We need to stay focused on our duty.”

“I agree.” Annie sat quietly for nearly thirty second, her mind swirling around Lisa’s comments. “Are you here because of your friends?”

“No—and yes.” Nagesa slightly turned her head so she could look at Annie as she spoke. “I am here to help anyone needing help. And were my friends brought in, I could help them as well.”

“What . . .” Annie didn’t want to ask the question, but found she must. “What if you can’t help them?”

“Then I would have the chance to say goodbye.” Nagesa patted Annie’s hands. “Don’t worry: your boyfriend will return safe. Professor Salomon would not have allowed him to fly with the patrol if she didn’t feel he could make the right choices when necessary.”

Annie squeezed Nagesa’s hand briefly before looking up through the skylight. “I’m not worried about him . . .”

 

Of course you aren’t, Annie.  You’re worried about someone else, aren’t you?

And speaking of Kerry and that girl . . .

Reaching for the Safety Net

The cold is here.  I’ve been up since about 3:30 with the chilled and slight fever, and the body feels as if someone has been hitting me, over and over, with a pool cue.  Good times not, I can attest.

Last night was the first in a very long time that I didn’t write.  I didn’t even bring up Scrivener, which I will do even if I’m not feeling good, because there is always the inclination to write something.  That’s how dead I was feeling last night:  no energy last night at all.

It was a good night to just play with things, to try and think my way out of situations in stories, or figure out where some stuff might go if I were to follow other story lines.

Still, the brain didn’t want to function.  I would get into a thought, then lose my track at some point, and be completely lost. Then I would start over . . .

It feels as if my mind has lost all it’s forward drive.  Part of this comes from an argument I had with someone on Sunday, an discussion that allowed the other person to suck energy from me like a sponge sucks up water.  It was something I shouldn’t have done, because said person has always had the ability to suck energy.  We learn by our mistakes, right?  I could play this cold at their feet, too, but that would be pushing things too far–unless, of course, they did some work on Captain Trips a few decades before.

I learned a while back not to dwell on things that don’t bring me peace, that don’t allow me to grow as a person.  Where my writing is concerned I usually blow off comments, because, as I’ve mentioned before, non-creative people don’t get us.  We’re viewed as something almost freakish, driven to do things that others see as frivolous, or worse, time wasting.

We need something to fall back on now and then.  Some people turn to friends; others turn to reading; others go off and do something that still allows them to engage their brains while slipping away from the things that maybe be bringing them down in just the slightest way.

I used to go out at night and drive when I needed to get away.  I’d roll down the windows and get on a highway at eleven o’clock at night, and start driving, just me and the stars, and what few cars were on the highway with me.  I’d drive and I’d think.  Sometimes it was about stories, sometimes it was about other things in my life.  Sometimes I’d let my fantasies play out in my head, let them run wild like kittens looking for food.

Even when things were at their worse, it was always a good time to get out and do some night roaming.  It was my safety net, my way of decompressing.

I don’t get out that much any more.  The only driving I do these days is to and from work these days, with an occasional midnight drive.  I miss being out on the road late at night–

Doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the night.