August 04, 2015

Porn-Porn


Oh, yes. I've been teasing you with this title for quite some time. See, there is now "food porn," "shoe porn," "truck porn," "real estate porn." You name it. There's porn.

But what about porn-porn. You know, good old fashioned homegrown porn?

When I started writing, you received one type of response if you said you wrote erotica and another if you said you wrote porn. I've always been amused by this. (Actually, sometimes you snared a negative response when you said you wrote erotica.) In my opinion one woman's erotica *is* another woman's porn. We can argue about dividing lines until the bar closes, but I've learned that people who don't like what I write—who look down on the erotic arts—consider everything I pen to be smut or porn. There is no difference to them.

Then you get the people who really want the line to be big and bold (and hard and throbbing). *This* is erotica, they say. *That* is porn.

This isn't a new debate. "What Distinguishes Erotica from Pornography" is an article from Psychology Today dating to 2011.  If I understand the piece, porn is created to make money, while "artists pursue eroticism." (Porn is also, apparently, degrading. "Many writers (particularly feminists) have rightfully complained that pornography, by objectifying women, reduces them to sex objects whose core value is to satisfy a man's libidinous needs."

Which is such a ridiculous and antiquated concept. Without spraining a pinkie, I uncovered multiple studies with statements along the lines of "Over half of women regularly watch porn." (Fodder for a different piece.)

I also found an article that stated "erotica is both sexually arousing and intellectually stimulating, whereas pornography is only meant to sexually arouse."

The wiki page for Erotica quotes from an 1996 article that states that "erotica 'seeks to involve sexual themes' that include a more plausible depiction of human sexuality than in pornography."

I don't even know how to deconstruct that. A plausible depiction?

A 2005 article on "The Erotic vs. The Pornographic" discusses (again) the objectification of women in porn and tries to create a line between "good" erotica and "bad" pornography.

Now I'm mired, because there are articles upon articles discussing "the difference between erotica and pornography." While what I was originally trying to talk about was simply "porn" and how the term is everywhere. According to one dictionary definition: porn is first defined as "pornography" and secondly described as "television programs, magazine, books, etc. that are regarded as emphasizing the sensuous or sensational aspects of a nonsexual subject and stimulating a compulsive interest in their audience."

Hence: food porn, shoe porn, truck porn.

For fun, I typed in "porn" on ETSY and received 2,487 results. Amazon wins you 212,477. And Google? 396,000,000. Doing the same with "erotica," lands you with 3,211 ETSY offers, 452,537 items on Amazon and 34,000,000 on Google. "Smut" comes in last. 197 results on ETSY. 8,522 on Amazon. And a mere 16,400,000 on Google.

Have time for another aside? When I first started Pretty Things Press in 2002, Naughty Stories from A to Z was one of about 700 items on the site tagged with "erotica." What a difference a dozen (or so) years make.

Porn? Erotica? Smut?

In 2004, I was interviewed for a little newspaper: "People try to make you feel bad by saying, 'You write porn,' she says. 'But I won't feel bad for it. I won't feel I'm a better person if I tell people I write erotica than if I tell people I write smut.'"

I stand by that. In this world of porn-everything, I continue to embrace porn-porn.

XXX,
Alison

August 03, 2015

Trollop with a Question #68


Last week, I asked for your favorite song covers. This week, I'm asking you the flip. Well, sort of. I'm asking you:

What is your favorite original—when the cover of the song is equally (or even more) famous?

Here's mine. Patsy Cline made "Crazy" her own. But I personally prefer Willy Nelson's version. But a friend says he knows that Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" is a classic, but he thinks Jimi Hendrix ruled that song. So we all have our own opinions!

The picture is by my friend Tom Biagini who never fails to thrill me with his work.

XXX,
Alison

August 02, 2015

The Non-Linear Bookshelf


When I first wrote, I simply wrote. I thought I was writing a novel. I didn't even realize I was writing "genre" fiction. (As soon as someone told me, though, I definitely embraced my spot.)

A friend explained the other day that "genre" is helpful in bookstores and for readers. If you buy a mystery from the mystery section, chances are you're going to be reading a...wait for it... mystery.

But after talking to Sommer Marsden and Sophia Valenti, I keep reminding myself that there are no real "shelves" in the virtual marketplace. You can have a mysterious shifter erotic were-dinosaur romantic detective novel. All of those can be true. Your reader can find your book with those tags.

It's non-linear thinking—or rather, it's thinking along the lines of a non-linear bookshelf. Or out of the lines. Out of the box?

Now, I know what I write. I live and breathe erotica. I am bound for bondage. But I also know what I read. And many authors do blur the lines successfuly. Which is a good thing to me. It's what I'm trying to do with Figment. What I've been trying to do with The Lizard Queen since the late 90s.

