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I write YA. I also blab incessantly.
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1. Countdown: Two Days Till GRAPEMO

A solitary space.

Phone turned off and tucked out of sight.

Coffee, tea, or soda at hand...maybe a bowl of munchies.

Soft background music...or sweet silence.

A dog, a cat, or slippers on your feet.

Peace and quiet.

Endless hours.

Endless words.

Sounds lovely, doesn't in? Unfortunately this is the reality most writers face:

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Jeez. What's with Jack? All she did was offer him a sandwich!!!

But Jack didn't want a sandwich. Jack wanted to write. OK, he didn't have to be such an ass. But seriously, people, non-writers don't get it. Some family members especially don't get it.

So here goes:

Dear Family-Members-Who-Don't-Get-It:

I love you. But I need to write.

I can't imagine life without you. But I need to write.

You know I'd do anything in the world for you.

But not right now.


So the answer is "no" to whatever you're asking, unless you're asking me if I'd like a couple hours of uninterrupted silence.



Writers, learn to say NO. GRAPEMO is your month to shine. There are 365 days in the year. All you're asking is to have 28 of them for yourself. Unreasonable? No way.

Now I highly doubt anyone here will forget to feed their kids. But when your family members expect you to jump, instead of asking "How high?" remain firmly seated, hands on the keyboard, eyes straight ahead. Write away from home if there's any way to swing it. If not, stick to your guns. YOU DESERVE THIS TIME! Don't let anyone talk you out of the few precious hours, or even minutes, you've set aside for yourself.


Shine on, my friends.

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Yes, writer friends, it's time for GRAPEMO! This year we're trying something a bit different.

Well, okay. A LOT different.

This year's GRAPEMO will be on FACEBOOK. I've come to this decision because:

1. The vast majority of former Grapenuts hang out there anyway
2. Updates and teasers can be sumbitted directly there rather than all of us depending on messages and e-mails
3. A lot of old friends are no longer on LJ--but they are on FB, so it makes sense to me
4. A chance to make NEW friends who share your passion for writing!

Our GRAPEMO 2015 FACEBOOK PAGE will be a "closed" group, meaning you have to hustle on over there and request to join. This is to keep out the wackos if you haven't already guessed.

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Not a wacko? Want to get some SERIOUS WRITING done? WELCOME TO GRAPEMO 2015!

Below I've listed the usual GRAPEMO guidelines, with a few changes to fit the FB format. These are also posted over on FB.

What GRAPEMO is:
1. One full month of writing/revising/editing/outlining/world-building/illustrating/and/or anything else you need to accomplish.
2. Runs from February 1st through February 28th.
3. An exercise in discipline without the mandatory word count of NaNoWriMo
4. FUN!

What GRAPEMO isn't:
1. A race or a contest.
2. A month-long life destroyer.
3. Goals set in stone.
4. A critique board.

PERSONAL WRITING GOAL: Your PWG can be anything you want it to be. A certain number of words to either a brand new story or something you’re already working on. Finishing up a current project. Revisions or edits. A short story, a synopsis, an outline, or even a legible query letter. It’s whatever you want it to be—and the best thing is, as time marches on and you realize there’s no way you’re going to reach your original goal (life, as we know it, often gets in our way), then feel free to change it. All I want is for you to be actively working on something, for 4 weeks, with a solid plan to achieve a realistic goal.


1. Sometime between now and January 31st, please START YOUR OWN POST and describe your Personal Writing Goal for the month of February.
2. Once GRAPEMO begins, once a week we will send out a reminder to add what you’ve accomplished over the previous week. Again, you can START YOUR OWN POST to describe your progress. At that time, if you feel you need to revise your goal, you can add that to your post. Please try to get these in on the day due, otherwise there will be random update posts all over the board.
3. Remember not to post your goals or your updates in any comment sections. They will not be seen.


This is the fun part! In fact, even though this is not a contest by any stretch of the imagination, each time you post a “teaser” of your current project, you’ll automatically be entered into a random drawing for a $25 gift card for Amazon or Barnes & Noble. One teaser, one chance…five teasers, five chances…you get it. :)

1. Post your teaser on TUESDAYS and THURSDAYS. You may start your own posts—they will automatically drop down under the pinned post labeled TEASERS. Teasers posted on other days will not be counted. Again, no teasers in any comment sections of any posts.
2. You may post up to 300 words, give or take. Please try not to go the limit.
3. Please include a title in your post.
4. Remember that whatever you post may be visible to anyone.
5. Everyone is free to comment on a teaser; however, it is imperative NOT to critique this work. Posting teasers is a way to get (especially new) writers used to sharing their work with strangers, not to subject it to unsolicited criticism.

The TEASERS are absolutely the best part of this, so don't be shy!


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3. BACK!

It seems quite a few folks have moved their blogs over to

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So I decided to give WordPress one more shot myself.


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Seriously, WordPress peeps--can anyone there (without a free account) tell me how to change the frickin' font? Apparently it's impossible without paying for an account and/or buying a particular theme (not sure which one) and I'm not paying for something I'm not even sure I'll use because A. I'm not crazy about learning a new system, and B. my blogging history has been dismal to non-existent. Besides, I'm already paying for this one. :p

The font, of course, isn't the only reason I don't like WP. I'm not equipped to deal with the learning curve. I've spent weeks and weeks trying to create a blog (and I don't even want to think what's involved in moving this one over there) and, frankly, my soul has been sucked dry. WP doesn't like me much, either. WP, in fact, seems to hate my royal guts and has proven it over and over and over again. I've tried to make amends. Really. I have.

Now this is what I'd like to do to WP:

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BUT as GRAPEMO is coming up on February 1st (and this year we'll probably do it on Facebook, which MAY be easier once I figure out the logistics) I decided I'd better show up for my own party.

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4. Oscar Night

If you missed it, trust me: You didn't miss much.

8:30 Glad to see Ellen back after the last few host duds! I LOVE YOU, ELLEN! You look gorgeous.

8:34 OK, so far really baaad teeth and plastic surgery in that audience… Not naming names.

8:38 Ellen’s razzing folks in the audience. Semi-funny.

8:40 Anna Hathaway: Same hairstyle as Ellen. Best supporting actor nominees. Major applause for Jared Leto.

8:42 Jared Leto WON for Dallas Buyers Club. I don’t remember him being that particular shade of orange in My So-Called Life. Red bow tie.

8:44 I only have two Red Vines left. WTF?

8:46 Jim Carrey. Black bow tie. Not funny, blah, blah. Animation clips. Yawn. Tuxes really should be BLACK.

8:50 Kerry Washington introduced Pharrell (sp?) Williams singing “Happy.”

8:52 I’m bored. “I want everybody to get up!” he yells. I don’t think so. This song is MONOTONOUS.

8:53 One Red Vine left. Commercial.

8:56 Samuel L. Jackson and Naomi Watts. Costume design nominees. Winner: Catherine Martin for The Great Gatsby. Didn’t see it. Acceptance speech in her bra. Crazy eyes.

8:59 Nominees for makeup and hairstyling. Winner: Dallas Buyers Club. Adruitha Lee and Robin Matthews. So true what she said about today’s generation not understanding “AIDS 85.”

9:02 Grandpa Harrison Ford talking (with a lot of help from a teleprompter) about some of the best pic nominees. Clips of the films.

9:05 Channing Tatum introducing, um, a bunch of people…. (???)

9:06 Commercial break. Funny how standing out in my driveway, smoking in the dark in subzero temperature, seems much more interesting than watching this show. Is it me? Is it really this boring?

9:08 Still one Red Vine left…

9:10 Ellen’s gave scratch-off lottery tickets to Bradley Cooper.

9:11 Matthew McConaughey and…I missed it. Someone with BAAAAD plastic surgery and possibly laryngitis. I will have to Google it. Best animated short film. Winner: Mr. Hublot.

9:13 Very emotional acceptance speech. Missed the guys’ names, sorry.

