Archive by Author

Free read: Office rivalry in erotic romance Sexual Integrity by J.A. Dennam

27 Jun

Today Lady Smut is thrilled to bring you a sexy snippet from the hot new office rivalry erotic romance Sexual Integrity by J.A. Dennam (Cleis Press). This steamy tale will make you grateful for your vacation time so you can follow along as Brooke and Ethan battle it out.

Sexual Integrity by J.A. Dennam

About Sexual Integrity:

A career woman to a fault, Brooke Monroe vows to earn back the graphic art business her father sold, robbing her of her birthright and costing an office-full of employees their jobs. The arrogant team of outsiders appears to have no sympathy, a fact that sets her blood boiling. As one of the only survivors of the takeover, Brooke finds herself face-to-face with the devilishly handsome Ethan Wolf as they vie for the position of Vice President of Monroe Graphics.

Ethan is ready for Brooke and her amusing attempt to emerge the victor: the woman’s stiff exterior and fiery green eyes both fascinate and infuriate him like no other. As the sparks of rivalry fly, so begins a reluctant attraction between the two VP candidates. When an accidental encounter in the darkroom reveals an undeniable chemistry between them, Brooke and Ethan’s fight turns dirty and detours to the bedroom. Once the clothes come off, their biggest challenge is keeping sex out of the workplace…and keeping their feelings at bay until after the competition. But when a corporate leak is discovered and Brooke is blamed as the obvious culprit, will Ethan trust her enough to believe her claims of innocence? Or will Brooke’s chance at love and her father’s company be forever out of reach?

About the author:

J. A. Dennam, award winning Amazon bestselling author, resides in a small Kansas town with her husband and four children. Besides her love for the literary arts, her interests include fine arts, culinary arts, singing and motorcycling. To date, Miss Dennam has seven full-length novels and a few novellas under her belt, with many more to come. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Excerpt from Sexual Integrity:

Sid slowly leaned forward. Brooke moved in to meet him halfway.

They shared a sensual kiss that was tentative at first and then deepened into something more. His breath smelled good, like rich Napa Valley wine. His lips were firm yet soft. The way he moved told her that he knew how to please a woman.

Despite all that, her heartbeat notably failed to pick up its pace.

The doorbell rang. Brooke wasn’t sure if it was an annoyance or a blessing. She backed out of the kiss, leaving him with an unfocused look that told her he’d enjoyed it way more than she had. “It could only be Mrs. Costa from next door,” she explained as she got to her feet and put her glasses back on. “She always comes over when her computer acts up. I’ll tell her to hold off for now.”

Sid appeared in no hurry to leave his spot on the floor. He drew a knee up, but not before Brooke saw the suspicious bulge in his Bermuda shorts.

When she opened the door, a shockwave of alarm washed through her. Ethan stood there leaning against the doorframe in jeans, a black T-shirt, and an intense focus on the welcome mat. All she could do was stare in abject surprise at a man who couldn’t possibly have sought out her address.

Words escaped her. The silence stretched as he too seemed to wonder what the hell he was doing there. Finally, he looked up. His eyes darted past her and over to the man at her coffee table. Slowly, their blue-gray depths changed into something turbulent.

Her hand slipped from the knob as he stepped over the threshold. He stood so close she could feel his body heat. His voice was rough, barely above a whisper. “We need to talk.”

Now her heart was beating fast enough to power a small locomotive. Dazed and confused, she stepped back and turned to find Sid standing right behind her. “Sid…do you mind if we do this another time?”

The man stepped closer, caressed her back in an intimate way. “Isn’t this the guy you were arguing with the other day?”

“And we’ve done a lot of that since then, haven’t we, Brooke?” Ethan chimed in, sounding dangerous. “Well…not all of it was—”

“Ethan, shut up,” Brooke snapped.

A quick look confirmed that Sid was following along just fine. As he nodded at his adversary, the pulse at his freckled temple began to thrum. “I get it.” He turned to Brooke. “Are you sure you want me to leave?”

