Email: rachelkramerbussel at


Lusty Lady

Watch my first and favorite book trailer for Spanked: Red-Cheeked Erotica. Get Spanked in print and ebook

Friday, January 30, 2015

Feminism, BDSM and submission at

I profiled a woman who is nothing like Anastasia Steele for "What It's Really Like to Be a Submissive and a Feminist" at Please check it out and if you like it, feel free to share it on your social media accounts. I like that they asked me to do an as told to because so many pieces about submission in the wake of Fifty Shades of Grey have drawn giant, sweeping, problematic conclusions about submissive women. This is one woman's story (and of course, she said a lot of other amazing stuff but I couldn't include it all, but still, I thought what she had to say was fascinating).

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Naked ladies and oral sex and liking Blizzard Juno Jersey as much as Curaçao

Those are the topics of my sex columns this week: I wrote about naked women and men and Caitlin Stasey's new site for Philadelphia City Paper and about attitudes around cunnilingus now that it's having its pop culture moment for DAME. As always, I'm open to new column topic suggestions at rachelkb at and if you like the columns, please click "like" at the top and/or otherwise pass it on. It helps enormously to show my editors that people want to read me on sex.

I will go out on a limb and say that unless I discover some giant sex scandal, my OrgasmQuest column will be the most popular one at City Paper for the rest of my tenure, which I think is awesome, but I also want the others to be read too, because who knows how long this ride will last? Especially because this week I was told that my column is online only because space was limited and it was either the crossword puzzle or the sex column on the chopping block. Trust me, I'd have made the same decision, because I love puzzles, but it was a little reminder to me that none of this is permanent, so thank you so much for reading, and please do pitch me! I want to feature more people, topics and sex acts/fetishes/interests that are under the radar and deserve attention, especially if there's an element, as with the OrgasmQuest, that will help other people.

Blogging has been light because with Blizzard Juno I got a bunch of new assignments which has been wonderful but made me a busier freelancer than I've ever been. So a deluge of sex articles are coming from me as I count down for the release of Best Bondage Erotica 2015, which you can follow @bestbondage on Twitter and read a free excerpt from the crazy hot nude bondage story "The Centerpiece" by Erin Spillane here. You would hardly think that a week ago I was in Curaçao for a much-needed vacation, where it looked like this:


Being away, and being able to afford to be away for a few days, felt amazing, but it's actually a little more complicated than that, and when this crazy deadline week is over, I will write about that awkwardness and the pressures and guilt of full-time freelancing for me in more depth. The funny thing is that I'm even happier, in my own way, this week in snowy New Jersey than I was on an 85-degree beach, just in a different way. I will be writing more soon about how I balance my life and time (and how I don't!), because there are some important conversations about money and writing going on, but will just end here saying that its' 6:12 a.m. and I'm already raring to go and wrapping up some pieces so I can get started on the new ones, and all I am is grateful. Last January I had no idea how I would continue to make a living. Now, at least at this very moment, I have enough work so I know that, much as I love putting my little erotica books out into the world and want them to do well, I'm not relying on them to succeed. I can feel the world cracking open for me, and all I am trying to do is be open and grateful and ready for whatever comes next. Another cool thing this week? I was quoted in The New York Times about This., a new social networking site where you can share one link per day. Right now it's invite only and I gave away all my invites, but you can sign up to be notified when they'll have more (you can also sign up with them to be added when they open it up). The place I update the most, probably because it's best suited to my ADD nature, is Twitter. I'm @raquelita.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

A lesbian Secretary of State, a "Kitchen Slut" and more in the Hungry for More audiobook

As I've said before, the subtitle of my anthology Hungry for More: Romantic Fantasies for Women doesn't, in my opinion, do it justice. That was out of my hands, but what is in my hands, as much as these things can be, is the power to use my blog and other means to let you know just how filthy hot dirty sexy these fantasy erotica stories are. Some do veer toward the romantic, but when I was selecting stories, the ones I chose were the ones that spoke to the most outrageous fantasies, that went above and beyond in terms of going for it, society be damned. Which is why there's a lesbian sex Secretary of State story in "Madam Secretary" by Jaye Markham and all sorts of kitchen supplies in "Kitchen Slut" by Olivia Archer. There's male/male sex and female voyeurism in "Bringing The Heart" by Tiffany Reisz, which you can read a free excerpt from on her site, (not to mention, of course, baseball!). There's anonymous sex in "Craig's List" by Greta Christina. There's one of the edgiest, taboo-busting stories I've ever published in "Jailbait Torch Song" by Valerie Alexander, which in its way is one of the most romantic erotica stories I've read. There's food play in "Organically Grown" by Brandy Fox. There's bukkake in my "A First Time for Everything." And so much more. I wanted these to be stories that would tap into readers' minds and let them in turn acknowledge the kinds of fantasies that can make us shiver, whether in arousal or fear, we're not quite sure. I wanted these stories to go there, and stay there, to not shy away for one second from the often intense, button-pushing fantasies.


And now, the print edition and ebook are joined by the audiobook, which is available for sale at Audible. You can listen to a free sample of "Submissive" by Jacqueline Applebee, the opening story. There's more of it at Audible, but here's a sneak peek at this BDSM fantasy story:
by Jacqueline Applebee

I could tell you how Monty did me wrong. I could paint myself all shades of sorrowful. But that isn’t in my nature, not one bit. I’m thankful for everything that happened.

I was born to serve others. I skipped a lot of school, stayed at home to help out when Ma got sick. I raised my sister’s two kids when she up and ran away. Family’s important to me, it don’t matter what they did. I guess I’m a traditional gal when all’s said and done. Either that or I’m a dumb fuck.