9:14 Best animated feature film. Winner: Frozen.

9:16 (ok, I Googled it…that was FREAKING KIM NOVAK!)

9:17 SALLY FIELD! Salute to ordinary everyday heroes (as portrayed in film)…Harvey Milk, Erin Brockovich, William Wallace…wait, Atticus Finch? I thought these were “real” people…

9:20 Emma Watson and Joseph Gordon Levitt (oh he is so cute). Best visual effects. Winner: Gravity. Can't catch all the people’s names so I’m just naming the movies now.

9:23 Zac Efron can’t read the teleprompter. Karen O singing song from Her. Simon Cowell would shit a brick. Throw her a fish.

9:26 Commercial break. I hope I make it through this thing. Oh, cute Muppet commercial!

9:28 LOLOLOL Tina Fey commercial—“A dinges ate my baby!” How sad is it that I’m enjoying the commercials more than the show?

9:29 Kate Hudson (looking amazing!) and Jason Sudeikis. Best live action short film. Winner: Helium.

9:33 Best documentary short subject. Winner: The Lady in Number Six: Music Saved My Life. A brown velvet (?) jacket with a black tie??? I would NOT let my husband accept an award in that getup.

9:36 Ellen wants to order pizza. I want this show to pick up some speed. Bradley Cooper—best documentary feature. Winner: Twenty Feet From Stardom.

9:38 Just realized I have seen none of anything that was nominated for anything.

9:39 Darlene Love belting out “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” Black lace dress on over what looks like a white slip. Just saying…

9:40 Kevin Spacey. Honorary Oscars to Angela Lansbury (88 years old, working on London stage), Steve Martin, some guy I missed looking for my last Red Vine, and humanitarian award to Angelina Jolie.

9:44 Commercial break.

9:48 Ewan MacGregor and a tired-looking Viola Davis. Best Foreign Language film. Winner: The Great Beauty (Italy) Nothing much more sexy than an Italian accent. 

9:51 Tyler Perry talking about best pic nominee Nebraska and Gravity with clips.

9:54 Ellen changed her clothes and introduces Brad Pitt…who looks CLEAN for once.

9:55 U2 singing “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Standing ovation. So far the highlight of the show. This song should win. It won’t. It’ll be “Let It Go” because of the controversy.

9:58 Commercial. No more Red Vines. Hot pipes. Guzzling water.

10:01 Ellen’s taking s selfie with Meryl, Jennifer, Bradley, etc.

10:04 Michael B Jordan and Kristen Bell, blabbing about miscellaneous award (scientific and technical.)

10:06 Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron. Chris’s suit coat’s too tight. And ugly! Charlize has clear plastic straps holding up her gown. Best sound mixing. Winner: Gravity.

10:09 Best sound editing. Winner: Gravity again. Sandra Bullock, in the audience, looks like a million bucks!

10:11 Christoph Waltz. Best actress in a supporting role. Winner: Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave. The girl is in shock!  And tears. “No matter where you are from, your dreams are valid.”

10:21 Pizza delivered. Seriously. Ellen is hanging out slices with the delivery guy.

10:23 Cheryl Boone (whoever that is) yawn yawn yawn I have NOOOOO idea what you are blathering about….zzzzzz.

10:25 Amy Adams and Bill Murray. OMG, Bill? Is that you? Best in cinematography. Winner: Gravity. Again.

10: Emma Roberts and Gabourey Sidibe. Best film editing. Winner: Gravity agaaaain!

10:32 Whoopi Goldberg (with striped stockings and ruby slippers) introduces Liza Minnelli and Joey and Lorna Luft; 75th anniversary of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Liza does kind of look like she's impersonating herself. Hey, I didn't say it first...Ellen insinuated it.

10:35 Pink singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with scenes from The Wizard of Oz playing. (That red sequined dress must weigh 40 pounds…oh, and don’t bend over, Pink.) Beautiful tribute!

10:38 Commercial

10:42 Ellen dressed as GLINDA! LOL

10:43 Jennifer Garner and Benedict Cumberbatch. Best production design: (I bet it’ll be “Gravity… ) ………………………waiting……………………OMG The Great Gatsby! LOL—NOT Gravity for a change. Crazy Eyes is back to accept….

10:46 Chris Evans (whoever that is). Clips from a bunch of movies but I missed what he said. (Oh, my daughter says “hero tribute.”) Alien, Indiana Jones, etc.

10:48 Bored and tired. Commercial break.

Q10:53 Glenn Close dressed in…black. Fitting, I guess, for a tribute to those who passed this year, including James Gandolfini, Karen Black, Tom Laughlin, Carmen Zapata, Hal Needham, Eileen Brennan, Paul Walker, Deanna Durbin, Elmore Leonard, Annette Funicello, Peter O’Toole, Sid Caesar, Roger Ebert, Shirley Temple, Joan Fontaine, Juanita Moore, Harold Ramis, Eleanor Parker, Julie Harris, Maximillian Schell, Richard Matheson, Esther Williams, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

10:58 Bette Midler singing “Wing Beneath My Wings.” Nice surprise. Standing ovation.

11:02 Commercial. Big stuff should be coming up…

11:04 Ellen says their selfie crashed Twitter.

11:05 OMG—Goldie Hawn! Or wait…is it Kim Novak again? I CAN’T TELL!!!! Talking about 12 Years a Slave Captain Phillips and Philomena. The real Philomena is actually in the audience, which is pretty cool.

11:08 John Travolta introducing “Let it Go” from Frozen.

11:09 Idina Menzel singing “Let it Go.”

11:12 Jamie Foxx and Jessica Biel. Best music score…you guessed it…Gravity.

11:16 Best song: “Let It Go.” I KNEW IT!!!

11:22 Ellen’s passing the hat to collect money to pay for the pizza.

11:23 Robert DeNiro and Penelope Cruz. “The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing…” I wish I could type fast enough to get the whole quote. It was awesome! Something about “soul crushing inadequacy.” Best Adapted Screenplay. Winner: John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave. Best Original Screenplay. Winner: Spike Jonze for Her.

11:31 Angelina Jolie and Sidney Portier. Best Director. Winner: Alfonso Cuaron for...wait for it...Gravityagain.

11:42 Daniel Day Lewis. Best Actress. Winner: Cate Blanchette for Blue Jasmine. Wow, she is all one color--hair, skin, dress. Kind of matches the statuette.

11:46 I would've bought TWO packs of Red Vines if I'd known this would go on till midtnight.

11:47 Cate is still blabbing! Oy.

11:48 Jennifer Lawrence, gorgeous in red, and no, didn't trip this time. Best Actor. I hope Bruce Dern wins, just because he never has. And he is old elderly ancient getting up in years.

11:51 Waiting....waiting....  Nope, it's Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club.

11:42 (Just noticed that everyone in the audience looks orange!)

11:55 Will Smith announcing--at last--Best Picture!

And the Oscar goes to ... (please not effen Gravity again) ...

...12 Years a Slave.

Every time someone says "Steve McQueen" I think--wait, he's dead!

Overall impression: Not worth staying up for. I still miss Billy Crystal.

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5. Grapemo 2014 TEASER DRAWING *drumroll*

And the Winner

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(Basket of names)

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(Impartial hand--not mine, lol--drawing a name)

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Thanks to everyone who was brave enough to share your work with us. I hope to see many of you back here next year!

GRAPEMO 2014 is over. Your stories, on the other hand, will be with you 24/7. Whenever possible, make every month a GRAPEMO month--and always remember:

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6. Grapemo 2014 Day 28: FINALE!

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That is so often true. And there is nothing like support from other writers to motivate us to make time for our writing. THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!

Here are the total monthly updates. If any of you sent one in and don't see your name on this list, please let me know. Or...if you didn't send one...it's not too late to be added.


