Fetch: The Box of Dreams

The "box of dreams" GIF appears to be based on the artwork of Alex Alemany, a Spanish artist

"My friends, come with me, I have something wonderful to show you," Charon announced. "The Kraken found this chest containing a gateway to the Dreamlands. You can go there anytime and feel free to be yourselves again."
"This box allows for invisible submersion in the middle of the Cerenarian Sea," the Kraken explained. "Your ship of dreams awaits you there."

From "The Land of Lost Dreams" by Pepper Baiij

Prompts Used:
Victorious Vocabulary

Notes:
Earth's Dreamlands and the Cerenarian Sea are the creations of H.P. Lovecraft
Pepper Baiij is an original character created by Team Netherworld for our WIP, Fetch.

Fetch: Invisible Submersion

In Tune with the Infinite
Copyright Mira Nedyalkova

The day after her troubled brother Daniel's disappearance, a tearful Amber Clifford-Collins showed her Uncle Paul the disturbing final entry in Dan's diary.

The annegare
In secluded submersion
Lie invisible

~Cie, Gem, and Helena~

Prompts Used:

Notes:
Although we believe this works as an eerie stand-alone piece, it is also part of Team Netherworld's WIP, Fetch. The Fetch blog is for Team Netherworld members only, but I reposted the chapter where Daniel describes meeting the Annegare, as he calls the mermaids of Cerenarian Sea, to his sister, Amber.
Annegare is an Italian word meaning "to drown." It is pronounced an-ne-gar-re.
Etymology: from Latin *adnecare, from necāre, present active infinitive of necō, “kill”.
Earth's Dreamlands and the Cerenarian Sea are the creations of H.P. Lovecraft.
Amber Clifford-Collins, Daniel Clifford, and Paul Clifford are original characters created by Team Netherworld.

Dedicated to H.P. Lovecraft for a lifetime of inspiration
Without him, many of our stories would never have happened

Fetch: Annegare

What Daniel Saw

Annegare
by
Cie, Gem, Naila, and Rose

Notes:
The Cerenarian Sea is a location in Earth's Dreamlands. Both it and the Dreamlands are the creations of H.P. Lovecraft.
This post was originally published 3 August 2015 on Team Netherworld's private blog for our WIP, Fetch. I am sharing it now to give context to a new addition to this work. Sadly, Fetch has been on the back burner for far longer than I would like. 

Prompts Used:

"Danny, you bastard, I do not bleedin' need this shit from you!"
Thirty-four-year-old Daniel Clifford opened his eyes slightly to glimpse his frightened and angry younger sister Amber standing by his hospital bedside. A tear began to slowly trickle from Amber's eyes; eyes the same strange, color-changing hue as their dying father's.
"You ain't been takin' your meds, Danny, I know you ain't. Don't you think the way Daddy's dyin' is enough for me to deal with? You pique me, you blighter, you really do! How dare you wallow in self-pity when I'm tryin' to care for our father, who don't even know who I am half the time, I'm tryin' to take care of you too, and now I've got..."
Amber stopped herself short, her hand resting on her abdomen. Daniel reached to irritatingly pat the slight bulge.
"So you ain't just plumped up a bit from eatin' too much Spotted Dick?" he teased as Amber pushed his hand away. "I thought as much. But why the hell would you think you had to keep it a secret from me?"
"I was just bein' circumspect," Amber said softly. "Your hold on things is so shaky lately, Dan."
"Well, me life's in rubble and it's as if the enemy is paradin' about lightin' triumphant bonfires on the ruins," Daniel retorted. "Is it any wonder I don't feel much like remainin' tenacious, fightin' the good fight and all? Still, I don't see why you'd think that you needed to hide your good news from me. Don't you think that perhaps knowin' I'd a little niece or nephew I'll need to be helpin' out with might make me want to live to fight another day?"
"I hope it does, Danny," Amber quavered, bursting into tears. 
Daniel pulled his sister close and held her for a moment. She looked at him with concern and curiosity. 
"Danny, when the medics revived you, you said a strange word. I wonder if you might remember if I told you."
"Well, try me."
"Annegare."
"That's what the supplicants said. They called themselves Annegare."
"What were they?"
"They was the mermaids in the Cerenarian Sea," Daniel said softly. "They called to me. One of them said 'I am your supplicant, Daniel Oliver Clifford. You need struggle no longer. Come to us and be free.' I was at the liminal point of joinin' them permanent-like when you came in and pulled me outta the water. Oh, Amber, I'm ever so sorry, but I so wanted to join them, to swim with them in the warm water of the Cerenarian Sea forever. I just wanted me a little joy. It's been so long since I had that."
"Me too," Amber sighed, nestling next to Daniel like she had when they were children and she'd had a nightmare. "Maybe this baby will bring some joy to all of us."
"Boy or girl, or do you know yet?"
"Girl. Vance and I thought to name her Gerri Olivia."
"I like that," Daniel declared. "I make my solemn promise that for Gerri Olivia, I will resist the call of the mermaids from the Cerenarian Sea."
"Thank you, Danny," Amber said. "Little Gerri will need her uncle, and I need my big brother. I'm already losing Daddy. I can't bear to lose you too."

