Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

Redamntion – 8


Redamntion Coverart

Cover art by Lorrieann Russell

The morning dawned glorious on the island, bringing a golden sunrise and soft, steady breeze off the sea. The gulls busily patrolled the shoals for shell fish stranded by the tide, squawking greetings to each other as they kited above the beach. The ocean had gotten over its tantrum from the night before, and lapped gently at the shore, as if it had never seen a storm. The island itself, however, had plenty of scars from the night before.

Logan stood on the little deck that faced sea, sipping a cup of coffee surveying the damage left from the storm. Sand had whipped up and buried his walk way. The lone tamarack pine that shaded the cottage and stood tall and proud against the light tower, had lost its top and now stood humbled and dwarfed by the cottage. The power lines that connected his little cottage with the town lay in a tangle on the ground, wrapped hopelessly around the busted telephone pole that once supported them. The pole laid low his gate and part of the fence with it. The electricity would be off until the power company sent a crew from the mainland to replace the pole but he had his generator and his oil lamps, so Logan was not terribly concerned.

It had taken the repair crew from the Coast Guard only an hour to get the lighthouse back online. They restarted the generator, recalibrated the timing, and checked the giant bulb for damage. It flickered back to life only an hour after it had gone dark. It had been the only light on the island until the sun rose. Then it dutifully blinked off, and went back to sleep until it would be called back into service at sunset.

It would be more of an issue for the school if the power was out for long. There were generators there of course, but they would be used only in the common areas, and only for emergencies. The dormitories would be dark. He smiled thinking about the fun the students would make of that. The great black out of October! Classes would surely be cancelled as many of the teach staff relied upon the ferry to get to and from the island.

The phone line lay in a tangle on the ground, so there would be no use trying to call up to the admin office. He glanced off toward the cliffs edge where the school’s fortress wall and turret stood. All looked dark, as he suspected. He could rightly assume it was safe for him to stay home, cozy in his cottage for the day, and who would fault him?

He felt a brush at his leg and heard the plaintive chirp of “feed me, please.”

“Ah, good morning Thistle.” He reached down and lifted the gray tabby, cuddling her on his shoulder for the morning snuggle. “I see you fared well in the night. Hungry?”

Thistle nestled down on his shoulder, burying her nose into his collar, purring.

“What’s that? Stay home? Thistle, you temptress, you know I have a duty to attend all those young minds. . . what? Closed you say? Are you sure? Well then, home for the day it is.”

He set her down on the wide deck rail, stroking her long coat. The cat, impatient for her breakfast, jumped down and trotted back into the cottage, headed for the cupboard where her food was kept.

“Coming, my lady. No rest for the weary servant, I see.”

Logan dutifully poured some kibble into a bowl and set it down under the kitchen window, where he happened to see a frazzled looking Nettie coming up his walk.

“Logan? Are you home?”

He hurried to greet her. “I’m here, what’s wrong Nettie? Did anyone get hurt in the storm?”

Nettie stood straight and loosed a sign of relief. “Lord no, I came to make sure you were ok. I’ve been worried all night.”

“Oh, why? Come in, I’ve got a kettle on the wood stove for coffee.”

“Why? Look around!”

Logan had not taken a full survey of his little yard from the front. Indeed the damage was a bit more than he had first thought. The tamarack had not only shed a few limbs, but half it’s trunk. Amid the tangle of telephone line there were other bits of debris, lawn chairs, flag poles, mailboxes–none of which belonged anywhere near Logan’s end of Gibbons Island. In the middle of the lane, lay the wreckage of lobster boat that had been berthed in the harbor not far from the ferry dock the night before. Looking further up the lane, there were more bits of buildings and boats strewn far and wide, all the way into town.

“See?” Nettie said, tugging at his arm, pointing toward the town. “The store’s a mess. The front porch blew clear into the street and took awning with it. Other than that, I’m good. The gas station is out of luck though. The canopy over the pumps fell right down.”

“I had no idea. . . well then, I guess school really is off for the day.”

Nettie laughed. “At least! I’ll have that coffee if you’re still offering.”

“Of course, come on it.”