She took one of his hands and gave it an apologetic squeeze. “Yes, I’m sure. Another time would be better, when I’m all here.”

Sid hesitated a moment and then pursed his lips as he began to leave. When Ethan moved aside to give him clear access to the doorway, Sid stopped, leaned over, and deposited a tender kiss on her temple.

“I’m only a phone call away,” he said, his voice laden with meaning.

She closed the door behind him, swimming in mixed emotions. Why the hell had she just done that? And why the hell was Ethan Wolf standing in her living room? Brooke cleared the uncertainty from her throat. “I don’t want our problems inside my home,” she said.

When she turned to confront him, he was taking a good long pull from the open bottle of cabernet. Her anger rose to a fever pitch as she realized he’d just swallowed about twenty bucks worth of wine in one shot, no doubt to make a point. She moved toward him and was about to tell him to leave when he set the bottle down on the coffee table, turned, and immediately drew her into his arms.

Suddenly she was fully involved in a scorching kiss that completely rendered her senseless. It was not tender or sweet, but rough and demanding. All of her irritation melted away along with her reasons for not wanting him here. She’d been geared up to welcome Sid’s touch. Surely that’s why her body was thrumming with a need so strong, she clung to Ethan as if he were the only thing keeping her upright.

“You drive me insane,” he hissed against her mouth, closing his eyes against the inner struggle she understood all too well.

Brooke dropped her head in a desperate attempt to find sanity. This wasn’t possible. How could he turn her insides into molten lava like that when the mere sight of him pissed her off so badly? When she backed away, he let go of her waist and did the same. A moment of silence followed. “You said you wanted to talk,” she said finally.

Ethan turned his back and jammed a hand through his hair. “Give me a second.”

“Why should I?”

“Look.” When he faced her again, aggravation laced his words. “I don’t want to be here either. In fact I’m still trying to figure out why I’m not in Fort Myers.”

“Because you’d rather harass me, apparently.”

“Because no matter how hard I try with you, I can’t get my bearings—which scares the hell out of me. We’ve been taking one step forward and two steps back since the start of this competition, and for what? Because we hate each other?”

“Yes!” she threw out in a desperate attempt to believe it.

His brow smoothed out with a look of wonder. “Really? Why, Brooke? What makes you want to skin me alive and me want to shake the living shit out of you?”

Sexuality Integrity is out now as an ebook and in print. Buy it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or your local bookstore, or download the ebook for Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks or Kobo.

Sexy Sunday Snippet: For the Love of a Soldier edited by Kristina Wright

25 Jun

Today’s Sexy Sunday Snippet is about a popular subject: sexy military romance! For the Love of a Soldier: Military Erotic Romance edited by Kristina Wright and published by Circlet Press, is out June 29 for Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Kobo.

About the book:

Sixteen stories of passion with soldiers, sailors, pilots, and men (and women) of war. When you love someone in the military, erotic opportunities can few or far between. These authors, veterans of the erotica and romance writing world, turn their pens to the subject with insightful and sizzling portrayals of those in (and out of…) uniform.

Edited by award-winning author Kristina Wright, who is married to a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy, For the Love of a Soldier is filled with sexy, romantic stories by some of the top authors in the erotic romance genre. Cat Johnson, Victoria Janssen, Lucy Felthouse, Sidney Bristol, and 12 other talented writers reflect on the lives, loves, and sacrifices of men and women in uniform and answer the provocative question: What would you do for the love of a soldier?

Excerpt from For the Love of a Soldier from short story “Penelope Pending” by Axa Lee:

It happened fast, too fast. It was less a whirlwind romance than an obvious. Of course, you moved in with me. Of course, we wanted a baby. Of course.

Neither one of us really noticed that we’d only known one another a couple of months. It felt like we’d been together far longer. Of course. You’re the type who’s willing to gamble and risk again and again. Just so happens that this time, you won.

