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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What erotica writers thought about the #AskELJames Twitter Q&A

I decided to ask erotica writers what they thought about yesterday's #AskELJames Twitter chat. Their varied takes are up at The Frisky. Thanks to writers Rose Caraway, Abigail Ekue, Tamsin Flowers, Shanna Germain, Tasha L. Harrison, A.M. Hartnett, Oleander Plume and Remittance Girl for sharing their thoughts!

thefriskyeljameschat

Yes, I do have a copy of Grey, but don't think I'll be formally reviewing it, though I will be writing about BDSM and submission in real life soon. Stay tuned!

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

The kind of book reviews that truly matter to me as an anthology editor

Firstly, I want to say that anyone who so much as picks up any of my books, whether you read the whole thing or not, let alone review it, get my automatic thanks. Out of the millions, possibly billions, of books out there, for someone to pick up my indie press erotica, whether in print, ebook or audiobook form, means so much to me. This is what I've been doing ever since I couldn't hack law school, and what I love about anthologies is that they are a group effort, organized by me as the editor. Without writers trusting me with their work, I'd just have a bunch of my own short stories, and I'm less interested in that than a work that is the sum of its parts.

That being said, when you put out a book, you have to be open to all sorts of opinions. Some people will hate your book, some people will love it. Some will mention aspects you never even considered, because you can't try to cater to every single potential reader and still turn in your book on time, or come out of the process wanting to do it again. With Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, I knew one of the main things I wanted to do with my 65,000 allotted words was include as many different "sex toys" as I could. I put that in quotes because some of the objects in the book would fall under the traditional definition of sex toys, and others wouldn't. That was quote deliberate.

bextalkssexcomeagainreview
via Bex Talks Sex

So I really loved that sex blogger Bex Talks Sex just reviewed Come Again and wrote, in part:
In fact, I was able to forget that the book was even focused on sex toys because of how flawlessly they were integrated into the narrative in most cases. It didn’t feel like the author was simply checking off activities on a list, the toys just felt like a part of the way the characters had sex, and that saved the whole anthology from feeling formulaic and repetitive.
This means so much to me because the first and foremost things I want my books to do is arouse readers, to tell good stories, to say something new and exciting. I am so proud of the authors for stepping up their game and doing that, at least, to my mind, so it's refreshing when readers key in on that aspect too.

One of the toughest parts of being an anthology editor, after the very toughest, which is having to send rejection letters, which, as I always say, is probably the aspect that will eventually make me quit, is that I don't know how my books are doing sales-wise for at least six months after their publication, due to the way my royalty statements arrive. So it's hard to know if anyone cares about my books, or if they have fallen into the book forest and no one has seen or cared about them. When I get signs before that time that people not only have picked them up, but do care, enough to critique them and share what they did and didn't like, it makes me feel like I've done my job well. So thank you, and to everyone who's reviewed the book. I plan to share more about it soon, specifically the many queer stories in the book, which I hope are being read by a diverse audience (I love surprising readers who may not be expecting it with elements that may be new to them, whether it's a thigh harness, such as in "Gift" by Dena Hankins, or a trans character, such as in Zee Giovanni's "Lost and Pounded"). But reviews like this let me know people are reading, and that people care about the choices I make as an editor.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Why I picked it: "Jailbait Torch Song" by Valerie Alexander in Hungry for More

Welcome back to Why I Picked It Wednesday, a peek into my editorial decisions when selecting stories for my erotica anthologies, and a chance to highlight some favorites I've published over the years. Here I want to talk about "Jailbait Torch Song" by Valerie Alexander in Hungry for More: Romantic Fantasies for Women, whose title already pushes the envelope.

hungrycover

Jailbait. It's a taunting, teasing word. Are we supposed to be repulsed? Intrigued? Repulsed because we are intrigued? Yet it's the combination of the entire title that truly gives the story its meaning. As a reader, I often find it challenging to go toward the taboo, to not stop myself from enjoying it, to not think, In real life, would I be squicked or condemn these people? Powerful writing humanizes those society would deem sick or wrong, and in this case, even grapples with some of the ostracism the characters face for acting on their desires.

