Start and Finish

Let’s have a “I’m in Pain” update first.  Well, shoulders are better this morning,  but they were on fire most of the night last night, and I was using salve and ibuprofen like it was going out of style for most of the evening.  I’m much better this morning, and since it’s going to be an upper 70s, low 80s kind of day, I’m going to wear a light sweater without a bra and see how I feel after work tonight.

I did get some new pumps which I’m going to wear at work today to break in, so I’ll be in a completely different kind of pain before this night is through.  Oi.  I’m just a glutton.

The sorta good news is that I manged a few hundred words into the novel last night.  The bad news is if I hadn’t written about fifteen hundred words for my recap last night, I might have actually written more here.  Three hundred and fifty words is something I consider an accomplishment, and the chances are good that I’m going to get this scene, and chapter, and even part finished tonight.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed, because it seems like I’ve been here forever.

The set up is simple:  Annie’s waiting, listening, and thinking–

Except Annie doesn't have a phone.  and she's standing.

Except Annie doesn’t have a phone. and she’s standing.

She won’t have to do much for long . . .

 

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

Annie waited just inside the door to the locker room, but stayed within the partitioned area that keep people outside from looking in. She didn’t need to see into the locker room to know what was happening; there were only two people there, and she was informed before coming to this place of what she might see.

She heard mumbling, quite words, and she imagined the two people sitting close together, chatting softly, one consoling the other. Annie felt something pulling at her, and after her lunch-time conversation with Deanna, she wondered if the feeling was psychosomatic, or if she felt something due to the close presence of a special-someone’s aura. Is that connection in place at this moment? Am I feeling his emotions through his aura? Everything she’d read on auras to this point told her she could tell another person’s emotional state by looking at their aura, but she’d never know of a case where someone could use another aura to feel that person’s state.

Is this what makes us special? She wanted to peek around the partition and see if the conversation was almost over. Is this why we’re soul mates?

Holoč Semplen stepped around the partition and sighed. “He’s better now.”

“He not upset?” Annie considered stepping around her coven leader and looking into the locker room.

“He’s still somewhat upset, but he’s stopped beating himself up—” The professor leaned back to take a quick look. “Almost. I think . . .” He smiled at his student. “I think you’ll do far better at eliminating that feeling than I.”

She nodded slowly. “May I try?”

He nodded his head to the left. “Go ahead. I’ll be outside; I’ll make certain you’re not disturbed.”

“Thank you, Professor.”

“You’re welcome.”

It was only after the professor was out of the locker room that Annie stepped out from behind the partition and walked into the locker room proper. She headed directly for Kerry, who was still dressed in his racing uniform, and sat on the bench next to him. She lay her hand upon his leg, just above his left knee. “How are you feeling, my love?”

 

Locker room and Kerry’s in racing leathers.  It’s about as simple as things get, right?

Let’s hope they remain simple tonight.

Back and Back and Back to The Burg

Forgive me for ripping off the title of a Farscape episode–notable as the first “Black Tee Shirt” episode–but since they kinda of ripped off their episode title from Back to the Future, I don’t feel bad for doing a little creative editing.

But as you may have guessed from the title, I’m back in Pennsylvania, and back to The Burg–not to be confused with The Burgh, over by der on the West Side of the State–and here I’ll remain until 7 November, when I return to Indiana because I got a date in court on the 9th.  So basically three and a half months to prepare myself for one of the most important moments of my life.

Meanwhile, since I was on the road from nine-thirty AM EDT until eight-thirty PM EDT, there wasn’t a lot of writing going on.  A lot of thinking, yeah, but not a lot of writing.  In fact, a lot of my thinking involved the race layout, the finishes, and how the points were getting laid out.  Which means about nine-thirty or so I was figuring all that out.  And since I don’t think I’ll spoil too much–because the next scene will describe some of this–here’s how the Samhain races played out.

It only took about fifty miles to get all this right in my head.

It only took about fifty miles to get all this right in my head.

