Snackable Thoughts

Here it is, just before five-thirty in the morning, and I’ve not only been up since about a quarter to four, but I’ve been writing for nearly the last fifty minutes while listening to ABBA and Crowded House.  Sometimes you can’t sleep because you had a sore, irritated eye from the night before that made writing difficult; sometimes you can’t sleep because you’ve got a scene rummaging around in your head and you gotta get up and write out five hundred or so words–which is what I’ve done this morning.

Picture snapped at 4:45 this morning--what? You don't get up and start writing in moments like this?

Picture snapped at 4:45 this morning–what? You don’t get up and start writing in moments like this?

So what’s got me up this morning?  Kerry.  Actually Kerry and his mother, who is hovering over him like a UFO looking to abduct him so they can conduct strange experiments upon his young body.  Mommy Malibey seem to have a bit of a bug in her bonnet, and she’s not getting off to a good start after Kerry tells her about the great lunches they have a school–a point she continues upon before they delve into family matters–

 

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

Louise crossed her arms as she watched her son finish making his lunch. “It would appear. Do they serve filet mignon every night, too?”

“No, just on Wednesdays and Saturdays.” He quickly changed the subject. “What time’s dad coming home?”

“He’ll be in the office until about three or four—” Out of habit she checked the digital clock on the wall, which was set to the familiar AM/PM cycle; Kerry found it amusing that she never grew used to universal time. “You know how Christmas Eve is: they have to go over all the final sound edits for all the specials tomorrow.”

Kerry finished pouring the last of his soup into a bowl and set his sliced sandwich around the edge of a plate. “Yep—” He set the bowl in the center of the plate and grabbed a spoon. “Wouldn’t want the TARDIS sounding doggy on Christmas.”

“No, we wouldn’t.” His mother finally broke into a smile. “He said he’ll be home for dinner no matter what.”

“Sounds good.” He headed into the dining room and took his normal seat at the table. For a moment he thought his mother might join him at the table, but instead she headed into the family room and sat on the sofa watching television. It was obvious, however, that every few minutes his mother would glance in his direction and watch him eat, and he thought there was something on her mind that she wanted to share with him, and it had nothing to do with lunches, at home or school.

He was correct. After five minutes his mother found the need to open up. “I tried contacting your school.”

Kerry finished chewing before answering. “What for?”

“I wanted to speak to your headmistress about her response to my letter.”

“Oh?” He looked down and away just long enough to roll his eyes. “Didn’t you get one?”

“Yes, but . . .” Louise crossed her legs and pulled a sweater around her shoulders. “I felt her response was a bit too formy for me.”

“Formy?” Kerry stared into his soup bowl, smiling. “Is that a new word?”

“You know what I mean.” Louise got up and walked into the dining room, putting on the sweater before she took her normal seat to Kerry’s right. “I wanted to discuss a few things with her, so I called the school.”

 

Here we are again, back to “The Letter” about “The Talk,” and Kerry doesn’t seem too want any of this–well, he sort of looks at it as nonsense.  Nor does he want to hear about it again, so he tries to deflect the conversation . . .

 

“How’d you get the number?”

“It was in the literature we were given last year.”

“Oh.” Kerry was vaguely aware it was possible for the Normal parents to call a number that was linked to an office somewhere. The idea was if something important came up and a person couldn’t get in touch with the school through email, they could place a call that would eventually get passed along to the people in charge at Salem.

Louise ignored his exclamation. “I never did get the chance to speak to her, however. I was told she’d contact me when time became available.”

“I’m not surprised—” He finished the last of his sandwich and wiped his mouth. “Headmistress Laventure is pretty busy. About the only time we ever see her is when there’s a all-student announcement, and everyone has to show up to hear her.”

His mother seemed not to care for her son’s explanation. “Well, I would think—”

“Mom, we have students from all over the world.” He polished off the soup and pushed the plate forward. “I’m sure she hears stuff from parents all the time, and has to find time to talk to them all.” He headed into the kitchen to get a glass of water: when he returned his mother was still at the table. “I wouldn’t worry about it.”

“You wouldn’t?” She waited only long enough for him to sit then continued. “This thing that happened with you—”

Kerry started across the table, focusing on the wall between the dining room and the kitchen. “Mom, let it go.”

Louise started at her son, almost unsure if she heard him correctly. “What?”

“I said let it go.” He set down his water glass. “That talk happened almost nine months ago, and it’s been four months since I told you.” He slowly shook his head. “You still act like it’s the worst thing in the world that’s ever happened to me.”

 

What Kerry is doing right now is something the Kerry from a year ago–really more like eighteen months–would have never done.  The Kerry we first met about five hundred and seventy-five thousand words back was moody and quiet, and for him to tell his mother to “Let it go”–well, in another year he could get up and start singing the most infectious earworm ever released upon humanity, but right now they’re words of advice he’s offering his mother–

Who doesn’t seem to enjoy having her son tell her to let something go.  Especially when she damn sure isn’t ready to do just that.

 

Nothing in the way of a visible emotion crossed his mother’s face, but Louise sat silently contemplating her son’s words for almost ten seconds before formulating a reply. “The point isn’t about if what happened was the ‘worst thing in the world,’ it’s that your school allowed the doctor there to discuss a . . . private matter with you without asking your parents if she could.” She slowly and deliberately set her hands upon the surface of the table and moved slightly forward. “You’re surrounded by girls—you said so yourself. What is it? Five times as many girls—”

“Between three or four girls for every guy.” Kerry glanced as his mother as he nodded.

“Between three or four then. What I’m saying is you’re starting puberty, and with all these girls around you’re going to have . . .” A look of unease crossed Louise’s face. “There’ll be temptations—”

“Mom.” This time Kerry didn’t hid the eye rolling.

“I’m only saying, it’s a challenge you’ll face, and given the personal nature of the matter, your school’s doctor should have at least told us she was going to have this discussion so we could give our input.” Louise cleared her throat. “And despite your belief that no harm was doing, I still believe that we should have had this talk with you, not—”

“Why didn’t you?”

 

Now, first off, Kerry’s tired of his mom harping about this thing that happened.  He’s moved on–well, sorta.  I mean, it’s not like he can go, “Oh, hey, Mom?  The real reason we had this talk is because your future daughter-in-law and I had a vision of ourselves in our birthday suits getting ready to do the Wedding Night Boogie.”  Yeah, that would go over real good.

