|Good Enough To Dream
Author: Me PM
Michelle encourages Steph's writing so much she joins NaNoWriMo; but Steph doesn't realize it means taking on a challenge to write 50,000 words in a month. With only her boyfriend's weird dream as inspiration will it drive her nuts? Book friend Cassie, as a high school senior, wonders if she's good enough for a medical career.Rated: Fiction K - English - Words: 9,751 - Published: 09-30-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8571145
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: In RKORadio's Book Universe "Principal Mandy and Nanny Stephanie," Michelle's friend Cassie – seeing Michelle as 4th grade president and Mandy as Principal's Assistant in 5th like Steph had been – jokes about becoming Homecoming Queen, not realizing how hard that is. (As most 9-year-olds wouldn't.) RKORadio's Samantha is used with permission, & his "Samantha and Friends" (Sam Series 3.5) and "Samantha Goes To Paris" (Sam Series 6) are referenced, as is the book "Sugar and Spice Advice."
See my fic "Kid Sisters Plus Boys Equals Silliness" for more on the story Steph wrote for English class in the Book Universe instead of what she did in the TVU. I wrote and posted the "Baby, Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear" parody on a message board first where someone joked about modern songs in Shakesperean or something like that. I felt it'd be good here, too.
I don't know if NaNoWriMo had the same setup in '03 as when I tried and won in 17 days with my "Vikings Sack San Marino" in '11, but it could in the "Full House" Book Universe, that's what matters. As you can tell on my profile I've got a number of works at and with more stuff that I'm doing elsewhere, including online missions (check out our sites at ) I'm doing very little fanfic, but have stopped saying "retire" after dozens of times.
Good Enough To Dream
One August morning, Stephanie Tanner – who lived in the attic apartment of their home, with its previous occupants married and on their own - had just finished preparing a bowl of cereal.
She saw her boyfriend come to the back door as she ate and let him in. "Hey, Robbie, how's it going?" They kissed. "Think you'll get a full-time job from your internship?"
"I hope so. Can you believe we'll be in our senior years in college soon?" he asked as they sat.
"No. I see what my dad means by time flying. I've been reminiscing about all the fun we've had since we met there a couple years ago, plus other stuff." She chuckled. "Michelle and her best friends are still asleep; they probably stayed up half the night talking about twelve years of memories; well, a little less for Mandy since she moved here a couple years after Michelle and Cassie knew each other in Kindergarten, but…" She caught herself, and smiled pleasantly as Robert gazed lovingly at her. "Sorry, I still ramble, don't I?"
"I understand; I've heard your dad," Robert joked. He paused. "Seriously, I'm glad you ramble. It seems like sometimes it's hard for me to find things to talk about. You never seem to have that problem. Which is probably why we're a good match."
"True. Well… have you had any funny dream lately?" Stephanie offered, tossing a subject out.
Robert thought a moment. "There was one last night, there was this murder mystery I was reading. I never did find out who did it; the dream just ended."
"Okay, let's try to figure it out." Stephanie absently grabbed a pen and a paper. "Who knows, maybe I'll turn it into a story."
"Wow, taking a few snippets from a dream and making it an actual story; that's what I call dreaming," Robert said with a laugh.
"Hey, it could happen," Stephanie insisted. "Selling a thousand books is considered a success unless you're a superstar. If it goes on the Internet and just sells a few, it's still something."
Robert understood. He gazed lovingly into her eyes. "When I'm with you, Steph, I feel freer to dream big dreams like that than I ever have. I'm a numbers man; I like accounting, I've always like math. I understand at least some of the tax code." They laughed together. "And, if I get offered a job here or someplace where it's a positive work environment, I figure I'll be happy."
"And, you're kind, considerate, compassionate, warm, understanding, willing to compromise. You've got all the qualities that'll make a great family man," Stephanie noted. She found it interesting that she not only saw those qualities in him – which matched her dad, Uncle Jesse, and Joey – but some of his qualities also matched those of her best friend Allie Taylor. However, there was no relation, as it was a very common last name. She could tell she and Robert were becoming great friends just as she and Allie had back in Kindergarten.
Robert thanked her. "The way you just figure you can take a silly dream like I had and maybe come up with a story, it's just so amazing."
"Well, I didn't say I could for sure. But, I've got talent, and I've always believed in myself. So, why not? It doesn't have to be a novel; just a short story. Even if those particular dreams don't become reality, sometimes it's just fun to try," Stephanie concluded.
"Yeah, that's true." He hummed a moment. "It was kind of strange. This little kid happened upon the body the first time, but didn't seem affected by it, except for being sad."
"Maybe he or she knew it was faked?" Stephanie suggested as she wrote.
"She. I don't know. I think a kid could tell the difference between ketchup and blood," he said
Rebecca Donaldson walked in with her and Jesse Katsopolis' four children. Danny Tanner, Rebecca's co-host on the morning talk show "Wake Up, San Francisco," had already left, while Jesse was at the radio station where he hosted a morning show with comedian Joey Gladstone; they'd moved in to help raise the girls when her mom died back when Stephanie was five.
"Could you kids tell the difference between blood and ketchup?" Robert asked them.
Twelve-year-old Alex quipped, "Why? Don't you know if you're bleeding?"
"Dad says you spend too much time around Joey," his twin brother Nicky kidded him.
"Although that could be Michelle's boyfriend Jeff's influence, too. Anyway, we're making up a story," Stephanie explained.
Melanie, nine, had been adopted by Jesse and Becky six years ago, She picked up their other adopted girl, Tatiana, who was around three, and said, "Once Tati squirted some and I thought it might be blood, but I was just coming inside." She turned to Becky. "I screamed, huh, Mom?"
