A warning: you may soon get sick of me gushing about Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 (link to brand new official site, which will have more info on it soon). I promise this blog won't exclusively turn into a why-I'm-so-excited-about-my-new-book blog, but I hope you'll indulge me a little. I'm moving in January, just a block away, but have started packing. The first thing to be packed were my two perfectly organized bookcases, filled about 3/4 of the way with anthologies I've edited or contributed to, plus other beloved books.
Taking that trip down memory lane reminded me, yet again, of how far I've come. Sometimes I have flashbacks to sobbing at my desk near South Street Seaport during a job somewhere around my law school days in the late 90's whose exact purpose I can't quite remember. My life back then was basically me running from one disaster to the next. I never let myself step back and say, What do I really want to do with my life? because I was afraid of what the answer would be. (Truth: sometimes I'm still afraid of that question, but now I ask it anyway.)
Flash forward 16 or so years later, and I sometimes have to pinch myself because, while my life isn't perfect, I've accomplished so many things I wouldn't even let myself imagine back then. I never want to forget the milestones along the way, and I never want to stop encouraging other people to pursue their dreams. How did I wind up with my 61st anthology about to be published? It started with one story, my very first, "Monica and Me."
Then another one, then another one, and so on. Then I got asked to co-edit an anthology. Back then, I used Erotica Readers & Writers Association (though I'm pretty sure it was titled just Erotica Readers Association when I started out) to find out where to submit work, which I still do, along with social media.
I'm not suggesting it's all been a breeze, but I am stating firmly that my journey to editing 61 anthologies began with one story, driven by my personal fascination with Monica Lewinsky. Now when I read or hear that story, I hear the parts that I would change if I were writing it now, but I'm still so proud of it, because it set me off into this world. Did I have a master plan back then? Hardly. I was figuring out my life post-law school, grappling with the first and still most epic failure of my life, but I was drawn to this form of writing. I'd never written fiction before (save for a childhood short story, of the very G-rated kind) but I'd been reading lots of erotica, and I was drawn to it, so I went for it. That's pretty much how I got started. I didn't research, save for all the reading I'd been doing for fun. I think what made that story sell to two anthologies (Starf*cker and Best Lesbian Erotica 2001) is that it was a unique take on a ubiquitous person, and that I put myself into the story. In my case, literally, with a character named Rachel, but what I mean here is that I put a topic I had a personal interest in into my fiction. That's not necessarily the case for every fiction or nonfiction piece I've written since, but the stories of mine I feel have best stood the test of time are the ones that have the most "me" in them. If I had to boil down my advice for new erotica writers, that would be it: put yourself into the story. Not literally per se, but your passion, your knowledge, your interests, your humanity. (Want daily advice from me and four weeks of in-depth work? Take my next LitReactor 4-week online erotica writing class, which runs February 11-March 10.)
You can read my introduction to Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 on Tumblr, where you'll also find a Q&A with me about my second person story "Flying Solo". If you want to show your support for the book, I'd love if you'd join the Thunderclap campaign.
You select your Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr account (or all three!) and essentially let Thunderclap post one time, on January 12th, letting your followers know the book is out. The idea behind it is to do a social media blast at the same time en masse, to get the most traction on publication day. I would greatly appreciate it, and can thank you (if you're in the U.S.) by sending you a free postcard (just fill out that Wufoo form and I'll send it right off). Or just know that you have my many thanks! I'm devoting most of my December and January, when not packing or writing, to marketing and promoting this book because I am so proud of it and want my authors to be as widely read as possible.
Anything you can do to spread the word, whether in person or online, is much appreciated. You can also keep up with BWE of the Year (for short, since I know the title is super long!) on Facebook and @BWEoftheYear on Twitter. Writers: stay tuned for a new call for submissions from me, coming soon, which will be posted on my Lusty Lady blog, as well as Twitter, Facebook and in my monthly newsletter.