🎆 Is this book a firework? 🎇 A sparkler? 🫠 Or a lit fart? 🎆 Bia Bella Book-Hoarder #6

Hi! 

I’m back again with my second post of the day, which is something I would usually never do, but this post is based on my last one. If I rate this book one or two stars, it’s a lit fart. If I rate it three stars, it’s a sparkler. If it’s four or five stars, this book is a firework. However, I don’t have any firework, sparkler, or fuming rotten egg stickers to put before my reviews, but let’s get to the review anyway. 

*** 

The Woodlands 

By: Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Goodreads Blurb 

When being unique puts you in danger and speaking your mind can be punishable by death, you might find yourself fighting to survive. Sixteen-year-old Rosa lives in one of the eight enclosed cities of The Woodlands. Where the lone survivors of a devastating race war have settled in the Russian wilderness because it’s the only scrap of land left habitable on the planet. In these circular cities, everyone must abide by the law or face harsh punishment. Rosa’s inability to conform and obey the rules brands her a leper and no one wants to be within two feet of her, until she meets Joseph. He’s blonde, fair-skinned, green-eyed, and the laid-back complete opposite of Rosa. She’s never met anyone quite like him, and she knows that spells danger.

But differences weren’t always a bad thing. People used to think being unique was one of the most treasured of traits to have. Now, the Superiors, who ruthlessly control the concrete cities with an iron fist, are obsessed with creating a ‘raceless’ race. They are convinced this is the only way to avoid another war. Any anomalies must be destroyed.

The Superiors are unstoppable and can do anything they want. After all, they are considered superheroes by the general public. But not everyone sees them this way. When they continue to abuse their power by collecting young girls for use in their secret, high-tech breeding program, they have no idea that one of those girls has somehow managed to make friends even she didn’t know she had. And one man will stop at nothing to save her.

This book came in a dystopian series book bundle called Worlds Undone, which I had downloaded for free during an Apple Books compulsive shopping spree. Several years and something-hundred hoarded books later, I’d finally read this one and then read the rest of the series. This first book was fun. It was disturbing at some parts, and other parts were silly and B-movie-ish, but that added to the fun. 

I didn’t read the blurb before diving into this book. So I got confused about the location. It says that the story starts off taking place in Palo Brazil where Rosa lived, but the natural surroundings throughout the story were very unBrazil-like. There was snowy pine forests where tropical rain forests should be. And how was it possible that December was a month in winter and April was a month in spring when Brazil is in the southern hemisphere? I laughed about this, thinking, how in the blue hell did this thing get published when the author doesn’t know cheese doodles about Brazil? Not even the elementary school level basics! But I’m a very forgiving reader and brushed this off as a typo. Things got even more laughably nonsensical when they were in Brazil and somehow traveled through where Russia used to be—on foot. Hahaha! What

It wasn’t until waaaaaaay near the end of the second book that the Palo Brazil thing was clarified. Rosa didn’t come from a town called Palo in Brazil. They were in what used to be Russia the whole time. This story happens a hundred or so years after civilization as we know it had ended, by the way. The weird-ass ring system town where Rosa grew up in was called Palo Brazil, because a lot of imported Palo Brazil trees had been planted there. I had to laugh at this realization while reading book 2 The Wall. I don’t think one would’ve figured that one out if they didn’t read the blurb.  

Besides the location confusion, other parts made me laugh too. Like the part where pregnant Rosa was held prisoner in a top secret genetic engineering project facility, and she discovered that she and her roommate were being drugged by a machine that was under the bed that pumped some kind of sedative gas into the room. So she stops the gas by plugging up the machine with a potato chunk from her meal tray. And the facility staff just went about, never noticing that the machine stopped! 

My favorite funny part was when Rosa and her group of anti-superior rebels were surviving out in the wilderness, and authority caught up with them, but they couldn’t figure out how. Then they found out later on that monkeys had invaded their campsite during the night and were playing with this quazi-smart phone-like device called a Reader, that belonged to one of the grownups among the group, and they turned the Reader’s tracker back on. The monkeys were the traitors! Hilarious! 

The writing itself seemed a little amateur. There were a few noticeable—I don’t know if I would call them plot holes—but more like bloopers. For example, there was a part where they were out in the wilderness and Rosa was climbing a tree to escape a wolf attack, but she wasn’t quite quick enough to avoid getting bit in the foot. They hadn’t found a natural source of water yet, and no one had spare water hanging around. One of the grownups had a first aide kit, but it wasn’t opened until several chapters further into the book. Yet, when the wolves were gone, Rosa’s friend, Clara, was somehow able to clean the wounds on Rosa’s foot. How? What did she do? Lick her wounds clean, like a cat? The author’s metaphors went all over the place at times too. Sometimes they were fun and quirky and metaphoric, and other times it sounded like Rosa might’ve eaten the wrong kind of wild mushrooms. My final criticism is this author’s lack of transitioning between scenes. It’s not through the entire book, but in some parts your in one scene, and then that place and time just abruptly vanishes without warning and the story jumps to someplace totally different, leaving the reader like, who? What? Where?…Huh?… 

Okay, now I’ll be nice. 

Despite its faults, this book was still thoroughly entertaining. There wasn’t a single boring moment. I liked Bitchy Rosa. Between the hellish state of the world, losing her father and then putting up with her abusive asshole stepfather and her subservient chicken-shit mother, witnessing all the brutal horrors done to townspeople at the hands of the superiors, guardians, and police, which no child should ever have to witness. Then to top that all off, being abducted, drugged, and forced into pregnancy at sixteen years old, by a human genetic engineering experiment—I don’t blame her for turning out bitchy and full of anger after all that. Besides, she owns up to her anger problems in some parts, and she really wants to make an effort to improve herself. I also loved the author’s dystopian world building. The electronically gated ring system towns that were designed to resemble the interior rings of a tree. I thought that was original. The author was disturbingly awesome with the living hell factor in this book too. The way the rules were so strict and repressive, and the things that were done to punish those who broke rules gave me the chills. 

The Woodlands may not have been the most brilliant and well written dystopian masterpiece, but I still really liked it. I laughed. I smiled. I cringed. I gasped out loud in horror. This was a fun read that I’m glad to have finally read after its been waiting around for me in my Apple Books library for the past few years. So, is this book a one or two star lit fart? A three star sparkler? Or a four or five star firework? 

I give The Woodlands 3.5 stars. 

It’s a sparkler! 

Love you all! Post you soon!  

☮️☮️I apologize if my choice of words in the original title to this post had offended anyone. The content of this post has nothing at all to do with actual abortion.☮️☮️☮️

One thing about being a writer is, dam, could it turn you into a neurotic basketcase. 

Hi, y’all. Neurotic basketcase here. 

There was a time, so innocent and pure—okay, and maybe a little on the delusions of grander side—when I used to believe everything I wrote was destined for greatness. I used to think that writing a novel meant to just kick back and relax, and transcribe the vividly detailed mental movie within my brain into text form. Then, BAH-BAM, it’s a book. I had completed the first incarnation of HECCTROSSIPY 1, in autumn of 2017, and like a child, I expected the magic to happen. 

Eventually, the shrill, blaring alarm of the ugly-truth clock radio woke me up to reality. Between 2017 and 2020, that one book had gone through a few reincarnations, re-editings, and a couple rejections from traditional publishers. Then in October of 2020, it was published and available on Amazon at last. 

My publisher, The Writing Collective, sent me my first book sale royalties the following December, which was $11 and change. My book got three reviews with a total of a 4.3 star rating. Then in April of 2021, I had done my first give-away promo and earned seven downloads. Nothing wrong with starting off small, but certain issues made the neuroticisms creep in like the silent formation of tumor growths. 

My first review of the three was a 3 star. The person was someone I’d never met who received an ARC. Her big complaint was all my alien planet fact info dumping. I began my book with an introduction to the planet, intending for it to be like a travel guide to get readers acquainted with the world before they get into the alien teen drama. A few months later, one of my writing group members had gotten the book, and then constructively and honestly admitted that she DNFed it. She couldn’t get past the introduction info dump. Time kept passing by since Jo from The Writing Collective had sent out ARCs. He sent them to more than a dozen people, but that first reviewer was the only one who wrote a review. My sister, Christa, also sent an ARC to a former member of our group, but she never posted a review either. It got me thinking, Oh no, did all those people not even want to bother reading it, because of that info dumpy introduction? Six months after my first royalty payment, it was time for my second one. My royalties dropped down to $6 and change. 

So as Beevis and Butthead would do, if something sucks, change it. I had all the info dumpy planet fact stuff that nobody liked removed from the beginning of the book and shoved in the back as part of the Appendix. In June of 2021, the original version of my book was removed from Amazon, and a second edition was released. The following December, my third royalty payment came, and it dropped down to $5 and change. 

As the second book in my series was coming closer to its big launch, my proof reading sister, Gina, good old Jo, and myself talked about re-releasing the first book at the same time the second book gets released. Before book 1’s re-release, Gina wanted to give it another quick proof read, and I thought that I only needed to make a few minor tweaks. Then June of this year came and went, and I made ZERO royalties. 

The book business is not for those who can’t take rejection. Not for pessimistic thinkers or bad sports, and I especially would advise people with self esteem problems to not jump into pursuing a writing career. perfect your self esteem while you perfect your writing craft., before putting your finished product out on the market. Pursuing a writing career can hurt and make you feel like a complete failure whose writing will never amount to anything beyond a few friends and family members buying copies of your books. You got to be thick skinned and optimistic and keep going. Never let your doubts and disappointments and insecurities get to you, which of course, is a lot easier said than done. It’s hard to not feel insecure as a writer when my royalties dropped down to nothing. I couldn’t help wondering, OH MY GOD! Do people think my writing sucks THAT BADLY??? 

I took a crazy risk and aborted my own baby. HECCTROSSIPY  book 1  The Legend of the Land has been removed from Amazon. I had Jo unpublished it, but not because I’m giving up on it. It’ll come back, reincarnated as book 2’s fraternal twin. Aside from a new cover and some minor tweaking, I had planned to give the new and improved third edition a brand spanking new prologue. I even posted excerpts of the new prologue on this blog. (Thanks to all who’d read them! I love you like chocolate mousse!) My insecurity tumor convinced me that maybe moving the intro to the back of the book didn’t eliminate enough of what bores readers. Maybe my original prologue was boring to readers too and was a culprit to my deceased book sales. So I darkened the prologue and got some pretty positive reactions. Not surprisingly, last time I checked, the excerpt with the most dark and disturbing details got the most likes. Still, I was not sure about this prologue. It was juicier, but my insecurity tumor made me wonder if it was still too long and info dumpy for readers’ liking. 

Through the past five years of learning how to write a novel and make it readable too, it’s been drilled into my mind that readers want instant action or something gripping to happen right from the start. And that today’s readers don’t have the patience or the attention span for slow beginnings that start with things like an info dumpy back story, or an author’s descriptiveness with setting up the scene. However, my dear, sweet prologue was a darling that I didn’t want to murder, because it’s a crucial part of the whole series storyline, and there’s some valuable little bread crumbs and hidden Easter eggs embedded in it. So I sent the prologue as a whole to Jo for him to be the better judge of it, and I told Christa about it and asked for her opinion.  