~Cie, Gem, Naila and Rose~

Book Review: Paradox by Jamie Ripp


Book: Paradox
Author: Jamie Ripp
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Rating: 2 of 5 stars

I give this book two out of five stars not because the story is bad but because it needs a lot of cleaning up in order to have a readable flow.
In some ways, a mixed review like this one is the most difficult kind for me, because I don't want to discourage the author. This is a book with incredible potential, but the story and its characters become lost in the chaos of overly lengthy chapters without a break in the action. The author has talent, but her technique needs to be honed.
Here are some of the issues I had with the execution of the story.
I feel that the prologue should have been divided into segments. Too much goes on in this section without clear breaks. The narrator, Nicholas, loses his family, then the voice switches from the first person to the third person. Nicholas finds the vampire clan and is turned into a vampire. His blood lust and desire for revenge are described, and at last, he finds his maker.
Each of these concepts needs its own separate section. When they are run together, it makes for frustrating reading and weakens the power of the narrative. 
I do not think Nicholas' perspective should ever have been presented in the first person without having a plot device such as a diary to distinguish Nicholas' first-person voice from the story's major protagonist Arri's first-person voice. The fact that most of the story takes place from Arri's perspective makes the first-person accounts by Nicholas in the prologue confusing without a prop such as a diary to make the distinction clear.
The author tries to pack way too much information into a single chapter. A new chapter should be created each time the setting or situation changes significantly. Having so much action and so many changes in one chapter gives a run-on feel and is frustrating to follow. 
Think of a book as a full meal which needs to be broken up into segments. Don't pile the appetizer, the main course, the salad, the sides, the bread, and the dessert all on one plate. Cut them into easily manageable portions. Similarly, the chapters of a story should be broken into manageable portions.
One of the reasons the Harry Potter books are so successful despite being extremely long is because J.K. Rowling and her editor(s) took great care to ensure that the story was simple to read without talking down to the audience. Similarly, Stephen King has often spoken about the necessity of writing concisely. Stephen King's books are by no means brief, but his meaty novels are broken down into bite-sized chunks with precise breaks whenever the scene shifts.
Unfortunately, Ms. Ripp's novel reads like a second draft rather than a finished book. The concept is compelling, but following the plot is like being lost in a maze. The editor in me would never have approved publication of the novel in its present form. The author's exciting ideas are mired down by overly complicated and drawn-out chapters.
I have sympathy for the potential out-of-pocket cost in hiring a professional editor. If cost is an issue, I suggest that the author request constructive criticism on her work from beta readers. The Insecure Writers Support Group and the Write-Edit-Publish group are good places to look for polite constructive criticism.
I hope that the author will continue honing her craft. She possesses talent as a storyteller but her execution needs further development.

~Cie~

Inspire Me Monday #216: How to Train Your Dragon III


The third movie in the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy is out, and it's a winner. If you have kids or grandkids, and/or you are a kid at heart, this movie is for you. 
The movie does tackle some darker themes (i.e. the dragon poachers) and there are a few moments which might be upsetting to younger children, but overall, it is appropriate for all ages. 
There are lessons about love and loss and about interacting with nature. Wild animals need to be allowed to be wild if possible, and people must learn to respect nature. 
However, there is also plenty of fun to be had. Although the gang is all grown up, they are as goofy as ever. There will be moments when you'll want to cry into Tuffnut's full, thick beard, but there will be moments when you'll be roaring with laughter too. 
Kids who have prosthetic limbs or require assistive devices might take encouragement from seeing heroic characters who also have prosthetic limbs. Even the mighty Toothless has a prosthetic tail fin to help him fly.
This movie was great fun, and you don't really need to have a kid in your life to have an excuse for seeing it, but if you do have a kid in your life, by all means, take them along!

~Cie~


Copyright Public Domain Pictures
The Seal of Approval gives How to Train Your Dragon 3 five out of five stars


Weekend Wrap-Up 24 February 2019


Hello, Crazy Creatives, Delivered Ones, and Horror Harridans! It's been a mad week. I posted at the end of January about a minor accident that I was involved in when the roads were icy, and a young lady stopped behind me, but her car didn't. It was a very minor accident with no injuries.
The repairs on my vehicle were just completed. The young lady's insurance took care of everything. To recap an important point from the initial post about this incident, when I spoke to the insurance agent, I was told that the girl's family wanted to pay me out of pocket for the estimated damages, an offer which I declined. I'd had past experiences with vehicle repairs, and there is often underlying damage that can't be seen at first glance.
The initial estimate was for around $400 for chipped paint.
The actual repair cost was close to $1900.
If I had taken the $400 from the family, I would have been screwed.
Always go through the insurance company in situations like this.
Earlier this month, I joined the Insecure Writer's Support Group Book Club. Our current book is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. The big Discussion Fun Day is March 20th. The book club virtually meets on Goodreads. You can find me on Goodreads as well.
To be honest, I never would have known what a wonderful writer Daphne du Maurier was if I hadn't gotten a copy of Rebecca on Audible. Other than book reviews, I don't do much reading these days. I'd had an Audible membership for a couple of years but really hadn't used it much since I stopped working as a home care nurse. I decided to dust it off so I could participate in the book club, and I'm so happy that I did! Rebecca is one of the most engaging stories that I've ever had the pleasure of listening to.
I'm in the car a lot, so audiobooks are real salvation. You can listen during your commute to and from work on a device such as your smartphone or tablet. If you use public transit for your commute, you'll want a good pair of headphones. Be sure to check device compatibility before purchasing.
That's it for this wrap-up. I hope I have imparted some useful information, and maybe I'll see you around the IWSG book club!

