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An Open Letter from Alexa Day to the Self-Proclaimed Love She Hasn’t Met Yet

Just want to make sure the recipient sees this. 😉

Tea N Strumpets

The ship has sailed, but you can still swim out to meet it. The ship has sailed, but you can still swim out to meet it.

Dear Sir:

I received your letter dated April 24. It’s taken me a little while to get back to you, and I apologize. I have to admit, I wasn’t really sure how or whether to respond to you. Now that I’ve had a little time to think things over, I’ve decided that it’s probably best that you hear from me directly.

Don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate your attempt to explain your absence from my love life. I just don’t think your approach is terribly effective. You’ve essentially presented me with some flowery language and a litany of excuses that relies a great deal on dating other people. I’m not sure why you thought I’d be happy to hear that you can’t date me because you’re so busy dating other women, but in the end, I’m…

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Reset at Romanticon: Good News and Bad News

The summer has been busier than my last post suggests! And so there is good news and bad news.

The good news is that there are now more places to find me. Here’s a quick run-down of where I am when I’m not here.

Tea and Strumpets: Look for me here on the first Wednesday of every month. My column, Below the Fold, is about bringing a little sexy into your everyday world. This month, I brought the sexy to football season with a little help from Jason Garrett, who has both the brains and the hotness. Check him out here.

Passionate Reads: Look for me here on the second Monday of every month. Last month, I left my post under the supervision of Lyoto Machida, who has both the hotness and the lethal warrior fierceness. You can see him in the video I embedded in my post. He even smiles once, but if you blink, you’ll miss it. This coming Monday, I’ll have an update fresh from Romanticon for you all.

Lady Smut: I’m here every Sunday, blogging on hot, thinky topics like why I’m okay with adultery on Scandal and the endless appeal of Naughty Cop. I’ll be talking about Romanticon on Lady Smut tomorrow.

The bad news? That second book is still in progress. I know, it’s really lukewarm news. But I’d rather be finished with it, as much fun as I’m having with Tal and the only woman who has ever said no to him.

Don’t worry, neighbors. I will still be here. I promise. (My editor, who knows what my promises are worth lately, is rolling her eyes.) Until I can get caught up, you should check out last year’s Romanticon post. I haven’t eaten any soap this trip, but the weekend isn’t over yet.

 

Good Lord, Man! Put Some Pants On!

Sometimes, when the world gets all crazy like this, I tell myself that my readers on this blog and elsewhere wonder where I am.

No, don’t tell me. What’s important is that I believe it myself.

So where have I been? I’ve been getting work done. For YOU.

See, an erotica writer’s work is never done, and that’s good news for everyone. My work is terrific!

First and foremost, I’m writing. My next book, which is a follow-up to ILLICIT IMPULSE, is still in the drafting stages, but that extremely rough initial draft is almost done.

I’m also trying to get the word out about ILLICIT IMPULSE. Most of that work is driven by social media, so I’m on Twitter or Facebook (I say that because I can rarely manage both). Of course it’s work! It isn’t easy keeping up with everyone’s posts and looking for friends and followers and marking my calendar and liking and retweeting and all the rest of it. It’s loads of fun, but it isn’t easy.

Here’s just one example.

As part of my awesome job, I have to look at pictures of hot shirtless men and share the hottest and shirtlessiest of them with you, my friends and followers. This is expected of me as an erotica writer. I should know where to find a picture of a hot shirtless dude, which in turn makes you think about some of the things that appear in my books. Everyone wins.

The trouble is that recently my Facebook news feed – which is part of my job and essential to the hard work I do for YOU – is no longer content with the shirtless. My feed these days is filled with those who are not wearing any clothing at all. They’re artfully posed, of course. I see them on their knees, doing the housework, for example. Several are in the bathroom, holding a towel over themselves with one hand and looking intently out at something. I saw one dressed as a cowboy – in the sense that he was wearing a cowboy hat and carrying a saddle toward a horse. He wasn’t wearing any clothes, though, and as much as I enjoy looking at the hot, shirtless men, I had to wonder what on earth he was about to do with no clothes on.

I am not a prude. Please be assured that I enjoy objectifying the hot shirtless men, and they seem to enjoy it, too, truth be told. It’s just that … well … I don’t want to see EVERYTHING. Not right now. I want to wonder. I want the progression. I want to hear belt buckle and zipper, and I want to find out whether he’s got on briefs or boxers or boxer briefs (win win win) or nothing at all under there. I want the progression to pantsless.

If I get everything at once, I guess I’m not impressed. I feel terrible for complaining about this. But honestly, where was that cowboy going without his pants on?

Still, as I keep saying, I work for YOU. And I think YOU are wondering where you can go to see some of these hot men, so that you can make this call for yourself. I like this about you. You are wise and discerning in that way.