Sure enough, they told me things I dreaded to hear. Jo said that my rewrite was TWO THOUSAND WORDS LONGER than the original version, and Christa advised me to whittle it way down. As a whole, it was something over 9,000 words. I think around 9,610 words. Christa said that a prologue should be no longer than 2,500 words. I was like, yikes. My prologue was as long as it was, because it went over things that happened within a span of fifteen years. Reducing it to 2,500 words wouldn’t be whittling it down. It would be dumbing it down. I know that I need to keep working on trying not to let my writing get too overly descriptive and info dumpy, and full of too many details that may not be important to the plot, or to readers, but I have limits on how much I’m willing to reduce and simplify my story. Then a whole new idea was conceived in my brain. 

I went ahead and murdered my darling prologue, but now it’s precious soul will reincarnate into a book 0.5! A prequel novella on Mell May’s story, which I’ll release at the same time as book 3. In prologue form, the story was all like, “This happened to Mell May when she was a baby. Then this and that happened when she was four.” When it gets reborn into a novella, I’ll have more wiggle room to do more showing than telling, because I won’t have to condense it so much. I could make Dox and Sudra and Maxlink and Sapone have speaking parts, and get deeper inside Moca’s mentally disturbed head, and have lots of fun bringing the story more to life. HECCTROSSIPY 3 won’t be out until God-knows-when, but I had already written it back in 2017. It used to be the butt end of the first incarnation of book 1. So I already know that the shit hits the fan for sweet little Mell May, and the memory of why her first adopted parents disappeared finally comes back to her. I’ll shorten the flashback in book 3, and save the full, clear detailed version of it for book 0.5. I think this will be better for the third book anyway. I hadn’t looked at my draft for it in a few years, but if I could recall, her flashback was written kind of clunkily anyway, because it comes to her during a breakfast table conversation that leads to a big fight. As for the now un-prologued book 1, I did a little of what my 3-star reviewer thought I should’ve done from the start, taking out some of the frontal info dump and weaving it into the actual story. 

Now I look forward to the future for book 1 and for the new baby book 0.5, but not in a child-like, magical thinking sort of way, of course. So to all you other authors out there who are struggling to make your books take off, and you feel like you’re going nowhere, keep doing what you do and be proud of it. The book business can be a real flame wielding, death lazar spitting shit beast, but your will to carry on with writing and publishing your books is the All-mighty Mega Battle Toilet. So PUSH THAT TOILET HANDLE DOWN, MY FRIENDS! FFFLLLUUUSSSHHH

Love you all! Post you soon! 

Come write with me in the Writers Mastermind!

🧀Bia Bella Book-Hoarder🧀 #3 Presenting… Wind Warrior

Wind Warrior? 

More like Wisconsin Warrior. This book oozes with cheese. 

Hello, fellow book lovers! I present to you another dystopian delight that I enjoyed, yet I can’t help make fun of. Oh boy, this is the third review where I make fun of someone else’s book. I hope this doesn’t activate bad karma that’ll someday catch up with me when people write book review posts about my books. 

**** 

WIND WARRIOR 

(World of Flame  book 1) 

By: Jon Messenger

3 stars 

Goodreads Blurb 

THE EARTH GIVES WAY TO THE SEA,

THE SEA BOWS BEFORE THE WIND,

THE WIND FEEDS THE FLAME,

THE FLAME BURNS THE WORLD OF MAN DOWN TO THE EARTH.

The sleepy town of White Halls harbors a dangerous secret. On a picturesque street, two houses down from a lovely little park, in a quaint little home with a wraparound porch, lives a family that seems rather normal. Sure, their twenty-year-old son, Xander, still lives at home, but he’s going to college and dating the leader of the schools top sorority. It’s all very… normal. However, when a man is miraculously saved from being hit by a bus, Xander’s life turns in to the living embodiment of the tornadoes he can suddenly create with a flick of his wrist. Whether he wants this gift or not, Xander must learn to use his new ‘super power’ quickly if he wants to survive. For his kind is a dying race, and when this sleepy town has a sudden influx of new, blonde, fire wielders, no one is safe, especially Xander. It doesn’t help that one of these blondes happens to be the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. Xander can’t deny the instant connection he feels to her so, when she tries to kill him, it certainly makes things complicated. 

**** 

I really liked the whole elemental aspect. How groups of people with genetically inherited elemental powers existed throughout history with the purpose of using their powers to guide humanity in the right direction and help the world evolve. First there was the cast of people with earth powers, and then came the water cast, and then the wind cast. Each cast naturally died off when their purpose was served, and it was time to let the next cast take charge of bringing the world to it’s next level of evolution. Only one elemental cast is to exist at a time. As one starts naturally dying off, more and more people are born with elemental powers of the next cast. I thought this was cool and original. However, for some weird reason, those who were born into an elemental cast aren’t supposed to develop their abilities until they are at least twenty-five. Uh… okay… After the wind cast dies off, it’s the fire cast’s turn to take over. Then it goes back to the earth cast as the world is to be reborn and the cycle of nature and evolution is to continue. Aside from this cool aspect, the rest of this story was hilariously cheesy. I was cracking up through the whole book. 

It’s the wind cast’s time to die off. The big conflict in this first book is, they’re not dying off fast enough for the fire cast’s liking. They are just itching for their turn to take over, to the point where there’s a gang of them on the hunt for the remaining wind people. Then come to find out, Xander is a new young fledgling of the wind cast, at a time when no more wind people were supposed to be born. This threatened to slow down the wind cast’s extinction, which would post pone the rise of the fire cast’s rein even further. The fire cast wasn’t having it. So their leader—a ruthless dictator type of individual who went by the name, Lord Bailer—sent out his irresistibly gorgeous, young blond daughter, Sammy, as an assassin. Her job was to beguile Xander with her charm and beauty, and lure him into a trap and kill him. 

Sammy did try to kill him but couldn’t finish the job, because she and Xander had fallen in insta-love. They met during a class lecture and went on one date to a school dance, and they were suddenly the love of each other’s lives. (eye roll) Sammy even mentioned that there was an undeniable connection between them during the assassination attempt scene. (groan) 

When it was time to meet the fire people, I was like, “Oh, shoot me.” They lived in this underground Haitis type kingdom beneath a fault-line near Los Angeles. It’s a kingdom made of many tunnel chambers, and bridges and catwalks that extend over bodies of lava. The evil Lord Bailer lives in—get this—a black castle. He wants power. Control. To take over the world! I pictured him having a growly voice and a sinister cackle to go with that. 

Then come to find out, maybe Sammy’s dad might not be such a cookie cutter villain after all. He was once a good dad who spent quality time with her. Now all he cares about is his rein of power, and he treats Sammy more like an accessory than his own daughter. Hmmm… something must be taking hold of his mind. Some mysterious entity more powerful than he. 

A little earlier in the story, while her dad was in his throne room discussing his devious plans with his henchmen, Sammy had seen him unlock a secret passage behind a tapestry. So she crept out of bed and tricked the guards into letting her in the throne room so she could figure out how to unlock that passage and find out what was hidden within it. The secret passage lead to an empty, pitch black place, and there was the culprit. Low and behold, she gets confronted by this glowy-eyed, demonic thing-a-m’bob emerging from the darkness! So of course, she runs away and hurries back to bed so to not get in trouble with daddy. 

Meanwhile, there’s drama a’brewin’ with Xander’s family. Xander had discovered his wind powers when he’d unintentionally made them come out and save some guy from getting hit by a bus. His wind-powered grandpa wants him to know the secret of who he really is, but his non-wind powered dad doesn’t. His dad wants him to remain living as a normal person, because having a dad with windy powers botched up his childhood. When Xander’s dad was a boy, windy grandpa was hardly ever around, because he was always preoccupied with saving the day with his wind power. Doing super hero things, like putting out forest fires and stopping accidents from happening. Could this get any cheesier? Yup. 

Xander just-so-happens to be freakishly special. Not only was there not supposed to be another new generation of wind people, he developed his powers abnormally early. So his purpose must be at some higher level. 

After Xander finds out about his secret and his grandpa explains everything about the elemental casts, they get confronted by a gang of Lord Bailer’s fire supremacistse. Then a battle ensues. Both the wind guys and the fire guys conjure up their powers by assuming the standard holding-up-outstretched-hands, power conjuring position. Their hands—surprisingly—are where their super powers shoot out from. 

After Xander and Grandpa kick some flaming ass, they decide they should leave town for the sake of their family and friends’ safety. So they fly away in a conjured up giant wind bubble, and go to a secret island up in the sky where the rest of the wind people live. The island is far out above the ocean, concealed within a waterspout where it’s hidden from normal people’s view. The entire island is held afloat by some dude named Robert who is permanently locked in a meditative state. If Robert breaks out of his trance, the island would kerr-plop from the sky and everyone on it would be dead. I’m laughing just writing about this. Even sillier, how would that kill the wind people if they could fly or float inside wind bubbles? This secret floating island is where Xander gets his wind warrior training so he could fight the fire people. 

I’ll stop right there. I don’t want to give away the whole book, and I also don’t want to make you constipated from too much cheese. 

Joking aside, I definitely did not have a boring time reading this. Time for me to load up on wine and Town House crackers, because—you guessed it—I bought the rest of the series! Cheesiness makes me laugh. However, I’m no troll. If the other three books tickle the part of my brain that says, “Make fun of it!”, I won’t post reviews about them. Despite my unflattering opinion about the first installment, I could picture this becoming a Netflicks series. 

I recommend this book for those who like fast-paced super hero entertainment, but I don’t recommend this to those who are lactose intolerant—Okay, okay, I’ll stop with the cheese jokes! 

Love you all! Post you soon! 

Come write with me in the Writers Mastermind!

PART 4 of🚎🚎🚎🚎 The Trolley Tracks Are Alive… which ended up not being the final installment. Oops!

Hey, readers! 

Oops! I thought this was going to be the final installment for this story, but my imagination changed the plan on me. This story will end. I’m not writing an entire novel draft based on Continent 15’s underground trolley system. 

Last post on this story was about a couple weeks ago. So here’s a memory refresher, in case you lost track of what the hell is going on. In PART 3 of The Trolley Tracks Are Alive, you learned about the gemstone artists, the trollies that are made mostly of mushroom, the gloppety gross algae tracks, what a destination panel is, and how it’s possible to make a speeding trolley stop without stepping on the breaks. Artheena shared a sentimental childhood memory, and you rode the rest of the way with everyone singing extra terrestrial gospel music. 

Now it’s time to party! 

We’re finally going to Audry’s mom’s cousin Jill’s 167th birthnight celebration where they’ll play party games that are out of this world. (Corny pun fully intended.) You’ll also see that, maybe Artheena and Mell May’s sisterly relationship isn’t exactly as sweet as birthnight pastries and cookies. 

***   

The crystal street cousin Jill lived on always had the same distinctive smell. Her neighbor across the street, an eccentric, elderly grungol woman in her 230’s, didn’t grow food or medicine in the vertical wall gardens outside of her cave home, but she sure was obsessed with draydles. The frilly, yellow cone shaped flowers were all she grew. Their fragrance, like a cross between oranges and ripe palm fruit, overpowered the variety of aromas from other neighbors’ wall gardens and permeated the whole street. Artheena, Mell May, and Audry smiled at the smell of that old lady’s draydles as it reminded them of past visits to cousin Jill’s. 