Becky put an arm around her. "You get concerned just like me. Be good for Steph today." She hugged and kissed all of them before leaving, and the twin boys, who would soon be entering seventh grade, began grabbing food out of the refrigerator.
The kids played in the back yard till lunch time, when Jesse normally came to pick them up. He took the boys and Melanie to shop for school this time, then they all came back to get Tatiana after she woke from her nap. Danny had just come home. Michelle, Cassie, and Mandy had also just arrived home from the mall with Michelle's boyfriend Jeff Farrington.
Melanie instantly asked Tatiana, "Did you tell Uncle Danny about that bird's nest in our backyard?" Birds had hatched and learned to fly; they'd recently left the next.
"Yes. He got sad," Tatiana explained.
Danny said it was nothing unusual. "It's just that Michelle will be off to college next year. Steph's gone more with her boyfriend. Soon I'll have an empty nest, too."
Jeff tried to sound supportive. Recalling what Michelle had told him a number of times, he said, "I'm sure it brings back some of the pain of Pam dying, huh?"
"Not much, but… well… a little," he confessed. He remarked wistfully that, "We could have had fifty, sixty more years than we did. It was so special with her. Now, it's just an old nest, and I'm just an old bird."
Jeff patted him on the back, the class clown coming out in him as he tried to soothe Danny. "Don't worry, I'm sure they'll bring you plenty of worms," he said as Michelle came up beside him. Both were glad to see Danny chuckle and get over it quickly, and the teens kissed.
"Thanks. As long as I've got great family and friends to keep me going, I'll be fine," Danny said decisively. Jesse said he was sure of it. He and his kids left for home.
"I'm glad we try to get together with D.J. and Steve and the others. At least some of us all eat together at least once a month," Stephanie said, having heard the conversation as she came down from the office in the fourth bedroom. It had been there since 1984, when Danny got a bonus for working the Summer Olympics.
"By the way, you said you and Robert were writing a story," Michelle said.
"Oh, that's right. Yeah, Dad, I didn't want to scare the younger two with talk of a murder mystery, but Robert had this silly dream and I thought maybe I could turn it into something.' She described the details. "It just seems weird that a six-year-old girl not only wouldn't be that grossed out, but also that there would be two more victims who died in the same spot."
Cassie suggested, "Maybe someone told her what to expect."
"True; but the… well, Robert doesn't really think it was the mother in the dream, but he's not sure where the mother was," Stephanie noted.
Mandy was stunned. "You're almost starting from scratch."
"I know. But, it's a fun brain teaser," Stephanie said.
Michelle insisted it was more than that. "Come on, Steph, you're a great writer! You've always done so much on the school papers, and you've got a great imagination. Plus, you can write what you know; and you know a lot!"
"Michelle, I can write what I know when it comes to D.J. having a crush and me doing crazy stuff to try to get her with the boy, but I've never been around a murder mystery."
"I won't deny I'm a little hesitant about trying to become Homecoming Queen. Even what I'm thinking about as a career, it's really going to be hard when I look at the whole thing," Cassie said sympathetically.
"That's right; but you can still do it, Cassie," Michelle declared.
"I'll bet you felt the same way when Michelle started sending all those kids to you after she called you a genius her first day of Kindergarten," Mandy reminded her.
Stephanie had to agree. "I guess it would have seemed impossible if I'd known all I would do at the start. It's just hard to write a mystery from scratch. It's different when Robert and I are just discussing things. It's one of the things we love doing together, using our minds and dreaming. Of course, we know our happiness should never be based on whether those dreams come true, and it isn't. But, still, we've both talked about family and having lots of kids someday, too – with each other, I don't know, we're not that far yet, but it's something we both like, and so is adopting like Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky have," Stephanie rambled.
"She's good enough to dream, just like you, Cassie," Michelle encouraged her. "You don't have to be a superstar at something like Samantha is at ballet," she explained, referring to a girl a year behind Michelle and her friends. Stephanie had befriended Samantha when she was in fifth and Samantha in Kindergarten. Now, Stephanie was like a mother for Samantha, who lived with the Tanners but was already off with a ballet company for the summer.
Stephanie had heard about Cassie's worries. "That's right, Cassie. You're good enough to dream a very realistic dream of becoming Homecoming Queen. And if you don't make it, you should still try, so you'll never have to spend your whole life asking, 'what if'?"
"Just like you with that mystery," Michelle told Stephanie. "If not now, maybe in November."
Stephanie looked askance at her. "What's November?"
"National Novel Writing Month," Mandy informed her.
"You just go to the Nanowrimo website and sign up," Michelle explained. Stephanie agreed to think about it.
Cassie was still in awe of the idea of becoming Homecoming Queen. However, part of that was because she was finally starting to look into all the requirements for going into medicine. That, too, would take a lot of effort, and made her feel somewhat uncertain. Still, she'd grown much more self-confident lately. Therefore, she was able to be voted in.
Michelle, Cassie, and Mandy were up late talking on a sleepover one Friday night in late October after the election. "I still can't believe I said that," Cassie said with a slight blush.
"Come on, Cassie, we were nine," Michelle replied, trying to reassure her. "Even I didn't realize how hard it was, and I've got two older sisters."
Cassie tried to evade the consolation by saying, "I think Mandy was ten by then." Michelle gave her a look. "I know, Michelle, I shouldn't be so hard on myself." She leaned forward and exclaimed, "But, the idea of becoming Homecoming Queen is so crazy, even Rachel wouldn't have boasted…" She paused and shared a knowing grin with Michelle and Mandy. "Okay, Rachel would have boasted about being able to do that," she said of the girl who ws still snobby but much friendlier than she had been when she'd joined their class in fourth grade.