~Cie~

Toys in the Attic: Becoming the Narrator


Sabella carried the dollhouse to the room she'd designated as her workspace. Perhaps Alex wouldn't be inclined to be as bossy with her if she kept the front room nice. It was true that she'd had problems with hoarding in the past, and she feared that she might have trouble parting with the interesting things from days gone by that she might find hidden in the rooms and attic of the house. 
Sabella thought that perhaps if she cleaned her treasures up and kept them neatly on display, she might be able to open a collectibles museum. She doubted that there was much money in such a venture, but she was retired, so she had a steady if small income guaranteed, so long as the jerks in charge didn't decide to take away social security.
Sabella set the dollhouse on the table in the workroom, which itself needed a fair bit of work. She found a box with several exciting treasures which gladdened her heart. One was a miniature stove, white with blue trim and a pretty floral decoration on the face. 
"It's not appropriate for you, House," she said to the spooky dollhouse. "But it's a thing of beauty, and it will be just right for another dollhouse.
Sabella turned on some quiet music and set to work cleaning and touching up the little stove. As she worked, a voice spoke quietly in her mind. She perceived the voice as coming from the spooky dollhouse. It wasn't a frightening voice, although it did startle her a little initially.
"The problem with this place is there is no narrator," the gentle masculine voice said, and Sabella now saw the speaker projected into her mind. He was a small man with long, dark hair and clothes which she believed dated back to the Victorian era. He had a British accent. 
The thunder clapped outside and Sabella turned to watch the lightning flashing across the sky. The man in her mind smiled and waved his hand. An umbrella appeared, and he raised it as if protecting himself from the impending weather.
"I love the rain too," the man declared. "As I was saying, the problem with this place is that there is no narrator. It makes it quite impossible to tell one's story when there is no-one to tell it to. At last, I have found someone who can hear me, and I have a great favor to ask of you."
"What is that?" Sabella inquired, barely able to speak, her throat suddenly having gone dry. 
"Well, get yourself a glass of water or a cup of tea. You'll not be offending me, I promise. I am simply wondering if I could implore upon you to become the narrator."
"What do you mean by that, Mister..."
"Washington. Brian Washington. It's technically Baron Brian Washington of Jerseyshire, but I don't give a whit for pretentious titles. You can call me Wash. My family always did, to distinguish me from my father, who was called Brian."
"Very well, um, Wash," Sabella replied, a bit skeptical that what she was experiencing was anything more than a figment of her imagination or the product of a quick nap. She noted that Wash had very big, beautiful, blue eyes the color of his waistcoat, wished for a moment that she was thirty years younger, and then admonished herself that he was either a ghost or a figment of her imagination, so such a thought was patently foolish. She cleared her throat and continued speaking to the spirit or figment.
"I understand that you'd like me to be your narrator. I will consider your offer, but I need to know what you wish me to do."
"Well, just listen to me, and write down what I say," Wash responded, looking at Sabella with a smile that indicated that he both liked her and found her a little silly, and she found herself again wishing that she was somewhere between forty and fifty, which was the approximate age that he appeared to be, instead of being seventy and attractive to no man outside of the senior center.
Sabella felt a slight warmth and tingling on the back of her hand, and although she could see no-one with her eyes, she could see Wash resting his hand on hers in her mind, and she blushed, hoping he wouldn't notice that an ancient woman was reacting to him like a twitterpated schoolgirl.
"I know you've always loved to write, but your ambitions have been fairly well crushed," Wash said gently. "You believe that you have no stories left in you. Well, you do, but it may take time to re-awaken your own ideas. So I will give you my words to share with the world, although I agree with you that the world may not deserve our words. Most of the world doesn't, but somewhere out there is a lonely girl just like you used to be who will be transported by your words. Let's write this story for her. Would you like to? I'll be your navigator on this journey if you'll be my narrator."
"Yes, I'll be your narrator," Sabella said, this time allowing a joyful smile to spread over her face. "I do hope you're a ghost and not just a figment, Wash. I'd like you to be a friend that I can keep and not just a dream that will fade when the story is done."