So Mórrígan has a great day, Ceridwen is a surprise second (Åsgårdsreia is usually the second best coven team), and Cernunnos–who usually languish near the bottom with Blodeuwedd is a welcomed third.  You can probably guess that those italicized finishes are Kerry’s, but what about that one in bold?  You’ll find out . . .

I find I don’t do as much “story thinking” when I drive these days, because I’ve pretty much thought it all out months ago.  At least until such a time that I have to come up with something else in the story, and then it’s “run those plot lines over and over in your head again” time, most of which I do while walking to and from work these days.  Since I have to drive to New Jersey to see my doctor tomorrow, I’ll probably go over an upcoming scene in my head if I get the chance.  The upcoming scenes aren’t going to change on me that much, and even when I believe I have them all thought out, I’m usually surprised to find I can’t capture everything in my head perfectly.  No surprise there:  getting it down right is never an easy thing.

Now the goal is to finish this chapter, get into the next–which is gonna be Annie heavy–and go for one hundred thousand words.  I’m already near ninety-two thousand, so lets give it another week, shall we?

I just realized something:  I’ll be traveling in November, and that’s during NaNoWriMo.  Do I try it again this year?  Hummm . . . well, I did it in 2013 and 2014, and both times I jaunted to and from The Burg to Indiana, so why should this time be any different?  After all, when I’m not busy getting all the stuff done related to my name change, I can always be writing.

And stop somewhere for a smoothie now and then.

And stop somewhere for a smoothie now and then.

Their New Chemical Romance

My computer, aka The Beast, has been a pain in the butt this morning, deciding to run hot and cold, fast and slow, and at one point I had to reboot the sucker because of program load issues.  It’s almost like it’s telling me to take it easy today . . .

Pretty much me then and now.

Pretty much me then and now.

You are not the boss of me, evil old computer.  I’ll write on you as much as I like.  Just let me, you know, do that.  Thanks.  Onward.

Chapter Seven has become a thing–well, it’s started, is what I mean.  With the first scene out of the way, I’m about three thousand words from rolling over to fifty thousand, and that will likely happen during the quick chapter on the advanced transformation class.  This first scene took a little bit of work–slow, writing work–because when I have to start describing things and feelings and all that, it seems to drag.  Just like when I write action:  it may seem fast and furious, but not when you have to sit and figure it all out.  Nope, nope, nope.  Who said writing was a lot of fun?

I did mention that Erywin was the first to set up a special program for advanced students at the school, and that the advanced lab is used by no one else but advanced students.  Just like The Black Vault her pretty girl keeps safe, Erywin feels you only get to the top when it’s earned, and while everyone else has super great facilities–compared to what you’d find in a Normal chemistry class, the Salem equipment is the top o’ the pop–they don’t get their own special lab.

Of course, guess who gets to join this afternoon delight?

 

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

Annie entered the room, followed closely by Kerry. Both were still in their school uniforms; as with the other advanced classes street clothes were the norm, but Erywin was also aware that they had Astrophysics One right after dinner, and she supposed they figured it would be too much trouble to change back into their uniforms for Harpreet’s evening class.

“Welcome.” Erywin headed over to greet her newest students. “I figured you’d show about now.”

Annie clutched her hands. “We’re nothing if not punctual.”

Kerry took up position beside his girlfriend. “We hate being the last ones to show. Right, Sweetie?”

She leaned into him. “As always, my love.” She straightened and smiled. “How are you today . . . Erywin.”

“Oh, I’m fine.” She felt Annie’s hesitation due to not knowing if the familiarity they had not only in Wednesday’s class, but on their mission during the last school year, was the same here. “And you don’t have to worry: just like the other advanced classes, we’re on a first-name basis here.” Erywin examined the student’s jackets. “How do you like the new accouterments?” She touched the left lapel of Annie’s jacket. “Bit of an improvement, eh?”

Kerry spoke while Annie beamed. “It’s a bit of an improvement over last year, that’s for sure.” In place of the single green star that indicated they were A Levels were now two green stars, one placed over the other. “I noticed the C Levels on our floor have three in a triangle.”

“Yes, and in your D Levels they’ll form a diamond.” Erywin pointed across the room where she’d had two lab stations placed together. “That’s your set-up over there. Go ahead and take a seat.”

