Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Warming Up This Holiday Season

I love the holiday season. And to celebrate my joy with you, now through the end of the year, you can find all of my eBooks on All Romance Books for half off. Cheers!

Forget Romance: Five Tales of Erotica
     
Forget Romance: Five Tales of Erotica
By: Alyssa Steel
Published by: Alyssa Steel
NOTE: This is a previously published work. The title, author, and/or publisher may have changed. Forget Romance: Five Tales of Erotica from Alyssa Steel that include a virginal peasant girl reluctantly thrust into the spotlight of a king's court of mistresses, a desperate couple on the brink of divo more...
Isabel: The Reluctant Mistress
     
Isabel: The Reluctant Mistress
By: Alyssa Steel
Published by: Alyssa Steel
A virginal peasant girl is reluctantly thrust into the spotlight as she auditions to join the king's court of mistresses. more...
Do You Trust Me?
     
Do You Trust Me?
By: Alyssa Steel
Published by: Alyssa Steel
NOTE: This is a previously published work. The title, author, and/or publisher may have changed. Shelby and Chris are a not so happily married couple on the brink of divorce. One day, Chris asks her if she trusts him and Shelby has to decide how far she will go to please her husband and save her mar more...
His Heat, My Desire
     
His Heat, My Desire
By: Alyssa Steel
Published by: Alyssa Steel
NOTE: This is a previously published work. The title, author, and/or publisher may have changed. After her fiancĂ© moved out without a warning, a young woman decides go to a party. She hopes he will be there so he can see that she’s not heartbroken. She decides to take a short cut through an alley more...
Taken By Surprise
     
Taken By Surprise
By: Alyssa Steel
Published by: Alyssa Steel
NOTE: This is a previously published work. The title, author, and/or publisher may have changed. Jennifer often drifts into fantasies, and she and Alec enjoy sharing their secret desires with each other. One day, Jennifer comes home to discover that Alec has gone to great lengths to fulfill some of more...
The Concert
    
The Concert
By: Alyssa Steel
Published by: Alyssa Steel
NOTE: This is a previously published work. The title, author, and/or publisher may have changed. After two years of a hot and heavy office flirtation, Mike and Lori are finally going out on a date. When Lori runs into a friend during dinner, she gets some advice that is sure to knock Mike off his fe more...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

In Which a Liberal, Atheist, Feminist, Smut-Slinger Moves to the Bible Belt

Cheers, lovelies!

Technically, it's bad form for a blogger to point out her lengthy absence on the blogosphere, but to hell with convention. I've always given a tall and straight one-fingered salute to convention, which is why I even dipped my big toe into the endlessly deep lake that is erotica writing.

My husband was recently hired by an amaze-balls company (which shall heretofore be referred to as ABC--AmazeBallsCompany.) ABC requires a relocation to Texas. Now, under ordinary circumstances, I wouldn't feel that any company that makes us move from a fabulously liberal town to the middle of Texas is amazing, but with careful wooing, they exposed me for the willing slut I really am. ABC is giving us a brand fucking new vehicle, which I'm totally expected to use for personal use. They're even covering the insurance for me! They're providing us with a card for all the gas that goes in it and all the expenses that happen with owning a ridiculously huge SUV. ABC is giving us a honking huge relocation allowance, an iPad, and money to buy stuff like food and shelter. It's pretty fucking amaze-balls. We'd have to be complete ninnies to turn ABC down. Seriously, after tons of discussion and lots of vodka, we've determined this company is Practically Perfect in Every Way.

So, here I am, a liberal, atheist, homeschooling, smut-slinger on the verge of moving to one of the most religious and right-wing areas of the nation. I'm about to move my family to a state that seems to place a woman's value on how high and yellow her hair is. On which Mega Church she goes to. On what position her kid plays on the local high school team.  To say that I'm scared shitless is an understatement of, well, of biblical proportions.

But here's the thing. As much as I don't want to leave the life I've so carefully crafted behind, I do believe that this move is the best possible thing for my family. Aside from all the cool swag they're throwing at us, this is a dream job for my honey that will not only provide us with the financial security we need to be able to continue homeschooling our mini feminist heathen, but also to allow me to spend more time doing what I truly love doing: writing. It's amazing how well financial security greases the wheels of creativity. I've always believed that a starving artist is a successful artist, but the reality is that a full belly and creature comforts like electricity go a long way towards allowing a responsible adult to escape into fiction. When you're worried about shit like where dog food is going to come from, it's hard to justify spending time writing.

