Wednesday, March 8, 2017


I've gotten a few reviews on Goodreads lately for Dominating Her Intern... and they've been one stars. I'm thrilled people have been reading (or listening to) it! I wish they'd review it on Amazon, one star or not.

What I find kind of funny and very interesting is the aspect of the role-reversal in the story and how people have reacted to it. It's a femdom story, or female domination, so the woman's in charge. I've read a lot of BDSM shorts (with and without billionaires) in preparation to write erotica (and afterwards, of course). I made Ms. Frost, the female billionaire dom, in this story basically the same as the maledoms in other stories I've read, except a woman. The acts are geared more towards the femdom audience as well, but the attitude is virtually identical. And people hate it.

Is it dubious consent? Absolutely it is. Yes, in the story Marc CAN say no, but he's threatened with losing his internship if he says no. Would he? We don't know as he dubiously consents. It's one of the rare dubcon stories I've written (I can't actually think of another off the top of my head, but I'm sure I've written one or two more in there) as consent is a big deal to me, fantasy or not. There's no doubt Marc is enjoying his submission (hence, dubcon--it's "Ok" because he really likes it... or is it?), but people have rightfully called what Ms. Frost did as sexual harassment. They didn't like it. Yet, I've read stories with the boss and BDSM elements roughly the same (shame, humiliation, dubcon), and when it's a dude in charge, it seems perfectly OK.

I don't know why that is. Is it the double standard? Is it because it's OK for a man to be in charge and not a woman? Is it something else? Is it because the readers of erotica are mostly women and don't like seeing a man humiliated like that? (Although, it's pretty clearly stated it's female domination.)

What I can say by the numbers is that Intern has outperformed all the other Dominating singles, by a factor of 170% percent. What I mean by that is that next best performing single--which is the second followed closely by the fourth--didn't even come close to Intern. Intern is almost double in income. Certain allowances can be made for it being the first in a series. People will naturally check out a first book first and decide if they like it enough to continue to the second. However. since I have a block of the singles, five in total, which are about the same for money earners. Hence, one could expect that Intern would have made about the same amount were it not first.

Or is there another reason? It's so hard to say, it really is. Dominating Her Intern has the most reviews of all the Dominating books on Goodreads. I did put the audio up for a promotion.... oh a long time ago last year. Yet these new reviews are, well, new. What spurred them on? And the difference in sales/money is substantial between Intern and the next five highest, so why aren't there more reviews on any of them? There's like... two between all five where Intern has seven. Is it just because of the dubcon? Is it because it's the first of the series? Is it something else?

I find statistics fascinating, and so this phenomenon here has me thinking it's something else, and the only thing I can think of is the role reversal, femdom instead of maledom. I don't have, sadly, solid enough information to draw a conclusion for sure. I could very well be wrong, but it's definitely something to think about!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"I Have to CREATE!" vs. Discipline

Quite often, I see posts asking why writers write and the answer usually comes back with "I JUST HAVE TO! I HAVE TO CREATE!" While I understand that urge--I have it myself--that's not true, at least not all of the time.

First, who is a writer? Do you write school reports? Blog posts? Books or stories? Tech reports? Anything at all? Congrats, you're a writer!

From the examples listed above, you can tell that I consider anyone who writes a writer, even if they have to do it for an assignment or job. While some jobs or reports may tap into creativity, more often than not they require discipline to complete, especially as a person may not be especially inspired to write a paper on what mitochondria is and what it does for the body. (But they might be; I'm not judging.)

So, let's narrow it down to writers who write fiction. Many times, writers will answer this question with "I just gotta create!" and that's great. However, there are a lot of people who choose not to write their fiction stories down and simply dream of writing the great American novel. Thus, discipline is needed to sit down and actually write. The creative impulse is important to get the whole process going, but... it's discipline which enables you to actually get it done. On the other hand, there are writers out there who write by the numbers books to just get a paycheck. Yes, there's still the creative spark present, but it's more rote, with less drive other than "I wanna get paid".

Hence, I think both are important. Without the spark of creativity, your stories will probably seem like anything else in its genre without anything really new to add. Yet without discipline, you'll never get the story out. The answer for me for the "Why do you write?" question is pretty easy: I want to and I have the time to.

Just random musings while I'm waiting to go home from work, heh.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The "Don't Like, Don't Read" Argument

Honestly, TV Tropes puts it better than I could ever, but here's my take on this.