"We've helped her learn to be nice. And, that's something voters want; someone who's nice and encourages others to be," Mandy said.
"A lot of girls are nice," Cassie responded.
"But, not a lot of girls become Homecoming Queen; and, you did," Michelle declared.
Cassie admitted, "Maybe it's still thoughts of medical school."
Stephanie and Samantha walked into the roomthat Michelle shared with Samantha. After overharing Cassie question how well she could do, Samantha declared, "But, Cassie, I'll need someone; Dr. Landress and his partners can't live forever," Samantha declared. She was not only thinking ahead to whens he had children, but given the flurry of activity with all she was involved in, she'd momentarily forgotten she wouldn't have a pediatrician forever, either. However, at least there was a younger doctor in Becky's group who would take her.
"You'll find someone you trust; just like you've found Colin," Stephanie said as she put an arm around her. She'd helped her find that boyfriend, but she didn't need to mention that. Despite her neglectful upbringing before meeting Stephanie, Samantha was now certain that at least the Tanners would always be there to help her.
"I know; I guess with what all happened in my past, I'm a little skittish." Samantha seemed to be reminding herself as well as she said, "But, I'll be going around the world with the ballet, and not just in the summertime either, once I get out of high school. I've made such great friends there. I guess I'll find a good pediatrician when I come home and have kids, too."
Cassie agreed. "I still want to go to medical school; it's just hard thinking of all I'll have to know. Writing a mystery from scratch would be easy by comparison."
As Mandy and Samantha encouraged her, Michelle asked Stephanie, "Did you sign up for NaNoWriMo yet? November starts in…" She glanced at her watch. "Four minutes."
"I haven't even had time to look at that stuff I wrote on a few sticky notes in August." Stephanie thought a moment. "I guess that's good, though. One of you said you can't actually write part of the story before November first – you can just write notes, develop your universe, and so on."
"Sure, Steph; go for it," Michelle said enthusiastically.
"I guess I have an idea of what this family is like, or why this girl lives there; like maybe they're caretakers of this large inn or something. Listen to me," she said with a chuckle.
"That's the sound of a writer," Samantha replied.
Stephanie had to admit it was true. "Okay, I'll sign up and write a few hundred words before I go to bed tonight."
"That's the spirit," Michelle said. "Remember, Steph; I always said you were a genius."
Stephanie walked away wondering what she'd done to inspire such awe. D.J. was the one whose being proactive had made her like a mom to Michelle, so much that Michelle had even made her a Mother's Day card in preschool. It was framed at D.J. and Steve's home now that their oldest sister was married.
Her excitement had gotten the best of her, as it often had throughout her life. Stephanie signed up but didn't read the Nanowrimo site till the next morning. When she got up and checked the site again, she gasped.
"Fifty thousand words!" The number stood out like a beacon on her screen. She checked her word processing document – she'd written 506. "I don't have enough information for fifty thousand words," she told her computer. She walked down from the attic still muttering "fifty thousand words" just loud enough to be heard.
"What was that, Steph?" Michelle asked.
"Fifty thousand words?" Stephanie repeated. "Do you know how many that is?"
Mandy admitted, "I can just hear our classmate Derek Boyd – 'That depends on what type of equation you wish to use to get to it."
"The equation I need is simple addition. Did you know how many that was?"
"I thought you knew when I told you. But, you can still do it," Michelle reminded Stephanie.
Samantha offered to help Stephanie. "Maybe you could take something Michelle and I did. Remember the ice cream man?" she asked, turning toward Michelle, Cassie, and Mandy. "It was after you guys were in fourth grade and I was in third, I think."
Michelle and Samantha had been riding their bikes when they heard the ice cream truck. They were too far away to go home like if they were outside and heard it down the block. They stopped to get ice cream, but realized they didn't have any money.
"What do we do?" Samantha asked in a whisper.
Still falling for temptation at times, for she was human, after all, Michelle muttered. "You're an actress. Try crying; he might feel sorry for you."
It worked; the man gave them each ice cream cones. They high fived each other, and Samantha said "thank you." Still, Michelle realized that it was sending the wrong signal; or, at least as much as mature near-ten-year-olds would. She didn't want anyone thinking they could always do that. And, she knew from what others said that Samantha was especially impressionable.
"You know not to pull that crying trick with anything really important, right?" Michelle asked. Samantha agreed, and Michelle felt better. She figured Samantha wouldn't take advantage of that, and she'd been right.
Stephanie interrupted Michelle. "Okay," she said as she furiously scribbled notes on a notepad in their dad's office. "So, how am I supposed to include this in a murder mystery?"
"I don't know; but let me finish the story, in case you don't remember," Michelle said. "As I thought about it, I felt a bit guilty. Yes, we'd asked for a gift. But, that Holy Spirit that lives inside when you trust Christ as Savior will tell you something's wrong. It wasn't big, but I felt it was something I should correct. It's important to listen to your conscience with little things like these so bad habits don't develop. I liked handling some stuff myself with Samantha, instead of telling you, Steph."
"Yes, and you've done a great job; now please get to the point, or I'll be tempted to name the detective after you and make her sound like Columbo," Stephanie said, a bit annoyed.
"Just taking after you, Steph," Michelle said, to which Stephanie tiredly acquiesced – she did ramble yet. "I asked Cassie and Mandy. Best friends like them are the best. You can go to them when you want to do the right thing, but you don't want to involve older people. They always love you, no matter what. But, they'll make sure you don't go in the wrong direction, because they love you. I knew they'd always tell me to do the right thing."
