Category Archives: IMO

Personal, politics, religion, exasperation.

An Alpha Sub? It Can’t Be…

There’s an amazing amount of pure nonsense slung around these days about being an “Alpha” male or female. Here’s some now:

“She [Alpha female] is unabashedly sexy as well as career oriented. Her towering four-inch stilettos march off to the office, the store, the judge’s chambers, and her lacquered-red soles send a “follow me” signal, straight to the bedroom.”

full article here

Srsly? Being an Alpha female requires marching around a courtroom in front of a judge or jury in four inch fuck-me heels? So she can make sure she isn’t taken seriously? Can have crippling arthritis in her feet in a few years?

I’ve been in more than a few courtrooms and I’m pretty sure this woman would alienate most of the female jurors and make most of the males picture her on her knees. In front of them.

It’s just as bad for men, apparently.

This article requires men to change the way they walk to “become” an Alpha:

“Alpha males walk slow but with strong steps. Unlike a beta male who just walks fast or uses a walk to get from point A to point B, an alpha male knows his walk can make him stand out.”

Oh, dear God. How little self-esteem does a man have to have to buy this? The one most likely to not think at all about his walk is the Alpha moving from point A to B. Then we come to this, a standard trope in modern romance:

“Alpha males take control. They are dominant. They tell people what to do. They are direct. They take over situations when necessary. Alpha males are seen as powerful. They are the king of the mountain.” source

Unfortunately, the Alpha in many BDSM-themed books is far more bully than Alpha, as illustrated so perfectly by 50 Shades. They have power by wealth or situation. It’s Donald Trump. It’s Bill Gates. Which one do you want to follow?

You know what a leader with no followers is called? A guy shooting off his mouth. Alphas don’t make themselves up, they are created by genetics and environment.

SO WHAT IS ALPHA?

Alphaism in social structure is a common component of animal studies. But for humans, let’s use an older, but much better descriptor for Alpha: opinion leader.

OPINION LEADERS:

1. General: Influential members of a community, group, or society to whom others turn for advice, opinions, and views.

source

Hang out at your child’s 4th grade classroom and you’ll soon identify kids who are opinion leaders (OLs).

The OL in a group, what we might call the Alpha, is the one people look at when a surprising or scary situation arises. Whether a clown or a rattlesnake enters the room, everyone looks at the OL for a clue as to how to feel or respond. This kind of Alphahood is a natural trait.

The Jury Foreman Model: Someone can learn to manipulate the social situation—12 strangers in a room—so that they are likely to be elected jury foreman. But during deliberations, the OL/Alpha—male or female sitting anywhere at the table—is the one the other jurors will listen to. This person may be unassuming or gregarious, or anything in-between.

They will have the greatest influence on  the outcome while the Delta jury foreman who attained artificial Alphahood is relegated to counting the votes and ordering lunch.

SEX

The thing about that Alpha OL is, they might be a sub in the bedroom:

… all of us, along with several other mammal species, appear to possess subcortical circuits for sexual dominance as well as submission. … source

You don’t need to find neural pathways in an autopsy to know this. Every individual, female or male, is on a status continuum. We are socially dominant relative to some people and submissive relative to others.

Sexually, some like a partner who rolls them onto their backs and takes over, because it mimics the partner being the Dominant who has chosen them. Some like to roll their partner onto their backs and take over because by submitting, the partner chooses them.  Sometimes, both partners like doing both things in the same session.

D/s is a continuum. Some are further along the dominance scale, some the submissive. Some switch between extremes, and some are just hanging out in the middle.

But both people in whatever relative position, are seeking the experience of being chosen. And being chosen by someone perceived as high status is the most desirable scenario for both. So, ideally, both are Alpha.

The basis of this is as old as our species and easily observed in others. The female wants the highest status male to make her babies. Whatever we define as high status, that’s what a female will be drawn to.

Males want the same, exact thing: the highest status female to produce his offspring. IOW, he wants a strong, healthy Alpha female who will raise up his offspring to be high-status, likely-to-survive individuals. She wants a male healthy enough to give her vigorous offspring, and strong or high status enough to protect them after they are born. Which means he can defend his position, because the next Alpha would kill her infants to bring her into estrus so he can make his own offspring.