Maybe I'd care more about labels if you could find my books in most bookstores. But you often can't. And if you do, they're not necessarily shelved where they're most comfortable. I'll be thrust into romance, buried in sexual studies, hidden in the how-to's, relegated to relationships. If there's no erotic section, there's no real place for me. On very good days, I sneak into literature (when nobody's looking).

This is nothing new. Erotica has always fought for shelf space (and respect).

Until now.

So write that book, the one that cros-dresses—I mean, crosses genres—the one that pays no heed to the rules. Because rules are made to be fucked, said the die-hard erotic writer.

XXX,
Alison

P.S. This is the post that wrote itself while I was trying to write a post called The Erotic Motel—a new concept I'm playing with. Sometimes I have to shake out a few kinks to get where I want.

August 01, 2015

The Royalty Issue

The issue of royalty is troubling. No, I don't mean the Queen. Although I have been called "The Queen of Kink" and "Smut Queen." But if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I've spent the summer attempting to reach different publishers who have my work but aren't sending statements or money. This is, in a word, demoralizing. How can I promote my work if I'm not being paid?

The royalty issue is larger than that, of course. (It's not all about me, after all.)  I've explained what books cost in the old days. (Like, before 2009.) This was from a small-time publisher's point of view. But it's not far off. And we couldn't stay in business with this model.

Now, we're in transition. I mean, everyone's in transition. The whole publishing world. Maybe some companies don't fully recognize this—but they'll look back (in my opinion) and realize when the changes began.

At the moment, I receive 7% royalty for the majority of my titles. At the start of the ebook revolution, I received 7% from the list price regardless of whether the book was print or "e." So I would receive a 7% royalty off of $14.95 (or so) no matter what the e-book sold for. (Unless the publisher slashed the price of the title below 60%, and then I received 1/2 a royalty.) My contracts shifted at some point, and on many of the newer titles I receive 7% royalty off the print price or e-book price. So if one of my novels sells on Kindle for $9.99, I make about 70 cents. (This is not across the board. Some publishers did up my ebook royalty. But most did not.)

Authors have been pushing back on the e-book royalties for years. I began in 2009 (or so) stating that e-book royalties should be higher than print book royalties. Why? Because you take out: printing, warehousing/storage, fulfillment, and shipping. And those are the largest costs for publishers—after the discount to the stores.

25% as an e-book royalty became the norm, I believe, in 2011. This year, authors are pushing for 40-50%. The flip is that you might make a larger royalty, but off a smaller cover price. Or off the net. (Another sticky place. Some publishers put a lot of expenses against your money before you get your cut. "The net is the final amount after all other amounts have been taken away." If you read anything about movie finances, you know that you have to watch being offered any amount off the net. Because the net can be 0. I just read an article about how a movie that cost $19 million to make and brought in $150 million still had a net of 0.)

Still, for all of the turmoil, I feel that we're moving toward a fairer model. The reader receives a discount—the discount being no print cost ($2.00 on average), no fulfillment (10%), no shipping (God, the shipping)... and the author receives a larger portion, as well. Because—hey. The author wrote the fucking book. Shouldn't the author be the one who sees a decent return? At one point, one of my publishers cut a rights deal and told me I was going to receive .05 on every dollar. I said, no. I said it should be a 50-50% split, like other deals. She said, "We have to pay all of our expenses out of the .95 cents." I said, "I have to pay all of mine out of the .05 cents."

(One of those conversations you can't believe is actually happening.)

What do I see for the future? I think big publishers are going away. I don't mean this as a any sort of judgment statement. I'm related to publishers. I love publishers. I mean it as a fact. I think most publishers aren't going to be able to hang on. (Which is where indies come in!) Authors and smaller publishers with lower overhead will embrace the ability to charge a fair price for their work and put out exactly what they want. I'm working on this now. Figuring this out. But I'm happy not to be the only one. All of the articles on publishing and pricing that I read show that everyone is confused.

Transitions are difficult.

Even for royalty.

XXX,
Alison

July 31, 2015

Free Smut Friday

I love this shirt. I think this would be a fabulous conversation starter. I'd wear it everywhere! And I guess the male version would be, "I decided to follow my cock..."

Whichever body part you decide to follow, I'd like to direct you to this week's edition of Free Smut Friday. Today's excerpt is from Bondage Bites, which I pitched and signed for in 2012 (if memory serves), turned in August 2013, and have just learned is out from the printer. As in: now.

Bondage Bites received a kick-ass review from Library Journal right out of the gate.