Akoss "As of today I've revised a total of six chapters this month.It's been great challenging myself to get something done even if it's not exactly what I planned at the beginning."

another_wip "TOTAL for GrapeMo.... lots and lots of edits, but for the stuff that really mattered: 11K on Khyr. Not all chapter words, but all necessary. And the end is in sight. It was a wonderful GrapeMo and as always I am thankful for the opportunity to take part. Thank you for doing this year after year."

edgyauthor "I completed nine strips for my webcomic, exceeding my original goal!"

fandoria "This week has basically threatened to be the death of me schedule-wise, but I did sneak in about 15 minutes to scribble in my notebook Wed night in between finishing setting up for an event and the time said event started.

"As for the month as a whole... I didn't manage to write for two hours every week (especially the last half) like I wanted, however, thanks to an abundance of free time in the first half of the month, I made awesome progress. The rest of the time, I had to learn to find spare moments here and there to steal. Good thing I always carry a notebook with me. So this month, I wrote 1 1/2 scenes and plotted out several more. Overall, I'm pretty happy with my Grapemo accomplishments."

Mialie S "Progress Report for the month:
~ Finished original goal of doing the layout for the Puppy Tails Book Two manuscript
~ Added an additional goal of doing the layout for Book Three and finished that
~ Continued publishing articles in the newspaper including the 71st and 72nd editions of "Puppy Tails", two wedding articles, and other misc.
~ Continued graphic design assignments for my city and the library where I work
~ Wrapped up the month in kid-lit fashion by knocking out nearly 1,000 new words of "Puppy Tails" Monday morning. I usually hate Mondays, but that one started out well."

newport2newport "This month has been great for introspection and revision. I've finally--FINALLY--figured out the structural issues in the first several chapters, and am fixing them. It's been time-consuming, but in the long run, I believe the time I spent tearing things apart and reassembling them (rinse, repeat) will inform the revision process for later chapters. Onward! And thanks again for hosting GRAPEMO. I love the focused energy & appreciate everyone's support."

onegrapeshy "I switched my goal in them middle of GRAPEMO from 50 pages to 25. I did manage, amazingly, to make it to 38. I can't tell you how much i appreciate everyone's enthusiasm, diligence, and moral support. It's been a GREAT WRITING MONTH! xox"

Patti M "For the month I am thrilled that I have 14 queries out for my YA sci if, a great start to my YA paranormal, and a couple of extra things. I wrote and submitted 3 articles for a travel magazine and started researching castle architecture for
the setting of my paranormal. I'm thrilled with grapemo and I would definitely do it again!"

Sher T "As of today for the month of February, I have written 46,103 new words and edited a complete 80,612 manuscript, as well as started edits on a second manuscript. Come on March GrapeMo! Thanks Jen. Hugs to all."

swhisted "I only added 7,922 words to Dreamsters (of the 10K I'd hoped to add). I guess if you count the 2K in plotting I wrote, I could technically say I pretty much met my goal, but I don't really mind my total as it stands either. It's far more than the month before, I closed up all the holes in the story, and I'm so close to the end now. It's hard to be mad at any of that."

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7. Grapemo 2014 Day 27: Best. Advice. EVER.

Not gonna debate this. I might, however, make this into a poster and hang it in my office...f I ever get an office.

Brilliant advice from Chuck Wendig:

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GRAPEMO 2014 officially ends at midnight. So whatever your current writing mood is...


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--hit that keyboard and crank out those last words! Smiley

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The brilliant Holly Black

G O O D ~ L U C K !

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8. Grapemo 2014: BIG REMINDER

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Total monthly updates are due by midnight EST tomorrow (Thursday) night for posting on Friday. Feel free to add any comments when you send them in.

Also on Friday, every Teaser sent in this month with be thrown into a pot for a drawing! The winner will receive TWO prizes:

1. Your choice of one of these:

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2. Also a signed copy of one of my novels: THE UNQUIET, SAY THE WORD, or BEFORE, AFTER, AND SOMEBODY IN BETWEEN. Your pick, of course. Smiley

In the meantime, GOOD LUCK! I hope you reach your goals--and, if you don't, I hope you can say that you wrote much more this month than you might've written without GRAPEMO.

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9. Grapemo 2014 Day 26: Wednesday Inspiration--Embrace Your Inner Weasel

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Here he is: The Plot Weasel.

You know him well.

Worse, he knows you--and he knows your story.

He plagues you in your sleep. He haunts you when you're awake. Often he's the number one reason you close out your file, sink back in your chair, and think: I can't do this.

He's an insidious dude, often popping up when you least expect it. I mean, you've been hammering out dozens, even hundreds of words a day. You're loving this story. You're on a freaking roll and feel nothing can stop you.

Then it hits you, that niggling feeling, like the tapping of claws or the nibbling of sharp teeth at the base of your spine:


A screw-up in your timeline.

Your main character's voice doesn't sound "right."

The "Z" in your story can't possibly happen because the already-written "X" and "Y" makes that impossible.

You realize a key point you used, based on your own limited knowledge, is totally false; now, what comes after simply doesn't ring true.

One of your favorite scenes/characters/subplots suddenly has no place in your ms; because it kills you to let it go, you waste time and energy trying to make it fit in.

Suddenly your whole manuscript strikes you as a big pile of crap. You're ready to trash the whole thing.

One word: DON'T.

As much as all of us despise the Plot Weasel, he serves a great purpose. He points out the flaws in your story, whether they're massive plot holes or smaller (yet no less important) issues. Yes, we hate him. We hate him because he disrupts the rhythm of our writing. We hate him because he makes us take a critical second or third, sometimes tenth or eleventh, look at our project, when all we really want to do is just finish the story, have people read it and love it, and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.

As annoying as the Plot Weasel is, though--can you imagine what terrible writers we'd be without him?

Writers Digest has a great article: 10-Minute Fixes to 10 Common Plot Problems. Check it out!

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You win, FB friends: A "real" weasel.  :)

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10. Grapemo 2014 Day 25 FINAL TEASERS!!!

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Elaine H

“I demand to speak to a manager this instant.”

A sixty year old woman with a bad red hair dye job and blue mascara caked above her beady little eyes towered over Rachel Ehler at the San Francisco Totally Five Star Hotel concierge desk. Hoping to be manager one day and head of the concierge desk in the much nearer future, Rachel practiced her friendliest, most sympathetic smile. “Perhaps I can be of assistance.”

The woman looked down her long, patrician nose at Rachel. Her nostrils flared as her ruby red lips thinned and her demon black eyes narrowed. “Read my lips, young woman. I don’t need you, I need the manager.”

“Yes, Ma’am. But of course.” With slightly shaky fingers Rachel phoned Barry Lambert, her manager and long time friend. She feared the dragon lady was ready to breathe enough fire any second to incinerate her. When Barry answered she asked in her sweetest voice, “Please come to the concierge desk immediately, Mr. Lambert. A guest requests your assistance.”

Barry sighed as if he was cross, and why shouldn’t he be in the midst of one of the toughest weeks ever in the hotel’s history? “I’m in the middle of a crisis here. Please handle it.”

“Sir, she is demanding to speak to you. She refuses to speak the Concierge.”

Rachel smiled at the guest even though the woman continued to shoot deadly glares at her. When a group of other furry guests passed by and jostled the woman, her glower became an open-mouthed gawk. When a cat and a griffin pantomimed having anal sex across the lobby, she paled and pointed at the pair. “That is precisely what I want to see the manager about! How can you condone such behavior in a public place?”

Rachel did her best to hold back a grimace and keep her smile in place as she watched the couple rubbing groin to ass in the lobby. The fates must be having a hearty laugh that they’d booked the Southern Coalition of Baptists convention the same week as a Furry Con.

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They gave them nothing to eat at night fall. Nothing.

Yawa would’ve given anything to have a sandwich or even the crappiest burger ever. Anything with meat she wanted right there and then. It never came. She lost interest in her doodling. Tried to escape in her dreams but her cage mates made her way too uncomfortable to truly fall asleep.

