Archive by Author

The Master of None “First Date” episode made me glad I’m not on Tinder

19 May

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

I’m writing this post while binge watching Season 2 of Master of None, the Netflix comedy created (and often written and directed) by and starring Aziz Ansari as actor and newly single Dev Shah.

Here’s the trailer for Season 2:

It took me a little while to warm up to the show; I started Season 1 soon after it debuted, but didn’t get far. But over the last week I’ve been making my way through Season 1, then went right into Season 2.

There have been moments of recognition, but episode four of the new season, titled “First Date,” was one that made me grateful that I’m not using dating apps. I almost wrote, “grateful that I’m not single,” but that’s not totally accurate. While I’m happy to be in a five-year long-term relationship, even back when I was single, I could barely handle online dating, let alone dating apps.

I think the reason they never did the trick is that, unlike the woman Dev goes out with who, mid-date, starts using the app where they met, Love at First Sight, because she’s both just not that into him and truly enjoys swiping, I was never “into dating,” I was into meeting someone I could connect with. I hated the awkwardness of first dates, the way they could very easily feel like job interviews in more casual settings.

Back in 2010, I went on what’s still my worst date ever, in which a guy seemed to be deliberately trying to make our date agonizing. The thing is, on a dating site or app, it’s relatively easy to make yourself seem more interesting than you are in real life. The converse, for me, was also true: the few times I did using dating sites, I always felt torn between being honest about who I am and trying to upsell myself. If I painted too rosy a picture, I worried I wouldn’t be able to live up to the hype. But when would the right time have been to tell someone I was a hoarder who couldn’t open the door to her apartment without slamming her body weight against it? That’s just not something that would ever work in the context of an “about me” blurb.

But Tinder, which I’ve only observed on a friend’s phone, seems to take all the pressure of summarizing yourself and presenting a pretty image to a whole new level. I imagine that if I were on it, I would also become obsessed with not the quality of my matches, but the quantity. My mood would swoop up or down depending on how popular I found myself with the people there. And while there are exceptions, I have trouble imagining I’d have met someone who I could actually settle down with via a dating app.

I’ve always preferred to meet people I date more organically, either through a shared activity (like playing Boggle or trivia, both of which have yielded me dates), via a mutual friend or simply by chance. As my sex column and erotica writing career developed, I also faced a clash between my public, online persona and the “real me.” That’s not to say that I wasn’t myself in my writing—I always was (and am), to a fault—but it’s awkward when someone can Google you and find out you like giving blowjobs or have posed nude or an endless stream of other details I’ve shared with the world. There is a tension between the me who sits around in sweats and binges TV shows, who’s super dorky and romantic and cries easily, and the more readily available version that comes up via Google. They’re all parts of me, but ones that are hard to convey in an hour or two, especially when there’s all the pressure of a first date.

I know there are some people who simply enjoy the act of dating, of going out and meeting multiple people, no matter the outcome. But I was never one of them. I was more about the destination than the journey. That’s not to say I didn’t like when a date went perfectly, the kind where I lost track of time and wound up getting home in the wee hours when I’d planned to be back early. But watching Dev go on so many dates on Master of None, I didn’t feel a shred of envy. I didn’t think I was missing out on anything, and while I don’t plan to ever be single again, if that should ever happen, I won’t be using technology to help me bond with anyone. I’ll fumble through the madness that is dating all by myself. At least I don’t have a Tinder worst date story, right?

What do you think? Are dating apps a modern blessing or curse? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) has edited over 60 anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 and 2, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, Begging for It, Fast Girls, The Big Book of Orgasms and more. She writes widely about sex, dating, books and pop culture and teaches erotica writing classes around the country and online. Follow her @raquelita on Twitter and find out more about her classes and consulting at eroticawriting101.com.

KFC Colonel Sanders romance novel Tender Wings of Desire is a real love story

8 May

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

What does mom want for Mother’s Day (and dinner)? If you guessed fried chicken and romance, then KFC has just the thing for you: a free novella on Amazon called Tender Wings of Desire, starring (and written by) Colonel Sanders (aka Harland) as the hero (which they’re calling their “first romance novella”). They even made an ad for it, which you can watch to get a sense of the hilarity:

According to a press release, the fast food chain was inspired by the fact that Mother’s Day is their bestselling day of the year. “The only thing better than being swept away by the deliciousness of our Extra Crispy Chicken is being swept away by Harland Sanders himself. So this Mother’s Day, the bucket of chicken I get for my wife will come with a side of steamy romance novella. Dinner is taken care of and she’ll have the time to escape her busy schedule,” George Felix, director of advertising for KFC U.S, said.

While the ad is totally over the top, I wanted to read Tender Wings of Desire, described by The Daily Mail as a “steamy, greasy fantasy,” for myself to see whether it was super cheesy, full of product placement or whether it actually worked as a romance. The work is described in part in its official blurb like so: “When she finds herself swept into the arms of Harland, a handsome sailor with a mysterious past, Madeline realizes she must choose between a life of order and a man of passion.” Yes, it’s true: whoever actually wrote this novella has read a romance novel or two, because I was rooting for Lady Madeline, with her family part of the ton in Victorian England, bemoaning her fate of being married off to lackluster Reginald.

Madeline runs away on her horse, escaping a life of luxury that felt stifling to her. She reaches a tavern two hours away and quickly finds herself a job and friend, becoming immersed in a new way of life. Soon, she meets “the most handsome man she had ever seen,” Harland, a dashing sailor. The attraction is mutual, even though, of course, it takes them a little while to figure that out.

Soon she winds up giving in to her urges and kissing him. “This was the closest she had ever been to a man, and she would not want it any other way. She felt as if she were a woman on fire, feverish in the best way possible, and something seems dot take her over when he deepened the kiss.”

Though the book isn’t actually all that “steamy,” with more of a fade to black approach to sex, it does manage to get in some plugs for independence and against slut-shaming. “Kissing a man who wasn’t her betrothed was supposed to imply that she was tainted in some way, as though she had been spoiled for her future husband. Perhaps that might have been true, but as she drifted off to sleep, the only thing she could think was that she felt free. She felt in charge. She felt as though she were finally coming face to face with the wonder of her destiny.”

Now, is Tender Wings of Desire the best historical romance I’ve ever read? No. But I can’t dismiss it simply as a corporate stunt (even though I would strongly urge you to try a home-cooked meal for mom rather than fast food) because it completely conforms to the romance genre, with a happily ever after that never once mentions fried chicken. It manages to play on the character of Colonel Sanders (who Harland is revealed to be) in a way that actually made me smile at the end, rather than the slightly smarmy guy hawking deals in their recent commercials. In truth, the novella is as much about Madeline discovering who she really is when not under so many rules about what she can and can’t do as it is about her falling in love. When she falls fast and hard, Harland really is tender and patient and sweet with Madeline. She really does end the book far happier than she was when it started. And you don’t even have to be a mom to appreciate that!

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Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) has edited over 60 anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 and 2, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, Begging for It, Fast Girls, The Big Book of Orgasms and more. She writes widely about sex, dating, books and pop culture and teaches erotica writing classes around the country and online. Follow her @raquelita on Twitter and find out more about her classes and consulting at eroticawriting101.com.

Erotic romance excerpt from The Discipline by Jade A. Waters

19 Mar

by Jade A. Waters

Today’s excerpt is from BDSM erotic romance The Discipline by Jade A. Waters, the second in her Lessons in Control series from Carina Press, following The Assignment. Also be sure to check out our Lady Smut Q&A with Jade.

Here’s the official blurb for The Discipline:

How far would you go to fulfill a fantasy?

Maya Clery has taken risks before. Her relationship with Dean Sova started out as a risk—a series of sexual assignments, each hotter, wilder, more intense than the last. Exploring her submissive side with a powerful, trustworthy Dominant has been everything she hoped for, everything she needed.  

Dean pushes Maya to her limits—it’s one of the things she loves most about him. But as they push the boundaries outside their sex life, meeting friends and family members, Maya realizes there’s still much she doesn’t know about the man with whom she’s sharing her bed.

And when a fantasy simmering between them becomes their latest challenge, past secrets begin to reveal weaknesses in their relationship that neither is ready to face.

Excerpt from The Discipline by Jade A. Waters:

A chill blared through me having left the bathwater. It was almost as sharp as the curiosity tripping from my head to my toes. I stepped out and padded across the carpet to the bed, where I spun to face Dean. I made a show of leisurely slipping the towel off my body and tossing it to the floor, but he stayed unfazed and motionless in the water.

Fine, tough guy.

