The Midnight Window: Plans of Future Past

It’s been a good morning, though I could have done with a bit more sleep.  Hey, you can’t always get what you want, right?  Since it’s a long weekend I can nap whenever I feel it’s necessary.  Until then, I just keep plugging words into the right places.

Rocking out to Domino as I go about my day.

Rocking out to Domino as I go about said plugging.

Chapter Thirty-four is finished due to plugging in one thousand and twenty-five words to the chapter.

Right here's the proof--more or less.

Right here’s the proof–more or less.

Now all that remains is Chapter Thirty-five and four scenes, maybe six thousand words total, two of which will be “The End.”  One more scene in the Sea Sprite Inn–which may or may not be needed, I’ve yet to decide–one on the plane, one at the airport in Berlin, and the final one at Kerry’s house.  I’m actually considering moving the first scene of Chapter Thirty-five to the plane simply because there’s something I want to do, and having everyone at the plane makes that thing happen easier, so that may be what happens.  As soon as I start writing, I’ll know.

If that is the case this could be the last scene at the Sea Sprite.  And remember that thing that Annie wanted to discuss?  Well . . .

 

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

Kerry crossed the room and sat on the bed as Annie asked. He watched her as she went over to her bag on the luggage stand, opened the bag, and unzipped one of the compartments. Her body shielded what she was removing, but upon turning it was easy enough to see, for she was holding a large book bound in a plain white cover. She floated the book in his direction and waited until it was nearly in front of him before she moved towards the bed.

He kept his eyes focused on the book as it came to a stop before him. “Is this what I think it is?”

 

Yes, Kerry:  it’s exactly what you think is it.  And is there a reason this book is coming out?  Sure there is, and Annie’s going to tell you–

 

Annie didn’t answer the question: rather, she began speaking as she climbed on to the bed. “The Sunday after your birthday I wrote to my mother and asked if she’d ever shown her wedding book to Papa, and if it was common for wives to do so after they were married. A few days later she wrote back and told me that, yes, she had shown her book to Papa—

“My mother and father were married 20 June, 1997. My mother wanted to be married near the first day of summer because it’s considered an auspicious moment when one marries at anytime on or close to a solstice point. They graduated in 1994, did their Real Live Experience the following year, and were invited in for a year of the school’s Continuing Educational Program before leaving in ‘96. Since that counted as two years of college, they then went off to Uni in the fall and finished another year while Mama planed for their marriage. They finished Uni the next year and graduated right before they celebrated their first anniversary.

“After that they settled to Pamporovo full-time and built the main house; it was finished in October, and they were all moved in before winter hit.” A sheepish look came over Annie’s face. “That’s where I was conceived.”

Kerry touched Annie’s hand. “Right around Christmas, if my math is right.”

She nodded. “Mama told me that it likely, um, happened right at Christmas. She told me she was trying to start a family, and conceiving a child at that time—”

“Is considered auspicious?”

“Obviously: look how I turned out.” After they both giggled Annie continued. “So on their next anniversary Mama was pregnant with me, and that would be their last one with just them together. Papa treated her to a spa treatment at one of the hotels in town, then they jaunted into Sofia, saw a movie, and had a romantic dinner. She wrote that it was one of her best days ever.

“After they returned home they visited what was going to become my nursery before heading off to bed. She wrote that they didn’t go to bed right away: she pulled out her book and showed it to Papa, showing him everything she’d planed from the time she was a little girl until even a few days before the wedding. That was—” Annie blushed slightly. “That was when she picked out names for her children.”

“She knew what she wanted.” Kerry squeezed Annie’s hand once more. “Like mother, like daughter.”

“Um, hum.”

“Was your name in the book?”

“She told me I was at the top of the girl’s list.” She chuckled softly. “She said she told Papa that as they were starting a family, and she didn’t believe they would ever not be a couple, she saw no harm in sharing those memories with him. She also wrote that while it isn’t that common for wives to do this, once you know you’re in a relationship that will last forever, there’s no harm.”

 

Now you know so much more about Annie’s family:  their schooling, their marriage, and the, um, “special Christmas” they had in 1998.  Just think of all the times now Annie will be down in the family room, look over at the door leading to her parent’s bedroom, and thing, “Yep.  That’s where I was made.”  Not that she probably didn’t know.  Then again, her mother has probably known for at least three years that Annie had the lake house built for one reason in mind, and she sort of shakes her head whenever she looks up towards the loft.  And now that she’s met Kerry . . . probably a bit of face palming now and then.

It’s a given that I know when Annie’s parents were married, because–

I have a time line for everything.

I have a time line for everything.

And if you notice there’s an end date on their marriage:  15 November, 2126.  That means, according to the calculation determined by Aeon Timeline 2, they remain married 129 years, 4 months, 3 weeks, and 5 days.  When we talk about the longevity of witches, there’s a prime example right there.  And you can guess their marriage ends because one of both of them die, which means both of them are over a hundred and forty when one of them passes beyond The Veil.

Now, as far as their school time together–

I have it right here.

I have it right here.

Things get a bit interesting.  Jessica, Trevor, Mathilde, and Matthias were all older students when Pavlina and Victor started school, and Maddie and her now-deceased husband were only a year old.  Ramona and Coraline were only a year younger, and Adric and Holoč a couple of year behind them.  We can also see that Harpreet entered Cernunnos Coven the year after Holoč, and you have to wonder if C Level Holoč showed the same welcome to B Level Harpreet when she first arrived on the second floor.  And Isis came on to the first floor of Cernunnos Coven at the same time Pavlina and Victor were doing their only years of the school’s Continuing Education Program, so it’s possible the may have encountered the future Chief of Security for the school while they were essentially graduate students.

In case you’re wondering about the above line colors, they correspond to covens.  Red is Cernunnos; yellow is Ceridwen; sea green is Blodeuwedd; orange is Åsgårdsreia; and blue is Mórrígan.  Yes, Erywin and Helena are covenmates with Maddie, which is likely another reason why Helena was ready to kill her when she found out she was a Guardian mole.

Now, why is Annie showing Kerry her book?  There is an excellent reason for this:

 

She gentle lay her left hand upon the cover of the unopened levitating book. “As I see it, my love, we’ve been married for thirteen years, and I believe we’ll be together for the rest of our lives.” She slipped her right hand out of Kerry’s and set it over his chest where the personal medical monitor set. “Like you pointed out, we’re joined in more ways than one, and I have no fear you’ll ever take up with someone else.”

He placed his hand over her chest as well. “I wouldn’t leave, ever.”

Annie nodded once as she and Kerry set their hands back to their laps. “In five years we’ll be eighteen—well, you will: I’ll be eighteen in a little over four, but . . .” She retook his left hand in hers. “By then we’ll have graduated from school and have finished our Real Life Experience, and if we’re asked back for CEP studies, I want us to return as a married couple.

