Category Archives: Whatever

Erotica Plot Producer

I have always wanted to get in on writing erotica, and when an invite showed up in my email to attend a free webinar on the topic, I jumped at the chance. Of course, you know if it’s a “free” webinar, then you’re going to get a little useful information, along with a sales pitch for some product or other.

The webinar was called Everything You Wanted To Know About Erotica But Were Scared To Ask. I’ll be honest, the webinar was fantastic. There was a TON of useful information in it about writing erotica. I’m so glad I was able to attend, watch the replay, and then receive the transcript.

The product for sale with the webinar is a web-based application called Erotica Plot Producer. The basic version of this program costs $197, and the tricked out version costs $297. I think these are supposed to be sale prices, so your mileage may vary with pricing.

The program itself is ok. You log in and you can click around and the system will supply you with a loose plot based around two main characters. You can choose from several categories including Western, BDSM, Paranormal, even Romantic.

Choose your category and then read the plot the system provides. It includes two random main character names, and both the character name and the sex of the character can be changed. Changing the character names and sexes doesn’t change the plot, but each name and character has their own back story that may help provide direction for the plot.

There are, in the basic version, allegedly, 200 plots to choose from (the expanded version adds several more each month for a year). Once you’ve selected the names and the plot you want, you save the plot and write your story, publish it and move on to the next one.

The plots themselves are fairly basic, and I didn’t read every single one, so I can’t confirm that there are a minimum of 200 individual plots. I think there is some overlap between genres.

There is definitely overlap in character development. I chose “Romantic” as a genre and the plot producer gave me a romantic plot, but when I changed character sexes or names I sometimes got vampires or other non-traditional characters as part of my romantic genre.

Each product option comes with “bonus” features that include places to market your completed work, how to work with the Kindle Publishing program, places to have cover artwork designed. Much of this information is readily available on the web if you know where to look, and most certainly isn’t worth the inflated “bonus value” listed on the sale sheet.

Erotica LA 6-12-09 Nikon 002

Erotica LA 6-12-09 Nikon 002 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By far the most valuable part of the program is the Facebook group. Group members are both eager and willing to help and market their own work, providing tidbits of information about sales, blog posts, etc that they find in their own research. THAT is worth paying for.

My take? I think that the program is overpriced even for the basic level. The plots are written in a clunky style (they make use of “they” and “their” as pronouns for ease of use when switching character sexes) with misspellings and grammatical errors. While I’m not a perfect writer, I’m not asking anyone to spend a minimum of $200 for what I’m selling.

When I tried to find reviews of this program I was unable to find any, but stumbled on a user forum where others were asking about it because they didn’t want to spend such a large sum on an untested program. I would hope that the creator takes this into consideration and adjusts pricing levels accordingly. At best, this program is good for someone who can write but is unable or unwilling to produce their own characters and plots. It’s a good starter program and should be priced as such.

Savings Unsaved

I recently wrote about how much I love Digit, the savings device you don’t have to think about. I wanted to follow up and tell you about my experience withdrawing from the account.

I recently broke a tooth and needed to pay a bit of money to see the dentist. There was money in the checking account, but I wanted to move some from the Digit account to see how easy it was to do that.

Here are the steps I took:

1. On my phone I went to the Digit message thread and typed in HELP and sent.

2. Digit responded by asking what kind of help I needed and suggested that I respond with COMMANDS, so I did.

3. Digit responded with a handful of commands, one of which was WITHDRAW. I sent back WITHDRAW.

4.Digit gave me my available balance and asked how much I would like to withdraw. I responded with an amount.

5. Digit asked to confirm the amount and I said yes.

6. Digit confirmed it was moving the amount to my checking account and I could expect it on May 25th (the next day).

7. Digit asked why I wanted to transfer the money. This step is optional, but I chose to give a brief explanation (dental bill) and Digit promised to notate the account.

I think it’s handy to notate why a withdrawal was made. Again, it’s optional to provide that information.

