Email: rachelkramerbussel at


Lusty Lady

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Monday, August 31, 2015

The hardest part of writing and how I've turned it into my strength

The hardest part of writing happens pretty much every time I face a blank page. Sorry to say, it doesn't get easier, at least in my care, because the biggest hurdle I face in my writing is knowing that what I write will never be exactly what someone else would have written on the same topic. The interview questions I ask, whether they're about period sex or raising a transgender child, will never be exactly the same as someone else's questions (although I have interviewed people who've been asked a variation of almost identical questions their answers inevitably start to sound the same, and that is something I try to steer clear of these days and interview people who are not oversaturated by press).

My point, though, is, that sometimes the fear and doubt embedded in that truth leaves me staring at my screen, stricken, utterly sure that, since what I will ask or write or reveal is different from what someone else would, it's lesser than. That is a battle I will probably always face, because even when I think I have a great idea, even when I'm audacious enough to pitch it to one of the most famous newspapers in the world, I still get nervous. I still wonder, what the hell am I doing? I'm wondering that right now, in fact. Is admitting that I am often terrified of getting past word one going to diminish my the perceived reputation of the writing classes I'm teaching?

What I've come to realize is that the truth here is inescapable. I will never be another person, so I will never be able to write like someone else would. I can learn the most I can about my craft, I can study publications zealously to get a sense of what they want. I can learn from failed pitches and study the ones that succeeded to figure out what works. I can constantly be on the lookout for aspects of my life, or other people's lives, or pop culture, that might warrant an exploration on the page.

These days, a vast amount of what I do is research, brainstorming, figuring out what topics people will want to read about. Sometimes, readers surprise me. My profile of what it's like to work at Philadelphia porn company is currently the most-read story on Philadelphia City Paper's website. I don't get paid more for that, but it makes me feel good that I chose well and did justice to the topic given my relatively small word count.

One of my keys to facing this could-be-debilitating fear is to simply charge right into it. To say, essentially, okay, I can only write as "me," so what about me is unique? That too is audacious; it runs counter to everything I've absorbed about being meek and quiet and patient to do the exact opposite, to look around and say, how ridiculous and crazy and weird is my life, and how can I laugh at and learn from and exploit that? I've accepted that fact that people might look at me like I'm crazy when I admit that I have over 1,000 Google Alerts, and that's okay. So what?

The truth is, life is crazy, in big and small ways. So that's where I go. Not that every story I write is "crazy," hopefully, but that they all stem from some interest of mine (or in some cases, my editor's). They all are part of me and they are never going to emerge the same way they would if someone else covered them. So while I write about sex and dating, I've also made babies and body image and weight and beauty and books (sometimes beauty and books) and hoarding my beats. I've followed my "weird" passions and quirks and done my best to encourage others to do so. I've trusted myself to admit hard truths because I believe anyone that cares about me as a person will know that honesty is not a weapon or a curse, but a valued skill. I've embraced the fact that while other people may relate or have similar stories to share, they will never write a short story or essay or conduct an interview exactly how I have. That's simply the truth, and I can lament it or I can make it work for me.

As such, I've let myself acknowledge that sometimes other people will say or write what I wanted to express better than I could have, and that's okay too. Accepting that I can try my best, pursue my passionate quirks, and still sometimes fall short of the mark, and here I mean my own standard for my work, is part of getting better at it. I've been sitting on some ideas, some for months, telling myself I should "wait" because they aren't fully cooked yet, that I need more time to ruminate. So, like the neurotic person I am, almost every day I sit down to make one of my many to do lists, and wind up writing those ideas down. "Pitch _____." The ideas gnaw at me, distracting me from whatever the task at hand is, and the longer I ignore them, the more they haunt me. Instead of simply taking the time to pitch them and see what kind of response I get, I've too often let them stay in my head because I let that fear win. I have to pretty much tell myself that, sometimes out loud, to get past all those voice telling me things like, no, don't try to interview that person, because you don't know everything that's ever happened in their field, and you'll sound stupid. So, I'm posting this today partly for me, and partly for anyone reading this who needs a little encouragement. Write, pitch, blog, or whatever your preferred artistic medium is. Go for it, because write will never be exactly what someone else would have written. It will be yours, and it will be special, because you are.

It's a busy time right now but when I've had a few minutes, like I did this weekend to sit outdoors in Princeton, I'm reading Rising Strong by Brené Brown, a book about failure (there's even a chapter titled "Composting Failure"), because I've faced my share of it. It's one of those books that, for me, the mere reading of it helps give me confidence, helps remind me that I'm not my worst sentence, my biggest mistake, my greatest failure, although those are part of me too. I'm those along with all the positive things I'm proud of, and everything in between. I'm myself, which is not always who I like or love or want to be, but I'm who I've got. This is a section I highlighted (yes, one of the joys of buying books is you can write in them; it's not something I do that often, but sometimes I feel a book just needs that added emphasis, if only to sear the concepts into my mind), that I thought you might appreciate.


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See you in Portland, Maine on October 21 for my Erotica Writing 101 workshop

I'm gearing up for next Friday's Los Angeles erotica and sex writing workshops (which is open to anyone, whether you're attending CatalystCon or not, though I also encourage you to check out the programming for CatalystCon), but also looking ahead to October, when I get to return to one of my favorite cities, Portland, Maine, which is where I got my heart tattoo and a city I always feel at home in. I'll be visiting my childhood best friend and her new baby and teaching at one of my favorite sex toy stores, Nomia! Yes, they will also have Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica in stock. I'll update this when there's an official Facebook event page, but you can register now and since the space is small, the class is limited to 20 people.

image via Nomia on Facebook

October 21, 7:30-9 pm
Erotica 101 Writing Workshop
Nomia, 24 Exchange Street, Suite 215, Portland, Maine
Rachel Kramer Bussel, professional erotica author and editor of over 50 erotica anthologies, such as Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, The Big Book of Orgasms, Best Bondage Erotica 2015 and more, will take you through the ins and outs of modern erotic writing. Learn how to get started, find your voice, and write against type. You'll discover how to incorporate everyday scenarios as well as outlandish fantasies into your writing, and make them fit for particular magazines and anthologies. She'll also talk about submitting your work and keeping up with the thriving erotica market (including anthologies, ebooks, magazines and websites). Whether you're writing to that special someone, penning longtime fantasies, or want to earn cash for your dirty words, this workshop is for you. Please bring paper or writing implements or a laptop to use for in class writing exercises. A bibliography with erotica resources will be provided. $20/person. Call 207-773-4774 or visit Nomia to register. Limited to 20 people.

If you've attended my previous Nomia workshops, you should feel free to come back. There will be new exercises and new people!

Nomia has been wonderful to me; they have a large selection of erotica and sex books, which I appreciate as a reader and journalist. Nomia is, I'm pretty sure, where I first came across and purchased Amy Reiley's aphrodisiac cookbooks, including Romancing the Stove, which I wrote about in my sexy food column. As someone who tries to keep up with sex publishing to stay informed, I am so grateful that Nomia stocks such a wide variety of books, in addition to sex toys and erotic DVDs.

Plus, Portland has been so welcoming. I've taught two classes at Nomia and been so impressed with each of them. In 2013, I was even on the cover of the local alt weekly, the Portland Phoenix, something that had been on my vanity bucket list, for this profile of my writing workshop. It's also where I go to speak at their local library, something else I'd wanted to do. So lots of firsts for me there! Here's some photos from last year's visit and can't wait to return.

Plus, Portland has amazing food. Yes, they're the location where the diner owner screamed at a toddler and it went viral. But they're also home to so many wonderful restaurants. I try to get to Bintliff's every time I visit, and have pretty much not had a bad meal in Portland. It's somewhere I'd consider moving, if I could handle the winter cold. So I am greatly looking forward to my workshop and getting another chance to explore. I'm also planning to take driving lessons this fall so hopefully next time I go I can drive around and see a little more of Maine, but that's for 2016.

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Interview with blogging and podcasting mom of 7-year-old transgender girl

Over at Salon, I interviewed Marlo Mack about her blog, Gendermom, and How to Be a Girl podcast on raising her 7-year-old transgender daughter. She had such wonderful things to say about listening to her daughter, believing in her and navigating the various other people and institutions they have to deal with in ways that value their daughter's health and safety. Very proud of this one! And not just because Laverne Cox liked it, though that was cool.


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Free sexy deflowering erotic romance short story from my book Only You, which is on sale today for $1.99!