 

And just so you know, the E Levels’ stars form a pentagram, and the F Levels’ form a Seal of Solomon, both of which are powerful symbols.  I actually laid out pictures of this one–you back there, stop laughing!–so I should dig them out . . .

Oh, look.

Oh, look.

There you go:  green star markers for my kids.

During their set up time at their lab station–which is the only one set up for two people, go figure–they get a visitor and learn something . . .

 

“No, they aren’t.” They turned to find a slim, older student in a dark green dress standing behind them. She bushed her brown hair back from her face. “I suppose Erywin wants you to work together—probably due to your reputation.” She nodded towards them. “I’m Nesreen Shalhoub.”

Annie nodded back. “Annie Kirilova.”

“Kerry Malibey.” He began grinning. “Though you probably knew that if you know us by reputation.”

“Sorry about that.” She appeared almost embarrassed to speak. “I’m from Blodeuwedd; last year we used to hear about you all the time from Fidele and Collin—

“Collin talked about us?” Kerry was a little surprised to hear this. Annie and he figured Fidele Diaz, their levelmate from the Philippines, was the one who began calling them the “Lovely Dovey Couple”, but this was the first time either of them heard mention of Collin McCarty, the boy from Eire, discussing them as well.

“A great deal.” The girl nodded twice. “It seemed to be one of their main subjects of conversation in the commons.”

“Maybe that’s the real reason Collin didn’t return.” Annie smirked sideways at Kerry before questioning Nesreen. “How long have you been in this class?”

 

There’s that Lovey Dovey Couple crap that follows them around like a personal demon.  And keep that meme out there, Annie, that Collin didn’t return because he didn’t want to face your wrath, ’cause like Helena said, nothing like having a bad ass rep while you’re in school to keep the losers from bothering you.  Gee, I wonder what they were saying?  Obviously, if a then E Level heard their BS, that means a whole lot of the rest of the coven did as well.

Speaking of meeting new people–

 

“It was one of the reasons The Foundation wanted to get involved in magic, to find out how it could be used for scientific and technical applications.” Erywin turned and brought her companion forward. “Oh, and this is Honza Zelenka, one of your covenmates from the floor above you.”

“I’m an E Level.” He shook Kerry’s hand, then Annie’s. ”I heard Nesreen speaking; she’s not the only one who’s heard of you.” He looked at Annie. “Mluvíte Česky?”

She tilted her head slightly to the right and shrugged. “Ne moc dobře. Jak je váš Bulgarian?”

Honza twisted his right hand back and forth. “Tova ne e losho. Ne razbiram mnogo ot shans da go govori, vse pak.”

Annie half-turned her head to the left. “Tova e dobre za nyakoĭ, koĭto ne go govori chesto.” She turned to the smiling Kerry, who was used to hearing his sweetheart speak in her normal language. “I’ll tell you later.”

“Preferably after class.” Erywin say that all her students were present. “All right—” She waved the door shut. “Find your seats and we’ll get started.”

 

Now wait for the first Welsh student to show up, and Kerry will have his hands full–particularly since he’s not a native speaker.  Also, what is Kerry hearing Annie say besides, “I love you”?  We know that Annie switches over to Bulgarian when she swears, so he can probably tell through the tone of her voice when she’s muttering sweet Bulgarian nothings in his ear, and she’s ready to rip off someone’s head.

After introductions and a promise that Erywin’s gonna visit everyone, she gets with the kids to tell them how things work in this class:

 

“All right, you two.” Erywin set her elbows against the stations and leaned forward. “We do things a little differently here, but then you already knew that. The biggest in this class is that we involve ourselves in month-long projects, so what we start today you aren’t expect to complete until the last Monday in September—which means you have four classes to turn in your completed project.”

She had their attention, so having them understand the new world they’d entered was going to be easy. “We’re all about creating here. The idea is to teach you to create, to develop the formulas for your mixtures from scratch, based upon what you’ve already learned—”

“That’s a lot different from what we did last year.” While Kerry didn’t appear worried, his voice carried a hint of concern.

