Category Archives: WRITING

Process, language, grammar

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 )

 

The Lost Day

Going great guns on the new book (finally) I was all eager to get up and write a few thousand words today.

Then I opened my email. 😕

“I had downloaded Dancing Men on Kindle Unlimited. I got to page 1016 (end of “1:47 PM Promoted”). Then blank pages. So I deleted it and redownload. Same. So I returned and then learned I had to pay for it since it was no longer on Kindle Unlimited. Well, I was 21% in, so I bought it. Downloaded it. Same. It skips 15 pages. It takes me to page 1031…”

ALL SIX H&C4Ever BOOKS HAD TO BE REFORMATTED AND REDOWNLOADED AND REUPLOADED.

I am not blaming anyone. Like Amazon. I know, it’s shocking since I’m not afraid of whining about the ‘Zon. But they do have a previewer and I got complacent. I’d run the first few pages to make sure the basic formatting and titles held and check the links in the back matter. So I never saw the weird holes in the middle.

Dancing expired off KU and I was writing and didn’t notice.

Yes.  I fucked this up. 😳

After I found the second messed up book (I do think this is about a recent ‘Zon retool that’s honestly improved things for us but made some kinda glitch.) I decided to give up on the fast fix and do them all. SO:

  • New editions
  • Updated copyrights
  • Tanja added to Secret title page which I missed in the rush!
  • Updated backmatter.
  • Found a few typos.
  • Cover change on Knees

And I’m sending the entire series free of charge to the lovely reader who took the time to write an email and tell me the problem. I’d use her name but haven’t asked permission.

And I found the WordPress smiley codes.

Now –

 

I really need a slugline for Flight …

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Interviewing Addi:

 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing?
I’m an overeducated ex-hippie chick who ended up on the cops. I did a lot of things, but I always wrote. For money and for free.

How long have you been writing for, and what inspired you to start writing?
I was 8 years old when I wrote my first poem and book. The book was plagiarized! (Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty.) I write because I can’t figure out how not to. I once heard it called “the midnight disease.” The thing that has you scribbling away when you should be asleep because whatever is in your head won’t wait.

Can you tell us about your new release? What inspired you to write it?
Dancing Men is the 3rd in the Hunt and Cam 4Ever series that started with the short storyOn His Knees. Dancing the second police procedural murder mystery following Matchstick Men. Hunter Dane, bisexual switch and homicide detective teams up with Camden Snow, extreme Dom and Olympic champion, to solve a murder at the natural history museum involving a fresh body in a 3000-year old burial urn.

They also negotiate their relationship after the mess left at the end of Matchstick. I made sure to include quite enough backstory for this book to be read stand-alone. Most of my readers will be shouting “NO! Go back and read the first two!” But I promise, it’s not necessary.

New readers should know that the sex is explicit. I don’t think it’s dark, but it is at times pretty intense.

How did you come up with the title? 
It’s the title of a classic Sherlock Holmes story and originally, I’d intended to use elements from that story in this one. But—since I’m actually not in control here, the boys are—that went by the wayside. In this book, “Dancing” refers to the state of Hunt and Cam’s relationship. I don’t really write romance, I write love stories. And love can be incredibly challenging.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The multi-generational nature of the story. It’s all set in November of 2016, but to understand how things happened, they had to go back to the origin of the urn – who found it and how it got to America. It’s not a simple whodunnit, it’s twisty and turny and … okay, to me it’s all fascinating, but I’m a nerd girl, yanno? Still, a lot of readers seem to enjoy it.

Why M/M?
Hunter made me. He was a character in Desire for Bliss, an m/f bdsm, billionaire romance novel. It had a bit of mystery, also. Detective Sergeant Hunter Dane was introduced there. I wrote a series of short stories about peripheral characters in the Desire for … books. I knew Hunter was a Dom/sub switch and was going to write femdom.

I literally, in the old meaning of the word, had no idea it was going to be m/m until he got to the club and announced he was looking for Camden Snow. Who? Oh, man – a full metal Dom. They took me for a wild ride.

Are there any characters that you write, that are based on you, or people you know?
Sorta-kinda, but not really. The BDSM club Scene and Not Heard is based on a real place. Hunt and Cam are both physically based on real men I knew. But who they are, their complex personalities, I’m not sure where all that came from. I do use real people for peripheral characters, quite often, just for the physicality and voice, the cadence of speech.

Do you have a favourite character and/or book you’ve written? 
No. That’s like asking which of my children I love the most. I really like almost all my characters. They are so interesting and flawed and strong and wonderful. I write from 10 to 14 hours a day so they have to be people I enjoy spending time with.

Are there people in your life that annoy you, and you write into your books?
No. That would be bringing my personal life and feelings into the story. The stories belong to the characters. And they’d never let me get away with that. Hunter’s over here rolling his eyes at just the idea of it.

Do you write often? Is it on a schedule, or whenever you feel like it?
It’s my job. I get up, get dressed, get my coffee and go to work. But unlike a regular job, I take breaks as I wish, which is mostly about getting laundry done.

What are your writing goals for 2018?
I’m going to bring the different elements and characters in the RiverHart universe, including Hunt and Cam, together in the last Desire for … novel. I want to bridge the divide between m/f and m/m so all the characters move freely in and out of the stories.

I’d like to write more titles, get the Hunter Dane Investigation novels down to a standard 50k-ish. Write more relationship stories about other characters as well as Hunt and Cam.

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.