Email: rachelkramerbussel at gmail.com



 

Lusty Lady

BLOG OF RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL
Watch me talk about my debut as an author, Sex & Cupcakes: A Juicy Collection of Essays, in this Q&A with my publisher Thought Catalog Books

Friday, January 23, 2015

How to write a sex column

I'm gearing up to teach my nonfiction sex writing class (along with my erotica workshop) at CatalystCon March 27th in Arlington, Virginia, and also planning an online extended version of that class, along with writing sex columns for Philadelphia City Paper and DAME, so I've been thinking a lot about sex columns, sharing, getting personal and getting your words out there.

To date I've written sex columns for The Village Voice, Penthouse, The Frisky, and the current two, and I've found that having the ongoing platform of a column is very different from sporadic articles and essays. In those, I also apply these principles, but one of the main differences is, when I know I'm filing every week or every other week, I'm constantly paying attention to what's happening in the world of sex and looking for a way in to these topics, ideally a way that hasn't been done a million times already. I've been reading a lot of Penelope Trunk's blog, which I highly recommend, except for the fact that every time I visit I want to feast on so many of her career advice posts and the things she links to that a "short" visit to her site often leads to hours of reading. The way she styles her blog posts inspired me to write this one.

1. Write what you know

I agonized and procrastinated and almost scrapped this spanking column, because it felt self-indulgent. Yes, I love spanking, so what else is new? But funnily enough, even though it felt like that to me, this column has been one of the best performing ones at City Paper and even got reprinted in Metro. Why? My hunch is that because I wrote exactly what I thought. I wasn't trying to look at all sides of an issue because it's not really an "issue," but a practice or interest or kink or fetish. It's okay, desired even, to be personal, which is why the title is (emphasis added) "A good spanking really turns me on."

2. Write what you're curious about

This week I wrote about nipple play, which is something I enjoy both from a giving and receiving perspective, but wanted to go more in depth about. When I saw Jerome Stuart Nichols' post about it, I knew I'd found someone who could answer my questions. I did the same thing with my bisexuality column at DAME. Yes, I'm a bisexual woman, but I didn't think I'd offer much in this case with my experiences alone, so I sought out women with varying perspectives on their bisexuality/queerness.

3. Get political

I introduced myself to Philadelphia City Paper readers by asking "Are you a slut?" because I think slut shaming has become so rampant and insidious that stamping it out is at the root of true sexual freedom. By that I mean both the way we slut shame other people and the way, sometimes more subtly, we slut-shame ourselves, or allow slut shaming to run rampant. That's political and personal and something that applies to people of all genders and sexual orientations, albeit often in different ways.

4. Ask questions

I have way more questions than answers about sex and dating, and in this case, kept getting what I felt were mixed signals. Is it a date? Is it not a date? Where's the line between friends and something more? I think this goes along with curiosity. When you make your questions public, you admit you don't have all the answers, but you also invite people to help you with your conundrums and share their own questions or just commiserate. You make it a conversation, rather than a proclamation.

5. Respond to what others are saying about sex

FYI, I think if we'd called this column "I Want To Be Your Blowjob Queen" it would have done better. But anyway, when I see something I vehemently disagree with, I don't want to let it go, especially because with sex, so many of us approach the acts and topics without truly seeing our biases. Of course we don't get pleasure from using our mouths might seem obvious, until you start to unpack it.

6. Be timely

I wrote "Spanking Jessica Cutler" when her story was a hot topic. Same for "USC's Topless Professor". Strike while the news is hot, but add your own twist, either by doing original reporting or exploring a new angle.

7. Write about sex that surprises you

When I wrote about going on a date with Betty Dodson's boyfriend Eric and how pee factored into it, I got some shocked emails. I was shocked myself. To me one of the biggest things I've learned about sex from writing about it for so long is that I always have the capacity to surprise myself. Life does, sex does, and being open to those new frontiers and to my feelings about them is what makes personal writing, well, personal. It's not about shocking for the sake of shocking or chasing those surprises, but being open to them and recognizing them.