A sharp pain jerked her out of her semi state of sleep. She looked around to face the most hideous old lady she’d ever seen in her life. Yawa was prepared to lash out but everything she could possibly think of only got bundled up behind her lips as she could do nothing but stare at the old lady.
The lights at the camp didn’t make it easy to see the old woman properly. Her nose was big and fat. She must’ve been missing some teeth because of her misshaped jaw. Her hair though was stark white against her wrinkled skin. Something horrifying caught Yawa’s gaze. The old lady had a lock of her hair twisted around her bony fingers.

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Patti M

“Trey!” I squeezed my eyes shut tighter as I heard my mom calling me, hoping to stay in the swirling smoked-filled cave longer.

I don’t know where I am but I want to stay here.

But it slipped away. Or maybe I slipped away from it. I don’t know which but I knew what I heard wasn’t a dream. It was really my mom, and I was really bouncing around in the back of our car.

Peeking out from the slits that were my eyes, I saw sun shining through tree limbs at the top of long trunks. My eyes widened, adjusting to the brightness. I noticed the line of tall trees on each side of the car, without preparing myself for what stood at the end of the gravel drive.

My mom turned around to glance at me, making sure I was awake. I nodded at her. My sister, still bobbing and weaving to the beats pounding into her ears, gazed around the grounds.

I didn’t notice the building until my sister spoke breathlessly. “Wow. It”s nicer than the pics.”

Mom turned again and smiled at me, no doubt sizing up my reaction to the castle. But, my focus moved from her to the structure, as the car inched into a parking place somewhat above the castle’s foundation.

My eyes darted from one rooftop to another, trying to take it all in. But I couldn’t. There was just too much; too much in front of me and too much in my head. That was some dream…and one pretty girl. Sure like to meet her.

Round turrets shot into the sky from one end to another, and pointed towers; so many pointed towers. Part of it was brick and part of it stone, along with off-white stucco and wood trim painted a drab red. It looked cool…weirdly huge, but cool. It wasn’t my home, never would be, but I couldn’t deny it was cool.

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It’s not visiting hours yet, but they made an exception for me. The cops are still there, two of them, posted outside my sister’s room.

Larissa’s sitting up in bed, a breakfast tray in front of her. The IV is out, the oxygen is gone, and a clean bandage covers her neck. Mrs. Desai lets me go in alone.

“Hi,” I say.


We look at each other. I think I should hug her, but we’re not that kind of sisters. Awkwardly I sit down on the edge of a chair and watch her tap a plastic spoon on a mound of red Jell-O.

“Are you okay?” I finally ask. “Like, when can you come home?”

“Home?” She looks at me like I’m nuts. “What home, Kat? You think I want to go back there?”

“Well…” I haven’t thought that far ahead, but she’s absolutely right. How can we go back and live in that house? Live there by ourselves, without Mom and Dad?

“Where are you?” she asks, still tapping that spoon. The Jell-O quivers, a bloody blob

"At Pooja’s.”

“So, like, will that be forever?” Tap, quiver. Tap, quiver. “You think they'll adopt you?”

“Will you stop it with that spoon?”

The spoon stills.

“I saw the news last night," I tell her. "They said you know who did it.”

Larissa pushes the rolling tray away. She pulls her pillow out from behind her and hugs it to her chest. “No, I don’t.”

“They said you gave them a name.”

“Why were you watching the news? Are you sick?” She points to the TV on the wall, the dangling cord. “The nurse freaking disconnected mine. I can’t watch a thing. I just sit here and stare at the walls, and talk to cops, and…” Her voice breaks. Tears squirt. “I should’ve died, too. I wish I’d died, too.”

“No you don’t,” I say, which is a stupid thing to say because if she says that’s how she feels, it’s probably how she feels and who am I to say it’s not?

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Mialie S

Pushing some of the larger ones into the very back of the shed, the floppy-eared puppy used his nose to gently guide them into position. Pretty soon nearly half of the stash spread in now-neat stacks on the grassy green of the lawn, but as Doodle Dog feared, the space inside the deep dark shed was now quite bright with all the pretty boxes, leaving little room for the rest that still had to find a place.

It was time to get creative, so the curious floppy-eared puppy continued to poke his nose around the smallest of crevices to figure out this puzzle in front of him. The different shaped boxes with their vibrantly-colored tags arranged just so reminded Doodle Dog of a game he’d seen the little kids playing on the computers at the library. Eyeing up an empty space, he chose another box nearby that looked like it just MIGHT fit, and rotated it this way and that way until… it… DID!

The space was now so tight that Doodle Dog had to back his way out of the shed and in the process backed right up into a wall of boxes. The wall didn’t even seem to attempt to block his path though as he backed right through it, pushing one of the lower boxes right through with him. Doodle Dog looked up and tilted his head to one side, surveying the scene. The trembling boxes on the top of the tower reminded Doodle Dog of a game he’d seen adults play on the tables in the park. It was very important that the top boxes not fall over or the game was over! Thinking of the project as a puzzle or a game would help Doodle Dog have some of his afternoon fun even earlier than expected, so the floppy-eared puppy figured out how to turn his work time into playtime and before he knew it, the job was done!

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11. Grapemo 2014 Day 24: MONDAY UPDATES

Last weekly update! I am so proud of you guys. Remember, tomorrow will be our last Teaser day, so send 'em in! xox

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another_wip edited 4K and wrote 8 pages of notes on revisions and plot holes, plus 3590 new words.

Akoss revised two chapters this week, which makes five revised chapters so far.

Cari D wrote 1300 words on her cozy mystery and has 3900 left to write reach her goal.

fandoria spent most of her time putting together a creative writing lesson on revision for her home school group, but did manage to get a few paragraphs written.

Elaine H wrote about 8,000 words this week.

Jenni "didn't write squat" and but plans to finish her edits by the end of the week.

kbaccellia went over a couple chapters and worked on a paragraph on what her story is about for her RWA on-line class.

Mialie S didn't write any more Doodle Dog stories, but wrote two wedding articles that were published on Friday. More Puppy Tails on the way this week.

newport2newport: "I'm still fussing with the structure of my present-tense chapters. Some day soon, everything's gonna click into place, I can feel it!"

onegrapeshy wrote approximately 5400 words this week.

Patti M sent out another query for her YA SF and submitted 3 weekend travel articles to a travel magazine. After taking a short break from her YA paranormal, she plans to get back to it this week.

swhisted wrote almost 2K in plotting to lay out the remainder of the book, plus added almost 3K to DREAMSTERS.

Sher T finished the complete rewrite and edits of SECRET INGREDIENT and sent it off, and is now back to KATE'S HOUSE, with edits of one chapter complete.

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12. Grapemo 2014 Day 23: WORD THERAPY

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After a very disconcerting past couple of weeks, I sat down at my laptop yesterday and opened my WIP.

I admit I haven't written much this month. I felt lucky to simply be keeping up with this blog in spite of everything going on around me, especially the death of my wonderful stepmom. I wanted to blog about her (and still do, and will) but words failed me left and right. Knowing I had to post something every day, even if just a picture or a word of inspiration, gave me focus, provided some distraction.

Whenever I thought it felt more like a "chore" I remembered of all of you, pounding away toward your goals. Regularly sending in updates and teasers. Offering words of encouragement with in your comments and on Facebook.

Then I thought: You know, Jen, YOU started this thing--DO SOMETHING ALREADY! Stop floundering, for Christ's sake.

So I stopped. I opened the file and reviewed what I'd already written. It's not great. It's not terrible. It's a typical first draft, rambling in some places, condensed in others. A mess of words, incomplete scenes, and snippets of dialogue. Naked, undeveloped characters. A vague timeline. A hasty synopsis that stops about halfway through the story, leaving the ending, my characters--and especially me--dangling.

But the story...oh, the story! It was there, all there, and waiting for me. After a couple of false starts (Wait a sec, WHO is this person? How did X get to Y? What was I thinking here?) the words tumbled from my brain as fast as I could type.