Dictionary.com defines torch song as "a popular song concerned with unhappiness or failure in love," with its origins coming from "the phrase to carry a torch for (someone)." That, far more than the taboo nature of a 29-year-old single mother having a torrid romance with an 18-year-old young man, is what this story is about, to my mind. Publishers Weekly called the story "unexpectedly poignant" and that captures part of what I loved about it, why I knew I wanted it in my book even though I also knew it would likely throw at least a few readers off with the way it employed its tenderness, its desire, its romance through an often socially unacceptable lens. What Alexander does is build both the tension and the taboo, weaving them, playing Tanner's teenage lust against Lyla's mix of propriety and hunger. The story starts off telling us exactly what she's strived to do for the last decade: "Lyla tried to be a good single mother." That principle guides her, yes, but she is also a woman, and has natural human desires, and the story forces the reader, and the characters, to question whether what we've been told about age differences is in fact correct. It doesn't give us an answer, but lets us decide, and pulls on our heartstrings in the process. Here's an excerpt of one of their earliest moments:
From "Jailbait Torch Song" by Valerie Alexander

He leaned into the car. “I just wanted to tell you that we have a home game tomorrow night. You should come.”

“Yeah, I can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t have a reason to be there,” she said. “Because it would look weird.”

He walked away. Puzzled, she waited for him to return and say good-bye. Then the passenger door swung open and he climbed in the car.

Oh no. Quickly she elevated her window. “I have to pick up my son,” she said.

Then his hand was in her hair, hauling her across the seat and onto his long body as if she were weightless. He was shaking. His arms went around her, pulling her against his chest so hard she could feel his heart thumping. He kissed her with almost feverish desperation, his cold hands sliding up under her sweater and under her bra. “Don’t stop me,” he muttered into her mouth and then she was grinding all over the promise of his hard cock, humping him with abandon.
I don't want to give away the whole story, because it's a beautiful, tender, sexy, romantic one. It's one of the most memorable stories I've published, in my opinion, and one I could reread any time and find new nuances. I hope you'll check it out, and I hope I get to publish many more like this.

Buy Hungry for More from:

Amazon

Bn.com

Kindle ebook

Nook ebook 

Powells

Books-a-Million

iBooks

IndieBound (find your local independent bookstore)

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Germany

Cleis Press

Audible audiobook (click through to listen to a free sample)

Here's the other stories in the book:

Introduction: Getting Explicit

Submissive Jacqueline Applebee
Happy Endings Giselle Renarde
Craig’s List Greta Christina
Bringing the Heat Tiffany Reisz
Madam Secretary Jaye Markham
Kitchen Slut Olivia Archer
Just Once Jocelyn Dex
Boat Rocking D. L. King
The Sleeper’s Beauty Jade A. Waters
Upstairs at the Ava DelovelyOlive
Organically Grown Brandy Fox
The Room of Guarantees Jessica Lennox
Redrawing the Lines Bren Emile
Tickle Day Jeremy Edwards
Relief Katya Harris
Jailbait Torch Song Valerie Alexander
Red Lipstick Erzabet Bishop
Something Sleazy Elizabeth Coldwell
The Instructor Rose de Fer
My Pillar-Box Red Cock Tilly Hunter
A First Time for Everything Rachel Kramer Bussel

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On writing from the heart and reminding myself why I do this

Lately, whether between the move or my impending 40th birthday or who knows what, I've been feeling stuck creatively. Even though I have a to do list that seems to get bigger every day, I don't always know where to start, or, more importantly, why to start. What am I doing? What does it matter? I love putting my books out in the world, I love the process of crafting a specific set of writing and submitting it, but sometimes, I don't even get started before I'm questioning what the point is.

But this weekend, when The Mid published my essay "Why I'd Trade My Dream Career For A Baby", I was reminded that writing from the heart, writing our truths, matters. I've seen such an amazing, blossoming, fascinating discussion about it in the comments on my personal Facebook page, ranging from fertility options to whether adoption actually costs an exorbitant amount. I've had people share their fertility and pregnancy stories, good and bad. I've heard about adopting and fostering and advanced maternal age and gotten heartwarming advice.

