January's Exclusive Excerpt

Jan 09, 2018

This month Cleis Press is excited to announce the official publication of our newest book, The Big Book of Submission, Volume 2: 69 Kinky Tales edited by the erotica maven herself, Rachel Kramer Bussel. Rachel is hardly ever one to steal the spotlight, but we felt it was her time to shine as a writer, as well as an editor. To show our appreciation to our devoted fans and voracious readers, we invite you, nay, we ORDER you to enjoy this luscious excerpt from one of her own short stories in this collection, “Choker.” You liked that didn’t you? Well… don’t change your panties just yet…

When I thought I’d just about collapse with my need, my pussy clenched so tight I wasn’t even sure if his cock could t there should he change course, he guided me up for a deep kiss, his lips bruising mine before he gave me a slap across the face that made tears and a smile leap to my face.

Raul untied my wrists, and then made me crawl ahead of him up the stairs, until I was once again kneeling, this time on the bed, blindfolded. Having won back the use of my hands, I wrapped them around his shaft, guiding them up and down. But within a few minutes, he’d instructed me to squeeze his balls, and was slamming his dick in and out of my mouth, the way we both like it.

That’s when I felt it—fingers probing my pussy. I held back my startled reaction, because an even more urgent one was rushing on its heels—sheer arousal. The other times we’d played with other people, it had always been prearranged by both of us. Clearly, this was a special treat for me. “I didn’t tell you to stop,” Raul growled, giving my hair an extra-hard tug as he pulled me up, while the unknown person’s fingers not only plunged deeper, but also played with my clit.




Best Women's Erotica of the Year Deadline Extended!

Jan 03, 2018

From the book series’ website:

To everyone who previously submitted work to Volume 4, you can expect to hear back by September 30, 2018. If you have any questions, contact editor Rachel Kramer Bussel at bweoftheyear at gmail dot com and she will get back to you ASAP.

Call for Submissions – Extension

Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 4

To be published by Cleis Press in December 2018

Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Make sure to read and follow the guidelines in full. Guidelines may be updated over the course of the open submission period. Feel free to repost these guidelines as long as you link to this site (, which will always contain the most up-to-date version of these guidelines. For occasional BWE submission tips, follow @BWEoftheyear on Twitter.

This is an extension of the original call; if you already submitted work, it’s still being considered and you will hear back by September 30, 2018. If you previously submitted one story, you can submit one more; all authors can submit a total of two stories.

This anthology is open to women, genderqueer and nonbinary authors only. I’m seeking 2,00-4,000 word original, unpublished erotic stories with women, genderqueer or nonbinary protagonists that touch on the theme of outsiders or the theme of risk. Stories without one of those elements will be rejected.

What I’m specifically looking for:

Erotica stories relating to current events (but that will still be sexy to readers in 20 years)

Ownvoices erotica stories (author and protagonist share a marginalized identity – for more information, see originator of the term)

Stories with transgender women as protagonists

Stories exploring a specific culture (see “On the Calendar” by Kate Sebastian in Volume 2 for an example)

Stories starring women who feel like outsiders because of an aspect of their sexuality

Stories starring women over 50

Historical erotica (see “Demimonde” by Valerie Alexander in Volume 1 for an example)

Humorous erotica (see “Starstruck” by Lazuli Jones in Volume 1 for an example)

As in prior volumes, I want your best, boldest, hottest, most creative and diverse 2,000-4,000 word erotica stories, written by and starring a wide range of women, genderqueer and non binary characters, from single to coupled, living in big cities and small towns anywhere in the world, of varying sexual orientations, races, ages (all characters must be 18+ for the entirety of the story), fetishes, jobs, interests and life experiences. First, second and third person narratives are all welcome. The two themes of this anthology will be Outsiders and Risk, as detailed below.

For this volume, I want stories that speak to the book’s themes of outsiders and risk, though those words don’t need to be used explicitly in the story but should be conveyed by the plot. In terms of outsiders, that could include any woman who feels like an outsider, whether from her relationship(s), her sexuality, her personality, her looks, her career, her age, her race, her religion, her family, her community, her workplace, her country, etc. Perhaps she is right to feel like an outsider, because she’s deliberately ostracized or left out; perhaps she would be welcomed by others but still feels like an outsider. Whatever the case, I want to read about how her outsider status is affected by her sexuality, and vice versa. Perhaps she is a refugee arriving in a new country, a virgin whose friends are all sexual libertines, a woman who’s made to feel her desires are untoward or unnatural, etc. The more creative and unique your plotline, the more likely your work is to be accepted.

