The Run Up to the Start

Last night was Get My Images For Recap Night so that I can write said recap tonight, and I was breaking my brain for most of the evening thinking about the last chapter of Part Three of C For Continuing.  Because that’s the way I am:  I get fixated on these things and continue working them in my head until it sort of drives me nuts.  Which is also called “Being a Writer”, so I suppose it’s normal.

I’ve been kicking around a few scenes for the last couple of days, mostly when I have a free moment at work when I can sit and daydream for about five minutes.  But a few scenes don’t equate something coherent, and that’s what I needed.

It was about the time I was getting my last few images together that it hit me:  how about a week of classes?  I did that in the first novel, but not really so much in the last.  I mean, I did, but there wasn’t a lot of showing going on, just meeting and telling.  This time I wanted to not only get into a week of classes, but a week of their special classes, which means I’m going to do something almost never done before–

A lot of things, actually.

What does the chapter look like, then?  Like–

C For Continueing Chapter Nine

This.

All of the classes here are advanced, with the exception of one, and we’ll get to that in a moment.  There’s also two things here that haven’t been seen, one for obvious reasons, and another because I didn’t show it in the last novel.  So it’s time to show them here.

First up is Welcome to the Superlab.  I’ve mentioned that there is a chemical superlab over in the Tesla Center, and Advanced Formulistic Magic is gonna start cookin’ over there once in a while.  The chances are they’re not gonna go full Heisenberg and start cranking out magical meth, but they are gonna mix up something.  And this means I gotta start doing my research on how the lab is set up and what can they make.  Besides drugs.

The next day is a twofor.  First To Walk in Darkness, which is Annie and Helena together for their Tuesday night training.  Annie’s gonna learn a new spell, and it’s one that’s a little tricky to do, even for good sorceresses.  The second is Size Matters, and this Kerry in Advanced Transformation Crafting at the same time that Annie is getting her instruction.  Maybe we’ll get to see Jessica turn someone into a potted plant.

The next scene is Time Wise, and this is in Wednesday’s class, and you can probably guess what they’re working on.  I’ve got to work up some protocols for Wends to follow, because she’s a safe little witch except for those times she’s trying to kill people who make her mad.

Curtain Pulling hasn’t been shown before–oh, wait:  it has.  Sorta.  This is Deanna with the kids doing some special astral stuff, and we’ll get to see a little more of Deanna’s style of instruction, which is probably sweet and gentle–or maybe not.  Maybe she’ll just whack the kids with an astral stick until they get good.

And finally, Testing Kali.  If you figure out that the first date in this chapter falls on a Monday, then you can see this is Sunday, and this is time for Advanced Self Defense.  Kali, aka Arnis, aka Eskrima.  Ever see any of the Jason Bourne movies?  If you have, Kali is the martial arts form Bourne uses, and it’s considered one of the best in the world, employing the idea that minimal effort is required to take down your opponent with either empty handed or with weapons–or even both.  I actually want to show off the kids abilities this novel, and . . . they’ll get that chance.

Tonight if I have time I’ll start working on the trailer, but that’s my goal for Wednesday and Thursday, because I for sure want to have it up and ready to go on Saturday morning.  I have a lot to do and not a lot of time in which to do this.

But, hey:  I like a challenge.

New Class Structure

No, today isn’t about how I’m going to help smash the capitalistic patriarchy and work towards making a better life for everyone, even though you might think that based upon the title of today’s post.  No, it’s far difference.  So bear with me.

I managed to map out two more chapters last night.  Doesn’t seem like a lot, right?  Patience, grasshopper.  So let me get into this like I did yesterday.

Here we are in one big bundle.

Here we are in one big bundle.

Up to C should be pretty self-explanatory:  Annie and Kerry are now in charge of the second floor and The New New Kids are showing up for the first time.  One of these kids Annie and Kerry will already know, as they will meet them in Paris before they fly over together on the plane.  Growing Pains does not mean I’m bringing back an ABC sitcom, but rather you’re going to discover a rather–well, I guess you could say a pretty normal situation that doesn’t get mentioned much in stories like this.  You’ll see.