~Cie, Dolly, and Gem~

Prompt Used:

Weekend Writing Warriors 24 February 2019 (ER, LGBT, PA, RO)


“Is this really necessary?” Sonny demanded. “Couldn’t you just cuff her hands and allow her to walk freely? That collar must be choking her!”
“It is a light metal, Sir,” the guard, whose name was Zheng and who looked like an ancient warrior reassured Sonny.
“It’s all right, Sonny,” Felice reassured the junior Walton. “It really isn’t heavy at all. I’m grateful to be released from that cell. I know that you won’t let anything bad happen to me.”
“She’s playing you like a fiddle, Boy,” Tobias remarked to Sonny as they walked behind Zheng and Felice to a private elevator. “Have the two of you been…”

~Cie for Naughty Netherworld Press~

Notes:
This snippet comes from the ninth installment in the Carnal Invasion series entitled Love, Lust, and Lunacy. The vampire Tobias Walton, head of Xquenda Industries, has seen fit to release Felice Navidad, the Queen of the Frost Elementals, from the underground cell where he was holding her prisoner. However, Felice's new circumstances may not prove to be greatly improved.


Love, Lust, and Lunacy is Live and Free for a Limited Time!


The ninth book in the Carnal Invasion series is entitled Love, Lust, and Lunacy, and it is the most intricate and powerful of the Carnal Invasion tales to date. Vampire Tobias Walton, the megalomaniac head of the mysterious Xquenda Industries shows just how far he'll go to get what he wants, and the depths of his wrath know no bounds when he's deprived. 
The defiant attitude of Felice Navidad, Queen of the Frost Elementals, ensures that she is the target of Tobias' ire. Can there be any saving Felice from Tobias' devastating assault?
Sonny Walton seeks aid and comfort from the lusty Gamma Iridian denizens of Climax Castle. The brilliant scientific mind of Mistress Kali devises what seems to be a fool-proof solution to the Tobias problem, but Tobias has unforeseen abilities at his disposal. Will Mistress Kali be able to stop Tobias, or will she be too distracted by the possibility of erotic energy exchange with an always-ready multitude of willing partners to take proper precautions to securely imprison the wily Tobias?
Meanwhile, in the Winter Kingdom, the love between Sonny's former partner, Ambrosia Luna, and Teacake, the tiny but brave snow elf prince, continues to grow while unsettling revelations about a devastating former incarnation on a doomed world are brought to light. Will Teacake's love prove to be enough to soothe the disquiet in Ambrosia's soul, or will her fear of being hurt again cause her to risk losing the love she's found in this magical place?
Team Netherworld's longstanding antagonist, the powerful witch Yadira Root, makes her debut into the Carnal Invasion universe in this novel. Will Yadira help or hinder the protagonists as terrifying truths are revealed?
This intricate and exciting erotic paranormal adventure can be yours free of charge between February 21 and February 26, 2019. Hurry and claim your copy today!