Last night, I saw someone I haven't seen in person in maybe a decade. She was waving at me in a room full of people and I was actually certain she was waving at someone else, mostly because I wouldn't have thought she'd remember me. Lo and behold, she did and had read my piece and shared some encouraging information and I was so touched that someone who, because of my own insecurities, I think I'd have pegged as "too cool" to care about little old me was so genuine and heartfelt. My essay became a talking point, a moment of connection, a way of, via my own sharing of personal details, inviting other people to share theirs.

It reminded me that, while of course not all of my writing is about that kind of intimacy, that's what I want more of from myself, from my work. That's the guiding principle I want to strive for: deep truths, not partial ones. Risky ones, scary ones, truths that might unnerve or upset someone but that demand to be told. Truths that take courage, truths that invite others to tell theirs. I've missed that, been looking for it, been feeling listless and nervous about where I am, in my life, geographically, pretty much in every way. I don't have an exact plan of how to go from that restless, unfocused place to one where I tell deep truths every day and make a sufficient living, but that's where I'm heading, where I want to be heading, and I want to infuse the rest of what I do with that same passion. So thank you to everyone who read the piece, who took a moment to say something encouraging, who made me feel less alone.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

40 free books for my 40th birthday - sign up to review Dirty Dates!

My next all new anthology, Dirty Dates: Erotic Fantasies for Couples, is being published either on my birthday, November 10th, or 6 days later on the 16th. Either way, I'm calling it my 40th birthday book and am so proud of and excited to be ushering in such a big birthday with a sexy new BDSM erotica book that I'm giving away 40 copies to Amazon.com reviewers - so be one of the first 40 who sign up! Questions about this promotion? Email dirtydatesantho at gmail.com.

dirtydatescover

That's it: just visit this form and leave your name, U.S. mailing address and a link to a previous review. Yes, those are all required, and the first 40 to sign up will get a free copy the minute I get my hands on them, probably sometime in October. I will send you a signed copy, and you just have to leave a review by December 31st sharing what you thought of it. U.S. only (sorry, if I ever win the lottery, I will happily send free books abroad!). If you want some more info, read on. Want some other ways to support the book (and my career as an anthology editor)?

Add it to your "want to read" list on Goodreads

Like the book's Facebook page

Follow dirtydatesbook on Tumblr

About the book - table of contents and introduction:

Introduction: Kinky Is as Kinky Does

The Corset Dorothy Freed
The Swap Jade A. Waters
Slow Burn Morgan Sierra
The World in My Pants Valerie Alexander
Lying Down Kathleen Delaney-Adams
The Rabbit Trap Nik Havert
Closing Time Elise Hepner
A Thousand Miles Apart Tilly Hunter
Switch Mina Murray
The Birds and the Bees Giselle Renarde
Potluck Alva Rose
Magic Words Emily Bingham
Polka-Dot Dress Erzabet Bishop
Baby Steps Justine Elyot
On Location D. L. King
Well Lit Sara Taylor Woods
A Soundproof Room with a View Leigh Edward Gray
Recipe for Punishment Jacqueline Brocker
Cry to Me Skylar Kade
Needles Kathleen Tudor
Admitting It Is the First Step Rachel Kramer Bussel

Introduction: Kinky Is as Kinky Does

What does it mean to be a “kinky couple”? Does it mean both partners hit the dungeon every night—or have one in their home? Does it mean wearing a collar? Does it mean a 24/7 BDSM lifestyle? Yes, yes, yes—and no.

The truth is, like so many aspects of sex, “kinky” is in the eye of the beholder. One half of a couple may be kinkier than the other—in fact, those kinds of stories often yield extremely powerful transformations.

If you were to pass some of these couples on the street, you might peg them immediately as a little bit naughty. Others, you’d stroll right by, without any sort of erotic antennae tuning in. Many of them take pains (pun intended) to hide their kink—or exult in the thrill of maybe, possibly—hopefully—getting “found out.”

The thrill here, what makes these dates “dirty” in the best sense, is the tension between tops and bottoms, doms (and plenty of dommes!) and subs, those craving control and those who desire nothing more than giving up control. Actually, there’s a third category of sub, one who teeters on the edge between giving up and exhorting his or her own control. That fine line is teetered upon perfectly in “Switch,” by Mina Murray, when narrator Cass notes: “He smiles, a sly look that does nothing to warm his eyes. That’s when I start to get nervous.” Keeping a sub on edge is all part of the kinky fun, but Murray makes it clear that this dom’s mastery comes from the heart when he tells Cass of her new chains: “‘I had them made especially for you. With padded cuffs, to protect that creamy-soft skin of yours. See how much I love you?’”