And now you’re leaving, and the thought of it, of days and weeks piling up on one another without you in them, makes my throat tighten. It’s amazing how quickly you and the baby have become my whole world.

You come up behind me while I’m folding laundry and the baby is napping and grab a handful of my ass, squeezing just hard enough so it hurts, the way you know I like. Then you do that thing, pulling my hips back into yours, biting my neck, in that way that makes me absolutely cream for you.

“Only another seventeen years and two months,” I joke, “then I’ll be rid of you.” It’s been a joke between us that we’re only together for the sake of the baby, based off something someone said while I was pregnant.

“Oh really?” You lick the edge of my ear, biting the lobe. I suck in my breath. “How about I buy a week at a time, every time I make you come.”

“A day at a time,” I bargain, biting my lip as you press your hand over my mound, using a sudden but steady pressure.

My pussy will still be sore tomorrow when I throw my leg over a horse from how hard you fuck me this afternoon. But I don’t care. I want to freeze this moment, be able to rewind and play it again while you’re away.

You tease my lips and tongue with yours, until I’m bursting for you. Usually we make love, but this time we rip off our own clothes, desperate to press as much skin against skin as possible. It makes my head spin when you kiss me, all wrapped up, knotted up in my head, until there’s only room for your and pure sensation. Your touch is as purple as a thousand clichés, scorching, sizzling, burning, tingling, tender, savage, tortuous, yearning, transcendent.

You split me open with those smooth, gentle fingers, sliding into my wetness with a groan, as I suck you. Your cock in my mouth feels exquisite, full and hard. It’s got me dripping wet already. Sex has always been my drug of choice. You run your hand over the smooth curve of my ass. I love the sharp, sudden crack of your palm, how you grab my flesh, twisting, moaning.

“God, I love that ass,” you say. “But, baby, I really need to be inside you.”

Then I’m impaled on your cock, up to the hilt, dropping my head back, moaning, grinding against you, your hip bones jutting upwards, pressing against me. By the time your thumb finds my clit, I’m done. You fuck my pussy so well I speak in tongues, babbling, begging, so hot and tight for you that I swear you’re going to come in the first few minutes. I think you swear you’re going to come in those first few minutes. Holding off is something you pride yourself in. We’ll have sex a couple three times sometimes before you’ll let yourself come. You’re that into getting me to come. And come, and come… It’s not a line when I say I’ve never come like this, explosively, vibratingly hard.

“How many days does this buy me?”

“One…” I breathe.

You thrust into me, roll your hips. It’s so unfair that you know all the combinations that get me.

“Two…” My breath catches. “Three… oh… fuck!…”

My mouth swallows the vibration of your chuckle.

You turn me onto my side, legs stacked, change the sensation and angle with delicious insightfulness. I’ve barely recovered from the first few and already I feel another orgasm building. You’ve learned this, over time, the amazing variety of ways you can get me to come. And you exploit them ruthlessly.

You pound into me, fast and hard, almost stereotypical, fucking like a soldier looks like he should fuck, with your whole body, all dominance and power, with barely restrained strength rigid through your thick neck and shoulders. You fuck the way guys imitate fucking when they’re around one another, palms up, pulling the girl into them, making them feel all cocky and in control, flaunting the power of their being a trained killer.

But your eyes put a lie to the illusion. Your eyes are raw, exposed. And it’s as though we’re having the most connected sex on the planet right now, as you lean forward, hips still shallowly thrusting, and nip the side of my neck, breathing hard beside my ear.

“Mine,” you say, “you’re mine. And I’m yours.”

I feel safe in your arms, safe enough to be vulnerable, safe enough to admit my want for you in return. I don’t have to be tougher than you are. I don’t have to be ashamed that I like being your woman, like it’s a shameful thing for a woman to enjoy—even get off on a little—on having the protection of her man. Because, in return, you’re willing to do anything for me, anything to keep me safe, to help me be happy. I can set aside my mother’s feminism for that.

