Email: rachelkramerbussel at


Lusty Lady

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

3 days left to get the early bird price for my LitReactor online erotica writing class running February 11-March 10

I wanted to remind you that if you're thinking of taking my next LitReactor Between the Sheets erotica writing class (which happens online at from February 11-March 10), there's an early bird discount price of $350 through December 31st.


It will go up to $375 on January 1. All the material is written, so there's no set time that you have to be online; you take the class on your schedule, with access 24/7. I check in multiple times per day to respond to student questions. I'm pretty sure there've been students from various countries in each of my classes, and the variety has added a wonderful breadth of experience and information. You use whatever username you select, which means you can be completely anonymous if you choose to, or share whatever information you'd like to about yourself. That's up to you.

This will be my sixth time teaching the class, and I believe it gets better each time, due to my having fielded so many prior questions, learned even more about the marketplace for erotica and incorporated past topics students have asked about into the curriculum. I would only recommend taking the class if you can commit to at least five hours a week to writing and critiquing, if you want to get the most out of it. Students work hard each of the four weeks to hone their craft and learn from the comments they give and get. Also feel free to enter the class with a full list of questions; I will answer them, or find someone who can answer them using my journalism background (such as with my Q&As all about self-publishing from authors who've done it quite successfully).

In addition to the lectures (you can find a week by week breakdown at LitReactor), I will also offer daily posts about related subjects, such as selecting a pseudonym, author branding, social media, erotica community, literary agents, plus exclusive to the class Q&As with erotica publishing professionals, from publishers and editors to agents and authors, among them Tiffany Reisz, Charlotte Stein, Cecilia Tan and Rebekah Weatherspoon.

Yes, it's a lot of information, but you don't have to absorb it all in four weeks; one of the best things about how LitReactor runs their classes, in my opinion, is that you have access to the classroom materials forever, plus you'll get invited to my private online group for alumni where you can find beta readers, share bylines, ask questions of me and your peers, and further form community. The class is limited to 16 people to make sure everyone gets the individual attention they deserve. Questions? Email me at rachelkb at with "LitReactor" in the subject line.

You can also read what prior students have said about the class here and here, and whether you take my class or not, I encourage you to follow my students on social media to see what great things they're writing!

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My proudest accomplishment of 2015

I achieved a lot in 2015, things I truly never though I could or would, and I will be recapping the highlights of this year's writing and editing on my blog in the next two days. But the accomplishment I'm most proud of is about my actions behind the scenes. I'd been encouraging my grandfather to write an op-ed about what's needed to help veterans, specifically those suffering from PTSD, an area he's a double expert in, based on his own experience as a POW in WWII (which you can read about in his memoir) and his work helping veterans file claims for benefits owed to them. Every time I would read about a similar issue in the news, I would let him know and gently nudge him to write something, but as I know well, nobody can ever "make" you write anything. That's not how our minds or creativity or impulses work.

So when I sold my hoarding essay to The Washington Post's Post Everything section, I realized the section might be a good fit for what I envisioned from my grandfather. I'd of course been reading Post Everything to get a feel for what they were looking for, and the more I read, the more that connection leapt out at me. I did something that gave me butterflies in my stomach, because it bordered on, and perhaps was, rude and unprofessional, but felt worth the risk: I asked my editor if she'd be open to him sending her a pitch. Specifically, I wrote:
Also, can I pass your email address on to my grandfather? I know that sounds very "I have a friend who wants to be a writer" but I promise it's not. He's 91, wrote a memoir about being a POW in WWII and now helps recent veterans file PTSD related claims so has a fascinating, and sometimes heartbreaking, perspective. Yes, I'm biased, but I do genuinely think he has a unique take on it. I've been encouraging him to write an essay or op ed about the types of issues he sees, including addiction and alcoholism, homelessness, joblessness and how the VA and government could better serve these vets. Just didn't want you to think I'm passing around your info indiscriminately.
I got an immediate, enthusiastic response, followed by another one, which I passed on to him, and he took it from there, and on February 27th, a few weeks after my essay was published, his essay "Meet the 91-year-old whose wartime PTSD makes him the perfect guide for today’s veterans" was published.


I really can't express how thrilled I was, because I believe his story is unique and relevant to what's happening in the world today, two qualities I look for when I teach writing classes and whenever I say to someone "You should write an essay about that." It's an oft-repeated refrain from me, but again, I get the sense that many who have brilliant essays lurking inside them are hesitant to unearth them, which is understandable. It can be emotionally challenging, heart wrenching work, especially work done on spec ("on speculation," meaning without guarantee of publication or payment). It can seem overwhelming to cram what feels like your life story into 700 or 800 or 1,000 or 1,200 words, or even into 2,000 or 3,000 words. But what about this thing that happened, and that thing? Aren't they important? It can feel treacherous to be pushed to delve deeper into certain areas, or leave others out. And that's all before a piece is even published; once it is, you're subject to the whims of anyone who wants to comment in any way at all, good, bad, indifferent, rude, ill informed, etc.

But I'm not here to detail the umpteen reasons why people might not want to write about their lives; I know them intimately, and likely, you do too. I'm here to tell you that I felt so overjoyed that my instincts had been right, that the response my grandfather received was incredibly positive, warm and welcoming, precisely because, in my opinion, he did not shy away from his own darkest times, his own suffering, but he also showed how he uses those experiences to help others. I was happy because it brought his perspective to a while new audience, including Captain Sully Sullenberger, especially those who'd also been affected by WWII specifically.

I wanted to write this post to highlight his essay in case you missed it when it originally ran, and remind myself of what I want to do more of going forward: encourage other writers, which I've done in my calls for submissions, in my classes, in my private online group for my writing student alumni, and will be doing more of in the new year with a newsletter focused on writing advice and tips, plus with coaching writers and polishing their words before they submit them (stay tuned!). If you take anything away from this post, it's that if you have a story to tell, I strongly, strongly urge you to tell it, if you can get over all the mental and emotional and other hurdles that takes, not only because there are people who need to hear it but also, and most importantly, because you will be changed for the telling.

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Monday, December 28, 2015

3 reasons to pre-order Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1

I'm eagerly awaiting the release of what I consider my very best work as an anthology editor, Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, and am setting aside most of January to promote it far and wide. Yes, for the next few weeks, I'm thinking of my primary job as "marketer" rather than writer or even editor. It's been fascinating so far to get to learn about things like feminist bookstores (I can now tell you what towns those 13 remaining ones in North America are located!) and sex toy stores and hear from stores that are excited to stock the book, such as Good Vibrations, Come As You Are and Good for Her (I hope to add to that list soon). It's been fun to get postcards made and to hear from early reviewers who are eager to read it. So as part of my marketing campaign, I wanted to share one major way you can support the book.

BWEOfThe Year_approved

Taking over a long-running series means the stakes are high, and I want to do well by my publisher, my authors, and myself. So I wanted to share 3 reasons to consider pre-ordering the book, so it's either at your door by January 12th (and, if history has proven correct, earlier, if you pre-order from Amazon) or on your e-reader on that day. Without further ado:

1. Lock in a great price

While the price on a book's paper cover doesn't change, how much stores actually charge for it may, especially online. Right now, BWE of the Year 1 (my shorthand) is only $12.88 in paperback on Amazon. That's a savings of $4.07!

2. Enter to win a $25 gift certificate (if you order on Amazon by January 11)

I'm giving away 5 $25 Amazon gift cards to anyone who pre-orders the print or Kindle edition on (U.S.). If that isn't incentive to pre-order, I don't know what is! Here's the instructions:

1. Pre-order the paperback or Kindle edition of Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 from (US) by January 11, 2016.