Secondly, while Kerry may not have a problem expressing himself at school, his social skills at home suck.  Back at Salem he has pretty normal and honest conversations with adults who, quite honestly, have offed people with the flick of a wrist, so having an adult conversation with one of his peers isn’t that big of a deal.  (In case you’re wondering, that includes three of the five coven leaders who are also their instructors–Maddie, Jessica, and Erywin–along with Wednesday, Helena, Ramona, Harpreet, and in Kerry’s case, Vicky.  You can throw Isis into that mix as well, since she’s instructing Annie as well with Kerry tagging along.)

The point is, Mom is not Helena Lovecraft–hell, she’s not even on par with one of his fellow B Levels.  Unfortunately, Kerry’s brain isn’t registering this fact, and once more his mouth is working faster than his mind because Mom has a way of winding his ass up.  Or maybe he is thinking and has just had enough, because he lays some cold, hard facts on Mommy Dearest:

 

The interruption disrupted Louise’s thoughts. “I’m sorry—what?”

“Why didn’t we have that talk?” Kerry finished off his water before turning to his mother. “I told you about the girl-to-boy ratio last year when we were at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s for Christmas, so you knew about that for five months before I came home from my A Levels. Then I didn’t tell you about the talk until the middle of August, when I got my travel package, I was was here—what? Two and a half months? Since you knew that there was all this possible—” He half smirked. “—’temptation stuff ‘ at school, why didn’t you have this talk with me over the summer? I mean, it wasn’t as if we were busy doing anything, and since there’s always a couple of days every week when we’re home while dad is at work . . .” He shrugged before standing and gathering his dishes. “Plenty of time for that talk we never had, Mom.”

He walked into the kitchen with his mother close behind. He didn’t look at her as he deposited his dishes on the counter and so he could clean them. “You know what I think? I think you’re upset ‘cause you never got the chance to say no.” Louise stood to Kerry’s right, regarding him coldly. “I don’t think this has anything about Dad and you wanting to have a talk about sex—more like it’s all about not getting to control what was said—or what you wanted me to hear.” He rinsed off the dishes and set them on the drying rack before turning towards his mother. “Isn’t that right?”

Louise slapped her son hard across the face.

 

And . . . that last line is why I was up writing.  I needed to get that out of my system before heading off to work.  I had to bring that section of the scene to a conclusion and get it out in the open because I simply couldn’t sit on it for another ten, twelve hours.

I’ve seen this coming for a while, and while it’s a horrible thing to lay on one of my kids, it needed doing.

It’s times like this he really needs Annie close by . . .

The Lunch Counter

At the moment I have a wicked drug hangover working, and it’s making me loopy as help.  I felt a chill coming on last night and took some Theraflu right before heading off to bed, and now–I think I needed a few hours more of sleep, but I kept waking up, which means I wasn’t about to sleep at all.  I get like this sometimes:  there’s some kind of disorientation that wakes me up and keeps me up, so it’s really Catch-22 time for me.

My eyes are also gummed up bad this morning.  I’ve tried cleaning them three or four times, and it feels like I’m seeing through a haze for the most part.  I hate when this happens, too, and it tend to drive me a little crazy.

It’s going to make for an interesting walk into work this morning.

Chapter Seventeen is down and away, and Eighteen is here.  I finished Annie’s chapter with just under four hundred words, and then got into Christmas Eve at the Malibeys–

Once more it's on like a video game I haven't played in decades.

Once more it’s on like . . . a video game I haven’t played in decades?

Tell you what’s happening then, right?  Well, the title of the post should give you a hint:

 

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

Kerry reached the bottom of the stairs and spun around around the bottom banister post before walking down the hall towards the kitchen. He didn’t look inside the lounge as he passed the open door, nor did he check the dining room. He proceeded directly for the pantry and removed a can, setting it on the counter before removing a pot from one of the drawers. As soon as the contents of the can were in the pot and the fire lit, he turned towards the refrigerator, found what he needed, and set them on the counter next to the stove.

He waited for the soup to come to a slow bubble before he started making his sandwich. Normally his mother only kept white bread in the house, but they went shopping the Saturday after returning and he picked up a loaf of rye and a few other things for lunch. He had lettuce, plenty of cheese, and horseradish, but he wasn’t allowed to pick up tomatoes: his mother said she didn’t like the “look” of the regular salad tomatoes, and she wouldn’t let him picked up the ones on the vine.

That’s the one thing I miss about Salem. He sliced cheese and set it on one slice of rye. They can jaunt in fresh food from anywhere. I’m sure there are places around Cardiff connected to The Foundation where they do the same

“What are you making?”

 

I looked up the cost of tomatoes at Tesco, and they’re like £2 a kilogram now, so they were cheaper in 2012.  Why didn’t Kerry’s mom want to buy any?  Maybe she really didn’t like how they  looked–or maybe she was just being a bitch because her son was in “I want some tomatoes ” mode.  She’s right there, however, to see what The Red is Cookin’, and to her surprise she gets an answer:

 

He turned around and found his mother standing in the entryway from the kitchen to the family room. “I’m making some soup and a sandwich.”

“What kind?” She took a couple of steps into the kitchen and tried to look around without appearing too inquisitive.

“Oh, I grabbed a can of broccoli cheddar, and I’m making a turkey sandwich.” He checked the pot and gave the soup a quick stir. “I’m wondering if I should put this in a pan and make it sorta like a panini.”

She watched him prepare his lunch for a few moments. “Do that have something at your school that lets you do that?”

He nodded. “Yeah, they have a couple of panini presses.”

Louise wanted to check the contents of the pot, but she didn’t want to go around Kerry to do so. “You never used to have soup and sandwiches for lunch.”

“Well . . .” He shrugged as he laid turkey slices over a slice of swiss. “The school has a buffet table every lunch with this—different soups, meats, and bread.” He began smiling. “They have tomato and clam chowder, and a great French onion soup.” He sliced off another sliver of swiss cheese. “And then there’s deli turkey, and pastrami, and they have this brisket . . .” Kerry looked up, smiling, remembering some of his lunches. “I like to put that on ciabatta.”