In terms of risk, I want to read about women who put everything on the line in pursuit of love and lust, who take dramatic, daring risks that will make readers marvel at their passion. Maybe she quits her job, or dares to make waves in a long-term relationship. Maybe she pursues someone everyone’s told her is wrong for her, but she does it anyway. How is taking a risk sexy for her? What is she sacrificing, and why is she doing it? I want to read about women who are natural risk takers as well as those who are innately risk averse but are compelled to go against their instincts and take a risk anyway. I don’t want clichéd plotlines or generic characters; stories should be original, captivating and arousing. Stories can reflect current events, but shouldn’t be so specific that they will be out of date. Stories should be timeless enough to appeal to readers now as well as in ten, twenty or thirty years. Keep in mind that stories will not overlap in plotlines, so the more individual and memorable yours is, the more likely it is to be accepted.

I’m especially interested in hearing from and about: stories set outside the United States, stories set outside major cities, romantic erotica (they don’t necessarily need to have a traditional “happily ever after,” but happy endings are extremely welcome too), stories involving more than two people, stories in unusual settings, erotica touching on current events (though the story should be one readers ten or twenty years from now will also appreciate), stories with a feminist outlook (that may or may not have the word “feminism” or “feminist” in the text but convey a feminist worldview), BDSM stories, especially ones outside of the Master or Mistress dynamic, and stories starring women creative, memorable fetishes.

Stories in the final book will range from humorous and playful to intense and soulful, and will reflect a similar sexual, racial and age diversity as the stories in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volumes 1, 2 and 3. Story submissions must be unpublished (never published, in whole or in part, anywhere, online or offline). No scat or incest, although age play will be considered as long as it’s clear in the context of the story that the characters are engaging in roleplay. No poetry will be considered.

In a nutshell: I want stories that blow my mind, that grab my attention from the first sentence and don’t let go, that say something new and exciting about sex and sexuality, that will appeal to longtime erotica readers and new readers of the genre. Make every word count and advance the story you want to tell. Consider each sentence and ask yourself: Does it serve a purpose? Is it advancing your story? If not, cut it. I want stories that will make readers stop everything they’re doing and eagerly read every last word to find out what happens to your characters. I gravitate toward unique, creative, memorable characters, settings and scenarios. Contemporary stories will comprise the majority of the book but historical, sci fi, fantasy and paranormal stories are also welcome. For an idea of the types of stories I like, see Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, 2 and 3. If you submitted a story to Volume 1, 2 or 3 that was rejected, you may resubmit it if it fits the theme of outsiders or risk, but in most cases, a new story stands a far better chance of acceptance.

In the interest of publishing a wide range of authors, those whose work appears in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, 2 or 3 will not be considered for this volume, but contributors to previous Best Women’s Erotica collections are welcome to submit work.

Rights: non-exclusive right to publish your story in this anthology in print, ebook, and audiobook form. Authors will retain copyright to their stories. See exact contract terms below.

How to submit: Submit only 2,000-4,000 original, unpublished stories that are not being considered elsewhere. Word count applies to the text of your story, excluding story title and author name. Maximum two submissions per author. Stories CANNOT be under consideration elsewhere at any point prior to the book’s publication date in December 2018. I want only original work that has never been published online, in print or in any format at all, including personal or other types of blogs. All characters must be 18 or over for the entirety of the story. US grammar (spelling, double quotation marks around dialogue, etc.) required. Submit to with “BWE 4 Submission: Story Title” in the subject line by attaching a Word .doc or .docx file, double spaced, Times New Roman Black font with legal name, pseudonym (if applicable), mailing address, phone (only to be used for urgent communication about your story) AND 50 word-or-under third person professional biography either on the first page of your story above the title or in the body of an email. Make sure you use an email address that you check on a regular basis (at least once a week). Sample bio format with URL is as follows:

Rachel Kramer Bussel ( writes fiction and non-fiction. She is an editor, author and blogger.

All stories must have a title and byline (author name) included with the submission (no untitled stories) at the top of the first page. Indent half an inch at the start of each paragraph. Use double spacing for the entire file; DO NOT add extra lines between paragraphs or use any other irregular spacing. Title your document BWE 4 STORY TITLE LAST NAME, such a “BWE 4 Lovers Doe.” If you cannot use Word, submit as both an RTF AND include the full submission in the body of an email, including title, story text, bio, name and pseudonym (if applicable), mailing address and phone number. DO NOT SUBMIT MULTIPLE VERSIONS OF THE SAME STORY AS ONLY THE FIRST VERSION WILL BE CONSIDERED. SUBMIT YOUR STORY WITH THE TITLE, AUTHOR NAME AND WORDING YOU WOULD WANT PUBLISHED IF THE STORY IS ACCEPTED. MAKE SURE TO THOROUGHLY PROOFREAD YOUR STORY BEFORE SUBMITTING IT. Only stories that are between 2,000-4,000 words and submitted by November 1, 2017, 11:59 pm EST will be considered. Please do not ask about exceptions to the word count or deadline as they will not be granted.