Kinky sex was a whole new bag for me. I found a stray book in one of the bins at work. It was a trashy romance where the heroine got hog-tied and screwed six ways to Sunday by a glamorous Count. She was in her element when she was being used. But in the end, she was the one who ran the show, no matter what Count what’s-his-name thought.

When I read that book, I could almost feel a light going off in my head. I wanted some of that. I wanted to be a submissive.
Read the entire story (or listen to it) in Hungry for More, available for sale at:


Kindle ebook

Nook ebook 




IndieBound (find your local independent bookstore)

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Germany

Audible audiobook

Cleis Press

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Sex Writing Career Advice I Learned from Amanda Palmer's book The Art of Asking

Remember my OrgasmQuest column, aka, my most-read column for Philadelphia City Paper? What I thought was my little alt weekly column has since blown up all over the internet, with this appearance by Crista Anne on Dr. Drew's show capping it off last week (this is a snippet of a longer segment):

And, today, her own It Happened To Me essay at xoJane.

At Thought Catalog, I wrote about my new approach to shameless self promotion and how it helped kick off the column going viral, why I consider it now a vital part of my sex columnist and freelance writing job, and how The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer helped guide me.


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Friday, January 23, 2015

How to write a sex column

I'm gearing up to teach my nonfiction sex writing class (along with my erotica workshop) at CatalystCon March 27th in Arlington, Virginia, and also planning an online extended version of that class, along with writing sex columns for Philadelphia City Paper and DAME, so I've been thinking a lot about sex columns, sharing, getting personal and getting your words out there.

To date I've written sex columns for The Village Voice, Penthouse, The Frisky, and the current two, and I've found that having the ongoing platform of a column is very different from sporadic articles and essays. In those, I also apply these principles, but one of the main differences is, when I know I'm filing every week or every other week, I'm constantly paying attention to what's happening in the world of sex and looking for a way in to these topics, ideally a way that hasn't been done a million times already. I've been reading a lot of Penelope Trunk's blog, which I highly recommend, except for the fact that every time I visit I want to feast on so many of her career advice posts and the things she links to that a "short" visit to her site often leads to hours of reading. The way she styles her blog posts inspired me to write this one.

1. Write what you know

I agonized and procrastinated and almost scrapped this spanking column, because it felt self-indulgent. Yes, I love spanking, so what else is new? But funnily enough, even though it felt like that to me, this column has been one of the best performing ones at City Paper and even got reprinted in Metro. Why? My hunch is that because I wrote exactly what I thought. I wasn't trying to look at all sides of an issue because it's not really an "issue," but a practice or interest or kink or fetish. It's okay, desired even, to be personal, which is why the title is (emphasis added) "A good spanking really turns me on."

2. Write what you're curious about

This week I wrote about nipple play, which is something I enjoy both from a giving and receiving perspective, but wanted to go more in depth about. When I saw Jerome Stuart Nichols' post about it, I knew I'd found someone who could answer my questions. I did the same thing with my bisexuality column at DAME. Yes, I'm a bisexual woman, but I didn't think I'd offer much in this case with my experiences alone, so I sought out women with varying perspectives on their bisexuality/queerness.

3. Get political

I introduced myself to Philadelphia City Paper readers by asking "Are you a slut?" because I think slut shaming has become so rampant and insidious that stamping it out is at the root of true sexual freedom. By that I mean both the way we slut shame other people and the way, sometimes more subtly, we slut-shame ourselves, or allow slut shaming to run rampant. That's political and personal and something that applies to people of all genders and sexual orientations, albeit often in different ways.

4. Ask questions

I have way more questions than answers about sex and dating, and in this case, kept getting what I felt were mixed signals. Is it a date? Is it not a date? Where's the line between friends and something more? I think this goes along with curiosity. When you make your questions public, you admit you don't have all the answers, but you also invite people to help you with your conundrums and share their own questions or just commiserate. You make it a conversation, rather than a proclamation.

5. Respond to what others are saying about sex

FYI, I think if we'd called this column "I Want To Be Your Blowjob Queen" it would have done better. But anyway, when I see something I vehemently disagree with, I don't want to let it go, especially because with sex, so many of us approach the acts and topics without truly seeing our biases. Of course we don't get pleasure from using our mouths might seem obvious, until you start to unpack it.

6. Be timely

I wrote "Spanking Jessica Cutler" when her story was a hot topic. Same for "USC's Topless Professor". Strike while the news is hot, but add your own twist, either by doing original reporting or exploring a new angle.

7. Write about sex that surprises you

When I wrote about going on a date with Betty Dodson's boyfriend Eric and how pee factored into it, I got some shocked emails. I was shocked myself. To me one of the biggest things I've learned about sex from writing about it for so long is that I always have the capacity to surprise myself. Life does, sex does, and being open to those new frontiers and to my feelings about them is what makes personal writing, well, personal. It's not about shocking for the sake of shocking or chasing those surprises, but being open to them and recognizing them.

8. Get naked (literally) (topless photo warning NSFW)

In this case, I mean literally, but I think the more emotionally naked you can get in your writing, the deeper the ideas will penetrate, if you will. People respect bravery in writing (and other kinds of art), and can tell when you are giving something of yourself that's challenging. In August 2005, I wrote: "Putting the real me out there requires setting aside every body image woe and believing, wholeheartedly, that I'm worth photographing, worth having my curvy, imperfect, rounded body captured forever on film." That's still true, and something I've certainly been contemplating this week while on a beach wearing a bathing suit that fit me better 20 pounds ago.