He led her to the table, and set out the cups. The cottage seemed normal to Logan, as he never used the lights much anyway. His wood stove sufficed for his cooking needs and his oil lamps lit his way. He rather enjoyed the quiet brought about by the absence of the refrigerator hum, though he did make a mental note to only open the door briefly in order to keep the milk cold for Thistle and the half-and-half from going off. All in all, Logan’s only reminder of inside the cabin of any storm was the window that had blown open, the remains of the broken lamp still scattered on the floor.

“Watch yourself, there’s glass there.”

“Well I can see why they used to build them this way,” Nettie said, giving the thick timber door frame a pat. “This old lighthouse and cabin are probably the best built things on the island, besides the school of course.”

“I’d say you’re right. Once I latched the sash I never felt a breeze.” Logan poured some coffee, then cup in front of her. As he set down the sugar and half-and-half, he noticed the look she was giving him. “What is it, Nettie? Are you sure you’re ok?”

“That lightning bolt lit up this whole end of the island…it sounded like an atom bomb. How…did you not get hit?”

Logan sat down silently. “Bolt?”

“Land’s sake, Logan, I saw it. Everyone saw it. We thought the whole point exploded. It looked like your cabin was on fire. Like a big ball of fire. I couldn’t even make out the lighthouse in the glare. And it lasted a long time.”

She’s seen the light? He looked toward the shelf where he’d placed the box after locking it. It looked innocent enough, just a wooden box with a rusted old hinge. “The coast guard.”


“The coast guard, they sent a repair crew. They arrived just after I made it home. Perhaps it was the lights from the ship you saw? They were quite bright and their dock is right aside the cabin here.”

“It must have been but…sure looked like a fireball.” She set her cup down, not looking up as she spoke in a near whisper. “I thought I…I thought we lost you.”

Logan was taken aback, unprepared for Nettie’s tone, and not sure how to respond.

After a moment, she looked up with a little smile. “You didn’t call me to tell me you made it home, you silly ass.”

“Call—Oh! I promised and then…” he folded his hands and bowed his head. “Guilty. I forgot. I am truly sorry, Nettie. I had no idea you’d worry.” He smiled. “Thanks.”

She nodded, taking a sip from her cup. “Phone line was down anyway. Only thing on the island that’s working is the lighthouse. Fat lot of good that does the rest of us though.”

“Oh I don’t know,” he said with a raised a brow and a side glance. “It keeps us safe from the curse.”

“Oh, you!” She laughed, waving her hand. “I don’t believe that old curse. Do you?”

“Absolutely,” he said then sipped his coffee. “And so does Thistle.”

“Oh well then, it must be true. Cats know these things.” She pushed her cup away then stood with a sigh. “Well, thank you for the coffee, but I need to get back down to the store. I’m still open, even if the porch is gone.”

“Doing any business?”

“Well, there’s a run on candles, go figure. I left my niece, Lucy in charge. She’s got a wicked bit of huskter in her, and a nose for a profit. She’ll open the birthday candles and sell ’em one at a time for a buck a piece if I don’t rein her in.”

Logan led her to the door. “I’ll walk that far with you if you don’t mind. I need to get over to the school.”

Nettie’s smile brightened. “I’d enjoy the company. You goin’ to school anyway?”

“Half the staff will be stranded on the mainland. The students are going to need a bit of managing,” he said, pulling his jacket on.

“In other words, you’re worried they’ll go wild and run the provost up the flagpole by his underpants,” Nettie suggested with a wink.

“Indeed, you’ve guessed it. And after all, when they do, they’ll need my advice on how high to raise him.”

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Posted by on November 21, 2012 in NaNoWriMo


Redamntion – 7


The thunder started slowly, almost quietly, building from the near subsonic rumble to a rolling avalanche of

Redamntion Coverart

Cover art by Lorrieann Russell

sound. The clouds gathered forces, piling upon each other into thick mountains of atmosphere, not allowing even a sliver of moonlight to pass through. Even the lightning could not fully break through the curtain, showing only as haloed orbs that flashed then died. The wind that had played so hard against the ferry, had suddenly gone still, and it seemed the whole island had taken a deep breath, and was holding it in anticipation.

“That’s gonna be one mean storm,” Nettie said, breaking the silence. “Are you sure you don’t’ want to ride it out with us in the store? There’s plenty of room. Lights are still on here.”

