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The Future of Dearly–And Lia

Hi, everyone! I know I promised an update ages ago. I’ve been fielding disappointed and anxious emails for a while, now. If you’ve been worried about me, or if I’ve not yet responded to your email—I’m sorry.

While I care deeply about my readers—and will never stop, from my knees and the bottom of my heart, thanking all of you for your time and devotion—I’m afraid there was a little part of my brain that wanted to put this post off for as long as possible.

I’ll come right out and say it—at the conclusion of this post, a lot of you are going to be disappointed. There’s nothing I can do about that, except continue to apologize and thank all of you—and, hopefully, convince you that my vision for the future is pretty darn awesome.

This post may be long. This post may be TMI. But I feel that it’s important to get everything out there—not only because I feel like I owe my readers an explanation for my relative silence, lately, but because…I don’t know. I feel like it may help someone else, down the line?

So, to just come out and say it: My publishers recently informed me that they are not interested in continuing the Dearly series.

I am eternally grateful to them for giving the series a chance. While I regret that my books did not sell as well as they hoped, I know that I personally benefited from our professional relationship in more ways than I ever imagined or hoped I would. I have learned much, experienced much, and grown much. To my editors, especially—Chris Schleup and Jennifer E. Smith—I owe an enormous debt of gratitude.

Becoming a published author changed my life. It lifted me out of a monetary black hole. It set me on the path to independence. It convinced me that I was capable of doing something, creating something, after I’d spent many years believing that I was a useless lump of flesh.

I am saddened, but not devastated. Because I have so much more now, more than I ever dreamed I would have. I feel like five years ago I set off on a strange, twisty path through an unknown and terrifying forest. I have now emerged on the other side—perhaps with a few leaves in my hair, a few twigs tangled in my sweater—to behold a beautiful land, a peaceful land, a place I never thought existed. The journey there was scary, but the payoff was enormous.

I am grateful. I am glad. I am humbled. I am happy.

Now.

This is where the TMI warning comes in. I feel I should stress that what I am going to describe in no way reflects upon my publishers, my agent, or anyone with whom I have worked. This is not an indictment against anyone else, especially anyone with whom I had or currently have a business relationship. This is all personal.

But this is the other side of what becoming a published author did to me. This is why I have been so quiet—and unproductive—over the last year or so.

I am going to describe the forest.

And I am going to tell you why I can never go back there.

Even if it means never writing another Dearly book.

All my life, I have suffered from anxiety and depression. I am open about my experiences with these mental issues, because I feel that silence on the topic of mental health causes a great deal of harm.

It is not until recently that I sought help—therapy and some medication—for my problems. Yet, looking back on my life, I can see that they’ve been with me from an early age. I was a shy, sensitive child. I can clearly recall experiencing intense separation anxiety around the age of six—when I was in a friend’s house directly across the street from my own. Seriously—lying on the floor, sobbing for my mother separation anxiety, when she was maaaaaybe fifty feet away. I can remember begging her to turn away friends at the door when I was only six or seven—because I felt “sad and quiet,” and didn’t want to play.

I can’t recall a time in my life when I didn’t experience some combination of intense fear, sadness/listlessness, and extreme self-loathing. I’ve pretty much always hated myself.

And yet, despite all this, I managed to get on in life quite well. At least, I did well when it came to academic work. Back when grades formed the objective measure of how well my life was going, I was a star.

I had trouble translating that academic success to “real life,” however. Because I was shy and sensitive, and had a tendency to believe other people when they criticized me, meaning that my brain tended to enter death spirals where all I thought of myself and my contributions was, “FAILUREFAILUREFAILUREFAILUREFAILUREYOUSHOULDJUSTKILLYOURSELF.”

Because killing yourself is an entirely rational response to failure. Staying alive to try again? Pfft. Optimists are SO annoying.

Anyway. This was how I lived my life.

And then I discovered that I was pretty good at something.

I wrote a book.

Now, I got an agent very quickly, a publishing deal very quickly—too quickly, I think. But suddenly, a bunch of people—people I didn’t know, people who were objective, who had no reason to lie to me—were telling me that I was great. They were giving me money for what I’d made—I was literally being paid in You Are Great Dollars.