My initial pitch for the book was this: "Just a quickie of an idea—Bondage Bites—little erotic snippets from previously published stories. Mere mouthfuls of erotica that are designed to tease, taunt, and titillate—maybe for one of your smaller, pocket-book sizes."

The end result isn't exactly that. I think most of the stories are original. The manuscript went through multiple revisions in order to end up with the final 69 stories included. (God, I think it's 69.)

Here was my longer pitch:

101 Erotic BDSM Encounters (or 99, whichever you'd like). I've been a fan of shorts forever. (My first short-short collection was published nearly 20 years ago.) But I've never taken charge of a BDSM short-short anthology. And yet bondage is my life. I don't know how to write without the straight-edge of pain/pleasure running somewhere along the storyline. I'd be thrilled to put together a book dedicated to BDSM pleasure in the form of supple, sultry shorts.

Smut witha heart. BDSM with a soul. Bondage with a bite. I will collect stories that range from 100 words to 1000 words.

My sequel for this one? Snips & Whips!

So now, here's a snippet, one of my stories from this brand-new collection. I wrote a series of four stories: B, D, S & M.


B
By Alison Tyler
            Don’t keep me in your back pocket, tucked into your battered leather wallet, behind the ticket stub for the movie we went to see. Don’t tell yourself you don’t need me, that you can get by with the grown-up cheerleaders, the girls who twirl their curls over drinks, the ones who wait for you to open the car door, who think it’s not a date unless the man pays.
            Don’t pretend that what we did has no meaning. That the way you held my arms over my head hasn’t resonated inside of you.
            I call foul.
            But I have time.
            Take her out, the next one, the next sweet young thing. Take her out to the latest restaurant written up by some pompous blowhard in the local paper. Watch her toy with her food. Watch her play with her hair.
            Take her home and stand on the front porch beneath the safety light and kiss her goodnight with the paper-fine moths fluttering manically over your head. Know that she is calculating exactly how many dates you’re going to pay for before she lets you in, before she pours you a drink, before she spreads her legs.
            Go on home, man. Take out that ticket stub, run the ball of your thumb along the edge, close your eyes and remember.
            I had on a black jersey skirt, short, just above the knee. Black t-shirt, cut tight, showing everything I have to show—compact body, high small breasts. I was wearing tights that he’d already ripped once, high up under the hem. You couldn’t see the hole at first, but I felt the breeze. My purse was a simple leather pocket on a thin leather strap. Docs completed the look, tied tight to the knee. I don’t wear much make-up. My face was bare except for dark lipstick, black mascara. In the flicker of the foreign film, you kept looking at me.
            I walked out in the middle. You followed me. I headed upstairs to the ladies. You didn’t hesitate. We entered together, and I said, “So you haven’t done this before.”
            You shook your head.
            The pretty blonde chicklets don’t let you do this to them? They don’t let you cuff them in a bathroom and fuck them against the wall?
            I’d told you exactly what I wanted, exactly what I needed. I’d told you that if you met my specifications I would walk past you down the aisle. I’d told you to bring the cuffs and the key. I’d signed the mail with my safeword.
            Why would I trust a novice dom?
            Because I sensed you’d be eager to give me the moon.
            You had my arms over my head, pulling me to my full height. You kissed me, and I could feel your hard-on against your jeans. You said, “Why do you want this?” and I said, “You don’t get to know that yet.”
            You dragged me to the last stall, cuffed my wrists, pushed me up against the cold plaster. You slid my skirt to my waist, stroked my ass through the stockings, let one firm slap land on my ripe cheeks. The sweet spot.
            You said, “What does bondage do for you?”
            And I said, “You don’t get to know that yet.”
            “When?”
            “When you prove your worth.”
            You had my stockings down, torn further in your strong hands. You had my panties, too, and you spanked me until my ass felt swollen. It had been too long. I stared at the graffiti scrawled on the wall—John Loves Jane 1972—and I steeled myself and I thought of him and I thought of you and I almost came. You ground your hips against me, your clothed cock against my naked split, and you said, “I want to take you somewhere. Somewhere else.”
            I shook my head. Not yet. Just this.
            You spread my legs. You let your fingers spank my cunt. And I came. Fiercely, silently. I came on your fingertips and then you brought your hand to my mouth and I licked the juices—my juices—away.
            You split your jeans, opened a condom. I could hear the crackle, the rustle of the mylar. Sheathed, you slid into my pussy, so wet, so ready for you. I set my forearms against the wall. I rested my forehead on the cold tile. I accepted the force of you, brutal, powerful, your thrusts rhythmic. Like poetry.
            When you came, you bent to bite my shoulder through my t-shirt. I wore your teethmarks home that night.
            You undid the cuffs, you set me free. I left the stall and waited for you.
            “Do you have your ticket?” I asked.
            “I need a ticket to ride the ride?”
            I waited. You handed it over. I dug in my bag for a pen and I wrote my number on the edge.
            “When you’re ready for what comes next,” I said. “When you’re sure about what you want.”
            —B

###

Authors, I will be in touch shortly to double-check your snail-mail addresses for the contributor copies and your paypal addresses for the money. (Unfortunately, I do not have word yet on the other seven titles currently in limbo.)