8. Get naked (literally) (topless photo warning NSFW)

In this case, I mean literally, but I think the more emotionally naked you can get in your writing, the deeper the ideas will penetrate, if you will. People respect bravery in writing (and other kinds of art), and can tell when you are giving something of yourself that's challenging. In August 2005, I wrote: "Putting the real me out there requires setting aside every body image woe and believing, wholeheartedly, that I'm worth photographing, worth having my curvy, imperfect, rounded body captured forever on film." That's still true, and something I've certainly been contemplating this week while on a beach wearing a bathing suit that fit me better 20 pounds ago.

9. Give sex advice

I am not a sexpert, and while there are some topics I do feel comfortable expounding upon in terms of advice giving, most I don't. But I do love picking people's brains about their expertise, and in that way I can offer tips on, in this case, talking dirty, while also sharing my own personal perspective.

10. Be of service to those in need

When I first read about Crista Anne's OrgasmQuest, I had an immediate feeling it was an important story. Why? Because while it's a very personal journey for her, depression and mental health issues as they interact with our sexuality is something extremely common, possibly universal. "Mental health" is something I think almost everyone has a story about, whether of their own or a family member, friend, loved one, etc. It's a perfect example of the personal being so bigger than just one person, which is I think why this story has gone viral and opened up so much discussion. I want to write more columns that explore how sex intersects with other parts of our lives and can be deeply transformative.

Bonus: embrace the word "fuck"

I don't know if you can get away with curses in mainstream print mags, but in alt weeklies and online you can, and when used judiciously and accurately, it can add a little fun to a title and topic.

Want more writing tips and to find out about my upcoming classes? Sign up for my monthly newsletter below or on my website! Want to read more of my nonfiction? Check out my ebook Sex & Cupcakes: A Juicy Collection of Essays.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

A mother daughter review of my debut book Sex & Cupcakes

This writer's dream is to move people with her words, so I can only say a giant thank you to Oleander Plume and her 19-year-old daughter Quinn for sharing the dialogue between them about sex, sex education and sparked by reading my ebook Sex & Cupcakes: A Juicy Collection of Essays. They also each review the book, but their truly honest, open intergenerational discussion was so enlightening. I can only hope that someday I will be in a position to raise a child in such a sex-positive, honest way. It truly made my month and I gave them a shoutout in my essay "Sorry, But I'm Not A Sexpert" at Thought Catalog. Here's a snippet of what Quinn wrote, which is a stark picture of what modern sex education is like:
In high school, the biggest emphasis was abstinence. They told us about these magical things called birth control pills and condoms, then said neither were 100% effective. To further ensure that we wouldn’t have sex, they whammied us with the a short film showing the “miracle of giving birth”, then showed us delightful pictures of genitalia oozing with herpes and other types of STDs. I didn’t know about all the different types of birth control until I attended a seminar in college, and oddly enough, my friend just told me that she just found out about IUD’s. I think teens are hesitant to ask about other preventative measures, or sex in general, because of the bad stigma associated with it.
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Please read their post, and if you haven't, please check out my ebook Sex & Cupcakes (no, you do NOT need a Kindle to read it! You can read on your phone, laptop, etc.): Sex&Cupcakes

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Pinch my nipples, please

That's the title for this week's Philadelphia City Paper sex column, where I got some help from Jerome Stuart Nichols of ltasex.com. If you like nipples, my column or just want to be supportive, I'd love it if you'd like, Tweet, share on G+ or anywhere else. In case you're wondering: yes, it matters, immensely. If no one was reading, my column would have ended by now. Since last week's OrgasmQuest column went viral, spawning articles on sites like Jezebel and Refinery29 and The Daily Dot, a segment on Dr. Drew's HLN show last night, I'm finding out just how important reader support is, and I'll be writing more on that soon.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

What it's like to be a bisexual woman in my new DAME column Shameless Sex

I started a second sex column which debuted at one of my favorite sites, DAME, on Wednesday. It's called Shameless Sex and the first column is called "Why don't people take bisexuality seriously?" Salon just reprinted with the title, "Yes, bisexuality is real."

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Please note: DAME is a women's site so I focused on women's experiences, and yes, there is a lot more to bisexuality than I could fit in one column. The good news? I'll be there every other Wednesday and have some great topics coming up, so if you have a suggestion for me for the column, which will be focused on women and sex pretty broadly, email me at rachelkb at gmail.com with "DAME" in the subject line. Also, I quoted some awesome women, so thank you Dorianne Emmerton, Amy Andre and Allison Moon.