You’d imagine that these experiences would immediately propel someone out of the Failure Death Spiral, serving as irrefutable evidence that they are Pretty Damn Amazing, indeed.

But for me, they never did.

They made everything worse.

This isn’t anyone’s fault. Not even my own. I don’t want to make it sound as if anyone who praised or trusted or believed in or championed me is to blame for driving the anxiety/depression knife deeper into my gray matter. Far from it. I love those people. I don’t even blame myself—for if I could control my own brain, I wouldn’t be writing all of this.

To keep things short: For four years or so, after I signed the contract for Dearly, I lived in a fog of abject terror. That little tickle of anxiety and social paranoia that accompanied me through my days blew up into serious paranoia. I thought people who passed me on the street could look into my mind and see every bad thing I’d ever done. I would sit at my desk in a near-catatonic state, for hours, wondering how my book would do, how I would write another one—scaring myself to the point where I began dreaming about just walking away, getting on a bus to Mexico with a fake passport, fleeing from the spotlight I felt was shining on my life. I barely slept for weeks at a time. I second-guessed everything I thought I knew, and began to second-guess those wonderful people in my life, too.

I thought everyone was lying to me. I felt like I was part of some sick game, or some vast conspiracy. I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone. Because I sucked, and I’d sucked foreverI’d hated myself since I was a little kid. How could I now, suddenly, be wonderful?

The only answer: Everyone was lying to me.

This even extended to my beautiful Beau. We broke up for a time because of it. I lost the most wonderful person, outside of my family, I’d ever known in my life for years because of it. Because I was terrified of him for reasons I could not explain, and rather than talk to him about it—because sharing the contents of my mind and heart would give the conspiratorial forces more ammunition to do whatever it was they were doing, obviously—I ran away.

God, I’m crying now. I told you this would be TMI. It got dark. It got dark fast. I’m just glad that through all of this, some part of my mind—the last sane corner—kept shouting, “THIS IS NOT NORMAL. THIS IS REAL TIN FOIL HAT PARANOIA. YOUR ANXIETY IS OUT OF CONTROL. GET HELP GET HELP GET HELP.”

So I did. And I began to make progress. And then I reached out to Beau again, and told him that I wanted to see him. And when I did, I knew that I still loved him and needed him.

And he saved me. That man took me and saved me, and that is worth more than any fictional relationship printed on dead trees.

I’ve been living with him for a year, now. A glorious year during which I finished no writing projects and never pressed myself to do anything I didn’t want to do. And I honestly feel like this year has been a slow, steady climb toward greater mental health. I feel so much better, guys. This might sound pathetic to many of you, but it’s a freaking revolution to me to be able to do things like:

  • Wake up in the morning with a project in mind—even if it’s just sewing a skirt—instead of cold dread that leads to catatonia.
  • Wake up and be cheerful.
  • Feed myself.
  • Make plans and do research and think ahead, like an actual grown-up.
  • Share what I am thinking and feeling with someone. Not self-censor.
  • Think about other people.
  • Go to sleep, free of fear.

I feel so healed after this year of inactivity. However, there are effects that still linger. For instance, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to trust my “gut” ever again. That sixth sense that many people have, that tells them when something is going to go wrong, or they’re going to encounter some danger? I can’t believe mine when it dings. Because my brain told me so many lies for so long—lies that I believed.

How did publishing a book do all this to me? Well, it thrust me into the spotlight, for one thing. My book was also a product that was going out into the world, out of my control; I believe that was a large contributing factor to my breakdown. My personal mental health management strategy, for years, had been “withdraw and don’t engage with the world”—after all, if people don’t know you exist, they can’t come and get you. Hell, I never even reviewed things on Amazon, terrified my words would be used against me. Ever wonder why I don’t participate much on social media? Now you know.

The grind of publishing also wore me down—specifically, writing and editing to deadline. I don’t begrudge the industry its scheduling at all, and deadlines are an important part of life. But I was not in a place where I could handle deadlines in a mature and rational way; they just contributed to my overall stress level.