Memory’s Once More shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone:  it’s time to have a vision with our favorite seer, and this is one of the normal, usual things that come about.  Monitoring the Monitors is something a little different, but if you think about it you know what’s coming.

Now, I had to pause at this point because in order to do the next chapter I needed something:  the C Level Class Schedule.  First, let go over Chapter Eight, The Separate Realities, because I have it right here.  A Different Schedule is going to be a little different of a scene.  No details here, but you’ll see.  The first two scenes, Artistic You and Learning to See involve new classes the kids are taking.  Dark Minions–simple enough there, as is The Flight Ahead.  And The Welcome Madness is needed after a rough first week.

With those chapters out of the way, let’s look at the schedule

And what a schedule!

And what a schedule!

Monday Advanced Formulistic Magic is there where it was last year, but this year we have Introduction to Art first thing in the morning.  This is Professor Ellison starting to get the kids ready to be immersed in art.  And it’s not just drawing and painting, but music as well.  Since Annie and Kerry seem to have this part down good, they shouldn’t have a problem.

Tuesday afternoon sees Introduction of Divination, and we finally get a peak into Deanna’s class.  Wednesday has C Level Sorcery, which isn’t for everyone so some of the kids who didn’t make the cut will end up in an elective class, or just take the morning off.  Practical Super Science is the first class the kids will take over at the Tesla Center, and this will involve a lot of theory about how to make super sciency thing, but also some practical applications.  This is the only year the kids take this.

Let me skip Thursday and get to Friday.  After Advanced Flight Two, which is, of course, only Kerry, there’s an afternoon class called Special Astral Training.  Who’s in that class?  Two kids, and see if you can guess who they are.  This is gonna be headed up by Deanna, but we may see Professor Adric Lewiston help out, too.  And why is this?  You’ll find out.

Also, there’s something interesting for Thursday.  Both classes are not highlighted, which means Annie and Kerry aren’t taking them because of advanced classes, but there’s something called B and A Level Sorcery Minion Work, and that is highlighted.  That’s because Thursday is Mandatory Sorcery Day, and Helena wants minions–good ones, too.  So their time is penciled in there, and if Helena doesn’t need them, there’s always a possibility that Erywin or Wednesday could call them in to help out.  And while they have Monday night and Tuesday morning off, there’s always the chance that Jessica could called them in to help with class, and I’m sure that someone can find something for them to do Monday evenings.

Remember I said that classes are gonna be hell this year?  Now you see that they’re back to some A Level stuff with having almost no time to themselves, and that’s gonna wear them down just a little.  Or a lot.  Now, the Friday afternoon class won’t be all the time, but that’s only because they’re doing something else.  It’s time to push the kiddies, and there is a method to the madness.

But you know there’s always a bit of a problem where madness is involved.

The New Plot

So, the plotting has begun.  Not a lot so far, unless you consider six chapters not a lot.

Yeah, let me start beating myself up here.

Yeah, let me start beating myself up here.

Then again, I feel like I should have more but I got involved in taking a nap and finishing up my binging of Breaking Bad, and, oh, yeah, I needed about an hour to chill my shit after my latest Sense8 recap received a comment from one of the creators/writers/producers of that show.  You know, pretty much a normal Saturday night–

So let’s see what I have laid out so far for C For Continuation, shall we?

Chapter One is pretty much straight forward, and it contains something I’ve yet to do:  there’s a flashback.  Looking at the dates and times of the first two scenes it’s pretty easy to tell where the flashback occurs, and you may be able to figure out how it’s coming into play.  Also, looking at the times, this is almost all an Annie chapter, because it seems like most of this is happening somewhere in the mountains of Bulgaria.

C For Continuing Chapter One

Chapter Two consists of summer get together, and one big surprise that you’ll have to see.  To save you the looking up, Rendlesham Forest is Kerry’s meeting with Penny, and The Great Gates of Kiev is Annie’s meeting with Alex.  I can tell you right now, these will be fun scenes to write when I get to them.

C For Continuing Chapter Two

Chapter Three is the winding down of the Summer of 2013, and there are going to be a couple of surprises here.  The dates of the last two scenes should be to let you know they happen about a week and a half before the kids leave for staging in Paris before heading off to school.