It is the morning of May 25th as I type this. I just logged in to my checking account and what do you know, the deposit was made!  Go Digit!

 

July 2015: Walmart Beauty Box

In my effort to start using beauty products more frequently and shed my stay at home mom image, I subscribed to a couple of beauty boxes. One of these is the Walmart Beauty Box, and it arrived last Friday.

07-15 WM BB Loot

This is a pretty nice box of stuff.  Included are:

Vaseline Intensive Care Healing Serum Radiance Restore With Pure Cocoa Butter. This is a 6.8 fl oz. tube so full size and it smells so good. I’m going to use it on my legs.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel. Sample size of 0.25 oz. I had never heard of this stuff and I’m always wary of putting something new on my face so we’ll see. Maybe I’ll try it on the back of my hand first.

Revlon Ultra HD Lipstick in #875 Gladiolus.  Full size lipstick. I am not a lipstick person but I did try this on. It goes on very smooth, doesn’t feel like traditional lipstick and it smells divine, like maybe it has coconut oil in it.  The package says “Revolutionary wax-free gel technology for true color clarity in one smooth swipe.”  I did only do one swipe per lip.  This is definitely not my color (looking at the color palette on the package I would choose Snapdragon).  When my 2-year-old daughter saw it on me she looked at me curiously and said “Momma, you got wed wips!” (Sample picture of this on my inner arm, below.)  I don’t hate the color. I would probably wear it for a fancy night out, if I ever had fancy nights out. PS – the back of the package includes a $1.00 off coupon.

lipstick sample

Burt’s Bees Renewal Intensive Firming Serum.  This is a sample pack. I’m going to test it on my arm to make sure I don’t have an allergic reaction before I try this on my face.  This is part of a 5 step Renewal program from Burt’s Bees.  I’m not a 5-step program kind of girl so I doubt I would ever buy this.

Simple Micellar Cleansing Water.  This is a sample, basically a small square soaked in the liquid sealed in a foil packet.  Since it was so small I used it to clean the lipstick off my lips and it worked great. I am already familiar with micellar cleaning water since I use the Trader Joe’s Micellar cleaning wipes.  I’m almost out of those and TJ’s is a trek so I might buy this to tide me over.  There is a $2.00 off coupon on the sample flyer. Micellar water is a great cleanser for sensitive skin.

L’oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5. This is a sample packet of Restoring Shampoo, Restoring Conditioner and Damage Erasing Balm. This couldn’t come at a better time. I just overprocessed my hair when coloring it and the shampoo I had wasn’t making it any better. I finally got some Tresemme Luxurious Moisture (my fave) which is helping a lot, but I can’t wait to try this Damage Erasing Balm.

All in all I think this was an ok box. There were $3.00 worth of coupons, about $13.00 worth of full size products in a $5.00 box. I’m interested to see what the next one brings.

You can sign up for the Walmart Beauty Box by clicking here.  It is $5.00 including shipping, and ships quarterly.

 

 

 

Yum Yum or Yuck? Trader Joe’s Products

My car is fixed! My car is fixed!  What does that mean?  Well, it means I’ve made 3 trips in the last two weeks down to the town where friends and family lives.  It also means I’ve been to the Trader Joe’s in that town 3 times in the last two weeks!

I picked up a few things and wanted to get my thoughts down here on what I liked and didn’t like.

The Good

(image via fatsecret.com)

Trader Joe’s Chicken Fried Rice. This is in the freezer section.  You cook it by heating oil in a pan on the stove, dumping the rice in and covering it with a lid, stirring every so often for the short cooking time (5ish minutes). This comes with scrambled egg already in it but I added more (beat two eggs with seasoning in a bowl, push rice to the side in the pan, add a small amount of oil, dump beaten eggs into the oil, scramble and incorporate with the rice).  Contains red peppers (very small), corn, peas, edamame, scrambled egg and chicken.  The chicken is dark meat.  It comes with microwave directions but it is so easy to cook on the stove, don’t bother.    This is good stuff!