These couples act out their kink in many ways—some at play parties, some outdoors, some long distance. Some do it with bondage, spanking, service, a corset, a look, a location—for many, their instrument of choice is words. Emily Bingham takes one extremely charged word in “Magic Words” and lets readers know exactly what the prospect of saying it does to her character: “The shame is a scalding tickle that takes over every cell in my body. Looking down at his lap to hide from his gaze, I feel more embarrassed than in any naked-in-front-of-a-crowd nightmare. It’s the one word I promised myself I would never say, yet he has managed to make even this taboo titillating, something I want to explore with him. I’m annoyed at myself for being so aroused by this lone, little word.”

What is that magic word? You’ll have to keep reading to find out. There’s a sensual beauty to these stories that I believe will speak to those who practice kink in their lives and those who don’t, because in some ways the tenderness, the charge, the power shifting back and forth between partners, transcends kink. It speaks to ideals of worship, wonder, adoration—from both sides. Even the most sadistic men and women whose worlds you’re about to enter clearly value those they are asking to give them their bodies, their minds, their words, their beings. They are living out their most vivid fantasies with the person they most cherish. I hope you enjoy their dreams, fantasies and explorations, and that they inspire your own.

Rachel Kramer Bussel
Red Bank, New Jersey

A little backstory: I'm seeing a lot of doomsday musings about my publisher, Cleis Press, regarding the recent changes in personnel, and those make me sad. I pour my heart and soul into creating the best anthologies I can, always including new authors I've never worked with before, and striving to push my own boundaries and the genre's to offer readers, whether they've read erotica or not, a variety of sexy stories, the types that, hopefully, will stay on their shelves for a long time (or their e-readers). I just unpacked hundreds of books from my move, and seeing my erotica library made me even more proud to contribute. I've been reading erotica since long before I tried my hand at it, and Cleis was home, along with the now defunct Alyson, to my first story, "Monica and Me" (which was published in both Best Lesbian Erotica 2001 and Starf*cker).

So I want to do all I can to ensure I get to keep editing, keep publishing new authors and ones whose work I've already enjoyed, for a long time to come. Hence, this promotion. Rather than naysaying, I'd love to see readers and authors supporting all kinds of writers and editors, whatever their publishing path. Here's a way to do so that's absolutely free. Your review can say anything you want (as long as it doesn't have curses or otherwise run afoul of Amazon's review policies), you will just need to post it by December 31st. These first 40 reviews are important to potential readers and to Amazon's algorithm, which helps more people see the book and consider it in their shopping choices (kinky holiday gift, anyone?)

Hearing which stories were favorites of readers is also a great way for me as an editor to boost my authors and give them some extra attention and encouragement, plus it's a way for me to see what readers are responding to so I can note that in my future editing. So it's a win/win, in my opinion: you get a free book, I and my authors get feedback, and you help push this book just a little closer to being a success.

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Why all I want to do in my new home is get knocked up

While the title of this post is not strictly true, neither is the title of my first piece at The Mid, "I'd Trade My Dream Career for a Baby." More accurate would be the title I submitted it with: "I’m 39 and Sad That I Have Books Instead of Babies" but both are true in their way. If someone said to me, "If you stop ____, you'll get pregnant" and the blank was writing one of my columns or editing anthologies or, ahem, writing extremely oversharing personal essays that probably embarrass my boyfriend, I'd probably do it. After all, nothing else has worked so far, right?

But of course I have career goals, and this year one of mine has been to write for at least 12 new publications in 2015 (I'd love more, if you're an editor who wants to work with me!), an average of one a month. I've done my best to be both a specialist in the fields of sex and dating and erotica, but also a generalist, and am incredibly proud that my new work this year is mainly focused outside of bedroom activities because I have plenty of other interests. So I write about hoarding and Google alerts and libraries. I've got a few others in the works about my life and assorted passions, and for me, writing about an array of topics helps me not get burned out writing about sex and leads me down paths I wouldn't have discovered otherwise.