2. Forward receipt to by January 11, 2016 at 11:59 pm EST.

3. You'll recieve a reply within 72 hours confirming that you're entered!

4. Winners will be selected and notified on January 12, 2016.

3. Support me and the series

Pre-orders signal to retailers that there is customer interest in a book, which usually prompts them to cater to those customers accordingly and order more books. More books in stores means more opportunities for the book to come across a customer's radar.

Now, I'm a very small fish in a gigantic, author-filled pond. For other authors, pre-orders may help them get on bestseller lists. For me, it can mean the difference between a book selling hundreds vs. thousands of copies in its first quarter, which translates into my paycheck. If this book does well, it's likely to mean more resources available to me to do more readings and events and book giveaways. If it does very very well, then if I get to edit more volumes, I'll be able to pay authors more. Ultimately, the better this book does, the greater a percentage of my time I will be able to devote to anthology editing.

If it does well, it will hopefully mean I get to editor more books in the series (I already have a contract for the second volume, and will post the call for submissions on January 1 at Now, my book won't succeed or fail based on pre-orders alone, but if you are planning to read it, ordering it from your favorite independent bookstore or an online store goes a long way for the same price.

Here's what February Media says about pre-orders:
When a customer pre-orders a book, the sale of that book counts towards the first week’s sales. For instance, if you sell 300 books 3 months before the book goes on sale, those 300 sales are added to whatever books are sold in stores on the on sale date.
Josh Cook explains it thusly:
First pre-orders represent an early return on investment. One of the biggest challenges publishers face (that bookstores don't quite so much) is the sheer distance between the investment and the return. Typically, the time between the initial expense of an author advance (I'm not even counting the cost of an acquisitions editor) and actual sales of the book is a year at minimum, a year in which the publisher pretty much spends money constantly on the book. And even once sales begin, publishers really don't know what they've made back from their investment until months after the book has been released. It is a lot of time to keep the lights on. Pre-orders inject early cash into the economic equation of bookselling. (Via money to bookstores who then pay publishers.)
In other words, pre-orders will help Cleis Press know their faith in me has not been misplaced. It will help show them I'm not just good with words, but with sales, which is, of course, what ultimately drives the business of books, like any other business. Pre-orders are powerful, and basically multiply your consumer spending in a way that can have a ripple effect for authors, all the more so when we are talking about small businesses.

For instance, most of the bookstore lists I've been privy to related to my books have shown that small independent bookstores typically order 1 or 2 copies of a new book of mine (remember: small fish, gigantic pond). Now imagine if you're a store that's ordered 1 copy to put on your shelves on January 12th, the release date, and you get a pre-order. And then another. And then maybe another. You know that your one lone copy won't be enough. You'll need more for those pre-orders and are therefore logically more likely to take an extra copy to stock on your shelves. To my mind, it's pretty much basic supply and demand.

Ready to pre-order? Here are handy links:

Amazon (print)


Barnes & Noble (print)




IndieBound (find your nearest local bookstore)

Cleis Press

Amazon UK (print)

Amazon UK Kindle

Amazon Canada (print)

Amazon Canada Kindle

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How I spent Christmas Day

I wrote the following after this opening paragraph on Christmas Day, and, typical for me, didn't just say "it's done" and post it, but let it sit idle. Ironic, considering this post is about the tension in my life between productivity and being a slacker. One of my plans for 2016 is to not do that; to write and publish more often with less overanalyzing. So I will say that I finished the puzzle two days after Christmas, a group effort, and felt immensely satisfied and in awe of the beauty of the photo and the bridge. That kind of determination to sit and focus and get it done is what I need to bring to my work, not tomorrow or next week or next year, but immediately. Today I head home and will spend this week wrapping up my final 2015 bylines and tasks and preparing to start the new year proudly. Friday I will use accounting software for the first time in my life, which feels shameful to admit, but better late than never. I will be working from my mostly bookless office, which the books are all packed up, and maybe that will be a source of comfort, to go back to basics, to work without so many potential distractions for a week or so. I also finished listening to Millennial and it both made me wish, in some ways, that I was a Millennial, with all my adult life ahead of me, and made me realize I need to work on my life in big and small ways so that I know my worth, and value it, like she does. And now, the post...

For some reason, this week spent at my boyfriend's parents' house, full of food and family and gifts and vacation, has been one where I've felt inspired to be productive, which I haven't felt the last few weeks. I've felt frantic and behind and unstable and, frankly, afraid that I wasn't cut out to work for myself. But somewhere along the way from New Jersey to Virginia, that changed. I wrote 5 articles for Salon, blogged a bit, made plans for future articles and essays and book promotions, got chills listening to the Millennial podcast because I recognized so many of my own deep fears about following my artistic dreams, something that still holds me back to this day but that I'm trying to shed. I think that something about being here has made me feel just a little less pressure, even though I have deadlines and pitches I want to get out and all the usual stressful to do list tasks. I worked with editors this week, but I also allowed myself a little break, and am trying not to over schedule my next few weeks because I am packing to move and getting ready to launch my most important anthology that I have such high high hopes for, and then going to Los Angeles and San Francisco to teach workshops and do a reading.

That doesn't come easily for me; I feel like the supreme slacker who won't be able to pay my rent if I am not working all the time, which could mean simply plotting in my head how I will go about earning my next dollar. I have no steady income, and this year, along with some amazing, pinch me opportunities I will always be grateful for, I also saw a newspaper I wrote my first ever weekly column for close, a steady writing contract end, and a lot of ups and downs. Being 40 and determined to become a mom pretty much however I can, no matter what it takes, I feel that lack of stability all the more. So trying to be successful by stepping back feels illogical, scary and wrong, but I also know that for my sanity, I have to cut myself some slack. I have to be more judicious and strategic, to learn from my mentors, from the people whose books and podcasts I admire. I am working on launching some new websites, hopefully webinars if I can figure out how to do it (webinars seem like one of those things people say are "easy," but don't realize that some of us have no clue how to do the most basic internet tasks and are too busy earning a living in other ways to learn). I know I need to do a makeover on my business structure, I just haven't had the time to delineate exactly what I want to change and how to go about that.

Today, while my boyfriend and his dad enjoy cigars I gave them, I'm doing this jigsaw puzzle of the Brooklyn Bridge, one of six puzzles I received this week. I'm thinking about how I want to end the year, how I want to begin the next one, what kind of new home office I want to create when I move in a few weeks, and how I can go after what I want while also forgiving myself if I don't get it all. But for today, this Jewish girl who's celebrating my fourth Christmas with this extra family has one goal: finish this 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle before I go home on Monday.


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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thanks for getting me over halfway to my goal of 40 Dirty Dates reviews for my 40th birthday!

So, I'm 40. Most days I feel more like 14 or 24, possibly early thirties, but in fact, I'm 40. Turns out, being 40 doesn't automatically mean I'm wiser or more knowledgable. I still fuck up. I still get flustered and confused and panicked and all the other things I did in my twenties and thirties. But for the most part, I like it. I've decided to invest in myself, which means I'll be launching three new websites in the new year, and doing live readings across the country and hopefully teaching webinars and other things.


One of my hopes for my 40th birthday and Dirty Dates: Erotic Fantasies for Couples, the book that dubbed on that day, November 10th, is to get to 40 reviews of it on Amazon. So far, the book has 23, and here's a sampling:
"Justine Elyot’s Baby Steps is a story about a new mother who is determined to get her kink back on. Any parent can relate to this story about how relationship dynamics change once a baby comes along. Nik Havert’s The Rabbit Trap is playful and imaginative. Valerie Alexander’s The World in My Pants and D.L. King’s On Location are both super-hot pieces of Femdom."