Trader Joe’s Vegetable Fried Rice.  As with the chicken fried rice above, this is super easy to cook.  Contains red peppers (very small), corn, peas, edamame, and carrots.  I added scrambled egg to this one, as well.  There are tons of vegetables in this and it got rave reviews from all family members.  I plan on buying this one again and again!

Trader Joe’s Cleanliness is Next to Godliness multi-purpose cleaner.  I usually use Honest Company’s all purpose cleaner, but I decided to pick this up on one of my trips.  I’ve primarily used it in the kitchen and it works very well on grease and kitchen grime.  The smell isn’t overpowering.  I may pick up another bottle for my pantry soon.

The Bad

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups.  Now, I love Reese’s.  I love cookie butter.  This seemed like a match made in heaven.  Not so much.  The chocolate tastes waxy and cheap.  The cookie butter isn’t creamy, it is crumbly, and tastes like a bunch if spices were added to it for this product.  I won’t be buying these again.

I’ve got some other products in my cabinet to review as soon as I try them.  Can’t wait!

 

Gwynnie Bee & Me (Conclusion)

Well, I just packed up my last bag to be sent back to Gwynnie Bee, and scheduled it for pick up tomorrow with the US Postal Service.  My 30 day free trial isn’t over until April 2, but I cancelled the service anyway.

I started the service because I was looking for a dress to wear to a wedding, and I didn’t want to buy a dress I wasn’t going to be able to wear that often.  Since it was free to try, it seemed like a win/win!

I didn’t get any of the dresses I initially picked out, but I did get a dress that worked fine for the wedding, and I also found a dress I would love to own (not the dress I wore to the wedding) if I had someplace to wear it.  That dress isn’t one I would have even tried on in  a store.

After the wedding I deleted all of the dresses from my closet and started adding cute tops to maybe spice up my daily wardrobe and take advantage of the remainder of my 30 day free trial.  I picked out a ton of tops and ended up with three that didn’t really work for me.  The final one arrived today and while I really liked it, it was long enough to be a dress and it reeked of cigarette smoke.  Ugh.  I washed it before I sent it back.

Pros of the Gwynnie Bee service:

1.  Great selection!  Beautiful clothes that don’t just go by size, but also give you the measurements.

2.  Free shipping to and from them.

3.  Loved the packaging!

4.  I loved getting new items to try.

Cons of the Gwynnie Bee service:

1.  You won’t always get the item you want, in fact, it might take a while.  You can email and suggest which item you would like to have, but it doesn’t mean you will get it.  It’s sort of like Netflix for clothes.  You get what is available from your queue.

2.  Pricing.  The service is kind of pricey or someone like me.  Also the prices for the clothing you want to keep is rather expensive for used clothing.

3.  It is used clothing.  Everything I got was in pretty good shape.  The dress I wore to the wedding had a handmade hole in the belt that was there when I got it.  (Thank goodness, because the belt didn’t fit me otherwise.)  There was minor wear on some items, usually on the inside.  The last outfit I got reeked of cigarette smoke, which made me quite unhappy.

4.  The selection may not be appropriate for where you live.  I’m in Florida, and most of the tops available were 3/4 or long sleeved and thicker material, which doesn’t really work here.

While I enjoyed trying out the service, I just couldn’t justify the cost every month.  I liked having some jazzy tops to wear but as a stay at home mom, I just couldn’t find a time or place to wear them.

This service would be great for someone who goes out a lot or needs some new jazzy things for her work wardrobe.  I’d recommend it for that.

Gwynnie Bee & Me (Part 2)

I tried on all three dresses from Gwynnie Bee yesterday and took pictures myself, since my husband was busy wrangling our toddler.  Here’s what I got:

gwynniebee gotAnd here’s how the looked on me (and yes, I know the photography is horrible):

IMAG4911 (3)My daughter loved this one.  She said I looked like “a butterfly so high in the sky!”  If I had anywhere to wear it, I would buy it, but probably in the next size down.  The material is pretty thick and it’s lined and the type of material makes it very forgiving.  Seriously loved this dress.  I think it might be too flashy for the wedding.  Back it goes.