Jill was a widow. Her husband had drowned in an underground river. His contribution was collecting rocks from underground bodies of fresh water and studying the micro organisms that grew on them for scientific and medicinal purposes. One night, he carelessly let himself get distracted while chit chatting with a colleague, and wasn’t looking where he was stepping. One misstep made him lose his footing and fall off the slimy, algae infested rocky river bank, making him fall in the river and get caught in an under current. This happened a little over a hundred years ago, but Jill never remarried, because she never felt lonely. She lived with her grown son, Mackruff, his wife, whose name was also Audry, her two grown grandkids, Saber and Mart and their spouses, and five great grandkids. It was always a full and happy house. Jill and the rest of her family loved to throw crazy parties, and like the South Section 5,898 family, they often had unplanned neighborly get-togethers. 

Mell May, Artheena, and the thirty-eight grungols that accompanied them were each greeted with joyous hello shouts as they stepped through the curtain of orange flowered vines that made the cave home’s front door. “HAPPY BIRTHNIGHT!” the new guests all shouted. Once inside, they were ambushed with furry, four-armed hugs and balls of paper confetti beads being thrown in their faces and dropped over their heads. 

Mell May roared with laughter at this whole spectacle, laughing like an insane person until she started choking on a confetti bead that flew into her wide opened mouth. 

“Are you going to be okay?” asked Makruff. “Do you need the Maloosa Vassincoff?” 

“No,” she could barely choke out. “Please, please, no, not that stuff.” She shuddered. In a world where the Heimlich maneuver hasn’t been discovered yet. The most common way to dislodge something that went down the wrong pipe is to have finely powdered Maloosa Vassincoff bark sprayed into the nose and mouth. Its intense pungentness induces violent coughing fits to force the blockage out. 

“Oh, dear,” said his wife, the other Audry. “Should we get her some water too?” 

Mell May made a weird noise that sounded like a cross between a burp and a cough. “I’m okay,” she said, sounding normal again. “It’s out. I just swallowed it. But I would like some water. My mouth kind of tastes like throw up now.” 

Artheena wrinkled her nose, wishing that her sister didn’t have to be so blunt. 

“Let’s go get you that water.” said the other Audry, taking Mell May by the arm and leading her through the crowd. 

“Artheena!” Jill exclaimed, making her way towards her. “What a nice surprise that you and Mell May came. And hello, Audry.” She turned toward Audry’s parents. “Budgy, Lulu Bell, nice to see you. It’s nice to see all of you. Where’s your sister, Artheena?” 

“Makruff and Audry took her to the kitchen to get her some water,” said Artheena. “I’m sorry, but me and her didn’t get you any birthnight gifts. We came here on impulse.” 

“Your presence here is enough of a gift,” said Jill, putting an upper hand on Artheena’s shoulder. “I hope you girls have a great time. We’re going to have some crazy games going on, later on, and there’s plenty to eat. But it might not be a good idea to stay the whole party. Don’t you and Mell May have school tomorrow?” 

“Yeah,” said Artheena. “But we’ll be fine. We stay out late on school nights all the time.” 

“Well, what your parents don’t know won’t hurt them.” said Jill. Artheena and Audry laughed, along with those around them who heard their conversation. Jill was just cool like that. “All right, I’m going to look for Mell May and say, hi. Enjoy yourselves.”  

Artheena and Audry—the teenaged Audry—proceeded to mingle with the other guests. The crowd was massive, as expected. Audry’s family was probably the biggest grungol family in the land. She had relatives living in every under-village in Group 4, and it seemed like a majority of them were at this party. There were aunts and uncles and great aunts and uncles, first, second, third, forth, and fifth cousins, and each relative brought over some of their own friends and neighbors. And more people were expected to come. Artheena and Audry didn’t worry about losing track of Mell May, or Mell May losing track of them. Being the only vervetts at the party, neither sister would have any trouble finding the other.   

Jill’s cave home was designed for immense party crowds, with bigger, more spacious rooms, and less hallways. This party took up three rooms, so far. Some people hung out in the sitting room, which was the first room everyone entered. Some hung out in, what Jill called, the fun room. The fun room looked like an even bigger sitting room, except there were shelving units all along the walls. Each were stocked with different types of card games, board games, jigsaw puzzles, and indoor sports equipment. The fun room was also where the guests put all the birthnight girl’s gifts. Dozens of festively colorful boxes and bags adorned with ribbons and sprigs of sweet smelling herbs were piled up so high, they looked like sky scrapers at the back of the room. An archeological study room was available for the guests to hang out in too. 

Jill’s grown granddaughter, Saber, and her husband were archeologists who traveled the world, collecting and studying the remains of extinct ancient creatures. And they were the only ones who couldn’t be at the party, because they were off on an expedition on Continent 24 and were not expected to come home for another season. Their study room was a little on the morbid looking side for a place for socializing. Next to a bookshelf full of reference books and copies of research reports, there were shelves upon shelves of fossilized animal skulls and bones, and wax models of the heads of demonic looking ancient carnivores. However, the grungol guests didn’t see it as anything morbid. It was just another nice, clean and tidy, big room that was conveniently next to the fun room. It had comfy couches and chairs for when Saber and her husband threw parties in there to celebrate a new archeological discovery, and all the wax heads and ancient animal remains made for good conversation pieces. 

Garlands of pink, yellow, and orange flowers were strung along the walls of the three rooms and around all the furniture within them. Jill and her family had borrowed spare light stone lamps from their neighbors, and set them on every table and side table. The rooms’ light fixtures had been taken down from their hooks. Different colors and sizes of large, frilly tissue paper cones hung in their place, which made the set-up for a popular grungol party game called Conjo Mog. 

Foldable mushroom wood tables full of party treats were set out in the three rooms too. There were bowls of home-grown berries and other delectable fruits that grow underground, dried roasted seeds and nuts, and curly, colorful flower petals that had been fried until crispy, like Earth’s potato chips, but their taste was more like fruity candy. There were platters of grungol-style cookies and pastries too—made with only plant based ingredients. And every table had a tall stack of disposable skitzo paper cups and several large clay pitchers of jassup fruit juice, which was the birthnight girl’s favorite drink. The juice was pitch black and syrupy sweet with a taste kind of like Earth’s current jelly. 

Audry and Artheena caught up with Mell May in the archeological study room. She and Audry’s friend-and-possible-crush, Brotell, were hanging out by a full bodied wax model of an ancient carnivore that was actually beautiful. 

“Brotell,” Audry exclaimed. “There you are!” Her two vervett friends exchanged giggly nods over how she looked a little too happy to see him. 

“Hey, you,” Brotell smiled at Audry. “I was wondering when you were ever going to bother to give me the time of night.” he teased. 

“Sorry,” said Audry, with a slight giggle. “I had about one million relatives I wanted to say hi to, and I too would’ve given you the time of night. You could’ve hung out with us at the trolley stop, or sat across from us on the trolley, you know, instead of all the way in the back.” 

“I didn’t want to interrupt your time with your sparkly shelled friends,” he said. “And if I sat across from you on the trolley, I would’ve had to sit on my great grandma’s lap.” 

Awe, that would’ve been so cute,” Artheena teased. “Cool statue.” She turned toward the wax creature that had the wings and tail of a lizard, the tree climbing claws of a horse, and a head and body that resembled a slender, long legged panther. “What is it?” 

“It’s the ancient kar… uh… thing.” said Mell May. 

“The ancient varkrong,” Brotell corrected. “It’s said to have prowled the forests of Continent 29, three-hundred-million years ago.” He had some archeological knowledge due to his avid fascination with the natural world, reading books on everything nature, and going to the surface to hike the forests to look for new things to discover. 

“I thought Continent 29 was a desert land.” said Mell May. 

“It is,” he said. “It used to be full of lush forests, three-hundred-million years ago, but Jumellica and Jyoseppy changed their minds for whatever weird reason and decided to turn that land into a desert.” 

Artheena made a mental note to go to a West Section book store and look for books about what the world was like before Jumellica granted vervetts and grungols the blessing of being smart enough to create things like civilization and technology. Very little was taught about this subject in children’s schools, because not enough discoveries had been made and not enough theories had been proven to be facts for the Guardians to make it a regular part of the school curriculum. There wasn’t even an archeologists’ training school in her village. “It’s weird how our creators would change a whole land around to be the opposite way,” she said, looking at the varkrong again. “Or why did they stop creating certain animals and replace them with new ones? It’s like they go through phases, like kids do.” 

“Maybe Jumellica and Jyoseppy are still kids,” said Brotell. “I heard that they’re almost a billion years old, but maybe that’s like, eight years old in great entity time.” 

“Maybe in another three-hundred-million years, they’ll turn our tropical continent into a frozen arctic land.” said Audry. 

“That would be great,” said Mell May. “It would get rid of all the skullvicks.” There was nothing she feared like Continent 15’s most notorious predator in the animal kingdom, who can sharp-shoot their lethal venom from their blood red, glowing eyes. 

“ATTENTION EVERYBODY!” said Jill’s amplified voice through a megaphone-like voice enhancer, as she entered the study room and startled the four teenagers from their deep conversation. “ATTENTION EVERYBODY! IT’S GAME TIME!” The crowd fell silent. “WE HAVE SUCH AN AMAZING NUMBER OF PEOPLE HERE THAT ALL OF US CAN’T PLAY THE SAME GAMES ALL AT ONCE. WE’RE GOING TO HAVE TO GATHER INTO LESS NUMEROUS CROWDS. ONE CROWD WILL GATHER IN THE SITTING ROOM WHERE THE CONJO MOG COURSE STARTS. ANOTHER WILL GATHER IN THE FUN ROOM TO PLAY MOLDY COUCH, AND THE REST OF YOU WILL JUST HAVE TO BE THE AUDIENCE.” Some people in the crowd made exaggerated huffing and moaning noises of pretend disappointment. 

Moldy couch?” Mell May laughed. “What the heck kind of game is that?”    

“WE’LL SWITCH AROUND AND TAKE TURNS.” Jill continued. “GATHER UP NOW. THE GAMES WILL START IN JUST A FEW MOMENTS. FORTY PLAYERS AT ONCE FOR CONJO MOG, AND EIGHT PLAYERS AT ONCE FOR MOLDY COUCH… BUT WE DO HAVE MORE THAN ONE COUCH TO GET OUR MOLD ON.” The crowd cheered. A split moment later, they heard Jill making those same announcements in the fun room. 

“What is this moldy couch game?” Mell May asked again. 

“It’s a new thing that’s been invented only maybe two or three seasons ago,” said Brotell. “You’ll love it. It’s hilarious.” 

“Okay, so what does everybody want to do first?” said Artheena. 

“I want to play Conjo Mog,” said Audry. “I love that game. The last time I played it was at Dad’s grandpa’s birthnight party, almost a year ago.” 

“And I love watching it,” said Artheena. “I wish there was such a thing as ceiling gripping foot pads that vervetts could ware on the bottoms of their feet, so they could play too.”