“I want to show you everything I’ve dreamed about and planed for the last seven year. I want you to see my sketches, my dress designs, the first drawings I made of the lake house—”

“And the names of our children?” A broad grin spread across Kerry’s face.

“I don’t have those—yet.” Annie’s face broke out with a smile as well. “Also, I want a June wedding: like my mother, I want to be married as close to the solstice as possible; I want the moment to be auspicious for us as well.

“But there’s another reason I’m doing this: there are some things in which I want you to have a hand as well. I told you about the rings I’ve designed, and I want you to see them so—” She rested her head against his shoulder momentarily “—you can have your input. While the things in her are my plans and dreams, there are a few items for which you should have some say” She turned a coy look in his direction. “It’s only fair.”

Kerry felt his eyes misting over again and he put a stop to it right away: he didn’t want tears to fall into Annie’s most prized book. “I’m honored you trust me with this.”

“If I can’t trust my husband, who can I trust? Come, my love—” Her eyes twinkled in the darkness as she flipped the book open. “We have a wedding to plan.”

 

“We have a wedding to plan.”  And right there, Annie is letting her soul mate know there’s no more screwing around:  in five year’s time there’s gonna be wedding bells, and they’re gonna ring in June.  She’s always got her eyes on the prize, and the prize involves getting hitched to the Ginger Hair Boy.  Though you have to wonder if she starts putting names in the baby section if she’ll tell Kerry, or if she’ll ask for suggestions.  Or if she’ll say something like, “My love, we need to pick to baby names,” and wait for him to ask why.

Yeah, I think that’s the end of the Sea Sprite until next year, because anything else in that building is anticlimactic after that last statement.

Don’t worry:  they’ll be back next year . . .

All the Time That Be Time

What is going on this morning?  Not a lot, to be honest.  I’m off to get my nails done in a couple of hours, so I’ve sort of piddled around trying to motivate myself to write.  However, I didn’t sleep for crap last night despite being tired as hell, so my mind is a muddled mess.  So much so that I knew anything I tried to put down in the system would come out full of suck, so I haven’t bothered.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy . . .

For a few weeks now I’ve meant to make some changes to the time line that is the story of my kids at school, though change really isn’t the right word:  additions is more like it.  That’s the way my mind works, with lots going ’round and ’round all the time and things always popping in and out.  What’s been bugging me, however, is that I haven’t done anything about these pop ups for a while, mostly due to just feeling too damn exhausted to get in there and put things into my little Book of History.

And while I’m doing this I should mention that I’ve been rocking out to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, complete with cannons at the end.  Only in Russia would a composer think, “Now, I need an instrument to make the climax memorably;  what should I use?  I know:  cannons.”  Yes, Comrades, in old Russia, orchestra blast you!

Since I’m down to my last three chapters of this novel I’ve begun getting things in shape for the stories to follow, while I mostly concentrate on three events that happen outside of school, though I fourth started taking hold in my mind this morning.  Two of those event involve both of my kids, and two of them involve Annie alone.  My little Bulgarian Pop Princess all by her lonesome?  Why not?  She’s a big girl, she can handle herself.  And don’t worry:  it’s not as if Kerry doesn’t get enough screen time on his own.  But sometimes a girl needs a little Me Time just to chill and be herself.

Now, I’m about to lay out something I’ve only parts of here and there, but this is the real deal now:  here is the time line I’ve used for B For Bewitching.  At least this is how I take my cues when I’m putting the story together.  First, we have the sections for Annie alone and Kerry alone.

Just a little of what the kids go through on their own--

Just a little of what the kids go through on their own–

What is up there is pretty much all the key points from the start of the novel to the end.  You can see there are a few details off to the right that, I will tell you now, aren’t going to be in this novel, but in the next–that’s one of the reasons a couple of points have been scrubbed, because I don’t want you to know what they are.  I will go ahead and spoil this now:  the event in the upper right hand corner in “Annie’s Story”, the 02 June Meeting, that starts off the next novel, C For Continuing.  The first novel started and ended with Annie, and this current novel started with Kerry and will end with him.  That means the next novel starts and ends with Annie.  Simple, huh?

Below this is another layout, seen here:

And what they go through together.

And what they go through together.

This not only shows events they enjoy together, but the very bottom lays out some of the school’s event–like, the entirety of racing season.  You’ll notice that a few more events are scrubbed here, because that’s necessary, trust me.  Below this I even have a mark showing the time covers by each novel, and at the very top I show when certain holidays occur during the year, so if there’s a question about when something is happening, I can look there.

This is a little of what I keep hidden behind the scenes, and like I said at the beginning, I’m adding to this.  Adding mean thinking through the story, and that also means research prior to plotting.  Really, you wouldn’t believe what I’ve already discovered in the last couple of weeks playing around with these various ideas . . .

And just think:  you only have a few years to wait before you see them come to fruition.

The Remains of Today

Last night I had great hopes for a productive day today, but there’s a big difference between what you plan to do in the yesterday with a head full of wine, and what you actually once you wake up at seven after a pretty good night’s sleep.

After three glasses I'm totally not judging anyone.

After three glasses I’m totally not judging anyone.

But here it is, ten in the morning, and I have a ton of things to do in the next few hours.  I’ve managed to get the wrinkles out of my clothes using the “hot shower” method, which means you hang your clothing in the bathroom, turn on the hot water in your shower, and let it run for about fifteen minutes, and wrinkles vanish.  There’s something you can do when you’re showering in the morning if you don’t want to waste the water.  After this post I have to get ready, go pay a bill, pick up food for the next few days, and then take a nap before getting into the next chapter.

I made a few changes to the layout last night.  For one I had to adjust some times in the very last chapter, and get those updates into my master time line.  And I added an opening scene to the final chapter of the novel–which, by the way, is close to crossing two hundred and ninety-four thousand words, and Act Three just crossed ninety-one thousand words.  I’ve surprised myself with how far I’ve gotten in a year, and hope I finish up the book before the end of May, because really, I could use the summer off.

Here’s what’s left:

You're gonna see this count down a lot in the next few weeks.

You’re gonna see this count down a lot in the next few weeks.

It’s official:  five chapters remain.  And in these remaining chapters will lay another revelation and a huge cliffhanger–I mean, like a big one.  Get ready for the pain.

But I’ve been up to something else as well besides driving myself crazy with TV recaps this last week–which, by the way, the insanity is over, and I can afford a few breathers that allow me to rock out on the last of Bewitching.  I’ve thought about the next novel–which will have the title C For Continuing in case you were wondering–quite a lot, getting the layout down in my head before committing it to Scrivener.  I need to spend time getting the time line in order and filling it out more.  In particular there’s a scene I’m adding to the timeline that’s going to be, well . . . how do I say this?  Big.

Why am I looking at this map?  No reason.  Why do you ask?