IMAG4913 (2)This one looked really good on the website.  In person it is kind of bland and a bit too large, making it seem very shapeless.  The lace yoke at the top is beautiful but I have neither the time nor the inclination to go out and buy a strapless bra just for this one dress.  It also is a more cottony material that was quite wrinkly out of the bag.  Back it goes.

IMAG4915 (3)I really like this dress on the website, too.  I loved it when I put it on, even the belt and I HATE belts.  The material feels good and has a nice drape.  It doesn’t look terribly festive, but I looked and felt good in it, so this one is the winner.

I might send them all back and try my luck with the next batch, but there is no time before the wedding.

The dresses came in two separate boxes (assuming different fulfillment centers) so I have two postage paid return bags.  I put the two “going back” dresses into one bag and am sending them back tomorrow.  I’m hopeful that they can get me some interesting tops out before my free trial is over.

This also gives me a chance to try out the USPS home package pickup.  My car is in the shop, so I scheduled a package pickup for tomorrow.  I’ll also let Gwynnie Bee know I’m sending the items back so they can start packing my next shipment.

This is fun!

Working from Home

After years of struggling to begin a writing career, I finally got my big break last fall writing blog posts and web content for a company on the West Coast.  It pays well and is interesting work, and I love it so much that sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe that this is real.  I get to work from home doing something I love.

Working from home is something that people only dream about.  I love being able to do it, and you might, too.  Here are some great sites and links to help you find real work from home:

1. Wahm.com – this is a fantastic site for work from home opportunities.  Often they cull their listings from other resources, so you may have to pay to see some job listings, but wahm.com is free.

2.  All You – on occasion this site offers up some great ideas on how to work or earn money from home.  It’s also a really interesting magazine for women.

3. Work-At-Home-Moms.  Great site with listings for call center jobs from home across the country.  Great information on the fees and hiring processes.

Happy job hunting!

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New Email Scam – Car Wraps

This is probably one of the most obvious scams I’ve seen, but I’m posting it here anyway.

I got an email with this subject: SMIRNOFF LOGO.  The email was from jackmarcus@live.com.  This was the entire body:

 

SMIRNOFF GREEN APPLE MALT BEVERAGE would like to paste our ad on your lovely vehicle while we pay
you $300 every week for that.
Reply if you are interested
I replied and said I was interested.  Later that day I received a response, this one from VEHICLE ADVERT (matgard@outlook.com).  Here is the content of that email:
Hello,Thank you for your swift response and your willingness to work with us, Wrap advertising is the marketing practice of completely or partially covering (wrapping) a vehicle in an advertisement or livery, thus turning it into a mobile billboard. This can be achieved by simply painting the vehicle surface, but it is becoming more common today to use large vinyl sheets as decals. These can be removed with relative ease, making it much less expensive to change from one advertisement to another. Vehicles with large, flat surfaces, such as buses and light-rail carriages, are fairly easy to work with, though smaller cars with curved surfaces can also be wrapped in this manner. Wrap advertising is available to anybody irrespective of the vehicle you drive.We are currently seeking to employ individual’s world wide. How would you like to make money by simply driving your car or banner wrapped for our BEER

How it works?
Here’s the basic premise of the “paid to drive” concept: Our BEER® seeks people regular citizens, professional drivers to go about their normal routine as they usually do, only with a big advert of our BEER plastered on your car. The ads are typically vinyl decals, also known as “auto wraps,”that almost seem to be painted on the vehicle, and which will cover any portion of your car’s exterior surface.