But who was I kidding?

I loved this.

Eager for the game to commence, I lay back on the bed, my toes barely touching the floor and an uncanny ripple of excitement shooting through my limbs. At Dean’s rise from the tub, I saw how hard he’d grown. The bulbous head of his cock stuck out from his pelvis, those beautiful dark veins running from root to tip. He dried off, the view forming a heavy cloud in my lungs, and I lifted my hands to my stomach to spread them over my goose bumped flesh.

How the hell had the mere act of walking over here and seeing him watch me get me this aroused?

Dean discarded his towel. He bent to dig his fingers into the pile of my robe on the floor, and I tried to make out what he was doing. It wasn’t until he stood upright and held the tie in his hand that I clenched my knees together. He curled the fabric around both his palms and walked in my direction at an excruciating pace, then stood against my knees, naked and hard before me. He smelled of the lavender salt we’d sprinkled in the tub, and him. Sexy, masculine him.

“Give me your hands,” he said.

I stretched them out. Dean wound the fabric around my wrists, close to my skin but not too tight. My groin flexed at the scent of his body and the swell of his cock not quite reaching my needy flesh. 

After he tied a loose knot, he gave my wrists a shove to indicate I should lay them above my head. “Spread your legs.”

I did. Dean stared down at my sex, his eyes glazed. His mouth formed that O I adored, and I couldn’t believe how much I was shaking, how fucking riled I’d gotten before he started stroking my slit. I could hear how wet I was in the gentle slicks of his finger. “Oh, fuck.”

“You’re so excited. Wetter than I imagined. I love how our conversation has done this to you.” 

I closed my eyes at the slide of his fingers inside my entrance, pulsing in and out to tease the rim of my pussy. Once I rocked my hips up for more, Dean withdrew his touch, resting one hand above each of my knees.

My eyelids popped open and I pouted, tortured by his naked body between my legs and his faint touch across my thighs.

“Are you ready to hear your test?” That devil of a grin played on his face when he pitched forward to lick one of my nipples, and every fiber of my being screamed for satisfaction.

“Yes. Please.”

“If we’re going to live that fantasy,” Dean said, inching one finger along the inside of my thigh in a dare, “then we’ll need it to be perfect. Safe. I need you to tell me what you want from it. How you want it to happen. What you want to happen.” His finger returned to my cunt, but his stroke was there and gone before he held back. “And if you tell me well, I’ll touch you more.”

Oh, yes.

I tongued my lip. “Why are you such a tease?”

Dean slipped his finger inside enough to make me whimper, then he took it away. “Because you crave it.” He sucked his finger into his mouth, and I groaned before he dropped it back to my thigh with a smack. I gasped and jerked on the bed. “Start talking, sexy.”

“Okay,” I said. He didn’t move, the outside of his thighs against the inside of mine, his cock fucking hard and tempting. I was going to lose my mind. “We start in a room after we’ve made sure all are on board.” To this, Dean curved both hands around my thighs and held them in place. My pulse hammered as I tried to envision how it might go. I rolled my head against my arm, keeping my wrists high above my head. “But we’ll be at a hotel, because it has to be neutral ground.”

Dean slid his hands higher and stopped. “What are you wearing?”

“Something sexy. Dressy. We both are.”

Dean shifted higher. “I know you like dressing up. Feeling sexy, though you always are.” He shifted higher still, his fingers almost reaching the creases between my sex and my thighs. “But get to the good parts.”

I giggled. “Fine. You’ll overwhelm me. He’ll overwhelm me.”

“That’s all you have to say?” He took another swat of my thigh. “No, no. Be explicit.”

I shivered as his thumbs resumed their sway across my skin. “You’ll strip me down for him. I’m yours, but you’re letting him in…” The grip of Dean’s hands crept up. “I’m not sure of everything that will happen.” Dean shook his head, dissatisfied and smacking the inside of my other thigh. My eyelids fluttered and I spoke swiftly. “There will be kissing. Touching.”

“And? What do you really desire with us? You’ll have two men. What is it about the idea that truly revs you up? How do you want us to overpower you?” He ticked his fingers back and forth, his use of my word making me blush. When Dean crouched to the floor and breathed hot air over my sex, I jumped. “What’s in that head of yours that’s got you glistening right now? Because you are…” He shoved my legs farther apart and leaned closer until I gasped.

Opening my mouth, I tasted the words, and when I spoke, I nearly purred. “I want to kiss him while you watch. But while you touch me.” Speaking it amplified the crash of my pulse and shot a bolt of arousal out to my toes. The image alone had me wet, but saying it to the promise of Dean’s fingers? Yes.

“There we go,” he said, strumming me with his fingers, parting my pussy lips with his thumbs. I moaned, and he tongued my hole for one enticing moment. “You taste delicious. Keep talking, naughty girl.”  

The Discipline is available for purchase for KindleNookGoogle PlayiBooks and Kobo.

BDSM Newbies and Erotic Romance: Q&A with The Discipline author Jade A. Waters

17 Mar

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Author Jade A. Waters has made a name for herself with her sexy approach to erotica writing. I have published her work in several of my anthologies and have always been impressed with the way it draws the reader in, whether she’s writing about a flogger (in The Big Book of Orgasms) or Shakespeare and theater and love (in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1).

After publishing numerous short stories, the San Francisco Bay Area-based author landed a three-book deal with Carina Press for her Lessons in Control trilogy, which follows Maya and Dean, both relative newcomers to the world of BDSM, on an exciting erotic journey. The series started with The Assignment, which featured the pair starting to date, with Dean giving Maya a series of increasingly risqué assignments, involving everything from public sex to bondage to sex clubs. Now, it continues with newly published The Discipline, as they take their sexual fantasies to a new level,  and the third book in the series, The Reward, will be published on June 12.

What especially drew me to her series is that while many kinky erotic novels are set in the world of dungeons with confirmed Masters and submissives, everyone fully aware of their BDSM identities from the start, both Maya and Dean are navigating those exciting but often confusing paths together. She has to figure out how much she can share with him about her past, which includes an abusive ex, and he has to figure out how far he can go with his kinky fantasies, especially as they ease into becoming reality. In Maya, Waters has created a heroine who is starting to tiptoe out from the shadow of her troubling history and into a future where she can crave roughness and tenderness from the same person. In our interview, I asked her about her writing career, choosing ebooks over print, BDSM and consent and what we can expect from this exciting literary love affair.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: How and why did you get started writing erotica and erotic romance?

Well, I’ve been writing fiction and poetry since I was a young girl, but I was also on the precocious side growing up…which eventually translated into a thing for provocatively reading synonyms from a thesaurus to my high school sweetheart over the phone. (For some reason, me reading the word “smoldering” often resulted in his squeaky voiced “Can you come over, maybe?”) Around the same time I discovered Anaïs Nin and The Best American Erotica 1993, and I realized I wanted to give sexy fiction a try. My first attempt was a story about a Russian princess trapped in a tower; her king father was attempting to marry her off to a bunch of disappointing courters, and she was supposed to be saved by a seductive stranger…but I never did finish that story. After that, I penned the occasional ditty every few years. The truth is that I fought the idea of writing erotica for a long time for too many reasons, but once I finally decided to up and go for it, it was on. I wrote two stories that I tried to submit to a small call (one of which ended up appearing later in Coming Together: Among the Stars), and then when I decided I was really serious in early 2013, I submitted “The Flogger” to you. That ended up being my first publication in The Big Book of Orgasms later that year!

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: When did you first get the idea for the romance between Maya and Dean, and was there a specific inspiration for it? Did you always plan for it to be three books?

JADE A. WATERS: Maya and Dean’s story was one part my own experience, and about three parts “what if?” The initial idea was sparked because I had a short-lived relationship with a man who playfully gave me an assignment on date one. I thought it was fun (my turn-ons are “playing” and “trying things”), but it wasn’t my thing in the long run, nor would we have ever worked out in a serious way. Pair with that my own history of having been in an abusive relationship in college, and the “what if” arose as I toyed with the idea of how the assignments and power dynamic would play out long term for someone who liked the submission, but who had only experienced it in a negative context. Maya’s independence is a mix of sass and survival—safety and control are imperative to her daily life, so I wanted to explore how that would work if she desired something considerably contrary. When I started book 1 I had some faint ideas of what could happen as they explored and their relationship continued to develop—so I imagined it could be a series, but I didn’t have much beyond an overall arc when I wrote The Assignment.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: There are some very vivid descriptions of things like sex clubs and rope bondage. Did you do any research for the books?