It's been such a busy week I haven't had a chance to post here that my anthology Only You: Erotic Romance for Women (though of course, as always, any reader of any gender can appreciate this book!) is only $1.99 on Kindle (US).


To make up for that, here's most of my story "For the Very First Time" below. I post links to all my sales and writings on Twitter and Facebook and you can also sign up for my newsletter at left or at for contests and the latest news. I've updated my website with most of my events (it'll be fully caught up soon), and am gearing up for my September 11th Los Angeles erotica and nonfiction sex writing workshops which are open to anyone, followed by attending and moderating an amazing panel on sharing our sex lives on the page and the stage at CatalystCon, then teaching erotica September 20th at SHE (Sexual Health Expo) in New York and teaching again at Nomia in Portland, Maine on October 21st from 7:30 pm-9 pm - the Maine workshop is limited to 20 people and you can sign up by calling the store at 207-773-4774. Plus stay tuned for a Washington, DC erotica workshop!

Table of Contents

Introduction: Very Happy Endings

Driven Angela Caperton
Overcome Alyssa Turner
Forgotten Bodies Giselle Renarde
In the Doghouse Hanna Martine
Autumn Rain Michael A. Gonzales
The Love We Make Kristina Wright
In-Flight Entertainment Catherine Paulssen
Republicans Don’t Like Kate Dominic
Mom’s Night Out Lolita Lopez
Slow Fire Donna George Storey
The Nude, Stripped Naked Jeremy Edwards
Edge Skylar Kade
Unfolding K D Grace
Married Abigail Grey
Cook’s Treat Elizabeth Coldwell
Hollywood Romance Veronica Wilde
Matters of the Heart Tenille Brown
September Song Anna Watson
Saved Cassandra Carr
For the Very First Time Rachel Kramer Bussel
From "For the Very First Time" by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Dean and I are snuggled on my couch, half watching TV, half feeling each other up. We’ve been dating for two months, a long time for me to go without sex, but I’m comfortable with the way the night is going. We’ve already decided that he’ll sleep over and spend the weekend. He’s done it before, and I’ve stayed at his place, but this night feels more momentous. I know something is going to change, and I feel that charge of something new and thrilling, of anticipation, in the air.

We watch some cheesy sitcom, and then I move to sit on his lap. I don’t usually do that with guys, because I’m six feet tall, and even when they’re tall (Dean’s just two inches shorter than me), it quickly becomes clear I’m not some petite little thing who can fit cozily on their laps. They have to commit to it, to make an effort, to really want it. I’m not offended when guys prefer side-by-side cuddling, but this time it feels right to be sitting on Dean’s lap, feeling his hardness beneath me.

I’m getting so turned on I don’t even mind that it’s not, actually, the most comfortable position. I’m slowly sinking into him, our bodies merging. If I shift a little, his breath catches the back of my neck, making me tingle. Dean doesn’t seem to mind, and his hand lazily plays with the waistband of my new pink mesh panties through the silky fabric of my gray dress. I’m waiting, eager, practically climbing the walls. My desire is like that much of the time: content to lie dormant, until it makes itself known and won’t take no for an answer. Of course I’ve used my assortment of sex toys during the time we’ve been dating, and the four months before that when I was lazily single, not eager to seek out someone new, content to wait and see. But six months is a long time, and I’m horny and oh-so-ready. I’ve been trying to be the girl here, the one who waits to get seduced, the one who lets the man feel manly by making the first move, even though that’s not normally my style. I don’t know if I really believe in all that stuff, but it’s sort of like religion, to me; if there’s a chance that believing is worth it, I’m in, and I’ve found that even the most enlightened men can easily fall prey to being the macho man, the seducer. I’m always willing to try something new, and from the times I’ve felt Dean’s cock through his pants, it’s one worth waiting for, though by now I’ve waited long enough.

We met just when I’d been ready to consider looking up an ex for a roll in the hay. I saw Dean and simply couldn’t look away. He was so stunning that I couldn’t help but go over to him after hearing him sing at my local café, where we’re sometimes treated to the likes of a Shawn Colvin or John Prine, but more often get the up-and-comers. I don’t generally bother with younger men, but Dean’s voice and delivery said to me “old soul.” Too many guys in their twenties and even thirties are so cocky they think every woman, even those totally out of their league, was put on earth just to blow them. That type will hit on me, but shrink away when I demand a mere modicum of commitment.

But Dean was different. He was handsome, but not so perfect that he was arrogant, at least from what I could tell as I watched him strumming his guitar. So many performers have that ego thing down pat, but he had the shy, earnest look of a busker, one who was more comfortable in the bowels of a subway station than on a stage surrounded by drinks and laughter and flirting. It was almost like he was singing these soulful, tender, beautiful songs to himself, with his eyes closed, his body thrown into each song. He launched into a Richard Thompson cover, “Beeswing.” He didn’t try to do the accent, but he sang with all his heart. When he got to the end, the line, “Well I wouldn’t want her any other way,” I could tell he was thinking of his own version of that song’s eccentric heroine, and I found that I wasn’t jealous of his girl who got away, but curious. I wanted him to rest his head in my lap while I sat on the floor next to him and he told me all about her, and then I could kiss him and make it better. He was sitting back in his chair, legs clad in worn dark blue jeans spread slightly, foot tapping along, eyes intermittently lost in memory, in song, and there, present, with us. He was beautiful, and the crowd could tell he was someone to be silent for. He made me want to curl up next to him, on the ground, if need be, and I smiled in a way I don’t seem to do all that often in New York City.

I’d tried to play it cool after the show, but I’d still stammered my way through greeting him. Pushing forty, you’d think I’d have a clue how to talk to a man—or in this case, man-boy—but that ability had forsaken me. Thankfully, Dean agreed to dinner the next night, telling me he loved greasy spoons. I couldn’t remember the last time a guy had told a truth like that, rather than trying to impress me with the latest trendy boîte. Over burgers dripping with grease and fries with even more, we talked and talked and talked. The place is open twenty-four hours so they didn’t care that we stayed from nine ’til three in the morning, as long as we kept ordering coffee. He reached for the bill and I noted the twenty-dollar tip he left, impressed. He offered me a ride home, and even though I usually walk or take the subway, I agreed, wanting to spend more time with him, as much as I could get. I’d expected him to pin me to his car, even though our conversation was more cerebral than flirty. We’d made out, for another hour, and his hands had gone up my shirt but he hadn’t tried to get me to come home with him or to come home with me, just dropped me off like a gentleman. I soon discovered that’s exactly what he was—a gentle man—and I’d been trying to make him a little less gentle as the weeks turned into months.

I knew he was busy with shows most nights and trying to woo record label A&R types the rest of the time, so I didn’t push him. This was a weekend we’d set aside for ourselves, and instead of the hassle of going away, we’d settled on a staycation right at my apartment. Phones and computers off, our focus would be totally on each other, which I’d taken—or at least, hoped—to mean lots of blazing-hot sex. I’d gone to get waxed and while I usually leave a landing strip of hair in front, this time I told my waxer to take it all off. “Someone special going to see?” she asked.

Sometimes I get a little freaked out by too much conversation in the salon, but this time I was happy to wax on, if you will, about my new man. He was so sweet and sexy all in one, and I even gave her a postcard touting his next gig.

So as I’m sitting on his lap, I’m waiting for him to make his move, and then finally I just go for it. “Dean,” I say, sitting up, looking him directly in the eye, blocking his view of the TV. “I want you. By which I mean, I want your cock. In my mouth, in my pussy, everywhere. I thought you’d have figured that out by now. I dream about you. I touch myself and think about you. Don’t you want me?” I ask, noting a creeping edge of whiny neediness entering my voice.

“Oh, my god, of course I do. I can’t believe you’d think otherwise.” He pauses, and I settle into his lap again. He tries to look away, but I steer his gaze directly toward me. “Okay, I’m just gonna come right out and say this and if you don’t want to see me after this I totally understand, but I hope you will. I’ve never done this before. I’m a virgin. And I’m worried that someone like you will be disappointed.”

Whoa. I turn to look at him, but now his eyes are closed. I stroke his cheek tenderly, suddenly protective of him—not his virginity, which I very much plan to take, but his heart. I’d known right away this was “serious,” but not until this moment exactly how serious. “Look at me. Open your eyes.”

He does, his body trembling. “Dean, I want you—all of you. It’s okay. I’m not expecting you to be like anyone but yourself. Do you understand that?”