So no, I'm not only focused on having kids, because I know that certainly won't help, and some of what I've been reading about just how unhealthy stress is on the body, especially for pregnant women, has been quite sobering. That more than anything has made me think hard about how I want to live, how I want to work, what I want my days to look like. The last few weeks have been stress city between moving and money and what's felt like not enough time. The bottom line is that if freelancing isn't a good fit, I will have to find another way to make a living. I don't know yet and won't really know until the fall what the best path is. Some will depend on outside forces, but as a Serenity Prayer devotee, I'm trying to look inside and ask what I'm capable of, what feels right, and what's sustainable vs. what's pie in the sky. I don't know yet, but I do know "dream career" can't mean "work as much as possible, and think about work whenever you're not working." That hasn't been healthy and isn't worth it, and wouldn't be doable with a kid anyway. So I'm pulling back a little and trying to plan a summer that is fun and filled with love and friends and travel and searching and openness.

Not related to any of this, savor for love and enjoying the moment, because they made me smile yesterday, here are some heart shaped scones, which were very good (though I thought they were chocolate chip and they were actually blueberry, so had a little surprise bite the first time):

scones

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Greetings from my new chandelier-lit home office

I moved four days ago, and am settling into real suburbia, where everyone drives and life is a teensy bit different than Red Bank. When the weather is not so blazingly hot, I will explore more, and plan to relearn how to drive 22 years after I did it the first time. Looking forward to exploring and getting my slot machine action on in Atlantic City and whatever else is happening here. It's an adventure, and as averse as I usually am to change, this year change feels inevitable, with my 40th birthday looming, so I am embracing it.

For now, I'm wrapping up Best Women's Erotica 2016 and assorted articles and unpacking my thousands of books and hoping to use this new home as a way to recharge and refresh my focus and truly ask myself what I want to do with the rest of my life. Some days I think I know, and others I have no clue.

My last few years in New York felt like I was trotting along, focusing more on my heart's whacked out whims than any concrete plans for the future. This year, I'd like to change that. I don't know exactly how yet, but I know that change is vital if I want to have a sustainable career and a sustainable life. I found so many old notebooks and journals and jottings, and they reminded me that in some ways, I was more successful in 2005 than in 2015. Yet in 2015, I've been pursuing new ideas, new topics, new approaches. I've said, "I could live anywhere" and meant it. I've booked a trip to Bangkok for this summer. I've negotiated for more money on a book deal and an article, when in the past I'd just been so grateful for anyone's yes I took the first thing I was offered. I truly can't predict what this year will bring, but I'll spend most of it in my chandelier-filled office/bedroom, trying to figure it out.

chandelier

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Why I Picked It Wednesday: "Point and Click" by L.C. Sporting

I've decided to make my Why I Picked It series a weekly one to run on Wednesdays to highlight why I chose a particular erotica story for one of my anthologies. Today's it's "Point and Click" by L.C. Spoering in Best Bondage Erotica 2015.

BBE15cover

During the five years I edited the Best Bondage Erotica series (2011-2015), I did my best to always up the ante and include both common types of bondage and uncommon ones. I believe they work quite well alongside each other. So two of the main reasons I loved "Point and Click," aside from the way the story just pulled me in from the first sentence and didn't let go, are that the narrator is a sex worker and the bondage takes place while two women are in separate rooms, conversing over their computer screens. The interplay between them is fascinating and pushed me to think about what "bondage" truly means, and what can tie someone to someone else, the nature of eroticism and obedience, and how strong a connection people can have even when they are geographically separated.

You can read a little of how the scene starts at The Frisky Fairy, and below is an excerpt that shows how a very unique kind of bondage works in this story. There's voyeurism and exhibitionism here, of course, but I think it's the power play element that really does it for me; there's no real way to "make" the narrator obey her Mistress here, yet the Mistress is able to get her to stay in place all with the power of her words and actions thanks to technology. She knows what she can get her to do even if they've never played in person, and that tension, of being bound yet free, of not having a physical restraint like ropes or handcuffs to strain against or hold the narrator down, is expertly played up. I love erotica that surprises me, that puts a new twist on a topic I've read about countless times, and this story provides that and so much more.
From "Point and Click" by L.C. Spoering in Best Bondage Erotica 2015

“You keep your hands where they are. Like I’ve tied them down,” she says. I flex my fingers in place, imagine the ropes she might wind around my wrists, anchoring them to the desk, wrapped around the legs of the furniture, a knot where I can’t see it.