Why am I looking at this map? No reason. Why do you ask?

Last of all I’ve digging on some music that I will use as the background for one of my movie trailers–yes, I’m going to do up a treatment for both Bewitching and Continuing just as I did for Advanced.  I’m pretty sure I know what background music I’ll use in parts of the Bewitching “trailer”, and I know for sure what I’d use for Continuing.  The Bewitching stuff you’ll already know, but for Continuing you’ll actually catch views of things that will happen in the novel before I write them–and some of it will be surprising, and some will be shocking.  I’m certain there’s one where you’ll read it and think, “What the hell is going on?”

Because that’s how I like to roll.

Once More Unto the Curtain: The Last Secret Kinda Explained

First off, Happy St. Pat’s Day, or as we called it in Chicago, “Drunk Teenager Day”, back when all the suburban kids would take the train into the city and booze up at any number of beer tent set up around The Loop, and drink until they were laying face down, literally, in a gutter.  I’ve seen this many a time, but few of those memories are fond.  Also, I’m sure the Chicago River is a bright green this morning, as opposed to the dark, murky green that is it’s normal color.

But there be other business we be handlin’ this morning, right?  Yur damn tootin’!  Humm . . . not sure if that’s Irish or more a Fargo-like accent.  No time to worry about that.  Erin Go Braless, as Kerry would say–

It appears that despite hacking up part of a lung last night, I finished the first scene of Chapter Twenty-nine:

Image of hacked-up lung not included.

Image of hacked-up lung not included.

This was all after I spent about an hour and a half working on my time lines, mostly redoing on and making modifications to another.  All a bunch of future planing, including a major change to one of my lines for the purpose of throwing in something that I know Annie would want, and that she alone would likely know.  As Collective Soul might sing, I’ve still got a long way to run.

Now you’ll see a time line, but not until after the excerpt.  And because this is right around six hundred and eighty words, you get it all.  And this picks up right after Erywin’s exclamation, which means . . .

 

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

“Yes, they do.” Deanna turned towards her fellow instructors and staff. “As Coraline knows I found Annie’s explanation of how she heard Kerry’s screams during the night somewhat suspect, so a while after I left the hospital and strode into the astral realm. It took about a minute of examination before I realized their lifelines weren’t visible, and after a bit of searching—” She nodded in the couple’s direction. “I found the bonding.”

Jessica’s aura shifted through a number of colors as it was evident she was having difficulty believing what she heard and saw. “Why didn’t you say something about this during our meeting?”

Deanna shrugged. “It wasn’t relevant. It is now, however.” She turned back to face Annie. “Like you said, you’re not going anywhere—and this confirms your statement.”

While Annie was apparently adjusting quickly to this new development, Kerry—rocked throughout the last thirty minutes with a number of incredible reveals—was now trying to process this latest. “What does this mean?”

The look in Annie’s eyes seemed to indicate a moment of sudden clarity. “It means we’re connected.”

“She’s right.” Deanna slowly approached them, her aura showing her feeling of intense curiosity. “I imagine this is why you share a dreamspace, and why you’ve been able to visit each other in your dreams without having to actually used magic to make the walk.” She gentle ran her right index finger over her lower lip. “I believe this is how Annie was able to hear you screaming: it didn’t come from your room, it came from your dreamspace, and filtered up through your shared space into hers.

“The reality is, as Annie says, you’re connected. You’re lifelines are fused—it likely occurred immediately after your birth, Kerry. The point is, you’re linked through the same element that allows you to draw magical energy, and this is why when you are close together your auras merge.” She shook her head. “I should have seen this earlier. Do me a favor, please?” Both children perked up.  “Turn so you’re facing away from me.”

Annie and Kerry turned so their backs were to Deanna and the rest of the room. The seer looked to her right at the astonished women. “See?”

“Damn.” Coraline stepped up next to her fellow counselor. “So that’s why.”

Kerry half turned to his right so he could see everyone. “Why what?”

“My love—” Annie nodded towards the space between them. “Look.”

Kerry promptly noticed what Annie, and the others, could see. His lifeline progressed down through his left arm and out his hand before arcing over to Annie’s right hand and making its way up through her right arm. He slowly spun to his right and reached out with his left hand as Annie turned towards him, holding out her right hand. They held hands and he saw how their lifelines moved from one hand to the other. “Wow.”

“That’s what Coraline meant—” Annie gave her a knowing grin. “Why we always walked right hand in left. Yes?”

The doctor nodded. “It follows the natural line of your dominate hands.  That’s not a coincidence.”

Deanna shook her head.  “It’s not.”

Annie turned to Kerry and smile. “This means we truly are soul mates.”

“It kinda looks that way.” He turned to Deanna. “How long are we going to be like this?”

Deanna seemed nearly confounded by the question. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, no one else is like us—” He used his right hand to motion around the room. “How long is this gonna . . .”

Annie’s stare stopped his question in mid-sentence, but it was left for Deanna to make certain he understood completely. “It’s always going to be this way. You’re lifeline is a part of you from the moment you’re born until the day you are no longer part of the physical realm—

“This bonding you share: it’s the same way. For this lifeline between you will only break upon the end of one, or both, of you.

“You’ll remain bonded together until the day you die.”

 

When they say “lifelines” they aren’t kidding.  Deanna knows what she’s talking about, and when she says, “Until the day you die,” she means it.

Now, a little bit of history here.  As with Kerry’s sudden “change of life”, I’ve known of this event for a while as well.  I first started putting it together during the summer of 2012, but it was during the July, 2013 Camp Nano, where I wrote The Foundation prequel novel The Scouring, that this finally took hold.  That novel showed Jessica, Erywin, and a few others, reacting to the April, 2000, Deconstructor attack on the school, and it was in that same novel that I first wrote about Isis, Wednesday, and Deanna, who were only students at the time, but who still did their part to defend their alma mater.

There was a scene, however, the penultimate scene, actually, and that scene has been read only by myself and one other person.  I sent that scene off with the message:  “This is why Annie and Kerry will always be together,” and when that person finally got around to reading what I’d sent, I was told they’d actually read the scene several times over a couple of days, because reading it made them happy.

That scene is hidden away, and perhaps I’ll let it out one day.  But . . . it’s there, almost three years ago now, that I showed something incredible happening.  I’ve even got it down on a time line–just as I have all of the dreams and events during the B Level that has brought us here–

You don't know how long I've waited to put this out.  A long "time", you might say.

You don’t know how long I’ve waited to put this out. A long “time”, you might say.

There I have it:  all of Kerry’s dreams laid out, and then down in the lower right, the events that are occurring now.  And just like these moments, I have others laid out for the C Levels that are approaching.

But all of this leads back to a moment where my two kids found themselves bound at the heart–pretty literally as well, I must say.

Now comes the time when the full realization of that moment hits them both right over the head . . .