Logan tore his gaze away from the darkened lighthouse, only visible as a dark silhouette against the occasional flashes in the clouds. “No, Nettie, thank you. I think I’d better get home. There’s a generator.”

She offered no further protest, though her grip on his elbow tightened slightly. “Does your generator have enough gas?”

He gave her hand a reassuring pat. “It does. I promise.”

A sudden crack of thunder, accompanied by a sizzling bolt of lightning broke through the clouds. The air was filled with the smell of decaying ozone.

“I’d better hurry.”

“Go! Logan, please be careful and let me know when you get home.”

He smiled. “Yes, mum.”

“Don’t mock. I worry.”

“Thank you for worrying, but I’ll be fine. I’ll give you a ring when I get there.”

“If your phone is up. . . Logan, please? Come inside, just until—what’s that?” She put her hand toward his breast pocket, then pulled back. “Sorry, I thought I saw… ”


“Do you have a new cell phone? Your pocket is— was— glowing. One of those that just lights up instead of ringing?”

He put his hand instinctively over his pocket and felt the little box still tucked safely inside. “Uh. Yes.” He peaked into his pocket, he saw no glow, though he had no doubt Nettie probably did. “It’s stopped now. Probably just needs to charge. . .it does that when the batteries are low.”

“Well I hope it lasts long enough for you to let me know when you get home. Go on before it starts raining.”

He gave her a nod, and pulled the jacket closed. “Take care, Nettie. Go pull your shutters, I think you’ll need them.”

She waved, and went into the store, watching him from the screen door.

Logan did not, as a rule, enjoy running. He avoided it at all opportunity, but he could not have forced himself to walk up the lane to his cottage even if the weather was lovely and sunny, though it wasn’t the storm that urged his haste, but the warmth emanating from his pocket. He had to get it home, and get it safe, and he had to do it fast, before it decided to break out on its own.

The first drops of rain wet his face just as he passed through his gate. He’d made it to the front door, and managed to get inside, just as the bottom fell out of the clouds, and the rain poured down almost in one piece.

The storm moved in hard, shaking the windows, and rattling the crockery that lined his kitchen shelves. Logan was at home in the darkened cottage, and took his time about lighting the hurricane oil lamp he kept on the window. There was no need for it, really. The box, though still tucked inside his jacket, was glowing again, and provided him enough light to navigate the room easily between lightning flashes.

Logan removed took the box from his coat, shielding his eyes from the light. “Not yet! It’s not time!”

He set it on the table in the middle of the room, then tore open the door to the broom closet. He began rifling through the contents, tossing boxes and bags, brooms and buckets out into the room until he found what he wanted: a plain looking wooden box with small bronze hinges and a tiny lock shaped like a spade.

The light filled the room illuminating corners that even the sun had never shown in. Logan made a mental note to clean more often. “Calm down! I’m hurrying.”

A small key no bigger than his thumbnail, dangled from the light chain in the middle of the room. He smiled in spite of his urgency that such an important little trinket should be so haphazardly kept in plain view. He took the key and fumbled with the little lock until it sprang open.

The glow dimmed a bit. “Yes, I know it is disappointing for you, but please, I promise it won’t be long.”

He picked up the little box and carefully placed it inside the bigger wooden box, and carefully closed the lid.

The darkness was complete as soon as the lid was closed. With the darkness came a silence that overwhelmed him. “It won’t be long,” he whispered.

In the same instant, a boom of thunder poured through the cottage. Lightning replaced the glow, and the wind pummeled the cottage with rain and sand. The window he’d placed the lamp on, flew open, and the meager flame sputtered out. He rushed to the window to pull the storm shutters closed. He could see the lights in the village flicker, then finally succumb to the storm. With the lighthouse, the lamp and his little box all gone dark, and the streetlights out, he suddenly felt like the only soul left on the island.

But the feeling passed as soon as the fog horns began to blast and he heard the knocking at his door. The Coast Guard had arrived to fix the light.

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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in NaNoWriMo


Redamntion – 6


Joe Kelly was not a man given to fits of melancholy. He liked to try to find the bright side of things, no matter

Redamntion Coverart

Cover art by Lorrieann Russell

how dark things got. Most days, it wasn’t too hard to find at least a trace of light in his current circumstances, even if it was no more than a half-hearted flicker; finding an empty seat on the train, or a couple of extra bucks tucked into the pocket of a pair of pants he’d not worn for a while. Oh, the light was there, he believed, just waiting to be noticed. The trouble was, that sometimes the only way to see the light was for everything else to go dark.

