Friday, April 11, 2014

I'm almost there, and I have a question for you

It won't be long now before the Deluxe Sleepwalkers heads to print. The cover is almost finished, and I can't wait to show it to you in full. The Mystery Artist has really outdone herself!

While she's putting the finishing touches on the cover, I'm putting the finishing touches on the bonus material, and I'd like your input in what I'm doing. Below are the items I've decided to include, but I'm curious to know if there's anything else I should consider putting in.

Also notice that some of you will get a mention in #4, unless you're really uncomfortable with the idea. I haven't decided yet which questions to include, but if you definitely don't want yours in the mix, let me know. You can post a comment below or email me. 

Bonus Material
  1. "Welcome to Bliss" - the first (stand-alone) chapter to the Sleepwalkers prequel
  2. "From Fantasy to Reality" - how the story evolved from a naive preteen's fantasy to a fetish erotica novel
  3. "Paul's Ill-Equipped Magic Act" - a description of how I plot my stories and the full outline of the chapter in which Paul Wakes his team
  4. "Life Under General Hawthorne" - This is the part where you come in. I'll be answering some of the most intriguing questions you posed about Hawthorne, the United American Empire, Dreamer, and so on. I'll probably choose about ten questions.
  5. "What Now?" - what happens next for all the characters you loved and hated most

Sunday, April 6, 2014

I kid you not

Just for fun, I did a Google Image Search on "A. Regina Cantatis." Most of the pictures that came up were straight out of my blog. No surprises there. On the other hand, I kid you not, there was a picture of the Pope giving a happy thumbs-up.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ladies and gentlemen, Princess Fatale

There's a series of pictures I've see floating around the web for years: two skinny young women of indeterminate age, with brown hair and pouty lips, posing in shiny black latex catsuits. I won't post any pictures from that set (even though they're easy to find) because I'm not sure how old those models were when they posed for those pictures. But apparently one of them goes by the nickname "Princess Fatale," and she has a lot of more recent shots online. She also, as I recently discovered, has a Deviant Art account. Here are some of the best shots from that, as well as two manips I did based on the last shot because it looked so good that I wanted to make it even better.

Now here's the one I manipped, to make it look as perfect as I imagined. You get a silver version and a gold version. ;-)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Just a little update

If you've been paying attention here lately, you know that sometime in the near future, I'm going to give you a free, no-strings-attached deluxe edition of Sleepwalkers with bonus material. Well, I've just finished the first draft of some of that bonus material: a mini-prequel about Angela and Reynaldo (Paul's parents) at Fort Bliss, testing Dreamer on a human subject for the very first time. You might remember that chimps react differently to Dreamer: it doesn't make them horny. So Angela and Reynaldo aren't prepared for what happens when they dose PFC Susan Kelly. I don't think you'll be entirely prepared, either. There are still some things you don't know about Dreamer.

Now, I do have a full prequel planned, and I even have a title for it: "Bliss." But it's going to be a pretty big story, and it might take me a while to put together, so for now I'm giving you "Welcome to Bliss." Don't worry; it doesn't end on a cliffhanger. It's a self-contained story arc and is, I think, scorchingly hot.

I can't wait to hear what you think about it, but right now I don't know exactly when the e-book will be out. You see, I've commissioned someone else to do the cover; and while I'm keeping her identity a surprise for now, I will tell you that the covers she makes for her own e-books are always spectacular. I can't wait to see what she does with Sleepwalkers. Anyway, just keep your eyes peeled for the publication announcement, because the book will only be free for three days - and it will only be free to my blog readers. That's my secret gift to you for all the wonderful feedback you gave me about the story last year.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Out-of-context follies with Clark Ashton Smith

Hervé Scott Flament
I'm still browsing the collected short stories of Clark Ashton Smith, which you can read for free online at The Eldritch Dark or download for free at MemoWare. One of his most famous stories is The Dweller in the Gulf. It tells the story of three adventurers on Mars who are abducted by a tribe of blind aliens and carried into lightless depths far underground. Along the way, they find themselves falling into a a half-ecstatic, half-horrified trance. Eventually they meet the creature causing the trance, but before they do, they encounter its idol, which the humans feel compelled to worship right along with the Martians.

Now, make no mistake: this is a horror story. It does not have a happy ending. But if you take this particular scene out of context, it should be right up your erotic-mind-control-loving alley. Then, if you like, you can read the alternate ending I came up with for the story. It combines elements of  "The Dweller in the Gulf" with elements of another of Smith's most famous works, The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis. But if you choose to read my ending, you'll have to beware of spoilers. First the quote from "The Dweller," then the revised ending.

The place was overpowering, it oppressed the senses, crushed the brain. The very stone was like an embodiment of darkness; and light and vision were ephemeral intruders in this demesne of the blind. Somehow, the earthmen were weighed down by a conviction that escape was impossible. A strange lethargy claimed them. They did not even discuss their situation, but stood listless and silent.

Anon, from the filthy gloom, a number of the Martians reappeared. With the same suggestion of controlled automatism that had marked all their actions, they gathered about the men once more, and urged them into the yawning cavern.