(Note: My WIP never minces words)


(Note: Neither do I)









So I showed it (her? him?) and hammered out 5,000 words this weekend. Some good words, some bad words. I may keep some of them. I may cut some of them.

Whatever I do, though--I'm back to doing it.

Thank you, Grapenuts, for your own inspiration.


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13. Grapemo 2014 DAY 22

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14. Grapemo PS

Last week's calender (also posted as a sticky.) Take note--only ONE teaser day next week, which will be on Tuesday.

Any questions, you can ask them right here in the comment section. xox

Sun 2/23 Weekly updates due
Mon 2/24 UPDATES POSTED/Teasers due

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15. Grapemo 2014 Day 21: Put Your Bitchface On

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ONE WEEK left of Grapemo 2014. I'm impressed by everyone's progress and totally LOVING the Teasers. Thank you all for participating this year!

We're finally reaching the final stretch, folks. For those of you still hanging in there--which, happily, is the majority of you--remember: You can accomplish a lot in a single week if you put your mind to it, and, well, be a bitch about your writing.

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Yes. Be a bitch! "This has to be done, that has to be done..." "So-and-so wants this, what's-his-face wants that..." "I can't miss this...they're making me do that..."


One week. One week to yourself. It doesn't have to be 24/7. Yes, that would be nice, but we all know it's impossible unless you're stranded in a dinghy or holed up in the desert. As none of us are, this means all of us have "other things" demanding our attention. We have people in our lives who also demand our attention, and I'm certainly not here to minimize their importance.

I am here, however, to remind you one of this: YOU are important, too. Your writing is important; otherwise, you wouldn't have committed to Grapemo  in first place.

With one week left, it's time to say NO to distractions whenever possible and do whatever you can to make your writing time more accessible. Stock up on DVDs and candy for the young'uns. Get a bully stick for the dog. Accept the fact that your house looks like crap; you'll have time enough to get to it in March. Fast food, pizza, Stouffer's frozen lasagna...screw the massive home-cooked meals your family has learned to expect. Turn OFF the damn TV already! Knock back the amount of time to spend on the internet. And, unless it's a special occasion, get-togethers with family and friends can wait another week.

Grapenuts, please don't be afraid to say no. NO, NO, NO! If this makes you a "bitch" (while some prefer the term assertive, "bitch" totally works for me) then so be it. Your needs are no less important than anyone else's. Time to devote yourself solely to your writing is not too much to ask of others. Even a hour a day is better than nothing.

Be strong. Be assertive. Be a bitch if you have to.

It's up to you to MAKE IT HAPPEN.


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16. Grapemo 2014 Day 20: THURSDAY TEASERS

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(Rider's POV)


Silence. No doubt they were all shocked by how horrible my storytelling had been. I couldn’t bear to look at Father. After an eternally awkward moment, a few very generous souls clapped half-heartedly. Chief Bear once again stood by my side.

“Thank you for… that, Rider. And now I believe Brother Fox wishes to say a few words.”

The shaman stood. “Yes. I can never thank you enough for saving my daughter. As a small token of our gratitude, we would like to present you with a gift.” He held out his hand and suddenly, there was Sage, smiling shyly at me, and holding the cougar’s pelt.

At a nod from both the chief and her father, she walked up to me and wrapped it around my shoulders. Then she slipped a leather cord strung with cougar teeth and claws around my neck.

“Thank you,” she whispered before returning to Brother Fox’s side.

Everyone rose and the applause was deafening. As soon as I politely could, I left the center of the circle. Sage motioned for me to sit beside her. I couldn’t deny her, even though Grey Wolf sat on her other side.

“Nice story.” Grey Wolf smirked. “Now let me show you how it’s really done.” He strutted to the fire and addressed the villagers with an annoyingly perfect mix of humility and swagger. “Chief, if I may, I would like to repay your hospitality through entertaining these wonderful people.”

“Of course.” Chief Bear seemed relieved to have something take attention away from my abysmal failure.

“Have I yet told of the time I fought a bear?”

I scowled as everyone, including Sage, leaned forward eagerly.

Grey Wolf was an excellent story teller. Perhaps even better than Father—a fact which didn’t escape Father, if the scowl on his face the rest of the night was any indication.

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“You know we’re in the twenty first century and people don’t do that anymore. Well... at least not against their will.”

He turned to give her an odd look but remained silent. She took it as an invitation.

“Unless in Africa people are still that far back in time? Maybe you should hurry and catch up.”

“Africa gone. Now only Zindobo. You not know?” he asked genuinely puzzled.

“Huh? What do you mean Africa is gone? I was there a couple of days ago before all this weirdness, including you.”

He shook his head and gave her a shrug. Then with a firm tap of his legs he urged his elephant on a bit faster. The discussion was over.

Later in the day Yawa heard more explosions but they were always far in the distance. It seemed her captor was doing his best to keep them away. As the sun started to set on the horizon they came across a group of men dressed like her captor except their garments weren’t of the same fabric and quality.
He sat a lot straighter as they exchanged salutations in the foreign language she didn’t understand.

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Mialie S

As Doodle Dog continued to make quick tracks behind him, soon the tracks followed him all the way to the park and the floppy-eared puppy found the tracks slowing down when he saw a group of people seated quietly in rows of white fold-up chairs, dressed in their best. But the people didn’t notice the little curious puppy who changed his pace as their collective gaze was on a princess making her way down the center of the rows of chairs. No, not a princess… Bundled in a soft white coat and holding a bouquet of brilliantly-hued buds, the not-princess followed a trail between the guests. Rose petals tipped with silver from the frost lined the center aisle, sparkling like the glitter on the bride’s dress, and led the way to the front of the group where an arch covered in spirals of white tulle, twinkle lights and more frosted flowers framed a handsome man waiting patiently in a stylish suit for his love to reach him.

Doodle Dog sat quietly at the edge of the square of chairs and smiled when a little girl in a petite party dress waved at him from the front row. Apparently the flower girl noticed the four-legged guest…

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17. Grapemo 2014 Day 18: Wednesday Inspiration

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Let me start by saying that, with respect to Ms. Angelou, there are greater agonies than not being able to write. Death, illness, loss of a job or a home, natural and man-made disasters… The inability to write pales in comparison. When dealing with a personal tragedy, often the last thing a writer worries about is actually writing.

Often. But not always.

Sometimes in the midst of the most heart-breaking circumstances we still think about our story; we continue to write it in our heads when we have no time to sit down with paper and pen, no access to a keyboard, not a moment to ourselves with no relief in sight. Writing is part of the grain of our very soul; as long as there is breath in our bodies, our stories grow, and flourish, and demand release.

Writing consumes us. No matter what terrible ordeal we happen to go through, it’s comforting to know that our writing will always be.

Once we’ve dealt with the mess that currently controls our life, our writing will be.

Once the bad times pass, our writing will be.

When we’re given back our precious time, our writing will be.

It doesn’t go away. It only waits for us.

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18. Grapemo 2014 Day 18: TEASER TUESDAY (on Wednesday lol)

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Scampering down the quite familiar sidewalk, Doodle Dog enjoyed the only-slightly nippy winter air that woke up his nose and kept his eyes wide open. A slightly warm whiff told him spring would be following on the wind soon enough. He loved how the land could transform from season to season, from a beautiful green layer of grass to a lovely shimmering blanket of white, almost as though the earth had dressed up for a special occasion. Even though the floppy-eared puppy knew these lands well, every costume change made it seem like a whole new setting to explore.

There! That looked like an inviting pile of flakes! The floppy-eared puppy found just what he was looking for and immediately bounded into it, not minding if any other creature witnessed his seemingly reckless abandon. Ahhh! Twisting this way and turning that way, Doodle Dog rubbed his back on the soft, cool fluff and instantly felt refreshed. Looking down at his paws, he could see the fresh shimmer all the way from the top of his legs to the bottom of his claws. This little puppy certainly cleans up well! It didn’t take all day to feel frisky again, so off he went in search of another pile to pounce or friend to find.