I open the column with some lines from Desiree Akhavan's excellent new indie film Appropriate Behavior with a bisexual protagonist (Akhavan wrote, directed and stars in it!), which I encourage you to watch now on iTunes. It had some hilarious lines and just an interesting story line. It was zany but had a heart and dealt with a bisexual woman's drama without being sensationalistic. Here's a great clip of Akhavan interviewed by Janet Mock on her new show So POPular. Here's the trailer:

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Writing is like doing a jigsaw puzzle

Recently, my boyfriend and I completed this jigsaw puzzle (of the Vincent van Gogh painting Café Terrace at Night), in about a week:

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Every time I wandered over to the puzzle, deciding which part I wanted to tackle, peering closely at each piece, so close I could see the brush strokes, I made this connection: doing a jigsaw puzzle is like writing. When you dig deep into it, get lost in it, you are moving piece by piece, word by word. You are breaking the process down into its most individual parts. Sometimes you are getting so deep into the trees you forget there's a forest, and that's a good thing. Not to forget that forests exists entirely, but to be able to focus so closely on the detail that only the detail matters. Only the next word, and how it fits with the one before and the one that will come after.

For me, with any task, when I start to think about the entire thing, I so often hit a wall. I'll never get that done, I think. With writing, "the entire thing" usually isn't just that one piece of writing, it's all the assignments I've taken, plus all the pieces I want to write and pitch on spec and all the vaguely floating longer projects and...you get the idea. That is sometimes what goes through my mind when I start to write, say, a 650 word column.

Lately, writing has been scary. It's often felt impossible, even though I still know, somewhere deep inside, that I have good ideas, that if I can just fashion them in the right way, get them lined up just so, polished and pretty and rolling off the tongue, I will have produced something I'm proud of, that will resonate with others. Yes, I do care, greatly, what other people think of my writing. How can I not? Unless I'm blogging right here or posting somewhere that's unpaid, I am literally relying on other people to approve my words. It's a tricky balance, to believe in your worth and your words, to be able to step back and say, yes, okay, I'm done, to send it in and move on.

And that is where writing is very much not like a puzzle. Even though the process is indeed similar, with a jigsaw puzzle, there's only one possible right answer. Trust me, with a 1,500 piece puzzle, I tried many times to cram a piece into the wrong slot, or turned it over to check if maybe, even though clearly it wasn't a match, maybe somehow when I looked from the other side it would be. It got easier the farther we got, both because there were fewer pieces to choose from and we had more information about what shapes and colors went were. We also developed a shorthand, each of us speaking our own puzzle language.

With writing, as with chess, there are so many choices that I think don't think human brain, at least, my human brain, can always process them in a way that helps narrow them down. Often I just have to do the equivalent of putting blinders on and pretending to myself that actually there aren't other choices, there is only the one, the path I've chosen, because to agonize over every detail can leave me simply staring at my screen. Or typing and then deleting. Or going way over my word count. Or giving up altogether and surfing the internet.

Truthfully, sometimes I wish the processes were the same, that a 1,500 word article had the same pre-ordained outcome as a 1,500 piece puzzle. But then I stop and think about it and realize I would hate that, if everyone who set out to write about a given topic churned out the exact same words. The times I wish that are, to put it bluntly, the times when writing is just hard. When it feels like the last thing I should be doing for a living. When all my Impostor Syndrome symptoms come out in full force. It's then that I have to take a step back and remind myself that sometimes you just have to do the best you can. Not every piece is going to be my personal favorite, or receive universal acclaim, and that's okay. Sometimes you do it anyway. Sometimes, like with our puzzle, a piece is missing, or feels like it's missing, but it's deadline time, or you're as done as you're going to be, or you set your spec essay aside for another day.

This week I got two rejections from publications I'd love to break into, and both were actually lovely. Both suggested I try them again, with a twist on those same pieces, even. That is different from a jigsaw puzzle too. Because when there is that outcome you know you can reach if you just keep trying hard enough, and that everyone doing that same puzzle will reach it too if they are just diligent enough, you do get a sense of satisfaction, but it's not the same sense of satisfaction when you make up something from scratch in your brain.