When people use the "Well, if you don't like it, don't read it!" argument, a kitten dies somewhere. Only in a couple of cases is it ever valid. The vast majority of the time, the "don't like, don't read" argument is used when someone criticizes something a fan adores (or the author goes to defend, usually in fan fiction. I'd hope professional writers have more tact than to try to address criticism in any way other than merely to say "thank you for reading" and move on) because the person is expressing a differing, albeit oftentimes harsh, opinion.

Criticism is good. Being critical is good. Being able to graciously accept different opinions is good. I think people sometimes forget that in order to grow, we have to make mistakes, and everyone makes them. I also think people forget that art is subjective, and, while someone might not like what you create, getting different opinions on anything you create will help you to expand and grow. Even if a piece is technically perfect, people may dislike the content. None of that is bad.

However, this argument comes around from time to time. The first and often best way to refute it is, of course, "Well, how was I going to KNOW I wouldn't like it until I read it?" And, as TV Tropes points out, even if you only partially read something and then stop, it's still perfectly valid to give your opinion on it. Everyone's entitled to their opinion.

I just really hate that particular argument because it strives to not discuss why the person didn't like it, but just shut down the criticism altogether. It's as if that piece of art is so damn precious, the fans (or author) just can't stand to hear a single negative word. That doesn't help anyone, and it's oftentimes insulting.

This is, of course, all in relation to the latest controversy in some circles I run in, and this argument came up. In this particular case, there really wasn't any warnings about the content. If there were, and people still chose to read it, then that's one thing. Without the warnings of graphic content, that's quite another.

Sigh. One thing I'm learning about the indy publishing circles is that there's a new drama every few weeks.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Non-con in Erotica

This is a SRS BSNS blog post, and may trigger some people as it concerns rape and the non-consent kink. Read at your own peril

There's evidently a big controversy going on right now about an indy book which was published a couple days ago which involved a woman being stalked, kidnapped, raped, and then falling in love with her rapist. I went and looked at it myself, and found the preview and categorization offensive. (The writing wasn't that good--it wasn't bad, but it wasn't good as there were a couple typos in the preview.) The preview illustrated a man who was taken out of school at a young age to help on his dad's farm after his mother died, who grew up fairly isolated (but likes it), and who committed a double homicide when he found his wife cheating on him. Just blew them away, fed them to his hogs, then called the sheriff saying he'd killed a couple of rabid raccoons HYUCK HYUCK HYUCK. The "hyucks" are mine. I dunno My mind just added them in.

That's all I've read in this book, cause I didn't want to bother with more than the preview. I think it still says something that this dude committed a double homicide within the first few pages of prose and was casual about it. But Alana, you might say, you write about your protagonists committing murder ALL THE TIME! This is true. Hence, for me to criticize this is hypocritical, yes? Not necessarily. The books where I have violence in them are first categorized as sci-fi/dark fantasy... ie supervillains. The other series where violence is going to happen is going to be categorized when necessary as "erotic horror", because that would be Delilah, and she'll go through some horrific things. Caprice, the protagonist in Villainess, is NOT put up as someone to like or admire. She admits to manipulating people, using them, and all sorts of other nasty things. Delilah is more sympathetic, but she's just begun her fall.

I had actually just observed that my two main series are complete opposites of each other. One is about someone losing her soul, and the other is about someone finding it. *shrug*

So what's the difference? The difference comes in expectation. The first book I described above? It was put under "erotic romance". Kidnapping and rape is not what I expect when I look in "erotic romance". "Erotic horror"? Sure! That sounds like it could be erotic and horrific, bring it on! Dark fantasy? Sure! Straight up horror? Sure! There are places for desires which run on the darker side, absolutely. But if someone were to pick it up thinking it wasn't so bad because it was in the erotic romance section, they're going to be very surprised.

As much as some people don't like it, rape fantasies do have a place in erotica. Many people, men and women alike, have fantasies about non-con (non-consensual), being on both ends as the aggressor or the victim. Many retailers choose not to carry non-con books (as well as books containing incest or sex with animals or sex with children, rightfully so in my opinion as all of that is gross and wrong no matter what, totally not sorry for my opinion there). Because they choose not to carry them doesn't mean those books are being "censored", which some people get worked up into a tizzy about. As a retailer, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iBooks, and whoever else get to choose what they want to sell. You can still sell it. It's not censored. But what some edgy erotica writers seem to forget is that retailers are under NO obligation to sell your books. None whatsoever. That's why you gotta play in the rules they set up if you want to sell books on that site.