JADE A. WATERS: I do like to do my research. 🙂 It was a mix of memories of a few trips to sex clubs in the past, knowledge from a friend who studied shibari, and a lot of scouring the internet for alternate ideas. Also, reading is key. You pick up a lot from other stories and supplement with research as needed.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Can you tell me about your writing process? For the trilogy, did you write at a set time every day? Did you outline?

JADE A. WATERS: My “process” has morphed like crazy throughout this series. Book 1 was a breeze; it just popped right out. Book 2 had a lot of life and health issues throwing everything off, and required significant time and rewrites. Book 3 happened pretty quickly but needed a solid tweak between the manuscript turned in and what readers will see. The one thing that definitely held true throughout was that I’m a morning writer. It’s my most creative, calm time. I get up at 4 most days to get an hour or so of work in before I go to my day job. Weekends, I’ll start at 6 or so and go until the lunch hour.

I’m pretty simple when it comes to the how—it’s just me and a Word doc—but I like my coconut milk lattes and water in hand and to just go at it. Editing I seem to be able to do later into the day, which is helpful—but any big overhauls need morning light. As for outlining, that’s a big yes for novels. I use a combination of the Hero’s Journey, a 9-step outline process I picked up at a conference a while back, and then a method posted by Glen C. Strathy that I love. I merge these three styles together in a giant document that I print and keep on hand complete with character sketches and floor plans of characters’ houses as I work.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: How did you decide on e-publisher Carina Press, an imprint of Harlequin, as the publisher for your series?

JADE A. WATERS: My agent, Jessica Alvarez, and I shopped The Assignment around for a few months. Some publishers weren’t sure on a series. When the offer came in, we had two—one was for print for a single book, and the other was for the whole series with Carina. While I loved the idea of print, I’ve been fortunate to have been in print in several anthologies and I knew there was time for a print novel later. Carina was enthusiastic about the whole series, which excited me! So, after talking it around with Jessica, it was an easy yes.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Both Maya and Dean are intrigued by BDSM, but are both new at exploring it. Why did you decide to have them both be inexperienced? What was it like to write about a dom who has to act in control but is also, at times, unsure of what he’s doing when it comes to their power dynamics?

JADE A. WATERS: Ultimately, everyone has to be new at BDSM before they’re into BDSM. The desires can be part instinct, but we don’t just wake up one day knowing we like to be spanked or whatever without giving it a whirl. There are a bounty of books out there right now with a super experienced dom and inexperienced (and oft virginal) sub, and it drives me nuts. I wanted to explore two people who had a little exposure and interest in trying more, so that they could develop and cater to their own needs, but together. I find that exploration concept really sexy, which is why it was such an integral part of Maya and Dean’s relationship. However, it definitely posed some challenges in portraying Dean. He had to be in control, and yet he had to make rookie mistakes (he does in The Assignment, after all). It’s maddening to read and watch, but life is all about learning, and that’s what they do. Maya and Dean’s flubs allow them to figure out how to communicate and negotiate their boundaries—something I don’t think ever stops, in reality, in BDSM or any relationship. So they continue navigating that throughout the series.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Maya is intrigued by BDSM and submitting to Dean, but very wary based on abuse in a past relationship that had included some elements of BDSM, and she is also works with abused women at her job, which complicates her perspective. Was it challenging to incorporate the subject of domestic violence into a book of kinky erotic romance?

JADE A. WATERS: In some ways, yes, but not completely. I remember that when I told a non-erotica writer pal about Maya’s background early on, as well as some of what happens in the book, she’d said, “Wait, you’re basically giving her PTSD and having her trigger in an erotic romance book?” I’d found the question rather curious. I think we as a society have a tendency to gloss over the fact that real people have real histories and that can impact one’s choices and experiences. Maya is a fictional character, sure, but I like my characters to be real people. As someone who actually lives with PTSD—which does flare for most PTSD sufferers randomly throughout life—and yet someone who is also extremely sexual, I didn’t find the combination all that strange; I know what that feels like. It doesn’t saturate every moment but there are periods when it’s active. In the same way, making sure that past experience didn’t oversaturate the relationship was a challenge I enjoyed. To me, Maya’s story is about finally coming to terms with her past throughout the course of the series while she finds not only love and lust but herself in her relationship with Dean.

 One of the biggest themes of The Assignment is safety, which is what allows Maya to indulge the side of her that wants to have sexual adventures ranging from bondage to public sex to visiting a sex club. What about Dean makes her feel safe, and what, if anything, about Dean makes her feel unsafe?

JADE A. WATERS: Dean is naturally dominant, but he’s also a playful, compassionate guy. Maya is playful too, which is why they respond so well to one another. His openness allows her to feel safe, as does all his checking in—he may be giving assignments, but they really cater their dynamic together, and flesh it out through the series. We learn more about Dean in The Discipline, and some of his experiences have given him his own reticence that he [foolishly] tries to cover up. But as their relationship grows, it’s got to come out. I’m really into the pieces unfolding in time with people much like peeling back an onion, and yet, that lends to the challenges these two face. Maya’s questioning of safety comes from her background, pure and simple. It’s hard for her to place her trust entirely in someone else’s hands, but she wants to with Dean. Later, when she’s found her confidence in submission, she’s able to use that to call Dean out when he’s holding back. I wouldn’t say she feels unsafe then; in fact she feels safe enough to make the call and draw him out to meet her, too.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: If Maya had not met Dean, do you think she would have found other ways to explore her interest in BDSM?

JADE A. WATERS: Maybe? Frankly, I think she was too busy avoiding. If—and I mean if—she did find it later, I think it would have taken her a long time, because she was mighty happy with her fancy free love and sex life. There’s something about Dean that pushes that button for her in the perfect combo of dominant, charming, and sweet.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: The San Francisco Bay Area, the setting for the series and your home, is very prominent in the series. What’s so sexy about the area? Do you think people are more open to exploring BDSM there than in other parts of the United States?

JADE A. WATERS: I didn’t realize how into the area I was until I started writing erotica, honestly. Someone pointed out that I had a water motif and I had to pause before I realized, um, hello, I’ve been writing watery motifs for a while. I lived in Nevada until I was a teen, and from there I was in Sonoma, Marin, all over the East Bay…this place is just so incredibly lovely. (A 12-year-old me protested becoming a California girl and I now proudly tote that badge.) There’s water everywhere, be it moderate rains or on the coast. And waves…they’re so sexy to me. It’s that soothing but rhythmic one-two punch. I’d read a few erotica books set in other highly populated areas and none seemed to be here, so I felt like it was high time the Bay Area got some quality love! As for BDSM here…San Francisco is such a far cry from many places in our country. There’s a lot of open-mindedness (never mind several BDSM and sex club options), so, if there aren’t more people exploring it here there are at least more aware of and open to it here, I think. 

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Was your focus on safety and consent a response to the perceptions in popular culture of BDSM? Were you trying to address any cultural myths about kinky relationships?

JADE A. WATERS: YES!!! (Sorry, was I shouting?) I have read and heard about far too many misconceptions that BDSM is actually abuse. This is dead wrong. A consensual BDSM relationship is a beautiful thing. A nonconsensual relationship of any type is abuse. But BDSM is not a synonym for abuse, and many people still believe this is the case because unfortunately in real life and in fiction some do treat it as an excuse to abuse. That’s a no-no. Also, I think consent is an extremely important topic. I need to preface this with the fact that I under no circumstances believe it is a fiction writer’s job to educate the public on consent or to only write consensual scenes—and it drives me crazy that people say otherwise. However, if one is writing a BDSM story and they don’t intend for the dom to be an abusive character, then one does have to be a responsible writer and make sure the consent, communication, and negation is there in a healthy way. For Maya and Dean’s story, consent and safety was imperative, both because I wanted them to have a real and healthy BDSM relationship, and because Maya’s backstory requires safety in her relationships. Period.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: What were your favorite and least favorite parts of writing this trilogy?

JADE A. WATERS: This is strangely the hardest question you’ve given me, Rachel! 🙂 Favorite…man, all of it? The way the story morphed over time, and at the same time challenged me and exorcised some of my own demons. I really loved Maya’s growth throughout the series (just you wait until book 3), and it felt good to watch her develop. Same for Dean. Hardest? Mmmm…my life, like, completely blew up at the start of drafting book 2. So I think it would be cool to try writing a series not under so much life stress! (You hear that, Universe? Eh-hm.) Part of that was the pace, and part was just all that was going on. But, I think it worked out all right!

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Can you give us a hint at what happens in The Discipline, which was just published, and the third book, The Reward?