Cie for Naughty Netherworld Press



WEP Challenge February 2019: The Dreams of the Frost Queen

Image copyright Xusenru

When the heart of Felice Navidad, Queen of the Frost Elementals, was pierced through by a metal poker wielded by the vicious vampire Tobias Walton, the Christmas elf Tinsel, her husband of 13,775 years, was felled by despair. Among the few things that can kill an elf is intense grief, and Tinsel’s twin brother Teacake feared that he would lose his best friend if he were not able to bring Felice back to life.
Teacake drank the elixir from the sap of the Moon-Tree of the Enchanted Wood and fell asleep at his altar. He descended the Seven Hundred Steps of Deeper Slumber through the Cavern of Flame, and, upon entering the Enchanted Wood, he was approached by six-hundred and sixty-six Zoogs, cunning rodents with tentacles beneath their noses like moles. Zoogs could be treacherous, but Teacake had been kind to them, and so they wished to assist him.
The Queen of the Zoogs stepped forward and placed a glistening red seed in Teacake’s hand. She explained in her chattering voice that this seed came from a tree which grew where the first drop of King Zyrion’s blood fell on the surface of the moon, forming the long-lost Selene Empire.
Teacake was to give the seed to his brother to plant within the damaged heart of his beloved. They were then to lie Felice to rest on the altar beneath the gardens of the Winter Palace. Within twenty-eight solar days, Felice’s heart would be mended, and a wondrous new tree would grow in the garden.
Teacake took the seed and expressed his gratitude to the Zoogs for their assistance. He opened the great bag which he had brought with him, which contained exquisite treats from the markets of Beersheba and Celephais and hearty breads and cheeses from the shops of Dylath Leen and the farms near the Katharian Hills.
The Zoogs fell about the kindly Elf’s feet and embraced him, climbing up his body to feed him morsels of the bounty which he had bestowed upon them. After spending a few moments in their vivacious company, Teacake bid the Zoogs farewell and returned to the waking world. He woke with the sparkling seed in his hand and hurried to fetch his grieving brother.
Tears of gratitude flowed from Tinsel’s eyes. He gathered a few stalwart guards to carry the Queen’s body to the chamber beneath the Royal Gardens. When she was laid upon the stone altar deep beneath the frozen Earth, he gently planted the magical seed within her wounded heart. His tears fell upon the seed. Tinsel softly kissed his wife’s cold lips.
“Return to me soon, Beloved,” he pleaded. “Life without you is not life at all.”
Queen Felice lay in her chamber beneath the gardens of the Winter Palace and dreamed. Some of the dreams were nebulous and Felice could recall no details upon awakening. However, a few stood out in her mind.
On the first night, Felice dreamed that she was starving and trapped in a chamber filled with rotting meats and fruits. She was so hungry that she tore off a piece of putrefying flesh from a roast and popped it into her mouth. She viewed herself in a mirror behind the table and screamed, for the face she beheld was that of a loathsome ghoul.
On the third night, Felice recalled a simpering suitor whose saccharine words and boorish manners nauseated her to the core.
On the sixth night, Felice’s dreams recalled the delight of meeting her future husband. The sweet little elf brought her exotic foods from Beersheba in the warm Liranian desert, and they supped and laughed together. By the end of the night, they were feeding each other.
On the ninth night, the wounded Queen despaired at the evil in the world and found herself lamenting a long-ago golden age. She recalled her brother-in-law sardonically remarking that sometimes shit rose to the top instead of cream, and she laughed and promised to keep fighting.
On the twelfth night, Felice recalled meeting her beloved dragon Acey. It was her twelfth birthday, and she was terribly unhappy, for the object of her affections, Prince Jean of the Realm of Rain, said that she had the face of a horse and hair like straw.
Felice slept away the afternoon, and when she walked out to the garden, she found a wondrous golden dragon sitting there. It was about the size of a small horse, and was outfitted with a harness, with pouches and pockets. A silver knife poked out of one of the pouches. Upon noticing Felice, the dragon spoke.
“Finally! I thought you’d never wake up.”
Acey was a gift from Felice’s beloved uncle, and she so delighted the young princess that Felice couldn’t care a whit if foolish Prince Jean thought she had the countenance of a were-pig. Acey was still Felice’s best friend after many centuries together.
On the eighteenth night, Felice recalled visiting the grave of her father, who was slain protecting the realm from a surprise attack by raiders from Yuggoth. During her last few visits, she had noticed various offerings placed upon the grave. As she looked up, she saw the elf brothers Teacake and Tinsel, the bravest of fighters despite their tiny statures. The pair attempted to hurry away into the surrounding woods, but Felice called them back and thanked them for fighting so fiercely and for remembering her father so fondly.
Something in Tinsel’s kind eyes, which shimmered with tears, made Felice want to know him better. So, she invited the brothers to the palace. Teacake busied himself with various tasks while Felice and Tinsel chatted. By the end of the evening, she was in love.
On the twenty-eighth night, Felice rose and ascended the stairs into the garden, where she found her beloved husband tending to the lovely little tree which sprouted from her breast, took root in the soil, and would now bring delight to the kingdom forever.

Crafted with love by Team Netherworld Creative Publications
Word count: 1000

Dedicated to H.P. Lovecraft
Earth's Dreamlands and its locations and creatures are the creations of H.P. Lovecraft. All characters in this tale are the creations and property of Team Netherworld Productions

References and Links

H.P. Lovecraft Stories:
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
The Outsider
Pickman's Model
The Whisperer in Darkness













Book Review: The Light Between the Shadows


Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The following is a copy of my Amazon review of the product.

I'm not big on romance novels, but this is not your typical romance novel. The lead male character, Ben Brattler, is the kind of guy that many women will want to see get his. He is arrogant, self-absorbed, and uses his partners without a care for their feelings. It quickly becomes apparent that the only one that Ben cares about is Ben. It is also readily apparent that Ben gets a bit of a kick out of others' emotional pain.
The author does well at setting the tone of the story and creating scenarios which establish Ben's unlikable persona. There are times when the scenarios seem somewhat hyperbolic and contrived, but in the end, the hyperbole serves to build the reader's dislike for the egotistical and shallow main charater.
This story was hard to set aside. I found myself wanting to keep reading, which is rare these days. The chapters are short and the author doesn't get bogged down in unnecessary detail. The interactions between the characters are concise, sometimes like a sharp slap across the face when Ben's sadistic behavior towards others comes into play. Just when the reader thinks that Ben can't get any worse, he does.
The BDSM elements of this story are cerebral as well as physical. Some might find them erotic. Personally, I found them uncomfortable. Fifty Shades of Gray this isn't: it is far more complex and well-constructed. The punishment scenarios reminded me far more of the Korean thriller Oldboy, a movie I found far more unsettling than sexually arousing. I cannot say that I found the confinement scenario enjoyable to read, but I did find it compelling.
The characters are somewhat two-dimensional, but they did hold my interest. One does learn a bit about what makes Ben tick, but Shira remains a bit of an enigma. I would like to have learned more about her motivations.
This book seems to be the first in a series, and I look forward to reading more from the author. Her style is unique and she spins a yarn that is far from the usual erotic romance. 