Annie felt the same way, but she also knew another truth. “But we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t felt we couldn’t do this, dear.” She lightly touched his hand. “Yes?”

He nodded. “Yeah.”

Erywin turned to Kerry: while Annie carried her own doubt now and then, he was the one who sometimes found himself falling into traps his mind laid. “Do you remember the very first mixture you created last year?”

“Yes.” He gazed at the surface of the counter as he thought about that class. “The petrification removal mixture.”

“That’s correct. Out of thirty-two student only three managed to produce it correctly. And only two decided to make it using the more complex alternate formula.” Erywin chuckled. “Listen to your significant other: you’re here not only because I believe you can do the work, but because you’ve proven me correct.

“What I want you to remember is you aren’t only here to learn, you’re here to think. You didn’t come to Salem to take tests and memorize data; you’re here to develop your mind into a first-class instrument. That’s what we do in this class—we get you to thinking.” She lightly tapped them both on the forehead, eliciting smiles. “It’s the thinkers who are gonna run this world, not the test takers. And I know which ones you’re becoming.”

 

In this world there are doers and thinkers, and the thinkers are gonna win every time, ’cause they’re outside the box lookin’ in, and that gives them all the advantages.  It seems like this is some pretty heavy shit for a couple of twelve year old kids to get into, but there’s something you, the reader, will discover in–um, I think two novels from now–that explains this.  Magic is tied into imagination, but the ability to use it also ties back to intelligence, and while some of these witches might seem dumb, it’s because they’re still kids.  Give them a few years to mature and get their wits about them–

It’s already been shown that can be the different between life and a hard death.

Mimsy Were The School Returns

Today is going to be a full day, with a lot of travel and meetings and even a little shopping.  I was supposed to do things yesterday–and I did, only not a lot of the things I wanted to do.  Life does that to you sometimes, and yesterday was one of those times.

Today I’m home, having put my shower and breakfast behind me, and I’m working on this post as I drink my coffee. In about ninety minutes I’ll start getting ready, which really means I’ll finish my daily routine, dress, and prepare my makeup.  After that it’s at least ninety minutes behind the wheel to go meet a friend.  A lot of time spent getting to and fro, but it’s all worth it, I assure you.  And getting out and about is a great thing.

Believe it or not, I actually wrote last night, and after putting thirteen hundred words behind me in the morning one would think I was finished for the day.  Well . . . I gotta make up for Fridays, so I started on Chapter Five and got my kids back in the Pond.  I’ve also made notes about what they’re going to do in some of the upcoming scene, and the theme of “We’re Different” pops up all over the place.  It’s already started with them and the other members of the Party of Five, with their relaxed moods and public displays of affection.  Yes, the kissiest of couples is back, and they’ll never let those prying eyes bother them.  After all, the whole school has seen them kiss on streaming video at thirty-three hundred meters, and that scene can be recalled for anyone to watch.  Oh, and there’s also in the Hall of Remembrance, too, for that, so just wait until the parents come calling to the school on Ostara.  Particularly Annie’s father:  “Anelie, what is this?”  “Nothing, Papa:  just Kerry and I kissing during the Mile High Flight.”  Yeah, Papa, just your daughter kissing, no biggie.  Ask any student:  they’ve all seen it before.

Yesterday, however, while driving a around, I started my old routine of working out scenes in my head and by “talking out” the dialog, and the one I was keying on the most was the last scene of Act One, which comes just before the Samhain Dance.  That last scene will more or less set the tone for the rest of the story, which isn’t a bad thing once you realize I’ll probably be sixty thousand or more words into the novel by that time.  (Probably more–probably.)  I was also working out a scene for Annie that comes in Act Two, and if you’ve ever asked yourself, “I wonder what a pissed-off Annie looks like?” you’ll find out.  It’s another of those scene that makes me wish I could draw, ’cause I would do this up right now if it were possible.

There will also be added scenes.  A couple came to mind last night, and as I pointed out with the first novel, though I have most everything plotted out, that doesn’t mean I won’t add and cut where necessary.  More than likely I’ll add:  just as the late night scene on the second floor was needed, I’ll need other scenes to build their characters.  ‘Cause I’m all about the characterization.

