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The Steph: A NaNoWriMo Tale

Stephanie Neal had never felt so proud as she did the moment she typed the words “The End”.

She’d never even thought about writing a novel until a friend turned her on to National Novel Writing Month. Now, 30 days and 65,000 words later, she surveyed her completed novel, Star Fire, with satisfaction. She shook the cramps out of her hands and wrists and looked around.

“That was a rush,” she said out loud to herself. “Now what?”

The house was dark, her husband long gone to bed, but she was too wired to sleep. She stood up, her spine crackling as she stretched, and picked up her empty tea mug. She would straighten up the desk, print out her winner’s certificate, and then put herself to sleep by reading on the couch.

She didn’t bother turning on the lights as she entered the kitchen; she could navigate easily by the green glow of the digital clock on the stove. Her mug clinked against the stainless steel sink, and she listened to the rush of water filling it as she smiled and enjoyed her feeling of triumph.
As she turned off the faucet, she heard a hushed movement from the direction of the door to the kitchen porch. Her post-NaNoWriMo euphoria vanished, replaced with a rush of fear-induced adrenaline. She reached to the right of the sink, where the knife block stood full of sharp, stainless steel blades. Heart pounding, she freed the largest blade from its slot and gripped it in a sweaty hand.

“There’s nothing to fear, Stephanie Neal” whispered a voice . . . a voice that seemed to be made up of a multitude of voices, perfectly synchronized.

She held the knife low in front of her, blade out. She had read enough books and watched enough movies to know that you always shoved the knife in from below the rib cage, where you could sink it deep in to soft flesh, rather than from up at chest level, where the breastbone would stop the blad unless you were excessivly strong. Stephanie was strong, but not excessively so. She was a writer, not a killer.

“I have a knife,” she said, proud that her voice didn’t tremble. “You should leave.”

The voice-that-was-many-voices laughed a quiet, delighted laugh. The Verbosity sounded sweet, musical, female. And maybe a little bit hypnotic. In spite of herself, Stephanie felt the tension in her body begin to relax, her grasp on the knife loosening slightly.

“We don’t fear your knife,” it/they said, “And we have no desire to hurt you.”

She’d heard THAT before. Mostly, again, in books and movies, but still, she wasn’t an idiot.

“Then what do you want?” she asked.

“Your words,” the voices said.

Huh? She blinked in the darkness. She couldn't understand why her initial instinct--to run, or to fight, or at least to scream--was fading away. Why she stood still in the middle of her kitchen and listened, instead of calling for her husband--or better yet, calling the police.

“I don’t understand,” she said finally, and her words slurred slightly like she'd been drinking too much Bailey's.

“We are The Verbosity,” the voices said. “We write the words. We have been watching you. We are pleased with your productivity. We wish to assimilate you.”

Now she laughed as understanding returned her clarity of thought. This must be some kind of joke by someone with a sick sense of humor, excellent breaking-and-entering skills, and some kind of fancy microphone to make his or her voice sound funny. She shuffled backward slowly, carefully, her slippers hissing over the linoleum floor, as she bumped up against the wall and flipped the light switch.

The Verbosity stood in the middle of her kitchen, blinking in the sudden brightness. Its form was vaguely human in shape, with features that shifted and flickered. As Stephanie watched in astonishment, the features settled. Now The Verbosity looked like a nondescript woman, probably in her early to mid thirties, with funky glasses. The edges of the Verbosity’s body wavered for a few seconds longer than the face, but eventually the woman standing in Stephanie’s kitchen appeared to be of average height and build--non-threatening and unremarkable. Non threatening, that was, except for the coiled leather whip held in her right hand.

And though the woman might be unremarkable, the Knitted Turkey perched on her head was anything but.

“What if I don’t WANT to be assimilated?" Stephanie managed to gasp, but her voice sounded weak and uncertain.

“It is unwise to resist,” The Verbosity said, taking a step forward.

The Turkey Hat wobbled on The Verbosity’s head in a way that was unexpectedly . . . sexy. Stephanie stared at it, mesmerized.