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The boy ignored her as he sat in the opposite corner and munched on what Yawa thought could be bread. She’d refused food from him several times before but she was gonna faint soon if she didn't eat anything.

She searched for the most proper and polite way to ask for food and went for it before she changed her mind. “May I have some?”

He looked up like he didn’t understand but she wasn't up to being fooled twice so she kept her expression still. He reached back into his bag and produced another piece of bread that he tossed in her direction. She caught it, tested it with her fingers, smelled it then finally took a bite and another. The bread was gone fast and she found herself wanting more. However she didn’t ask. Instead she curled up on her side and tried to sleep. The ride on the elephant left her seriously sore and achy. She’d never ridden an animal before, not even a horse. When she awoke in the middle of the night because of an itching mosquito bite she was surprised to see her captor still awake and facing the entrance of the cave still as a rock.

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Patti M

I gasped in air, then blew it back out, after reminding myself to breathe. I didn’t know her but she looked about my age, I thought, and very, very beautiful. My chest tightened and my eyes widened as we studied each other. Wow. She’s hot.

“Trey?” It was my mom calling me. I didn’t answer so it followed again. “Trey. Trey,” She sounded very impatient but I couldn’t see her.

I gazed up from the swirling water and all around me, trying to find mom. I couldn’t see her, but I also didn’t care. All I wanted was look at the girl again. So, I looked back down again with anticipation. But, all I found was rippling, water-like smoke. No girl.

The tightness in my chest turned to knife-sharp pain. I swallowed hard, probably my pride. She was gone.

Wow. That was amazing.

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Egypt, 1326 BCE
Kathie C

Sometimes the gods, without being asked, give us more than we dare to desire. Sometimes the signs appear, so interlinked, there is nothing to do but to see and accept them……..

The Child of Light is safely in the Other World, back in the home he came from. Just when I aided him, by cloak of night, to make his escape, his brother—the cripple—fell again and this time broke his leg. The priests of Sekhmet have been called but they can do nothing for him. Only the Goddess herself can save him now and it appears She has turned away her eyes. He is crawling with fever. The wound where his bone punctured through the skin is festering. He will die within the hour.

I am not a man of magic but this I can see: the Child departing, the one whose rightful place he took, struck down and dying. This is the Sign that we were waiting for and better than I planned it. I will put the body in Tutankhamen’s tomb. History shall be returned to Maat. Horemheb shall be pleased. Only the gods arrange such synchronicity but I, the counselor to the Child of Light, will claim myself as mastermind behind it. And I at last, I, Ay of Karnak, long in years but never wavering in service, shall be king!

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Elaine H

Pounding rocked the front door and Trixie barked frantically. Guy swore silently. What now? It was too early for company or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Whoever it was could go away.

Unfortunately, the pounding got louder and so did Trixie. “I’ve got to answer the door. Some fool’s about to break it down.”

Tommy waved him off and rolled off the bed and grabbed his pants. He put one leg into his jeans as he asked, “Do you want me to get it?”

Ruth said sternly, “I need to warn you…”

“This is the police. Open up now,” a serious male voice called loudly from the door.
Guy gulped and exchanged worried looks with Tommy. He grabbed his pants and tried to jump into them as he held the phone with one hand. Worried, he asked Ruth, “Does it have anything to do with the police banging on my door?”

“I was afraid of that.”

Guy carried the phone with him down the stairs as he arrowed to the door. “Afraid of what?”

“Open the door now. We know you’re in there. It’ll be easier if you cooperate.”

“Why are they threatening me?”

Tommy followed him down the stairs as he pulled on his shirt and hurriedly buttoned it.

“Here. Talk to Tommy while I get the door.” He tossed the black instrument to his lover who caught it then almost dropped it. Luckily he caught it before it hit the steps.

Ruth shouted something, but it was garbled behind Trixie’s whining and the incessant pounding.

Eager for the pounding to stop yet apprehensive of the reason for the police visit, he opened the door. “May I help you?”

“Are you Guy Rogers?”

“Yes,” he answered hesitantly, wishing he was anyone else but Guy Rogers.

“You’re under arrest for keeping loaded firearms when you’re out on bond. Come with us.”

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Kim V

If she didn’t get off Hillybilly Mountain soon, her soul would wither and die, like leftover corn husks, brown and brittle in the fall. She’d end up fat, bossy, and sleeping alone like her momma, or disinterested and drunk like her poppa. God forbid she end up like her eldest brother, divorced from one wife and living apart from his four children, but married to a girl half his age and bouncing new babies on his knee every year. Or her other brother who loved to tease and torment her growing up. Now he did the same thing to his wife and sons. And, in 1949, she didn’t have the option of joining the Army like her third brother had done. Not that that had worked out too well for him, going off to World War II and getting himself killed. Still, at least he’d gotten off this Godforsaken mountain.

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PilaNe looked about and pointed to the watercolor-attired group of sidhe that included Malaena and her family. “We shall need more light.”

The women clasped their hands tightly before them or hugged their children close. The men stared worriedly at the cliffs even as they guided their families to PilaNe. A little boy, clinging to his father’s hand, looked up with shining eyes and whimpered softly. “I don’t want to go in the rock.”

Emelia stooped. “It’s all right,” she assured. Straightening, she patted the man’s arm. “You’ll be safe here.”

“It’s gonna be dark,” Malaena declared and buried her face against her mother’s shoulder.

“And we will be their light in that darkness,” said one of the men. Malaena’s father perhaps, Emelia decided as he cupped the girl’s cheek in his hand. “We are Liwaire, the children of the light. To go where you ask…” He sighed deeply. “It is difficult to bear. But we are Liwaire.” He looked around the small cluster of faces, and drew erect. “The light is with us.” He took the woman’s hand and glided past PilaNe and as they passed into the shadows of the stone wall, each of their party, young and old, glowed with a soft light, as if stars were captured in their slender forms. They crossed through the unseen passage, and the others followed in close rank, the Gracka grinning and bouncing eagerly alongside.

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19. Grapemo 2014 Day 17: WEEKLY UPDATES

Thanks for the updates. CONGRATS TO ALL! Teasers due tonight...

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Akoss revised one chapter, making a total of three chapters revised.

another_wip has 2K of new words for KHYR, plus another 1K of languages creation which is a lot harder than most people would think, i.e. developing 'root' words, being consistent how tenses are built--"But if you don't have believable language systems, who is going to believe you have different worlds?"

Cari D wrote 800 words this week.

edgyauthor completed three more comic strips--officially REACHING her Grapemo goal!

Elaine H wrote 10,000 words and edited 24,000 words.

fandoria has a very busy week at home but still managed to get an hour of writing in.

Jenni received from great feedback from her beta readers and made some edits, and also reviewed five sections and "re-wrote some passages in those sections to read more clearly. Hooray for progress!"

Kathie C did a little more research this week on King Tut and figured out which voice will carry the historical aspects of the story. Alas, no writing.

kbaccellia rewrote her first two chapters based on critique buddies feedback and was able to work on telling her story in one sentence. "Taking a RWA on-line class. Loving it!"

Kim V wrote a short story which is now being critiqued by her group, and plans to enter it in a Glimmer Train writing contest. While spending time with an ill family member, "I found my sparse and easily interrupted writing time was better spent writing short stories." Once she finishes up a second story, she plans to get back to her MULESKINNER revisions.

Mialie S: After finishing her first official GrapeMo goal and the second impromptu one, focused on current publishing assignments. She also submitted the 71st edition of "Puppy Tails," published HERE on Valentine's Day, along with comparatively less exciting graphic design tasks. "I'm hoping to wrap up the month back in novelist fashion...somehow."

newport2newport is re-analyzing the narrative structure of her book ("The challenge: weaving together the threads, past and present, in the most meaningful (read: coherent and captivating) way.") She read two books that mirror the structure of her own and also tackled some chapter revisions.

onegrapeshy has revised her goal to write as 25 pages of her new wip, with no new writing accomplished this week.