All that being said, I don't have anything against noncon in erotica. It does have its place. However, it does need to be labeled correctly. If anything, it should be under "erotic horror", not "erotic romance". Rape is a horrific thing. There's no sugar coating it. And yes, many people get aroused by reading about it, but it doesn't make it less horrific. There are people who get aroused by blood, by violence, by corpses... there's literally a fetish for everything under the sun, and thus, there's a niche for everything under the sun. In my opinion, to label it anything but erotic horror is mislabeling it... and a black hat tactic. Frankly, the way the protagonist was portrayed in the first chapter of this "controversial" book sort of horrified me. I... I can't see him as a romantic protagonist. Maybe it's personal opinion? Yet the beginning didn't scream romance to me at all, and I think that's why I found it kind of offensive. I'm expecting romance. The writing read "serial killer". That sort of discordance in what you expect versus what is there is why I think a lot of people found it offensive.

EDIT: I wanted to add, and I'm going to bold this, I do NOT in ANY way condone or approve of people taking advantage of other people, ESPECIALLY when it comes to violating their bodies. The opinion above is ONLY about fiction. People who violate others are vile and horrible, whether it's via rape, assault, murder, torture, or abuse in any way, shape, or form. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Hard Talk

I recently missed an event on Facebook and I felt terrible about it. So, I told the author whose book release I missed that I would read and review it. I put everything else I was reading aside and concentrated on it... and I didn't enjoy the book. Why I didn't or what book it was doesn't matter, what matters is that afterwards came the Hard Talk.

Because I felt pretty strongly about my dislike and I just can't... I just can't be dishonest. I can't just write "It was great 5 stars" when I don't mean it. I know this is "just" my pen name, but I still want to be known for some integrity. If I say I like something, I like it. If I don't, I don't. However, as an author reviewing another author's book, it gets tricky. First, because we're in the same genre, Amazon could view the review as me trying to sink the other author's book, which that's not the intention. Second, you can get into a 'Well, you rated me a 2 I'm rating your shit a 1!', although most of the authors I've met have been really nice and I don't THINK they'd do that, they still might. Three, it's... well, it's kind of dickish to do that without talking to them first.

I approached the author and said "Hey, I finished Book X and I can review it if you want me to, but it won't be a good review". They asked if I could hold off, which of course I'm more than happy to do. I didn't really want to post a bad review. I don't like doing it. After that, they asked me what I didn't like, and so I went through most of my points (I forgot one, but oh well) and ended with the sincere "I think you've really got some talent, it was just X that I really didn't enjoy, but I am also not your target audience, so that may make a difference too." I ended it on a positive note, because I do think the author has the potential to be really good, and the writing wasn't terrible. They also used cunt, which that's a word I love even though most other women don't. Personal preference.

It's hard to be honest like that and go up to someone and say, "Hey, that thing you put all your time and effort into? I hated it." However... criticism has to mean something. Reviews have to mean something. I used to belong to a writing site many years ago. You would review stories people posted to get things to use to promote your own stories. It was all for free, but fun, and I learned a lot there. When I reviewed, I was always brutally honest. I mean scathingly, brutally honest. And you know what?

People requested I review their stuff.

On purpose.

Why? It was because I was brutally honest and they wanted to learn. I wanted to learn. That's why I was there. A "great story 5 stars" might be nice to see, but it's not constructive. Even in positive reviews, you can always point out "I really loved Bit X and Bit Y, but Bit Z was a little off to me." There's nothing wrong with that. Constructive criticism is how we learn. But it has to be constructive. Just saying something sucked or something was awesome is not helpful, and in fact, it can be downright hurtful.

So I want to tell people not to be afraid to be honest in their reviews. If you loved the book, but really didn't care for Character Y or Plot B or whatever, tell them. Tell them why you didn't like it. Not every story is going to be to everyone's tastes, and that's OK. Don't be mean. Don't be harsh. I always try to end on a positive note, too. It takes some of the hurt out because yeah, getting those low reviews does hurt. You try not to let it, but it does anyway. And it's encouraging.