"What feels unique about "Dirty Dates" is the focus on committed couples exploring kink. That relational background adds a sweet sexiness to many scenes, which I loved. There's also a strong emphasis on consent in these stories - which makes me feel more excited to recommend it to people newer to kink world. For example, there are a lot of sentences like this one, from Emily Bingham's story: "I run one finger along my labia, shocked at how excited I am. I blush as I realize that daydreaming about the events I've agreed to has made such an impression..." Depending on your tastes, the reminders that everything has been "agreed to" can be distracting or quite a turn-on. More than other erotica anthologies I've read, "Dirty Dates" gives a template for how couples can actually explore kink together, which definitely makes it stand out. "

"Slowburn by Morgan Sierra is a femdom story told from the male submissive’s point of view. I don’t think that I’ve read a Femdom story told this way and it was a nice change of pace. It pulled no punches on the muddled and conflicting thoughts that tumbled through his mind while involved in a scene with his mistress.

The World in my Pants by Valerie Alexander gives us another dose of femdom with some juicy public humiliation and dirty alley sex. Of all the stories in the book, this is easily my favorite. All the girls crowding around him in the bathroom and writing on him with their makeup was especially fun to read.

Switch by Mina Murray tells the story of a couple reuniting after he’s been away for work. Blindfolded and handcuffed to the radiator in front of a picture window she comes to the realization that this was her fantasy made real."
So if you've read Dirty Dates or will be soon, whether you bought it on Amazon or not, I'd love if you'd leave a review there (or on Goodreads or or anywhere else readers might see it). The review can say anything you want (although on Amazon, it can't have any curses or "dirty" words). It can be one sentence or 100 sentences. If you're stumped, I suggest sharing what your favorite story was and why, or your favorite stories. Or just what the book was like versus what you expected. Thank you for being interested in Dirty Dates in the first place! I was thrilled to have a book come out on my birthday, and while my focus now is on launching Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, I'm still keeping an eye on Dirty Dates and happy its reaching readers.

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I have no idea how many words I wrote in 2015

I will be posting next week some of my favorite things I've written this year, and listing the publications I broke into in 2015, and other reflections on my year in writing. But one thing I won't be doing is sharing a grandiose, glamorous, impressive sounding number of words I wrote in the prior 365 days, because I don't have one. I have no clue how many words I write per day, or per month, or per year, because that's not how I calculate my output.

Why? Because for me, I tend to be focused on the finished product. I have umpteen half-finished stories and essays and articles that may or may not someday make it into a publishable form, but when I think about what I've written, it's generally about what I've then shared with other people. I love the moment when I hit the end, when I turn in a piece, or know it's edging closer to publication. I'm honored that this year, while most of my writing was read online, I got to hold newspapers and magazines in my hands and admire my words and byline on their ink-stained or glossy pages. Now, I'm not at all saying only published words are what "counts." Certainly, if you're writing a novel or novella or longer form work, especially, that's an unrealistic measurement. But in my case, even then, I am someone who can't afford to count her chickens before they're published, because then I get ahead of myself and forget to actually dig in and finish.


Yet while I measure my words by how they appear in their final, immutable form (although as a writer, I am always willing to tinker with them in my head post-publication, or imagine what if, or learn what I wish I'd done), I do think there can be something valuable to tracking how much you write. I was reminded of this while listening to Chris Fox on the podcast Write With Impact, which is one of the podcasts I recommended to writers. Fox is the author of the book 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter, which also has a corresponding iPhone app. I've read the book and downloaded the app and plan to use them starting next week to get me over some of my early morning hurdles of eek, I have so many things to write, where do I start?

There are lots of authors who do indeed track their output with a number. You can find various posts boasting of feats like "How I Wrote 400K Words in a Year" as Jamie Todd Rubin wrote at The Daily Beast. Maybe my resistance is self-defeating, because the truth is, I often overthink and over-research and then cannot cram all my thoughts and ideas and findings into a limited word count for an article. Or with fiction, I psych myself out because if I don't know the ending or full story when I start, I don't bother.

But for me, especially as I look back on what I did write in 2015 at this moment in the early morning hours of December 24th, I still want to pause and savor the feeling I had when the words got published, not the amount of them. I want to truly feel what it was like to create them, whether at a leisurely or a far more hectic pace. I want to remember what it felt like to be holed up in a hotel room in South Portland, Maine and write three articles in a day. I want to remember the pride I felt contacting interviewees and saying I was writing an article for The New York Times, plus the rush of editing said article from a hotel and in the car and then from my desk, then seeing people with far more advanced tech skills than I'll ever have make videos of opening the newspaper and zooming in on my piece. I want to remember watching porn from a hotel room in Krabi, Thailand, for research. I want to remember the way it felt to turn life's biggest frustrations and annoyances into words that helped soothe me, even for a few moments. I want to remember rereading my erotica story "Flying Solo," one of my rare second person stories, which I'd written the year before, and deciding, "Hey, this is pretty good," and putting it in my new book (which, I admit, doesn't count exactly as writing, but more like, selecting).

I want to remember the good and bad times, the agonizing, stressful moments writing caused me, the ones that woke me up early and occasionally made me cry, and the euphoric moments where I felt so damn happy and proud and eager and excited. Writing puts me through the gamut of emotions; it is an ever-present voice in my head, whispering in my ear, reminding me that this is my role in life, not just my job. Writing makes itself known to me even when I want to ignore it. While I am actively looking for ways to channel my 2016 writing output into both fruitful possibilities and ones that push me to try new things, which includes doing some of the writing sprints Fox suggests (sort of like sprints when you're working out, but with writing, but read his ebook or get his app for the full scoop), I don't think I will ever be converted to measuring writing in terms of numbers entirely, though I admit, I'm curious, not to much on a year's scale, but to see how many words I can create in a day, and how many I will keep after I'm done futzing with them. I want to see if I can jumpstart myself out of the fear that keeps trying to steer me toward the comfortable status quo and away from the big dreams. I want to go beyond my comfort zone, as I did this year, but also continue to remind myself what I want out of writing, why I do it, what it means to me on the most personal level.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

4 things this editor gives my anthology contributors in addition to paying them money

I am gearing up for the release of Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, which hits bookstores and e-readers January 12th, and also to post the my new call for submissions for Cleis Press for Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 2, which you can find on January 1 at The payment for authors for that volume, will be, as this one was, $100 per story. It's a fee I hope to be able to increase if I am given the opportunity to edit future volumes; I have no idea if that will happen, and right now my focus is on making the first volume as big a seller as I possibly can.

BWEOfThe Year_approved

Already, I can tell you that I've gotten the woman I consider the very best erotica narrator around, who also happens to be a contributor to the book, Rose Caraway, as the narrator of the upcoming audiobook. That's one way I'm expanding the reach of this volume and ensuring that it reaches a wide readership/listenership.

Because I know that for most of us, that is a small sum in the grand scheme of bills to pay, I want to talk a little bit about what else I try to provide my authors. As a full-time freelance writer/editor/teacher/consultant, I know very well the value of money. I don't get paid sick days or holidays. I only get paid for work I produce, and that means that I'm highly aware of the value of every penny I spend and every penny I make. It's why I plan to tell those authors whose work is accepted this year to not waste their precious dollars sending their contracts via priority mail, when cheaper, regular old mail will do perfectly and won't cut into their $100 fee.

So because I'm aware that $100 isn't that much money, here's some of the other ways I try to support my authors:

1. Social media - I've made a Twitter list of the contributors to Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 and am doing my best to promote them, retweet them, and share their additional news, such as free erotica stories.

2. Interviews - I try to give authors a way to promote their own work and to highlight the efforts they've put into crafting their stories in my books. In the case of this book, I'm doing a series of Q&As on Tumblr with my authors. So far, I've interviewed: Elizabeth Coldwell, Rose P. Lethe, Valerie Alexander and Theda Hudson.

3. Reviews - The moment I see one of my authors praised in a review of the book they're published in, I let them know. I also post those wonderful words highlighting their stories on social media, as I did with the recent Library Journal review. I want them to hear what people have to say about their work; of course, if a review pans my author, I won't go out of my way to point that out to them, but an up-and-coming author can use some of those reviews in their own promotional materials, to bolster a book proposal or simply to quote on their website.