Writing, Thoughts, New Plotting, and Time

Last night was about writing, but it didn’t involve much writing.  There wasn’t any writing at all, if you must know.

There are times when one has to make certain that their story is in good shape and the area ahead not only makes sense, but isn’t full of potholes and landmines.  And of all the parts of my story, the Kansas City trip was the foggiest because it was put together a long time ago–probably started thinking about it in detail in mid-September, 2013, and initially plotted it out in started time lining and getting it into Scrivener a month later–and I was only meta sketching it at the time.  I figured in the next few months I’d get some more detail behind it as I gave it more thought . . .

Little did I know it would be almost fourteen months before I’d get to this point.

So, with Helena and Erywin safely under the covers, and Annie and Kerry in bed and in their dream, it was time to figure out what was really going to happen over the next couple of days.  But at the same time, there was unfinished business concerning the earlier dreams that Annie and Kerry had.  After all, they were a thing in the story now and I wanted to know they were in the right places.  For them, that is.

So I started getting down to business.  And the first thing I did after eating last night was download the newest version of Aeon Timeline–which was easier said that done, because the connection at Panera kept dropping on me.  It took me three tries to get it onto my computer, but get it there I did.

And with that in place, I started figuring things out–

As you can see, it went in like a dream.  I know . . .

As you can see, it went in like a dream. I know . . .

Everything from the middle of the screen and on to the right was done a long time ago:  over a year back if I remember correctly.  All the stuff to the left, however, is brand new.  There is one dream missing–their first one–but they were pretty young at the time and it probably involved a lot of “Hi.  How you doing?” toddler stuff.  But as far as the main stuff talked about in the novel so far, that’s it.  I know when the things happened, and I have an idea what they talked about or did.  As you can see, there’s a good sized gap in there–a little over a year and a half–where not a lot happens, but you can assume it involved . . . kissing.

With the story almost complete I can actually show the full A Level time line that I developed and used for the story.  Ready?  Here you go:

In all its stunning glory.

In all its stunning glory.

One thing to point out here is that those areas marked “The Big Time” and “Kansas City” take you to other time lines, which makes this less crowded.  Also, I’m not showing individual things that happened to either kid, so “Annie’s Story” and “Kerry’s Story” bring up additional information.  Needless to say, once I laid out the story in Scrivener, I went back here to verify that everything worked out, and if I didn’t, I modified the line here until it did, and then changed the Scrivener layout.  Seems like a lot of work, but when you’re 365,000 words into a story, you’ll be glad you had this proofing behind you.

And speaking of Scrivener . . .

I also laid out the next two chapters–which, story-wise, is the next two days.  Funny how that works out:  three chapters in three days.  If only I could write that fast.  It now looks like this:

So much better I have to pat myself on the back.

So much better I have to pat myself on the back.

Nine scenes.  A couple of them are pretty short, most, I think, are gonna be between one thousand and fifteen hundred words, and I dare say a couple there will pop up over two thousand.  If I use twelve hundred words as an average, then there’s almost eleven thousand words to add for these two chapters alone.  And with Act Three currently sitting near fifty-seven thousand five hundred words, this is going to take the story up closer to seventy thousand words.  Which means by the time I finish this part the story will end up somewhere between seventy and seventy-five thousand words.

Looking at this, and looking at what I have ahead, this leads me to believe that Act Three is going to come out at right around one hundred thousand words, which will make it a third shorter than the first two acts.  Oh, my dear:  how can I handle that?  Can’t complain, because I figured Act Three would be the shortest part of the story, but still:  one hundred thousands words as a stand alone novel is a pretty good deal.

With all this said, tonight I get back into the writing.  If I manage to somehow do a scene a day, then this finishes up before the end of the year, and I can write and complete Chapter Thirty-Eight before the end of the year.  There are still several chapters to go, but having looked at them and knowing what goes in there–it looks as if this novel will finally see “The End” written around the end of January, 2015.

Now I have to figure out how I’m gonna celebrate that moment . . .

The Highs and the Highers

Let’s just get this out of the way first thing in the morning:  mind mapping can be a huge amount of fun, but ultimately it can also be an enormous pain in the ass.  You’re trying to organize your thoughts on a page–and I use that term “page” liberally, because inside your computer your page can go on for a very long time.  Don’t believe me?  Look:

No, that's not the remains of a fly I swatted . . .

No, that’s not the remains of a fly I swatted . . .

That’s sixty-six notes I’ve made on a character time line while trying to deconstruct and rebuild this character, with Scapple zoomed out as far as I can take it.  As you can see, I have plenty of room in which to work.

And work I was.

Not as much as this time line would show, but it’s getting there.  I have my head where I want it now, and I’ve narrowed down some of the questions I need to ask.  I’ve also set aside room for Kerry, because in retrospection, he’s wrong, too.  At least in the opening chapters.  Oh, not the prologue:  he’s pretty much spot on there.  The whole London section–it’s wrong.  It’s really wrong.  Kerry has a computer:  who needs to go out?  That’s what Google Streetview is for!

Yeah, need to deconstruct him a little, because if there’s one thing I know about his, it’s that he’s emotional shut away from most everything.  So London . . . rewrite city, baby.  I hope to start getting to that on Sunday.  No really; stop laughing.

I’m actually feeling good about redoing this part.  I figured out a day trip inventory that’s really more to the liking of the kids, and it’s fun to roam all over London on The Maps (that’s what I’ll call it from now on) and see things that I shouldn’t have missed the first time.  But, hey:  first drafts are for your screw ups.  As James Michener once said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”  (Paddy Chayefsky apparently said the same thing, so I’ll let them fight it out over who gets the real credit.)

Something else happened last night as well.  I was chatting up a friend, and we got to talking about some of my work.  It so happened–as writers often do–I spoke about some of my old erotica I’d written some ten years back, and how I was thinking of editing it and putting it out in ebook format to get comfortable among the dino porn and gay cuttlefish transformation stories.  (And if you read this blog regularly, you know those both exist.)

Being in something of a good mood I asked my friend if she wanted to see some of it.  She said yes.  I showed her the stories I had in pdf format with the artwork that had been drawn especially each of the tales.

I'd show you the real artwork, but it'd probably piss someone off, so here's something everyone can agree is completely safe.

I’d show you the real artwork, but it’d probably piss someone off if I did, so here’s something everyone can agree is completely safe.

And what I was told was, “This is really good writing, Cassie.”  Which it really was, even if it was totally fetish smut.  But after a long week of being down, feeling tired, and beating your head again the computer, you know what you, as a writer, needs?

To be told you’re good.

Those really are the magic words.  Try them on a writer friend and see what happens.