He nods, but his eyes seem cloudy still, like he doesn’t really get it. “Look, baby…do I want to sleep with you? I can’t lie—yes, yes I do. Am I going to push you to do it sooner than you’d want to? Of course not. I want you, not some random cock. I want the whole package.” I don’t say that I’d had plenty of other more experienced packages, and here I was, forty and single, and so over the guys who were cocky enough to think they owned the world, or at least, New York City.

He stares at me for a long time, and finally a small smile appears on his face. “The whole thing? Are you sure you can handle it?” His laugh is soft, but definitely a laugh, as he takes my hand and presses it tight against his hardness. Then neither of us speaks, and the enormity of what we are about to do washes over me. If I weren’t sure I wanted him—him, all of him, everything from his curls that seemed to melt through my fingers to the omnipresent stubble on his chin to the elaborate snake tattooed along his arm, every strum of his guitar and every brooding, beautiful look—I wouldn’t keep touching him. There’d been times in my life when I would have “fucked like a man,” as they say, taken what I could get, what I wanted, and then moved on. And while I desperately want him at that moment, his cock is just a part of what I want. I do want everything—I’m greedy like that—but I don’t want it by any means necessary. I wouldn’t want to use him for sex and move on, leaving him, shattered, to write a song or even an album about the bitch who broke his heart. I’m suddenly more hungry than horny, hungry for the look he is giving me, the heat that is penetrating through our clothes. If you can be hungry for a hint of forever, that’s what I am.

But we are here, now, and I can’t know what will happen, if I will break his heart or he mine. The best laid plans and all that, but still, I can’t worry about every possible eventuality. You can live in fear forever and never walk outside your door, never take even a baby step into the unknown. If he’s willing to take that first step with me, I’m ready, too. I know that when I stand and pull him up and toward my bedroom, I’m not doing so as some wise-woman courtesan intent on teaching a new young thing tricks he’ll use on other women. I’m not trying to teach him anything, but simply to share myself with and indulge and love him, for as long as we are able to.
Read the full story plus all the others in Only You, just $1.99 on Kindle today!

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Working at Philadelphia porn company

This week I profiled Dee Viant of about working at a Philly porn company.


Here's an excerpt:
Has Viant ever felt discriminated against because she’s a woman in a business largely focused on naked ladies? “Never,” says Viant, “but I’ve definitely felt that in more formal workplaces. At the office, it’s a business environment; we have to be mature about sex.”

Yet she can appreciate some of the more absurd aspects of her job. She gets to travel to Las Vegas for the annual AVN (Adult Video News) convention, where Ron Jeremy signs DVDs — and body parts — at their booth. Her most surreal ex-perience? “At AVN, it’s known that if you’re interested, Ron will lift up your top and fondle and/or kiss and suck your breasts. This year, one of the AVN staffers told me, ‘You’ve got to tell Ron the nipples have to stay covered.’ That was just hysterical. I thought, ‘What the fuck is my life?’”
Read the whole thing, check out the column archives and pitch me or tell me what I should cover at rachelcitypaper at

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I can't stop listening to this song about period sex

I've interviewed a lot of people over the years, but have to say that my interview with Rachel Lark about her period sex song "Warm, Bloody, and Tender" is one of my favorites of all time. She actually made me want to start a podcast because she has so much expression in her voice and even the usually arduous task of transcribing was fun. Be warned: her song will stick in your head! Yes, it's a catchy, funny song about doing it while bleeding. As soon as I heard it, I knew I had to interview her. And lucky for you West Coasters, she's planning a fall tour. Watch the video, co-starring Dan Savage, and find out all about it over at Salon. And if you like it, I'd love if you'd share it with your friends/readers too.

photo by Natalie Carrabello

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

I'm turning 40 and getting a new anthology for my birthday; here's a sneak peek at my food porn erotica

To put it very mildly, I'm dreading turning 40. I know I shouldn't care, I know "age is just a number," I know all those arguments, but inside, I'm kicking and screaming and berating myself for all the things I didn't do in my thirties, all the ways I wasted money and time and emotional energy and possibly my fertility. Aging is real and it's scary and I don't know if you'd call this a mid-life crisis, but I feel like the next few months are ones I want to truly make the most of.

On the bright side, I have a new anthology of BDSM erotica, Dirty Dates, coming out from Cleis Press and the pub date is actually on my birthday. I'm not sure how many more I'll get to edit after this, though I have the biggest one of my life, Best Women's Erotica of the Year Volume 1 (yes, that's its new updated title, though what's inside is still being finalized) coming out in January, so to combat the 40 blues and to celebrate this book, I'm gonna be doing a lot of promotion. Starting, well, right now. Below is a sneak peek at my story, "Admitting It Is The First Step." If you like it, please do me and my book a huge favor and add it to your Goodreads want to read list. It's an interesting time to have this particular book release, because that exciting essay I mentioned previously will explore some of the changes in my personal sex life, and how the kink level has shifted there, but that actually made proofreading these stories even hotter, because they transported me in the most delightful way and I am so excited that this book is almost on bookstore shelves, virtual and brick and mortar.

Yes, Goodreads matters, and if you want to support my work and make it more likely that I'll be offered more books to edit, doing this one small click goes a long way. My goal is to make this book earn out my advance in its first quarter. It's gutsy and ambitious and possibly unlikely, but you know what? This almost 40-year-old is going for it. I love this book and how much passion and daring the authors brought to BDSM, and that I got to work with many authors I never have before, which is one of my missions as an editor. I'll be sharing more excerpts as the publication gets closer, and if you want a free copy to review, sign up of my newsletter on the left-hand side of either this blog or at for your chance (if you signed up as one of the early reviewers, you too will get a hot off the press free signed copy!).

If I were more web savvy, I'd draw a red circle around my birthday here.

Here's your sneak peek:
From "Admitting It Is The First Step" by Rachel Kramer Bussel

I don’t even look at the menu, because Ryder has already whispered in my ear what I’m to say. “Two of the extra-large sausages—I like them nice and juicy.” I want to laugh, but I also know that Ryder could put his hand between my legs right now and find out just how seriously I’m taking this. “I can fit a lot in my mouth.” I try to muster a flirtatious tone, and am rewarded with a huge grin from the man, his fingers lingering extra long on mine when I hand over the five dollars. I can’t believe I’ve just said that, but Ryder’s light pinch of my hip lets me know I’ve done a good job.

I smile uncertainly and then go to wait at a table with Ryder. “Sausage is your favorite food, isn’t it, honey?” he asks in a louder tone than normal. “You certainly like mine.”

I hear a chuckle nearby. My cheeks are flaming—I can always tell—but I sit there and let Ryder joke around about my big mouth. When our giant sausages are placed on the table, he makes a show of pushing both to my side. “They’re for her—she’s extra hungry today.” Then he leans across and says, “Make sure they know how much you can take.”

I can be defiant when I want to be, and just to show Ryder, I proceed to make eye contact with an older man sitting at a nearby table and then lick the head of the sausage, before slowly placing the tip in my mouth. I’d eased the bun down so all I am now putting between my lips is the sausage itself, which is delightfully spicy. I close my eyes and make an orgasmic sound as I bite into it in a way that makes juice drip down my chin. “Oops,” I giggle, sticking out my tongue to lick it off. I proceed to thoroughly enjoy each of the sausages, even though they’re so big, one would’ve been fine.

I hear Ryder whisper, “You are making quite a scene, my dear. I hope you’re hungry for my sausage when we get home.” I could swear I hear someone say, “Damn” under his breath at that.

When I’m done, he walks over and grabs me roughly by the hair, then kisses me hard. I’m shaking a little when I stand up. I can’t mistake the whistles and claps I get as I head back into the car.
Intrigued? Add Dirty Dates to your Goodreads want to read list now!

Table of contents and introduction:

Introduction: Kinky Is as Kinky Does
The Corset Dorothy Freed
The Swap Jade A. Waters
Slow Burn Morgan Sierra
The World in My Pants Valerie Alexander
Lying Down Kathleen Delaney-Adams
The Rabbit Trap Nik Havert
Closing Time Elise Hepner
A Thousand Miles Apart Tilly Hunter
Switch Mina Murray
The Birds and the Bees Giselle Renarde
Potluck Alva Rose
Magic Words Emily Bingham
Polka-Dot Dress Erzabet Bishop
Baby Steps Justine Elyot
On Location D. L. King
Well Lit Sara Taylor Woods
A Soundproof Room with a View Leigh Edward Gray
Recipe for Punishment Jacqueline Brocker
Cry to Me Skylar Kade
Needles Kathleen Tudor
Admitting It Is the First Step Rachel Kramer Bussel

Introduction: Kinky Is as Kinky Does

What does it mean to be a “kinky couple”? Does it mean both partners hit the dungeon every night—or have one in their home? Does it mean wearing a collar? Does it mean a 24/7 BDSM lifestyle? Yes, yes, yes—and no. The truth is, like so many aspects of sex, “kinky” is in the eye of the beholder. One half of a couple may be kinkier than the other—in fact, those kinds of stories often yield extremely powerful transformations. If you were to pass some of these couples on the street, you might peg them immediately as a little bit naughty. Others, you’d stroll right by, without any sort of erotic antennae tuning in. Many of them take pains (pun intended) to hide their kink—or exult in the thrill of maybe, possibly—hopefully—getting “found out.”