He walked the block from the train station to his apartment building deep in thought, his hands balled into fists and jammed into the pockets of his jacket. The wind seemed particularly cold for October. More like November he thought. I sure ain’t ready for winter this year. With winter comes heating bills and Christmas. . . he smiled in spite of his gloom. Christmas was coming and no matter how downhearted he felt, Christmas always lifted his spirits. I’ll have to get the kids a nice tree this year . . . probably the last one we’ll spend together if Jimmy gets accepted to Auburn. Geez, how in the world am I gonna get him all the way to Alabama. . .

“I said, hello, Mr. Kelly.”

Joe looked up, startled. He hadn’t even realized he’d arrived at his building. “Oh, hey, Ms. Franzoni. I guess I did it again huh?”

The elderly woman standing on the stoop blew out the smoke from her cigarette and laughed. “All the way up the street. I don’t know who you talk to when you walk, but they sure must be interesting company.”

“I wasn’t talkin’ to no one but myself, and I gotta tell ya, I ain’t all that interesting.” He glanced up to his apartment window on the second floor. The living room light was on. “Looks like the kids beat me home again.”

“Jimmy did, not sure about Lindy” she said, crushing the butt of her cigarette into a sand filled ashtray. “Lord, I swear, these new no-smokin’ laws are gonna kill me. I’ll get me pneumonia standin’ out here.”

“You can smoke in your own apartment, just not in the hall or common room.”

“But then I’d never get out of the building at all, and I’d miss our conversations.”

Joe laughed. “I wouldn’t want that.” He glanced up to the window again. The shadow of a young man marched across the drawn shade, then made an abrupt about face and marched the other way, waving something in his hand.

Mrs. Franzoni followed his gaze, and grinned. “Letter came today. I saw him rip it out of the mailbox like it was the latest Penthouse and the forum had printed his letter.”

Joe looked at her feigning shock. “Oh, I get it, you read it for the articles right?”

“Of course!” she asserted, then added, “and the forum. Go on up. Tell him congratulations for me. Hey, I’ll send a over a nice Jello ring, you can celebrate.”

“Thanks, that’d be great,” Joe said heading through the door. He glanced back over his shoulder to tell Mr. Franzoni goodnight, but something caught his eye on the floor under the mailboxes. He reached down to pick up the remains of a torn and crumpled envelope addressed to Ms. Linden Kelly. The return address was missing, but Joe recognized the emblem of the institution Lindy had applied to for a scholarship.

His heart leapt. Two good letters in one day? He took the stairs two at a time, calling, “Kelly kids, here comes Pop, poppin’ to the top o’ the staaairs!” as he had since they were little enough to find that funny.

He opened the door to the apartment wide and stepped in with his arms out and a grin on his face. “Hello my little scholars!”

“It’s not fair! It’s just not fair!” Lindy stormed by, her face wet and her eyes red and puffy. “I should have just been born taller and stupider then I could have gone to school for free!” The door to her room slammed.

“It’s not my fault! I thought you’d be happy!” Jimmy raced by, oblivious to Joe standing in the doorway. “Lin . . . Come on, open up. I didn’t know ok? I just wanted you to be proud of me.”

The door flew open. “Proud? PROUD? You barely passed basic math! You’re highest grade in four years is a C plus!”

“I got an A in gym!”

“All you have to do is sweat and shower to get an A in gym!”

Joe backed out into the corridor and closed the door, then knocked on it three times. “Hello, Kelly kids, is anybody home?”

“There’s a lot more to it than that! Just because I’m not a brainiac like you, why shouldn’t I get a chance to go to college? What’s so unfair about that?”

“Just because you can throw a stupid orange ball through a net, you get to go to college for free? I make honor grades in science and math and I get nothing!” The bedroom door slammed again.

Joe entered the apartment quietly. Jimmy was standing outside Linden’s door shaking his head.


“Hey, dad. I guess you heard?”

“Yeah, I heard. The whole block heard. Now suppose you tell me what happened?”

Jimmy handed the letter from Auburn University to Joe. “I got in.”