9. Give sex advice

I am not a sexpert, and while there are some topics I do feel comfortable expounding upon in terms of advice giving, most I don't. But I do love picking people's brains about their expertise, and in that way I can offer tips on, in this case, talking dirty, while also sharing my own personal perspective.

10. Be of service to those in need

When I first read about Crista Anne's OrgasmQuest, I had an immediate feeling it was an important story. Why? Because while it's a very personal journey for her, depression and mental health issues as they interact with our sexuality is something extremely common, possibly universal. "Mental health" is something I think almost everyone has a story about, whether of their own or a family member, friend, loved one, etc. It's a perfect example of the personal being so bigger than just one person, which is I think why this story has gone viral and opened up so much discussion. I want to write more columns that explore how sex intersects with other parts of our lives and can be deeply transformative.

Bonus: embrace the word "fuck"

I don't know if you can get away with curses in mainstream print mags, but in alt weeklies and online you can, and when used judiciously and accurately, it can add a little fun to a title and topic.

Want more writing tips and to find out about my upcoming classes? Sign up for my monthly newsletter below or on my website! Want to read more of my nonfiction? Check out my ebook Sex & Cupcakes: A Juicy Collection of Essays.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

A mother daughter review of my debut book Sex & Cupcakes

This writer's dream is to move people with her words, so I can only say a giant thank you to Oleander Plume and her 19-year-old daughter Quinn for sharing the dialogue between them about sex, sex education and sparked by reading my ebook Sex & Cupcakes: A Juicy Collection of Essays. They also each review the book, but their truly honest, open intergenerational discussion was so enlightening. I can only hope that someday I will be in a position to raise a child in such a sex-positive, honest way. It truly made my month and I gave them a shoutout in my essay "Sorry, But I'm Not A Sexpert" at Thought Catalog. Here's a snippet of what Quinn wrote, which is a stark picture of what modern sex education is like:
In high school, the biggest emphasis was abstinence. They told us about these magical things called birth control pills and condoms, then said neither were 100% effective. To further ensure that we wouldn’t have sex, they whammied us with the a short film showing the “miracle of giving birth”, then showed us delightful pictures of genitalia oozing with herpes and other types of STDs. I didn’t know about all the different types of birth control until I attended a seminar in college, and oddly enough, my friend just told me that she just found out about IUD’s. I think teens are hesitant to ask about other preventative measures, or sex in general, because of the bad stigma associated with it.

Please read their post, and if you haven't, please check out my ebook Sex & Cupcakes (no, you do NOT need a Kindle to read it! You can read on your phone, laptop, etc.): Sex&Cupcakes

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Pinch my nipples, please

That's the title for this week's Philadelphia City Paper sex column, where I got some help from Jerome Stuart Nichols of If you like nipples, my column or just want to be supportive, I'd love it if you'd like, Tweet, share on G+ or anywhere else. In case you're wondering: yes, it matters, immensely. If no one was reading, my column would have ended by now. Since last week's OrgasmQuest column went viral, spawning articles on sites like Jezebel and Refinery29 and The Daily Dot, a segment on Dr. Drew's HLN show last night, I'm finding out just how important reader support is, and I'll be writing more on that soon.


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Monday, January 19, 2015

What it's like to be a bisexual woman in my new DAME column Shameless Sex

I started a second sex column which debuted at one of my favorite sites, DAME, on Wednesday. It's called Shameless Sex and the first column is called "Why don't people take bisexuality seriously?" Salon just reprinted with the title, "Yes, bisexuality is real."


Please note: DAME is a women's site so I focused on women's experiences, and yes, there is a lot more to bisexuality than I could fit in one column. The good news? I'll be there every other Wednesday and have some great topics coming up, so if you have a suggestion for me for the column, which will be focused on women and sex pretty broadly, email me at rachelkb at with "DAME" in the subject line. Also, I quoted some awesome women, so thank you Dorianne Emmerton, Amy Andre and Allison Moon.

I open the column with some lines from Desiree Akhavan's excellent new indie film Appropriate Behavior with a bisexual protagonist (Akhavan wrote, directed and stars in it!), which I encourage you to watch now on iTunes. It had some hilarious lines and just an interesting story line. It was zany but had a heart and dealt with a bisexual woman's drama without being sensationalistic. Here's a great clip of Akhavan interviewed by Janet Mock on her new show So POPular. Here's the trailer:

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Writing is like doing a jigsaw puzzle

Recently, my boyfriend and I completed this jigsaw puzzle (of the Vincent van Gogh painting Café Terrace at Night), in about a week:


Every time I wandered over to the puzzle, deciding which part I wanted to tackle, peering closely at each piece, so close I could see the brush strokes, I made this connection: doing a jigsaw puzzle is like writing. When you dig deep into it, get lost in it, you are moving piece by piece, word by word. You are breaking the process down into its most individual parts. Sometimes you are getting so deep into the trees you forget there's a forest, and that's a good thing. Not to forget that forests exists entirely, but to be able to focus so closely on the detail that only the detail matters. Only the next word, and how it fits with the one before and the one that will come after.

For me, with any task, when I start to think about the entire thing, I so often hit a wall. I'll never get that done, I think. With writing, "the entire thing" usually isn't just that one piece of writing, it's all the assignments I've taken, plus all the pieces I want to write and pitch on spec and all the vaguely floating longer projects get the idea. That is sometimes what goes through my mind when I start to write, say, a 650 word column.

Lately, writing has been scary. It's often felt impossible, even though I still know, somewhere deep inside, that I have good ideas, that if I can just fashion them in the right way, get them lined up just so, polished and pretty and rolling off the tongue, I will have produced something I'm proud of, that will resonate with others. Yes, I do care, greatly, what other people think of my writing. How can I not? Unless I'm blogging right here or posting somewhere that's unpaid, I am literally relying on other people to approve my words. It's a tricky balance, to believe in your worth and your words, to be able to step back and say, yes, okay, I'm done, to send it in and move on.