Fulfilling the Loops of Continuity

First up, a little bit of personal news.  No, nothing bad:  I’m not off to the sanitarium to “get better”, though I’ve done something like that at one point in my life . . . no, it’s something better.  I’ll will have an interview posted on another blog sometime soon.  Yay me!  I haven’t had an interview in a while, and now is as good a time as any.  There were a lot of questions, and by the time I answered them all I’d written nearly four thousand words, so you know I’ll have a lot to say.  It’s also possible I’ll come off as the most boring git in the world, but that’s a risk you run with an interview.  As soon as it is posted, I’ll reblog it here, and generally link whore myself like crazy.  Please stand by.

Writing up that interview took most of my morning and afternoon, so I didn’t do much in the way of editing yesterday.  That happens:  you can’t be in editing or writing mode all the time, but you do what you can, right?  However, I did have the TV on in the background while I did my interview, and a couple of the movies that I half-paid attention to were Wanted–which I’d not only seen before, but I have the original comics run of the story–and Taken–which I had not seen before, but knew about because this movie started the reign of Liam Neeson bad-assery.

Of the two Wanted is really an odd duck because it so wildly deviates from the original material.  Sure, one could believe James McAvoy is a complete loser who ends up becoming a master assassin, and Angelina Jolie is his mentor, but once you start getting into the original story you start to see a lot of weird things, like how The Fraternity is really a bunch of super-villains who got tired of being on the bottom rung of the ladder all the time and decided to take over.  Then there’s the main characters, Wesley and The Fox.  Throughout the comic they are modeled after two rather well know individuals:  Wesley was modeled after Eminem, and The Fox was modeled after Halle Berry.  The Fox also wears a costume that comes with cat ears, because super-villains, yo.

Sure, you can see the resemblence between the characters and the actors if you squint hard enough . . .

Sure, you can see the resemblance between the characters and the actors if you squint hard enough . . .

But one can live with that, because if you aren’t getting Eminem and Halle Berry to pretty much play themselves in a story that used them for the character templates, then you do what you can.  There was a scene, however, that made me roll my eyes:  it was when Wesley is looking at a piece of the “Loom of Fate” given to him to translate, and as he looks through a magnifying glass he starts drawing ones and zeros so he can lay out the binary code and translate it to English.  And as Wesley draws his numbers, his zeros always get a slash in them . . .

Which if you’re a boy from Chicago–which Wesley’s suppose to be–you wouldn’t put a slash in your zeros.  However, if you’re a boy from Scotland–which James McAvoy is–you would probably draw your oughts with a slash in them.  Which was why I was rolling my eyes, because I was surprised no one caught that.  Then again, how many people watching the movie are going to catch that?  Maybe a dozen?  Only the super geeks among us?  Those of us who read the comic and are wondering if before the credits roll McAvoy is going to show us his rage face while telling the audience this is how he’s going to look while butt raping us?  (Which is how the comic ends, by the way.)

Then there’s Taken.  Never mind trying to figure out the logic of how a guy can run through Paris killing dozens of people, and even go so far as to shoot the wife of a French Security Officer in their house, and yet still apparently fly home commercial after having been shot a few times.  It’s an action movie, and you’re suppose to check your brain at the door before entering the theater.  No, the part that had me rolling my eyes took place on the private flight from Los Angeles to Paris . . .

Now, when Liam’s character’s daughter gets nabbed, you hear her description of her kidnapper:  “Beard; six foot; tattoo on hand–“.  Sure, clear enough.  But on the flight to Paris you hear her say, “Mustache; six foot; tattoo on hand–”  But later the description is back to beard–so who am I looking for?  A guy with a beard, or a guy with a mustache?  Or does it matter, because Liam’s gonna kill them all anyway?  It’s one of those things that sort of drive me mad, though, because since you already have the recording of the kidnapping, why bother with the change?  Or was it because they recorded the sound bite before they had an actor cast, and they didn’t know what they’d look like?

A few times I’ve had people tell me that I spend too much time trying to get everything “right” in my stories, that I spend too much time trying to figure out a sequence of events within my novels rather than just sitting down and writing.  Like I mentioned a few days ago there are times when it would be easy to write, but then you find that a scene you’re preparing won’t work because of something like the sun setting too late at the location where the scene is set, and that means your characters are going to look up in amazement at the beautiful aurora greeting them to a land of death and cold misery.  “Who’s going to know that?” you say?  Me, for one.  And some geek out there who bothers to check time of sunset for that day in that part of the world, after which they mumble, “Man, this chick is a loser!  Don’t they know it’s not dark enough for an aurora?”  And don’t say they aren’t out there:  they are.

Because I’m here, so I know they exist.

This is why I have all sorts of notes.  This is why I spend so much time trying to figure out little things like when do people go off and do whatever it is they’re suppose to do in the story.  It’s like what I was working on late last night:  a couple of things I added to Annie and Kerry’s E Level time:  I’ve got them doing things for The Guardians relating to spirits, because they’re getting older, they’re getting good finding and contracting and even doing things to spirits, and so why not have them perform a little extra-curricular activity with a branch of The Foundation that doesn’t mind using a couple of hapless teenager witches when the need arises.

Help the Guardians, See the World, Make it Back in Time for Necromancy 102.

Help the Guardians, See the World, Make it Back in Time for Necromancy 102.

Therefore I have them off helping with a spirit search in Chicago–yeah, but it’s not like they’re talking around the middle of The Loop with unregulated nuclear particle accelerators on their backs–and then off to Pripyat, Ukraine–which, if you know your geography and history, is a real fun time–which eventually leads to that section at 21 March–a point in time where I’ve created another time line so I know what’s happening there.

You can bet that means it’s not gonna be a good time.

It’s important to get things right.  If you do it up front, then you don’t have to worry about them when you write:  you just write.  It’s one of the things I pointed out in my interview yesterday–if you know the order of things before you write, if you have all your notes in place before the story begins, the actual telling of the tale becomes far easier.  You’re not going to be perfect; you’re not always going to catch everything.  In fact, as you go along you may see something that works better.  But at least you have the foundation laid–no pun here, trust me–before the story is built.

Then again, maybe you want the Earth rotating in the wrong direction . .

B Level Anxieties

Editing:  it’s a way of life.  Well, not really, but if you want to hone your skill as a writer, you need to know this trick; you need to know how to cut and correct–and even add–where necessary.  Now, when it comes to cutting my own work–hey, I’m still learning.

This is not an easy thing to learn.

But edit I did, and I’m just about half-way through my friend’s novel as of this morning.  Tonight I’ll pass that line and then it’s downhill all the way.  As I see it, I’ll finish up before I make the trek back to Northwest Indiana next Friday, and that’ll leave me free to do my biz there and relax.

Did I say relax?  I meant I’ll probably maybe possibly start writing again.

