Friday, October 6, 2017

Mistress Saya is in the House: When the submissive must become the Dominant

It's been a while since I've posted here. Busy life and booming business are the culprits. But sometimes life catches up to you and smacks you in the face. This is the story of one of those times.

When the dominant partner is facing a health issue, sometimes the submissive has to assume the Dominant role.

Sir's blood pressure has been minimally elevated for several months. In an effort to avoid medication, we have been (with the doctor's blessing) using diet and exercise to keep it under control. In addition, Sir is supposed to have been taking his blood pressure on a regular basis.

One thing I learned very early in our relationship is to back off and not nag - especially about health issues. While I don't nag, I definitely check in - occasionally. But I'm also very observant. I was an EMT, later a paramedic, and even later a physician's assistant. One thing you learn is how to hear what isn't said.

I'd noticed that Sir was complaining of being tired, even after sleeping for sometimes 14 hours out of 24. "It's just pressure at work." Yes, he's been working 55-hour weeks in divided shifts, so he hasn't been getting eight straight hours sleep. Even so, I've been making sure he gets plenty of sleep on the weekends. Not the most ideal situation, but he said he was fine. Still, the caution flag was flying.

He's also put on some weight, but he's also insisted it's from grabbing fast food on the run. I put my foot down and insisted that he take food from home. Even leftovers are better than most fast food and take-out. The caution flag was still flying, but I was now being even more observant.

And he was snoring worse than usual, which was driving me to distraction. "It's just pollen and allergies," he said. The caution flag was flying until I actually stayed awake and listened to his snoring. This wasn't just the regular type snoring. No, this was stridorous. Harsh, deep, choppy, and there were periods of full-on apnea. Now the red flags were flying, and I was turning into a nag. He wasn't happy.

You guessed it. I went on the warpath. I tried everything to get him to the doctor. No luck. Men are notorious for avoidance when it comes to dealing with health issues. It's one of the things that we were taught in paramedic training and definitely in med school. Women may be stoic, but men are tight-lipped, and machismo is the name of the game.

And then I pulled the logs from the wrist and arm BP cuffs. His blood pressure had been steadily increasing. Even in the face of everything we had been doing - or I THOUGHT we had been doing - to get it down.

Long story short...

On Wednesday, I cornered him and took his blood pressure myself from the wrist and upper arm. As I watched the readouts, I noticed that the pulse monitor was irregularly irregular - alarmingly so - and the pulse rate recorded was in the mid-50s. His resting rate is in the mid-60s. I took out the stethoscope and listened to his heart for a full 60 seconds. And the rhythm was all over the place. I took his BP manually and it was definitely elevated 155/93.

The red flags were flying high and hard, and I was not taking no for an answer. But he didn't know that - yet.

Thursday morning: While he was still asleep, I took his pulse. Rhythm still very irregular. Woke him up at the regular time, let him get his eyes open, and then brought the wrath of Saya on his head. He was going to meet me at the doc's office or I was going to drag him out of his office by his ear in front of his coworkers.

Mistress Saya was in the house.

Doc diagnosed possible sleep apnea, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia, and ordered up a battery of tests. And even then, Sir tried to minimize.

Mistress Saya (quietly) flipped her shit in front of Sir and the doc (who is someone I worked with back in the day). And Doc looked Sir right in the eye. "She's tough. Listen to her. She probably just saved your life."

Switch the scene to after work last night. Sir was still trying to do the "I'm impervious to everything and stronger than steel" act. Oh, so not working, because when her Dom is in distress, God and all his angels had better not get in Mistress Saya's way. My exact words:

"Now hear this: From here on, we are doing this MY way. Your body is trying to tell you something, and I seem to be the only one listening. You're gonna sit up and take notice. SA is dangerous. And Mr. Macho, you are NOT going to have a heart attack or stroke on MY watch. Suck it up, buttercup."