So. I’m much better, now. I feel healthier. What does this mean for Dearly? What does this mean for my writing career?

Well, it means I’m not in a place where I can tackle a third book, yet. I’m afraid that Dearly is still tainted with the fear and devastation I experienced in that forest. I don’t want to go back there. I can’t.

I want to get to a point in my life where I can think, “Ooh, I get to write a third book!” and not, “…Idon’twanttowriteathirdbookpleasepleasedon’tmakemewriteathirdbook.” Not only for my own mental health, not only for my own enjoyment, but because I believe it’s the only way to do the characters and the story justice. Dearly is snarky and irreverent and filled with beautiful tragedy, and I just don’t have the energy to produce those things right now.

When that happens—and I do believe it will, at some point—I plan to self-publish. I’m actually working on some other writing projects right now, which I plan to try publishing myself. (Under a different name.) I am writing. Just not Dearly.

I know at least one reader has already asked me, “If you were only contracted for two books, why didn’t you wrap things up in two books?” I made that choice because, at the outset, I knew I had more than two books worth of material rattling about in my brain. I still do. It’s there. Just mumbling, not screaming.

So, at the end of this—what can I say? I’ve already let you into the most broken, intimate parts of my mind. I’ve apologized for how things turned out—and I will do so again. I am very sorry. And I am very, very thankful for all of you.

I am sorry. Thank you.

And if you’ll hang with me, if we can just chat as friends for a while—I would like that. Because at some point, I will want to write Bram and Nora and Renfield and Vespertine again. I know I will. Just not now.

In a way, I think I’m waiting for them to come out of the forest and join me. But, you know, they’re zombies. They kind of have to move at their own pace.

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Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls – Hiatus!

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So, I did a stupid thing.

I wrote too efficiently.

I’d meant to split this “arc” into five episodes, just like the others. (For the record, my instinct is apparently 3000 words a chapter, five episodes a story arc…I love learning about the invisible metrics that govern my mind.) I’d meant to leave us with Fanny Grinspoon as Anastasia’s newfound mentor, Nicholas with his head hanging down a bit, Allen with a new “sister,” and the two ensouled machines tucked safely back in the cottage, ready to resume their education and character development.

And by “leave us,” I mean finish up, and take a necessary break. Because on August 13th, I will be at Authors After Dark in Savannah, Georgia! After some book convention goodness, my schedule has me returning home for precisely one day, after which I’m heading out on a cross-country roadtrip with Beau in order to visit his family.

I won’t be home until sometime in mid-September.

And…Grinspoon is pretty much neatly wrapped up, at this point. The characters are where they need to be, scattered across the playroom floor of my mind. There they will sleep, until I come home and start writing again.

I’ve had great fun writing and performing Grinspoon thus far, and look forward to continuing the story–especially as this hiatus will permit me to pick up at a future plot point when I return, bumping the speed of the narrative up considerably. So, if you’re disappointed, I apologize–but I’ll be back! And the story will really start to ramp up, then, too.

Until then, enjoy the rest of your summer, and stay tuned for more Grinspoon and Dearly announcements in the fall! :D

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Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls — Episode 17 — Truth and Error

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Welcome back to Grinspoon, where Fanny continues to grow increasingly badass…

 

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Nicholas Grinspoon’s ensouled machines–Anastasia and Simon–have been discovered. After the two bedraggled robots showed up on her doorstep, his wife, Fanny, quickly took matters into her own hands…securing their safety, repairing them as best she was able. Now she investigates the cottage where they were held, a stone’s throw from her own door, and finally…finally…gets the chance to interrogate her husband.

She learns something about him, in the process.

 

 

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The Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls banner and logo were designed by artist Bernardo Garcia. See more of his work here! (Please note that some pictures may border on the risque. View at your own risk.)

The music used in the production of Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls, entitled Persephone, is © 2012 Snowflake. It is used and altered under a Creative Commons Generic Attribution License. Details can be located at Creative Commons, and Snowflake’s work can be found at CCMixter.

The narrated component of Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls is © 2012-2013 Lia Habel. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved.