4. Live events - Plug: come hear me read from Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 at these free events: January 19th, 6:30-8:30 pm at Good Vibrations, 1620 Polk Street, San Francisco, with Amy Butcher, Rose Caraway, Dorothy Freed and Jade A. Waters, and March 31st at The Pleasure Chest, 3436 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, from 6-7:30 pm with Tara Betts and Rose P. Lethe.

This is probably the most costly and time-consuming aspect of anthology editing. On one level, you could see it as me asking authors to provide free labor, because essentially, I am. I'm asking them to take time out of their day or night and read their story to a live audience. But why I think this is helpful to them is: a) they get to bond with audience members and grow their own fan base, b) they get to hear their work read aloud and find out how people respond to it in the flesh, c) they get to meet fellow contributors in person and b) returning to social media, I promote their name and, if they are amenable, their photo on social media. Their name may get mentioned in major media outlets that are listing the event. I firmly believe that live readings go a lot further than the limited number of people who will actually attend such an event. Simply getting your event "out there" means you're raising awareness of the existence of the book and those authors' work in the book.

Is there more I can do for my authors? Most likely, yes! I am in ongoing communication with them and open to suggestions, and hope to add new readings to the lineup in 2016. I want my contributors to feel proud of not just their bylines, but being part of this book as a whole. I want to give them as much support as I'm capable of given my time and resources. And as I said, my goal is to make this book and the next one sell far beyond my wildest dreams, which will enable me to do more promotions, more readers, and pay future authors even more money. For now, this is what I can offer, and I look forward to launching this book and reading submissions for the next one in the new year.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

NSFW sexy holiday cards on Etsy

If there's one thing in this world I love, it's greeting cards. They might rival books as the item I'm most likely to always be ready to shop for. I adore cards, and always have, both sending and receiving them. So I was excited to write this Daily Dot article on sexy holiday gift cards sold on Etsy. I learned that they have an adult "mature content" filter and other interesting facts while researching this timely topic.

card by hi, love. greetings on Etsy

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Your favorite bookstores, according to my newsletter subscribers

On Friday, I sent out my December newsletter with the subject line, "What's your favorite bookstore and why?" 38 of you responded (and are getting a free book as a thank you!). Some said that independent bookstores in their area have closed, some favorite Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The others from around the world listed these as their favorites, many of which I've heard of and in some cases, shopped at, many of which were new to me. The list also includes sex toy stores which sell books as well. I didn't plan to write a blog post about this, but I was so impressed with the store names and the stories behind them; readers are attached to their bookstores, and have passionate things to say about why they like their favorites.

I'll be reaching out to them about stocking what I think is the best book I've ever edited, Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1. Want to receive my January newsletter, full of news and giveaways and other fun stuff? Subscribe on my website at (left-hand side).

Do you have a favorite bookstore that's not listed here? Or a place that sells erotic books? Leave the name in the comments and I'll look into them too! (The free book offer is now over, but there will be more giveaways to newsletter subscribers next year.) Whatever you're reading, I hope you enjoy it.

Favorite bookstores according to my newsletter subscribers

A Cappella Books
Bargain Books
Barnes & Noble
Bonnett's Bookstore
The Book Exchange (Manteca, CA)
The Book Nook
Book Review
Book Soup
Books Inc.
The Bookshop on Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
Browse About Books (Rehoboth Beach)
Bureau of General Services -- Queer Division at the GLBT Center (NYC)
Busboys & Poets
Cupid’s Closet
Doctor John's Lingerie Boutique
Doylestown Bookstore
Early to Bed
Fireside Books
Half Price Books
Iliad Books
Kramerbooks and Afterwards
Liberty Bay Books
Modern Times
Politics & Prose
Powerhouse ARENA
Purple Passion
A Room of One’s Own
Strand Bookstore
The Tattered Cover
Unabridged Bookstore (Chicago)
A Woman’s Touch
Women and Children First
Word Up

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Monday: Library Journal likes Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1!

Got some great news this morning from my publisher, Cleis Press: Library Journal gave my new book Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 a great review! I'm overjoyed. You can read the introduction to the book on Tumblr. This book is near and dear to my heart, and part of my excitement is that I want to introduce the authors who are newly published in the book, or are starting out in their erotica writing careers, to a wider audience. So I was very happy to see "A New Canvas" by Tara Betts and "Scents & Sexuality" by Doriana Chase receive praise in this review. Also cool: Tara Betts will join me and contributor Rose P. Lethe at our Chicago reading on March 31st at The Pleasure Chest. It's free and I'm sure will be a lot of fun (bonus: free wine and other beverages). I typed up the review (which I don't think is online yet, but I'll link to it if they post it):
Library Journal review

Edited for the first time by frequent anthology contributor and erotica veteran Bussel, this annual volume features short stories from a number of notable genre names, including L. Marie Adeline (“S.E.C.R.E.T.” trilogy) and Tiffany Reisz (“The Original Sinners” series). Bussel makes a point in the introduction to emphasize that all 21 selections were chosen for their strong depictions of nuanced, intelligent female characters with whom readers should identify, offering erotica that titillates while it “respects your mind.” The book lives up to that promise, opening with Tara Betts’s poetic “A New Canvas,” in which friends Angela and Troy redraw the lines of their relationship using their bodies for their canvas. Some pieces set a slow burn (a longtime work crush blossoms into something more when Ivy meets her boss Lennon at a kinky party in Reisz’s “The Assistant”), while others jump right into the action, such as Doriana Chase’s wry “Scents & Sexuality,” wherein Chase’s unnamed protagonist finds her senses kicked into high gear by the aroma of hot, hardworking gardener Jax.

VERDICT: With plenty of creative scenarios, styles, and positions, this impressive anthology is sure to be a hit among quality erotica fans.

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Enter to win a $25 gift card when you pre-order Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1

I'm putting my money where my excitement is and have 5 gift cards to give away 5 people who pre-order Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1. Details below. Good luck! This contest is open to anyone in the world but purchases must be made at to qualify.


How to enter

Pre-order the paperback or Kindle edition of Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 by January 11, 2016. Winners will be seleted and notified on January 12, 2016. Instructions:

1. Purchase the paperback or Kindle edition of Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 from (US) by January 11, 2016.
2. Forward receipt to by January 11, 2016 at 11:59 pm EST.
3. You'll recieve a reply within 72 hours confirming that you're entered.
4. Winners will be selected and notified on January 12, 2016.

BWEOfThe Year_approved

About the book
Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, edited by award-winning author and editor Rachel Kramer Bussel, delivers risky, romantic, heart-pounding thrills. Featuring a diverse range of characters, sexualities and scenarios, these 22 steamy stories revel in erotic adventure, from the sparks between strangers to the knowing caresses of longtime lovers. Women learn “The Ropes,” get “Starstruck” and dine with “Two Doms for Dinner.” Penned by beloved authors such as L. Marie Adeline and Tiffany Reisz along with newcomers to the genre, these sexy encounters will give you plenty of fantasy fodder to last all year long.
Table of Contents

Introduction (read it on Tumblr)
A New Canvas Tara Betts
Demimonde Valerie Alexander
Ophelia the Second Jade A. Waters
Revisiting Youth J. Crichton and H. Keyes
Date Night D.R. Slaten
Flying Solo Rachel Kramer Bussel
Drawn by Nic Heidi Champa
The Ropes Elise King
Starstruck Lazuli Jones
The Altar of Lamented Toys Jessica Taylor
Matilda’s Secret L. Marie Adeline
Scents & Sexuality Doriana Chase
Alvin’s Night Elizabeth Coldwell
Enter Me Tabitha Rayne
The Wolf at His Door Deborah Castellano
Out of the Ordinary Rose P. Lethe
Lighting the Pyre Theda Hudson
Restitution Ria Restrepo
The Carnalarium Rose Caraway
Waiting to Pee Amy Butcher
Two Doms for Dinner Dorothy Freed
The Assistant Tiffany Reisz

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How journalism helps me teach my erotica writing classes

I have to admit that when I first started teaching erotica writing classes about 6 or 7 years ago (I wish I knew when I taught my first one!), I didn't know what I was doing. I had a bit of impostor syndrome going on because I felt outclassed, yet simultaneously compelled to do this thing that felt new and risky and uncertain. Part of it was a natural outgrowth of my belief in forming community around writing.