I know I said I wouldn’t start on Act Two until I returned to The Burg, that I wouldn’t put word to electronic paper before 31 March, but it’s simply too hard to stay away from my story.  I’m doing all this outlining and thinking and character building, and after a while the whole, “I’m just sitting and enjoying my down time” thing isn’t working for me.  It is nice, but like last night, I found myself getting a little bored once the editing is out of the way and Me Time has arrived.

That’s because there isn’t a lot of time for me anymore.  It’s all about my characters.

And that brought me back to time lining.  Yes, I love doing this because I love seeing how things are laid out along a path upon which one can start putting a story together.  You know the quote “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”?  A story is the same way:  you have an idea about where you want to go, but you have to start that journey by getting one foot in front of the other and easing on down the road.

Time lines are the same for me.  I know pretty much where I’m going–I just have to lay out the map and see where to walk.  And ever since I was a kid I was good at reading maps.

Which brings me to Annie and Kerry’s B Levels.  It’s an interesting time in their lives–but mostly it’s an interesting time in Kerry’s life.  He starts out bored as hell because he’s home, his parents aren’t showing an interest in his schooling–not that he can really talk about it all that much, because there is something of a gag order on Normal kids to otnay alktay aboutway earninglay agicmay.  His parents still think of Kerry as this kinda strange kid that popped out of Mom’s vagina one day, and since then they’ve become stuck with him, not really knowing why he is so quiet and introverted, while he wonders why it always feels like his parents are shunning him simply for being alive.

Then he gets a visit.  You can see it, all the way over on the left:

I'm sure he might have liked a visit from someone bringing him money or hugs, but you take what you get, right?

I’m sure he might have liked a visit from someone bringing him money or hugs, but you take what you get, right?

His favorite lesbian couple from Salem come calling, which isn’t that hard for them to do because (a) they actually live in England, so it’s not that far to travel, and (b) Helena can teleport, so who cares if they’re coming from Bath or the middle of the Australian Outback?  Will it and ye shall Jaunt.

So they come, they talk, they hear his tales of woe, and they tell him to keep a stiff upper lip because it’s the UK and they’ve already had tea for lunch.  Then some days later his parents finally talk about his school, and want to know about his friends–and the parents see an unusual pattern in his friend zones.

And that night is when he starts having dreams . . . dreams about a girl that he thinks he knows, but isn’t sure because he just can’t place where he’s seen her.  And those dreams keep comings–in fact, they happen a couple of times when Annie’s right next to him, um, sleeping.  Yeah, that does happen, but get your mind out of the gutter because it’s not like that.

After editing tonight I’m going to play with this some more because there are things I want to add here, and it means I won’t have to do all this crazy plotting when it comes time to write this story.  Oh, and while doing this I ended up with a great scenes where three of the instructors and the head nurse all sort of figure out what’s going on–though mostly it’s Erywin who does the figuring, because her lesbian spidey senses start tingling madly–

You never ignore lesbian spidey senses.  Never.

Off to a Wrong Start

Sometimes I drive myself a little batty with the extent I go to on some scenes to make sure everything’s about as right as it can get, even when it’s fiction.  Yesterday was an excellent example of not leaving well enough alone and simply saying, “It’s a story, you know?  People ain’t gonna care, yo.”

Case in point:  this scene I’ve been working on for the last couple of days, the one I said has been stuck in my head, so I’ve played with the lines of time to figure out when everything happens where.  It’s been a fun exercise, in part because I tried a little something different this time.

It only looks complicated.  When you first look at it.  And tried to make sense of the vision . . .

It only looks complicated. When you first look at it. And try to make sense of the vision . . .

This is what time looks like when you’re viewing events as they are viewed from three different time zones.  If you’d like to know, the top zone is where everything is happening:  it’s GMT +10 if you’re keeping score.  The middle zone is Salem, or GMT -5, and the bottom is the West Coast, or GMT -8.  So the thing I’d do here is simple:  I’d figure out when something happened on the West Coast, adjust for the East Coast, then add fifteen hours for where stuff was happening.

I have something else going here:  the bottom of the Aeon display shows relationships.  You set up the people who are involved in a scene, and then you set the dots to let you know if they are an active participant–the solid dots–or if they are just watching–the open circles.  So it was a fairly simply matter, given the limited number of people in each possible scene, to figure out who was acting and who was watching–particularly when two of my characters were on the other side of the world viewing events.

See, I mentioned yesterday that in one of the smaller scenes in this event, my kids would happen into the area where all the badness happens and find themselves bathed in the warm glow of the northern lights.  Sure, that’s a pretty easy thing to say, and an even easier one to write once you get it in your mind that you’re gonna start writing.  And if you don’t look too hard at the reality of the situation, you can make it work.

Then I looked at the reality . . .

I decided to pop up Sky View Cafe and have a look at the sky for my little part of Mother Russia in mid-April.  Even though the town where all my action happens isn’t in their search list, it’s simple enough to bring up the time zone and plug in the longitude and latitude for the location.  Then I roll the clock over to 23:00–or eleven PM for some of you–and see . . .

That the sun hasn’t fully set.

"You promised I'd see an aurora, Kerry."  "There was one, but you slapped it out of me."  "Smack!"  "Owww!"

“You promised I’d see an aurora, Kerry.” “There was one, but you slapped it out of me.” “Smack!” “Owww!”

This meant that the date I’d selected just wouldn’t work.  I mean, I could use it, but just as Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle changed a solar system in The Mote in God’s Eye just so they could keep a single line in the story, if I wanted to keep this scene, I needed to change my dates.

Since I already knew some of the events happening in their E Levels I looked about, found a time that would work well, realized that something happened in that same period that would really help out with the scene.  I checked the view in Sky View, saw that things were going to be dark at 23:00, and that was all I needed to get to work.  I changed dates, moved everything ahead, and managed to keep my aurora.

The things a writer does just so they can show the wonder in their character’s eyes for a novel they haven’t written.

Yeah, it’s a thing of beauty.

The Road to Camp Reka

Cassidy is dragging a little this morning, in part because of this stupid Daylight Savings Time thing which should be abolished to hell and gone, and in part because I was out last night and didn’t roll into the apartment until half-past midnight.  It was nice getting out for the first time in a long time, and I’ll have to do this more often.  Of course, I need to find a few more friends to go out with to make that happen . . .

Since I was out yesterday, this means I spent a lot of time getting ready, ’cause that’s what you do when you’re planing on a night out.  A big part of my afternoon was spent doing my nails, and if you’ve ever had to do your own nails and get them so they look half-way decent, you gotta put in the time.  This means there are a few moments when you can’t type on the computer, but you can use a mouse–

And you can think.

I did some of that yesterday because this scene I have in my head for a part of a novel to come is really obsessing me.  And when I get like I tend to work on it a little if I’m in the middle of a work in process, or a lot if I’m not.  As I’m not, then I’m working on this sucker like crazy mad.