If you're struggling with your writing, I recommend Jordan Rosenfeld's post "Being Enough." She writes:
Success is narcotic in its effect on us. Over time, you need more and more to achieve the same level of internal fulfillment each acceptance, paycheck or accolade brings. I am especially prone to this, as a self-employed writer. Each win is especially big for me, because I did it with my own labor (though always with lots of mentorship and camaraderie along the way). So I court the next one and the next one.
I'm about to go on vacation, but I'm planning to get a jigsaw puzzle to do when I get back. Because, like writing, I'm hooked on it. Even when it's a challenge, I want that challenge (though sometimes I do everything in my power to avoid that challenge). So no, writing is not always like a jigsaw puzzle, but I think the two processes can work well together.

To further join the two together, here's a little snippet of a story I wrote inspired by the previous jigsaw puzzle we did, but a sexy fictionalized version, in Kristina Wright's anthology xoxo: Sweet and Sexy Romance (which as of this posting is only $2.00 on Amazon for the paperback!). I hope this shows you really can write erotica about anything! Here's an opening snippet of my story:
I'm leaning across the dining room table, my elbows precariously placed in one of the few spots where the wood isn't covered by jigsaw puzzle pieces, straining to secure a key piece of the Tropicana in its designated spot. We've been working on the two-thousand piece Las Vegas Strip puzzle, one I thought we'd finish in a weekend, for a month, so every match is a mini victory. I've just lined up the edges exactly and am ready to look for my next victim when I feel a slap on my ass that makes me gasp. I don't dare turn around to look at my boyfriend, Roger, but instead pause right where I am, drop my head, close my eyes and wait.
xoxocover

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Can orgasm cure depression? Mental health, masturbation and an Orgasm Quest in this week's Philadelphia City Paper sex column

Mental health is a topic that's very important to me, so I knew I wanted to write about the ways it intersects with sexuality and in this week's Philadelphia City Paper sex column, "Cheering for a mom who's on an orgasm quest", I did. It's also about the vital importance of masturbation to sanity and what masturbation can offer that partner sex can't and what the link is between sex and mental health.

cristaanne

If you like the column, please pass it on, and if you have suggestions for future columns, please let me know at rachelkb at gmail.com with "City Paper" in the subject line.

So far I've covered slut shaming, campus sex ed, the best time to get it on, an erotic salon, couples' sex toys, pegging, blowjobs, sex gratitude, talking dirty, porn censorship, Catholic virginity, lube, spanking, swinging and now, mental health. The beauty/struggle of a weekly column is there's a new topic every week so I have to stay on my toes and plan ahead. I also have been forced to reign in my instinct to talk to everyone who's ever so much as thought about a given subject because my word count is short short short, so I have to focus more on personal stories, and that's been a gift to my working process as well.

This week I got a happy surprise that free paper Metro picked up my spanking column. It was ironic because that is the one out of all of them I struggled the most over. Like, couldn't sleep, would wake up in a panic, put it off and off, almost scrapped it to write about a different topic. Isn't that always the way? I'm trying to keep that in mind these days when writing is a challenge, which is far more often than I'd like.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Top 10 Things I Liked About Teaching Erotica Writing at LitReactor

One month from today, on February 12th, my next four-week online LitReactor erotica writing class starts. Since the first one ended in November, I've been thinking about all the reasons why I was so impressed with online teaching and why I'm moving toward making that my primary teaching tool. Yes, I will still be teaching in person writing workshops but plan to develop and continue online because I have the ability to reach more people and can do so from the comfort of my home. If you have any questions about the class, please email me at rachelkramerbussel at gmail.com with "LitReactor" in the subject line.

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You can read what my students have said, but here are my reasons for enjoying teaching at LitReactor:

1. It's online Yes, that may seem obvious, but it made such a huge difference to me. On a business level, I know in advance how many people will be part of the class, and don't have to compete with other events happening that same night or worry about the weather making it hard to get there. Anyone with internet access can be part of the class. This also means students from anywhere in the world can be part of it. They also don't have to leave their houses and can work in the environment they're most comfortable and, with LitReactor, can participate whenever is convenient so time zones aren't an issue.

2. Anonymity This goes along with the fact that it's online, but I've found that in in person workshops, sometimes there is remarkable camaraderie, but sometimes people are shy about sharing their work. I never force people to share, but I found a greater percentage of people willing to post their work for critique and give critiques under the cloak of anonymity. (LitReactor lets users sign up with any username they like; most people used a pseudonym for my first class.)