"Speaking of best friends, there's another problem. Darcy's interning as a coach her senior year, and Allie's in college in Chicago with Harry," Stephanie related.
"You've got us, though," Michelle reminded her. "Anyway, they said we could still pay for that time the next time we saw the ice cream man. And, we did. So, we ended up paying after all."
Stephanie finally plopped into Danny's office chair. "All right, so you did the right thing. You paid for the ice cream. I don't think little Chloe will be far enough away to have that problem, and I'm not sure where I can put other characters that would."
"That's not the point, Steph. You can write what you know about anything. Isn't that right, Uncle Jesse," Michelle said before telling him Stephanie's goal.
"Yeah. When you were little, Steph, you used to tell every little detail. I remember you talkin' all about those little crusty things that formed in your eyes during the night. You can get mileage just out of that," Jesse said.
Danny had been standing in the doorway. "I remember those days. Jess, I found that disc with the interview we did on TV that you wanted for your radio show; it wasn't in my office after all."
"Oh, great, where was it?" he asked as the men left.
Apparently, Michelle had been up for a while and helped him look for something. But, Steph's mind was still on her Uncle Jesse's comments. All she could do was mutter, "Chloe woke up and felt the disgusting little pieces of grit in her eyes. She wondered how those things ever got there. And the author wondered how to get 50,000 words out of eye crusties." She sighed as she thought for a moment. When she looked up, Samantha was still there. "You know, I think the difference is that I always talked, but I was too fast for my brain to record the words so they could be written down."
"What if you got one of those little tape recorders? You could tell the story and type it then. And, save your editing for next month," Samantha advised.
Stephanie was extremely proud of how much like a mom she was for Samantha. She grinned broadly at her; she didn't want to let on that it might not work that well. Her problem was developing the characters and plot. Still, she wanted to encourage Samantha. "Thanks; I'll find a blank cassette that I know Dad's not using and do that. Are you going to the mall?" She was. Stephanie got up and they hugged. "Okay, I love you. Have a good time."
The teens sat with Nicky, Alex, Melanie, and Tatiana in an outdoor food court. "It's kind of fun to be away from our parents for a little while," Melanie said.
"Sure, they trust us,' Nicky said.
Tatiana looked at Nicky and said, "Do they trust you or Michelle?"
"Come on, Tati, we don't officially babysit you yet, but we're responsible enough to watch you for a little while," Alex remarked.
As they discussed this, they heard a scream. Mandy reached the scene first, with others following. Samantha only got up after Tatiana and Melanie decided to run over and join the twins. "Guys, stay… oh, why not? Everyone else is," she said as she followed them.
Cassie was touching the ankle of a girl who looked to be about the older girls' age; the girl had been jogging and tripped, falling down a couple steps. "Yes, it really hurts," the girl said.
"It looks like it's broken," Cassie whispered to Mandy. "Can you tell us your name?"
"Heather." She revealed she was from Los Angeles, but the family had flown to San Francisco for the weekend. She'd been jogging to keep in shape – she played on her high school's volleyball team in the spring. "My parents are somewhere in the mall…"
Cassie showed Jesse and Becky's kids how to keep the ankle elevated. Cell phones were only starting to become really common for teens, so while Samantha and Michelle had cell phones, the girl's parents didn't. They were at least able to call 911, though.
Cassie inquired, "Mandy, can you run and find her parents if she can guess which store they're in?" Since there were a couple possibilities, she let Nicky and Alex go to the second one, though she thought Mandy might be a little faster than the boys.
Samantha, meanwhile, had gone back to the food court and returned with a cold, wet napkin, with which she dabbed Heather's forehead. "It's going to be okay. I know how you feel; I can't imagine how it would be for me if I couldn't dance for a while."
"You're going to get better, though, I'm sure," Cassie said.
"She doesn't even know if she can be a good doctor," Michelle teased as she put away her cell phone. "Can you believe that? I think she's doing really well here."
Cassie smiled. "Thanks, Michelle. Oh, let's get a pulse. You didn't hit your head, did you?" She hadn't. Several other bystanders began to help, too, as Cassie said, "The paramedics will do this, too, but Michelle's right, I may as well practice, huh? Although usually they already have that information," she said with a laugh.
"You're doing a good job holding it there and making her feel better, too," Michelle told Melanie and Tatiana.
"It's a good thing I can stand to see blood," the little girl said.
"Or ketchup," Melanie added. "They really don't look alike, do they?"
Heather had grimaced at the thought of blood, but now chuckled through her pain. "My one friend might bleed it, she puts it on everything," Heather said. She was glad that these people had helped her take her mind off all she'd have to go through to recover.
The paramedics arrived shortly before Heather's parents. Cassie began providing information as Mandy returned with the mother; Nicky and Alex had found the dad in a different store. As Cassie helped them get her into the ambulance, she considered that maybe she could be a doctor for a living; although there sure were a lot of different things one had to look for in just an ankle injury like that, let alone in the rest of the body.
D.J. had heard from Michelle about their adventure before she and Steve came for dinner that Saturday evening. She'd then told Kimmy Gibbler, her weird and dumb best friend. Therefore, Kimmy and her husband Duane came over, too.
"Hey, everyone," Kimmy called out as she and Duane entered the Tanner home. "Is that girl you helped in the hospital yet?" she asked Michelle while carrying a steaming hot dish over to the counter.
"Yeah, Kimmy; she has to have surgery on her broken ankle," Michelle explained.
"What's in the pot?" Samantha asked.
""Something I thought would cheer her up; I'll take some down to the hospital for after her surgery." She opened the pot. "Take a bite."
Steve dug right in, even though he knew Kimmy could be very strange. He quickly made a face; it wasn't yucky, but it was very odd. "Kimmy...what did you stuff these pork chops with?"