The thrill here, what makes these dates “dirty” in the best sense, is the tension between tops and bottoms, doms (and plenty of dommes!) and subs, those craving control and those who desire nothing more than giving up control. Actually, there’s a third category of sub, one who teeters on the edge between giving up and exhorting his or her own control. That fine line is teetered upon perfectly in “Switch,” by Mina Murray, when narrator Cass notes: “He smiles, a sly look that does nothing to warm his eyes. That’s when I start to get nervous.” Keeping a sub on edge is all part of the kinky fun, but Murray makes it clear that this dom’s mastery comes from the heart when he tells Cass of her new chains: “‘I had them made especially for you. With padded cuffs, to protect that creamy-soft skin of yours. See how much I love you?’”

These couples act out their kink in many ways—some at play parties, some outdoors, some long distance. Some do it with bondage, spanking, service, a corset, a look, a location—for many, their instrument of choice is words. Emily Bingham takes one extremely charged word in “Magic Words” and lets readers know exactly what the prospect of saying it does to her character: “The shame is a scalding tickle that takes over every cell in my body. Looking down at his lap to hide from his gaze, I feel more embarrassed than in any naked-in-front-of-a-crowd nightmare. It’s the one word I promised myself I would never say, yet he has managed to make even this taboo titillating, something I want to explore with him. I’m annoyed at myself for being so aroused by this lone, little word.”

What is that magic word? You’ll have to keep reading to find out. There’s a sensual beauty to these stories that I believe will speak to those who practice kink in their lives and those who don’t, because in some ways the tenderness, the charge, the power shifting back and forth between partners, transcends kink. It speaks to ideals of worship, wonder, adoration—from both sides. Even the most sadistic men and women whose worlds you’re about to enter clearly value those they are asking to give them their bodies, their minds, their words, their beings. They are living out their most vivid fantasies with the person they most cherish. I hope you enjoy their dreams, fantasies and explorations, and that they inspire your own.

Rachel Kramer Bussel
Red Bank, New Jersey

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How to have an open marriage

Is the subject of my latest DAME sex column. I'd love to hear any other topics related to sex and women you'd like to see me cover (or sex in general). Truly, I would! Email me at rachelcitypaper at gmail dot com with your ideas: could be about dating, relationships, sex practices, fetishes, fantasies, events, etc. I'm open, to be punny for a moment.


Here's a snippet of the new column:
Skye, a writer in her fifties, began her 20-year marriage monogamous. But eight years into her marriage, her husband told Skye that he was interested in exploring his bisexuality, and they decided to open their relationship. He’d stopped seeing other people once they started dating, but she wasn’t surprised or threatened when he brought it up. Skye believes this is because, at the time, he was interested exclusively in seeing men at the time (he’s since gone on to date other women), so Skye was less threatened by the prospect than she would have been if he’d wanted to see another woman, because "clearly, in my case, I could not be a man." But he has suffered more pangs of jealousy over the years than she has, she explained. “In the long run, as long as I’m being treated well by my partners, he’s okay,” she said. “I make it a habit to tell him that no one else could ever be what he is to me.”
Keep reading

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why I'm excited to teach, speak and simply be at CatalystCon West in Burbank in September

In just a few weeks I'll be hopping on a plane (okay, two planes, the first from Philadelphia to Boston) to Southern California--Burbank, to be exact--to attend one of the best conferences I've ever been to, one I judge other conferences by (yes, I really do): CatalystCon. It's an event focused on the wide world of sexuality, and when I say wide, I really mean it. Look at the breadth of session topics being presented! I've never attended and not learned so much, often things that changed how I consider a topic or given me deep insights. If you're anywhere near Southern California or deeply interested in how people are changing the world of sexuality, I encourage you to attend.


A few sessions I'm especially looking forward to: Is Kink a Sexual Orientation? A Panel Discussion, SEX AND LOVE AFTER 50 — Rewriting the Rules, Toys For a SexAbled Life: Fun, unique and adaptable ways to give and receive satisfying pleasure with erotic toys, Slut Shaming in Sex Positive Communities (and Elsewhere). It's also a place where I look for people to profile in my sex columns; they can't all be about dick pics. In fact, it was while attending CatalystCon West last year that I got asked to write my Philadelphia City Paper column, and I launched it writing about The UnSlut Project and Emily Lindin, whose documentary sneak peek I saw at Catalyst.

It's also one of my favorite places to teach writing, as I'll be doing on September 11th, with two workshops, three hours each, on Erotica Writing and Sex Writing. (See also, "How to make money writing about your sex life and 5 times I did" and "6 reasons I encourage my erotica writing students to submit their work.") These classes are a chance to dig deeply into the topics and, I hope, encourage students to get their work out into the world, because people attending CatalystCon have fascinating things to say about sexuality, activism, art, relationships, values and so much more (although you do NOT have to attend CatalystCon to attend my workshops, though I highly recommend it). I love getting to update my handouts with new venues to pitch and submit to, and to enter into a room where there's a base level of trust and eagerness. Yes, people may be strangers, but I've found there's a camaraderie that forms around the conference that is special and helps further the spirit of the classes. Plus I now have a private Facebook group for my writing class alumni, so hopefully if people join and do publish pieces as a result of the class, I'll get to hear about it and proudly share their work. I started the group because often I teach one-off classes and when they're done I never hear what people are up to, and I like to see people's progress develop as they gain confidence in their writing and continue to pursue it, whether that's the following month or following year. So I'm really looking forward to that.

I'm very much looking forward to the panel I'm moderating (details below) about how to navigate some of the issues around sharing your sex life whether in writing, onstage, in podcast form or in YouTube videos. It's the same topic as the one I moderated at CatalystCon East, but with different panelists. One of my goals with my panels has been to include people who haven't been to CatalystCon before, in this case, the amazing Gaby Dunn, and also to work with people I haven't worked with before. I learned so much last time, and this is a topic near and dear to my heart as someone who continuously writes about her personal life, and continues to grapple with the impact.

I have a print piece coming out in a dream publication, a magazine I subscribe to, whose founder is a household name, right around the time of CatalystCon. I'm excited and honored, but the truth is, also nervous. Will people think less of me because of what I reveal about my sex life? Will I be misinterpreted to sound like I have disdain for a certain kind of sex that used to be a bigger part of my life, but isn't as much now? Will my partner, who is very supportive and proud of me, face any discomfort by my writing about our sex life in such a large venue? Will family members, who are wonderful but I would rather not discuss my sex life with, see it? Hence, I need and am excited for this panel just as much as anyone.

September 13, 11 a.m.-12:10 p.m.
CatalystCon panel Sharing Your Sex Life on the Page and the Stage
Whether on the page, stage or podcast, sharing personal sex stories means making public what’s often deemed private and inviting audiences to read, hear—and judge. What are the biggest challenges and rewards of airing our “dirty” laundry? How do we decide which sex stories are worth telling? Is there such a thing as TMI? How can we be deeply honest while honoring others’ boundaries (and having ours respected)? How can we tie our lives into what’s happening in the larger world and further social and political change? Is writing about your sex life different than sharing it live or via podcast? This panel will explore what it’s like to invite readers, listeners and audiences inside our bedrooms, and beyond. Featuring Anaín Bjorkquist, sex educator and host of the Sex Love Joy podcast, Gaby Dunn, writer, comedian, YouTuber and co-host of web series Just Between Us, and Dixie de la Tour, founder, host and curator of long-running live storytelling show Bawdy Storytelling. Moderated by Rachel Kramer Bussel, Philadelphia City Paper and DAME sex columnist and author of the personal essay collection Sex & Cupcakes.
CatalystCon West, Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport, 2500 North Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA

I will also be seeing lots of old friends, some who live far away, some who live "nearby," but that's all relative. Now that I live in what feels like the boonies, I rarely go to New York, and don't anticipate being there often in the future unless I'm doing an event. So geographical closeness is a bit moot, and even then, I wouldn't be around so many fascinating people at once. But for me CatalystCon is also a chance to meet new people, ones maybe I've interacted with online, often ones I haven't but who become familiar faces by the end of the weekend.