Cie for Horror Harridans Writing Sisterhood



Weekend Wrap-Up 17 February 2019


This week did not start out well, People. My stupid freezer, which is only about 5 years old, died on me, and I've been removing the smelly, rotting food from it. I'm considering cleaning it out and using it as storage space while my son and I continue to go through our items and figure out what we want to keep and what can really be gotten rid of or repurposed.
This tale of tragedy and triumph will continue on my Inspire Me Monday post. In the meantime, let me share what I did once I managed to get back into the swing of things.
I learned that there's a lot more to Swagbucks than just the main website. You get two SB for every grocery receipt you upload to Swagbucks. You can get up to 50 SB per day for printing grocery coupons. I need to remember to do this next time I go shopping. 
Do searches with Swagbucks. Check Swagbucks for deals before you shop online. Scroll down the main page and click on the "mobile" link. You'll find even more ways to earn and save with Swagbucks.
I also got back in the swing of things with Paid Viewpoint and Point Club
I took some quick and easy location surveys with Panel App. Remember, save your Panel App points for the guaranteed prizes! They always have a monthly giveaway which you can enter for free as well.
I cheered myself up by listening to the mythology channel on Podcoin. Podcoin is a mobile app which you can find in the Apple App and Google Play stores. You earn 1 PC for every 10 minutes you listen and can trade your coins for gift cards. Enter code Caraur1w when you sign up, and you will get 150 PC to start.
So, things did get better in spite of the dead freezer which I am in the process of emptying. Maybe one day I will have a new freezer. For now, I need to get new glasses. I remember the days of old when I didn't have to wear glasses. Then I turned 40 and became farsighted and my vision has not improved with age.

~Cie~

Weekend Writing Warriors 17 February 2019 (ER, LGBT, PA, RO)


A week had passed since Tobias Walton caught Felice Navidad’s would-be rescuers planning to free the Frost Queen from the clutches of the bloodthirsty, megalomaniac head of Xquenda Industries. Negotiations were at a stalemate. Each day was more hopeless than the last, and Felice was certain that this would be the last day of her very long life if she was not able to replenish her energy. She found an unlikely ally in the unhappy Sonny Walton, who had tried but failed to release Felice from her cell several times. Tobias’ wizard lackeys would not be swayed.
“Queenie, guess what, we’re moving you to nicer quarters.”
Tobias descended the stairs with a guard. They opened the cell door and put magical shackles on Felice’s wrists and ankles and a metal collar around her neck to lead her by a chain.

Cie for Naughty Netherworld Press

Notes:
This snippet is taken from the ninth Naughty Netherworld Press release, the name of which has tentatively been changed to Love, Lust, and Lunacy. The book is due for release on 20 February 2019, exclusively for Kindle.

Weekend Wrap-Up 10 February 2019

Copyright Public domain Pictures

Moving my files from Google Drive to my external hard drive like...

No, I'm not doing anything illegal. However, I have decided to keep the number of files that I store on my Google Drive to a minimum. Google is restructuring things, and at this point, I'm not sure I want to pay a monthly fee to store my files with them. A larger amount of available storage on Google Drive was necessary in the past when I was working night shifts as a homecare nurse. Now that I do 99 percent of my blogging and writing activities from home, storing the files I may need on Google Drive is not as much of a necessity.
I have used iDrive since 2015. After a couple of disastrous data losses due to hard drives (one internal, one external, different computers) going belly up, I decided that some sort of cloud protection was necessary. Click the link to try iDrive. Personal accounts get a generous 2TB of storage for just $52.50 for the first year and $69.50 thereafter.
I ended up having some setbacks this week. My freezer no longer seems to be working correctly, and I'm not sure that I want to spend my birthday money on a new freezer. I'll probably need it to pay for new glasses anyway. I became depressed and ended up spending last night watching biopics on Netflix. 
I whipped myself back into some semblance of productivity today, doing laundry and trying to figure out which clothes I should keep and which I should get rid of. It becomes a bit difficult when it's something given to me by my mother, which I never really used in the first place but she would be hurt if she knew I'd given it away. Hopefully, I am on the road back to what passes for normal in my strikingly abnormal existence.