“Ciabatta.” She leaned towards the soup pot. “And brisket. Must be nice.”

“The school wants to make sure we’re well fed.” He gave the soup a couple of quick stirs and turned off the heat. “What can I say? The Foundation has money, and they don’t let us to go without.”

 

“Ciabatta . . . and Brisket.”  You can almost hear the eye roll as she says that.  Something I should point out:  at the end of Annie’s chat with her father, he mentioned they’re going to jaunt off to Valencia, Spain, to have tapas for dinner, and on this day, Christmas Eve–that’s when this scene takes place, right around noon–while Kerry is making soup and a sandwich, Annie’s off to Sofia, Bulgaria, to dine in a private room with all her relatives.  But he’s the one sort of getting passive-aggressive shit about eating brisket on ciabatta at school.

I’m sure this is gonna be a pleasant lunch.

One last thing:  it was a year ago I posted the scene from the first novel where Kerry, after coming close to dying in the Day of the Dead attacks, finally told Annie that he loved her–although, at the time, he didn’t realize that wasn’t the first time he’d told her, but that’s beside the point.  He told her, and she was a happy girl–sort of, but that’s beside the point, too.

The interesting thing is that of the three comments I received, all of them worried something bad was about to happen.  Here it is, a year later–both in real live and in my novels–and Kerry’s still here, still kicking, and Annie is still with him.  So unlike a George R. R. Martin book, nothing bad has happened to my kids–

Yet.

At Home With the Malibeys, the Start of Dinner

I swear I’m not trying to rush into this story, but I spent most of the afternoon and evening working on this part–well, most of the afternoon was spent trying to futz around with the new Google Maps to make out a “fake route” for Kerry, because once I see a shiny toy like that, I have to make it mine.  While it would seem there are bugs to get ironed out in the new Google Maps to make the itinerary you’ll see below, it likely is coming.

I wrote almost fifteen hundred words over the course of several hours, because I wanted to get into this part of the story.  We didn’t get to see much of Kerry’s home life in the last novel, but this time we’re starting off with a little slice, and they’ll be more to come when we get into Yule holiday.  But right now in the story it’s two weeks before Kerry lights out of Cardiff, and the family has sat down for dinner . . .

 

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

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were the days that Kerry’s mother Louise went into work at the BBC, usually commuting with his father, Davyn. Not only was Kerry left alone on those days, but the evening dinner usually consisted of take way, mostly Indian and Chinese, though fish and chips and kababs also made their appearance, and once in a while buggers and pizza would grace the dinner table.

Tonight dinner didn’t arrive until just after nineteen hours, due to traffic and a delay at the restaurant. Kerry’s parents picked up fish and chips, and while this has always been one of his favorites, since having the fish and chips at the school, the Cardiff fare simply wasn’t as good. He never let on, however, because he didn’t want to have a discussion about why the Salem food was so much better.

After all, when it’s made by artificial people using magical means, it was hard for Normals to match the results.

The seating was always the same: Davyn sat at one end of the table with his back to the family room, while Louise sat across from him with her back to the main lounge. Kerry sat between them, facing the wall separating the dining room from the kitchen, with his father to his left and his mother to his right. Even when they lived in California they ate in the same configuration when they all ate together. It was only during this summer home, after spending nine months at school with Annie that Kerry understood what Coraline told him that night he went to the hospital after his vision: all the girls save Annie sit on his right.

Even his mother.

 

That last part . . . there will be an answer, of sorts, as to why Annie is always to Kerry’s left, and he to her right.  Just give me another couple of hundred thousand words to get there, will ya?

 

His parents spent almost ten minutes going over their events of the day before Louise finally got around to checking up on her son. “How was your day, Kerry? Did you do anything interesting?”

Kerry actually had something interesting happen, something he’d expected for a few weeks. “My travel package came today.”

“What’s that?” His father barely looked up from his chips.

“My travel package for school arrived.” Kerry rubbed his hands against his thighs. “You know: tickets and itinerary. All the stuff I need to get to the staging point for returning students.”

“Oh.” Davyn finally turned towards Kerry, wiping his hands clean. “It’s time for you to return already?”

“Yeah, Dad.” Kerry tried not to sound sullen when he answered. “I told you about this last Thursday.”

“Hum.” His father shook his head. “It must have slipped my mind.”

“Where are you, um, staging this year, dear?” Louise barely remembered Kerry mentioning this last week, but didn’t want her son to think they were completely uninterested.

“Berlin.”

“Berlin? In Germany?”

“One and the same.” He fought hard to keep from rolling his eyes. Mom’s smarter than that: she’s trying to make conversation so Dad doesn’t look like he doesn’t care . . .

Vaguely remembering that last year Kerry stayed in London for a few days before heading to Amsterdam, she decided to see if he was doing the same this year. “How are your plans for this year? Staying in London again?”

Kerry shook his head. “Nope. Ms. Rutherford is coming here early on the twenty-seventh, and we’re taking a car to Cardiff Central, then the train into Paddington, a car from there to Liverpool Station, the train from there out to Stansted Airport, and from there I fly to Berlin.” He nibbled at a piece of fish. “Gonna make for a long day.”

 

That is the route as I worked it out.  It looks like this:

 

Car from home to Cardiff Cental
Train from Cardiff Central to Paddington
Car from Paddington to Liverpool
Train from Liverpool to Stansted Airport
Flight from Stansted Airport to Berlin Tegel Airport
Car from Berlin Tegel Airport to Crowne Plaza Berlin–City Ctr Nurnberger

 

There you have it.  You can probably figure out how he’s really going to travel, but for the sake of continuing to fool the parents, that’s what his itinerary says and what the tickets show.

Oh, and you can almost see the air quotes around “staging” when Louise says the word.

 

His father nodded. “Certainly sounds that way. Wouldn’t it be easier for you to leave for school from London?”

“Probably, but that’s not how The Foundation does thing. Berlin is the staging area for all the returning students from Europe, Western Asia, and most of Africa. Last year they staged out of Madrid, and, I think, next year we stage out of Paris.” He didn’t want to say he’d heard that from Annie during their last dream together.

Louise snorted as she played with her food. “Still doesn’t sound efficient.”

“Apparently it works, though. Gives The Foundation time to gather everyone up, and lets the students have some time in a different city every year.”