“All yours,” I agree.

I can’t see the look on your face, but I feel the breath go out of you and the complete yielding to this thing between us. There’s nothing sexier than a trained killer, who can end a life with his bare hands, being completely vulnerable and in love with you. And you embrace me as I erupt on your cock, coming so hard my legs kick and I clutch you like you’re the last solid thing in the world, as I descend into body rocking orgasms, that only get better when you come inside me, making me quake even harder as you stroke against my cervix and I feel you fill me, pressing the entire length of your long body against me, and we both quake, overwhelmed with the intensity of the raw emotion between us.

Love only cuts as deeply as one is willing to be cut. You and I are both gutted.

Booked author Leandra Vane on BDSM romance, writing male/male sex scenes and #ownvoices

16 Jun

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

As soon as I heard about the new BDSM romance novel Booked by Leandra Vane, I knew I wanted to read it. Actually, as soon as I saw the sexy cover with a man’s wrists handcuffed and the words “Detectives Were His Ultimate Fantasy” at the top, I knew. Isn’t that a wonderful feeling? I don’t know if there’s a specific word for it besides “anticipation,” but I get tingly when I see a book and immediately know: You’re going to be mine.

Isn’t this a HOT cover?

I’m pleased to report that Booked was every bit as sexy and fascinating as my initial inkling indicated it would be. Vane, a prominent sexuality blogger and author, has spun a small town romance that’s kinky, smart and edgy, with a fast pace that kept me turning the pages as fast as I could (it’s for sale in print and ebook, but I’m a sucker for print). There are many layers to this romance novel, which features a kinky bisexual male protagonist, Nate, a writer who volunteers at the local library and also suffers from nerve damage. He has a BDSM mistress, Charlotte, who’s just started dating the also kinky Ian, but then Nate also falls for his town’s hunky new librarian, James. All that, and there’s even a happily ever after!

I wanted to learn more about the process of writing Booked, which seemed extra fitting for Pride month, so I emailed Leandra Vane and here’s what she had to say about writing male/male romance, #ownvoices, the mental side of kink and BDSM, self-publishing and much more. You can follow her on @Leandra_Vane on Twitter to find out what she’s up to next, and she also has an original tale, “A Stolen Story,” forthcoming in my November anthology Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 3.

Booked author Leandra Vane

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: How long have you been writing erotica and how did you get involved with it? How is writing erotic fiction different for you than writing nonfiction about sex and kink?

LEANDRA VANE: I’ve been a reader of erotic fiction since I was a teenager. It has been a constant and important aspect of my sexuality for my entire sexual life. But I didn’t start writing erotica until I was 25 years old. I had been surrounded by a lot of sex negative attitudes growing up and had the basic impression that romance and erotica wasn’t “Real Writing.” But in 2013 I launched my sexuality blog The Unlaced Librarian where I reviewed non-fiction sexuality books that had been really helpful in my life. This bolstered some confidence so I started writing erotic stories and submitting them to anthologies. At first I just wanted to experiment and see how it felt to write in the genre. What I discovered was the kind of writing that suited me so well I could grow and thrive as a writer. June marks my four year anniversary as a sex writer and I’ve genuinely never been happier.

I think writing erotic fiction is interesting because it lets me explore certain topics from the perspective of different characters as well as exploring how the setting is infused into the sexual aspects of the story. For example, a lot of my stories take place in small Midwestern towns and that flavor certainly impacts how my characters work through their relationships and kinks. Writing non-fiction is more focused. I tend to take one viewpoint and keep it as concise as I can. It’s more structured in order to be effective as sex education and help people work through aspects of their sexualities without becoming overwhelmed.

Both types of writing are rewarding. But I love the ability to see different perspectives around a topic and explore the harsh and painful aspects in a creative way. There are some aspects of sex, disability, and embodiment that are difficult for me to write in non-fiction. But I dive right in with these themes in fiction because I’m more emotionally connected and my characters can serve as an outlet for all the different ways I feel about things, even when these feelings conflict.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: You’ve written that while the idea for Nate and James came to you easily, you almost didn’t write Booked because you weren’t sure you could do justice to a male/male plotline. What made you push past that initial resistance?