Thank you for your patience with this project. 

XXX,
Alison

July 30, 2015

Fashion Tips from a Sub


I was going to post the intro to Rebel Rule Breaker today, but then I made a joke about writing a column called "Fashion Tips from a Sub," and I couldn't find a similar piece anywhere. Which made me think I should write one. (Because, why not?)

I know that I pushed back on an article seven years ago in which the journalist said an author "looked nothing like the writer of a bondage-spiked book." But this is different. I'm not going to share tips on how to look "bondage-spiked." I'm going to invite you into my jewelry box.

See, I didn't even realize I do this. But I love bracelets. I wear them all the time, have quite a collection, and prefer tight ones. Cuffs, if you will. Not only do I prefer wearing cuff-style bracelets, I tend to wear two matching ones. Yes, at the same time.

You do run the risk of looking like Wonder Woman if you're not careful. But hell, I like Wonder Woman.

As I've mentioned, my wrists are extremely sensitive. Before I knew about BDSM, I always wanted boyfriends to hold my wrists, to kiss my wrists. The sensation twisted something inside me. It's not surprising that 1,264 files on my computer contain the word "wrists," and most are about holding, binding, tying, or kissing:

From Tied Up & Twisted:

His favorite time with Hadley occurred right near the end. They were fighting a lot. That is, when they were talking. But one night she came home in a mood. He sensed the shift in the apartment as soon as she walked through the door. The molecules in the air seemed to change. She had him bound with cold, steel cuffs, his wrists over his head. She brought out a strap-on that night and a bottle of lube. She set them both on the bedside table, so he could stare at them and know what was coming.

From The Lizard Queen:

There was Nick, captured to the bed with thick leather cuffs on his wrists and ankles. A black leather mask completely covered his face, the eyes of the mask blacked out, serving the purpose of a blindfold. Bound tightly to the bed, he wore nothing else except a studded black leather dog collar.

From Dark Secret Love:

I think we are all hardwired for what we crave. When I'd gone on a few miserable dates with guys my age, I would invariably offer my wrists to them. To hold. To kiss. I didn't even know why I was doing this. And the guys never figured out what I wanted. I can imagine their confusing now. What's with this chick?

When I see the types of bracelets I worship, I'll take pictures to add here. Stay tuned for further fashionably smutty columns—and please feel free to add your own tips!

XXX,
Alison

July 29, 2015

"The meter is ticking..."



Wednesday seems to be the day to share more of "Figment." I am pleased with this project now. After years of struggling. I'm sharing the story out of order, but that's the type of story this is. Hopefully, I'll have the book finished by the end of August. Not exactly sure how I plan to publish. But I'm thrilled with the way this is going. After writing for so long, it's dazzling to be working on something that feels so new. Surreal. Meta. Mysterious.

Previous posts:



#
When I wake, there’s a bottle of tequila on my nightstand and a notepad filled with my own messy handwriting. I have no recollection of writing the words. But I feel as if I know where I’m going, and I can relax and take a breath. Plotting never works for me. I fall backwards into the stories. No, that’s not right either. I sit in the backseat and let the characters drive.

It’s like taking a taxi but not telling the cabbie where you want to go.

The meter is ticking.
I hear the knob turn.

#

When Rick broke up with her, Maggie wasn’t just bitter. She was out for blood. She didn’t even realize that at first. She put up a wall around herself, invisible but firm, and she dared anyone to scale it. To knock it down. She knew what that would take.

She continued to make her dresses, and for that season, she only used black. Usually, she created ethereal designs, flowing, wistful. But not that year. She used black and darker black. She couldn’t help herself. Her friends tried to tell her to add a pop of color. A little red, maybe? Not everyone wanted to look like a Sicilian widow in mourning. She didn’t care.

She and Rick were supposed to be together. She’d talked to a psychic. She knew they were destined.

But he hadn’t agreed, somehow, some way, and she’d ended up in a penthouse studio, sewing and drinking.

When she met the trucker, she’d let down her guard. She knew better. She fucking knew better. But she ran out one night late, wanting a beer more than anything, and they’d met in the liquor section of the grocery store, both admiring the sixpacks.