“I want nothing to do with that game,” said Brotell, as they started towards the sitting room. “All that running around in circles upside-down, bleck. My stomach can’t take it.” He turned toward Audry. “But I’ll have fun watching you do it. And if you fall from the ceiling, I can catch you.” By the look on Audry’s face, Artheena and Mell May imagined she was probably blushing beneath her silver-gray fur. 

~~~ 

With hair on the palms of all four of their hands and on the soles of both feet that acts like thousands of tiny, powerfully gripping fingers, grungols can easily climb walls and crawl along ceilings  as effortlessly as an insect. However, running on a ceiling is more of a challenge. When moving about the ceiling using two limbs instead of all six, gravity, of course, has a stronger pull on the grungol’s weight, making their upside-down running look more like awkward stomping and staggering. How funny this looks is part of the game’s amusement. They can’t run with super-cheetah speed either, like they can when running right-side-up, which adds to the challenge. 

Forty upside-down grungols race one another through an obstacle course of sixty-six upside-down paper cones. They have to run around each cone two to seven times, clockwise or counter clockwise, depending on the color and size of the cone. Several referee-type obstacle course monitors hang from the ceiling on the sidelines, but right-side-up by their upper hands, and watch the upside-down racers’ every move. They call out any mistakes that a player makes that puts them out of the game. If they run around a cone in the wrong direction or the wrong number of times, they’re out. If they touch a cone or any passing players, they’re out. And if they look down below them instead of keeping focussed on looking strait ahead, they’re out, even if it’s a quick glance. When a player is called out of the game, they have to drop down from the ceiling and shout, “Conjo Mog!” 

It’s common for players to put themselves out of the game. Spending an unnaturally long time upside-down while running around in dizzying circles can sometimes get sickening. 

The winner has to sing the name of the game as loudly and with as long of a note as they could hold, before dropping down from the ceiling. Once down, they get ambushed by confetti bead balls. If there’s a tie, the remaining racers have to keep running around and around the last cone until one or the other gives up and drops down first. 

Brotell and the two vervetts excitedly stood among the crowd in the sitting room and watched Audry and her thirty-nine other competitors climb up a wall and take their places on the ceiling, hanging upside-down behind the starting cone. 

“Welcome everybody!” shouted Jill’s grown grandson, Mart, who had a naturally booming voice, like Earth’s boxing ring announcers, and didn’t need a voice enhancer. “It’s time… for our first round of Conjo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o Mog!” The crowd cheered, even the players hanging on the ceiling. “Racers, get ready-y-y-y-y!… On the count of three!… One!… Two!… Three! GO!” 

The forty racing grungols scattered like frightened roaches to avoid touching one another, before they went tromping through the obstacle course, their feet noisily smacking against the ceiling. Their lopped ears swung and twirled about as they staggered like Earth’s drunks. The sight of it made Artheena laugh every time. She, Mell May, Brotell, and the other on-lookers followed the race, pushing and shoving one another as they whooped and cheered racing friends and family members on. Obstacle course monitors whistled and barked out each player’s name and their mishap and ordered them out of the game. Whenever a player shouted, “Conjo Mog!”, everybody below held their hands up to catch them. 

The two vervetts got distracted from the game for a brief moment when they ran with the crowd through the fun room and got a glimpse of the Moldy Couch game going on. At first glimpse, it looked like groups of grungols chanting, “Moldy couch!” around clouds of whirling colors. 

Audry made it to the thirty-seventh cone before she was ordered out of the game for accidentally brushing against another player as she tried to run ahead of him. “Conjo Mog!” she shouted with a big silver smile as she dropped down from the ceiling. To Brotell’s disappointment, she was too far off over the crowd for him to catch her. A couple of elderly grungols caught her instead. Then she pushed and shoved through the crowd until she found her three friends. 

“Great job!” said Mell May. 

“You did awesome!” said Artheena, giving Audry a hug. 

“Amazing,” said Brotell. “I could never make it to the thirty-seventh cone. The last time I tried to play, I nearly lost my birthnight cake at cone number four.”  

The race wasn’t over yet. After Audry was out, there were four players left. The cheering on-lookers followed them through the archeology study room, and then back to the sitting room where the end of the course was on the opposite side of the ceiling as the starting point. One player accidentally skipped a cone while making a sharp turn and was out. Two players got so excited when they made it to the sixty-forth cone, they accidentally slammed into each other when circling it. So they were out. The last player remaining was behind them, still circling the sixtieth cone, but he was the winner. “Conjo Mog! Conjo Mog!…” he sang, in a funny, twangy, yodeling voice that made everybody laugh, as he finished running through the rest of the course. The crowd exploded into deafening cheers when he made his final circle around the last cone, and then gave everyone an upside-down bow before dropping from the ceiling. Mart had an enormous box of confetti bead balls ready for ambush. Those standing nearest to the winner grabbed as many of the balls as they could and smashed them in his face. The crowd didn’t stop cheering and applauding until the last confetti bead ball was smashed. When it was over, the winner looked hilariously ridiculous with little brightly colored paper beads stuck to his fur. 

“Congratulations! Under-Village 7 Omarrial of #67 South Section 2,999!” boomed Mart. “How does it feel to be the first winner of this game tonight?!” The crowd fell silent to hear the winner’s answer. 

“Do we have any sandwiches?!” Omarrial shouted. Everyone laughed. 

“Artheena, Mell May,” said Jill, who suddenly appeared beside them, her clunky metal voice enhancer in hand. “Would you girls like to play Conjo Mog? I wouldn’t want you to feel left out.” 

“You mean you have ceiling gripping foot pads we could ware?” said Mell May. Jill gave her a puzzled look.

“Of course she doesn’t,” Artheena laughed. “I made that up.” She couldn’t believe the bubble-headed things that came out of her sister’s mouth sometimes. 

“We don’t need any ceiling gripping foot pads,” said Jill. “You girls could simply ride on a couple players’ backs. I know it’s not really racing, but you’ll get to see what it’s like to be in a race upside-down on the ceiling. I think it’ll be fun.” 

“Whoever we’re riding won’t have any chance of winning, lugging our weight around.” said Artheena. 

“Oh, Artheena, nobody really cares about winning,” said Jill. “It’s just a party game. I’ll tell you what. We’ll just have the two grungols that would carry you girls in this next race. How about that?” 

“Sounds like fun.” said Mell May, enthusiastically. 

“MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION, EVERYBODY!” Jill announced into her voice enhancer, making the chattering crowd fall silent. “ FOR OUR NEXT ROUND OF CONJO MOG, IT’S GOING TO BE A VERVETT AND GRUNGOL RACE! BUT SINCE WE ONLY HAVE TWO VERVETTS AT THIS PARTY, ONLY TWO GRUNGOLS WILL BE RACING! NOW I NEED TWO BIG, STRONG GRUNGOLS WHO THINK THEY CAN RACE WITH THESE BEAUTIFUL GIRLS ON THEIR BACKS! HOW ABOUT YOU, FEZZLE AND DANZO!” A split moment later, two grungol men with wide torsos and thicker-than-average limbs came towards them. “ARE YOU READY, GIRLS?!” Jill whooped and clapped, getting everyone else in the room whooping and clapping. 

“WE’RE READY!” the vervetts shouted in unison. 

“It’s time!…” boomed Mart. “For our first vervett and grungol round of Conjo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o Mog! Ladies, get on your grungol friends’ backs!” The crowd cheered and applauded louder as Artheena hopped onto Fezzle’s back and Mell May got on Danzo. They both got into burrowing position, out of habit, but then realized they could relax and ride in the more comfortable piggy back style. All eyes were on them as the grungols carried them up the wall. Mell May began screaming as the men reached the top of the wall and carefully climbed over the flower garland and onto the ceiling. The two vervetts had ridden on grungols’ backs many times, traveling to and from the under-village, but these rides were always right-side-up. They’d never ridden a grungols back on the ceiling or while hanging upside-down, high above a crowd. Both girls were screaming when the men released their hands from the ceiling and dangled by the grip of their two feet. 

“You can do it!” Jill shouted through the crowd noise. 

The vervetts wrapped their legs as tight as they could around the grungols’ wide, flat waists and hung on for dear life. Artheena looked down at all the smiling grungol faces cheering them on and shouting words of encouragement, and she felt a little less scared. Mell May, on the other hand, kept her eyes clenched shut. 

“Are you ready-y-y-y-y-y!…” shouted Mart. “One!… Two!… Three! GO!” 

Danzo and Fezzle ran the upside-down race as though the adult-sized vervetts clinging to their backs were as light as air. They didn’t even stagger, like the other players did in the first race. Instead, they circled around the cones with grace and precision as though they were doing a choreographed dance. 

Artheena quickly grew to enjoy this race ride, and her screams of fear became whoops of delight. Meanwhile, Mell May still wouldn’t open her eyes, and she screamed as though a skullvick came into the room. 

In her state of panic, Mell May dropped down from the ceiling without shouting Conjo Mog. Nobody reached up to catch her until it was too late. She crashed onto a snack table, sending dishes of food flying in all directions and spilling to the floor. Artheena wanted to yell at her sister for being so careless, but the grungols were laughing about this disaster, even the Conjo Mog players. They stopped running at the sixth cone. The race was over. 

“Are you okay?!” Danzo called down to Mell May. 

“I’m sorry.” said Mell May, with a shaky giggle. She got up and climbed off the table, but then her foot landed in a pile of spilled berries. “Uh, oh, oops.” Someone handed Mell May a wad of cave moss paper napkins to wipe off her foot, and the grungols nearest to the snack table began cleaning up the mess. 

“Fezzle and Artheena are the winners!” announced Mart. 

“CONJO MOG!” the grungol and vervett sang in unison, although Artheena was laughing too. From her view on the ceiling, she saw that stupid Mell May’s foot was stained blue. 

“WAY TO GO, ARTHEENA!” Jill shouted into her voice enhancer. “ARTHEENA! ARTHEENA!” she began chanting, as the two grungols and one vervett dropped down from the ceiling. The whole room was chanting her name as Fezzle held her up on his shoulders and danced around, and confetti bead balls went crashing over her head. Through the pouring rain of confetti beads, she gave the crowd a winning smile. She felt like a star, basking in this ridiculous amount of glory over winning a game without even doing anything. Things like this were typical. People thought she was awesome no matter what she did. Fezzle danced further through the crowd, and Artheena got a glimpse of her sister. Mell May didn’t look too happy. 

~~~ 

As the party-goers in the sitting room got ready for the next Conjo Mog game, Audry, Brotell, Mell May, and Artheena headed for the fun room to play Moldy Couch. Some of the couches and chairs had been stacked up to clear a large enough space for four small fake couches plus the crowds of on-lookers that were to stand around them and watch the game. These couches were made of little magnetic disks. There were eight players per couch. Each of the eight players was given a large basket with straps that buckled around the waist, and each basket was full of a different color of fuzzy blobs that had a magnetic disk at one end. These blobs were the pretend mold. 

The object of the game was for the eight players to dance in a circle around the couch, while throwing the magnetic mold onto it as quickly as they could within the time it takes the crowd around them to chant, “Moldy Couch” five times. The player with the most fuzz blobs stuck to the couch wins. 

Mell May chose the fluorescent orange fuzz blobs, Artheena got the lavender ones, Audry got yellowish gray, and Brotell got an ugly green that made his fuzz blobs look like real mold. The other four players had mauve, brown, black, and mustard yellow. 

“All right, couch wreckers,” said the young grungol woman who had handed out the baskets and helped the vervetts adjust and buckle the straps to fit around their more narrowed waists. “Get in a circle. Are we ready?” The eight players nodded as the people who crowded around their couch applauded. “After I say, moldy couch, it’s time to throw. Mol… dy… COUCH!” 

The magnet disk couch instantly disappeared beneath hundreds of flying fuzz balls that formed a cloud of blurred colors. The grungol players’ arms moved with such superb speed compared to their much slower dancing feet, the vervetts couldn’t see them. Artheena and Mell May were at a disadvantage. Not only was vervett strength and speed naturally inferior to that of grungols, they had two arms instead of four, which made them unable to grab as many blobs out of their baskets per throw. 