I’m not going to post anyone here. Instead, I’m going to direct you to my favorite source of hot shirtless men on Facebook: Fifty Shades of Hot. If you scroll down far enough, you will see the guys I’ve mentioned here. Have a look and let me know what you think!

Open Letter to Barbara Lippert, re: Volkswagen Irie

Dear Ms. Lippert:

I’m writing this on Tuesday night, to run on Thursday morning. It’s possible you’ve retracted your position with regard to the Volkswagen Super Bowl ad by now. If you have, you should disregard the remainder of this letter.

If you haven’t, I urge you to reconsider your position. I read the posts on your blog about Lance Armstrong’s Oprah interview and about Coke’s anti-obesity message. I’m actually curious to see what you’ve got to say about Helen Gurley Brown. The two posts I read are sharp and insightful, and all of this makes your position on this Volkswagen ad harder to understand.

I watched your interview on the Today show, in which you mentioned that the ad contained no link to Volkswagen. I confess I didn’t understand what you meant. I presumed the bright red Volkswagen that the main character uses to cheer up his coworkers was a link to Volkswagen. Is that not the case?

Shortly thereafter, you made reference to a “black accent.” What, precisely, is a black accent? Certainly you do not mean to suggest that all black people employ the same “accent,” dialect, or cultural speech pattern. That really would be offensive. I’m also hoping that you’re not suggesting the Jamaican accent – which is actually what we’re hearing, Ms. Lippert – is the exclusive province of black people. I’m pretty well versed in what Jamaicans sound like; my mother is Jamaican. She is black. My great-grandfather was Chinese. My grandfather spent his Jamaican youth with white, Indian and Asian Jamaicans. I’ve had the privilege of meeting many of them, as well as my mother’s equally diverse childhood friends and babysitters. They all sound like the guy in the commercial.

I want to make sure I’m being clear here. The last time I was in Jamaica, maybe five years ago, I met quite a few people who were not black but who spoke with precisely the same Jamaican accent as the guy in the commercial. It is not a “black accent,” Ms. Lippert. It is a Jamaican accent.

To me, a half-Jamaican, it’s a sound that speaks to equal measures of hard work and good times. It speaks of the slower pace of island life and the conviction to live in the present moment, to live fully, if not intensely.

It is a hell of a lot more than “black people are happy.”

I would also refer you to a series of Volkswagen ads in which a Swedish actor portrays a German engineer devoted to “un-pimping” people’s cars in the style of the then-popular MTV show, Pimp My Ride. In these ads, the engineer uses a fairly broad spectrum of hip-hop vernacular with a German accent, to comedic effect. “Ve just dropped it like it’s hot,” he says, before throwing a gang sign of sorts and claiming “V-Dub, representing Deutschland.”

I do not recall that anyone was offended by this. The argument for offense here, however, is at least as sound as yours. Shouldn’t we take offense that white Europeans are appropriating hip-hop terminology? If Jamaicans are using a “black accent,” why did no one address the appropriation of “black culture” in this case?

For the record, I thought those commercials were funny, too. Especially the one with the trebuchet. Hip-hop culture is at least as diverse as West Indian culture, but many people incorrectly presume that it is the exclusive province of black Americans.

In any event, I’d suggest respectfully that you remove the phrase “black accent” from your vocabulary. You’re the media expert, but I can’t imagine that’s playing awfully well to a black demographic. It certainly offended me, not that this letter is about conflating one person’s wounded feelings to an entire group of people.

I hope you’ll leave me a note in the comments; I’d really enjoy hearing from you. In the meantime, it is my ardent hope that Volkswagen airs that commercial on Sunday.

Regards,

Alexa Day

Evil is Easy; Nuanced is Hard — Requiem to 666 Park Avenue

I just heard that ABC is cancelling my beloved show! I can’t say I’m surprised. I lowered my expectations when they cancelled All My Children in favor of The Chew and One Life to Live in favor of something which I don’t believe is still on the air. Still, it galls me a little to lose 666 Park Avenue because I love the Dorans. I’m really going to miss those two.

Gavin and Olivia Doran are the king and queen of the Drake at 666 Park Avenue. They’re a gorgeous couple, really – my hat is off to whoever put Terry O’Quinn and Vanessa Williams together. I’d have supported any interracial couple in such a high-profile position, but this particular couple is riding high at the helm of a very well-written show.

I’m not sure where I first picked up the suggestion that Gavin is supposed to be evil. It might have been at the beginning, in the first episode, where we see him collecting on various debts owed by tenants in a supernatural way we’ve seen in TV-land before. Someone’s promised him something in exchange for musical talent. Someone else has turned to murder in exchange for more time with a deceased spouse. We get it. Gavin’s the Devil. Olivia’s not innocent – she doesn’t shrink from plans for “how we get Henry” (who moved in with the new building manager) – but Olivia’s not evil, either.