He’d complimented her dress. He hadn’t said Where’s the funeral? He hadn’t been afraid to talk to her. They’d ended up splitting the sixpack and bringing it to the pier, drinking with a stranger—it was so satisfying. She was tired of cowtowing to the rich women and sorry of missing Rick.

She’d let the trucker love her. It was easy. She was beautiful, prettier than any woman he’d dated. She wasn’t in this for the money or presige. She’d never been. She had her own money. And prestige was over rated. What she wanted was a nice guy—and he was nice. What she wanted was someone who would never break her heart. And she found that in him.

And she broke his instead.

#
He bends me over the desk in the morning. He greases up a butt plug and lets me see the toy before he screws the thing into my ass. He wants me to write while I have that beast in me? I don’t try to protest. There’s no use.

He doesn’t ask me how I feel to have that toy in my ass. He knows because he spins me around and spreads my pussy lips wide open. He crests his thumb over my swollen clit in a way that is rough and gentle simultaneously. I keen low under my breath and he says, 

“Don’t you dare.”

I won’t. I won’t come without his permission. That’s a lesson I mastered with tears.

“Write me a story,” he says.

I wait for it.

“Two guys,” he tells me. “Two guys out together. Where are they? Why are they there? That plug is motivation. You like that in your ass. You like being filled.” And he’s gone. I’m in that empty white room feeling the stretch of the toy in me. My typewriter is waiting for me to tell it a story.

#

They hated each other. Love at first sight? Not with these two. There was an instant competition. A battle of the wits, then of wills, and finally of fists. Jan didn’t know how it started even. Who threw the first punch. It was like they’d always been fighting, or about to fight. Now here they were, in the alley behind Vernon’s, pounding into each other.

And Jan realized he wanted something else. He back against the bricks. His mouth was bleeding. But his cock was hard.

#

So there's the installment for today. I'm hoping to have another post up for my Rebel Rule Breaker guide tomorrow. (I'm having so much fun writing it. The things I'm planning to confess are comical.)

XXX,
Alison

P.S. Authors, if you're waiting for word for me, please understand that I'm waiting for word, too. I have heard nothing. I'm not being coy or playing hard to get. I have no news.

July 28, 2015

Fair Trade Erotica


I've been chronicling my life in publishing on this blog for nine years. The ups and downs, ins and outs, overs and, um, unders. (Throughs? Throes?) I've written about rejections, about what it actually costs to make a book, about my views on ebook royalties.

When ebooks first hit, we scrambled for pricing. I remember thinking that a print book cost $14.95—about the price of a CD. Songs were selling for around $1.50—so it made sense to me that a short story would cost that much.

Many numbers float through my head. But to keep them straight, here are some facts. When I work through a mainstream publisher, for a $14.95 print book, I (as the author) make $1.05. This is because my royalty with mainstream publishers is 7%.

On Amazon, for books priced under $2.99, authors/publishers receive a 35% royalty. Between $2.99 and $9.99, authors/publishers receive 70%.

(Yes, things may change, but that's the land right now.)

Of course, there are more incentives to self-publish than simply financial. There's control. There's the fact that I won't fuck myself. There's freedom.

But now I want to get to serious pricing. If I understand this correctly, authors began banding together to create 12-novel collections for 99 cents. The thought was that if the collections sold well, the authors would all be able to say they were "U.S.A. Today Best-Selling Authors" because the bundles had a chance to climb the ranks quickly with the discounted prices.

That led to serious price wars across the board. If you can buy 12 novels for 99 cents, why pay more?

I don't know if anyone ever made money on these deals. Authors would have split a 35-cent royalty twelve ways. What I do know is that this is a work in progress. And not only for us. I've been reading extensively on pricing of ebooks. Everyone seems confused.

There will always be low-end and high-end in any situation. Motels. Whiskey. Boots. Cars. You can find an inexpensive model. You can purchase the top-shelf. Or you can land somewhere in the middle. You choose your experience. Sometimes you get what you pay for. Sometimes you score big. As an avid thrift-store maven, I'm not putting down bargain hunters.

But there's no way for me to succeed with 99 cent novels. (Not one for 99 cents. Not 12 for 99 cents.) If I price something at $1.99, I make 69 cents. If I price it at $2.99, I make $2.09—you pay an extra dollar, and I make an extra $1.40.

I'm playing around with what our books cost right now. On the collections, we divide every penny that comes in. I feel our pricing is fair. And I feel that you choose your experience. If we offer what you're looking for—then everyone's happy.

I'm calling this concept "fair trade erotica." I will try to remember to state what the authors make each time we put up a book, so you can see and decide for yourself.