"Stuffing, of course," Kimmy said as Michelle took a bite.
"Try it, Steph, it tastes like chicken," Michelle said.
"Come on, Michelle, you know that's just a saying," Stephanie kidded her. "I'm sure not every new food tastes like..." She sampled it herself, and then stared at it. "It does taste like chicken."
"Of course. Pork with chicken stuffing. And beef gravy, too. It's my own version of turducken," Kimmy said proudly.
Melanie asked, "Tur-what?!" as she helped set the table for the family gathering.
"Turducken is a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey," Becky explained.
"Notice there's no mention of pigs," Samantha reminded Kimmy.
"So? Instead of turducken, it's cowpigen. Same difference," Kimmy said with a shrug. "Besides, if you want turducken gravy…." She thought for a moment. "Say, I could use my leftover pork gravy on that."
"You had pork gravy, yet you used beef gravy on pork. I'm missing something," Stephanie said.
"Hey, why not mix them up a little? It can be fun," Kimmy responded.
D.J. nodded. "She has a point. That's how chefs start sometimes, putting odd things together. The only problem is they don't always work."
"Yeah; just like how Steph's worried about putting a bunch of things together in her story," Michelle revealed.
Stephanie explained about NaNoWriMo as the group sat down to eat. Joey and his family were at his wife's family's – her mom had recently suffered a mild heart attack. Still, an extra table had been brought out and connected because there were so many people. She gazed at them all and couldn't help but consider how hard it would be to develop such a montage of characters.
"Wow, that's great that you're trying that, Steph. That should be a really fun challenge," Becky said enthusiastically.
Stephanie said it could be. "The forums really help. You can even adopt characters others aren't using. I just feel like I have so little clue about what to write. 50,000 is a lot of words."
"Hey, can I be in your book? I always wanted to star in something," Kimmy said.
"Kimmy, it's a murder mystery. You would hinder the investigation," Stephanie said.
"Just pretend there's a prominent Hollywood actress mixed up in all this," Kimmy suggested.
"She might do okay," Nicky said. "Maybe someone thinks her socks were the murder weapon." He'd heard that her feet were legendarily smelly.
Alex added, "Yeah; you star on 'Upside Down World' – your nose runs and your feet smell."
"Hey, cool idea; you gotta use that," Kimmy told Stephanie.
"I can just see it; 'Kimmy with your feet of blight; won't you guide my pen tonight," Stephanie quipped, gesturing toward her with a fork. "Seriously, that might make it more of a comedy. But, maybe that's what I need. I need you all to challenge me." She couldn't help but chuckle. "Michelle started with this long story like I'd tell. Well, between what you helped with at the mall," she told Michelle and the others who had been there, "and a bunch of word wars and prompts, maybe." She sighed. "I just need a coherent plot."
The younger kids asked what prompts and word wars were.
"A prompt is when you say a word at random and I have to write about it – or two words I have to put together in what I write," Stephanie said. "A word war is when we challenge each other to write the most words, or race to 1,000, or something like that; it can be on a prompt or not."
Danny could tell what a few kids were thinking. "But, please, not at the dinner table," he cautioned, "we're here to eat and socialize."
Joey, his wife, their boy Robin, three, and her kids from a previous marriage, Justin and Wendy, stopped at the Tanners after church on Sunday. Jesse was also there so they could go over things for the radio show. Upon hearing of Stephanie's plight, Joey suggested, "How about Shakespeare and Elvis?"
"Oh, brother," Jesse said. He rested his head in a hand. "Why do I have a feeling this is going to lead into something wacky on the radio?"
Stephanie held a pen to her chin. "Hmmm, maybe a Shakespearean sonnet out of an Elvis song." She began writing. "I remember you guys sang 'Baby Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear' to Michelle when she was little. Let's see…"
Justin, Michelle's age, said, "This should be funny."
"And, she could have it sung to her, too," Stephanie suggested. "By a very whimsical governess who takes care of Chloe, who happens to be heiress to a clothing empire whose clothes are advertised by the Kimmy character." She looked up, suddenly very excited. "Did you guys hear that? I just figured out how to put these characters together."
"Sure you did, Steph, I knew you could do it," Joey said.
"So, she says this sonnet to her before bed. 'I call to you and utilize an old endearment phrase/
meant for a child, a sweet sweet thing, used oft pre-toddler days.' Pre-toddler means 'baby'."
"Sure, sounds good," Joey's wife Suzie said.
Stephanie spoke as she wrote over several minutes. "And ask of you, do be so kind, to let me come to be/to you a toy whose nom de plume, hails from our history. The story told of one… ursine the man disdained to kill/he led our land but greater fame was gained at San Juan Hill. When as that toy I come to be, all places I will go/with you the guide, dragging me on, my neck in a lasso." She looked at the paper and shrugged. "A little more than a string around the neck, but it'll have to do."
"At least until December edits," Samantha said.
"Right," Stephanie said as she continued. "Neither lion nor tiger I could e'er proclaim to be. The lion's prone to play the thug, the tiger too carefree." She got a kick out of Jesse's shock. "I call to you and utilize an old endearment phrase/meant for a child, a sweet sweet thing, used oft pre-toddler days. And ask of you, do be so kind, to let me come to be/to you a toy whose nom de plume, hails from our history." She looked up. "What do you think?"
Jesse stared ahead speechless. Justin piped up, "My English teacher would love that."
"Hey, yeah, Jess, you should see if that one old English teacher you had is still around and show him that," Joey remarked.
Jesse asked, "A sonnet's fourteen lines in that iambic pentagon or whatever, right?" Jesse asked flippantly, not caring what the poetry meter was called. "So, what you're sayin' is, Shakespeare could have written an Elvis song. Man, that's weird."