Besides, Texas needs all the liberal, feminist-atheists it can get. And let me tell you all right now, I shall not go gentle into that good fucking night. Oh, no. I intend to unpack our Halloween stuff and then make a splash in the community. I'm too old to keep my mouth shut for the sake of fitting in, so I'm not going to. I intend to announce to the world that I am an atheist, that I am an erotica writer, that I am a homeschooler, and that I am as liberal as they come. My sanity simply cannot handle the balancing act of trying to be just like everyone else. Anyway, what kind of role model would I be for my kid if I denied who I am and what I love and believe for the sake of fitting in?

Tonight, I'm going to a going away party thrown by some of my best friends. I've requested that they color my hair for the very first time in my life--purple and blue. If I'm gonna be out, I might as well be loud, so that others can find me.

If you're in the Dallas area, and meet a mild mannered homeschooling mom with  purple streaks in her otherwise dirty blonde hair, go on up to her. Say howdy. Tell her you know that her alter ego is called Alyssa Steel, and tell her that you're a comrade at arms. I may talk big, but the prospect of being all alone out there scares the mother loving god right outta me. Wait, no. I don't have a mother loving god, but you know what I mean.

See you soon!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Review: Grammarly Premium

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because they offered me $20 to try out their Premium service on my original 8/3/13. About 9 months later I received an email from the Grammarly rep I worked with noting:

"Would you mind removing the link to Grammarly from the sponsored blog post we worked on together? It's been brought to my attention that Google's Webmaster Guidelines don't approve of sponsored posts that include links to the sponsoring site."

Earlier this week, someone from Grammarly emailed me and asked if I'd be willing to allow them to sponsor a blog post in exchange for a $20 Amazon gift card. After a couple of emails back and forth, I decided that I'd go ahead. My son is dying for a water bottle rocket, and what better way to use an unexpected gift card than on something your kiddo really wants?

Before I agreed to allow them to sponsor my blog post, I did some research and was disappointed to see that they were asking for a credit card number to activate the free trial. Luckily, they didn't do that with me. They simply set me up with a username and password, and I was ready to put Grammarly through the paces.





After logging in, I was taken into the Grammarly program, where I can copy / paste or enter text to review for spelling and grammar errors.

40 of 100? Grammarly is very kind.
I decided to type a poorly written sentence to start out. I typed: "I definately love cHocolatechip Cooqies." It caught all of the misspellings and offered suggestions on how to fix them. To the left of the text box, there is a rating system based on the errors that were found. This sentence earned a score of 40 of 100. I'd have given it a much lower score, but that's just me. I'm a hard ass like that. So far, so good.

Checking for plagiarism.
The next feature I wanted to explore was the plagiarism checker. This is a valid concern for a writer. I like the idea of being able to upload my text and see if it's floating around on the internet without my permission. I know there are other programs that perform this function, but I thought I'd see if Grammarly worked for it as well. I copied and pasted my last blog post into the text box and hit the plagiarism button...

Gotcha!
It didn't take the program long to identify that I copied and pasted something directly from another website. All of the text that was plagiarized was highlighted in red and a window popped up encouraging me to credit the source(s). Very, very good! But a blog post is easy. I wanted to see what would happen if I checked text from one of my previously published e-books


Hmm.
I copied and pasted the text of an entire e-book and clicked the button. The result it kicked back was disheartening to say the least. Out of 3,736 words, only 2% of the document--the disclaimer--came up as plagiarized. I decided to remove the disclaimer and run the check again.

Not Good.
Nope. It came up as 100% original. This book can be found all over the place: Amazon, Smashwords, All Romance...Seriously, it's everywhere. Maybe because it wasn't published on a blog or website it didn't recognize the text as stolen. This isn't Grammarly's primary function, but I do feel that if they're going to offer a plagiarism function, it should at least identify eBooks. 


As far as the quality of the grammar checker goes, it's pretty basic. It notes the same things that my word processor notes. In some cases, it flags things that are correct or that fit within the context and writing style. In the above image, Grammarly had a problem with the sentence: "Isabel felt heat and moisture rise between her legs." and suggested I change it to "Isabel felt the heat..." I wholeheartedly disagree. I left that article out of the sentence because writing it that way perfectly expressed what was happening to sweet Isabel.

My overall impression is that Grammarly is easy to use, but that it's not much better than the grammar and spell check in my word processor. I could see it being a huge help to someone who doesn't have a basic grasp of grammar rules or who has a hard time writing, and it might be great for students who are trying to write a paper for a class, but it's just not right for me. If I, as a professional writer, incorporated all of Grammarly's suggestions, my writing would be stiff, too formal, and no fun to read.


While I've had a lot of fun playing with Grammarly, I think I'll stick with my word processor's functions. They're free and I don't have to copy / paste anything.

Have you used Grammarly? What do you think of it?