As a side note, don't listen to those people who say "WELL, you didn't write a book, so you can't criticize!" That's total bullshit. Anyone can. I've said that before and I'll say it again. Anyone can criticize because everyone has an opinion. It's a matter, as an author, of seeing if you value that person's opinion and the deciding what you might learn from it.

Here's another quick story (bunch of them today!). I reviewed another author's book because I thought it sounded really exciting, but when I read it, I was so disappointed. I couldn't even finish it the book was pissing me off so much. I write a very long review about why, and put a lot of thought into making it constructive and well researched. Yes, I researched for a review. I take them seriously! When the author found out about it, they went off on Facebook about how it was horrible and they didn't know anything and blah blah blah. Now, I'd written the review under my real name (as I tend to do on Amazon) and they didn't know I was seeing the backlash. I never said anything to them about that, but I was shocked at the reaction and the behavior. It was vicious. What made matters worse was that the author had followers, a lot of them, who were mean, nasty, and said some really terrible things that I was stupid and didn't know what the fuck I was talking about and SHE didn't write a book so SHE can't criticize and stuff.

Again, I was pretty shocked at the reaction. And it wasn't like I said "It sucks, the end." It was thought out. The review itself was long, about 1500 words in length so I spent a significant time on the review... because it meant that much to me. Being able to see things from both sides made me really think about what I want to put out in the world as far as reviews go, and helped me to learn how to react to bad ones. Which is almost the same as how I react to good ones in that I say, "Thank you. Why did you feel that way?"

That, I think, is how authors should respond to reviews, good and bad. Why did you like something? Why did you hate it? Was it the writing? The style? Characters? Plot? Setting? So on and so forth. I know this first author I mentioned probably won't ever read this, but if they do, I want to say thank you for being a bigger person, standing up and saying, "Thank you. Why did you feel that way?" It not only shows they are willing to learn and adapt, but that they value what I thought. For readers, I think that's really important.

K, done rambling now.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Crippling Self Doubt

There's a meme going around Facebook for writers which, paraphrased, says "Give someone a book and they are entertained for an hour. Teach someone to write and they are crippled with paralyzing self-doubt for the rest of their lives."

I don't subscribe to that. Writing comes easy to me. However, doubt also comes easy to me. Not for writing, but for other things. With doubt comes depression and that I do suffer from and have for a long, long time. This is not a post about depression and stuff, because I want to keep the Alana pen name happy and talking about writing and sexy things and stuff. But, you know, life happens and people do get sad or depressed (which are not the same thing) or busy or any number of things. How do you work, as a writer, through it?

If you can't write, there are still a number of things you can do instead which are still work, at least for self-published authors.

  • Edit: Editing's not fun, but if you can't write, sometimes you can still go through what you have written and make changes. Sometimes it might inspire you. Sometimes it might depress you more, but it's worth a shot.
  • Work on ideas: This one is much more fun. You can brainstorm and try to come up with new ideas. You can expand on ideas you have already. It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to make sense. Even in the midst of sadness and thinking, "UGH GOD I AM THE WORST WRITER EVER" you can still use that sadness to come up with sad things, or tragic characters, or the worst situation you can think of. Believe me, depressed people are really fucking creative when it comes to thinking how awful things are. Why not use that? You may discard all of the ideas later when you are feeling better, but you might find something in your ennui or sadness which you can use.
  • Work on covers. A lot of self-published people do their own covers. A lot of them are pretty standard: stock photo, name, title, done. Some are more elaborate. Even if you don't feel like writing, you can still do something creative which will help you later on. No, you may not have a story ready for it, but if you find a stock photo which is really cool and you make a cover for it, you have inspiration for when you are ready. Keep in mind I write erotica and I have another pen which writes romance, so covers are pretty simple overall. That may not work if you write for horror or science fiction, or if you hire someone to do your covers.
  • Bundle stories together. Again, I come from an erotica background here, and many erotica writers bundle their stories together. I advise against using the same stories over and over again, because your customers want new stuff, but if you have the blahs and don't want to write, then you can take some of your stories with a similar theme or niche and bundle them together using three or more of them. It takes a bit of work editing it for table of contents and links and suchlike, as well as a cover, but you can have a many page book ready to go in less than an hour and then sit back and think, "Well, I'm at least publishing a book for today." And you can charge higher prices for them too, of course. Erotica generally sells at 2.99$ for a price point. For a bundle of three stories, I charge 3.99$. For four to five, it's around 4.99$, and so on. It's another way to make money off of work you've already done.
  • If you haven't investigated audio books or print books, then do some research. I can't recommend making audio books enough. It's free money, basically. You've already done your work! Check out and for audio and print books through Amazon. If you publish through Amazon already, you're a step ahead. I haven't investigated print books yet, but I do plan to. Audio books are very easy to make. If you are already into that, then put another of your books up for a producer to audition for, or look for narrators. It's work. It will make you money. Best of all, it's really light on the work you need to do at that moment. 
  • Go to social media. Social media isn't about advertising your books, though I'm sure many authors use it for that. It's to make a connection with like minded people, like other authors, and to connect with your fans. You can find things to post which inspire you to write or remind you of a character--say a music video or a song, perhaps pictures posted to Pinterest--or make observations on life. Go through your friends list and read what they are posting. Comment on it. Like people's posts (if you like them; I will never advocate lying to boost yourself. It comes back to bite you later). Interact. This has the added benefit of communication and contact with anonymity. I know when I'm sad it's sometimes easier to talk to a stranger than someone close to me, and it helps cheer me up. People are more inclined to buy books from an author they know than a stranger.
All of these things can be work, and many are needed to be done to write and sell self-published books. I know life and writing and stuff can be discouraging at times, but you shouldn't let it stop you. Being a self-published author is pretty rewarding, but it can be tough too, so you need to just keep going and treat it like a job... a job you love and like doing, but a job nevertheless. Like many jobs, there are many aspects of self-publishing which have to be addressed and even if you aren't in the mood to write, there's still a LOT you can do to help achieve your goals.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