One of my friends works in a boutique where people request "fair trade" clothing all the time. Her store sells sweaters for $100-$200. Because that's what exquisite handmade sweaters cost when you factor in top-of-the-line yarn and labor. She says that some people are willing and able to pay the price. Others want "fair trade" at big-box-store prices. Which isn't going to happen.

Like I said, this is a work in progress.

Of course, you don't have to agree with my opinion. All of this is from my experience, my point of view.

Next week, I'm going to attempt to write about publishing cycles. (Which can be as baffling as crop circles!) I've decided that since I have spent twenty-five years working in erotica, I might as well use my experience for something. That's one plus to getting older!

XXX,
Alison

P.S. I have been in the industry long enough to remember when you could order a single short story through the mail for $12. The stories were fetish-y (and, I believe, mimeographed). That was pre-internet. The Dark Ages, right?

July 27, 2015

Trollop with a Question #67


I still owe you all a list of my favorite albums. I know what my ultimate #1 one is, but I'd like to do a countdown backwards. But while we're waiting (for me), how about another musical question?

What song cover do you think is sublime? 

You don't have to like the cover better than the original song—but what cover do you think really knocks the notes out of the park?

There are quite a few I adore. Like Cake's version of "I Will Survive." And Rusted Root's version of "Evil Ways." But my favorite, my ultimate, the one that will get Beatles's fans screaming at me in dismay and horror, is the Aerosmith version of "Come Together." I adore this cover. And I'm a girl who was raised on The Beatles.

How about you? Is there a cover that makes you light up when it comes on the radio? Do you spin the volume dial to eleven?

In other news—I have no other news. Authors, I could send out an update, but it would be blank. I don't really know what's going on. I promise to keep you informed as I learn more.

So until then, let's just play some music on the stereo and chill. If you're in the mood for something musical *and* sexy, please check out....

XXX,
Alison

July 25, 2015

I surrender.

Sometimes I think that admitting you suck at something can be a freeing experience. If you have to pretend to be good, pretend to be comfortable, you're stuck with:

a) sucking and
b) faking.

So I'm bad at marketing. (This will eventually become a chapter in my social media guide. I can feel it.)

I mean, I'm *really* bad at marketing. I come up with different ideas:

Give away a free story.
Actually, give away a lot of free stories.
Mail out tattoos.
Host a Twitter/Twister game.
Invite readers to lunch.
Play Bingo.
Ask for bookshelf "shelfies."
Run contests.
Run more contests.
Run a whole fucking marathon.
 Have readers "Spot the Book."
Beg for reviews.

Over the years, I've asked readers to choose singular stories from a title to review. I've organized whole tours based on writers interviewing each other. I've built blogs for books. And more blogs for more books.

And I play around to entertain myself. I adore my...

Blog dedicated to writers' notes.
100-word flasher blog.

But the marketing is mostly beyond me. I'm honestly the type of person who would say, "Buy one of my books... if you want to. I mean, well, don't. Let me send you one for free. Or two? I've got a closet full of books. Save your money for something that you really need. Like yarn. Or candy. Or t-shirts. Wait, let me send you some candy. Do you like Pop Rocks?"

I try not to do things to other people I don't like having done to myself. Case in point: I spent one demoralizing month attempting to market Banging Rebecca. I sold 35x the amount of  books I'd sold the previous month. That is—one month I sold 1 copy and the next month I sold 35.

The result? I was so fucking sick of myself asking people to buy the book by the end of the month that I don't know that I've ever mentioned the title again. (You can read a portion for free here.)

There's a balance somewhere—market for "x" amount of the time, don't market for a-w and y-z amount of the time. I don't know what that is.

Which is why I've given up. No, I don't mean I've given up writing, or blogging, or tweeting. But "marketing." I surrender. I will focus on what I love. The things that entertain me and give me pleasure. I'll remind readers (via my sidebar mostly) about my books. But that pressure to write articles, do Q&As, host blog tours, "get the word out"—I'm done with that.

The relief is undeniable. Only took me 25 years to find it.

XXX,
Alison

July 24, 2015

Free Smut Friday


Yes! I nailed it. I know it's Friday. I know I'm putting up free smut! And I didn't swap letters and end up with "Free Frut Smiday." (So far? Today is a success.)

This is an excerpt from a filthy anthology I curated for Harlequin. Unfortunately, the book was released right when Spice was shutting the doors. So there was never a print version. But I'm seriously proud of the 70 (yeah, because I can't count) stories in the collection.

There is a foreword (69 words) by the inimitable (I love that word) Violet Blue. And a line-up of stellar authors who never fail to dazzle me with their talent. This is the longest book I've ever turned in—over 400 pages and 100,000 words. Begun, I believe, in January 2011.

The cover is exquisite. And the stories work for me in multiple ways. This is only a snippet from Eric Williams' piece.