The strangest thing about this scene is that things are happening, at one point or another, in four different locations in three different time zones.  Since people tend to get a little freaked out by time, it’s always a good idea to know your zones when you’re reaching out on a global stage.

The main website I use for this sort of thing is Time and Date, which has been around for a long time.  Most of the time I use it for it ability to give me a calendar for just about any year–do you need a calendar for Saudi Arabia for 2132 so you can figure out when Ramadan begins?  Have at it, people.  And in case you didn’t generate the calendar, it’s 10 November–but of late I’ve been looking at the time zone calculator.  ‘Cause if you get confused about when things are suppose to happen at a certain time in different parts of the world, then you need to check out their Time Zone Converter page.

For example, for the scenes I’m imagining, this parade of crap begins when Annie and Kerry–yeah . . . Kerry–get hauled out of bed at somewhere around six-fifteen in the morning.  The person coming for them has teleported in from San Francisco, and the hell that has initiated all this activity happened far gone and out in the wilds of Siberia.  So I go into the Time Zone Converter page, put in a date and time and some city names, and . . .

I know I said four locations, but the forth is in the same zone as San Fran.  Chill out--I got this.

I know I said four locations, but the fourth is in the same zone as San Fran. Chill out–I got this.

If I was the sort of person who needed to know when all this stuff was happening–and you already know I am–I’d just plug this into one of my Aeon Timeline spreadsheets.  In fact, I just this moment came up with something insane for keeping track of everything.  Just wait until I show you . . .

The gist of this little part of the story is it takes about three hours to get everything explained–this is where the fourth location comes in, because the rest of the gang going on this trip are located there–so when Annie and Kerry and the people they’re working with finally jaunt over to Russia it’s 23:00 local time, or eleven PM for a lot of other people, and the thing Annie and Kerry see when they get their wits about them is a sky burning bright with the aurora borealis, something Kerry got used to seeing for a couple of nights while flying The Polar Express.

"So it was like this when you did The Polar Express?"  "Yeah, only it was Emma holding my hand--"  "SMACK!"  "Owwww!  I was just kidding!"

“So it was like this when you did The Polar Express?”  “Yeah, only it was Emma holding my hand–” “SMACK!” “Owwww! I was kidding!”

No, Kerry:  never kid about shit like that with a witch who can kill you in the time it takes to think about the magic she needs to kill you.

And just as an added bonus, since I wasn’t certain about how to do that Owww! I Googled “Sounds of pain” and was instantly given directions to The Written Sound website, and in particular the Onomatopoeia Dictionary, because sometimes you do need to know the sound uttered by a person choking, or that Blam is the sound of explosion–unless it’s being uttered by Rocket Raccoon after he, well . . .

He gets testy when he discoverers you've locked down your trash bin lids.

He gets testy when he discoverers you’ve locked down your trash bin lids.

There’s my madness out in the open for all to see once more–

Yeah, it’s a great life, isn’t it?

Building the Big Time

This week I’ve shown all these different tools I use when I’m writing.  I’ve got modeling programs; I’ve got Scrapple; I’ve got Aeon Timeline; I’ve got Scrivener.  These are great tools to have, but they’re just that:  tools.  They help build the world and create the story, but there is nothing magical about them.  One won’t start plugging numbers into Aeon and suddenly find the plot to their novel.  They’ll act as a map, but just like Kerry in London, you gotta use that map to figure out where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there.

I’m constantly thinking about my stories when I’m starting to set them up, and they aren’t far from my mind when I’m writing.  I might be working over lines of dialog, or created back story, or mulling over things to come.  That’s how I work; that’s how my stories are built.  And I’ve thought about this story for going on almost two-and-a-half years now, so when it came time to plot it out, I had a great Foundation from which to work.  (Pardon the pun–naw, don’t.)

But there’s still things that need writing, and believe it or not playing with my plots isn’t always out of the question–particularly if they’ve had a couple of years to lay about and simmer.  With that said, I’m going to do something I’ve never done:  I’m going to show you a part of my upcoming story, one that has yet to be written, but is plotted, and show you some of the process I have used to get it what the story to the point where I can start writing.

Let’s go, let’s go!

Act Two, Part Seven, Chapters Nineteen through Twenty-Four:  The Big Time.  This is where, as the kids say, shit gets real.

Sure, it doesn't look like much now . . .

Sure, it doesn’t look like much now . . .

8 November, 2011, an attack is launched by known hostile forces against various educational centers run by The Foundation.  Though Salem isn’t targeted, Director of Security Isis Mossman–who went through The Scouring and lost friends to the bad guys–isn’t about to take chances.  She begins the process of locking the school down, preparing for the worse.  As you have probably guessed, worse does come knocking:  all communication channels go dark, Isis orders the school into full lock-down and activates all defenses, putting Salem into siege mode.  This means cranking up the magical defense screens in the outer wall to full power–which encases the entire school–and throwing up a similar defense screen around The Pentagram, protecting the students who’ve been sent to their towers.

Ramona Chai and Helena Lovecraft take selected instructors and students out to the grounds proper and ready themselves as a rapid response ground-attack force, while Vicky Salomon and Erywin Sladen take command of the best fliers–most of them from the Coven Race Teams–and uses them as a combination spotter unit and, when things get bad, air assault unit.  Coraline sets up triage outside her hospital with the help of her aides and student volunteers, Trevor seals up the library, and Headmistress Mathilde Laventure retreats to Sanctuary–the code name for her bunker–while Mathias Ellison and Deanna Arrakis are sent to their separate locations to act as her seconds in case something happens to her.

Over all of this Isis Mossman–code name Fortress, which is more or less what everyone calls the locked-down Pentagram as well–stands watch in her security center with Wednesday Douglas at her side as her second, and the person who pretty much helped Isis get all these new defenses into place.  None of this “bring the stone statues to life and protect the school” stuff:  Isis would have dragons with frickin’ laser cannons flying around the school if The Foundation would allow such a thing.  As it is, she’s got a few tricks up her sleeve, not to mention some bad-ass people with heavy attack magic, over-the-top sorcery, and super-science weaponry out in the field.

Here’s what that looks like on the time line:

That's it?  Doesn't seem like much . . .

That’s it? Doesn’t seem like much . . .

I pointed out in another post that you can actually use points in one time line to drill down to another time line.  This is one of those instances where there is a time line on the other side of this point–you can tell because there’s a little icon there under “08 November 2011”.  We click on that and . . .

Okay, then . . .

Okay, then:  this looks interesting.

This is a full-on view of the attack using all the functions of Aeon Timeline.  I have events posted, I’m showing arcs (the information on the left side of the screen, such as “Kerry’s Story”), and entity relationships, which are the names at the bottom of the screen that show if a person was involved in an event, and if so were they an observer (the open dots) or a participant (the colored dots).  It might seem a little complicated, but once you’ve plotted a few of these, it becomes a pretty simple matter of knowing what happens when and to whom.

