Well, the good news is that daily writing happened all of this month.
The odd news – this project went title-less for an entire month! (The series title, however, was found!)
The Swans set the stage with setting up a new bed-and-breakfast, an unexpected kitten/cat collection, and a few new paths for them to enjoy. Seeds of other stories already written (and most likely to be rewritten) were sown, with a few unexpected connections and fun surprises!
Tennyson Swan’s wanderlust slowed enough to almost give up the studio apartment and claim a space of his own on the new property.
Ursula Swan’s negotiating skills not only lead a path for her to transfer her studies – she discovers a new mentor with whom to see the world with.
Roland Swan’s loss of a teaching job, and adjustment to that, opened the door to new hobbies and opportunities.
Kai Addison’s sleuthing and applying her previous-job disciplines to the tasks led to the joy of creating something new.
And of course, Nathan, Madison and Lucas have had their fair share of stirring things up, with a ‘few’ cats and kittens found along the way.
How did you do, fellow writer? Now that you have a rhythm, or even had a chance to write the story that is your own, what will December bring?
Kai Addison picked up the two smallest kittens. ‘Laddie’ and ‘Mucus,’ names given by big brother, Nathan. Sometimes, her children scared her, in a good way. How many cat and kittens have the three of them gathered and stowed away in the upper-most room, she wondered?
On the positive side, no mice.
“For a moment, I saw the little girl who wanted to be a veterinarian,” a woman’s voice said behind her.
“Or was that Dr. Uhura Doolittle. You always did have an active imagination.”
Kai Addison smiled. “I still love science. Just not enough to pursue a proper profession in it.”
“Who said anything about a ‘proper profession?’ Anyway, have you and Roland decided what you’re going to do with all of these felines?”
She nodded. “I’m giving the kids a reference book or two for them to name the cats and hopefully give them away. Madison’s pretty good at bartering.”
“Like mother, like daughter,” her mom said. “What did Maddie gain?”
“Duck slippers,” Kai answered, pointing to the pair under the coffee table. Off the look on her mother’s face, “They’re for Roland,” she added.
Her mother reached under the table and grabbed not the slippers, but the small duffle bag that fell beside it.
“No, not that,” Kai said, her voice reverting, for a fleeting moment, to that of a child whose secret was about to be found out.
Of course, Kai Addison knew she didn’t stand a chance against her mother, who already had the items unpacked and laid out on the floor in the space between them.
“These are beautiful tokens, Kai. The attention to detail with the lances…amazing. Set up the board. I’m going to make us some tea.”
Kai Addison smiled. There was no backing out of this now.
After the second pot of tea was finished, her mother shook her head, token in hand. “No, that answer’s right, so I should be allowed to go forward.”
“It was in the wrong language, though, Mom. You’re got the Spanish Colors. Therefore-.”
“Don’t ‘therefore’ me, dear. I had the Scribe on my side and that should have worked with the translation and-.”
“But, your scribe was jailed for treason and-.”
“My scribe wouldn’t have been jailed if your knight hadn’t lost the original map! This… Fine. I’m how many moves away before getting out of my dungeon?” She held her hand over the cards. “By way of eagle.”
Kai sighed. “That’s a multi-part question, Mom and if you get one wrong-.”
“Remember who taught you the basics, dear. Gauntlet’s been thrown.”
Inspired by the following virtual scavenger hunt: What if your character took a different turn? Or how do they react to missing a turn?
Kai Addison picked up the paint brush debating whether to continue the project she and Roland started together or create something new.
She opted for new.
As the field and stars took shape, she pondered what would have happened if she and Roland had gone on to art school as planned. She had set her sights on working for one of the best animation companies in history and he wanted to illustrate children’s books, in partnership with as many storytellers as possible – preferably children themselves.
If it hadn’t been for the incident at the fruit stand so many years ago, they might have been there. She knew the full truth, of what Roland wasn’t telling her. She knew why it had stopped his heart cold and why the nightmares flared of how things could have gone terribly wrong, with no escape to peace of mind in sight.
She also knew enough to push him from the unhealthy standstill.
As she painted her favorite nebula, she smiled, realizing she escaped the nonsense of working for a rat of a company that failed to pay its creators what they were rightfully owed.
In honor of National Cat Day, a tidbit about the cat/kitten collection:
Tennyson climbed into the upper room, with the kitten on his head, expecting to see Madison waiting with her ‘afternoon tea’ (even if it was early in the morning).