Jade A. Waters: Happy to! The Discipline sees Maya and Dean learning the discipline of having a serious relationship while also exploring more sexual discipline, which means more play, and several really hot fantasies that will definitely challenge them. A. Lot. By The Reward, they’re not only more stable but stronger…however, some past challenges will confront them, hard. We will see tremendous growth in both characters…as well as in their relationship. It’s a mighty reward!

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: What have the responses been like from readers to the series?

JADE A. WATERS: Fairly positive, I think! Some people seemed to really like their dynamic and the story, which is amazing to hear. Some wanted more Dean in book 1, which I knew would show up in book 2 because The Assignment was more about Maya’s growth…so I’m hoping they find what they’re seeking when they read on. I try not to read reviews too closely and when I do I just figure to each her own, but so far it seems people are enjoying, which is such a compliment.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Anything else to add?

JADE A. WATERS: Yes…a giant thank you for having me over!!

Click here to read a sexy free excerpt from The Discipline, which is available for purchase for Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo.

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Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) has edited over 60 anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 and 2, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, Begging for It, Fast Girls, The Big Book of Orgasms and more. She writes widely about sex, dating, books and pop culture and teaches erotica writing classes around the country and online. Follow her @raquelita on Twitter and find out more about her classes and consulting at eroticawriting101.com.

How to write erotic flash fiction and turn readers on in a few pages

17 Feb

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

I’m a sucker for a good short story. I always have been, which is perhaps why I’ve made a career out of editing short story anthologies, but I’ve come to appreciate the genre anew by compiling three books of erotic flash fiction: Gotta Have It: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex, The Big Book of Orgasms: 69 Sexy Stories and The Big Book of Submission: 69 Kinky Tales. Yes, the number 69 is a cheeky reference, but also rounds out these collections in a beautiful way, allowing room for plenty of variety.

Before I delve into why I love these super short tales so much, I want to let all you writers out there now that I’m looking for the last few ultra hot, creative and brilliant BDSM erotica stories to include in The Big Book of Submission, Volume 2, to be published in 2018 by Cleis Press. Get all the details in the call for submissions and send your stories in by February 28, 2017. Yes, I know that’s around the corner, but at only 1,200 words or less, writing one can be done in a day.

The Big Book of Submission: 69 Kinky Tales

The Big Book of Submission: 69 Kinky Tales

So what do I love about these books? As an editor, I selfishly love that I get to say yes to 69 authors, since sending rejections is the part of the job I hate the most. As a reader, I relish seeing just how playful writers can be with such a limited word count. And as a person with ADD, I love that I can read one of these stories in just a few minutes, making them perfect for our often overbooked and overly busy culture.

Some people might see the words “1,200 words or less” and think, That’s nothing more than a sex scene. Au contraire! What’s been extraordinary to me is seeing just how much passion, heart and soul these authors have imbued into their relatively small amount of words. They’ve created stories that are rich with gorgeous imagery and eroticism, the kinds of stories I reread often. One of my favorites is “Housebroken” by Laila Blake, from The Big Book of Submission, about a special kind of roleplay. Here’s a snippet:

The tiny bell on her kitten-collar chimed whenever she moved her head a little this way or that, sparkling like her pink lips with their ubiquitous honey-scented gloss. All of her seemed to glow as she lay there ivory-pink, her knees pulled up in a shallow angle, leaning against each other, her toes wriggling a little. She never did lie completely still—for that she needed ropes and cuffs, commands and punishments. For the moment, though, Imani allowed it, smiling at her kitten’s antics and the way, in her apartment, her kitten could let go completely, with no care in the world but Imani’s pleasure and her own, attaining the purest sense of freedom humans could find.

Yes, in her limited space, Blake takes readers inside an intimate, loving lesbian BDSM relationship and helps bring their roleplaying to life.

The Big Book of Orgasms: 69 Sexy Stories

The Big Book of Orgasms: 69 Sexy Stories

One of my favorite stories I’ve ever published is the humorous yet thought-provoking gender changing tale “Remote Control” by Logan Zachary in The Big Book of Orgasms. Using the hilarious premise that the title device can change everything from the weather to one’s genitals, Zachary presents a couple who transform themselves inside and out, with fascinating results. You can listen to the whole story on The Kiss Me Quick’s Podcast—I dare you to do so and not wonder what you yourself would do with such a remote in the palm of your hand! Not only is this story sexy and funny, it also manages to slyly comment on gender and sexual orientation.

What the writers who are successful at these sexy flash fiction stories know is that economy of language can indeed be hot, because it forces you to truly say what you mean and imbue every single word with as much power as possible. You can focus on the heart of what makes a relationship or sex act or scene so arousing, cutting out all extraneous distractions. Honing in on what’s vital can help authors see what makes the story tick and force them to value each thought, each touch, each movement as it builds to something greater than the sum of its parts. For the reader, the payoff is that they can get completely sucked into a story, knowing they can fully savor it in the time it takes to enjoy a morning cup of coffee.

Gotta Have It: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex

Gotta Have It: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex

These tales capture the complexity of trying something new in bed, and instead of jumping straight into the screwing, they still take the time to make imbue realism into the equation. In “Anal-yzed” by Donna George Storey from Gotta Have It, she tackles the negotiation between a couple about exploring anal sex, covering a woman’s doubts, fears and uncertainties while still maintaining the heat level:

“Interesting. I have another theory, though.” As he said this, his finger dipped between my asscheeks to stroke my tender pink valley.

I shivered and arched up into his touch. “Theory?”

“Yes, that anal sex is an unnatural act, so it makes you feel like a dirty slut to do it.”

My muscles down there—belly, cunt, asshole—immediately went into spasm, prickles of shame mixed with sweet twinges of pleasure. He was right. It was a turn-on to be a naughty girl who let boys in the back door. But I suddenly realized something else too. Having him talk about fucking my ass—actually analyze it like this—was making me incredibly hot.

Yes, within the confines of her 1,200 word maximum, Storey takes a common sexual fantasy, deconstructs it and does it justice as the narrator and her partner find out just how they can make this fantasy come true. She doesn’t waste any words, but she doesn’t rush the action either.

For those who prefer watching a sex scene unfold, here’s me reading my face slapping erotica story “Manners” from Gotta Have It several years ago at erotic shop Coco De Mer in West Hollywood, a topic I enjoyed distilling into a few racy pages:

To play devil’s advocate, I know that for those who solely read and write novels, the idea of even attempting to narrow down a short story into the confines of flash fiction is anathema. The biggest complaint I get from readers is that these stories are too short, that just as they get started, they’re over. On that point, I agree; however, I see their shortness as their strength, their beauty, their brilliance, and if they leave you wanting to know more about these characters, I consider that a win. So if you’re pressed for time, have a limited attention span like me, or simply want a huge amount of variety in the palm of your hands, check out these flash fiction books, and perhaps they’ll even inspire you to write one of your own.

Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) has edited over 60 anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, Begging for It, Fast Girls, The Big Book of Orgasms and more. She writes widely about sex, dating, books and pop culture and teaches erotica writing classes around the country and online. Follow her @raquelita on Twitter and find out more about her classes and consulting at eroticawriting101.com.

How to talk about sex in public

20 Jan

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

I’m in the midst of getting ready for my upcoming Best Women’s Erotica of the Year book tour, which will take me to four cities: Los Angeles on January 31, Baltimore on February 9, New York on February 11 and Jersey City on February 13.

Join us on the Best Women's Erotica of the Year book tour!

Joining me will be contributors to Volumes 1 and 2 in the series. As these dates inch closer, the two words I’m hearing most often from seem of the authors reading are: “I’m nervous.”

My response, which sometimes feels like a dirty little secret, is always, “Me too.” Because despite the fact that I believe readings are a vital career tool for authors, and that I’ve been organizing and participating in them since 2000, I still dread having to read my dirty words out loud. It’s gotten a little easier over the years, but it still makes my heart pound wildly every time I look out over a crowd and realize I will have to navigate language like “cock” and “pussy” and “orgasm” and, the one that always causes me the most anxiety, “cunt.” I never know whether I should pronouncing with a loud, proud, hard “t” at the end, or let the four-letter word almost trail off with a soft “t,” as if that will lessen its impact.