LEANDRA VANE: Ultimately I just loved my characters so much I couldn’t not write them. At first I felt like I was somehow “stealing” an experience that was not mine – being a gay man. But when I looked at certain characteristics and qualities of my characters, I saw that I was bringing a lot of my own experiences into the story and the characters. I asked friends and readers of an array of sexual orientations and body identities if they would like to read a story about a librarian and a tattooed novelist exploring kinky role play together and the answer was a resounding yes. I’m now open to writing a lot of different pairings I haven’t been in the past. I’m a romantic erotica writer and readers need and want interesting characters in a variety of pairings. So I’m going to write the ones that interest me. I’m easily seduced by my characters so this breakthrough has been really freeing.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Since this was your first time writing a male/male romance, I’m curious about how the experience was similar and different from the pairings you’ve written in the past. Were there aspects of it that you struggled with more than when writing female characters?

LEANDRA VANE: At first I was a little caught up on trying to do things the “right” way and doing justice to my masculine characters. I asked both gay and straight guys in my life how they felt during and about sex. I learned a lot, but I was mostly struck with how their experiences with sex and romance were not so different from mine. I certainly kept some things in mind but ultimately I focused on making unique and complete characters. Once I got rolling, I was led by their unique pasts, motivations, and desires. Confronting this challenge has made me more aware and able to write well-rounded characters no matter what body or sexual orientation they possess, which is invaluable for me as a writer and an experience I’m so grateful to have had.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: There’s a gradual education about BDSM that unfolds for James, who’s had kinky fantasies but has never acted upon them until he gets together with Nate. Nate and Charlotte recommend books for James to read and they have plenty of detailed discussions before they actually try anything kinky together. Why was this important to both the story and to you as an author to have this slow buildup?

LEANDRA VANE: I personally think it’s important to bring a more varied level of sexual experience to erotic stories. One of the reasons I didn’t try to write erotica myself for so long was because I felt I was sexually inexperienced or not kinky enough. But there are way more people I know who are curious about or just beginning to explore aspects of sexuality than people who have had loads of hardcore, creative, kinky sex. I started wondering, why can’t I have characters who haven’t been sexual with a lot of partners? Why can’t I have a main character in a BDSM story who had fantasized about BDSM but had not tried anything yet? These were more interesting stories to me and ones I connected to.

Also, I feel like talking about sex and desires is intimate and vulnerable. I’ve read a lot of erotic stories where the action happens so fast and the characters go into the sexual situation nervous and sort of looking at each other from the corner of their eye and then things just happen. It’s exciting and all, but I don’t think the tension or excitement is lost when characters talk about things first. In a way, some of the dialogue scenes in Booked felt very erotic to me.

Communication and understanding yourself as well as your partner is a high value for me as a sex educator so I try to infuse this into my fiction when I can.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Something that stood out to me is how much attention is paid in the book to making sure there’s both consent and participation from both tops and bottoms in the BDSM scenes. At a play party, Charlotte asks Nate, “What is it you want out of this scene before you’re at the mercy of my hand and mood?” This struck me as different than a lot of the dominants I’ve read about. What does this level of care toward the submissives from dominants in the book signify about their relationships?

LEANDRA VANE: I personally find it erotic and enticing when the top is fully engaged with the bottom and the scene. It’s a personal preference but I often get turned off if there’s not at least a hint in an erotic story that all partners are consenting. When I play in kink scenes with my current top, I still always ask things like if I can touch him or if it’s okay that we do certain things in a scene and he does the same for me. We’ve been playing together for over a year.