I will confirm that I have received your submission within 72 hours. I will respond to all submissions by September 30, 2018 at the latest. If you have not heard back from me by October 1, 2018, feel free to follow up at that time. Please note the time frame and if you need a response sooner than September 30, 2018, this is not the right anthology for you.

Payment: $200 and 2 copies of the book within 90 days of publication. Payment will be made only via Paypal (strongly preferred) or U.S check (only for U.S. addresses).

Deadline: February 10, 2018, 11:59 pm EST

For questions that aren’t answered in the guidelines: Email (note that NO word count changes will be granted – stories sunder 2,000 words or over 4,000 words will be automatically rejected)

If your story is accepted, you will need to sign a contract agreeing to the terms below in order for your story to be published in the anthology. If you are unwilling to sign this contract, DO NOT to this anthology

The parties agree as follows:


Author hereby grants Editor, during the first term of the United States copyright, and any renewals thereof, in the “Work”:

a. The non-exclusive right to “publish” (i.e. print, publish, and sell) the Work as part of the Book in printed and digital form in English in the United States and its territories; and

b. The non-exclusive right to “publish” and license the Work as part of the Book in printed and digital form in English in other countries; and

c. The non-exclusive right to publish and license the Work as part of the Book in printed and digital form in English and the right to license, translate and publish the Work as part of the Book in printed and digital form in languages other than English in all countries; and

d. The following non-exclusive subsidiary rights to license and publish the Work as part of the Book in the United States and all foreign countries, to wit: anthologies, magazines, book club editions and reprints; Braille editions; audio, computer disk, all electronic/cyber rights, CD-ROM and microfiche editions; and television productions (including network TV, cable, and pay TV); and

e. The non-exclusive right to excerpt from the Work in non-book printed materials issued by the Publisher and/or its licensee for the sole purpose of promoting the Work, including, but not limited to, bookmarks, post cards, buttons, and t-shirts; and

f. The non-exclusive subsidiary right, for promotional purposes, to serialize the Work in periodicals, newspapers, and magazines.


a. Editorial revisions to the Work may be made at the suggestion of the Editor and/or Publisher. The title may be changed only by mutual consent of the Author, Editor and Publisher. Editor has final say on the substantive content of the Work.

b. The completed manuscript shall be deemed satisfactory in content to the Editor and Publisher unless within ninety (90) days of its receipt, Publisher or Editor gives Author written notice of the respects in which the manuscript is unsatisfactory. Author shall have thirty (30) days from receipt of that notice to make and submit such changes.

c. Editor reserves the right to choose not to include the Work in the Book, if Publisher declines to accept it, or for any other justifiable reason. In such event, this Agreement is null and void; all rights revert to Author, and Editor does not owe Author payment.


a. Author represents and warrants that she now owns all rights granted hereunder, free of liens or encumbrances, and has full power and authority to execute this Agreement; and further warrants that the Work is original with her and not in the public domain. Author will give formal written notice of any previous publication of the Work upon presentation of the final manuscript, including editorial addresses of periodicals and/or publishers.

b. Author further represents and warrants that the Work does not infringe statutory copyrights or common law literary rights of others, and does not violate the rights of privacy of, or libel, other persons.

c. Author agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Editor and the Publisher, and the publishing of any reprint or book club edition of the Work licensed by the Publisher, pursuant to the Agreement, against any final judgment for damages (after all appeals have been taken) against them in any action arising out

of facts which constitute a breach of the foregoing warranties together with reasonable costs and attorney’s fees incurred by them in defending such an action in which such judgment is recovered.


Author shall retain copyright of the Work.


Author shall receive PAYMENT LISTED ABOVE to be paid by Author within 90 days of publication of the Book.


Publisher will give to Author two (2) free copies of the Anthology.


This Agreement shall be binding on the parties and her respective heirs, administrators, successors and assigns.


Are you a writer? A lady who loves the ladies?

Jan 02, 2018


Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year, Volume 3

Editor: Sacchi Green

Deadline: February 15 2018 (earlier encouraged)

Payment: $100 and 1 copy of the book within 90 days of publication

Rights: non-exclusive right to publish the story in this anthology in print, ebook and audiobook form. Authors will retain copyright to their stories.

Send me stories that only you could write, the ones inside you burning to be brought to life. Surprise me with new concepts, or startle me with prose that illuminates traditional themes in new ways. I expect to use mostly original, unpublished work, but I’ll consider stories previously published in 2016-2017. New voices are especially welcome. A maximum of two submissions per author is allowed, with a preferred length of 2000-4500 words. No simultaneous submissions.