Danny agreed with Joey. "I'm sure Mr. Pearson would love it. Maybe you can send him a tape of your show where Joey or you read it."
"Look, guys, if I'm putting it in this book I want to be sure people know it's original. So, don't read it till December, when I know if I finished. Then, you can credit me," Stephanie requested.
"Sure thing, Steph. It'll take me that long just to get my mind around the idea of Shakespeare writing Elvis, anyway," Jesse said.
"It sure sounds different the way Elvis did it," Wendy, a sixth grader, said.
"Well, Elvis would have sounded different if he'd lived back then," Stephanie said. "However, I'm not interested in turning this into historical fiction. It'll take place in the late '80s or so, but no earlier. All right, Michelle," she commanded as she saw her younger sister walking by, "I challenge you to a word war. First one to a thousand wins."
Michelle shrugged. "I put you up to this, so I should do it, huh?"
"Right. This could be fun; all I have to do is figure out how it all fits together," Stephanie said worriedly.
Still, she'd gotten the beginnings of a plot, which helped her to write something. When Samantha and Michelle came downstairs Friday morning and asked how her writing was going, Stephanie said, "Great; Congress just has to pass a law extending November to 50 days and I'll be set."
"You can catch up on the weekends,' Michelle noted.
"Yeah, this November's a good time for you to do that. It's got five weekends in it," Samantha added as they began to get their breakfasts.
"Which still doesn't balance out the fact I'm a senior in college, but it helps." Stephanie pointed to some notes. "The character Kimmy asked me to create for her is a somewhat airheaded actress who loves the drama of this mystery; she latches onto my detective as a sidekick; I've titled chapter two, 'Unwanted Help.' Which is great irony because Kimmy has been helpful to me."
"It's a good thing she can laugh at herself," Michelle commented.
Stephanie agreed. "So, the detective has to spend half the time explaining, for instance, that Kameron Konstanty is not helping when she blurts out that they're looking for motive, method, and opportunity to everyone they interview," Stephanie said. "Although, she'll be a help at some point because the things she says can leave a person vulnerable."
"Like what?" Samantha wanted to know.
"For instance, this one suspect's an artist, who likes staying at this inn because of the northern light when the sun rises. So, Kameron blurts out that the sun must rise in the north in this part of the world. This leaves the artist unnerved enough to spill something he might not otherwise."
"That can be kind of confusing if you're at one of the poles; everything's north of the South Pole and vice versa, right?" Samantha said.
Stephanie had to think for a moment. "Yeah, it would be. This takes place at a beachfront inn in the Caribbean, though; it lets me use someplace exotic we've been with you. And that lets me use some really nice description without having to do a lot of research; I just mash together a few larger inns I've seen and beaches we've been to." She paused while eating and said, "In fact, I wonder how that works with the sunrises?"
"I'll check the computer after breakfast," Michelle offered.
"Whoa, wait till later, you don't want to be late for school. Besides, later I'll have time to write down what you find and put it in as an explanation. It may seem strange how they wind up needing that, but if I'm going to fill 50,000 words, I'll need every kind of odd bit of trivia I can get." Now finished with her cereal, she spoke, standing near the end. "Odd trivia, jokes, riddles, puns. Not a thing will escape my eye. In fact, if I have to, I'll copy this." She picked up the cereal box and pointed to the list of ingredients.
Samantha turned to Michelle and said, "I know that look. She's determined to do it now!" Michelle nodded.
That afternoon, Michelle – now the senior class president – was on the computer in the alcove where Joey had lived until moving into the garage shortly after he'd come to live with them. "Here, Steph," she called out as Stephanie walked by. "I found what you wanted."
Stephanie had been distracted by her classes, but now was right back into her novel. "Oh, cool." She pursed her lips slightly as she read. "Oh, of course, the earth tilts 23 degrees so that makes sense that's all the higher it would ever be in the sky at the South Pole. Boy, that must be something to see it skirt along the horizon most of the time."
"So, it can't really happen that it goes from one side to the other like we're used to," Michelle remarked. "This is interesting." She saw Stephanie writing it down. "Are you really going to put that in your novel?"
"Michelle, you don't seem to grasp that 50,000 is a lot of words," Stephanie proclaimed.
"But, I read that the average person speaks thousands in a day," Michele said as she turned in the chair.
"Which is why Samantha's tape recorder idea really helped." Stephanie said there was one difference, though. "We talk about so many things… I don't know, I guess it's just hard to have 50,000 words that actually matter to one plot. Usually it's all spread around about family, the weather, what we want to eat, and so on."
Samantha had come up behind them. "I never thought of it like that. I just talked to Heather, she's doing well; she just got in to see her doctor back home, and he's referring her to an orthopedic specialist," she told Michelle.
"That's good; it's nice you've been able to help like that," Stephanie said.
"She was glad to talk to me, too. I mean, having my tonsils out was nothing like that, but I still didn't feel like dancing or anything much right away," Samantha said. "With the way I loved to do that it was frustrating. But, I remember starting to write stories then, and that was so cool. And, guess what; Colin's good at art. He's going to college for baseball, and might even make the pros, but I'll be touring as a ballerina, anyway, and who knows? Maybe someday we can do some childrens' books, with him doing the illustrations."
"That'd be super," Michelle exclaimed.
"You'll be great at whatever you do. It's wonderful to have dreams like that," Stephanie said. She imagined that 50,000 words was even attainable for her.
She passed 10,000, and even 20,000 and 30,000, somewhat easily. However, the road from 30,000 to 40,000 took her over a week. She wasn't sure, by Thanksgiving – which, with Saturday being the first, fell on the 27th that year – if she could make that last leg of the race.