And that is where writing is very much not like a puzzle. Even though the process is indeed similar, with a jigsaw puzzle, there's only one possible right answer. Trust me, with a 1,500 piece puzzle, I tried many times to cram a piece into the wrong slot, or turned it over to check if maybe, even though clearly it wasn't a match, maybe somehow when I looked from the other side it would be. It got easier the farther we got, both because there were fewer pieces to choose from and we had more information about what shapes and colors went were. We also developed a shorthand, each of us speaking our own puzzle language.

With writing, as with chess, there are so many choices that I think don't think human brain, at least, my human brain, can always process them in a way that helps narrow them down. Often I just have to do the equivalent of putting blinders on and pretending to myself that actually there aren't other choices, there is only the one, the path I've chosen, because to agonize over every detail can leave me simply staring at my screen. Or typing and then deleting. Or going way over my word count. Or giving up altogether and surfing the internet.

Truthfully, sometimes I wish the processes were the same, that a 1,500 word article had the same pre-ordained outcome as a 1,500 piece puzzle. But then I stop and think about it and realize I would hate that, if everyone who set out to write about a given topic churned out the exact same words. The times I wish that are, to put it bluntly, the times when writing is just hard. When it feels like the last thing I should be doing for a living. When all my Impostor Syndrome symptoms come out in full force. It's then that I have to take a step back and remind myself that sometimes you just have to do the best you can. Not every piece is going to be my personal favorite, or receive universal acclaim, and that's okay. Sometimes you do it anyway. Sometimes, like with our puzzle, a piece is missing, or feels like it's missing, but it's deadline time, or you're as done as you're going to be, or you set your spec essay aside for another day.

This week I got two rejections from publications I'd love to break into, and both were actually lovely. Both suggested I try them again, with a twist on those same pieces, even. That is different from a jigsaw puzzle too. Because when there is that outcome you know you can reach if you just keep trying hard enough, and that everyone doing that same puzzle will reach it too if they are just diligent enough, you do get a sense of satisfaction, but it's not the same sense of satisfaction when you make up something from scratch in your brain.

If you're struggling with your writing, I recommend Jordan Rosenfeld's post "Being Enough." She writes:
Success is narcotic in its effect on us. Over time, you need more and more to achieve the same level of internal fulfillment each acceptance, paycheck or accolade brings. I am especially prone to this, as a self-employed writer. Each win is especially big for me, because I did it with my own labor (though always with lots of mentorship and camaraderie along the way). So I court the next one and the next one.
I'm about to go on vacation, but I'm planning to get a jigsaw puzzle to do when I get back. Because, like writing, I'm hooked on it. Even when it's a challenge, I want that challenge (though sometimes I do everything in my power to avoid that challenge). So no, writing is not always like a jigsaw puzzle, but I think the two processes can work well together.

To further join the two together, here's a little snippet of a story I wrote inspired by the previous jigsaw puzzle we did, but a sexy fictionalized version, in Kristina Wright's anthology xoxo: Sweet and Sexy Romance (which as of this posting is only $2.00 on Amazon for the paperback!). I hope this shows you really can write erotica about anything! Here's an opening snippet of my story:
I'm leaning across the dining room table, my elbows precariously placed in one of the few spots where the wood isn't covered by jigsaw puzzle pieces, straining to secure a key piece of the Tropicana in its designated spot. We've been working on the two-thousand piece Las Vegas Strip puzzle, one I thought we'd finish in a weekend, for a month, so every match is a mini victory. I've just lined up the edges exactly and am ready to look for my next victim when I feel a slap on my ass that makes me gasp. I don't dare turn around to look at my boyfriend, Roger, but instead pause right where I am, drop my head, close my eyes and wait.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Can orgasm cure depression? Mental health, masturbation and an Orgasm Quest in this week's Philadelphia City Paper sex column

Mental health is a topic that's very important to me, so I knew I wanted to write about the ways it intersects with sexuality and in this week's Philadelphia City Paper sex column, "Cheering for a mom who's on an orgasm quest", I did. It's also about the vital importance of masturbation to sanity and what masturbation can offer that partner sex can't and what the link is between sex and mental health.


If you like the column, please pass it on, and if you have suggestions for future columns, please let me know at rachelkb at with "City Paper" in the subject line.

So far I've covered slut shaming, campus sex ed, the best time to get it on, an erotic salon, couples' sex toys, pegging, blowjobs, sex gratitude, talking dirty, porn censorship, Catholic virginity, lube, spanking, swinging and now, mental health. The beauty/struggle of a weekly column is there's a new topic every week so I have to stay on my toes and plan ahead. I also have been forced to reign in my instinct to talk to everyone who's ever so much as thought about a given subject because my word count is short short short, so I have to focus more on personal stories, and that's been a gift to my working process as well.

This week I got a happy surprise that free paper Metro picked up my spanking column. It was ironic because that is the one out of all of them I struggled the most over. Like, couldn't sleep, would wake up in a panic, put it off and off, almost scrapped it to write about a different topic. Isn't that always the way? I'm trying to keep that in mind these days when writing is a challenge, which is far more often than I'd like.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Top 10 Things I Liked About Teaching Erotica Writing at LitReactor

Updated August 8th, 2015: This top 10 list still holds true, as I head into my fourth LitReactor online erotica writing class next week, which runs August 13th to September 10th. You can sign up through August 12th and if you have questions, email me at rachelkb at with "LitReactor" in the subject line. You can also read what my students have to say - I'm thrilled to see so many of them enthused about erotica and getting published.