~Cie~

Writing Uncomfortable Subjects


Some thoughts on this post
“you’re not entitled to a constant stream of uninspired feel-good pap. not in your music, not in your television, and certainly not in your books. “
A constant stream of feel-good pap is the very petri dish in which odious thought processes are allowed to grow unchecked. This feel-good pap is the Soma of Brave New World. Give the Proletariat their happy drugs, in this case, meaningless media rife with pretty people with petty problems and impeccably whitened teeth, and they won’t question the rising shit-storm of discontent, maltreatment of the lower classes, or other unpleasant subjects like sexism, racism, and homophobia.
Interestingly enough, despite the extreme right-wing assertion (kowtowed to by Bumblr) that erotica is a terrible, no good, awful, and very bad thing, the place where I curtail certain uncomfortable subjects the most stringently is in erotic writing. In spite of the fact that characters in the Naughty Netherworld universe are always banging, group sex is far more common than one-on-one couplings, and much of the action takes place in an arena where wild BDSM play is acted out for an audience, there are a few things that will never be described explicitly in these otherwise uninhibited tales.
These things are:
Any kind of non-consensual sex
Any kind of dub-con encounters. Even though there is no shortage of bondage, the characters are one hundred percent on board, and it’s obvious.
Sex with minors. 
These stories are very inclusive. I hate labeling them as “interracial,” which is a keyword that I do use when publishing on Kindle. I also hate feeling that I need to include a label such as “BBW.” People of all races are just people, and large women are just people. Unfortunately, we don’t yet live in a world that is quite so inclusive, and so I do feel the need to use what I deem fetishizing keywords to promote the Naughty Netherworld brand.
One of my main reasons for using such keywords is to let people know that these stories are for them. I would not be the first person to be sick and tired of trying to find a good romantic or spicy erotic read, only to discover that it’s rife with Barbie and Ken lookalikes with a few department store manikins thrown in as supporting characters. I want a realistic selection of people, even if some of those people happen to be shape-shifting alien sex fiends.
I want to read about the five-foot-tall, 100-pound elf prince falling in love with the six-foot-tall, 400-pound human pastry chef who has lost her belief in magic. (This is one of the few monogamous couplings in the Naughty Netherworld sagas.) 
I want to read about the geeky ginger film fan and the strong, sinewy Japanese vampire (both male) falling wildly in love and enjoying introducing newcomers to their extremely spicy world together. 
I want to read about the powerful, six-foot-tall, dark and intimidatingly beautiful mad scientist and sorceress redeeming herself to her tiny and deceptively strong, smart as a whip Asian wife. 
However, these characters weren’t out there. So Team Netherworld created them.
Do subjects such as racism, sexism, and homophobia make appearances in these stories?
Yes. In Carnal Invasion VI, Kali and Nyx recall their first meeting. Nyx, who is, in reality, one of the shape-shifting extraterrestrials, adopted the form of a badly burned “comfort girl” and she and her fellow extraterrestrials rescued the trafficked women and girls from the “comfort station”. In the same book, Kali recalls allowing herself to be taken prisoner in a death camp where she uses her powers to raise the dead and destroy the place. She suffers abuse at the hands of the guards. 
Due to the explicit erotica inherent to these stories, there were no exact descriptions of the abuse endured by Kali at the guards’ hands. Had this not been an explicitly erotic story, the offenses against Kali would likely have been described in greater detail. However, I wanted to be sure that no-one would be tempted to confuse sexualized abuse with erotic bondage and role-playing.
I like to think that the Naughty Netherworld stories are feel-good stories--very joyful, smutty stories for a mature audience. The characters in these stories are much more accepting of those who are not considered conventionally attractive than real people are. In spite of occasional heavy subject matter, the general spirit of these tales is a fun-filled sexy romp among dirty-minded friends.
However, there are those who would say such stories should not be allowed. Some would frame the work as being “sinful.” Some might postulate that homosexual activity is “unnatural.” Still others might be opposed to the “mixing of the races.” Some might be angered by the idea of women in positions of power. Some might proclaim that describing larger characters as sexy and desirable is “glorification of obesity” or some such rubbish. 
People of various sizes, shapes, nationalities, and races exist. Not everyone looks like a fashion doll or an impossibly thin, heavily Photoshopped model. In fact, the majority of people do not bear any resemblance to the glossy images we have been told we are supposed to resemble. Human sexuality has a spectrum. Not everyone is heterosexual, and being heterosexual is not morally superior to being homosexual, bisexual, or asexual. 
People are not perfectly unblemished. People can have scars, moles, crooked teeth, funny noses, wrinkles, structural anomalies, any number of so-called “imperfections.” Not all people are perfectly able-bodied. Some have lost limbs. Some have conditions which impair their mobility. Many deal with invisible impairments, including psychiatric conditions. A fair number of the characters in the Carnal Invasion series are working through PTSD due to past abuses.
The point being that feel-good stories are all fine and good, but stories are not there just to entertain, they are there to educate. If every story was completely sanitized of any uncomfortable topic, the literary world would be gutted. We would be left with nothing but a bunch of meaningless, watered-down twaddle.
Evil characters who do bad things SHOULD make you angry. They should make you think. 
A world where no-one thinks is a dangerous place indeed.
~Cie~

Insecure Writers Support Group 6 February 2019: Magic is Great, Magical Thinking Not So Much