Hervé Scott Flament
Step by step, the three were borne along in that weird and leprous procession. The obscene columns multiplied, the cave deepened before them with endless vistas, like a revelation of foul things that drowse at the nadir of night. Faintly at first, but more strongly as they went on, there came to them an insidious feeling of somnolence, such as might have been caused by mephitical effluvia. They rebelled against it, for the drowsiness was somehow dark and evil. It grew heavier upon them—and then they came to the core of the horror.

Between the thick and seemingly topless pillars, the floor ascended in an altar of seven oblique and pyramidal tiers. On the top, there squatted an image of pale metal: a thing no larger than a hare, but monstrous beyond all imagining.

The Martians crowded about the earthmen. One of them took Bellman by the arm, as if urging him to climb the altar. With the slow steps of a dreamer, he mounted the sloping tiers, and Chivers and Maspic followed.

The image resembled nothing they had ever seen on the red planet—or elsewhere. It was carven of whitish gold, and it represented a humped animal with a smooth and overhanging carapace from beneath which its head and members issued in tortoise fashion. The head was venomously flat, triangular—and eyeless. From the drooping corners of the cruelly slitted mouth, two long proboscides curved upward, hollow and cuplike at the ends. The thing was furnished with a series of short legs, issuing at uniform intervals from under the carapace, and a curious double tail was coiled and braided beneath its crouching body. The feet were round, and had the shape of small, inverted goblets.

Unclean and bestial as a figment of some atavistic madness, the eidolon seemed to drowse on the altar. It troubled the mind with a slow, insidious horror, it assailed the senses with an emanating stupor, an effluence as of primal worlds before the creation of light, where life might teem and raven slothfully in the blind ooze.

Dimly the earthmen saw that the altar swarmed with the blind Martians, who were crowding past them about the image. As if in some fantastic ritual of touch, these creatures were fondling the eidolon with their lank fingers, were tracing its loathsome outlines. Upon their brutal faces a narcotic ecstasy was imprinted. Compelled like sleepers in some abhorrent dream, Bellman, Chivers and Maspic followed their example.

Hervé Scott Flament
The thing was cold to the touch, and clammy as if it had lain recently in a bed of slime. But it seemed to live, to throb and swell under their finger-tips. From it, in heavy, ceaseless waves, a dark vibration surged: an opiate power that clouded the eyes; that poured its baleful slumber into the blood.
With senses that swam in a strange darkness, they were vaguely aware of the pressure of thronging bodies that displaced them at the altar-summit. Anon, certain of these, recoiling as if satiate with the drug-like effluence, bore them along the oblique tiers to the cavern-floor. Still retaining their torches in nerveless fingers, they saw that the place teemed with the white people, who had gathered for that unholy ceremony. Through blackening blurs of shadow, the men watched them as they seethed up and down on the pyramid like a leprous, living frieze.

Chivers and Maspic, yielding first to the influence, slid to the floor in utter sopor. But Bellman, more resistant, seemed to fall and drift through a world of lightless dreams. His sensations were anomalous, unfamiliar to the last degree. Everywhere there was a brooding, palpable Power for which he could find no visual image: a Power that exhaled a miasmal slumber. In those dreams, by insensible graduations, forgetting the last glimmer of his human self, he somehow identified himself with the eyeless people; he lived and moved as they, in profound caverns, on nighted roads. And yet he was something else: an Entity without name that ruled over the blind and was worshipped by them; a thing that dwelt in the ancient putrescent waters, in the nether deep, and came forth at intervals to raven unspeakably. In that duality of being, he sated himself at blind feasts—and was also devoured. With all this, like a third element of identity, the eidolon was associated: but only a tactile sense, and not as an optic memory. There was no light anywhere—and not even the recollection of light.

Now here's my idea for a less horrifying, much sexier ending. Just remember, I'll have to spoil "The Dweller in the Gulf" and "The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis" in order to give it to you, so bail out now if you don't want to know how those stories ended.

In Smith's version of "The Dweller in the Gulf," the creature blinds its victims by sucking out their eyeballs. Meanwhile, the creatures in the vaults of Yoh-Vombis encase the top halves of their victims heads, blinding them and turning them into shambling zombies - but they control their victims by eating away most of the victims' brains.

Hervé Scott Flament
In my alternate ending, the Dweller and the vault-creatures have developed a symbiotic relationship which doesn't require them to feed on their victims' bodies. The humans are captured and stupefied by the influence of the Dweller. Then, when their minds are fully subdued, the vault-creatures float down from the ceiling and engulf their heads. As soon as any spark of self-will reawakens in their victim's minds, the vault-creatures suck it away. They live on the thoughts and wills of other creatures and exude their own commands into their heads. But the Dweller lives on worship, and on the toil of the slaves it shares with the vault-creatures. They farm fungi and blind cave animals for the Dweller. And whenever they capture a a new slave, they hold a drugged orgy of devotion to both their symbiotic masters.