Another Country Heard From
By Eric Williams

            “We’re going to get you laid tonight if I have to guide your dick myself,” Jarred said. “It’s been three months since Suzy left you. You can’t mill around your apartment playing your sax forever.”
            I was quiet. They’d dragged me out. I didn’t want to be here. Honestly, I didn’t want to be anywhere except my sofa with my remote in hand.
            “You need to connect with a human,” Jarred continued.
            “Yeah, no more inflatable dolls,” Byron offered from the back seat.
            “Another country heard from,” Jarred said with a smirk.
            “I never even blew her up,” I lied. The doll had been a parting gift from Suzy when she’d moved out. “Maybe you’ll be more animated with her than you were with me,” she’d written on the note. Okay, so I have a difficult time showing my emotions. That doesn’t make me interested in fucking a rubber doll.
            “I’ve got the perfect place,” Jarred told me as he parked the car in front of what was clearly a meet-market style bar. Half-price Cosmos were being offered to the pretty, ditzy secretaries from all the nearby office buildings. “You can’t miss.”
            But I did miss. I sat in the dimly lit bar and missed Suzy. Except maybe I wasn’t actually missing her. I was missing being with someone—anyone. I craved a companion who knew my patterns and my habits, someone who was there when I came home, who looked forward to my arrival.
            I’ll admit one thing: the whiskey tasted good, better than at home. Who knew changing locations could change the way liquor tasted?
           
             Byron sat on the maroon-leather stool at my side. “He’s going to make you ask one of them to dance,” he motioned to a gaggle of sparkly-dressed women in a corner booth.
            “I don’t want to dance.”
            “They’re going to start teaching Texas Two-Step in the other room in about six minutes.”
            “Country? Jesus.”
            “Which is why you and I should slip out the back.”
            “And ditch Jarred?”
            “He’ll be fine.” He motioned to where Jarred sat, at a table surrounded by ladies. “He’s got the car. He’ll probably wind up with two of them.”
            I liked the way Byron said ‘them.’ As if ‘they’ were the enemy. That’s how I felt anyway.
            I’d actually considered fucking the inflatable one vodka-fueled night. Wouldn’t matter if the blow-up doll was a woman, would it? A hole is a hole is a hole. The scent had both aroused and repelled me, and I’d fallen asleep with an arm collapsed over the inanimate object, grateful to have something in my bed if not someone. The toy had sprung a leak in the night, and I’d woken up next to a semi-deflated human—which had made me laugh out loud, a sick sound that had frightened me enough into agreeing to a night out with Byron and Jarred.
            Suddenly, I felt hot and dizzy.
            “I need air,” I said. Byron was quick. He led me to the rear exit, pushed open a door that led into the night.
            “It’s okay,” Byron said, dragging me after him down the alley behind the bar.
            “What do you mean?” I asked as I sucked in great gulps of the cool evening air. Being outside made the world upright once more. Byron stared at me for a moment, and then to my complete surprise, he pulled me closer to him.
            “You don’t have to like girls.”
            I had never been this close to Byron before. I don’t think I’d been this close to any man aside from wrestling. Byron kissed me, and I felt my cock harden inside my jeans.
            “What do you mean?” I asked, scared, backing against the wall. “I don’t have to…”
            “…like girls,” he repeated, and he kissed me again.
            How did he know? How could he tell? I couldn’t ask. His mouth was on mine once more, and his hand was in my pants. I’d had plenty of women touch my dick before, but no man had ever come close. Why was there a difference? Why did it matter than Byron had his fist around my cock, and that his skin on mine felt more real than anything I’d ever felt before?

            “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do,” he said, and now he kissed the side of my neck, and I thought about how much I hadn’t wanted to dance with those spangled girls in the bar. Pretty, they’d been. But as repellant to me as that inflatable doll Suzy had left as my consolation prize.

###

 The book sells for $4.99—which works out to a little more than .07 cents a story. (If I did my math right.) For more about my love affair with short fiction, please read: Who's got short-shorts? And check out the blog I run dedicated to flash fiction: Flash Fuck Me. (For this blog, I put up 100-word shorts with photos by Riendo, whose work makes my heart beat faster.

XXX,
Alison

July 23, 2015

"You're doing it wrong..."


Welcome to my first rough, raw installment of my social media guide (currently called "Rebel Rule Breaker: Tales from a Social Media Failure"). I actually change the title quite a bit—which, I'm sure, is wrong. I ought to choose a title and stick with it for consistency.

But that would be too easy.

Several times a month (and sometimes a week—and on really bad days, hourly), I will be told I'm doing something wrong. And hey—I'm wrong a lot. But I'll be told I'm doing something wrong when there isn't a right way. When we can all agree that people can have different opinions on how to do the thing I'm doing.

