A Year in Pamporovo

Last night was like any other Wednesday night for me.  Got home from work, changed, went to Panera, ate, and wrote.  I had two projects last night:  one was writing up a little over six hundred words for a letter I’m sending to someone–I always type it out before I hand write because my spelling is fairly horrible and I need to correct–and then I went to work on the novel and put in another eight hundred words there.  Nothing unusual, right?

It might not be were it not for the date.  Because last night represented three hundred and sixty-five days since I started this novel.  When I did that the novel sort of looked like this:

Only there were, like, zero words on everything.

Only there were, like, zero words on everything.

And now it’s here, twenty-seven chapters later.

With a lot more words added.

With a lot more words added.

Tonight is the night when I started on this little adventure, and it’s been a milestone for me as well, for I’ve never stuck with a novel this long.  In the past I’ve usually burned out and given up on something like this, but I haven’t, not this time.

Doesn’t mean there hasn’t been stress.  I’ve probably had two or three nervous breakdowns in the process of putting out this story.  I spent a month rewriting chapters because I did Annie wrong.  Oh, and I grew breasts:  I should get points for that as well.

How did it all begin?  With Annie and her mother.  Let’s go back and see that moment, captured in the just over the first five hundred words I wrote (and have since edited) on 30 October, 2013:

 

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

The mountains were bright under the morning sun, though the light had yet reached many of the surrounding valley floors. Within the hour every valley in and around Pamporovo, Bulgaria, would bathe in sunshine, but for now most were enveloped in quiet shadows.

In one valley lay a small lake, the surface smooth and unmoving, still in possession of a layer of light mist from the prior evening. The eastern shoreline brushed up against the heavily wooded valley side, but everywhere else the lake was surrounded by low, rolling hills marked by a few bare spots of erosion, and meadows covered in short grass. Here no trees had taken root—

Save for one spot opposite the eastern valley walls. A lone tree stood upon a slight bend in the shoreline, making it even more distinctive. It was impossible to tell the tree type: even a close scrutiny didn’t reveal its secrets. It looked out of place—and yet, based upon it’s height and the spread of the branches, it was obvious it had been there for decades.

Stranger was the color of the leaves. They were a bright yellow, as if they were dusted with saffron—an unusual color, for the other trees on the opposite bank were a uniform green with a sprinkle of brown, and nary a spot of yellow anywhere. The coloration wasn’t due to the coming of fall—it was late August and the trees wouldn’t begin changing for another two months. It was possible that the tree itself sprouted yellow leaves, but if one had visited the tree the day before, they may have seen the leaves a bright red—and the day before that a light green.

The leaves changed color, but they didn’t change with the seasons . . .

Beneath the branches a young girl with wavy chestnut hair that rested lightly upon her shoulders stood. She was dressed in a light summer blouse and jeans and sneakers, making her indistinguishable from any other eleven year old girl currently living in and around Pamporovo. She stood facing the lake, her eyes fixed upon a point somewhere across the water, her arms locked across her chest. It seemed as if she were deep in thought, staring off into space so that her mind was free from distractions. She didn’t move, nor give any indication she was aware of her surroundings.

Her expression betrayed her emotions, though. She slowly blinked as she stared across the lake with lips slightly pursed while in the cool morning shadows of her unusual tree. Mist drifted off the lake and over her, making the skin on her arms dimple. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to finally enjoy this almost-perfect morning.

The girl was about to check the time on the small wristwatch she wore when a voice called to her. “Annie!” She turned slowly; she knew the voice, and why they were looking for her—

She spotted the woman standing on the porch of a small house forty meters away. The woman waved her right arm in the air as she called once again. “Annie!”

Awareness dawned upon young girl. “Yes, Mama?”

“It’s almost ten o’clock.” This time she waved for the girl to come to the porch. “It’s getting close to the time to leave.”