“Do you know which cities they visit?” When Kerry had returned home after school in early June, Davyn seemed primarily concerned with how The Foundation was able to ship students back and forth to various parts of the world. Kerry figured he was getting a feel for the sort of costs that were run up transporting kids every year.

Kerry nodded. “Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, Rome, and Berlin. Last year the returning students were in Madrid, Berlin this year, next year Paris. Then I think . . .” He searched for something Annie had mentioned off-hand during their last dream. “We go to Rome and then back to Amsterdam. I remember hearing something about you always end up your last staging year in the city where you started.” Assuming you don’t start jaunting off to Salem by that time.

 

I’ve run through, in my mind, of course, all the cities that the Foundation is currently using for staging, and I even worked out the line.  A couple of things here, though:  once again, we are working with five points–like in a pentagram–and three of these cities are the locations for the main headquarters for The Foundation.  The Protectors headquarters (they are like The Foundation police) is located in Berlin, the Guardians headquarters (we know these guys) is located in Amsterdam, and the main Foundation headquarters is located in Paris.  How ironic that Annie and Kerry started out in the main city of the people they did a field operation for a half-year later.  One might imagine something dark and nefarious about that, but no:  it just happened to be in the schedule for the A Levels.

Now that travel is out of the way, the parental units try to do the small talk thing with the young don’t-know-he’s-a-witch-yet person:

 

Silence returned to the dinner table for almost a minute as everyone caught up on the food before them. Louise once more broke the silence. “You seem happy about going back.”

Kerry wasn’t going to try and hide his joy. “I am.”

“You were never like this when you were returning to school here—”

“That’s because it was the Cardiff schools, Mom.” Kerry tried to keep his tone as snide-free as possible, but given his hatred for time in the Cardiff school system, he wasn’t completely successful.

Davyn thought he’d try to lighten the mood by changing the subject. “I guess you’re looking forward to seeing your friends again.”

“Yeah.” Thinking about the people he knew who’d return to school with him lightened his mood considerably. “It’ll be great seeing them again.”

His father placed his folded arms on the table and leaned against them. “Who are some of your friends?”

“Well, there’s Nadine, and there’s Emma—” He blushed slightly as he grinned. “And Annie.”

His mother addressed her husband. “You know, the girl who writes all the time?”

 

Remember The Girl Who Writes, because it’s gonna make for some problems in a bit . . .

 

“Yes, that one.” Davyn turned back to his son. “Anyone else?”

Kerry didn’t have to think about that one. “A few of the instructors, also.”

“They have names?”

“Sure. There’s Erywin and Helena—you met them, Mom—and there’s Deanna and Wednesday, and Vicky.” He considered the others he knew. “There’s also Professor Kishna and Professor Semplen, but I don’t knew them well enough to call them by their given names.”

Louise eyed her son hard. “I was going to ask about that.”

“Yeah, some of the instructors want you to address them by their given names when you’re in private—” He realized he was missing someone. “Oh, and there’s Coraline—she’s the school doctor—and Trevor, our librarian and archivist.”

“I see.” Louise set her right knuckles against the bottom of her chin. “Those first three, though: those are classmates?”

“Yes, they are. Annie and Emma are in my level, and Nadine is an older—”

“Don’t you have any classmate friends who are boys?”

 

And leave it to Louise Malibey, mother of Kerry, to find a button to push.  “What?  Don’t you hang out with any boys?”  Yeah, push that button–push it!

So here we are–

Looking more like something I'd do for NaNoWriMo right now.

Looking more like something I’d do for NaNoWriMo right now.

–Eleven and a half thousand words into the new story, and only a little over a week is gone.  Not a bad pace, if I should say so myself.  It’s likely I won’t get much done tonight, however, as I’m off to get my face zapped again after work.  But I do wanna jump back into this scene, and into the next.  They are important.

Oh, and do you recall Annie telling Kerry in their last dream that there wasn’t any love in his house?

Yeah, remember that . . .

Finding Meaning Under the Covers

Well, then, my writing is finished for the day.  Three hundred and seventy last night, and just over fifteen hundred this morning, and not only is the scene finished, but Chapter Thirty-Nine is finished as well.  With that out of the way, I’m into the Forty Chapters, and there aren’t many of those–Forty through Forty-Three, for your information.  Oh, and I’m six hundred words short of ninety thousand words, and that means for sure I’ll roll over one hundred thousand words total.

Won't be long before I have to figure out how I'm going to celebrate finishing this behemoth.

Won’t be long before I have to figure out how I’m going to celebrate finishing this behemoth.

The biggest part of this scene is Annie reminiscing about flying–and she did fly as a kid, oh yes.  We have heard a little about how she tried flying on her own and crashed and burned horribly, but we’ve never gotten the details of that event.  Because of a question asked by Kerry, she opens up–while once more hanging out at the Observatory, resting under the blankets while laying on one of those big deck chairs.

What was that question, you ask?  Well, if you must know–

 

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

Without looking at Annie Kerry asked a question that had been on his mind earlier in the day, but that he’d keep filed throughout the day. “Why did you tell me to go on no matter what?”

“Because I didn’t know if I was going to finish the flight.” She raised her head to look at him for just a second, then lay back against his chest.

“But you flew as well as everyone in the flight.”

“That doesn’t mean I didn’t know if I’d finish.” She adjusted her position. “I knew we’d hit turbulence; it was a given. I also figured it might be severe turbulence.”

“You still made it.”

“Barely.” Annie shook her head a little against his chest. “I wasn’t the only one who was shook up by those last few microbursts. Besides Daudi, Kalindi and Loorea were iffy, too.” Her chuckle was muffled against his . “You were the only one I wasn’t worried about. That’s why I told you to keep going no matter what.”

He figured it out. “Because you were afraid if you hit your panic button, I’d come after you.”

“Exactly.” Annie lightly ran her fingers over his neck. “I’m not a flier like you—I didn’t want you to fail because you thought you had to stay with me.”

 

When it comes right to it, Annie knows Kerry will follow her anywhere, even if that means failing his mission.  He said yes to going on the Guardian mission, and while it turned out well with them returning home in pretty much one piece, it could be argued that he followed her lead.  And for something as important to him as the Mile High Flight–and it was important to Kerry–she didn’t want him tossing it into the gutter just because she felt the need to bail.  He might have felt that it was necessary at the time, but she knows that given time, he’d have hated that it happened.