Want to hear more about my upcoming events and have access to exclusive book giveaways? Subscribe to my monthly newsletter by visiting (left hand side).

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My next LitReactor online erotica writing class starts November 3rd

Just announced: LitReactor erotica writing class running November 3-December 3 (yes, it's happening over Thanksgiving weekend, but we've extended the usual 4 weeks by 2 days, and I always stick around to answer additional questions until the end of the month, so in this case, though December 31st). Click above or on the image below to see the specific topics being discussed in each lecture. This is a class I would say is ideal for newcomers to erotica or those looking to get published in the erotica field, or looking to enhance the eroticism of other types of fiction writing.


Since the previous 4 have sold out, this one is likely to as well. There are 16 spots in the class, and as of now it's totally open. You can participate from anywhere in the world, anonymously or not (you select your own username) and you participate as much or as little as you'd like. I provide weekly lectures, assignments and critiques (you also give/get critiques in groups of 4), plus I give you direct from publishers details about what they're looking for, extensive market information and over a dozen Q&As only available here with erotica industry professionals, including authors (both self-published and traditionally published), editors and publishers, such as The Original Sinners series author Tiffany Reisz and widely published erotica and erotic romance author Circlet Press founder Cecilia Tan. I suggest allotting around five hours a week to dedicate to the class.

The class is $375, which I know is not cheap, but I can promise you I do my best to give you your money's worth. You also get access to the classroom materials forever and the option to join my secret Facebook group for erotica writing class alumni to continue the conversation and community. But don't take my word for it: read what my former LitReactor students have had to say (this will be my fifth time teaching the class). Questions? Email me at rachelkb at gmail dot com with "LitReactor" in the subject line.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

A graphic novel, a romance and a young adult novel where a character gets an abortion

I did a short roundup at Salon of three books in very different genres that each walk the reader through the experience of a character getting an abortion: the graphic novel Not Funny Ha-Ha by Leah Hayes, erotic romance The Girlfriend by Abigail Barnette (pen name of Jenny Trout) and YA novel '89 Walls by Katie Pierson. The former is meant to be a guidebook on what the procedure is like; the other two are novels where there's a lot more going on, but abortion is treated seriously but not overdramatized.


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Thursday, August 13, 2015

My dick pick column starring male sex blogger Exhibit A plus the full topless photo

I've been wanting to interview more men and focus on male-related topics for my Philadelphia City Paper sex column and this week I did in Why do men take dick pics?" in which I interviewed male sex blogger Exhibit A. I'd love to see this column go to number 1 on the City Paper site so if you like it, I'd love it if you'd share it on your social media of choice, which helps them know people want to read my take on sex. Thanks!

Please check it out and also send me your suggestions for who else I should profile, what fetishes to cover and any other topics suggestions at rachelcitypaper at gmail dot com!


And, yes, okay, this is not actually a completely topless photo; it's an in-the-act-of-becoming-topless photo, but that isn't as catchy. Yes, it was cropped for the newspaper, cause that's how it goes, even at an alt weekly.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

1 new story by me in Bondage Bites edited by Alison Tyler

Updated September 18, 2015: Updated - only one of my stories made the cut for this book, so I've changed this post to reflect that. I've got a new short story in Alison Tyler's new anthology Bondage Bites: 69 Super-Short Stories of Love, Lust and BDSM, which is also available for immediate download in the Kindle edition. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a copy so I can devour it, but I can tell you I have a story in it called "Wiggle Room."

Here's a little teaser from the start of "Wiggle Room" about hot rope bondage.

For the rest of "Wiggle Room" and my other stories, you'll have to check out the book.
From "Wiggle Room" by Rachel Kramer Bussel

“That good, honey?” Ned asked, his gaze studying me in all my trussed up glory. One of the things I love best about my husband is how seriously he takes our bondage play. He’s a kinky nerd—the best kind, because he doesn’t just like to do things, in bed or out, but to understand why he’s doing them. When we got together five years ago, he was a virgin when it came to bondage, discipline, spanking or any kind of power play. “I don’t see myself as that macho kind of guy, Yvette,” he confessed mournfully to me one night. We’ve come so far since then.

I’ve shown him he doesn’t have to be what he considers macho to have me at his mercy. I’ve been there since he took me to a hidden restaurant and fed me all sorts of mouth-melting delights, then went down on me until I came so many times I was giddy by the end. Besides, I’m not into punishment play. He may swat me in the kitchen and tease me for being a “bad girl” because I’ve burned something yet again, but when he ties me up it’s all about getting off.

So instead of being bratty, I simply beamed at him. “Perfect,” I replied, which meant that I had plenty of room to wiggle against the pretty purple ropes he’d gotten me for our one-year anniversary. Not only is purple my favorite color, but he’d washed them to make them extra soft and even added little pom poms to the ends so they tickled when they brushed against me.

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The weekend before last, I was in Krabi, Thailand, defending my stuff against monkeys and exploring caves and swimming surrounded by fish. It was a much-needed vacation, albeit one where I spent some time working, but on dream projects, writing for print magazines I subscribe to and have always wanted to write for, including one I never thought I would.

But I admit that coming home has been a bit rougher than I expected, mentally more so than physically. Monday was pretty much the low moment; I found myself fixated on the fact that I'd turn 40 in three months, which is weighing on me a lot more heavily than I realized. It feels like such a make or break birthday, one by which I want to have so much organized and sorted out and settled, and the sense that that wouldn't happen somewhat unraveled me. My poor boyfriend had to deal with me when I felt like nothing was going right. It could have been the sleep deprivation of my ongoing jet lag, though I suspect my sleep issues had more to do with stress than time zones.

But then, as tends to happen, Tuesday was a very good day. I woke up feeling stronger and brighter and more aware. Perhaps Monday hollowed me out so I could start fresh. I booked my flight to CatalystCon. My LitReactor class sold out (stay tuned - another one is being lined up for November). The column topic that started off as a big blank started to take shape. I started taking some proactive steps toward some of my big goals. I made peace with the fact that 40 is just a number, albeit one I sometimes wake up and see in my mind's eye, glaring at me, a menacing reminder of everything I'd hoped to be and accomplish by then that I haven't.

So I'm back, and digging in to various new projects and starting to truly get settled in the home I've been bouncing in and out of since June. Maybe I needed that comedown, that mini breakdown or whatever you want to call it, to remind me how good I have it, and to force me to rearrange how I conduct myself so I can appreciate what's in front of me.

I worry sometimes (okay, more than sometimes) about sharing my lesser moments, especially here. I so want to seem like I have it all together, like things are always moving forward, never backward. But that's not true. They are often doing both at once. I often doubt myself so immensely I can't even appreciate the forward motions, and I imagine I'm not the only one.

Here's me on the beach at Poda Island. The water was beautiful and warm and lovely, until I got stung by a jellyfish, that is, but even that was a minor sting, not the catastrophe I remember fearing as a kid. After that, we went to Tub Island, where I was in the water surrounded by gorgeous black and yellow fish swimming all around me. I loved the scenery and the adventure, but I also know that I can have those moments at home too. They may be quieter and less grandiose in their beauty, but they are real too. My goal for the rest of the year (and, well, the rest of my life): treat myself a little more nicely. Remind myself that what I think is a disaster usually isn't. Have more faith in myself and those around me. Relax when it's time to relax and kick ass when it's time to kick ass.



Monday, August 10, 2015

6 hot new erotica books I just bought for my Kindle

As I gear up to teach my 3 upcoming erotica writing classes for LitReactor, CatalystCon and SHE (Sexual Health Expo), I'm reading a lot of erotica, and ogling sexy covers. Here are 6 new ebooks that are waiting for me on my Kindle when I get through my workday. Realistically, they may have to wait for next week's flight to the beach, but they are waiting for me and I look forward to digging in. While I have not read them yet, I am 99.99% sure they are full of hotness based on reading and being a fan of the authors/editors/subjects, so feel safe in recommending them. Full disclosure: I purchased all of these on Amazon (which I'm linking to below), save for Dirty, which I was given a free copy of by the author.