So despite this post’s title, I don’t have the secret to getting over your fear of public speaking, especially when it comes to speaking about sex, but I do have a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way after seemingly countless readings in bars, bookstores, community centers and other locales. When I read my work, I often feel like I’m reading it to myself anew as well, because once I put the final edits on an erotica short story and it goes to print, my mind tends to move on to the next thing. I don’t always grasp how odd it might seem to read about, say, an oral sex restaurant, such as the one in my story “Secret Service,” until I’m actually doing it. Here’s a peek at me reading that one at my old reading series In The Flesh, nervous tics and all:

Here are some tools that have helped me get over that fear and nervousness, and push through it when it strikes during a reading. For one thing, I think you want to remember what compelled you to write the piece in the first place. On one of my favorite podcasts, Bad With Money, host Gaby Dunn discussed the topic of self-promotion with Real Artists Have Day Jobs author Sara Benincasa, and Sara said something I’ve always believed: that you have to believe in yourself 100% and not be shy about letting others know about your work (I’m paraphrasing, but I promise the episode is worth a listen). Tap in to your motivation for telling this particular story, and channel that as you give voice to that tale.

I believe readings are the epitome of that practice of putting your work out there, because even though you can, of course, do some last minute editing on the fly, you don’t have the time to agonize and overthink and cut and paste and edit and delete and hem and haw that you do with writing (yes, I do this with almost all my writing). You are there, live, raw, and showing that you are showing up for your words and ready to share them in this personal format. The words are already there, and your job is to do them justice and bring your own personal spin to them.

Most likely, you’ll find that as you read, even if you start out nervous, at some point, you will get lost in the story, and find that it becomes a separate entity to what’s on the page. It’s only when I read my work out loud that I often get its nuances. I don’t tend to think of myself as a funny writer, especially of erotica, but during readings is where I start to notice the humor in my pieces. Sometimes, I gravitate toward those aspects, selecting passages that play up the funnier angles. Since you’re usually only reading a small selection of your words out loud, you can shape and frame them, tantalizing the audience with a teaser of your work, and encouraging them to read the rest on their own.

I also think it’s important to remember that even if you’re nervous, audiences don’t mind. In fact, they appreciate you all the more when you reveal your humanity and let them know that you’re nervous. In all my years of doing erotica readings, I’ve never had anyone criticize me when I’ve faltered over a phrase, or skipped over a line, or couldn’t stop my voice or hands from shaking. We are all human, and we all know that talking about sex can be challenging, but I think that at a time when the arts are under attack, it’s vital that we meet that challenge and show that we don’t see anything wrong with writing explicitly erotic material.

It also helps me to think less about the individuals I’m reading to, who in the past have included friends, family members and current and former lovers, and instead focus on the story. I do try to look up and make eye contact, but at the same time, in my mind’s eye, I’m picturing the action of the story, and trying to do it justice.

Another way to lessen your nerves is to give audiences a little peek into your writing process. Whether you do this before you read, after you read, or with small asides as you go, this gives them additional insight they won’t find on the page. Bring a prop if it’s relevant to your story, as D.R. Slaten plans to do at our reading at Sugar in Baltimore. Tell us something personal about yourself; this doesn’t have to mean your sexual history (though it could), but something that makes readers appreciate having taken the time to leave their homes when they could be curled up under a blanket watching Netflix. Give them a juicy detail, tell them how you came up with your story idea, offer a tidbit of writing inspiration, or anything that will add to the words you’ve already crafted on the page.

Bring your personality with you when you read. Remember that you don’t have to be an A list quality actor in order to bring your words to life; you just have to be yourself. Here’s a wonderful example of a reading by a woman who inspired me to get into the genre, Susie Bright. Watch her reading from her story “The Best She Ever Had” in her gorgeously crafted anthology X: The Erotic Treasury, back in 2009 at In The Flesh, for an example of a master of how to talk about sex in public:

The awful/wonderful thing about readings is that anything can happen. I recognize that for women, especially, it can be unnerving to talk so frankly about sex in public, lest we be greeted by flirtatious, inappropriate or downright creepy comments in return (I’ve experienced all three), with the assumption being that because we aren’t ashamed about sex, we want to sleep with anyone who happens to be around. At the same time, I think staying silent about sex adds to our cultural confusion around it. Exploring it, whether in fiction or nonfiction, is a way to break some of the taboos, and in a culture when so many of us, myself included, live our lives behind a computer screen, saying those dirty words, giving them context and meaning and emotion and weight, is all the more valuable.

The awful/wonderful thing about readings is that you can’t predict how they will go. The audience may listen avidly, or twiddle with their phones. They may laugh or gasp where you don’t expect them to, and your favorite jokes may fall flat. Someone may catch something in your work you’ve never thought about before.

Lastly, remember that readings don’t last forever. They may loom large when they’re on the horizon, but the time really does fly by when you’re up there speaking into the microphone. I can’t tell you the number of times an author who’s seemed nervous beforehand has trouble sticking to their allotted time, because once they get started, they get swept away.

I hope you’ll join me on this book tour, and if you’re not in any of these cities, I would love it if you’d pass on the details to someone who is. I’ve organized it in part to promote my books, but also to stand up for erotica, to ensure that it’s not relegated to some bottom shelf or back corner of a bookstore, only ferreted out by the truly dedicated. Plus, on a personal level, it’s another way for me to help conquer that fear, to leap into the unknown and find out what happens. I want to see erotica front and center, next to the latest mystery and romance and fiction titles. Here’s where to find us – all our events are free and will be followed by Q&As and book signings.

January 31, 7:30 pm, Skylight Books, 1818 North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles

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February 9, 6:30 pm, Sugar, 1001 W. 36th Street, Baltimore (Hamden)

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February 11, 7 pm, Bluestockings, 172 Allen Street, New York City

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February 13, 7:30 pm, WORD, 123 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey

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Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) has edited over 60 anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, Begging for It, Fast Girls, The Big Book of Orgasms and more. She writes widely about sex, dating, books and pop culture and teaches erotica writing classes around the country and online. Follow her @raquelita on Twitter and find out more about her classes and consulting at eroticawriting101.com.

The joy of travel sex

16 Dec

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

If you ask me, travel sex is some of the hottest sex in the world. Why? Because travel puts us in a different headspace, where anything can happen. For me, there’s a mix of anticipation, uncertainty and adventure that, when combined as I step onto a plane, check into a hotel or set foot in a new to me city, make me feel far more uninhibited than I do at home.

One of the most outrageous travel sex adventures I’ve ever had happened during an unexpected overnight layover. My flight had been cancelled and I decided to stay at the airport overnight. This was long ago enough that I don’t actually remember what airport it was, which doesn’t really matter save for the fact that the place cleared out as people scrambled to find hotel rooms. Except for me…and a guy who was also stranded. I believe he was from somewhere in South America. He was incredibly sweet and as we waited next to each other, we talked…and then did much more.

It’s hard to put into words without it sounding sordid but what we shared in that airport is actually one of my favorite sexual memories. Why? Because it was completely unexpected. Because we likely never would have met had fate not brought us together that night. Because I would have been scared as hell to spend a whole night in an airport entirely alone. So yes, it was much more than stolen hand jobs. It was a chance to connect with a total stranger and get through a frustrating situation and release some sexual tension. It was an opportunity to be exhibitionists hidden in plain sight.

I also have a huge fondness for hotel sex, whether during a staycation or a full on trip, because hotels are such gorgeous blank slates, with their freshly made beds and amenities, with the chance to shed all my mental baggage for a few nights and bring out my most erotically adventurous side.

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So it’s no surprise that travel lust made its way into my brand new anthology, Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2, released this week. I didn’t set out with that plan in mind, but as I read the submissions that landed in my inbox, over and over I found a trip to be the key to starting a fling or relationship. This made perfect sense within the context of each story, and as I crafted the table of contents, I realized how perfectly each travel erotica tale fit within the greater whole. Each of these women are on an adventure, whether they know it when they start out or not, that takes them somewhere they didn’t expect to go. They don’t just “make the best of things” and muddle through, but truly use travel to learn more about themselves and avail themselves of the erotic opportunities awaiting them.

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One of the travel stories in the book is “Like Lights in the Northern Sky” by Dorianne. Here’s how she describes the title phenomenon:

Green and blue waves of light pirouetted across the sky. The stars were dazzling here every night, but now they played peekaboo, constantly disappearing behind a vibrant wash of color only to reappear a second later as the real color (teal, royal blue, emerald and chartreuse green) pulsed in a different direction. Valentina stopped breathing, her entire awareness focused on the light show playing against a rich, black backdrop.

“Aurora borealis,” said one of the tourists.

Wawasayg,” Johnny whispered in her ear.

Dorianne paints an intriguing and intimate portrait not just of this natural phenomenon, but also about the lodge owner and his wife, who are in an open relationship, and how tourist Valentina gets an unexpected but very welcome erotic introduction to the land she’s visiting.