“We will assimilate you,” The Verbosity continued. “Resistance will only cause you pain.”

Stephanie took a deep breath.

“You don’t understand,” she said, fighting to keep her voice calm. “I have a good life. A husband, a nice house. I like it. I don’t want to be assimilated.”

She wondered, as she said it, if she was arguing with The Verbosity, or with herself.

The Verbosity halted its advance and tilted its head to one side, considering. The Sexy Turkey Hat listed at an alluring angle, and threatened to slide off, but the knitted yellow cords tied under The Verbosity’s chin held it in place. Stephanie noticed that the knitted cords ended in knitted Turkey Feet.

“It is you who do not understand,” The Verbosity said, straightening its head and adjusting the Turkey hat. “You wrote 65,000 words this November; an impressive feat, we can not deny. But as part of The Verbosity, you could double that count. Imagine writing 125,000 words next November. Imagine writing two novels in one month! The Verbosity writes the words. You could be a part of us. You could be more than you are.”

Stephanie’s breathing accelerated. She stared at the sexy turkey hat, then at the even sexier black whip, and imagined the heady excitement of that kind of word count. 125,000. Surely that wasn’t possible.

Not for one person.

But she didn’t want to lose her husband. Or her house. Or her comfy writing cave.

“I . . . I’m tempted,” she confessed. “But . . . I don’t want to leave my home, or my husband. If there was some way . . .”

The Verbosity began a slow pivot, surveying its surroundings. As it turned, the frilly backside of the Sexy Turkey Hat came in to view, and Steph felt her resistance begin to crumble. She nearly fell to her knees right then and threw her reservations to the wind, but the Verbosity completed its rotation, removing the frilly poultry tail from her sight.

Now it seemed that both the knitted turkey and the Verbosity regarded her solemnly for a moment. Then the air around The Verbosity shimmered again, and its face and form shifted until Stephanie was looking at herself, resplendant in the Turkey Hat, brandishing the leather whip. The last shreds of her fear melted away in a hot flash of desire to be one with the glory of The Verbosity.

“We like this house,” The Verbosity said. “We like Mr. Neal too. He could buy our groceries while we write the words. Join us, and we will ALL live here. No one needs to know but us.”

“You won’t hurt my husband?” she asked, though her stomach was tightening with an anticipation greater than that of a child on Christmas Eve.

The verbosity laughed it's girlish laugh.

“Oh no, we will not hurt him. We have uses for him.”

She could resist no longer. She carefully replaced the knife in the knife block with trembling hands.

“What do I need to do?” she asked.

The Verbosity smiled and opened its arms. Stephanie stepped forward eagerly to be folded in to its embrace. As The Verbosity wrapped its arms around her, Stephanie felt the knitted turkey feet tickle the side of her face. Then the world spun around her briefly, and she stumbled and blinked with vertigo. When she opened her eyes, she was still in her kitchen, facing the opposite way she’d been facing before. She felt the wobbling weight of the Sexy Turkey Hat on her head, the warm, supple leather handle of the whip in her hand, and the presence of all the minds that made up The Verbosity now linked with her own. And she could hear all the words, see all the stories, that raced through those many minds, and she could comprehend all of them at once.

She would never have to stop now. She would write, so many words, so many stories, sexy stories with sexy turkey hats. She smiled and cracked the whip. She walked out of the kitchen to the bathroom, flicking on the lights and admiring her reflection in the mirror, turning this way and that to admire every angle of her sexy, majestic hat.

“We are The Steph now,” she said. “And nothing can stop us.”

Compulsion Part II

Once again, y'all can blame it on Steph.

Your result for The Commonly Confused Words Test...

English Genius

You scored 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 93% Expert!

You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!

For the complete Answer Key, visit my blog: http://shortredhead78.blogspot.com/.

Take The Commonly Confused Words Test
at HelloQuizzy


Y'all know I have a weird compulsion to always fill these out.