Ever since my very first short story, "Monica and Me," was published in the anthology Best Lesbian Erotica 2001 and I organized a reading at Bluestockings Bookstore in Manhattan, and later went on to organize numerous others as well as run a five-year erotic reading series, community has been vital to my spirit and to my sense of what erotica writing is all about.

I started out writing erotica on a whim, at the tail end of law school, not knowing what I was doing but wanting to try it anyway. That first story led to writing more stories, which led to co-editing an anthology, which led to today, when I've got my 61st anthology, Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 coming out. Just as I learned by doing both how to write erotica, how to organize readings, how to make book trailers, and all the attendant work of crafting erotica and putting out anthologies, so too have I learned how to teach my writing classes.

One skill that's helped me is my journalism background. No, not the journalism school I didn't go to, but the school of real life, where I've been freelance writing since around 2000, when I had various full-time jobs, and through the last four years of working for myself full-time. I've had to learn how to call up strangers, how to investigate online and off (though mainly online).

What I didn't expect was my journalism background to aid me in teaching erotica writing. I considered them two different types of writing: journalism was nonfiction and serious, erotica was fiction and less serious. But what I've found is that teaching erotica writing is an interesting hybrid of all my skills. Especially when I teach online at LitReactor for my 4-week Between the Sheets erotica writing class, I have time to dig deep into the topics I'm covering, and research answers to students' questions. That's been wonderfully educational for me, because it's broadened the scope of the class. Because a student early on asked a question about literary agents, I now have a list of literary agents who accept erotica and erotic romance, complete with details on what they are and aren't looking for, to provide to my students, and I'm constantly on the lookout to add to that list.

Same with topics like self-publishing, author branding, social media, taglines, incorporating multiple partners, and so on. Having the freedom to have that time to investigate, and having the confidence that comes with asking questions on behalf of my students, has meant that my original vision for my LitReactor class has been dwarfed by what it's become. It means that it's a constantly evolving project that changes each time I teach it, because different students have different questions.

I don't tend to think of the world as "right brain" and "left brain," but it's undeniable that I have a very artistic, creative, freeform side, and a more diligent, detailed, research-oriented side. Both of those converge perfectly for me when I teach, and are, I believe, part of what my students appreciate. It's not that I know the answer to every single question they may ask, but that I'm able to find out answers and provide resources to the questions I can't answer from personal experience. It's made me fearless in contacting major players in the erotic publishing world, and to my delight, almost all of them have responded to my queries and passed on valuable information.

So if you want to pick my brain for a month about erotica (and actually, longer than that, because all students get invited to my private online group of alumni to continue the discussions, questions and camaraderie), I recommend my LitReactor class, ideally if you have at least five hours a week to devote to it. That's what I consider the minimum input to get the most out of the class. With my February 11-March 10 class, LitReactor is offering an early bird price if you register by December 31st. The price will go up by $25 on January 1st. In the meantime, I'm contacting more publishers, editors, literary agents and authors to interview for this class to enhance it even further.

Questions about the class? Email me at rachelkb at gmail dot com with "LitReactor" in the subject line.


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Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Best Women's Erotica of the Year series is now on Instagram, or why I'm putting everything I can into using book marketing tips for this title

Warning: You are going to be hearing a lot from me about my 61st anthology, Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1. I'm not apologizing, just letting you know. I've been editing anthologies since 2004, but working on this one feels in some ways like I'm doing it for the first time. Why? Because this one feels special in an entirely new way. It feels like I've been given an editorial gift that I don't want to squander. I will be announcing a call for submissions for the second volume on January 1st at, and the deadline will be April 1, 2016, but for the first half of 2016, I will be focused on getting this book into as many stores as possible, and into the hands (and, later, ears) of as many readers as I can.

It feels momentous, like the culmination of all I've learned since that first anthology. I've done a lot right, and faltered here and there, with my anthologies, but I've discovered some of what both brings me joy about editing and what I think brings strength to the series. One of the things I'm most proud of is giving authors the opportunity to be published for the first time, such as Rose P. Lethe, whose story "Out of the Ordinary," about a couple where the trans man is having a tough time dealing with his disapproving family, and sex helps them bond as a couple. This is her first published erotica story. I hope to publish more authors' first published erotica in the series too.

So because this book is so important to me, I'm going all out in terms of promotion. I've been sending postcards to bookstores and sex toy stores to let them know about the book. I've been doing outreach on Twitter and via email. So far, I can tell you that Good Vibrations, with stores in the San Francisco Bay Area and Brookline, Massachusetts, and Toronto sex toy stores Come As You Are and Good for Her will have Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, when it comes out on January 12th, and postcards for it in the next few weeks. I hope to add to that list in a big way.

I've planned free readings, happening January 19th in San Francisco at Good Vibrations Polk Street and March 31st in Chicago at The Pleasure Chest, where I look forward to reading with contributors, especially those I've never met in person before.

I'm also trying something new with social media. In addition to Best Women's Erotica of the Year being on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, I've set up an Instagram account for the series.


Due to my making a typo the first time around, the title is not the full series name, but bestwomenseroticaofyearseries, which I think captures what this is: a series devoted to women's erotica. I look forward to posting photos from stores that stock it, and from our readings and events, and maybe even a short video here and there. Please feel free to follow the series, and I'll follow back (my personal Instagram account is rachelkramerbussel).

Thank you for your support for this book! Anything you can do to help it succeed is much appreciated. Here's some suggestions:

1. Follow us on one of the above social media platforms and share the news that the book is coming out.

2. Back our Thunderclap campaign. By doing so, you'll allow Thunderclap to post one time on January 12th on your Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr account letting people know the book is out.

3. Pre-order the book on Amazon or another online bookstore.

3. Pre-order the book at your local independent bookstore.

5. Mark Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 as want to read on Goodreads.

6. Come to one of our events! Or let me know where you'd like to see us do a reading by emailing bweoftheyear at

7. On January 12th or afterwards, leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon or or Powells or your blog or anywhere else. Tag the book on social media or send the link to bweoftheyear at so I can spread the word.

8. On January 1, check out the call for submissions for Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 2, and if you qualify, consider submitting your work, or share the call with a writer you'd like to see published in this series.

Thank you for reading! I can't wait to share these 22 amazingly hot, sexy, creative, fun, wonderful stories with the world.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

The curse of copyediting, or, there will be probably be typos in my new book so I'm apologizing in advance

Now that my new anthology Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, is officially shipping from the printers to my door (and to bookstores everywhere very soon), it's time I confessed something that I dread but know to be an inevitable truth: there will be typos in this book. I mean, I could be wrong, and between my ace copyediting skills and my publisher's copyeditor, this could be one of the very few books that ever makes it to publication without typos. But I don't think it will be.

BWEOfThe Year_approved

I realized this as I spent many hours revisiting the stories in the book to copyedit it. I wound up turning in 74 changes to my publisher, then thought, If I found 74 errors, there's got to be more. This is what keeps me up at night as an anthology editor. I already hate it when mistakes find their way into my writing, which is sometimes my fault for making errors, and sometimes means those inaccuracies have been introduced after the piece has left my computer/control. But either way, my name is going to be on the spine and cover of this book. As I learned in my intellectual property classes in law school, the individual stories may be copyrighted to the authors, but the book itself is my work, and my reputation is at stake.