“STOP!” shouted the young woman. The crowd around them cheered and applauded. The two vervetts burst out laughing at what an ugly sight the couch was. It was covered in terrible color combinations of fuzz blobs, making the couch appear to have some kind of nasty disease instead of a mold infestation. The young woman then counted each color of fuzz blobs that made it onto the couch, as she picked them off and put them back in the players’ baskets. Quite a lot of the blobs had ended up on the floor. Most of them were the lavender ones. Artheena really stunk at this game, coming in last. Mell May, who had remarkably above-average arm coordination, came in third. 

“You must have a lot of experience at this game.” the young woman said to Mell May, looking amazed. The other players and the crowd around them exchanged their agreements on how good Mell May played.

“No, this is my first time.” she replied. 

“Well, grace of Jumellica, you have a gifted pair of arms,” said the young woman. Mell May gave her an appreciative smile. 

The winner was the player with the mauve fuzz blobs. Instead of getting ambushed with confetti bead balls, the winner was simply put in charge of the next game. As all the players helped pick up the remaining fuzz blobs from the floor and gave the refilled baskets to the new grungol in charge, Artheena thought she saw Mell May flash her a smug look.     

Audry and Brotell wanted to play another round of Moldy couch, but their vervett friends decided they needed to take a break. They had been on their feet through their entire time at the party, walking around and mingling, running around and cheering with the crowd during the first Conjo Mog race, and then participating in the games themselves. Now they just wanted to find a place to sit for a few moments. So they parted ways with their grungol friends. They found an unoccupied  comfy couch to sit in in a far corner of the archeology study room, sighing with relief as they relaxed into it. The next thing they knew, Audry’s parents, Budgy and Lulu Bell, were shaking them awake. 

“Artheena, Mell May,” said Lulu Bell. “It’s two-thirds past the night. I think you should get home and get to bed.” 

“Mom?…” said Mell May, disoriented. She opened her eyes and looked around. “Curse of Jyoseppy,” she yawned. “We’re still in Under-Village 8.” 

“But you need to get going, so you could be back in Village 3.” said Budgy.

“We want to see Jill open her presents.” said Artheena, stretching and yawning. 

“Jill isn’t opening her presents until the end of the night,” said Lulu Bell. “Maybe not even until sunrise. A time when you girls would be getting ready for school.” 

“And besides, she’s got about five-hundred gifts to open,” said Budgy. “I think you girls would get bored out of your minds sitting through her opening all of them.” 

Both vervetts stretched and yawned. The archeology room was quiet with only a small crowd of grungols calmly chit chatting. Nobody was playing Conjo Mog or Moldy couch anymore, but a dance game was going on in the sitting room. They could hear people rhythmically clapping to someone playing a flute-like instrument. Jill’s amplified voice was giving instructions, “UPPER HANDS ON YOUR HEAD. LOWER HANDS ON YOUR HIPS. SHAKE YOUR HEAD. SHAKE YOUR HIPS. SHAKE YOUR HIPS. SHAKE YOUR HANDS ON YOUR HEAD. SHAKE YOUR HEAD AND YOUR HIPS…” It was a game where players had to follow dance instructions at a faster and faster pace. 

The sounds of the party still lively and kicking helped Artheena into alert wakefulness, but they made Mell May feel even more exhausted. “Can’t we just wait until morning to catch a trolley to Under-Village 3?” she wined, yawning again. 

“Nope, that would not be wise, and you know it,” said Budgy, loudly clapping his hands by Mell May’s ear. “You need to head out now. Come on, Mell May flower, snap out of it. Artheena is already as awake as the sun.” 

Artheena stood up and stretched again. 

“We’ll ride with you girls and take you up to the surface.” said Lulu Bell. 

“Don’t leave the party for us,” said Artheena. “We’ll be fine going home on our own.” 

“We’ll come back to the party after dropping you off,” said Lulu Bell. “The trollies aren’t as busy this time of the night, so we won’t miss out on much.” 

“Besides, you’ll need some extra help traveling back home with this girl,” Budgy pointed at Mell May, who had nodded off again. “Get up! Up! Up! Up!” He clapped in her ear with two hands and shook her with the other two. Mell May let out a miserable groan as she shoved Budgy away and forced herself to stand up. She leaned on him for support while the four of them walked through the three rooms, announcing their good-byes and receiving more furry, four-armed hugs. Audry was notified that her parents were taking her vervett friends home and would be back in a little while. Mell May and Artheena called out to Jill through the noise of the dancing game, wishing her a happy birthnight. “GOOD NIGHT!” she called back to them through her voice enhancer. 

“GOOD NIGHT!” echoed the crowd of dancers, all smiling and waving at the departing vervetts. 

What an incredible night it had been, despite Mell May having a couple little mishaps. She and Artheena left the party with smiles on their faces and hearts full of happiness as they stepped out into the draydle scented street and started for the North Section trolley stop. 

*** 

Woooooow, that was long, but thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed partying on a different planet. Until next time… 

Love you all! Post you soon! 

Come write with me in the Writers Mastermind!

🥸 Deception Flower 🥸

Leeandro Paul, the villain in my HECCTROSSIPY series, has a passion for writing and performing music, and a fascination with deception flowers. Despite his talent, sex appeal, and the way he treats his fans like they’re all his friends, there’s a hidden agenda behind all that party-guy friendliness. 

The deception flower is a species of butterfly that lives deep in the tropical forests of Continent 15. They have bright yellow wings, and look like the typical, colorful tropical butterfly, but it’s their cocoons that make them different than the rest. The cocoons, which they build on wild cacti, look convincingly like the same feathery, fuzzy purple flowers that the species’ of cacti grow. When the butterflies break free, the cocoons instantly dissolve into microscopic crumbs, making it appear that the purple flowers magically turned into a bursting cloud of yellow butterflies. 

To witness this phenomenal show of nature is rare among vervetts, grungols, and Guardians, because these butterflies usually break out of their cocoons a little after sunrise. A time when most grungols have gone to bed, and most vervetts and Guardians would find it too early to be hunting and gathering in the forest. 

Leeandro Paul had written a song about the deception flower, which became a popular hit in Music clubs and concert halls all over Continent 15—But was he really singing about butterflies? Here is the song, which is featured in HECCTROSSIPy  book 2  The Will of the Dark Creator

*** 

I never gave my heart to a flower before 

But you make the exception 

creation of pure beauty 

Beautiful deception” 

“So gentle, and so sweet, like a soft hatchling bird 

And as brilliant as a jewel, 

Creation of illusion 

Everyone is a fool” 

“They will only see your spread of lies 

As a bright burst of harmless butterflies 

Creation of two faces 

A creature in disguise…” 

“Even genius minds could fall for your trickery 

Eyes are just a seeing tool 

My favorite deception flower 

Everyone is a fool… 

Everyone is a fool…”

☯️ May I have your opinions? 🥺Pretty, pretty, please? ☯️

Hello fellow bloggers, and those who are also authors. 

I FINALLY came up with a blurb for book 2, The Will of the Dark Creator! The book has been FIFTEEN months in the making, so it’s about dam time. This is the rough draft of the blurb. I know it probably needs to be shortened, because it’s a little over 400 words. And the ideal blurb is supposed to be under 400 words, right? Here’s what I concocted so far. Let me know what you think… 

*** 

The alignment of the three moons is a sign of positive changes to come… 

How come the opposite is happening?… 

This second installment picks up where the first book left off, as the fun and festivities continue at the Hecctrossipy Festival—Continent 15’s yearly tradition that celebrates the victory over a legendary evil monster who had the power to manipulate the elements, and create chaos. However, not everyone is having a good time. 

Artheena has been unexpectedly betrayed by her sister, and cruelly used and disposed of by who she thought was the man she was meant to be with. While Mell May basks in her stolen glory, Artheena is left to figure out how to piece back together her shattered world. 

Shortly after the festival ends, she learns that there are far worse problems to worry about than her broken heart. Jyoseppy—the great entity in charge of the negative side of creation—is taking over other lands on Velva Leena with its catastrophic weather, strange and deadly new diseases, and other dark forces of nature. In a world where the majority supports Jumellica—the great entity in charge of the positive side of creation—even the Guardians can’t figure out how and where the dark creator is getting its steadily increasing power. Continent 15 is one of the few remaining safe havens on the planet—but for how much longer? 

An unknown virus is wrecking havoc among the grungol population. Young vervetts are disappearing without a trace, even while safely inside their own homes. Gruesome killings happen deep within the forest, that are too brutal to have been done by a carnivorous animal. Guardians and villagers have to put up a harder and harder fight to drive Jyoseppy’s destructive forces out of Continent 15. 

Jyoseppy’s dark influences also overshadow the lives of Artheena and her close-knit circle of friends and loved ones. 

Mell May returns to Village 3, alone and mentally unstable. Is she suffering through emotional trauma from being used and disposed of too? Or is it possible that there could be a much more disturbing reason behind her short-lived stardom? 

By the end of this second installment, someone will become a cold blooded killer, another will become a prisoner, and another will die.  

The dark creator’s hecctrossipy may be just a storybook myth, but the great entity’s will to take over all creation isn’t. 

🧀💩 Skeevids! Eeeeew! 💩🧀

Hello, blogsters! 

Here is a sample of what I’ve been working on while not blogging, and not being all that social on WordPress. I had posted Chapter 20: TRUDGING THE STORM, of the second book in my series, a few months ago. A huge thanks to all who had read, liked, and commented on those posts. Since then, that chapter has been re-numbered and revised. Being the extreme writing perfectionist I am, it’ll most likely end up getting another revision or ten. 

Are you ready to get grossed out over an extraterrestrial illness? This chapter tells all the gray, rotten cheesy details. This first section tells about Artheena’s traumatic childhood memories from when she had skeevids. 

For those of you who know nothing about my YA/sci-fi & fantasy series, or if you’re someone who just randomly stumbled upon this post, here is a little fill-in for you. 

*** 

This story takes place on a different planet. Artheena is my main character in books 1 and 2. Mell May is her adopted sister, and Willberry is her five-year-old brother. Vervetts are the species of people they are, and Guardians are just a ruling race of vervetts. Jumellica is like a Velva Leenan version of God. A garden feeder is where compost is stored, and sackamuppo is an herbal skin treatment that prevents scars. 

*** 

Here is the first rough draft excerpt of Chapter 24: SKEEVIDS, from HECCTROSSIPY 2 The Will of the Dark creator. Enjoy—but don’t read this before, during, or after a meal. 

***    

Like how human children get chicken pox, vervett children get skeevids, including little Guardians. Artheena and Mell May had gotten skeevids when they were Willberry’s age. 

Mell May got it first, but her case was unusually mild. She had a fever like Artheena did, but her grayish white skeevid bumps were small—no bigger than the average pimple—and she didn’t suffer through the other unbearable symptoms. Her appetite was normal, she was able to get up and move around without being in constant pain, and her recovery was quick. Freakishly quick. The inflamed holes left behind from when all her skeevids popped, barely needed any plugging paste to boost their healing. They seemed to close up on their own, and her skin was almost magically smooth and healthy again. 

Mom and dad and the other grownups they knew gushed about how little Mell May was such an amazing surviver. She escaped death twice, and then Jumellica took exceptional care of her, by healing her skeevids so miraculously. They took this as a sign that the good entity must have something extra special planned for Mell May’s future. This was one of the few and far between times during their childhood, where Artheena felt jealous of her sister.  