C For Continuing Chapter Three

That’s Part One out of the way; onward to Part Two.  Chapter Four will likely be a short chapters, perhaps the shortest of the novel.  It’s probably the tightest packed for time as well, because about a half hour passed from the beginning of the first scene to the end of the third.  Short, sweet, and about as to the point as I can get in this story.

By the way, Pour Rencontrer à Paris means “To Meet in Paris,” which is what my kids are doing.

C For Continuing Chapter Four

Chapter Five has the kids doing a little roaming around in The City of Light.  The first scene is going to see a new Party of Five in Paris, and they’ll have lunch in a cafe where I had lunch in 2006–no, really.  The third scene does not have anything to do with a Woody Allen movie of the same name, so don’t expect any time traveling.  But scene two:  oh, you can expect some tears there, all for reasons that will become apparent when I finally write that scene.

C For Continuing Chapter Five

Chapter Six has the kids leaving Paris and returning to Salem.  À Plus Tard Paris means, “See you later, Paris,” because–spoilers!–this won’t be the last time Annie and Kerry visit Paris together.  Not when this is Annie’s favorite city in the whole world, at least according to her.  The second scene will answer a question brought up in A For Advanced, and I’ll likely show a little of the background stuff that goes on when Foundation people are scamming their way through Normal society.  And the last scene of this chapter is pretty self-explanatory:  the kids finally make it back to the school–they are, so to speak, home.

As I have indicated I’m playing off events already laid out in Aeon Timeline, and this newest version is coming in handy due to the programs flexibility.  I particularly like that I can now expand events without having to enter the Inspector, which is now used for editing the events.

See what I can see?  And I'm not even a Seer.

See what I can see? And I’m not even a Seer.

And one interesting thing here is that Penny is almost exactly a year older than Annie, with her birthday coming not much after Annie’s.  Well, maybe not that interesting, but it’s something I pick up on right away when looking at these new timeline events.  We also know the school has been around away, but I didn’t bother with a creation date for Paris, because if you don’t already know it’s older than hell, you need to get into your history.

What’s up for today?  Well, I meet someone for lunch, then I begin adding more chapters and scenes.  I likely won’t finish plotting this out by tomorrow, but come this Saturday I’ll have the majority of it in place.  And since I already know how this novel ends I can begin writing before putting in the last scene.

Like with most of my trips, I know my destination.  And I will arrive there safely.

Tried Or Tried Not

Not much in the way of editing happened during the night as after the events of the morning–coffee followed by brunch with three beers–I was in a lazy mood that compelled me to binge on Breaking Bad until the end of the Season 4 episode Problem Dog.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t do something useful–

While I was out getting nice and relaxed–

As you can see it was a nice day and I was feeling great.

As you can see it was a nice day and I was feeling great.

–and as I enjoyed the outside environment I was checking my updates on my phone, which means I’m now just as annoying as all those other people who do so.  One of these updates came from my long-time reader, blogger renxkyoko, and she had something to tell me:

 

‘By the way,cassie, since you’re editing….. I guess you missed this… ” Are you tried ?” to ” Are you TIRED “?’

 

Yeah, I did miss that.  One of the reasons for missing that is because I have a slight case of dyslexia that causes me to transpose letter a lot of times, and even when I read things as one word, sometimes I’m actually reading it wrong.  This sucks when I’m writing as well, because I should know my tried from my tired, but I tend to blow it most of the time.

So I made a note to check the manuscript to fix this when I returned home, so after getting back to the apartment about two PM, that’s exactly want I did.

Though some probably thought I should wait at this point--

Though some probably thought I should wait at this point–

Scrivener has an easy search function:  you can type in a word in the box next to the Inspector button in the upper right of the program and Scrivener shows you every place where that word existed.

Just like I'm doing here.

Just like I’m doing here.

Now, the above image is done after I cleaned up the document, because–see that list of scenes on the left?  When I did this the first time that list was three times as long.  That’s a lot of trieds, let me tell you.