You Gotta Spend Money to Make Money... Right?

Oh boy. In what might be a huge mistake, I have... (drum roll, please)... paid for advertising.

Nah, not on Facebook, although I'm investigating that as well. Since my books are almost exclusively offered on Amazon, I went with them first. The first unhappy surprise: minimum hundred dollars expenditure. Second unhappy surprise: I have to wait, potentially up to 72 hours, for them to review it.

The book I chose to advertise is The Queen of Swords... of course. If I have some success here, I may branch out and do a similar campaign for Delilah. Those are the two I consider my most popular (even though 1001 Erotic Nights is my best seller, by far). The first reason is... well, it's easy to pin down the interests. It's all based on comics and thus, I targeted people who would buy comics or super hero novels. The second reason is that there are three books out in the series. If people like Queen enough, they may check out Prince, and then Princess.

It was pretty easy to set up. My nerves will be wracked until it's actually a live campaign. I'll keep thinking, "OMG WHAT IF THEY DON'T LIKE IT?! WHAT IF I DID SOMETHING WRONG?!" which is silly, of course. The next thought is, "What if I don't sell a damn thing and I just threw a hundred bucks away?" That would be a lot more shaming. However, Queen has some of my best reviews, Rebecca Wolfe's audio is wonderful to listen to, and I think it's fun and dark and sexy to read. You ONLY get 150 characters to sum up the book, though! This is what I ended up with:

In Imperial City, villain-for-hire Caprice works hard... and she plays harder. This novella contains dark, sometimes brutal, sexy, mature content.

It hits all the main components. She's a villain (check) who is hired (check). She works hard (check... sort of a nod to her being a bad ass) and plays hard (check). It's dark (check), bloody (check in the 'brutal' comment), sexy (check) and for a mature audience (check). There's no main element of the book which I left out, I think. Oh, and it's a novella, NOT a novel (check). I do NOT want people to be surprised by the length. The next books are novels, yes, but this one isn't. I think Prince has more sex in it by virtue of its length, but per capita... Queen is packed with sex. I wasn't sure HOW much I wanted plot and how much I wanted sexy times yet, so I erred on the side of sexy times. IIRC, Princess has three and a half sex scenes in comparison... basically the same amount as Queen. But it's three times as long. Longer than that!

This is a new, nervous step for me. I am reluctant to bug bloggers and say "Hey, review my booooook!" but that'll be the next terrifying step. People have often told me that you have to spend money to make money, and I hope this pans out. If I get a lot of click throughs, that'll be good. If I get a lot of sales, that will be better. If I want to be taken seriously...I need to advertise. Which that's a whole other post--people not taking erotica writers seriously. I seriously challenge anyone on the street to write a hot sexy scene and get people to fap to it.