So as much as I'm eagerly awaiting a giant box of books arriving at my home, I'm fearful. Because these are the kinds of things I asked my publisher to change:
change “Michoacan” to “Michoacán” (thank goodness for Google!)

change “onto to each other” to “onto each other”

change “Holyhot guy” to “Holy-hot guy”

on one line, I changed "my hands" to "my hand," and two lines later, changed "my hand" to "my hands"
Were they mainly small changes? Mainly, yes, but some were big. Either way, I know that when I'm reading an ebook or print book and there's a typo, it pulls me out of the story. Sometimes I have to pause and think, Is this what they really meant? I even called out a typo when writing an otherwise positive piece about a food erotica story, because when I read the sentence "Suddenly I felt it envelope my cock" it definitely pulled me out of the story.


Sometimes, ignorance is bliss, and for me, knowing there were so many typos that I found gave me pause. Will I be considered a horrible editor writers don't want to work with if there's something there shouldn't be in their story? Or will writers understand that there are so many steps along the way of the publishing process that catching every single error in 65,000+ words is probably close to impossible?


I will certainly say that copyediting my book, one I'm so proud of and think is my very best work ever as an erotica anthology editor, one that I'm hoping goes on to be my bestselling anthology, gave me much more empathy for other authors and editors. I say this as someone who's seen my last name misspelled on the cover of an anthology I had a story published in, which, I won't lie, made me a little less inclined to promote it. But we are all human. It doesn't matter that I teach erotica writing classes or have been widely published or "should have caught it." The reality is: I'm not perfect (as you can probably tell by my poor Twitter screenshots embedded here). I make mistakes, just like everyone else, and I take responsibility for them, which is what I'm preemptively doing here.


Typos don't care that I was a full-time magazine editor for seven years and spent much of that time wielding a red pen and the copyediting marks I was taught at that job, or that this is my 61st anthology or that I believe in it so strongly and am counting the days until publication. It doesn't matter how many hours I hovered over those pages with my red pen, circling and underlining and noting questions and Googling. All that matters is the final product. In a day or two, that final book, in all its glossy, sexy, unchangeable glory, will be in my hands. I will be proud of it, and I hope the 22 other contributors who wrote amazing, daring, wonderful stories, will be too. But I apologize in advance for any typos you may find. I promise, I did my best, and I will continue to do so next time. Cliffhanger: stay tuned for my January announcement of a new call for submissions.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Hear sexy erotica and learn how to write it with me in 2016 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago

I'm thrilled to have my new anthology Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 hitting bookstore shelves (and ebook retailers) on January 12th, and despite moving on that same day, I'm taking myself on the road to promote it. I love doing readings, even though they aren't the most practical or economical of events, because I get to meet the authors whose words I fell for in the editing process and hear them read their stories in front of a live audience. I've been organizing readings since my very first erotica story was published in 2000; forming community and letting people hear erotica read aloud has always been part of what's drawn me to the genre and an integral part of how I operate. After I hear the author read, I always think of the story a little bit differently, and I know audiences remember the story differently as well.

BWEOfThe Year_approved

Plus, bottom line (not "button line," as I somehow inadvertently typed at first): they're fun. Words on a page will always remain the same, but words read aloud will never be 100% identical. There may be a change in tone, a certain inflection, a raised eyebrow, a hand gesture, a cheer or hoot or moan or laugh from an audience member. Who knows what will happen? I've had authors bring props to readings and use them to perfect effect. I've had passages I thought for sure were intended with a certain tone read completely differently. That's the beauty, the magic, the joy and the thrill of live readings, and why I'm going out of my way (literally and figuratively) to do them. I believe so much in this book and this series. I want it to sell well, yes, but I also want it to live beyond the pages of print books and electronic screens. I want it to feel alive, captivating. I want to host had-to-be-there events for those who can attend. Yes, you'll be able to buy the audiobook narrated by the woman I think is the best erotica narrator around, Rose Caraway, in a few months. That will surely be hot too. But nothing beats the aliveness, the camaraderie, the excitement of a live reading. I still believe that, 15 or so years after organizing that first one.

So even though these days I'm mainly a suburban homebody and like it that way, I am thrilled to be organizing readings for Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1. Right now, two are booked, both free and open to the public, Tuesday, January 19th from 6:30-8:30 at Good Vibrations at 1620 Polk Street in San Francisco and Thursday, March 31st from 6-7:30 pm at The Pleasure Chest at 3436 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, with wine and other beverages. I'll be sharing more about them and will have official links very soon, but wanted to tell you so you can mark your calendars and let friends in the area know. Can't make the readings? (Or even if you can!) Please show your support by backing the Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 Thunderclap. It'll take you less than a minute; all you do is authorize Thunderclap to post a one-time post on your Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr accounts. That's it! Then on January 12th, the publication date, they will let your followers know the book is out. Also: I'll have postcards at my events, but if you're in the U.S. and want one in the mail, just fill out this form and I'll mail you one!

My other 2016 events are listed below, including my online only 4-week LitReactor erotica writing class, and one more special new workshop is being finalized for Thursday, March 10th at Brooklyn sex toy store Please. I'll update this post and my website's calendar page as details become available.

January 17, time TBA (daytime)
Sex Writing 101 workshop (nonfiction), SHE LA

Learn how to write about your sex life and get paid. See for details and schedule. Register here. $25 gets you into both days of SHE, January 16 and 17, and if you use the code RACHBR you'll get 2 for 1 admission, so you can bring a friend free (or split the cost with them). The full lineup will be announced soon, as will the timing of my workshop. Get a sneak peeking this Xbiz preview, but note that this is a nonfiction sex writing workshop, not erotica (see the next entry for my erotica workshop).
Sexual Health Expo, Hilton Universal City Hotel, 555 Universal Hollywood Dr., Universal City, CA 91608


January 17, 8 pm - 10 pm, FREE
Erotica Writing 101 workshop, West Hollywood, CA

Rachel Kramer Bussel, professional erotica author and editor of over 50 erotica anthologies, such as Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, and The Big Book of Orgasms 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. Please note: We do not offer advance registration or reserved seating for free workshops or events. Attendance is on a first come, first served basis. Early arrival is recommended to secure your spot!
The Pleasure Chest, 7733 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA, 323-650-1022

January 19, 6:30-8:30 pm
Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 reading

Visit Good Vibrations and its Antique Vibrator Museum, as you join editor Rachel Kramer Bussel and contributors Amy Butcher, Rose Caraway, Dorothy Freed and Jade A. Waters for a hot reading of this brand new Cleis Press anthology, Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1. Books will be available for sale and signing.
Good Vibrations, 1620 Polk Street (at Sacramento Street), San Francisco, CA, 415-345-0400


February 11-March 10
LitReactor Between the Sheets online erotica writing class

4-week online class taught by Rachel Kramer Bussel, editor of over 50 erotica anthologies and contributor to over 100 anthologies, including the Best American Erotica, Best Women's Erotica, Best Gay Erotica and Best Lesbian Erotica series. See URL above for weekly lecture and assignment topics. Also includes weekly writing critiques from Bussel and fellow students, discussion board, resources on author branding, pen names and submitting your work, extensive market information plus over a dozen exclusive Q&As with publishers, editors and agents, along with authors (traditionally published and self-published) such as Tiffany Reisz, Charlotte Stein, Cecilia Tan, Rebekah Weatherspoon and more about how they've broken into erotica. Students will have continued access to all classroom postings on once class is over plus access to private alumni Facebook group for further discussion. Class is limited to 16 people and is likely to sell out. Students can be anonymous and take part from anywhere in the world on their schedule. $350 if you register by December 31; $375 January 1 or later. Questions? Email Rachel at rachelkramerbussel at with “LitReactor” in the subject line.