Rules: It's harder than it looks! Copy to your own note, erase my answers, & enter yours. Use the first letter of your name to answer each of the following questions. They have to be real . . . nothing made up! If the person before you had the same first initial, you must use different answers. You cannot use any word twice and you can't use your name for the boy/girl name question.

Have Fun!!

1. What is your name: Michelle

2. A four Letter Word: Muse

3. A boy's Name: Mark

4. A girl's Name: Meredith

5. An occupation: Miner

6. A color: Maroon

7. Something you wear: Mitre (okay I don't wear it but the Pope does . . .)

8. A hobby: Model Ship Building

9. A food: Maple syrup

10. Something found in the bathroom: Mildew

11. A place: Michigan

12. A reason for being late: Missed the bus.

13. Something you shout: Missed me!

14. A movie title: Muppets take Manhatten

15. Something you drink: Merlot

16. A musical group: Mediaeval Baebes (I may have butchered the spelling . . . )

17. An animal: Mouse

18. A street name: Mill Rd (I would know)

19. A type of car: Mercedes

20. The title of a song: Monday Morning (I love you Fleetwood Mac!)

My Letter to Santa

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,

This year I've been busy!

Last Friday I gave bellamara_nano a kidney (1000 points). Last month I invaded Iraq, broke it, and couldn't glue it back together before Mom got home (-1012 points). In May I didn't flush (-1 points). In October I had a shoot-out with rival gang lords on the 5 near LA (-76 points). Last Thursday I set katicori6's puppy on fire (-66 points).

Overall, I've been naughty (-155 points). For Christmas I deserve a lump of coal!


Write your letter to Santa! Enter your LJ username:

I Think I Need an Intervention

Drat you Steph! This is all your fault. Okay, I'll forgive you because you had no way of knowing that I  can. not. resist. these silly survey things. What is WRONG with me? They are like a compulsion. I think I need an intervention.