I feel this reiterates the underlying friendship that the characters have for each other outside the dungeon. Sometimes I feel sexual or kink relationships somehow fall outside of parameters of being supportive friends toward each other and I wanted my characters to have a foundation beneath their power dynamics.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Another aspect of BDSM that I really liked was that you explore the psychological aspect of kink as much as (if not more) than the physical side of it, which is often the main image vanilla people have of BDSM. During their first time playing together, Nate tells James that he likes being blindfolded even though it’s “its own special kind of torture” because “It forces me to really give up control.” For Nate, what makes that giving up of control so arousing?

LEANDRA VANE: The psychological aspect of BDSM was really important for me in the book. I wanted it to be just as prominent as the physical aspects in the story.

For Nate specifically, giving up control is a complete matter of trust. Since he can’t feel half of his body, being blindfolded means he will not know if he accidentally gets hurt or even where the top is touching him. As a disabled person with nerve damage, I can say giving your partner complete control over your body like this takes an astounding amount of trust. Call me a vulnerability slut, but when you trust your partner that much, I find it really hot. Considering Nate had a very bad relationship based on lies and mistrust in his past, this is a personal development aspect of his character that shows he is moving on, investing in healthy aspects of his new relationship, and growing as a person.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Nate also compares the physical pain he suffers because of his nerve damage to the kind he craves in kink as a submissive, the main difference being he has control over the latter and can stop it at any point. Can you elaborate on that connection between unwanted and wanted pain?

LEANDRA VANE: Unwanted pain is terrible and for many people is a non-negotiable part of life. Not having a choice is perhaps one of the most difficult things to cope with in life. BDSM is all about choice, negotiation, and consent. When elements of pain feel good, it can be empowering to play with it and help you cope with the times in your life that you have no choice but to endure the pain.

I also know that certain aspects of pain can be very pleasurable but physical pain from sickness, chronic conditions, or illnesses can frighten people away from harnessing pain for pleasure. Having a character that goes through both experiences was important to me to include in the ongoing conversation about BDSM, which I feel I can contribute to through fiction.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: While the heart of Booked is the romance between Nate and James, Nate is also bisexual and a submissive to Charlotte, something that James takes very much in stride and is even interested in learning more about. Was it tricky to navigate the various relationships among the three of them as well as Charlotte’s other partners?

LEANDRA VANE: This aspect was not tricky in the sense that this is how I see things and how I experience sexual attraction. I get into a bad habit of thinking everyone is a bisexual polyamorous person and my friends have to remind me that isn’t how it works. (I can still dream!) Early feedback I received warned me that perhaps the aspect with Charlotte would not be believable or that James wouldn’t be okay with Nate having a Domme. I took a chance and developed this aspect of my characters anyway. I hope that in exploring the motivations and attitudes of my characters that the relationships feel natural and genuine. I’m toying with writing a sequel in which Nate, James, Charlotte, and her partner Ian have formed a loose BDSM-based Polycule. We shall see.

But, just like writing sexually inexperienced characters, I decided there was nothing wrong with writing sexually fluid characters too. It reflects my own experience of my sexuality and of some of my friends so I feel the representation in fiction is important.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Since the library where James and Charlotte work, and Nate volunteers, plays such a central role in Booked, I’m curious about the connection between books (and reading and writing) and romance in the novel. Clearly, all three are huge book lovers, and books play a central role in both entertaining and educating them, so I’m curious what you see as the role of books in Booked.

LEANDRA VANE: In the story both Charlotte and James first stumble upon their kinks in books: Charlotte in history books and James in a book about detectives and crime. Nate is also a novelist who uses his writing to explore some themes in BDSM. All three are indeed book lovers and though each character possesses their kinks for different reasons, it is the element of books that binds all three of them together.

My idea initially was to have the library serve as a metaphorical symbol for a church. It’s an historical building that becomes a sanctuary for my characters. Through the stories and information in books my characters transcend the mundane aspects of their sexuality to engage with their bodies and their fantasies in a deeper, more textural (and enjoyable) way.