I used the find and replace option to locate the occurrences of tried, and one of the things Scrivener does is highlight said word no matter how many you have in a text box, which is what my scenes are.  Here’s what it looks like in the first scene on this list:

Yellow means it's identified, orange means that's the occurrence you're currently examining.

Yellow means it’s identified and it turns orange when you’re currently examining that particular occurrence.

When I went through this I saw a hug number of trieds:  “Kerry tried–”  “Annie tried–”  “He tried–”  “She tried–”  Holy shit, you know?  Way too many occurrences of the word, not to mention it’s so freaking passive a phrase that it drove me crazy.

With the trieds identified I set out to make them far more active voice, because you shouldn’t be trying, you should be doing.  What’s the thing that old grumpy green muppet from a swamp planet says?

Yeah, that's the one.

Yeah, that’s the phase.

If the characters are trying they aren’t doing.  “Kerry tried not to look at Annie–”  No, he should either look away or look towards her.  “Annie tried to craft her spell–”  No, Annie succeeds or fails while crafting magic.  “Emma tried to get Kerry’s attention–”  Well, yeah, she’ll try, but she should have waved or call his name or throw her arms around him, though she shouldn’t take that last action in Annie’s presence if it’s her intention to keep her blood inside her body.

I spent a good hour going through the manuscript finding all the “tried” stuff and rewrote it so it was either do or do not.  There was no trying, it was all doing.  And that’s from my writing the first draft that way, but there wasn’t an excuse for leaving it in during the revision.  Now it’s out and I’ve made a note of keeping an eye on that stuff, since I’m certain I’ll find it in B For Bewitching as well.

There are other ways the Scrivener search function works besides just looking or words and phrases.  For example:

A For Advanced Search Setup

You can search for titles, for labels (what’s first draft, what’s revision, and so on), and most importantly, keywords.  I can assign those to scenes and then used that information to search back through the document to figure out where something is when I need to reference it for a future scene.  For example, if I want to know the scenes that have to do with school evaluations, I assign “Evaluation” as a keyword, then tell the search function to look for keywords, and–

Just like that, there they are!

Just like that, there they are!

This is an easy one, and I could have just as easily said to look for that word in the title.  But as I go on there are a lot of different words to set up:  “Dreams”; “Visions”; “Sorcery”; “Morte”; “Birthdays”; “Presents”.  It’s all there.  Then if I’m in my C Level novel and I need to know about a present Kerry gave Annie and see the background on that, I pull up the A and B Level novel and keyword search for those scenes.  So rather than keep all this crap in my head and then have a good idea where to look for things when needed, I just search for keywords.

See?  Even though it was a bit of a boozy afternoon, that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn something.  All I needed to do was a little . . . searching.

And not to try, but to do.

The Meet So Long Ago

A lot of things were done yesterday after I finished putting out yesterday’s post.  Number one among them was getting a little too toasted at Sunday brunch.  What’s this, you say?

Yep.  After leaving the coffee shop I stopped at a local restaurant for brunch, decided to have a nice meal of steak and eggs, and then figured on having a beer with that meal.  For my drink selection I picked a stout called Dragon’s Milk.  One might believe that sounds as dangerous, and they are right.

Mother of Dragon's Milk at your service.

Mother of Dragon’s Milk at your service.

Oh, did I mention that it’s eleven percent alcohol?  Probably slipped my mind, as did much else after lunch, which saw me having a second Dragon’s Milk.  Yeah, I was pretty messy after strolling out of that joint, and it was a good thing I only need walk about five blocks to get home.

When I arrived I decided to lay around a while before getting into a little work on the computer and a whole lot of hydrating.  Oh, and I almost screwed up the first draft of B For Bewitching as I was preparing the Table of Contents for a beta reader.  And by “screwed up” I mean I nearly trashed the manuscript when I got a little carried away and ended up dumping the majority of the story under one chapter.  After a couple of panicked moments I went to the backup–which Scrivener makes automatically–and restored everything to its original condition.