When I speak of magical thinking in this post, I am not discussing any sort of esoteric belief system, I am discussing a psychological state. As I have mentioned before, I have bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Magical thinking is part of all three of these conditions. However, people with no formal psychiatric diagnosis can also fall prey to magical thinking, and there are unscrupulous individuals out there who will take advantage of this state of mind.
For a long time, I kept the ways I've been taken advantage of a secret because people have an unfortunate tendency to apply words like "stupid" to those who have been duped. I will not tolerate that word being used. People who have been duped are not stupid. Ignorant, perhaps. Desperate, almost certainly. Gullible, yes. But not stupid. 
I will confine my narrative to what transpired with regard to writing for this post.
Many years ago now, back in 2007, I had a book published through Outskirts Press, a POD publisher. This book was written under a pseudonym. I was extremely naive a the time I published said book. I worked very hard on it, and that's pretty much all I thought one had to do. Work hard, and surely you will be rewarded! It sounds wonderful, and it's what I wanted to believe.
I spend a lot of money to get this book published, to have a press release written, to have the book reviewed. I really don't know where any of these reviews were published. I do know that I ended up with a "number one fan," and the actions of this person and another individual whom I came to like and trust because she was interested in similar subjects almost led me to stop writing entirely. 
I now know that the best way to deal with "number one fans" is to assume a polite but cool demeanor. However, my self-esteem was so low and my desire for connection so high that I did absolutely nothing to protect myself.
A few years later, I released a revised version of the book, again through Outskirts Press under a different pseudonym. Again I spent thousands of dollars. Outskirts Press said a lot of flattering things to me. I believe the book sold two copies. Outskirts Press certainly came out the winner of that bargain.
At this point, I trust no-one but my own publishing companies to handle my creative work, be it solo projects or collaborations. I will never again spend thousands of dollars for nothing. 
Unfortunately, these incidents led to my becoming a much more closed-off person than I used to be. I come off as cold, which I'm actually not. What I am is cautious, and I know now that having no friends is better than having fake "friends." 
We are fortunate to live in a time where we don't have to paper our walls with rejection slips from publishing houses. Kindle provides a legitimate space to potentially make money publishing one's own work. I suggest paying exactly zero dollars to POD publishers. I could certainly use the thousands I paid to Outskirts Press over the years.
I recommend adding the Writer Beware blog to your arsenal. It could save you a lot of money and heartache. I wish I'd known about it years ago.

~Cie~





Weekend Writing Warriors 10 February 2019 (ER, LGBT, PA, RO)


“Oh, I do agree, Master. Vaclava and Yaen came here with me. They are on my side, you know. I can work with them in convincing Fatimah to side with us, and together we can soften Sonny’s heart. I think you have this in the bag, Tobias!”
“Excellent! You are truly unparalleled, wonderful Jemma! At first, it seemed that you might feel some resentment at being forced to choose your form, but now that I see your zeal to do my bidding, my heart is filled with incomparable joy!”
A lovely, petite young Asian woman stepped out of the shadows and gave Jemma a shy, alluring smile. There was something wild in her dark eyes in spite of her demure presentation.

Cie for Naughty Netherworld Press

Note:
This snippet is from the forthcoming ninth installment in Naughty Netherworld Press' exclusive series, Carnal Invasion.
This conversation is taking place between Tobias Walton, a vampire and the unscrupulous president of the mysterious Xquenda Industries, and Jemma, an extraterrestrial shapeshifter from the planet Gamma Iridon. Tobias has forced Jemma to take the form of Felice Navidad, Queen of the Frost Elementals.



Views From the Bald Patch: Measure wisely

Views From the Bald Patch: Measure wisely: When I posted about progress and motivation last week, a comment there reminded me of the darker side of targets and measurements.

This is a great post about goals and motivation and how going overboard with them can be detrimental. This was my reply to the post.

I am a horrible perfectionist when it comes to myself. If I am not constantly creating, revising, working, doing, I can become absolutely vicious with myself. My thyroid burnt itself out by the time I was 15, and I have problems with becoming fatigued very easily. I heard the word "lazy" so often when I was growing up that I tend to become angry with myself for resting at all. Combined with obsessive-compulsive disorder, I am constantly chasing myself around in circles, and I never measure up to my own standards.

Weekend Writing Warriors 3 February 2019 (ER, LGBT, PA, RO)


“I was intending to put off Sonny’s and my annual joining until the night of the full moon,” Tobias revealed. “That’s the sixth of this month. I’ve always managed to keep him out of the moonlight on the night of the full moon so he wouldn’t transform by surprise. He’s been so angry with me that I didn’t know how to broach the subject with him. But maybe with you here, and maybe with me showing mercy to the Queen by bringing her up here, I may be able to convince everyone to see things my way. I never intended harm to befall the Queen. I only need for Sonny to drink a bit of her blood. It wouldn’t do at all for him to transform into a perfectly ordinary lycanthrope, you see, not with as wondrous as he is. Would you not agree, dear Jemma?”

Cie for Naughty Netherworld Press

Notes:
This snippet is from Full Moon Frenzy, the ninth installment of the Carnal Invasion series. It is due for release on February 20, 2019.
In this paragraph, Tobias Walton, the unscrupulous head of the mysterious Xquenda Industries, is explaining his motives to Jemma, a shape-shifting extraterrestrial from the planet Gamma Iridon, whom he forced to take the form of Felice Navidad, queen of the frost elementals.

Closing Comments on This Blog

At this point, this blog is only a place for sharing links, and the only comments I've been getting are comments like the following fro...