Sex is reproduction. Nature doesn’t care about condoms or pills. Millions of years of evolution have created the system that drives us to fuck each other’s brains out in order to make more babies to grow and make more babies. And that system stays in place regardless of whatever higher brain function decision-making we bring to the table.

BDSM is rife with low-self-esteem submissives being pursued by high-status Alphas  who are more bully than Dom, and only culturally “alpha” by virtue of money or might.

In The Pixar Story, a terrific great documentary about evolution of modern animation, there’s a shot of the three men credited with making the Pixar dream a reality. PIXARstory

No one’s going to deny Steve Jobs was pretty Alpha on all counts. But John Lasseter is the real mover and shaker behind the twenty-year evolution of modern animation, assisted by science and technology wizards like Catmull. Watch the documentary and you won’t come away with a stereotypical picture of dominance. But Lasseter—artist, writer and director—is as Alpha as they come.

I have no problem with authors who write to market with standard tropes that sell well. But at some point we all live in the real world, as we’ve come to call it. Mistaking a bully with lower self esteem than your own for a fictional Alpha is not anyone’s most life-affirming choice.


CODA: I wanted to add that the reason man-on-woman sexual assault is about power not sex is that only low-self-esteem males commit it. Having some cultural imitation of Alphahood—as in inherited wealth—allows these low-status males to be chosen. They hate the women who choose them, believing only a lower-status female would do that. Their brute, controlling behavior short-circuits rejection by an Alpha female who is going to reject him no matter how much money he has.  ( See: Donald Trump )

 

No Smut Allowed Part 2

This is from the On His Knees sales page editorial reviews section:

“Let’s get a few things out of the way first. This isn’t a romance. There’s desire aplenty between the protagonists, but no romantic love. … It’s not stroke fiction, designed to get the average reader off as quickly and dramatically as possible while they hold the book with one hand.

It is erotica. But not in the sense of the (bad) American Heritage Dictionary definition of “literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire” or the (worse) Webster’s New World Dictionary definition of “pornographic books.” No.

On His Knees is erotica in the most basic sense: “stories written about the sexual journey of the characters and how this impacts them as individuals.”(Thanks for that definition, Sylvia Day!)

And this particular journey is gritty and gut-wrenching.

Dale Cameron Lowry – author, blogger, philanthropist


But here is a more complete quote from Day:

Erotica: stories written about the sexual journey of the characters and how this impacts them as individuals. Emotion and character growth are important facets of a true erotic story. However, erotica is NOT designed to show the development of a romantic relationship, although it’s not prohibited if the author chooses to explore romance. Happily Ever Afters are NOT an intrinsic part of erotica, though they can be included. If they are included, they weren’t the focus. The focus remained on the individual characters’ journeys, not the progression of the romance.

https://www.sylviaday.com/extras/erotic-romance/


This article is quoted constantly and her definitions have become a standard. This doesn’t mean they are “right,” but this specific paragraph does reflect my own thinking.

“The reader reads a book into existence.” I cannot recall who said that, but it’s true afaic. Some read Knees to get off and consider it smut. They don’t want mysteries or anything else getting in the way. I don’t consider anything I have ever written to be smut. Not Little Favor or A Thing for Feet or anything else no matter how much sex is in it.

Writers explore character through greed or sacrifice or violence or martyrdom. A lot of writers have done it through sex. It’s unfortunate that readers through time have so often brought their own rather unwholesome attitudes to these works and banned them.

I love my readers. I esp love those who see my and other works of erotica as what they are: stories about people.

Heat can still be fun, though. depositphotos_13155709_originalb

Mammon takes a break…

I spend a  lot of my time writing MM BDSM erotica. Another bunch of time goes to figuring out how to get this work in front of people who’d like to read it.  That means putting more time and energy into getting them to give me money. I like to think what I write is about a whole lot more than sex. To me, as much as I refuse to say I write romance, these are love stories.

The darkness seems beyond overwhelming at times. But it cannot win if you and I embrace our power. Because the Light is in us. In Hunt and Cam, who are as real to me as anyone, I suppose. Living in the darkness, more than surviving. Bringing Light in duty and sacrifice. Lightbearers.