Coffee: Hot
edited by Victoria Pond (Circlet Press)

Coffee: need I say more? I drink it every day and even though I've cut back from 2 cups a day to 1, and will do a very happy dance the day I find out I'm pregnant and can't drink it any more (even though a part of me will desperately yearn for it), I still am a coffee lover at heart. So how could I not swoon over this concept? Official description below and click here for a free excerpt.
Coffee-flavored erotica! Taste the bitter roast when a barista brews alone at closing time and is joined by coffee’s physical manifestation. Roll the rich smoothness of steamed milk along your tongue while spies hide from the enemy and pass the time in tense pleasure. In this anthology of speculative erotic fiction featuring coffee shops, COFFEE: HOT, editor Victoria Pond brings together nine authors to explore coffee’s connection with the erotic fantastic.

Alcohol and erotica were frequent bedfellows in the 20th century, but now we’re well into the 21st! Imbibing caffeine causes no hazy field of impaired judgement, and coffee shops are places to stimulate the mind and to socialize with all sorts.

This volume contains stories ranging from Victorian London to a far-flung space station, from the quiet to the action-packed, from two-person sex to tentacles. (Wondering how there can be coffee shop erotica with tentacles? Read “Dark Roast” by Justin Josh to find out.)

Readers love curling up in oversized plush chairs to read in cafes. Authors are drawn to working in coffee shops. But what hides beneath the milk-steamy surface of this glorious addiction? In a world where everyone is over-familiar with the steamer’s whir and the roaster’s aroma, drinkers forget to stroke the glazed porcelain that holds their caffeine and radiates its warmth through their hands and into their hearts.

COFFEE: HOT features work by Django Wexler, Rebecca Croteau, Owen James Franks, Justin Josh, Axa Lee, K.L. Noone, JJ Poulos, Greer Thompson, and Avery Vanderlyle. Their stories take a setting we know so well and transform it into something magical once again.
Wetware: Cyberpunk Erotica
edited by Violet Blue (Digita Publications)

To be perfectly honest, I don't actually know what "cyberpunk" means exactly. I may spend the majority of my life glued to my iPhone and know how to blog but I'm not really a techie. But that makes me all the more excited to read this anthology edited by the incomparable Violet Blue, whose work I always enjoy. One thing I've found so thrilling about the erotica genre is that a good story is a good story, especially when it surprises you. You don't have to know exactly what's going to happen before you start reading. In fact, I'd venture it's probably better not to know and let the writing whisk you away. Which is what I plan to do with this book! Official description below.
Cyberpunk anti-heroes face global conspiracies, misused government R&D, thugs, drugs, true love, artificial intelligence, and vengeful sexbots in this collection's heady mix of sci-fi and sex.

Wetware shows how hot "high tech low life" can get when it's spiked with all the glittering and frightening possibilities of cyberpunk. Seven unpredictable stories depict hackers, transhumans, androids, pop stars, armed revolutionaries, government contractors and more who discover that sex is hotter with hacked, stolen and renegade tech -- especially when it's a high-risk proposition.

Some erotica writers have ideas, others have visions. Love is a side-effect of stolen, weaponized biotech in "Bishop to King's Pawn, Two" by Thomas S. Roche. In "Synthetic Skin" by Kendra Jarry, a government contractor steals secret field hardware for the sole purpose of seduction. A brainwave hacker's conquest in a club bathroom stall takes a turn in Cecilia Tan's "Rough, Trade."

Lines are crossed and re-crossed when the household helper bot in Devyn X. Sands' "Never Say No" has had enough of her owner's perversions. "Sixty-Five Night" by Stephen Stavros charts a dangerous AI experiment that pushes one woman into a seedy neon ghetto for a public transhuman sexual encounter -- under the shadow of a murder conspiracy.

Cyberpunk's sexuality has always been transgressive and prescient; this collection brings the genre's tradition into the current state of cyberpunk affairs. Wetware isn't a typical erotica collection, nor is it a typical sci-fi anthology. It's also a rich celebration of hacker and cyberpunk culture, within the hallmarks of this culture's rich and diverse sexualities and genders. It's a tech-savvy, philosophically-rich, erotic anthology artfully spiked with cyberpunk-themed cocktail recipes and recommendations for sexy cyberpunk films, books, and anime.

Blue's introduction "Coded in Spirals and Pheromones" features story excerpts in an essay examining cyberpunk sexuality, and how our fantasies of a gilded cyberpunk future have arrived -- while at the same time, something has gone horribly wrong with the way technology was supposed to empower us. Blue explains exactly why "it is our growing sense of things gone terribly wrong that gives the stories here their power, anchored in one of cyberpunk's most defiant agents of change: Sex."

This book contains adult situations, including BDSM, domestic discipline, gender fluidity in sexual situations, backdoor and oral play, power exchange, role-play, spanking, bisexual men, and explicit scenes. The book also depicts non-monogamous relationships and sexual activity (and penetration) involving more than two individuals.

Table of Contents

* Introduction: Coded in Spirals and Pheromones by Violet Blue
* Bishop to King's Pawn, Two by Thomas S. Roche
* Liquid Exploits: The Gibson Engine
* Rough, Trade by Cecilia Tan
* Say Cyber One More Time: Sexy Cyberpunk Films
* Dangerous Circuitry by N.T. Morley
* Liquid Exploits: Tschunk!
* Grinding by Janine Ashbless
* Say Cyber One More Time: Adult Cyberpunk Books
* Never Say No by Devyn X. Sands
* Liquid Exploits: Zero Couth
* Sixty-Five Night by Stephen Stavros
* Say Cyber One More Time: (Sexier) Cyberpunk Anime
* Synthetic Skin by Kendra Jarry
wrecked cover
by Corrine A. Silver (Totally Bound)

I met Corrine A. Silver at CatalystCon East last year, and have since published her short stories in The Big Book of Submission and Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica. I've been incredibly impressed with her command of BDSM and I love that this is the first in a serial, she uses the word feminist in her marketing, and it alternates the hero and heroine's points of view. I started this on my flight back from Thailand and am looking forward to having time to finish it, because it's plenty hot. Official description below.
“The first year is the most traumatic.” Leda’s medical school advisor’s words seemed like the words of a retiring blowhard, until she met Xander.

What starts as a tutorial in anatomy quickly evolves into Xander’s desire to possess Leda. While she is drawn to him, wants to give in and experience sharp passion unlike any she has ever known, she has reservations. Can a feminist, a modern independent woman truly be a sexual submissive? Why is he holding back? What is the dark past that Xander is hiding from her? And ultimately, can she trust him—with her body and her heart?

Xander wasn’t looking for a submissive, but his attraction to Leda is undeniable. He tries to follow caution, but ultimately he has to take her, subdue her, at her insistence. The more he opens himself up to her, though, the more his past comes back to haunt him, with nearly catastrophic events when his former lover shows up at their door on New Year’s Eve. How can he keep and protect Leda from all the risks of his kink, when he knows he is the biggest threat to her wellbeing?
In Her Closet (The Lust Diaries Book 1)
by Tasha L. Harrison (Dirtyscribbler Press)

This book isn't as brand new to the market as the others, but The Lust Diaries is a series I've been eager to read, after enjoying her prequel story A Slant of Light. After all, it involves a sex blogger, so of course I'm intrigued. You should follow @tashalharrison on Twitter because she posts about sales on her books.
Entertainment columnist Yves Santiago unapologetically lives her life as carelessly as a man. Her day job keeps her flush in men, with few regrets and even fewer mistakes. By night, she details her exploits on her anonymous sex blog, Lust Diaries.

Yves leads a happy, delightfully filthy life. Until she meets nonfiction editor Elijah Weinstein.

Moss green eyes, sun-kissed shoulders and a mouth so damn sensual that it should have a NC-17 rating, this perfectly suited and coiffed, Fifth Avenue prince is everything she never wanted yet can't resist. He methodically lays waste to the walls she's built around herself, looking to get closer to the real Yves Santiago.