Meanwhile, Artheena’s case of skeevids was the most traumatic twelve days of her life. She couldn’t eat or play, or do anything, but lay in bed and suffer, or scream in agony in the bathtub. All the while, the grayish white bumps all over her skin constantly swelled and popped, and then regrew. Skeevids usually form and grow gradually throughout the day, but sometimes Artheena saw them appear as gray circles on her skin, and then swell into round, hard bumps, right before her eyes. It was a total nightmare. The sound skeevids made when they burst was one that would stay in her memory, like a permanent scar. It was a loud popping and splattering sound that, to us,, would sound like someone shooting water balloons with a BB gun. The bigger the skeevid, the louder and more liquidy the pop. Even worse, when skeevids burst, they splatter out a greasy gray fluid that, to us, would smell like rotten cheese. 

Artheena’s fever was so high, it felt as though her body might cook itself to death. Mom tried to cool it down by putting damp wash cloths over her forehead and cheeks, but she could only keep them on Artheena’s skin for a short few moments at a time. The wash cloths weren’t wet enough to make them heavy, but to Artheena’s severely tender, skeevid infected skin, they felt heavier than bricks, making her face feel as though it was being painfully crushed. When mom removed the wash cloths, it barely gave Artheena any relief. Her head and joints ached from the fever, and the skeevid bumps made her skin constantly ache all over. She got quite a few of the largest sized ones, that swell up to the size of Earth’s tennis balls. These always swelled up on one of her limbs, while she was sleeping. Then she’d wake up with her leg or arm in throbbing pain, which didn’t go away until the huge skeevid burst.

Even the simplest movements were agonizing. She couldn’t sit or stand, or open her mouth to drink and eat without crying out in pain. So much pain made her unable to walk. 

When she needed a bath, mom and dad had to carry her into the bathroom, using a towel like a stretcher. Being carried in their arms felt a hundred times more crushing on her body, than the damp cloths did on her face. She was in too much pain to be able to use the toilet bucket, leaving her with no choice but to pee in the paper shroud that mom and dad kept her wrapped in, while she was in bed. Even worse, her vomiting and diarrhea was beyond her control. This humiliated her more than what a grotesque, rank smelling, skeevid popping, grease dripping mess she was. 

She always loved her bath time, but while sick with skeevids, taking a bath felt like the most brutal torture that could possibly exist. Mom and dad persistently tried to comfort her with reassuring words of Jumellica’s love for her, and how she was going to be all better, any given day. But Artheena was in too much agony to listen to them, and she screamed over all their coddling. The sensation of water on her skin felt both icy cold, and scalding hot at the same time. No matter how gentle mom and dad tried to be, when they wiped Artheena down with a wash cloth, to her, it felt like they were shredding her skin with a giant vegetable peeler. 

Her skin was so sensitive, she couldn’t even ware clothes. The slightest brushing of fabric against her skin felt like being stung by hundreds of insects while getting scratched with razor sharp thorns. 

The only thing that she had to let touch her skin was the coping shrouds. The uncomfortably stiff paper shroud, which was dusted with powdered herbs on the inside, was believed to have good healing benefits. However, the only thing they did was enhance her discomfort. Mom and dad wrapped her up in a new dry, crinkly, gritty shroud, every time they put her back in bed. Between the coping shroud and the rest of her aches and pains, she couldn’t get comfortable. Sleep only came if she cried herself to exhaustion. Or when her energy became so drained from her vomiting and diarrhea, it made her desensitized to the pain. 

The vomit and diarrhea erupted from her body, as though they had minds of their own. She couldn’t understand where it all came from, when her stomach could hardly hold anything down. It didn’t take much to make her queasy. The smells that she smelled every day, like the cool, earthy smell of her house’s stone interior, the aromatic wood and mylo mellow furniture, and the garden scented breezes that came in through the open windows, seemed noxiously overbearing. The poultry broth, nutritional teas, and porridges that her parents fed her tasted and smelled more like they were made from the contents of the garden feeder. Artheena couldn’t help gagging, as she obediently forced down the nourishment her parents carefully spooned into her mouth.

This living hell lasted for seven days. Through it all, the people around her did what they could to keep her distracted from her pain, and cheer her up. Friends, teachers, neighbors, and even some Guardians stopped by the house to deliver positive affirmation cards, and colorful bouquets of sensitive-stomach-friendly paper flowers. Mom read to her, dad entertained her with his stories about his intercontinental piloting great grandparents’ world traveling adventures, and both parents quizzed her on the lessons she was learning in school. When Mell May had fully recovered, she and their friends paid visits to Artheena, whenever they played outside. They talked to her through her open bedroom window. Or they’d sing to her, and tell jokes. A couple times, they made puppets out of their hands, and things they found around the yard, and performed a silly puppet show on Artheena’s outside windowsill. She appreciated everyone’s concern and attentiveness towards her, and did her best to act like she was getting enjoyment out of it. But Artheena was so miserably sick that she honestly wished to be dead. 

On her eighth day of suffering, no more skeevids formed, and all the ones that were there had popped. When she awoken that morning, her fever cooled down and most of her pain had subsided, but her skin was hideously honey-combed with greasy gray holes that were ringed with scaly rashes. She was in hysterically panicked tears, fearing that she was going to be ugly for the rest of her life. This fear got worse every time her parents reapplied the dressing around her skin, and she saw that the disgusting holes hadn’t closed up yet. 

While her skin was healing, she still was sick with a mild fever for another five days, and spent most of that time sleeping. Throughout those five days, mom and dad had to change her dressing, three or more times a day. She had to stand in the bathroom for a long many moments of time, while they carefully unraveled the tightly clinging fabric strips from her body. Then they tediously dug out the used plugging paste from each hole, with their fingernails, and plugged all the holes back up with fresh paste. She was then slathered head to toe with slimy lisp leaf gel, and re-wrapped in more fabric strips. Stay strips is what they are called, because they cling to the skin, and are better at securing medicine in open wounds than regular cloth bandages. When those five days were over, and Artheena was feeling better, she still had to undergo three days of full-body sackamuppo treatments until her skin was back to normal again.

This all happened ten years ago, but when poor Willberry got skeevids, the traumatic memories came back to Artheena as clearly as though they had happened last season. 

*** 

That was only a section. There’s more dialogue and drama in the rest of the chapter, and more of how awful life gets for Artheena and her family. Thank you so much for reading. I’m aiming to get The Will of the Dark Creator ready for beta readers, before the end of summer. 

Love you all! Second excerpt coming up tomorrow!… 

PART 😬😬 of… 🧀💩 Skeevids! Eeeeew! 💩🧀

Hi, again. 

It’s tomorrow! As I promised, here is the second excerpt to Chapter 24: SKEEVIDS from HECCTROSSIPY 2: The Will of the Dark Creator. The plot thickens, and oh, ugh, so does the mess. 

*** 

“What’s wrong with me?” Willberry asked, through frightened tears. 

“You’re sick,” said Burjiss, gently. “You have skeevids, but it’s going to go away soon.” 

“Every little vervett boy and girl gets skeevids,” said Tabatha, in the same gentle tone. “Even mommy and daddy got it when we were little. So did Mell May and Artheena, but we’re all OK now. So you’re going to be OK too.” 

“Just because you guys got it, doesn’t mean I should’ve got it!” cried Willberry. “I’m cold!” 

“Want me to put you’re blanket back over you?” mom offered. 

“No!” Willberry wined. “My blanket hurts! My bed hurts! Everywhere hurts! Why did I have to get skeevids!” He let out a howling cry of misery. 

Artheena’s heart swelled with empathy. In that moment, she felt what he was suffering through, as though she became that sick five-year-old self again. She felt the full-bodied pain of his infected skin, the burning and the aching bone chills of his fever, and the unbearable stinging and scratching sensation he probably felt when his blanket touched his skin. She wanted to hug him and hold him, and reassure him with all the words of comfort she could think up, but of course, that would do more harm than good.    

Willberry’s case of skeevids looked even worse than Artheena’s. His skin bubbled all over with the gruesome, grayish white bumps. Many of them were large enough to bulge like stones beneath his nightshirt. Tennis ball sized skeevids swelled over his knee caps. Clusters of smaller skeevids swelled between the larger ones, making his skin resemble a parasitic insects’ egg sack nursery. His whole neck, from above his collar bones to the bottom of his chin, was completely covered with the bumps, making it too painful to move his head. Skeevids were on his palms and on the soles of his feet. Egg sack clusters of them formed between his fingers and toes. They even formed on his scalp. Artheena couldn’t help feeling sick to her stomach, seeing the round, grayish white bumps slowly swelling up from beneath Willberry’s hair. 

“I know it hurts, and you feel lousy, but every little vervett has to go through it,” said mom, about to pat his head, but quickly stopped herself. “It’s a rough part of the journey of growing up, but it’ll pass very soon.” 

“Do grungol kids get skeevids?” Willberry asked, sniffling. 

“No,” said dad, “But grungols get other sicknesses.” 

The thought of Audry voraciously eating her own coins flashed into Artheena’s mind, and the way she hungrily licked the blood off her hands after she’d accidentally bitten them. 

“That’s not fair!” Willberry shouted through sobs. “Why wasn’t I born a grungol!” 

One of the tennis ball sized skeevids burst with an explosive, POP, startling them all. As much as it hurt to move his head, Willberry couldn’t help look. He screamed in horror at the sight of the gushing gray hole in his knee where the skeevid had been. He scrunched his eyes shut, crying with panic. Burjiss, Tabatha, and Artheena tried to calm him. They tried to get through to him that they were going to take care of him, and he was going to get well, and then once he was all better, the skeevids would never come back. However, he was inconsolable. He cried and screamed over them, like little Artheena did during her baths. 

Willberry knew about skeevids, but he was never exposed to the disturbing illness in real life. Tabatha was pregnant with him, when Artheena and Mell May got it. Some of his classmates went through it, and so did his friend, Snap, but he didn’t see them when they were sick. Snap’s parents were especially strict about not allowing him to have visitors while he had skeevids.   

“I’m sure I still have that old roll of stay strips from when you girls were sick!” said mom, raising her voice over Willberry’s hysterical crying. “But we might need more lisp leaves and ingredients for plugging paste for when he starts getting better!” She looked directly into Willberry’s tear streaming, disfigured face. “You hear that, little hecctrossipy! You’re going to get better, like a strong little monster!” 

“I’ll go get his supplies!” Artheena volunteered. “I hope to Jumellica that the place is open this early! We’re here to save you, Willberry!” Then she hurried out of the room, and made a leap and a short sprint to the front door. 

The rainy early morning air was so cold, it made her cough the moment she bounded onto the wet front walking path. Puddles splashed beneath her, their icy coldness uncomfortably nipping at her bare feet. She broke into a sprint again, once she reached the sticky, wet clay street. It was as putrid as Earth’s swamps outside, from so much waterlogged and rotting vegetation all over the village. Artheena’s beloved gardens were suffering too, but she hung on to the optimistic hope that all her trees and plants would survive and fully recover. The neighborhoods were a rushing blur as gray as the sky, as she sped through them, faster than Earth’s cheetahs. Rain drops pelted at her like icy pebbles, stinging her eyes, and soaking her shirt. 

It wasn’t until she reached the South Section boundary, when she realized that she had been in such a hurry, she forgot to change into daytime clothes before she went out. Artheena laughed this off without a care. It didn’t matter if she looked like a complete weirdo, going to the store in her nightshirt. The rain was getting a little heavier, which meant there was no time to waste, and her poor brother needed his coping shrouds. 