I’m a Christian. A Catholic one, I converted. I write my theology.

Hunt&Cam4Ever XMASEVEmessage

Following the Master

If you’re too young to know who Raymond Chandler or  Philip Marlowe are, be thankful you’re old enough to read.

“Raymond Chandler is a master.” —The New York Times

“[Chandler] wrote as if pain hurt and life mattered.” —The New Yorker

“Chandler seems to have created the culminating American hero: wised up, hopeful, thoughtful, adventurous, sentimental, cynical and rebellious.” –Robert B. Parker, The New York Times Book Review

“Philip Marlowe remains the quintessential urban private eye.” —Los Angeles Times

“Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence.” —Ross Macdonald

One of the things I’ve used as a writing guide is a list of Chandler’s Ten Commandments for writing a murder mystery:

1) It must be credibly motivated, both as to the original situation and the dénouement.
2) It must be technically sound as to the methods of murder and detection.
3) It must be realistic in character, setting and atmosphere. It must be about real people in a real world.
4) It must have a sound story value apart from the mystery element: i.e., the investigation itself must be an adventure worth reading.
5) It must have enough essential simplicity to be explained easily when the time comes.
6) It must baffle a reasonably intelligent reader.
7) The solution must seem inevitable once revealed.
8) It must not try to do everything at once. If it is a puzzle story operating in a rather cool, reasonable atmosphere, it cannot also be a violent adventure or a passionate romance.
9) It must punish the criminal in one way or another, not necessarily by operation of the law…. If the detective fails to resolve the consequences of the crime, the story is an unresolved chord and leaves irritation behind it.
10) It must be honest with the reader.


You see the blue one, of course. Sometimes I do a few things like Chandler did. Like write a 44 word sentence with a single comma. But I think he wouldn’t approve of Hunt&Cam. Their relationship is mercurial, passionate, sometimes fraught. Sometimes I think I should have left Hunter as I originally conceived him: a man alone and okay with that.

The “cool, reasonable atmosphere” exists only in Hunter’s mind. They are books that try to do everything at once. And I don’t seem to know any other way to do it. But I can, at least, introduce you to Raymond Chandler, whom you should 1-click asap. I have this excerpt from The Long Goodbye – tell me you don’t want to turn the page …

chandler text

SUCCESS: the Image

A new indie writer’s image of success looks a lot like the thing in the picture above. Let’s add the year before the two showing:

LIFETODATEaug2018

So, starts out kinda empty. That’s reality for most everyone who doesn’t start with some sort of following.

In case it’s helpful, here’s how I got from the left to the right. The left side I titled Stumbling Onstage with No Script in an Empty Theater. The right is Beginning to Figure it Out.

APRIL 2016

I opened a KDP account and started writing my first novel. I’d been a writer for a long time, but not of prose fiction.

JULY 2016

Sometime in July I published a book titled Surrender to Ecstasy. I know this because I sold a book in July. To myself.AAKISSCOVER300px

I not only no longer have a copy of the cover, I don’t recall what it looked like. Here’s one of the many new ones I created because so many people told me the first one sucked.

In August I sold 6 books and 4 of them weren’t me or my friend. I had 2500ish page reads but didn’t see that because I was busy changing the title and redoing the cover.

I didn’t realize KDP was putting money in my bank account to the tune of $1.17 and not putting in the .09 from Japan or the $2.83 from the U.K. because the bank I picked to handle book business didn’t take foreign deposits.

I didn’t look at the reports page on KDP. I didn’t really know it existed. I was too busy writing book 2 and trying to figure out how to make a cover that didn’t look like shit and trying to separate the total bullshit advice from the makes sense advice.

Four months later I had sold 13 books and had about 5500 page reads. If that seems like a lot, I had one book that was a little over 300 KENP pages which is about 18 books. Some blowhard on Reddit informed me if my book fell below the 100k mark in ranking it was unsalvageable and I should move on. It fell a hell of a lot further than that. I think well below 500k.