And Annie has already said she doesn’t want to be the girl who is hated because of something that happens to Kerry.

You discover something else in the process:

 

“I’m glad you made it.” He gently rubbed Annie’s back. “I’m glad we both made it to the top.”

“I am too. It might sound strange, but I wanted to make it.”

Annie never spoke about flying, or what she did before coming to the school. “Can I ask—?”

“Yes?”

“Why?”

“Because I wanted to make it.” She sighed softly. “I wanted to prove I could do it.” She raised her eyes towards his face. “I did it for myself—just as you should do everything for yourself. Not for anyone else: just you.”

 

Annie keeps saying she’s not a flier, that she’s not all that interested in flying, and yet . . . it seems as if she’s just as eager to fly a mile into the sky as her boyfriend.  And this is where she start talking about growing up at the House of Kirilovi, and Annie’s Adventures In Flying–

 

Kerry debated asking her about the flight when she continued speaking in a low, soothing tone. “I can remember when I was about three or four seeing my father fly on his broom for the first time. I thought it was incredible: I mean, I’d seen magic around the house before that, but I’d never seen anyone flying before that moment. It wasn’t long after that my mother told me about how they were witches, and that I was a witch as well.

“The summer before my sixth birthday I went flying for the first time. My father flew his broom, and I rode behind my mother on hers—she used an enchantment to keep me from falling off. We never flew higher than a couple of hundred meters, but we flew off into the mountains, had a picnic, and then spent a few more hours flying around before returning home. Remember how you said the Samhain dance felt magical? That’s how I felt flying with my parents: it was an experience I couldn’t forget.”

“My mother bought me a flight trainer for my seventh birthday. It’s a little broom that never flies more than a couple of meters above the ground, and almost never goes faster than fifteen or twenty kilometers an hour; it’s design to teach you how to fly. And I was always flying: if Mama and I were home I’d have breakfast, get my trainer, and fly around the back field for most of the day. Sometimes Mama would get on her broom and fly alongside me.

“I thought I’d get a broom for my eight birthday, but that didn’t happen. Mama was letting me fly her broom now and then, though I wasn’t allowed to go very far or fast. I did get a good head for altitude, though—I loved flying up four, five hundred meters and circling the yard. That was also when I received my first warning about letting Normal people see us; it wouldn’t have done to get my picture taken while I was flying over Pamporovo.”

Annie clutched Kerry tightly, holding him with her right arm as she slipped her right leg over his. “I received my broom for my ninth birthday. I thought I’d get a Witchy Poo, but Papa bought me the Espinoza 3500. I was a bit intimidated when I saw that, because I knew it was an advanced broom—my mother didn’t even fly one, she had a Witchy Poo—but Papa said he was going to take me flying and show me how to fly properly. I thought we would go the next day, but that was a Sunday, and Papa was off racing, so then sometime during the week—but it didn’t happen. Not that week, nor the next. Three weeks later I was still waiting for him to take me flying, and I knew we wouldn’t have many good flying days left—

“So one night when Papa was away and Mama was working in her lab I took the Espinoza out to the back field and decided I’d teach myself to fly. And I had no successes at all. I’d get off the ground, but I’d never get much higher than five or six meters, and it seemed like I’d fly for forty, fifty meters and then the broom didn’t want to fly any further, and I’d have to land.

“After about thirty minutes I’d made it down by the lake, close to where my house now sits. It was dark and a storm was rolling in; the wind was picking up, there was some thunder and lightning, and it was starting to sprinkle. I was almost five hundred from the house, and I was determined to fly back. I know now that I shouldn’t have flown, because I was angry and Vicky told us broom don’t respond well to anger. I didn’t know that at the time, and I didn’t care. I was determined to fly back, and do all in one long, slow stretch.

“I got on the broom popped up into the, and stuck out for the house. At least that’s what I wanted to do. What happened instead was I shot about ten meters into the air, veered to the right over the lake, and slammed into the water at speed.

“It was like hitting the ground: the force stunned me, and I started sinking. And since it was dark once I was under water I couldn’t tell which way was up. All I remember is that I never let good of the Espinoza: I felt it in my right hand as I started blacking out . . .

“I woke up on the short, coughing and spitting, next to my tree—”

Kerry brushed her hair with his fingers. “You have a tree?”

“Yes, I do. One day you’ll see it. But for now . . . I was laying on the shore next to it, having no idea how I made it out of the lake. The broom was next to me, and I thought later that maybe, because I want to get back to the show, it actually flew us there. I don’t know; I have no idea. Maybe one day someone will search my memories and figure it out, but I don’t know.

“I lay there for about five minutes as the rain poured down on me. I finally got to my feet and walked back to the house, dragging the Espinoza behind me. I went up to my room, took a hot bath, and went straight to bed. In the morning I took the broom to my father, handed it to him, and told him I’d never fly it again. He augured with me, tried to convince me that I was being hasty and impulsive, but I wouldn’t relent: I told him to lock it up in his office and if he didn’t, I would. Eventually he did.”

Annie finally sat up so she could face Kerry. He’d seen her unhappy before, but this was the first time he could say he was seeing her sad. “I know I hurt my father by doing that. I know I broke his heart. But at the same time, he broke mine; I felt as if he’d lied to me, that he’d betrayed me. Even though my mother told me that it was my fault that I’d gone out and almost drowned, I felt I wouldn’t have put myself in that position if he’d only kept his word and took me flying.

 

And there it is, Annie’s First and Final Flight.  The start of her “I hate flying” phase, and–according to Mama–the origin of her “daddy issues”.  And it’s easy to see how this driven girl, the one intent on proving to herself that there’s nothing that can’t be done, comes off like a spoiled little brat–particularly when you realize that she follows up this flight with her then demanding the construction of a lake house near where she almost died.  Because when Annie wants something, she gets it.

No truth to the rumor that she also made Papa buy her a chocolette factory.

No truth to the rumor that she also made Papa buy her a chocolate factory.