Yes, Mistress Saya is in the house. And she knows how to throw a whip.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


In the US, there is no such thing as justice and no such thing as 'innocent until proven guilty'. If you become caught up in the legal system in this country, it will chew you up and spit you out unless you are rich enough to afford the right lawyers.

Then there's the good ole frat boys network. Let’s take a look at the Stanford rape case.

Did you know that the judge in the case, Aaron Persky, attended Stanford as an undergrad? Did you also know that he was captain of Stanford’s lacrosse team? By now, you know that the rapist, Brock Allen Turner, was a champion swimmer who had been vigorously courted by Stanford while in high school and was a scholarship student at Stanford when he raped Emily Doe. Mix in the fact that the rapist’s rich daddy, Daniel A. Turner, is a blatant enabler (see highlighted passages in link) and rich enough to hire only the very best sharks and bottom feeders lawyers, it becomes pretty clear that Emily Doe didn't stand a chance. Her attacker was bound to get off with a slap on the wrist, and she would be figuratively raped again by the legal system that should have given her the justice to which she was entitled and adequate punishment to her rapist.

And that’s exactly what happened. She was verbally raped on the stand by the pond scum lawyers hired to defend her rapist who, when found unanimously guilty by a jury of his peers on all charges, received a sentence that amounted to a mere slap on the wrist. She was further abused by the rapist’s male progenitor, Daniel Turner, when the rape perpetrated by his offspring was referred to as “20 minutes of action” on page 3 of Turner’s letter to the court requesting leniency for the monster he raised and unleashed on society.

But, guess what... There is a bright, shining light in this hellish morass, a light of hope that shines for all those who have suffered the devastation of rape or sexual assault of any degree. That light shines in the incredibly moving, heart and gut wrenching, soul-searing, awe-inspiring, brave words written by Emily Doe in her victim impact statement to the court. While it is extremely hard to read and may be a trigger for some, her letter is one that should be read by mothers to their sons and fathers to their daughters. Emily Doe's eloquence has struck an incredible blow in the war against the rape culture that permeates our society. Her words have also shined a harsh light on a broken, misbegotten system that puts the victims on trial and, for all intents and purposes, rapes them again in a court of law.

Emily Doe has chosen to remain anonymous, and society should respect her wishes so that she is able to move on from this as best she can. May the light of her words shine as the beacon of hope she wanted them to be.

"Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining." Emily Doe, 2016

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Subdrop and Domdrop - Very Real Phenomena

DISCLAIMER:  Before you read further understand that this is in no way medical advice on any level. It's based on 11+ years experience in the lifestyle, my medical training, and anecdotal information collected from friends in the lifestyle. If things aren't getting back to what you feel is "normal" in what you feel is a reasonable amount of time, or you are having feelings that you find alarming, physical or mental - GET YOURSELF TO YOUR DOCTOR. 

The scene is over. You both had an incredible time. Aftercare left you both feeling all warm and fuzzy (among other things <g>). It’s now hours/days later and you begin to realize you are feeling to a degree some or all of the following:  emotional, tearful, overwhelmed, unmotivated, confused, irritable, snippy, bitchy, tired, all in all just downright lousy. Worse, you can’t understand why you are feeling this way.

Hello, kinky friends. You have now come face to face with Dom/Topdrop and subdrop.

Let’s go back for a moment to that incredible scene you both enjoyed. There were some very real physical things happening during that time. The glandular systems in both of your bodies were working hard in response to a lot of stimuli and those glands were flooding your body with  chemicals and hormones that made you feel amazing (and that is probably an understatement).

·      Oxytocin - often called the “love hormone”
·      Dopamine - a neurotransmitter that helps the brain sort out and process incoming stimuli
·      Serotonin - another neurotransmitter linked to feelings of happiness and well-being
·      Norepinephrine and epinephrine - hormones linked to the fight-or-flight response. Note: epinephrine is also called adrenalin
·      And last, but certainly not least, endorphins - the body’s natural opiates

All of these chemicals/hormones combine to create one hell of an amazing, all-natural cocktail that will give you a high unlike anything you have ever experienced. But as with any chemical high, you have to come down and sometimes you just feel a little punky  and in rare instances you “crash and burn”, “augur in”, “hit the wall”. Call it what you will, but in any degree, slight or extreme, it is NOT fun.