“You stay on your knees, kitten,” she goes on, and I’m suddenly aware of them, the bend of the joint and the way the bone presses into the carpet, carpet that seems so soft when padding barefoot across it, but is now much firmer, seemingly rocky under my weight.

“I want you to watch me.” Her legs are parted wide, but my eyes go to her face, half-shrouded in the darkness that has fallen over her room. It’s night where she is too, and the lamps are offset enough that only the barest pools of light lap at her toes and the tips of her hair.

“I want to watch you,” I say, and it’s like an admission, a confession, my hands pressed to the hard surface of my desk, my wrists burning with the imagined scrape of rope against tender skin.

“I know you do. You have for a long time, haven’t you?” The dildo is in her hand again, and she lets it rub along the length of her labia, the skin catching against the rubber and tugging along—her cunt moves like a mouth, like lips twitching into a smile just before they are kissed. My tongue feels like liquid against my teeth.

We’ve gotten off together before; I know her face when she comes. But this is different, and I find myself searching her expression for each twitch of muscle and brush of her hair over her forehead. Her fingers are long and graceful; they guide the rubber cock to her slit, pushing just enough that the labia parts and the head inches inside.

“I’ve wanted you to watch me,” she says, as though the thread of conversation is still strung between us, thin and wavering like it’s running full with electricity. She lets out a small moan as the dildo moves farther inside her, and I squirm again, finding my cunt against my calf and pressing down to chase some form of release.

“Keep your hands there, kitten,” she says, arching an eyebrow though her mouth is slightly agape and she is panting just a little.

“Y-yes,” I agree, nodding again, my pinky cramping all of a sudden, as though it knows it’s not supposed to move yet needing that movement for no reason at all but to distract me.

“Yes what?” she presses, and I swallow, almost gulp, my heart ringing in my ears once more.
Read the whole story in Best Bondage Erotica 2015, for sale at:

Amazon

Kindle ebook

Amazon UK

Kindle UK

Bn.com

Nook ebook

Kobo

Books-a-Million

Powell’s

IndieBound (find your local independent bookstore)

iTunes

Cleis Press

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Saturday, June 06, 2015

These 2 erotica reviews made my tough week a little brighter

As I get ready to move next week, I'm spending my last few days exploring Red Bank, packing and catching up on work, but also reflecting on my two years here, going back to being a Jersey Girl, but as an adult not a child. One of the biggest changes in my life since living in Brooklyn is that it's a lot lonelier in Jersey. Part of me is a loner, so I didn't think I minded, but some days, that sense of not having anyone to talk to, to call and go meet for coffee, to simply discuss the ins and outs of this crazy up and down career I've chosen, get to me more than others. When I feel like I'm making progress and getting things done and advancing myself, I don't miss that camaraderie as much, but when I don't, like this week, I start to hit the job listings and wonder if I will ever be comfortable in a position that forces me, every day, to push myself toward the new and different.

What I've chosen by way of books, editing erotica anthologies, can also feel like I'm in a void. Whereas for five years I ran an erotic reading series and did all sorts of other live events, I don't do that as much anymore because I am in a different place in my life, one where I'm focused on the long-term (though stay tuned as a very special sex toy store and I are talking about a reading this fall). With my books, I don't find out how they're selling for at least six months from their release date, which can feel like an eternity. Even then, I get numbers on a sheet of paper, a plus or minus next to a dollar sign, a map I'm supposed to read to tell whether my books are doing well or bombing or just plodding along. It's tough because numbers are not emotional; they tell me how many months of rent I can pay with them, but they don't tell me about the heart of the book, they don't tell me whether the choices I've made, selecting these specific stories out of dozens or hundreds, were choices that resonated with readers.