The Children’s Medical Supplies store was a boxy, blueish purple wooden building with a few pieces of colorfully painted, babies’ sized playground equipment on its wooden front porch. Once she saw that the store’s lights were on, she leapt over the porch steps, accidentally knocking down a tiny pink slide as she scrambled through the front door. 

Two orange-collared men greeted her, each carrying a bucket of warm, frothy mange water, ready to wash the wet clay from her feet. As long as it continued raining, this was to be part of the shopping routine. Artheena thought it was kind of nice. 

“I’m so glad this place is open.” she said, smiling and lifting a foot to the orange-collar standing nearer to her. The other orange-collar proceeded to clean the floor where Artheena stepped.

“They’re open all day and night, for the time being,” said the public servant, pulling a wet wash cloth from his bucket, and scrubbing her foot. “Guardians’ new orders. Thank Jumellica too. I don’t know if it’s this bad weather, but a lot of kids are getting sick now. The hospital is getting too crowded with sick people as it is.” 

Artheena shuttered at the thought of when the Guardians admitted the truth about Jyoseppy’s dark forces spreading through the world without explanation. 

“But at least no one has gotten sick enough to die, right?” she said, letting the orange-collar dry off her foot and begin washing the other one. 

“Nope,” he said with a smile. “And by the grace of the good entity, we’ll all make sure it stays that way.” 

“I see you ran out of fresh daytime clothes.” said the other public servant, smiling at her as he finished wiping the floor, and took a seat on a half-empty table of large medicinal roots. 

“She gave the men a look, as though she thought they’d lost their minds. “Oh, come on, you guys. You didn’t here about how new Scientific studies have shown that nightshirts are a more suitable garment for running in cold, wet weather. They allow a better aerodynamic air flow which helps you move faster than if you wore shorts or pants.” Her factual tone was so convincing, the two men pondered over this bit of information for a split moment. “I’m only kidding,” she laughed. “My baby brother came down with skeevids, this morning, and I need to get some coping shrouds, lisp leaves, and extra ingredients for plugging paste. But I was so in a rush to get them that I left the house without paying attention to what I’m waring.” 

“I like it,” said a young man who suddenly appeared in the room. “It’s blue, my favorite color.” He gave Artheena a crooked-toothed, flirty smile. “And it matches your pretty eyes.” He walked over to her, and shook her hand. “Hi, I’m Danknoid. I’m one of the new staff here, and I’ll be more than happy to help you.” 

Artheena smiled at him graciously, mentally reminding herself to not go back to her old snobby ways, by judging Danknoid to be a total dweeb. His curly main of bright yellow-orange hair looked like a giant briar. And his slight build and round, pimply face made him appear no older than thirteen

“You boys go ahead and restock the tea and snacks in the break room,” Danknoid said to the orange collars, as though he owned the place. “I’ll be helping this beautiful lady with her shopping.” 

“Thank you, but you don’t need to,” Artheena said politely. “I know where everything is. I’ve been here before many times.” 

Danknoid looked amused. “No, you do need my help. You not only ran to the store in your nighttime clothes, you forgot to take your shopping tote with you.” 

“Ugh!” Artheena groaned, stomping her foot. “I forgot to bring money too! I can’t believe what a flake I am, this morning.” 

“Don’t worry about it,” said Danknoid, putting a hand on her shoulder. “I’ll be your tote and hold your things for you, and I have hundreds of coins in my coin holder. Just tell me how many you think you need, and your shopping is covered.” 

“Oh, thank Jumellica!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms around him as she mentally thanked the good entity for granting her the fortune of being the girl that all the single guys want. She had always taken her way with men for granted, but for once, she truly needed this power of having above-average beauty for unselfish purposes. 

“My tote is in the store owners’ office. Follow me.” He took her by the arm and lead the way. The office was a tiny room in the back of the store that could barely fit the cluttered, two-person work desk that was crammed within it. Once they were in the office, Danknoid closed the door. A mischievous look flashed across his pimply face. Artheena felt a pang of anxiety, immediately knowing that this boy was up to no good. She backed up against a narrow space of wall, as Danknoid reached under the desk, and pulled out a purple polka dotted leather tote. Then he took out a coin holder that was twice the size of hers. He opened it up to show her that it was filled to the brim with Rewards and Thank Yous. 

“You can have all of this, and buy your brother all the medicine in the entire store if you want.” he said, in a lowered voice. “But on one condition…” He eyed her up and down with a wicked, crooked-toothed grin. 

*** 

Woe! Heck nah! Do I have the indecency to make this book, which is geared for a 14 + audience, get a little juicy??? Check your WordPress reader for tomorrow’s excerpt to find out. 

Love you all! Post you soon! 

PART ☠️☠️☠️☠️ of… 🧀💩 Skeevids! Eeeeew! 💩🧀

It’s the conclusion! The fourth and final excerpt of chapter 24. I know this was an odd place in the book to post rough draft samples, so I hope you’re not totally lost. If you kind of are, and you’d rather start at chapter 1, you’re welcome to be a beta reader. Even though this is the second book, there are recaps on things that went on in book 1. So you’ll have enough of an idea of what previously happened, to be able to follow the second installment. I will announce when The Will of the Dark Creator is ready for beta reading. Anyhow, here’s the rest of this grotesque chapter. 

Sweet nightmares… 

***  

Artheena moved like lightning. First sprinting through the South Section, and then doing high leaps over West Section streets and from roof top to roof top to get to the Household Cleaning Supplies store more quickly. The store only sold the same few types of items, so she was able to get what she needed and get out, in a little over an Earth minute. Then she sprinted and leapt home at such a speed, she barely felt the rain drops touch her skin. 

The house was freshened up a little bit, by the time Artheena came home. Willberry was no longer screaming, which meant that his bath was over. Artheena heard him still in the bathroom, sobbing and talking to dad in a winy voice. 

As she headed for the cleaning supply closet to restock it, she found mom in the kitchen, busily scrubbing Willberry’s vomit and skeevid juice soiled bed clothes in a wooden washtub full of pickly green, soapy water. “Breakfast is going to be light, this morning,” said mom. “Just spring grain porridge and roasted dried beans, since our oven isn’t going to be available.” 

As long as the swimming pool stayed solidified during the rainy weather, they had to continue doing their laundry the hard way, and use the oven as a drier. 

“That’s fine.” said Artheena, not having much of an appetite, despite how active her morning was. 

“I changed Willberry’s sheet and pillow case,” said mom. “I’m going to need you to do me a favor, and spread a good amount of toilet leaf litter over his bed, so it doesn’t get any more soaked. The poor guy puked up just about half an ocean this morning. I tried my best to scrub the mess out of his bed and his carpet, but unfortunately, the carpet is probably going to get filthy again, if he has more huge accidents.” 

Artheena quickly finished putting away the new cleaning supplies, and hurried into the bathroom. Her stomach turned at the sight of poor Willberry. He was lying naked on a shallow mound of towels on the floor. Without his nightshirt, she could see the full extent of his skeevids. Bulges and clusters of the infected bumps took over his body, leaving only a small number of spots where his skin was clear. In other places on his skin that had no bumps, Artheena saw translucent gray and dark gray circles on them—the sign of more skeevids to come. The other tennis ball sized skeevid had popped while Artheena was away, leaving both knees with a large gray crater in them. The crater over his left knee had three darker gray circles within it. 

“Artheena, get me out of here,” Willberry wined through pitiful sobs. “Dad won’t stop cleaning the tub, and it’s making my stomach feel barfy.” 

Dad had emptied Willberry’s bath water, and was now busily wiping down the inside of the tub with a handful of mange fruit wedges, and removing stray pulp with a wiping leaf. Artheena remembered how the strong citrus smell of mange fruit made her nauseous, when she had skeevids. 

“I just came in here to get the toilet litter,” she said, giving her brother a sympathetic look. “Mommy says to put some on your bed, in case you have another accident.” 

“Dad, stop it,” Willberry pleaded. “I’m going to throw up again.” 

“That’s what all those towels are for,” said dad, calmly. “If you’re going to get sick again, they’ll catch it.” 

Willberry gagged loudly, and his eyes began to water. Artheena got out of there with the bag of toilet leaf litter, before a stream of vomit shot across the bathroom floor. 

His bed and carpet were still wet from when mom cleaned them, but at least his room smelled like housewashing soap and mange fruit, instead of puke and skeevid juice. She scooped heaping mounds of the absorbent litter onto his bed, and carefully spread it out in an even layer. Then it was time to get out a coping shroud, and put it over the litter. The boxes of shrouds had been unloaded from the wheel burrow, and stacked up outside of Willberry’s door. Artheena cringed, and her stomach turned again, as a cloud of powdered herb smell wafted from the shroud once she began unfolding it. The smell was like a mixture of dead leaves, metallic minerals, and a weird sweet smell that reminded her of ripe plums and ink twigs. She had forgotten the smell until now. More traumatic memories flashed through her mind, as she carefully laid out the unfolded shroud. “Why do we even use these things? Bleck,” she said to herself, brushing away herb powder that got on her hands. “They don’t do anything at all.” 

Another bloody-murder scream echoed through the house, as Burjiss carried Willberry back to his room. He was wrapped up in a towel, which was already starting to turn gray. Artheena cringed, hearing the muffled pops of more skeevids bursting beneath it. 

“It stinks really bad in here!” Willberry yelled. “What did you do to my room mom?!” 

“She cleaned it up for you!” said Burjiss, raising his voice over a crying meltdown. 

“Why?!” Willberry screamed. “I don’t want it cleaned!” 

“Your room was filthy, and sick children need to be in clean rooms!” said dad. Tabatha came hurrying into the room to help them. 

“I don’t want you cleaning my room ever again, mom! I don’t like clean smell anymore!” yelled the little vervett, sounding bratty. However, none of them reprimanded him for this. They all empathized with his pain and sensitivities, especially Artheena. 

“It smells just fine in here!” she sternly argued over his crying. “It only smells bad to you, because your tummy is so sensitive! Now it’s time to get back in bed, and try to get some rest!” 

“I want to go to bed in Mell May’s room!” he argued, in a howling wine. 

“No!” said Tabatha. “Mell May’s room will make your stomach sensitive too, and that won’t be any good!” 

“I want to go to Mell May’s room! I… want… to… go… to MELL MAY’S ROOM!” he kept screaming, as Burjiss, Tabatha, and Artheena gently unraveled the towel from him, and laid him on the herb powdered paper. Then they carefully folded the shroud over his whole body and around his head, leaving only his face uncovered. “I WANT TO GO TO MELL MAY’S ROOM! MELL MAY’S ROOM!” His voice rose to such a scary sounding, screechy pitch, he no longer sounded like a person, but like some kind of raging monster. And there was a crazy, murderous look in his crying eyes. He was angry because he wasn’t getting his way and couldn’t fight back, but his pain and suffering amplified this anger to a level that had them all a little frightened. “GET THIS THING OFF ME! IT’S PRICKLING ME! IT’S PRICKLING ME!” He kicked and beat against the inside of the shroud, as his rage turned to panic. 

“Don’t freak out! It’s not prickling you!” Tabatha could barely shout loud enough over another screaming fit. “The shroud has medicine in it that’s good for you, and will help you heal!” 

His screaming rose to such a volume, the sound vibrated through the wet carpet and jabbed through Artheena’s ears. She couldn’t believe that such a deafening sound could come from a small child. 