Give me a variety of themes, voices, and tones. Diversity in ages, ethnicities, cultures, and physical attributes and abilities is welcome. The central figures must be lesbians, with believable, fully developed characters. I want vividly drawn settings, and plots or story arcs that grip the reader and don’t let go. Originality is especially welcome. And, of course, I want an intensely erotic aura with sex-positive scenes that are integral to the story as a whole. All flavors of sensuality are welcome, from vanilla to BDSM to edgy frontiers that surprise and startle the reader. A few science fiction or fantasy stories might fit in, as well as a well-researched historical setting or two.

Send your submission as an attachment in .doc, .docx, or .rtf format, double spaced, Times New Roman black font, with story title, legal name, pseudonym (if applicable) and mailing and email addresses on the first page, to Queries are welcome.


Calling All Erotica Writers!

Oct 03, 2017


Editor: Rob Rosen

Submission Deadline: January 5th, 2018 (Please submit sooner rather than later)

Submission Guidelines: short stories are now being accepted for Best Gay Erotica of the Year, Volume 4. Length: 2,500-5,000 words. Original stories strongly preferred, though reprints will also be accepted. Reprints must solely be owned by the author and must not have appeared in print during the past three years. BGEv4 is not a “themed” anthology. All genres, kinks, and fantasies are fair game, just so long as the work is intensely erotic and exceedingly literary. M/M or M/M/M only. No “confused straight men” stories will be accepted; all sex scenes must be between gay identifying characters. Please send your best and hottest work for this prestigious collection. Absolutely no scenes of rape, bestiality, incest, or underage (below 18) sex. Safe anal sex, when called for, is mandatory.

The editor has a strong preference for unusual settings, unique sex scenes, multi-genre stories, humor, romance, and anything out of the norm. Trite stories (frat sex, cop sex, older men/younger men, etc,), if you really want to submit them, should be highly original.

The below formatting is mandatory. Stories not meeting the below will immediately be declined:

  • Times or Times New Roman 12-point black font.
  • Word document or RTF.
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph half an inch.
  • Double space; do not add extra lines between paragraphs or do any other irregular spacing.
  • One space only after a comma, period, etc. Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong, unless you’re typing on a typewriter. The editor, BTW, will also not accept typewriter-written stories.
  • U.S. grammar (double quotation marks around dialogue, etc.) required.

Please do not submit more than one story. Include real name/pen name/address/ maximum 50-word bio. Payment is $50 for accepted stories.

Submit your best work to:


An Interview with The Combat Zone's Author Vincent Wilde

Apr 27, 2017

This week Cleis Press sat down with writer Vincent Wilde to get a behind the scenes look at his writing process and inspiration for his most recent book, The Combat Zone, which came out in January 2017.


What was your inspiration for the book?   

Vincent Wilde: I’ve always been interested in mysteries and the detective genre, but, in this case, the seed for The Combat Zone came many years ago and arose out of my increasing frustration and horror about the tactics used by right-wing groups, particularly those opposed to the gay rights movement. I felt they needed to be called out, and my fiction was the best way I could find a strong voice without being polemical. Under ever-increasing pressure, we must continue the fight for equality and justice. Just when you think the battle is won, another enemy steps forward.

Your book is an interesting example of cross-genre fiction. What inspired you to write a book that combines the erotica, suspense, and crime genres?

VW: To be honest, I never really thought of the book in that way. The best way to present the story, I thought, was to take a killer who preyed upon the “underbelly” of humanity, and write a protagonist who had known that life and had no real shame about coming to terms with his past. Cody Harper’s strengths lie in his loyalty to his friends, knowing his true self and also knowing his limits. The Combat Zone, Boston’s sanctioned red-light district, is no longer there, but I felt it was the perfect setting for an antagonist whose sexual and social worlds violently collide.



Instead of just being a traditional sleuth, Cody is also a cross-dresser. What was the thought process behind that decision?

VW: I thought Cody would be a nice addition to the genre, but I also have friends who enjoy drag and are practitioners of what I would characterize as an “art form.” Drag also delivers wonderful and engaging benefits to the community. Thanks to those friends, I added realistic detail to the story by combining their knowledge with Cody’s love of drag and leather. It also gives him the option of becoming another personality—Desdemona—when the story requires it. Drag keeps his enemies guessing as he tries to solve the crime.


Where there any writers that you looked to for inspiration?

VW: Quite a few LGBTQ writers paved the way for my addition to the genre. John Rechy’s City of Night, was a revelation in its candor and stunning presentation. I’ve always been a fan of our groundbreaking mystery writers such as Richard Stevenson, Nathan Aldyne, and Michael Nava.



Photo by Calum Macaulay/ Unsplash


I also want to touch a little on your writing proccess so let’s just jump right into that. Did you have any difficulties or was there anything that you struggled with while writing the book?