There’s something else she has to say as well:

 

She lay down next to Kerry once more, inching against his body as she had before. “That’s why I love flying with you: when we fly, it’s just us, and scenery below and the sky all around. There’s no orders, no doing anything wrong—it’s just us enjoying the flight and each other’s company.” She touched his lips with her fingers, using her lightest touch. “Mama told me at Yule that you would be like Papa when it came to flying, and that was one of the reason I was drawn to you. She’s wrong—” Annie kissed his cheek. “You’re nothing like Papa; you’ll never be.”

Annie allowed the silent to build around them before she finished her thoughts. “You’re a great flier, and you’ll become a great racer. And though I’ll never be quite as good as you, I’ll fly with you anywhere—because I love you. But these things we do, we have to do them for ourselves. If we don’t, then they have no meaning to us—they have no meaning to our lives.”

She sank into the crook of his arm and chuckled. “Just don’t ever be afraid to go all the way to the top without me, because I won’t hesitate to go there without you.”

Kerry kissed Annie’s forehead. “Don’t worry, Sweetie: I’ll get there.” He sighed softly. “I’ll always get there, one way or the other.”

 

Yeah, Soulmate, you better always be pushing for the top, because someone’s gonna leave you in her dust if you don’t.  Sure, she sort of makes it sound like a joke–but Annie’s not joking.  And there’s a scene coming up where she gets pretty serious about that fact.  She isn’t saying that to be mean:  she’s saying it because it’s true.

Annie does these things for herself, because she wants her life to have meaning.

All she wants is for her soul mate to find meaning in his life as they travel into the future.

Back Home Again in NaNo Land

I’m like Rule #1 for The Doctor:  I lie.  I said I wasn’t feeling the NaNo Love, that I didn’t know if I was going to get the job done this time . . . and I rip off twenty-two hundred words yesterday.  Sure, it took me most of the day, because it seemed like I could only write in two or three hundred word spurts, but I got it done.  Sure, that was yesterday, and today is today, but I have a plan to hit my word count today no matter what–long before The Walking Dead comes on and we find out if Beth is still doing the damn singing on the show.

It was work, though.  I couldn’t seem to keep my head in the game.  Was it distractions?  Yeah, a little.  Was it thinking about what I wanted to write and not simply throwing crap on the page?  Yeah, a little.  Was it not feeling the writing energy?  Yeah, a whole lot.  Was because my characters wanted to do something else?  No, hell no.  My characters are my bitches, and they do nothing but wait for me to paint them upon my literary canvas.  Because . . .

Preach it, Boromir.  Before you get filled with arrows.

Preach it, Boromir. Before you get filled with arrows.

What I managed to do was finish the scene with Kerry at his grandparents–with something happening that I’m not showing, sorry–and moving to Christmas Eve and a conversation between Annie and her mother.  And from this word smithing came and interesting passage between Kerry and his grandparents:

 

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

“When we first heard you were selected to go to this private school, we were surprised.” Aaron tapped the table hard twice with his fingers. “But I’ve been telling your mother for years that you’re special, that the only reason you weren’t doing well in school is because they weren’t giving you a challenge.”

Margaret nodded. “You’re doing well, I hope?”

“Oh, sure. I’m doing extraordinarily well in everything.” Kerry wasn’t lying, either: the midterm status report he received last Thursday said his marks were Extraordinary in all seven Proficiencies.

While Aaron seemed impressed, he had to comment about someone who wasn’t. “Your mother complained that she hasn’t seen a report card from your school.”

“Yeah, I heard.” When he was first emailed on the family holiday gathering at his grandparent’s house, his mother made a point of asking about when she’d get a report card on his progress at school. She’d brought it up again yesterday, at which point Kerry had to remind her, once more, that the school didn’t give out report cards, and that they didn’t grade the way his old schools graded.

“I told you mother to never mind; I’m certain if you weren’t doing well, the school would let them know.”

Yeah, they’d send me home and farm me off to another school. Kerry knew all about no doing well: he’d discovered that last week two students were told that they were on “probation” through the end of the school year, and that they needed to show “improvements”. Annie mentioned that anyone on probation before Yule holiday would not likely return to the school unless they were discovered to has a hidden Gift, and there was a possibility they’d be placed in another school before Ostara. “Oh, they would. I’d know, too.”

 

Writing that third paragraph forced me to come up with something else, which was the actual grading marks given to the students.  The list below shows, from top to bottom, the worse to the best:

 

Worthless

Inferior

Poor

Below Average

Average

Above Average

Remarkable

Excellent

Extraordinary

 

There you go:  you suck at Salem, and you are Worthless, baby!  These witches, they don’t pull punches.  Kerry knows he’s in the Extraordinary group, and you can bet his Bulgarian Soul Mate is as well.  The next thing I’ll have to do is figure out the Proficiency, some of which I already know, but which aren’t written down.

One of the things that will keep coming back is that Kerry’s parents think it’s strange that this new school doesn’t grade the way Kerry’s old schools graded.  He’s Extraordinary?  At what?  Well, there is some BS the A Levels with Normal parents were told to pass along as the truth until such a time that they are given permission to say, “I’m Extraordinary at turning you into a frog.”  Which Kerry may be able to do at some point, so stop asking about the grades, Mom.

I moved the action to a few hours before Christmas, with Annie moving out to her private abode on her parent’s property.  Really, it must be nice to be a twelve year old girl and have a place to you can call your own and use as a place to chill when the family is getting on your nerves.

 

Annie sat in her lake house alone, staring into the fire as she waited for her company to arrive. She suspected that they were held up by events over which they had no control, but would arrive soon.

She wasn’t concerned; things here at home were not the same at school. At Salem things were on a schedule, everything had a reason, events occurred as expected. At home one could expect to eat at certain times, but everything else simply happened.

Just like what had happened the first Monday home. After breakfast Papa took everyone off to Copenhagen for shopping and lunch, then they rode the train into Sweden and had dinner in Stockholm. After that they wandered about the city, enjoying the festival-like winter that had overtaken the city. It was fun: Annie hasn’t been to Stockholm in almost four years, and there were few places that were a wonderful in winter as Stockholm.

As much as Annie enjoyed the time, however, after a weekend away from school, she found herself wanting to share the moments in Denmark and Sweden with Kerry. Being with her parents was good: being with Kerry would have been great . . .

“You enjoy sitting in the dark in front of the fireplace?”