With the the promise of a fairytale turned real, Yves must dig into the depths of her past. But once she shakes out the skeletons in her closet, will she be ready for all Elijah has to offer?
First Time: Ian's Story
by Abigail Barnette (Amazon)

Barnette is the pen name of writer Jenny Trout, whose extremely kinky, fascinating The Boss series (as Barnette) I've been enjoying, and have a forthcoming piece at Salon mentioning one of them. What intrigued me about this new title is that it's being released as two books, one from Ian's point of view, and one from Penny's, which ties into an exercise I teach in my LitReactor class, so made me especially excited to see how she pulls it off. I'm starting with Ian. Official description below.
Newly divorced and romantically pessimistic, Ian Pratchett doesn’t know why he’s been set up with Penny Parker. She’s unrelentingly positive, utterly superstitious, and sexually inexperienced—everything Ian is not. But when sparks fly between them, Ian sees the possibility of a life he’d given up hoping for…with a woman he would never have expected.
by Martha Davis (Loose Id)

I have to once again confess to my ignorance: I barely know what incubi and succubi are, but I know that Martha Davis is a powerful writer whose work I've published in The Big Book of Submission, and I always like to read longer pieces from my authors. I also like to push myself to try new subgenres I might not have tried otherwise. Plus that cover! Read a free excerpt here.
In Buckhead, the lavish, eclectic heart of downtown Atlanta, incubi and succubi fill the dungeons and private rooms of Kiss, an elaborate BDSM club where the lascivious go to explore their every taboo fantasy. But there are vampires on the loose – cold, dead, unnatural beasts that consider incubi/succubi blood top-of-the-line furnace quality and they are desperate to obtain it.

Orchid Teixeira, a young widowed succubus who wants a better world to raise her two-year-old daughter Itati in is not afraid to get her hands dirty to see those she loves safe. But the sheer number of vampires suddenly on the streets she calls home, leave both her and the supernatural mafia she clings to more than a little overwhelmed.

Federal Agent Max Hawthorne suddenly appears claiming to investigate the vampire influx, but he seems to be spending more time either trying to get into Orchid’s panties or arresting her than he is exterminating the vamp problem. Why is he really in Atlanta and why is he so dedicated to chasing Orchid? Is he hungry for her or is it her biological skill set he covets, and why can’t Orchid stay away from him?

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6 reasons I encourage my erotica writing students to submit their work

Updated November 29, 2015: All these reasons still apply, and I've now added a list of agents who represent erotica and erotic romance and details about what their looking for to my LitReactor curriculum. My next 4-week LitReactor online erotica writing class, Between the Sheets, runs February 11-March 10, 2016, and costs $350 if you register by December 31st, or $375 if you register January 1-February 10. Registration will remain open until the class sells out (maximum of 16 students) or until February 10th, whichever comes first. If you have questions about the class, please email rachelkramerbussel at with "LitReactor" in the subject line. If you're interested in private consulting about your erotic writing or nonfiction sex writing, see my website (scroll down) for rates.


Original post:

I'm gearing up for 3 classes I'm teaching sooner, online at LitReactor August 13-September 10th, and in person September 11th at CatalystCon in Burbank, California and the weekend of September 19-20 at SHE (Sexual Health Expo) in New York City (more about each at the end of the post). I've been thinking a lot about why I choose to conduct my classes the way I do, with a large emphasis, especially in the online classes, on submitting your work. I know this is not everyone's primary motivation for taking my classes, but to me it has multiple purposes, which I wanted to share here so you have a better sense of my philosophy about teaching and erotica. This is, of course, my highly subjective take on it, and my classes can't guarantee any students will be published, but I do heavily slant them in that direction for the reasons listed below, though you will also learn plenty whether you intend to submit your work or not.

1. Fulfillment and validation

I will never forget standing in a bookstore seeing my first erotica story, "Monica and Me," in print in an anthology for the first time. I had the double honor of having that one published in both Starf*cker edited by Shar Rednour and Best Lesbian Erotica 2001 by Tristan Taormino. I had tears in my eyes when I saw it, because it was such an honor. I'm not suggesting that publication is that only means to fulfillment, but that for me, and, I believe, for others, it's a sign of having achieved a goal you've worked toward, especially if you came into erotica reading sexy anthologies, as I did in college. That moment meant the world to me and inspired me to keep writing stories.

It was something I'd dreamt about and worked toward, and that made it all the more rewarding, to find my words tucked into pages next to authors I'd admired, as well as those new to me. I loved the idea that anyone sauntering into the store could pick it up and find my words. I believe the act of preparing a story for submission, of studying the guidelines, writing something to suit them, crafting something to suit a specific topic, and seeing those actions rewarded with a byline is a powerful, important experience. As you'll see in the LitReactor student testimonials, getting published based on the class's writing assignments was one of the things they appreciated about the class.

Having your work validated as worthy of publication can be an ego boost and a sign that you are heading in the direction you want to go. At the very least, it's a sign that somebody found value in your work, appreciated the effort that went into it and the outcome. Got you. Now, let me be clear: I am not at all saying this is the only way to achieve that or that you need anybody else to be a gatekeeper. I ardently support self-publishing, which is why in my LitReactor class I offer interviews with those who've self-published and share their resources so others can follow that path. But if publication is a goal for you, then meeting that goal can give you a wonderful sense of accomplishment, which can in turn push you to keep writing, creating and experimenting, especially in areas you may not have thought you could achieve success.

2. Money

I'm well aware that students pay money to take my classes, and I would love to see them make some of that money back and be compensated for their time. Most erotica short story markets do pay, and while you aren't going to get rich on the approximately $50 or $100 you will make per story, these can add up if you sell (and resell) multiple stories, plus you never know when one story may spark a novella or novel, or lead to something greater down the road. While these small sums may not seem like a lot now, imagine this: you sell 3 stories this year, 6 the next, 10 the next...then you go on to put together your own collection of short stories!

3. Building your writing career

Which brings me erotica career. I certainly got into editing erotica via writing short stories, and I know numerous other anthologies editors and authors of longer works who have as well. If you take my LitReactor class, where I offer exclusive interviews with authors and publishers, you'll find out why one of them says that short stories are key to breaking into one market.

As I see it, they help in multiple ways. One: you get readers. Yes, you can also do this in other ways, such as blogging and posting your stories online and social media, but if you publish a short story in an anthology of multiple authors, you are going to be reaching both your natural built in audience of followers, and everyone else's, including the publisher. You're introducing yourself as an author, and who knows who might be reading? You then get to add that credit to your site and bio, and amplify your reach. The book may be reviewed in prominent publications that your posting on your own site may not reach. I've had agents contact me to ask for author's contact information after reading their short stories in my books (FYI, I never give out people's contact info, but I do pass on requests such as this).

I fully believe that if you have an eye toward building a career as an erotica writer, you have to find some way to reach as wide an audience as possible. You can't be in every location or publication at once, so getting your name out there, especially to readers you might not have connected with previously, is key. I've had people email me based on reading my stories in Zane's New York Times bestselling anthologies Succulent: Chocolate Flava II and Purple Panties, who found me via my bio in the books listing my website, who said they were reading my work for the first time and were impressed. These publication credits are part of your calling card, your introduction to both publishers and readers.

What I think is especially interesting about this one is that most people don't approach taking an introduction to erotic writing class thinking, I want to build a career of this (though some do, of course). But I didn't know this would be my career either. It was an escape from the tedium of law school for me, and look what happened. You really never know. I'm not claiming you will be the next bestselling author whose books are turned into movies or TV shows; I also can't guarantee you will get published. I don't necessarily mean "career" in terms of "making a living off erotic writing." What I'm talking about is building a byline, a brand, a platform to then go on and write as much or as little erotica as you'd like; along with practical writing craft information, I do my best to set students up with knowledge of how to go about making a name for themselves in the erotica marketplace to help cultivate readers, to help people find your work, to help yourself stand out. I see submitting your work as one step, often the first step, in doing this.

4. Confidence See #1. Selling my first short story gave me a mental rush, a boost, and crucial motivation to keep penning my stories. Yes, I still faced (and face) rejection, but I also got over that idea of don't even bother; nobody will want to read your work anyway, because I knew it wasn't true. I knew that my ideas were worthy, whether they were about a woman with a dishwashing fetish or a sexy bachelorette party or french fries. Especially because that story was based on a personal fantasy, I started to believe in my take on eroticism, rather than trying to follow what I thought I was "supposed" to do. I've even heard from students that their first rejection didn't deter them, because they knew what the process was like and were able to turn around that story and try to find a new home for it. After all, if you want to get published by someone else, eventually you will have to submit your work, and my philosophy is, why not start out strong and get your work circulating? It gets easier the more you do it.

5. Professionalism

Even if you don't intend to submit your work, the act of following the marketplace and seeing what publishers are looking for can give you important information that you can then use however you like. It doesn't mean that you have to follow what editors or publishers are looking for, or that you can't go rogue and use a call for submissions or writer's guidelines as a springboard for your own equally valid but very different idea that you publish elsewhere, but it gives you a sense of what is currently being requested and, presumably, what types of stories there's an audience for. This is valuable data for your own marketing purposes, and may have the bonus outcome of sparking your creativity; I know I've written plenty of pieces inspired by a given call for submissions that I wouldn't have had the ideas for otherwise.