Since my first LitReactor class ended in November, I've been thinking about all the reasons why I was so impressed with online teaching and why I'm moving toward making that my primary teaching tool.


You can read what my students have said, but here are my reasons for enjoying teaching at LitReactor:

1. It's online Yes, that may seem obvious, but it made such a huge difference to me. On a business level, I know in advance how many people will be part of the class, and don't have to compete with other events happening that same night or worry about the weather making it hard to get there. Anyone with internet access can be part of the class. This also means students from anywhere in the world can be part of it. They also don't have to leave their houses and can work in the environment they're most comfortable and, with LitReactor, can participate whenever is convenient so time zones aren't an issue.

2. Anonymity This goes along with the fact that it's online, but I've found that in in person workshops, sometimes there is remarkable camaraderie, but sometimes people are shy about sharing their work. I never force people to share, but I found a greater percentage of people willing to post their work for critique and give critiques under the cloak of anonymity. (LitReactor lets users sign up with any username they like; most people used a pseudonym for my first class.)

3. It's four weeks This one also may seem obvious, but I didn't realize how much I would appreciate it. Here's the thing: no matter how prepared I am, I almost always forget something in person, because I'm human. I might remember to mention a certain story or call for submissions, but forget another. Online, if I forget something, I can add to a lecture or start a new discussion about a smaller but relevant topic. I found myself doing that several times during the last class and was so grateful I had the opportunity to do so. The freedom of being able to log in 24/7 helped foster an environment that, for me, helped me both remember and think of new things to share.

4. Reaches the literary and erotica worlds Because this class is via LitReactor, it draws on their broad readership based in various literary communities as well as my contacts in the erotica community. I found that this breadth of cross-sections made for a rich level of feedback across various subgenres.

5. Ample time to think, read and research In my typical two hour workshop and even in my longer three hour ones with CatalystCon, the focus is on writing exercise and delivering a large amount of information in a small amount of time. With my LitReactor class, I'm delivering a written lecture, and giving assignments, which students have time to ponder, ask questions about and devote more than a few minutes to the assignment. If they start a draft and it's not working out, they can scrap it and try another premise. They can think and process at their own pace. Let's face it; some people write very quickly, and for others it's a slower process. Some of us alternate between those two modes. Having several days to complete an assignment means you can let it gestate in your head and see where it takes you. You also have, again, #1, the internet at your disposal so you can look at photos, do research if you need to, access information and visual prompts you don't have time for if you only have a few minutes to write.

6. Supportive environment This is, of course, not exclusive to online teaching, but one of my favorite things about the class was the way it was set up. Students can access and respond to their fellow students, start discussions, ask questions privately of me or "publicly" to the other students, all within that controlled environment.

7. I can focus on individual questions If I only have fifteen minutes to answer questions, I can't really take 1/3 of that time to devote to one person's very specific query. But online I can. If someone wants to know about a specific market or an aspect of publishing or pseudonyms or novellas or whatever it is, I can answer their specific query. This is also helpful for other students; even if student B has no intention of publishing an erotic science fiction novel, details about that process might be useful when thinking about Student A's situation. For me, I want to make sure students get the answers they are looking for, and I appreciate the opportunity to say, "Here's a link," or "I'm not sure about the answer but I know who to ask and will get back to you."

8. Highlight authors, editors and publishers I always give out a syllabus and information on current markets for erotica, but with my online class, I go further, and I learned a lot from the extra interviews I included. I am in the process of updating that information for this next class and in the process discovering markets and publishers I hadn't previously heard of. These in-depth looks are useful because I am just one person and while I've worked with many publishers, I haven't done everything, and this gives me the chance to highlight different paths students can take when considering how to break into the erotica market.

9. Discussion and room to experiment The assignments I give in my LitReactor class are fundamentally different from the ones I assign in live workshops largely because of the time allotted. I can't say "Write 2,000 words in 10 minutes" and expect people to be able to work with that. Though I always hope in live workshops students will want to continue their work after they get home, with LitReactor, I can give them twists on types of stories and see the progression of their work. Students can try various ways of approaching their work; maybe they are used to writing in first person, or third person, or writing about a certain environment, but over the course of a month, they may be inspired to try new kinds of viewpoints, plots and approaches.

10. Giving and getting feedback and forming community This is something I found extremely valuable, because it shows students in a practical way the various directions a mind can go with a given assignment, and how that plays out on a practical level. I critique all assignments each week and students have the option of critiquing their fellow students' work. Over the course of four weeks, I found that through the process of reading, writing and asking questions of me and each other, students formed a mini community. They helped each other and offered links and information I wouldn't have come across. Since the class is limited to 16 people, it means students get a range of opinions, but it's small enough that people can get to know each other and their various writing styles.

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Did you sign up for your free copy of Best Bondage Erotica 2015 yet?

If not, what are you waiting for? It's easy. Basically, you agree to have Thunderclap post on your Facebook, Twitter and/or Tumblr account about my hot new book Best Bondage Erotica 2015, out very very soon, which has kinky camping stories, home repair and bondage, a certain craft turned into bondage equipment and much more, and I send you a free book after the campaign closes (limited to the first 100). You must, of course, actually participate in the Thunderclap campaign in order to get the free book. Interested? Sign up for the Best Bondage Erotica 2015 Thunderclap here.