VW: No writer wants to admit a struggle with any book, but The Combat Zone was a novel near and dear to my heart, and one, as I pointed out, that sprang from my concern about gay bashing. The most difficult thing about writing a mystery, I think, is discovering a plot hole in the middle of the story that the writer hasn’t planned for. Thus, you’ve written yourself into a corner and sometimes it’s hard to get out. I found myself in just such a disaster about half-way through the novel. My first response was to scrap the book, but I loved Cody and had too much invested in him as a character. It took about three months of creative thinking for me to get back on track. I find that when the writing stops something’s wrong with the plot. The character usually lets you know what needs to be fixed because he or she won’t go the direction you want to take.


Wow, three months. I definitely think it’s safe to say that you’re a pretty determined and self-disciplined writer, but how do you deal with the archenemy of all writers: writers block?

VW: Some days it’s hard to go to the keyboard. I get over that by tricking myself into believing I only need to write 100 words—that’s hardly more than a typical e-mail. Of course, I find myself writing more and more, and pretty soon I’ve written two or three pages. Usually that works like a charm. But I think it’s fair to say that on some days you don’t need to write. I don’t subscribe to the theory that you MUST write every day. If you don’t feel like writing, give yourself a break and take the day off. The next day, I find I’m charged and ready to go back to work. Also, writer’s block exists. I know because I experienced it. For me it wasn’t a question of not wanting to write, or failing to put myself into the chair. There’s a huge difference between being lazy and true writer’s block. Severe writer’s block stems from a deep psychological concern. The writer who suffers may need therapeutic help to solve the underlying issues.


That email trick is a great idea and I might have to steal it to use when I’m writing. But let’s face it, even if you want to write sometimes you just don’t have time to sit down and get out a few pages. How do you find a balance between your writing life and your everyday life? 

VW: Writers make time to write no matter whether they work full-time or not. Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly difficult to crank out pages when you have job and family obligations. But, it can be done. When I was working full-time, I wrote on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights and on weekends. I was happy with an hour’s worth of work on weeknights, but usually I did more. On weekends, I worked between loads of laundry and bouts of cleaning house. It can be done. I balanced my life by giving myself Monday and Friday nights and weekend nights off. Now that I don’t have to work full-time, I set a daily word goal that I strive to meet five days a week while I’m working on a book.


You’ve already given some great tips, but do you have any other advice that you’d like to give to writers who are just starting out?

VW: The best advice I can give to anyone wanting to get started in this business is: start now. I’ve heard so many would-be writers say, “I’ve always wanted to write a book.” And I ask, “So, what’s stopping you?” Unless you’re a genius, your path to publication most likely will involve writing hundreds of thousands of words and a couple of failed novels before you get on track. I know there are always exceptions, but I think most writers have a period of breaking in, almost like an internship, when everything is up for grabs, including subject matter, stylistic formation, etc. The sooner you know what you want to write the better. Also, read, read, read! I think all true writers are readers. And you need to read outside your genre.


The “reading outside your genre” advice is fantastic! Finally, my last question: Now that this case is closed, what’s next for Cody Harper?

VW: There is a sequel: An Absent God, scheduled to be published in November 2017 by Cleis Press. Cody has always been a loner, but in An Absent God, he finds a love interest, Anthony Vargas. “Settling in” is something new for Cody and, in its own way, the process is just as scary and challenging as dealing with a murderer. The sequel also brings back a few characters from The Combat Zone, including Cody’s old nemesis, Rodney Jessup. It’s my hope that Cody Harper entertains, but also makes readers think seriously about social issues that affect us all.



Vincent Wilde is the author of the Cody Harper mystery series about a cross-dressing sleuth who enjoys wielding a whip as much as slipping into a silk chemise. He also is the author of numerous novels and short stories in other genres. Some of his influences include Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Oscar Wilde, Daphne du Maurier, Richard Matheson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and any work by the exquisite Brontë sisters.



Writer & Editor Sacchi Green Talks About Her Newest Anthology

Apr 24, 2017

This weekend on the website Women and Words, writer and editor, Sacchi Green talked about her newest erotic lesbian collection Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms which is coming out in a few weeks. In this guest post, she also talks about her past with writing speculative fiction and fantasy, as well as, her inspiration and drive for creating an anthology solely on lesbian centered fairy tales and fantasy stories. Below Sacchi talks about the different elements of the fantasy and erotica genres that each writer brought to the book:

For Witches, Princesses, and Woman at Arms: Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales I wanted erotic romance and wild adventure with women who use their wits and/or weapons and come together in a blaze of passion. These twelve wonderful writers (I’m in there, too, though not necessarily wonderful) gave me all I hoped for and more. Some adapted traditional tales, and some updated old stories to contemporary times, not merely changing the gender of a character but making the female aspect essential. Some created original plots with a fairy tale sensibility, while others wrote with just a subtle aura of fantasy. Their heroines are witches, princesses, brave, resourceful women of all walks of life, and even a troll and a dryad. There are curses and spells, battles and intrigue, elements of magic and explorations of universal themes, and, yes, sex, sensuality and true love, all bound skillfully together into complex and multi-layered stories.