Annie’s mother was standing to her left, framing the entryway between the bedroom and the staircase to the loft, dressed in her dark red housecoat, and carrying her laptop cradled in her right hand. Annie slowly turned her head and cocked it slightly to the right. “It reminds me of the Midnight Madness.” She returned to staring straight ahead into the fire. “And in the Cernunnos Commons.”

“Bet they don’t burn cherry wood in their fireplaces.” Pavlina set her laptop on the dining table in the center of the huge, single room that was the ground floor of Annie’s lake house before walking over to the sofa, remaining on Annie’s left. She didn’t sit, but stood next to the arm instead. “Have you spent much time staring into the commons’ fireplace when it’s dark?” She half-turned her head and chuckled. “I seemed to remember the lights in the commons area not going completely out until after midnight.”

“It’s still that way.” Annie wasn’t going to play coy with her mother, not while they were alone, not after of few of Mama gently trying to learn more about her relationship with Kerry. “And, no: they don’t burn cherry wood.”

 

There’s an important little tidbit in that exchange that will show up again in Act Three, but what is it?  That Annie loves going to Stockholm?  Probably.

And Mama finally has a few pointed questions for her daughter:

 

“That makes sense.” Pavlina eyed Annie’s locket. “You never told me how he managed to get you that locket for your birthday.” She crossed her arms, looking motherly. “A Levels aren’t allowed off the grounds.”

“He asked two of the staff if they would buy it for him, and he paid them.” Since arriving home her mother had a few questions about the locket, but she’d never came right out and asked if it had come from Kerry. Annie had deliberately ignored the questions: she understood that eventually her mother would find a moment alone to ask her directly.

“It’s lovely. Did he have it engraved?

“Yes, he did.”

“Something personal?” Annie stared back, saying nothing. “I didn’t think you’d answer.”

Annie crossed her arms. “You were right.”

“Who were you waving to when you jaunted from the school?”

Closing her eyes Annie took a deep breath and released it slowly. “Kerry.”

Pavlina’s tone changed slightly. “But you weren’t really waving, were you?”

I’m not about to tell her I was blowing him a kiss. “Are you going to help me, Mama?” Annie’s stare turned cold, as did her tone. “I would like if you would.”

 

Mothers are so nosy when it comes to their daughters and their boyfriends that they’ve been sharing dreams with for at least a decade.  And why does Annie need help from her mother?  Do you feel like I left something out in this recap?

I’d say that’s a yes.  Let’s see if that gets answered today.

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/1:  2,217

NaNo Total Word Count:  2,217

In the Tree of Dreams

Blessed Samhain, Happy Halloween, and a wonderful Día de Muertos.  All of these come together in my story, as most of your know, with events of 1 November now being known around my Salem school as the Day of the Dead Attack.  Not to mention that two years ago today, I came out here on my blog.  So 31 October is a good day for me, if for no other reason that one day I’ll go out dressed as a witch.  Though some say I do that now.

But back to the story.  We know Annie’s mom was up at 5:21 waiting to have breakfast with her daughter in her sitting room–and think about that.  Annie has a sitting room off her bedroom.  Why?  To entertain guests, of course.  You don’t think she’s letting them into her bedroom, do you?  How uncouth of you!  The fact that her father walked into her bedroom uninvited when she was preparing to leave for school–I was told that was probably the bravest thing he ever did.  On any other day she’d have probably bitten his head off.

What does Mama and Daughter talk about?  School for one, but, you know, there’s something else on Annie’s mother’s mind . . .

 

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

Annie’s pause was enough to give Pavlina cause to consider her next question. “And how did you get into the class?”

“It was due to the assignment we did for the Botany and Earth Sciences class.” Annie spoke between bites. “We decided we would make charcoal, so we gathered wood and went over to the Spells Center and worked a series of advanced spells to complete the assignment.” She gave her mother a slight smile. “I performed Ice Encasement and Cold Fire—”

Pavlina appeared almost shocked. “You did Cold Fire?”

“Yes, I did.”

“How?”

“I read about it in a book.” Annie’s smile turned coy. “I have access to the Black Vault.”

Her mother’s shock turned to surprise. “How did you manage that?”

“Oh . . .” Annie took her time chewing her food. “The Sorcery instructor and I came to an understanding.”

Pavlina recognized that her daughter wasn’t going to offer any more information than what she wanted to give. She’ll tell me about how she made it into the Black Vault in her own good time. She decided to make further inquiries into another line of questioning . . . “When you mention this project, you said ‘we’.” She tapped the rim of her tea cup. “Who else were you working with?”

“With my covenmate.” Annie suspected that her mother knew who her covenmate was, but she wasn’t about to just blurt out names.

“And how many are there on your floor?”

“Just the two of us.”

“I see. Is your ‘covenmate’ in Advanced Spells with you?” She pulled her robe in around her body. “Or is it another A Level?”

“No, it’s my covenmate.”

“So they were using advanced spells as well with you.”

“Yes, they were.” I’m not about to say he.

Her mother played along. “And what spells did they perform?”

“Pattern Transformation and a time spell.”

“Really.” Pavlina pushed her empty tea cup aside. “They used a time spell?”

“Come to find out they know a lot about how time works.” Annie pushed the pronoun a bit much just to drive her mother a little mad. She’s so eager to hear me say his name . . .

 

Annie is playing with her mother.  She knows that Mama knows who she’s talking about, she just wants to hear the name, and Annie won’t give her the satisfaction until she asks.  Which she does . . .

 

Pavlina had indeed reached the point where she wasn’t willing to dig anymore. She stared across the sitting room table for a few second before speaking. “How is he?”

“Are you asking about my covenmate?” Annie hid her smile behind her raised tea cup.

“You know damn well whom I’m asking about.” She tapped her index finger against the table’s edge. “Your Ginger Hair Boy.”

Annie set down her tea cup. Her mother wanted to talk about him, so they’d talk. “Kerry is fine, Mama.”

“Just fine?” Pavlina chuckled. “I would imagine he’s more than fine.” She poured more water into her cup and let the tea seep. “Is he what you expected in real life?”

“No, he isn’t, Mama.” Annie waited to see if her mother’s face fell, but she was too wise for those tricks. “He’s much better.”