"How's the novel, Steph?" D.J. asked as they prepared the meal.
"Well, I'm finished, but I'm not," Stephanie lamented. "I wrote the conclusion a couple days ago and tidied up a few things, but then I realized I was only around 43,000 words. My average words per day is back below the 1,667 I'd have to do to win."
"That doesn't sound too bad," D.J. said. "So you need 7,000 words; have you typed out numbers and things?"
"I don't know why, but that almost felt like cheating; although I could. Still, I don't think that would get me that many more words, maybe a few hundred." She put the turkey in the oven just as Allie and Darcy came in the back door. "Hey, guys," she said as they hugged.
"Hey, Steph, how's the writing coming?" Darcy asked excitedly. "I can't wait to read this."
Allie wanted to know, "Did you figure out who did it?"
"I got that; that Kameron character did some crazy things to add to the revelation, too. I built my characters really well; remember how I'd describe every little detail of someone when we were little, Allie? I used that six-year-old and made her heiress to a family that made their fortune in food products. Well, she just insists on helping people cook or even eat; That meant lots of people and things end up with stains of one type or another; ketchup, mustard, you name it," Stephanie explained. The young ladies laughed. "It's amazing how many words you can get out of ramblers and stains," she added.
"Sounds like you got past 50,000 with room to spare then," Allie said. Stephanie's face fell. "Not quite, huh?" she asked delicately.
D.J. told Stephanie to go chat with her friends before they left for their own family gatherings. "I'll work here till Michelle and Samantha come back from seeing their boyfriends. It should be too long." Danny would also be there soon, but he was hosting "Wake Up, San Francisco." Given the day, though, he would arrive home almost right after the show.
"Thanks, Deej." Stephanie, Allie, and Darcy went up to the office computer, where Stephanie opened a file. "Here it is. 'Ketchup and Blood Are Not the Same.' I know, kind of lame title, but working titles aren't always that great. Although, I also made it the first chapter title,a nd it works pretty well there."
"How much further till you reach 50,000?" Darcy inquired.
"Just a touch under seven thousand. It's not bad, and with me working while the guys watch football today, and then the weekend, you would think I'd be in good shape. The problem is, I've hit a brick wall," she said with a little frustration, beginning one of her classic rambles. "I don't have time to go through and edit all the long numbers to words now, and there's too little there, anyway. You can only say an odometer has 123,245.8 miles on it so many times. My little heiress has already left the lid of the blender, as well as helping the detective's goofy assistant Kameron to do some of the things I did when I tried to run that catering business; remember that, guys?" Her friends nodded. "Of course, with Kameron being an airhead and little Chloe trying to help that makes matters much worse than I ever caused."
"Sounds like you've got some great action to go along with your main plot," Darcy said.
"Thanks. I've even managed to tie a lot of it in to the investigation. The nuttiness distracts Chloe so it isn't so scary or freaky for her. I'm glad; I hate to see anyone really scared, even fictional characters. I guess you could say after a while, you begin to really feel for your characters," Stephanie concluded.
"You've always had a great heart, Steph," Allie said.
"Thanks." Stephanie leaned back and sighed. "So, how do I find 7,000 more words? Or maybe a little more, the counter sometimes doesn't count a few little things a word processor does. Then again, with some word processors it counts a few more."
"Have you delved into the past of some of your characters?" Allie wondered. "I'm amazed at how things have changed for me just in the last five years, going from high school to college and then meeting Harry and transferring. I feel like I've just started to grow so much. It's just like when I met you, Steph; I was so shy I didn't even want to go in my first day of Kindergarten; then it was a big help that you talked all the time so I didn't have to. But, you really helped me after a while to become more confident and everything."
"Thanks, Allie; you've helped me a lot, too. D.J. being proactive helped, of course, but even so, I was always so excitable, you helped keep me down to earth."
Allie continued. "Who would have expected I'd run into our former classmate, Harry? But, God had a plan. Just like meeting you; I mean, if my dad hadn't found another job and we'd had to move after fifth grade, I still would have trusted Jesus Christ to save me by just calling on Him by faith to forgive and save me someday, I'm sure. I finally realized what you did when you wrecked Joey's car; that I needed Christ's forgiveness in my life, though what He did on the cross for me. But, now I've seen Him work in so many other ways these last couple years; people have holes in their hearts only He can fill. And, I'm feeling led to do missions like Harry."
"I know. I remember praying for Mr. Bear's return long ago," Stephanie said of her favorite toy, a bear given by her mom when Michelle was born. "I knew God was busy but somehow I had faith He had a plan. Yeah, I can see a character or two having that kind of a background, and seeing the Lord work to give them peace and joy through the storms so they can get through their circumstances. Maybe that silly governess of Chloe's, the one who I have turning Elvis into Shakespeare. She's the kind who'd understand God didn't mean this world to have such bad stuff; it's just people have choice so they're not mindless robots."
Darcy said that was a good choice. "If you don't have much of a background for a character, you can always build it; it doesn't have to be a main one. You don't have to have every character that's only in one scene like that, but expanding some of them a little might help."
Stephanie typed some notes into a separate document. "Sure; that's why they hired her. She's kind, very patient with Chloe's overly exuberant nature when it comes to wanting to be like her parents, and so on. And, that can lead into how she prays for Chloe and her employers, and maybe a few other things," she said as she typed.
"It is weird to think we might not stay together after being so close through high school," Darcy confessed. "It sounds like Michelle and her friends are going to all stay in the area."