Now make sure you head over to Women and Words to read the rest of her post and to enter for a chance to win a free copy of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms!


Call for Submissions: Raised by Unicorns

Mar 28, 2017

Are you the child of LGBT parent or parents? Are you a fantastic writer with a keen sense of wit and retrospection with a unique, true story to tell? If so, you now have a chance to be a contributor in Raised By Unicorns, a new book by America’s favorite “Gay at Home Dad”, Frank Lowe.

Raised By Unicorns: True Stories of People Who Grew Up With LGBT Parents will be published by powerhouse Cleis Press, and aims to be an anthology that reflects on the experience of being raised by a gay, lesbian, transgender, or otherwise queer parent or parents. While stories of promise and love are of great appeal, we also seek tales of discrimination, defeats, and setbacks. This volume ultimately seeks to portray a true representation of this particular niche of the human experience.

In order to be considered, you must have a US mailing address and your story must be 3,000 to 5,000 words. Potential contributors need not identify with a particular gender. All submissions are due by July 16, 2017 and can be submitted to Frank Lowe directly at

Frank Lowe is a contributor to The Advocate and is a self-proclaimed “Stepford Gay”. He has an active YouTube channel and can be followed on Twitter as @GayatHomeDad.


Call for Submissions: Janeland

Jul 12, 2016

Call for Submissions

Working Title: Janeland: Women Write More about Leaving Men for Women (Cleis Press, 2017)

Editors: Candace Walsh and Barbara Straus Lodge

Essay length: 2,000–4,000 words, Deadline: September 15, 2016

Six years have passed since the publication of Lambda Literary Award finalist Dear John, I Love Jane: Women Write about Leaving Men for Women, a groundbreaking exploration of sexual fluidity through intimate, firsthand stories. This anthology remains a crucial resource for women who find themselves deliciously (and distressingly) floundering in the knowledge that although they have always identified as straight, they are now madly in love with another woman.

It’s time to update, extend, broaden, and strengthen the conversation. The last six years has also been a revolutionary time for all LGBT people, and this book will be expansive enough to contain a full spectrum, including Trans perspectives, that could have only manifested over half a decade of turbulent and triumphant social change. Janeland will include continuations of many of the original writers’ stories, but we also seek new voices and unique variations on the now-familiar Jane story, including submissions from women who found the first book to be a catalyst, resource, and a way to connect with other women going through the same transformation.

This new cadre of women will write from a place of community and support, while also acknowledging repercussions, bad and good: custody battles, exes both furious and supportive, estrangement from and reconnection with family and friends, as well as mind-blowing sexual and emotional awakenings and the life-changing transcendence that comes from living one’s truth.

Although this book will evolve as we receive submissions, we welcome first-person, literary non-fiction essays from women who:

 1) were aware that they had always felt same-sex/gender desires, but wanted to try to make it work in the straight world, and

 2) identified as heterosexual at one time, but found themselves embarking on a romantic, same-sex/gender relationship.

We seek a diversity of voices, and welcome submissions from a variety of perspectives, including essays from women who don’t fit precisely into the above descriptions.

Here are some questions that your piece might consider or use as a point of departure. Please don’t feel like this is an essay question test and that you have to cover them all—we want the format of your essay to feel organic and not be explicitly dictated by our questions. Feel free to add other great ideas that we haven’t considered here. And don’t shy away from humor.

  • How did you come to your moment of truth?
  • Were your actions in any way dictated by the temperature of society and its views on homosexuality?
  • What were your first times like with a woman—holding hands, the first date, kiss, sexual experience?
  • How did your cultural/religious/racial/ethnic/economic background shape your experience?
  • Did your perception of yourself change? Do you feel that others’ perceptions of you changed? Did they surprise you with either an unexpected positive or negative reaction? How did this affect you? Did their reactions change over time?
  • What do you miss? What do you not miss? Everything from in the bedroom to out at dinner, at a wedding, as a parent, as a family member, at the gym, in the workplace, on a picnic—whatever comes up for you.
  • If you have children, how were the children affected by this change?
  • Do you feel like you surrendered heterosexuality or elements of heterosexual privilege? Do you feel like your new life has yielded rewards? What were the rewards you expected and which ones were surprises?
  • What is this journey like for you? How did you feel as you were setting out on it and how do you feel now? How do you mark your progress? Were there stages? Illustrative moments? Looking back, do you feel like you went through certain phases?
  • What is it like to shift your identity? What about you is the same and always will be? What about you has changed or altered?
  • How did you feel as you began your relationship with a woman? Did you get flak from individuals who second-guessed you? Did you feel like you had to prove yourself? How did you keep your internal balance (or not)?
  • How did your socialization as a straight person prepare you (ill or well) for pursuing a same-sex relationship?
  • How do you define yourself? Do current labels work for you, or are you not yet defined by a word or phrase? What paradigm do you imagine?