There are 77 more freebie spots left in my promotion for the Thunderclap campaign (I am running the free book part myself). If you're one of the first 100 people to join, just send me an email at bestbondage2015 at with "Thunderclap" in the subject line and your name and mailing address AND your Facebook URL, Twitter handle and/or Tumblr URL that you used for the Thunderclap. I'll send you an autographed book as soon as the campaign ends. I'm excited to introduce this sexy series to lots of new readers, and appreciate you spreading the word. I try to up the ante each year with new ways of approaching bondage, and think it's safe to say the 2015 edition definitely pushes the kinky envelope.

click on the cover to see what's in the book!

I'll be posting more about my 5 years of editing this kinky series along with excerpts from this brand new book that should be in my hands any down now, but here are a few free stories and excerpts from years past:

Free excerpts from all 20 stories in Best Bondage Erotica 2014

"The Weight" from Best Bondage Erotica 2012 at Goodreads

Read a long excerpt of "Foot and Mouth" from Best Bondage Erotica 2013 at Fresh Fiction or listen to me read it at Liar's League

A bit of illustration of my Best Bondage Erotica 2011 story and my thoughts on writing and editing erotica via the wonderful Seth Kushner and his CulturePop project (I encourage you to read them all!).


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Sunday, January 11, 2015

My erotica writing workshops in State College, PA, Arlington, VA, Baltimore and online (aka, anywhere)

I'll have details about a reading I'm doing in Brooklyn at indie bookstore BookCourt February 16th and my March Virginia events in Richmond and Charlottesville soon, but the other events I'm doing are workshops. The most in-depth will be the month-long LitReactor class, which is geared toward writers who want to dig deep into what makes a story erotica, write every week, learn about the erotica writing market and how to get published and make money and give and get critiques (giving critiques is optional but is very helpful in learning about how different people approach the same assignment). The CatalystCon workshops, because they are three hours, are also pretty in-depth and cover a lot of ground. If you are in or near State College, Pennsylvania, please let people know; it's my first time being there. Looking forward to all of these.

February 9, 7-9 p.m.
Erotica Writing 101 workshop, State College, PA

Professional erotica author and editor Rachel Kramer Bussel, editor of over 50 anthologies such as The Big Book of Orgasms, Flying High and Best Bondage Erotica 2014, will take you through the ins and outs of modern erotic writing, from getting started, finding your voice, and incorporating your surroundings, pop culture, and personal experiences into your stories to crafting a range of characters and settings and submitting your work.

In this supportive, welcoming workshop environment, you'll learn how to write vividly about everyday scenarios as well as outlandish fantasies, and make them fit for particular publications in the thriving erotica market. This workshop will address the recent boom in erotica inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey, provide examples of well written erotica, and will include multiple writing exercises. You'll be given a handout listing major markets and further reading suggestions.

No previous writing experience required. Please bring laptop or pen and paper.
Hotel State College, 100 W. College Avenue, State College, PA Tickets via Eventbrite, $20/person

March 24, 6:30 p.m.
Erotica Writing 101 workshop, Baltimore

Same description as above. $25/person.

Sugar, 1001 West 36th Street, Baltimore, Maryland, 410-467-2632
Purchase tickets in person at the store, over the phone with a credit card or online at Brown Paper Tickets.

March 27, 9:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Erotica Writing 101 workshop ahead of CatalystCon, Arlington, VA

(see link for nonfiction sex writing workshop later that day) Same description as above. $45/person.
Hilton Crystal City, 2399 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA

February 12-March 12
LitReactor online erotica writing class
(participate any time of the day or night)

Last but definitely not least, and where I plan to focus my teaching: the internet! This is for those who are truly serious about wanting to write erotica and devote time each week to stories and submitting them. You of course aren't required to submit them but there's a lot of market information, including new exclusive interviews with editors and publishers about what they are looking for right now. Specifically, the wonderful LitReactor, where I taught a sold-out class last fall and had such an amazing experience I was sad to see it end. Click here to read testimonials from former students. There are only a few spots left and the class is limited to 16 people so if you're thinking of signing up, I advise not waiting until the last minute.


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Friday, January 09, 2015

What my LitReactor students are saying about my online erotica writing class

Rather than just me telling you about my four-week online erotica writing class at LitReactor, which I'm teaching again February 12th to March 12th, I wanted to share what 3 of the students who took it in the fall had to say. LN Bey and Ashton Peal have both sold stories created in class; more on that at the end. I believe there are 8 of 16 spots left, and the last one sold out, so if you're thinking of taking the class, please check out the week by week details and assignments. If you have any questions about the class, feel free to email me at rachelkramerbussel at with "LitReactor" in the subject line. You can take part in the class at any time of the day or night using whatever login name you choose, but I will say you'll get the most out of the class if you have time to devote to doing the weekly assignments, as they are geared to get you writing and submitting your work.

"In addition to my weekly lectures and assignments, you'll get exclusive Q&As and inside information from publishers and editors on what they're looking for and how to submit and details on how authors broke into publishing a short story collection and editing their own anthologies. I'm gathering even more information for this class, and of course if over the four weeks you have questions about specific aspects of erotica writing, editing and publishing, we will go over those. The beauty of having four weeks instead of a few hours is I have time to fully answer questions and investigate things. I learned a lot about the erotica market from teaching that first class, and I thought I already knew plenty, but teaching pushed me to be as detailed as possible to give everyone the best opportunities and insights. Yes, we work on craft, but I also want my class to be practical; I want students to know what the market is like and how they fit into it.


Testimonials from my fall LitReactor students:

I have no doubt that I am a better writer for taking Rachel’s class—not just a better writer of erotica, but a better writer overall. I initially enrolled primarily for information about the erotica publishing industry. And she provided lots of that, including interviews with publishers and more established writers.