3. It's four weeks This one also may seem obvious, but I didn't realize how much I would appreciate it. Here's the thing: no matter how prepared I am, I almost always forget something in person, because I'm human. I might remember to mention a certain story or call for submissions, but forget another. Online, if I forget something, I can add to a lecture or start a new discussion about a smaller but relevant topic. I found myself doing that several times during the last class and was so grateful I had the opportunity to do so. The freedom of being able to log in 24/7 helped foster an environment that, for me, helped me both remember and think of new things to share.

4. Reaches the literary and erotica worlds Because this class is via LitReactor, it draws on their broad readership based in various literary communities as well as my contacts in the erotica community. I found that this breadth of cross-sections made for a rich level of feedback across various subgenres.

5. Ample time to think, read and research In my typical two hour workshop and even in my longer three hour ones with CatalystCon, the focus is on writing exercise and delivering a large amount of information in a small amount of time. With my LitReactor class, I'm delivering a written lecture, and giving assignments, which students have time to ponder, ask questions about and devote more than a few minutes to the assignment. If they start a draft and it's not working out, they can scrap it and try another premise. They can think and process at their own pace. Let's face it; some people write very quickly, and for others it's a slower process. Some of us alternate between those two modes. Having several days to complete an assignment means you can let it gestate in your head and see where it takes you. You also have, again, #1, the internet at your disposal so you can look at photos, do research if you need to, access information and visual prompts you don't have time for if you only have a few minutes to write.

6. Supportive environment This is, of course, not exclusive to online teaching, but one of my favorite things about the class was the way it was set up. Students can access and respond to their fellow students, start discussions, ask questions privately of me or "publicly" to the other students, all within that controlled environment.

7. I can focus on individual questions If I only have fifteen minutes to answer questions, I can't really take 1/3 of that time to devote to one person's very specific query. But online I can. If someone wants to know about a specific market or an aspect of publishing or pseudonyms or novellas or whatever it is, I can answer their specific query. This is also helpful for other students; even if student B has no intention of publishing an erotic science fiction novel, details about that process might be useful when thinking about Student A's situation. For me, I want to make sure students get the answers they are looking for, and I appreciate the opportunity to say, "Here's a link," or "I'm not sure about the answer but I know who to ask and will get back to you."

8. Highlight authors, editors and publishers I always give out a syllabus and information on current markets for erotica, but with my online class, I go further, and I learned a lot from the extra interviews I included. I am in the process of updating that information for this next class and in the process discovering markets and publishers I hadn't previously heard of. These in-depth looks are useful because I am just one person and while I've worked with many publishers, I haven't done everything, and this gives me the chance to highlight different paths students can take when considering how to break into the erotica market.

9. Discussion and room to experiment The assignments I give in my LitReactor class are fundamentally different from the ones I assign in live workshops largely because of the time allotted. I can't say "Write 2,000 words in 10 minutes" and expect people to be able to work with that. Though I always hope in live workshops students will want to continue their work after they get home, with LitReactor, I can give them twists on types of stories and see the progression of their work. Students can try various ways of approaching their work; maybe they are used to writing in first person, or third person, or writing about a certain environment, but over the course of a month, they may be inspired to try new kinds of viewpoints, plots and approaches.

10. Giving and getting feedback and forming community This is something I found extremely valuable, because it shows students in a practical way the various directions a mind can go with a given assignment, and how that plays out on a practical level. I critique all assignments each week and students have the option of critiquing their fellow students' work. Over the course of four weeks, I found that through the process of reading, writing and asking questions of me and each other, students formed a mini community. They helped each other and offered links and information I wouldn't have come across. Since the class is limited to 16 people, it means students get a range of opinions, but it's small enough that people can get to know each other and their various writing styles.

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Did you sign up for your free copy of Best Bondage Erotica 2015 yet?

If not, what are you waiting for? It's easy. Basically, you agree to have Thunderclap post on your Facebook, Twitter and/or Tumblr account about my hot new book Best Bondage Erotica 2015, out very very soon, which has kinky camping stories, home repair and bondage, a certain craft turned into bondage equipment and much more, and I send you a free book after the campaign closes (limited to the first 100). You must, of course, actually participate in the Thunderclap campaign in order to get the free book. Interested? Sign up for the Best Bondage Erotica 2015 Thunderclap here.