Patti M sent out 3 additional queries for her YA SF, plus wrote 1,159 words on her new YA paranormal.

Sher T finished the rewrites of SECRET INGREDIENT on the 13th (24,765 words), has edited chapters 1 thru 12 nonstop since then, and plans to finish these up by Tuesday evening.

swhisted wrote a little over 2K words, finally closed the last hole in the story, and surpassed the 50K mark!

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20. Grapemo 2014 Day 16: REMINDER

Weekly updates due tonight for posting tomorrow! So excited to see how much progress you've made!

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21. Grapemo Day 14: HAPPY VALENTINES DAY

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22. Grapemo Day 14: Halfway Point

Two weeks in and two weeks to go!

So-o-o...which picture below best describes YOUR past week?

Check one, lol!

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 photo typinggifdazed.gif        _______

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23. Grapemo 2014 Day 13: TEASER THURSDAY

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“Over here.”

I started to sit down on a lone chair set outside one of the classrooms but Luz motioned with her head upwards.

A few of the overhead monitors were still on. A red dot followed everyone’s moment. You never could be too careful. All it took was one slip for the elders to come and take you away like they did Papi so long ago.


Screams resurfaced. Mami pleading for the elders to leave us, that it was all a terrible mistake.

I pushed the image aside. I couldn’t go there or I feared I’d ruin everything including bringing more shame to Mami. That should be enough to silence the whispers in my mind. It was bad enough Xochil did that with her questionable nocturnal activities that involved disrupting anything that had to do with being the ‘perfect’ follower of El Padre.
I followed Luz to the far end of the auditorium. We passed only a few others, nodding at them in passing.

Luz pointed to a darkened corner.

I sat down on a chair and waited.

She hauled out a paper, smoothing out the wrinkles. I strained to see it in the darkened corner. A small sketch of something caught my eye. I leaned in closer. Sure enough a small bird stared back, teasing me with hints of something but what? I racked my brain but I couldn’t finger out why the design felt so familiar.

The sound of footsteps grew close. Luz pulled the paper away, her hand covering the sketch.

Even after she withdrew the paper, the image on it burned in my mind. I’d seen that bird before somewhere.

Dios, Mio. Xochil’s tat. A similar design had also been on a few pamphlets she and her friends had scattered around before one of our required youth meetings. No, I couldn’t believe this nonsense and refused to be a part of any of it.

I waited till a couple people left our area before leaning toward Luz. She fingered her vidcom. It trembled in her hands.

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Kathie C

“Robbie……” I started and took a step forward, but he turned on me and gave me a look I had never seen before, at once a warning and command: STAY BACK! He scared me a little and I stepped back. He turned back, raised his face into the sun again, and I saw how the sunlight danced on his hair, the blond curls now grown out again, the sun turning them nearly white, like a halo resting on his head.

He began to chant again, stretching his arms up and outward, his voice certainly unlike anything I had ever heard from my little brother. Loud, commanding, powerful. I sat down in a corner, half frightened, half moved. For the first time I knew that my brother was really a king.

The chanting went on, at times so beautiful, so powerful that I found myself in tears.

Then, abruptly, Mom’s voice broke in, abrasive, shouting, “What in God’s name…………?” I heard her footsteps flying up the stairs. I leaped to my feet, met her at the door, tried to prevent her from entering the room.

“WHAT have you done?” she screamed at me. ‘Have you NO shame whatsoever?”

“Mom….” I began but she got right up in my face and then she slapped me so hard I fell backwards. Whirling into the room, she grabbed Robbie by the arm, yelling at him to GET OUT. Interrupted in his chanting, he turned toward her, still with that look on his face of warning, of danger, on his face, but then he stopped, his face softening.

“Mommy,” he said softly, touched her on the shoulder, disengaged himself from her grasp, and walked past us both and out of the room. I was still cowering in the corner. She came at me again, shaking with rage, but her voice broke into tears.

“How COULD you? Haven’t you done enough to torment me?!”

I sank to the floor. It was some time, after she left, before I myself could exit the room and go to find Robbie again.

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Mialie S

Trying to see past the gloom, Doodle Dog squinted and squinted some more and soon the pencil came into focus. Then, from around the bright yellow pencil, came floating two little white fluffy balls of dust, hopping toward the floppy-eared puppy. Doodle Dog was more curious than afraid as he eyed the tiny spheres of fuzz wafting his way. The dust bunnies hopped happily along from the edge of the pencil to the side of the bookcase leg to the puppy’s paws to the stack of books piled neatly just outside their shade-covered home.

Doodle Dog turned one floppy ear curiously to listen as the dust bunnies began to tell him of the great adventures in the storybooks stacked neatly there. They chattered about the fast ships sailed by explorers and the grand castles ruled by adventurers. Doodle Dog knew some of the stories, but others he’d never heard before. Then to his amusement they chattered about all the things they hear living under the bookcase in the office. What an interesting life they must have! Doodle Dog always wondered what the walls would say if they could talk, and the dust bunnies were even better than the walls – if they were bored all they had to do was take a ride on someone’s shoe, paw, or a particularly intriguing gust of wind to take a new journey. Doodle Dog was so very much entertained that he quite forgot he had been sort-of-stuck.

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Patti M

Brandy already had her music blaring into her head phones, with her hands above her head swerving back and forth to the beat when I pounced in the back seat behind her. The drive, on dirty, gravel, and narrow roads was long and boring and stupid. So, I slept.

And that was the first time I dreamed about her.

I don’t know what you would call the noises. Shooshing. Shooshing sounds. That’s what I would call them, swirling all around me. My neck should have hurt from snapping it left and right, trying to see who was making them. But, it didn’t. I couldn’t feel much of my body. Smoke filled the air on all sides of me. It should have smelled like smoke, but it didn’t. It didn’t smell like anything.

I moved about slowly, cautiously, without feeling in my legs or feet. It was like I was there, but kind of not too. I noticed an area about five feet wide where the smoke moved as water, swirling and rippling. As I approached it, its form changed to water. It looked like water, sounded like rippling water, but my hand seemed to pass right through it, like it really wasn’t there either. I pulled my hand back out. Nothing. Not wet. Just…my hand, nothing else.

That’s when I saw her. Spiraling in the ripples of the so-called water, appeared a face, pale and gentle, with thick, long blonde hair as a frame. Her brown eyes sparkled and the skin around them, appeared slightly darker than the rest of her face. Her lips, pink and pulled back in a thin line, somehow looked out of place on the pale canvas. She held her chin low as an expression, tenuous and almost scared, stared back at me, studying me.

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Later during the day, as they made a stop to eat, they heard what Yawa could only identify as gun shots in the far distance followed by the sound of birds flying off and animals getting restless. That was pretty normal even if it was a bit unnerving. If her captor was worried he didn't show any sign of it except when they were back on their way Yawa thought the elephant was going a bit faster than in the morning. Her stomach growled. Maybe it was time she took the food he’s been offering her. If he was going to hurt her and kill her it probably should’ve happened by now. She considered breaking her silence then decided against it.


So far the terrain had been even, going green after green. For a little while she forgot about her current situation and became absorbed in her surroundings. If they had normal food and TV maybe she would reconsider wanting to go home.

“Hah,” the boy said suddenly.

Yawa had to hold onto her saddle not to fall off the elephant.

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24. Grapemo 2014 Day 12: Whatever it Takes...

Almost halfway through GRAPEMO 2014! YOU GUYS ROCK! Keep up the GOOD WORK, and remember, no matter what you're using to write this story of yours--

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--whatever you do:

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25. Grapemo 2014 Day 11: TUESDAY TEASERS

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Kathie C

Today I took Robbie into our father’s old studio at the very end of our house. I knew Mom would kill me for this, if she knew, but she was out for the afternoon—or so I thought. I wanted Robbie to see it, to see where our father had done much of his work when we were little. I wondered if he would remember. I hadn’t been in this room since the day Daddy died but Mom had preserved it, untouched, like a shrine.