She examined Annie closely. Though her daughter didn’t suspect, Pavlina had become adapt at determining her daughter’s mood and feelings just by watching her body language. She works so hard keeping her feelings away from her face, but if you know what to look for, you can see her emotions in the way she holds herself. “But he’s not perfect—is he?”

Annie considered ignoring the question, but not that it was asked her mother would return to it until answered—maybe not today or tomorrow, but it would come up again before the Yule Holiday was over, and she’d make certain that Annie would answer. “He can’t remember our dreams together.”

“Which ones?”

“All of them.” Annie spoke of the incidents of déjà vu, of the time he almost remembered the time he read to her—though she didn’t mention where she’d heard this, or what happened after. “All the times we spent together, he doesn’t remember a thing.”

“And this all stems from what happened over the summer?”

“I’m not certain—” Annie shook her head. “I can’t clearly remember what happened over the summer to stop us dreaming together.”

 

And this is the first time where it’s stated that even Annie doesn’t quite remember what happened that night that they shared their final dream.  Dreams, they be crazy, I tell you.  Particuarly with these two.  And Mama knows a little something about this stuff, but even she’s puzzled.

 

Her daughter’s situation puzzled Pavlina. She knew something of lucid dreaming, and she understood that two or more people could share a dream, but as she’d heard more of Annie’s dreams with her “Ginger Hair Boy”, the more she’d become convinced they were doing far more than lucid dreaming: it was almost as they they’d spent their time dreamwalking. And one doesn’t dreamwalk without having extensive knowledge of how the astral realm interacted with the dream realm—something Annie hasn’t learned, and Kerry wasn’t aware even existed. “Have you spoke with anyone at school about this?”

“Yes: Professor Arrakis, our Seer, and Nurse Coraline, our medical officer.” She considered taking another printsessi, then decided if she was going to enjoy her mother’s cooking, there was no better time to start. “Professor Arrakis told me she’d never heard of anything like our dreams—”

“That could be true. I’ve looked and found nothing relating to your situation.”

“Hum.” Annie picked at her dish, then took a huge bite and took her time chewing it to a pulp. “Maybe we’re special.”

“I already know you are.” Pavlina understood her daughter’s frustration. She’d experienced these dreams all her life—though far more frequently in the last few years—and in the weeks after her last dream despondent and petulant to the point where she was ready to throw her future away and pursue a path that would have wasted her now-obvious talents. If I hadn’t had that vision of Kerry entering the Salem grounds, Annie might be completely miserable now. “I’ll keep looking on my end; maybe the people at school will find something in the meantime.”

Annie nodded slowly. “Thank you, Mama.”

 

And now we hear of dreamwalking, which is something that doesn’t come up much again, but if I ever do a second novel, there is an important moment where dreamwalking answers a mystery.  And relating to something that Annie told Professor Arrakis, her mother was the one that saw Kerry entering the school grounds, and after that vision she checked with her friends in The Foundation, discovered that, yes, a Kerry Malibey was on the list to attend SIGIL this year, and Mama passed that information along to her daughter.  The rest is–well, not history, but a rather long story.

Oh, and someone else in the family found out the name of the Ginger Hair Boy:

 

“You’re welcome.” She decided to alter the subject of the conversation slightly. “Your father knows his name.”

“What?” Annie looked as if someone had yelled at her. “Since when?”

“Since about a month ago.”

“How?”

“He asked. One day we were out on the back porch and he asked, ‘Annie and you know the name of this boy—why can’t I know it as well?’ And when I thought about it—” Pavlina shrugged. “I saw no reason why he shouldn’t.”

“So you told him?”

“Annie, he’s your father. He has as much right to know about Kerry as I.” She slowly tapped her fingers on the table. “At least he didn’t discover his name like I did . . .”

Annie found it impossible not to wince. “Mama.”

That always was a sore point with her. “Have you told Kerry about your book.”

The young girl shot her mother a withering stare. “No, Mama.”

“Better saved for a future moment, eh?” Before Annie could answer Pavlina cocked her head to one said. “I hear your father moving about the kitchen.” She sat back and gave her daughter a concerned look. “I suppose we should join him before he decides to come up and join us.”

 

Wait, what?  How did Mama learn Kerry’s name?  It doesn’t sound as if Annie told her, and however it came about, it’s not something which pleases Annie.  Will we find out how it happened?  Yes, in Act Three.  Just give me another sixty thousand words to get there, okay?

We are now finished with Pamporovo, and the next scene jumps ahead two days to Kerry waking up in her grandparent’s home in Marrionwood, CA.  And this brings up an interesting point:  someone asked if Annie’s tree and Kerry’s were one and the same.  The answer is no, they’re not.  Annie’s is back home in Pamporovo, and Kerry’s was near his old home in Sleepy Hollow, CA, which is a real place not far from Marrionwood, which is where he is presently located in the story.  If you want to see his tree, well . . .

If you're going to Sleepy Hollow . . .

If you’re going to Sleepy Hollow . . .

For my story, Kerry lived on Van Winkle D., in the house above the road and right at the edge of the right frame.  His tree was on Dutch Valley Ln, and would be in the grove just to the left of the last house below the lane on the left center of the picture.  Not that far for a six year old to walk, right?

And what does the area where he lived look like?

Since you wanted to know . . .

Since you wanted to know . . .

As you see, Sleepy Hollow is in the lower right hand of the picture, and Marrionwood is at the right edge of the center of the picture, just above Lucas Valley Rd.  All of these names are legit, and were in place long before a certain film maker moved into the area.  And speaking of that guy . . . follow Lucas Valley Rd all the way to the upper left and you’ll see, at the edge of the frame, a small road going upward.  Those houses in the upper left hand corner?  Skywalker Ranch, aka, the place where Kerry’s parent’s former boss lives.

And last but not least, where is Annie?  Well . . .

How do you say, "Right there" in Bulgarian?

How do you say, “Right there” in Bulgarian?

If you follow Highway 854 to the left out of Pamprovo, all the way over on the left you’ll see a valley leading upward.  In the “Y” of the valley is where Annie’s parents live, where she lives, where her lake house is, and where, close by, her tree is located.  None of that can be seen, but is it because I just made all of that up?  Or is it because The Foundation is keeping me from showing you?

Hum . . . wondering, wondering.

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?