You’ve felt this before to some extent. You come home from an amazing vacation and remark to friends and family that you need a vacation from your vacation. You get off the roller coaster and a little while later you feel like you really just need to sit down and take a nap. The wedding went off without a hitch and at some point in the honeymoon you feel like you made a huge mistake. You’re holding your brand new baby in your arms and can’t understand why you’re feeling emotionally strung out. Yes, these are all forms of “drop”. The medical term is “depression”.

And folks, make no mistake, this depression is very, very real. Do NOT ignore it and put it off to being “emo”. Do NOT sit there and tell yourself you’re being silly, needy, it’s not really happening, etc. If you’re running a fever, bleeding from a cut, in pain because you worked out too hard, you don’t tell yourself it’s all in your head, do you? Probably not. Well, the emotional drop described above is literally in your head, but there is a very real physical reason for it. Your brain chemicals are a little messed up. Just as you would not ignore physical symptoms of something wrong, you cannot ignore emotional signals that something isn’t quite right.

And I’ll bet that you’re probably saying to yourself or have said to yourself at some point that you sure don’t want to go through THAT again. After all, who wants to feel like a basket case?

You aren’t going to avoid vacations, amusement parks and those crazy rides, weddings, parties, happy occasions, and any other opportunities to enjoy yourself to the max, right?

So, what can you do to minimize and possibly even avoid the drop that can occur after even light scening?

One of the most important things is to prepare for the scene. In addition to planning, both of you need to eat a good meal high in protein and complex carbs BEFORE you scene. Then:

1.            Keep hydrated during the scene. In fact, electrolyte drinks should become your new best friends when you are scening. Electrolyte imbalance is one of the contributors to drop.

2.            Both of you need to come down slowly. Doms/Tops, that sub is going to take a little while to come back to earth and you need to remember and ACKNOWLEDGE that you need a while to come back down, too. Touching and cuddling are very important after a scene. Also, Doms, keep your sub warm. While there is no specific evidence to substantiate this, I know if I get chilled, the shivers will bring me out in a very not-so-fun way. Other subs have told me that's not unusual.

3.            During immediate aftercare, you both need to keep hydrated. Remember that your  body is now going to flush out all those wonderful chemicals and it needs the fluids to do just that.

4.            CHOCOLATE. Yes, I said chocolate. Milk or dark, both are good, but I and many of my friends have found that dark chocolate works best. During immediate aftercare, eat chocolate, about the equivalent of one regular size Hershey bar. Why? Because chocolate contains a chemical that is nature’s antidepressant, phenylethylamine or PEA. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, happy and loving. In fact, keep some of those little single bite chocolate candies around. We keep M&Ms, Hershey bites, and my personal fave, Dove chocolate bites around. Allergic to chocolate or can't stand to eat it?  Here is some information on alternatives:

Here’s the catch. You knew there was a catch, didn’t you? Isn’t that always the case?

Drop is sneaky. You cannot predict that it will happen. You cannot assume that just because it’s days later and you haven’t dropped you’ve escaped the bullet. This is where knowing yourself and how you function emotionally becomes important.

In addition to making sure you eat right, exercise, and get plenty of rest:

You both live together:  Understand that drop can and probably will happen. If you’re feeling out of the ordinary, do NOT keep it to yourself. You’ll probably feel like you need more cuddling than usual – well then, cuddle. And don’t forget those chocolate bites.

You don’t live together but play together pretty regularly:  Keep in touch. Talk, text, Skype, whatever. Reassure each other that what you’re feeling is perfectly normal. And don’t forget those chocolate bites.