Joe read the letter, then reread it, and then a third time. “Full scholarship?”

Jimmy couldn’t help but smile. “Basketball. . . and you thought it was just a hobby.”

“Full . . . Oh Jimmy!” Joe flung his arms around his son and spun him around. “That’s great! That’s. . . oh, that’s terrific.”

“Thanks. I’m glad you think so. Lindy isn’t so impressed.”

“What happened? I found this downstairs.” He handed Jimmy the torn envelope. “I thought we’d all have some celebrating to do.”

Jimmy pointed to a similarly crumpled letter on the kitchen table.

Joe picked it up and read slowly. “. . . your fine credentials will no doubt lead to many other opportunities. . . however we regret. . .aw geez.”

“Yeah can you believe it. I thought she was a shoe in.”

“Me too. . . hey listen, let me talk to her. I still want to celebrate for you, but maybe we better keep it low key tonight. Ok?”

“Yeah. It’s cool, Pop.”

Joe knocked on Linden’s door. “Lindy? Honey it’s me, can I come in?”

The door opened.

Joe went in slowly. Lindy flopped down into the chair at her desk and began tearing pages out of her note book. “Stupid essay. I never know how to start. A thousand words on the meaning of ‘failure’ for philosophy. That one should be a cinch don’t you think?”

Joe sat down on the corner of his daughter’s bed, the crumpled letter still in his hand. “Honey, I am so sorry about this. But don’t you worry. I’m gonna find a way to send you to school. I promise.”

“Every college I want to go to tells me I need a good prep. . . what difference does it make. I may as well forget med school and just take the correspondence course on how to be a medical transcriptionist.”

Joe looked down at his hands feeling helpless. That silver lining was hiding itself pretty darn good this time.

“You think mom is disappointed in me?” Joe looked up to see Lindy holding a silver framed picture. Lindy traced her finger gently down the mocha image of her smiling mother. “She always told me I’d take the world by storm because I had your, you know — white is might, she said. I guess she never heard about basketball scholarships that go to the tall black kids, while their white sisters get left behind.”

Joe swallowed hard. It was the first time he ever heard Lindy call herself ‘white’. He never made the distinction with his children. He didn’t want them to grow up with the prejudice and hatred he’d gotten from his own Irish Catholic family when he announced his intention to marry Sandra Jones — a Jamaican woman, who stood head taller than him and was decidedly not the pale Irish girl his mother always hoped he’d marry. Joe never saw Sandra’s skin as anything but beautiful, another part of her incredible being. He only knew he loved her, and she loved him back. Sure they knew it wasn’t going to be a bed of roses with a lot of people, but they didn’t care. They had each other, and that’s all that mattered.

Sandra was the smart one too. She worked as a legal secretary on the hill, and was going to school to be a paralegal when she got pregnant. He never asked her to leave school or give up her dreams to be a mother. That was her own choice, and she never seemed to regret it. She took a lot of funny looks when she brought the kids to the park, one dark as night, the other fair as a lilly. “Baby sitting?” some would ask. “No, they’re mine. Twins.” Then she’d laugh at the reactions, though she’d not linger long.

The kids grew to love themselves for who they were, not what color they were. Joe made sure they knew they were loved. He ran interference when he heard catcalls or snickers, and he made sure Jimmy could take care of himself if he ever found himself in a scuffle. He and Sandra had done a good job together—and for the five years since the cancer took her, he had done a good job alone.

“She’s proud of you, honey. I know she is. And you know what?”

Lindy looked up, wiping her face with her hand. “What?”

“I’m proud of you too, and. . . I think . . . now I can’t promise though I would dearly love to tell you it’s a sure thing. . . but. . .” he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small white card and handed it to her.

“What’s this?”

“A fare I had today. Nice guy. Even said thank you. Anyway he said that Standish sometimes does scholarships. Told me to give him a call.”

“I thought you didn’t like it out on Gibbons.”

“If my little girl likes it, I like it. You like it?”

She smiled a little. “Yeah, I like it. Do you think it’s worth it? I mean, the guy wasn’t like, the janitor or something?”

A sudden gust of wind blew open the window knocking the lamp off Linden’s desk. For a moment the room was completely black until the moon shown through the window, casting the faintest white glow on the business card in Linden’s hand.