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In “Brick Dust” by Kay Jaybee, protagonist Liza, who lives in England, takes a job at a South African sandstone brick quarry, which leads to some very sexy on-the-job training. We find out she’s taken this assignment in part to escape her ex, Ryan, and his kinky requests, but in this isolated location, with hunky boss Mick, they just may be right up her alley:

Liza could picture the words her ex had written clearly despite her blindfold, she had read them so often. “He…he wanted to tease my body until I begged.”

“That’s the bit that I’ve waned about the most.” Dropping to his knees, Mick sent a shower of particles spraying across Liza’s legs. “It’s not the fact you are bound at at my mercy, but that you’er going to have to plead for me to fuck you that’s working the magic.”

The blanket of ground brick beneath Liza’s body that had initially felt like a soft mattress morphed into unyielding grime-covered earth as Mick spoke. The top layer was sticking to her back, making Liza feel as though she were a living piece of sandpaper. Each time she wriggled her back was scratched, but rather than feeling uncomfortable, it sent ripples of confused desire tripping through her veins.

Jaybee does an excellent job of making sure we get up close and personal with how aroused Liza gets by their public sex, precisely because she’s in a new environment with someone she trusts completely.

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In “Volcano Nights” by Josie Jordan, strangers are thrust together when they have to share the only available room in a hotel. When I interviewed the author about the story’s origins, she told me, “There’s something inherently sexy about long-haul travel. All these strangers briefly thrown together, never to meet again.”

Indeed, the surprise layover, combined with her feelings after catching her boyfriend in bed with someone else, make Monica prone to flirting in ways she like wouldn’t be back home:

“What are you thinking?” he asked.

“That I’m going to bed with you in a minute,” I blurted before I could help myself. To hide my embarrassment, I drained my wine.

His smile widened. “I keep thinking about that too.” His eyes sparkled.

My stomach fluttered again and I toyed with my empty glass.

For me, whenever I roll my suitcase away from home and set forth on a voyage, a part of me does step into that anything-can-happen mindset. It’s part of what, in my opinion, makes joining the mile high club so much fun. These days, I’m in a monogamous relationship, but were I to find myself on a crashing plane taking my last breaths, I have a feeling I wouldn’t be worried about propriety. While I am not too fearful about air travel, that frisson of concern and the fact that there are so many factors out of my control, have in the past helped me blurt out similar sentiments to Monica’s. It’s almost as if when we travel, we are adding a layer of sexual bravado that allows us to go where we’ve never gone before, in more than the geographic sense.

Reading itself offers a similar feeling from home, letting us virtually travel to other lands, other worlds and other people’s beds and, perhaps, letting us absorb some of the characters’ coveted bravado. If you’re curious about just what kinds of naughty adventures traveling can lead to, I hope you’ll check out Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2, out now in print and ebook and available at your favorite local bookstore.

Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) has edited over 60 anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 and Volume 2, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, Begging for It, Fast Girls, The Big Book of Orgasms and more. She writes widely about sex, dating, books and pop culture and teaches erotica writing classes around the country and online. Follow her @raquelita on Twitter and find out more about her classes and consulting at eroticawriting101.com.

Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 excerpt: Simply Sinful Giveaway

25 Nov

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Welcome to our Simply Sinful Black Friday Reader Event, where we’re sharing excerpts all day and giving away the gorgeous basket you see below, full of goodies any romance lover would want.

My excerpt is from Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, part of the annual series I edit for Cleis Press, from my bisexual open marriage travel erotic short story, “Flying Solo.”

Blurb: 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.

bweofthe-year_approved

Excerpt of “Flying Solo” by Rachel Kramer Bussel

I’ve made sure my camera has plenty of battery left for this trip, because you’re not here to watch me. I wish you were, but life sometimes keeps us apart. You didn’t ask me to, but I want to send you photos of me naked, turned on, wet for you. Even though you’re not talking up a storm as you usually are when we travel, I feel you with me as I pass through security, and especially as I head to the gate and start casually, quietly, discreetly looking around, the way we did on our honeymoon. Has it really been four years? They’ve flown by.

I’ll never forget sitting with you and hearing you whisper, “Find someone to take back to our hotel room with us.” You didn’t specify if it should be a man or a woman, and although I’d never considered it before, the idea of being pressed between you and another man made me so excited I almost spilled the medium coffee I’d just purchased. You took it from my hand and blew through the small opening in the plastic top for me, raising your eyebrows. I giggled, then started looking. I reached for your hand for support; you squeezed it but then let me go. I fiddled with my wedding ring, twisting around the new gold band over and over, afraid I looked like a kid in a candy store.
You’d whispered to me again. “I’m just so madly in love with you, and I think this should be a new tradition; when we travel, we find someone to join us. Just for fun, no strings attached.” I’d spent the entire time before we boarded perusing every adult sitting around us, mentally undressing them, wondering who had piercings or tattoos, who was kinky, who was the best kisser. I pictured the tall man in a suit, speaking rapidly in Spanish on the phone, with his cock in your mouth. I pictured the short, curvy redhead with her head buried between my legs while you entered her from behind.

“Well?” you’d asked, as they started to board the plane.

“I can’t decide. And I certainly can’t go up to any of these people. What am I going to say? ‘I just got married and my husband wants to have a threesome?’” Yet even saying those unspeakable words made me wet, made my mind and heart race. I’d told you that I was bisexual after our third date, wanting to make sure you wouldn’t have that awful, frat-boy, “That’s hot!” reaction that even most seemingly sophisticated men busted out once I revealed I went both ways. You just nodded and let me tell you all about Simone, the gorgeous woman with the smoky voice and beautiful, curvy body I’d most recently bedded.

I’d fallen in love with you in part because you let me tell you anything, and in turn revealed some of your fantasies. We’d tried out many of them—bondage, strap-ons, hot wax. We’d talked about threesomes and orgies but in a fantasy way, until that trip. For whatever reason, you’d never mentioned wanting to be with another man, but I liked learning new things about you just when I thought I knew it all. “Let’s wait until we’re on the plane,” I’d said, and lucky me: my dream girl, the one whose face I kept returning to, was sitting next to me on the plane. You’d pretended to sleep while I made small talk with her, all the while working up the courage to say what I most wanted to. As it turned out, she’d been the one to whisper in my ear, “I wish I could be alone with you for an hour. I want to kiss you all over.”

I’d stared right back at her, barely hearing the screaming infant behind us, or the blaring music from the woman’s headphones in front of us. I just saw her, Katia, her ripe, naturally pink lips, her jet-black hair, the tiny diamond glinting from her lightly freckled nose. When I reached up and traced her lips, you’d stirred, gently knocking my knee with yours. “You can. Well, not alone, exactly. I’m with him,” I’d whispered, getting close enough to make sure my lips grazed her earlobe. “It’s our honeymoon, but he wants me to bring someone home for us to share.”

“I’m good at sharing,” she’d whispered back, and she’d proven exactly how good once we were settled into our suite. Fresh from a hot shower we’d shared, our kisses making me tingle all over, Katia had gotten you and me on our backs and eased her mouth from one to the other until I was absolutely dripping wet, desperate for more. “You get on top of him,” she’d instructed, in the sweetest, silkiest voice possible. It was an order, but a gentle one. If I’d had a better plan I’m sure she’d have gone along with it, but there was nothing I wanted more than your cock inside me, my body primed from her hot, hungry tongue. She eased you inside me and just as I moaned and thought I might come right then and there, her tongue was back, lapping between the cheeks she held open with those soft, delicate hands. Her tongue pressed against my rosebud, making me groan.

“She’s licking me,” I’d whispered frantically before burying my face in your neck. She worked me into a frenzy, one that your hard, driving cock only made more frantic. When Katia’s fingers reached around me to circle my clit, I came, trembling against both of you, then biting your neck when her fingers didn’t stop dancing against my hard bud. She raised her head, only to nip at the soft flesh of my ass while she coaxed another climax from me. But it wasn’t until she lifted me off of you, pressed three fingers deep inside me, then eased them out and put them in your mouth that I really lost it. The look of sheer ecstasy on your face had me slamming down on top of you, fucking you harder than I ever had. You looked right at me while you sucked her fingers, and I came for the third time, something I’d also never done.