It was only after I watched Moneyball and streamed the pilot of The Americans, which I must point out I’d never seen and which had another of those cold openings that tell you little but that I enjoy greatly, that I got back into the editing.  And this brings me to a special section of the story, because this is the first face-to-face between a couple that will, for the next three quarter of a million words, spend a lot of time with their faces pressed against each other.  Yes, this was the “first” meeting of the Lovey Dovey Couple, although we know better, yeah?

I ended up rewriting most of this, as well as chopping out fifty-seven words in the process.  You can see the changes right away, where I did the job of hacking up the first two paragraphs:

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015, by Cassidy Frazee)

From the moment he’d left the hotel and headed south down Baker Street—humming that song because it was necessary—he found himself on a short walking tour of London, armed with his Nokia phone, his backpack, and the few wits he possessed.

One thing he’d not taken into consideration, and that was no matter how close one hundred meters seemed on the Google Maps screen, it was a lot further on foot. Like the trip to the tailors: the map showed it to be about four hundred meters of straight line travel, or about four-fifty once one started cutting around blocks. That converted to about a quarter of a mile, and that didn’t seem far at all.

 

That was the old; below it the new:

 

From the moment he left the hotel and headed south down Baker Street—humming that song because it was necessary—Kerry found himself walking the streets of London, a city he’d never been in alone, armed only with his mobile, his backpack, and his wits.

One thing he didn’t take into consideration, however, was that no matter how short one hundred meters appeared on Google Maps, it was a lot further on foot. Like his trip to the tailors: the map showed it to be about four hundred meters of straight line travel, or about four-fifty once one started cutting around blocks. On the screen it didn’t seem far at all—

 

Right off the back you can see the first paragraph was rearranged, while the second was altered and shortened.  A lot of stuff ended up like that before I was over, though some of it was more subtle.  Take, for example, their first introduction.  Here’s the before:

 

“Uh, huh.” Kerry though that perhaps the girl would maybe smile, but no, she continued her quiet examination of him standing before her. She slowly crossed her legs. “And what of your accent? You’re not from the UK, either.”

“No, you’re right.” He stopped casting glances at his feet and looked directly at the girl. “I was born in the U.S.—California, actually—but a couple of years ago my family moved to Cardiff . . .”

“Cardiff?” The girl spoke the word with a heavy whisper.

“Yeah.” Kerry was pretty sure he hadn’t misspoken the name of his adopted home. “I’ve been there a couple of year.”

Silence returned, and it seemed to Kerry as if the shadows around the girl had almost thickened. She set her book aside and slowly stood. “I’m sorry; I’ve been so rude.” She stepped out of the shadow and for the first time Kerry saw her in better light. She held out her right hand. “Annie Kirilova.”

“Kerry Malibey.” He hesitated before shaking her hand lightly. It was the first time he’d shook hands with a girl his age. He’d shook hands with women before—like with Ms. Rutherford at the house—but he’d never done this with a girl, and it made him feel sort of funny inside.

 

And now the after:

 

“Uh, huh.” She didn’t take her eyes off him as she slowly crossed her legs. “And what of your accent? You’re not from the UK, either.”

“No, I’m not.” He stopped casting glances at his feet and looked directly at the girl. “I was born in the U.S.—California, actually—but a few years ago my family moved to Cardiff—”

“Cardiff?” The girl spoke the word in a heavy whisper.

“Yeah.” Kerry was pretty sure he hadn’t misspoken the name of his adopted home. “I’ve lived there since 2008.”

Silence fell over them as if the shadows around the girl reached out and grew thick around them both. She set her book aside and slowly stood. “I’m sorry; I’ve been so rude.” She stepped out of the shadow, and for the first time Kerry saw her in better light. She held out her right hand. “Annie Kirilova.”

“Kerry Malibey.” He hesitated before shaking her hand. It was the first time he’d shook hands with a girl his age. He’d shook hands with women before—like with Ms. Rutherford at the house—but he’d never done this with a girl, and it made him feel lightly funny inside.

 

You feel funny around a girl, Kerry?  You better get used to that.

Throughout most of the intro there were a lot of necessary words, so those were removed or rewritten.  The best thing, though, is that I get to reread this stuff that I wrote almost three years ago, and realize that it wasn’t bad; in fact, it was pretty good.  It only needed a little polish to make it better.