March 10, time TBA
New workshop by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Please, 557 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY (Park Slope), main at, 718-788-6969

March 31, 6-7:30 pm
Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 reading

Join editor Rachel Kramer Bussel and contributors including Tara Betts for a reading followed by a book signing. Wine and other beverages will be served.
The Pleasure Chest, 3436 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, 773-525-7151


April 1, 9:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Erotica Writing 101 workshop, Chicago

In this three hour workshop Rachel Kramer Bussel, professional erotica author and editor of over 50 erotica anthologies, such as The Big Book of Orgasms, Cheeky Spanking Stories and Serving Him: Sexy Stories of Submission, 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. The class will also cover branding yourself as a writer, using and selecting a good pseudonym, and using social media to promote your work and do outreach. She’ll also talk about submitting your work and keeping up with the thriving erotica market, including anthologies, ebooks, magazines and websites. Please bring paper and writing implements or a laptop to use for in class writing exercises. A bibliography with erotica resources will be provided.
This class will take place on Friday, April 1, 2016 at the CatalystCon host hotel. You must purchase a ticket to this workshop separately from CatalystCon on the registration page and do not have to attend CatalystCon to take the workshop. $45/person. Register here.
Hyatt Regency O'Hare, 9300 Bryn Mawr Avenue, Rosemont, IL 60018

April 1, 1:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Sex Writing 101 (nonfiction) workshop, Chicago

In this three hour workshop, writer and editor Rachel Kramer Bussel will cover all you need to know about writing about sex, including blogging, first-person essays and journalism. You’ll learn how to ethically write about your love life, what editors are looking for, where to find experts on sexuality topics, and how to stay abreast of current sex news. Whether you’re looking to write a sex blog, column, articles or books, you’ll find out how to pitch, how much money you can expect to make, and how to maximize your editorial opportunities. The class will also cover branding yourself as a writer, using and selecting a good pseudonym, using social media to promote your work and do outreach, and how to pitch stories. Rachel is the author of Sex & Cupcakes: A Juicy Collection of Essays, a sex columnist for DAME, and was a sex columnist for The Village Voice, Penthouse, Philadelphia City Paper and The Frisky, and has written about sexuality for Cosmopolitan, The Daily Beast,, Glamour, Inked, Marie Claire, O, The Oprah Magazine, Salon, Slate,, xoJane and many other publications. A resource list covering markets for sex-related pieces, including editors who are actively looking for pitches, will be provided.
This class will take place on Friday, April 1, 2016 at the CatalystCon host hotel. You must purchase a ticket to this workshop separately from CatalystCon on the registration page and do not have to attend CatalystCon to take the workshop. $45/person. Register here.
Hyatt Regency O'Hare, 9300 Bryn Mawr Avenue, Rosemont, IL 60018

April 2 or 3
Moderating panel, Sharing Your Sex Life on the Page and the Stage

I'll be moderating this CatalystCon panel featuring Eric Barry, Lola and Suzy Spencer. Open to CatalystCon attendees. Use code RACHEL for $10 off.
CatalystCon, Hyatt Regency O'Hare, 9300 Bryn Mawr Avenue, Rosemont, IL 60018


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Monday, December 14, 2015

New year, new book title: Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1

I've written about how it's a literary dream come true to have edited Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, following in the footsteps of the series' first two editors, Marcy Sheiner and Violet Blue, whose previous volumes and other books I highly recommend. I'm a huge fan of their work and can literally remember my squeeing when I got acceptances to their editions of Best Women's Erotica (both published some of my favorite of my erotica stories).

BWEOfThe Year_approved

One small but important detail that's different is that this new edition, which officially hits stores in print and ebook form January 12th but is shipping from the printer this week, is that there's no year number on the title, in keeping with Cleis Press's rebranding of all their annual series. For me, it's an exciting move because it means that bookstores won't immediately purge the book from their shelves the moment a new calendar year rolls around. My hope is that they will stock this first title for a long time, because I believe it's a keeper, the kind of book that, like many of my most beloved erotica books, readers will hold onto for a long time.

What's in it? I'll be sharing excerpts on blogs and other publications as we get closer to the pub date, and am about to finalize readings with contributors so you can hear these stories live and in person, but here's a little sampling:

a sexy séance in "Demimonde" by Valerie Alexander

a corporate retreat with a twist in "The Ropes" by Elise King

a woman who gets to meet the actor who played the superhero of her teenage dreams in "Starstruck" by Lazuli Jones

a futuristic science fiction story titled "The Altar of Lamented Toys" by Jessica Taylor

a sweet and sexy older woman/younger man story featuring Matilda from the S.E.C.R.E.T. trilogy in "Matilda's Secret" by L. Marie Adeline

some public femdom play in "Alvin's Night" by Elizabeth Caldwell

a masterful play on the senses and one of the best erotica stories I've ever read in "Enter Me" by Tabitha Rayne

a Port-a-Potty encounter with a transgender man in "Waiting to Pee" by Amy Butcher

a very kinky meal in "Two Doms for Dinner" by Dorothy Freed

a hot workplace lust and sex party tale with "The Assistant" by Tiffany Reisz

and much, much more!

If that intrigued you, here's where you can pre-order the book (and I will be updating the book's Twitter and Facebook as I hear about stores stocking it, but I can tell you now you will be able to find Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 at Good Vibrations):

Amazon (print)


Barnes & Noble (print)




IndieBound (find your nearest local bookstore)

Cleis Press

Amazon UK (print)

Amazon UK Kindle

Amazon Canada (print)

Amazon Canada Kindle

Erotica writers: stay tuned, because I will be announcing a new call for submissions very soon. I will post on this blog, Lusty Lady, as well as in my monthly newsletter (where I also host monthly giveaways), and Tumblr, @raquelita on Twitter and my Facebook page and Erotica Readers & Writers Association.

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

My new book hits stores the day I'm moving, so my January's going to be busy

I only realized after I selected my moving day of January 12th that it's also the pub day for my most important anthology I've ever edited, Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1. Maybe that's fitting, because my last book, Dirty Dates, came out on my 40th birthday. But with under a month until I move and this book I'm so proud of entering the world, it's a bit of a hectic time. Moving throws your life into chaos, and your normal routines get upended. I've been thinking about the costs, which so far meant paying a security deposit and a month's rent in advance, and will include moving costs, but those seem minimal compared to all the time that's spent packing up our dishes and books and clothes and figuring out if we want to keep some random item we haven't used in years but still want to hold on to. Moving sucks up time and seems to expand to fill the time you previously thought of as "free," and then it does the same on the unpacking side.

BWEOfThe Year_approved

If I've learned anything in the last four years of working for myself as a freelancer, it's that time is money. This year, much of my income was made by being able to say, "Yes, I'm available" at a moment's notice, or hopping on the phone at 11 p.m. to interview a source for a pop culture story unfolding over a weekend. That's an aspect of what I do that I both love and hate. If I wanted to, I could stay up writing until four in the morning, and sleep in. That's not what my daily life looks like, though. I usually am in bed by 10 or 10:30 at night and up by six, sometimes before. I probably don't use my time as wisely as I should, which is something I'm trying to change for the new year, but I certainly value it, both the time I spend actually writing, and the time it takes to send emails, make phone calls, transcribe interviews, research or simply daydream and dawdle and browse and then, through whatever synergy or luck or circumstance produces ideas, realize I've hit on a great topic for an article or essay or short story in my seemingly "mindless" mental wanderings.

Books are probably the primary thing I spend my time on: reading, rereading, browsing my bookshelves, browsing bookstores, adding items to my wishlist, perusing what's coming up or reading reviews or getting ideas for what I want to read next. The thing with me is that right now, I'm packing up my books, and since I just moved in June, I remember the painstaking process last time of packing them and then very carefully shelving them, and now I want to pull out ones to read that I either never have, or read so long ago I've largely forgotten them. I've transferred many to a shelf of "to read soon" books, because they're either advance copies of fascinating books coming out very soon or ones that I'd meant to read and just hadn't.