He was met with another pair of eyes staring at him instead. Fearing it was the kitten’s mother, Tennyson quickly removed the little one and set it down on the blanket beside the black cat.
Scanning the room, he saw more cats and kittens. Too many cats and kittens. Amongst the melodic meowing and high-pitched cries, he heard his niece’s giggle.
“Madison, Madison, what were you thinking?”
“That you’d help me feed them, silly. Did you bring the cream?”
He found a place to sit before setting the small container of cream on the table. Many saucers, two cups. “You are going to have to tell your parents at some point, sweetheart.”
Lucas came up from behind the small chair. “That’s what I’ve been telling her. Oh, don’t worry,” he said as he took the container from Madison and began to fill the saucers, “the others will come out of hiding soon.”
Yes, I’ve been slacking on my posts here. Alas, the Blogging Muse has been fleeting. However, thanks to the Virtual Scavenger Hunt, did discover a few more fun trivial items about Roland and Kai Addison Swan!
Kai Addison finally found him in the caretaker’s house. She watched him silently from the entrance as he straightened out the now-cleaned brushes the children left out. He’d hold one for a while, with a faraway expression on his face, then put the brush into the ceramic cup.
“You’re a hard man to find, Mr. Swan.”
He turned and smiled – that same smile she saw through whenever he wanted to avoid something. “You succeeded, my dear. I must not have hid myself well enough.”
Kai Addison crossed her arms, still not entering the space. “Remember the time we used every paintbrush we had to recreate that Arthur Wardle portrait we loved? The one we saw in London?”
He nodded. “The dogs and the torn up book. We ended up with our own version of the 101 Dalmatians reading racing forms instead.”
“We had fun sketching silliness back then. What happened with that?”
“Life. Kids.” Roland shrugged. “I don’t have the time to-.”
Kai Addison crossed the threshold then slammed the door behind her. “Liar! Don’t dismiss me like some sort of annoyance! I was there, remember? I’ve always been here. And, contrary to your imaginary tormentor, I’m still here and I’m not going anywhere.”
“Don’t ‘Kai’ me. We both lost our jobs, but that isn’t what identifies us! And you’re…you’re acting like some… some stay-at-home duck, waddling and quacking about into the madness. Stop it!
“All those times we said ‘someday, we’ll…’ Sweetheart, ‘someday’ is now. This is our fresh start. You, me, a teen, and two sets of twins – just a bunch of lucky ducks muddling through all of this. Life doesn’t come with a ‘paint by numbers’ guide.”
Roland glanced at her before staring at his scarred hand. After a while, and after Kai Addison pulled up a chair at the table, did he finally sit down to join her. He reached across and took both of her hands in his.
“Kai…what if…what if I start talking about my fears and I never stop? The fear, of all of it happening again, yet worse…what if it never stops?”
Kai Addison skimmed the remaining pages of the book before setting it down. Picking up her notebook, she jotted down some of the key elements from the chapter about Tafl games, then reviewed her notes about the different chess sets found so far.
She knew the pattern was within her grasp, but something was still missing.
Under the coffee table, she saw the idea book that Nathan helped the younger kids put together to go with the plank set he gave them from shop class. Lucas’s designs consisted of racing tracks for his cars. Madison’s focused on tunnels.
Nathan’s was more intricate. The chutes and towers he made were anything but simple. Obviously, his challenge was to use all the pieces available.
As Kai Addison stared at the schematics, the better her own idea grew.
She may have found the elusive pattern to the puzzle.
Well, this year’s soundtrack is including a bit more rock and roll than I first thought. While most of my characters have their favorites (and sometimes, yes, this author’s favorites filter into their likes/dislikes), it is the unlikely preferences of some that throw strangers off when they first meet the Swan siblings.
For example, I didn’t discover Roland’s taste for Queen, The Who and David Bowie until a snippet or two ago. Tennyson is more ecclectic in his taste, given his travels.
How about you, dear writer? What do your characters like to listen to?
They met in drama class years ago and never would have dreamt that they’d see as much drama (and comedy) from their four children and their silly sibling shenanigans in their later years.
Yes, they supported their two boys and two girls with whatever endeavors enticed them. Some were practical about it (Roland and Ursula), while some pranced or plowed right through them (Tennyson and Sharon).
Either way, the elder Swans kept the family property that their grandparents had and welcomed their grandchildren (and children) whenever possible.
When not tethered to (or worried about) any of them, Denise and Frank live their ‘Where in the World’ adventures, globetrotting – learning and teaching along the way.