Casual play partners:  Here’s where your kinky friends can help. We’ve all been there, done that, got the tee shirt and the DVD. Keep in touch with your friends in the community. Pamper yourself. Read that sappy romance novel. Have a pajama day. Allow yourself to veg out. And don’t forget those chocolate bites.

Bottom line:  Don’t play the hero. Drop is very, very real.

And you Doms/Tops out there - yes, I’m talking to you, oh Domly ones. Remember that you are human beings with the same physiology as your subs/bottoms. You can deny it all you want, but you know you felt pretty damn good during that scene. The reason you felt that way is the same reason your sub felt amazing. Take care of yourself the same way you would care for your sub.

And you subs out there – just as I stated above, your Doms have the same physiology. Care for your Dom just as they care for you.

We stress that communication is essential in the lifestyle. Communicate!

There’s a lot of information out there about drop. It goes by names like subdrop, Domdrop, bottom drop. Fetlife has reams of information about it and, Google and Bing won’t let you down. You have trusted friends in the community – either online or in real life. Pick their brains. The more you know, the better you can deal with this nasty little byproduct of fun.

And don’t forget those chocolate bites.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The "Myth" of Femdom

When I say the words “female Dominant” to you, what is the first thought that comes into your mind?

1.            Do you have a mental picture of a woman dressed in leather, wielding a whip, standing with her foot encased in CFM thigh-high boots on the throat of the naked man (or woman) lying at her feet?


2.            Do you have a mental picture of a woman who dresses no different than any other walking down the street with a man (or woman) who is very clearly her partner but may be walking a step or two behind her, who (among other things) opens a door for her and allows her to precede him?


3.            Do you have a mental picture of a couple unmistakably devoted to one another and it is clear that the female in this dynamic is the one “in charge”?


4.            Do you have a mental picture of no particular couple you pass on the street and wouldn’t give a second glance to because there is really nothing out of the truly ordinary about them?

These are just four scenarios put forth for your consideration. Guess what? In each one, there is a little bit of myth and a little bit of truth with one common bottom line – The woman is the Dominant partner.

And guess what else? All four dynamics describe D/s (Dominant/submissive), M/s (Master/slave), T/b (Top/bottom) dynamics of couples who happen to be friends of mine and all of whom just happen to be long-time members of the BDSM Community.

Now, for the 100 billion dollar question. Are you ready? Can you guess which is which? I’ll bet you thought #1 was the M/s couple, #2 the D/s couple, #3 the T/b couple, and #4 vanilla as vanilla could ever be. Well, surprise (or maybe not) – you are W.R.O.N.G.

Moral of the story: Appearances really are deceiving. So are preconceptions and assumptions.

And, just so we cover a lot of other bases – Femdom porn is bullshit. 

So why am I writing about the “myth” of  the Femdom, or put much more accurately, the “myth” of the female Dominant? I’ll give you the short version…

Last night, in a group I thoroughly enjoy on Facebook, a friend asked the question, “What is the difference between a Femdom and a female Dominant?” The discussion got very interesting with some very thoughtful, insightful comments…until…(and you just knew that was coming, didn’t you)…

Until one of the respondents - who just happened to be male - but I assure you, his gender had nothing to do with my disquiet - said some things that struck an extremely raw nerve with me. Among his assertions:  a) the femdom gets off on humiliation and ball busting men. (WTF?! Oh, no, he did. NOT. Just say that!!), and b) to justify assertion (a) after the BS flag was thrown by me and others in the thread - if one inquired within the BDSM Community about what a Femdom is…wait for it…99% of the Community would agree with his humiliation/ball busting description.

Oh, and said individual has 35 years experience in the Community, has written a book, is the pre-eminent authority on all things BDSM, and his way is the only way because he says so. (In the interest of accuracy and full disclosure – He has written a book. I can’t vouch for the rest of the information.)

Cue the sound of a bomb exploding. Yes, folks, that missile trail you saw in the sky last night was my head exploding as it rocketed into outer space.