DECEMBER 25TH, 2016

I published Desire for Bliss. This also isn’t the actual first cover.BLISSworking3crop

It’s almost impossible not to sell a few books Christmas week and I sold 20 and had 7k page reads. So I did more business in a week than I had done in the previous 4 months. I took Surrender off KDP and republished it as Desire for Touch, book 1/3 of the “Desire for” series.

If there was momentum to take advantage of, I didn’t know how. I was exhausted trying to learn six different professions and still write a book, which was my actual job. I also wanted to explore more aspects of sexuality than were part of Ben and Avia’s relationship.

One of the characters in Bliss I wanted to write about was the homicide detective, Hunter Dane. I also wanted to follow what happened to Talia and do a new adult story using one of the lawyers. Vaguely, the themes were femdom, foot fetish, first time anxiety and PTSD.

Bliss is an exponentially better book than Touch. That’s because we get better. At least we do if we write seriously and not as a hobby or a social club exercise. You want to get better. You know you suck. You also know you have something to offer.

I still hadn’t found the KDP page with the sales and page reads. I didn’t look at the bank statements or balance.

But now I had two books and had discovered free book promotion. Figured out you were supposed to use those hashtags on Twitter. And something happened: I stopped having months where I didn’t sell anything.

JANUARY 2017

I brought out Submitting to Talia and A Thing for Feet. You can read Feet here on my site for free, now.

Talia - Feet combo

I really liked, and still do, both these short stories. Anyway, I discovered Instafreebie and got a Facebook account (no idea what to do with it, but I friended or accepted friendship from everydamnbody). I started a mailing list with four names and put links to it at the end of the titles and was surprised when I got up to 50. Fifty!

Most people don’t join your newsletter so that meant like, maybe a couple hundred people read my books. Still not looking at KDP, still clueless about the bank. I wasn’t going to use any of the few dollars that might be in there, and I was still buried under being a graphic designer, a social media expert and writer.

You remember I was writing, right?  So then this happened:

MARCH 2017

AAHUNTANDCAM60x90300px

I had this picture and I loved the light/dark. The guy. I loved him. This is the first cover where I didn’t really struggle with anything but the font. I always knew what it would be: him. Hunter Dane.

I’ve spoken before about the writing, how the characters took over, how I could only finish it by telling myself I never had to publish it.

I launched it and did the few things I knew how to do and forgot about it. Except I’d joined GoodReads and some self-styled BDSM “expert” attacked the book and a lot of  his followers …. followed.

So, him being completely FOS didn’t really help me feel better, esp because you aren’t supposed to correct their ignorant asses. But then someone posted this review on Amazon. And it didn’t matter what anyone else ever said. For me, Knees was a success. Because of this:

on March 29, 2017
Its rare to read a m/m BDSM story and find so many truths. I read the book and heard the voices of my peers and my community. For those living in the kink culture, this sweet story of power, control and surrender echo’s our stories. Outstanding writing, I hope the author will continue to explore this genre as she has a gift.

DOUBLECOVERS300I put it behind me and started a novella about Ben Hart’s early relationship with J.J. Johnson. I did put Knees in an Instafreebie giveaway.

I published Writing for Ben, which became Thank You for Your Submission, which I thought was kind of droll.

So, where was I with the money?

Amazon got my attention, finally, about these royalties they couldn’t deposit and I finally looked at the bank account.

Whoa.

There was like, a couple hundred dollars in there. People were reading my books! Sweet!

I started Matchstick Men. Not because I thought Knees was some great success, but because Hunt and Cam were my Sherlock and John and I’d always wanted to write police procedurals. I felt like maybe I should finish the “Desire for” series, but, no one seemed to really care.

SO HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED …

An absolutely lovely mm/bdsm author read Knees and liked it and recced it to some book bloggers (I always wondered how you got a book blogger to cover youAAAMMCOVER090517250) and one of the bloggers read it and liked it and put me in all these groups on Facebook (I had no idea there were these kinds of groups on FB) and suddenly I was publishing Matchstick Men and getting reviewed and my newsletter list was in the hundreds.

This, BTW, is the original Matchstick cover. Matchstick Men came out almost exactly twelve months after Desire for Touch. I’d spent a year writing. I’d also learned a crapton about graphics and programs and how to cheat ’cause I’ll never be able to Photoshop.