As editors, we value specificity, detail, “showing, not telling,” honesty, epiphanies in the form of clean, polished, crafted writing, and a sense of resolution. An arc of transformation. As Cheryl Strayed says, the invisible sentence at the end of a good essay is “and things were never the same again.”

Deadline: September 15, 2016

We strongly encourage you to send us a query well beforehand, so that we can review it, give you helpful feedback, and have a good sense of what will be coming our way that month. If you are able to submit the piece earlier, we prefer that you do.

Submit: Please send your proposal or (around 2,000–4,000-word) submission (Word document, double-spaced), along with a short bio and full contact information to:

Payment: Upon publication. Amount varies, depending upon experience and amount of editing required. Please include a list of any previous publication credits (with links, if applicable) with your query or submission. Contributors will also receive one electronic version of the book.

About the Editors: Candace Walsh co-edited the Lambda Literary Award finalist Dear John, I Love Jane: Women Write about Leaving Men for Women, and is the author of the NM-AZ Award-winning Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Identity, both by Seal Press. Barbara Straus Lodge is a widely published essayist and a contributor to Dear John, I Love Jane.



Sexual Pleasure and Fiction

Jun 23, 2016

by Avery Cassell, author of Behrouz Gets Lucky

What would happen if novels were rewritten with the sexual stories included? Not just included as an afterthought, but as important narrative devises. Having sex or BDSM play is typically a crucial component to developing romantic intimacy. If we want to see our characters fall in love or lust, let’s see it all. Show us flesh, skin, sensation, and heart. What day of the week was it? How did their skin taste? Where did this happen? And let’s just call it fiction, rather than compartmentalize get it by naming it smut.

What would the iconic dyke coming out novel, Rubyfruit Jungle, have looked like if detailed, lascivious sex was included? What if Molly and Loeta’s night together didn’t end teasingly with “And I soon found out”? In Molly’s torrid affair with Alice, sex was described as, “Alice steamed and shook and sighed…she loved being touched and she loved touching back”, but I longed for a more visceral description of sexual pleasure and bodies, instead of this delicate hint. Sensuous yet explicit sexual guidance would have soothed many a baby dyke’s nerves and provided affirmation of her sexual self-worth. Internalized homophobia would begin to dissipate.

Fiction that includes explicit sex is categorized in several ways, and the major ones are erotica, pornography, artsy, and erotic romance. With the possible exception of artsy, none of these categories are viewed as having any literary merit and are often scorned. The exclusion of sexuality and bodies in fiction perpetrates sexual shame and leaves us without fully realized literary role models. Although this lack of modeling in fiction is problematic for all people, it is particularly problematic for anyone struggling with their gender identity or their sexual orientation.

At what point does fiction cross the line from fiction to erotica, pornography, or erotic romance? How many explicit sexual acts, say blowjobs, are permitted per book? Does it make a difference if the blowjob is mentioned fleetingly, or if it is described graphically? What if it is described sensually or using metaphors? Does it make a difference who is sucking who? Do silicone or trans cocks automatically make it a sort of situational smut, even if the blowjob is the smallest fraction of the story? Is smut the narrative of sex without life, making fiction the narrative of life without sex? Why do we compartmentalize our lives, subtracting such a primal and basic pleasure from art? I believe that we censor pleasure from fiction due to a conglomeration of religion, shame, and power. If the power of sexual pleasure were shown and was culturally acknowledged without shaming, the world would change.

What would happen if sex was not compartmentalized in art or life? What if it wasn’t the dirty, private, faintly shameful function that it so often becomes? Could novels include realistic depictions of sex, side-by-side with the rest of the storytelling narrative? I long for that expansion of fiction, the inclusion of sexual pleasure.

Sex and sexual attraction are incredibly powerful. Is that why we are reluctant to depict it? Romance novels sometimes depict sexuality in all its fleshy glory, but I am not interested their narrative tropes. I found such tropes as the powerful hero, the inexperienced younger woman, the millionaire, broken birds, and the rescue a turn-off at worst, and uninteresting at best. Then there’s bad boy fiction such as Henry Miller’s, but that sex was too misogynistic and gloomy.

These are some of the questions that I asked myself before writing Behrouz Gets Lucky. Like most of us, sexual pleasure is crucial in my life. I start many days with masturbation and an orgasm, have ended romantic relationships when the sex didn’t work, and stayed in relationships past their natural expiration date because of amazing sex. I’m 61 years old and hope to be having orgasms until I die.