Enter from stage wherever they happened to be at the time the members of The-You-Had-Better-Believe-That-Is-BULLSHIT Squad followed by the There-Is-No-Such-Thing-As-One-Twue-Way-In-BDSM Army.

Tymber Dalton, a very well-known author of BDSM fiction (among many other works, The Reluctant Dom - held as nearly iconic within the Community) and who LIVES the lifestyle, continues to spread the word about the “True Rules of BDSM”, quoted here with her permission:

Safety Note: By "rules" I'm not talking safety issues (bio-hazard precautions for needle play, safety issues for fire/wax play, strangulation/drop hazards for suspension play, no handcuffs for suspension, where/how to use implements as not to cause serious injury, etc.).

Rule One: Everyone involved in the play MUST be a CONSENTING adult. If their consent withdraws during play, play STOPS.

Rule Two: No one must be HARMED (physically, emotionally, sexually, mentally) by the play. (Hurt and harmed are two different things. They might WANT to be hurt. Harmed is lasting damage beyond the play.)

Rule Three: Everyone must either be having fun and/or getting what they need from the play.

Simple, direct, to the point, and accurate. (And I agree wholeheartedly and very enthusiastically.)

So, back on track here. Why is the depiction/assumption that female Dominants always humiliate men and bust their balls such a hot-button issue with me?

Well, the short answer is – because it’s total screaming, flaming, idiotic bullshit.

So, here’s the straight scoop, the truth, the real thing, the honest, no-bullshit answer to the question.

Female Dominants aka Femdoms/Dommes/Mistresses – call them by whatever label you like - are NO DIFFERENT than male Dominants, and a Femdom is nothing more than a DOMINANT within a relationship dynamic who just happens to be FEMALE.

Female + Dominant = Femdom

It’s that simple, that direct, to the point, and just that accurate.

Whatever dynamic you see in a relationship dynamic in which the dominant partner is female is whatever the participants in the dynamic have agreed upon between themselves. Same as when the male is the dominant partner in a relationship dynamic.

How do I know this to be accurate?

I LIVE the D/s life. However, while I classify myself as a submissive within the lifestyle, I submit ONLY to Sir Sayanov, kneel ONLY to Sir Sayanov, cleave ONLY to Sir Sayanov, serve ONLY Sir Sayanov, and with two exceptions (both Masters under whom Sir Sayanov and I have trained), call only one other Dominant/Master in my life Sir in any context – Sir Sayanov. In every single other aspect of my life, make no mistake, I am a Dominant in every sense of the word.

Within the Community, I have friends who are female Dominants. My absolute BFFL and business partner is a female Dominant. I have, in - to date - four instances, had a hand in training newly aware female Dominants. (Another subject for another post.)

This is called Real Life Experience, knowing and understanding your subject matter by living it. Every single day.

So, the next time someone asks you, “What is the difference between a Femdom and a female Dominant?” what will be the first thing that comes to your mind?

Oh, by the way, remember those four examples above? Still curious about which is which?

Here’s your answer: The couples are all of the above – depending on what they happen to be doing at any given time. The ONLY thing they have in common is that within each dynamic, there is a female who is the Dominant partner in the relationship.

See, it’s not that hard to understand. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Banned by Amazon? Here's an idea...

Your books have been removed or filtered by Amazon, the largest distributor of books in the world. This negatively impacts your sales and you are forced to try and figure out how to comply with their extremely ambiguous terms of service. After all, you are writing books about adults for adults. You’ve put warnings in your blurbs. You look at removal patterns, talk to your fellow authors and find, much to your chagrin, that there is no pattern to use as a template to guide you in your efforts to comply with these very ambiguous TOS.

Amazon will allow books that are basically instruction manuals on child abuse (Example: To Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl), erotic fiction put out by the Big Six mainstream publishers (Flowers in the Attic, works by Marquis deSade, 50 Shades of Grey, The Story of O, to name a few).

Feels like you just can’t win, right?

Not necessarily.