“Can I taste him?” she’d asked, and no sooner were the words out of her mouth than I was climbing off of you, wrapping my hand around the base of your cock, and feeding it to her. She didn’t swallow the whole thing greedily like I would have. Instead, Katia was like a cat with a bowl of milk, her tongue slowly licking up the cream at the tip, one long stroke at a time. I’d never seen a woman give a blow job up close like that, and I didn’t even think about what I did next, I just leaned forward and joined her, my tongue on one side of the ridged crown, hers on the other. Soon we were taking turns putting the head in our mouths, but I let her do the honors when you started to buck your hips up and down. I was too blissed out to give you the proper care and devotion you deserved, but Katia certainly wasn’t. I saw her saliva glinting off the length of your shaft as she rose all the way up, opened those beautiful brown eyes to stare at me, then, keeping her gaze locked on mine, moved all the way down. When I reached out to stroke her hair, you grabbed my hand and we both put just a little pressure on her head, enough to make her moan. Soon you were fucking her face—there’s no other way to describe it. She was grunting like an animal and you were lost in the feel of her mouth.

If someone had told me I’d spend the first night of my honeymoon watching another woman giving my husband head—and liking it—a few years before, or even a few weeks before, I’d have thought they were crazy. But in the moment, it was the hottest thing ever. There was no separation between us; we were all connected by our desire, our yearning to give and get pleasure all at the same time. When you came, I could tell instantly, even though Katia expertly sucked down every drop. “I think you should let Katia sit on your face,” you told me.

Oh my goodness. Of course. I lay back and soon she was on top of me, not writhing wildly, but slowly pressing herself against my mouth, enveloping my senses with her perfume. You got between my legs and ate me while I ate her, and even though your tongue distracted me from what I was doing, nobody minded. Eventually her languid movements weren’t enough for me, and I pulled her tight against me, loving how wet she was getting, loving it even more when she came. She repeated her clit stroking as you kept your mouth on me, so I got to experience a fourth orgasm that knocked me out. Katia was gone by the time I woke up, but what she left us with was an insatiable sense of sexual adventure.

Since then we’ve bedded men, women and couples—only while traveling, never back home. Today will be a first, though, and I not only don’t want to let you down, I’m curious what it’ll be like. Though I’ve had more partners than most of my married friends, when I’m with you, it always feels like married sex, no matter how many people are in the room. This time, it’s just me, and I have to imagine you watching, you whispering to me, you encouraging me. I still get nervous, as you well know, but I’ve loved every single one of our encounters, both in the moment, and how they spur us on later when we’re alone.

I text you a quick hello along with a photo of me, and just as I’m finished sending it, I see a man watching me. His head is shaved, and he towers over my five-two frame. I can tell he’s muscular from how his suit doesn’t quite fit him, even though he looks amazing. He’s taller and wider and probably stronger than you, but again, I know that if you were here you wouldn’t be threatened. Remember that pro football player we picked up, the one who not only bent me over and, with my head buried in the sheets, fucked me so well I squirted, but also fucked you? I think about that when I’m alone sometimes. It was one of the hottest things we’ve ever done. I wonder if Mr. Muscles would ever want to be with a man like you. Instantly, I blush; I can never hide that.

You’ve told me that’s one of the things you love about me—how easily I blush, how readily you can tell when I’m thinking something dirty. The muscle guy walks over. “Hi,” he says, his voice deep yet somehow boyish. “You busy?”

“Just waiting for my plane. Going on a business trip,” I say.

“Me too. Meetings, but not till three tomorrow.” Our flight’s at seven and is only an hour and a half, which means we both have a whole night free. “Look, I don’t want to bother you if you aren’t interested”—he nods at my wedding ring, which I only take off when I shower—“but I couldn’t help noticing you.”

“I’m interested,” I say quietly. I’ve had this conversation dozens of times, but it’s never easy to tell a stranger you’re in an open marriage, and it’s even more challenging without you by my side to help ease things along. “I’m…available. Tonight, anyway,” I say with a laugh.

“Tonight works for me,” he says. I motion to the seat next to me and we sit in companionable silence. I have an urge to lean my head on his shoulder, so I do. He strokes my hair, a seemingly gentle touch, but one that sends shivers running through my body. I picture you on my other side, and me snug between two men, one who sets me on edge and one who makes me feel safe—and sexy too. That’s what you do, if you didn’t know; I feel like I could take on the world in every way, knowing you’re there for me.

flying-solo

You can read the whole story in the anthology, available in print, ebook (including Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo) and audiobook. You can also listen to the full story free read by Audible audiobook narrator Rose Caraway

Comment below–or on any post published today, November 25–and be entered to win a Simply Sinful basket of book goodness.

Books! Wine! Bath bombs and soaps! Scones! What more could you need?

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Giveaway closes at midnight (Eastern), November 25, 2016.

Next up in the LadySmut Simply Sinful Reader Event is Isabelle Drake at 11 a.m.

——-

Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) has edited over 60 anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, Begging for It, Fast Girls, The Big Book of Orgasms and more. She writes widely about sex, dating, books and pop culture and teaches erotica writing classes around the country and online. Follow her @raquelita on Twitter and find out more about her classes and consulting at eroticawriting101.com.

On creating inclusive, multicultural erotica in the age of Trump

18 Nov

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

In the nine days since I woke up and learned that Donald Trump had been elected president, I must admit that everything I do with my life has seemed largely pointless, from sex journalism to erotica editing to even blogging. How could it not be n the face of public discussions in 2016 in favor of a registry for Muslims and praising Japanese internment camps? The question that made my 41st birthday on the tenth and the rest of the ensuing days pass by in a blur of bingo and the blahs has been, What am I doing to make this world a better place? Because I had already been in somewhat of a creative lull and mental haze, the answer I kept coming back to was: nothing.

It felt ridiculous to be talking with the social media manager I had been so proud of myself for hiring about what quotes and images to use to promote my books, like I was ignoring the very real problems that have exploded into our world with a vengeance since last week’s news, despite not being able to take my eyes away from my increasingly scary Facebook feed for more than a half hour at a time.

And then copies of my new anthology, Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2, arrived, all 200 that I had purchased in a burst of optimism and eagerness. There’s always something thrilling about seeing a book with my name on the cover for the first time, knowing that it went from a mere concept in my head into an actual paperback that will soon be on the shelves of bookstores and sex toy stores in all its shiny glory. I savored that moment, realizing that the book was bigger than me, and that I had authors who were excited to be published, many of them for the very first time, and that by helping them share their work, I might also be encouraging future authors to get writing. So I stopped feeling despondent for a little while and got to work packaging up those books and mailing out contributor copies to my 21 authors from around the world. I actually think my trips to the post office are my favorite part of the anthology editing process, even more than opening those boxes, because I get to be the one to deliver something that’s so much more than the sum of its individual parts to the people who helped create it, without whom the book wouldn’t exist.

Hot off the press Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 2

Hot off the press Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2

Holding those books in my hands made me realize that while I don’t consider myself an activist, what I can do in my own small way, is continue on with my vision for inclusive erotica. When I took over editing the series (which used to include calendar years in its title; my editing started with Volume 1), I decided to make some changes. One biggie was that authors who’d been published in one of my volumes before wouldn’t be able to submit again, in order to make room for more voices. While I’m only contracted through Volume 4, my dream is to get to edit 10 volumes, and in the process, publish writing by over 200 amazing authors, while also boosting their profiles and helping them gain a dedicated readership. I also started doing more outreach to writers who might not consider themselves “erotica writers” but who might want to contribute, because I believe there are so many people with brilliant untold stories that speak to their deepest desires, even when times are hard, even when other things may seem and actually be far more urgent than plain old s-e-x.

Now, I vow to do even more of that, because while I only have 65,000 words to do so, within that space, I want to publish the types of authors who may not be heard in mainstream erotica, yet whose perspectives are vital and urgent and powerful and lively and fierce and tender, who find eroticism within circumstances that may seem unlikely or unusual, whose fetishes defy categorization, whose desires continue unabated no matter how many hurdles, internal and external, they have to jump through to act on them. I want to continue to seek out women from small towns and big cities, from atheists to dedicated believers, from brand new adults to those many, many decades their senior, to contribute and make this a more varied, diverse series and share aspects of sexuality that help us understand each other better. This may be my Polyanna side showing, but I hope that in illuminating how sex and lust and love play a role in the lives of the kinds of women readers may or may not know in real life, these stories bring us all a little closer together.

So here is what I will ask you: please think about women and gender nonconforming/nonbinary people you know who might have a fascinating erotic story to tell, and pass on my call for submissions for Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 3. The deadline, December 1, is soon, but for those with stories to tell, I hope this call inspires them (and I will be editing Volume 4 next year, so stay tuned). Authors whose stories are accepted for publication will receive $150 and 2 copies of the book (plus as much social media promotion and support as I can possibly provide).