I'm also leaping headfirst into marketing Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 in a way I haven't done for my previous 60 anthologies (yes, I counted, and this is my 61st anthology). I decided that one of the things I hate about putting a book out into the world is the lack of control I have over how it does. I don't mean the lack of control over how readers perceive what's inside; the reading experience is theirs to appreciate in whatever way they see fit. Of course, I hope readers are as smitten with the stories as I am, but I can't control that.

What I can control is how much effort I put into making sure I know I did everything I could to make this book a success. Right now that means trying to schedule readings, posting interviews on Tumblr with my authors (and myself), reaching out to sex toy stores and bookstores and asking them to stock it, and generally spreading the word as much as I can. I'll be sharing more excerpts and details as the book gets closer to being available for purchase. I will also be using what I learned from this anthology to craft my next one (call for submissions is coming soon!), because while there were some authors I had hoped would submit to this book and some topics and characters who aren't in this book, the ones that are stand out to me so much.

I don't want the fact that both my pub date and my move a block away coincide mean doom for either one. The truth is, I won't have as much time on January 12th to devote to promoting my book. Maybe I'll finally learn Hootsuite and Tweet ahead. I'll sneak peeks at my phone while the movers are here. I'll post a lot the day before. But the truth is, a book launch doesn't happen in one day. I've been working hard on this book for weeks in the hopes that it does better than all my previous books, because I think it's that good and I want to honor the time and effort my authors put in by giving them a wide readership. I want them to get fan mail. I want people to say, "Wow, you really brought that hot black superhero actor from the 90's to life" or "wow, I didn't know séances could be so sexy" or "You made being passed between two men sound so sexy." I wish I could do a reading with all my contributors because I would love to hear them read the stories in their own voices (although I am beyond thrilled that Rose Caraway, my favorite audiobook narrator and a contributor of to the book with her story "The Carnalarium," will be narrating the audiobook version, which should be out in the first half of 2016).

So that's where my focus is these days, in addition to wrapping up some freelance writing and trying to read a few of the many, many books that I've accumulated over the past year(s). I'm not moving far, but between turning 40, a new calendar year and changing homes, I'm trying to use these new beginnings as a chance to push myself toward new directions, to think differently not just about material goods, but about what I want from my life, my work, my home. I'm also planning what I'll be doing in 2016, which will include teaching erotica writing classes for LitReactor, speaking and teaching at CatalystCon and new things like webinars.

I want to push myself to get past that learning curve, and the attendant fear that comes with it, to try things I've never done before. After all, in 2013, when I moved in with my boyfriend, I'd lived in the same apartment for 13 years. Moving petrified me, but I did it, then did it again in 2014, 2015 and now, I will again in 2016. I wouldn't say the moves themselves were fun, but each home has taught us something, and now, I've learned that I will happily stay in my little corner of suburbia for a decade, or even forever, if it means building a stable home. So in my working life, I'm ready to try new things too, knowing full well that some of them may fail, in order for me to learn from them and figure out how to succeed next time.

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Friday, December 11, 2015

What my most recent students from my LitReactor erotica writing class said about it

Updated December 14th
I'm excited about my next LitReactor erotica writing class, which will run from February 11th to March 10th, 2016, because each class provides new opportunities for growth and learning, my own and my students'. Teaching it requires me to keep up with what editors, publishers and agents are looking for right now, which in turn has led me to wonderful authors and opportunities I wouldn't have known about otherwise. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about the class (just email me at rachelkb at gmail dot com with "LitReactor" in the subject line), but I also think it's valuable to hear from actual students. I can tell you that in addition to the weekly written lectures (detailed here) and weekly writing assignments and critiques, I also offer over a dozen exclusive to the class Q&As with publishers, editors, literary agents and authors, as well as additional resources related to pseudonyms, author branding, finding your voice, joining the erotica writing community, incorporating sex in the news and more. There are some blurbs on the LitReactor website and in this older blog post. Additionally, here are two things students from my most recent LitReactor class, which ended this month, said:
"I will apply what I learned in 'Between the Sheets' to create stories that arouse and connect. With Rachel’s detailed ‘how to’ writing instructions, I completed six stories. My final product is tailored to a specific call for submission and ready to go. Rachel eased this newbie erotic writer into her world providing a comfortable environment to explore sexual ideas creatively. She gave me what I wanted even when I did not know what that was. I’m headed down a new path. Take her, it’s worth it." Donna Jennings
"I gained the confidence to just be fearless on the page." Z
"Rachel has been incredibly generous in giving us students insights into the world of erotica writing with tons of useful information and helping us hone our writing abilities through her homework assignments and on point corrections for them." Ruby McLovelin
I do strongly encourage my students to send their work out to publishers, not only because I want them to see their words published, but also because I believe it's a good process to go through, to craft a full story specifically catered toward a given call, but with their own unique spin on it. I'm spending the weeks until February 11th adding to the class's offerings to make it as timely and relevant as I can. Reminder: the registration price will go up on January 1st by $25, so if you are interested in the class, save money and register in 2015.


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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Read my LitReactor students' sexy stories in new oral sex anthology Licked

Last year, I took the erotica writing workshops I'd been teaching at sex toy stores, conferences and colleges and turned them into something new: a 4-week online erotica writing class called Between the Sheets at the literary website LitReactor. I'm gearing up to teach my sixth LitReactor class starting February 11th, 2016 and am so proud of my students and excited to continue to keep learning how to best serve them. (Note: The price of my new class will go up $25 on January 1st, so if you're interested in taking it, register by December 31st to get the best price. Registration will remain open until we reach the maximum of 16 students or through February 10th, whichever comes first.)

One of the things I'm most proud of is encouraging my students to submit their work to erotica publishers. That's what we spend a large part of our time in my LitReactor class working toward, and whether or not they're successful, I think submitting your work is a valuable experience, and a great first step toward getting readers.

So I was thrilled to see that the story "Feeding Her" by Suanne Schafer, which was started as part of my August-September 2015 LitReactor class, was just published in the House of Erotica oral sex anthology Licked, edited by Jillian Boyd. Plus one of my other previous LitReactor students, Jessica Taylor, also has a story, "Vapour, Venom, Oleander," in the book! Congratulations to them. Want to submit your erotic short stories (or longer works) to House of Erotica? Here's their guidelines. They have two current calls for submissions, one for Mad About the Boys, a male/male erotica anthology with a January 25th deadline, and Going Down, a hotel-set erotica anthology with a February 4th deadline.

image via Tumblr

In an interview with author Dale Cameron Lowry, here's what Suanne said:
What’s your story about?
In “Feeding Her,” two women must come to terms with one partner’s breast cancer.
What made you want to write a story for Licked?
I actually thought my story was too “serious” for erotica, but Rachel Kramer Bussel (Passion: Erotic Romance for Women, Best Bondage Erotica, Hide and Seek: Erotic Stories) encouraged me to submit it.
Here's more info on Licked, which you can purchase at Amazon US or Amazon UK:
Sit back and enjoy seven lip-smackingly sensual stories of all kinds of oral pleasure. Stories of nostalgia for the taste of a lover, long distance relationships, and revenge. Stories taking in both the distant future and pleasures in the past. Oracles, ranchers and café cooks, all united by their love of using their mouth. And tongue. And fingers, for assistance.

Edited by Jillian Boyd (Spy Games – Flappers, Jazz and Valentino) Licked is a tribute to the act of oral sex – to the intimacy, trust and the taste of your lover, the scent, the feelings the act invokes in both the giver and receiver. With stories from the likes of Rob Rosen, Jessica Taylor and Dale Cameron Lowry, Licked is a sizzling fictional exploration of some of the many ways oral sex can inspire so much more than just a hot flash of arousal.

Come in. Have a taste.

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