And there's a bit more polishing to do before my kids get to school.

And there’s a bit more polishing to do before my kids get to school.

Revising the Beginning

What happened last night?  Editing happened, okay?  No, seriously, a lot of editing happened.

I finally went back to the well and brought up A For Advanced and decided that, yeah, now’s the time to start getting this ready.  There’s a lot to edit and revise, and at the start it looks like a daunting task.

But, as with everything else, you start at the beginning.

But, as with everything else, you start at the beginning.

This time I went and reread everything, taking my time through the scene.  I had to edit out bad spelling and punctuation, but at the same time I wanted to fix the scene, make it flow better.  I’ve learned a few things in two and a half years since starting this novel, and I know it wasn’t sterling when it went down on paper, or what passes for that today.

Now, for what comes next I employed Scrivener’s Snapshot function, which is just what you think it is:  you capture an image of a section of your story and the program hold that in the instance you want to go back to it for some reason.  You can then cut and paste out parts if you get a little delete happy, or just roll back all the words and start over again.  This is one of the reasons I cut my novel into scenes:  that allows me to capture small chunks of the story, rather than a huge hunk at one time.

What I’m presenting today is the very beginning of the story, which is where you always go when you’re doing an edit–at least it’s that way for me.  First I’ll show you the story as it’s sat, more or less, since the start of NaNoWriMo 2013, which is when this scene was written.  So here we go–

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015, 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.”

 

It’s not bad, but it’s not up to my current standards.  I found a few misspelled words–more like using a past tense here and there than anything else–but it doesn’t flow nicely to me.  I mean, I was straight-up writing, and the idea was to get the words out there and move on.  That means when I went through it last night I start rewriting and getting lines so they felt right.

Here’s how it changed:

 

Though many of the surrounding mountains reflected the bright morning sunshine, there were still valleys that remained untouched. Within the hour, however, every valley in and around the resort of Pamporovo, Bulgaria, would lay bathed in light, but for now most remained enveloped within quiet shadows.

In one valley west of town lay a small lake. The surface was smooth and still and remained in possession of a layer of light mist from the prior evening. The eastern shoreline brushed up against the heavily wooded valley side, while elsewhere the lake was surrounded by low, rolling hills marked by a few bare spots of erosion and, to the north, a small meadows covered in short grass. Nowhere in these areas had trees taken root—

Save for one spot along the northwest shore. A lone tree stood upon a slight crook in the shoreline, making the tree even more distinctive. It was impossible to tell the species: not even a close scrutiny revealed secrets. It seemed out of place—and yet, based upon its height and the spread of the branches, it was obvious the tree had been there for decades.

Stranger yet were the color of the leaves. They were a bright yellow, as if were dusted with saffron—an unusual color, for the trees on the opposite bank were a uniform green with a sprinkle of brown, and there was nary a hint 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.

For while the leaves changed color they didn’t change with the seasons.

Beneath the branches stood a young girl with wavy chestnut hair that rested lightly upon her shoulders. She wore a light summer blouse and jeans and sneakers, all of which made her no different the other eleven year old girl living in and around Pamporovo. She stood facing the lake, her arms locked across her chest while her eyes lay fixed upon a point somewhere across the water. Her mind was free from distractions while staring off into space: she didn’t move, nor give any indication she was aware of her surroundings.

Her expression appeared to betray her emotions, however, as she slowly blinked while staring across the lake. Her lips slightly pursed for a moment, then a portion of the morning mist drifted up and over the shore, surrounding her for a moment. She closed her eyes as the skin on her arms dimpled, so that she could, for a few moments, finally enjoy this almost-perfect morning.

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

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

The young girl finally broke her silence. “Yes, Mama?”

“It’s almost ten.” 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 minutes she’d leave her home in the mountains and not see it again until all lay covered by Christmas snow . . .

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

 

There you go:  my venture back into editing and revision.  And if you follow my author’s page on Facebook, you’ll see the true dope laid down:  “Began Revising Act One in preparation for publication.”  It’s time, kids:  you need to get out on the stage.

Now you have a pretty good idea how I’m going to spend my summer.