There are 77 more freebie spots left in my promotion for the Thunderclap campaign (I am running the free book part myself). If you're one of the first 100 people to join, just send me an email at bestbondage2015 at gmail.com with "Thunderclap" in the subject line and your name and mailing address AND your Facebook URL, Twitter handle and/or Tumblr URL that you used for the Thunderclap. I'll send you an autographed book as soon as the campaign ends. I'm excited to introduce this sexy series to lots of new readers, and appreciate you spreading the word. I try to up the ante each year with new ways of approaching bondage, and think it's safe to say the 2015 edition definitely pushes the kinky envelope.

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click on the cover to see what's in the book!

I'll be posting more about my 5 years of editing this kinky series along with excerpts from this brand new book that should be in my hands any down now, but here are a few free stories and excerpts from years past:

Free excerpts from all 20 stories in Best Bondage Erotica 2014

"The Weight" from Best Bondage Erotica 2012 at Goodreads

Read a long excerpt of "Foot and Mouth" from Best Bondage Erotica 2013 at Fresh Fiction or listen to me read it at Liar's League

A bit of illustration of my Best Bondage Erotica 2011 story and my thoughts on writing and editing erotica via the wonderful Seth Kushner and his CulturePop project (I encourage you to read them all!).

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

My erotica writing workshops in State College, PA, Arlington, VA, Baltimore and online (aka, anywhere)

I'll have details about a reading I'm doing in Brooklyn at indie bookstore BookCourt February 16th and my March Virginia events in Richmond and Charlottesville soon, but the other events I'm doing are workshops. The most in-depth will be the month-long LitReactor class, which is geared toward writers who want to dig deep into what makes a story erotica, write every week, learn about the erotica writing market and how to get published and make money and give and get critiques (giving critiques is optional but is very helpful in learning about how different people approach the same assignment). The CatalystCon workshops, because they are three hours, are also pretty in-depth and cover a lot of ground. If you are in or near State College, Pennsylvania, please let people know; it's my first time being there. Looking forward to all of these.

February 9, 7-9 p.m.
Erotica Writing 101 workshop, State College, PA

Professional erotica author and editor Rachel Kramer Bussel, editor of over 50 anthologies such as The Big Book of Orgasms, Flying High and Best Bondage Erotica 2014, will take you through the ins and outs of modern erotic writing, from getting started, finding your voice, and incorporating your surroundings, pop culture, and personal experiences into your stories to crafting a range of characters and settings and submitting your work.

In this supportive, welcoming workshop environment, you'll learn how to write vividly about everyday scenarios as well as outlandish fantasies, and make them fit for particular publications in the thriving erotica market. This workshop will address the recent boom in erotica inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey, provide examples of well written erotica, and will include multiple writing exercises. You'll be given a handout listing major markets and further reading suggestions.

No previous writing experience required. Please bring laptop or pen and paper.
Hotel State College, 100 W. College Avenue, State College, PA Tickets via Eventbrite, $20/person

March 24, 6:30 p.m.
Erotica Writing 101 workshop, Baltimore

Same description as above. $25/person.

Sugar, 1001 West 36th Street, Baltimore, Maryland, 410-467-2632
Purchase tickets in person at the store, over the phone with a credit card or online at Brown Paper Tickets.
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March 27, 9:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Erotica Writing 101 workshop ahead of CatalystCon, Arlington, VA

(see link for nonfiction sex writing workshop later that day) Same description as above. $45/person.
Hilton Crystal City, 2399 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA

February 12-March 12
LitReactor online erotica writing class
(participate any time of the day or night)

Last but definitely not least, and where I plan to focus my teaching: the internet! This is for those who are truly serious about wanting to write erotica and devote time each week to stories and submitting them. You of course aren't required to submit them but there's a lot of market information, including new exclusive interviews with editors and publishers about what they are looking for right now. Specifically, the wonderful LitReactor, where I taught a sold-out class last fall and had such an amazing experience I was sad to see it end. Click here to read testimonials from former students. There are only a few spots left and the class is limited to 16 people so if you're thinking of signing up, I advise not waiting until the last minute.

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