But it was the writing experience itself that was the most beneficial. The lessons themselves were informative and very helpful, and perhaps the most useful thing of all was the discipline of having to conceive, write, and revise a story each week based on those lessons. The assignments forced me to focus—and fast, and I am all the better for it.

As with any learning process, the more you put in, the more you get out of it—and reading the other students’ stories, besides being simple fun (there were some great writers in the class!), compelled me to think more deeply about my own storytelling logic as I analyzed and commented on theirs. It was also fun to get to know these writers, many of whom I am staying in touch with.

Not only was it an enjoyable and transformative experience, but I wrote one story which was accepted into an erotica anthology, and two more that I definitely feel are publishable. I have come out of Rachel’s class a more confident, knowledgeable, and disciplined writer than I was before." LN Bey

"Rachel's class was a big confidence booster for those of us writing about often-personal topics. I went in thinking 'maybe I'll publish something someday,' and left knowing where I could start right away." Roz Brinker

"Rachel's class was a supportive, sage and overall fun place to push myself and explore. Moreover, her knowledge of the erotica market is just as valuable as her insight into the craft of writing itself." Ashton Peal

About those story sales:

LN Bey's story "Rain Dog" will be published in 2015 Circlet Press anthology No Safewords II - A Marketplace Fan Fiction Collection edited by Laura Antoniou.

Ashton Peal's story "The Second First Time" was just published in the new Liz McMullen Show anthology Appetites: Tales of Lesbian Lust edited by Ily Goyanes and while he won't be there, they are having a book party for the book this Monday, January 12th from 7-9 pm at classic lesbian bar Henrietta Hudson, 438 Hudson Street in New York. And for the writers reading this, The Liz McMullen Show has a new call up for a lesbian historical romance anthology edited by Sacchi Green and Patty G. Henderson.


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Thursday, January 08, 2015

Bisexual male swinger Cooper Beckett on life as a swinger

For my latest Philadelphia City Paper column I wrote about swinging. Official title: "Swingers are speaking out and changing the traditional rules" (this column is definitely the one where I'm given the longest titles I've ever had!). If you're in Philadelphia, check it out in print every week. I profiled Cooper Beckett of Life on the Swingset and his new book My Life on the Swingset, and we discussed negotiating, jealousy, how the TV show Hannibal is part of his relationship rules, swinger stereotypes and more. He will also be on my CatalystCon panel Sharing Your Sex Life on the Page and the Stage on March 28th from 9:30- a.m. in Arlington, Virginia. As always, I welcome your suggestions for future columns! Email rachelkb at with "City Paper" in the subject line.

If you like the column, I'd greatly appreciate it if you'd share it/like it/etc. It helps let them know people want to read about sex!


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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

In which I learn that living in a house doesn't mean you're rich

That's what I always thought growing up in an apartment. Now I live in a house, and here's my snow-covered swing and an essay all about it, including the vicious start to 2014 which led to the silver lining of moving into this cozy place that has skylights and a basement (!! after living in a Brooklyn apartment with no closets for 13 years, a basement deserves endless exclamation points), and the office where I'm now typing. My working title was "House Proud" but the title Thought Catalog went with was "How My First House Changed My Perspective Of Wealth And Contentment," which is also accurate.


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Do I deserve a spanking?

The title of this post is a bit tongue in cheek, partly because I'm one of those people who enjoys spanking so don't ever feel like I need to "deserve" one. But I did want to say that as the new year settles in, I'm finding it challenging to catch up on everyone I want to interview, every article and story I want to write, every person I want to interview (aka, author of every book I'm reading, and there are several). You get the idea. One of my big realizations in 2014 was that I tend to take on a lot, because I'm very excited about lots of things at once, and that I need to slow down and be more strategic. Part of me thinks that if I only wrote about one topic, sex, I would be all set, because that's what I'm known for, that's what I'm asked to do readings about (like one coming up February 16th in Brooklyn!), that's what I teach writing workshops about.

As I gear up for a the start of a second sex column, I, stubbornly, am both excited about all these opportunities, and also itching to write about other topics too. It's a tricky balance, because sometimes I feel like the smart writers focus and own a single topic, whereas I am sort of bouncing around here and there with sex as the core. And yet, that interest in lots of different things is as much a part of me as my love of spanking.

I actually started this post thinking it would be a light-hearted way of reiterating my thanks; my editor told me my spanking column is doing well, which makes me happy. I write for an alt weekly, so unlike some online publications, I get the same rate whether one person reads it or one million, though I'm pretty sure if either of those things happened there would be cause for alarm and celebration respectively. But doing well matters to me, trying to improve, savoring the here and now rather than constantly looking to tomorrow/next week/next year/the future that may or may not ever come to pass.

Part of that taking on too much is about me fearing that any one thing I do, or even ten things, isn't enough. But it's a vicious cycle, because it's never enough, and that's when I wake up from work nightmares wondering how my dream job, where I get to wake up each day, brew a pot of coffee, and sit down at my laptop, has lost its luster. In reality, it hasn't; I have, and I'm trying to get it back, trying to fall in love with words again, with communicating, whether that's figuring out how to amp up a client's story or put my most embarrassing moments into essay form or try to ask someone questions they haven't been asked a million times before. The truth is, the only time I deserve to be punished is when I don't write, when I avoid writing, when I shun it because I'm afraid of it not being good enough. Then, trust me, I punish myself aplenty. So now I will go write in my already-neglected gratitude journal.


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Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Want a free copy of Best Bondage Erotica 2015? Join the Thunderclap and help celebrate this hot new book!