Think about this:

PG-13 AMAZON VERSION. AUTHOR’S CUT AVAILABLE AT (insert other distributor)

Sound silly?

Sure it does, but guess what? Does anyone remember the controversy surrounding Catcher in the Rye, Valley of the Dolls, The Satanic Verses? Take a look at this list:

I distinctly remember the outcry surrounding Valley of the Dolls which was a huge contributor to the book’s success. After all, ban a book and suddenly everyone wants a copy. Look at the phenomenon behind 50 Shades of Grey. “Mommy porn”, “Twilight rip-off”, yep, gotta get a copy…

Your book has been banned by Amazon. Wear this as a badge of honor. After all, you are definitely in good company. But consider this…why not use that as a marketing tool?

If you are a self-published author writing erotica or erotic romance, at some point, you will encounter the Amazon banhammer for either your cover, content or both. So, what do you do?

Veteran self-published authors are changing covers or looking at new designs for their covers so that they can still be sensual but get past the Amazon censor police. Some authors are mulling the idea of modifying content of already-published stories and trying to figure out what keywords will get their books flagged so that they can avoid these same keywords and still tell the story their characters dictate.

Hollywood may have the right idea. With movies, there are the theatrical release, the director’s cut, the unrated version, extended cut, etc. Now, if you’re going to buy a movie, are you going for the theatrical version, or are you going for the one that has all or most of the stuff that ended up on the editing room floor? Yep, me too.

So, let’s apply the same idea to self-published books. The author considers two versions – one for Amazon and one for other distributors who refuse to censor content because they, like the author, believe that the characters should tell the story and not the censor police. When marketing, stress that there are two versions of the book – the PG-13 version found on Amazon and the Author’s cut/full version/over-18-only versions available at (insert name of distributors).

Look, romance and erotic romance are the largest selling genre in the world with the largest reader base in the world. Each romance reader has friends, book clubs, Facebook pages, you name it. They already pimp their favorite authors, so this just adds a little spice to the mix.

Too much trouble, you say? Not necessarily. If the self-pub industry gets on the bandwagon, this just might work. Again, the proof is in the history. Look what happens when a book is banned.


In today’s electronic age, how difficult can it be to flag portions of a manuscript to be removed/modified to upload to Amazon? After all, some authors are designing two covers and two different blurbs for their books – one for Amazon (yeah, fruit as a cover for an erotic romance) and one for other distributors (cover model eye candy – nom!).

Okay, so you don’t want to mess with two versions of your books. Understandable. So, how about a tag line: TOO HOT FOR AMAZON. TOO RACY FOR AMAZON. And after your book has been banned by Amazon: BANNED BY AMAZON. Use big, bold letters or an asterisk in the title with the notation in tiny print on the back of the cover.

Back in the day, when I was in high school and Catcher in the Rye was given as a reading assignment, I’ll never forget the parental insanity that accompanied it. Yep, you guessed it…what book did everyone in the school suddenly want to read? Valley of the Dolls? Yep, even as young as I was at the time (13 or 14) I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. Story of O? I remember my BFF kept her copy under her mattress and read it by flashlight. Joy of Sex? I was an adult and still wouldn’t put that on my bookshelf; it stayed in a locked box, in a drawer in my nightstand. And my book club talked about that one in whispers. Get the picture?

If your book is banned by Amazon, I’ll definitely want to read it and so will a lot of other folks. I guess we’re either just pervy or proud that we flipped the censors the “finger”.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fifty Years Ago Today

It was a sunny Saturday morning in a little town just outside of Tokyo, Japan. The day was just getting started. Nothing felt out of the ordinary. That would change very quickly.

Japan is 14 hours ahead of the east coast of the US, and 15 hours ahead of Dallas, Texas. On Friday, November 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m. it was 3:30 a.m., Saturday, November 23, 1963.

I was 9 years old.

We were stationed in Japan, my father was a squadron commander at Tachikawa Air Force Base. He wasn’t at home; he was at work.