It’s also a blatant relay of some of my experiences working at a library in the past. Whether it was the cute white haired lady who checked out mountains of “bodice-rippers” or stories of romance, sex, and violence that I read in the microfilm reels of my local newspaper, the library was and is a well of human experience. Sexuality is part of that experience I wanted to bring forth.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Booked is an #ownvoices novel, meaning that you, like your protagonist, Nate, share certain elements in common, such as having nerve damage. Can you share how your experiences with nerve damage relate to Nate’s, and why the ownvoices element is important to you, and to readers?

LEANDRA VANE: I used to think I shouldn’t write about disability in my fiction because people would call me a self-absorbed “Mary Sue.” But I learned that most of us carry around shame and never grow because we guard our secrets and experiences from each other. I believe by sharing our stories we can all learn and grow together. So I started mining the experiences living with a disability has given me and putting them into some of my stories. All my life I’ve turned to books to have the conversations with me that people in the real world were unwilling or unable to have. So I encourage all writers to share their experiences. You don’t have to be disabled to learn things from disabled characters. And if you do share the experience of disability, there might be pieces of your own puzzle you find in the story. So now I don’t shy away from writing about disability in my fiction.

As for Nate and I, one of the most amazing things I’ve found in experimenting and playing with BDSM scenes is how I experience sensation play and pain when I literally cannot feel over half my body. Exploring this through another character was not only fun but nurturing to me in validating my experience of sex.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: Along the same lines, James has to overcome some of his preconceived ideas about BDSM as he learns what it’s like in real life for Nate and Charlotte. Did you have any stereotypes or misconceptions about BDSM that you had to unpack when you started getting involved with it?

LEANDRA VANE: I had always viewed my kinks as a “dirty little secret.” This bit of my soul I kept wrapped up in a shoe box in a dark corner that I only took out every once in a while. I thought if I let it out my whole identity would be dictated by the fact that I was a fetishist who had kinky thoughts.

Becoming involved with the BDSM community and the fantastically supportive world of erotica writers has changed all of that. Imagine, well-rounded, kind, creative people who are also kinky as fuck. Amazing!

I believed in a stereotype that if you’re kinky, it infiltrates every part of your life until you’re just a sex-crazed drone intent on only one thing no matter who you hurt to get it. (Did I mention earlier I was surrounded by a lot of sex negativity growing up? Yeaaahhh.) But now I know the complexity and deeply human aspects of kink and BDSM and I’ve brought it into my life in a healthy way, embracing my kinks and unleashing my creativity as an erotica writer.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: You self-published Booked, as well as several other books, such as your memoir Trophy Wife and fiction A Bloom in Cursive and Cast From the Earth. Why did you choose self-publishing, and do you have any advice for new authors looking into self-publishing?

LEANDRA VANE: I honestly chose self-publishing because of the combination of things I write about. BDSM/Multiple pairing and disability? Yeah, that’s probably a Venn Diagram not many publishers want to see in a pitch. But just because there aren’t oodles of people wanting to read what I write, they are out there. I’m more interested in getting my work to the readers that need to read it or appreciate it the most rather than going the traditional route right now. And I’ve found the small or independent publishers that publish really unique erotica anthologies are a great fit for my work and are the stories I want to consume as a reader. I’ve found a wonderful home for my work this way and I love it.

Of course this did not happen overnight. Before I became a sex writer, I published books under two different pen names, submitted work to lots and lots of lit journals, and launched and folded two blogs. My books and stories were half-baked and my platform was unorganized. I made mistakes. But I learned from them.

As far as advice, I would say work on becoming a better writer first and foremost. Don’t focus on things like awards or accolades. Read, read, read then write, write, write. Find a book that makes you think “how can I make readers feel the same way as I did when I read that last word?” Practice.

Also, even if you self-publish some work, do submit stories to outside publishers. It helps you network, keeps you writing, and builds your CV. It also gives you practice for coping with the business of writing when your work is declined (and it will be declined). But write new things. Try again. Listen to feedback.