"Yep. Cassie's really starting to believe in herself as far as medical school goes; that girl they helped who broke her ankle is doing really well, by the way," Stephanie said.
"That's good," Darcy said. "So, you said something about keeping it clean, how do you do that with the blood there?"
"Well, Robert said the other two people in his dream didn't have any, so I thought: What if I just have it be ketchup the first time. So someone went way out of their way to make it look real bad when it was ketchup. It's the only way I could imagine doing it; I didn't want anything really bad. The worst I'd want is something like Agatha Christie did; and the first time I read one of her books was when I was thirteen or fourteen," Stephanie explained.
"Which ties in with wanting to keep Chloe from being too scared," Darcy deduced.
Stephanie held up a finger. "Ah, there's one of several tricks that this mystery writer uses to throw the reader off the trail. The perpetrator made it seem that way to throw suspicion onto someone who would do a more dastardly deed. The governess helps to solve the mystery, too, then," Stephanie explained.
Darcy and Allie agreed that this made sense. As Darcy said, "You have to have some good twists and turns in a mystery."
"Sure. Now, I just have one problem – finding a twist or turn that's thousands of words long,' Stephanie said tiredly.
Stephanie wrote down some ideas for character development. Then, she went down to the kitchen, where she heard while descending, "What's this duck doing here?"
She snickered. If the fabulous smells weren't making her mouth water, with dinnere mere minutes away, she'd have been ready for several challenges to word wars.
In fact, she mused, maybe this would provide the help she needed.
"The chicken called in sick," she heard Joey's oldest, Justin, say. Then, her eyes rested on a duck a couple feet high. It appeard to be a lawn ornament.
""That's not a duck," Nicky declared.
"Why not?" Michelle wanted to know.
"They say 'if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck,'" Nicky explained.
Alex interjected, "Yeah, and it's not quacking."
"I know it's not all it's quacked up to be," Joey said, impersonating Daffy Duck.
"This is what I love about our family," Stephanie said as she sat. "The banter is so much fun." There were often several confersations, at least one of which would be quite interesting, funny, or both.
Wendy said someone had brought it. "It's either an early Christmas gift, an early birthday gift for Uncle Danny, or a really, really late Chrsitmas gift from last year," the preteen said.
More silly talk came about what the duck was doing there – including that it was actually a cow in disghuise, which led people to wonder what the cow was doing, and which led Jesse to wonder why a cow would disguise itself as a duck, anyway.
Robert had spent the day with his family, but arrived at the Tanners that evening. "Okay, I've got to get caught up on all the fun family stuff," he said.
"Sure," Stephanie said. She joined him as he grabbed more food, but he could tell she was preoccupied.
"Still going over those characters?" Robert asked just before taking a bite of pumpkin pie.
"Yeah; I've got enough ideas written down that I think I can get over 50,000 words; it was kidn of like word wars, but it was sort of like that assignment you might get in school where you have to come up with all the possible things or facts or whatever about something." Stephanie chuckled. "Sorry, my mind got into those so much it sort of overloaded on regular conversation."
"That's okay; 50,000 words is a big challenge," Robert said.
"True. But, you know, I have to admit," she said with a smile, "I was a little worried about turning into Charles Dickens with how elaborately detailed those nineteenth century writers were, instead of Agatha Christie, but I think I've found a fair balance."
"You're amazing, you know that?" Robert said in awe.
"Thanks," Stephanie said humbly. "You're amazing, too." She was quite independent and outgoing, and needed a man who would give her space while at the same time being warm and compassionate and all those other wonderful qualities she wanted, a man who would be committed to her. She was already seeing he could be the one. "It's a great accomplishment. But, I'm glad Michelle pushed me to try. I might have always wondered if I could do this. Now, I'll never have to ask 'what if' at least."
Robert and she moved closer. He was starting to tell she could be the one, too. "You would have tried sometime."
"Maybe. Or, maybe we'd have just gotten too busy with family and I never would have found the time. But, this mystery got written, that's the important part. Or, at least it will get finished in the next few days." They kissed.
"I knew you could do it. You've got the determination that I love," Robert said.
"Thanks, you do, too."
A couple days later, late in the evening, Stephanie Tanner bounded out of the office. "Anyone want to look at the NaNoWriMo screen?" she called. She'd uploaded the book onto Danny's computer, as well as her own and the one in the alcove, to give her plenty of places where she could write her notes. Michelle and Samantha came out of their bedroom as Stephanie said, "With one day and several minutes to spare, I have 50,192 words in my document!"
"All right!" Samantha shouted excitedly. She, Michelle, and Stephanie hugged as Danny came out of his room and joined them. "We knew you could do it!"
"You've always been so good at everything, Steph," Danny said.
"Thanks, Dad." Stephanie looked fondly at Michelle. "Thanks for pushing me to do it. All the word wars, all the prompts, this was really a great accomplishment. I couldn't have done it without any of you," she told the others, "but especially not without you, Michelle."
Samantha piped up, "Now that you've won NaNoWriMo, I hear there's a challenge called WriYe – a million words in a year." She, Michelle, and Stephanie all laughed. "I know, that's crazy talk, huh?"
"That would call for Joey's impression of Scotty on 'Star Trek' saying he can't defy the laws of physics," Stephanie said.
Michelle agreed. "That would be almost twice as many words per day for a year; I knew you could do a month of 1,667 words a day, but a year…" She shook her head.
"If you're trying to use reverse psychology to get me to try, it won't work," Stephanie kidded her. "But, I am glad I tried this. And, whether it becomes an actual novel or just published online or not even that, I've really accomplished something fun."
Michelle agreed. "It's great to be able to point to something and say you created it."
"Especially when I have help like you guys," Stephanie said as they hugged.