Then there was a sudden loud, gurgling rumble from Willberry’s bed, accompanied by an intense, putrid smell that was worse than the smell of vomit and skeevid juice. Willberry had worked himself up into having a diarrhea accident. Burjiss, Tabatha, and Artheena exchanged anguished looks. They were going to have to remove him from the coping shroud, give him another bath, replace the soiled shroud and any soiled toilet litter, and then try to calm him down while getting him back in bed, all over again. Artheena remembered crying and screaming a lot, when she had skeevids, but she wasn’t even half as loud and temperamental as her brother. 

“Please, Jumellica, help us keep our sanity.” said dad, his barely audible words sounding weak and powerless under Willberry’s screaming, reminding Artheena of how strongly the dark side was rising against Jumellica’s admirers. 

*** 

Thank you so much for reading. I hope your stomach is doing OK. Despite the nastiness, I hope you enjoyed these excerpts. If you did, it would be awesome to have you express that with a like or a comment. If you didn’t enjoy them, those comments are welcomed too. Part of being a writer is getting to know readers’ likes and dislikes. 

I don’t know when I’ll be back on Earth full-time, where I can spend more time catching up on those of you I follow, and writing more original posts,, but I’ll get back as soon as I can. 

Love you all! Post you in a while! Another space taxi is on its way to take me back to planet Velva Leena.   

My precious baby evil chaotic Monster is leaving the nest!

My debut novel is FINALLY coming out into the world, next month!! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! It’ll be available on Amizon! Nobody knows who the hell I am, yet, or the fact that my book exists, but I’m still so excited about it finally being released. HECCTROSSIPY 1: The Legend of the Land has been three years in the making. Since then, I lost count of how many re-writes it’s been through, but I don’t regret the pain staking, anal-retentive effort. 

It was February of 2017, when the idea came to mind. Every once in a while, it’s fun to just space out, and play around with my imagination. I brainstorm on things like, really stupid inventions, inventions that are good ideas, dessert recipes, and new story ideas. With story ideas, I usually don’t have to make much effort to conjure them up. Most of the time, they pop on in without warning. 

I could be minding my own business, snacking on olives, and blabbing with dad, about some latest discovery on Jupiter. Then an idea for a cutesy kiddie story, involving teddy bears and layer cakes, would come to mind. Or a mental movie about how drastically the Earth might change, if a second moon came into orbit might start playing in my head, while I’m browsing the women’s tunic section at Wal-Mart. 

Sometimes, during one of my imagination playing trances, I’l come up with a character, and a vague hint of a setting and plot, and then just see where it goes on its own. The Hecctrossipy idea was from one of those moments. 

It was late at night. I was lying on my bed, taking my eye drops, while going into an imagination trance, and staring at my Asian column lamp. I imagined two human-like teenage girls, who lived on a different planet. One had blond hair, and the other had brown hair. They were life-long best friends, who liked to hang out at night, on the blond haired girl’s glowing pool deck. Not a very exciting start. Then the more I fixated on those Alien girls, their family relationships started coming into mental movie view. So did details about the planet they lived on, the other creatures around them, and what their Alien village was like. By the time I was ready to call it a night, the beginning stages of a story had developed. 

*** 

THE EMBRYONIC STAGE OF THE STORY (before it was even called, Hecctrossipy) 

The brown haired girl was Mell May, and the blond haired girl was Artheena, and they lived on a preindustrial planet. Mell May’s mom and dad were horrible parents who were hardly ever home, and could care less about her. When they were home, they treated her like crap. So she spent as much time at Artheena’s house, as she could. Artheena’s family treated Mell May like she was one of their own. 

Their village was overtaken by a corrupt leader, whose name hadn’t revealed itself to me yet. This leader guy and those who worked for him, lived in a tower, in the center of the village. Below the village, was an underground village, where these furry-animal-like, kind of creepy creatures called grungols lived. Corrupt leader wanted to mine the ground, for valuable gems and metals. So he poisoned the grungols’ water supply, to try to kill them off, but the poison didn’t kill them. It turned them into psychotic killers who started burrowing up to the surface, to kill and eat the people. Corrupt leader didn’t care about this little setback. The people were permitted to kill the grungols, to defend themselves, which was another good way to drive the grungols out.

Corrupt leader also wanted part of some sort of dynasty that Artheena’s family had. He knew that Mell May was like a sister to her, and a daughter to her parents. So he had Mell May kidnapped, and held for ransom. 

Mell May was imprisoned within his tower. She lived like a caged animal, but then the leader grew lustful feelings towards her. At first, he made her his love slave. During their times spent in his bed, he struck up small talk conversations with her. Then small talk lead to deeper conversations. He twisted the truth about his reasons for doing the horrible things he did, to where it sounded like the rational and sensible things to do, for his people. He got Mell May into seeing things his way. As ruthless as he was, deep down, he was falling in love with her. Mell May was growing infatuated with him, but she kept this to herself, because she was still terrified of him. She went from being a love slave, to his companion who lived with him, more as a guest. He planned to get Mell May to marry him. Then she would become his ally. 

Meanwhile, Artheena was on a mission to get her best friend back. She had grandiose plans to get the whole village to rise up against their leader, and overthrow him. Then she was abducted by grungols, and held hostage in a cave full of the remains of the people they had eaten. While there, she got befriended by a grungol girl named Audry. Audry was immune to the effects of the poison. She and Artheena made plans to help Artheena escape, and then together, they would fight to save Mell May. Unfortunately, Mell May was falling in love with her captor. So she might not want to be saved… 

*** 

After that night, the story started developing on its own, as it got stuck in my mind, day after day. About a week or so later, a monster character came into the mental movie—the hecctrossipy. 

It’s weird now, thinking back on a time—three years ago—when I was at the gym, one morning, and I couldn’t get the hecctrossipy story idea out of my mind, all during my workout. It made me feel happy and day dreamy, like a new infatuation. It was so much fun to trance out on, and see where the mental movie went. However, I didn’t really take this idea seriously. 

When I was twelve, I experienced my first dreamy infatuation with a new, awesome story idea. I believed it was going to be “The next great American novel!”. I remember diligently working on it, every morning, during 1st period. Enthusiastically scribbling away, with a stank Sharpee marker, on page after page of bold lined paper. Then fifty or sixty pages in, the infatuation wore off. The story ended up being shoved away somewhere among my bedroom clutter. 

This became my writing pattern. The story ideas, and unfinished books came and went. I’ve had such an impossible time convincing my brain to stop acting so A D D, and just finish a freaking novel already! 

Twenty-five years later, it was the same old shit. My adult bedroom was cluttered with stacks of notebooks and folders, overstuffed with bulky, braille written attempts at novels. And my computer had a nice collection of abandoned story documents. 

I started a short story series, and had the first book self-published on Amazon, I Dabbled Into Black Magic, in January of 2017. I was working on the second story, I Almost Committed Homicide, but predictably, the infatuation with the series fizzled out, and I just couldn’t get into it. Ugh! It was so frustrating! 

Then Easter came, and I was in a dark mood. Not up to participating in the family get together. Writing usually never fails to cheer me up. And what better way to brighten a dark-minded writer’s day, than to write something fun. So I stayed withdrawn, in my room, and started working on Hecctrossipy. I’ve always love, love, loved writing about weird and outrageous, faraway planets, and sure enough, this made my Easter. However, I still didn’t take the idea seriously. I didn’t want to give up on forcing myself to finish my series first. Hecctrossipy was intended on being something I would just do for fun, and see where the story goes, before my mental fickleness kicks in. The document that my original Hecctrossipy draft was written on was called, ImpulseWrite. That’s how much I didn’t believe it would go very far. 

To my greatest surprise, Hecctrossipy   stayed with me. There was—and still is—something magical and addictive about it. For the first time EVER, the infatuation turned into devoted love. It was a true miracle! Did something finally go right with my screw-loose neurotransmitters?! Or is it one of those signs that Hecctrossipy is “meant to be”? 

By the following September, the impossible came true, and I finished the first draft of a full-length novel! Once I made that milestone, I got such a thrilling high off of finally meeting the decades’ long goal of finishing a novel, it cured my writer’s A D D. From then on, I always finish my novels. Five more novels are on their way!

In January of 2018, good old Christa set me up with her friend, Jo, who is quite the remarkable editor. I didn’t have to pay thousands of dollars for his service either. Hecctrossipy was still a sloppy mess, full of plot holes, repetitive words, unrealistic character behavior, and too much mundane detail. Jo has been a saint, and patiently put up with my wanting to do revisions on the whole damn novel, again and again. I’ve given it, yet another complete make-over, since I bragged about The Writing Collective wanting to publish it, in a blog post way back in December. 

Here are some of the changes that have evolved, since that transic night, three years ago: 

*Mell May is Artheena’s adopted sister. She was adopted when she was four, after her parents mysteriously disappeared. 

*There is still a tower in the center of the village, but there’s no longer one, single leader, and his many staff, who live in it. A community of Guardians—the planet’s ruling race of people—live in the tower, and lead their village. 

*There is no corrupt leader. The Guardians are all for the greater good. However, there is a sexy bad guy who is not a Guardian, but he has the influential power of a leader. His name is Leeandro Paul, and both Artheena and Mell May are in love with him. 

*The grungols are not creepy. They’re cute, with adorable, lop-eared, dog-like faces. They are the nicer and gentler natured species of people, whose society is more utopian. They live in civilizations that are under-ground Paradises. 

*Since there are no longer corrupt leaders in the story, nobody poisons the grungols’ water supply. Although the grungols do get sick, and turn psychotic, but it’s something that’s one of the many apocalyptic changes going on, on their planet. 

*Artheena still does get abducted by grungols, but that’s not when she meets Audry. She and Audry and Mell May have been best friends, since they were all six years old. 

*Audry isn’t immune to whatever it is that’s making the grungols sick and insane. She’s going to die. 

Here is the blurb for the final, finished product, all grown up… 

HECCTROSSIPY 1: The Legend of the Land 

The alignment of the three moons is a sign of positive changes to come, but the moons never promised that such changes will happen to everybody… 

On the Pre-industrial planet of Velva Leena, two sisters eagerly anticipate the Hecctrossipy Festival. Continent 15’s yearly tradition that celebrates the victory over a legendary evil monster who had the power to manipulate the elements, and create chaos. 

Artheena is smart, talented, beautiful, and blessed with multiple gifted abilities. Mell May, on the other hand, is simple and average. Both are in love with Leeandro Paul. A celebrity heart-throb who has an intriguing way of turning the leaders of the land into his followers. 

Artheena has a premonition of marrying him, during the alignment of the three moons. While on her quest for true love, she gets caught up in unexpected adventures, embarrassing situations, and experiences beyond her wildest dreams. Including an outrageous contest that challenges Continent 15’s strict, conservative social standards. Through it all, Artheena and Mell May’s close bond is also challenged. 

When the festival comes, the sisters have the time of their lives until Leeandro Paul makes an announcement that shocks his fans. An unimaginable secret is revealed, that might tare the two sisters apart for good… 

You and I have gone through so much together, HECCTROSSIPY 1: The Legend of the Land. When you were just an unborn baby, in my brain, you started off as an adults’ story. Then when you were brought into this world, you became a children’s sci-fi story. Then you grew into being suitable for a 14+ audience, and finally to a 16+ audience. You’ve been divided into two books, had entire chapters erased and re-written, and I lost count of how many times I thought I was losing interest in you. Now you’re finally leaving the computer document nest, and going out on your own, into the real book world. I’m so proud of my baby! 

Post you next weekend!