I learned more about marketing and social media-ing (not so good at that).

NOV-DEC-JAN  2017/2018

$500 A MONTH. And I had hardly any expenses. You ain’t gonna get rich that way, but you could make payments on a new car.

I brought out Dancing Men and the boys insisted I write Snowed-In. Readers were talking to me and I had a group and a brand and a name and almost a thousand people on a mail list.

It scared the living crap out of me.

MAR/APRIL/MAY 2018

But then I had an epiphany. I had a series. I was writing Psychic Men, which would be book 5. People liked them. I mean, I liked them, so why did that surprise me?

FIVEBOOKS4wordpress

What I had to do was find my audience. If I had all this support just from Twitter and FB and some amazing book Bloggers, aren’t there more people who’d like Hunter Dane and Camden Snow? So I set out to discover where I could take the money I’d made and invest it in advertising that wouldn’t sell my books to someone, but would tell them what they were.

My Book Bub Ads Experience.

I had 186,000 page reads and sold over 600 ebooks in June. Sylvia Day I’m not. But I am, in my own mind, a successful indie ebook author. Because I’m getting what will be for me a very substantial paycheck? Not exactly.

I produced a set of titles I’m proud of and people like. AT THE SAME TIME.

So I’m beginning to figure it out. I succeeded. Anything more is bonus time.

I wanted to tell you that. You who are new. Maybe it’ll help.


 

Leaving Facebook

Why isn’t Mark Zuckerberg under arrest for treason?  I get why Trump isn’t, there are unprecedented legal questions so no one knows exactly what to do.  But Zuckerberg also conspired with a foreign government to fix a U.S. Presidential election. The U.S.Attorney General can charge him any time he wants.

‘Course, Trump appointed him.

We all know about how much information FB has collected on us. Sold for many millions to those folks who call your cell to sell you shit or collect an old debt. Pop up their ads everywhere online you go.

They bought your information from Zuckerberg. Your sex, age, location, politics, phone number. The FB Terms of Service everyone accepts gave him our permission to do that.

But now, he’s gone to banks to buy confidential information from them about us. That news caused FB’s stock to go up.

I just deleted my account. They say it takes at least two weeks to unwind all your data and delete it. Except they don’t delete it. They keep it. They say they don’t associate it with your name.

Right.

We  let this happen and we continue to allow it, support it, sustain it as long as we don’t want to be bothered leaving, deleting and moving on.

BTW, he owns Instagram, too. In fact, Zuckerberg controls the information that flows to and from 2.5 billion people.

https://techcrunch.com/2018/08/06/is-it-time-to-remove-zuckerberg-from-his-office/

TRADEMARKING WORDS

WHOPPER    BURGER KING    BK    JR

Those words are all trademarked. That doesn’t mean I can’t write “That fish he caught was a real whopper!” It means I can’t call my burger that if I own a restaurant. Here are some more presently trademarked words:  bubble wrap, dumpster, jet ski, memory stick, lava lamp.

No one gets a trademark by accident because a clerk in an office wasn’t paying attention.

There are so many. It’s not easy to get a trademark. It takes months or sometimes years.  There are a lot of legal hoops to jump through. You usually need a lawyer.

There’s actually nothing wrong with an author trademarking a word in a series title. In fact, it’s a standard thing to do in the industry. (See header image – source: http://www.sylviaday.com/best-selling-books/ ) Or trademarking the repeated word in the series titles. It’s similar to trademarking anything that identifies your product.  It isn’t immoral, illegal or unethical.

What is unethical, although not illegal, is copying a more successful author’s series title, using a similar font, naming your series the same thing as theirs in hope of getting their readers to read your books. The ones you can’t manage to sell on their own merit.

It’s cheating. It’s what makes authors trademark their series names and title words. Worse, it’s unprofessional, juvenile and simply the mark of a bad writer. But it’s not new.

Picking a pseudonym of KING is common for a newb horror writer. Putting it in all caps at the top of the cover, doing any of this tricky stuff that’s supposed to get you readers instead of just working hard to become a good writer, is all part of why indie authors get so little respect in the industry.

The author who trademarked “cocky” isn’t the problem.