Even if you ultimately keep your writing on your computer, I still believe in the power of preparing your work to submit it, because it forces you to go over ever last word, to make sure you are putting your best foot forward in the completed work. You can't cut corners when you know someone else is going to be evaluating it. You get something out of that process whether your work is accepted for publication or not, or whether you actually submit or not. It gets you to format and edit and revise and pay attention in a way that writing purely for yourself may not, and that will in turn serve you well if you later decide to submit your work or if you self-publish.

6. Community

Since I published that first story, then organized a reading for Best Lesbian Erotica 2001 at New York's Bluestockings Bookstore, and later went on to host In The Flesh Reading Series for five years in New York and organize numerous readings at events across the country (and once in London at Sh!), to including international authors in my Gotta Have It book trailer, community has always been an important part of my erotic writing, all the more so now that I teach it. One of the greatest aspects of both online and in person classes is the sense of camaraderie that's fostered, one that I also see reflected across numerous erotica group blogs and across social media, and in person at live erotic readings such as Esoterica in New Orleans and The Erotic Literary Salon in Philadelphia and Bedpost Confessions in Austin.

You do not have to leave your house to be part of the erotic writing community, though. You do not have to be published, either, but where this ties in is that if you have your work published on a website, in a magazine, in an anthology, etc., you are, I believe, joining forces with the others in the publication. You are linked to them, even if you never interact with them. I've discovered the work of numerous writers, ones I've read for pleasure and ones whose work I've pursued as an editor looking to publish new authors, by reading bios in anthologies. I've scoured mastheads and clicked through to read more of a given author's work. It's this sense of community that made me realize I want that sense of community fostered in my classes to continue, so I've set up a secret Facebook group where attendees can keep the discussion going and help boost each other's work and learn from one another.

Those are my reasons for encouraging students (and anyone, really) to submit their work. I also value those who are writing for private or personal purposes, but I've seen that those who start out with those intentions often wind up submitting their work just to see what will happen, and that often, it's fear or nervousness or assorted worries that keep them from doing so, rather than just opposition to it. For those people, I especially like to encourage them to see the value of their work and where it might fit in the market.

If you've made it this far and are interested in my approach to teaching erotica writing, here's a little more about each of my upcoming classes (any future ones will be announced on Twitter, Facebook and in my monthly newsletter, which you can sign up for on the left-hand side of, and posted on my site's calendar page)., August 13-September 10


Click above for the week by week breakdown of what's covered in my lectures and assignments. Great for those who want to dig deep into erotica writing, cultivate a community of fellow students and devote a full month to their work (I suggest having at least 5 hours a week available to devote to coursework, though that is optional, and you will retain access to the classroom materials forever once class is over, though you will get much more out of it by actively participating during the class). Take this class from anywhere in the world, participate on your schedule at any time, with the username of your choosing (meaning you can be completely anonymous). Maximum participants: 16. You get weekly lectures from me, weekly assignments, critiques by me and fellow students, extensive market information, based on my asking publishers what they are currently looking for, a dozen Q&As with authors (both self-published and traditionally published) such as Tiffany Reisz, Sommer Marsden, Elizabeth SaFleur and Feminista Jones, among others, as well as anthology editors and longtime erotica professionals such as author and Circlet Press founder Cecilia Tan. I do this so that students can get various perspectives on what editors and publishers want, and paths that authors have approached their work. I've taught 3 previous sold out classes of 16 people for LitReactor and have loved the collaborative environment the site fosters. People from around the world who are eager to learn help each other with constructive criticism, useful suggestions and creating the best work possible. And although the class officially ends September 10th, I will be around through the end of September to answer any final questions. You also get access to my secret Facebook group for class alumni. No prior writing experience necessary. Register here; registration ends August 12th or when class sells out. 3 spots are left as of this posting. $375.

CatalystCon, September 11, Burbank, California


Here I teach an extended 3-hour workshop (along with one that same day on nonfiction sex writing, covering journalism and personal essays), where we do extended exercises, go over the marketplace for erotica, which includes a handout (which will also be emailed to participants) and discuss any questions and concerns authors may have. This has been a wonderful environment for my workshops because most attendees are coming in with a base of knowledge about sexuality that greatly fuels their writing, and often simply need encouragement and guidance about how to cultivate, complete and submit their work. No prior writing experience necessary. Register here. $45.

SHE (Sexual Health Expo), weekend of September 19-20, New York City (exact date/time TBA)


This will be my first time teaching at SHE, a consumer expo that's previously held events in Los Angeles and Scottsdale. I'm especially looking forward to attending for the first time, and am pretty sure being surrounded by sex toys and assorted sexuality topics will help foster creativity. I will be teaching a 50-minute erotic writing workshop which will including writing exercises, an overview of the erotica writing marketplace, including a handout and a Q&A. You also get access to my secret Facebook group for class alumni. No prior writing experience necessary. Register for SHE here. $25 (for admission to SHE).

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Friday, August 07, 2015

What my LitReactor students are saying about my erotica writing class

I'm now back from Thailand and fully immersing myself in preparing for my 4-week LitReactor erotica writing class that starts next week. I add new information and interviews each time in order to improve the class, which I'm working on now, but can tell you that some of the interviews are with erotica writer Tiffany Reisz, author of The Original Sinners series, and Cecilia Tan, multi-published erotica and erotic romance author and founder of Circlet Press. While submitting your work is not a requirement of the class, it's something I strongly encourage students to do (stay tuned for a more in depth post about why I construct the class that way - as you can see below, it does work).


The official description is at the link above, and students also get access to my private Facebook group for alumni of my classes to continue the conversations, share bylines and ask questions of me and fellow students.

But rather than just me telling you about the class, I wanted to share with you what students from the last three sold out classes have said. It makes me so happy that they've enjoyed it and are finding success in the genre. Questions? Email me at rachelkb at with "LitReactor" in the subject line.
By Sam Thorne:

"Rachel’s class Between the Sheets was a combination success for me. I attended the four-week course in May this year and it bought three benefits. Firstly, the challenge of writing to deadline on themes outside my comfort zone, and getting pretty good feedback from her and my peers nonetheless. Secondly, the contacts and sheer amount of information you get from this class. Finally, the companionship you get from others on the same course, and the very solid advice they can offer as readers.

Six weeks after class ended, I had a short story I’d written accepted in an anthology. I’d written it entirely on the back of one of the four weekly challenges raised during the course and was delighted to see it accepted for inclusion. This course is fun, sociable, and invaluably educating.

This review comes from a professional editor, who can see the naked value of this course for the stories being poured into the erotica market."
By Skye Leroux, former LitReactor student:

"Being part of Rachel's Between the Sheets class was one of the most valuable experiences I've had as a writer. I learned a tremendous amount about creating rich characters and constructing stories that readers will want to read—important skills for attracting and building an audience for my writing. I also got focused feedback from Rachel and other classmates that helped me to look at areas for improvement, while at the same time receiving great support and encouragement. The interviews with writers and publishers were insightful, as were the discussions of getting work into publication. Regardless of your personal skill level as a writer, you will absolutely learn and grow in this class. I can't recommend it enough."
By Dorothy Freed, former LitReactor student, and former teacher:

"Teaching is an art and Rachel Kramer Bussel's got it! Her Between the Sheets erotic writing class is informative and enjoyable. Well worth the investment of time and money."
By LN Bey:

"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."
By Roz Brinker:

"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."
By Ashton Peal:

"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."
By Jessica Taylor

"Rachel Kramer Bussel provides excellent instruction in the art of writing erotica. Her class, Between the Sheets, is hands on and invites you to widen your senses, emotions, and your perceptions of the erotica genre. You will produce at the very least 4000 words of erotica in this class, and if you work hard you could even write the basis for four complete stories in this one month class. Excellent lectures that included story excerpts are provided to help you with each of your writing assignments. Rachel provides thoughtful line-by-line feedback on each of the stories or scenes that you write. The class appropriately ends with the production of a story directed toward a current call-for-submission.

In addition to the writing that I did, my favorite part of the class was the question & answer sessions that Rachel coordinated between students and published authors. Many of the questions that I had regarding publishing in the erotica field (traditional vs. self-publishing, agent vs. no agent, etc) were addressed through this mechanism of interaction with successful authors.

I don't think you could have a more experienced, better connected, or more successful author for an erotica writing class than Rachel Kramer Bussel. If you're interested in this genre in any way, I highly encourage you to continue your journey under the tutelage of this talented and friendly teacher. Her instruction has guided me towards two erotica publications so far. Her methods work!"

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