*All the art in this post comes from Herve Scott-Flament. None of it relates directly to the stories I discuss here, but Clark Ashton Smith is one of Scott-Flament's influences.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Some excellent mainstream mind control

art by Jeremy Zerfoss
Have you heard of Annihilation? The book, I mean, not the concept. It's the first in a trilogy (all coming out this year, thank goodness - I don't want to have to wait) by Jeff VanderMeer. I haven't read anything else by him yet, but I've heard great things about him and plan to read more soon - including the second and third books in this series. Annihilation has me totally hooked.

I won't try to give you a "reviewer's review" because I know you're here for the mind control, so let me give you a synopsis with enough spoilers to pique an EMC fetishist's interest.

First, imagine H.P. Lovecraft or Clark Ashton Smith living today, in or near Florida. He's writing a fantasy/horror novel set in his neck of the woods - only it's not quite his neck of the woods, because in his story it's been invaded by, um, something from what might be another dimension. The Southern Reach, a mysterious organization that keeps sending expeditions into this place, calls it Area X. Half the people who go into it vanish or die, and the ones who make it out sometimes aren't quite themselves afterwards. And yet people keep going in.

Annihilation is concerned with the twelfth expedition. This time the Southern Reach has chosen four women identified only by their roles: the biologist, the psychologist, and two others (I'll bet you can already guess it's the psychologist who practices mind control, right?). The biologist is the narrator, and since she doesn't know why the Southern Reach picked an all-female team this go-around, we don't know either. It doesn't seem to matter much from a plot standpoint, although it did make me think of Tabico's Blue - and not just because of the gender makeup of the team.

Almost as soon as they hit base camp, the researchers discover a stone tunnel with a spiral staircase that leads down to some unknowable depth below the surface (Notice the spiral. If you read the book, notice all the spirals). When the team explores it, the biologist is quickly infected by some sort of alien spores (Yeah, it's that kind of book. Are you excited yet?) that render her immune to the psychologist's hypnosis. All four of them already knew the psychologist had used hypnosis to keep them calm while crossing the border into Area X, but the biologist is the first to realize how deep their team leader has sunk her claws into them.

As a matter of fact, the control the psychologist exerts over the others is far beyond anything a real-life hypnotist could accomplish. It makes me wonder whether VanderMeer is taking creative license or whether the Southern Reach employs some actual technological and/or supernatural method of mind control, maybe something they picked up in Area X and kept to themselves. It's possible. Like I said, this is just the first book in a trilogy; a lot remains unexplained at the end.

Anyway, the Southern Reach knows a lot more about Area X than it lets on. Take the scene below, where the biologist pretends to be hypnotized along with the others so she can see what the psychologist is up to. You won't understand all of what happens here, but you're not supposed to. Not this early in the story. Just ask yourself why the psychologist has to command her team to keep seeing the structure as if it's made of shell and stone. If it's not made of shell and stone, then what is it really made of? Why don't they see it as it really is right from the beginning? And why doesn't the psychologist want them to see it as it really is?

If you're intrigued by the quote below, you can read the whole first chapter of the book over on io9.

Then she abruptly stood and said three words: "Consolidation of authority."

Immediately the surveyor and the anthropologist beside me went slack, their eyes unfocused. I was shocked, but I mimicked them, hoping that the psychologist had not noticed the lag. I felt no compulsion whatsoever, but clearly we had been preprogrammed to enter a hypnotic state in response to those words, uttered by the psychologist.

Her demeanor more assertive than just a moment before, the psychologist said, "You will retain a memory of having discussed several options with regard to the tunnel. You will find that you ultimately agreed with me about the best course of action, and that you felt quite confident about this course of action. You will experience a sensation of calm whenever you think about this decision, and you will remain calm once back inside the tunnel, although you will react to any stimuli as per your training. You will not take undue risks.

"You will continue to see a structure that is made of coquina and stone. You will trust your colleagues completely and feel a continued sense of fellowship with them. When you emerge from the structure, any time you see a bird in flight it will trigger a strong feeling that you are doing the right thing, that you are in the right place. When I snap my fingers, you will have no memory of this conversation, but will follow my directives. You will feel very tired and you will want to retire to your tents to get a good night's sleep before tomorrow's activities. You will not dream. You will not have nightmares."

I stared straight ahead as she said these words, and when she snapped her fingers I took my cue from the actions of the other two. I don't believe the psychologist suspected anything, and I retired to my tent just as the others retired to their tents.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Tenpack of Trixies is now live on Smashwords

Well, that was easy. This morning I showed you some work in progress on the cover (and I added a semi-secret message at the end - be sure to read it, because I'm not repeating it!). I wasn't sure whether I could get the whole e-book finished this weekend, but I did it with more than a day to spare.

The hardest part about this e-book was the polishing because I made huge revisions to the whole center section of the story. In fact, Chapter 2 is almost an entire rewrite. But all throughout, I've switched characters and situations, reordered scenes, reduced exposition, amped dramatic tension, and...well, let's just say I've done something very special to the social worker. You'll like her. A lot. She'll make some of you dream of cherry pie and cherry stems.

If you'd like to purchase the e-book at Smashwords, the link is here, and you can get 25% with the coupon code JX64Q.