As the stories unfolded, however, I had trouble accepting Gavin as evil. I couldn’t figure out where on the moral spectrum he lived until the Halloween episode. See, he and Olivia were walking around New York, preparing for their annual Halloween party and generally looking like the Absolute Cutest Interracial Couple EVER, when she had to take a phone call. She made him carry the shopping bags, which no evil character would do in a million years, but while they were separated, someone tried to run Olivia over with an SUV. He was unsettled by the close call, but evil characters can be unsettled when some person tries to damage their property.

That night, at the party, Olivia was playing Haunted High Rise with some friends when she was abducted by wrongdoers. Okay, I thought. Now we’ll see what our evil friend Gavin is made of. The wrongdoers called to announce that they had Olivia … and Gavin capitulated. He just wanted her back at any price.

“He loves her,” I said to the cat. “He loves Olivia.” No one who’s in love like that is really evil.

Now, don’t sleep on Gavin. He has no problem pushing you down an elevator shaft if you say no to him. He will trap you on the floor between dimensions if you try to avoid the consequences of your betrayal. He will give you the ultimate Gift with a Message: the Head in a Box. In this regard, Gavin is very like the Devil we know from theology, literature, and the Charlie Daniels Band. He won’t make you do anything, but he can make you choose to do things.

But it is too easy to dismiss Gavin as evil. The purity of the relief on his face when he found Olivia, safe and sound, is just not compatible with evil. Ultimately, the two of them teamed up against kidnapper and thief Victor Shaw and gave him the Head in a Box. Olivia picked out the gift wrap, and Gavin delivered the package.

This past week, Victor, who failed to get the message from Head in a Box, told Gavin that his daughter didn’t die in a car crash. Instead, said Victor, Gavin’s daughter killed herself. Victor went on to say that Gavin was at fault for the suicide and that Olivia knew all this but wasn’t talking.

An evil person would have taken this out on Victor – who has been talking out of turn for a while now – and then taken it out on an innocent person who had nothing to do with this before visiting his wrath on Olivia. We have all seen evil people do this sort of thing on TV. We’ve even seen not-so-evil people do it.

Instead, when Olivia finds him, Gavin looks devastated, just as we would expect someone to look when his enemy drops this kind of bomb on him. Indeed, I think the worst of it for Gavin was that Olivia was keeping this a secret.

That’s not evil. That’s normal. For her part, Olivia yelled at Gavin earlier this month for keeping a secret from her. He apologized to her then. This week, she was sorry. Both times, the two of them came together as a couple and teamed up against Victor Shaw. Not only is this not standard Evil Couple behavior, it’s not even standard Soap Opera Couple behavior. I almost feel bad for Victor, but you know, most people would have stopped when they got the Head in the Box at the dinner table. Now that he’s been beaten within an inch of his life by a figment of a dead person’s imagination (you had to be there), he’s been driven to an undisclosed location to have the last of the bejesus beaten out of him.

I come back every week, wondering what these two are going to do next, and now ABC is going to cancel it, no doubt to bring us season 854 of the Bachelor or the Bachelorette or some other variant of Desperate TwentySomethings Acting Like Small Children Over Someone They Met Twenty Minutes Ago. We will not be better off for this. But at least the show will have a proper finale when the time comes. That’s enough comfort for me, until I can share the true source of my joy with you.

In the meantime, I welcome Red Box theories below.

Alexa’s Favorite Writing Things 2012

Oprah’s just unveiled her list of Favorite Things for this year, and inspired by her assembly of items and by NaNoWriMo this month, I decided to come up with a short list of my own. Mine are cheaper than most of Oprah’s favorite things – she got me this year and has something for $20 – and they’re indispensible to my writing process. They also make terrific stocking stuffers for the writer in your life. Or the writer you’d like to have in your life.

Or me. Just keeping it real.

These are some of my favorite things for work, but as they say, “All work and no hot shirtless men makes Alexa a dull girl.” At the end of this month, I’ll have another favorite things post with stuff I’d love to have just for kicks.

The AlphaSmart 3000. For writers prone to distraction, the AlphaSmart is a perfect tool. It’s basically a portable keyboard with a display that allows you to see four lines of text at a time. And that’s it. You can’t get on the internet. It won’t run other programs (although I think there’s a calculator buried in there somewhere). It’s even kind of a pain to edit what you just wrote. Its simplicity is gorgeous.

Once you’re done, you hook the AlphaSmart up to your computer and let it dump all your words into the program of your choosing. I’ve plopped things into WordPress, MS Word, and into Scrivener, which I get into below. It holds 8 files, one for each day of the week, plus an extra for notes, and you will get 700 hours of battery life on 3 AA batteries.

I paid about $30 for mine on eBay – go check it out!