Time to get ready.  Time to think about what comes next in the story.  Time to ready myself to get to forty thousand words here soon.

It's all happening here, at the School.  Won't you come along?

It’s all happening here, at the School. Won’t you come along?

Reflections on My Mind

Where in the world is Cassidy Frazee?  Why, I’m here:

Otherwise known as the middle of nowhere.

Otherwise known as the middle of nowhere.

I’m also here:

Say "Howdy!" to Nowhere's Sister.

Say “Howdy!” to Nowhere’s Sister.

I’m in the first westbound rest stop in Ohio after driving for four hours through the darkness of Pennsylvania.  It’s now 5:50 AM, and the above pictures were taken twenty minutes ago, and believe me when I say I’ve still got this joint to myself.

I think I’ll name it Trevor.

I’m on my way home for a week, and after three hours of sleep–and some damn strange dreams–I decided to Blow The Burg an hour early and set out on my trek west.  The last time I did this–which, if you remember, happened during NaNoWriMo–I hit the Turnpike running, blasting music all the while with hardly another car in sight.  This time, not so lucky.  There was a lot of traffic on the highway until I reached Somerset, then it sort of faded so by the time I reached Pittsburgh there was next to nothing on the highway.  As Pittsburgh is the Zombie Capitol of the U.S.–Georgia can suck it, ’cause they gotta use tax breaks to get their Shambling Geeks–I can completely understand why no one was on the highway.

If I wasn’t blasting music, what was I doing?  I was alone with my thoughts.  Okay, with my characters, which is sort of the same thing.  They don’t say much unless I let them, and they certainly aren’t asking me if we’re there yet.  Their world and mine don’t intersect save for when I have Scrivener up and running–

No, don't concern yourself with my long drive, Annie.  You're heading into The Chunnel:  perfect time to play sucky face with you soul mate.

No, don’t concern yourself with my long drive, Annie. You’re heading into The Chunnel: perfect time to play sucky face with your soul mate.

Two scenes edited last night, because hell yeah, I’m going to do this while I can.  But with a long stretch of Keystone State behind me, and Buckeyes and Hoosiers ahead, I’m thinking up scenes not for this book, but for others.  I’m thinking up life experiences.  I’m dreaming up tales to tell, because that’s what you do when you have characters developed and you want them to do things.  You know, stuff . . .

Somewhere along the road I figured out the moment when Kerry’s friend and wingmate Emma finally realizes she’s in the Permanent Friendzone, and not even the death of a certain Dark Witch will change that condition.  I’ve put together a scene where someone tells an exhausted Annie of their time on the Polar Express, trying to gloss over how brutal it was for her because someone’s not sleeping because their soul mate is out there in the cold.  Right before I pulled into this joint I started piecing together what goes on in the Black Vault of The Witch House, and when you put a Kirilova and a Lovecraft together down there alone, what really happens?  It’s not that:  get your minds out of the gutter, people.

It’s good, quiet, dark times out there on the road back home.  The sun won’t come up for another thirty, forty minutes, maybe more since I’m racing it westward.  It’ll catch me soon enough, probably about the time I blow through Youngstown.

Coffee’s finished, I’ve got another seven hours on the road, and I’ve gotta get my mind into the Black Vault.

Aloha, dudes.

Giving a Name to the New Voice

Today starts off the last long weekend of the year 2012, and the beginning of the next in what could be a few more years walking uneasily upon this planet.  2013 is just a few days away, and I’m facing it with a lot more optimism than I did this current year.

But we aren’t about to speak of what is going to happen in the year to come.  There are things remaining for this year, and one of them will be accomplished today.  That event will be the start of a new story.

The last week has seen some commiserating about what I’m doing next.  I have names–most of them–and I think I have a title for my story, though it’s not exactly lighting a fire in my mind.  I’m strange this way, in that I like to have a title ready to go before I start writing–another in a line of bad habits I picked up from Harlan Ellison.  I don’t want it to be cute, but I don’t want it to be something like Father Breeds the Bride, which was one of the titles that popped up on Smashwords just now when I checked what was new on my dashboard.  I don’t know, that sounds like a story that could be fun for the whole family . . .