Anelie Kirilova—or, as her mother, father, and the rest of her extended family called her, Annie—knew her mother was right. She knew it was nearly time to leave; she’d known this for over an hour. In another twenty, thirty minutes she’d leave this all behind and not see it again until it was all covered with Christmas snow . . .

She brushed a strand of hair from her face as she walked toward the house. “Coming, Mama.”

 

There was my beginning.  And how did I continue a year later?  Another five hundred or so words with Annie and her mother:

 

The moment Annie’s eyes opened she checked the clock at her bedside. 5:21. She did a quick calculation and determined the time in San Francisco. It’s 19:21 yesterday there; Kerry’s likely meeting his family right now. Secure with the belief that Kerry was probably starting his holiday, she threw the covers back and sat up.

It was pitch dark in the room, but that wasn’t surprising: local sunrise wouldn’t be for more than an hour. She waved her hand at the lamp on the bedside table and it came on, illuminating her bedroom in low, white light. She slid off the bed and into her slippers before giving her blue pajama tops a final tug down. She walked the short distance to her dressing table and retrieved her locket from a necklace tree and fastened it around her neck, pressing the heart-shaped locket into her chest to assure herself it was there. Lastly she put on her robe and pulled it tight around her body before letting it swing open. With a smile she made her way to the bedroom door.

The night before, during dinner, her mother had said that now that she was on Salem time she would probably rise early, adjustment or not. Annie had said she expected to sleep in for the first time since leaving home, but she should have realized that Mama was speaking from experience. It makes sense— She reached for the door knob. I never sleep in at school, so why would I expect to sleep in once I was home. She slowly opened the door. Must be an enchantment they put on us during the E and A

Her mother was in her sitting room, seated at the table with a plate of food and a kettle before her. “Good morning, Anelie.”

Annie was surprised to find her mother up this early—and with breakfast ready. “Good morning, Mama.”

Pavlina Kirilova nodded toward the closed door to her left. “Go on and use the bathroom. I’ll prepare your tea.”

Annie was in and out of her bathroom in a short time. When she returned her tea was seeping and plate with a printsessi sat before the empty chair across from here mother. Annie sat and inhaled the aroma of the breakfast. “This is what I missed.”

“My printsessi?”

“Yes.” She took a small bite and savored the disk. “It’s still hot.”

“I cooked them last night and put a time spell around them.” Pavlina raised here tea and took a small sip. “From your perspective, they’ve only been out of the oven for two minutes.”

Annie savored another mouthful before speaking. “When did you get up?”

“I’ve been up about twenty minutes.”

“And Papa?”

Pavlina set her tea aside, chuckling. “I let him sleep. Though I expect him up within the hour.” She folded her hands in her lap. “I wanted a little mother-daughter time—like what we had before you went off to school?”

Annie didn’t remember there being a lot of mother-daughter time, but she wasn’t going to start contradicting, not now. She’s searching—and I think I know what she’s looking for . . . “I did miss chatting. I only had your letters.” She smiled. “At least we wrote. A few of the students didn’t hear much from their parents.”

 

A year later and Annie can tell her mother is fishing for something, but she’s playing along.  Any idea about what she’s looking for?  And as I’d said, as Kerry’s last thoughts upon reaching San Francisco and seeing his family were of Annie, Annie’s first thoughts upon waking–at the same time, mind you–were of Kerry.  There’s some kind of symmetry with those kids, I tell ya.

How much have I put behind me with this story?  As of last night Act Two finished up with 140,960 words; the full manuscript is 291,665 words.  I stared Act Two in May and I’ve been trudging along for a little over five months now, and I’ll finish it in November for sure.  And then it’s on to Act Three and the end of the novel.

Soon.  I hope.  I want to have some kind of NaNo, even though I haven’t bothered registering yet, and may not.  I’m still on the fence about doing so, because I’m really not sure I can keep up the pace this year.  Far too many things happening, far too many things to get in the way.

Or . . . I just have to suck it up and put my two hours of writing aside and not be distracted.

That would probably work better, yeah?