Scrivener. Neil Cross convinced me to look into purchasing Scrivener. Not in person – OMG, I would talk about that all day every day – but with his testimonial on the developers’ website. He and many other writers sang the software’s praises, talking about how intuitive it was, so I gave it a try. The developers offer a 30-day free trial, but they only count the days you actually use it. So if you try it one day and then go back to it six months later, you would only have used two days. That really impressed me.

Scrivener costs $40. You are getting a TON of program for $40. There’s enough program that everyone can use it a little differently and still be getting their money’s worth. I like it because I can keep the same document open in two windows (Chapter One on the left and Chapter One again on the right). Then I can move things around from place to place very easily. I often have to rearrange stuff inside my chapters, and that was a HUGE pain to do in Word. I also keep my outline open all the time, so I can see how far along I’m getting and move portions of the document as necessary. There’s a panel on the right where I can keep my notes as I’m working. The index card for that particular scene is displayed there, along with whatever I need to keep in mind while I’m working. Everything’s in one spot.

Here’s some more good news. If you win NaNoWriMo, you get a discount code for half off. If you don’t win but find someone who does – a practice both NaNoWriMo and the Scrivener folks are okay with – you can have their code. So I actually got Scrivener for $20. Try out the program this month if you’re NaNoing and let it convince you.

Spiral notebooks. The list gets decidedly low-tech from here with the appearance of an old favorite. When I started writing – during class as a girl – I used to use the margins of these for stories so I could take notes in the center of the page. Of course, that meant I hesitated to let anyone see the inside of my notebooks for any reason! Today, I don’t have to waste all that space on chemistry or calculus or … wow. I just got really nostalgic for a second!

I use the notebooks for everything except the actual draft. I keep my initial brainstorming notes there. My lists of blog topics go there. I keep snippets of description in there, too. I used to keep a separate book for each project, but it didn’t take long for me to lose track of those. Now I just dump everything onto the page and sort through it as I’m going.

I was at a workshop with Candace Havens last weekend, and she showed us the inside of her spiral notebook. It was so cool! I feel like we’re besties now. Hers was really pretty and expensive-looking, though; I bet Oprah has something like it on her list. The ones on my list go for ten cents each at WalMart during back to school season. I go out there and buy 30 or 40 of them at a time and then work through my stash.

Index cards. I probably have enough index cards in here to wallpaper the house. One of my teachers in high school taught me to use them to outline papers, and I’ve kept that habit for *coughcough* years. They’re good for arranging scenes, of course – I just put a few words about a scene on a card, and then another scene on another card, and then I sit on the floor and spread them around. Scrivener will let you do that on the screen, but my mind needs to touch the card, and I accept that. There’s more to the lowly index card than that, though. I use them to keep track of my project ideas – right now, I have 16 of them on my bulletin board, each with the names of a couple from one of my stories. I also use them to write quotes on. One of my favorites, “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song,” is front and center above my keyboard for those nights when I feel like I’m a huge literary joke that everyone gets but me.

I have index cards in all colors, lined and unlined, and I do so love building a little stack of them as I’m plotting my next story! You can score them at the dollar store, and they fit beautifully in your favorite writer’s stocking.

Pens and highlighters. It is really embarrassing for a writer to be caught out without a pen. I know because it happens to me all the time. I don’t need anything fancy to get the job done. In my day, the chisel and quill were gradually replaced by the transparent Bic Cristal, which is still my favorite. Today, you can get a purple ballpoint pen at the grocery store. Isn’t progress grand?

Some people are organized enough to use a different pen for different purposes. That’s not me; I can barely manage to keep one in my purse. I am happiest when I’m using a color that’s not black, but aside from that, anything will work!

I can’t keep enough highlighters in the house for some reason. I’ve used them for editing – one color for dialogue, one for action, and so on – but again, I tend to not be that organized. I’m much more likely to use them while I’m reading, so that the good parts stand out more. I highlighted The Sociopath Next Door like wildfire!

Tuck a pack of pens – or one really nice pen – into your writer friend’s stocking, and you will make her happy. Slide one of the nice ones (the kind that come in a box) across the table to her and tell her you’re thinking about her hand on it while she’s working. Hell, that’d make me happy!

Now get out there and shop! The Oprah folk will start packing the mall soon.

I think everyone has been too kind to say how badly things seem to be going for me in NaNoWriMo this year. There’s a good reason for that, though. Earlier this week, I finally submitted Project NSA, the story with which I won the Passionate Reads Pitch Contest in February 2011. I had to pull two all-nighters to do it, but now it’s done. My hope is to get back to my collection of erotic short stories this weekend – my day job is closed on Monday for the holiday, so I can catch up. But I do acknowledge at this point that I need to catch up.

Have questions about what to get the writer in your life? Want to tell the world about your favorite things? Hit me up in the comments.