Finally, I say this as a joke, but really, you might also want to convert to Buddhism. Your ego is your worst enemy once you start putting work out there. Managing it well will help along the way.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL: This week we’re celebrating luck here at Lady Smut in honor of the release of Lucky by Elizabeth SaFleur. Does luck play a role in Booked for any of the characters?

LEANDRA VANE: Every time I pick up an erotica book or write a sex scene, I truly feel lucky to be living in a time and place where we can read and write about sex and relationships. A little over 100 years ago things like the Comstock laws prohibited the sending and receiving of “obscene” materials including books and sex education writing. So I feel lucky to be living in a time and place where technology allows me to not just write but also self-publish my work.

My characters comment in places how lucky they feel to have met each other. Also, there is an historical undertone of the small town they live in with buildings from the 1800’s and the tragic stories of people that lived before them. My characters definitely feel lucky that they were able to work through their kinks in time to still have plenty of life left to enjoy them.

Booked by Leandra Vane is available now in print and as an ebook.

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This post is part of our Lucky week at Lady Smut, celebrating the release of the latest Elite Doms of Washington erotic romance novel, Lucky, by Elizabeth SaFleur! If you like hot , hunky dominant heroes, you don’t want to miss this book.

Lucky by Elizabeth SaFleur

Billionaire, entertainment investor and resolute bachelor Derek Damon Wright and dance studio owner Samantha Rose are unprepared for their mutual attraction to one another. She desperately wants to have a baby, and family doesn’t match Derek’s sophisticated life of private jets, vacations in the Caribbean and his BDSM activities. Yet a magnetic passion draws them closer—at least until their past mistakes arise and threaten all hope of a real future.

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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. You can follow Rachel on BookBub to get notified about new releases and ebook sales.

Sign up for a free copy of On Fire: Erotic Romance Stories

5 Jun

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Who’s excited for summer? Hopefully, all of us! I am looking forward to vacations by the beach, attending my first bachelorette party and, of course, beach reads, including my July Cleis Press anthology On Fire: Erotic Romance Stories.

If the title and/or steamy cover (isn’t it HOT?) sound intriguing, I’ve got a great deal for you: Through June 18, 2017, one month before the ebook release (the print version pubs on August 8), I’m offering a free e-copy to interested readers in exchange for an honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. To sign up, fill out this form with your name and email address by June 18th. Your contact information will only be seen by me, and only used to send you the review copy. I’ll send you a copy, then you can post your review any time on Goodreads, and starting July 18th on Amazon. I just ask that you include the phrase “I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review” with your review when you post it. It’s that easy!

Here’s the book’s blurb:

In On Fire, today’s top erotic romance authors don’t skimp on love or lust—they are entwined in tales that will make pulses pound and hearts race. Bestselling editor Rachel Kramer Bussel takes us inside the passions of couples who go above and beyond in their pursuit of sexual and romantic satisfaction, exploring the racy to the outrageous during their many arousing adventures. You’ll treasure the sex toy exploration in “Every Second of It,” find paranormal pleasure in “Masquerade,” and be transported to “A Place As Beautiful As This.” You’ll go “Beyond the Blindfold,” find out what lurks in the “Art of Darkness,” and delight in discovering “The Sweetest Thing.” These steamy stories by Kristina Wright, Delilah Devlin, Giselle Renarde, Kay Jaybee, Victoria Blisse, Jade A. Waters and others are perfect intimate reads to enjoy with your lover or for your own pleasure.

Want to know more On Fire? Visit the official Tumblr to read my introduction and the table of contents. And if you want to get a free copy for review, use this form by June 18, 2017 and check your inbox!

And stay tuned for our Lady Smut week celebrating all things On Fire and Fiery starting July 17th!

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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. You can follow Rachel on BookBub to get notified about new releases and ebook sales.

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

bwev2-la-reading-promo-1

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

baltimore-reading

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

bluestockings-edit-2017

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

word-reading-image-2017

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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