This is something I seem to struggle with when it comes to stories.  I’m pretty good at finding a title for my blog posts–I mean, I do this every day–but when it comes to stories, I’ll sit for hours trying to get something that feel “right”.  Then I make that my Scrivener project title, put it at the top of my story, and away I go.  This is one of those times, though, when my mind is refusing to cooperate, and it’s leaving me struggling to find something that is going to leave me happy.

Titles can tell you everything about a story, or nothing.  Sometimes they’re only marginally associated to a story, but they still seem to fit whatever the writer is trying to get across.  I mean, when you read Flight of the Phoenix, you’re pretty certain that at some point you’re going to see the Phoenix fly.  When you open Dragonflight, you’re pretty certain you’ll find dragons flying.  When you read Twilight, you’re expecting to see a lot of stuff happening right around the time the sun has set–what?  Okay, so maybe not.

I’m a believer in having the right title for a story.  Better or worst, my titles are mine, and I’ll own them to the very end, even if others don’t like them.  More than a few people told me that Kolor Ijo was a stupid name, or was something that had nothing that I was going to do in the story, but I kept it because when I saw those words, and understood what they meant, I knew it was what I wanted.  Somewhere down the line a publisher may not like the title, but it’s mine, and I stick with it.

By some time today I’ll have that title, and it’ll become the name of my project, and my story.  I’ll sketch out the characters and then chapter out the stories.

All that remains after that is the screaming.

Time Enough to Bring the Strangeness

The drive to The Undisclosed Location wasn’t without its moments.  Not only because everyone seemed to drive as if they were possessed by the spirits of old people from Arizona who were frightened to death by some non-white person they thought was coming to do them harm, but because I was able to think things out for a story.

No, not those stories:  another story.

I had time to think.  I had time because to not think would have done a lot to put me in a bad mood, and I didn’t want to be in a bad mood as I rolled into town.  The last thing I want to do is show up at my apartment at 8:30 PM, knowing I have things to do, but to do it all feeling like I should just take a two-pound mallet to my skull, so . . . story time thinking!

I revisited some territory I’d seem before–namely, my character Jeannette, from Her Demonic Majesty.  I’d like her to continue, to carry on, to have many adventure that I can write–and lay around for people to read.  It seems like I do that with most of my characters:  I seek out additional trouble for them to get into.

Jeannette is no different.  After diving back into the final edit of Demonic, I’ve found myself liking Jeannette a whole lot more.  She’s a great character, and I need to have her grow.  So I thought about her yesterday, while I was on the road–

There was a story I once talked about, taking a couple of character close to my heart, and pulling them into Jeannette’s world.  I decided to forget about that particular story, but yesterday I was wondering–what if only one of the characters showed up on Jeannette’s doorstep, and she knew this was wrong, because she knew there should be two, not one.

With that, I was off.

Yes, I had a story there.  I won’t say it’s a great story, or even a good one, but there’s a story there.  It’s all in the telling, as they say, and not by just throwing words out there for people to consume.  By the time I made it to my apartment, I had my cast of characters, I had schools, I had events.  I knew how I wanted things to go.  There was just one point near the end that was, shall we say, a bit sticky?  Yeah, sticky.  I’ll leave it at that and say I’ll need to think about what comes after, because I know it involves something that is likely to pop up in another story.

But, wait!  There’s more!

See, as I headed into work today, something else came to mind.  A line, spoken by Jeannette, as she was sitting in a restaurant:

“This place has always bugged me.  It’s full of people acting big time, and not having the faintest fucking clue what that means.  They’ve tried their damnedest to cover up their hick bullshit with a thin veneer of culture, but it’s a total fail.  What we got here is nothing more than Deliverance, without the mountains.”

I know where this story goes, but that was the line running about my imagination as I headed towards where I park ever morning before work.  It’s a good line–

It could end up being an even better story.