I knew that I wanted to treat sex with as much importance as any other action in my book; a blowjob had to include as much detail as morning coffee and conversation. I wrote a list of sexual and BDSM situations that I wanted to include in the book, making a sex storyline. Then I added a nonsexual storyline to the sex storyline. Behrouz Gets Lucky was the story of a kinky, sensual couple’s courtship, from their first date onwards; if I glossed over the sex, it would not be realistic.

It is important to tell our stories, the ones that we hold in our hearts, our minds, and our bodies. This is how we know that we aren’t alone, and how we build a world where sexual pleasure is given the dignity and respect that it deserves. Silence and shame do not beget sexual healing. As writers, we need to begin the habit of incorporating sex into our fiction. As readers, we need to ask for it! Ask our favorite authors where they’ve hidden the sex, ask librarians and bookstore owners for fiction with depictions of sexual pleasure in their plots, write reviews on Amazon and Good Reads commending books that are inclusive of sexual pleasure and asking for it in books where it is missing. This is how we change the world, orgasms flanked by grocery shopping, walking the dog, and grousing about the rising cost of living, one book at a time.


The Lear Method of Mystery

Jun 10, 2016

by James Lear, author of The Sun Goes Down

I’ve read some very interesting, complex and fanciful accounts of how and why mystery writers construct their books. They say the mystery genre allows them to interrogate social and moral issues, to plumb the depths of the human psyche or to question the nature of truth. I wrote my first mystery novel because I thought it would be a good way of getting my detective hero to have sex with a lot of different men. The investigation started out as little more than a pretext for him to seduce the suspects. At the time I was obsessed by Agatha Christie, and I’d always felt there was an interesting sexual subtext in her books that needed to be made explicit. I’d also been watching a documentary about life in an Edwardian country house – this was long before Downton Abbey, which I think of as James Lear-light – and the rigid hierarchy of class and status that puts handsome young men in subservient positions to rich, horny aristocrats.

When I plotted The Back Passage, the first of my mystery novels, I came up with a crime, a household of characters both above and below stairs, and a solution or denouement. Then it was just a question of maneuvering the hero, Mitch Mitchell, into situations where he had to interrogate the suspects, usually by means of seduction. The book is structured around a series of sexual episodes, each of which has a twofold purpose. Firstly, it gives the reader some exciting erotic material; secondly, it reveals information which moves the plot forward. That’s remained the key to the ‘Lear Method’ ever since. Sex and detection go hand-in-hand, and it’s my job to keep the balance right. Some readers think there’s too much sex getting in the way of a good detective story, others feel that the mystery elements detract from effective erotica, but most people seem to enjoy the combination as much as I do.

There are now four Mitch Mitchell novels, each of them using a recognizable ‘cosy mystery’ trope: a country house, a long-distance train journey, a ‘closed room’ murder, an exotic island resort. And I’ve added a second detective to my roster – Dan Stagg, an ex-US marine, embittered, hard-boiled, permanently horny. He has so far appeared in two contemporary thrillers that were directly inspired by Lee Child’s super-butch Jack Reacher novels. The plots in the Stagg books are a little more complex, but the method is the same: a crime, a list of suspects, a series of sexual encounters that lead the plot to its conclusion. In both series, I have to do the plotting and planning twice over: once for what I write, and once for what really happened – the hidden mystery that will be gradually revealed through the story. If I don’t know exactly what the baddies are trying to conceal, what is the truth behind all the lies and red herrings, I can’t keep control of the story. And that means only one thing: confused, annoyed readers, no matter how much sex I give them.

There is one more element in my mystery novels which I think is the hardest one to get right: human emotion. One of the reasons I love Agatha Christie is because her characters are like robots: they have very little depth, they exist only as functions of the plot, and their inner life only matters insofar as it serves the story. In a way I’d like my mysteries to be the same, but when you’re writing about sex it’s impossible not to let emotions in as well. Both Mitch Mitchell and Dan Stagg are looking for love, but keep letting sex get in the way. Mitch has his adored sidekick Morgan, who’s basically straight but enjoys sex with men; Dan mourns the death of his lover Will, killed in an ambush in Afghanistan. They know they should move on to more satisfying, sustainable relationships, but struggle to let go of their obsessions.

It became clear with the first of the Mitch novels that readers enjoy the romance aspect of the books as much as they like the crime and the sex, which makes planning each novel like a game of 3D chess. For something that started out as a light-hearted romp, writing erotic mystery novels has turned out to be the most technically challenging thing I’ve ever done – harder, even, than thinking up the punning titles that adorn each cover.

James Lear is the nom de plume of a prolific and acclaimed novelist. As James Lear, he is the author of The Back Passage, The Secret Tunnel, Hot Valley, The Low Road, and The Palace of Varieties. He lives in London.