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Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls – Episode 16 – The Bargain

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Ever wished that Fanny would get one up on Nicholas? Well, today’s your lucky day…

 

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The extraordinary clockwork girl, Anastasia, has escaped the confines of the cottage–and still her creator, Nicholas Grinspoon, is nowhere to be found. Luckily, she stumbles upon two new humans…his wife and son. Little understanding the nature of the being before them, they nonetheless quickly apprehend her strangeness…and while Allen seeks to aid the mechanical girl, Fanny realizes that, in an odd way, Anastasia might be of help to her.

 

 

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The Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls banner and logo were designed by artist Bernardo Garcia. See more of his work here! (Please note that some pictures may border on the risque. View at your own risk.)

The music used in the production of Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls, entitled Persephone, is © 2012 Snowflake. It is used and altered under a Creative Commons Generic Attribution License. Details can be located at Creative Commons, and Snowflake’s work can be found at CCMixter.

The narrated component of Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls is © 2012-2013 Lia Habel. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved.

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Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls — Episode 15 — The Secret Sister

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Aaaand we’re rolling on! For our next arc, we’re back to Allan. I feel like the train is picking up steam…

 

 

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On the island-kingdom of Cantamen, near the town of Colshente, an inventor seems…aimless. Having been fired by the company he helped to found, his already anti-social behavior has worsened. He disappears for days at a time, leaving his wife and son to wonder where he has gone.

They’re about to find out.

For outside the house of Greenbriar, two mechanical beings wander through the dark and the rain, toward the edge of the universe.

 

 

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The Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls banner and logo were designed by artist Bernardo Garcia. See more of his work here! (Please note that some pictures may border on the risque. View at your own risk.)

The music used in the production of Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls, entitled Persephone, is © 2012 Snowflake. It is used and altered under a Creative Commons Generic Attribution License. Details can be located at Creative Commons, and Snowflake’s work can be found at CCMixter.

The narrated component of Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls is © 2012-2013 Lia Habel. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved.

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Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls — Episode 14 — Remember No More

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This is it! The end of an arc (interestingly, the stories seem to naturally be occurring in five-episode arcs), and the end of first-person for a while. Annie, the first clockwork girl, has grown…and the world of the cottage has, in turn, become too small. And yet, it is not she who first strikes out…

I’m proud of this episode–I think this is my best “acting” job yet!

 

 

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In a cottage in an undisclosed location a girl sits alone, indulging her own memories. She has few of them to call upon, but for her, they represent life itself–for she is not permitted beyond the cottage walls. Ticking, thinking, she–the first of Grinspoon’s clockwork girls–tells her own story to herself, over and over…little knowing that the mysterious thing inside her, the bundle of metaoperations that she cannot identify, is responsible for it.

She is programmed to obey her Creator…and yet, she has slowly come to realize that she cannot.

 

 

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The Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls banner and logo were designed by artist Bernardo Garcia. See more of his work here! (Please note that some pictures may border on the risque. View at your own risk.)

The music used in the production of Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls, entitled Persephone, is © 2012 Snowflake. It is used and altered under a Creative Commons Generic Attribution License. Details can be located at Creative Commons, and Snowflake’s work can be found at CCMixter.

The narrated component of Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls is © 2012-2013 Lia Habel. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved.

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Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls – Episode 13 – Randomly Accessed Memories, Pt. 3

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Aaand we’re back! Sorry about the lack of show last Monday–I wasn’t feeling well, and wasn’t able to record. This week we’re carrying on right where we left off. Annie’s world–the mysterious tiny, three-room cottage–is nonetheless site of many formative experiences…

 

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In a cottage in an undisclosed location a girl sits alone, indulging her own memories. She has few of them to call upon, but for her, they represent life itself–for she is not permitted beyond the cottage walls. Ticking, thinking, she–the first of Grinspoon’s clockwork girls–tells her own story to herself, over and over…little knowing that the mysterious thing inside her, the bundle of metaoperations that she cannot identify, is responsible for it.

She has yet to see her own face, however…

 

 

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The Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls banner and logo were designed by artist Bernardo Garcia. See more of his work here! (Please note that some pictures may border on the risque. View at your own risk.)