Joe smiled. “Yeah, honey. It’s worth it. We’ll call in the morning.”

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Posted by on November 18, 2012 in NaNoWriMo


NaNoWriMo Excerpt Time!

It’s not going as quickly as I’d like, but it’s going. Here’s an excerpt from the novel I am writing. . . not set up, no context, but I hope you get a feel for the visuals. LR


The storm passed quietly just as the sun touched the horizon. Logan let go of the death grip he’d held on the helm and permitted himself to relax for the first time in twelve long hours. To the west, the storm clouds that bruised the horizon had given way to long strips of pale blue and gold, giving the sun a window to shine through for the last few moments of the day. Even the wind had quit. The waves that had nearly toppled the Lilleth only a few minutes before, fell back into the sea, smoothing out like silken sheets.

“Is it over?” Lindy called from under the canvas.

Logan rushed to the deck, quickly releasing the tie-down ropes at the corners of the canvas. “Lindy! You made it?”

“Let me out, please? I can’t take it under here anymore.”

Logan flipped back the heavy canvas and held a hand out to her. She looked smaller, her eyes large peeking up from the deck. Her soaked hair clung to her face in wild tangles, but otherwise she seemed unharmed. “You’re ok!”

“Yeah . . . I think.” She grasped his hand to pull herself up. “Any damage?”

Logan pulled her up, then drew her to himself, hugging far harder than he intended, or expected. “You’re ok.” She allowed him to hug only briefly before pushing away. He felt the heat rise to his face and released her, quickly turning his attention back to the helm. “Sorry. I’m just glad, you didn’t get washed over. Would be difficult to explain that to your father.”

Her hand touched his shoulder. “Hey, it’s ok.” She nudged his arm, to get him to turn.

He grasped the wheel tight, willing himself not to look at her. She let go, and he felt his heart fall. She’s not supposed to be part of this.

“Is it safe to go below? I’d like to get cleaned up, you know? Get some dry clothes on.”

He nodded, still not turning until he heard the creak of the hatch opening. “Lindy—”

She paused, looking. “What?”

“I’m…sorry. It should not have happened. And…I can’t…”

“What? You can’t what? Stand me?”

“No! No that’s not it. Once we get to the Sow, everything will change. I’ll change. I can’t be—”

“Oh, so that’s it. This is the speech then? ‘I’m too old for you, this isn’t right, it shouldn’t be, it’s wrong, it’s immoral, it’s fattening?’ right? Do you think I had no part in what happened? Do you think I’m that stupid?”

“No,” he turned away. “No. You’re anything but stupid. I’m not doing this right.”

“Logan, look at me.”

He obliged.

“What happened, happened. I’m not ashamed, and I don’t regret it.”

“There is so much you don’t know.”

“I know how I feel, and I know it was my choice. That’s all I need to know.” A small grin spread to the corner of her mouth. “But if it’s what I think it is that’s really bothering you. Don’t worry about it. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. So you’re a late bloomer.”

He jolted at that. “What do you mean?”

“Your secret is safe with me. So you’re a forty-ish year old virgin. I think it’s hot.”

His face warmed greatly and he was thankful for the sinking of the sun to hide the crimson in his cheeks. “That’s not what I meant…but, uh…you can tell that?”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I can tell. Are you alarmed to know I have some experience? Do you think less of me?”

“No, of course not. I’m amazed is all. What gave me away?”

She smiled and headed to the hatch to go below. “I had to show you where,” she said then disappeared into the cabin.

Logan stood, dumbfounded by the whole turn of events. He still could not believe he ever let her come with him on this of all voyages. The Sow was dangerous in normal times, but in these times? Was he mad? And to let things go, as they did—he shuddered, huddling his arms around himself against a sudden easterly breeze. The bulk of the box in the breast pocket pressed against his arm as if to remind him of its presence. He felt the low vibration and the glow trying to break through from the lid. He pressed it closer to himself and whispered, “What have I done?”

As if in response, a long low rumble of thunder echoed in the east, a reminder that though he had weathered this storm, there would be many more and far worse ones to face once they reached the lip of The Sow. And Lindy was going to be part of it, whether he liked it or not.



Posted by on November 7, 2012 in NaNoWriMo


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