Back then, we didn’t have American TV. Our only English-speaking media was Far East Network operated by Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, AFRTS. I turned on my radio at 8:45 a.m. so that I could listen to my favorite Saturday morning radio show, Big John and Sparky due to air at 9:05. There was some program on, but the newsbreak was 9 a.m. and lasted for five minutes. I had just enough time to get my bowl of cereal, sneak it back to my bedroom and eat breakfast while listening to my show. My mom and brothers were asleep. Perfect.

I was sitting on my bed listening to the news when the announcer said something about the President being shot. I really wasn’t paying attention until then. I turned up the radio and put the cereal bowl on the desk that sat beside my bed.

The more I heard, the more scared I felt. 

The Cuban Missile Crisis had happened 13 months prior. The Cold War still raged. There was the Pacific to the east and Russia, China and North and South Korea to the west and southwest. We lived 658 miles from Vladivostok, USSR. The kids all knew something really bad was happening back home in America. The rumor mill said Russia was going to bomb the US. Our fathers were not home. Our moms were extremely cranky, and the school kept having duck and cover drills. The military bases were on extremely high alert. Yes, we were definitely on edge in a major way. When it was over, the relief was incredible, even for the children.

Now, 13 months later, someone had shot the President?? My dad wasn’t home - again - and we were NOT allowed to call his office – for any reason.

At approximately 9:30 a.m. (6:30 p.m., November 22, 1963, Dallas time) the announcement was made that the President was dead. I remember calling for my mother to wake up right away, somebody had killed the President. Where was dad? Was dad okay? Who did this?

Why did it take so long for us to hear about it?  Back then, news broadcasts and print media – AFRTS and Stars and Stripes newspaper - to military personnel were heavily censored. (The movies Good Morning, Vietnam and Full Metal Jacket weren’t far off the mark.) In addition, because of where we were stationed, the military personnel had to be in place and ready for anything to protect the bases and civilian personnel before the word got out to the dependents.

I don’t remember a whole lot about the rest of the day except that we were not allowed out to play and neither were any of our friends. The radio stayed on constantly. We did turn on the TV. This was the day of the first satellite broadcast from the US to Japan.

We cried for the President, for Jackie, and for Caroline and John-John. We were no strangers to children losing their dad. It had happened to our friends. Military children learn about the death of a parent sooner than any child ever should. We were sad that Caroline and John-John knew about that now, too.

The next days are a blur.

I do remember watching the funeral.

I remember that it was two weeks before my dad came home.

I remember the very vivid realization in my 9-year-old psyche that nothing would ever be the same again.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Amazon and Censorship - The Battle Continues

When all the crap came down about books being pulled from Amazon and other distributors, I started trying to figure out what was going on and contacted several of my geek friends. As near as we can determine the various ebook distributors are using software that scans uploaded ebooks for various terms that may indicate abusive or offensive material. 

What are these words? No one knows and no one can get answers. I know this because my geek colleagues and I have tried to get those answers.

Why can’t we get answers? Because the sysadmin or a committee will set the parameters for the search terms and this is based on their terms of service and personal opinions of what constitutes offensive material.  Subjective much?

What does that mean?  It means that any ebook containing words like “rape”, or phrases that may indicate nonconsent or dubious consent, or incestuous relationships, bondage, domination, submission, sadism, masochism, or any number of other words and phrases as determined by nebulous authorities will be pulled by the computer.

Yes, you read that right – some nameless, faceless individual guided by extremely ambiguous terms of service and guidelines, and their personal opinion inputs arbitrary words and phrases as search criteria, then turns the computer loose to pull ebooks because they have been determined to be pornography, abusive, offensive or just something a few zealots have determined is “undesirable”.

Yes, the implication is correct.  Adults are being told what they can and can’t read, even in the face of the US Constitution and the US Supreme Court rulings regarding pornography.  See the thumbnails of the cases cited here :

Keep in mind, that no one has an argument with the ruling that adults have the right to restrict what children will be able to access, but I’m talking about what ADULTS can access and purchase.