Imagine I got dressed in one of my favorite outfits—little scarlet t-shirt, black thrift-store cocktail dress, hose, spectator pumps—and went to the library to make out with some research books, and someone stopped me to tell me I'd dressed myself wrong. Maybe I'd dressed myself weird. Because—that is mildly my m.o. But wrong? No, that's an opinion.

People have told me I blog wrong. "You use this blog like twitter." They've told me I tweet wrong. "You tweet in bursts. People will unfollow you." They've told me I write wrong. "You've got a serious boner for Anais Nin, that's obvious. And one day you might actually get somewhere, once you overcome the self-interested vanity of the first-person POV." They've told me I Facebook wrong. (I actually can't remember now why I quit Facebook.) My website's wrong. I use my "tags" wrong. My business cards are wrong. My guidelines are wrong. My promotions are wrong. My giveaways are wrong.

And so I've decided to embrace my failure and pen a guide. My guide (at the moment, things might change) will cover all sorts of social media rules that I have broken—and that I encourage people to break (if they want to).

It's not just me.

All day long we're bombarded with articles along the lines of: Are you making these 15 social media mistakes? My answer to that: Probably not. My other answer: If you follow all the rules people tell you to, you're going to wind up looking exactly like them. You don't know how many author blogs I've visited that all look like they use the same plug-in format. Is that better? I don't know.

What I'm going to write about includes:

Your social media
Your posts
Your website
Your "brand"
Your interactions
Your fans
Your friends
Your trolls

I was thinking that maybe *this* is why I have such a negative reaction to these types of interactions. I lived with someone who loved to tell me I was wrong. Who lived to tell me I was wrong. Maybe that broke my need to be right.

XXX,
Alison

July 22, 2015

"You know what happens to liars."


Each week, lovely Alana checks in to see how I'm progressing. And I'm delighted to say that, yes, I'm progressing. This isn't the easiest novel of my life. In fact, writing this book may be my most confusing experience yet. One reason? I actually have forgotten parts. So that when I re-read the passages, I think: Who wrote this?

In my search this week for missing papers, I actually found a draft of this story that's about twenty years old. So I guess this one's been circling for awhile. When that paper resurfaces, I'll take a picture.

Previous posts:

I don't want to fight
Still Not Flinching
Objects in Motion
Pack Your Trunk
So new it doesn't have a name
I don't wear plots
Blue and Green


“How do you see the people?” he asks. “How do you know their stories?”

I don’t have a response for this, although similar questions keep me up at night. But I try my best. Not answering is not an option. It’s like a crack in the wall. A fissure. I can watch them. I know what they’re thinking. They show me what they want me to see. Sometimes the process takes longer than I’d like. Sometimes they lead me places I don’t know anything about. But I trust that they do.

“You talk about them like they’re real.”

They are real. I simply write down what happens. However much they allow me. Whatever glimpse they give.

“You’re making that up,” he says. “You know what happens to liars.”

#
After the show, she waited for him by the back door of the theater. She knew instinctively which car was his, a beat-up sedan that had once been white but was now a sort of dirty gray. She knew it was his by the duct tape on the bumper, by the decals in the window. She wanted him to fuck her in the backseat. She didn’t care if there were crumpled newspapers in the footwells. She didn’t care if the car smelled musty—because she knew it would. All she wanted was to feel his weight on top of hers. 

Somehow, she thought, that might make everything all right.

And nothing had been right for a long time.

He walked out of the rear of the theater with his head down. He seemed to be lost in thought, so focused that he didn’t notice her standing there. She didn’t want to spook him, didn’t want to make him jump.

She waited until he had walked by her, and then she made the gravel in the alley glow.

#

“Write me a story,” he says. I don’t know when he first spoke the words. I have no recollection of how I got here, of whether I was ever somewhere else. I live in the room and I wait for his instructions. Sometimes he lets me move forward on one story for what feels like weeks—maybe even months. There is no time here. There are no actual days.

Sometimes he pulls me to something else. Craving a different storyline, a different form of entertainment.

“Write me a story,” he says, and the magician and his new assistant fade from the foreground. I sit up straighter, and I feel my heart go at the anticipation.

“A ghost story,” he says, which surprises me. I look at him, startled.

“What? Don’t think you can do it?”

I know I can. The ghost is already there. He’s sitting on the corner of my bed. 

#

Tomorrow, I'm going to try to hit you with a new dirty etymology. While you're waiting, why not check out one of Sommer Marsden's latest? Haunted is racking up the five-stars. Support your indie authors—for $1.99!

XXX,
Alison