The music used in the production of Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls, entitled Persephone, is © 2012 Snowflake. It is used and altered under a Creative Commons Generic Attribution License. Details can be located at Creative Commons, and Snowflake’s work can be found at CCMixter.

The narrated component of Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls is © 2012-2013 Lia Habel. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved.

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Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls – Episode 12 – Randomly Accessed Memories, Pt. 2

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Today we’re continuing with Annie’s arc–which is narrated in first-person. So feel free to scoff at my attempts to read extra-dramatically, and let’s go!

 

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In a cottage in an undisclosed location a girl sits alone, indulging her own memories. She has few of them to call upon, but for her, they represent life itself–for she is not permitted beyond the cottage walls. Ticking, thinking, she–the first of Grinspoon’s clockwork girls–tells her own story to herself, over and over…little knowing that the mysterious thing inside her, the bundle of metaoperations that she cannot identify, is responsible for it.

However, she might be coming close to attaining that knowledge…

 

 

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Grinspoon Header - This Week's Theme Music

 

Grinspoon Header - The Fine Print
The Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls banner and logo were designed by artist Bernardo Garcia. See more of his work here! (Please note that some pictures may border on the risque. View at your own risk.)

The music used in the production of Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls, entitled Persephone, is © 2012 Snowflake. It is used and altered under a Creative Commons Generic Attribution License. Details can be located at Creative Commons, and Snowflake’s work can be found at CCMixter.

The narrated component of Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls is © 2012-2013 Lia Habel. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved.

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Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls – Episode 11 – Randomly Accessed Memories, Pt. 1

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Today we’re continuing with Annie’s arc–which is narrated in first-person. So feel free to scoff at my attempts to read extra-dramatically, and let’s go!

 

Grinspoon Header - Our Story So Far

 

In a cottage in an undisclosed location a girl sits alone, indulging her own memories. She has few of them to call upon, but for her, they represent life itself–for she is not permitted beyond the cottage walls. Ticking, thinking, she–the first of Grinspoon’s clockwork girls–tells her own story to herself, over and over…little knowing that the mysterious thing inside her, the bundle of metaoperations that she cannot identify, is responsible for it.

 

 

Grinspoon Header - This Week's Episode

 

Play

Grinspoon Header - This Week's Theme Music

 

Grinspoon Header - The Fine Print
The Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls banner and logo were designed by artist Bernardo Garcia. See more of his work here! (Please note that some pictures may border on the risque. View at your own risk.)

The music used in the production of Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls, entitled Persephone, is © 2012 Snowflake. It is used and altered under a Creative Commons Generic Attribution License. Details can be located at Creative Commons, and Snowflake’s work can be found at CCMixter.

The narrated component of Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls is © 2012-2013 Lia Habel. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved.

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Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls – Episode 10 – In Plain Sight

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Today’s episode features a slight change in format! We’ll be wrapping up Allan’s first story arc, and then switching into first-person mode in order to meet a very special–some might say revolutionary–Grinspoon girl. I think the next arc will be all first-person, so feel free to laugh at my acting attempts!

 

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Once upon a time–well, two years ago–four-year-old Allan Grinspoon “befriended” one of his father’s creations, an accounting model he named Simon. In time, Simon disappeared…but now he’s back, and acting quite strange. Lord Illumad, the royal inspector, doesn’t seem to know anything about it…but he does know a lot about Allan’s father, Nicholas.

Meanwhile, somewhere close by–and yet, worlds away–a new being sits alone, thinking.

 

 

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Grinspoon Header - The Fine Print
The Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls banner and logo were designed by artist Bernardo Garcia. See more of his work here! (Please note that some pictures may border on the risque. View at your own risk.)

The music used in the production of Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls, entitled Persephone, is © 2012 Snowflake. It is used and altered under a Creative Commons Generic Attribution License. Details can be located at Creative Commons, and Snowflake’s work can be found at CCMixter.

The narrated component of Mr. Grinspoon’s Girls is © 2012-2013 Lia Habel. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved.

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