Sometimes, life seems to laugh at me. Today was one of those days; not because I skipped errands yesterday and had to do them today in the snow, which actually was quite lovely, and made me grateful to return to the warmth of my office where the heat is blasting away. No, life laughed at me because for weeks I've been meaning to send out an author update on my shipping-from-the-printer-very-soon anthology Best Bondage Erotica 2015 and to start a Thunderclap campaign for it (more on that in a moment).

Today I finally did...and it turned out I was using the wrong cover! Sometimes, despite what we as authors/editors would like, changes happen and we don't find out. So of course I not only sent all the authors an email about the book but I also added the old cover all over social media and only then did I click through to Amazon, which is currently showing the correct cover for the paperback and the old wrong cover for the Kindle. I felt stupid, because one thing I'm trying to do this year is cut back on self-promotional Tweets and other postings in favor of my substantive and hopefully helpful posts. I love Twitter, and have connected with amazing authors and readers there, but I know that there's a fine line between saying something interesting and shilling, and I don't want to cross it from my personal account (I made @bestbondage just for that purpose though).

Long story short, I felt pretty foolish but then remembered that I have this awesome book full of something I don't see as often as I'd like in submissions to my books: femdom! What's also fascinating to me is that there are two home repair bondage stories and two kinky camping stories, plus other fun twists, including using a material for bondage I never would have considered, though I have used it for non-bondage purposes. So without further ado, here's the new final cover of the book. I am a book and editor nerd so I have my copies sent directly from the printer.

I'm hoping they arrive before I escape the winter cold for a few days on the beach but whenever they get here, I will be posting photos, because my favorite days as an anthology editor are when that box arrives and I open it and see the fruit of my labor. One of the great things about editing an annual series is feeling a smidge less guilty about sending out rejection letters because I know I will have another call up (and I will post that the second it's finalized!). Well, I probably still feel just as awful as ever--it's by far the worst part of my job--but it does mean that I at least know I'll be able to start fresh with a new year and new batch of authors.

I save room in every anthology for authors I've never published before, and this year those include Tim Rudolph, longtime Erotica Readers & Writers Association member Daddy X, Robert Black, erotic novelists Nichelle Gregory and Jodie Griffin, LN Bey and Jenne Davis of Clitical. That is the best part of what I do, because I will never forget seeing my name in a book for the first time, and being able to publish these authors, and getting to introduce at least two newcomers to the genre with their first published stories, means the world to me. So feast on this final gorgeous cover, take heed of my error and always make sure your cover is the right one before you post it, and stay tuned for the release! You can check out the Table of Contents and my introduction on Tumblr.


So back to Thunderclap: how it works is kind of like Kickstarter, but where Kickstarter gathers funds, Thunderclap gathers people. The idea is that 100 people posting about a book release at the same day and time has a lot more impact than those same 100 people each posting on different days. My campaign looks like this:


It's something I'm trying for the first time, it being a new year, a new book and me realizing last year I have to innovate or give up. So here's my special offer. If you join the Thunderclap, which means you allow Thunderclap to post from your Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr account on February 3rd at 11 a.m. EST about the book, I'll send you a free copy later that day. Just join the Thunderclap now, send me your name and mailing address and Facebook or Tumblr URL or Twitter handle (whichever method you chose) to bestbondage2015 at with "Thunderclap" in the subject line and then you'll get a signed copy the next week, just in time for Valentine's Day. I'm limiting this to the next 99 people to sign up for the Thunderclap, which I probably don't need to say, but I will. THANK YOU for helping the series succeed. I am so proud of it and how the authors have taught me so much about bondage, and hope you love it as much as I do.

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Friday, January 02, 2015

Spanking is popular as proven by my first sex column of 2015

My January 1st sex column "A good spanking really turns me on" went online a day early, and managed to teach me an important lesson. Lately I've been bursting with ideas for fiction and nonfiction, but less confident about executing them. I get nervous and petrified, and choose to believe the rejections mean I am unfit to write, rather than simply that I need to polish my piece and get it back in circulation and keep on writing and submitting, writing and submitting, repeat every day.


So because I was in a bit of a slump from around my birthday November 10th through the end of the year, I've been doubting myself, especially when it comes to my own words and thoughts. Pieces where I rely on someone else's expertise I can totally handle because they aren't about me. So I cobbled together the spanking column and even though it wasn't "perfect" or what I had hoped it would be, I turned it in lest I turn in nothing and get fired from a magical job that I love.

Well, as tends to happen in my moments of deepest doubt, it turns out that spanking is actually pretty popular, no doubt aided by the stellar choice of a photo. I feel dumb for not knowing this until a few months ago, but I've been told by multiple social media experts that posts with photos do better than posts without them. So thank you, all you spanking lovers who've read and Tweeted and blogged the column, for giving my 2015 a much-needed boost and reminding me that imperfect is okay too. For me, the reality is that a weekly column is a blessing that sometimes feels like a curse. I plan several weeks ahead but sometimes get stuck by my own doubt. I want to cover every possible base and idea and possibility when with only 650 words to work with, you actually have to be very on point and focused and zooming in on your topic. I've got a lot of great pieces lined up, trying to probe many aspects of sexuality, and I'm prepping to start a whole new sex column aimed at a different audience for a publication I'm also honored to work with. Plus other non-sex pieces that I hope to get out there soon, because I always want to have one foot outside the sex world. I'm proud to be a sex columnist and erotica editor and author, but "sex writer" feels a bit too much like "writer who can only write about one topic" to me. So those are my thoughts on this second day of the new year, with the shining blasting through my window, me eavesdropping on the workers drilling outside my bedroom window, and eager to get my brain and words back on track. I wish you many words, spoken, written and read, in the new year.


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