The Scrivener part was created first, with the Aeon time line produced later as a way of checking my work.  At the beginning of this event things are happening slowly because not much is going down.  Vicky tells her fliers when they start out that she hopes they have a very boring day, because that means there aren’t any attacks.  Vicky’s only saying that because she’s not seen Chapter Twenty-Two . . .

Vicky really shouldn't read ahead.

Vicky really shouldn’t read ahead.

Chapter Twenty-Two, Attack.  Pretty much sums up what’s going down.  The bad guys finally play their hand in a big way, and while Isis has done everything possible to protect the school, nothing is one hundred percent effective.  There are minor incursions and things get . . . interesting.  This is where I needed to get my times sorted out in a big way because things are happening quickly and in various parts of the school, and though it might not be important to the reader to know that stuff is occurring in the correct order at the right moments, I needed to know this.  This is why, in Scrivener I have the times laid out, and I ported those times over to Aeon when I began checking this work.

It was also possible to drill down even further in Aeon to get the scenes right.

Even when things go bad, Isis is on top of the situation.

Even when things go bad, Isis is on top of the situation.

Like Scrivener Aeon Timeline has an inspector, and the inspector allows one to see all the functions for an event, and even add notes for what’s happening.  As we can see in the scene Fortress, Isis sees an attack occurring against the outer defense screens, sees a breach, and ordered all non-essential fliers out of the air before losing the school-wide detection grid and communications, rendering everything outside The Pentagram dark.  Not a good time to be out there between The Blue and the Black (a term the fliers use to describe the defense screens of The Pentagram and the main school walls).

Believe it or not, there is a scene I’ve thought about that happens during the attack, and it’s not there.  Why?  Because it’s something that I came up with while writing Act One.  I know where it goes in the chain of events that is the attack, but I’ve yet to place it where it should go.  Some might say it’s not needed, but I’m not some.  The scene will also keep things flowing, and show how Isis is keeping the Headmistress in the loop, even when things aren’t going one hundred percent.

There you have it:  bad times come to Salem.  Will the attack be beaten back?  Will there be blood?  Will the good guys win?

There’s an Act Three, isn’t there?

To Map, Perchance to Plot

Let’s met Annie.  Say hi to her–

"Hi, Annie!"

“Hi, Annie!”

When I was working towards understand Kerry’s far, far, better half, I started throwing around what I knew about her, and began format that knowledge into the world I was creating.  This is where Scapple, the mind mapping program created by the same people who make Scrivener, came in handy, because I could make notes and interconnect them to other notes, work them around and get an idea about where I was going with the character.

I’ve seen where others have also used Scapple to work out plots for their stories.  I’ve played with this a little in that area, but I’ve yet to work out a story where my notes and ideas would find themselves interconnected in such a way that a coherent tale springs forth.  Though there are a couple of scenes I’m considering working out this way . . .

On to the current work in progress.  When I prepared to start the novel, I did so–as I usually do–with two things in mind:  I needed a title, and I needed an ending.  The idea of the title I got from Harlan Ellison, who commented on more than a few occasions that he couldn’t write until there was a title on the page.  Now, my titles may change as I get deeper into a story–that happened a few times with The Foundation Chronicles:  A for Advanced–but I always have a title.  And the ending idea comes from Issac Asimov, who was quoted saying that it was necessary to know how his story finished so he’d know how to get there.

I knew how I wanted to start the story.  There would be a prologue with two scenes:  the first would have Annie standing next to a tree near her lake house, and the second would be The Foundation people convincing the parents of a sullen and likely depressed Kerry that he was getting a free ride to a school for special students outside Salem, Massachusetts, and that he should pack his bags because he was leaving for London in a couple of hours if he said yes.

The last two scenes would mirror the intro:  the first scene would show Kerry returning from school, somewhat depressed because he’s parted from someone special to him, and now it’s time to go back to his old, “Normal” life, while the second scenes would show Annie standing next to a tree near her lake house, equally sad from saying goodbye to her “Ginger Haired Boy”, and having to face the summer without him.

With that in mind, it was time to start plotting.

Since I was working in parts, chapters, and scenes, I decided to work in Scrivener through Outline Mode, because as folders and text files were added, and metadata added, it was a simple matter to move things around when and where needed, and lay out dates and times as needed.  As the Prologue and Chapter One were almost all Annie and Kerry there wasn’t much of a need to keep track of other characters, because the one who did walk onto the written stage didn’t require a great deal of attention.

Carefully taking my kids on the trip of their lives, one scene at a time.

Carefully taking my kids on the trip of their lives, one scene at a time.

It was easy to plot things out like this, but keep in mind this is a small section of the story.  There’s a lot more in the next two acts–which were added about half way through writing the first act.  This is something that’s nice about Scrivener:  you need to add or move something around, you do.

Something else I used for the first time were document notes.  These came in handy when I was writing about Annie and Kerry’s day trip around London, which was done almost entirely via tube travel.  Notes stay attached to a scene, so once in place they’re always there inside the Inspector (the area on the right) all the time.

Sure, you could make up how you get around London, but it's easier if you do it with notes.

Sure, you could make up how you get around London, but it’s easier if you do it with notes.

Another thing I did on this novel was layer scenes under a top scene.  I used it extensively for the scene “Over the Pond”, where all the action took place on-board a 747, and point of view switched from my kids to some traveling instructors, and back.  The date and time were already set, so here it was just a matter of knowing who was in each sub-scene aboard the plane, and that information was kept in the metadata for each scene.  The great thing with these layered scenes is when you don’t need to see them, you just collapse them under the top lead-in scene and all is right in the world once more.

There's a party in the sky, and you're all--well, you'll get invited in time.

There’s a party in the sky, and you’re all–well, you’ll get invited in time.

One last thing to mention about this layered scenes is that they were added as I wrote.  I did the lead-in scene, then decided I’d write about Annie and Kerry finding their seats, or the instructors talking about Phee–I know who that is–and I’d add the text file, do a copy and paste on the metadata, set the Label and Status, and away I’d write.  Easily Peasily!

And that leads to cross-checking what I’d laid out in Scrivener by seeing if the time lines matched up.  There was always the possibility that something was off, and sure enough, once I started plugging things into Aeon Timeline, there were a few things that didn’t make sense.  Now, this didn’t affect the plot, but in terms of when things happened, it was a good idea for me to see if everything worked.  I didn’t actually need to do this for what became the first act, but this was practice for something that was coming in Act Two, and the practice of laying out this first section of the book helped me understand how I was going to lay out an important set of scenes that required things to happen at certain times, within a certain time frame.  And that would be important to the story . . .

Time be time, mon.  And here be the time for Act One.  Looks so different here, doesn't it?

Time be time, mon. And here be the time for Act One. Looks so different here, doesn’t it?