I opened the door and stepped in. Robbie was behind me. The room smelled of heat and dust. There was his desk standing in front of the windows. There was his drafting table, still covered with blue prints. All of his books were still in the shelves that lined the side walls. I half expected to turn and find him looking up inquisitively from his reading chair, glasses drooping on his nose.

The sun, at midmorning, streamed in from the floor to ceiling windows in the front of the room and the skylight above. Daddy loved light.

I heard Robbie’s sharp intake of breath and turned back to him. He too must feel overwhelmed, I thought. This was Daddy’s room!

He pushed me aside, gently but firmly, and entered the room, walked to the center where the sun shone on the old Oriental rug that Daddy inherited from Gran. Weirdly, Robbie dropped to his knees, looking full up into the sun, and raising his arms. Then slowly, he stood, his arms still raised, and began to chant in the language I didn’t understand.

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“I wish I could have seen it. Your painting, I mean,” I said instead.

“I wish so as well.” There was an odd quality to his voice and I wondered if he ached inside like I did.

“Maybe you can still show me.” I flipped to a new page in my sketchbook and picked up the charcoal again. “What if you traced the wall, pretending to paint it again? I could copy your movements here.”

Rider stepped closer to the wall and lifted his hand. I kept my eyes on his fingers, my own hands mirroring his. When he finished and I looked down to see what we’d drawn, my breath caught.

Two trapezoidal figures, similar to the Fremont’s style. Each had two eyes and a mouth, each had a series of dots above their heads—whether hair or head dresses, I couldn’t tell. One had a necklace, the other had a thick band around the waist. Their arms joined between them, like they were holding hands.

“It’s beautiful,” I whispered, tears pricking my eyes.

“It’s us,” he said. “That is, it’s how I wish we could be.”

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A cold breeze pulled Yawa out of a very uncomfortable sleep and dream. She was in the trip’s van arguing with some girl and then all of a sudden it got very cold. The people disappeared and the bus disappeared and now she was back in her nightmare. She blinked back unwanted tears and looked around. Her captor was asleep by a very faint fire barely illuminating his young face and bald head.

She took in deep breaths in hopes to settle her pounding heart. Her backpack hadn’t moved. She eyed the darkness beyond the entrance of the cave and the comfort of the fire next to her. However a sharp pain from her still tied up wrists brought back the reality of her dire situation. She needed to get away. She wiggled her cramped toes, then tested her muscles one limb at the time.

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Fingers closing on her sword, Emelia scanned their surroundings. Birds still twittered above, snow-white sifa scampered among the branches, and the breeze whispered as if the terrors beyond the boundaries of these woods were a world away. Another place. Another time. “I’m not leaving you.”

“We do not face them alone,” the old man whispered with raspy certainty.

“No,” Emelia replied evenly. “You won’t. Not as long as I’m here.”

“Go, child,” Ayrmid murmured. “We are not without allies.”

She glanced around the sun-dappled woodlands. No one. No help here. No allies. Even the last of the little band they guarded was passed. She dragged in a tremulous breath and prepared to face the inevitable.

Focused and still, Ayrmid slowly lowered her folded hands and opened them before her, the amulet glinting emerald as a sunbeam struck its surface. “Rise children,” she whispered. “Eiroch! Cuert dein naemei.”

“Tionn eh-nahl.” Torran’s voice reverberated with a strength that belied his frailty.

“You keep yelling, anyone who didn’t know where we are…will now.”

He gave no indication of hearing her, but as long as he wasn’t bellowing maybe a chance remained. Easing her sword free, Emelia strained against the everyday murmur of the forest, waiting for the first sign of their enemy’s presence. A rustle began along the far rim of the opening, a hushed stirring that trembled in the leaves and set the birds to wing. The light beyond them faded until everything beyond the circumference of trees surrounding their stand lay shadowed and impenetrable.

Then it moved, and Emelia’s heart lunged into her throat and she covered her mouth to keep it from escaping. Limbs smashed together with a thunderous clatter, vines whipped through the air whining and cracking, and every green and growing thing became a living wall reaching upward and outward filling the space until it choked out everything but sky and sun.

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The woman next door ran outside screaming, tearing out her already tattered hair. She pointed at her front door. “Your father’s shooting at my dad. He shot at me. He’s going to kill him. You’ve got to do something. They’re in my house.”

Tommy yelled as he began dialing on his phone, “I’m calling the police.” As if on cue, police sirens blared in the distance and grew louder by the second.

“I’m going in. I have to stop him.”

“Wait for the police,” Tommy ordered forcefully. “Don’t put yourself in danger.”

“I have to take the chance. He could kill someone before the police get here. I can’t let that happen.” He put himself in harm’s way for animals, so certainly he could risk his life for his own father and other fellow human beings. He had no choice. It would be his fault if someone got hurt.

So he ran through the open door, hoping he would be in time. “Dad! It’s Guy. Don’t do anything. I’m here. You’ll be okay.”

“He’ll be okay? What about me? He’s got a shot gun pointed at my head threatening to blow it off.”

Guy’s blood turned to ice as he turned the corner and came face to face with the business end of his dad’s shotgun. He pulled up short beside the neighbour and put his hands in the air. “Dad, you can’t do this. You’d be no better than him and you’ll go to jail. You don’t want that.”

The neighbour who looked to be pushing 90 and barely able to stand even with the aid of a cane, shot him heated glances. “What do you mean, no better than me? I haven’t done anything. He’s the crazy one, coming in here, shooting up the place.”

“No! You have your followers do the dirty work so you can profess your innocence while you’re trying to make me look crazy. Don’t lie or I’ll blow your head off.”

“I’m not lying. You are a crazy old coot, talking about followers, and conspiracies to kill you.”

Glen raised the gun and shot the ceiling. Chunks of sheet rock and dust fell on them, coating them white.

“Last chance. Confess the truth to my son and the police when they get here, if they’re not on your dirty payroll, which they are.”

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Mialie S

As he lazily turned away from the window, thinking of what he might do first, Doodle Dog’s tail swiped against the swishing curtain. The fabric twisted around the tip of his tail and as he walked away from the window and toward the middle of the room, so then did the curtain go with him, stretching and stretching behind him until… YANK! It came tumbling off the thin rod on top of the window frame and landed right on top of Doodle Dog, covering the little puppy from head to toe in the soft material. Doodle Dog wasn’t sure what he could do about it, but he was pretty sure the office staff wouldn’t be too happy to find the curtain yanked off the wall. Well, maybe they wouldn’t notice…

So Doodle Dog did what any little dog would do and wiggled and wiggled until he could get himself free from the tangled cloth. He backed up and backed up, wiggling his furry behind to knock the curtain off his body but his head was still covered so he couldn’t see where he was going! Soon the determined puppy came loose from the heavy curtain. Success! But just as it dropped to the floor, the edge of the rug Doodle Dog was standing upon curled up and caught one of his paws. The little floppy-eared puppy tilted this way and that as his paws tripped over the small rug. Before he knew it, the rug rolled right over on top of him, and Doodle Dog was rolling across the floor in it, a colorful twisting fuzzy bug in a rug if there ever was one! Finally the rug had nowhere else to roll and it stopped SMACK against something very hard in the middle of the room. Something very hard, very large, and very important… the main work desk with all of its important work things on top! As the rug unrolled with Doodle Dog unrolling right out of it, the little floppy-eared puppy crashed into the wooden desk in the middle of the room. The desk moved ever so slightly, but the pencil cup on top of the desk moved quite a bit more than just slightly, and was knocked off the table. The pencils skittered across the floor, rolling under this drawer and that cabinet, until every last one played a part in the mess that was slowly being made for the office staff to find. Well, maybe they wouldn’t notice…

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