While I intend these volumes to be timeless and, hopefully, still in existence twenty, thirty, fifty years from now, I also want them to grapple with what it’s like to live and love and lust now, in such a chaotic political climate, not just in the United States but all over. I want them to run the gamut of human experience and look at how sex and religion, sex and age, sex and race, sex and disability, sex and gender, sex and anger and sadness intersect. I don’t want cardboard cutout characters or agendas, but humanity in all its messy imperfection. I want characters who break the rules (their own and society’s), who try something new, who surprise readers and themselves by following the path their desire takes them, even if it’s not “smart” or “rational” (perhaps especially if it’s not). I want them to defy stereotypes and slut shaming and the notion of being “good girls.” I want characters who deserve (and maybe even get, or have gotten) their own novels to truly see thir journeys to their fullest course. No, these aren’t essays, and their primary purpose still needs to be to arouse readers, and perhaps offer them an escape from the real world, but I don’t think that’s antithetical to also giving those consuming those words something lasting to think about.

On a personal level, I also am grateful that I’ve already got a mini book tour in the works, because I’m sure if I had the option of planning one now, I’d chose instead to stay home, to savor the small comforts of my little corner of suburbia, where people from different cultures do actually live together in harmony, rather than going out into the big wide world where it seems like we are becoming more and more divided and the worst of humanity is on full, loud, public, scary display.

Will anyone want to hear erotica read to them after the inauguration? I have no idea, but one of the things that has sustained me through editing anthologies over the last 12 years is taking an often lonely process that happens solely in my home and channeling it into something that brings real, live people together in a room. I also believe we need our independent bookstores and sex toy shops more than ever to be community spaces, places where we can find new ideas and entertainment, and I’m proud and honored that they want to work with me and my authors.

I don’t know what the future holds, for my country or my career. But right now, I know that this is my path, and I intend to use it to help other writers get published, get paid and help spread their words as far and wide as I can. It may be a drop in the ocean in terms of making the world a more understanding, less hateful place, but it’s the drop I can offer.

Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) has edited over 60 anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, Begging for It, Fast Girls, The Big Book of Orgasms and more. She writes widely about sex, dating, books and pop culture and teaches erotica writing classes around the country and online. Follow her @raquelita on Twitter and find out more about her classes and consulting at eroticawriting101.com.

Size 18 and sexy with a “great big ass:” Body positivity in Alice Clayton’s Cream of the Crop

21 Oct

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

I look to romance novels, as well as other types of fiction, to both entertain me and, on some occasions, inspire me. Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton, her second in her Hudson Valley series, does both because of its bold, outspoken and very sexy size 18 heroine, Natalie Grayson. In some ways, I’m like Natalie; I used to live in New York and brie is my favorite kind of cheese.

Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton

Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton

But in one key area, I’m sadly not like her: she doesn’t apologize for her size, wish she were a smaller size, or have any hangups about her body or her attractiveness. Whereas I, despite working on “loving my body,” which perhaps doesn’t need quotes around it but feels like it does, from my teen years into my forties, simply don’t have her level of sheer belief in myself. Here’s how Natalie describes her approach to men:

I found a certain kind of power in walking into a room where I knew no one, and figuring out how everyone ticked. Narrowing in on the best-looking guy in any room, and going on the offense. Size-eighteen women were supposed to be timid. Size-eighteen women were supposed to be shy. Size-eighteen women were supposed to be grateful for any male attention, and to feel especially honored if a good-looking man paid attention to them.

Fuck all that noise. I took the best-looking guy home with me whenever and however I pleased. Confidence went a long way. You walk into a room armed with the knowledge that you can have anyone you want? You can literally have anyone you want.

Plus I had a sweet rack. Which always helped.

No matter what size you are, I’m pretty sure you could do with a boost of Natalie’s confidence, which in the novel, extends beyond the bedroom and into the advertising firm where she works. Even though the hero, sexy cheesemonger Oscar, seller of her beloved brie, gives her butterflies and leaves her tongue tied in the beginning, she is still someone who exudes a core belief in her own power, strength and hotness that I envy.

There’s a fabulous moment, the ultimate flirtation crossed with mixed signals combined with some grammar nerd hijinks, where Natalie and Oscar are talking for the first time outside of his stall at New York’s Union Square Market, where she first met him. She’s been lusting after him but didn’t know whether he was aware of her existence, and after telling her, “I know exactly who you are,” he elaborates with, “You’re the Brie girl with the great big ass.”

She takes offense at first, as probably most women would do after being told they have a “great big ass,” but Oscar isn’t sure what he did wrong. She asks him, “Are you saying great big ass? Or great comma big ass?” That’s classic Clayton rom com right there.

Befuddled, he repeats her last question back to her, so Natalie tells him. “Okay, I’m confused. So you’re not saying that I have a great big  . . . ass, you’re saying that I have a great . . . big ass. Meaning—”

His answer? “Your ass is big. And it’s great…How is that confusing?”

She lets him know, “You’re not supposed to say something like that to a woman.” But because she’s so hot for him, and coming to understand exactly what he meant, she responds, “Luckily for you, I’m aware that it’s a great ass. And yes, it’s big.”

Can you imagine all the “Does this skirt/dress/jeans make my ass look big?” conversations that would be eliminated if every woman could embrace the size of her bottom, and the rest of her, the way Natalie does?

I did forget one other thing Natalie and I have in common: beyond brie, food is a centerpiece of our relationships. Clayton’s descriptions of Natalie’s love of cheese and the way she savors other meals is part and parcel of her personality. She’s not going to order a bland, boring salad just because everyone else is doing it, just as she is bold enough to go after whatever and whoever she wants. She doesn’t shrink away from the richness of food around her, and in fact, revels in it, as does her pal Roxie, the heroine of the first book in the series, Nuts.

This might not seem like that big of a deal, but the body positive and food loving message in these hilarious romances spoke to me in a major way. I have moments of confidence, about my body, my ambitions, my core self, but they are all too often softened by the fears that literally wake me up at night, the impostor syndrome lurking in wait for any time I get too lofty in my goals. The other day, I put on one of my favorite skirts, a silky black number that clings to my ass in a way that emphasizes it, rather than minimizing it. I was looking for the perfect complement to a new sweater, and stood in front of the mirror, debating whether or not to ditch that skirt for one that might not put quite the same focus on my rear. But I went with it, because despite all the things I wish I could change about my body, I want to be more like Natalie. I want to have at least a little of her confidence.

As a feminist, I’m so pleased to read about a heroine who, yes, has her stumbling blocks, because a romance novel without drama wouldn’t be compelling, but who isn’t hung up on how much she weighs or the number labeled inside her clothes. As someone who, despite knowing logically just how punishing and unfair our culture’s beauty and body image norms are, still finds myself falling down the rabbit hole of thinking my life would be “perfect” if only I dropped 10, or 20, or 30, or 40 pounds, I need these kinds of reminders. I applaud those who are taking this ongoing struggle into the real world, like Good Housekeeping Beauty Editor Sam Escobar, who shared their weight and clothing size on Twitter as a way to normalize these numbers. In solidarity, I’ll share mine: 180 pounds, size 10 or 12, large or extra large, depending on the retailer. What I took away from Natalie is that it’s not about the number, it’s about how you feel about the number. She doesn’t let it stop her from doing anything or anyone, nor does it keep her from eating fabulous foods and simply luxuriating in being herself.

I don’t weigh myself anymore (I got that figure from various doctors’ visits), but I know that in the last few years of living in suburbia, where I don’t get nearly as much daily exercise in as I did as a New Yorker, I’ve put on plenty of pounds. I’ve had to update my wardrobe because much of the old one doesn’t fit. I’m not proud of that, but I also don’t want the entire focus of my life to be on depriving myself in order to fit back into them. I want to bring a little of that Natalie magic into my mindset, especially when I start to waver and fall into a body image shame spiral. I’m not going to pretend that will be simple or easy, but I’m sharing that vow here because I want to push through those negative moments so that I can make the most of my time on earth, rather than spending it berating myself simply for existing.

I’m off to attend romance convention Shameless Book Con in Orlando, where I’m going to tell Alice Clayton exactly how much Natalie meant to me, while picking up her latest, Roman Crazy.

Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) has edited over 60 anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, Begging for It, Fast Girls, The Big Book of Orgasms and more. She writes widely about sex, dating, books and pop culture and teaches erotica writing classes around the country and online. Follow her @raquelita on Twitter and find out more about her classes and consulting at eroticawriting101.com.

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