What does the company get out of this type of ad strategy?
Lots of exposure and awareness. The auto wraps tend to be colorful, eye-catching and attract lots of attention. Plus, it’s a form of advertising with a captive audience,meaning people who are stuck in traffic can’t avoid seeing the wrapped car alongside them. This program will last for 6 months and you can decide to extend your contract after the initial 6 months.

You will be compensated with $300 per week which is essentially a “rental”payment for letting our company use the space no fee is required from you. Our BEER® shall provide experts that would handle the advert placing on your car. You will receive an up front payment of $300 inform of check via courier service for accepting to carry this advert on your car. to this effect you are advise to check your email regularly to get update as to know when your upfront payment will arrive along with Graphic Artist address.

1)   You will receive a Certified Check.  As soon as you receive the check, you will cash the check for the decal wrapping on your car, deduct $300 as your up-front payment. The rest of the funds should be transferred to the Graphic artist that will wrap the decal on your car. All you need is to confirm the acceptance and understanding of this email.

2)  You will make a transfer of funds to the Graphic artist at the nearest western union or moneygram outlet in your area, the Info which you will make the transfer to will be emailed to you soon.

3)  We’ll like to have some Information about your car.

i) Type of Car and Color

ii) Model/Year :

iii) Present Condition and the Mileage:

Note:  Please, confirm that you did receive this message so that we can process funds that would be sent to you for the car advert.

It is very easy and simple,no application fees required. Get back with the following details if you are interested in these offer.

Applicant information:

Full Name:
Full Contact Address:
City,State,Zip code
Phone Number:

All other instructions will be sent out to you ASAP.

I……..Confirm to have received this email and understand the content.

Best Regards,
Hiring Manager

There are many ways in which this is a scam.  Random capitalization is always suspect.  Also, they didn’t identify the product, the name of the advertising company or anything.  I emailed back asking for the name of the company I would be working with.  I haven’t heard from them since.
Don’t fall for this.  They will send you a cashier’s check or company check for x amount.  You deposit it and take your “cut” and then they will ask you to wire the rest or mail it someplace.  By the time you do that the original check will be discovered fraudulent and you WILL be on the hook for all of it.
These wrap companies do not contact you randomly.  You must apply with them and they must approve you.  We have two older vehicles and do not travel the area much so we would not benefit companies like these.  Just sent this one to the trash.

Google+ Scammer!

 

I got a notification from Google+ today that someone named Nelson David had added me to one of his circles in Google+.   The name was curious to me, as it tends to fit the name type of those Nigerian scammers.  They always seem to have a first name as a last name and last name as a first name.

Here is what his profile header looks like:

header

Closer inspection of his profile picture, it looks like this:

neson david

I did a Google search on the picture, and sure enough, it came up on several scammer websites:

Here

Here

And Here

Please note that the guy in the picture is NOT a scammer.  He’s just some poor guy whose picture was stolen to be used by scammers.  Your scammer is most likely not American, probably not white, and definitely not this guy.

He’ll tell you he’s on business in Afghanistan or Ghana or somewhere working.  He either can’t cash his paycheck, or he wants to send you some money to come visit him or something.  I don’t know what the story might be.

Just don’t fall for it.  I blocked him on Google+ and reported the profile as being fake.  Hopefully it will be taken down soon.

 

No Black Friday for Me, Thanks

Two years ago on Black Friday I was out in the madness of early morning shopping with the female members of my family.  It was fun, but I didn’t get much sleep and had to be up with an infant hours later.  Not easy.

Last year my infant was a toddler and she didn’t sleep most of the night.  She was in a crib in our room at my grandmother’s house, so guess who else didn’t get any sleep?  Female family members went without me.

This year we’re not going anywhere and I just can’t seem to summon the excitement for Black Friday I once had.  Most of the items my family has picked out for Christmas can be purchased online at the same or better prices than I would get waiting in line in the middle of the night.

Maybe I’m just getting older.  Maybe it’s having a toddler who needs me there for her.  I don’t know.  I just know you won’t catch me out in that madness this year.