1. MIDDLE NAME? Yvonne
2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? My first name, no, but interesting note, my middle name is after a friend of my mum's, who we discovered years and years after the fact was having an affair with my GRANDFATHER! EEP!
3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? Um . . . yesterday? I cry at least once a week though, so it's not a big event.
5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? I'm not all that in to lunch meat. I'll eat any of it except bologna or olive loaf though.
6. KIDS? Two stepkids, The Mad Scientist (male, aged 13) and the Drama Princess (obviously female, aged 10)
8. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? Yeah, but I write in in it very irregularly. Probably because I spend so much time blogging.
9. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? I would never do such a thing.
11. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Never, not for any amount of money, not even for a chance to sleep with Christina Ricci.
12. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Grape Nuts. With honey and milk.
13. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? You are assuming I own shoes with laces. Okay, I DO have one pair of sneakers. And no, I don't untie them.
14. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Physically . . . strong enough. Emotionally--define please?
15. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Tillamook Caramel Butter Pecan, followed closely by Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup. But ask me on a different day and it might be the other way around.
16. SHOE SIZE? Around 6.5 wide . . . but it really depends  . . . I have weird feet.
17. RED OR PINK? I'm with Steph on this--deep, rich, ruby red.
18. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING YOU LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF? I have trouble finishing things I start.
19. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? Right now, probably my dad, who died at the end of August. The holidays will be weird even though I never go home anyway.
20. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? There will be no sending back, but I'd love to see other people's answers.
21. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Brown pants and pink suede slippers.
22. LAST THING YOU ATE? You know I can't remember? Did I eat dinner last night? I better go make some toast, cuz I really don't remember when I ate last . . . which isn't like me! I love food!
23. ARE YOU LISTENING TO ANYTHING RIGHT NOW? Qntal Radio on www.pandora.com
24. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Sage green. No wait, brown. No wait, plum. No I mean, maroon. No I mean . . . what the hell kinda question is this?
25. FAVORITE SMELL? Fresh rosemary.
27. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE YOU ARE ATTRACTED TO? I'm a whole picture kind of girl. But nice lips will get you a long way with me.
28. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? No one sent it, but I like the person I snagged it from.
29. FAVORITE DRINK? A nice hot cup of tea... ahhhh bliss! (ME TOO STEPH! PG Tips, to be precise . . .)
30. FAVORITE SPORT? What is this "sport" of which you speak? Does Belly Dancing count? I love Belly Dance.
31. EYE COLOR? Blue
32. HAT SIZE? Huh?
33. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Once in a while.
34. FAVORITE FOOD? I love home made tacos, the way I make them. That's probably my favorite. Corn tortillas lightly grilled in olive oil, seasoned black beans, rice, sour cream, avocado slices or guacamole, salsa, cilantro if I can get it, sometimes ground beef or chicken but not always, and some sort of green. Yummmmmmm.
35. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDING? Neither... give me humor every time. (Again, what Steph said)
36. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? 40 Year Old Virgin
37. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Well, first you have to pick WHICH shirt. I'm wearing two shirts, plus a wool sweater. It's cold! One of my shirts is sort of taupe and the other is a brown, black, and grey plaid men's shirt that I got at the thrift store. Most comfortable shirt ever. I need to go build a fire . . .
38. FAVORITE SEASON? Fall . . . all the colors, the quality of light, the wind . . .
41. WHO IS LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Um . . . no idea.
43. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? Some reference book about the reality of Pirate life, and a knitting book, and The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Wood.
44. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? I don't have a mouse pad... I used to have a really cool one with the Pacific Northwest woods, but then I got an optical field mouse and the mouspad made it skip all over the place, so now, alas, I just have a composition book sitting under my mouse.
45. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? We don't have TV. (We don't. I watch movies on my computer though.)
47. ROLLING STONE OR BEATLES? Honestly? I don't really like either one.
48. THE FURTHEST YOU'VE BEEN FROM HOME? Prince Edward Island, Canada.
49. WHAT'S YOUR SPECIAL TALENT? You mean other than being able to turn almost anything in to a dirty joke?
50. WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Ypsilanti, Michigan, April 9, 1974.
51. WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? No one. I chose to do it. Because I have a problem.
52. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE? I love quotes. My favorite changes all the time. I guess my favorite old standby is Joseph Campbell's now ubiquitous "Follow your bliss."
53. WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? At the time of this writing, the last book I read was The Order of Odd Fish.
54. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE VERSE IN THE BIBLE? I have very carefully forgotten every Bible verse I was forced to learn as a child.
55. WHAT TIME IS IT RIGHT NOW? 9:10 a.m.
56. DO YOU HAVE ANY NICKNAMES? GF on NaNo, Greenie on Etsy, but none in real life that I know of.
58. WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP STATUS? Married most happily to a man who is just as crazy as I am. And who brings me tea in bed every morning except Sunday when he sleeps in.
59. DO YOU SING IN THE SHOWER? Yes. Almost always.
60. WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO BE DOING FIVE YEARS FROM NOW? Writing and creating, just like now. Only hopefully, I'll be getting paid more for it.

"Made of Awesome"

Check out my new Avatar! Is it not, as my Etsy friends say, "made of awesome"? It's a detail of this amazing ACEO, which my friend Liz made for me when I reached 50,000 words on my NaNovel.

Liz talked me down from all my panic attacks during NaNo. She's smart! Pretty! Funny! Talented! She's my WB4E (writing buddy 4 ever!). And she's got a really fun Etsy store full of all your geeky needs. If you have a geek/nerd/gamer/anime fan on your holiday shopping list, go check it out. And if you don't . . . I give you permission to covet my hot pirate chick avatar.


First Entries are Always Weird

I joined Live Journal for better stalking ability, mostly--so I can keep up with the really swell people I met doing NaNoWriMo. Other than that I'm not sure what to say . . .

A bit about the name . . . Captain Jezebel is one of the main characters in my NaNovel, The Erotic Adventures of the Pirate Ship Sappho.

Now I need to figure out if LiveJournal will allow me to post smut excerpts . . .