Of course, the numbers matter; the numbers are what purchased the bank check that is letting me move into my new home. The numbers are what determine whether I'm granted the opportunity to keep on editing books or not. This is, after all, a business. But as much as I'm a businessperson too, I'm also, well, a person. I didn't choose this field to get rich, though I want to learn how to make it more sustainable. I don't even really feel like I chose this field, but rather that it chose me, speaking to me when I was on the verge of babbling and flailing my way through even more law firm interviews and feeling as out of place as I ever have in my life. It chose me and whispered, You can do this. I quite unceremoniously left law school and followed this circuitous path that has now led me to working from home, alone, yet not entirely alone.

Some of the ways I connect with people through my work are precisely by reading so many authors' work when I'm editing an anthology. Then once I've chosen the stories and my publisher has approved them, I may simply email the formal details of the book to the authors, but I try to do more than that. I know $50 is a pittance, yet it's the pittance I can pay, but I hope that I can give my authors something more than that. I hope that I can introduce their work to new readers; I hope that I can, in some cases, offer videos and audio and connection. In the case of Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, I can interviews these amazing writers and get a little insight into the part I always want to know: how did this story come to be?

And before that six month mark where I see the numbers, if I'm lucky, I get to see what actual readers think of the book. This week, one that was filled with the angst of parting with umpteen belongings and packing up everything I own and wondering if I should apply for jobs at casinos and chuck the hardest parts of freelance life, I got two unexpected and delightful reviews that made me think, maybe everything is going to be okay. That made me think, people out there want these stories. That made me think, thank you for pushing me to do my job better. So without further ado, onto these two dedicated, thorough, thoughtful bloggers who remind me that erotica matters to people, deeply.

BBE15cover

The Frisky Fairy review starts out with its amazing title: "Best Bondage Erotica 2015 AKA: Rachel Kramer Bussel Encourages My Sexual Masochism." Wow! It goes on to say:
If you’re reading this Rachel, I need you to stop picking such hot erotica. It’s making it very hard for me to do my work reading in public.

See, the thing is that I got to the fourth story (“The Thug”) and my panties started getting noticeably wet. The fifth story (“Housewarming the Craftsman”) made me shift a bit, and do that thing where I let my panties slip between my labia and rub against my clit a little. The thirteenth story (“Auction, in Quotation Marks”) I was immensely turned on, and I considered going back to my tent, but I was helping my partner work a bit. By the sixteenth story (“Point and Click”) I could feel that fluttering in the bottom of my stomach that told me that I’d need to get somewhere soon or I might cum.
She's also got excerpts from three stories up for you to read, including "The Thug" by Sommer Marsden, “Auction, in Quotation Marks” by LN Bey and "Point and Click" by L.C. Spoering. Want to read more? Excerpts from all 21 stories and buying links are on Tumblr.

comeagaincover

Next up Formidable Femme's review of Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica. It largely focuses on the queer and LGBT stories, which I especially appreciate. She crunched the numbers and found "Out of 24 stories, 8 of them featured queer characters, and 9 of them included sex toys you wouldn’t be able to find in any sex shop." Both of those aspects were extremely important to me; I wanted the concept of "sex toys" to be varied and novel and unique. I wanted it to expand beyond what we think of when we hear the term. Here's a snippet praising one of the most talked about stories in the book, "Gift" by Dena Hankins:
While I honestly enjoyed each story in Come Again, I truly loved, and was even moved by, a select few. My favorite story in the collection was Gift by Dena Hankins. Gift features two women in their 60’s and 70’s exploring lesbian sex for the first time. They have been sleeping together for a few weeks, but the story focuses on a new toy they test together, leading to a new level of pleasure neither woman has ever experienced. Gift not only turned me on, but deeply moved me as well. In the story, one of the women deals with physical disability and mobility issues. With the introduction of the new toy, she is able to reclaim her sexuality in spite of her limited mobility and engage fully with her lover for the first time. For the first time, my eyes welled with tears while reading erotica – a true testament to the undeniable beauty of Gift and Dena Hankins’ talent as an author.
Want a copy of Come Again? Below are some links to online stores where you can find it, and here's where to shop local.

Buy Come Again now:

Amazon

Kindle ebook

Amazon UK

Kindle UK

Barnes & Noble (Bn.com)

Nook ebook

iBooks

Kobo

Books-a-Million

IndieBound (find it at your local independent bookstore)

Cleis Press

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