Then there is the issue of interference with a person’s livelihood since writing is, in fact, a job.

As long as we’re discussing subjective criteria for undesirable, offensive material, then I’d like an answer to this question:  Why is the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy still for sale?

Amazon is, without qualification/argument, the largest book distributor in the world. Where goes Amazon, so go the rest of the lemmings.  So, as an author what can you do?  As a reader, what can you do?

Email your Amazon contact and request SPECIFIC REASONS why they have removed your book(s). Do not settle for anything less than a very detailed explanation.  In many cases, when a human takes a look at the books, they are reinstated because there was really nothing wrong in the first place.  That doesn’t help you with your lost sales during the period when the book was blocked, but at least it’ll be back up and available for sale.

UK authors:  Until your new obscenity laws are challenged through your courts, you are pretty much SOL, but I would suggest that you do the same. Email and demand a detailed explanation of why your book(s) was/were removed/blocked.

Now, here is where the real power lies – money. Our wallets have incredible power. I personally purchase close to 1000 (one thousand – and you did read that right) books PER YEAR. I have the receipts to prove it.  And my numbers sometimes don’t even come close to some other folks’ numbers. The point is, I’m not the only one who buys up in the high hundreds of books per year. Do the math and then think about that incredible amount of revenue.

Now you understand just where the power lies, right? So how do we use it?

We sit down and email Amazon AND we write to Jeff Bezos AND we pick up the phone and call Amazon’s global headquarters:

Jeffrey Bezos, CEO
Amazon Incorporated Headquarters
410 Terry Avenue North
Seattle, Washington USA    98109

Phone:  +1-206-266-1000

If you call, you want to speak to the VP in charge of customer relations.

When you write or call, do NOT get emotional.  Talk money.  Tell them how much you spend on books per year.  Tell them about the other products you order from Amazon. Tell them that you have no problem with switching over to some other ereader because there are free apps out there for the other readers available on the market, and there is file converter software like Calibre that can convert the proprietary files. Make no bones about the fact that you will go elsewhere to purchase the other products Amazon sells.  Make the point that Amazon is NOT the only game in town and you will take your business elsewhere. Not only that, you will encourage your friends on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and any other social networking media you use to do the same. And, oh, by the way, some of those friends out there are probably Amazon stockholders.  Jus’ sayin’…

Amazon will act like it really doesn’t make a difference to them, that they are sorry to see you go (remember, to them you are just one small fish in a big sea). The thing is, if enough people protest and boycott, Amazon will get the message and learn the same lesson just like PayPal did.

Remember:  When talking to big corporations, leave the emotion at the door or in your closet.  TALK NUMBERS. This is the only language they speak.

Speaking of numbers…Think about this:  Amazon Prime charges $79.00/year for membership. Yes, you do get a good bang for your buck.  BUT… if 10 Prime members cancel their membership, that’s lost revenue of $790.00 per year, if 1000 members cancel that’s $79,000/year.  If 100,000 members cancel because they will not sit still for this crap that is 7.9 MILLION per year in lost revenue.  Now, those numbers are not chump change to stockholders. And 100,000 possible dropped Prime memberships is not an impossible number thanks to the prevalence of various social media out there. Some of us use several social networking sites. 

One last thing, if they tell you that they are filtering results (which is what they tried to pull with me), insist that they give you instructions on how to turn off any filters. I’m still waiting on a reply to that question.

If you don’t act, one morning you’ll wake up and the zealots, corporations and lazy parents will have determined what you can and can’t read.  Is that really what you want? 

EDITED TO ADD FOLLOW-UP COMMENT:  There does seem to be a pattern after all. Attention authors:  Watch those titles.  Words like CAPTIVE, RAPE, DAUGHTER, DADDY, various animals, TAKEN, etc. will probably get your book flagged. Just remember, be sure to contact the distributor and demand a detailed explanation of why your book(s) was/were taken down.